A week ago today, the Democratic Party won races across the country, but the message they should be hearing is that those wins were led by progressives, women, and people of color who stood strongly for progressive policies. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be what Democratic Leadership has learned.
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This post draws on two highly credible sources, Bill Moyers Reports and a new report featured in the Nation Magazine: What Killed the Democratic Party? An Autopsy. These reports come on the heels of Donna Brazile’s devastating Politico report where she outed the DNC and the Democratic Party. Most progressives were entirely unsurprised by what Brazile reported. What has surprised me is the total lack of response from state and national leadership among the Democratic Party. I have seen no public statement from any NM Democratic Party leaders. I am asking for a response now and will be meeting with several state Democratic leaders this week and will continue to ask for their view. Where are the apologies for the abrogation of the Party’s principles? Where is the acknowledgement that the 2016 scales were tilted? Where is the commitment to genuine Democratic Party reform?
I have devoted a fair amount of time to this issue precisely because there has been precious little acknowledgement from our DPNM leadership and I have meetings scheduled throughout the week with a variety of Democratic Party leaders. I hope to hear some expressions of concerns about what has been reported and some specific commitment to Party reform. But read on for details of an autopsy that needs to be taken very seriously.
It is a very curious time. On the heals of a major win by the Democratic Party from coast to coast, there is also the backdrop of Donna Brazile’s book outlining how Clinton’s campaign had manipulated the DNC and the entirely primary process. Some Democrats would say: it is time to forget the past and unite. But even after manipulation of the 2016 primary process, there is evidence that the DNC, rather than looking deeply into their process and reforming it to ensure a more democratic process, is solidifying control of the DNC and removing progressives from leadership. This is not the kind of trend we wold be looking for after the November 6th election results demonstrated clearly how powerful the progressive message can be.
The Democratic Party appears to be willing to circle the wagons around their historic alliance with insider-big donor influences in politics. Rather than seeking out reformers for roles in the party, it appears that somewhat of a purge is occurring. From the highly credible Bill Moyers Reports comes an excellent report on the Democratic Party, Who Killed the Democratic Party. The report cites the removal from the DNC of at least four highly visible progressive reformers: “Those ousted include Ray Buckley, James Zogby, Alice Germond, and Barbara Casbar Siperstein, NBC News reports. “I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact,” Zogby said of the D.N.C. shake-up. “I want to heal the wound of 2016.”
Moyers goes on to quote Alice Germond, too, who noted that the move to remove her from the DNC does not bode well for the party’s quest to unify its progressive and establishment wings. “It is quite unusual for a former party officer who has been serving on the D.N.C. for forever to just be left out in the cold without even a call from the chairman,” she told NBC News. “So I assumed it had something to do with [my] support for Keith. Overall, the party’s national leadership has shown scant interest in addressing many of the key factors that led to electoral disaster.”
The Moyers report goes beyond critiquing the DNC for not being more reflective on what went wrong in 2016, singling out Chuck Schumer’s description of the Democratic Party’s effort to move to the center and to turn away from working class Democrats: “In midsummer 2016, working-class enthusiasm for Trump was the hot political story, but Sen. Chuck Schumer, the soon-to-be Democratic leader in the upper chamber, assured party colleagues that they needn’t worry. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” Schumer predicted. “And you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” While this was the Clinton campaign strategy, it clearly was not a winning strategy. Click here to review the always illuminating Bill Moyers.
Moyers’ report makes frequent reference of another report published last week by a number of progressive activists. From Moyers: “A new and quite provocative critique has emerged from a group of left-leaning activists: They blame the Democratic Party itself for its epic defeat. Their 34-page “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” reads more like a cold-eyed indictment than a postmortem report. It’s an unemotional dissection of why the Democrats failed so miserably, and it warns that the party must change profoundly or else remain a loser.”
This is the heart of Autopsy’s indictment is that especially over the last eight years, the Democratic Party has persisted in its cultivation of corporate America. I especially applaud the section of the Autopsy on Democracy and the Party, written by New Mexico’s own Pia Gallegos, an Albuquerque civil rights attorney. It delineates in great detail how the Democratic Party has rejected democratic principles.
As if to clarify the conflict still more, the 1% is pressing the party to choose sides: Is the party going to stand with the 1% or with working people. Mega-millionaire Stephen Cloobeck, a major Democratic donor, just went on an MSNBC tirade threatening to cut off funding for Democrats if they don’t stop attacking the rich. “I’ve talked to Schumer, I’ve talked to Wyden, I’ve talked to Pelosi and I’ve said if you use the term billionaire again, I’m done. We should be a party of business… it is very, very disturbing when I hear the ‘billionaire’ or ‘millionaire’ word. And I told them to stop it, knock it off. I’ve made it very clear, I’ll cut your money off. Others will do the same.” Cloobeck has donated more than $4.6 million to Democrats — it’s no wonder he has Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on speed dial and, no doubt, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.
Below, I have excerpted a series of findings from Autopsy’s Executive Summary. I can’t quarrel with a single one.:
- Aggregated data and analysis show that policies, operations and campaign priorities of the national Democratic Party undermined support and turnout from its base in the 2016 general election. Since then, the Democratic leadership has done little to indicate that it is heeding key lessons from the 2016 disaster.
- The Democratic National Committee and the party’s congressional leadership remain bent on prioritizing the chase for elusive Republican voters over the Democratic base: especially people of color, young people and working-class voters overall.
- After suffering from a falloff of turnout among people of color in the 2016 general election, the party appears to be losing ground with its most reliable voting bloc, African-American women. “The Democratic Party has experienced an 11 percent drop in support from black women according to one survey, while the percentage of black women who said neither party represents them went from 13 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017.”
- One of the large groups with a voter-turnout issue is young people, “who encounter a toxic combination of a depressed economic reality, GOP efforts at voter suppression, and anemic messaging on the part of Democrats.”
- “ Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination. Siding with the people who constitute the base isn’t truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them.”
- The DNC has refused to renounce, or commit to end, its undemocratic practices during the 2016 primary campaign that caused so much discord and distrust from many party activists and voters among core constituencies.
- Working to defeat restrictions on voting rights is of enormous importance. Yet the Democratic National Committee failed to make such work a DNC staffing priority.
To review the Democratic Autopsy website and its 33-page report, click here. To read the one-page Executive Summary from which the above bullets were excerpted, click here. The summary includes specific recommendations that the Party could, indeed must, implement to reverse its losses over the past 8 years and, for that matter, the past 45 years. If you would like to reach out to our Congressional representatives, click here for contact information. In particular, it would be interesting to hear what Congressman Lujan has to say about DNC practices and about donor Stephen Cloobeck’s challenge to the Democratic Party: Are you the Party of business? Or of the working families that had once been your constituency? He will claim to not be part of the DNC, but as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee he can not shy away from his leadership role in the Democratic Party and it would be good to see a public statement indicating his concerns about how the DNC is handling both Brazile’s revelations and the removal of key progressives from positions of influence.
Paul & Roxanne
At 4M 45S of the video below, Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman interview with Norman Solomon, spokesman and co-author of Autopsy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, an online activist group with 1.3 million active supporters in the United States. The video is very worth a quick review.