Today’s political landscape is undergoing seismic shifts, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile told attendees during a keynote address yesterday at BenefitsPRO Broker Expo. “Incredible change is taking place in Washington, D.C. and 2018 is shaping up like 1994,” Brazile said.
Fifty-seven members of Congress are not running for reelection, the second highest number on record, she said, and the decision by House Speaker Paul Ryan to retire leaves a vacuum in Republican leadership. “With Ryan stepping down, President Donald Trump has taken over the leadership of the Republican Party, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad,” Brazile said.
With all the change at the top for the GOP, and a new way of governing under what she called “President Trump’s party,” Brazile joked that she sees “stormy weather” on the horizon for the Republicans, and a possible “pink or blue wave” in the midterm elections later this year.
Brazile’s barbs were not limited to the opposition, however; the party she has dutifully served since volunteering for the Jimmy Carter–Walter Mondale Presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980 as a teenager, has been set adrift since the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
While Brazile doesn’t see eye-to-eye with GOP leaders or their initiatives, at least she can spot them. In today’s political upheaval among Democrats, she said she has trouble finding a coherent direction or actual leaders to help her party regain its shaky footing. “In the 2020 election, we might have 100 Democratic candidates running for President,” she said. It’s gotten to the point that “everyday every Senator looks in the mirror and says, ‘why not me?’”
Aspirants aren’t limited to the Senate, Brazile said. The list is diverse and includes current and former governors, young and restless congressmen, billionaires like Mark Cuban and actors such as George Clooney. “He has a wife and two kids now. That’s a sign. However, if Sean Penn runs, I might become an independent.”
One person she would like to see run in 2020 is former Vice President Joe Biden, who Brazile spoke about with reverence. Biden, however, will be 77 years old when the next election cycle rolls around, nearly a decade older than President Trump when he was sworn into office.
After Brazile finished analyzing the “turbulent” political landscape, she opened up the floor to questions. The following are highlights from those discussions.
What have we learned from the last election and how can we adapt going forward? “We have learned that crying out loud and whining doesn’t get you very far. The American people want more than that. They want ideas and we have to go back to the drawing board and find a message that can improve the economy. We have to show we care about the American people. We have to get back to discussing and delivering on kitchen table issues.”
Is there any hope to implementing term limits for politicians? “No! Could it be achieved? No! It’s not in the politicians’ interest. They are not going to change the status quo. But if this truly is a wave election in the midterms, then we may not have to worry about term limits.”
Do you think there will be more Russian interference? “Yes. Just last week, when the Pentagon hit Syria with air strikes, there were more bots and trolls unleashed. Russia is unleashing a bot war, a troll war. We have already seen them attack our political system and the damage it can do, and they will do it again.”
Can we ever trust political polls again? “Yes and no. We have to know the poll in question because not all polls are equal. However, I think the better way to evaluate a political election is by judging the enthusiasm displayed by the voters, measure the number of candidates running for office, and look at the amount of money being raised.”
What is the most important issue facing us today? “It’s our workforce. We have to spend time retooling and retraining our workforce. Our kids have to be able to compete with the global marketplace. Technology is not going to replace all the jobs, so we have to commit to training our kids so they can compete in the 21st century workforce. If there’s a second issue, it’s that the cyber threats we’re experiencing are real. We must do a better job of protecting our personal data and our employee data. This is a huge issue.”