Yascha Mounk, “The People vs. Democracy” (w/ E.J. Dionne)

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I am very excited to welcome yasha monk
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and EJ Dionne back to politics and pros
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Yasha monk is here to talk about his new
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book the People vs democracy why our
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freedom is in danger and how to save it
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as the cold war drew to a close in 1989
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Francis Fukuyama’s the end of history
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posited that liberal democracy had won
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and would be the final ideological forum
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but almost 30 years later we see that
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this is not in fact the case
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drawing on recent examples from the US
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and Europe monk demonstrates how as
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liberalism and democracy come apart they
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tend towards extremes of either an
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illiberal democracy under the sway of
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populist demagogues or an undemocratic
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liberalism run by two technocratic
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elites Yasha Monk is the author of the
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age of responsibility and is a lecturer
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Harvard as well as a senior fellow in
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the political reform program at new
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America
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he is joined today in conversation by EJ
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Dionne
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a Washington Post columnist and
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co-author of one nation after Trump
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which we also have many copies of here
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at the store so Melissa please give a
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warm welcome to Yoshi McKinney javion
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Thank You Isaac I asked so I wouldn’t
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have to so that was very kind of him
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Thanks thank you all for coming and
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thanks to a lot of old friends I see
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here today I just want to say politics
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and prose arranges some of the very best
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conversations on the crisis facing
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democracy and on public problems
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generally and I think if we could locate
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a politics in Pro and pros in every
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community in the United States and
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across the democracies we wouldn’t have
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a yahoo in the pad to write this book
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I’m also really happy to be here because
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like many of you I have become a Yasha
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fan over the last several years I admire
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his sharp mind and warm heart and both
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of them are
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and he comes at his concern for a
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liberal democracy and his commitment to
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a greater degree of social justice from
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both personal experience and deep and
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serious philosophical reflection that
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earlier book is is really good too if
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they have it around here today he’ll
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sign them both I am sure if you care to
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buy one I just what I want to do what
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we’re going to do today is have a
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conversation up here he and I have been
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talking about this book for a while
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indeed he was kind enough to visit with
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my students up at Harvard where I taught
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last semester and gave them an advance
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look at some of the chapters of the book
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and we had a wonderful conversation
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there and he and I have had friendly
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discussions including a couple of
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arguments that I want to service here
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friend very friendly arguments won over
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populism and the other over the role of
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young people in the future and so we’re
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going to talk about that but first I
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want y’all should I have a chance to
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introduce the book I am going to read
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every author should have a paragraph
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like this in the book that very neatly
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summarizes the core argument in this
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case of the first half of what the
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problems are so I’m going to read this
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and then I’m going to ask Yasha to tell
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you a bit about himself because as I say
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his commitment on these issues comes
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from his own background he became an
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American citizen last year correct we
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should welcome Yasha with a round of
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applause and we are very lucky to have
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him and I want him to talk about sort of
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his background a bit and how he came to
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write this book then we will get to some
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of the issues but first my dramatic
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reading once upon a time liberal
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democracies could assure their citizens
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of a very rapid increase in their living
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standards now they no longer can
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once-upon-a-time political elites
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control the most important means of
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communication and could effectively
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exclude radical views from the public
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sphere
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now political Outsiders can spread lies
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and hatred with abandon and once upon a
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time the homogeneity of their citizens
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or at least a see for a shil hierarchy
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was a big part
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of what held liberal democracies
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together now citizens have to learn how
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to live in a much more equal and diverse
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democracy
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welcome Yasha and please tell folks a
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bit about yourself and how you came to
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write this book like at what moment
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after how many hours after either breaks
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it or Trump’s election did you decide
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well well I think what sort of
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interesting surprising is what I started
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to write this book before I’ve a brexit
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Oh Trump happened um other people
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weren’t so interested in me writing the
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book at the time because they kind of
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thought I was a little bit of a weird
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crank when I started to to argue three
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four years ago
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there’s real warning sign for our
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democracies not assume United States but
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in big parts of Europe as well
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people always accuse me of being a
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Cassandra um and I wanted to respond to
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I didn’t because I realized oh just give
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me you know dig me even deep into the
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hole Cassandra was right damn it that’s
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the whole point of Cassandra that’s his
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next book that’s my Cassandra was right
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dammit exclamation mark there uh you
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know I mean why is it that our sort of
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more life to those dangers then when
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some other people I think a mix of a
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personal story and some academic
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interest of mine I mean so you know
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personally my family has had a bad habit
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of being in the wrong place at the wrong
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time for these free generations so I’ve
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seen you know and my great grandparents
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my grandparents my parents how you know
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the political situation ended up being
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quite differently from what they
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expected and how they affect that
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affected their own lives so I think you
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know to me the idea that political
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systems can turn and then that can have
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quite tragic consequences in a very
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personal way is is concrete rather than
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abstract and that I think probably
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anticipating a little bit what part of
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our conversation might be later
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separates me from many other people my
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generation who grew up in United States
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or other people who grew up in big parts
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of Europe the other thing is where as an
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academic I started to think about how
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people actually feel about our political
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system now what people have known for a
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long time is that approval ratings for
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Congress and for particular politicians
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keep getting lower that participation
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and former politics gets lower and also
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some united states but also in Europe
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that people the approval ratings for for
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Congress of Supreme Court for presidency
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have been sinking but forty years ago
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people trusted politicians and now we
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don’t anymore and majority so that was
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all clear it with a colleague of mine of
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metaphor we started to look at how do
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people actually feel about a political
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system itself so do they say it’s
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important to him to live in a democracy
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are they open to a foreign alternatives
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to democracy and we started to see that
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those attitudes had started to shift as
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well but actually fewer young people now
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say it’s really important to him to live
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in a democracy but the number of people
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who say I want a strongman leader who
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doesn’t have to bubble of parliament or
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elections or even I think army rule is a
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good system of government has gone up
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significant and so you know when we saw
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that a few years before Trump was
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elected we really started to worry about
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what’s going on when you look back at
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we’re opinion was in a lot of the West
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after the fall of the Berlin Wall and
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loose in his wonderful book has a
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wonderful description of journeying to
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the wall very excited with a bunch of
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students and there was a feeling that
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aha liberal democracy has finally
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triumphed a lot of these problems have
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disappeared and there is nothing but
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success on the horizon what happened
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what happened and why were these
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predictions so wall what were people
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missing in 1989 or did developments
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afterward change yeah so the obvious way
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to frame this is around Francis
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Fukuyama’s argument the end of history
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which said that for the first time in
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living memory there was no real
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ideological competitor to liberal
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democracy in the 19th century that been
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absolute monarchy but some degree be in
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favor Christie but 20th century was
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fascism and communism all of those had
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failed and in 1989 though Fukuyama have
