Dammit, Clio Chang of The New Republic is a better writer than I am!

It appears that the underlying reason some Democrats prefer Perez over Ellison has nothing to do with ideology, but rather his loyalty to the Obama wing. As the head of the DNC, Perez would allow that wing to retain more control, even if Obama-ites are loath to admit it. Sanders has been accused of re-litigating the primary in his criticisms of Perez, but the fact that Perez was pushed to run, while Ellison was quickly and easily unifying the left and center, seems like the move most predicated on primary scars.

And not just a better writer, but a better analyst! I blunder around writing things like, “Ellison’s candidacy is a continuation of the Sanders campaign,” describing the Congressman entirely as the candidate of the Bernie wing, and depict Charles’ Schumer’s endorsement in terms of his acquiescence to that wing. I then describe Perez in equal-but-opposite terms:

But structurally, in the role he plays in this race, Perez is the Clintonite establishment’s pick nonetheless, and while I applaud the move to the policy left, his campaign is still fundamentally about countering and limiting the influence of the Sanders movement.

Chang, having taken her smart pills, dismisses the false equivalence between the two. In the paragraph below, italics represent figures that are affiliated with the Sanders wing, while bold represents figures from the current establishment:

Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota, has been endorsed by leaders across the Democratic spectrum, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative John Lewis, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He has captured the support of young progressives, with over 200 millennial leaders signing a letter backing his bid…Perez, Obama’s former secretary of labor, reportedly entered the race after being prodded by Obama’s White House. He has been endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and the heads of DNC caucuses for women, Hispanics, and rural voters.

Note which of the candidates has support from both establishment figures and from Berniacs, and which has support that comes exclusively from one side. There is no symmetry here. Keith Ellison is the unifying candidate who can win the support and mend the rift between both sides of the party, while Tom Perez is exactly what his candidacy was intended to be: the candidate of the party establishment exclusively, sent out to oppose the Sanders wing. (Hey, I was right about that part!)

The party is split. One candidate in this race has demonstrated the capacity to bring it together and win support of both sides, and one has not. Many people, myself included for a quite some time, dismissed the degree of alienation that Sanders supporters felt towards the party after the shenanigans during the primary (meaning everything from the DNC’s thumb on the scale to fake news stories invented and propagated by the Clintonite establishment, including the sitting DNC Chair) and assumed they would come back into the fold in the same numbers as Clinton supporters in 2008. Many of those observers now spend their days cursing the left for not turning out for Clinton or defecting to Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. They very openly and literally define the alienation of the Bernie wing as the primary reason Donald Trump is President.

You’d think that people who are passionately opposed to the election of a Republican President, and who blame the insurgent/establishment breech for causing it, would be highly motivated to heal that breech. But, on the other hand, the action that could prevent a similar performance in 2020 would also come at a cost for them. Instead of having exclusive control of the party, they would have to share it. Not give it up, but share it. As the endorsements of Tom Perez and the circumstances of his entry into the race demonstrate, he is the exclusively-factional candidate, brought into the race to stop a Sanders backer when that Sanders backer began demonstrating the capacity to win broad support from both wings. If it had been just Our Revolution and Nurses United that endorsed Keith Ellison, there likely would have been no casting about for an establishment alternative. In contrast, Keith Ellison is the unity candidate, not merely the Berniac candidate like I claimed, as his endorsements demonstrate. That is the choice that voting DNC members have – not the Sanders wing vs. the Clinton wing, but party unity vs. factionalism forever.

I’ll let Chang have the last word:

There is no case for Perez that cannot be made for Ellison, while Ellison is able to energize progressives in ways that Perez cannot. The question that will be answered on Saturday is whether Democrats have more urgent priorities than denying power to the left.


  1. Pingback: The Stakes in Atlanta: Another 2016 or Another 2008 in Four Years | Joe from Lowell

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