Today, several southern Democratic Party heads, including Rickey Cole of Mississippi, signed a letter asking Bernie Sanders to stop characterizing southern voters as people who "distort reality":
The letter, posted on Politico, started in part:
We commend you on running a spirited campaign that has energized and mobilized a new generation of voters, but we are concerned about the way you and your campaign have characterized the South.
As you may recall in 2006, the Democratic National Committee chaired by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean took two historic steps towards diversity and inclusion. First, the DNC modified its Presidential Primary process and added South Carolina and Nevada (states with sizable minority populations) to join the historic early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Governor Dean stated at the time that he “strongly believed in the importance of broadening participation in the nomination process to better reflect the rich racial, regional and economic diversity of the Democratic Party.” Second, Governor Dean initiated a 50-state strategy to strengthen the Democratic Party and amplify Democratic voices in all states and not just states traditionally dominated by Democrats.
The greatest asset we have as a party is our diversity—a diversity of cultures, religions, ethnicities, experiences, and backgrounds.
Yet over the course of this Democratic primary, you and your surrogates have sought to minimize Secretary Hillary Clinton’s victories throughout the South as a symptom of a region that, as you put it, “distorts reality.” You argue that the South is “the most conservative part” of America; implying states that traditionally vote Republican in a general election are not worth contesting in a Democratic Primary.
Southern Democrats already have to deal with Republicans refusing to expand Medicaid, deteriorating infrastructure, and the lack of adequate funding for our public schools. We need our national Democratic leaders to invest in our races and causes—to amplify our voices, not diminish them. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career trying to help people all across the South. She saw a region full of families and children of every color, and instead of diminishing them, she worked to build them up. She is committed to a long-term strategy of rebuilding our state Democratic parties, to assist candidates up and down the ballot, and to serve as a voice for the voiceless. She has not dismissed the importance of states that you have won, because she realizes s that to be President of the United States you have to be a champion for all of the states. To be leader of the Party, you have to be with Democrats in all states as well. That includes the ones you won and yes, even the ones you lose.