Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez won the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman race over the weekend. His opponent Keith Ellison was immediately offered the role of deputy. Their extremely tight race was a continuation of the battle between centrist candidate Hillary Clinton and progressive candidate Bernie Sanders, between the moderate establishment and grassroots liberals. Don’t be fooled – the party was divided then and the party is divided now. Resignations, hacking scandals, infighting, the loss of so many Congressional seats and the election of Donald Trump as president have left the Democrats reeling and ready to point fingers. And Perez has just been handed the unenviable role of uniting a party that lacks both a coherent message and any real national power. So just what does this new leadership mean for the future of the Democratic Party?
Hopefully, a good shakeup. Perez has already outlined his vision for a Democratic Party comeback, including fighting unjust voter ID laws and gerrymandering, improving grassroots fundraising and recruitment efforts, and expanding rural outreach. In order to accomplish this, Perez will have to fire up an unenthusiastic donor base by rebuilding their faith in the DNC, develop a united message for Democrats who are still recovering from an unexpected and extremely painful Trump victory, and figure out a winning state-based strategy for the 2020 election – a year when legislators will redraw district lines.
So, can he do all this, you ask? Only if the whole party is behind him and in it for the long haul – and even then it will be an exhausting uphill battle. And so far, the less than enthusiastic support from the likes of Sanders and some progressive groups aren’t very reassuring– even though Perez and Ellison are pretty much ideologically identical. Still this moment marks the end of a very rocky period for the DNC, and even though the party is surely at one of its lowest points in history, it can only go up from here.
Feel like you’re ready for a fight? Movie for your MMA mood: Warrior