Melissa Harris Perry
updated 1/10/2013 12:54:16 PM ET 2013-01-10T17:54:16

Making sure there is talent in the pipeline, understanding local political cultures, and building grassroots support are key ways to ensure a lasting Democratic legacy.

This is the time for President Obama to build a strong Democratic base that will take the party beyond his second term and into the future. Host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel talked on Sunday about how to ensure a liberal legacy that will stay strong. Although the latest polling suggests that the majority of Americans favor the Democratic party over the GOP, that doesn’t mean that the left can be content to not evolve. Harris-Perry reflected on the multi-term presidents of the past who have left behind solid and able teams that continued party victories without their original leader.

The panel shared their advice. “Build from the ground up,” said MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney. Finney highlighted the importance of bringing along smart people and also how imperative it is to pass along the technology, databases, and expertise of those involved. Democratic strategist John Rowley agreed on the importance of creating a pipeline of talent. “Any coach knows you’re a better coach when you’ve got great talent on the floor,”  he said. Where to look for a diverse, strong team? Veterans, mayors, governors, and entrepreneurs topped his list.

Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean emphasized the importance of understanding local political cultures.  “In order to build a party, you have to be everywhere,” Dean said. Each state runs differently, Dean explained, and the government needs to be more subjective and have a presence in various locations. Obama was smart to run his campaign from Chicago, Dean said, because “Washington D.C. doesn’t have a clear understanding of what’s going on in the rest of the country.”

Kevin Drum, a political blogger for Mother Jones, was skeptical about the future. President Obama has many skills, he said, but “party building has never been one of them.” Drum has more confidence in grassroots efforts. But everyone agreed  that thinking long-term is the most crucial factor in building a party.

See Harris-Perry’s interview with Governor Dean, as well as the rest of our discussion, below.

Video: Long-term party-building for Democrats


Discussion comments