It appears as though the battle for DNC chair is getting nearly as heated as Bernie Sanders’s primary race against Hillary Clinton. After former vice president Joe Biden expressed support to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez for the position, Bernie, who supports Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for the position, criticized what he called the “failed status quo” of establishment politics.
In an email statement on Wednesday from his political account not associated with Ellison’s DNC chair race, Bernie questioned the wisdom of falling back on establishment policies.
“Joe Biden is a friend of mine and I have a lot of respect for Tom Perez. In terms of the next chair of the DNC, however, the question is simple: Do we stay with a failed status-quo approach or do we go forward with a fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party? I say we go forward and create a grassroots party which speaks for working people and is prepared to stand up to the top 1 percent. That’s why we have to support Keith Ellison.”
Predictably, a number of congressional Democrats did not take too kindly to Sanders’s criticism, some even going so far as to call it a personal attack. The Hill reports that Texas Democrat Gilberto Hinojosa, took issue with Sanders’ statement, noting he has no dog in the DNC chair fight.
“This is coming from a man who is not even a member of our party. We lost an election and all of a sudden we’re all a part of a failed status quo?”
Hinojosa went on to say that Bernie Sanders’s statement was an insult to both Biden and Perez. While the 2016 election was an important one given the grave severity of issues like climate change, civil rights, multiple wars, and economic inequality, one election did not result in a failed status quo. On the contrary, it was a series of bitter losses in the last eight years that made the situation more dire than it should have been.
According to Fox News, Democrats lost 1,042 seats at the state and federal level under President Obama, an indication that the party’s direction is not in-line with voters. It’s not that people prefer the Republicans. The problem is getting Democratic and progressive voters to the polls in the first place. PBS News Hour reported that the 2014 midterm elections saw the lowest turnout in 70 years, with just 36.4 percent of eligible voters heading to the polls. And as Bernie Sanders says, when turnout is low, Republicans win.
Despite this, and despite Bernie’s warning that the DNC has been ignoring red flags and alarm bells, establishment Democrats are forcefully resistant to changing the party in any significant way. Directly after the election, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told John Dickerson of CBS’s Face the Nation that Democrats don’t want a new direction. And during confirmation hearings and committee meetings meant to vet Trump appointees, at least 14 Democrats voted for every Trump pick while several others voted for three or more. Sanders himself voted for two, but has vigorously opposed Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State and Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, according to the New York Times.
As noted in a previous Inquisitr report, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown both angered progressives when they voted to approve Ben Carson as Housing Secretary despite his lack of experience.
For Democrats, the 2016 election should be a wake-up call about the direction in which the party should go. Bernie’s statement criticizing the failed status quo was a warning that electing a moderate for DNC chair rather than a progressive Democrat would spell disaster for not just the party, but for the nation as a whole.
Bernie Sanders’s democratic socialist populism appeals to younger voters, and while not perfect, Keith Ellison would take the DNC in a more progressive direction. But Sanders isn’t Ellison’s only supporter for DNC chair. Former vice president Walter Mondale issued a statement calling Ellison a “Minnesota star.” Civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis also voiced support, stating that during this important time of protests, the DNC needs a chair who can revive the struggling party.
“Keith’s record standing with the grassroots means he is a trusted partner to harness this protest energy into rebuilding the Democratic Party.”
Bernie Sanders may not be a member of the Democratic Party, but his contributions and guidance remain important among a large portion of progressives who still believe in his vision. Members of the party who will vote for the DNC chair may want to take his advice to heart, or risk losing even more seats to Republicans in the future.
[Featured Image by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]