Harrison to replace weak Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair.
Paste magazine posted one of my favorite headlines about Tom Perez, the now former chair of the DNC:
Weird – Bland Centrist and Sentient Yawn Tom Perez
Sucks at Raising Money for Democrats
Regular IV Words readers know how I feel about centrists and go-slowers in this time of existential climate crisis. As for “sentient,” well, that simply means conscious. Being conscious isn’t much to recommend someone for more than gazing at a drip coffee maker in action, let alone running a major political party.
A New Chair for the DNC. Finally.
That was in 2017, not long after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama middle-of-the-roaders installed Perez at the helm of the DNC over progressive Keith Ellison, who is now Minnesota’s attorney general. At the time, Perez’s DNC was having trouble raising funds for the Democratic Party, even though every other left-leaning organization in the nation was raking it in due to anti-Donald Trump sentiment.
He sucked at fundraising then, and from this progressive’s perspective, he sucked at just about everything else moving forward. Thankfully, Perez will soon be replaced by Jamie Harrison, former U.S. Senate candidate and chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
That’s not to say I’m especially stoked about Harrison. I like what he says about addressing poverty, LGBTQIA rights and grassroots organizing, but in many ways he looks like just another centrist.
For example, Harris has said the Green New Deal (GND) is too expensive. That’s not just weak, it’s misguided, given that the GND will actually create hundreds of thousands more jobs than will be created over the next 30 years without it.
Harris also endorsed Perez after dropping out of the DNC chair race in 2017.
Perez Has Sucked for Far Too Long
Even so, as someone who is at least well past simply sentient, Harrison has to be WAY better than Perez.
Yesterday, the national online publication NewsOne ran a piece titled “Biden Picks Jaime Harrison To Lead DNC As Critics Say ‘Good Riddance’ To Tom Perez.” Yours truly – brag brag – made an appearance in the story as one of the Good Riddancers:
The story mentioned that Perez has been chair for nearly four years, and during that time, he “…has been the target of critics who have complained about everything from his commitment to Black women to his ability to command confidence from his own Party.”
The criticism was widespread.
In May 2020, Emily Atkin, founder of the climate focused newsletter Heated, had a great lead-in to her interview with RL Miller, founder of Climate Hawks Vote. Miller was justifiably angry with Perez for not allowing a climate-focused debate during the presidential primaries in 2019. She responded by getting herself elected to the DNC.
“R.L. Miller is one of the newest members of the Democratic Party’s formal governing body, the Democratic National Committee,” Atkin wrote. “Her first priority: To tell DNC Chairman Tom Perez to ‘fuck off.’”
Also in 2019, screw-ups by Tommy’s party almost irretrievably screwed up the Iowa caucuses. Like a true non-leader, Perez blamed somebody else, namely the Iowa Democratic Party. Tsk tsk.
Then, in the lead-up to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, the DNC under Perez inexplicably dropped anti-fossil fuel language from its platform, even though it had been in the draft language and had already been published in the 2016 platform. The language called for – Oh My God! – the elimination of subsidies to fossil fuel industries and companies. Everyone from IV Words to the Sierra Club was pissed off about that one.
Perez’s DNC wasn’t going to let that language sneak through. Why?
Sludge gave us a plausible reason for the about face, reporting that the Perez-led DNC refused to stop taking money from fossil fuel political action committees in 2018.
So the DNC continued to move onward and downward. Its performance in the 2020 Congressional races was pathetic. In the two years prior to the election, people and organizations around the nation organized, protested and got out the vote against Trump. It was an atmosphere ripe for gaining seats in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. Instead, the Democratic Party lost seats in the House, where it barely retained its majority, and had to bite its fingernails through runoff races in Georgia to gain the majority in the Senate.
Perhaps even worse, the Perez Party dropped the ball with Latino voters. It’s a block that should be a slam dunk for Democrats in every election but especially in this one, with the Biden-Harris ticket running against the most blatantly racist president in the history of the United States of America. Even so, the Dems lost ground with the demographic.
Finally, the DNC failed miserably when it came to state legislative seats in the 2020 election. As U.S. News reported, “Democrats expected a blue wave down ballot, but the only confirmed flips went to Republicans.”
Hello Harrison, Bye-Bye Perez
Perez has been DNC chair when smarts, competence and bold action have been necessary. He’s blown it in so many ways.
The bar is low, but here’s hoping Harrison is better, especially when it comes to shutting out fossil fuels money and championing bold action on the climate crisis. The people of the world can’t wait.
At least we no longer have to wait on Tom Perez.
Featured photo collage:
Harrison (left) – Tom Williams / Getty
Perez (right) – Pool / Getty