DNC Chair Tom Perez recently sent out a fundraising email to supporters claiming, “I know garbage when I see it,” citing that he once worked on a dump truck. It’s ironic that he referred to the GOP health care bill as a “flaming dumpster fire” because he has been presiding over the disaster that is the Democratic National Committee. The organization reported that May 2017 was its worst fundraising month since the Iraq War in 2003, and April 2017 was its worst fundraising month since 2009. In May, the DNC also reported that it has $1.9 million in debt. Despite the fact that former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez was recruited by Barack Obama to appease the party’s donors, lobbyists and PACs, even they have refused to prop up the failing brand.
Not approving of the strategies laid out at a retreat for donors in January 2017, billionaires Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman started their own political organization, Win the Future. As donors are increasingly tired of seeing their investments go to waste, many have started their own funds or used their access to take over leadership positions themselves—such as Florida billionaire donor Stephen Bittel did to become the Florida Democratic Party chair earlier this year. Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker is running for governor of Illinois, and billionaire Tom Steyer is debating running for governor of California. Haim Saban and James Simons poured millions into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but they have yet to be listed by the FEC as DNC donors in 2017. Additionally, George Soros has only given $33,900 to the DNC in 2017, but he poured millions of dollars into the Democratic Party in 2016.
Democratic voters have so far refused to fill the fundraising void left by the party’s corporate and wealthy donors. Tom Perez is a painful reminder that the Democratic establishment has suppressed reforms that would prove to voters that the party is prioritizing their interests. Democratic leadership subverted pro-Sanders DNC chair candidate Congressman Keith Ellison’s candidacy, ignored demands to ban superdelegates, and failed to re-enact the ban on lobbyist and PAC donations that Debbie Wasserman Schultz lifted to enable Hillary Clinton to keep up with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ fundraising. Perez’s Unity Tour with Bernie Sanders backfired; he was met with boos at several of the tour’s stops and supporters showed up in favor of Sanders—not the DNC.
Every opportunity for reform has been shut down by leadership, and Clinton campaign officials have been rewarded with leadership positions in the party or cushy mainstream media gigs. Facing calls for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to step down, top Democrats have made excuses for her unpopularity and the fact that Democratic congressional candidates lose when opponents say the candidate is her ally. Perez gave Keith Ellison a fabricated position as deputy DNC chair, which Ellison has used to try to manufacture party unity while the party’s establishment remains in power. In May 2017, former Emily’s List Executive Director and Clinton supporter Jess O’Connell was appointed to DNC CEO. Even though former DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile left resigned in embarrassment after leaked emails revealed she violated the DNC Charter to help the Clinton campaign, she has remained on the organization’s payroll and the DNC sent out two separate fundraising emails from her in July.
Instead of acknowledging that reform is needed to change the direction of the party, Democratic leadership is doubling down on failed strategies and rallying behind unpopular, failing leadership. The DNC has tried to enthuse its supporters with marketing campaigns and slogans, but its efforts have fallen short.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are prepping to unveil “a better deal” economic agenda to show voters that Democrats have a more robust plan than Republicans. However, Politico reported that several Democratic congressmen are opting to focus on their own message because they no longer trust leadership’s ability to connect with voters. These congressmen were proven right last week when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled four new slogans, all of which were tone deaf and failed to inspire support among voters. Instead, they were more of the same anti-Trump rhetoric but with a hint of condescension.
The DNC has failed to salvage its reputation after former Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in disgrace for rigging the Democratic presidential primaries. The DNC needs a drastic overhaul to recoup its losses. The party needs to stop relying on Trump’s ineptitude and develop clear messaging of its own. Unfortunately, the current Democratic leadership isn’t capable of mitigating failure in this respect.