New DNC Chair Tom Perez managed to garner enough support from the Democratic establishment to defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed candidate Rep. Keith Ellison. After winning, in a desperate attempt to manufacture party unity, Perez gave Ellison a fake position as DNC deputy chair, and they embarked on a tour across the country to rally support from progressives and establishment Democrats. Low favorability ratings show the strategy hasn’t worked. Even so, Perez recently announced he will be going on a cross country “Democratic Unity” tour with Sanders starting on April 17.
This facade attempts to convey unity while establishment Democrats fight progressives’ pushes for fundamental reforms. Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claimed on March 30 that the Democratic Party was already a grassroots party. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asserted in December 2016 that Democrats don’t want a new direction. Hillary Clinton recently lent credence to her supporters’ childish claim that the fault of her election loss lies in part with Sanders. Progressives are often blamed for the rift within the Democratic Party, and the antagonism against them paralyzes the Democratic Party’s ability to mobilize.
Progressives’ resentment is in part due in part to the Democratic Party’s failure to acknowledge its mistakes during the 2016 election and prior elections that have led to the state the party currently finds itself in.
While many Democrats focus on blaming others for the Democratic Party’s failures, some Clinton partisans have only acknowledged accountability as they seek new marketing strategies. However, even their new strategies double down on their old, failed ones that repel voters. On the Democratic Party’s website, they solicit supporters to become “factivists” to share on social media press releases and talking points directly from the Democratic Party, appropriating activism to serve as echoes of the Democratic establishment. This strategy resembles pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record’s campaign to manufacture support for Hillary Clinton and “correct” criticisms of her. The party’s communications and PR department is run by former Clinton staffers, such as former Clinton spokesperson Adrienne Watson who now serves as the DNC deputy communications director. Their allegiance to Clinton is apparent throughout the party’s recent messaging. For example, on the Democratic Party website, they’re selling a t-shirt that reads “I’m one of 65,844,610 Americans Against Trump,” touting Clinton’s popular vote victory.
Sanders’ rallies for Clinton during the election had much lower attendance in comparison to his own campaign’s rallies because the progressives, independents and Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders throughout the primaries knew that Sanders and his supporters were not welcome in the Democratic Party. Rather than extend any olive branches to those supporters, Clinton shifted toward the center and focused on courting wealthy donors and moderate Republicans. Even since Clinton lost, Sanders and his supporters have been the primary scapegoats for the Democratic Party’s shortcomings, despite the fact that Democrats lost majorities in both houses of Congress and 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country before Sanders announced his presidential campaign.