Is the Current Presidential Race a Sign of the American Voters Feeling Shut Out? Susan Eisenhower Weighs In
Is the Current Presidential Race a Sign of the American Voters Feeling Shut Out? Susan Eisenhower Weighs In
Well-known independent voter Eisenhower discusses what the leading parties need to learn from the 2016 primaries
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Susan Eisenhower, who endorsed Barack Obama in the last two presidential races, said she is not going to publicly support any candidate prior to the November elections.
"I'm not dodging this question because I'm secretly supporting somebody; I'm dodging the question because I want to express respect for the people who put themselves forward in this election to run for president, and that includes everybody who was up on stage a year ago," she said. "I just want to stay out of it, because I'm on the side of the American people."
Eisenhower, Chairman Emeritus at the Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College, stated in an interview with Focus Washington host Chuck Conconi that "Whether it's true or not, the public has the impression that this system is unavailable to them in some way."
Not only did Eisenhower support Obama eight years ago, but she also delivered a speech in which she announced she was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent. Eisenhower said that she does not want to "minimize the national frustration that exists."
"I'm hoping that this campaign will become very clear and I'll go in as an independent and cast my vote," she added.
Eisenhower noted that there are no dynastic ambitions in her family. "Well, I'll tell you at our dinner table no one was ever talking about being a successor to my grandfather. I believe in an open process for this country. I believe in sending the message, not only to the United States, but to the world, that anybody can be president of the United States if they prepare themselves."
"The public has the impression that this system is unavailable to them in some way," she continued. "As an analyst, I'd say it's a fascinating transitional time, and we don't really know how things are going to develop."
With respect to the feeling that the Republican Party is dying, Eisenhower asserted that this characterization "would be to imply that there will be no Republican party after this election."
"Maybe the better way to think of it is that the party is changing, and frankly, the party had been changing for a very long time."
"We're not surprised that [Hillary Clinton] finally got this nomination," Eisenhower said, "though in some ways it was surprising that she had the kind of vigorous challenge that she did. And then on the same side, we had what we thought was going to be an heir apparent in Jeb Bush, and it was rather fascinating to watch how quickly the set of assumptions fell away."
"So what I think it tells me is that both parties are changing," she concluded, "and they're changing for larger reasons than the way it's currently being analyzed."
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FOCUS WASHINGTON | INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT | 14 JUNE 2016
(CHUCK CONCONI AND SUSAN EISENHOWER)
CHUCK CONCONI: Welcome to Focus Washington. I'm Chuck Conconi, and my guest today is my old friend Susan Eisenhower, who is chairman emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College and a consultant in many subjects. Susan thank you for being here with me.
SUSAN EISENHOWER: Great to be here with you.
CC: There's a recent column in the Washington Post that struck me as saying that the party of Lincoln is dying. Now that was also the part of your grandfather, of course, President Eisenhower. What is happening to the Republican party?
SE: I think dying would be an extreme word because that would be to imply that there will be no Republican party after this election. Maybe the better way to think of it is that the party is changing, and frankly the party had been changing for a very long time.
CC: Well yes, and it's eight years ago you decided to go independent and leave the Republican party and support Barack Obama. Now that must have caused some consternation and soul searching. How did your family react?
SE: Well I think my family has always taken the attitude that if you're over 21, that was the old expression, you're on your own to make your own decisions, but my father had become an independent even before me. He supported John Kerry previous to my support of Barack Obama. But I made it clear to everybody at the time that I was going to become an independent and if I wanted to vote for a Republican I would have no hesitation doing so, if wanted to vote for a Democrat again I had no hesitation doing so. And few people realize, actually, how large the number of independent voters there are in this country.
CC: It's a large group and it's going to supposedly swing this election in many ways. But also, four years ago, you did support Obama again during the primaries over Hillary Clinton. How do you feel about this year's race and Hillary Clinton?
SE: Well first of all, I think that we're not surprised that she finally got this nomination, though in some ways it was surprising that she had the kind of vigorous challenge that she did. And then on the same side, we had what we thought was going to be an heir apparent in Jeb Bush, and it was rather fascinating to watch how quickly the set of assumptions fell away. So what I think it tells me is that both parties are changing, and they're changing for larger reasons than the way it's currently being analyzed.
CC: But Why? What kind of reasons do you see?
