Our challenges are so much bigger than just the Russia conspiracy; people want Barack Obama’s message of hope and practical changes, Russia expert and MSNBC analyst Naveed Jamali told me in an exclusive interview.
During a long-form chat with former Russian double agent Naveed Jamali, author of How to Catch a Russian Spy, I asked him if he thought that the Democrats are right to focus on the issues rather than focusing mostly on the Russia conspiracy (read: impeachment) in the midterms, because they’ve been getting a lot of criticism from the base for this decision.
His answer: “Yes, yes, yes and yes.” Our threats are larger than Russia and the success Russia has had dividing us is actually tied to our failing education system and racial divides. So we need to address those issues to strengthen our country.
Audio Clip 1:
“I grew up, Sarah, as a child of the eighties, being taught that the Civil Rights movement was a war that was fought and won and Martin Luther King achieved everything that he set out to achieve. And the Civil War was a terrible blight on history, but look where we are today. And the reality is, it’s not done. It’s not over.”
“There are such social issues, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s education, which is such an important part… The disparity between education and access to it, between socioeconomic factors. So the short of it is, they are all real issue… National security is important, of course, is hugely important. But that’s not what’s needed right now.”
“What’s needed is, is also a reversal of what Trump has done with Betsy DeVos or Scott Pruitt or any of these horrible people.”
“And I think it’s important for this country to see people of color, women, run — underrepresented groups come in and I think it’s an important idea because they bring a different perspective. They bring different ideas and also important to see that America truly is a diverse country.”
“There needs to be a reflection of what this country is. So yes, to answer your question, we need to focus — Democrats absolutely need to focus on, on social issues.”
Russia will be dealt with but we also need to confront the racism that is dividing this country:
“And look, the facts are going to come out about Russia. I hope they do. But there’s a lot more to this. Just like Russia, just like racism has been a thing, long before Trump. It pains me to say this, but Russia was a problem long before Trump too. And I think that in the same way we fail to confront racism, we failed to confront Russia. I very much believe that and I hope that that becomes part of the discussion.”
“I saw with my own two eyes and I was working for the FBI, that there’s just a priority that was not placed on counterintelligence, on the Russian threat writ large. So yes, there’s a lot of stuff to come out, but the Democrats, what people want is… they want the message of Barack Obama: Hope. And they want to see practical fixes, practical changes.”
Audio Clip 2:
“To me it’s frustrating that (education) comes down to wealth… And the problem is, and that’s one of the issues that Democratic candidates have to focus on, is that there’s such a disparity. It’s become so apparent in 2016, the haves and have nots. I think that what Americans are looking for, regardless of their race or gender or their political affiliations rather, is hope.”
“They want to feel that there’s the ability to move up. To have your kids do better than you. I think that that’s very much in question now. And you know, that’s really what Democrats should be running on.”
“I am no fan of Russia, I’m no fan of Republicans frankly, but there’s no evidence that the Russians changed the physical vote and I don’t think it’s a good move for the Democrats to make that a talking point.”
Naveed Jamali is right- our problems are deeper than the Russia conspiracy. It is, in fact, our willingness to let Russia divide us on cultural issues like racism that enabled their success, and racism is a tool wielded most effectively by the elite to the uneducated and angry who don’t realize that these same elites are the people causing the problems.
The message of hope is a winner. It will always be a winner. Hope is the opposite of anger and division.
We can be that nation again.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.