Democrats to Watch: Tom Perriello

John Podesta and jconway both like this guy. Anybody else? - promoted by hesterprynne

The first in a series profiling Democratic voices embodying our party’s future

Virginia and New Jersey voters will head to the polls in less than a year to elect new governors in races that get an unusual amount of media attention in between the presidential and midterm races. Past rising stars include Democratic names like Mark Warner and Tim Kaine; or Republicans like Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell. Tom Perriello is exactly the kind of Democrat who should be presidential timber some day-and it starts by fighting for the VA governors mansion.

In two illuminating interviews with Slate and the American Prospect, he lays out an agenda that uniquely bridges the divides of the last presidential primary with a both/and focus on fighting the bigotry of Trump and the economic inequality that enabled his rise.

Democrats need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to be uncompromising in our resistance to both the policy and rhetoric of hate and bigotry. I will certainly look for every legal authority as governor to prevent the kind of actions we’ve seen that bully the vulnerable and undermine our best values. There’s been some debate nationally about a false choice between whether this election was about race or about economic anxiety. The two things have always gone hand in hand. And the more we offer an agenda of truly inclusive economic growth that doesn’t leave any region or community of color behind, then Trump’s offer of blaming people who don’t look like you is less compelling.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Perriello was one of the few 2010 Democrats to remain loyal to President Obama and run on Obamacare rather than away from it. He lost his red leaning district, but only by a few points instead of a blowout. He’s gone on to work for both the Obama administration and Clinton State Department as a human rights lawyer while also acknowledging that Bernie Sanders has the right rhetoric for our movement going forward. Defending the status quo from 2008-2016 isn’t enough. American workers want and deserve more from their government and what should be their natural party.

Here’s a sample of his both/and rhetoric, which is so refreshingly forward thinking:

On the link, which I’ve discussed, between rising inequality and rising extremism:

GDP has become less and less connected to issues of job growth and the middle class, really what you want to look in terms of stability are things like: What is the inequality coefficient? What is the joblessness for youth? What is the age in which a young man can buy his first home, which in many countries correlates to when he can get married? How much exclusion is there in the economy for minority groups or others? If this is something we look at overseas to better understand the stability of countries, it’s the same stuff we should be talking about at home. GDP isn’t enough. We need to understand these more important dynamics of inequality.

On the connection between race and inequality:

The forces of economic and racial anxiety, if left unaddressed, are on a collision course in America. Internecine debates about which factor is stronger obscure the interconnection and thus acceleration of both. We also often miss the fact that economic anxiety is not limited to those below certain income levels.

Too often, Democrats defend the status quo, noting positive GDP and unemployment numbers instead of speaking to the underlying forces that threaten economic security. When we say our only problem is with messaging, we imply that voters are too dumb to realize how great we have been for them or would be for them. People are smarter than elites think. They already know that both parties were naïve about the costs of globalization and can see that both parties are again failing to address the impact of new forces like economic consolidation, automation, and exclusion.

Take a look at both interviews and donate to his campaign if you can. I already have.


16 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Some of it really is just cultural.

    The folks Bernie Sanders actually gets to talk with him might be persuadable, but I have seen multiple reports like this, indicating that economy is not the silver bullet you seem to make it out to be in your multiple posts and comments over the weeks. Not that we shouldn’t try to peel off where we can, but we should be careful about expectations.

  2. I respect Greenberg

    And don’t doubt his focus groups-but Bernie won that very same county in the MI Democratic primary without being a racist and we are taking about getting more millennials to the polls, getting minorities to the polls, and winning back some Trump voters. At the midterms as well as the general. It’s not just white working people who abandoned Clinton-it’s the working people who stayed home, the black voters who stayed home, and the millennials who stayed home or defected to third parties. We can’t run another campaign as the champions of a socially tolerant Wall Street. We gotta ran as champions of Main Street.

    There is a reason centrists lost in 2012 while Brown (D-OH) and Warren won. A reason Al Franken who said “the game is rigged” won in 2014 while Hagen, Udall and Grimes who ran away from Obamacare got their clock cleaned. I’ll also say we tried your strategy in 2016 and it failed-we have yet to try mine in a general election and VA is a great case study.

    • Wait a second!

      If that was intended as a response to me I’ve been talking all along about expanding the turnout and I feel like you’ve dismissed that strategy.

    • But those are different people

      Bernie won that very same county in the MI Democratic primary without being a racist

      I’m struggling with this one jconway. Bernie won a set of Dems (and maybe indies, I don’t know MI law). That’s a proper subset of voters in the county — and distinctly not ones inclined to vote for the GOP in a “normal” election.

      It’s not just white working people who abandoned Clinton-it’s the working people who stayed home, the black voters who stayed home, and the millennials who stayed home or defected to third parties

      Do you have good analysis that shows that blacks voted for HRC in lower rates than Obama, Kerry, or Gore? Folks in the 18-30whatever age group?

      • Or for that matter...

