On Tuesday, the Working Families Party formally endorsed Bernie Sanders via an internet poll put out to progressives across the country. In NJ, the results were decisive – 88% Sanders, Clinton a distant second at 11%. National results shook out about the same, a decisive Sanders win. This morning, members of the Working Families Party national board – and some staff members, like New Jersey’s Analilia Mejia spent some time with Sanders at his D.C. office. Mejia:
“It was fantastic to spend time with a national leader who is inspiring a genuine political revolution. The issues that we’ve been working on in New Jersey for years – paid sick days, a living wage, and tuition free college education – are the very issues he’s running on and bringing into national focus. New Jersey Working families is committed to fostering this political revolution however we can leading up to the primaries. Over the next few months we’ll be talking to our members, reaching out to Bernie Sanders supporters, hosting house parties and spreading the word about our shared agenda for New Jersey and America as a whole. But the most exciting news out of my visit: he hopes to join us here in New Jersey sometime soon!”
The decision to open the process via internet poll, soliciting input from members & other progressives, did not go down well with some in Working Families’ leadership, including some influential labor leaders who’ve already endorsed Clinton.
I find that fascinating, and an indication – in my opinion – of how brittle Team Clinton can be. I mean, how do you whine that your process is too inclusive? From the beginning, we’ve seen the Clinton campaign seeking to limit the number of people who have a deciding impact on the primary. Tiny events dressed up as “conversations with regular Iowans” who were actually hand-picked and driven to the events, and guaranteed not to ask Clinton any questions she didn’t want. Evading the press for months. Efforts by her ally (and 2008 campaign co-chair) DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to limit the number of primary debates to what Clinton wanted – as few as possible, an obvious advantage to the frontrunner. And a fundraising strategy that concentrates on high donors who already wield power inside the Democratic Party. To me, all of that appears as cynical gamesmanship, and not from the position of strength and confidence I would expect from the leading candidate. I’m for anything that opens process to more voices influencing the candidates’ and the Democratic Party’s direction. And that includes opening endorsement processes in groups like WFP – and Democracy for America (DFA) – to member and supporter input.
NJ Working Families Alliance is affiliate here of the Working Families Party, with chapters in 10 other states. In some fusion ballot states – like New York, where WFP originated – it functions as a third-party, but one that seeks to drive the Democratic Party toward progressive policy, particularly in issues of economic justice. [Good reading: If the Left Had a Tea Party, by David Sirota at Politico].