On Friday, February 24, 2017 the Democratic National Committee’s 447 members who vote on the next party chairman. I am not a Democrat, but I consider myself a liberal (or progressive) and I have a vested interest in the 2017 DNC Chair Race. As an independent voter, I am someone the party needs to reach.
We had a Democratic president for eight years but we don’t now. It’s time for American voters to pay closer attention to what is going on in their country. Many liberals were asleep at the wheel for the past eight years. This past election illustrated why we should always hold our elected officials accountable, whether we voted for them or not.
Right now, the Republican leadership, emboldened by Trump’s ascension to the presidency and Republican majorities across the country, is intent on catering to the far right. Their policies have serious implications for 99% of Americans, world affairs, and the environment. As part of a growing resistance, voters are now starting to take them (and uncooperative Democrats) to task over a number of their policies.
The DNC Chair Race is not just about the direction of the party. While many parts of the part are mostly autonomous, the DNC coordinates efforts for national elections and who we elect will set policy across the country.
On that note, I wanted to take an in-depth look at the race itself and any surrounding issues. This was originally was going to be discussed in parts for my New Roundup, but there is so much information that it made more sense to make this into an informational mega-post, with editorials.
Table of Contents
Current State of Democratic Party
- DNC Leadership Since 2011
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz
- Donna Brazille
- Brock Turner
- Hillary Again?
- Democratic Party Rift
- How It Works
- The Candidates
- Why the Democratic Party Should Dump Brock
- What’s Wrong with the Democratic Party Leadership
- Who I Support for DNC Chair and Why
Current State of the Democratic Party
Before we can figure out where we’re going, we should first look at where we’ve been.
Over the past 8 years, the Democrats have lost governorships, legislatures, and congressional seats. They’ve lost over 1,000 seats across the country. Could this be blamed on the DNC? Recent history provides us the answers.
DNC Leadership Since 2011
While there is some important history to look at since the Clinton Administration, a crucial part of the DNC’s history occurred around 2010. But for the purposes of keeping this as simple as possible, I want to look at the DNC leadership since 2011.
Perhaps I will discuss 2010 as part of a larger discussion on President Obama’s legacy.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
After the Democrats recorded record losses in Congress during the 2010 midterm elections with Tim Kaine as DNC chair, President Barack Obama ultimately chose Debbie Wasserman Schultz to take Kaine’s place.
When Debbie Wasserman Schultz came to power, the Democratic Party had lost 65 seats in both houses of Congress, but the party would make some gains 4 years later. Wasserman Schultz, the first Jewish woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Florida, helped Obama exploit the gender gap in the 2012 general election. That election was relatively good for Democrats, who made up some ground in the House and retained their majority in the Senate.
But by September 2014, many in Democratic circles had lost faith in Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC Chair. She had made a series of flubs and many people were concerned that she wasn’t really focused on the wellbeing of the party. (And they were on the verge of losing the Senate, as well).
Fundraising Under DWS
In mid-February 2016, it was announced that the DNC was rolling back the restrictions on federal donor money. The ban on the contributions was introduced by Barack Obama in 2008. The rollback was done a couple of months in late 2015.
Many saw the change as giving Hillary Clinton an advantage in her presidential campaign.
- Hillary Clinton set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC called the Hillary Victory Fund*. The committee raised $26.9 million through the end of 2015. It received contributions from large donors (who could each give up to $366,100) and Clinton’s campaign was to share funds with 33 state Democratic Party Committees. By the end of 2015, most of the funds donated to the HVF came from corporations and labor unions, who each donated $100,000 or more.
- Sanders also set up a joint fundraising committee, but it had raised just $1,000 at the time the article was posted.
Also, reform advocates, like Fred Wertheimer, were adverse to the rollback; they argued it was out of touch with voter concerns about the effect of donor money on politicians and political organizations.
In actually, the Democratic National Committee was in debt since Obama’s election. He had transferred the debt from his campaign over to the DNC since he was now the head of the party. The DNC needed to raise money fast and the limits on lobbyist funds didn’t help, although it was important to get rid of lobbyists’ influence on (party) politics.
