Congratulations to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who is now Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Whatever one thinks of Mr. Perez’s politics, he is certainly well-qualified for the position and should serve his party well.
One thing I will say, however, is that I’m a little concerned about comments Perez has made alluding to the fact that Democrats should not work with Donald Trump no matter what he does.
I believe that would be a mistake.
Democrats have no duty to help or work with Donald Trump just as Republicans had no duty to do so with Barack Obama. I am not denying that.
However, to me, it seems silly to fight against somebody even if it is an area in which you find yourself in agreement.
For example, President Trump has made it clear that he would like to spend upwards of $1 trillion on infrastructure.
Personally, I think that would be a mistake. But Democrats have generally been very supportive of such measures and if they came out against an infrastructure bill, they would be going against their own policy goals just to spite a president they do not like.
Should Perez decide on that course of action, he is welcome to do so, though it would not make much sense to me.
If I may quote a fairly popular figure from Perez’s own party, “I don’t think it makes sense to say, ‘No, we’re not gonna work in any way in any form with the Trump administration. Trump has talked appropriately about a collapsing infrastructure: our roads, bridges and water systems. If he is prepared to work with us on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of jobs and doing it in a way that doesn’t privatize our infrastructure or give tax breaks to billionaires, yes, let’s work together.”
Those are, of course, the words of Senator Bernie Sanders from an interview on “Morning Joe” in January.
And, it should go without saying, that Sanders is 100% correct.
He was also correct when he came out the day after Donald Trump’s election as president and said, “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
Reasonable minds can disagree on what constitutes the negative traits Senator Sanders mentioned, but his general philosophy – working with the president if he agrees with him and opposing him when he doesn’t – should be flat out common sense to virtually everybody.
The fact is, while Donald Trump was elected under the Republican banner, he is not an ideologue and that is a big part of what propelled him to the presidency.
People didn’t necessarily see a liberal or a conservative, but rather an independent-minded businessman who railed against the corruption and incompetence of the elites in both parties and promised a different, better way.
Now, whether or not he can or will deliver that better way is obviously something that remains to be seen. But much of his campaign revolved around how the ruling class had seen the benefits of the system while the working people had not, a message that resonated not only for the president, but also for the voters in the Democratic primary who chose Bernie Sanders.
People are tired of business as usual in Washington, DC and if Tom Perez wants the Democratic Party to be successful again, it would serve him well to remember that.