KEYNOTES OCTOBER LUNCHEON
by Sara Watkins
At the November WDC luncheon, Clarence Page offered his post-election analysis along with conversation about his engaging new book, Culture Worrier: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change.
"The future belongs to racial navigators. I am a softie at heart....something that I have in common with John Boehner!!" joked Mr. Page.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Clarence Page is one of the most highly regarded syndicated columnists in the country, and his newest book, Culture Worrier, commemorates the 30th anniversary of his column's first appearance in the Chicago Tribune. It is the first such collection of his columns, and an archive of his best work, covering topics such as politics, social issues, pop culture, race, family, new media, prominent figures, as well as his own personal life.
"I am glad to be at this meeting, although my favorite Montgomery County Democratic woman is not with us today.....my wife is busy teaching this afternoon...but I think I can do all right without her here. Also, I enjoy the therapy of being with like-minded people." exclaimed Mr. Page.
We have witnessed so many elections and the pattern is the same, the party in the White House loses in the mid-terms. I am not so pessimistic, after all "things will change" and remember "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow".
The Democrats lost due to lack of messaging. The Republicans were on message and that message was "Beat Obama". Also, Democrats were distancing themselves from Obama...one example was Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes who was not willing to say that she voted for Obama. The Democrats failed to capitalize on the accomplishments of the Obama administration including strong economic indices and the fact that more people now have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. This failure frustrated and disenfranchised Obama's base of supporters, many of whom chose not to vote at all. These voters certainly would not vote for Republicans and were disgusted with the Democrats for not supporting their President.
Cultural Worrier Comments:
Why is the title of the book Culture Worrier? It makes people look twice, to see if they read the title correctly. There is another book titled Cultural Warrior by Bill O'Reilly and this book focuses on worrying about the warriors.
Why do some low income voters vote against their own economic interests? To many folks, money isn't everything. For example, many Tea Party members are evangelical and focus on gay rights and other social issues.
Some Americans are excited about the increased diversity in America and some are frightened by it. I am proud of my son who has friends of all races and ethnicities-a whole UN visiting my home.
Mr. Page shared an excerpt from his new book, a September 2012 column entitled Bubba's vocabulary lesson, Clinton makes little words matter. Below are the first few paragraphs from the column.
"Bubba is back. As a word man, I was most impressed at the Democratic National Convention by Bill Clinton's skillful speech, much of it ad-libbed."
Even President Barack Obama seemed to suggest later that the former president did a better job of selling Obama than the current one does.
Somebody emailed me after his speech; they said, 'You need to appoint him secretary of explaining stuff,'" Obama joked in New Hampshire. "I like that."
In fact, as Seth Meyers observed on "Saturday Night Live", "we already have a job for that: It's called "president." Some presidents are better at that job than others are.
Much of Clinton's success, I believe,comes not so much from the big words that he knows as from the little ones he uses.
Questions and Answers:
1) How will the election returns influence Supreme Court decisions?
The Federal Courts vote along party lines especially on ACA decisions. Never bet on the Supreme Court voting a certain way. The outlook is for the ACA to survive....Republicans don't have a reasonable replacement for ACA. Ted Cruz warned his fellow conservatives a few years ago "We've got to stop ACA before it's implemented and people like it. "
2) What would it take to implement campaign reform?
I am pessimistic about getting changes made...if spending is stopped in one place, the money finds a way to be channeled into campaigns through a different avenue. I am hopeful that full disclosure and transparency increase in the future.
3) How do the Democrats approach the 2016 election to win?
We need to stay on our toes. Do not divide the base- never forget the base. Don't be over confident, energize the base. Journalists love conflict!
4) Why was Obama not successful in motivating young African American men after getting elected?
He was successful in energizing the base but not in inspiring the base once elected. He motivated young voters but didn't continue to support them after getting elected. Obama practices uninspiring politics. Bill Clinton loves retail politics...Obama not so much.
5) What about Hillary as President? What would Bill's role be?
Bill would be Bill....we have no experience in our country with a first man! Hillary has a very different personality than Bill and Barack. She has learned to show that she cares. Hillary deliberately avoids Bill's advice. She is a pragmatic politician-which will help to get swing voters. She knows how to put hard feelings aside to keep Republicans out of the White House. Hillary can persuade voters that she "is on your side". Other possibilities for the Democratic nomination include Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Robert Reich.
Clarence Page reminded us all that "Opportunity is the most important creed in American society." On that positive note, the lively question and answer session with columnist Clarence Page ended.