Will Tom Perez unite the Democratic party?

The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to select former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as the party's new leadership. He will be tasked with bringing a party facing a minority in every branch of government back to the forefront. 

Branden Camp/AP
Newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, right, and Rep. Keith Ellison, (D) of Minnesota, who was named deputy chairman, listen to a question from the media during a press conference at the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Saturday.

The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to select former Labor Secretary Tom Perez to head the group, bring an end to a contentious race that pitted the more centric ideology of the party under former President Barack Obama against the progressive agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Mr. Perez edged out Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who received the backing of Senator Sanders (I) of Vermont, in an unprecedented second round of voting, taking 235 of the 435 votes. In a nod to the party’s more progressive wing, Perez has selected Mr. Ellison to serve as deputy chairman of the party.

"We don't have the luxury of walking out of this room divided," Ellison said as he took the stage alongside Perez.

Still, the victory of the traditional candidate was all too familiar for Ellison’s supporters, who want to see the party usher in a new wave of progressive thinking after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race.

And some have questioned whether or not Perez is the choice to bring together the fragmented party at a time when Democrats see themselves out of power in every branch of federal government.   

“One of the most crucial questions for Perez may be how to interpret national demographic trends and translate them into Democratic strategy – itself a test of Democrats’ long-held notion that their future is assured by a natural-born coalition of minority and Millennial voters,” The Christian Science Monitor’s David Iaconangelo writes.

Despite the party’s uncertain future, some are encouraged by Perez’s record and experience. He served as head of the labor department under Mr. Obama beginning in 2013. Prior to that, he was the assistant attorney general for civil rights.

He is also the first Latino to head the Democratic party.

“I know that Tom Perez will unite us under that banner of opportunity, and lay the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leadership for this big, bold, inclusive, dynamic America we love so much,” Obama said in a statement.

President Trump responded to the news on Twitter early Saturday evening.

“Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican party!”

With just over a year and a half before midterm elections in 2018, Perez will be tasked with leading the party back to seats in the House and Senate, where Democrats have lost significant numbers. While there’s no clear path forward for Democrats to take, they likely will find common ground throughout the party and country by resisting the Trump agenda.

“Someday, they’re going to study this era of American history,” Perez said after his win, according to The Washington Post. “They’re going to ask the question of all of us: Where were you in 2017 when we had the worst president in the history of the United States? We will be able to say that the Democratic Party led the resistance and made sure this was a one-term president.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Will Tom Perez unite the Democratic party?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today