Just days after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, Rep. Keith Ellison characterized the post-Obama era as a “movement moment” for progressives. Yesterday, unfortunately, was not that moment. We need to keep pushing forward for change.
Please don’t get me wrong. Secretary Perez is a massively accomplished, admirable (and yes, progressive) political figure and has fought for years for social justice and civil rights. He served as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in the Obama Administration where he fought for Title IX and rights under ADA, and oversaw training of local law enforcement in regard to hate crimes. Later, of course, he ascended to Labor Secretary.
Nevertheless, he is an establishment figure. The party had an opportunity to place one of the new faces of the progressive movement in charge following a bruising, demoralizing 2016 election cycle. Congressman Keith Ellison would have been a strong choice (and my choice) to lead the entire party forward.
Remember, when everything is up in the air, how will things land? Will they land unchanged? Will they land in disarray? Or will they land for the better because we had a course correction? Today was not the only moment in the movement, but today shows that we desperately need to keep pushing forward if we want change on the national level that reflects the passions of the people.
We also have to remember that change is granular. Figureheads are important but perhaps the change we want—the ‘movement moment’ of which Ellison spoke—is already happening: at the town halls, at the vigils, at the huddles, and soon, if Perez is effective which I really hope he is, at the polls.