SE: Well, there is a huge transition underway all around the world. We're going to have a key referendum in Great Britain on whether or not Great Britain should remain part of the European Union. You see the changing center of gravity in other countries, with respect to the support of their various political candidates. This is in reaction, I think, to many factors, not the least of which is the residual effect of the financial crisis in 2008-2009.
CC: What we're seeing around the world is a rightward drift. Now what does that indicate? What is wrong? Why--
SE: Lack of leadership. I think that there isn't any question about that. There was a time when the world saw the great post-war figures, who were great strategic leaders, who figured out how to rebuild their countries after being completely decimated during the war, that helped redefine their national identities. These were great figures; I'd like to put my grandfather among them.
CC: Of course you can.
SE: Thank you, we had Charles de Gaulle of France, a person who literally saved France. Konrad Adenauer of Germany, who completely brought his country back from total humiliation and defeat. I mean great strategic leaders. Now I would challenge you, Chuck, to tell me who you think are the great strategic leaders are today.
CC: I was going to ask you that question, but why is that the case. Why are we facing Clinton versus Donald Trump in this particular election?
SE: Well, I would say that the big problem we have, in terms of strategic leadership. When you use that word strategic it means that there is an element of time involved usually longer than the next election cycle, or quarterly earnings report or 24-hour news cycle. We're talking about people who are trying to achieve long-term goals and have done so successfully by bringing together the people in their countries to move in that direction. Now I would challenge anybody to go out on the streets of Washington (D.C.) and say what kind of country do you want to live in and what do you think our place in the world should be, and I bet you that for every eight people you ask, you get completely different answers. This speaks to the leadership crisis, I think. It's up to both of these candidates if they really want to bring the country together, to be talking in longer term increments instead of just during their own term, which is after all only four years. We don't know where we want to go and we don't know what we want to accomplish.
CC: Well, can I ask you the question you probably don't want to answer, who will you support in this particular election?
SE: Well, I think this particular stage is a deeply personal matter. The personal aspect for me is that I have decided, because I see this country in transition and I now know a lot more about the United States of America today than I did before this election process started, and I have decided not to intervene in this political cycle at all by saying nothing, because I am still in a learning mode. What I find very sad, actually, from the perspective of both candidacies, and I mean sincerely, is that party politics is such that it's impossible to actually talk and think about measures for all of America. Each party has their base and that talked to that base. They talked to that base in a way that it's going to be one base winning over another base. Gone is the era when our presidents actually had to get up and articulate a strategy for the entire country so that all boats could rise, and that's what I miss desperately. Then with respect to the tradition of my own family, I'm not sure how many Eisenhower republicans are out there, but certainly on the public scene I think we can count them on a couple of hands rather than the millions who used to call themselves that. And that's defined by an individual who believes in fiscal responsibility and is a social progressive. Unfortunately, that is a combination of the both of these parties in some way, yet we don't have a third party that might express views like that.
CC: So there's no Eisenhower dynastic?
SE: Dynastic ambition for the Eisenhower family? Well, I'll tell you at our dinner table no one was ever talking about being a successor to my grandfather. I believe in an open process for this country. I believe in sending the message, not only to the United States, but to the world, that anybody can be president of the United States if they prepare themselves and if they have an interest in serving their country in this fashion. Whether it's true or not, the public has the impression that this system is unavailable to them in some way, either in terms of entering public life through elective office or unavailable to them as far as measures taken on their behalf. As an analyst, I'd say it's a fascinating transitional time, and we don't really know how things are going to develop. Having said that, I'm not dodging this question because I'm secretly supporting somebody; I'm dodging the question because I want to express respect for the people who put themselves forward in this election to run for president, and that includes everybody who was up on stage a year ago. I just want to stay out of it, because I'm on the side of the American people. I don't know how else to express it. I'm sure everybody else would say they are too, but the electorate has sent us a message and that is that the establishment has somehow failed them and I think we have to take this very very seriously. So to make comments about anybody's choice in this primary is to try and minimize the national frustration that exists. I'm hoping that this campaign will become very clear and I'll go in as an independent and cast my vote and then both of these parties will probably, I hope, take a long hard look at what has transpired during this campaign and begin to think in longer term increments.
CC: Susan, thank you, we've run out of time. We'll have to do more of this sometime.
SE: Yes, good.
CC: I'm Chuck Conconi and this has been Focus Washington.
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