Since last week’s election, I have been thinking about my grandfather. His education topped out at fourth grade, and he spent most of his life paving the roads and highways in South Carolina. He was diagnosed with diabetes, and his experience with doctors made a bad situation worse. He told me that the worst part of his experience was that the doctors made him feel like he didn’t matter- a constant refrain throughout his life.
Donald Trump tapped into a feeling held by millions of Americans that they haven’t mattered to those elected to serve them. Tragically, the incoming Republican government won’t do anything to improve their lives, and Democrats must work tirelessly to limit the damage wrought, to ensure that complete Republican control lasts only two years, and to elect a Democratic president in 2020. But in order for us to be successful, all voters must know that they matter to us.
With an unwavering focus on this vital goal, I am running to serve as Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
I grew up in rural South Carolina, the son of a single mother. I remember the stories my grandmother told of having to pick cotton at a young age instead of going to school. Despite their struggles to stay afloat, my family instilled in me the belief that I could do anything I put my mind to. They were right—I became the first in my family to graduate from college and the first to graduate from law school, and I went to work for Congressman Clyburn, helping him count votes when he was House Majority Whip. I have lived the American Dream.
I want my story of upward mobility to be the story of millions of young Americans growing up in challenging circumstances. I want to build an America where equality of opportunity is a reality for everyone of every background in every corner of our country. There is only one party with an agenda to build this America: the Democratic Party.
To expand our Democratic coalition, we must be united. We cannot fall into the trap of relitigating our hard-fought 2016 primary, pointing fingers and placing blame for our general election defeat. We are not Clinton Democrats, Sanders Democrats, or even Obama Democrats—we are all Democrats, and our path forward must focus on the future, not the past.
Moving toward 2018 and 2020 united as Democrats, we must reach out to every state, every community, and every voter.Our values are American values, and our policy agenda will improve the lives of all Americans.
We have to invest in our state parties, which are on the front lines of this fight. The DNC must provide resources so that all 50 state parties (plus those in the territories and Democrats Abroad) have professional and specialized operations and capabilities on a permanent basis. This includes support for television, radio, and digital ads; social media outreach; and any other vehicle that affords state parties the ability to share their message in a timely and compelling manner.
We need to build a deep bench of Democrats who are connected to their communities on every level. In South Carolina, we have established the Clyburn Fellowship, bringing together dynamic young leaders from throughout our state to participate in a rigorous nine-month training program to prepare them to run for office, manage campaigns, and lead local parties.
The DNC must ensure that similar programs exist nationwide to groom candidates who can speak to the concerns of their constituents and win where others have lost. For a blue wind to sweep across red states and districts, we must cultivate and encourage the right candidates, who may not yet think of themselves as potential candidates.
None of this will be easy. To lead our party to victory in 2018 and 2020, the DNC must have a Chair who will devote 100% of his or her time and energy to the task. Fighting Donald Trump’s Republican Party cannot be done on a part-time basis. I pledge to give my undivided attention to this enormous job.
To Donald Trump, America is a zero-sum game, where the only way for some Americans to matter more is for others to matter less. We, the Democratic Party, must ensure that the Trump Administration and Republican Congress are just a momentary stumble on our nation’s path forward toward empowerment and opportunity for all. I am ready to lead this fight, and I would be honored to serve as your DNC Chair.