Paul Begala Says Democrats’ Problem ‘Is Not That They Have Bad Leaders. They Have Bad Followers’


Democratic strategist Paul Begala explained on CNN Monday that the reason why the party has come up short in passing voting rights is because it has “bad followers.”

Begala was reacting to a comment from Arndrea Waters King, the wife of Martin Luther King III, who is the son of Martin Luther King Jr.

“What we’ve seen with President Biden is what happens when he puts his full force and power behind an issue like infrastructure,” she told Politico. “What we want to see is that same power and passion being put behind voting rights,”

CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Begala to respond. “Do you think that’s fair criticism? Did President Biden put more effort into getting infrastructure passed, for example?”

Begala responded by saying that the problem isn’t the Democratic leadership. Instead, it’s the children who are wrong.

“Well, he got infrastructure passed and that’s a good thing because success can breed success,” Begala said. “He is putting the full force of the presidency behind it. I think the problem for the Democrats right now is not that they have bad leaders. They have bad followers, ok?”

The former aide to Bill Clinton recounted an essay he’d read by activist and former politician Andrew Young, who had detailed the hard work he and others put into mobilizing support for civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Begala recalled how Young explained that he and King met with President Lyndon Johnson and urged him to pass a voting rights bill. Johnson explained he had spent all of his political capital on passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King told Young that the way to get Johnson to move on voting rights was to “go get the president some power” by mobilizing people in churches, universities, labor unions, and other organizations, Begala said.

Speaking about the present day, Begala said, “Those of us who want to save voting rights – we need to get to work. I do think Biden is putting everything behind this, but he needs better followers. He needs all of us in the game as well.”

Watch above via CNN.

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under:

Mike is a Mediaite senior editor who covers the news in primetime.