I’d hate to do anything to interrupt Donna Brazile’s book’s inevitable disappearance into the ether, but unfortunately, it broaches topics that we — some of us the future Democrats of the American political diaspora, and some of us the future Democratic National Committee leaders of those Democrats — need to get straight.
Now, my disappointment with this bizarre and ridiculous turn of events mostly stems from the ham-handed nature of Brazile’s attempt to make her story fit her title — that is, Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC. I won’t rehash the details. Feel free to read it. She describes a fundraising agreement between the super PAC Hillary for America and the DNC, which allowed Clinton to bail the DNC out of nearly $10 million of debt in exchange for what was essentially control of her own fundraising. Legal? Yes. Commendable? Depends on what you value.
I’d prefer to have a functioning DNC, even if it was in such a state that Clinton had to come save it. Brazile’s story spends a while afterward grasping at straws, all in the context of a heartfelt phone call to bright-eyed, innocent progressive hero Bernie Sanders, trying to put her story together to spell corruption. Sadly, it doesn’t. That’s all coming from the woman who was willing to leak debate questions to a presidential campaign (Brazile claims she can’t find those correspondences). Brazile also claims not to have known about financial problems within the DNC that were reported as early as 2012. Her book, including this story, also details the “techno hush” of HFA’s Brooklyn offices — “calm and antiseptic,” she calls it (were they not playing gospel music to candlelit dens?) — along with a host of other dramatic anecdotes. It’s a burning of bridges and grinding of axes. Fine. Clearly, she believes it. I don’t believe she has malicious intentions. But that’s the problem.
When will we ask ourselves why we sincerely believe it is topical and important to continue sitting around talking about Hillary Clinton.? Books upon books are coming out on the 2016 election — makes sense, after all — and Clinton published her own memoir, a farewell to the political arena, if you will, a little while ago. But for someone as accomplished as Brazile to run around the country a year later to market another Clinton takedown? Disappointing indeed.
Hillary Clinton is retired. She is appearing on cute, comedic late-night talk shows, speaking at women’s groups and going for walks. She is not a candidate. She is not an officeholder. She is a private citizen. I’m tired of listening to ungrateful and pointless moaning about someone who, for upcoming elections’ sakes, no longer exists.
We are living in a time when Democrats must celebrate moderate victories — Virginia, New Jersey, New York City — to energize a largely worried and tired base. We still need to find our footing in terms of truly competent, charismatic party leadership. We still need to solve the problem of the single, unified message; we still need to find a way to reach out to lost voters and forgotten demographics. If you support progressivism and the stable first-world state it promises, then get over it: The DNC is what you’ve got. The Democrats are it. So, to all of those who would rather moan about Clinton and the host of other has-been Democrats, to all of those who would rather cannibalize the party to make some point about your own inability to stomach the political reality, to those who would rather bask in the sour taste of our problems than do the real work to seek the solutions — take a page out of Brazile’s book, say your piece and get out.
I don’t mean to advocate sycophantry, but there’s a reason why the lock-step method wins elections for Republicans. But I get it. We’re reasonable. We’re free-thinking. But look: You either believe in the party and its core values, or you get out, like someone with dignity would. The DNC does not exist to be a halfway home for every ideology left of center. If you don’t like the Democratic message, if you curl your lip at centrism, if realists like Obama and Clinton simply didn’t do it for you, feel free to continue crying and abandoning — and watching your issues remain unheard and unachieved. You need the DNC. It’s a two-way street, though, and I’m not denying that. The Democratic Party has always had its coalitions, and most of the time, it’s been stronger for the inclusion of these groups and others. But the RNC was shortsighted enough to give itself up to its Tea Party ends. The DNC cannot afford to do the same with the ultra-progressives.
If you want to solve the DNC’s problems, if you want to see it shift strategies and change directions, commit. Don’t whine. Don’t leave a paper trail of its dirty laundry. Commit. You want to change the DNC? You want to revamp the DNC? You want to revitalize the DNC? Commit to the DNC.
There is one major partisan institution of progressive change in this country. There is only one. It bankrolls almost 50 percent of your national representatives and many more as the ranks get lower. It is the DNC.
The Democrats need to reunite again. Do not entertain this gossip-mongering and whining and demanding. Get involved locally. Support competent leadership nationally. Take ownership of the Democratic National Committee.
Lily Vaughan is a junior majoring in history and political science. Her column,“Playing Politics,” runs Fridays.