Democratic Party of Evanston hosts former Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee


Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

University of Chicago Prof. Austan Goolsbee speaks at the Democratic Party of Evanston’s annual fundraiser. He said Democrats need to continue to work for change.

Catherine Henderson, Reporter

University of Chicago economics Prof. Austan Goolsbee emphasized the importance of Democratic values and efforts at the Democratic Party of Evanston’s annual fundraiser Sunday.

In his keynote address, Goolsbee — former chairman of the council of economic advisers under President Barack Obama, and the youngest cabinet member of the administration — said the Democratic Party lost in 2016 because it got “complacent.” He said though Democrats are still frustrated with the end result, they haven’t done enough to guarantee future change.

“We’ve got to push back starting now and starting at every level,” Goolsbee said. “I am reminded of my late grandmother. If you complain about anything, she’d say, ‘80 percent of the world doesn’t care about your problems, and the other 20 percent are glad.’”

After leaving the White House, Goolsbee said he thought he would never see a reemergence of the policies that caused the economic crisis in 2007 and 2008, such as the deregulation of the financial sector and decreased taxes for the wealthy. However, Goolsbee said, the Trump administration is returning to such policies, which would endanger the nation.

In contrast with President Donald Trump’s lack of concrete policy, Goolsbee said the Democratic Party advocates for using tax dollars to provide millions with health care, education and infrastructure. However, Goolsbee said Democrats need to go out into their communities and neighboring states to talk to opponents if they want to make real progress.

“You can’t persuade anybody unless you meet them where they are,” Goolsbee said. “You can’t do anything from these tables in Evanston.”

However, other speakers from the event said Evanston is a community known for advocacy. State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said the DPOE is respected statewide.

“We’ve seen the Evanstonization of the Democratic Party across this state,” Biss said about statewide political activism after the 2016 presidential election.

Organizers are coming together to solve political issues, Biss said, but Evanston has been known for its grassroots organizations well before 2016.

Biss was joined by several local, state and national Illinois representatives: Mayor Steve Hagerty, former mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), state Reps. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) and Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd).

DPOE leaders received awards at the event, which also introduced the group’s latest strategic initiative, the Midwest Alliance of Progressives, for the 2018 election and beyond.

Cameron Davis, DPOE’s vice president, said MAP aims to coordinate with other Democratic organizations to move forward with common goals and strategies.

Davis said MAP had its first success last week: Democratic candidate Corey Mason won the mayoral race in Racine, Wisconsin, with the alliance’s support. DPOE aims to take back control for the Democrats by flipping seats one by one at every level of government, Davis said.

“We are going to take back the Midwest because if we take back the Midwest, we can take back the country,” Davis said.

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