POLITICS

Bernie Sanders Calls For 'Fundamental Transformation' Of The Democratic Party

He demanded reforms as he prepared for a meeting with Hillary Clinton.

WASHINGTON -- Bernie Sanders called for a wholesale transformation of the Democratic Party on Tuesday, the day of its last primary, signaling what he'll fight for leading up the party's national convention next month. 

The independent senator from Vermont laid out his vision of how the Democratic Party could become more democratic at a press conference outside of his campaign headquarters, just hours before he was set to meet privately with Hillary Clinton. Clinton secured enough delegates to win the party's nomination last week, rendering the District of Columbia's presidential primary on Tuesday irrelevant to the outcome of the race. Sanders has yet to concede; he said as recently as Sunday that he would remain in the race until the convention. 

The first thing Sanders did at his press conference was to demand new leadership at the Democratic National Committee. Sanders endorsed and raised funds for Tim Canova, a Florida law professor challenging DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), after months of criticizing her for what he said were blatant moves to rig the primary process in Clinton's favor. 

"How do we revitalize the Democratic Party? How do we make it easy for people to participate politically, rather than have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country on earth?" Sanders asked, rhetorically. 

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to the media outside of his campaign headquarters June 14, 2016 in Wa
Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to the media outside of his campaign headquarters June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. Sanders is expected to meet with presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Washington after polls close for the primary in DC.

He called for Wasserman Schultz's ouster, without naming her explicitly. 

"We need a person at the leadership of the DNC who is vigorously supporting and out working to bring people into the political process," he said. "Yeah, I know, political parties need money. But it is more important that we have energy, that we have young people, that we have working-class people who are going to participate in the political process and fight for their kids and for their parents." 

MSNBC's Chuck Todd asked Wasserman Schultz Tuesday afternoon whether she felt as if her job "is part of this negotiation between Clinton and Sanders," to which she answered "No." Then she knocked the GOP's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. 

Sanders also called for the elimination of superdelegates, the un-pledged party elites and elected officials who play a role in choosing the party's nominee at the convention. Sanders' campaign insisted until recently that he could still win the nomination by persuading superdelegates to switch their allegiances from Clinton to him, based on his contention he'd be a better nominee to take on Trump in November. Progressive groups that endorsed Sanders opposed this plan if it would go against whomever the majority of pledged delegates were tied to. Clinton has a majority of the party's pledged delegates, but had locked up a significant number of superdelegates in the preliminary stages of the contest. 

"The idea that we had 400 superdelegates pledged to a candidate some eight months or more before the first ballot was cast is to my mind absurd," Sanders said. "And we need to also make sure that superdelegates do not live in a world of their own, but reflect, reflect, the views of the people of their own state."

Sanders advocated for same-day voter registration and said the Democratic Party should switch to a universal system of open primaries, so unaffiliated voters can participate in choosing its nominee. Clinton won all but one of the nation's primaries -- Oregon's -- that was closed to unaffiliated and independent voters. Sanders performed much better in open primaries.

Notably, Sanders did not call for the elimination of low-turnout caucuses, which he dominated, even though low-income voters, voters with disabilities and voters whose first language isn't English find it difficult to participate in caucuses because they are held during a set time period and require a longer time commitment than simply mailing in a ballot or casting a vote at a polling place. 

Sanders said he wanted to see "the most progressive platform ever passed by the Democratic Party" that would make it "crystal clear that the Democratic Party is on the side of working people." He chose five of the 15 members of the party's platform committee, which delineates the party’s agenda and principles at the convention in July. 

Sanders is set to hold a national live stream with his supporters Thursday evening. 

Clinton's campaign said in a statement Monday that she "looks forward to the opportunity to discuss how they can advance their shared commitment to a progressive agenda, and work together to stop Donald Trump in the general election."

CORRECTION: An earlier version misspelled Chuck Todd's first name.

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