Still reel­ing, US Democrats be­gin bat­tling for fu­ture

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Still reel­ing from a dev­as­tat­ing de­feat in last week’s elec­tion, Democrats are be­gin­ning the process of chart­ing the di­rec­tion of their party in the Don­ald Trump era. With Hil­lary Clin­ton and her team stay­ing out of the pub­lic eye, lib­eral politi­cians have be­gun jock­ey­ing for con­trol of the party’s fu­ture. While they all backed Clin­ton, they’re now push­ing for a se­ri­ous shift in the party’s pol­icy po­si­tions, fi­nan­cial re­sources and grass­roots or­ga­niz­ing to fo­cus more on mo­ti­vat­ing their base and win­ning back the white work­ing class vot­ers who went for Trump.

“We have to do a lot of re­think­ing,” said Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders, who mounted a fierce chal­lenge to Clin­ton in the pri­mary. “Democrats are fo­cused too much with a lib­eral elite, which is rais­ing in­cred­i­ble sums of money from wealthy peo­ple,” San­ders said on CBS’s “Face the Na­tion.”

The Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, the last bas­tion of party power in Wash­ing­ton, is quickly emerg­ing as ground zero for the fight. Af­ter los­ing the White House and Congress - and likely the ide­o­log­i­cal tilt of the Supreme Court - the Democrats’ new chief likely will be one of the party’s most vis­i­ble faces in pol­i­tics, mak­ing the role a far more in­flu­en­tial post than it was dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Al­ready, around a dozen Democrats’ names have been pub­licly floated to suc­ceed in­terim chair­woman Donna Brazile, who re­placed Florida Rep Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz in July af­ter she was caught up in a hack­ing scan­dal.

Min­nesota Rep Keith El­li­son, a prom­i­nent pro­gres­sive and the first Mus­lim elected to Congress, has emerged as an early con­tender, backed by much of the party’s lib­eral wing. He’s also picked up sup­port from sev­eral key Demo­cratic lead­ers, in­clud­ing out­go­ing Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid and Reid’s likely re­place­ment, New York Sen Chuck Schumer. El­li­son was ex­pected to of­fi­cially an­nounce his bid today. His sup­port­ers ar­gue that El­li­son’s faith would send an im­por­tant sig­nal about the party’s com­mit­ment to in­clu­siv­ity dur­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“My friend Keith El­li­son is a ter­rific leader and a strong pro­gres­sive who knows how to get things done. Now is the time for new think­ing and a fresh start at the DNC. Now is the time for Keith,” Reid said in a state­ment on Sun­day. In in­ter­views on Sun­day talk shows, El­li­son pushed back on con­cerns that he’d be un­able to bal­ance party re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with the pol­i­tics of his day job in Congress - a prob­lem some Democrats be­lieve ham­pered Wasser­man Schultz.

“There’re a lot of places that I can serve,” he said, in an in­ter­view on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’m look­ing for a place to be of use and ben­e­fit. And every sin­gle Demo­crat in this coun­try bet­ter be think­ing the ex­act same way.” El­li­son is far from the only con­tender for the job. For­mer Ver­mont Gov. Howard Dean an­nounced his in­ten­tion Thursday to re­claim a post he held dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. For­mer Mary­land gover­nor Martin O’Mal­ley, DNC Na­tional Fi­nance Chair­man Henry MuÒoz III, and South Carolina Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Jaime Har­ri­son have also said they’re con­sid­er­ing bids. —AP

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