Tom Perez & Keith Ellison in NJ Friday: What do we want to say to them?

Keith Ellison (left) and DNC Chair Tom Perez

Tom Perez and Keith Ellison are coming to New Jersey Friday; Newark, organized by Working Families, and Monmouth. The new Chair & Deputy Chair of the DNC. In addition to the event above, they’re in Monmouth 2pm (details below). Note both are indoors.

If I get a moment with either Perez or Ellison tomorrow, what would would you want me to say? My own priority list for the Dems is below.

Take a look at this whip count of Republican House members who prepared to vote No on the Trumpcare takedown of the ACA last week. Notice something? There are just two states where 4 GOP House members were going to vote No:  Virginia and New Jersey, the only two states that have both legislative and gubernatorial elections in 2017. Now, if the Democrats want to see how the 2018 midterms are going to go down, and how much fight America has in her against Republican domination (and Democratic losses), they have to watch NJ & VA in 2017. So, 4 Republicans peeling off the Trumpcare vote in both states is big. But it’s bigger in New Jersey. Why? VA has 7 House Republicans, we have 5. Eighty percent of our House GOPs peeled off; only Tom MacArthur stuck. We got Lance, then LoBiondo, then Smith, then – incredibly – Frelinghuysen. For sure, none of them broke with their caucus because they value our health. But we  lobbied. Emailed. Town halled. Buttonholed. And made clear the wrong vote would cost them if it cost us. 

And know what? That was the Resistance that did that, not the infrastructural Democratic Party. With some notable exceptions, we didn’t see the party leaders, or the county chairs who wield so much power in New Jersey, – either leading or even showing up to participate. Maybe they don’t see that as their role – that’s a conversation. A conversation worth having, if we want the Democratic Party in New Jersey to thrive.

Which Democratic Party? I’m looking forward to meeting both Perez and Ellison tomorrow. But my heart was with Ellison in the DNC Chair fight. Like a lot of activist Democrats, I am strongly #DemEnter, and making the best arguments I can to disgusted fellow voters who are leaving/have left the Democratic Party. These are the #DemExit folks who stalked away after the Convention, then November, then after Ellison – supported by many party progressives – lost to Perez, whose very first act as Chair was to create the Deputy role he gave to Ellison. That was a good start for Perez. But I want more, from him and from the party. And that’s why in addition to my local county party, I helped organize Progressive Hunterdon Democrats, which is now larger than my county party in just 8 weeks. Activist, but also Democrat. 

I think we Dems have work to do. I don’t want the political revolution to get tripped up party nonsense. But I also think the Resistance benefits and grows if Democrats are encouraged to see a role in it, and help talk to people who hew to no party. I think Dems can and should help build the Resistance as allies. And I think the party needs an overhaul, so we’re ready to win the fights we’ve got coming.

Here’s what I want for the Democratic Party; national, state, local:

  1. Show up: Don’t wait till just election season
  2. Solidarity: None of you are too important to show up & put your labors behind other leaders – you’re missing stuff
  3. Dollars: You need to fundraise; truly give people a stake in their party and maybe they’ll help you build it
  4. Transparency: Do not work your party in secret. Be as open as you can be
  5. Small-d democracy > insiderisms: Avoid pre-selection of candidates, or the appearance of it; that builds nothing
  6. Talk across the lines: Most Americans aren’t Democrats and we can’t afford to talk only to our own. That means sparking up conversations with ‘independents’ about the values behind our party, and to young people who don’t have party loyalties. And it means keeping lines of communication open with Republicans, and talking to Trump voters. You know a lot of them are just beginning to see they got hosed by an administration that doesn’t have their best interests at heart. These are our brothers and sisters, not our mortal enemies, and they may even wind up allies some day. But not if we’re looking down on them.
  7. Convene your people just to talk: Instead of a big Atlantic City convention to wine & dine insiders, how about hosting talks in each county about what makes us Democrats?

Comment (1)

  1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    So, a whole bunch of answers to the question of what people would want to say to DNC Chair & Deputy Chair Tom Perez and Keith Ellison were posted on Facebook, answering the link to this post. I’m going to post them here, w/o attribution, since they were posted at Facebook. Each new set of quote marks is a different person:

    “Empower and train local party activists to run and manage races where the state and national party may not be able to invest significant resources. Yes, you may be training your potential inner party opposition, but it’s better to bring people in than keep them out.”

    My answer to that: “That’s GREAT. Particularly since most party training is “how to run”. But that’s no guarantee of success if you can’t attract the infrastructure around you – including vols – that can help you win.”

    Another person’s answer to that: “I’m here to whole-heartedly second this one. I don’t know how you have a 57-state-and-territory strategy without training for candidates AND activists.”

    “A full one third of the NJ State delegation to philly voted for Bernie. To this day no effort has been made by the state committee to include them in the state committee. If the electorate sent them to philly. Why is the state and national committee still ignoring them?”

    “We need to keep the EPA, All Americans should feel safe. So many of my minority friends are very anxious. There needs to be SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES for people trying to scare with intimation. My senior citizens are dependent on the meals they receive from.meals on wheels. We can’t cut assurance for children with disabilities. Thank you .”

    “The party needs to become less hierarchical with multiple on-ramps to participation. The hierarchical structure tends to attract people with issues about power, bullying, manipulating and scheming. This is not a Sanders vs. Clinton issue. It is a structural issue. The hierarchy may have worked when populations were more sparse, but in the competitive nature of big cities it becomes unhealthy.”

    “I want the DNC to provide us with a short list of specific bullet points on what we SUPPORT with regard to issues like tax reform and infrastructure, and what we specifically OPPOSE on these and other issues. The DNC needs to provide clear and specific guidance to the resistance! The better we can coordinate a clear message, the better.”


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