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a claim for democracy was everywhere
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that there would no longer be any
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historical event so it’s a miss reading
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what he was saying he said
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yes sir he was saying look there’s no
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real system that people would rather
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live in people are deeply committed to
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liberal democracy of the system and so
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we don’t really have to worry about its
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persistence now even some people who are
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skeptical of Fukuyama actually bought
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that cool faeces for big parts of North
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America and Western Europe so political
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scientists who would you know were very
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empirical and counting you know numbers
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and playing around and Stata and are
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they
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they might afford over the end of
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history you know what a silly phrase but
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they actually had the same belief so
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there’s a famous article by someone
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called Adam Przewalski’s in the 90s who
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said look at all of the democracies that
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have over 15,000 dollars GDP per capita
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but have had at least two changes of
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government for free and fair elections
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well you know what all of those places
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are safe you no longer have to worry
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about the persistence of a democratic
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system in those countries
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and those reliant on the assumption that
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democracy had become consolidated which
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is a phrase in literature which would
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mean when was the only game in town and
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that’s precisely what we set out to test
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and what we described what I described
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with some degree in this book which is
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is it still true but everybody gives us
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importance to democracy is it still true
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that people reject versus alternatives
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to moxie out of hand and most
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importantly are there any politicians
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and political movements that will
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actually have real power in the system
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and reject the most basic rules and
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norms of liberal
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office for a long time that’s no longer
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the case that populace had been rising
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not just here and there and American
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primaries where they sort of shut up for
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a little moment and when crashed again I
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think of all of the extreme candidates
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but briefly led the pack and Republican
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primary fields not just in 2016 but in
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2012 and 2008 and so on so forth but you
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also saw a very steady rise of populism
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in Europe for a long time in a paper
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with some news here today Martin Hammond
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we show that the share of populist
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parties in Europe has increased from
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about 8 percent in mere 2000 to 25
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percent more reason and so the whole
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world on which we based the conviction
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but we don’t have to worry about
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democracy anymore after 1989 went far
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beyond and I think it’s now been
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challenged in ways would go far beyond
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Donald Trump but a few weeks back a
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Brahmin and was here to talk about his
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book to fight against the age he thinks
it’s actually important that we call
this new right-wing nationalism by its
name and he believes that aim is fascism
do you agree with that or or not and how
do you analyze what is the nature of
this ideology
I disagree for up on this and and
there’s a number of reasons for that
I’m the first is that
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it’s really easy to think of the
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collapse of democracy as requiring
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something like what happened in Germany
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in the nineteen thirties
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right so we’re only going to lose
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democracy if lots of people give a
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Hitler salute you know by riebeck ugly
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black boots and ran from the center of
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town of tortures right and some of that
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happens some of that exists and when you
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look at Charlottesville there’s
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obviously people who quite openly are
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fascists in our country today but you
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know what despite all of horribleness of
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what happened in Charlottesville that
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was the only danger we faced I wouldn’t
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be too concerned I wouldn’t be writing
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this me what you see fo in countries
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from Russia to to Turkey and countries
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today like Poland and Hungary is there
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as many other ways in which democracy
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can come under real attack and those are
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a lot much more subtle it’s not people
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who say I’m a fascist I want to get rid
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of democracy it’s people who say you
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know what you’ve been disempowered
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people have taken a real power away from
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you and I’m the only real Democrat I
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alone actually represent the people
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I am your voice as Donald Trump said in
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the Republican National Convention so
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give me your votes what I can return
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power to the people and that I think is
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the real danger to democracy at the
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moment so calling that fascist is makes
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us lazy because we think well there’s
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nobody in in black boots and torches in
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the streets so why should we worry and I
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think it makes it more difficult for us
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to understand the specific nature of
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populism now here we have a disagreement
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as perhaps some of you saw so AJ is
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excellent column and Washington Post I’m
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about a week ago in which he basically
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says there’s good forms of populism
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now you know the word populism is a
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little confusing um and and you know
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there are some people who have
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historically been quote populist who has
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sometimes called populist now who I
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think can contribute a certain
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corrective to the system but the way
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that I describe populism in this book
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and the way that I can make sense of it
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I don’t think there is such a good
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fingers good and the reason the
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following word is a populist at heart
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it’s not somebody who says the certain
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things wrong with our politicians and
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some of them are corrupt and some of my
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self-serving and it’s really important
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that we win in order to make through
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that’s a normal part of Porter’s those
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Barack Obama as much as anybody else
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right talk about a rigged system and so
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on there’s nothing dangerous about that
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but what populist s– have uniquely is
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that they say only I truly represent the
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people the only reason why we have any
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real political problems at the moment is
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the politicians are corrupt and
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self-serving and I can fix all of that
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because I stand for ordinary people I
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manage to channel their wisdom and their
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views and this means with anybody who
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opposes me who disagrees with me is by
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definition illegitimate so give me all
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of the power and if the courts are going
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to stand up to that because what I’m
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doing is unconstitutional then they are
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being an American
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right if the media is criticizing me
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then they’re enemies of the people if
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your position is trying to use its
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institutional prerogatives to limit how
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much I can do then they are traitors and
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this is true of populist in different
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countries and of different stripes
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Donald Trump and recive erawan and
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Google Shabbos don’t have much in common
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for example Donald Trump doesn’t seem to
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be overly fond of Muslims whereas
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receipe Erawan doesn’t seem to be overly
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fond of anybody who’s not a Muslim but
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they share this trait they share the
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trait of saying the only reasons why we
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have political problems as bad feelings
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are corrupt
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I represent ordinary people and I can
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solve it but to do that you have to give
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me all of the power because anybody who
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disagrees with me is a traitor is
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legitimate and that kind of populism
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will always be a danger to the basic
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principles of democracy and that’s why I
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think is always going to be dangerous I
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don’t want to pursue this too far
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because I want yeah should I have a
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chance to present the rest of his book
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but just for fun I want to just take
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this one one time which is in a way is
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your argument about populism in
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contradiction to the argument about
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fascism because what Rob’s argument is
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is you don’t have to wear Jack boots are
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seeing the horse vessel song to be a
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fascist and that in fact the danger may
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be hidden from us because people are
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doing it in the name of democracy and
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after all the word VOC that Hitler
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invoked was the people and so there is
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so I just want to pursue that and then
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on the populist side I I would basically
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assert and we that this why we probably
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shouldn’t go too long on this populism
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is an essentially contested concept and
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I think that there are those who see
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populist more in ameri in the terms of
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our old American populist movement which
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was largely a democratizing movement and
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I think there’s actually a difference
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across the oceans on this as well which
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is I think Europeans because of the
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nature of the right-wing populism you
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face are more likely to see populism as
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anti-democratic so just take that and
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then I want to just pursue a couple
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arguments in the book and I want to let
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this learn an audience participate as
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well
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so look like certainly certain
