Post-election, the Democratic Party establishment has strongly opposed calls for introspection and reform after their coalescing around Hillary Clinton proved to be an utter failure.
Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi were elected to serve as the Democratic Party leaders in Congress. Both were predictable, though disappointing, as they are corporate-friendly, establishment picks in the extreme.
In February, progressives have the opportunity to push for a new Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, after the previous two, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and current interim chair Donna Brazile, were exposed for violating the neutrality their positions bound them to during the Democratic Primary. Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for Rep. Keith Ellison to serve as the new DNC chair, rather than another Clinton campaign surrogate. Establishment Democrats have initiated a smear campaign against Ellison’s candidacy in hopes to appoint another one of their own to the position. Jane Sanders retweeted the Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur, who noted, “Establishment Democrats are leaking negative stories against @keithellison like crazy. Funny how they never fight Republicans this hard.”
The New York Daily News’ editorial board recently suggested Ellison shouldn’t be DNC chair because, as an avid Sanders supporter, “he represents the left-most fringes of a party that should continue to vie for the vital center.” This vying for the “center” is what cost Clinton the presidency and has led to gradual losses for Democrats in elected offices across the country. Sanders and the millions of people who support him aren’t a fringe portion of the Democratic Party but represent several progressives and disenfranchised working and middle class voters who have become disillusioned from a party that now focuses on courting wealthy donors. The Democratic Party needs to embrace Sanders’ progressive populism, if it wants the chance to recoup the millions of voters it has lost in the past decade. Ellison serving as DNC chair would be a major step in unifying the divide between progressives and the party establishment.
Sanders supporters are taking it upon themselves to force the Democratic establishment to hand over the keys to the party and to elect Ellison as chair of the DNC. A petition through Crowd PAC is raising money, promising to donate the funds to the DNC under the condition that Ellison wins. Pledges for the petition are $27 each, as a nod to the average donation to the Sanders campaign during the Democratic primaries.
“The Democratic Party should open their doors to a new progressive generation. Some of us are skeptical of the DNC thanks to their treatment of Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary last year. But we’re willing to join the DNC as donors if Rep. Keith Ellison gets elected as chairman,” reads the petition. “A lot of progressive grassroots donors may not feel comfortable supporting the Democratic Party. But with Keith Ellison in charge, all of that could change. We trust Keith Ellison to bring a strong and progressive vision to the DNC.”
The petition has raised over $13,000 so far, all from small donations, but stipulates, “your card will only be charged if Keith is elected chair.” Ellison, who serves as the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is exactly what the Democratic Party needs to revitalize its support base and regenerate after losing the presidency, both Houses of Congress, and hundreds of seats in state legislatures. If Democratic leadership continues treating Sanders progressives like unwelcome second class citizens, their party will continue to decline as well.