Confused? Think of the Democratic Party Unity Tour as a political version of a horror movie. Tom Perez is the teenager who can’t quite seem to figure out what’s going on, and Bernie Sanders … well, he’s the guy about whom the police finally warn, The disunity’s coming from inside the house!
Yesterday, Sanders took time off from promoting the Democratic Party to tell John Dickerson on CBS’ Face the Nation that “the model of the Democratic Party is failing.” Unity, baby!
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) April 23, 2017
SANDERS: I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing. We have a Republican president, who ran as a candidate as the most unpopular in modern history of this country. Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of governor’s chairs, and in the last eight years they have picked up 900 legislative seats.
Sanders gets that much right, but then insists on using the same tired arguments from the “failing model” of the Democratic Party over the last eight years:
Clearly the Democratic Party has got to change. And in my view, what it has got to become is a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations. A party, John, that speaks to the pain of the working class in this country. Middle class is shrinking; 43 million living in poverty, almost all new income and wealth is going to the top one percent, people can’t afford to send their kids to college, they can’t afford child care, they can’t afford health care.
The Democratic Party has got to take the lead, rally people, young people, working people, stand up to the billionaire class. And when we do that, you’re going to see voter turnout swell. You’re going to see people coming in and running for office. You’re going to see Democrats regain control of the United States Congress.
Er … isn’t that precisely the model of the last election? Hold a lot of rallies with millennials in urban centers, engage in class warfare, and demonize success? Sanders might think he could have done it better than Hillary Clinton did, and perhaps he’s still sore over her domination of the donor class within the Democratic Party, but he’s still basically describing the 2016 Democratic effort with this prescription for the future. It sounds like the usual defense of socialism: It’s not the model that failed, it’s that the wrong people were running it.
The Democratic Party model has failed, but it’s not because they don’t conduct enough class-warfare and hold too few rallies on urban-university campuses. It’s because Democrats have modeled their party to attract only the progressives who demand total fealty to their dogma and reject anyone outside of it. The working class in middle America didn’t abandon the Democrats — they got abandoned by the Democrats. When the DNC stops listening to people trying to turn them into the Green Party, they might find ways to reverse the trends that Sanders correctly points out.
In the meantime, perhaps Perez might be better served on this Democratic Party Unity Tour by a partner who actually is a Democrat. Just a thought.