1:49 p.m., Nov. 11, 2010----David Plouffe, a University of Delaware alumnus and political adviser to President Barack Obama, delivered a lecture titled “After the Election: What Now for Obama?” on Wednesday night, Nov. 10, in Mitchell Hall as part of UD's National Agenda 2010 speaker series.
Plouffe, who is also a fellow of UD's Center for Political Communication, which sponsors the National Agenda series, focused his talk on subjects ranging from Americans' longing for leadership in every aspect of life, not just in politics, to how it is impossible to predict the results of the next election based on the results of the last one.
Of the need for leadership, Plouffe said that recently, there has been a “cry for our leaders in Washington: 'Will you just get along? Will you try to solve the problems? Will you stop yelling at each other? Will you start acting like adults?' And by the way, that's not just a message only aimed at Washington or only aimed at politicians, it's aimed at business leaders and academic leaders and the media. People are wanting to have more leadership.”
Plouffe discussed how most Americans look at politicians and see people worried about extending their own terms in office rather than looking at ways to solve the country's problems, citing the fact that people rarely focus on Obama's actual policies but rather how those policies will affect his time in office.
“Some of the things that the president did over the last two years, when you turn on the TV or the Internet, the substance of them is rarely ever discussed. It's always 'What's the latest poll number? What does it mean politically?' You can see it in the aftermath of the election, 'Should we have done X, Y and Z?' Not was it the right thing to do or was it good for the country in the long term, but simply was it helpful in the election?”
Plouffe said that he thinks that an unstated message that came out of the recent election results was the American people saying, “We want you to start caring a lot more about our jobs than yours.”
Talking about how it's impossible to gauge how the next election will pan out based on the results of the most recent election, Plouffe noted that “in politics, two years is like 200 years.”
Plouffe pointed out that Obama and Republican opponent John McCain were roughly tied among voters who cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. But, he said, it was the large number of new voters who propelled Obama to victory in 2008. That was something that would have been hard to predict based on the 2004 election.
“There's a lot of attention paid to the 2010 electorate, and the 2012 electorate is going to be fundamentally different than the 2010 electorate in many, many ways,” Plouffe said. “It will be much larger -- 55-60 million more people will vote in 2012 than voted in 2010. It will be younger -- 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 was under 30, and 11 percent was under 30 last week. It will be more diverse -- there will be many more Latino voters and African American voters in the electorate, and the independents who vote will be more moderate as a group than they were last Tuesday, when they skewed very conservative.”
Plouffe said that the most important dynamic in the 2012 election will be whether or not people believe America is headed in the right direction. He said issues like the economy are less about statistics and more about how people feel.
Plouffe ended his talk by saying that “we can really have that wonderful future that all of our young people so desperately deserve and need, but it's going to take a lot of work, and it's going to take more than just caring about the next poll, the next month, the next pundit, the next election.”
National Agenda 2010 is sponsored by the University's Center for Political Communication and moderated by Ralph Begleiter, center director.
The final National Agenda 2010 lecture will feature Amos Guiora, a professor of law at the University of Utah, who will discuss “Freedom from Religion: Managing Domestic Terrorism.” The presentation will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17, in Mitchell Hall.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Duane Perry