        …did significant numbers vote for Bernie in the Dem primary and when he didn’t get the nomination voted for Trump in the fall?

      • Taking a step back

        I think Democrats have two major electoral challenges going forward: mobilizing their base while appealing to swing voters. I think Sanders and Clinton both would’ve struggled to match Obama level black turnout, and while Clinton did better relative to Sanders with black turnout-her primary loss in Michigan was an indicator that it wasn’t enthusiastic about her candidacy. 538 has a good piece about turnout that is quite objective.

        I agree with John Podesta -who knows better than most about the strengths and weaknesses of our 2016 strategy-that Tom Periello is uniquely qualified to lead this charge.

        What’s particularly impressive about Perriello is that he has his ear to the ground. He speaks to the economic anger and anxiety of families he meets and is offering new ideas to grow their incomes; he opposes natural-gas pipelines that threaten private land, and hesupports clean-energy development and real solutions to our climate challenge; and he is elevating racial justice and poverty as central problems to be addressed by a state with a checkered past. He’s also vowing to veto any redistricting map drawn on a partisan basis, one of any governor’s most significant responsibilities in 2020.

        The future of the Democratic Party will be defined by who can tap the anxieties, frustrations and energy of millions of Americans rising up to resist the Trump administration and forge a different path forward. Tom Perriello is offering a blueprint. Democrats should pay attention.

        I think Democrats in Massachusetts should watch this guy-here is the type of new face that Charley was asking about who could conceivably run for President. A guy with a strong progressive record and crossover appeal. We need more of these leaders, and I strongly feel this is the hybrid that brings together the strengths of Sanders/Warren on economics with the strong resistance to social injustice that has characterized the grassroots anti-Trump movement so far. Both/And. Always.

        • Mobilizing their base while appealing to swing voters.

          How about expanding their base? As for swing voters, it appears to me that these individuals vote on values, not so much brand names or issues. NRA members will never, ever vote for a Democrat. Planned Parenthood donors will never ever vote for a Republican. So tossing them, their ilk, and the bases of both parties aside, who remains? What are their concerns?

          It sure does appear that the Republicans are being anything but honest, fair, honorable. Democrats might do well if we start by being fair, honest, and honorable to attract swing voters.

          What does that require? Limited funding from Wall Street, lowering the volume of celebrity endorsements, eating hot dogs at county fairs, being totally transparent with the financial profiles of our candidates, ending the vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and opting for Camp David (looking ahead), addressing us as citizens, not hyphenated citizens, admitting that its going to be hard work to turn things around and that we need each other to do so.

      • Here are some 2016 political demographics

        From the CNN Exit Poll overview:

        Some 88% of African-American voters supported Clinton, versus 8% for Donald Trump, as of very early Wednesday morning. While that’s a large margin, it’s not as big as Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama locked up 93% of the black vote to Romney’s 7%.

        Some 12% of the electorate was African-American this year, compared to 13% four years ago. That’s a key drop, especially when paired with a smaller-than-expected growth in Latino votes.

        This lowered turnout happened even after Trump repeatedly made sweeping comments about how black communities were in the worst shape ever. Referring multiple times to “inner cities,” Trump said black people live in poverty, have no jobs and get shot walking down the street. “What do you have to lose?” he asked.

        Clinton’s support among Latinos was even more tenuous, despite Trump pledging to build a wall on the Mexican border, accusing undocumented immigrants of being criminal aliens and promising to deport them.

        Only 65% of Latinos backed her, while 29% cast their votes for Trump. In 2012, Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote and Romney secured 27%.

        And purely as an aside:

        …black college graduates voted for Clinton at a smaller margin than black voters as a whole. Black women without college degrees were the most strongly in favor of Clinton, giving her 95% of their vote (compared to 91% for black women with a degree), while black men with a college degree gave only 78% of their votes to Clinton and 16% to Trump.

        And FWIW, Trump won the white millennial vote.

  3. Fat licks

    Tom Morello is freakin’ sweat!

  4. Perriello's the real deal

    I spent a couple of weeks volunteering for his re-election campaign in 2010 & got to meet him. Extremely nice, down-to-earth guy. Both genuinely believes in progressive policies and knows they’re extremely popular.

  5. Even yet still more Perriello

    A podcast for the New Republic. He’s great. This is the Dem sweet spot: Actually progressive, not corporate, nor brittle lefty, down to earth, Main Street, communitarian. Perriello/Buttigieg 2020.

    • I had the same ticket in mind

      Perriello/Buttigieg 2020.

    • Actually progressive?

      Touting his A-rating from the NRA in his reelection bid and his vote for the Stupak amendment gives me a lot of pause. He was the 248th most liberal member of the House during his term. He may be better than Northam (and good for Virginia), but progressive champion? His record seems somewhat mixed.

      And I may be the only one who thinks this but I don’t know about Buttigieg. He says the right things for this moment but it’s all incredibly polished, and to be honest, I don’t trust him.

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Tue 25 Apr 8:18 PM