#DemExit: Are progressives really abandoning the Democratic Party?
After former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez won a narrow victory over progressive congressman Rep. Keith Ellison in Saturday's race for DNC chair, some people are once again trying to get progressives to abandon the Democratic party.
Because no political fissure is complete these days without a good "exit" portmanteau, they're organizing under the hashtag #DemExit.
What's #DemExit all about?
Early use of the hashtag dates back to the Democratic primary battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
At the time, a contingent of disillusioned Sanders supporters and Democratic party critics attempted to start a movement to encourage progressive Democrats to leave the Democratic Party and support third party candidates like the Green Party's Jill Stein. After the election, some Clinton supporters blamed Stein voters for the election loss — though as Vox's Tara Golshan pointed out, those allegations are not backed up by the numbers.
Even though there was no mass exodus from the Democratic Party or progressive rebuke of the Clinton campaign, some people refused to give up on the idea of #DemExit.
These are the three groups who have been most the most active in agitating for Democratic Party departures:
Earlier this year, organizers officially launched the group Draft Bernie for a People's Party — an effort to try and draft Sanders into a new political party known as the "People's Party," that would compete with the Democratic Party for progressive support. The group was founded by Nick Brana, former Sanders campaign's National Political Outreach Coordinator. Brana also worked for Our Revolution, the grassroots group that grew out of the Sanders Campaign.
Brana began making the case for a third party led by Sanders shortly after the election. In a piece for the Huffington Post, he said the party would "adhere to Bernie's high standards of integrity and refuse donations from corporations, billionaires, super PACs and dark money groups. A party of, by and for the people."
Draft Bernie, which has no affiliation with Sanders or Our Revolution, used the DNC election as an opportunity to try and push progressives to get on board with #DemExit.
Despite their best efforts, Draft Bernie does not appear to have convinced its eponymous idol to get on board.
Shortly after the DNC election, Sanders released a statement congratulating Perez on his victory, saying he "looked forward to working with him." The socialist senator from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate was a supporter of Ellison's candidacy, but made it clear he has no intentions of changing his relationship with the Democratic party in response to Ellison's loss.
Still the Draft Bernie movement does appear to have some high profile supporters. Shortly after the DNC results were announced, environmental activist and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox tweeted, "Ok, folks. Time for a new party. I'm done with corruption & corporate influence over people & Justice. @BernieSanders, will you lead? #dnc"
The Green Party
The other group that attempted to use the DNC race as an opportunity to push for #DemExit was the Green Party. On Saturday, former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein released a statement saying Perez's election demonstrated that the Democratic Party is "unwilling and unable to reform itself." Stein also wrote, "#DemExit was only the first step — now it's time for a #GreenEnter."
Stein has been tweeting using the #DemExit hashtag since the Democratic Primary in 2016. This will likely not be the last time that the perennial protest candidate attempts to capitalize on discord within the Democratic party.
Right Wing Trolls
The other prominent group trying to make #DemExit catch on are Trump supporters and other right-wing Twitter trolls.
Trump supporters could be forgiven for clinging to any sign of discord in the Democratic Party after Trump's inarguably tumultuous first few weeks as president.
Mitchell's attempt to get people to abandon the Democratic Party by insulting Tom Perez's appearance is unlikely to succeed. But then again, so is the rest of #DemExit.