In defeat, American liberals and the left are currently engaged in two arguments, which really amount to one argument: Whose fault is it that Hillary Clinton lost, and what should the Democratic Party do to defeat Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans the next time around?
The first step in answering that second question is choosing the next person to run the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is currently headed up by Donna Brazile, who has been leading it in an interim position after the forced resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Yesterday, a DNC meeting held by Brazile apparently became so contentious that a staffer only identified as “Zach” was reportedly booed as he openly questioned whether anyone at the top of the organization should be trusted going forward.
So far, two candidates have expressed interest in taking over the DNC. One is the former Vermont governor and onetime doomed populist presidential candidate Howard Dean, of the Dean Scream. He was chair of the DNC once before, from 2005-2009, when the Democrats were able to crawl out of the muck of the Bush years thanks to the fortuitous emergence of a miraculous politician named Barack Obama.
The other person hoping to lead the DNC through Trump’s first term is Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who also runs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. You may have seen Ellison’s face in a clip that was well circulated after election night, during which, in July 2015, he warned Democrats to not underestimate the growing appeal of Donald Trump. George Stephanopoulos and another talking head then laughed directly in his face.
Ellison, a popular and well-regarded politician from a state that stayed narrowly blue in a region that flipped to red, might seem like a reasonable choice to help refocus the Democrats. But Jonathan Weisman, no less than the deputy editor of the New York Times’ Washington bureau, sees things differently:
Weisman, who quit Twitter at one point during the campaign after being subjected to a flood of anti-Semitic abuse, thinks that the answer to Trumpism is to build an opposition that accommodates the concerns of racists and anti-Semites. This is the cringing reflex of people who consider themselves guilty of membership in the coastal elite—give the people who voted against you what they want, so they might vote for you next time.
Keith Ellison is a populist supported by Bernie Sanders. He represents Minnesota, which is not technically the Rust Belt but is close enough that Ellison took seriously Trump’s rise a full 20 months before the election. But he’s black, and Muslim, and therefore the deputy editor of the Washington bureau of the Times knows that it would be foolish to pick him.
Thankfully, the Democratic establishment, of all things, may be rejecting this sort of racist pacification of racists. According to various reports, Chuck Schumer—an establishment-friendly, Wall Street-backed Democrat who might have been Senate majority leader under Hillary Clinton but who is now instead in charge of organizing the small blue firewall left on Capitol Hill—backs Ellison’s candidacy.
That is to say that the party establishment is reaching left to atone for its sins. Will the same be said of the media?