Perez: Can he revive the Democratic Party?
Democrats apparently “learned the wrong lesson” from their 2016 electoral disaster, said Alex Shephard in NewRepublic.com. In a 235-200 vote last week, former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez defeated Rep. Keith Ellison to become the first Latino chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison had run with the support of the party’s Bernie Sanders–Elizabeth Warren wing, and many believed he could heal rifts from a bruising primary and mobilize Sanders’ activist army. But “Ellison’s identity as a black Muslim”— as well as his vow to banish corporate money from the DNC—unsettled mainstream Democrats. So they tapped Perez, a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2016 who was backed by both Barack Obama and Joe Biden. After an election that left the party weaker than at any time since the 1920s, Perez’s victory is a worrying sign Democrats “don’t believe a major course correction is in order.”
It’s wrong to cast this vote as a rejection of Sanders’ vision for the party, said Tim Murphy in MotherJones.com. Perez, 55, is a real progressive who has retooled state and federal government bureaucracies to serve working-class Americans and minorities. Like Ellison, who will serve as his deputy, he hopes to rebuild the shattered party by reviving Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, working from the ground up. Anyway, the DNC “doesn’t matter very much,” said Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg.com. The chairman “raises money, runs a marginally important bureaucracy,” and appears on cable shows “practically no one watches.” If Sandernistas want to steer the Democrats to the left, they should jump into politics on the local level, joining local party committees and perhaps running for school board or city council. It may sound unglamorous, but that’s where you can really move minds and “affect public policy.”
Still, some progressives “are grousing that the party establishment shut them out,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Naturally, President Trump piled on, tweeting the DNC race was “totally ‘rigged’” against “Bernie’s guy,” and that he couldn’t be happier “for the Republican Party.” But Trump “might want to hold the triumphalism.” His approval ratings are already historically low, and if he “can’t govern,” any hard feelings left over from the DNC fight will vanish, as Democrats remobilize “the Obama coalition in total opposition to the Trump presidency.” Democrats are betting Trump falls on his face, “so they can prosper without a political rethink.”