'Morning Joe' Hosts Decry Broken Party System at Town Hall

Joe and Mika
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host a town hall about politics and public service at the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Talk show hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski encouraged students to get involved in public service—and lobbed the occasional insult at President Donald Trump—at an Institute of Politics town hall Wednesday.

After an introduction from University President Drew G. Faust, Scarborough and Brzezinski—who are Visiting Fellows at the Institute of Politics this semester—fielded questions and comments from the audience on topics ranging from political rhetoric to healthcare and immigration. Most questions concerned the United States’ current political climate, which students widely characterized as divisive and uncertain.

Scarborough said he felt that many Americans lived in political bubbles and remain unexposed to opposing opinions. He said that young people interested in running for office should do so, adding that an increased level of public scrutiny against elected officials has likely turned many away from careers in politics.

“The quality of public servants across the country has dipped, it has declined, and it has because politics has become a blood sport,” he said. “If [military service members] can put up with what they put up with for this country, you can run for office and put up with a few nasty tweets and Russian Facebook posts.”

Brzezinski said she thinks an influx of young Democratic candidates can help the party regain popularity.

“I think that’s why [Democrats] failed actually, we lost our authentic voice,” Brzezinski added.

In an interview with The Crimson before the event, Scarborough and Brzezinski—who are engaged and host “Morning Joe” together on MSNBC—both said that they viewed America’s two-party system as outdated.

Scarborough said a broken party system enabled Trump’s win in 2016. He added that candidates like Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders had capitalized on a nationwide fatigue with the party system.

“I think political parties are creatures of a bygone era,” Scarborough said, “If we had healthy political parties right now, there would be an answer to Donald Trump. Donald Trump actually wouldn’t have happened. Donald Trump is the result of a sickness in American politics that I think has been fed by hyper-partisanship for the past 20 years.”

Scarborough and Brzezinski also praised efforts at Harvard to hear from controversial figures, referencing recent talks by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and controversial sociologist Charles A. Murray ’65 that drew peaceful protests.

“Harvard’s doing a great job right now of protecting people like Secretary DeVos...she came here and she was able to talk,” Scarborough said, “Charles Murray, this is a guy that has written things that many people have found very offensive… the next morning I saw him say ‘I cannot believe how open minded they were and how they treated me with respect.”

—Staff writer Lucas Ward can be reached at lucas.ward@thecrimson.com. Follow him on twitter at @LucaspfWard.

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