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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets students at the University of Puerto Rico Theater in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, May 16, 2016. (Photo: AP)

Sanders Urges Democrat Leaders to Welcome 'Real' Fighters for Change

'The Democratic Party has a choice,' says senator. 'It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change... Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure.'

Following a raucous state Democratic Party convention in Nevada on Saturday that left both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters deeply divided over the establishment of rules and delegate voting, Sanders spoke out on what transpired for the first time on Tuesday and took party leaders to task for using their powers to prevent a "fair and transparent" process.

"The Democratic Party has a choice. It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change – people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy."
—Bernie Sanders
As The Hill reports:

The Nevada convention saw violent outbursts over rules that appeared to favor Hillary Clinton, who came away with more pledged delegates.

The Las Vegas convention had to be shut down Saturday after some Sanders supporters, angry over delegate allocation, resorted to throwing chairs. Some also booed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) while she gave a speech in support of the former first lady.

Sanders supporters were frustrated that Clinton, who won the state’s caucuses in February, was able to pick up additional delegates, despite the fact that they packed the convention.

The state party's chairwoman, Roberta Lange, reported death threats from backers of the Independent senator.

Though Lange demanded a personal apology from the Sanders campaign, she did not get one on Tuesday. Sanders in his statement said that his campaign "of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals." However, he added,  "If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned...  Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention."

According to Sanders there were a number of ways in which Lange and other party leaders in Nevada used their power to diminish transparency and democracy, including:

  • The chair of the convention announced that the convention rules passed on voice vote, when the vote was a clear no-vote. At the very least, the Chair should have allowed for a headcount.
  • The chair allowed its Credentials Committee to en mass rule that 64 delegates were ineligible without offering an opportunity for 58 of them to be heard. That decision enabled the Clinton campaign to end up with a 30-vote majority.
  • The chair refused to acknowledge any motions made from the floor or allow votes on them.
  • The chair refused to accept any petitions for amendments to the rules that were properly submitted.

With many political observers wondering if the incident in Nevada portends a more divided party than many are willing to admit or whether such scenes will repeat themselves during other state conventions or at the national convention in July, Sanders did not miss the opportunity to talk about what's at stake as the primary season heads toward its conclusion.

"It is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned...  Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention."
—Bernie Sanders

"It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics," Sanders said. "The people of this country want a government which represents all of us, not just the 1 percent, super PACs and wealthy campaign contributors."

 He added, "The Democratic Party has a choice. It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change – people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy."


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