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similarities between some forms of
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populism in some forms of fascism but
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but very essential differences as well
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one of them is how openly hostile
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fascism is to democracy which yes the
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fact but I agree the problems covertly
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hostile to to democracy but but fascism
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has always been openly hostile and
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that’s an important thing to understand
17:30
and so if we think is vis like fascism
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we’re gonna say well Donald Trump is not
17:34
overtly hostile to democracy so why does
17:37
anybody worry we all Toronto firms as
17:39
some people have charge right and that’s
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that’s a real mistake that really makes
17:42
it more difficult for us to understand
17:43
there’s also crucial difference in the
17:45
kind of forms of political regime that
17:48
those countries tend to Institute so
17:51
there was an important distinction
17:52
between dictatorships and totalitarian
17:57
regimes right most fascist systems tend
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to be totalitarian regimes which is to
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say that every sphere of politics on
18:06
society becomes deeply imbued with
18:10
ideological fervor you cannot have a
18:13
chess club that isn’t organized along
18:16
fascist lines right and that is the same
18:18
in communist um now I think populist
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don’t tend to erect regimes like that
18:23
when you think of Turkey when you think
18:25
of Russia there are places where as long
18:28
as you don’t criticize the government as
18:30
long as you don’t pose a threat to the
18:33
dictator you get to do whatever you want
18:35
and so again I think populism and
18:37
fascism actually erect systems that are
18:40
very different as well
18:41
now look I agree with you this concept
18:43
of essentially contests that is
18:45
important right there’s no one natural
18:47
way of defining democracy there’s no one
18:49
natural way of defining populism in a
18:52
way it is a question of which definition
18:55
allows us to understand what’s going on
18:58
in the world the best at the moment and
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what I would say is that for I
19:03
understand was different kinds of
19:04
movement called populist in American
19:06
history I don’t think that that is very
19:09
useful as a term at the moment because
19:11
what we need to understand is why is all
19:13
of this stuff happening around the world
19:15
why do you see erawan and Turkey why do
19:17
you see Victor Arbonne in Hungary why do
19:19
you see marine lepen in France why do
19:21
you see Donald Trump in the United
19:22
States all of the same
19:23
and the best way of making sense of that
19:26
I think is to use my understanding and
19:28
be understanding some of the economic
19:29
literature on populism because that
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precisely brings out with very important
19:34
commonalities between people who also
19:36
have some important differences to each
19:37
other let’s go through some of the core
19:41
arguments of the book you talk and and
19:44
let’s sort of start with economics
19:48
versus immigration and we’ve talked
19:50
about this before one of the hardest
19:51
things I think to sort through is
19:54
whether this surge was caused by a
19:57
globalized economy economic distress the
20:01
decline of upward mobility particularly
20:03
here in the US or whether the driving
20:07
force even more than economics was a
20:10
fear of widespread immigration of
20:12
backlash against widespread immigration
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on the side of the immigration the
20:17
primacy of immigration would be the idea
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that some of these movements have shown
20:22
up in places like the Netherlands which
20:25
have fairly well distributed economic
20:27
growth relative to other countries but
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I’d like you to sort of parse economics
20:35
versus immigration and maybe give people
20:38
a sense of some of what you talk about
20:40
as solutions to these dilemmas so first
20:44
of all in trying to understand why is
20:46
all of this happening at the moment I
20:48
took inspiration from a story that at
20:50
first has nothing to do with populism or
20:52
Donald Trump so it’s a nice little
20:53
respite told by Bertrand Russell he said
20:57
well once upon a time there was a
21:00
chicken on a farm and it led a very nice
21:03
life it was a kind of chicken we’d all
21:04
like to eat for dinner which is to say
21:06
that you know it’s got to run around
21:07
freely and do whatever it wanted um and
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and but all the other animals on the
21:14
farm kept warning it and said be careful
21:16
one day the farmer is gonna come and
21:20
kill you I’m a chicken said what are you
21:22
talking about that farmers be nice to me
21:24
all of my life he’s always fed me and
21:27
muttered some encouraging words
21:28
why would things suddenly be so
21:30
different well Russell and his nice wit
21:33
says that eventually of course but
21:35
chicken
21:36
did learn but he was wrong the the
21:38
farmer came to ring with chicken snack
21:41
showing that more sophisticated views as
21:44
the uniformity of causation would have
21:45
been to a chicken’s benefit what does he
21:48
mean by that right while the most
21:50
sophisticated views of uniformity of
21:52
causation what what he meant is quite
21:53
simple that scope conditions on how the
21:55
social world works right as long as the
21:58
chicken was too thin to be taken to a
21:59
market the farmer had an incentive to
22:01
keep feeding it once it was big enough
22:03
to fetch a decent price how he behaved
22:07
was going to change now why is it that
22:10
liberal democracy has been incredibly
22:11
stable around the world for the last 50
22:13
or 60 years and now we start to see it
22:15
seemingly being less and less stable
22:17
well let’s look at the scope conditions
22:19
what was truthful is past 50 60 years
22:22
there is no longer true and it seems to
22:24
me would best three big things there and
22:26
we’re sometimes put in competition with
22:27
each other but all of the interesting
22:29
phenomena in human history have always
22:31
had more than one cause the world is not
22:33
mono causal right so the first is living
22:38
standards in the United States from 1945
22:40
to 1960 the living standards of the
22:43
average American doubled from 1960 to
22:46
1985 we doubled again since 1985 they’ve
22:50
been stagnant now that makes a real
22:53
difference about how people perceive
22:55
politics they used to say well you know
22:58
what um I don’t love politicians you
23:01
know his belt with his Washington DC
23:03
stuff you know it’s a little weird but
23:05
in the end they seem to be delivering
23:07
for me right they seem to be sticking to
23:09
their end of a deal so let’s give him
23:11
the benefit of a doubt now people are
23:14
saying I’m allowed to swear in this
23:17
bookstore yeah that’s where one since he
23:19
was a shot off my microphone um now
23:21
people are saying you know what I’ve
23:23
worked really hard all of my life I
23:24
don’t have much to show for it I think
23:26
my kids are gonna be worse off than me
23:27
let’s throw some against who won’t
23:29
see what sticks how bad can things get
23:30
how mile that is I know our country if
23:36
it weren’t for Trump would have gotten a
23:38
better reaction and now look the
23:41
counter-argument against this and this
23:43
has been reserved researched a lot in
23:45
the in the media and so on is to say oh
23:48
but it’s not necessarily true
23:50
people who voted for their own Trump
23:52
were much poorer than those who voted
23:53
for Hillary Clinton grant it but it’s a
23:56
little bit more complicated than that
23:58
that’s it’s really bad test of whether
24:00
the economic causes matter what’s
24:02
interesting is that not just in the
24:03
United States but in many parts in many
24:06
countries publicity doing very well
24:07
around the world you see a very clear
24:09
distinction between urban and
24:13
economically dynamic parts of a country
24:16
and others so in the United States
24:18
Donald Trump won over two-thirds of
24:20
American counties but something like
24:22
one-third of America’s GDP he did much
24:25
better in parts of a country where
24:28
there’s very little recent investment
24:29
where people are less educated even
24:32
where the share of jobs were the subject
24:34
to automation in the coming decades is
24:37
much higher because people there realize
24:40
I might still be doing fine but I have a
24:43
lot to fear from the future now my
24:47
second course has to do with with
24:50
culture and ethnicity and immigration
24:51
this is really stark in Europe where
24:54
most countries became stable democracies
24:57
at a time when there were more
24:59
homogeneous than it previous parts of
25:03
the history because of a tragic effects
25:04
of World War two and in which they had a
25:08
clear mono-ethnic monocultural
25:10
conception of who Rudy blocks when you
25:12
asked a German where I grew up an
25:15
Italian and a Swede in 1960 hue really
25:19
belongs to the country it would have
25:20
been obvious that it’s somebody who’s
25:21
descended genetically from the same set
25:24
of people but it certainly isn’t
25:25
somebody who’s brown or black somebody
25:27
who’s Muslim or Hindu now thankfully
25:30
that started to change over the last 50
25:32
or 60 years there has been a lot of
25:34
immigration and people have actually
25:36
started to adapt more liberal and
25:38
understandings of citizenship and of
25:40
belonging there’s also a strong reaction
25:43
against that and for either and for
25:45
Mirman condone that reaction and none of
25:48
us should I think is actually easy to
25:50
understand why that would be the case if
25:52
you say hey I may not be the richest guy
25:56
I may not have the best education you
25:58
know I may not have a most social
26:01
respect but at least I’m better than red
26:03
immigrant over there
26:04
right at least I have a high social
26:05
status with that well it now thankfully
26:07
has politicians who are immigrants or
26:10
children of immigrants you might go to
26:11
your to your work and your boss might be
26:14
an immigrant well the fact that some
26:16
people feel like they’ve lost something
26:18
there that some social standing has been
26:20
taken away actually isn’t too surprising
26:23
now the United States is both similar
26:25
and different it’s different because
26:27
we’ve always been a multi-ethnic society
26:29
there’s always been many different
26:30
ethnicities living here but it’s similar
26:33
in rep has always been a very strict
26:35
racial hierarchy which gave one set of
26:37
people big advantages and privileges
26:39
over others now again I think we would
26:41
do well to remember though we’ve
26:43
actually come a very long way in
26:44
overcoming that despite the obvious
26:47
ongoing injustice in our country it is a
26:50
much better place for minorities to live
26:52
than 20 or 40 or 60 years ago and a lot
26:56
of people have started to embrace the
26:59
idea of an equal multi-ethnic Society
27:01
but again there’s a lot of people have
27:03
something to lose from that and who are
27:04
rebelling against bet again I don’t
27:06
condone that but it shouldn’t surprise
27:07
us that that is going on alright so if
27:11
you have the anger and the basic
27:16
distrust of our politics because people
27:18
are feeling like my life is not getting
27:20
any better I’m afraid of a future
27:22
economically if that often takes a
27:24
cultural form of a backlash against
27:26
immigration a backlash against racial
27:27
equality when you add the third
27:30
ingredient social media
27:32
which makes it so much easier for people
27:35
to challenge a media consensus to
27:39
challenge the gatekeepers who used to
27:42
say what can be a part of our political
27:44
discourse and what can’t now
27:47
in some ways that’s a good thing it’s a
27:49
good thing in dictatorships because we
27:50
Democratic opposition now has a much
27:52
easier time telling a telling a
27:57
population with truth about corruption
27:59
about repression and so on it can be a
28:02
good thing in our country as well if you
28:04
think about we meet the V men’s platform
28:06
that the students at Parkland High in
28:09
Florida immediately gained after the
28:11
horrible mass shooting there and their
28:13
ability to make her voice is hurt and
28:15
engage engage the public in a push for
28:17
change on gun control but at the same
28:21
time it also obviously makes it easier
28:22
for hateful voices for people who want
28:25
to spread fake news safety here next to
28:27
common pizza that’s an obvious thing to
28:29
think about and for people who want to
28:32
organize radical political movements to
28:37
actually have a big voice in our
28:39
politics so to me it’s these free causes
28:41
coming together but help to explain not
28:45
to the rise of Donald Trump and the rise
28:46
of similar for Italian populist in so
28:48
many different parts of the world
28:50
how do people want to defend liberal
28:54
democracy not end up looking to lots of
28:58
others like they are simply defending an
29:01
establishment in the status quo and I
29:04
thought about this a lot during the say
29:07
German elections where I’m my politics
29:11
our Social Democratic but I kind of
29:13
found myself wanting Merkel to do
29:15
reasonably well I didn’t want her to
29:17
fall and in a sense there could be
29:19
nothing more status quo then rooting for
29:22
Merkel in Germany and that I think that
29:26
there’s a real danger here that those of
29:31
us who want to push back against the
29:34
dangers of democracy end up looking like
29:37
protectors of the establishment and the
29:39
ruling class how do you respond to that
29:42
what’s your sort of strategy and
29:44
approach on that today I absolutely
29:47
agree missus this is crucial so a 2016
29:50
election in my mind the United States
29:52
was a contest between a moderate
29:55
politics of a status quo and an Axman
29:57
politics of change well it turns out
30:00
that when those are the rules of
30:01
engagement the extremist parties of
30:03
change can win not necessarily because
30:06
most Americans are extremists
30:10
because they really won some promise of
30:13
a country that changes that actually
30:15
delivers more for them and so what we
30:18
need to do among people who are more
30:21
politically moderate is to offer the
30:24
vision of the real politics of change to
30:27
show how without embracing a populist
30:29
mind frame how without sacrificing the
30:33
rights of minorities sacrificing
30:34
varieties of immigrants and so on we can
30:36
actually promise people a real vision of
30:39
of a better society and to me the great
30:42
failings of Angela Merkel and the grand
30:45
coalition that is now in power again in
30:46
Germany is that they’re not using the
30:49
big parliamentary majority they had and
30:51
still to some degree have in order to do
30:54
that but they aren’t actually saying hey
30:56
we are in favor of globalization and
30:59
free trade and all of those good things
31:02
but we’re really going to fight to make
31:04
sure that rich individuals actually pay
31:06
the tax in Germany or the United States
31:07
but corporations actually pay a fair
31:10
amount of tax in these countries that we
31:14
make it much easier for productivity to
31:18
grow in our countries because that’s one
31:20
of the main drivers of middle-class
31:22
incomes by investing a ton more money in
31:25
education that we are actually making
31:30
sure that people don’t have to keep
31:34
spending more and more money on the most
31:36
essential goods from housing to
31:39
education to health care now in all of
31:41
these countries visa huge problems and
31:43
the establishment parties aren’t
31:45
actually fighting for that we’re not
31:47
actually saying here are some ways to
31:50
radically change the way we run things
31:53
the way that we have public policy in
31:55
order to ensure that we have a better
31:58
distribution of against from
32:00
globalization and by the way much more
32:02
productivity growth much more growth in
32:04
incomes as well without thereby you know
32:08
giving in to the puppets all of these
32:09
things are possible those ideas out some
32:12
of them and even particularly
32:14
far-fetched employing four or five times
32:17
more people at vis to look after people
32:20
who are hiding the money in tax havens
32:22
is a no-brainer
32:23
it’s really easy to do and it pays for
32:25
itself tenfold so why aren’t we doing it
32:29
if I would suspect if Hillary Clinton
32:32
were here or Martin Schultz of the SPD
32:34
were here they would both say that’s
32:37
pretty much what we were suggesting in
32:39
the campaign and yet no one noticed that
32:41
that’s what we were suggesting is that
32:43
would they be right or wrong or half
32:45
right they’d be half right at best so
32:48
when you look at the advert compaines I
32:50
don’t think but they have a radical
32:52
measures on on any of those things but
32:55
it’s also a matter of how you actually
32:57
talk about those things and salvers so I
think one of the failings to me over
Hillary Clinton campaign was that it
never actually set out a vision for
America it basically said he is a good
fix on this and he’s a good fix on this
and he has a good fix on this and he is
something that I’m giving this could be
something that I’m giving that group
it’s not saying here are the ways in
which we’re going to make America work
for everybody and make it fair to
everybody and hear the ways in which yes
some things are working but there’s also
lots of things but really aren’t working
instead the message was you know America
is already great I’m gonna disguise the
fact that I have two questions to ask by
turning my two questions into one
question with us with the semicolon and
then if people want to start lining up
please feel free I’d like you to talk
about young people because you
especially if you look at the United
States and you acknowledge this in the
33:53
focus especially if you look at the
33:54
United States Americans under 30 or
33:57
Americans under 45 really promise to be
34:00
the drivers for change in a I think
34:04
positive direction in our country I’ve
34:07
told my kids that when my generation is
34:09
gone you guys will make things fine
34:12
except I want to be around to see it so
34:14
