What the battle for the DNC chair is all about

Glenn Greenwald discusses what the battle for the chair of the Democratic National Committee between Keith Ellison and Tom Perez represents. The same failed Democratic party establishment, supported by its single largest donor Haim Saban, whose main agenda is promoting Israel’s interests, have got out their knives out for Ellison, in order to keep themselves in control.

THE OBVIOUS DETERMINATION of Democratic establishment leaders to follow the same failed and dreary course explains why the race for DNC Chair has become so heated. In reality, that position is little more than a functionary role – mostly focused on fund-raising and building the party apparatus at the state level – but whoever occupies it does serve as a leading public face of the party.

For the last five years, the face of the DNC was the living, breathing embodiment of everything awful about the party: the sleazy, corrupt corporatist and centrist hawk Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who – as a result of WikiLeaks’ publication of DNC emails – had to resign in disgrace after she got caught engaging in sustained cheating in order to ensure that Hillary Clinton would be the party’s nominee.

Wasserman Schultz was replaced as DNC Chair on an interim basis by long-time party operative Donna Brazile, who was quickly engulfed by her own scandal when she got caught secretly passing CNN debate questions to the Clinton campaign, then repeatedly lying about it by denying it and insinuating the emails were forged by the Russians. For that misconduct, CNN fired her, as anchor Jake Tapper denounced her cheating as “horrifying” and CNN itself said it made them “completely uncomfortable.”

But Brazile continues to this day to run the DNC. Think about that: her behavior was so unethical, dishonest and corrupt that Jeff-Zucker-led CNN denounced it and publicly disassociated itself from her. But the DNC seems perfectly comfortable having her continue to lead the party until the next Chair is chosen.

Initially, the party seemed open to the idea of Ellison becoming the DNC chair. So what happened?

But then panic erupted among the Democratic establishment. It began when Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban – the largest single funder of both the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign – smeared Ellison as “an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual” and said his election “would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.” In the minds of DC mavens, you can’t have someone as Chair of the DNC who is disliked by billionaire funders. That is the Democratic Party.

Perez is a pleasant liberal and loyal party stalwart: before the first primary vote was cast, he endorsed Clinton over Sanders and became one of her most outspoken surrogates. Despite claiming to be devoted to American workers, he was a loyal supporter of TPP even after Clinton was forced into insincere opposition.

It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.

Greenwald provides examples of Perez’s groveling before the Israel lobby and of his subservience to the neoliberal Clinton-Obama wing of the party that hates what the Bernie Sanders movement represents, and concludes:

So in Tom Perez’s conduct, one sees the mentality and posture that has shaped the Democratic Party: a defense of jobs-killing free trade agreements that big corporate funders love; an inability to speak plainly, without desperately clinging to focus-grouped, talking-points scripts; a petrified fear of addressing controversial issues even (especially) when they involve severe human rights violations by allies; a religious-like commitment never to offend rich donors; and a limitless willingness to publicly abase oneself in pursuit of power by submitting to an apology ritual for having told the truth.

That is the template that has driven the Democratic Party into a ditch so deep and disastrous that even Vox acknowledges it without euphemisms. That is the template that has alienated voters across the country at all levels of elected office and that enabled the Donald Trump presidency. And it is the template that Democratic Party establishment leaders are more determined than ever to protect and further entrench by ensuring that yet another detached, lifeless functionary who embodies it becomes the next face of the party.

I hope Ellison wins. Not because I think he will do great things because the scope of the office is limited. But it will send a signal to the old guard in the party that they are no longer wanted.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    I wonder if Pence will run for President after the end of Trump’s second term? Or whether Trump will do what Nixon did in “Watchmen” and repeal the 22nd Amendment and go on to four terms, stepping down some time after his ninetieth birthday. I don’t know what could/would stop him, but it sure as shit isn’t going to be the Democrats.

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