Former congressman Tom Perriello is betting the future of the Democratic Party on a new generation of politics. He calls it "bold versus old" and says voters are rejecting the political system and advancing bolder ideas.
"Democratic leadership was not clear how to handle the Trump era," Periello told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast with The University of Chicago's Institute of Politics and CNN. "I think that the voters are leading the party."
Recent special elections suggest momentum is on the Democrats' side going into the November midterm elections. Strong Democratic showings in red districts -- even when the Democrat in the race didn't actually win but have overperformed previous elections -- have added to the evidence that a blue wave could be building.
"This is changing our politics in ways that explain why we keep getting these wave elections and why the pundits keep not understanding it. The bolder the ideas are now, the more popular they get, and that's because of how broken the system is for people," he said.
Perriello lost the Democratic primary for Virginia governor last year. His anti-Trump and national progressive energy got endorsements from the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but did not convince enough Virginia Democrats. It was Ralph Northam who won the Democratic primary and ultimately beat the Republican candidate in Virginia.
"We need to resist Trump, but we need to focus on the forces that gave rise to Trump," he said. "Policy does not win elections, but policy results win re-election."
Today, he is creating a political action committee aimed at helping newly elected Democrats in the state legislature win re-election in 2019.
"From a purely tactical standpoint, our first priority should be making sure that our base feels like we have their back. Second, the swing group right now is college educated white women," Perriello said. "To me, the year we need to be focused on is 2021 and not 2020. We need to be prepared to deliver results rapidly and at scale."