* Additionally, Hillary Clinton would go on to raise over $1 billion during her campaign. Less than 1% was given to the party.
The Question of Neutrality
By the time DWS was forced to step down, the email leaks were just beginning and there were numerous allegations that the primary was rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. And that is the elephant in the room (no pun intended).
There were unshakable allegations that the Democratic Party leadership rigged the primaries. While many Democrats and liberals scoff at the notion, these allegations must be addressed.
For one thing, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was part of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.
Secondly, there were fewer debates. In 2008, there were 20 debates. In 2016, there were only 9 debates.
Third, from numerous emails, it was clear that DWS was not neutral in the democratic primaries. She emailed Chuck Todd in order to put pressure on the Morning Joe panelists because they negatively criticized Clinton. When there were allegations that Bernie voters were throwing chairs in Nevada (which were later disproven), she immediately sided with the narrative and blamed the Vermont senator.
Fourth, the southern primaries were front-loaded on the schedule.
Additionally, DWS could not be partial as DNC chair in her own reelection campaign.
During the presidential primaries, there were problems with the NGP VAN system, which was a paid voter data service the Democrats were using. A Sanders staffer briefly had access to voter information from Clinton’s side. He was fired, but there was a vulnerability in the system that would allow candidate to access another’s voter data. Sanders’ campaign was blocked from using the service for a period, putting his campaign at a disadvantage.
DWS would later do the same thing to Tim Canova, another Democrat who challenged her in the Florida primaries in 2016.
Donna Brazille is a former Democratic strategist and panelist for CNN. From 1999-2000, she served as former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign manager.
Brazille, 57, has served as Interim DNC Chair twice. Her first go at the position lasted from April 5 – May 4, 2011. She is currently serving as the interim chair once again, in place of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose term ended on July 28, 2016 amid controversy.
Donna Brazille is not without her own controversy. When emails from John Podesta and the DNC were leaked by WikiLeaks, there was on email where Ms. Brazille told Jennifer Palmieri that she Brazille) got CNN debate questions in advance. It looked like Brazille may have given Clinton a question about the death penalty ahead of the debate. Brazille didn’t take part in that debate.
In other emails, it was clear that Brazille sided with Hillary Clinton. In one email, she denigrated Sanders’ supporters. In another, she was celebrating Clinton’s primary victories, saying, “It’s time to stir.”
In November, a day after the 2016 election, a younger DNC staffer excoriated Brazille. In the confrontation, verified by several party members, the staffer took Brazille and the leadership to task for the direction the party was headed. There was also the thinly veiled jab at the generational gap.
In the eyes of many, the party establishment (which includes Brazille) is out of touch and the past election is proof of it. Additionally, many bemoan the placement of former Hillary Clinton campaign staff to DNC positions and the party’s continued association with David Brock.
Democratic Party Rift
Above, I mentioned the allegations against the DNC and DWS.
As a portion of the left will attest, there were numerous voter irregularities that conspicuously favored Hillary Clinton.
In New York and California, there were voter purges and some people had their party affiliations changed from Democrat to Republican, effectively locking them out of closed primaries. Particularly in Brooklyn, where Bernie Sanders was born and raised and where he was gaining a noticeable amount of support, more than 100,000 voters were knocked off the rolls.
Now, not everyone will attribute the above to malfeasance. Others do and those allegations will not go away without being fully addressed. But that’s not the worst part of the rift (for the party).
As the above allegations are being ignored, people who have dissenting opinions about other issues within the party are being mocked.
As a result, people who identified as Democrats are dumping the party. Dump Dems Day occurred in late July 2016 and more people are considering leaving the party.
The worst thing an organization can do is turn away people who want to help it. General apathy by those that organization wants to reach is also detrimental.
So, what are the Democrats doing about this?
In case you don’t know, Mr. Brock is a muckraker who was once part of the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” against the Clintons. He owns Media Matters. Brock also runs American Bridge, which has a Trump War Room.
