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Post-Midterm Chat Lays Path for 2020 Elections

Author Panel Connects Political Past, Future

The day after the midterm elections was the perfect time to hear from the authors of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.”

Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry and Minyon Moore ran down the high points: Democrats won back the House of Representatives. There are nine new members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Almost 500 state legislative seats were won by Democrats.

They also talked about the two gubernatorial races in Georgia and Florida that are still up in the air.

The four political operatives have never run for public office, but for decades, they managed important roles in front of and behind the scenes of major political events. At the Brookland location of Busboys and Poets on Nov. 7, in a discussion moderated by economist and political commentator Julianne Malveaux, the four women dissected the election wins and losses with an eye toward 2020, with their analyses also providing a history lesson of political campaigns over the past 50 years.

The audience moaned in disappointment when the names of Andrew Gilliam and Stacey Abrams were mentioned and the uncertain future of their respective races, but Daughtry put a positive spin on the election results.

“Let’s not snatch defeat from the hands of victory,” said Daughtry, the former CEO of the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions. “We did some good work last night.”

The panel acknowledged that a combination of grass-roots tactics and diverse coalitions led to many wins. The consensus was there was still work to be done.

According to Brazile, the midterm wins came as a result of candidates taking a progressive agenda into territories where candidates had not gone before.

“I’ve been in politics for a long, long time,” said Brazile, a venerable political strategist and news analyst who referenced her time as campaign director for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. “Just do the work and don’t worry about the credit. You learn to just put your head down and get the job done.”

All four women got their feet wet with political work through Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns in the 1980s. What they learned was that women are a powerful force in organizing the political engine. By Jackson’s example, they also saw how a diverse group of people could come together for a candidate, a strategy that was seen in several campaigns this year.

“It was the first time you saw campaigns with Black people, brown people, gay people and Hispanics working together on a national level,” Brazile said of Jackson’s approach. “He was methodical on what needed to be done by the Democratic party.”

Youth involvement should continue to be a focal point of the Democratic Party’s voter outreach strategy, said Caraway, founder of the Caraway Group and a major player in crafting the goals and objectives of the party.

“I don’t care what it takes,” she said. “They need to have more interaction with each other and deployed more people to work with the youth.”

Important issues for voters that will continue for the next two years will be healthcare and criminal justice reform.

“This is an urgent matter that we have not addressed,” said Moore, former CEO of the Democratic National Committee who also held leadership roles during President Bill Clinton’s White House years. “People are afraid to leave their homes.”

As the robust conversation wrapped up, the authors were still pumped even after long hours of evaluating the election over the past 24 hours.

Brazile, who has been involved in presidential campaigns since volunteering for President Jimmy Carter’s campaign in 1976, shared with the audience what she recently told her students at Howard University, where she currently is the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy.

“I want to find out one day what it is like to not be involved in the election process,” Brazile said after telling the audience that she was operating on 90 minutes of sleep during the past 24 hours.

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