Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

 Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) prepare to caucus for him in the gymnasium at Roosevelt High School February 03, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa is the first contest in the 2020 presidential nominating process with the candidates then moving on to New Hampshire. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) prepare to caucus for him in the gymnasium at Roosevelt High School February 03, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa is the first contest in the 2020 presidential nominating process with the candidates then moving on to New Hampshire. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

With Establishment Knives Out for Bernie, Iowa Fiasco Just a Taste of What's Coming

The glaring subtext of what's now occurring is the frantic effort to find some candidate who can prevent Sanders from becoming the party's nominee at the national convention in July. Progressives must fight back—not succumb to fatalism.

Norman Solomon

As a center of elite power, the Democratic National Committee is now floundering. Every reform it has implemented since 2016 was the result of progressive grassroots pressure. But there are limits to what DNC Chair Tom Perez is willing to accept without a knock-down, drag-out fight. And in recent weeks, he has begun to do heavy lifting for corporate Democrats—throwing roadblocks in the way of the Bernie 2020 campaign as it continues to gain momentum.

The fiasco in Iowa, despite its importance, is a sideshow compared to what is foreshadowed by recent moves from Perez. For one thing, he appointed avowedly anti-Bernie corporate operatives to key positions on powerful DNC committees. The flagrant conflicts of interest have included entrenching paid staffers for Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign on rules committees for the DNC and the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

"Some progressives have such an inflated view of the DNC's power that they propagate the idea that all is lost and Bernie is sure to be crushed. It’s the kind of defeatism that's surely appreciated by right-wingers and corporate Democrats alike."

Perez soon followed up by abruptly changing the official rules to allow Bloomberg to participate in the debate scheduled for three days before the Feb. 22 Nevada caucuses. The egregious decision to waive the requirement for large numbers of individual donors rolled out the blue carpet for Bloomberg to the debate stage.

“Now suddenly a guy comes in who does not campaign one bit in Iowa, New Hampshire, he’s not on the ballot I guess in Nevada or South Carolina, but he’s worth $55 billion,” Sanders said Thursday when asked about the rules change. “I guess if you’re worth $55 billion you can get the rules changed for a debate. So, to answer your question: I think that is an absolute outrage and really unfair.”

Inconvenient facts—such as the reality that Bloomberg fervently endorsed President George W. Bush for re-election in 2004 (in a speech to the Republican National Convention, no less) or that as mayor of New York he championed racist stop-and-frisk police policies—are less important to party chieftains than the humongous dollar signs that self-financing Bloomberg is bringing to the table.

The mayors of San Francisco, Washington, Anchorage and Albany, among others, have already succumbed to Bloomberg’s wealthy blandishments and endorsed him, as has former Black Panther and longtime disappointment Congressman Bobby Rush. To corporate elites, the moral of the sordid Bloomberg story is that most people can be bought, and Bloomberg might be the deus ex machina to lift them out of an impending tragedy of Sanders as nominee.

The glaring subtext of all this is the now-frantic effort to find some candidate who can prevent Sanders from becoming the party’s nominee at the national convention in July. Early corporate favorites like Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris fizzled and flamed out. Joe Biden appears to be sinking. Amy Klobuchar staked her hopes on Iowa without success. That appears to leave Pete Buttigieg and Bloomberg as the strongest corporate contenders to prevent the corporate Democrats’ worst nightmare—the nomination of an authentic progressive populist.

A traditional claim by corporate Democrats—the assumption that grassroots progressive campaigns are doomed—is oddly matched by the assumptions of right-wing media and some on the left that the DNC can successfully rig just about anything it wants to. Fox News has been feasting on the Iowa meltdown, pleased to occasionally invite leftists on the air to denounce the DNC, immediately followed by routine denunciations of Democrats in general and Sanders in particular as diabolical socialists eager to destroy any and all American freedoms with a collectivist goal of tyranny.

"People on the left who say the DNC's elite power can't be overcome with grassroots organizing are mirroring the traditional scorn from corporate Democrats—who insist that the left can never dislodge them from dominance of the party, let alone end corporate dominance of the nation."

Meanwhile, some progressives have such an inflated view of the DNC’s power that they propagate the idea that all is lost and Bernie is sure to be crushed. It’s the kind of defeatism that’s surely appreciated by right-wingers and corporate Democrats alike.

Perhaps needless to say, if Bernie Sanders had such a fatalistic view of electoral politics, he never would have run for president in the first place. People on the left who say the DNC’s elite power can’t be overcome with grassroots organizing are mirroring the traditional scorn from corporate Democrats—who insist that the left can never dislodge them from dominance of the party, let alone end corporate dominance of the nation.

Like millions of other progressives who support Bernie 2020, I realize that the forces arrayed against us are tremendously powerful. That’s the nature of the corporate beast. The only way to overcome it is to organize and fight back. That’s what the movements behind the Sanders campaign are doing right now.

In the words of a Latin American graffiti writer, “Let’s save pessimism for better times.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Officials Warn of 'Record-Shattering Month' for Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Following deadly strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, Oxfam is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn attacks on Yemenis and to "inject new urgency" into peace talks.

Jessica Corbett ·


Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total 'Fiction'

"The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe, or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm."

Jessica Corbett ·


Air and Water Under Threat as SCOTUS Targets Environmental Laws

"It seems like we have a new conservative supermajority on the court that is much more inclined to do a slash-and-burn expedition through our major environmental laws."

Julia Conley ·


'Historic Turning Point': Cuba Issues Plan for Vaccine Internationalism

"This lifesaving package," said the head of Progressive International's delegation to Cuba, exemplifies public health and science being "placed above private profit and petty nationalism."

Kenny Stancil ·


Fridays For Future Announces Global Climate Strike for March 25

"Join us for the Global Climate Strike as we demand policymakers and world leaders to prioritize #PeopleNotProfit!"

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo