The Center for American Progress held an Ideas Conference but The Nation reports that Bernie Sanders was not welcome:
Party still faces some serious coalition-building problems.But there was an awkward absence: Senator Bernie Sanders. He was not invited to the “Ideas Conference,” and his exclusion makes clear that, while Democrats are converging around a general set of ideological principles, the
CAP president Neera Tanden explained to The Washington Post that “We were trying to emphasize a new generation,” and a CAP spokesperson told The Nation that nobody who ran for president before was invited.
That’s true as far as it goes, but with any scrutiny it feels more like a post facto justification for not including Sanders. There’s a big difference between Hillary Clinton—now a private citizen with no future electoral plans—and Sanders, a sitting senator who polls as the most popular politician in the country and who has pointedly not ruled out a 2020 presidential campaign. The press materials for the conference proclaimed it would “bring together national leaders of the progressive cause,” and there’s no real way Sanders doesn’t fit that description, or rationally should have been excluded simply because he ran for president last year. (The presence of Susan Rice and Tom Daschle onstage also puts considerable strain on the idea that only new voices were being elevated.)
This division has help to show who has sold out to the establishment and who is really for reform.
Daily Kos founder and self-appointed “granddaddy of the resistance” Markos Moulitsas drove the point home when he huffed during a panel about “that grassroots Bernie thing” and how it was a detriment to the party.
This comes from someone who made the Iraq war his main litmus test in 2004. Now that he is part of the establishment, he backed the candidate who was one of the strongest proponents of military interventionism.
The article concluded with a look at the division between “the elites” and “the grassroots.”
It’s hard to envision a functional political party where there’s such a fissure between the elites and the grassroots. It has already caused the Democrats no shortage of pain, even in the Trump era: The race for DNC chair was also much less about ideology and more about who would get control of the party mechanics—the established hands or the newcomers.
Elbowing Sanders out of the party isn’t going to solve this problem, though many Democrats seem intent on doing it. Politico ran a story on the same day as the Ideas Conference quoting several top Democrats who clearly want Sanders to go away, while blaming him for the party rifts. “He’s a constant reminder. He allows the healing that needs to take place to not take place,” one said.
Meanwhile, being shunned by party bosses is rocket fuel for the Sanders movement. “If you want to understand why establishment Democrats lose, look at CAP. They hold their…grassroots conference at the Four Seasons and don’t invite grassroots progressives,” one progressive strategist affiliated with Sanders but not authorized to speak for him told The Nation. “They charge $1,000 per ticket to attend their ‘Progressive Party’…and eat canapes while wondering why they are out of touch with the rest of the country.”
While there is division in the party between the establishment and reformers, and considerable disagreement over the nomination of Hillary Clinton, at least most Democrats will hopefully agree on opposing Donald Trump. The New York Times noted this aspect of the conference:
In a speech to the liberal Center for American Progress on Tuesday, Representative Maxine Waters of California drew applause and whistles when she reminded the audience of her insistence that Mr. Trump be driven from office. But even more notably, Ms. Waters, a veteran lawmaker, has also been intensifying pressure on her colleagues to recognize the threat she said is posed by a reckless president.