Following a massive wave of progressive victories in elections throughout the U.S. earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argued in a Politico op-ed on Friday that the Democratic Party must embrace "fundamental reforms" and "welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people" if it is to build on this grassroots momentum and overcome the "unprecedented crisis" posed by the Trump administration.
"Do you believe in open primaries, or do you not? Do you believe in transparency or not? Do you believe in keeping 700-plus superdelegates or not? Do you believe in letting people vote in caucuses who currently cannot?"
—Sen. Bernie SandersSanders' plea for systemic change within the party that has been decimated at nearly every level of government over the past eight years comes just ahead of the final meeting of the DNC's "Unity Reform Commission," a group formed in the aftermath of the 2016 Democratic primary with the stated goal of "ensur[ing] that inclusivity is upheld in all things that we do."
Some of the reforms Sanders says the commission "desperately" needs to consider during its December meeting if it is to have any hope of defeating Trump's "agenda of the billionaire class" include:
- Reducing the power of superdelegates, which currently have "the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters";
- "Making voting easier, and not harder" by "ending the absurdity of closed primary systems" that lock out independent voters and fully embracing "universal and same-day voter registration";
- Developing a process that makes it easier for working people and students to participate in the voting process in states that use caucuses "even if they are not physically able to attend a caucus"; and
- "Fully appreciat[ing] Donna Brazile's revelations and understand the need for far more transparency in the financial and policy workings of the Democratic Party." Brazile, Sanders wrote, "exposed the rot."
The Democratic Party, Sanders argues, "cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants" if it is to defeat Trump's "reactionary agenda"—which includes massive tax breaks for the wealthy coupled with enormous cuts to life-saving social programs.
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It is "not acceptable" that "hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the DNC with little to no accountability," Sanders writes. "At a time when we have a Republican president and Republican Party whose leadership and agenda are strongly opposed by the American people, now is the time for real change. It is critical that we come together and reform the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will win local, state, and national elections and transform our country."
In addition to pressuring the Democrats to support his proposed reforms in op-eds and interviews with major news outlets, Sanders also began circulating a petition Thursday calling on DNC chair Tom Perez to work toward making the party "as open, as inclusive, and as progressive as it can possibly be."
Sanders told the Washington Post that the petition had already garnered tens of thousands of signatures just hours after going live.
"Do you believe in open primaries, or do you not? Do you believe in transparency or not? Do you believe in keeping 700-plus superdelegates or not? Do you believe in letting people vote in caucuses who currently cannot?" Sanders said, outlining the basic questions underlying his proposed reforms. "Those are the issues."