there’s a kind of contradiction there
34:17
the and and yet you have some more more
34:21
worries about young people more in
34:22
Europe than here so I’d like you I’d
34:26
like you to talk about that and then
34:29
secondly I would like you to talk about
34:33
sort of in in hopeful terms do you
at the response to what you write about
in the book in Europe or in the United
States and see anything coming together
that might actually be successful in
pushing back against the war on liberal
democracy or are you still more in Akos
and/or a mood so so starting with with
young people I mean I think so so look
but the thing is are quite stark right I
mean I’ve alluded into a couple of times
may as well say my loud so you know you
ask people how important is it to you to
live in a democracy among older
Americans born in 1930s 1940s over
two-thirds say absolutely important
among Millennials born since 1980 less
than one-third – when you ask people
about whether they think army rule is a
good system of government and a lot of
these figures are in the book twenty
years ago one in 16 Americans said
that’s a good system of government now
one in sixty and among young at a fluent
Americans is actually going up from six
to 35 percent nearly a six-fold increase
the counter argument against this for
pushback when I get is oh but all of the
people who voted for Donald Trump were
old people so of a political
manifestation of this actually is is
much more hmong older people and younger
people now the first answer to that is
what I’m hearing here from the left
which is not true right actually there
was a lot of young people who did vote
for Donald Trump among white people
under the age of 30
48 percent voted for Donald Trump and 43
percent for Hillary Clinton which is
which is a very worrying thing the
second thing I would say is that Donald
Trump didn’t really try to appeal to
young people right I’m he’s himself a
very you know an old guy and that’s just
not what his campaign was was designed
to do now you could easily get forms of
a proton populism where they’re on the
right where there’s clearly a quite
vibrant young or dried scene and so on
or for that matter on on on the left the
does try to tap into the deep systemic
discontent with democracy
that you see among a lot of young P and
the third point is well go and look at
Europe and you see with young people are
some of the strongest supporters of
populist movements on both the left and
the right in the French presidential
elections in the first round over 50% of
young people over 50 percent of young
people voted for Ivor marine lepen the
far-right populist all jean-luc
mélenchon the far left populist in Italy
37:18
you see that not only did nearly 2/3 of
37:22
your overall Italian electorate go for
37:24
iowa’s Silvio Berlusconi over far-right
37:26
league or the the five star movement
37:30
which has strong connections to Russia
37:32
and has run by people who believe in
37:34
9/11 was an inside job but the only
37:36
demographic among which there was less
37:39
vacays was the oldest people among young
37:41
people something like 80% verge for his
37:43
parties so so absolutely this fred is
37:46
among young people as well as all of you
37:49
now to a second question of how well are
37:51
we standing up against this I think
37:56
that’s roughly three scenarios for
37:57
what’s going to happen in the next years
37:59
the United States the first is that
38:03
Donald Trump does such a terrible job
38:06
and ends up being repudiated so broadly
38:11
losses so disastrously in the midterms
38:13
you know wins one and a half states in
38:16
2020 there’s a real moment of coming
38:20
together and a real recognition of how
38:22
dangerous it is for people to to flower
38:26
most basic rules of our political system
38:27
and not as a recognition that this
38:29
particular guy failed but that similar
38:32
kinds of movements are all dangerous
38:34
nothing that’s possible but I I’m not
38:37
holding my breath foot
38:39
the second scenario is V inverse it is
38:43
that like Edwin has done in Turkey like
38:47
Auburn is succeeding in doing and hungry
38:49
like it looks like the Polish government
38:51
may be succeeding and doing in Poland
38:54
Donald Trump actually manages to expand
38:56
his base to deliver for some of his core
38:58
constituency to undermine independence
39:03
titude sly for the pattern of justice
39:05
and and the FBI to corrupt the process
39:10
of elections more and more and that he
39:12
essentially becomes a form of dictator
39:15
of a course over the next six or eight
39:16
years now again I think that’s possible
39:20
but in part because Donald Trump has
39:23
actually been very incompetent at
39:24
following the PlayBook of a vote for a
39:27
town leaders around the world in part
39:29
because he hasn’t been very good to
39:30
delivering for his base in part because
39:32
he’s not very strategic in his attacks
39:34
on institutions but it’s always obvious
39:35
but it’s naked self-interest in part
39:38
because even his rhetoric always seems
39:40
to be a little bit more about himself
39:41
and about setting up that essential
39:44
contra contours putting himself and the
39:47
people and so on I’m hopeful that’s not
39:50
going to happen and in part because
39:51
where’s the great resistance movements
39:52
of Americans actually heating and taking
39:55
seriously those people who are once
39:57
called casandra’s and going out to to
40:00
resist Donald Trump and all kinds of
40:02
concrete ways my big fear now when I
40:04
talk about this in the book is the third
40:07
scenario what I would call the Roman
40:09
scenario but which I had in mind the
40:11
late Roman Republic but given the
40:14
elections a week ago I guess I’m a owes
40:16
to be talking about Rome today which is
40:18
that you have a populist figure like the
40:22
kuraki in Rome were like Sabha
40:23
Berlusconi in Italy for that matter that
40:26
exploits deep discontent of a political
40:28
system and comes to a political stage
40:31
crew creates a huge constitutional
40:33
crisis and after a bunch of years is
40:36
thrown out of a system again Chimaera’s
40:38
Krakow’s was killed Silvio Berlusconi
40:41
ended up resigning in disgrace in 2011
40:46
but because the underlying reasons for
40:49
this discontent aren’t being tackled
40:51
because we’re not doing a good enough
40:52
job of making sure that ordinary people
40:54
actually get an improvement of a living
40:56
status because we’re not creating an
40:57
inclusive patriotism but emphasizes what
40:59
unites us across racial and religious
41:02
lines rather than what what divides us
41:04
um you you have this similar kind of
41:07
energy coming back six years later like
41:11
now in Italy ten years later has
41:13
happened with with Jewish crocuses
41:16
younger brother and so over the course
41:18
of perhaps 20 perhaps 40 perhaps 60
41:21
years you slowly get such an erosion of
41:25
a political system that you wind up that
41:28
to me is the biggest fear that this is
41:30
not a matter of dealing with it in 2020
41:32
of dealing with in 2018 it’s something
41:35
that we’re gonna be fighting not just
41:36
for the rest of your lifetime each day
41:38
but for the rest of the lifetime of a
41:40
few young people in this crowd as well
41:41
[Laughter]
41:52
but we go but that doesn’t mean you can
41:54
look it up on Google and not buy the
41:55
book
41:58
can you introduce yourselves when you
41:59
ask a question is the mic working yes
42:02
okay yes I’m Jeremiah reamer this is not
42:06
a plan DJ asked me to ask a provocative
42:09
question earlier but but I just thought
42:11
it up my my question has to do with you
42:16
have a a term I’m not completely
42:19
satisfied with to talk about the the
42:23
opposite of the Democratic populist you
42:27
call them I think is it undemocratic
42:29
liberals and I guess my question goes to
42:32
whether they’re really undemocratic or
42:35
incapable of making a democratic
42:37
connection because I actually think a
42:38
lot of these people want to be
42:40
democratic but they’re unable to make a
42:43
kind of a connection to electoral
42:45
politics and to the kind of successful
42:48
model where they we’re sort of their
42:53
expertise their professional knowledge
42:56
was consulted and valued and
42:59
big tent party political leaders were
43:01
able to use that but I think they want
43:04
to be democratic you know there’s a
43:07
tendency to view technocrats is just bad
43:09
but I think there are good Technic rats
43:11
and bad techno I think Mario Draghi is
43:13
kind of a good technocratic along with
43:15
Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke they did
43:17
some good things so my question to you
43:20
is and by the way this is related to
43:23
another observation I made about the
43:25
Trump reaction to Trump among the most
43:28
aggrieved people about the Trump
43:30
election are people who are professional
43:34
civil servants who feel they have
43:36
professional expertise it’s not just the
43:37
fact that they’re cosmopolitan hipsters
43:39
living in by coastal cities they also
43:41
feel their professional knowledge useful
43:44
for government is being completely
43:46
ignored how can those people how do you
43:49
think the good technic ratso to speak if
43:51
you agree with my my term can can remake
43:55
a connection I mean obviously yeah yeah
43:58
so yeah go ahead yes 14 being so I think
44:08
the short answer is very termos and
44:11
democratic liberal robin anti-democratic
44:12
liberals so in essence I agree but just
44:15
just to explain that time a little bit
44:17
to people who haven’t read the book so
44:18
one of the arguments I make is that you
44:20
know we need to think of our pokel
44:22
system as having these two elements
44:23
liberal democracy the liberal has
44:25
nothing to do with liberal and
44:26
conservative it’s not you know brock
44:28
obama as george w bush it is a
44:31
commitment to invent rights to to the
44:35
rights of minorities to the rule of law
44:37
to the separation of powers and amah
44:39
cracy in my mind when becomes actually
44:41
translating popular views into public
44:43
policies unless we’re actually managing
44:45
to make sure that our political system
44:46
is responsive to what people want it
44:49
doesn’t seem to me very democratic now
44:51
what i think is happening in the world
44:53
is two things on the one side for a long
44:56
time we’ve had a system of rights
44:58
without terribly much democracy of a
45:00
undemocratic liberalism which is to say
45:02
a system in which yes we do a reasonably
45:05
good job at protecting individual rights
45:07
and minority rights and the separation
45:10
of powers but we’re not doing a great
45:12
job
45:13
often shirring that we’re actually
45:15
translating what people think into
45:17
policy and that’s the case because of a
45:19
huge role of money in politics it was a
45:21
revolving door between lobbyists and
45:22
legislators yes because of a certain
45:27
elite class but doesn’t have much
45:29
circulation of ordinary people but also
45:32
because a lot of bureaucratic and
45:34
technical institutions that do do a
45:35
great job take lots of issues out of
45:38
democratic contestation so that lots of
45:40
decisions are made by the Supreme Court
45:43
by an independent central bank and by
45:45
international organizations are
45:46
precluded from politics through trade
45:49
treaties and you take all of those
45:51
things together and it’s not surprising
45:52
when lots of people say no between
45:55
listening to me right now we need to
45:58
understand that to understand part of a
46:00
populist instinct which is the inverse
46:02
it’s not rise for democracy it’s
46:04
democracy vaad rights it’s saying we are
46:07
gonna speak for a majority and actually
46:09
put forward all of the politically
46:11
incorrect ideas that people actually
46:12
like now often unfortunate side is
46:15
really our popular when you look in
46:16
Switzerland whoever was a referendum as
46:19
a result of which the Swiss Constitution
46:21
now reads I quote there’s freedom of
46:24
religion in Switzerland the building of
46:27
minarets is forbidden she doesn’t make
46:30
much sense that shows that actually a
46:33
majority of Swiss people did want to
46:35
restrict the rights of a Muslim minority
46:37
well now the problem with that is that
46:39
eventually a liberal democracy rights
46:41
democracy overrides degenerates into
46:44
straight for dictatorship because once
46:46
you’ve taken away separation of powers
46:47
once you have put your own people in the
46:50
courts in the electoral commission as
46:52
this happened in Hungary in the media
46:53
the position along it has a real chance
46:56
of getting rid of so you know between
47:01
those two evils I think I know which one
47:02
I would pick but in order to deal with
47:06
the underlying drivers of his populist
47:07
anger we need to find ways to make our
47:10
political system more responsive to what
47:13
people want and even for a lot of
47:14
technocratic institutions do a great job
47:16
I think we need to recognize that they
47:18
have problematic aspects to them well
47:22
you kind of
47:23
answer some of the questions I have but
47:25
let me just make this statement and let
47:28
you comment the Democratic state has to
47:32
rein in the forces that are trying to
47:34
destroy it
47:35
those are very various like the Romani
47:41
corrupt press the preventing people from
47:44
voting not educating them to the point
47:48
that they vote for the man wants to be
47:52
dictator if we don’t do that we have to
47:56
be to watch be watchful canter and we
48:00
know what happened in Germany what
48:03
happened in other kinds of each to me
48:05
they are not becoming democracies they
48:08
are losing their freedom and and people
48:12
just let that happen you know and if we
48:15
don’t we are not alert what is happening
48:17
why do we believe what we hear in some
48:21
radio or television station why is that
48:24
allowed to happen
48:25
lying everyday to people so one of the
48:30
things what I think is really important
48:31
is to actually you know educate people
48:33
about the values of our political system
48:35
and how our political system works one
48:38
of the reasons why there’s more and more
48:41
information online is because the rise
48:43
of the Internet and of social media and
48:44
so on but I think it goes beyond just
48:47
the existence of Facebook and Twitter
48:49
things can spread because people don’t
48:51
trust the government and we don’t trust
48:52
the government because a we don’t really
48:55
know how it works because we barely
48:56
teach civics anymore in high schools
48:58
right and be because even insofar as we
49:02
do you know how it works they only see
49:04
the negative things in our political
49:06
system this is something that I say that
49:10
could have it where I teach and my
49:11
faculty colleagues aren’t too pleased
49:12
with me for it
49:13
which is that we need to actually tell
49:16
people what’s good about our political
49:17
system as well now that doesn’t mean
49:19
that we should be uncritical doesn’t
49:21
mean but we shouldn’t also be upfront
49:23
about the shortcomings of our political
49:25
system and ways in which people continue
49:28
to suffer injustice and discrimination
49:30
but if we only talk about those things
49:32
and never say about explain how it what
49:36
it is but
49:37
makes our political system and why it is
49:38
but living related states for all of its
49:40
problems it’s still a lot better than
49:41
living in Russia or Iran or China or
49:45
Venezuela then we shouldn’t be surprised
49:48
that people are willing to throw all of
49:50
that away and so I think you know one of
49:53
the things but we can all do with our
49:56
[Music]
49:58
children with our siblings with our
50:00
parents with if you’re a teacher of your
50:02
students if you’re a writer a journalist
50:04
with in your articles is to actually
50:08
recommit people to those political
50:11
values from Plato to our startled and
50:13
from whose thought to the founding
50:15
fathers all of the great thinkers about
50:18
self-government knew how crucial it is
50:20
to transmit our political values from
50:22
one generation to the next and we might
50:24
have paid a little bit of lip service to
50:25
that in the last 30 40 years who stopped
50:28
taking it seriously and that’s a big
50:29
problem I’ve been thinking that the last
50:32
14 months are brought to you by Joni
50:33
Mitchell you don’t know what you got
50:36
till it’s gone and could I bring in I
50:38
could the folks at the store tell me
50:41
when we should shut down a called a
50:43
Dogma yah
50:45
actually I will take two more questions
50:47
and then was that all we have yeah sorry
50:54
actually can I amend that if people are
50:57
briefed let me just take four questions
51:00
fast all at once and then Yasha can give
51:03
a very compact answers because he wants
51:06
to sell books so four quick thank you
51:09
my name is Don greenhouse from the
51:12
Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua New
51:15
York where EJ has lectured a number of
51:18
times when we invite you all to come and
51:21
hear some discussions just like this
51:23
very quickly I can’t remember her name
51:26
an author recent book called strangers
51:30
in their own land a hotel and she uses a
51:33
metaphor so I’d like to you to think
51:35
about it in terms of micro rather than
51:38
macro sense of these we’re all lined up
51:41
back from the pot of gold and we’re all
51:44
standing quietly in line and our liberal
51:47
democracy keeps bringing people into
51:50
the line in front of us the blacks the
51:53
gays etc etc and this is causing this
51:57
angst and populism I wondered if you
52:00
might comment
52:01
hold that thought thank you sir Stewart
52:04
Schulz I’ll try to make this really
52:06
quick and condense it but you’ve
52:08
identified populism you know there’s
52:11
lack of agency this lack of Economic
52:14
Opportunity threat to cultural identity
52:16
as the major threats of liberal
52:17
democracy and I can’t speak to the
52:20
international situation but at least
52:21
domestically Trump ran on all those
52:24
things but his actual administration has
52:26
nothing to do with any of that message
52:28
it has to do with advancing corporate
52:31
interests and it’s it seems to me that
52:33
the the real threat to liberal democracy
52:35
is not in these issues which are real
52:39
but in the forces that use those issues
52:43
to advance agendas that are more
52:45
dangerous to liberal democracy I mean
52:47
what’s the role in capital in all of
52:49
this so it’s clear that Donald Trump is
52:53
a symptom of fraud or underlying causes
52:55
as he undermines institutions are we
52:58
doing a good enough job to deal with the
53:01
underlying causes or are we just saying
53:03
he’s undermined this institution there
53:05
for Donald Trump’s about sorry for the
53:10
rest yeah my name is avery James I’m a
53:15
sophomore at American University quick
53:17
question you mentioned how we need and
53:19
you actually end up at new york times on