In January, David Brock (who refers to himself as a journalist, author, and Democratic political activist) wrote an open letter to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
This is how the letter starts:
From the snow-filled days of door-knocking in New Hampshire, to November’s devastating result, the 2016 presidential election was hard-fought and heartbreaking. On the Democratic side, we had two leading candidates who each articulated a vision of an inclusive, prosperous, vibrant American democracy. On the other side, we had Donald Trump, the most corrupt and least qualified man ever to seek the presidency.
It’s no secret who I supported. I was one of the most visible and vocal advocates of Secretary Hillary Clinton. Many others backed you, Senator Sanders, with contagious zeal. At times during the Democratic primary, I was criticized for being too aggressive in my support for Secretary Clinton — and rightly so. Looking back, I recognize that there were a few moments when my drive to put Hillary in the White House led me to take too stiff a jab. I own up to that, I regret it, and I apologize to you and your supporters for it.
Brock when on to praise Bernie Sanders for the senator’s public service and advocacy of the free press.
Summarizing the Letter
Brock mentions that he runs a SuperPAC and argues that the Democrats must have them if the Republicans do.
Brock goes on to talk about fake news, which leads him to complain about the coverage during the 2016 election. As I heard from many Clinton supporters, there was uneven coverage. As Clinton’s emails received so much coverage, little coverage was given over Trump’s financial and ethical scandals.
It certainly didn’t help that Trump received $2 billion worth of free coverage early on. At one point, cable networks focused on an empty podium instead of *cough-cough* covering Bernie Sanders at one of his rallies *cough-cough*.
The Messages from the Letter
Brock said “we need you” to Sen. Sanders at least three times in the letter. Brock was pleading to Bernie to help the Democratic Party.
Brock briefly steers his letter toward Bernie Sanders’ supporters.
Where the corporate media gave us Trump, we need your voice; further, we need the passion of your supporters.
Brock then directly addresses Sanders’ supporters.
Now, if I may, let me speak directly to your supporters: If you voted for Senator Sanders, you almost certainly realize that Trump is a very real threat to our way of life, our shared values, and our constitutional democracy. We are all now small-d democrats. What was said in the heat of a campaign cannot drive us apart in the face of such an overwhelming threat.
From my view, as a trusted consort of the DNC leadership, Brock represents the general thoughts of the party establishment. Many Democratic leaders are torn over what to do with Bernie Sanders. On one hand, they want to incorporate his fundraising strategies and receive the support from Sanders supporters. On the other hand, many party leaders resent Sanders and what he represents.
Brock’s Recent Consultations with the DNC
During the week of January 22-28, 2017, Senate Democrats gathered in Sheperdstown, West Virginia in order to figure out how to talk to Trump voters. Turner played a role in these proceedings.
The series of sessions — which was not open to reporters — is critical for 10 Democrats in the Senate, since they will be up for reelection in 2018 and they’re in states Trump won during the 2016 presidential election.
On Thursday, January 26, the draft schedule was as follows:
- Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) moderated a session with Trump voters.
- Political Operative David Brock, Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden, and Priorities USA CEO Guy Cecil spoke during a session called “Hold Trump Accountable.”
- Former Gov. Steve Behear (a Democrat), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) spoke during a session geared toward “speaking to those who feel invisible in rural America.”
Furthermore, the Democrats were in West Virginia to work on midterm election tactics and to figure out a way to define themselves and the new Republican President.
- For instance, Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Tim Kaine (VA), and Joe Donnelly talked about “Triangulating Trump,” by which they would try to find a way to go around Senate Republicans and work with Trump on certain issues, like infrastructure, outsourcing, and trade.
- Senator Diane Feinstein (CA) was there to prepare Democrats for the fight against Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
DNC Chair Race Nuts and Bolts
There is a lot to consider in this DNC Race, but let’s look at the basics.
What the DNC Is
The Democratic National Committee is the closest thing there is to a permanent organization representing the national Democratic Party, and its main overall goal is to help Democratic candidates get elected across the country, from president on down.
The committee’s fundraising is used to pay staffers, organize in states, pay for ads, and directly fund state party organizations. The DNC raised over $264 million in the 2016 election cycle.
