German MPs Discuss with Howard DeanAt a Lunch Discussion of the German Marshall Fund and Das Progressive Zentrum
German parliamentarians discussed transatlantic questions: What is the state of the Democratic Party almost one year after the presidential elections? How does the presidency of Donald Trump affect the transatlantic friendship? And what impact could the German federal elections have on Europe’s position vis-à-vis the US?
These and other questions were addressed by a multipartisan group of new and former parliamentarians of the German Bundestag. Visiting from the US, Howard Dean joined the round as a veteran politician who was elected five consecutive times Governor of Virginia between 1991 and 2003, formerly chaired the Democratic National Committee and ran as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election.
Among the participants were delegates of CDU, SPD, Grünen, FDP, and Die Linke as well as the coordinator of transatlantic cooperation of the German Federal Government. They followed a joint invitation by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) Berlin and Das Progressive Zentrum (DPZ). Sudha David-Wilp, GMF Berlin’s deputy director, and Simon Vaut, DPZ’s treasurer, welcomed the parliamentarians.
Populism, the future of the democratic party and campaigning
The attendees vividly discussed how to best deal with populism on both sides of the Atlantic and what this implies for the future work of the new Bundestag. Howard Dean explained that after the Trump-shock, Democrats are still in the process of reorientation and initiating generational change, for which he gave an outlook on promising young talents in the party.
The former Governor shared his optimistic view on the upcoming 2018 midterm elections: the Democratic Party would have a good chance of regaining a majority in the Senate, possibly even in the House of Representatives.
An essential factor in a successful strategy would be the mobilization of young people, who tend to favor personalities and specific themes over party commitments. Dean, a pioneer of digital political communication, advocated that the effective use of social media should be complemented with forms of personal voter engagement such as town hall meetings, phone calls or home visits.