Tom Perez embodies the Democratic Party. This is why he should lead it.
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The last 18 months have been among the most tumultuous in recent history for immigrants, the Latino community, and the nation. Despite our community’s rapid growth, our enormous contributions to the economy, culture, military, and prosperity of the country, we find ourselves in the crosshairs. President Trump began his campaign on day one by attacking Latinos, calling us rapists and thieves. His policies reflect his “values.”

Of course, it wasn’t just Latinos that he attacked. Trump went on to attack women, African Americans, persons with disabilities, Muslims, progressives, unions. The list goes on.

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As we approach Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, he has surrounded himself with powerful advisors with a history of racism and xenophobia. His policies are the opposite of what a great majority of Americans stand for. Trump is calling for a massive deportation force, rolling back the Affordable Care Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, among other actions. His policies and proposals threaten to break apart families, erode bedrock civil rights, gut the environment, and take away health insurance from millions of Americans.

 

It is in this desperate time that we need a leader of the Democratic Party who can unify, rebuild and fight against Trump. We need a progressive who knows how to organize, successfully manage large institutions, and importantly, ensure that President Trump serves only one term. That person is Tom Perez.

As president of the Latino Victory Fund, I’m also excited about the prospect of making history. Tom would be the very first Latino to lead the Democratic Party in its 225-year history. We have a word in Spanish for pride. It’s “orgullo.”

A few months ago, I stood among a crowd of African American and Latino voters in East Harlem, waiting for Tom to come out and rally us. The crowd went wild when he showed up. The son of Dominican immigrants and a champion of civil rights was here telling us how important each and every one of our votes were. The crowd was aflame with pride, ignited by Tom’s energy and message.

After all the excitement, a politician reached over to Tom, offering him a ride in their motorcade. Tom politely declined and instead went down into the subway with local activists onto the next stop. He says it was because it was faster, but this is just Tom. He wants to be with the people, moving forward, with no time to waste.

Tom knows that we need to get back to the American values that the Democratic Party stands for: economic opportunity, good paying jobs, immigration reform that brings our families out of the shadows so that we are full participants in our economy and democracy. Those American values offer us a future where our environment is clean and safe, which we can leave to future generations. That’s our America, and we need to champion to defend it and fight for it.

Yes, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcConnell’s gambit to save the Supreme Court paid off Tillerson to embassies: ID groups for tougher screening US probes Manafort’s banking: report MORE won. Everything that Democrats have worked for is at risk. The civil rights protections that people gave their lives for, and that Lyndon Johnson signed into law, are at risk. The economic opportunity created under Bill ClintonBill ClintonWe must act now and pass the American Health Care Act Trump's message: Russia First or America First? Senate Democrats should grill Judge Gorsuch on antitrust. Here's how. MORE, is at risk. The progress towards equality and justice under Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCourt rejects green group’s claim of pro-pipeline bias at regulator Obama: 'My heart goes out’ to London victims Dem rep: Nunes ‘betrayed’ Intelligence panel’s independence MORE is at risk.

Democrats don't have time to waste. We need someone who can roll up their sleeves, get to work and turn our party around. Tom Perez can do that. He has turned around large organizations, including making the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division the most robust yet and bringing the U.S. Department of Labor from the kids table to the adults table by making it the center of President Obama’s economic agenda.

Our next Democratic National Committee chair must also inspire our party and make our party more inclusive. We must speak to all Democrats, not just certain wings of the party. There’s no one who can do that better than Tom Perez. He understands the value of hard work and can speak to voters in both urban areas and rural areas. He did this during his time at the Justice Department and he did this while serving as Labor Secretary.

We need a leader who understands the existential threat we face. Someone who embraces the future — our young people and our diversity as a nation. Tom also has a solid track record fighting racism. When he ran the Justice Department’s civil rights division, he took on America’s “toughest” sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and won. Tom is tougher.

We need a chair who’s an organizer. Someone who has won tough fights and who has experience empowering a large team to create change. Someone who has never forgotten where he comes from and who embodies the Democratic Party.

Remember when Trump launched his presidential campaign by attacking Latinos? How about we make history and hire one to take him down?

Cristóbal J. Alex is president of the Latino Victory Fund. He previously served as national deputy director of voter outreach and mobilization for Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonIndependent investigation into Russian interference needed Obama and Trump haven’t talked since inauguration Perez, Ellison start multistate ‘turnaround tour’ for Dems MORE’s 2016 presidential campaign and earlier as director for the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights.


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