Taking a loyalty oath (rrunrrun.blogspot.com).
by Steve Timmer
Jun 23, 2018, 11:30 AM

The perils of insularity and tribalism

The DNC is in the throes of adopting a new loyalty oath for persons who want to run for the office of president. It doesn’t take STEM teacher to figure out who this is aimed at:

The Democratic Party would decide how to define “faithful,” which means that not only could this block outsiders like Bernie Sanders from running as a Democrat, but even life-long Democrats (e.g. Tulsi Gabbard) who want to see broad and extensive changes to how the party operates and its policies.

“Why wait till the primaries or the convention to cheat progressives out of the presidential nomination when you can just block them from running in the first place? Who needs 718 superdelegates to rig a primary election when an even smaller body of DNC members can just cancel it,” said Nick Braña, who lobbied the superdelegates for Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign.

Remember when then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz admitted on live television that superdelegates exist to protect party-loyal candidates from grassroots competition? . . .

I tried for a long time to figure out how to describe this initiative — a lot of epithets come to mind — but I am just going to call it suicidal. It would be funny, too, if it wasn’t so, um, suicidal.

As Democrats, we surely don’t want to be exposed to the ideas and party-expanding potential of outsiders! Heaven forefend! The upholsterers’ guild doesn’t let just anybody in, either.

The DNC, and the DSCC and DCCC, too, remind me ever so much of the National Football League and its silly rule on taking a knee. That doesn’t affect in the slightest how a player plays the game, and it shows that something other than winning is really what’s afoot.

You find this insularity at all levels of the party — and admittedly in many areas of organizational life in general. In my home district in Edina, for example, my Minnesota House representative and friend, Ron Erhardt, was a Republican for many terms who supported gun control, the right to choose, gay rights, protection of the environment, and many other progressive things, too. The Republicans finally threw him out of the party for supporting the override of a gas tax veto by Governor Gutshot (Tim Pawlenty).

There were DFL members in the House who said to Ron, “Come over here Ron, that was no place for you, anyway.” There were a couple of them who recounted the story to me. Well, he finally did come over, but there was resistance in the local party leadership, not based on issue positions, but rather because he used to be a Republican. We overcame it, and guess what?

He was the first DFLer to win the House on the A side of the district. Ever. He’d be there today if he hadn’t been libeled by the House campaign caucus committee with a doctored timeline video. Incidentally, the animus of the House Republicans toward Ron is part of the same tribalism that demands loyalty oaths. The Republicans threw Ron out, and he was still supposed to possess the loyalty to just fall on his sword.

That’s what the DNC wants Bernie to do, too, by the way.

The same phenomenon is at work in the primary for the Senate seat held by Tina Smith. If you tell some Democrats that you like Richard Painter because of his positions on single-payer health care, opposition to sulfide mining in Minnesota, gun control, corruption in government, impeachment of the president for violation of the Constitution, and the list goes on, these Democrats will get a wild look in their eyes, sweat will form a bead on their upper lips, and they will spit, “But but he used to be a Republican,” at you. “Tina Smith is a life-long Democrat!”

You know, I probably still have my Mickey Mouse Club card somewhere, but somehow I don’t think it’s relevant. But it’s about as relevant as being a life-long Democrat is in deciding the best person to hold a Senate seat from Minnesota.

Update: Somebody reminded me that the gimmick called the “Smith Amendment” took place after the DFL endorsing convention. If you believe that was just coincidence, I have a couple of used cars that I would like to show you.

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