Donna Brazile has a terrific sense of humor, but she also delivered some profound truths and a message of hope on Thursday night.
The interim Democratic National Committee Chair spoke at Westminster College. She spent a good portion of her speech cracking jokes about leaked emails that have caused her more than a few headaches recently. She also poked fun at former Vice President Al Gore, who she worked for as campaign manager during his 2000 presidential campaign.
“With all the WikiLeaks, wiki-lies and wiki-spies, I think I might go back to writing in a journal,” Brazile joked. “In the 1990’s we were told we shouldn’t write in journals because it could get us subpoenaed. Then my old boss, who invented the internet, got us in trouble with WikiLeaks. What the hell are we gonna use now?”
Brazile also leveled some serious criticisms at Donald Trump and the media who enabled his candidacy, during her hour-long lecture at the liberal arts university on Salt Lake City’s East side.
“When I worked for CNN, they would call me up and say, ‘we have breaking news.’ I’d ask what, and they would say ‘Donald Trump just Tweeted.’ How the heck was I going to cover that?”
Brazile said that underscored a serious deficiency in our modern political discourse.
“We have replaced substance with superficial,” she said. I want to talk about the North Dakota pipeline. I want to have more than a drive-by conversation about race-relations. What we’re doing now misses the point.”
Joking aside, Brazile delivered a serious, and surprisingly non-partisan message when she tried to address the rise of Donald Trump.
“When I think about the Donald Trump phenomenon, I’m not going to call people names. There are people who are hurting out there. They feel like they’ve been left behind. No one comes and talks to them. No one listens to them.”
Brazile said many people who support the Republican nominee deserve compassion and understanding.
“Rather than mock them, we have to find ways to put ourselves in their shoes and make sure they live closer to the circle of opportunity. No American should be left behind to fend for themselves. That’s why there’s so much distrust of government. They’re worried sick about the future.”
Brazile said that cynicism demanded a change in who was pulling the levers of power in Washington.
“We should not elect people who promise more obstruction and polarization,” she said.
She singled out Arizona Sen. John McCain who suggested the Senate could permanently block any Supreme Court nominee sent up by Hillary Clinton should she win the election in November.
“I admire John McCain, but he’s making up his own Constitution. We do not need people who, because they don’t like who the people elect, decide the best course of action is to become obstructionists and produce more gridlock.”
The longtime political operative and media figure says she’s looking forward to the day after the election when she can start reaching out to people on the other side and start healing wounds.
“This is not about taking a victory lap. We can make the day after the election the first day of a new tomorrow when we can start finding some common sense solutions. With all of the assets in this country, there is no reason we cannot solve some of our problems.”
Brazile said responsibility for change lies on the shoulders of millennial voters.
“I put my trust in millenials. They are the largest group of voters if they decide to show up. We’re opening the door for you; now you have to come and get it! You can make that joyful noise we all are waiting to hear. All I ask is that you do not let us go back. We have to go forward as American citizens.”