On February 14, former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez arrogantly told Politico that his campaign is within reach of obtaining enough DNC delegate support to win the DNC chair election. Perez claims to have 180 DNC delegate supporters, which is close to the 224 delegates necessary to win. The Associated Press, who notoriously called the Democratic primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton on a day when no one voted, announced that Perez leads Rep. Keith Ellison by 66 delegates.
The DNC chair race is the Democratic Party’s last opportunity to make a unifying concession to progressives, who were cheated and disenfranchised during the Democratic primaries by former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz resigned in embarrassment after Wikileaks released emails confirming she violated Section 5 Article 4 of the DNC Charter to help Clinton. However, the Democratic Party has yet to acknowledge the damage they caused by anointing Clinton as their presidential nominee.
Perez’s main opponent in the DNC chair race, Rep. Keith Ellison, supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and he has received endorsements from Sanders, Our Revolution and several other progressive organizations. Though many have concerns about him pandering to the establishment during his DNC chair campaign, electing Ellison would—at the very least—be a gesture of good faith to progressives.
Perez backs the same failed strategies that have run the Democratic Party into the ground over the last decade. An email released by Wikileaks from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed that Perez advised the Clinton campaign to whitewash Sanders‘ campaign during the Democratic primaries in order to repel minority supporters. Perez recommended Nevada as the best opportunity to do so. Despite the fact that Clinton ultimately won Nevada, polls noted that more Latinos voted for Sanders. At Perez’ recommendation, the mainstream media and Clinton campaign propagated the false narrative that Sanders’ supporters were sexist white males, though they had little to no evidence to substantiate these claims.
During Perez’s tenure as secretary of labor, he stabbed labor unions in the back by supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite virtually every large labor union strongly opposing it. Perez also granted special waivers to Credit Suisse by removing sanctions that were imposed on investment bankers for helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. Furthermore, he gave Renaissance Technologies, which is run by Bob Mercer—one of Trump’s biggest donors—and James Simons, one of Clinton’s biggest donors, a huge tax break.
The Democratic establishment has rallied behind Perez’s candidacy. Former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder and several other establishment figures have formally endorsed Perez, while several others have attacked Sanders for endorsing Ellison. “It is very concerning that Bernie Sanders is so intent on taking over a party that he’s not even a member of that he’d insult the beloved vice president—and really the president—about a failed status quo approach,” said Texas Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa in an interview. This resentment toward Sanders and his progressive supporters has lingered within the Democratic Party and its leadership since the Democratic primaries. Clinton’s election loss, which was a huge failure for the Democratic Party, highlighted the need for Democrats to enact meaningful reforms. Nevertheless, the party has resisted change.
The Democratic Party’s failure to reform has incited organizations on the left to emerge—including the Draft Bernie movement and Justice Democrats—in hopes of starting a new party to replace inept, office-holding Democrats with progressives. If the Democratic Party elects another establishment puppet to run the DNC, the number of people who are protesting the weak opposition that Democrats have exhibited toward Trump will exponentially increase. Even if Ellison wins, calls for “party unity” won’t come easy. If the Democratic Party continues to shun progressives, these mounting slights may serve as a catalyst to the political revolution that Sanders supporters have been advocating for since the Democratic primaries.