WASHINGTON — Democratic Leadership Council founder and Medill M.S.J. alum Al From turned a critical eye onto his own party during a March 12 visit to the Medill Washington newsroom.
During the talk with Medill undergraduates, From discussed the history of the contemporary Democratic party, political strategy and his analysis of the Democratic party’s prognosis in the battle for the White House in 2016. From’s book “The New Democrats and the Return to Power” serves as a historical guide to how the modern Democratic party came together, but he dedicated much of his current analysis to the party’s future and he pulled no punches.
From started off his evaluation of the Democrats’ current obstacles by calling out Democrats for prioritizing fancy campaign delivery mechanisms over a relatable platform.
“The truth is, despite all the talk about different ways to communicate, you know, no amount of money or technology or social media or campaign strategy or tactics can make up for a message that doesn’t connect with voters,” From said.
He went on to accuse Democrats of being too comfortable with their historic “demographic advantage” in presidential elections and not taking into account factors such as the potential flippability of the Hispanic vote and the recent Republican capture of the Asian vote. From emphasized the idea that “votes are not necessarily forever” and noted that President Barack Obama’s absence from the 2016 ballot could significantly impact the minority and youth votes for the worse.
From also underscored the importance of working to improve the economy vs. solely focusing on minimum wage. He cited an old friend’s success as a case study for this point, attributing the decrease in American equality observed under Bill Clinton’s presidential administration to national economic growth.
“The problem with the Democrats is you spend so much time worrying about the, uh, about passing out the golden eggs, you forget to worry about the health of the goose,” From explained.
Additionally, From said that members of his party must keep healthcare reinvention and modernization at the forefront of their considerations, since there is a correlation between the efficiency of federal services and the public’s faith in government.
“I learned at a very young age that government reform is not an advocation of liberal goals; it’s essential to achieving them,” he said. “Government is our vehicle for doing good things.”