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The DNC must revamp its leadership to better reflect the diversity of its constituents, progressives said. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc)

Taking Stock, Progressives Say Democratic Party Needs 'a Reckoning'

'Democrats must start fighting for working families with an authentic understanding of how we got here'

Nadia Prupis

The Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) needs a reckoning, progressives said this week as the dust from President-elect Donald Trump's historic upset settled.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which called Trump's election "a stunning, scary, sad time for America," said his victory shows that the DNC needs new, younger, and more diverse leadership to make authentic connections with its constituents. And, just as importantly, it needs to start taking its cues from the lawmakers who have done that successfully, such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who have long campaigned against corporate power.

Adam Green, PCCC co-founder, told the Associated Press that the Democratic Party should model itself after the populist senators "and offer a systemic critique of the rigged economy."

Democrats must make a "conscious decision to separate themselves from the corporate villains who are to a large extent funding their campaigns," he added.

Progressives noted that Trump was able to win by tapping into voters' economic and social anxieties. "People are fed up with bad wages, too much debt, and child care costs through the roof. They are tired of watching their jobs disappear because of bad trade deals. They know that something is wrong when a corporation can break laws and destroy livelihoods and get away with it," the PCCC wrote. "And Donald Trump spoke to that."

In an email to its supporters after the election, PCCC elaborated, "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."

In a similar vein, Sanders called for the DNC to select Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) as its chair. Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and champion of human rights and corporate accountability, was one of the senator's five allotted picks to the DNC's platform 15-member drafting committee. Political Action executive director Ilya Sheyman said the same.

"The DNC must clean house and the new chair must stand up to all efforts by Trump and Republicans to move their harmful and bigoted agenda, which lost the national popular vote," Sheyman said Thursday. "At the same time, the DNC must connect with the grassroots of the party base that wants the party to reject corporate influence and advance an inclusive, progressive agenda that will energize voters and grow our base in 2017, 2018, and beyond. To do this, we need to bring back a real 50-state organizing strategy. Rep. Keith Ellison would be an excellent DNC chair."

In an election night statement, PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said, "Progressives warned repeatedly that Republicans could outflank Democrats on trade, jobs, Wall Street, and corporate greed—and they did. This race should not have been so close, and Democrats will lose in the future—over and over—if they don't go through a serious ideological shift and follow Elizabeth Warren's lead—fighting against the rigged economy in a truly authentic and real way."

Taylor said the organization vowed "to fight [Trump's] anti-worker, anti-immigrant, racist, sexist agenda every step of the way."

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