by Jessica R. Key
Special to the NNPA from the Indianapolis Recorder
The Indianapolis Recorder recently spoke with Donna Brazile, American author, academic, and political analyst who is vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee on her views on what’s happening in Congress and how African-Americans can change the world.
How do you feel about the current state of the Democratic Party?
In the aftermath of a very difficult political year, the 2014 midterm election, the party is in the process of rebuilding. We have to retool our operations to make sure our message is reaching the American people. We have to improve our turnout, especially in off-season elections. We need to do a better job of ensuring our state parties are active and engaged in the communities they wish to get votes in. As you know, next year is a big presidential year. Hopefully we can recover from the losses of 2014.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming presidential race?
You know, it’s going to be a very dynamic year. The year 2008 was a historic year for the Democratic Party. We had two dynamic candidates competing for the nomination. This year we have four candidates competing, 16 Republican candidates competing. There’s no question I think the Democrats have a stronger field. They may be small, but they’re significant and they are people of substance.
Already Sec. Clinton has talked about criminal justice reform, the needs of our troops, better ways to serve our communities and immigration reform. She just outlined steps she believes will help enhance voter protection and voter access through voter registration as well as having every vote counted.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a champion of the middle class, campaign finance reform, reducing student debt and the burdens students face. Martin O’Malley has been a modern day governor in the very important state of Maryland. Lincoln Chafee is new to the Democratic Party. This is going to be a dynamic political year.
What is it going to take to get Congress to be effective?
With so much gerrymandering, so much polarization, it will take more than one election and more than one Congress to get Congress back to its agenda of taking care of the American people, keeping us secure, providing economic growth and prosperity for all people.
You know, what is lost in this conversation is that we don’t have moderates any more. The Republican Party is very extreme and the Democratic Party, we’ve lost moderates who are able to cross the so-called partisan lines to find the kind of support we need.
But I do believe next year we will have terrific candidates running here in Indiana for governor and the U.S. senate seat and we will have a tremendous turnout. Indiana is going to play a role in helping us elect the next president of the United States.
Politics can be messy. How do you stay motivated and honest?
I got involved in politics for the right reasons – to try to better my community and strengthen my country. I believe in the right of all Americans to participate. It’s “We the people…” not “we the politicians” or the big donors or media consultants. I believe as long as we have a seat at the table, we can make a difference in our communities and strengthen our country at the same time.
You say that Black people’s time is now. Where do we begin?
We start in our homes. We start with our families and our communities. We got to start with education. We’ve got to start by making sure people have access to jobs and the life-sustaining skills they need in order to be competitive.
Before we go out in the world and change it, we have to change ourselves and change our attitude and change our beliefs about what we can do to make the world a better place.
I came from a working poor background. My mother was a maid and my father was a janitor. That didn’t determine my future. The past prepares you – the future is what’s here.
It’s your turn to lead and no one is going to give you a seat at the table unless you demand one. Sometimes you got to bring in a folding chair to make sure you have a seat. Just as the generation that elected the first Black resident of the United States – if you could open up the White House to a Black man, you should open it up for a woman.
How can African-Americans learn from all of the incidences happening across the country between Blacks and law enforcement?
We must build trust. Trust is the missing ingredient. When law enforcement that’s is there to protect us are not serving us, there is a break down in trust. We can rebuild trust, rebuild our communities and strengthen them so that the police in the communities they serve are on the same page. Not just protecting our communities, but ensuring people are not indiscriminately pulled over and subjected to the wild allegations we’ve seen in the media.
The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper is celebrating 120 years. Is there anything you’d like to share with our dedicated supporters?
This newspaper has been the indispensible voice. It has been the vision. It has been, what I believe, the beacon of hope at a time when, perhaps, many didn’t know some of the great stories existed. Because of this enterprise, this newspaper, we have been able to see so much. Congratulations on 120 years!