Email Is Fracturing the Democratic Convention Before It Even Starts

Like a millennial Paul Revere, the girl in the plain white t-shirt and pixie cut strode eagerly through the streets of Philadelphia, alerting her fellow revolutionaries to the news: “She just resigned! She just resigned!”

As word spread, the crowd chanted, “Down with Debbie! Down with Debbie!” and bobbed their bright blue Bernie Sanders signs to the beat. “Debbie” was Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Moments before, just a day before the start of the Democratic National Convention, she had announced she was stepping down from her job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The reason? A white-hot WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails, many of which revealed damning favoritism toward Hillary Clinton.

How Poker Theory Explains Ted Cruz’s Convention Speech

  • Why Clinton’s Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail

  • The emails represented exactly the kind of backroom bias Sanders’ strongest devotees always suspected. Throughout primary season, critics called them conspiracy theorists, but as they marched along Philadelphia’s Broad Street on Sunday, these thousands of self-styled rebels felt at once vindicated and infuriated. Sanders’ events are often gleeful love-fests, held to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel. This time, Sanders’ people were out with their pitchforks—literally.

    “The DNC documents show this election really wasn’t an election at all. It was a coronation,” said Joshua Rothstein, a 25-year-old comedian from Brooklyn, his cardboard-and-duct tape pitchfork in hand. “Before those documents came out, I would have been happy to support Hillary.” But, he says, “the leaks put me over the edge.”

    Wasserman Schultz’s departure, especially the day before the convention begins, instantly casts the Democrats as a party in turmoil. That’s a far cry from the image the party hoped to present after a contentious primary season and a Republican convention last week that revealed another party embroiled in internal conflict. Instead, the leaks—including emails in which DNC staffers plot to exploit Sanders’ Jewish heritage to undercut his campaign—have rekindled the resentment that fired Sanders’ many primary victories against Clinton. Now the same tool that was supposed to help propel Clinton to victory is once again dragging her down. The Clinton campaign’s superior tech savvy still promises to be an asset come election day. But the Internet’s most banal medium of all—email—has become Clinton’s greatest liability.