The New Democrats

The 2016 U.S. election was expected to be the final straw to break the Elephants back. However, since that day earlier this month we have discovered that the straw has broken a different back, a Donkeys back!

Whether it was Trump’s victory, or the Republican House and Senate victories, or even Hillary and the Clinton coattails. Either way, the Democrats have become the broken party, that many believed was the fate awaiting the Republicans on November 9th.

The results of November 8th left the Democratic Party in turmoil. Then as the election autopsy began on November 9th, the Democrats found themselves looking for a new leadership, direction, and morales. In the wreckage of the Democratic party, seventeen protesters were arrested for a “sit-in” in Chuck Schumer’s office on Monday the 14th.

The protesters were demanding Schumer step aside from the Senate Minority Leadership and put his full support behind long-term independent and Democratic nominee challenger the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

However, it was Schumer, not Sanders, that prevailed as the new Senate Democratic Leadership was announced.

Sanders instead was given the role of ‘Chair of Outreach’, while fellow progressive icon Elizabeth Warren takes on the role of ‘Vice Chair of the Conference’. Whether these appointments symbolise the Democratic Parties evolution to a more progressive party, or whether these are purely symbolic appointments to appease the left-wing of the party is yet to be seen, and the power of these roles is more likely to be decided by the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Either way these are positions, within the Party, which does leave the door open for both Sanders and Warren to run for President in 2020.

The true position of power in the new Democratic Leadership will be the Chair of the DNC. The DNC Chair will be a true barometer of where the party’s future lies, whether it is in the more progressive left-wing or the more pro-establishment central wing.

Amongst the candidates that have declared for DNC Chair is the former Vermont governor and DNC chair Howard Dean, best known for his campaign in 2004 to win the party nomination which was ended by his notorious scream, was once described at the progressive ’emperor’ of the Democratic Party although in recent years this is a title he has lost. The Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, has also declared in candidacy, having made history in 2006 when he became the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress, at the same time he became the first black politician from Minnesota to serve in Congress. Keith Ellison is also the co-Chair of the progressive caucus and is the clear progressive choice for DNC Chair. Also declared is the South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison, who in recent months, during the election, has had his ties to the Clinton campaign questioned. Also believed to be interested in the role is the NARAL Pro-Choice America chair Ilyse Hogue, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley, and the Labor Secretary Tom Perez. 

2010 General Assembly Plenary IV Rep Keith Ellison06/26/2010
Rep. Keith Ellison

The front-runner at the moment is the Congressman Keith Ellison. He has the endorsements of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, that of the outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his replacement the new Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. However, this by no means gives Keith Ellison a lock on the position, who will have to continue to fight for the Chair.

Although, should Mr. Ellison become the DNC Chair then it is likely that the current co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, will lead the Democratic to become the progressive party of American politics. Ellison could become the temporary leader of Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution and re-create the Democratic Party in the mold of Sanders campaign and attempt to become the true party of the middle and working classes. This in the words of Bernie Sanders himself would be a move away from the “liberal elite“.

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