Donna Brazile received the Kennedy Political Union’s Wonk of the Year award last night and it is much deserved. She is a Louisana native who first got involved in politics at the age of nine, and she has been passionate about politics ever since. Brazile is a Democratic Political Strategist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a television political commentator on CNN and ABC, the Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and former interim National Chair of the DNC. She was the first African American woman to manage a presidential campaign and has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000.
Her Campus American got a chance to interview Ms. Donna Brazile.
Her Campus American University: You came from a large family in Louisiana. Did you at any point in your childhood dream or imagine that you’d be the academic and political powerhouse that you are today?
DB: I probably could not predict the future but I knew I wanted to get involved in the political process at an early age. When I was younger, I loved politics, history and English and this motivated me to get involved politically.
HCAU: As a woman in a largely male dominated field, how were you able to kick in the door to the “Men’s Only Club”?
DB: When I walked through the door, I made sure to leave it open for others. It is a challenge to tear down barriers to insure no one is left behind. I include people that look like me and I try to open opportunities for others and I want to be known for that. If you don’t open doors, set example for others to follow.
HCAU: How do you think social media impacts modern day politics?
DB: Social media has transformed politics. Social media can transform policy and how we are informed politically. It has an impact on dialogue and discourse. It shapes how we think about issues and how we deal with issues.
HCAU: Since the Gore/Bush campaign of 2000, how do you think the political landscape has changed?
DB: A lot has happened. This is the fourth election cycle since Bush/Gore. Political parties are highly polarized and a vast majority of people identify with being Independent. These parties have to deal with an electorate that wants to engage with them and not just their political party affiliation. The Democratic and Republican parties have learn to appeal to these independent voters.
HCAU: With the presidential elections less than nine months away and the party conventions taking place this summer, how do you see things playing out?
DB: This election system is unpredictable. It’s the most unconventional season ever but I’m excited. I want Americans to turn out and change the future.
HCAU: Who do you see as the next generation of political leaders?
DB: Political parties need to focus on the new generation to serve and find someone that will effectively lead. I see Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) as great leaders of the next generation and I truly admire them both.
HCAU: Any advice for college-aged women interested in a career in politics?
DB: Get involved and don’t wait to be asked. Start young and don’t wait until after you are married or start a family. The networks you start to create now will help you serve in a career in politics in the future.
HCAU: What are your favorite places in D.C.?
DB: I first came to D.C. when I was 21. I felt at home when I saw the Capitol dome. Washington, D.C. was wide open to opportunities for a girl from the bayous of Louisiana. D.C. is my second home and I’m proud to be a Washingtonian.