The Democratic primary race was certainly more contentious than pundits and politicians predicted. And it’s likely the spin the Democratic Party establishment will put on Sanders’ historic campaign, which was fueled almost entirely through a grassroots coalition of supporters and small donors, will not pay enough attention to the millions of voters vying for the chance to take back the Democratic Party. But as Matt Taibi writes in the Rolling Stone, they should.
“Politicians are so used to viewing the electorate as a giant thing to be manipulated that no matter what happens at the ballot, they usually can only focus on the Washington-based characters they perceive to be pulling the strings,” Taibbi writes. “Through this lens, the uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn’t an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line.”
In fact, it’s in part Sanders’ “oddball amateur” status that resonates so well with voters. “There’s a longing for real authenticity in politics today,” Tad Devine, a Sanders adviser, told the Washington Post. “People feel that the candidates are too manufactured, there’s not enough spontaneity. They want someone who, even if they don’t agree with them, is telling it like they see it, really leveling with voters.”
Sanders’ campaign also ignited the youth vote in a manner that highlights Clinton’s lack of impact among the newest voters. Taibbi argues that if the Democratic establishment ignores the Sanders’ revolution—though at this point, there’s no sign that is happening—it will be at the party’s detriment.
“Voter concerns rapidly take a back seat to the daily grind of the job,” Taibbi writes, noting the process usually involves back-door deals that muddle the legislation and circumvent the will of the voters.
“This dynamic is rarely explained to the public, but voters on both sides of the aisle have lately begun guessing at the truth, and spent most of the last year letting the parties know it in the primaries,” Taibbi writes. “People are sick of being thought of as faraway annoyances who only get whatever policy scraps are left over after pols have finished servicing the donors they hang out with at Redskins games.”
Polls indicate voters increasingly feel sidelined in the Democratic Party process, particularly concerning factors like the Democrats’ superdelegates, which make voters feel like the system is designed to work around them. A May 2016 AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll revealed only 25 percent of Democratic voters feel the party is responsive to their concerns. On the Republican side, the sentiment is even more disconnected; only 12 percent of GOPers think the party is focused on ordinary voters.
A huge portion of the Democratic Party is fighting to restore faith in the process. The least party bosses can do is listen.