The Rebuilding of a Party: The DNC Leadership at a Crossroads

By Scott Bufis

After an astounding loss in the November elections, the Democratic Party is facing an identity crisis. It appears that the party that broke its own rules during the primary by colluding against Sen. Bernie Sanders in an effort to make Sec. Hillary Clinton the next POTUS has shot itself in the foot. This election cycle has proven over again that the American people have had it with the political establishment and business as usual.

The major losses the Democrats experienced in 2016, including Clinton’s loss against Donald Trump for president, as well holding only a minority in the house and senate, have created vacuums in the party. Who are the leaders now? What are the issues at the heart of the party? How do Democrats rebuild towards the midterm elections in 2018?donkey_116284

When Wikileaks published the damning emails showing members of the DNC’s communications team brainstorming ways to spin a narrative about Bernie Sanders that would have painted him as a disorganized inept atheist – an effort to weaken his appeal against Sec. Clinton – the committee’s chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, stepped down. In her stead, Donna Brazile was appointed interim chair. Oddly enough, Wikileaks also published emails showing Brazile, then a CNN contributor, giving the Clinton campaign debate questions ahead of the CNN-hosted events.

The next DNC chair is stated to be chosen by March 1st, and this is shaping up to be the first major battle in the formation of the future of the party. Former DNC chair, Howard Dean, has announced that he is seeking his old job back. His famous “50-state strategy” helped President Obama and Democrats win big in the 2008 elections, but many progressives are skeptical of the strategist-turned-pharmaceutical-industry-lobbyist. As a Clinton supporter during the primary Dean claimed that Sanders’s single-payer health care plan would result in “chaos” and “trying to implement it would in fact undo people’s health care.” The other contender, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, has received backing from many major Democratic leaders including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. During the primary Ellison endorsed Sen. Sanders to be the Democratic candidate for president and introduced him at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. If chosen, Ellison would be the first Muslim to serve as DNC chair.

There is a clear push away from the “old guard” Democrats who are infamous for being weak against corporate pressures and large Wall Street campaign donations. The momentum now seems to be with the progressive wing of the party that champions social and economic justice, as well as fair elections and environmental protections. This shift seems to be indicative that the party understands that 2016’s major defeat is in large part due to pushing their own agendas and a failure to connect with voters.

Further reading:

The 4 Most Damaging Emails From the DNC Wikileaks Dump

CNN Parts Ways With Donna Brazile, a Hillary Clinton Supporter

Battle brewing for DNC leadership

Elizabeth Warren backs Keith Ellison for DNC chair

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