The race for Democratic National Committee chair has been going on for, it seems, a thousand years. It should mercifully conclude this month. If the Democrats are not idiots, they will give it to Keith Ellison, and move on to doing things of actual importance.
The funny thing about the sheer length and publicity of this DNC race is that the position of “DNC chair” may very well not matter that much in the grand scheme of things. (Quick, name the current chair of the RNC. You can’t. It’s Ronna Romney McDaniel.) (I Googled that.) Granted, the former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, did matter, but mostly because she set off a nasty, bitter internal war over whether and how she was unfairly favoring Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries. If we assume that most of the current DNC chair candidates will be ***Inshallah*** less overtly biased and despised than their predecessor and will operate with a general level of competence, the DNC race is mostly important as a symbolic statement on which direction the Democratic Party is choosing to go in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory.
“Left,” is the correct answer here. The Democratic Party needs to go left. Never in my lifetime has it been clearer that the Democratic Party needs to go left. Even if you are a moderate Democrat, you should, at this point, be able to perceive the fact that the angry, divided nature of our nation right now—justified anger driven by decades of rising inequality and the ongoing collapse of economic opportunity and a political system in which both parties have utterly failed to remedy these things—is crying out for a change from the establishment of the past. The overriding sentiment of the last election was anti-establishment; that sentiment was so strong that it was sufficient to overcome an extremely well-funded Democratic operation staffed with the “smartest” people in politics and elect a man who was, as even many of his supporters could see clearly, a moron. But not a moron of the establishment.
This is a time for radicalism. This is a time for change. Not the “Change” of a standard-issue campaign slogan, but actual change. For the Democrats, that means moving left. Left is the direction away from the Democratic establishment, which just lost a presidential election to one of the biggest clowns in the United States of America. Left is the direction towards the kinds of radical solutions that can make an actual substantive difference in the issues of inequality and political dysfunction that have driven so many voters to the point of “fuck it, burn it all down.” Left is the only rational way for the Democrats to go now. They have tried going to the center for many years now. The result was President Donald Trump.
In the race for DNC chair, going left means Keith Ellison. He is the standard bearer of the party’s left wing. In a rational world not riven by the greed of political fiefdoms, Ellison would have been quietly anointed months ago. Instead, the establishment wing of the Democratic Party—the faction of the party that was just rejected in favor of a guy who petulantly muttered “No puppet!” repeatedly on national television—put forth its own DNC chair candidate, in the person of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Perez always seemed like a decent Labor Secretary (he even came to our office, hey!) but he is in the race only because the Clinton/ Obama/ establishment powers of the party want him to be there to represent their interests.
Sorry, Tom Perez. Sorry, Clintons. Now is not the time for that. That time is over now. Look out the window. Do you see an angry and fearful country? Do you see a White House occupied by a narcissistic amoral madman? That means that your time has passed. America’s Democrats have dutifully voted for you for decades now even though you always dove to the right like a soccer goalie as soon as the primaries were over. Ultimately, the path of the establishment failed to stop the underlying problems that got us here. And here we are. Ready to try something new. And in the case of the DNC, the new path is represented by Keith Ellison. All of the “do it for the greater good” platitudes that Clintonites shouted at lefties for years now apply the other way. Electing Tom Perez—which, insanely, is still very plausible—would be a grave misreading of the national mood. Worse, it would send a big flashing signal to not only Democrats but to everyone out there who is pissed that the Democratic Party is not taking this situation seriously.
Bad times call for radical moves. Can’t do that with the old guard. The Democratic establishment already lost the election. Don’t do anything else stupid, please.