The DNC also sets rules for primaries in the party and plans the party’s national convention, which happens every four years. Delegates can change party rules at the convention.
How It the DNC Chair Race Works
Generally, when a Democratic president is in office, he hand-picks the next DNC chair (if he so desires). Obama picked Tim Kaine to lead the DNC in 2009 and replaced Kaine with Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2011.
In other terms, the next DNC is voted on and the people running have to appeal to the voters, which in this case in only 447 party leaders. Those members are chosen by state chapters of the Democratic Party (70%), by national Democratic groups, and by the current or acting DNC chair.
The next DNC chair is not the only thing that will be decided. Eight other leadership officers will also be chosen. All those positions will be won by the persons who garner majority votes (224 out of 447).
This is how the vote breaks down:
- State party chairs and vice chairs1 account for 112 of those votes2;
- 208 votes go to states based on population and Democratic vote totals3;
- 48 votes go to various national Democratic groups (like the Young Democrats of America, but the other 9 leaders of the DNC each get a vote);
- Democrats Abroad get 4 votes (since there are eight, they each get half a vote);
- And the DNC chair chooses up to 75 people/groups to receive votes.
- In some states, instead of a vice chair, the vote is given to the next highest ranking officer in the state of the opposite sex.
- The votes comes for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Each chapter receives two votes.
- States like California and Texas get 20 and 10 votes, respectively. Most other states get only two votes.
Here’s a full list of the candidates still in the race:
- Sally Boyton Brown
- Robert Vinson Brannum
- Pete Buttigieg
- Keith Ellison
- Jehmu Greene
- Peter Peckarsky
- Jaime Harrison
- Tom Perez
- Sam Ronan
For the most part, this is a two-man race. Keith Ellison emerged as the early front runner. In December 2016, he met a stiff challenge by Tom Perez, who was then President Barack Obama’s Labor Secretary.
Raymond Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, dropped out of the race last week. He quickly threw his support behind Keith Ellison.
Sally Boyton Brown
Sally Boyton Brown is the Idaho Democratic Party executive director. She took over that position in 2012; she had previously worked as interim director and communications director.
Other previous experience:
- Worked on campaigns.
- Spent 13 years in child care; she started her own company in child care.
Boyton Brown thinks she represents the change the DNC needs, name because she has fewer ties to party establishment leaders.
I think we need someone who knows how to manage people and processes along with that.
She credits her experience in child care for helping her develop managerial skills:
I always joke and say if I can control a room of 100 toddlers, 100 Democrats is really not an issue. But I mean that quite seriously.
With kids, we don’t try to change them, we just take the kid that’s in front of us and figure out how we can do what needs to be done. With kids, it’s getting dressed. With Democrats, it’s, ‘How do I get money, get on message, how do we all get on the same page so that we can move together?’
Boyton Brown wants to serve as a bridge between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party. She thinks this can be done by creating DNC working groups that are built around collaboration and consensus building. She implemented this idea during her tenure in Idaho.
Pete Buttigieg, 34, has been the mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012.
He graduated from Harvard. He was a Rhodes Scholar and served as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
Buttigieg is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. He won office in an increasingly red state.
Buttigieg (Pronounced: BOO-tə-juhj), considered entering the race for DNC chair around December. He said he was considering running with an eye on the direction on this country. He said the Democratic Party needs to reach out more to people in communities like South Bend, “where working people are looking for economic fairness.”
Robert Vinson Brannum
Robert Vinson Brannum is the Veterans Committee chair of the NAACP’s Washington, D.C. branch.
In late January, Brannum wrote an Op-Ed piece for The Huffington Post revealing why he wants to be the next DNC Chairman. Among the things he wrote:
- He said he wants to “be a strong advocate for the righteous values and principles of The Democratic Party.”
- “Democrats care about issues such as jobs, homeland security, economic justice, human dignity, safe environment, equal rights, young people, veterans, affordable housing, quality public education and health care.”
- He said people “must know the Democratic Party is open to new ideas.”
