Flint, Michigan, still doesn’t have clean water. Violence toward the water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to escalate. President Obama has yet to do anything to mitigate these problems, and he has just a few more weeks to try to move forward progressive agendas before Donald Trump assumes the presidency in tandem with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. But instead of focusing on issues Obama could provide meaningful solutions to before his second term as president ends, his administration has turned their efforts toward ensuring that the establishment maintains full control of the Democratic Party.
Wall Street ally Charles Schumer was voted to be the Senate Minority Leader following the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid in January. Rep. Nancy Pelosi will likely continue serving her role as House Minority Leader. The only vacant leadership role left in the Democratic Party that could bring some meaningful reform after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump and years of Democrats gradually losing more elected offices across the country is a new Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair. That position will be voted on in February.
Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison, one of the few Democrats in office who endorsed his presidential campaign, to serve as the new DNC chair. Schumer and Reid also threw their support behind Ellison, tipping the race in his favor. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has stepped in to influence in favor of the establishment.
The New York Times reported Obama’s advisers have discussed Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm assuming the DNC chair position over Ellison. Perez and Granholm were both surrogates for the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
Perez was on a list compiled by the Clinton campaign as a potential running mate for their candidate. Several emails were released by WikiLeaks from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta that include Perez providing the campaign with extensive feedback and advice throughout the primaries.
WikiLeaks emails revealed Granholm was working for Pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA, before Clinton formally announced her run. Granholm was frequently cited as a Clinton campaign surrogate utilized throughout the primaries to push back against Sanders.
Former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in disgrace when WikiLeaks emails confirmed suspicions that she was violating the DNC charter throughout the primaries by failing to remain neutral. Under Wasserman Schultz’s leadership, Democrats suffered drastic losses in the 2014 midterm elections, and she rigged the primaries by turning the DNC into an arm of the (eventually losing) Clinton campaign.
After Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, DNC vice chair Donna Brazile assumed the role as interim chair. Brazile proved to be equally ineffective, and WikiLeaks emails revealed she helped the Clinton campaign cheat by forwarding their staff CNN debate questions in advance.
The New York Times cited anonymous critics of Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to affirm that the Democratic Party establishment has no intent to yield any of their political power and privilege to Sanders progressives, even if that means continuing to lose more elected offices. While Democrats have increased their partnership with corporate and wealthy donors, the gap of disconnect with the working and middle class voters they depend on to win elections has gradually broadened. These trends are likely to continue unless Democrats embrace the popularity of Sanders and his policies rather than only attempt to exploit them for positive publicity.