As a 10 year old boy from Montana, Jim Messina dreamed of becoming the campaign manager for the President of the United States. In 2012, he made his dream come true when he led Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign. On Feb. 7, Messina shared his experiences working on Obama’s campaign with the students and community members of the University of Redlands . He spoke about the past election, and in turn, motivated students to take action and voice their political beliefs.
Messina opened with lighthearted memories from his time working with Obama. He shared that when Obama first called him he immediately hung up the phone thinking it was a prank call. The audience laughed at his embarrassing snafu. Messina made Obama out to be a very understanding, funny and charismatic leader. He shared with the audience that his favorite moment with Obama was when he looked him in the eye and very proudly announced that they had successfully passed the first ever universal health care bill. Messina was prideful of the passage of this bill. He also emphasized how Obama’s campaign built the biggest database in the history of American politics on every voter.
Messina transitioned from the past to the present by addressing the election of President Donald Trump. He disagreed with the media’s classification of his election as a rise of Populism. Instead, Messina argued that Trump practices nationalism as he focuses on and prioritizes America’s needs before every other country.
In an interview before his speech, Messina addressed the Trump phenomenon of heavily using social media in his presidential campaign. Trump has been curving traditional news media outlets and using personal social media accounts to get his message across to the people. Messina addressed the rising effect of social media on future campaigns:
“I think it has made the importance of social media very evident. Donald Trump was outspent both in the Republican primary and in the general election…yet he dominated social media and I think it will continue what Barack Obama started and make social media even more important,” Messina stated.
Messina noted that Trump received a lot of attention from the media and that one of Hillary’s downfall was focusing too much on Trump and not enough on her own message.
He stated, “Hillary needed to focus less on Trump and more on her economic message… You win a presidential election by defining the economic future.”
To conclude his speech, Messina advised audience members about how to act in this political climate. He stressed that everyone must spend the next four years resisting and encouraged audience members to become politically active in their community. He declared that we, those in attendance, are the most persuasive people in our friend group and need to voice our opinions.
Messina stated, “Decisions are being made about your future everyday and you need to engage.”
[photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog Photographer Ben Fortuin]