The Democratic Party is desperately in need of new leadership. The party is suffering from an unexpected defeat for the presidency, a legacy of poor leadership, and a lack of clarity in how to move forward against an unwelcome future occupant of the White House in President-Elect Trump.
The Democratic Party is desperately in need of Martin O’Malley, and it needs him now.
O’Malley ran for president in 2016 after serving as a city councilman, mayor of Baltimore, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and two-term governor of Maryland. At a time when the party faces an identity crisis between the highly liberal wing of Sen. Sanders and the highly centrist wing of Sec. Clinton, O’Malley represents the rarest strain of all — a true progressive that actually gets things done.
If the list of O’Malley’s progressive accomplishments sounds like a dream sequence for every mainstream Democrat, that’s because it is. As Governor, O’Malley froze college tuition for four consecutive years, passed the DREAM Act for the children of undocumented immigrants, passed gun safety legislation, ended the death penalty, legalized same-sex marriage, raised the minimum wage, expanded voting rights, and helped make Maryland’s public schools the best in the country for 5 consecutive years.
As a presidential candidate, he called for a platform every member of the party can get behind, complete with plans to accomplish his agenda. Among his 15 goals were specific policy proposals to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, achieve comprehensive immigration reform, install criminal justice reform, fight the crippling tide of drug overdoses, achieve debt-free college, and limit the corrupting influence of money in politics by achieving publicly funded congressional campaigns within 5 years.
The next chair of the Democratic National Committee will face a monumental undertaking. The party has been wiped out at exactly the level in which O’Malley has excelled; the state capitals and governor’s mansions found all across the country.
The DNC will face depleted trust in response to its handling of the primary process, its internal deliberations over how to unfairly deal with Sen. Sanders, and its ability to maintain a grip on its own cybersecurity. It will face a Republican Party in control of every level of the federal government. And it will do so with precious few young luminaries having even a small national presence.
Without a Democratic president, the chairperson of the DNC will need to fill a full-time job with full-time availability. They need to be able to unite both wings of the party, relentlessly fundraise, and execute a 50-state strategy. And they need to be able to do this will providing the toughest counterpunch to a Trump administration that will stand against everything the Democratic Party stands for.
O’Malley has traveled all over the country raising money for other Democrats. He can dedicate the time and attention the position requires. At 53 years old, he represents the new generation of stars in the Democratic Party. He has more name recognition than a member of Congress or other figures. He is popular among progressives and pragmatists alike.
He is the most capable person of delivering the withering criticism that will be required to draw a sharp contrast between the values of the Democratic Party and the vapid extremists of the Trump administration.
In the 2016 campaign, O’Malley famously referred to Trump as an “immigrant-bashing carnival barker.” Trump responded with an angry late-night tweet that called O’Malley names. For the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, there could scarcely be a more ringing endorsement.
Michael Connolly is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. Views expressed are his own.
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