Social issues still pervade America, Huffington says

Arianna Huffington, the media magnate and progressive leader, visited campus on Monday for an event with the Yale College Democrats.
Arianna Huffington, the media magnate and progressive leader, visited campus on Monday for an event with the Yale College Democrats. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post fame discussed the role progressivism should play in American politics Monday night.

The editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and co-founder of the content aggregating blog and news website spoke to roughly 80 students in the Branford common room about failures of the Obama administration and the upcoming presidential election. The talk was coordinated by the Yale College Democrats as their last event of the semester, and led as a question-and-answer session between Huffington and the attendees.

The United States has historically taken progressive stances on social issues, Huffington said, as it did in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, 1920 with the 19th Amendment and throughout the 1960s with civil rights legislation. During her talk, Huffington stressed the importance of America continuing to build on the legacy of progressivism in its political history.

“If you think of it, the whole of American history has been a move toward a more perfect union, and every step of that move has been a left wing step,” she said.

Famous for being a conservative commentator during the mid-1990s, Huffington adopted a more liberal perspective toward the end of that decade. Huffington said her views changed when she recognized that government needed to take a more active role in addressing social problems unresolved by the private sector.

Under the Obama administration, Huffington said key economic challenges such as unemployment have not been dealt with properly. Minority populations are also worse off now than they were when President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, she said.

Still, Huffington expressed confidence in Obama’s chances during the 2012 presidential election. His “biggest asset,” she said, will be the weakness of the field of Republican candidates opposing him. The Republican party today has demonstrated a disconnect between its policies and the issues that face America, she added.

Considering the country’s current lack of “upward mobility,” Huffington said Democrats need to clearly demonstrate their vision of how progressive politics can remedy this problem.

“We can deal with inequality if people can work hard and achieve better than their parents, but now we have 100 million people who are worse off than their parents were at their age,” Huffington said.

Marina Keegan ’12, President of the Yale College Democrats said Huffington has a unique perspective on this election as someone who used to hold more conservative views.

The Huffington Post brings in an estimated 54,000,000 unique visitors per month, making it the most popular blog on the Internet.

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