We will see soon enough if Democrats learned the right lessons from this election. For now, it appears that they are moving forward on two beliefs: One, that the Democratic Party has lost touch with middle America and the working class. Two, that Bernie Sanders is now the philosophical leader of the party, meaning that the answer to a Donald Trump victory is to move the party even further to the left.
These answers are reflected in the favorite to becoming the next Democratic National Committee chairman, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Ellison is the first Muslim-American to be elected to Congress, and he is a Sanders acolyte through and through. After the election, Sanders quickly endorsed Ellison for the position.
On Monday, Ellison officially announced his bid for the role, coming out strong with a list of 40 endorsements from Democrats and labor chiefs.
“Democrats win when we harness the power of everyday people and fight for the issues they care about,” Ellison said. “It is not enough for Democrats to ask for voters’ support every two years. We must be with them through every lost paycheck, every tuition hike, and every time they are the victim of a hate crime. When voters know what Democrats stand for, we can improve the lives of all Americans.”
It’s annoying when Democrats try to tell Republicans which strategies to pursue, because the conflict of interest is so blindingly obvious. So we’ll keep that in mind as we review this DNC shakeup. It would be silly to criticize their options from a conservative viewpoint.
So, as we put on our Objectivity Caps, let’s see if this move makes sense.
On the plus side, the party clearly understands that they have to make some serious changes. The DNC leadership was thoroughly exposed this year, forcing both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile into disgrace. Democrats cannot save their party by going back to the same establishment well that was rejected on election night.
On the other hand, Ellison feels like a needlessly defiant choice that smacks of identity politics. Were he a white Catholic who talked the same populist game, would he be the frontrunner? Or is the party eager to make some kind of “statement” by putting a black Muslim at the head of the DNC? And what kind of message does that send to the white working-class voters who went from Obama to Trump over the course of four short years?
Well, the clock’s already counting on the 2018 midterm elections. On that day, we’ll find out if Democrats made the right corrections or if they doomed their party to long-term irrelevance.