One of the most telling questions in the aftermath of Trump’s victory last November was – how can the Democrats respond?
It was a crushing defeat, leaving them not only without the White House, but also ther Senate, the House and the vast majority of state governing bodies as well.
Well, the opening remarks from the party’s leading “establishment” figures did not bode well. The likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were a little too keen to focus on the involvement on the Russians in the election campaign while ignoring the fact that they both shut out the Sanders campaign in the primaries and also missed an open goal with the general election itself even with the alleged interference.
Now they need to regroup, and the first big test of this was the election of a new dhairperson of the Democratic National Committee. This role is not that of “leader of the Party”, it is more one that is responsible for the overall brand of the party. But this vote was significant in that the contest turned out to be a straight fight between Tom Perez, Labor Secretary under Obama and thus seen as leaning towards the “establishment”, and Keith Ellison, a Progressive congressman from Minnesota.
There can be little surprise that Progressives will be annoyed that Perez won, as this article on CommonDreams.org outlines…
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, which supported Ellison, said the outcome showed “[t]he DNC is out of touch with the American public and their needs. Democratic leaders were at a crossroads and today they chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base.”
…and even the President himself weighed in shourtly after the result was announced…
Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Personally, while I would have backed Ellison myself, I don’t believe this is the time to direct anger at the Democrat leadership, however frustratingly corporate-controlled they may seem. Now is the time to show them how much they need Progressive support, and having won the vote by just 235 to 200, Perez at least appointed Ellison as his vice chair.
Does that automatically mean the Minnesota congressman will be included? Of course not. But right now is not the time to show division in the party. Instead, at least let the new leadership be given a chance to take shape because there is a much bigger orange fish to fry.
That said, a keen eye needs to be kept on how the party moves forward because if the likes of Sanders, Warren & Ellison aren’t getting their voices heard, their sizeable following could pose “establishment” Democrats a lot of headaches the next time primaries come around for house and senate elections. JLP