Scrolling Headlines:

UMass to face tough test with Niagara backcourt -

November 19, 2017

Hockey Notebook: John Leonard on an early season tear for UMass hockey -

November 18, 2017

Clock runs out on UMass men’s soccer’s dream season in NCAA opener -

November 17, 2017

2017 Basketball Special Issue -

November 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball prepares for transitional season in 2017-18 -

November 16, 2017

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses how history and humanity is remembered -

November 16, 2017

CMASS completes seven-week discussion series -

November 16, 2017

UMass women’s basketball resets and reloads, looking to improve on last year’s record with plenty of new talent -

November 16, 2017

Matt McCall’s winding path to bring unity to UMass -

November 16, 2017

Carl Pierre is a piece to Matt McCall’s basketball program -

November 16, 2017

Why they stayed: Malik Hines, Chris Baldwin and C.J. Anderson -

November 16, 2017

McConnell chooses politics over morals -

November 16, 2017

Swipe right for love? Probably not. -

November 16, 2017

‘The Florida Project’ is a monument to the other side of paradise -

November 16, 2017

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ doesn’t have to be the best Marvel movie -

November 16, 2017

Thursday’s NCAA tournament rematch between UMass men’s soccer and Colgate will be a battle of adjustments -

November 15, 2017

Veteran belonging and the decline of American communities discussed by journalist and author at Amherst College -

November 15, 2017

‘UMass Cares About Cancer’ Hosts Blanket Making Event -

November 15, 2017

UMass women’s basketball heads to North Dakota for two games -

November 15, 2017

UMass football sets its sights on BYU -

November 15, 2017

With Perez, Democrats remain in limbo

In a February 2015 file image, Tom Perez as Labor Secretary attends an American Association of Retired Persons function in Washington, D.C. On Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, Perez was elected as head of the Democratic National Committee. (Photo by Mike Theiler/Pool/Sipa USA/TNS)

On Saturday, the Democratic National Committee elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, an Obama cabinet official, as the DNC Chair. To some, this appears to be a victory for the “establishment” in a showdown with opponent Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). But the Democrats made a decision that night with deeper implications: they voted against reinstating a corporate lobbyist ban.

Former President Barack Obama introduced the ban in 2008 in a resolve to “change how Washington works.” It prevented corporate lobbyists and political action committees from donating directly to the party. According to the Washington Post, this rule was first watered down in 2015 to make up for a loss of $20 million in federal funding for the convention, then removed entirely in February to “continue to have the resources and infrastructure” to support their nominee. But opening the door to corporate lobbyists is a much more sweeping change than simply allowing contracts with groups to help organize a convention or other benign shortfalls.

Jaime Harrison, a former candidate for DNC chair and a former lobbyist for a lobbying firm called the Podesta Group, defended the role of lobbyists. “I’m no longer a lobbyist, but a lot of good Democrats are,” he told Vox. “I won’t participate in this blanket assassination of various folks because some members of our party don’t agree with what their jobs are.”

But this misses a point I alluded to in my last article—it has nothing to do with the character of these lobbyists. The party is suffering from a complex that baits politicians into excessive fundraising and spending in an election industry that is hardly designed to win elections. These lobbyists, or in this case the consulting class, depend on a paycheck from the DNC for their services. Some have donor credibility and can fundraise to help win influence and keep their paychecks in order, while others actively participate, voting in rules committees and interacting with members throughout the process.

This is a fundamental problem. If consultants are underperforming—as one could suspect—they wield direct and indirect influence to keep their business interests open even if it is not in the best interest of the party.

Perez has been a skeptic of budget reform. He dodges questions about the role of corporate lobbyists and contrasts Ellison, who urged to open the budget, according to the investigative journalism site The Intercept. Perez’s website insists on “com[ing] together” and determining “what the DNC and outside groups each do best.” This language makes sense in reference to people-powered unions, but it also floats expensive lobbyist groups and Political Action Committees as friends rather than assets. If there are groups bloating the budget without much to show for it, they should be dropped. The party is looking to win votes, not to rub each other’s backs.

Ultimately, the party is changing its tune in campaign strategy, erring toward Howard Dean’s successful 50-state strategy, but it remains hesitant to make substantial changes internally. These impulses could run in conflict with one another. If the Democratic budget continues to be diverted toward third-party groups rather than political capital like organizing and outreach, a 50-state strategy may be impossible.

Part of Perez’s plan is to come up with “new DNC products” to “engage” voters. Does producing Democrat-themed baseball caps and bumper stickers really result in proportional voter turnout? Someone who gets paid to make them might think so.

This is a challenge, but not a new one. Even the election of Ellison would have been part one of a long process to win back Democratic votes—not just the ones that supported Senator Bernie Sanders, but ones that supported President Trump, voted third-party or did not vote out of disengagement or suppression.

It appears that Perez and Ellison were planning on giving the other candidate the secondary position of Deputy Chair, and Ellison was immediately selected for the position. While I trusted Ellison more to stand up to lobbyists and big money, this is an important development since Perez is opening the door for pressure from the progressive wing of the party. Anyone who supported Ellison can hope he will do everything in his power to plant seeds of change from the inside.

James Mazarakis can be reached at

One Response to “With Perez, Democrats remain in limbo”
  1. David Hunt 1990 says:

    Perez – and his now right-hand Ellison – are proof that the Democrats have been successfully taken over by the Hard Left. Here are a few links about him:

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