Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez do “Oscar and Felix” routine on Chris Hayes

If you watch nothing else today, you at least have to check out this interview of Bernie Sanders and Tom Perez from Chris Hayes’ show last night.

Hayes did a great job of creating the moment in which these two Democratic coalition leaders could demonstrate how they differ. Plenty of commentators are pointing out that, “zomg! Bernie ADMITS he’s not a Democrat,” as if that’s all you see in this video. It’s obvious is they aren’t singing from the same hymnal—but maybe they don’t have to. Any pragmatic Democrat can see that if the party doesn’t offer progressive solutions, we lose the grassroots.

Notice, when Hayes’ challenges the two to articulate their message. Sanders lands on his answers like Simone Biles finishing a run in her floor routine. Every sentence could be followed by responding, “dammit!”

“We can’t bring about the changes we want…unless we have the guts to take on the ruling class,” dammit. “We have to tell them ‘your greed is destroying this country,'” dammit. We believe him because he’s not spouting talking points. He’s authentic because he speaks from experience. He’s pissed that Americans are being sucked dry—and well he should be. I’m pissed about that too. So is everyone I know.

How does Tom Perez answer the same question? By practically whining, “if only people would just pay attention to this long litany of talking points I’ve prepared they’d eventually come to the same conclusion as I. It would only be rational.” His manner confers no belief and so there’s no reason to invest any emotional capital in him. He’s hard to listen to because he doesn’t communicate that he is listening to himself, let alone believing what he is saying. His answers are crafted like mad libs to check off all the right boxes while offending no on. They’re designed to disappear before your eyes.

Chris Hayes has to speak over Perez to get him to answer a question straight, and even then Perez punts.

Chris asks, “Do you think it’s important to say the ruling class are basically screwing average folks?” Arguing the exact opposite of what Bernie said moments prior (sitting right next to him). Perez says, “Well listen…when we put hope on the ballot we win.” Ugh, really?

Hayes shoots back: “Hillary Clinton ran on hope [and lost]…so…Do you [also] have to say ‘these are the people who are screwing you.‘” Perez responds, “I think you’re creating a false choice, Chris,” then rambles on about Ivanka Trump’s line of women’s attire being made in China, summarizing “we talk about that, Chris.” Viva la #Resistance!

Look, if the DCCC had sent Sanders out to KS-04 along with some badly needed resources, we could have won that first special election of the Trump era. Instead, they spent $8.4m in last night’s Georgia election, and still have to do a run-off in June. It’s not like a little bit of that effort and money couldn’t have been fairly allocated to Kansas (they requested a measly $20K).

If the party is serious about winning elections, they better start cultivating a coalition of grassroots and indie voters. Technocrats like Perez aren’t going away, but if they want to deliver for the party, they’re going to have to make room for more in that “big tent” of theirs.


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