Democracy & Government

Your Turn: The Future of DNC Leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Should she stay or should she go? Most readers agree that it's time for the head of the DNC to step down, but some think she's being treated unfairly.

Your Turn: The Future of DNC Leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Democratic National Committee Chair and House Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in January 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A post by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship demanding Debbie Wasserman Schultz immediately resign her position as Democratic National Committee chair has garnered both praise and significant pushback by over 4,000 readers who commented since last weekend.

In “Democrats Can’t Unite Unless Wasserman Schultz Goes,” Moyers and Winship called out the Democratic National Committee chair for unfairly favoring Hillary Clinton to the detriment of rival Bernie Sanders:

“Why, pray tell, shouldn’t the peaceful majority of Sanders people be angry at the slow-motion, largely invisible rigging of the political process by Wasserman Schultz and the Clinton machine — all for the benefit of Secretary Clinton?”

This week, Democrats are reportedly talking about asking Wasserman Schultz step down from her position before the party’s national convention in July, saying she may be “too divisive a figure to unify the party in 2016″ to beat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Like many others, commenter Novenator said Wasserman Schultz, who in her role as party chair is not supposed to take sides in the presidential primary, blatantly tipped the scales in favor of Clinton early on:

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz so thoroughly rigged the debates and other things that it allowed Clinton to consolidate an early name recognition/insider infrastructure edge and steamroll in entire regions of the country. It was treason to our party.”

The Sanders camp has accused Wasserman Schultz, who co-chaired Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president, of restricting the number of Democratic candidate debates and scheduling them on weekends when viewership is low, to favor the former secretary of state.

Others, like reader Ronald J. Joseph, argued that Wasserman Schultz’s actions “could make the upcoming election against Trump more difficult than it should have been.” That’s the point former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley recently made when he criticized Wasserman Schultz, though not by name, for delaying the start of the Democratic debates.

She is doing her job, and it’s an incredibly tough one.

— Reader Kathy Ramalama

“It was a great disservice to the republic, actually, that we let that immigrant-bashing carnival barker, fascist demagogue Donald Trump have full run” of the campaign media coverage through last summer, O’Malley said. Trump “grew into a phenomenon over those summer months, while we heard nothing from the Democratic Party.”

Others wrote in to disagree with Moyers and Winship, saying that Wasserman Schultz is just doing what a party leader should do in her position: win elections. As Kathy Ramalama put it: “[Her] job is to get the Democratic candidate elected, and Bernie is not electable. No far-left or far-right candidate is… You may say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is Hillary’s friend, but so are a lot of people who think Hillary is the best qualified and the most electable.”  

Like others, Ramalama said she believes the attack on Wasserman Schultz “feels as misogynistic as many of the attacks on Clinton during this campaign. She is doing her job, and it’s an incredibly tough one.” Many disagreed with the misogyny allegation, asking for specific evidence. Hilary Rosen, a Democratic consultant and friend of the DNC leader recently told Newsweek there has been “a level of vitriol and personal attacks against her that we haven’t seen against previous chairs.”

Big Money

Moyers and Winship also strongly criticized Wasserman Schultz for her recent reversal of the donations ban from lobbyists and political action committees. “This is a slap in the face to progressives calling for a halt to big money and allowing lobbyists to buy our elected officials. And it’s contrary to what Hillary Clinton herself has said about money and politics on the campaign trail,” they wrote.

People are clearly disgusted with the influence of money in elections, but some consider the big money that Wasserman Schultz is courting a necessary evil to beat Trump. Susana Montana Murdoch wrote: “Do you think that by denying the Democrats big money, a Democratic candidate will prevail, even while outspent by a GOP that drove Citizens United and all it has unleashed?”

Laurie Nichols wrote that Wasserman Schultz is reflective of a Democratic Party that has lost its way. “Liberals and progressives are sick and tired of being ignored by Washington DC and accepting big money is tantamount to betrayal of the ordinary American.”

She added that the party “has morphed into something completely divorced from its mission statement, it may have taken a few decades for the people to revolt, but they are doing so right now.”

As for Wasserman Shultz’s support of the payday lending industry, just about everyone described it as vile in one way or another. But Ron Burley took it up for her, saying, “You can point to Schultz’s support of payday loan lenders. I can point to Sanders’ support of gun manufacturers (We all have our issues.). What you’re forgetting is that Schultz also supported Obamacare, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ equal pay for women and much more.”

Wasserman Schultz, who has been a legislator in the US House since 2005, is facing a primary challenge in South Florida from Tim Canova, a liberal Wall Street reformer who Sanders endorsed over the weekend.

The Vermont senator noted that if he is elected president, Wasserman Schultz “would not be re-appointed chairwoman of the DNC.”

Karin Kamp

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women's entrepreneurship.