- Democrats and the Democratic Party want to protect the rights and improve the quality of life for all Americans.
- “Democrats cannot become political spectators sitting on the dock of the bay waiting for President Trump’s regressive initiatives and Republican Party ideas to fail.”
- He says he will work toward Democratic Party unity.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a 53-year-old Detroit native, was the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2007.
Ellison jumped in the race for the DNC chairmanship in November 2016. He was quickly endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed Ellison sometime later.
At times, Ellison has been critical of Obama’s policies, particularly on free trade and Obama’s handling of banks during the financial crisis that began in 2008.
Keith Ellison was an early supporter of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election. Ellison now has the support of Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren for DNC Chair.
Ellison also won early support from a number of labor unions, including AFL-CIO, which is the largest federation of unions. (However, the AFL-CIO was waiting to see whether Tom Perez would run.)
Ellison is the target of a smear campaign. He has been criticized for his views on Israel. He was also called out for supporting Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan years ago. Ellison has since denounced Farrakhan.
Ellison has also been called out for saying that identity politics it not what lost the democrats the election. He said speaking to the white working class and “people of color” should not be mutually exclusive things. Also, he insisted that the party needed to talk more about social security and better wages.
Ellison also criticized his party for being out of touch with people in the “Rust Belt,” a term he said should be abolished. Specifically, he pointed to the failed strategies of the Democrats to ignore traditionally blue states, like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which surprisingly all went red this time around.
Ellison said that as DNC Chair, he would make sure the party did more to listen to the people and campaign in more areas in order to build lasting relationships. There would be “a lot more work for everybody.”
Jehmu Greene (Texas), a Democratic strategist, a former FOX News analyst, and the former president of Rock the Vote.
Greene entered the race for DNC chair in mid-January. She quick her job at FOX News shortly before putting her hat in the ring.
In the email announcing her candidacy, she said:
“After an historic year and devastating losses up and down the ballot, it is women who are stepping up to protect the rights and freedom of every American. We are organizing, taking action, and marching to demonstrate our opposition to the next administration’s hurtful, hateful policies. It is critical that the debate over the future of the Democratic Party reflects this energy — transforming the party and the country cannot be done without us.”
Peter Peckarsky is an attorney who was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After graduated from high school in Milwaukee, he went on to earn S.B. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Political Science from MIT. Peckarsky earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Peckarsky describes himself as “a long-time Democratic progressive activist.” He has worked with the Late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy against the Anti-Ballistic Missile system. Peckasky also consulted with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Director of Navel Intelligence.
As a lawyer, Peckarsky has worked on cases involving election law, patents, trademarks, and other trade matters. He touts his work for voter protection and election protection issues. He has worked with state Democratic parties to put lawyers in vulnerable voting districts and took part in numerous court cases to contest results.
In 2006, two co-authors and Peter published an article in which a Republican director of a county board of elections in Ohio admitted that an electronic vote counting system included many votes never lawfully cast in the total vote count reported for the 2004 Presidential election in his county.
As DNC chair, Peckarsky says he wants to go back to grassroots and to foster transparency. He wants to give back funding to state and local chapters of the Democratic party and to build relationships with voters.
Jaime R. Harrison is the South Carolina state party chair. He’s held that position since 2013.
Harrison grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he returned to teach. He was a first-generation college graduate. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center.
Jaime Harrison is also called a rising star in the Democratic Party. He once served as the director of floor operations and counsel for Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). And Harrison was one of the speakers on the first day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
One area of concern is Harrison’s ties to John Podesta. In SC, Harrison joined the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm. Many voters want the Democrats to steer away from lobbying money.
Harrison entered the DNC chair race around November 14, 2016. He was the third overall candidate.
Harrison says he wants to bring the party back to a community organization and grow the party’s base. He wants the party to talk more about the issues that affect “people’s daily lives.”
Tom Perez (Maryland) was the U.S. Secretary of Labor (2013-2017). He entered the race on Thursday, Dec 15, 2016.
