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Hillary Clinton. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


President-elect Donald Trump’s unforeseen election win over Hillary Clinton has ignited immediate infighting inside the Democratic Party, with progressive members lashing out at the establishment wing for failing to defeat one of the most flawed Republican presidential candidates in a generation.

“There is no question there is a civil war taking place inside the Democratic Party,” said Cenk Uygur, co-founder of The Young Turks, a progressive internet-based commentary program.

“And the progressive side is going to win.”

Progressives have long felt disaffected from the Democratic Party, often arguing elected officials cater to special interests and regularly compromise their values to work with Republicans across the aisle.

But Trump’s electoral triumph has shattered the Democratic Party, bringing out venom that bubbled to a breaking point during the campaign. Last summer, WikiLeaks published hacked emails exposing top members of the Democratic National Committee. Those emails showed that party officials were actively working to help Clinton secure the nomination, while simultaneously sabotaging the campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who became a progressive hero in a stunning outsider run of his own.

The outrage was enough to force then-chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign. Donna Brazile was promoted from vice chair to interim chair of the party, temporarily pacifying progressive concerns.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz. REUTERS/Scott Audette


But, following a stunning defeat Tuesday night, progressives are once again up in arms. They contend that the Democratic Party has allowed corporate interests to dictate its policy agenda for far too long, resulting in major losses like the one to Trump.

“It’s so obvious, I can’t believe they can’t see it,” Uygur told Business Insider. “The Democrats have become the establishment party. And people hate the establishment.”

Clinton “represents the establishment,” he added. “She looks like and acts like she’s from The Capitol in ‘The Hunger Games.'”

The most immediate battlefield for the anti-establishment war is over who will be selected as the next Democratic Party chair. Progressives have consolidated around Rep. Keith Ellison, a reliable liberal from Minnesota, while former party chair Howard Dean represents a more establishment minded candidate.

On Friday morning, Ellison received a significant endorsement from likely future-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But to progressives, the move from Schumer did not seem sincere. Instead, they argued, it was one done in an attempt to maintain power.

“Chuck is a very smart guy,” said Nomiki Konst, a Democratic strategist, former Sanders surrogate, and host of “The Filter” on Sirus XM. “He has to be a senator. He has the responsibility in the Senate to make things work, and he knows probably half the Hillary supporters were much more progressive.”

She added: “I think he knows he has a responsibility to follow the trend — otherwise, he would have a riot on his hands.”

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders. Alex Wong/Getty Images


Konst has offered a number of suggestions to Democratic Party leadership on how to initiate reform.

The Democratic strategist suggested barring consultants and lobbyists from being members of the DNC, implementing a union membership quota, and eliminating superdelegates, Democratic Party leaders and elected officials who can vote for their candidate of choice during the primaries.

“I would call for emergency elections,” she added. “This is crisis level — get rid of these vice chairs. A lot of these vice chairs are really bad people.”

Ryan Williams, a former deputy national press secretary for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said what is taking place inside the Democratic Party is perhaps worse than what happened when President Barack Obama defeated the Republican nominee in 2012, while Democrats retook the Senate and made gains in the House. Now, after Tuesday’s shock results, Republicans have control of all three branches of government.

“They are in a dark place,” he said, adding, “It’s very difficult to go from a party being in control of the White House to being cast into the wilderness. The White House is the glue that holds the party together. You have a set leader. Right now, the Democrats have no set leader.”

Both Konst and Uygur said progressives will absolutely fight for control of the party while the vacuum is open.

Establishment Democrats, including leaders like Schumer, should not feel their positions are secure, Uygur said.

“We are going to rip you down,” he warned, speaking of the Democratic Party establishment. “I have no use for them. I don’t know what to tell them other than we are going to beat them. I don’t want their help. I know what their incentives are. They want the money. Almost anything else is a trick.”

The political commentator predicted that in a week progressives should win the DNC chair fight and “firmly establish in the voters’ mind — and in Washington’s mind — that the progressives are right and the establishment was wrong.”

“Having said that, the empire will strike back,” Uygur anticipated, adding that progressives were more than ready for what he called the “long war” ahead.

As reported by Business Insider