53:20
this as well this new nationalism this
53:22
new patriotism I would just ask how is
53:24
that in any way unique from what Marco
53:25
Rubio won in 2013 how was that in any
53:27
way unique from what Jeb Bush who was
53:28
bankrolled by the Republican Party
53:30
basically Mitt Romney but he’s fluent in
53:32
Spanish this time I mean how is that any
53:33
different from what the people who had
53:35
the power to make decisions the
53:36
Republican Party wanted and ended up
53:38
with what we have I mean that how is it
53:40
non-unique right yeah that’s question I
53:41
really have is how does that change the
53:43
current trend Thanks all right
53:46
I might need some some reminders but but
53:49
I’ll try and get through these four
53:50
questions quickly and then say something
53:51
inspiring at the end there we go that’s
53:53
my task so yes so please that’s so so
54:02
the cutting in line metaphor I think
54:04
it’s
54:04
quite powerful and and and and but
54:06
that’s how a lot of people think about
54:07
it right that that they’ve been they’re
54:10
frustrated we’re not getting what we
54:12
want we’ve been promised a pot of gold
54:13
they’re still sounding a line for it and
54:15
now why are the people doing well like
54:17
for me that precisely explains the
54:19
lunacy of pretending that cultural
54:22
factors and economic factors ah it’s
54:26
either one of y’all this is the way in
54:28
which it’s connected but if people feel
54:30
like I’m getting a fair shake and I I’m
54:33
a lot wealthier than my parents wear and
54:35
my kids are gonna do better than me I
54:36
know what that guy over there is doing
54:39
fine too good for him you know he’s not
54:41
like me he’s an immigrant or he’s
54:42
whatever right but but I’m doing fine
54:45
nice what he’s doing fine too when
54:47
people start to feel you know what I’ve
54:50
been taking advantage of all my life and
54:51
politicians are we delivering for me and
54:53
my community is falling apart in all
54:54
kinds of ways and there’s an opioid
54:57
epidemic and and our incomes are
54:58
stagnating and because union jobs are
55:00
gone and now why is that guy over there
55:02
doing fine it’s easy to scapegoat and
55:05
blame right and so one of the ways of
55:07
dealing with hat is to make sure that we
55:09
actually deliver on the American dream
55:11
for people in a way that that we
55:13
promised um on inclusive patriotism I
55:17
mean I think that there is a deep store
55:19
of inclusive patriotism in in American
55:22
political history
55:23
um I think often people didn’t
55:26
necessarily act on that so you know in
55:28
the end though I agree with some what
55:30
Republicans had perfectly decent metric
55:32
around it Muslim weren’t willing to
55:34
actually vote in those ways and and and
55:37
and ensure that we take those issues on
55:39
the table through some kind of
55:40
comprehensive deal where we come to a
55:42
decision about that I also think that
55:45
there is a little bit of resistance to
55:47
it on on parts of left-right so what we
55:50
have at the moment is a riot politically
55:54
who says let’s talk about nationalism
55:55
over time but let’s talk about it in
55:58
exclusive ways basically the kind of
56:00
form of white nationalism of which I
56:01
would argue our current president is
56:03
guilty but then on the Left I think best
56:06
instinct but I know quite well because I
56:07
grew up with it wishes to say hey
56:10
nationalism can be so destructive and it
56:12
was so destructive in 20th century why
56:15
don’t we actually move beyond it
56:18
leave nationalism behind in the century
56:20
which is so cruelly shaped and that you
56:25
know allows us to be Cosmopolitan’s it
56:26
allows us to not have any strong
56:28
collective identity whatever that’s one
56:30
kind of approach the other approach is
56:32
to say we’re going to celebrate every
56:33
form of collective identity at the
56:35
sub-national level and religious group
56:38
every ethnic group every sexual root and
56:40
so on but we’re not going to celebrate
56:42
the nation because a nation is bad and
56:45
has this very bad history and the other
56:47
things are under now I agree that we
56:49
need to defend every group from attack
56:52
and discrimination that is ongoing but I
56:55
also think that the nation can actually
56:57
be a great stew of solidarity but it can
56:59
be precisely the thing but allows you to
57:01
see why you should care about somebody
57:03
who doesn’t have the same skillet
57:05
doesn’t have skin color doesn’t have the
57:06
same religion and so on and we’re
57:08
emphasizing that an inclusive manner is
57:10
a way to build social solidarity and
57:13
fight discrimination rather than a way
57:15
to advance so to meet nationalism as a
57:18
half domesticated animal and instead of
57:20
leaving it on its own to be stoked and
57:22
prodded by the worst kind of people I
57:24
think though we need to domesticate one
57:26
nice way of doing that in a political
57:28
speech and I have many disagreements
57:30
with him and other things is what Amanda
57:33
McConnell said in Marseille on the
57:35
campaign trail he said when looking to
57:38
his audience I see people from Mali in
57:40
the Ivory Coast and and Algeria and
57:43
Italy in Poland who what do I see I see
57:46
the people of Marseille what do I see I
57:48
see the people of France look here
57:50
ladies and gentlemen of horn as you know
57:51
the far-right party of my underpin this
57:54
is what it looks like to be proud to be
57:56
French that to me is a nationalism that
57:58
actually makes sense and and having
58:00
parts of right could fight for it most
58:02
strongly living parts of a life could
58:03
also fight for it more strongly there’s
58:06
two questions but I’m missing here
58:11
and one one alright so um okay so the
58:20
question about corporation look I mean I
58:21
think that
58:24
liberal democracy works when democracy
58:29
in capitalism and balance I don’t think
58:31
the answer is to abolish capitalism
58:33
because there is no democratic country
58:36
but it has ever existed on the face of
58:38
the earth without capitalism and while I
58:41
get right-wing critiques of
58:43
globalization because we standard of
58:45
living of steel workers in Michigan but
58:48
he hasn’t improved that much over the
58:49
last thirty years and most because of
58:50
our political choices Robin makes
58:52
globalization but at least I get it I
58:53
don’t really understand certain forms of
58:56
left-wing critique of globalization
58:58
because if you actually say that you
59:00
care about the well-being of poor people
59:02
in the world and you look at the fact
59:04
for two billion people have been lifted
59:06
out of dire poverty in India and China
59:07
over the course of the last twenty or
59:10
thirty years people didn’t have
59:11
electricity you didn’t have food to eat
59:13
we didn’t have medication who now leads
59:16
middle-class lives I think we need to
59:19
recognize what all some positively power
59:21
it has but we need to also make sure
59:24
that we actually use those fruits in
59:27
order to deliver for ordinary people
59:30
now some kindness have done much better
59:32
than this than other countries and it’s
59:34
not because the more or less capitalists
59:35
it’s because we’ve pursued policies but
59:37
I actually directed to helping ordinary
59:40
people and that’s in part because money
59:43
had much less of a hold on their
59:45
politics when it does in our culture so
59:47
this is not rocket science it’s solvable
59:49
but we need to fight to solve it it’s
59:52
going to be hard to solve it
59:56
I’m gonna end with you know I’m
60:00
sometimes told that when I talk or you
60:05
know when people read my articles but it
60:06
can be a little depressing so so thanks
60:10
for coming out to get depressed on a
60:12
Sunday afternoon with lovely sunny
60:14
weather but but I actually genuinely
60:16
think and I think your book
60:19
One Nation are trumped prints without
60:20
really beautifully as well EJ but this
60:22
is a moment to be inspired the spine
60:25
will be ugly this now apologies when I
60:27
grew up politically when I came away
60:29
pull it came of age politically it
60:32
seemed like what we would do wouldn’t
60:33
matter that much because yes there’s
60:36
some policies were better and some
60:37
policies there were worse or some
60:39
ongoing discrimination and injustice but
60:41
in the end we sort of knew what the
60:43
world was gonna look like 30 or 35 years
60:45
from now right now we don’t know that
60:48
and it’s up to how we act to ensure how
60:52
that’s going to look so yes that’s scary
60:54
and yes it’s easy to get depressed by
60:56
that but it’s also easy to get inspired
60:58
by that because it means where we can
60:59
actually act um the best picture image
61:03
for this in my mind comes from our
61:04
mizar’s
61:05
who says has a huge fire burning and
61:08
each of us only has a little glass of
61:10
water in the hand and and it can seem
61:13
hopeless if I go to the water and I dump
61:16
my little glass of water on it on the
61:17
fire that’s not going to change anything
61:19
the fire is far too big well but thanks
61:22
for coming out everybody there’s a lot
61:23
of people in this room and if each of us
61:26
takes our glass of water and I’m set on
61:28
fire then together we might just be able
61:29
to extinguish it now the way to do that
61:32
is to fight for real change in our
61:35
system not just to defeat Donald Trump
61:36
it’s to actually make sure that our
61:39
political system delivers forward many
61:40
people again is to make sure that people
61:41
see what’s valuable in our political
61:43
system again and if you agree with some
61:45
of my descriptions and diagnosis today
61:48
you’ll have an idea of what you can go
61:50
and do at home if you disagree when you
61:52
have your own ideas but but the
61:55
important thing is that unlike people in
61:58
Turkey and like people in Russia and
62:00
like people in Venezuela we still have a
62:02
freedom to go and fight and organize and
62:04
mobilize politically and argue and so I
62:07
think it’s our duty to do that
62:09
Inuyasha for Congress pack will be
62:12
collecting signatures up here I want to
62:21
read just the last words of the book
62:24
with what Yasha said he said nobody can
62:27
promise us a happy end but those of us
62:29
who truly care about our values and our
62:31
institutions are determined to fight for
62:34
our convictions without regard for the
62:37
consequences though the fruits of our
62:39
labor may remain uncertain we will do
62:41
what we can to save liberal democracy
62:44
thank you all for coming out and yes we
62:46
will sign the bus
62:58
you

The End of White Christian America: A Conversation with E. J. Dionne and Robert P. Jones

America is no longer a majority white Christian nation. Journalist, author, commentator, and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and Dr. Robert P. Jones, author of “The End of White Christian America,” discuss this seismic change, its impact on the politics and social values of the United States, and its implications for the future.

00:00
[MUSIC PLAYING]
Good evening, everyone.
Good evening.
And welcome.
I’m David Hempton, Dean of the Divinity School,
and I’m really delighted to welcome you to campus
this evening for a discussion of the important changes occurring
in US religion, and the impact they’re
having on our politics, our culture, and on civil society.
Last year, I spoke in Europe and Asia
on a topic that was much on the minds of citizens
there, and frankly, also here in the Northeast United States.
Namely, Evangelical Christian support for Donald Trump.
When I did those talks, I drew partly
on the research of Dr. Robert P. Jones, one of our guests
this evening.
In 2011, the Public Religion Research Institute, PRRI,
the organization headed by Dr. Jones,
asked Americans, quote, whether a political leader who
committed an immoral act in his or her private life
could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill
their duties in their public life.
At that time, as Jones has written, only 30%
of white Evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement.
This was not a surprise.
White Evangelicals had for years been the most likely group
to say that a candidate’s personal morality bore heavily
on their performance in public office.
PRRI asked the same question again in 2016,
with the presidential campaign in full swing.
This time, 72% of white Evangelicals, that
is as against the earlier figure of 30%,
said that they believe the candidate can
build a kind of moral wall between his private and public
life.

That sentiment carried into the election
that November, when around 81% of self-designated white
Evangelicals, which is a complicated category,
voted for Donald Trump, the most weighted vote
of any American religious constituency, and a big factor
in his election.
It was, as Dr. Jones chronicled in his book,
The End of White Christian America,
which is where we had that title for tonight plagiarized–
it was as he chronicled in his book–
[LAUGHTER]
a shocking reversal, one driven
by a sense among white Christians
that their way of life was at stake,
that America’s best days were behind it,
and that the 2016 election was the last chance
to stop the country’s inexorable decline.

But while the country may or may not have been in decline,
it’s clear from data collected by Dr. Jones and the Pew
03:06
Research Center that both the white majority
03:09
and formal affiliation with Christian denominations
03:12
were in decline and are in decline.
03:16
These trends go far beyond the phenomenon of Donald Trump’s
03:19
election and presidency.
03:21
They help shape our politics at all levels,
03:24
including the surge in support for nativist and right-wing
03:27
movements.
03:29
Not only in the United States, but also across Europe.
03:34
According to our other distinguished guests
03:35
this evening, The Washington Post journalist
03:38
and distinguished political analyst,
03:39
E.J. Dionne, this surge is a product
03:42
of a constellation of factors that include globalization
03:46
and technological innovation, growing wealth inequalities,
03:50
migration, cosmopolitanism, and the decay
03:53
of traditional cultural values.
03:56
As a result, the narratives on the right and the left,
04:04
reinforced by the rise of information outlets that
04:07
affirm, rather than challenge, the beliefs
04:09
of their audiences–
04:10
you can watch this any night–
04:13
are now almost impervious to countervailing information.
04:16
People get their information tracks
04:19
from their preconceived positions.
04:23
Few write more cogently or insightfully
04:26
about these factors than our two guests tonight.
04:30
And E.J. Dionne, as the co-author of the recent book
04:34
One Nation After Trump, this book,
04:38
takes heart in the activism inspired
04:41
by the current political movement,
04:42
and offers a hopeful vision that’s often lacking
04:45
in discussions like these.
04:47
Sadly, even on university campuses.
04:50
This would be a good moment to silence cell phones.
04:53
[LAUGHTER]
04:56
It’s a nice ring, though.
04:57
[LAUGHTER]
04:58
It is a nice ring.
05:01
Yeah, so do get your hands on this book
05:03
if you get a chance, as well.
05:05
These two books are terrific reads.
05:08
And then this one has both a great guide
05:13
to explaining the election result, but an even better
05:18
prescription for where we might go from here,
05:20
which is more unusual.
05:24
So it is well worth reading.
05:28
So as someone, myself, who studies history, religion,
05:31
and politics, I’m very anxious to hear what our guests have
05:34
to say this evening, and perhaps to ask them a question or two.
05:38
We’re really delighted you have made time in your schedules
05:41
to be with us.
05:42
Thank you so much for traveling up to Boston.
05:47
So without further ado, please join me
05:50
in giving a very warm welcome to our two
05:52
very distinguished guests, E.J. Dionne and Robert P. Jones.
05:56
[APPLAUSE]
05:58
Thank you.
05:59
[APPLAUSE]
06:05
I want to begin just by saying what a joy it
06:08
is to be back here at the Harvard Divinity School.
06:10
I taught a class here last semester called Religion
06:16
in America’s Political Conscience and at the Ballot
06:19
Box.
06:20
And it didn’t strike me until after I named the course
06:22
that I had separated the conscience from the ballot box,
06:25
although that might be revealing.
06:27
And I just want to say it is particularly
06:29
a joy to have some of my wonderful students here
06:32
tonight.
06:33
My brilliant TA, Axel [? Tokach. ?]
06:35
Thank you, Axel, for coming.
06:37
And I understand there is a rabbi Joseph
06:40
Telushkin in the room.
06:41
Are you here, Rabbi Telushkin He may be here.
06:46
He is a brilliant rabbi.
06:48
He is also the father of my brilliant advisee, who’s
06:52
a student here, Shira Telushkin Some of you may know Shira.
06:57
And I’m really honored to be here
06:58
with my friend, Robbie Jones.
07:00
Robbie and I, we have done work together now since 2010
07:05
on the whole– on a variety of aspects of American politics,
07:09
including back in 2010, on the overlap of the Tea
07:13
Party and the religious right.
07:15
And we had a lot of fun with that study,
07:17
because a lot of people thought that the Tea
07:19
Party was a separate libertarian wing of conservatism.
07:23
When, in fact, what we discovered
07:25
is that a majority of Tea Partiers
07:28
also thought of themselves as part of the religious right,
07:30
and about 3/4 of Tea Partiers had views that were–
07:34
on social and religious questions
07:36
that were essentially indistinguishable
07:38
from the religious right.
07:39
But Robbie has been a real pioneer
07:43
in this area for a long time, even though he’s very young.
07:49
And what I want to do is just invite Robbie–
07:52
I’m going to go sit down, because Robbie
07:55
does many things well, but I think
07:57
Robbie is by far the best PowerPointer I have ever
08:02
met in my life.
08:03
And I could just sit and watch Robbie PowerPoints for hours.
08:07
It won’t be for hours, but this book is very, very important.
08:12
And after Robbie’s finished, I am
08:14
going to read a section in the book
08:16
about Billy Graham, who, as people most people here know,
08:21
died this morning.
08:22
Is that correct?
08:23
Or was it last– it was this morning, I think, at 8:00.
08:25
[INAUDIBLE]
08:27
And Robbie has some very insightful things
08:29
to say about Billy Graham.
08:30
But also, his death is a sort of a bittersweet reminder
08:37
of the era that Robbie writes about, and that, in some ways,
08:41
is passing away.
08:43
And so we’re going to start with his PowerPoint.
08:45
We’re going to talk a bit about Billy Graham’s role,
08:48
and then we will take it from there.
08:50
But you are about to see a real treat.
08:53
[LAUGHTER]
08:55
Oh, I always hate when the bar gets set that high.
08:58
[LAUGHTER]
08:59
OK, but thank you so much, Dean Hempton
09:03
and Harvard Divinity School–
09:05
Oh, I j– could I say one thing?
09:06
Oh.
09:07
Go ahead, yes.
09:08
I love David Hempton.
