Still reeling from the defeat suffered at the hands of Trump, the US Democratic Party has now made it even more difficult to bounce back to relevancy. Instead of using this moment as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and energise the party, the party is back to business as usual. They are taking for granted that Trump will not win a second term, just like they assumed Hillary Clinton could not lose the presidential election. Instead of embracing their grass roots base who feel rejected, the party has chosen to push them away even further. The Democrats’ unwillingness to correct their downward spiral defies logic considering that they have lost over 1,000 seats since 2009, including Federal and State elections.
By continuing to prioritise corporate interests over voters who are concerned with the influence of money in politics, the Democratic party is proving to be incredibly tone deaf. In a losing effort, a $1.2 billion was spent on behalf of Hillary compared to Trump’s $600 million. The message sent by voters was clear. The advertising advantages of record amounts of money were outweighed by concerns about whose interests the Clinton fundraising machine had at heart.
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Shultz was, in essence, fired after she was caught conspiring against Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders last year. Similarly, Wasserman’s temporary replacement, Donna Brazile was caught leaking debate questions to help Hillary defeat the more populist Sanders. Needless to say, the voters were clearly fed up of these party stooges forcing their candidates onto them. Hence, when Keith Ellison, an African American Muslim Congressmen announced his bid for the DNC chair, he quickly established himself as the front runner. He was endorsed by labor unions, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warner, Harry Reid and other progressives. However, when the DNC realised that they might lose control of the party to the liberal Bernie Sanders faction, the White House intervened and recruited Tom Perez to run against Ellison. Perez, was the Democratic establishment’s choice since he has the ability to raise large sums of money. He has a bank friendly record, as secretary of Labor, he granted waivers to financial institutions found guilty of crimes. There’s that tone deaf problem again. Outside of money, the move doesn’t make any sense since both Perez and Ellison are progressives. Yet, only the latter has the ability to bring progressives back on board after they were betrayed due to the DNCs treatment of Sanders. In fact, Perez acknowledged that the DNC primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary. He stated that “we heard loudly and clearly from Bernie Supporters that the process was rigged and it was. And you’ve got to be honest about it. That’s why we need a chair who is transparent.” Of course, the establishment came down hard on him and applied enough pressure that Perez, within a day, claimed that he misspoke.
The timing of Perez’ entry into the DNC race is peculiar as well. Haim Saban, the Israel-American Billionaire and the Democratic party’s mega donor, labeled Keith Ellison an anti-Semite on December 2nd. This effectively start a smear campaign against the leading candidate. A group called “The American Jewish Congress” sent out email blasts the night before voting urging Jewish DNC members that a vote for Ellison would threaten America’s relationship with Israel. Less than 2 weeks later, Tom Perez decided to make a late bid for the position.
Tom Perez ended up winning the DNC chair by a narrow 235-200 margin last week. Ellison’s supporters reacted with “party for the people, not big money.” The discord between voters and the DNC isn’t going anywhere soon. They are on track to lose for at least another election cycle, thus securing a strong future for Trump meme makers. The few bones that have been thrown to progressives are probably making things worse. Token positions such as party outreach for Sanders and DNC “deputy chair” for Ellison are inadequate at best, and insulting at worst. It’s the equivalent of placing a plaster on a wound that needs a dozen stitches.