There are a number of things wrong with the Democratic Party. Lack of a 50-state strategy and undemocratic party rules come to mind. Big donors and selling out to Big Pharma say a lot too. Their enbrace of neo-conservative foreign policy and neo-liberal globalism alienated both progressives and Candidate Trump’s supporters. But the thing that fries many of us most about the DNC is its habitual refusal to stand up to Big Business, to name the source of our pain.
Last week Chris Hayes interviewed Tom Perez and Bernie Sanders, both of whom are on a Unity Tour to shore up the shaky relationship between centrist Democrats and progressives inside and outside the Democratic Party. Perez wants Americans to know the DNC has a positive vision for America. Whatever that specific vision is, it’s not clear Perez himself has any notion.
Sanders, on the other hand, wants the nation to know that we have to fight back against Trump and an American kleptocracy, oligarchy, autocracy — choose your phrase. Sanders chose “billionaire class.”
But, despite the many hits the American working class has taken, Perez just could not be pressed by Hayes to admit that we are in the middle of a class war. Hayes asked him point-blank, “Do you have to name the enemy?” Perez waffled. This revealing moment told me the DNC was not quite ready to abandon its funding from Big Donors, that the DNC was not quite ready to trust its grassroots. The interview continued in this vein when Hayes asked Perez if the DNC supported single payer healthcare and — once again — Perez waffled and mumbled. He’s a man with no answers.
In contrast — hate him or distrust him — there’s no question which side Trump is on. With Tom Perez, you’re never quite sure which side the Democratic Party is on.
One of my favorite blogs is Robert Paul Wolff’s “Philosopher’s Stone.” The other day Wolff wrote about what he had learned from a lifetime of studying Marx — what Marx got right, and what he got wrong. It’s a worthwhile read. According to Wolff, the thing Marx got most wrong was his conviction that the working class would rise up and fight back. He ended his meditation with this:
“I know all about gerrymandering and voter suppression, but that is no explanation. Bernie Sanders, God bless him, was the only candidate in the last Presidential cycle talking about the fact that the rich are screwing the poor. Why didn’t he pull 80% of the total vote of both parties? I don’t get it.”
Tom Perez can answer that question without saying a word.