Given today’s political events, I offer up one more political post before returning to Andy Rooney-like rants about society or heckling the world like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.
Today, the national Democratic party elected a new chair, former Obama cabinet member Tom Perez. Mr. Perez entered the race later than several others, and is seen by some in the party as being the “establishment candidate” because he was supported by many of the high ranking DNC officials. The irony in that seems to be lost in that his closest opponent, Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota, was supported by some of the longest serving senators such as Chuck Schumer and independent but recent Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The danger now for the Democratic party is the “Bernie Sanders” wing of the party fleeing like the proverbial rats off a sinking ship. This strikes me as an odd threat. Perez was long considered one of the most progressive members of Obama’s cabinet. But because he was “recruited” to run by party leadership, and because he also publicly supported TPP among other things (a position favored by his boss, and being the Labor Secretary, a position important to his own post), he is vilified by the Sanders followers.
It is more important than ever that the Democrats unite. We need a uniter, not a divider, or something like that. Perez, with Ellison as his deputy chair, can do that, but they need to get to work immediately. As I mentioned in my previous post, it is more important than ever for the Democratic party to shore up its base and ensure that the young, progressive types are on board and energized to get involved and vote. Those types are not exactly motivated to do anything beyond their own world without prodding. Physical prodding may be needed. Cattle style.
That base exists throughout the country. One of the downfalls in the 2016 election was ignoring that base in lower populated areas, especially in the Midwest. A popular theme in the DNC chair debates was developing a 50-state strategy to re-establish the Democratic party in every state and make it viable in local and state races. That is a great place to start. The voters who flipped in 2016 to vote for 45 made the news, but the real news was the base of voters who did not show up. For example, Hillary received roughly 300k fewer votes in Michigan than Obama in 2012, while 45 received about 160k more than Romney. Hillary lost by 13k votes. Had Hillary captured that 140k of votes that both did not vote for her but also did not vote for Trump, she would have won the state handily. Ignore your base at your own peril.
So what is my point of all this? The Democratic party is still fractured from last year’s election. Today’s election could serve to divide the party further, or worse, lead to a defection of an entire wing of the party. But it shouldn’t. Perez and Ellison need to start immediately to shore up that base and demonstrate what they are going to do to bring the change the core of the party wants and needs. If they keep doing what they’ve always done, they will keep getting what they’ve always got. And that’s electoral losses. Winning in this environment in 2020 and even in 2018 should be a slam dunk. Lets see if Perez can be Lebron.