A civil war has been brewing since 2016 between the Democratic Socialists in Nevada and the establishment Democrats, known as the Harry Reid machine, which the former Senate Majority Leader still advises. On Saturday evening, candidates supported by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America won all five seats in the party’s leadership.
The Intercept reported that, shortly after her victory, the new chair of the state’s Democratic Party, far-left Judith Whitmer, received an email from Alana Mounce, the party’s executive director, to say that she and “every other employee were quitting. And so were all the consultants.”
Whitmer had been the chair of the Clark County Left Caucus.
Mounce’s wing of the party claims that Whitmer would have fired them all if they hadn’t quit.
The Intercept contacted Whitmer who denied that claim. She said, “I’ve been putting in the work. What they just didn’t expect is that we got better and better at organizing and out-organizing them at every turn.”
The rift began during the 2016 Democratic primary in the state. Reid supported Hillary Clinton while the “insurgent” wing of the party backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
According to the Intercept, “over the next four years, outside organizations like DSA exploded in size and strength. The Sanders campaign focused on organizing tens of thousands of young Latino voters in the state, with the goal of activating people whom the party hadn’t bothered with before. And it worked: In the 2020 cycle, after investing heavily in Nevada, Sanders won a commanding victory in the Nevada caucuses.”
Hi new followers! Yesterday DSA members Judith Whitmer, Jacob Allen, Dr. Zaffar Iqbal & Ahmad Adé took over @nvdems. We've been hard at work after @BernieSanders's caucus win, organizing for power wherever we can.
Let us tell you a little bit about what we've been up to 1/11
— Las Vegas DSA (@LasVegasDSA) March 7, 2021
Whitmer told The Intercept, “The mass exodus of party staff, despite the rhetoric around unity, wasn’t a shock. We weren’t really surprised, in that we were prepared for it. But what hit us by surprise and was sort of shocking is that for a slate that claimed that they were all about unity, and kept this false narrative of division going on throughout the entire campaign — in fact they kept intensifying that — that’s what was surprising about it, was the willingness to just walk away, instead of working with us.”
It’s always easy for a winning candidate to call for unity, but according to Whitmer’s predecessor, former Clark County Democratic Chair Donna West, “Whitmer did not try to bridge gaps within the party. She does not listen to others’ opinions and really take those on board. I found that working with her could be really difficult, that she doesn’t really collaborate well, and doesn’t work to build consensus.” And West is on the same page politically as Whitmer.
The Intercept spoke to a former staffer under the condition of anonymity who said “they had quit out of a belief that Whitmer hadn’t built relationships across the party as Clark County chair and was at times unfairly critical of the state Democratic Party.” This individual said, “I knew I couldn’t work with her and watch her destroy the years of hard work so many operatives put into making our state party the best state party in the country.”
(Note: The Intercept provides a detailed account of the feud between the establishment Democrats and the progressives which led to Saturday’s socialist blowout. Read the whole story here.)
It’s not surprising to hear of a clash between the progressives and the establishment wings of the party. We’ve witnessed a radical change in the Democratic Party over the last five years. Ideas that were considered extremist when Sanders first proposed them on the 2016 campaign trail have become mainstream. We watched as every candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination expressed their support for granting health care coverage to undocumented immigrants at a primary debate.
Unfortunately, rather than seeing a clash between progressives and the more moderate Democrats in Washington, most of the party’s leaders have embraced the sharp left turn.
America is well on its way to becoming a socialist nation. We’re on a very dangerous path and the time is now for some drastic and fierce pushback.