Democrats Counter Republican Whitewashing, Elect First Latino Chairman
On Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia, the Democratic Party ignored newly active millennial voters and elected former Secretary of the Department of Labor Tom Perez, as the new chairperson. This was a post previously held by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. For a party struggling to advance through its current identity crisis, electing their first Latino chairperson offers a valuable counter to the whitewashing of the Republican Party.
Since Trump’s election, white supremacists and supremacist sympathizers have come out of hiding and been emboldened to share their hate publicly. The KKK made its first official endorsement in several generations (for Trump). Neo-Nazi publications like Breitbart along with white nationalists, have openly expressed their joy and excitement with Trump’s victory. In turn, Trump formed the whitest cabinet in decades.
More than 17 white male appointees will occupy less than 25 cabinet or cabinet-level posts. This disregard for the country’s diversity is insulting and widens the increasingly widening U.S. racial divide. Though people of color were aware this hateful divide always existed, brazenly detestable acts occurring with more frequency and less secrecy have made the racial divide more prominent in the U.S. for all to recognize and deal with.
Many in the Democratic Party and some on the periphery falsely dumbed this election down to a binary choice between two factions within the Democratic Party – a progressive wing and an establishment wing.
But viewing the choices of Tom Perez and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison as a choice of two divergent philosophies is misguided. Ellison surfaced as the favorite among young voters. His young voter support was mostly due to Ellison’s early endorsement of millennial darling Bernie Sanders, while experienced Democratic voters largely supported Perez. After running an entire federal department, Perez brings executive bona fides to the position. Most of Perez’s tenure as Labor Secretary was spent being a premier consumer protection advocate and watchdog.
The time for coalescing and mobilizing for the next election is upon Democrats. They can either continue to fight moot battles of yesteryear or work together in the common goal of eradicating fascism from the White House and white supremacy from Congress. Electing the first Latino as DNC Chair is the proper step for those hoping to offer a contrast to the diversity deficient Republican Party.
Alleged “progressives” disappointed with the results of the DNC election who are threatening to leave the party have a choice to make – They need to ‘sh-- or get off the pot!’ Petulant Sanders insurgents can no longer be permitted to hold the party hostage. And it’s up to Perez to have the courage to make that clear. Perez is under no obligation to acquiesce to disrespectful and destructive behavior.
The mentality of folks in the back of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel ballroom who attempted to shout down outgoing interim chair Donna Brazile, after the results were read was childish and unproductive. Them yelling, “Party for the people, not big money!” accomplished nothing. It did however further express the need for Perez to state unequivocally that the party will move forward with or WITHOUT the frustrated core of Sanders supporters who remain steadfastly unwilling to accept election results.
This race ended up being the closest in several years. On the first ballot Perez came one vote shy of winning the chairmanship. With 427 votes cast on the first ballot, the threshold for victory was 214.5 votes – Perez received 213.5, Ellison received 200. Perez arose victorious on the second ballot where he received 235 votes to Ellison’s 200.