Sam Ronan made headlines for being the only person running for Democratic National Committee chair to stand by his criticism of the party for their treatment of Bernie Sanders. Even Keith Ellison, who has received Bernie’s endorsement, wasn’t so daring.
For a Democratic party that feels broken to even the most optimistic of left-of-center Americans, Sam hits on a message that resonates. As results rolled in on election night showing Rust Belt states pushing the election in Donald Trump’s favor, it was easy to imagine Sanders — a working class hero with anti-globalization policies — reigning victorious against the most unpopular candidate to ever win the United States presidency. It was an outcome that made Hillary Clinton, the “safe” candidate, seem much less so once the votes were tallied.
This is why Ronan is such a tempting prospect. It’s easy to look at the eight people on the stage on Wednesday evening and see more compromise, something that, ideologically speaking, Sam serves up the stiffest alternative to.
Unfortunately for Ronan, many supported Bernie for more than just ideological affinity. Sanders was a skilled orator and a deft political strategist. He knew Trump was a real possibility and threw his support behind Clinton after losing the primary. In the days after the stunning win for Republicans, he comforted progressives seeing an apocalyptic scenario with a promise of the future that managed to “heal the divide,” as many called for us to do, without compromising on the progressive message.
“When my presidential campaign came to an end, I pledged to my supporters that the political revolution would continue. And now, more than ever, that must happen. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.”
Earlier this month, Bernie made good on his promise to shift the public attention back to policy by battling it out with Ted Cruz in a debate on health care. A debate which he won, not just through superior talking points, but through diplomacy that an America watching the pugnacious Trump needs. Sanders showed, once and for all, that passionate progressive can govern with dignity.
Which is why it’s painful to hear that Sam Ronan is the next best thing to Bernie Sanders. He’s bumbling, unclear, and lacks his hero’s ability to make ideas outlandish to the typical capitalist American sound plausible. Instead, he relies on the kind of competitive posturing we came to expect from the Achilles’ heel of the Sanders campaign — Bernie bros. Take, for instance, his recent interview with Al Jazeera, probably the former U.S. Air Force veteran’s biggest press clip yet.
“I am the better candidate. I am the more progressive figure. Just because I’m unknown doesn’t change that. We could have our cake and eat it. I’m not doing this to poke the eye of the tiger.”
What critics of Sanders tried to frame him as — a populist candidate who spoke in platitudes with little room for specific policy — is what Sam actually comes across as. Bernie had decades in Congress to learn how to drive a point home. Ronan struggles to get through a 30-second soundbite. Check out his final comments from the CNN debate at 14:15.
Apart from being half-baked, Sam also has a tendency to come off as a little bit petty. During an interview with Real Progressives, he devotes a lot of time to condemning Donna Brazile and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman Schultz, prattling on about how there needs to be a strong symbol expressed by ostracizing them from the party.
“As chairman, I would hold so much power because Debbie and Donna held so much power. If they could control primaries and presidential debates, I’m pretty sure I can cull the herd so to speak. Part of how we do that… We have to be involved, too, in this process. If we can’t replace these bad apples… we just open the floor to them turning into Republicans, which is even worse. In my opinion, Democrats for all their faults are not Republicans.”
Wait a second. Because Debbie and Donna controlled the Democratic primary in ways that Sam finds repulsive, he’s “pretty sure” that also means he’ll be able to, or, as he so eloquently says, “push the poison out of us like a snake venom, you put in the anti-venom, and you suck it out of the wound and it’s good.”
After repeatedly trying to drive home the point that Democrats are not by their nature progressives, he appears to concede that, well, as long as they don’t call themselves Republicans, they must by default be better equipped for office. Is it just me or does Ronan sound a little bit like you-know-who here? Particularly when he’s talking about how “tremendously progressive” he is instead of showing how tremendously qualified he is. At one point in his interview with Daily Progressive, he concedes, wide-eyed, that the interviewer may actually know more about the economy than he does.
This lack of judgment doesn’t seem to carry over much better in text. Here’s a message he posted on his Facebook page (as in, proudly posted, not something dug up by a reporter) where he calls his opponent “truly pathetic” and one of the “ungrateful willfully ignorant shots” that America is overrun with. Can you say presidential?
Yes, all of us want money out of politics. Yes, all of us would like the people to have more participation. No, Sam Ronan does not give any indication he’s the person to make a party facing extinction make that happen. In fact, if anything, he’s reminiscent of the kind of people who drove the campaign into the ground: Constantly flexing his “most progressive” muscles while rambling incoherently instead of providing clear solutions.
[Featured Image by Sam Ronan Press Release and Alex Wong/Getty Images]