After a group of progressive candidates backed by their local Democratic Socialists of America chapter swept all five elections for leadership roles in the Nevada Democratic Party, every single staff member in the party quit.
News of their resignations came shortly after Saturday’s elections, according to the Intercept, at which time the party’s executive director emailed the incoming chair to announce that she and all of her colleagues would be resigning. The other vacated positions are the party’s directors of operations, communications, research, and finance.
“We weren’t really surprised, in that we were prepared for it,” Judith Whitmer, the new party chair, told the Intercept. “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.”
The Democratic machine...not as unflappable as they would have us think!
The former party staff argued that they were simply preempting the inevitable: Whitmer, they said, would have fired them anyway. And Whitmer’s predecessor accused her of being difficult to work with, and uninterested in building a consensus.
But there’s plenty of history here worth considering. In Nevada, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the invisible kingmaker, and the unofficial head of the state’s party operations. And when he was putting his well-oiled Democratic machinery to work to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 primaries, Bernie Sanders’s supporters came within just a few points of spoiling his plans. Since then, progressives—who have only become more numerous and well-organized over the last five years—have been a thorn in his side, and tensions run high on both sides.
Of course this dynamic has played out much the same way in national politics, with establishment Democrats and party leaders often using every tool at their disposal to thwart progressive candidates and maintain fine control of the party’s agenda.
This is only the most recent example of the Democratic Party’s willingness to self-implode rather than cede any power to the left.