Will Progressives Bolt the Democratic Party?

On Saturday, Democrats meet in Atlanta to elect a new chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  The leadership fight has been taking place largely behind the scenes with two main candidates, Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, vying for the leadership position.

Ellison, a Muslim, has the support of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others in the Progressive wing of the Party.  Perez, who served in the Obama Administration, was the Hillary Clinton supporter and is the more mainstream of the two candidates.

Meanwhile, the U.S economy is in bad shape.  Growth and productivity have slowed significantly since 2000.  We now have a dual economy where the wealthy and highest wage earners are doing quite well, thank you, while average workers have seen their wages stagnate since the Great Recession of 2008.

We need policies that address these issues, including raising the minimum wage and trade and tax measures that encourage investment and job creation in the U.S.

But we also need major tax reform, so that the wealthy pay their fair share.  That will provide the resources needed to invest in infrastructure to create jobs, improve the quality of health care and education, and to end income inequality – in other words, to level the playing field and provide equality of opportunity for all Americans.

We did it in the decades after WW II when the U.S. enjoyed robust economic growth.   We can do it again.  Nickel and dime tweaks to the existing tax code and paltry increases in infrastructure spending, policies championed by Hillary Clinton during her presidential bid, just won’t cut it.

Into this Democratic policy vacuum, the Republican Party is gearing up – yet again – to cut taxes for the wealthy while simultaneously reducing coverage and raising out-of-pocket health care costs for average Americans.

Those in the mainstream of the Democratic Party, including Tom Perez, just don’t seem to get it.    Workers are getting hammered as never before.  But major tax reform, and robust investment in the economy and people, is not on the agenda of the Party they envision.

We suspect that’s because they spend too much time soliciting contributions and cozying up to the same moneyed interests that support Republicans.

Among the privileged in the U.S., policies that favor the wealthy seem to have bipartisan support.

So If moderates, led by Perez, win the race for DNC chair, look for Progressives potentially to bolt the Democratic Party.

A third party may not  be the a long term solution, but it could serve as a wake-up call to those Democrats who were (and continue to be) asleep at the switch, failing to acknowledge the pain felt by American workers, and allowing the likes of Donald Trump to become President.

We have had enough – it is time for real change.