Dems fail first test

Dear Friends,

For the status quo, it was another great week in politics. The Democratic National Committee — long controlled by the corporate-friendly Clintons and their pals on Wall Street — elected Tom Perez over Keith Ellison as the new Party chair.

Tom Perez with Hillary Clinton

Some of my friends argue that Perez has a progressive track record as former Labor Secretary under President Obama and is now the first Latino to lead the Democratic Party. So what’s the fuss?

They miss the point. What’s now known as the Bernie Wing of the Democratic Party (what Sen. Paul Wellstone called the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and what used to be known simply as “The Democratic Party”) backed Keith Ellison — a solid, independent-minded progressive who made no bones about challenging the Party’s establishment.

Keith Ellison with Bernie Sanders

By all accounts, the establishment knew it couldn’t control Ellison. So it cleverly picked a candidate who, despite a reasonably progressive history, would make sure the Party’s status quo went unchallenged.

Symbolically, if not functionally, the election of Perez as chair is a disaster. It sends the message that the DNC is about business as usual. Sure, Perez attempted to throw the Bernie Wing a bone by appointing Ellison as deputy chair of the Party. But few believe this token gesture will have any effect on altering the Party’s direction.

Here in Iowa, we were shocked that all five of Iowa’s voting delegates supported Perez. The new chair (Derek Eadon) and new vice chair (Andrea Phillips) were swept in on a wave of reform. Eadon beat the establishment’s darling, former State Senator Mike Gronstal, handily. And yet the new leadership’s first significant action is . . . what? Vote against the candidate universally endorsed by reform Democrats? Take that, you Bernie people!

So, what’s a reform-oriented, progressive voter to do? Well, you can stick with the Democratic Party and try to reform it from within. I admire your perseverance and hope you prevail.

Or you can register as a Green or Libertarian, work to start a new party, or campaign for people who run as third party or independent candidates. Yet, I’m not convinced that any existing third party has the gumption and diligence to do the grueling, voter-by-voter groundwork needed to become a serious threat to the two-party monopoly. Prove me wrong.

Or you can choose to remain unaffiliated, and hope that the Democratic Party again finds the soul it abandoned back in the 1980s, or that a new Party becomes strong enough to emerge as a viable alternative.

My path, for now, is to continue to hammer away at the critical issues through building strong, broad grassroots coalitions that bring together voices and interests that haven’t traditionally worked side-by-side, but need to if we’re going to see success at the ballot box and in policy debates in city halls, legislative chambers and the U.S. Congress.

At all costs, soldier on. There are so many ways to make a difference. Even if while trudging along your chosen path you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, you’ve gotta persist. The stakes are too high to sit back and do nothing.

While your one voice may seem weak and frail even though you scream at the top of your lungs, when that voice unites with dozens, hundreds, thousands and eventually millions of other voices, it becomes a clamor for freedom and justice that cannot be ignored.

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9 thoughts on “Dems fail first test

  1. Bridget Butler

    I do not completely agree with you. Tom Perez is not a corporate hack. He was a civil rights lawyer and a progressive, pro-worker Secretary of Labor. Perez is multi-racial and the current attack on voting rights is something he is up in arms about. He also is friends with Keith Ellison and immediately made Ellison a deputy. They seem to be committed to working hard together. Ellison is bringing Perez to the Capitol for tonight’s presidential address. I do not think a vote for Perez was a vote against the Resistance or progressive change. Perez was endorsed by Clinton, but he is not Clinton. I think this DNC will work much better than it did under the previous chairs. One thing about big money – Democrats will need some of that to win seats, it is a reality, I cannot see anyway around. That does not have to mean a sell-out of the party. I think we need to give Perez and his team a chance.

      1. BK

        Apparently, I am from the future. According to the time posted on my comment I’ve somehow traveled forward in time 6 hours. Take that, physicists.

    1. idic5

      being for the TPP is NOT progressive and pro-worker . It is corporatist. Multi racial means absolutely nothing if you are throwing the working under the bus.

  2. Shelly Servadio Vice Chair Veterans Caucus IDP

    I’ll persist and #resist.
    I’ll respect but disagree. Iowa desperately needs to turn things around. We are getting clobbered at the capitol. The people need hope.

  3. Joel Stegner

    It is no fun to lose, particularly to a bozo like Trump, but the person who recommits to win the next time is taking the right. Both Bernie and Hillary. Progressives got hammered, and we waste our energy blaming each other. We have a two party system. Places that don’t still have to get along by forming coalitions to form government. If we don’t get along, start preparing for a second Trump term and further gerrymandering after 2020, and a 6-3 or 7-2 Conservative Majority that will be with us for the next 50 years. Please lose the anger and to the right to advance progressive causes – work with instead of against those who share most of you views. The only time people get everything they want is a dictatorship!

    1. BK

      What half of the party doesn’t understand is that the progressive wing of the party is tired of being pushed to the side. We’re not going to support the centrist wing of the party, they do us no favors. If that means more Trump, then more Trump it is. When they learn, the party can move forward. All of this working together talk is nice but the DNC has never worked with the progressive wing, ever. They showed us this last cycle that they’d rather a corporate Republican win than a progressive Democrat. The “falling in line” is over. It does us no good.

    2. D. Bunka

      Joel Stegner – “Please lose the anger and to the right to advance progressive causes – work with instead of against those who share most of you views. The only time people get everything they want is a dictatorship!”

      Progressives are not asking for everything. When we all should be sharing the meat, establishment Dems have not seen fit to even throw a bone. Yet, their constant refrain is one of “get over it”, “stop looking backward”, “we need to be unified”. All the while they keep kicking us in the gut. If you want to scold about silencing dissent and issuing edicts, you need to be looking at the behavior of the corporate Dems.

  4. Jeff Clothier

    Who would have thought one year ago that Perez and Ellison would have finished one and two in ANY configuration for DNC chair?

    The fact is no individual faction within the Democratic Party or the Left in general has the numbers to overcome the GOP occupation. The far Left risks the unprecedented influence it has generated by continued belligerence and insistence that the “establishment”
    (meaning those who have achieved a certain stature they themselves have not) abdicate, roll over and play dead.

    Liberals, Moderates and traditional Democrats, in turn, are going to have to decide how they can accommodate and work with those whose passion and ideological focus currently exceed their understanding of and taste for coaltion-building, and who, with the exception of the Keith Ellisons among them, display little interest or acumen in the mathematic and financial realities of politics.

    Neither faction has the wherewithal to go it alone. It will require a both-and approach rather than an either-or.

    Perez-Ellison aptly represent that both-and approach if both sides take their ideological blinkers off long enough to see it.