Tom Perez likes to play ball with the Democratic Party establishment. Serving as the labor secretary under former President Barack Obama, from whom he received a glowing endorsement during his bid for the DNC leadership, he framed himself as an unbiased moderate set to unite neo-liberals and progressives following the disaster of the 2016 presidential election.
“Here are the facts,” Perez once said during a live CNN debate, “Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton also won the popular vote. At the same time, this was because of the absence of transparency in the Democratic primary. There was a crisis of trust that ensued. What we need in the chair of the Democratic Party is to make sure that in fact and in perception, every single day, you are fair and neutral.”
This neutrality promise couldn’t be said of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Clinton aide turned DNC chair, who was forced to resign from the committee in disgrace after Wikileaks released documents exposing unethical behavior that ultimately biased the primary against Clinton’s progressive challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders. This resulted in certain pro-Sanders districts have their voting times flipped without clear notice, limiting the number of debates that statistically improved Sanders’ chances, slipping debate questions to their preferred candidates early, and coercion of the media to refrain from Clinton criticism on the air. Towards the end of 2017, it was Politico that published an article written by former DNC interim-chair Donna Brazile further exposing how the Clinton campaign essentially owned the party’s so-called “neutral” committee.
Brazile, a longtime Clinton ally, stated that a monetary agreement was made between Amy Dacey (former DNC CEO) and Robby Mook (former Clinton campaign manager) which dictated, in exchange for large investments made to the DNC during a time of extreme levels of debt, that “Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.” Brazile went on to reveal all DNC press releases, including those released during the presidential primary, had to go through the Clinton campaign before they could be published. Weeks after the article received wide-spread media attention, the DNC faced their worst fundraising month in over 15 years.
This left the Democratic Party internally fractured. As Sen. Sanders once told The New York Times: “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.” The neo-liberals soon backed Perez, while the progressives backed Rep. Keith Ellison, who faced off in a tense leadership battle until Ellison was later appointed to the non-position of deputy chair of the DNC. Each side framed the race as a time for party unity, vowing neutral internal politics moving into the 2018 mid-terms, while attempting to win back progressive trust. You would expect Perez, a political insider, to at least stick to his forced narratives in order to save face, right?
Well, think again, sunshine. That was then. This is now. According to a new report from The Huffington Post, several members of the DNC are growing furious at the chair for his latest endorsement of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent currently facing a tense progressive challenger in actress and staunch left-wing activist Cynthia Nixon.
“I was like: ‘Is he crazy?’,” said Yasmine Taeb, Virginia’s own Democratic National Committeewoman, who spoke to the Huffington Post earlier this week. “What does he think the response is going to be from the progressives who already had doubts about the DNC?”
You don’t even have to be a progressive to see the clear lines of distrust. Once again the head of the major Democratic institution has found themselves in lockstep with the party’s power-brokers — joining Clinton and potential 2020 contender Joe Biden in endorsing New York’s reigning Governor Cuomo and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “You’ve been delivering results and you’ve been delivering results that have made people’s lives better,” declared the DNC chair. “That’s why Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul are charter members of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party, and that’s why I’m proud to endorse them.”
But he really shouldn’t be. As The Nation points out, the current director of the New York Working Families Party, Bill Lipton, endorsed Nixon for a platform that supports actual left-wing policies: “She is fighting for a New York for all of us, that leaves no one behind. That means fair funding for all our public schools, a criminal justice system that serves all our communities and a campaign finance system that puts working families first, not wealthy donors. We believe Democratic primary voters will choose her as well.” It was this same group that endorsed Sanders during the 2016 primary, stating they admire candidates, such as Hochul’s challenger Jumaane Williams, one of New York City’s current councilman, who want to “lead the fight to end the abuse of stop-and-frisk, prevent gun violence, and for affordable housing.”
If Perez and the like can’t point to a single policy, why the sudden leap to endorsements if it’s not in the interest of playing establishment power politics? And wouldn’t this endorsement majorly jeopardize the 2020 race if either Cuomo or Biden run for office? Left-wing voters should demand clears answer on this issue. In Perez’s own words, placing his thumb on the scale with this endorsement shows his leadership is no longer tenable.
“One thing we’ve learned at the DNC is that when you, in fact or in perception, are trying to put the thumb on the scale in a spirited primary, that can undermine public confidence in us,” the chairman told CSPAN. As DNC donations continue to plummet in the age of President Donald Trump, the party can no longer outsource issues of trust to blaming Russia. Perez better use that hindsight to his advantage if they want a chance in 2020 — ignoring history could mean they’re bound to repeat it.