By Robert A. Vella
Amid roiling controversies and sagging poll numbers, the Democratic National Convention kicked off today in Philadelphia – a city that was one of the bedrocks of American democracy. But, that democracy is now under siege from all sides; and, the remaining political party left to defend it can’t decide whether or not it wants to. This clash between establishment pragmatism and populist idealism means that Democrats of both persuasions won’t be sharing many lighthearted meals of cheesesteaks this week, either the Velveeta or provolone versions.
Although Bernie Sanders is now calling for party unity as necessary to defeat Donald Trump in November, many of his supporters are balking (see: Sanders Booed by Own Delegates for Urging Support for Clinton). The ideological divide inside the Democratic Party expressed by this sentiment has been building for many years and has been exacerbated by several recent developments. However, the fundamental dispute centers on the backlash against the corporatist and technocratic policies of the Democratic Party leadership. It’s not that the leadership is unsympathetic towards these concerns, but they’re trying to have it both ways by walking an incredibly fine and precarious line between the two opposing forces. The question is, can it be done?
From Bloomberg – Sanders Backers See DNC Chairwoman’s Exit as Too Little, Too Late:
Despite weeks of careful negotiations and compromises between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns, Democrats will begin their national convention in state of disarray fueled by the leaked e-mails that led to the abrupt resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
For the Sanders camp, which has accused the party chairwoman of being a divisive and biased force for several weeks, her departure is welcome news. But for the Vermont senator’s supporters—who want to transform the party’s structure, culture, and policies—the news is too little, too late. The high emotions of the primary campaign had been abating, but the controversy now threatens to fan the embers back into a serious conflagration.
Nina Turner, a Sanders surrogate and former Ohio state senator, said the DNC and the Clinton campaign will have to address the controversy head-on if they want to achieve real party unity during the convention, instead of a “superficial” television moment.
“Are they sorry they got caught or are they sorry that it happened?” Turner said.
From Politico – Kaine comes out against Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal:
Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, has gone on record saying he cannot support the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its current form— a stance calculated to make him more appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders who revile the deal.
Kaine spokeswoman Amy Dudley said Saturday that the Virginia Democrat shared his negative views on the trade deal with Clinton this week, confirming a report by The Washington Post. “He agreed with her judgment that it fell short” when it came to protecting wages and national security, a Clinton aide reportedly told the newspaper.
Kaine had never taken a formal position on the pact, but as recently as Thursday told reporters he saw much in the agreement that he liked, while continuing to express concerns about other provisions, including the handling of investment disputes.
His decision to oppose the agreement deals another blow to President Barack Obama’s hopes of winning approval of the deal from Congress this year. It adds to the White House’s difficulty of winning approval in the Senate because of weakening Republican support for the pact. However, only 50 votes are needed for TPP approval, in contrast to the 60 votes that were needed to give Obama the “fast track” trade promotion authority to finish the TPP.
Kaine was just one of 13 Senate Democrats who voted last year for fast track authority. The legislation allows the White House to submit trade deals to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote, without any amendments, giving Japan and the 10 other countries involved in the pact some assurance it will be approved.
From The New York Times – Dismayed by Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg Will Endorse Hillary Clinton:
Michael R. Bloomberg, who bypassed his own run for the presidency this election cycle, will endorse Hillary Clinton in a prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention and make the case for Mrs. Clinton as the best choice for moderate voters in 2016, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg said.
The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent.
But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated.
Mrs. Clinton is seeking to reach out to middle-of-the-road swing voters and even moderate Republicans uneasy about Mr. Trump. Polls show that significant numbers of Republicans remain wary of Mr. Trump, and question his fitness for the presidency.
In the past, Mr. Bloomberg has rebuked Democrats for attacking Wall Street — a part of his record that may sit uneasily with liberal Democrats, and especially with the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who are already smarting from his defeat.
Burning Issues: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Climate Change – “Our trade policies stand to undermine the very real progress we’re making on climate change,” warns Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, in this Burning Issues video.
CNN poll: Trump leads Clinton after RNC – Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%.