“And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen …”
– Hyman Roth, gangster, Godfather II, 1974
And it reeks. In these politics, in this Party, you fall in line or you’re out. And that’s fine, if you see political life as little besides turf, accumulation of power, and patronage. But if you’re there for a mission beyond buffing your own self up, retribution comes hard.
Late last night I walked out of a 3-hour local meeting to a storm of texts; Babs Siperstein was kicked off the DNC by Chair Tom Perez. And I’m sorry as hell to see it. Babs has been the highest-ranking out transgender person in the Democratic Party; an advocate, here and nationally, for gay and lesbian people – and especially for trans people. It has become her life’s mission, and she’s done it within the Democratic Party. That’s the main political engine for that kind of change and she knows it. She’s been on the DNC’s Executive Committee for years. But she didn’t vote for Tom Perez for Chair, she voted for Keith Ellison. She made the right choice; Ellison was endorsed by leaders across both sides of the Hillary-Bernie divide; a consensus candidate that made the most sense for a rebuilt party Perez, on the other hand, was recruited by the establishment wing only after Ellison got into the race, to keep someone who’d backed Bernie Sanders from ascending in the party. I was texting with several DNC members, including Babs, during the DNC Chair vote in February. I’d been a Bernie delegate, she strong for Hillary. But she sat down with Ellison, put some hard questions to him, and gave him her vote. In the end, the party establishment held on. Perez, who never intended to run the Party, has his day. And that’s the business we’ve chosen. Retribution if you don’t fall in line:
June 2016: Kumbaya over. John Wisniewski summarily dropped as DNC member for supporting Bernie Sanders
September 2017: Ralph Johnson, relieved of his duties as volunteer coach of Pop Warner football, which he loved, for daring to run against a seated LD-16 assemblyman
October 2017: Central Jersey Progressive Dems turned away from phone bank for Phil Murphy & Dems
Dropping Babs, there will be no trans person at the Democrats’ Exec Committee level.** There is another trans person, Marisa Richmond of Tennessee, and she looks great. But apparently there’s only room for one trans person in the national party. Marisa in, Babs out. That smacks of tokenism, a concept brown and black people are quite familiar with, and I’ll bet trans people are used to being told they’re lucky to have any representation at all.
And there’s one other thing. Tom Perez was just in New Jersey – 5 days ago, for Phil Murphy. Bill Caruso points out, and he’s right, there was ample opportunity for him to tell Babs in person, with consideration and gratitude for what she’s brought to the party. And to say Thank You. He didn’t do that. Because that’s not the way this business works. And it reeks.
** I do note that NJDSC Chair John Currie is now co-chair of the DNC Credentials Committee; which is not the same.