Murphy Talks to Top Political Reporter About 2020; Here Are His 4 Most Interesting PointsOctober 2, 2018
Chris Murphy sat down for an interview with Dan Balz, one of The Washington Post's top political reporters. They discussed the Democratic Party, Trump, and much more.
Tuesday brought one more sign Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) could be considering a presidential run in 2020. Murphy is featured in a new, lengthy Dan Balz piece in The Washington Post Magazine that includes interviews with several potential presidential candidates.
Balz is one of the top political reporters at the Post, and authored a book each on the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. In Balz’s piece, Murphy discusses the future of the Democratic Party, President Trump, the economy, and much more.
Here are the four most interesting points of Murphy’s interview.
PRAISE FOR BERNIE
Murphy had high praise for democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a possible presidential candidate himself, for pushing “good idea[s]” that “[speak] to our values.”
Murphy backed Clinton in 2016, but he praises Sanders for what he could teach the Democrats. “I remember that day when he left the caucus meeting on a Tuesday and went outside to do his announcement in the Senate ‘swamp,’ with like no prep, and I was like, ‘This is a presidential campaign? This is going to be a disaster.’ It almost immediately caught fire.” He says Sanders also highlighted the power of big symbols and bold language to make clear whose side he was on. “A lot of the Democratic elites parody Bernie because free college was so unrealistic. Who cares?” Murphy says. “It’s a good idea and it speaks to our values. … We think way too much about what’s possible.”
CRITICISM OF PARTY
Murphy argued Democrats in Washington, D.C. have become too “self-satisfied” and too paternalistic.
Democrats have become too cautious about pushing big ideas to reform the way Washington works, too “self-satisfied with the idea that we are the party of reform, because of course we are. … I think our party has to get our head wrapped around the fact that, if we don’t put in our party’s vortex reforming the way that this place works, we’re not going to break through unless we find a candidate who just sort of oozes outsider.” Democrats, Murphy adds, have become too paternalistic, too wedded to solutions in Washington and distrustful of ideas that come from the states and cities. “That has made us a party of virtual irrelevance in big swaths of the country,” he says.
ANALYSIS OF TRUMP
Murphy offers what seems like measured praise for Trump, arguing Trump “understood” what voters wanted in 2016.
“Trump understood that you had to be the candidate who most credibly looked and sounded like a process reformer,” he says. “He never talked about it in those terms. … But he looked and sounded like the most obvious candidate to change the way that things were done here, and you could argue that the presidential candidate who looks like the most likely to change the way things are done in Washington has been the one that has won consistently over the years.”
ADMIT’S HE’S NOT “WALKING THE WALK”
Murphy wants the Democrats to talk less about hot-button social issues and more about the economy. But, Murphy admitted, “I’m not walking the walk” on that front.
Murphy acknowledges he has not sorted out all the contradictions and challenges that flow from his analysis. He notes with irony that, after praising Sanders for bold ideas, he has not signed on to Sanders’s Medicare-for-all proposal. Murphy has his own bill with Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon that he thinks is “a little more politically realistic.” He would rather see Democrats focus on economic issues than on some cultural wedges — and yet says he cannot step back from the fight over immigration. “I’m not walking the walk,” he says. Nor does he have the answer to how Democrats can speak to the entire country. “When voters see us spending so much time messaging demographic group to demographic group, it translates that we care about individual groups more than the health of the whole,” he says.
Whether he runs or not, it seems Murphy wants to play an important role in defining the Democratic Party’s future. Will he get the chance to do so? This profile with Balz seems like a first try.
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