Sunday, February 26, 2017

Listen: sometimes it's easy to lose track of how historic this past year has been.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville recently posted a tweetstorm about the 2016 campaign and aftermath.  She was writing in response to the "controversy" of Tom Perez winning the leadership of the DNC over Keith Ellison. It shouldn't actually be much of a controversy, since reportedly Perez had the backing of President Obama, in whose cabinet Perez had most recently served as Secretary of Labor.  But the media likes simple stories of factionalism and the idea of a schism has been gleefully stoked by Trump supporters and the president himself, so here we are.  I have assembled and edited much of her tweetstorm into readable paragraph form, below:
I have stayed out of all the DNC chair stuff, but I feel obliged to say something about this "business as usual" narrative.  Let's take a look back at the 2016 campaign for a moment.

The Dem primary saw a woman and a Jewish man take turns making history by being the first woman or Jewish person to win primaries/caucuses.  The party eventually nominated the first female major party candidate in history.  She then ran on the most progressive platform the Democrats have ever put forward.  The breakout speaker at that convention was a Muslim man: Khizr Khan.  That convention also featured the first ever trans speaker at a major party convention: Sarah McBride.  Hillary Clinton's campaign had the most diverse campaign staff ever, including a gay campaign manager: Robby Mook.  Eventually, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes, getting more votes than any white male candidate ever.

The DNC just elected the first Latino chair ever, Tom Perez.   Had his strongest contender, Keith Ellison, won, the DNC would have elected its first Black Muslim chair.  Ellison will serve as deputy chair of the DNC, so Dems will be led by a Latino and a Muslim.

All of this is being described as "business as usual."  I don't know what political system you've been looking at, but that is not "business as usual."  This is the perfidy of the argument that "identity politics" don't matter. It allows people to ignore and dismiss marginalized leaders and the people whom they represent at the table -- many of whom have never had that sort of representation before.
McEwan is right.  These are all accomplishments -- and strengths.  It elevates and strengthens the Democratic Party and the leadership of our nation to incorporate the disparate voices of many different types of people.  Let's not lose sight of that, and let's keep charging forward.

Resist and persist.

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