Will Democrats really “Come Together” in Salt Lake City?
Bernie Sanders and new DNC chair Tom Perez will be stopping by Salt Lake City this Friday as part of the Democrats’ “Come Together and Fight Back” tour of states that voted for Trump. The point of the tour is to energize progressives in all 50 states and, perhaps more importantly, heal the rifts that developed in the party during the protracted 2016 primary.
Yet most Democrats in Utah (including many we’ve spoken to on our podcast) admit that that the party remains bifurcated into “Bernie” and “Hilary” camps. Each side blames the other for the party’s devastating losses in 2016, and each sees itself as the only viable path forward.
Of course, this phenomenon isn’t unique to Utah. Vice news reports that, despite the best efforts of Sanders and Perez while on this tour, the seams are starting to show.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Tom Perez refused to unequivocally support a single-payer healthcare system or condemn “the billionaire class on Wall Street”–both issues central to the Bernie phenomenon. Sanders himself, meanwhile, refused to even identify as a Democrat.
“No, I’m an independent,” he replied.
Maybe that’s the real issue here. Sanders represents a new wave on the left–fueled by a similar anti-establishment energy to the one that propelled Trump’s overthrow of the Republican party as we knew it. Yet while Trump was the clear victor in the battle for the soul of the GOP, the Democrats’ identity crisis remains unresolved.
And now you have the two leading figureheads of each side of the conflict sharing a double-bill on a national tour. It would be like if Meek Mill and Drake toured together at the height of their fued. Weird things are bound to happen.
For example, check out this video from Maine:
Yep, that’s the crowd cheering one co-headliner and then immediately booing the other, while the chair of the Maine Young Democrats tries in vain to unite the factions.
Will Democrats in Utah see a similar rift at Friday’s event?
Our podcast guest have uniformly stressed that there is more uniting Democrats than dividing them. If we agree on 97% of issues, does it make sense to tear the party apart over the remaining 3%?
It depends on how much you value that 3%. If a single-payer healthcare option is part of that 3%, it may very well be worth the fight for many Democrats.
If we had to bet on it, we’d guess that Utah Dems will play nice on Friday. We tend to be a polite group, especially when people are watching. But despite this tour’s hopeful title, the Democrats’ intra-party turmoil is far from over.
To see the fireworks, head to:
235 North 500 West
Salt Lake City
Friday, April 21
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (doors open at 10:30 AM)