Fighting for ‘life, liberty, pursuit of happiness’

Political strategist Donna Brazile: “You don’t need $3 billion to manage a campaign.”
Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

Donna Brazile speaks with the soft drawl of her native New Orleans, but she carries a big stick.

Brazile, a regular contributor on CNN and ABC, is a fighter, she told a campus audience Feb. 19 at Student Center East.

“I got so many wounds on me I have to keep my clothes on,” she said.

The political strategist delivered the keynote address of UIC’s Black History Month.

She noted that the month started as a week, in 1926, and with its growing popularity and the power of the civil rights movement, expanded to a month in 1970.

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis,” Brazile said, quoting Thurgood Marshall.

“I wonder what he would say if he listened to Fox News or talk radio,” she said.

Citing the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence, Brazil said it is “not yet reality.”

When so many Americans lack adequate health care as business executives rake in record profits while opposing a minimum wage hike, “something is wrong with this picture,” she said.

Brazile, who is vice chair of voter registration for the Democratic National Committee, noted that she first took up the task of registering voters years ago at the behest of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

She continued her work until “the day I saw Barack Obama take the podium, and if I keep working I may some day see a woman on the podium, or a lesbian.”

On another question involving voting, she decried the wrongs of redistricting.

“My two sisters [in Louisiana] are in the same district and live 90 miles apart,” she said. “It’s outrageous.”

Both parties are to blame, she said.

“Not all Republicans are bad … [good ones] are few and far between, but they exist.”

Campaign finance reform is another great need, said Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s run for president.

“You don’t need $3 billion to manage and win a campaign,” she said.

In the Q and A session after her talk, Brazile was asked how she maintains her poise.

“Now and then I lose my cool,” she confessed. “I have a problem when people talk about poor people who don’t want to get up and go to work.”

When her temper does blow, she said, “I go to blasting the truth, and I go home and wash my mouth out with chardonnay.”

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