Democratic Convention opens with leadership in disarray, Russian intrigue

Philadelphia (US)The Democratic Party Convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States opens here on Monday with the party’s leadership thrown into unprecedented disarray as Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned following leaks of party emails allegedly by Russia.

Accusing Moscow of interfering in US presidential elections, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said Russians hacked the party national committee’s computer system and released the emails to help her Republican rival, Donald Trump.

He told CNN on Sunday that “experts” traced to “Russian state actors” the leak of emails showing that the party leadership tried to undermine the insurgent Clinton rival, Bernie Sanders.

WikiLeaks, which has previously publicly posted various secret government and corporate emails and data, did not identify the source of the more than 20,000 Democratic emails it published.

The emails infuriated the left wing of the Democratic Party still smarting over the defeat of Sanders by Clinton, whom it sees as the establishment candidate.

Even though Sanders has endorsed Clinton, his supporters continued their battle against her with protests on Sunday and vowed to take it to the convention floor clouding the image leaders hoped to project of a united front against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Some of the leaked emails showed the party officials looking at portraying Sanders, who is Jewish, as an “atheist” to undercut his appeal in a nation where religion openly plays a role in politics. In others, officials discussed ways of undermining Sanders who rode a wave of anti-establishment fervour to challenge Clinton.

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort denied suggestions of any links between Trump and Moscow calling them in an interview to ABC “pure obfuscation on the part of the Clinton campaign”.

The 4,762 delegates elected to the convention by rank and file include several Indians. Amit Jani, the media person for South Asians for Hillary, told IANS South Asians were involved in the Convention and the campaign at all levels. “We are excited to be a part of the historic Convention and working for Hillary Clinton’s victory.”

About India, the party manifesto for the November election that will be adopted at the Convention says, “We will continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy, a nation of great diversity, and an important Pacific power.”

When the Convention opens on Monday evening, the party will try to forge unity against Trump overcoming the polarisation between the party’s establishment and the traditional membership on one side and on the other, the party’s progressive wing and the newly-enthused supporters of Sanders entering the election arena for the first time.

Donna Brazille, the interim chair of the Democratic Party, acknowledged, “There may be stuff we have to apologise for.” She said the party would emerge united for Clinton and Tim Kaine, her vice president pick, to take on Trump.

Sanders has been given a major speaker at the inaugural session of the Convention in a city sweltering under a record heat wave. The party manifesto has co-opted several elements of the Sanders campaign like a minimum wage of $15 per hour, higher taxes for the rich, ending death penalty, and eventually legalising marijuana.

Clinton’s model of the presidency hews to essentially a continuation of President Barack Obama’s eight-year rule of moderation and international involvement, with a progressive shift reaching out to the middle classes and the poor who feel insecure despite the economic rebound from the Great Recession legacy of George W. Bush.

She goes up against Trump, who has made terrorism and law and order the centerpiece of his campaign, while also railing against Wall Street which he – and Sanders supporters – link to Clinton.