As seen in his reaction to former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez winning the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee last night, Donald Trump figures he can keep Democrats divided along the same lines as last year.
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
Perez, who narrowly beat Rep. Keith Ellison in a vote by the 435-member DNC, responded to the tweet a short time later.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 25, 2017
Although Perez and Ellison had consciously sought to avoid framing their contest as a proxy battle between die-hard supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, that has become the default narrative of the DNC vote anyway.
Perez quickly moved to approve Ellison as vice-chair, and the Minnesota congressman called for supporters to “trust Tom Perez too,” but his most ardent admirers reacted to the disappointment with bitterness and contempt.
Seeking to exploit the divide, this morning Donald doubled-down on his familiar theme that all Democratic politics are “rigged.”
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
In reality, the DNC race came down to two very similar candidates. Like Ellison, Perez has a solid progressive track record. Both men emphasized plans to rebuild state and local party organizations. They each had endorsements from labor unions and major party figures.
To be sure, Perez may have enjoyed an institutional edge. Membership in the DNC is a balance of state party chairs and co-chairs on the one hand, and over 200 Democrats elected by party members from every state and territory on the other. It’s not a formula that gives much weight to issue groups and outside organizations.
Yet the Perez-Ellison contest was competitive — and the outcome is fair, whatever grassroots Democrats may feel about it. So the real question is whether Democrats will accept the result and unify as Tom and Kieth have, or give Donald Trump what he wants most: a divided opposing party.
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