09:09
And what I was thinking as he was speaking
09:12
is that if Robbie Jones had written his book about David
09:15
Hempton, the book would be called
09:17
The Joy and Wisdom of Irish Christianity in America.
09:21
[LAUGHTER]
09:24
Right.
09:25
Yes, a little less somber than this title up here.
09:29
Well, I’m going to give you just a little bit–
09:32
I want to have a lot of time for E.J. and I to talk.
09:34
It’s really a great joy to be here with E.J.
09:37
We’ve worked together now for almost a decade,
09:39
and our offices are just down Massachusetts Avenue
09:42
in Washington D.C. from each other, within walking distance.
09:45
So it’s fun to be here in Boston.
09:47
It’s just right across the table,
09:48
instead of down the street from one another.
09:51
So I’m going to start with just this photo
09:53
here that you’ve been staring at a little bit, maybe
09:55
subconsciously, as we’ve been sitting here,
09:57
before I show you some numbers.
09:59
Because I think it sets the table fairly well.
10:01
[LAUGHTER]
10:02
So I received this in 2012, just after Barack Obama’s
10:07
re-election bid.
10:09
So between the election and Thanksgiving,
10:11
I received this photo.
10:13
And just under the photo, it said “Christian family
10:16
at prayer.
10:16
Pennsylvania, 1942.”
10:18
And so I haven’t doctored it.
10:19
It was black and white in the email that I received it from.
10:22
And I kind of saw it and I was curious,
10:25
and I looked to see who had sent it.
10:27
And it was sent out by the Christian Coalition of America,
10:30
which is a conservative Christian organization that was
10:33
part of the Christian Right movement in the ’08s and ’90s.
10:37
And they sent this out.
10:38
And I said, oh, that’s curious.
10:39
I’ll read on down.
10:40
And then I came across this language in the email,
10:44
and it said this.
10:44
It said, we’re soon to celebrate the 400th anniversary
10:48
of the First Thanksgiving, and God has still not
10:51
withheld his blessings upon this nation,
10:54
although we now so richly deserve his condemnation.
10:59
Let us pray to our Heavenly Father
11:01
to protect us from those enemies outside
11:04
and within who want to see America destroyed.”
11:08
So this is the message that we get
11:10
just days after the re-election of our first African American
11:13
President to the presidency.
11:16
And it occurred to me that this apocalyptic language
11:20
was telling something.
11:22
So I immediately save this.
11:23
I said, OK, this is–
11:24
I really need to think about this some more,
11:26
and kind of hung onto it and had been thinking about it.
11:29
But I think this sense of–
11:31
we heard a lot of it in the 2016 election too,
11:33
but it has a longer history.
11:35
This kind of apocalyptic ring that the America
11:37
that we know and love is over.
11:41
And I think one of the things going is like, why this photo,
11:43
right?
11:44
So if you look at it, what is it?
11:46
It’s a white family at prayer.
11:49
You’ll notice there’s a father at the head of the table,
11:52
right?
11:53
So it’s a kind of patriarchal, hierarchical image of family,
11:57
and they’re all kind of bowing their heads.
11:59
And it was really standing in that email
12:01
for “America,” right?
12:04
White Protestant America equals America.
12:08
And I think that’s what’s going on, and a lot of our debates,
12:10
I think, are really over that.
12:12
Is this the image of who America is and should be?
12:16
Or is it not?
12:16
And that really– that fundamental question, I think,
12:19
is a lot of what we’re wrangling over.
12:20
So I want to show you some numbers about how much
12:23
things are changing, and how I think
12:24
how that has set the stage for the anxiety, the fear,
12:29
the anger that is so animating our politics
12:32
both at the national, and even all the way
12:34
down to the local level.
12:37
So first, I’ll just– we’re going
12:38
to throw this term around a lot, so I
12:40
thought I would unpack it, just to make
12:41
sure we’re not misunderstood.
12:44
This term “White Christian America”
12:45
is a term that I just coined, because I
12:47
needed a way to talk about an era,
12:51
and the sense of dominance.
12:52
And it really is a word that refers
12:55
to the dominance of white Protestant America
12:58
that really held a lock on cultural and political power
13:01
for most of the country’s life.
13:03
And so when I’m– using that term,
13:05
it really is this sense of this kind of cultural and political
13:09
dominance of a world that was built mostly by white
13:12
Protestant America.
13:15
So I’m going to give you a bunch of stats here,
13:18
but in case people are not big numbers people,
13:21
you could think of them as vital signs.
13:23
We’re going to look at the chart of white Christian America
13:26
and see how its help is doing.
13:31
If I had only one chart to show you, and I’m going to–
13:33
I know E.J. will be relived.
13:34
I’m going to show you a few more than one.
13:36
But it would probably be this one,
13:38
that would give you just in one chart, a sense
13:41
of the demographic and cultural changes
13:44
that we’ve experienced in very recent history.
13:47
So I’ve got the Obama presidency in t–
13:49
these are years across the bottom.
13:50
I’ve got that kind of grayed out in this box
13:52
so you can see the kinds of changes that happen just
13:54
during the last decade, and really, largely
13:58
across President Obama’s term in office.
14:01
So this first line up here is the percent of Americans
14:04
who identify as white and Christian in the country.
14:07
Now, this is any type of Christian.
14:08
Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Non-denominational, you
14:11
name it.
14:11
They identify as white, non-Hispanic, and Christian.
14:15
These numbers capture that.
14:16
And you can see, if we just go back
14:17
to the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency,
14:19
there’s been a fairly dramatic drop
14:21
in the number of white Christians in the country.
14:24
When Barack Obama entered office,
14:25
the country was safely a majority white Christian
14:28
country.
14:29
54% of the country identified as white and Christian.
14:32
By the time Obama leaves office and we
14:34
get to the 2016 election, that number has dropped to 43%.
14:38
So that’s 11 percentage points across eight years’ time.
14:41
It’s more than a percentage point a year.
14:44
It’s a pretty– it’s a very steady and very precipitous
14:47
drop.
14:47
So that’s one thing.
14:48
Just demographically speaking, the country
14:50
has crossed from being this majority white Christian
14:53
country to a minority white Christian country.
14:56
And then here is another line that’s
14:57
kind of just a bellwether cultural issue.
15:00
This is support for same-sex marriage
15:02
in the general population across the same time period.
15:04
And one of things you’ll see is, again,
15:06
if we go back and use the beginning of Barack Obama’s
15:10
presidency as a marker, only 4 in 10 Americans supported
15:13
same sex marriage back in 2008.
15:15
Barack Obama himself did not publicly
15:17
support same-sex marriage in 2008.
15:19
But by the time Obama gets out of office, that
15:23
has been flipped on its head.
15:25
It’s 6 in 10 supporting same-sex marriage, only 4
15:28
in 10 opposing it.
15:29
And our last numbers from 2017 actually
15:31
showed that number jumped again in 2017 to 66.
15:35
So it’s now 2/3 of the country that
15:37
supports same-sex marriage.
15:39
And so if you are a conservative white Christian,
15:43
these numbers, just these two, are–
15:47
constitute a kind of sense of cultural vertigo, I think.
15:50
Where you’ve gone from a country that you recognize in a country
15:53
that you sort of feel like you can lay claim
15:55
to being in the mainstream, and even
15:57
being the dominant cultural force,
15:59
to one where that is no longer true.
16:02
And it happens in a very, very short amount of time.
16:05
So let me unpack this just a little bit more.
16:08
Here is if I do big boxes of religious affiliation, the pie
16:12
chart of what American religious affiliation looks like today.
16:15
That’s that same number.
16:16
43% of the country, in blue here,
16:19
is identifying as white and Christian.
16:22
This 24% box is those identify as non-white and Christian, so
16:29
mostly African American and Latino
16:31
Protestants in the country.
16:32
The 7% is those who claim some other religious tradition.
16:36
Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists, et cetera.
16:39
And the 24%, that big block of orange up there,
16:41
are Americans who claim no religious affiliation
16:45
at all today.
16:46
About a quarter of Americans who are religiously
16:48
unaffiliated in the country.
16:50
So that’s a snapshot of where we are today.
16:53
One way of seeing how dramatic these changes have been
16:56
is just to look at the generations
16:59
who are alive today, and what the generational cohorts
17:02
look like.
17:03
So you can think of this chart–
17:05
I like to think about this as a kind of archaeological dig
17:08
down through generational strata.
17:10
So we’ve got the young people on top,
17:12
and we’ve got seniors down here on the bottom.
17:15
And we’re going to put up–
17:16
the first number we’re going to put up
17:17
is just the percent within each generational cohort
17:20
that identifies as white and Christian.
17:22
I think you’ll immediately see the generational change
17:26
and how quick it’s happening.
17:27
Just the generations that are alive today.
17:29
When you go down to seniors, 2/3 of seniors
17:32
identify as white and Christian.
17:34
If we go to youngest Americans, age 18 to 29,
17:37
that number is only 25%.
17:40
It’s more than twice–
17:41
more than a factor of two between seniors
17:44
and young people.
17:44
And you can also see that it’s actually
17:46
a fairly linear generational stair-step here.
17:49
You can take a ruler pretty much and draw a straight line.
17:52
So it’s very, very consistent.
17:55
The younger you are, the less white,
17:56
the less Christian you are.
17:57
The older you are, the more white, the more Christian
17:59
you are.
18:00
And if I put up the other divisions on that same sort,
18:03
you can see the patterns emerging.
18:04
And the biggest thing is the bookend
18:06
on the other side, the religiously unaffiliated
18:09
in the country.
18:09
If you go to seniors, only about 1 in 10 seniors
18:12
claims no religious affiliation whatsoever.
18:15
But if you look at young people today, it’s nearly 4
18:18
in 10 who claim no religious affiliation, 38% today.
18:22
So again, it’s a factor of four on that measure here.
18:26
A little more than three– not quite four.
18:27
A little more than three on that measure.
18:30
But very, very dramatic changes.
18:31
You can also see the green there,
18:33
which is non-white Christians in the country.
18:36
And among young people, for example,
18:38
there as many– or there’s actually
18:39
slightly more non-white Christians
18:41
than there are white Christians in the youngest
18:43
cohort of Americans.
18:44
Whereas, among seniors, there’s nowhere
18:46
near that kind of parity.
18:48
So that’s the kind of quick change
18:49
that we’re seeing in the country today.
18:52
And just to kind of–
18:53
I haven’t said a lot about Catholics,
18:55
but I want to put them up here too.
18:57
This is a phenomenon–
18:59
we’re sitting at that Harvard Divinity School, broadly
19:02
speaking, a part of the mainline Protestant tradition
19:04
and more liberal Protestant end of the spectrum.
19:08
And for a long time, the narrative
19:09
has been that the more liberal end of the Protestant world
19:11
has been where all the decline has happened,
19:13
and that white Evangelical, more conservative churches,
19:16
are thriving.
19:17
That has largely been true until the last 10 years.
19:20
And then in the last decade, well we’re
19:22
actually seeing is slightly steeper declines
19:26
among white Evangelical denominations
19:28
then we’re even seeing among white mainline denominations.
19:30
But the overall story is that if you’re white and Christian,
19:34
whether you’re Evangelical, mainline, or Catholic,
19:37
the trends are the same.
19:39
Again, this is not a very long– this is only a 10-year window
19:42
here, and you can basically just see
19:44
the patterns are the same among every white Christian subgroup
19:48
in the country.
19:49
But the new thing here is really this decline
19:51
among white Evangelical groups from 18%–
19:55
sorry, from 23% down to 17%.
19:59
That’s genuinely new in the country.
20:00
They have been sort of stable or even growing
20:04
probably the last 10 years.
20:06
So I’m going to stop there, and we can kind of
20:08
come back to this other part.
20:10
But I think that lays the land–
20:12
gives you the lay of the land in terms
20:13
of just the demographic and religious change
20:17
that has really hit us in the last few decades,
20:20
but very much so in the last even 10 years.
20:23
I think that explains a little bit about why this feels
20:25
like a fight to the death among some quarters, particularly
20:28
the conservative and the white Christian world.
20:33
Wasn’t that awesome?
20:34
I love his PowerPoints.
20:36
[APPLAUSE]
20:40
Before I turn to Billy Graham, I wanted
20:44
to ask you to take apart the white and the Christian part.
20:50
Because I think that there were a lot of ways in which
20:53
your stark title could be read by people.
20:57
And I think these charts make clear
20:59
that there were two things going on here simultaneously,
21:03
but in a way, they are quite different things.
21:06
On the one hand, the country is getting more diverse,
21:10
and so those numbers, simply on non-white Christians
21:13
by generation, shows demographic change.
21:16
But the rise of the religiously unaffiliated
21:19
among the– particularly among the young, is in some ways,
21:23
I think, the biggest religious story in the country.
