In Wake of Trump Victory, Progressives Urge Democratic Party Overhaul

As Hillary Clinton puts partial blame for her electoral defeat on F.B.I. Director James Comey, some progressives are calling for an overhaul of the Democratic Party, with new officials that represent grassroots, not corporate, interests.

On ABC‘s “This Week” on Sunday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that Comey’s renewed investigation “did not help” because “it changed the conversation. The conversation should’ve been about middle class people. The conversation should’ve been about how to raise the minimum wage and strengthen Social Security.”

Addressing host George Stephanopoulos’s comment that “a lot of Democrats complain that that party has been basically hollowed out under President Obama,” the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair said that what the way to come back is “to have a vision to strengthen the grassroots” and to “make the voters first, not the donors first.”

He added that “everything we do should animate and empower them at the grassroots level for working people across this country.”

Ellison himself could play a key role, as Common Dreams reported last week:

Speaking about that possibility, Ellison said that “the most important criteria for a DNC chair is going to be vision.[…] and the ability to mobilize and inspire people at the grassroots.”

On whether he’ll formally enter that race, he said he will “have something to say real soon.”

Like Ellison’s comment that it has to be “the guys in the barber shop, the lady at the diner, the folks who are worried about whether that plant is going to close, they’ve got to be our focus,” the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) last week addressed the need for a party re-think. “Democrats must start fighting for working families with an authentic understanding of how we got here—and a willingness to take on Wall Street and corporate donors to get us out,” the group said.

In former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich’s assessment, “It is time for a New Democratic Party” as it “has become a giant fundraising machine, too often reflecting the goals and values of the moneyed interests.” A new party, instead, he wrote,

Issuing a similar message, Sanders supporter Jonathan Tasini wrote that the election results make room for “a difficult but urgent mission—shaking the Democratic Party down to its foundation, ejecting the failed Bill/Hillary Clinton economic and global worldview and standing up for a set of populist, sound economic, and foreign policy principles that could earn majority support.”

According to the reporting by The Hill and Politico on Saturday, some of that work is already underway.

The Hill reported: “Progressives are itching to see the national apparatus reduced to rubble and rebuilt from scratch, with one of their own installed at the top.” The reporting continued:

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Politico reported that

According to Tasini, “a new Democratic Party can be revitalized. The progressive movement, in all its elements—advocates for labor, environmentalists, and civil rights of all stripes—can shape that future.”

And, noting the progressive ballot initiative victories, commentator Jim Hightower says the “election is a mandate for progressive economic populism.”

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