Editor’s note: During the New Yorker Festival, Jeffrey Toobin hosted a panel discussion with Donna Brazile, Alex Castellanos, Ed Rollins, and Joe Trippi. Below are Donna’s impassioned closing remarks. You can also watch a video of the entire discussion here .
CNN Political Contributor
I’m gonna say it and get it off my chest, because for the next thirty days, I’m gonna be the best Catholic woman ever… If Obama loses, and there’s a possibility he might lose, I would hope that people voted against him because they didn’t like his economic vision, his energy plan, they didn’t like the fact that he came out against the war so early when everyone was going with the status quo. I would hope that people decided that during the debates maybe he didn’t do as well as he possibly could and maybe that’s right. We’re at a time of trouble and maybe you want someone who’s been on the planet a lot longer. A hell of a lot longer, and God bless him...
But my friends, I have to tell you, as a child who grew up in the segregated Deep South, de facto and de jure, we’ve come so far in this country. This country, and you have to have lived as long as I’ve lived to have seen so much progress. But I remember when I used to get on the bus, and this was after segregation was so-called “over with”: my mother would tell me, “Donna, now you get on the bus, you and your brothers go all the way to the back, and don’t look at anybody.” And of course, I would get on that bus and tell my brothers go straight to the back, don’t look at anybody, because I didn’t want them to get in trouble. And I would sit there and say, let me see if everything’s okay. Is it really changed?
We have changed. This is a more tolerant, more open, more progressive society. And yet, we’re having this conversation because [Obama] is biracial. He spent nine months in the womb of a white woman. He was raised for the first 18 to 21 years by his white grandparents. He spent no time in living rooms like I spent my childhood. And yet, he got out of school, went to Harvard, and all of a sudden he’s “uppity” and there’s something wrong with him?
What is wrong with us? To suggest that some kid can’t go to Harvard if he’s earned the grades to go there…You may vote against him, but don’t ever put me in the back of the bus. I’m not going to the back of the bus! I’m not going to be afraid anymore! My black skin does not make me inferior! And might I add: being a female does not make me dumb!
Now we can relitigate all these fights on race and gender and sexual orientation until the cows come home. But at a time when we’re in crisis I want the best, I want the brightest, I want somebody to take me where we’ve never been as a country. Perhaps we’ve been too stuck in the past and that’s why we can’t go forward.
So let the next 31 days be about ideas, be about inspiration and about character. Let it be about something that brings us together, not tears us apart. I can sit on a stage with these men, and if I had time this afternoon, I’d go home and I’d cook for them. And we would all sit and drink something, but this is where we are as a country. We are comfortable with each other.
Let’s not play these games, don’t let people trick you or distract you or divide you. My mother is not here, her mother is not here, my grandfathers, everybody in my family, the men have served this country. Don’t let no one take us back, because many of us are not going back. We’re going forward. And come with us.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with