The election of Tom Perez to be the new head of the Democratic Party on Saturday was met with a whirlwind of condemnation from people who see the choice as yet another in a long line of indications that the Democratic Party is an entity interested chiefly in its own power and not in improving the lives of the American people. The Democratic Party seems totally content to be “the resistance” to Donald Trump, but missing from this resistance is any indication that the party intends to offer bold strategies. They argue in favor of the Affordable Care Act, but absent from this debate is any mention of a Medicare-for-all-type single-payer healthcare plan. They just want to be “against Trump,” it seems, and that’s not really standing for much of anything.
According to the Independent, Tom Perez is already calling for a full investigation into whether Donald Trump and Russia “rigged” the election. According to the Observer, the new staff of the DNC, led by Perez, have set their focus on “revenge” against Donald Trump for what they see as a stolen election. Adam Parkhomenko, a former Hillary Clinton staffer and a candidate for DNC vice-chair, tweeted a photo of a sign at the DNC meeting in Georgia, where the DNC chair vote took place that suggests, the DNC have mostly set their sights on fighting Trump in the interests of the power and strength of the Democratic Party.
Just found the most amazing sticker in Atlanta, GA pic.twitter.com/ZSEibGxrfA— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) February 25, 2017
Missing from these calls for revenge against Trump and extensive investigations into a “rigged” election is any awareness by the DNC that the largest part of its problem has been its message, or perhaps the lack of a broad message with popular appeal. Content to be a party that serves corporate interests, the Democrats have adamantly refused to embrace proposed party reforms and suggestions by Bernie Sanders and his supporters, opting instead to continue along the same path that has given the Republican Party the presidency, most of the country’s governorships, and majorities in the House and Senate.
The Democratic Party was given an opportunity in the last election to learn from its mistakes and recast itself as a party focused on winning broad popular appeal by speaking to wide swaths of Americans frustrated by the healthcare situation in the United States, a financial system whose business model was declared as “fraud” by Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries (via Alternet), and a system that many Americans feel is designed to work against them.
The Democrats could be promoting ideas like renewed calls for single-payer healthcare, a federal jobs guarantee, and a commitment to get tough on the financial industry. Instead, they are just endlessly regurgitating the same tired and stale rhetoric about how awful it is they lost the 2016 election, seemingly oblivious to the reasons underlying that loss. It’s hard to imagine why the Democrats think this could be a winning strategy. One can speculate that perhaps they’d prefer to be the minority party. One can also speculate that perhaps they’re just that out-of-touch with the reality faced by the vast majority of Americans.
Many people are voicing their frustrations with the direction the Democratic Party is taking and have chosen to leave the party entirely to become Greens or independents. Others have decided to form groups like Justice Democrats, interested in a grassroots-style insurgency to get corporate money out of the Democratic Party. In small counties and precincts throughout the country, progressives and populists are mounting campaigns to take over the party at the ground level, perhaps signaling that the establishment’s hold on the party is not as tight as it would like to think.
The irony is that a party calling itself Democratic has decided to be a party by and for elites who seem to stand mostly for maintaining and strengthening their own power. The extent to which outsiders will be successful in taking over the party and making it stand for something other than its own power will be seen in the coming years.
[Featured Image by Pete Marovich/Getty Images]