News Release

Democrats at Crossroads Next Week: Party of Elites or Grassroots?

A decisive meeting of the full Democratic National Committee next week will make historic decisions on the future direction of the party.

“Even in the face of a horrific menace like Trump, efforts to defeat the right at the polls are undermined by a Democratic leadership lacking in vision, values, and commitment to democracy,” activist Jeff Cohen wrote in a new article, “Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?

JEFF COHEN, jcohen at ithaca.edu
Cohen co-founded RootsAction.org, which is coordinating an informational picket line set for the DNC meeting in Chicago, August 23-25. He was an editor of “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis.”

A severe lack of democracy in the party was embodied in a DNC committee’s recent vote to rescind a short-lived ban on taking contributions from the fossil fuel industry, Cohen wrote. “The latest slap in the face to the Democratic Party’s base came Friday when the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee – behind closed doors – reversed its ban on accepting political donations from fossil fuel companies.” He added: “In the face of an energized activist base crying out for a party that will put forward bold social/economic and environmental proposals, the Democratic leadership dithers and grovels for donations from the Republican-allied fossil fuel industry that threatens our planet’s future.”

Cohen noted that “an alliance of progressive activists will be setting up informational picket lines” at the upcoming DNC meeting. “The alliance, led by groups such as RootsAction.org (which I co-founded) and Progressive Democrats of America, is supporting vital reforms to democratize the party. One reform to be debated in Chicago – one that activists believe is winnable – harks back to the calamitous Democratic loss to Trump in 2016. The reform would restrict the undemocratic voting power of ‘superdelegates’: party insiders who have exerted an outsized influence in choosing the presidential nominee. …

“It’s bad enough that our country’s governing party denies climate science while believing Exxon and Chevron are persons. It makes matters much worse when the opposition party’s leadership wants donations from Mr. Exxon and Ms. Chevron while tacitly denying that climate science demands drastic action – way far beyond the wishes of those donors. This country needs a serious opposition party that can defeat both corporate power and the GOP. Only democratic participation by the grassroots will make possible that kind of a winning party.”