"When we have unity of purpose, that’s how we win."
In an upbeat address in London last week, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez saluted Democrats Abroad for mobilizing record numbers of overseas voters in the 2018 midterms.
After an election season that saw a blue wave sweep the nation up and down the ballot, Perez also warned that “our democracy is still on fire,” and called upon overseas Democrats to continue being “first responders” in the fight for American values.
Quoting a song from Hamilton, Perez said, “History has its eyes on us. This is one of those where-were-you moments that someday our grandchildren will study,” alongside such dark chapters in our history as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese Americans and the McCarthy era.
But he stressed that what all these movements have in common is they ended — and they ended thanks to Americans who harnessed “the collective power of ‘we’.”
“On the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Obama reminded us that the most important word in our democracy is that simple, two-letter word, ‘we’,” he said, noting the importance of collective action in the abolitionist, suffragette, labor, civil rights and LBGTQ movements — and most recently, the midterms.
“What happened last November didn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “It was the collective power of ‘we’ at work.
“We had historic gains in House that we haven’t seen since Watergate…but it’s not just the House that brings me here with optimism. The last time Democrats won this many governor seats was 1982. We also had a net gain in state legislative races of almost 400 seats. That’s why these elections matter.”
However, he stressed, with the government still in the throes of its longest shutdown ever, and the inhumane policy of family separation still blighting our borders, the fight for American security, prosperity and values is far from over.
“We have to continue to climb the mountain…but I firmly believe that first, two-letter word in the constitution is going to be the word that brings us back.”
Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential race, Perez praised the deep and diverse field of Democratic candidates and affirmed the DNC’s commitment to ensuring a fair primary process for all.
“We must never conflate unity with unanimity. So I’m not asking you to agree with everything in our platform,” he said.
“But what I’m asking you to do is to recognize that what unites us far exceeds what our differences are. When we have that unity of purpose, that’s how we win.”
Story by Meghan Feeks, Democrats Abroad UK correspondent