- Bill Curry
weekly political columnist at Salon.com. Curry was a White House counselor to President Clinton and a two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut. He is now working on a book on President Obama and the politics of populism.
- Phyllis Bennis
fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of several books, including, most recently, Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.
On Friday, the Democratic National Committee suspended the Bernie Sanders campaign’s access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. The DNC has also been accused of trying to help Clinton by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them on low-viewership periods like Saturday nights. Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, argues that the DNC is deliberately blocking debate and that chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as a result. "This is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing," Curry says. "That the political party itself — which is supposed to be the progressive party — has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, [and] has become just a dead carcass of what it once was, is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has emphasized. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process."
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to Phyllis on this issue of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who is the Florida congressmember, who’s head of the Democratic National Committee, Bernie Sanders has not gone this far, but you’re saying she, herself, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, must go. Why?
BILL CURRY: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, you know, when the—Bernie’s spokesperson in the earlier segment did a wonderful job. I would just add, though, that it wasn’t the DNC that shut down the debates. It was Ms. Schultz. There was no meeting. There weren’t no notice. There are no minutes. All the other members of that committee never got to say—there have been at least two vice chairs have come forward and said they read about it after the fact in the newspaper. No one else has claimed to have been informed in advance.
AMY GOODMAN: About?
BILL CURRY: It was a decision that Hillary—about the decision to have—to go from 26 debates in 2008 to six debates, three of them on a weekend, for 2016. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton made that choice together.
In this contracting dispute, the contractor, a company of which Schultz’s nephew was a principal, and all of the principals have worked either previous—in various ways for different Clinton campaigns in the past, if you’re the Bernie Sanders campaign or the—
AMY GOODMAN: The ones that run the database.
BILL CURRY: The one—I’m sorry, the ones that run the database. For anybody to think they’re getting due process, when there’s such a small cabal making all the decisions—this is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing, and making sure that the public was able to see how this process works. That the political party itself, that what is supposed to be the progressive party, has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, who are dependent upon them for their life, who pursue their own careers, that the party itself has become just a dead carcass of what it once was is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has revealed, or emphasized, because it’s been revealed a hundred other ways, including in the shutting down of debate. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process—if nothing else, from the Democratic Party, a democratic process.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Phyllis Bennis back into this conversation for the last minute we have. Phyllis, for the overall issues, we talked about what was raised, what wasn’t, by the journalists—they didn’t raise climate change, they didn’t talk about the issue of immigration—but where you feel the Democratic Party is going right now?
PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, I think that what we were seeing here is that Hillary Clinton is not running in a Democratic Party primary. She’s running in the general election, with the assumption, the entitlement, that she will be the candidate. And that’s a huge problem.
I mean, everything that Bill Curry just said I think is absolutely right. I think that what we have to recognize is that this so-called two-party system is not working. This is what we’re seeing in Spain in the victory of Podemos over the weekend and the possibility of breaking the monopoly of a two-party system where there’s just not enough differences on certain key issues. There are differences—I don’t want to minimize the differences between the two parties here—but they’re not nearly what they need to be, and there’s not a democratic process within either party. We don’t have a democratic democracy—small-d democrat. So, I think that what we’re looking at is a situation in which the clear differences—there are clear differences on climate, there are clear differences on the economy. I disagree a little bit—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
PHYLLIS BENNIS: I disagree that there was not clarity from Bernie Sanders. I think he made a very compelling case on the economic side. On the issues, the crucial issues of war, the notion that you can go to war against terrorism, none of these candidates were prepared to say, "You can’t bomb terrorism. You can only bomb people, and that creates more terrorism, not less."
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll have to leave it there. But, of course, we’ll continue to cover these issues. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Bill Curry, weekly columnist with Salon.com. We’ll link to your articles.