Tuesday, December 6, 2016

DNC: Two For Progressive Leadership

Looking back at the Democratic National Committee's last decade, some lessons should be drawn from its successes and failures. As they are considering numerous candidates to head the DNC, Dems would do well to replicate the "50 State strategy" of former DNC chairman Gov. Howard Dean (2005 - 2009), who has withdrawn his name from consideration in this cycle. Working in red states at the local level to elect Dems, chipping away at Rethug-held legislative seats and advancing a popular message gave the Dems victories in 2006 and 2008, and helped President Obama win his 2008 race. Another factor that must be in consideration is that the DNC chair position must be a full-time job, as in the case of Dean, and not held by someone juggling another elected or appointive position, as in the case of the discredited former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and be a vigorous fundraiser.

Writing in The American Prospect, Robert Kuttner sees two appealing candidates that would drive the progressive message nationwide and who would be able to devote their full energy to rebuilding the Democratic party from the local level up: Cecile Richards and Tom Perez. Kuttner's summary:
"- Cecile Richards. The head of national Planned Parenthood, a job she’s held for a decade, is far and away one of the best organizers, on the ground and nationally, in the progressive Democratic universe, as well a prodigious fundraiser for progressive causes. She’s a fighter and a genuine hero.

As a young adult, Richards was a labor organizer in the South. She did a brief stint as an aide to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and then headed a broad get-out-the vote coalition in 2004 called America Votes.

- Tom Perez. Obama’s labor secretary and former assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights, is one of the best we’ve got. He is also a superb politician, with no immediate plans after January 20.

Perez is great at connecting to the working class—black, white, Latino. He served as the elected president of the Montgomery County Council and many of his admirers were disappointed he passed up the chance to run for governor of Maryland."
Either would be an excellent leader of the Party, with fresh ideas and a willingness to challenge Rethuglicans on their own turf. With neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump certain to disappoint some of his gullible followers on the economic front, it's time to begin the long process of rebuilding and honing a progressive message for the Dems. Either Richards or Perez would serve that cause well.

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