Monday, February 13, 2017

DNC Chair Candidate Forum In Baltimore

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) held it's fourth and final regional day long 'Future Forum' in Baltimore last Saturday, in advance of its February 23rd-26th meeting to elect new party leadership. As with the first three forums, DNC Chair candidates, DNC members, guest speakers, and other Democrats discussed how the party goes forward after losing to Republicans, over the last 8 years, more than 1,000 state and federal level legislative and executive branch seats held by Democrats.  

Ten candidates for DNC chair lined up on stage for 90 minutes to discuss their views on how the party goes forward:
  • Sally Boynton Brown, Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party
  • Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
  • Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Keith Ellison, U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota 5th District
  • Jehmu Greene of Texas, Democratic strategist, Fox News political analyst, and former Rock The Vote president
  • Jaime Harrison, Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
  • Tom Perez, 26th United States Secretary of Labor
  • Peter Peckarsky, a Wisconsin attorney and Democratic progressive activist
  • Sam Ronan of Ohio, activist and Air Force veteran
  • Robert Vinson Brannum, Veterans Committee chair of the NAACP’s Washington D.C. branch
When they meet on February 23–26, 2017, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee will elect a new Chairperson and other party officers.
The DNC chairperson candidates offered opinions during their 90 minute discussion forum on why over 1,000 of the party's incumbent office holders lost elections to Republicans during the 2010 - 2016 election years.

Keith Ellison said the question asking if Democrats can work with President Trump should be flipped around to whether Trump can work with Democrats.
"The framing that Democrats won't work with Trump is actually ridiculous," he said. "He has come out against everything we stand for, guns ablazing. He's the one who got elected and said he wants to work with people."
Ellison also said Democrats should filibuster Gorsuch's confirmation after Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the seat.
"We have to oppose Gorsuch at every millimeter, and the reason why is Republicans stole a Democratic seat," he said. "We cannot capitulate to that kind of bullying. They're the ones who broke the rules."
Tom Perez said Trump's presidency has been marked by "carnage and chaos." To turn anti-Trump energy into votes, he said, the party must be transparent, fair and inclusive.
"The culture of the DNC has been far too secretive," Perez said. "We need to change that culture."
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said Democrats need to “grow up.”
"When you are running hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commercials telling the voters that, 'Oh, our opponent is offensive,' when you are worrying about your damn paycheck, when you are worrying about your job, where you're going to live, whether your kids are ever going to go to school, they don't give a crap if the president is an insult dog," he began.

Buckley continued, telling the audience that Democrats "did not offer a positive message to anyone I ... am related to. We did not offer a message to my neighbors, we did not offer a message to the people in Indiana or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Kentucky," pointing to the states nominee Hillary Clinton lost throughout the Rust Belt. "What Democrats did do is say how offensive ... Grow up," he stated. "That is not reality for most of America. A lot of Americans are worried about their own economic futures and don’t really give a crap about if the president is an insult dog," Buckley continued.
Buckley explained that while he is openly gay, he also came from a working-class white family, and those are the folks the Democrats have left behind. By ignoring them, the Democrats lost their votes to Trump and consequently lost the election. Buckley’s remarks received sustained applause from the room, indicating that perhaps many Democrats agree the party has been leaving middle class and working-class white America behind and agree that has been the wrong strategy.

South Bend Indiana Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who served with the Navy in Afghanistan, in answer to a question asking why he would be the best for party chair, said,
"If we’re going to reach to a new generation of organizers, why not put in a new generation of leaders? If we’re going to recognize the importance of the grass roots, why not put in the candidate who was at the Women’s March? Who led the way to the Houston Airport protest. ... We have to have the humility to figure out where the party fits in the broader movement, not the other way around. We have to make sure that the party is there, shoulder to shoulder to the activists and the organizers who are telling the stories at the local level. ... I’ll be damned if we’re going to have a draft-dodging, chickenhawk President of the Unites States, who thinks hes too smart to read his own intelligence briefings, ordering the people I served with back into another conflict because he can’t be bothered to do his job."
Mayor Buttigieg believes Democrats must win back the "industrial Midwest."
"I had a campaign button when we were campaigning for Hillary against Donald Trump that said, 'I'm with her.' It's all about her. And then ... it was all about him," Buttigieg said. "The people at home were saying, 'OK, who is talking to me? Who is talking about me.'"
In his final forum comments, Mayor Buttigieg again called for unity within the Democratic party.
"If the outcome of this DNC race is that half the party feels like it's just been sent packing, we're going to be that much further on a back foot dealing with the real opposition which is Trump and the Republican opposition, Congress."
Watch the entire recorded 9 hour Future Forum live stream video feed from the Baltimore, or just the DNC Chair candidate discussion forum starting at the 7 hrs 13 min time mark:


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