Sam Rona. Photo: CNN
It should come as no surprise that the Democratic National Committee elected Perez as its chair. Perez was Secretary of Labor under Obama and he’s a part of the corporate establishment of the party. After the loses the democrats suffered during the Obama years one would expect that they would start doing things differently. According to Breitbart.com the Democrats lost a total of 1,042 seats at the state and federal level, including congressional and state legislative seats, and governorships these 8 years.
Representative Ellison seemed on his way to winning, but the election of Perez shows the Democrats will not have a progressive like Ellison run the DNC. Yet among everyone that ran for DNC Chair, there is someone not many people know even though he made an impact on the rest of the candidates. His candidacy was hardly mentioned in the mainstream media. He is U.S. Veteran Sam Ronan, a 27 year old from Ohio. I first saw him on The Jimmy Dore Show. His motives for running were because he saw a need that was not being fulfilled in terms of true leadership and representation of the American People. His experience running as a progressive and young person among all the establishment democrats was pretty grueling because it was his own effort, time, money, and knowledge. Sam is new to the world of politics and that includes knowing how to get around, who to talk to, and what to do. By electing Perez he thinks the DNC sent the wrong message due to the inherent perception of elitism and establishment politics of the Democratic Party. He says the DNC is run by approximately 447 committee members, but that “the DNC Chair holds a vast amount of power and sway over the direction the party takes.”
Many polls, including one by CNN, show that 51% of people between the ages of 18-29 no longer support capitalism. Most young people of all political inclinations are moving left on economic issues. Sam says that with the current influences permeating the party; such as big money and lobbyist interests, it is unlikely the democrats will move left on these issues. Besides The Jimmy Dore Show, Ronan appeared on other independent progressive shows like Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp, The Young Turks, The Humanists Report. He says, “it was an amazing experience and that he enjoyed being interviewed by them because they are genuinely good people.”
On the issue as to why most elected democrats are such corporate tools since they represent the needs of corporations but not of people, he says that they got into bed with big business decades ago and never looked back. Ronan says that slowly things are changing and part of that reason is due to Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement forcing them to listen. He says, “It’s just a slow process.” The reason he thinks Democrats were wiped out from local to federal elections in 2016 including in his home state of Ohio was that they’ve lacked a presence in rural America for the past 30+ years, which isn’t helped by the highly effective GOP propaganda machine painting the Democrats with a red brush.
The fact the DNC will not admit having cheated Sanders of a fair primary and inevitably of a presidential win tells us, “They need to get their heads out of their ass” says Ronan.
Out of all the DNC Chair candidates, Sam was the only one that mentioned the fact that it is necessary that we hold the DNC responsible for Trump’s win, as well as hold them accountable for what happened in the primary to Sanders. He feels these are important since it goes back to trust, respect, and perception. “People don’t trust or respect the DNC because the perception of corruption, and elitism (rightly earned) is there.”
When asked what does the DNC and the democratic party have to do in order to change from this neo-liberal conservative party to a party that works for the interests of the people, his answer was that they must, “Literally listen to their constituents, be more transparent and open the doors to meaningful involvement of the regular person!”
Ronan says, “We need to fight because we have been complacent for far too long and we are reaping the harvest of that inaction. We need to organize, rally, but we also need to run for office, support local candidates, run dark horse campaigns and ultimately stand up for ourselves by working together. We are the 99% for a reason.” Adding that the, “DNC is worth saving because of the duopoly in our nation. If the DNC falls before something else can replace it we have an uninhibited GOP and that is unacceptable.”
He adds, “The function of the DNC Chair is to manage the party, fundraise, and win elections. Ideally the function would be to lead the millions of Democratic voters, empower their efforts, and engage in local communities to win elections, (notice the distinct difference?).”
Sam declared his candidacy in a press release on December 19, 2016, left many messages with the DNC and ultimately arrived at the Phoenix Forum to speak and be heard. He was denied because he hadn’t contacted the DNC Secretary. From then on he had to make sure to be in direct contact with the leadership of the DNC that needed to be informed of his intentions. He found the whole process, “Irritating, closed to the public, not transparent, and utterly devoid of support.”
Anyone that saw the candidates debate knows that Ronan was the only enlightening voice and that with the subjects he mentioned he changed the discourse of the event. “The entire conversation was about the 50 state strategy and agreeing with each other! I made the conversation about meaningful engagement, about inclusivity, and engaging at the local levels where we are fundamentally missing,” he adds. Overall, Sam had a “Blast.” How many people can say they were on CNN? That they debated political heavy weights and held their own? Had their first slice of Brooklyn Pizza…in Brooklyn? And hell it’s even kinda cool to be compared to the likes of Tim Canova, and Nina Turner as a progressive voice!”
He goes on by stating that, “the Democratic Party of today is far from being the party of FDR, or JFK. The way it currently stands is irredeemable. However the party is one half of a duopoly with nothing else in place to support it should the party fall. So for our own best interest we must try and save the skeleton of the party at its national, state, and local reach by taking it over from all angles, deliberately addressing and reforming the processes in our image.” The wisdom of this 27 year old flows from every word he speaks and this is why it’s important that the Democratic Party begin to let new blood in their veins. This party needs different people, new ideas, new perspectives. After the huge loss it suffered at all levels they have to admit that it’s time to change the way they do things and it’s time they go back to their roots and begin to represent their constituents, not corporations.
Leticia Cortez is a teacher, writer, and activist. She was born in Mexico and grew up in Chicago. She travels the art world, both in her imagination and in her music, book, art and film reviews. She writes political essays, short stories and poetry. Presently she teaches Latin American Literature and English at St. Augustine College in Chicago.