So, Tom Perez triumphed over Keith Ellison for the position of DNC chair.
The winner of the Democratic National Committee’s chairmanship, inherits the job at a particularly difficult time. He jumped into the race after Bernie Sanders endorsed Keith Ellison. He was immediately characterized as the establishment candidate because he was openly preferred by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The narrative of a bitter split between the so-called Sanders Democrats and establishment Democrats has taken hold and it’s exhausting. By choosing to run Perez against Keith Ellison the party’s higher-ups made an unbelievably stupid call. In doing so they openly picked a fight with the left-wing of their party over a largely symbolic office. The result is that they now face the clear and present danger of alienating the only people capable of keeping the Democratic Party from stumbling into irrelevance.
Ellison galvanized the support of grassroots activists and millennials while also gaining endorsements from a wide spectrum within the party, including senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer. On the other hand Perez is the embodiment of the establishment. And he won!
Democrats are in retreat almost everywhere, with minority status in both congressional chambers, only 16 governors’ offices and majorities in only 31 of 99 state legislatures. What is even more worrisome is that they will have more than 25 Senate seats at risk in 2018.
The Trump trauma and Clinton’s unexpected loss has traumatized Democrats. But does that mean that the party has to hit rock bottom and is ready to recover?
The Sanders wing says that the best place to start rebuilding is not in Washington but at the local and state levels. They are probably right. But that doesn’t mean Perez has different ideas and that he is a wrong choice.
During his tenure as labor secretary, Perez secured backtime pay and extended overtime for workers, which is the very definition of a progressive. Both Perez and Ellison recognize the problems they face and they will probably work together as a team. Perez might be in charge of the DNC, but leaders like Ellison are the future of the Democratic Party. They both share progressive values and together they need strategic wins.
Generally, Democrats need strength to save the country from the authoritarian rule of an unbalanced president. The best thing the party’s base can do is to follow their example.
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