The Detroit forum event began at 9 a.m. Saturday and continue throughout the day, featuring guest speakers and candidates for the several DNC leadership positions, including the candidates for DNC chair:
- 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, Political Analyst
- 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
- 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 chair.United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones told attendees of the Detroit Future Forum gathering of Democrats Saturday working class Americans need to be brought back in the fold of the party, arguing that President Donald Trump convinced many likely Democratic voters to switch sides in 2016.
Regional forums with DNC chair candidates have already been held in Phoenix and Houston, and another forum is scheduled for Feb. 11 in Baltimore. Click here to view the recorded live streams of the Detroit, Phoenix and Houston forums.
Jones - who Trump singled out for criticism on Twitter after he said Trump had "lied his ass off" when he claimed to have saved 1,100 jobs at Carrier's plant in Indianapolis - said from his experience, he'd never seen more enthusiasm from workers for a presidential candidate than Bernie Sanders. That enthusiasm dropped off for Democrats after Sanders lost his bid for the presidential ticket, Jones said.
"When Bernie got put out of the primary, a lot of our folks were starting to drink Trump's Kool-Aid," Jones said. "We couldn't bring them back in."Jones said for many of the workers he'd interacted with during the election, Democrat Hillary Clinton was the wrong candidate on trade issues: "What the hell is Hillary going to argue? She couldn't. Her husband was the one that gave us NAFTA."
If Democrats want to be successful in the future, Jones said, the party has to pay more attention to the labor community.
"For the working-class people, jobs are what we are interested in - we're not asking for handouts, we're asking for an opportunity to work," he said. "I'm asking you, I'm telling you, we need to get labor back in that boat."Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump spent considerable time in Michigan and other Midwestern states, telling audiences at rallies and speeches that he was a staunch opponent of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, would look to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and would bring jobs back to the manufacturing industry, Jones reminded the audience.
All the candidates vying for the DNC chair position repeated what they told previous forum audiences, that rebuilding trust in the national party structure was imperative to succeeding in future elections. Many candidates in the now crowded DNC chair race acknowledged deep issues in the party structure, a lack of trust in the Democratic National Committee itself and a need for better representation among party leadership.
"Even if we had won the White House, our party would have been in trouble right now," South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said. "The wolf isn't just at the gates - the wolf has gotten through the gates.Candidates had a variety of suggestions to move past the 2016 election results. South Carolina state party chair Jaime Harrison said he would fight against gerrymandering. Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene said she would give back substantial funding to state parties and fight racism and sexism within party ranks. Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor under former President Barack Obama, said he would implement a chief technology officer to prevent future hacks. The Democratic Party should extend the olive branch to "Berniecrats" and others who have lost faith in the establishment, said candidate Sam Ronan.
"We messed up as a party - we need to own that, and we need to hold our fellow Democrats accountable," Ronan said.U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional district, said the loss of labor votes was a key downfall for the party last November, noting "the Democratic Party is the one that fights for working people all the time. Ellison said he hopes to bring the focus of the Democratic Party back to the working class, noting he would implement a 3,144 county strategy by directing funding down to county party chairs to help them rebuild a party voting base. He also said he would be a "fierce fighter" on issues such as trade, the right to organize and wages.
A candidates guide on the first seven Democrats to enter the DNC chair race is published at this link - click here..
Sam Ronan, the eighth person to enter the DNC chair race, introduced himself to the DNC membership, who will elect the next DNC chairperson later this month, with the following letter:
How do we overcome such a lofty barrier? How can we show the country and would be Democratic voters that we have changed and truly embody the “Party of the People” principles? My strategies will highlight how we can move forward.
First we have to address our lack of credibility among Berniecrats and Millennials who feel they have been ignored or worse taken advantage of. Many of those voters feel that the Primaries were rigged against their candidate. However they are only partially correct. The primaries themselves weren’t rigged it was the processes. I speak from personal experience on that front. I ran for State Representative in Warren County Ohio. Many of you may be aware that Warren County is one of the most Republican counties in the country let alone Ohio. As such the likelihood of success was slim to begin with.
Despite the uphill struggle of the campaign I still pursued the candidacy because I firmly believed with the support of the party, and the hard work I put into the campaign I could prevail. Unfortunately our rural presence, not just in Warren County, but all across the country is so very weak that any effort as a Democrat is met with derision or retribution. It is because we don’t have a strong enough presence, but also because we do not have the trust of these communities we continue to lose. We haven’t proven our worth to those citizens, nor have we invested in the infrastructure necessary to get our voices or candidates heard!
I struggled to reach out to local media, I struggled to raise funds, and it took many face to face interactions and grueling hours of knocking on doors just to make a few connections where I wasn’t immediately rushed from their doorsteps. The thing is we can win in rural America but we need to show them who we are and what we are trying to do! Every time I was given a chance to talk about the changes I wanted to bring to the General Assembly people were in agreement and even showed support! We have to build on that fact! That is how we build a system within our party that empowers candidates instead of creating a system where only the chosen, or most loyal can succeed!
We need to centralize our efforts, and consolidate our resources at the local level not the state or national levels. If we implemented an Overall Campaign manager, Communications Director, and treasurer for all of the candidates we would save time, resources and manpower that could be diverted to getting the candidates in front of the populace! If we focused our strategies to be “one team one fight” we could run group campaigns that prove solidarity and show a commitment to community.
Secondly we need to open our doors to the general public, and encourage new members to participate in the party. The reason so many people think the Democratic Party is a party of elitists and cronies is because we have for so long emphasized party loyalty over taking care of our base. If we were to instead create a culture of mentorship where those driven and passionate millennials or first time voters could have a place at the table, or a voice in the process, they would not only feel like they are welcomed or wanted, but they would be making a difference by investing themselves in the party!
So far no other candidates have been willing to talk about the root causes of our problems and that is a sure sign that their leadership would only bring us right back to where we are now, or worse that our fragmented party would crumble completely. Make no mistake that whosoever leads the DNC from this point forward determines the fate of the entire nation. If we select the wrong DNC Chair we will fall from a 2 party system to a 1 party system ruled by the GOP with Trump at the helm. If the past few weeks are any indication, we as a country can ill afford the despicable leadership of the Trump Administration and maintain our status as the land of the free!
So I beseech you when deciding the fate of a nation, guiding the destiny of millions of Democratic and would-be Democratic voters to consider not just the next 4 years but the next 4 generations of Americans. The choices you make and the decisions of the DNC Chairman will resonate throughout our nation’s history and will define whether or not we as a society can pass this most difficult of tests! Can we overcome corruption, and discrimination of the highest degree, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Hitler’s rise to power? Can we unite as a nation and in one solid voice reject intolerance, discrimination, and hate? Or will we succumb to the fear mongering and divisiveness that has plagued our nation’s politics for so long?
That is what you will be deciding in Atlanta when you cast your vote. I hope that you make the right decision, a decision that will see a fractured party whole again with a leader that has the vision for a future that will bring us all together and overcome this, our nation’s darkest hour.
Together we can and we will make a difference!
DNC Chair Candidate - OH
DNC Future Forums are four full-day affairs in different cities around the U.S. with presentations, success stories, and looking ahead to opportunities on the horizon, plus feature forums for DNC Chair candidates, Vice Chair candidates, and Treasurer, Finance Chair, and Secretary candidates.