October 10, 2017


After a train wreck, investigators scrutinize the causes. A rigorous inquiry — not content to merely point fingers at external forces — takes an unflinching look at what occurred. Bringing to light the preventable problems is central to making significant improvements for the future. With such an approach, we can and must learn from electoral tragedy by evaluating the policies, actions and priorities of the Democratic Party.

In the wake of the November 2016 election, the Democratic National Committee chose not to do a public “autopsy.” Overall, the party’s national leadership has shown scant interest in addressing many of the key factors that led to electoral disaster. Instead, the main emphasis has been on matters that the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee had little or no control over — an approach that largely obscures the party’s role in its own defeat.

Rather than addressing topics beyond the control of the Democratic Party (whether FBI Director Comey, Russia, misogyny of some voters, etc.), this Autopsy focuses on some key factors that have been significantly under the party’s control. While in no way attempting or claiming to be comprehensive, this report focuses on some of our party’s most crucial flaws, fissures and opportunities.

During the 2016 general election, the party experienced a falloff of voter turnout and support among people of color, the young and the working class. Much of our report concentrates on assessing the Democratic Party’s approach to those demographic groups.

This independent report aims to serve as a nationwide discussion paper and stimulus for transformational action. The goal is clarity for the challenges ahead to end Republican rule and gain lasting momentum for progressive change.

The task force of political organizers and research analysts who conducted this Autopsy was coordinated by longtime Democratic activist Karen Bernal, who chairs one of the largest caucuses in the California Democratic Party, the Progressive Caucus, and by RootsAction.org co-founder Norman Solomon, a Democratic National Convention delegate in 2008 and 2016 who was the national coordinator of the independent Bernie Delegates Network.

Next -> Executive Summary

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