Though Rep. Keith Ellison was muscled into second place in the DNC chair race by the Democratic establishment, which selected former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to prevent him from winning, Ellison is defending their status quo.
On March 16, Ellison responded on Twitter to a user who criticized Hillary Clinton by citing things President Donald Trump has done that Clinton wouldn’t have done and reduced the initially cited criticism as “spin.” Peter Daou—a former Clinton adviser who writes for a pro-Clinton outlet that was funded by Clinton Super PACs specifically to create and distribute propaganda to boost Clinton’s candidacy—thanked Ellison on Twitter for the exchange. Ellison replied enthusiastically, “Honored to stand up for HRC!”
Hillary Clinton doesn’t warrant progressives standing up for her, and continually defending Clinton will prevent the Democratic Party’s recovery. The manner in which Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination was a stark indicator of how undemocratic the Democratic Party’s primary process and rules are. Yet, the DNC has suppressed any calls for reforms. Super delegates, closed primaries, a primary process susceptible to overt bias from the DNC chair and staff, and corrupt funding from corporate lobbyists and Super Pacs have all been kept in place. Claims that the Democratic Party is united are pointless as long as progressives like Ellison are continuing to force feed Hillary Clinton to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Clinton’s flawed record—combined with Obama’s adoption of a neo-liberal political agenda contrary to his campaign promises of hope and change—repelled millions of voters from the Democratic Party. The last thing Democrats should be doing is trying to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton. Continuing to reverberate the failed Democratic Party strategy of focusing on Trump being worse than Clinton makes Democrats appear disconnected and out-of-touch. Despite Ellison gaining a reputation as being one of the few members of Congress that endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primaries, Ellison has tweeted about Clinton over a dozen times. For comparison, he mentioned Sanders twice in the same period. Clearly, Ellison is pandering to the Democratic establishment over voters, as Sanders remains substantially more popular with voters than any other member in the Democratic Party. Sanders recently led a Fox News favorability poll over every politician polled in the Democrat and Republican parties, and he maintains over a 56 percent favorability rating based on current poll averages.
Democrats should be adopting the strategies that made Sanders the most popular politician in the country and should focus on issues that impact working, low income and middle class Americans. While Democratic leaders remain obsessed with the Trump-Russia narrative, Sanders has been hosting town halls and engaging voters in states like West Virginia, Kansas, and Wisconsin—places where the Democratic Party has suffered drastic losses since 2008. Rather than try to recoup these losses, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is debating not putting resources into rural America at all. And Rural America isn’t the only area where Democrats have been losing support. Since 2008, exit poll data shows that Democrats have continuously lost voters in every voter demographic, and Democrats’ low favorability is due to millions of voters, who have traditionally been loyal to the party, developing widespread resentment against it.
Ellison and other establishment Democrats need to give up on trying to make Hillary Clinton seem palatable to American voters. Their stubborn insistence to defend her even after she lost will ensure that the voters who left the Democratic Party never return.