Democrats are in the grip of a campaign by various candidates who are seeking to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. The various candidates were featured in a televised event dubbed Democracry in Color on January 22 at George Washington University in Washington DC, where they discussed their failed 2016 presidential campaign. At least one blamed the defeat on white political consultants.
The discussion soon turned to the subject of who was to blame for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Jaime Harrison, who chairs the South Carolina Democratic Party, said, “We have to stop, particularly with the consultants,” said “You cannot come to the DNC and get a contract and the only minority face you have is the person answering the phone.”
Obama-era Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said that during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump offered a false choice between law enforcement and the communities they serve. He claimed that a police officer told him that if the police "don't have the trust of the community, you ain't got s---." He said that "community support" was essential, for example, in defeating Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in November. In accented Spanish, he said in translation "How can you help the Latino community if you can't speak Spanish?" Without Latino officers, it is difficult to communicate, he said in a rousing speech that drew applause.
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), one of only two Muslims in the House of Representatives, affirmed that the Democratic party has a "very serious turnout problem." He said that in Detroit, 100,000 fewer people turned out for the 2016 election than 2012. He said that this is because Democrats did not go door to door to talk about the issues that concern voters.
For her part, Jehmu Greene -- a contributor to CNN -- said that consultants from minority groups “need to get the same resources that the white consultants have gotten.” She said: "The DNC did a piss poor, pathetic job" in attracting minorities.
Idaho Democratic party executive director Sally Boynton Brown suggested Democrats should provide “training” to re-educate fellow Americans on “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white.” She happens to be white herself.
Mayor Peter Buttieg of South Bend, Indiana, identified himself as a living example of the "intersectionality" advocated by Greene, while pleading for an overarching message to reach not only minorities, but other Americans. He identified himself as a Maltese-American, gay, Episcopalian, war veteran.
MSNBC moderator Joy Ann Reid asked how Democrats should approach the Black Lives Matter movement. All of the candidates were solidly in favor of accepting Black Lives Matter activists. Brown said, “It makes me sad that we’re even having that conversation and that tells me that white leaders in our party have failed.” She added, “I’m a white woman, I don’t get it. … My job is to listen and be a voice and shut other white people down when they want to interrupt.”
Brown went on to say, “This is life and death.”
“I am a human being trying to do good work and I can’t do it without y’all. So please, please, please, get ahold of me. Sally at we-the-dnc.org. I need schooling so I can go school the other white people.”
New Hampshire Democratic chair Raymond Buckley said that black Americans are living in “justified fear” of being killed now that President Trump is in office. While recalling that he grieved about the election results, he said he received a call from his black niece, who claimed to fear for her life because of Trump’s electoral victory. “It’s not just certain parts of the country,” he said. “That fear is all across the country. It’s even in rural new Hampshire. So when people say black lives matter, you are damn right they matter.”
When they were asked if they could cooperate with President Trump, the candidates uniformly said they could never do so.