Perez says he wants to change the party’s organizational structure and tactical strategy, but not its platform. He also said people need to listen more and to more people. He wants to grant more power to state and local Democratic Party organizations, no matter if the state is red or blue, and to carry out a 12-month strategy for elections.
Perez also said the party needs a message based around economic opportunity. But that’s not enough. The party has to do a better job of communicating that message.
Perez also mentioned voter suppression, which include policies like voter ID laws. The messaging is important but it means little if voters are kept from the ballot by unscrupulous means. The DNC needs to find a way to protect American’s right to vote, especially in black neighborhoods, which are often victim to gerrymandering and the restriction of polling places in Republican-led states and districts.
Additionally, Perez did not rule out accepting contributions from federal lobbyists. However, he said he wanted to adapt Bernie Sanders’ fundraising model to the party.
Perez’s supporters include: President Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Joe Biden, the International Association of Firefighters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (the largest private-sector union in the country).
Last week, Perez said he had 180 of the 224 votes needed to win the race.
Sam Ronan (Ohio), 27, is an activist and an Air Force veteran.
Ronan’s immediate family emigrated from Germany. Ronan, whose father served as a soldier in the United States Army and whose mother was a dentist’s assistant, was 6 years old upon his arrival to the United States.
Ronan grew up in Lancaster, Ohio, where he graduated High School with honors. Ronan scored Suma Cum Laude on the National Latin Exam while he was in the ninth grade. During his senior year, Ronan took part in a foreign exchange program with the Rotary International Organization.
Ronan was accepted to attend Wright State University but after the Great Recession hit, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in November 2009. During his five-year stint in the AF, he traveled to Japan and Little Rock Arkansas, and earned his Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences.
Two years after the government shutdown in 2013, Sam Ronan was compelled to run for office. In 2015, he wanted to enter the race for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District in his home town, but that ultimately didn’t pan out. In 2016, he was encouraged to run for the seat in the 62nd Congressional District, but he was told that the DNC would only support the top six candidates.
At a recent debate, Ronan never shied away from the topic of the Democratic primaries. As mentioned above, many voters feel that the primaries were rigged. Ronan say that should be addressed head-on.
I was originally going to use one of these editorials this Sunday, but I realized it needed to be for this post. Also, I realized I needed editorials for at least 3 areas. You might disagree with me here (if you I haven’t bored you), but the comment section is open.
Why the Democrats Should Dump David Brock
David Brock should be castigated and abandoned by the Democratic Party establishment because there is no real place for him.
If you want to know why many people distrust Hillary Clinton, you can start with him. Although many people who mistrusted Mrs. Clinton can talk about her policies as a cause — and those are perfectly valid reasons, provided the person speaking has done their research — many of the irrational hatred toward Hillary Clinton stems from the work of Brock and others.
David Brock later joined the Clintons’ cause and muckraked for them. He even founded the Correct the Record SuperPAC, which employed Internet users to troll forums and other websites to counter any and all negative opinions of Mrs. Clinton.
If I told someone Vladimir Putin did that kind of stuff, they might be appalled. The fact is he does, and I honestly see CTR as having some things in common. I know Putin is far worse, but still …
Another fact is Brock’s efforts did not help Hillary Clinton in the long run. His efforts ultimately hurt her because they played into the public’s mistrust of her. One should not need to hire trolls to energize one’s base, especially if those efforts do nothing to grow that base.
The fact that the Democratic Party is consulting with Brock is concerning. It shows that the DNC establishment is tone-deaf and unwilling to listen to the “working class” and the younger voters and progressive wings of the party. It would behoove the party to listen to these voters because they need more people who can speak these voters with an eye on the wellbeing of the American public.
What Is Wrong with the Current Party Leadership
In the absence of a viable third (or fourth) party to really put pressure on the Democrats and Republicans, the Democrats appear to be the best option for progressive grass-roots efforts to be taken to a national level. However, many people with a vested interest are being pushed away or ignored.
Since the Reagan Administration, the Democrats have tried to run as centrists with a huge focus on capitalism. While those things aren’t necessarily bad, the Democrats have focused on those things at the expense of ignoring and outright mocking their progressive base.
