If 2017 could only leave us with one thing, I hope it is a loud reminder that we all should be listening to Black women.
One year removed from the 2016 election where white women chose race over gender, white men chose gender over logic, and Black women tried to save us all, the Democrats have yet to rebound from that tragic defeat; potentially setting up the same dangerous result in three years if the party’s inaction continues.
The Democrats, have in short become the party of resistance to anything Republican, similar to the opposition Obama faced ad nauseam from the GOP throughout his 8-year term. However, if the current state of the country is the formula, simply having the oval, Senate and House is not enough, and Democrats need to hit an immediate reset on ideology if the party is going to survive.
There’s a dismantling of sorts that needs to take palce within the Democratic Party, and it’s already being led by none other than Donna Brazile. The former interim DNC chair and political analyst recently shocked the world with her new book “Hacks,” divulging some of the most intimate details surrounding the 2016 presidential election—particularly Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.
In excerpts from her new Book, she describes several events including how the DNC essentially shorthanded the Bernie Sanders campaign by giving its full allegiance to Clinton well before she sured up the nomination. To quote Brazile, “The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.”
This revelation has caused hysteria, with Sanders supporters feeling vindicated for the rigging they always claimed happened, and Clinton supporters feeling betrayed by the once loyal right-hand women to her campaign. What’s more is that many believe that this revelation is proof that Sanders was the Dems’ most viable candidate, which could prove disastrous as Clinton loyalists may not be so quick to “Feel the Bern” in a 2020 election.
Surprisingly, the Black community showed outrage toward Brazile’s position, with many questioning her loyalty to the Democratic party, and if selling her book was worth it all. However, for those who understand the plight of Black women in this country, Donna’s release was rather radical and liberating. Black women in high positions have often remained loyal, while being silenced and marginalized within the rank and file.
Other critics took issue with the “timing” of Donna’s revelation, as nationwide elections for several state and local positions were less than a week away. Some feared that it could be the final nail in the coffin for Democrats.
But on Tuesday, Nov. 7th, Brazile’s comments were a distant memory as Democrats showed up and showed out across the country, flipping many seats in states the Trump campaign had won the year prior.
In what many considered the first signs of the country reversing the “Whitelash” that ensued during the presidential election, Dems swept across the board, placing several Black and Brown people in seats, even electing five transgender people in several state and local positions. Many attributed this political shift to the grass roots movement that has occurred over the past several years, where fresh blood to the political scene have decided to run for these positions similar to the way Trump won 2016 as a “Washington outsider.”
Democrats have always been noted as being the party for the blue-collar worker, the poor, and the oppressed. They’ve built a voting base on the backs of people of color, primarily that of Black Women. Exit polls from last Tuesday mirrored that of the presidential election, as Black women once again voted as a monolith at over 90 percent Democrat across the country in most races.
Similar to the silencing Brazile endured over her long tenured career in politics, Black folks—specifically women—have remained loyal to a party that preaches they are for us, yet enacted many of the policies that destroyed the Black family. Mass incarceration comes to mind as an ideology built during a period where the Clintons and Democrats ran the country.
For decades, Blacks have voted for Democrats with the hopes that their rhetoric would one day turn into the betterment for our community. Yet, year after year we continue to be oppressed, even when placing folks of our reflection in powerful positions. They become nothing more than a tool of white supremacy, often assimilating to the same policies that are hurting urban communities.
The DNC as we have known it needs a complete dismantling and reconstruction for it to survive the 2018 and 2020 elections. Now one year removed from the Presidential election, we are no better off than we were on Nov. 9, 2016. Multiple reports have indicated that even a year later, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still the most powerful Democrats within party. The lack of new blood within the ranks now has Joe Biden—who would be 77 in 2020—considering running for President in a thinly veiled attempt to ensure Trump doesn’t get a second term as if he would be a guaranteed choice.
The Democratic Party must change its ideology. They can no longer survive being the party of opposition to Donald Trump, without providing viable solutions to the problems with race relations, economic inequity, and healthcare in this country.
The focus of the Democratic party needs to shift and match its core base of supporters, which means dismantling the centrist approach of the past 50 years, and moving toward a more militant approach to create radical changes in the ways those of the working poor and middle class have been treated.
Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Perez have already adopted this new approach during their “Come Together and Fight Tour”, stating they will “speak out for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, pay equity for women, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, combating climate change, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, criminal justice reform, comprehensive immigration reform and tax reform which demands that the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.”
This is a great start, on what has to become the ideology of a party living on the promises of yesteryear. The Democratic party must be more than the few reflections of the base in Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Maxine Waters. There must be an injection of Blackness in politics at the intersections of race, sex, gender, and backgrounds of those with lived experience and grass roots work ethic mirroring the communities they serve and live in.
Last week’s elections were a good indication of where the party can go, as new faces continue to increase within the Democratic; but only if old ideologies leave with those who are handing over the torches.
It’s been a tumultuous 12 months, with some light finally coming through the dark place many of us were in a year ago. Progress is a slow process, yet a year later we have begun to move that needle with one truth that has remained constant.
Oh, and when all else fails, listen to Black women.
George M. Johnson is NY based Journalist and Activist. He has written for Entertainment Tonight, EBONY, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.