The new president of a nonprofit group founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has eagerly taken on the Democratic National Committee, calling it "pompous" and "tone-deaf."
Self-proclaimed "justice warrior" Nina Turner was tapped to take over the group, Our Revolution, in June, BuzzFeed reports. Since then, the former Ohio state senator has criticized the DNC more harshly than Sanders' own rhetoric.
"The establishment side of the Democratic Party has shown themselves to be dictators," Turner said, adding that the DNC is not "smart enough, humble enough, to say, let's take a step back and really listen to the people."
Instead, she said, the party establishment tends to "disregard people," to "dismiss," "belittle," "shun," to "push them to the side."
Turner's outrage stems in part from when she and 60 supporters went to DNC headquarters in July, only to be met with barricades. They came to deliver a batch of signatures on their "People's Platform" 2018 policy agenda, a response to party leaders' previously released platform. Turner was incensed that she and her supporters weren't allowed to enter.
"I was absolutely stunned," she said. "For them to be that tone-deaf, or that arrogant, to think that it's OK to put up a barricade so that the people can't even — I mean, we were not even good enough to stand on their stairs."
DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said that their security team put the barricades out.
Turner also took issue with the fact that they were provided donuts and water, which staffers indicate she has talked about often.
"They tried to seduce us with donuts and water," Turner said. "They're pompous and arrogant enough to say to the people, you're not good enough to be on our property — and, oh by the way, we're just gonna hand you donuts and water over the barricade. That is insulting. Absolutely insulting."
DNC officials were surprised at Turner's reaction to the donuts and water. They considered it a gesture of goodwill, but it has since been seized on as a symbol of DNC elitism.
Deputy DNC chairman and progressive champion Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) has since said that the DNC's actions "shocked" him, promising to talk to chairman Tom Perez about it.
Turner supports using single-payer health care as a litmus test for Democratic candidates, reflecting Our Revolution's commitment to pulling the party left. Sanders does not use the same litmus test, despite his vocal support for single payer.
Turner does not question Sanders' approach, however, and one aide to the senator said their work is "parallel." Turner considers Sanders a partner, and does not expect him to have tactics as aggressive as hers.
"He challenges the party, but he also works within that system," she said. "And that's a beautiful thing."
Overall, Turner is most committed to changing what she considers the Democratic establishment's exclusion of populist leaders.
"It is time to make the Democratic Party ‘Feel the Bern' again," Turner emailed Our Revolution members Tuesday. "The DNC may think that they can continue working behind closed doors, but they will know different when millions of us come knocking."
All of this is part of the goal of transforming the party along far-left lines.
"We have a component within our mission that talks about transforming the party," she said. "And that's what we do every day."