The support Bernie Sanders had (and still has) was less about him and more about his platform. So when he endorsed the candidate many people felt didn’t really care to talk about the most pressing issues weighing on the minds of voters across generations his supporters didn’t follow him.
Contrary to belief, Sanders doesn’t have a bunch of blind followers. It was always about the issues. This issue has played out in the 2016 election and it is but one reason the race was even close in the first place.
Furthermore, this dismissiveness has manifested itself in the DNC race. This is not the way forward if the Democratic Party wants to gain seats in Congress and retake the presidency.
The Democratic Party leadership needs to do two things. One, it needs to embrace the progressive wing of the party and not just try to co-opt its energy and (fundraising strategies). Two, the party needs give people something to aspire to. Many of us already know where we stand with respect to Trump’s positions. Instead of focusing so much on him, though, party leaders need to show people the path forward.
As it stands now, the Democratic Party frustrates many voters, including myself.
What Really Frustrates Me About the Party
I am frustrated with the party because it wants to harness the energy of Sanders’ supporters without doing the work and without understanding why a contingent of Democrats preferred him over Hillary Clinton. I explained this above, but the general problem is that the leadership want to co-op Bernie Sanders’ movement, instead of cooperating with the people in it. Platitudes wear thin, and actions speak louder than words.
I am frustrated that the party leadership refuses to take an introspective look. The house is burning but they refuse to recognize it. Obviously, they are doing something wrong if they lost a presidential election to the most disliked candidate in history and they lost over 1,000 seats over the past decade. What the leaders are doing right now is analogous to a child plugging up their ears with their fingers and humming to himself.
I am frustrated because the party keeps pushing people away. How can it be inclusive if it tells people who “aren’t real Democrats” to shut up? They shun “ideological purity,” but what’s that?
I and many other are frustrated because we care. It’s not that we want the party to fail. We want its act together, but at times we’re convinced that the party would rather lose to people like Trump than to hand power over to progressives and to allow younger voters to get involved. They have to get involved some time in order to the party to survive.
Why does the party establishment push people away? All you have to do is follow the money. And money doesn’t guarantee electoral success.
I would hope the leadership proves me wrong but the results of this race will say quite a bit.
Why I Support Keith Ellison (or Sam Ronan) for DNC Chair
I disagree with the current leadership in the party and I feel that a truly progressive plan is the best option for Americans today. But the Democrats need the right leadership in order to institute such a plan.
Tom Perez has the support of many in the DNC establishment but he wants to keep the status quo and he runs from the tough questions. He speaks in platitudes and offers no real solutions to move the party forward. Also remember it is the status quo is what lost the Democrats the 2016 presidential election, both houses of Congress, state legislatures, and governorships.
From what I’ve heard them say so far, Keith Ellison and Sam Ronan actually want to help the party and bridge gaps.
Ellison wants to be in touch with the progressive wing of the party and has more foresight than most of the other candidates. He recognized the political surge behind Donald Trump, for one thing.
Sam Ronan also recognizes the type of political climate we’re in, yet he goes farther than Ellison to address the problems in this party. However, Ronan is a long shot since he doesn’t have the history within the party and he entered the race late.
Tom Perez talks about inclusion and diversity, but Ellison lives it and it comes more naturally to him. He supported Bernie Sanders’ primary run, supported Hillary Clinton after her nomination, and refuses to push away party members and independents. While I am concerned that Ellison walked back on his position to ban lobbyist and corporate money for fundraising, I am more confident that he will welcome new ideas to help the DNC and is willing to avoid the conflicts of interests Debbie Wasserman Schultz had.
Keith Ellison isn’t the perfect candidate, but based on the level of his support and his positions, he is, in my opinion, our best option.
Brock, David. “Dear Senator Sanders: I’m with You in the Fight Ahead.” Medium. 10 Jan 2017. Web. <https://medium.com/@DavidBrock/dear-senator-sanders-im-with-you-in-the-fight-ahead-ffd42ae989bb#.wb0lnzuag>.
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