Voters supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have united against a common enemy they’ve deemed more detrimental to their candidate’s success than even rival Hillary Clinton: Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida lawmaker Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
For Sanders supporters, Wasserman Schultz represents everything they dislike about their party’s policies. For example, they believe that former Secretary of State Clinton’s victories are attributable to the exclusion of independent voters and the “rigged” policy of superdelegates.
Back in February, Schultz told CNN host Jake Tapper, “Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.”
I think I'm honestly starting to hate @DWStweets more than @realDonaldTrump Wake up, Democrats #DownWithDebbie #DropOutHillary #FeelTheBern— Wormtown Lefty (@Wormtown Lefty)1463662645.0
“I think I’m honestly starting to hate @DWStweets more than @realDonaldTrump,” one Sanders supporter tweeted on Thursday, using the campaign hashtag, #FeelTheBern.
Other hashtags employed by frustrated Sanders supporters on Thursday included #DebbieDowner, #DownwithDebbie and #DumpDebbie.
The newly ignited outrage stemmed from Wasserman Schultz’s response to Sanders’ statement on the chaotic Nevada convention last Saturday.
“Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” Sanders said in a statement Tuesday after his supporters were accused of inciting violence at the convention, during which property was vandalized and certain members of the local party received death threats.
In his statement, Sanders also criticized Democratic leadership for using “its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place” at the convention.
Wasserman Schultz took issue with Sanders’ choice to blame Saturday’s failure on a flawed Democratic Party, rather than his supporters alone.
“Unfortunately, the senator’s response was anything but acceptable. It certainly did not condemn his supporters for acting violently or engaging in intimidation tactics and added more fuel to the fire,” the DNC chair said on CNN.
That response triggered the criticism of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, who called for Wasserman Schultz’s resignation Wednesday, blaming the Florida congresswoman for what she saw as the unfair treatment of Sanders throughout the primary season.
“This has been very poorly handled from the start. It has been unfair, and they haven’t taken him seriously, and it starts, quite frankly, with the person we just heard speaking,” Brzezinski said of Wasserman Schultz.
Credo's petition has gained more than 88,000 signatures so far, with an ultimate goal of 100,000 signatures. Moveon.org’s petition has more than 77,000 signatures, and RootsAction exceeded its goal of 35,000 signatures for its petition.
Former DNC spokeswoman and now Democratic consultant Holly Shulman has defended Wasserman Schultz, saying that Democrats selected her as DNC chair and that it's easy for campaigns blame her for failures since she's the face of the party.
“Something that’s getting lost in a lot of this discussion is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a democratically elected chair of the party,” Shulman told the Hill. “Democrats elected her to lead the party, and that’s what she’s doing.”
“Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz is an easy scapegoat for each campaign who has complaints about how their own campaigns are being run or the traction that they’re not getting," she added.
The heated feud between Clinton and Sanders supporters has caused many to wonder if the party will be able to unite against the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“I’d say the effort for party unity is not going very well,” Democratic strategist Brad Bannon told the Hill. “It’s definitely a threat to the nominee, which is probably going to be Hillary Clinton.”