Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Trump’s tweet did not go unnoticed, as Thomas Perez shortly tweeted back.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 25, 2017
Thomas Perez, in the election for DNC chairman, won decisively in a 235-200 vote over Keith Ellison. Notably, this was the second round of voting as Perez did not have enough of the majority to win the chair the first time around. Despite winning the second vote handily, the fact that Perez did not have the majority the first time around illustrates a clear divide in the Party between Clinton-endorsed Perez and Sanders-endorsed Ellison. In a move of solidarity, Perez appointed runner-up Ellison as deputy chairman.
Donald Trump claims to be happy for the Republican Party after Perez won the chair. Why? Perhaps Trump does not view Perez as a formidable opponent and thinks he will be a failure. Naturally, that would be good for the Republican Party, but perhaps he is implying something further. Donald Trump has not been bashful about bashing the Democrats. He relishes the divide between the left and the far-left “progressives” within the Democratic Party. So it should come as no surprise that Trump later tweeted:
The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally "rigged." Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
Instead of simply seeing Perez as impotent, Trump may also be recognizing that this continued divisiveness will strategically benefit the Republican Party.
The Democratic Party was naturally stunned when Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential race to Donald Trump. But, is there a divide within the party itself? Democrats do find themselves weaker than they have been in recent times. Indeed, Republicans occupy the White House and hold a majority in both houses of Congress. Additionally, Republicans control 69 of the country’s state legislative chambers and 33 Governorships. Of those 33 states, Republicans control the state legislature in 25.
Within the party, there are Democrats considered to be left, and there are Democrats considered to be far left. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren represent the progressive movement of the far-left. But is there a true divide? Sanders was one of the first Senators to congratulate Perez on his victory, despite endorsing Ellison during the election. Sanders was not all roses with his congratulations, however, as he warned that, “It is imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working and that we must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before.”
It is fair to say that Sen. Sanders represents those that feel the loss of the Presidential election and the weakening of the party is due to the fact Democrats have failed to adopt messages of economic inequality important to both younger and minority voters. A large fraction of Democrats feel that the party is not aggressive enough, is not doing enough to embrace change, and that the traditional campaign strategy of moderation is not going to win voters.
On the other hand, in contrast to the progressives, there are traditionalists. These Democrats, led by Clinton-esque policy, that do not feel aggressive or drastic progressive change will draw voters. Instead, they believe moderation in terms of policy is central to regaining lost congressional seats. Unfortunately, campaigning on this stance of moderation is what cost the party key congressional seats, and perhaps the presidency, in the first place.
The upcoming 2017 elections will be illustrative of which faction of the Democratic Party has more power. How will the party regain voters in the midwest where the economy is the number one concern? How will the party regain the confidence of growing minority populations in southern states? There are many districts that Donald Trump barely won, and conversely, many that he barely lost. How the Democrats campaign in those districts will be indicative of the strength of the progressives versus the traditional moderation.