Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 26, 2020

Editorial: Democratic Party should listen to its younger members

February 16, 2017

Donna Brazile, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), came to Hopkins last Friday as part of a “listening tour” to connect with students. She spoke about the future of the Democratic Party in a meeting closed to the general campus community and open only to leaders of ten left-leaning groups on campus.

After facing defeat in the presidential election, the Democratic Party has been forced to reevaluate its approach in the Trump era. The DNC is working to recover its base and unify the party.However, the nature of Brazile’s visit raises questions about the party’s approach.

If the goal of the tour is to draw in more young people, why limit the attendance? If the DNC wanted to canvas the opinions of left leaning students they should have opened the event to a larger student audience. This decision mirrors the direction in which the DNC is moving. Instead of capitalizing on the grassroots supporters of Bernie Sanders and other progressive candidates the DNC has failed to reconnect with their base.

If the DNC wants to win an election in the future, The Editorial board thinks that party leaders need to make a concerted effort to ride the anti-Trump wave and to work with the organizers and the participants not just co-opt them. They need to listen to the young people who will be and already are being affected by an aggressive Republican Congress and President.

Many students care deeply about the issues the Democratic Party claims to advocate for, but in reality, the party has done very little to address students’ concerns. If the DNC truly wants to connect with young people, they need to work with the burgeoning anti-Trump movement to create real change.

Trump’s election has sparked a passion for activism in young voters. Many young people are protesting and standing up for their political beliefs for the first time in their lives, and the party should work with these new and pre-existing groups to engage with the next generation of voters.

Brazile’s advice to the students at the meeting is a prime example of how out of the touch the DNC is with their youngest members. Attendees reported that Brazile said running for local office was the only way to effect real political change. By overlooking the power of activism, the Democratic party risks losing its most passionate members.

Even more concerning is the DNC’s lack of accountability. Party leaders need to deal with the problems that arose during the election, most notably when Brazile leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s overt support of Clinton over Sanders during the presidential primary.

Brazile told students at the meeting that “people need to come back to the party,” not the other way around. But why would young people return to the DNC if they aren’t given a way to discuss or change the aspects of the party they disagree with? Many young people in part blame the DNC for the results of the election, and if they want to win, we suggest that the DNC approach and work with students to fix the disconnect.

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