Progressive leader carving his group a place in MDP


Liano Sharon voted for Joe Biden for president last fall. In 2016, he voted for Hillary Clinton. Both picks were for the same reason. Neither was Donald Trump. Period.

He’s not a Biden fan. His recent Democratic Party activism is due to Bernie Sanders and his progressive agenda. The Green New Deal. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, at the very least. Universal, single-payer health care. Canceling student debt.

This is where he wants to go. The way he sees it, the “establishment” is — maybe subconsciously — getting in the way.

The Ypsilanti resident and 1996 Eastern Michigan University graduate leads a splinter Michigan Democratic Party caucus called MI Solidarity that’s beginning to make a name for itself within progressive circles.

At last month’s MDP convention, MI Solidarity’s slate won 31 of the available 172 seats on the party’s governing State Central Committee, a number that’s growing.

Sharon’s smart, progressive rhetoric, knack for organizational skills and his meticulous rule readings has helped him create a following that’s agitated the traditional party powerbrokers.

Like the Tea Party of 2010, the energy of the major political party is not in the center, but on the far wing. The new energy from the Democratic Party is coming from the ideological far left. The youth. Minority groups. They want change and they want it now.

They want a voice in the process. They want some foothold into the power structure. Sharon’s MI Solidarity is giving it to them.

The traditional Democratic groups — the labor unions, the education caucus — are run through a top-down decision-making process that Sharon sees as the antithesis of a democratic process.

The “unity” slate from the MDP’s establishment is a self-perpetuating entity in which leadership roles are determined by various factors, none of which stem from a popular vote, he said.

MI Solidary, holds independent, internal primary elections for its slate positions. Consensus is reached by the members as a whole, not a dictate from on high, he said.

As far as Sharon is concerned, the more members in the Michigan Democratic Party, the better. The current number of 10,000 people is sad when you consider Michigan is a state of 10 million people. Why can’t the party thrive to recruit even 1% of that number?

Sharon assisted in swelling MDP ranks to 20,000 in 2018 after the convention nomination of now-Attorney General Dana Nessel. Why can’t keeping these new activists be the goal?

“And the reason for that is very clearly (the) way that a lot of people treat progressive and treat new people and treat young people,” Sharon said.

Which is: It’s not your turn. That’s the reaction Sharon got from one activist when he won a coveted spot as a Democratic National Convention delegate.

She told him she had been stuffing envelopes, making calls and knocking doors longer than he had. It was “her turn” for that type of post. The fact she didn’t run for the job emphasizes the problem with a MDP establishment that he doesn’t believe fully grasps that they are in an establishment.

Blinded with a “BlueNoMatterWho” mentality, Democrats aren’t embracing the energy of their party enough, he said. They need to be advancing criminal justice reform, immigration reform, LGBTQ+ rights as the foundation of its existence. Now.

Otherwise, what’s the point of having the party in the first place?

However, some fellow progressives feel his inflexibility turns toxic when he bends in those instances in which its self-beneficial. Some find him insulting.

They question why he locked arms with such figures as former field organizer Kyle Jurek, who was videographed last year saying “cities burn” if Trump were to win, among other troubling rants.

To that he says: “Very often when we reach out, we get a hostile reaction from some of these people. We keep getting this pushback about how we’re uncooperative and how we’re trying to tear the party down — I mean, it’s just fantasy. It’s pure fantasy on the part of the establishment.”


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