Perez, Mullin discuss Democratic Party

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'Our democracy is on fire' Tom Perez said while speaking about the Democratic Party and 2020 Presidential election this past Tuesday. COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

Tuesday, Sept. 24, Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, visited the College of William and Mary. Hosting a discussion with Democratic Delegate Mike Mullin, Perez discussed the Democratic Party’s future, the 2020 federal elections and the importance of student involvement in local and national elections. 

Perez began by emphasizing his views on the moral crisis in America. 

“I am in this position because our democracy is on fire,” Perez said. “We’re at a moral fork in the road right now, a fork that I’ve never experienced in my lifetime.” 

“I am in this position because our democracy is on fire,” Perez said. “We’re at a moral fork in the road right now, a fork that I’ve never experienced in my lifetime.” 

He also underscored the importance of Virginia’s upcoming elections this November and illustrated how state and local representatives can make an impact in citizens’ lives. 

“We need more Democrats in the House of Delegates and the state Senate, and we have an historic opportunity here in less than 45 days to do just that,” Perez said. “The reason why, for years and years, so many folks who needed the care they would get under Medicaid expansion didn’t get it is because we didn’t have enough Democrats in the state House and in the state Senate.” 

When asked about national elections and the ongoing race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Perez stayed neutral and declined to comment on who he predicted would emerge as the eventual nominee. 

“People always ask me who I think it’s going to be; my honest answer is I don’t know,” Perez said. “We’re in mile 10 of a 26-mile marathon.” 

“People always ask me who I think it’s going to be; my honest answer is I don’t know,” Perez said. “We’re in mile 10 of a 26-mile marathon.” 

As for the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump, Perez stressed the need to get all the information. 

“What we’ve seen in Ukraine, if accurate, is unconscionable,” Perez said. “What we had in 2016 was acts of thievery, acts of interference in our Democracy by the Russians. On a certain level this is worse, because this is initiated by the President and it is very clear that he was withholding aid to Ukraine, and you can’t help but wonder if that was quid pro quo. Every single day we see more attacks on the fundamental institutions of our democracy. The House has a constitutional obligation to gather the facts.” 

Perez, speaking before the whistleblower complaint was released, argued that Republicans weren’t taking the complaint seriously enough. 

“The appalling silence of Republicans, in the state of these appalling attacks on our democracy, is absolutely undemocratic, unamerican, unlawful, cowardly, and that’s why I think we have to keep moving forward, and I think step one is to get the entire complaint,” Perez said. 

Going further in his rebuke of the Republicans, Perez said that President Trump has shifted the politics of the Republican party further to the right.  

“What I think is really remarkable about where we are right now is how radical the other side has become,” Perez said. “I mean, 90 percent of the American people support background checks, 90 percent of the American people support helping Dreamers get citizenship, 90 percent of the American people support raising the minimum wage. What the other side has to offer is that they oppose literally all of that, because they’ve become the party of Trump.” 

While the 90 percent figure is accurate for support of background checks and citizenship for DACA recipients according to polling data from Quinniapac University and CBS News, a January poll from Hill-HarrisX shows that 80 percent of Americans say they support raising the minimum wage. 

Brooke Miller ’20, campaign coordinator for William and Mary Young Democratsattended the event and noted a political shift in Perez’s rhetoric and within the Democratic Party. 

“I think as a party, we’re starting to see a bit of a realignment,” Miller said. “There are definitely things everyone can agree on and Democrats across the board can align with, but I think we are definitely seeing people like Bernie Sanders who came into the scene in 2016, really brought a lot of new ideas and progressive ideals to the forefront, and I think that people are starting to grapple with the idea that there is this more progressive wing, but there’s also that moderate wing that a lot of people are still linked to, and a lot of people still affiliate with.” 

Miller argued that Perez did a good job of underlining the common ideas and platform policies of the Democrats. 

“He was very energized, which I thought was great,” Miller said. “I thought it was a great attitude to bring to a college campus. I thought that he did a really great job of presenting a very unified front.” 

“He was very energized, which I thought was great,” Miller said. “I thought it was a great attitude to bring to a college campus. I thought that he did a really great job of presenting a very unified front.” 

Some students, like Zoha Siddiqui ‘23, observed Perez’s willingness to take a hard stance on political issues. 

“I thought his aggressive stance towards a lot of issues really stuck out to me, because it highlights that the Democratic party is not necessarily as moderate as some people think, or that the leadership is not afraid to take a bold stance on issues,” Siddiqui said.  

However, Siddiqui was disappointed that Delegate Mullin didn’t speak to his politics during the discussion session. 

“I was really hoping he would speak to a lot of policy issues, because I’ve been canvassing for him, and I do think it’s important that we do elect him in November, but I also have heard from a lot of the people that I was talking to during those rounds that I did that they didn’t know a lot about his policy positions,” Siddiqui said. 

Miller was impressed with Perez’s vision of unity between all the Democratic candidates. 

“I think everyone can agree that, especially with how many candidates we’re seeing in our Democratic primaries, that it’s a wide party with a lot of ideas and a lot of competing ideas,” Miller said. “I thought he did a great job of really unifying all that together and saying, though we have our Joe Bidens and our Bernie Sanders, we still have one party that shares similar views and plans for the future.”