From the start of our campaign for DNC chair, we’ve asked ourselves and our fellow Democrats a simple but fundamental question: How do we come together as a team to rebuild our party and fight Donald Trump?
The Democratic party is a big and diverse tent. But my mentor Ted Kennedy often said, “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.” As Democrats, we don’t just share common views on issues - we are united by common values: inclusion, opportunity, justice, equality.
But today those core values are under attack. Immigrants are being torn apart from their families. Workers’ rights and women’s rights are under siege. Millions are at risk of losing their health coverage.
Across the country, Donald Trump and Republicans have targeted our most vulnerable communities and threatened to turn back the clock on decades of progress.
We’re the only line of defense they’ve got, and they’re counting on us to succeed. Those struggling for opportunity want Democrats to fight for them, not against each other.
Those living in the shadows want Democrats to stand up to the Republican agenda, not splinter off into competing silos. For these families, a united Democratic party isn’t a luxury - it’s a necessity.
Those aren’t just talking points. Over the last three months, my campaign has already begun forging that unity by bringing together people from all wings of our party. Our staff have worked for Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton and President Obama, and we’ve earned support from people on all sides of last year’s Democratic primary.
In shaping an inclusive vision for our party, I’ve also traveled the country to hear directly from folks in every corner of our big tent. Earlier this month, I embarked on a rural listening tour through Wisconsin and Kansas to hear from voters about how we can earn back the trust of their communities. And on Monday night, I met with Democrats in Seattle — both supporters and non-supporters alike — to talk about how our party can join with young activists to be at the forefront of some of our toughest battles - from raising wages to cracking down on police misconduct. These conversations are necessary.
When it comes to building unity, this isn’t my first rodeo. I decided to run my campaign the same way I’ve taken on challenges my whole career — by listening to people, bridging divisions and bringing everyone to the table.
That’s why I was President Obama’s first call when he needed someone to resolve major disputes at Verizon and the West Coast Ports, and why I’ve worked with Democrats throughout the country to bring about progressive change. I’ve worked hand in hand with Elizabeth Warren to protect the retirement of millions of Americans. I’ve worked with Bernie Sanders to highlight companies that treat their workers fairly. And I’ve worked under President Obama to protect the right to vote, enforce our civil rights laws, and make economic opportunity a reality.
So no matter who wins in Atlanta, my first priority will be to help unite our party around the values of inclusion and opportunity. And if I have the privilege of being elected chair, I promise to make sure everyone’s voice is heard because I believe that everyone in this race has so much to offer when rebuilding our party.
We can’t afford to leave anyone on the sidelines; we need their ideas, their experience, and their energy to build the best party we can be. As chair, I’ll facilitate the tough conversations we need to have about how to move our party forward, and I’ll work each and every day to be a leader for all Democrats.
If the party chooses one of the other great Democrats in this race, I will be as ready as ever to fight alongside them. In fact, I will join the next chair on a unity tour across the country, so we can begin building our team and fighting together to protect the values we all share.
With so much at stake, there’s nothing Donald Trump would love more than for Democrats to fall apart. We will not give him that satisfaction. What we will do is rally around our common values. Because a united Democratic team is both our best strategy and Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.
I’ve often said that this is a “where were you moment,” and I’m ready to work with everyone to unite the Democratic team against Donald Trump and the Republican agenda.
That’s my commitment — win or lose.
Tom Perez is the former Secretary of Labor under Pres. Barack Obama.