DNC: Democrats at a crossroads
More than three months after a devastating presidential election loss, “Democrats are finally getting ready to settle on a new leader,” said Caitlin Huey-Burns in RealClear Politics.com. This week, 447 Democratic National Committee members will gather in Atlanta to select their next chairperson, in what will be a “soul-searching exercise” for a party consigned to minority status at every level of government. The front-runners represent a proxy campaign between the Obama coalition, in the person of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and the leftist, Bernie Sanders wing, represented by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. A dark-horse candidate, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Peter Buttigieg, 35, is offering himself as a fresh-faced alternative. The key questions facing the party are these: Can it turn the anti-Trump mass protests around the country into an effective political movement? And can Democrats win back disaffected Rust Belt voters?
To win national elections, “Democrats need to fire up Millennials,” said Miles Howard in WBUR.org. That’s why the party should pick Ellison. Young voters saw Clinton as too cozy with the big-money establishment, and believe the DNC “rigged” the primary against Sanders. Ellison has been an aggressive champion of the working class, minorities and young people, and has Sanders’ “full-throated” support. Democrats should be “more progressive, not less,” said Steve Phillips in The New York Times. Clinton didn’t lose because the white working class backed Trump. She lost because 503,000 more voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania chose the Libertarian and Green Party candidates in 2016 than in 2012. Clinton lost those three states—and the election—by just 78,000 votes. Democrats must reclaim their progressive base, rather than embark on an “ill-fated quest” to win over culturally conservative whites.
When will Democrats learn their lesson? asked Alexandra DeSanctis in NationalReview.com. By choosing Ellison or Perez—“one a radically progressive representative, the other a radically progressive former federal bureaucrat”—they overlook Buttigieg, who can appeal to their base and the working class. A veteran of Afghanistan from a heartland state, he’d be a crucial asset for a party “hopelessly disconnected from Middle America.” Buttigieg is also a gay man elected twice “in a state that skews decidedly to the religious right,” said Erika Smith in The Sacramento Bee. He’d be the smartest choice, “not that I’m convinced anyone who really matters is listening.” ■