Why the Battle for Leadership of the Democratic Party Mattered

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

During an unusually charged race for leader of the Democratic Party, analysts and liberal commentators argued that former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who won, was basically just as progressive as Representative Keith Ellison, who was backed by progressive standard-bearers Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But they missed the point. The race for DNC chair wasn’t about policy or, for that matter, facts. It was about ideas, ideology, and symbolism—the very things that mainstream liberals are (still) uncomfortable talking about.

As Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum has argued, the very fact that the race had become so charged was “ridiculous,” since Perez and Ellison are “about equally progressive.” Or as his colleague David Corn wrote: “There’s truly not much ideological distance between