What the Point of Tom Perez’s Candidacy Anyway?

I weighed in on the race for the DNC Chair a few days after the election (I support Ellison) and subsequent events haven’t caused me to change my mind. But I’ve got to say that the whole Perez candidacy strikes me as a bit bizarre. Sure, he doesn’t seem like a bad guy and, from a policy standpoint, there’s not much to argue with when you review his stated positions.

But it’s worth asking: What’s the raison d’etre for this candidacy? When Perez got into the race, Ellison had already secured the endorsements of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) — two large unions that had endorsed Clinton in the primaries. He was emerging as a unity candidate behind who both faction of the party could unite.

Since Perez doesn’t seem to disagree with Ellison about all that much, what is the point of his getting into the race? Many people (myself included) believe that Perez’ candidacy is based solely on a desire of the DNC’s old guard to deny leadership to anyone who supported Sanders in the primaries. (This analysis of the race by Jeff Stein is worth reading in its entirety. It details the kinds of ugly tactics that don’t deserve to ever be rewarded in a party that purports to take the high road.)

If that’s the case then I hope the DNC is prepared for the inevitable backlash from the party’s most committed activists. That kind of political vindictiveness against Sanders supporters would be a horrible mistake and would represent a grievous unforced error in the battle for the country’s future.

Isn’t it clear that the folks who blew the race against Donald Trump have forfeited the mantle of leadership? Their brand of politics offers no value for progressives in 2018 or 2020.

Steve Jobs famously believed that everything in life could be described by either a Beatles song or a Bob Dylan song. As it turns out, our most recent Nobel Laureate described the Ellison/Perez race pretty well in 1964 when he wrote:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
Cause the times they are a-changing

2 thoughts on “What the Point of Tom Perez’s Candidacy Anyway?”

    1. There is no one whose judgment I value more than yours, Matthew. You’ve been a hero of mine since I saw your Bill Moyers interview and I am delighted and humbled if you find value in what you’ve read here. I look forward to following your work in 2017, my friend.

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