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Democratic National Committee Purges Veteran Progressives

The lectern at a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Mesa, Ariz. (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Sparking concerns that party leadership is making the same mistakes that have rendered them increasingly powerless and without an inspiring vision, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is reportedly carrying out a massive staff shake-up in which veteran progressives are being purged and “left out in the cold.”

“This doesn’t bring the party together, it deepens the divide at a time we need all hands on deck,” James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders supporter who was ousted from the DNC Executive Committee, wrote on Twitter Thursday.

According to Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News, Zogby is hardly alone.

“[S]everal key longtime officials have lost their posts” since the staff changes began,” Seitz-Wald writes, a fact that many have interpreted as “retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.”

“The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out, as did what critics charge is the over-representation of Clinton-backed members on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which helps set the terms for the party’s presidential primary, though other Sanders and Ellison backers remain represented,” Seitz-Wald added.

Some of the other prominent progressives who have been shifted to less influential positions or removed altogether include:

  • Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the first transgender DNC member who backed Rep. Keith Ellison over Perez in the race for DNC chair;
  • Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party; and
  • Alice Germond, former DNC secretary.

Germond, who was removed from her role as at-large member, told NBC that she assumed her ouster “had something to do” with her support for Ellison.

“It is quite unusual for a former party officer who has been serving on the DNC for forever to just be left out in the cold without even a call from the chairman,” Germond said. “I understand that I fought very hard for Keith Ellison. And I understand that to the winners go the spoils.”

The massive staff shake-up came just ahead of the DNC’s Fall meeting on Thursday in Las Vegas, where members and party officials will gather to participate in meeting and “training sessions.”

When Perez emerged victorious over the progressive favorite Ellison in the race for DNC chair, many argued that the party is deadset on pursuing a failed strategy that places the priorities of out-of-touch party insiders over those of the grassroots base.

News of the DNC’s staff changes sparked similar criticism from organizers and commentators, who argue that Democrats are resisting the changes necessary to bring the party back from the political wilderness.

“I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact,” Zogby concluded. “I want to heal the wound of 2016.”

Others expressed similar feelings of dismay and outrage on social media:

Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

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