Thomas Perez
Credit: Lonnie Tague/Wikimedia Commons

I’m confident that the winner of next week’s vote to become the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee will immediately agree to welcome whatever contribution the second-place finisher wishes to offer in terms of ideas and solutions for strengthening the party. It will be the only way to ensure that the party does not break down into the sort of internal conflict Donald Trump and his minions need in order to maintain their ill-gotten power.

Yes, it’s sad that this contest has been viewed as some sort of “progressive vs. establishment” conflict when the two front-runners for the seat, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, both have steel-strong progressive credentials. However, the energy and enthusiasm that both men’s supporters provide will be crucial to resisting Trump.

As the Baltimore Sun noted in its report on a DNC candidates’ forum in Maryland last weekend:

The candidates said the anti-Trump energy presents an opportunity for the next Democratic leader, assuming that that person can unite the party. Perez and Ellison — both considered liberal Democrats — hold widely different views on how to accomplish that.

Some view Perez as more of an insider, given his work at the Labor and Justice departments under Obama.

Perez, a Takoma Park resident and former Maryland state official, recently won the backing of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Ellison is supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who captured the support of young voters by running to the left of Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Frankly, it will take the efforts of both Democratic “insiders” and “outsiders” to defeat Trump; the challenge of stopping his savagery is too great for the party to be divided between those “insiders” and “outsiders.” To the extent that Democratic “centrists” are backing Perez, those “centrists” are just as horrified by the extremism emanating from the White House as the party’s progressive faction.

The winner of the DNC race will embrace his defeated opponent, and that opponent’s ideas, as a sign that he recognizes the need for Democrats to remain united against a common enemy. Trump will not know how to respond to a political force as organized, as determined and as focused as a unified Democratic Party. (He doesn’t seem to know how to respond to much, as we have learned over the past four weeks.)

As Ellison observed at the Maryland forum, unifying against Trump by definition means unifying against his far-right nominee to the United States Supreme Court:

Ellison said Democrats should filibuster [Neil] 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.”

The next head of the DNC must oppose Gorsuch–and Trump–at every millimeter, throwing the proverbial sand in the gears of the President’s machine, tearing away at Trump and his contemptible Cabinet like a feral dog on a human limb. If so, the party will recapture lost ground and demonstrate to the rest of the world that determination can defeat derangement. Trump’s Electoral College victory represented America’s embarrassment. The resistance to his agenda–led by a unified Democratic Party–could represent America’s redemption.

NOTE: Ellison, Perez and the other candidates for the chairmanship of the DNC will debate this Wednesday at 10:00pm Eastern on CNN.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.