Why the Shake-up at the Democratic National Committee Is Doomed

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Why the Shake-up at the Democratic National Committee Is Doomed

Donna Brazile has taken over leadership of the Democratic National Committee, but if nothing structural changes at the DNC there's no reason to think anything will change. (Photo: Associated Press/File)

The shake-up at the Democratic National Committee after an embarrassing breach of its email system continued Tuesday with the departure of three senior officials.

But purging the DNC of top officials won’t remedy the DNC’s problems. Those problems aren’t attributable to individuals who didn’t do their jobs. To the contrary, those individuals probably fulfilled their responsibilities exactly as those jobs were intended to be done.

The DNC’s problems are structural.

The Democratic National Committee – like the Republican National Committee – has become little more than a giant machine designed to suck up big money from wealthy individuals, lobbyists bundlers, and corporate and Wall Street PACs.

As long as this is its de facto mission, the DNC won’t ever be kindly disposed to a campaign financed by small donations – Bernie’s, or any others. Nor will it support campaign finance reform. Nor will it be an institutional voice for average working people and the poor. It won’t want to eliminate superdelegates or support open primaries because these reforms would make Democratic candidates vulnerable to non-corporate interests.

What’s needed is structural reform. The DNC has to turn itself – and the Democratic Party – into a grass-roots membership organization, with local and state chapters that play a meaningful role in selecting and supporting candidates.

And it has to take a lead in seeking public financing of campaigns, full disclosure of all donations, and ending the revolving door between government and the lobbying-industrial-financial complex.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen. Which is why no number of purges of individuals are going to make the DNC the kind of organization that serves the public interest. And why we’re going to need a third party, or a third force, to pressure the Democratic Party to do what’s right by America.

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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