As I have noted before, Michael Moore got it right when, in the immediate aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s defeat against Donald Trump, he declared that we need to “take over the Democratic Party and return it to the people.” Numerous other commentators have expressed the same sentiment.
But what exactly does “taking over the Democratic Party” mean?
First, the change must start at the local grassroots level – in the counties and state parties. A new head of the Democratic National Committee will not suffice.
Second, what kind of change is needed at the local level is not the same everywhere. In a local Democratic Party where there are truly competitive primary elections, the fight may be over the type of candidates and party leaders we have – progressives, centrists, or whatever else. In other parts of the country, like in my home in Prince George’s County in Maryland, the fight needs to be about actually having competitive primary elections. Currently we have a system that is fully dominated by the Democratic political machine. Our incumbent politicians control all of our lower ballot races through their candidate slates and “sample ballots.” And, since we are a county dominated by one party, we don’t have any real competition in the general election either.
When you have this kind of machine politics, “taking over the Democratic Party” must focus on breaking the political machine. This can only happen by providing a strong and credible citizen-focused alternative to the establishment slates and sample ballots in our primary elections. Once we elect our local politicians in real competitive elections, then we can start worrying if our elected officials are too liberal/progressive/centrist/moderate/conservative to our taste.