Acclaimed Journalist Eugene Robinson Examines Current Political Landscape


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson shares his thoughts on the 2016 presidential election.

On Thursday, March 3, the Colgate College Democrats hosted journalist Eugene Robinson, an award-winning columnist and political analyst. Robinson spoke to students, faculty and community members in Love Auditorium about the current national political climate and provided expert insight into the 2016 election. The event was followed by a dinner reception at Merrill House.

Eugene Robinson is an American newspaper columnist and the former Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post. His columns are syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group and he is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his commentary on Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Robinson appears frequently as a liberal political analyst on MSNBC cable-TV network’s programs such as Morning Joe, PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Ed Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

During the lecture, Robinson spoke about a wide range of topics, including his own perceptions of Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

“The column I just finished before coming here is about Trump and bigotry. The column says that I think that he plays with bigotry in really ugly and dangerous ways,” Robinson said.

Robinson pointed out the racial undertones of Donald Trump’s agenda.

“If you look at [Trump’s] ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, it harks back to a time when he would say this was a great nation, and many of us would notice it was a whiter nation,” Robinson said.

Robinson also discussed long-term implications of Trump’s traction during many Republican primaries.

“Most people think this is a watershed moment for the Republican party. If you think about it, the Republican party is at a really fascinating point. On some levels, it’s enormously successful; it controls both houses of Congress, it controls most state legislatures, most governorships, but it has lost the popular votes in five of the last six national elections,” Robinson said.

Robinson pointed to ideological divisions within the Republican party.

“The party is going to have to recalibrate what it believes in. There aren’t enough Republicans who believe in the old Republican orthodoxy anymore, and the establishment doesn’t want to reformulate the party’s central vision, but it’s going to have to if it wants to survive,” Robinson said.

In addition to commenting on the 2016 presidential race, Robinson provided insight into how Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has affected the American political landscape.

“Justice Scalia’s death heightened the stakes. It made everybody realize that a Supreme Court vacancy is not just a theoretical thing, but is a real thing … One of the first decisions [the next president] will make is to name a Supreme Court justice who will change the ideological balance of the court at a time when there are a lot of issues in place,” Robinson said.

 Sophomore Andrew DeFrank attended both the lecture and dinner reception with Robinson and appreciated Robinson’s focus on current political events.

 “Robinson gave a very good talk on the current political climate surrounding the presidential election,” DeFrank said. “It was an important event because he is a well-known and well-respected political journalist. His visit was relevant to providing a perspective and insight into how Donald Trump has risen to the top of the Republican field.”

Additionally, DeFrank found Robinson to be very responsive to student questions.

 “I was impressed with his engagement with the students at the dinner reception afterwards, and how he really listened to students and went off message in order to provide real answers,” DeFrank said.

Member of the College Democrats  senior Nicholas Friedman also spoke to Robinson’s political insights during both the talk and dinner.

“I enjoyed Eugene Robinson’s insights about the 2016 election, particularly the Trump phenomenon. I thought his visit was a success and the political discussions during the talk and dinner were engaging and informative,” Friedman said.