21:27
When you have nearly 40% of the under-30s being religiously
21:34
unaffiliated, that’s not–
21:36
by the way, young people always less religious.
21:40
Because this cohort of young people
21:43
is far more unaffiliated than any of the earlier cohorts.
21:47
I mean, this is a real change over time.
21:50
Can you talk about those two?
21:53
Now, if you’re sitting there as a conservative white Christian,
21:58
both changes may alarm you in different ways,
22:02
but they are quite distinct.
22:04
Could you talk about those two separately?
22:07
Yeah.
22:08
So one of the things that really got me
22:10
on to writing the book in the first place
22:12
was the sense that we had this narrative out there
22:15
that the Census Department has been giving for quite some time
22:18
that by 2050, the country–
22:21
the original projections that caused shock waves
22:23
were when the Census put out a press release that said,
22:26
our current projections show that by 2050, the country
22:29
will for the first time be majority non-white.
22:32
And it caused a lot of headlines.
22:34
Since then, that number’s been revised down to 2042
22:37
as the demographic changes have been accelerating a little.
22:40
But that’s just race and ethnicity
22:42
that has to do with birth and death rates and immigration
22:45
patterns.
22:45
And if you put all that together, that’s what we get.
22:48
But it occurred to me that the alarm bells that I was hearing,
22:54
I think, were not fully explained by people
22:58
looking that far out on the horizon and thinking,
23:00
OK, well in 2042, something is going to happen I don’t like.
23:03
But there was something already happening in the country.
23:06
And it’s when I think we put these two things together–
23:09
so you have this engine that is racial and ethnic decline,
23:13
that we’re getting steady reports from the Census Bureau.
23:16
But I think what really turbocharges
23:18
the cultural changes is this, really,
23:22
exodus of young people from traditional religious
23:26
affiliation.
23:27
And so it’s a kind of–
23:28
here’s the engine.
23:29
You get this kind of turbocharged effect,
23:31
though, I think, from the religious affiliation.
23:33
Because most of the kids were actually raised
23:36
in churches, and then left.
23:38
Now, they leave mostly before they’re 20,
23:41
so they do leave quite early.
23:42
But they were still– most of them
23:43
today were still raised religious,
23:46
leave by the time they’re 20.
23:47
And by all measures that we have, very few of them
23:51
look like they’re coming back.
23:52
And as E.J. said, even if we had–
23:55
every generation was slightly more unaffiliated in their 20s
23:58
than they are later in life, as they get kids, and a mortgage,
24:00
and settle down.
24:02
But even if we get a kind of traditional coming-back
24:07
to religion, this will still be, by far, the most religiously
24:10
unaffiliated generation that we’ve ever seen,
24:13
by a factor of three.
24:15
Yeah.
24:16
The other piece that I’d love you to discuss
24:18
is the change in the nature of Christianity.
24:21
And you’re from Mississippi, and know this story better
24:25
than most folks, that the changing
24:28
nature of Christianity itself–
24:30
as Latinos– in the case of both Catholics and Protestants,
24:35
Evangelicals, especially.
24:38
And African Americans and Latinos,
24:39
in the case of Protestants, primarily,
24:42
become a much bigger part of the cohort of believers, which
24:47
is certainly, I think, having over time some real effect
24:51
on the Roman Catholic church.
24:52
Where the Catholic numbers as you show
24:56
would be much worse in terms of disaffiliation
24:59
without Latino immigration.
25:02
And African Americans, even though there
25:05
are a lot of non-affiliated young African Americans,
25:09
have tended to stay more affiliated than white people.
25:13
What does this do to the nature of Christianity in the country?
25:17
Yeah, well the Catholic church, I
25:18
think, is really fascinating because there is–
25:23
this ethic change is happening all
25:25
under the umbrella of the same denomination.
25:27
So you’re not– what happens in the Protestant world is
25:29
typically you have these parallel denominational tracts
25:32
where the African American denominations are
25:34
kind of over here in their own denominations of churches,
25:36
and Latino denominations over here.
25:39
There’s still not today–
25:41
about 86% of our churches are essentially
25:43
mono-racial churches today.
25:45
There’s still not a lot of multi-racial congregations
25:49
in the country, particularly the Protestant world.
25:51
But what’s happening in the Catholic world is really
25:54
interesting, that we’re– like in the southwest now,
25:56
there are more non-white Catholics than white Catholics
25:59
in the southwest already today.
26:02
And we’re looking at now–
26:04
it used to be–
26:05
as recently as the 1990s, the ratio
26:07
of white to non-white Catholics was 10 to 1.
26:10
And today it’s about 60-40, and we’re headed toward parity.
26:14
To give you an idea of what the white Catholic exodus looks
26:18
like, 12% of Americans today are former Catholics.
26:24
And most of the are white–
26:25
Second or third largest denomination,
26:27
if they were a denomination.
26:29
–a denomination.
26:29
Right, yeah.
26:32
[INAUDIBLE]
26:34
They’re a smaller group than former Catholics.
26:36
Yeah.
26:37
A friend of mine is in a parish, a Catholic parish
26:40
that has become very Latino.
26:43
And a friend of his was complaining
26:45
about the shift in the ethnic makeup of the parish.
26:48
And he said, what do you mean?
26:49
Where’s the life?
26:50
Our people have funerals.
26:52
Their people have baptisms.
26:54
[LAUGHTER]
26:55
And he was for the change in the church.
26:59
Let me read what Robbie wrote about Billy Graham,
27:02
which is really– it’s particularly–
27:05
it’s quite powerful.
27:06
He talks about Billy Graham at mid-century having
27:10
an open-handed, inclusive style that really
27:13
went against the very defensive tendencies in the Evangelical
27:17
world after the Scopes Trial, the failure of Prohibition.
27:21
Although his wild success might suggest otherwise,
27:24
Reverend Graham entered the national stage
27:26
at a deeply uncertain time for Evangelicals.
27:29
In the 1950s, mainline Protestantism
27:32
was the unchallenged public face of white Christian America.
27:35
But the young Billy Graham almost
27:36
single-handedly reconfigured Evangelicalism
27:39
into a force with the power to shape
27:41
the national consciousness.
27:43
The most prominent example of Graham’s influence
27:46
was his historic crusade in, of all places, that’s
27:49
a good Mississippian’s line, New York City.
27:52
[LAUGHTER]
27:54
The Big Apple was not only the sophisticated cultural and
27:57
financial center of the country, but it also
27:59
has a headquarters of the mainline Protestant National
28:02
Council of Churches and its flagship
28:04
educational Institution Union Theological Seminary.
28:07
This is amazing.
28:08
For 110 days in the hot summer of 1957,
28:12
Graham drew crowds averaging about 18,000 people per night
28:17
to Madison Square Garden.
28:19
After the first night’s success, the New York Times
28:22
devoted nearly three full pages of coverage to the event,
28:26
even printing Graham’s service–
28:28
sermon word-for-word.
28:30
ABC News broadcast 14 Sunday night services, Saturday night
28:34
services, from The Garden, reaching an estimated audience
28:37
of 96 million viewers.
28:39
When he preached at Yankee Stadium,
28:41
Graham set an attendance record of over 100,000,
28:44
and more than 20,000 people were turned away.
28:49
Then you go on, and here’s where I want you to pick up the story
28:52
and relate it to the theme of the book.
28:54
But by the 1980s, Billy Graham’s welcoming and largely
28:57
apolitical appeal was overtaken by a movement built
29:00
around partisan politics and apocalyptic rhetoric, led
29:04
in the 1980s by figures such as the Reverend Jerry Falwell
29:07
and Pat Robertson.
29:09
As the elder Graham aged and health concerns
29:11
began to limit his public appearances,
29:13
his son Franklin, whose temperament and goals
29:15
resonated more with the religious right
29:17
than with his father, stepped increasingly
29:20
into the spotlight.
29:21
It would be difficult to overstate the differences
29:24
between father and son.
29:27
Talk about Billy Graham if you would
29:29
Yeah.
29:29
I mean, I think it is that I think Franklin and Billy
29:35
Graham do represent two different eras
29:39
in white Evangelicals’ life in the country.
29:43
And it’s interesting that Billy Graham
29:45
is this kind of rare moment where white Evangelicals did
29:49
kind of come into their own, felt
29:51
fairly secure in the country, and it
29:54
wasn’t a defensive posture.
29:55
There was a lot of fire and brimstone.
29:57
There was this deep invitation to come be
30:00
part of their Christian life.
30:03
He was one of the first people to desegregate services,
30:07
refused to hold rallies in the South
30:09
where they were segregated.
30:11
Asked Martin Luther King Jr. to come and offer
30:15
an opening prayer at some of his crusades in the 1960s.
30:18
So this is a very different kind of posture as well,
30:23
and was sort of, I think, universally loved
30:26
by Democratic and Republican presidents
30:28
alike, who held council with all the way through.
30:31
Although he did try to defeat John F. Kennedy in 1966.
30:34
Yes, that’s true.
30:35
That was kind of Protestant-Catholic– yeah.
30:37
Yeah, and that– for the Protestants.
30:38
Our friend, Sean Casey, has written a wonderful book
30:42
called The Making of the First Catholic President, 1960,
30:46
where he documented some of that.
30:48
So it’s just and aside.
30:49
I wanted to–
30:49
Yes, fair enough.
30:50
Yes.
30:51
But it’s a differ– it was a very different–
30:53
The Massachusetts Catholic I am, I couldn’t not–
30:55
I had to.
30:55
[LAUGHTER]
30:56
Couldn’t let that go.
30:56
Keep me honest on Catholic [INAUDIBLE]..
30:58
Yeah.
30:58
But it’s a very different posture for him.
31:01
So a little aside, I don’t know if I–
31:03
so I worked for Billy Graham in the summer of my high school
31:07
senior year.
31:08
[LAUGHTER]
31:10
And so I actually met him, because I got a–
31:13
I grew up Southern Baptist in the South
31:15
in Jackson, Mississippi.
31:17
And I got a call right from my senior year
31:20
asking if I wanted to go work for the Billy Graham
31:23
Evangelistic Association for three weeks in Amsterdam.
31:26
Whoa.
31:26
[LAUGHTER]
31:27
I thought sure, right?
31:30
So I got overnighted a plane ticket and a reservation
31:36
at the Amsterdam Hilton.
31:38
Just just barely turned 18, and I spent three weeks Amsterdam.
31:42
What else did you do an Amsterdam?
31:43
[LAUGHTER]
31:45
Yeah.
31:48
We’ll leave what happens in Amsterdam in Amsterdam.
31:52
But I remember being struck even then.
31:54
I mean I’d seen him on TV and stuff.
31:56
But being struck even then at this sense of–
31:59
and here I was in Amsterdam.
32:00
Not exactly the Evangelical capital of the world.
32:04
But he packed the place out night after night.
32:07
And his message was not a kind of condemning the sinful city.
32:11
It wasn’t any of that stuff.
32:12
I mean, it was this very open, warm invitation.
32:15
I remember being very struck by that even as a very young kid.
32:20
And then we have, I think, Franklin Graham
32:24
who was very public in this last election, his support
32:28
for Donald Trump, and very critical of President Obama
32:34
as well.
32:34
Very critical of the Black Lives Matter movement,
32:37
and very much just kind of in lockstep with the Christian
32:39
Right Movement, which has a very–
32:42
a harder edge to it.
32:43
It’s defensive.
32:44
It’s embattled.
32:46
And I think we do have in Billy Graham’s death today
32:51
a kind of passing of an era, of a very different kind
32:54
of posture when Evangelicalism, I think,
32:57
was much more sure-footed, and much more sure of itself,
33:01
I think, in a way that today, it’s very defensive,
33:03
and I think a little anxious.
33:07
Could I– I’m just curious.
33:09
This is– I’ve known Robbie for a long time.
33:11
I never knew this side of him, the Amsterdam-Graham side.
33:15
Yeah.
33:17
You went to semi– you went to Baptist Seminary.
33:19
Can you talk about just the influence he and his style had
33:23
on you personally?
33:24
Yeah.
33:25
So I grew up Southern Baptist.
33:28
I did a Mathematics and Computer Science degree at a Baptist
33:33
College in Mississippi, then I went
33:35
to– being the good Baptist boy that I was,
33:37
went to a Southern Baptist Seminary
33:38
in Fort Worth, Texas, Southwestern Baptist
33:41
Theological Seminary.
33:42
So at the time, Southwestern was the, quote unquote,
33:45
“moderate” seminary that, while the SBC
33:49
was in the turmoil of this sort of denominational takeover
33:54
that was connected to the political Christian Right
33:56
Movement.
33:57
So this was– my last semester at seminary, actually, was–
34:01
I literally watched the transition
34:04
from what felt like this kind of non-defensive and open-handed
34:10
kind of Evangelicalism that Billy Graham had been modeling
34:14
to this more hyper-political, partisan,
34:17
and kind of hard-edged thing.
34:19
Where my last semester seminary, while we– the students
34:22
were all gathered in Chapel, the trustees met in secret,
34:26
fired the president, locked the doors.
34:28
Locked his doors with his personal effects
34:30
inside, and escorted him off campus with armed guards.
34:32
That was while the student body was sitting in Chapel.
34:36
And I remember thinking, like, OK, yeah, this–
34:38
I’m seeing this very–
34:40
you couldn’t be more stark than that juxtaposed right together.
34:44
And then after that, the seminary changed direction.
34:47
A number of professors left.
34:48
Some were fired.
34:50
Some were passed over for tenure.
34:51
So the whole face of the institution change that.
34:55
And could you talk a bit about something
34:57
you and I have talked about a lot, which
35:00
is how politics, in a way, has come trump
35:05
religion among a lot of people?
35:07
Alan Wolfe, who taught at BC and ran the Boisi Center there
35:12
for many years, really caught me up short one day,
35:15
and he was absolutely right when he said,
35:18
you know, religion isn’t really important to politics.
35:21
It’s that politics is becoming important to religion.
35:23
People don’t argue about the Nicene Creed.
35:27
They don’t argue about the virginity of Mary.
35:29
They don’t argue about religious questions.
35:32
They argue about social and cultural questions
35:35
linked to politics.
35:36
And that when you think about the Trump
35:39
more than over Hillary, 81% to 16%, as I recall,
35:45
Trump got the highest percentage,
35:46
higher than George W. Bush, of the white Evangelical
35:49
vote of anybody since we’ve been recording it.
35:53
This really does suggest politics trumping religion.
35:58
And that finding that David quoted
36:00
is probably maybe the most quoted
36:02
finding in PRRI’s history.
36:03
Yeah.
36:05
Where before Trump, the personal life of a politician really,
36:09
really mattered.
36:10
After Trump, the personal life of a politician really, really
36:13
didn’t matter.
36:14
And just to put a line under it, the change in that number
36:18
was much starker among white Evangelicals
36:21
than any other group in the country.
36:24
Can you talk about that, and then
36:26
maybe show one more– it’s my favorite slide, if you’ve
36:29
got it, which is the end of the white Christian political
36:33
strategy?
36:33
I don’t think I’ve got that on up, but I can talk about it.
36:36
Oh.
36:36
But you can describe it, yeah.
36:37
Yeah.
36:38
So just to kind of put that number–
36:40
I think it literally has been the most-quoted number we’ve
36:43
ever put out.
36:44
And what we did, just to kind of remind you–
36:47
Dean Hempton laid it out pretty well, but just to remind you,
36:50
we asked in 2011 this question about,
36:52
can someone behave immorally in their private life
36:56
and still behave morally and perform their duties
36:58
in their public life?
36:59
The number in 2011 for white Evangelicals
37:01
was 30% agreeing with that statement,
37:03
that someone could do that.
37:05
By the time we get to the last election cycle, it’s 72%.
37:08
So it’s a 42% percentage point swing.
37:11
You just don’t really see that kind of swing
37:13
in numbers like that.
37:14
So when you do see that, you know that something’s really
37:17
going on.
37:18
But we have a–
37:19
I mean, what’s interesting about it is if you look back
37:21
at the voting patterns, really, the last four or five election
37:26
cycles, what is remarkable–
37:27
I think, what really goes to this point about how important
37:30
political affiliation become for religious identity
37:34
is that you hardly see any movement,
37:36
no matter who the candidates are.
37:38
Right?
37:38
So you can just go back election cycle after election cycle.
37:41
So white Evangelicals, for example, vote 8 in 10
37:44
for Republican presidential candidates,
37:46
no matter who they are.
37:47
Now, think about this.
37:48
Mitt Romney, Mormon candidate.
37:51
Donald Trump.
37:53
John McCain.
37:55
George W Bush.
37:56
Now, these are really different candidates, right?
37:59
And the needle hardly moves.
38:01
So what really matters is who the Republican
38:04
Party put forward.
38:05
To be fair, it’s true the other side as well.
38:08
So the Democratic candidates looking very different,
38:11
and the numbers don’t move.
38:12
The most consistent voting group in the country,
38:15
though, that is dead on the nose,
38:16
are white mainline Protestants, who vote about 40–
38:20
who vote exactly in the last three election cycles,
38:24
44% for democratic candidates.
38:26
44, 44, 44.
38:28
It doesn’t move at all.
38:29
If you look at the chart, it looks like a satanic number.
38:31
It’s like 666, you know?
38:33
I mean, it’s 44, 44, 44.
38:36
But the real realignment– again, it’s
38:38
a racial story here, too.
38:39
The real–
38:40
Yes.
38:41
I mean, you’ve pointed this out in your previous book
38:44
very eloquently, that it really is this shift in the Civil
38:49
Rights Movement, where the Democratic Party
38:51
became associated as the party of Civil Rights.
38:54
And that spurred this kind of white–
38:58
a great book is called The Rise of the Republican South by,
39:01
I love this, it’s two twin brothers, Merle and Earl Black,
39:04
who are both political scientists.
39:05
One at Emory, and one at Rice in the South.
39:08
And there was great books.
39:11
And what they called the “Great White Switch”
39:13
that really happened between the Civil Rights Movement,
39:16
and it really caps with Reagan.
39:17
By Reagan, there was this real seat change
39:21
in Southern white party affiliation,
39:24
and along with that went white Evangelical party affiliation.
39:27
It was really part of that same–
39:29
part of that same swing.
39:30
And so ever since then, we have seen
39:32
this 80%, 8 in 10 support for Republican candidates,
39:35
no matter who they are in the country.
39:38
And it’s just kind of a mark of our politics now.
39:42
We saw the same thing with the Roy Moore election in Alabama
39:45
as well.
39:46
White Evangelicals, again, with a very unorthodox candidate
39:50
for a group that’s kind of branded themselves
39:52
as values voters.
39:54
And based on what we saw in Alabama,
39:56
it was that 78%, I think, of white Evangelicals in Alabama
40:00
voted for Roy Moore, which is right in line
40:02
with their typical voting for Republican candidates
40:05
at the state level.
40:07
Let me ask you and press you on that,
40:09
because I think you make an important point there, that–
40:14
I’ve struggled with this myself, that we’ve
40:17
started talking about white Evangelical Christians
40:21
as a voting block with the rise of the moral majority
40:25
at the end of the ’70s and in 1980.
40:28
But in fact, the people we are talking about,
40:31
the very same people really made their journey to the Right
40:36
and to the Republican Party because of Civil Rights.
40:38
Mhm.
40:40
And even some of the issues connected to the Religious
40:43
Right were actually racially tinged,
40:46
such as the IRS cutting off tax benefits
40:53
to white Christian schools that were essentially being
40:56
used as segregation academies.
40:59
And interestingly, Jimmy Carter got the rage,
41:02
but that that was actually started
41:03
in the Nixon administration, the move against those schools.
41:09
And so sometimes, I’ve asked myself,
41:12
did we put a religious overlay on something that was actually
41:18
simply racial, or was there a distinctive religious aspect
41:24
that entered into it in 1980?
41:27
And this doesn’t deny that these voters are and think
41:31
of themselves as very religious, but nonetheless, these trends,
41:36
as you say, began long before anybody
41:39
was talking about either of the Moral Majority or the Christian
41:41
Coalition.
41:42
Yeah.
41:43
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately too.
41:45
Like I said, I grew up in the South.
41:48
My family from five generations back is from Macon, Georgia,
41:52
but I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi.
41:55
But what I think has been interesting to me is–
41:58
as someone who grew up in that environment,
42:01
there’s a story that you get told
42:03
from the inside of these churches that
42:06
has nothing to do with race.
42:09
Absolutely nothing.
42:11
Despite the fact– so one key point
42:13
here, I grew up in the Southern Baptist Convention.
42:16
I did not know that the Southern Baptist Convention was formed
42:20
in 1845 because of a pull-out of the Southern churches who
42:26
wanted to support sending missionaries
42:28
who were slave owners.
42:30
And there was a rift between the Northern Baptists
42:32
and the Southern Baptists in 1845.
42:34
The Southerners said, we’re going to– we really do think
42:37
it’s fully consistent with Christian values to–
42:39
for a missionary to own slaves, and really
42:42
pulled out and formed their own denomination.
42:44
I didn’t know that was the history of my own denomination
42:46
till I went to seminary and took a Baptist History
42:48
class when I was like 21.
42:51
So that’s how anesthetized that narrative is.
42:56
And I think that one of the things that’s also coming out
43:00
is trying to re-understand that history, I think,
43:03
is really important.
43:04
It’s a task that some churches are taking on,
43:07
but I think it’s also important that that invisibility itself
43:12
was a powerful racial tool in the South,
43:15
so that it actually became–
43:18
There’s this great book called Sanctuaries of Segregation
43:27
that’s about Jackson, about my hometown, in 1963, 1964.
43:31
And it really was this combination
43:34
of the governor, the mayor, and the central pastors
43:39
of the Methodist and Baptist churches
43:41
that were all aligned to keep not only
43:44
the public facilities segregated,
43:46
but first and foremost, the churches segregated.
43:48
Because they saw– if the churches–
43:50
if segregation fell at the church level,
43:52
that would be the domino that knocked everything else down.
43:55
So it was actually quite important that–
43:59
socially, that the– and for cultural power,
44:02
that the white Christian churches remain segregated.
44:04
So I think this has been a racial story all the way down
44:08
that just isn’t told very well.
44:10
Let me– I want to invite David to come in here.
44:15
I just want you to sort of give a word, a verbal picture,
44:19
of that chart I like so much.
44:21
Because– just so you know, the reason I like this chart
44:24
is because it really showed how radically different
44:30
the Obama coalition was, and really
44:33
still, the Democratic coalition is now,
44:36
from the Republican coalition.
44:38
If you sort of crossed race and religion,
44:44
It’s a very different–
44:45
So it’s basically a version of this chart.
44:47
Yeah.
44:47
But what I did in the other chart
44:49
is I overlaid the Obama and Romney coalitions,
44:55
and kind of fit them into where they
44:56
would fit in the generation cohort
44:58
as a way of kind of explaining where the two
45:00
political parties were, in terms of race, religion,
45:02
and generation.
45:04
And what it basically showed was that in 2012,
45:08
that the Obama coalition looked about like 30-year-old America,
45:12
in terms of its racial and religious break.
45:15
The Romney coalition looked about like 70-year-old America
45:19
in terms of its racial and religious composition.
45:23
And what we’re seeing now, even if we just–
45:25
and that was vote.
45:26
But even if we look at party affiliation today,
45:29
the Republican Party 10 years ago
45:32
was 80%, 81%, white and Christian.
45:36
Today, the Republican Party is 71% white and Christian.
45:40
10 years ago, the Democratic Party
45:41
was 50% white and Christian.
45:44
Today, it’s 30% white and Christian.
45:46
So we’re now looking at the two political parties who
45:49
are increasingly being polarized by race and religion,
45:54
so that we’re on a trajectory where we’ll end up with,
45:59
basically, a kind of white, Christian nationalist party,
46:03
and then everyone else over here.
46:06
And that’s something I’m actually genuinely worried,
46:08
is that drift that we’re seeing in party
46:10
affiliation in the country.
46:11
And what that means is that only one party
46:16
is creating a multi-racial, multi-religious coalition,
46:21
which may create incentives for the other party
46:24
to create certain forms of division.
46:25
That’s A.
46:26
Yep.
46:27
But B, it creates enormous coalition management problems
46:30
inside the Democratic Party, because a big part of the shift
46:35
is in the rise of the seculars, of the non-affiliated.
46:39
And so– I mean, I think you saw it visibly in the Hillary
46:42
Clinton campaign, where that campaign was
46:45
very torn about how to present her religiously.
46:48
Because here was this very religious Methodist woman
46:52
for whom Methodism, who, one understands,
46:57
was discouraged to some degree by her campaign
47:00
from talking about that because the more secular vote was–
47:06
turning out, the younger, more secular vote was critical,
47:09
they thought, to her success.
47:12
Could you elaborate on that?
47:13
Yeah.
47:14
I mean, the other thing I’d point out is that–
47:16
I think this creates problems for–
47:18
because we only have two political parties,
47:20
it creates problems for both, actually.
47:21
Yeah.
47:22
Because the other piece of this is
47:23
that it creates incentives for the Democratic Party
47:27
to be home to everyone except white Christian voters,
47:30
and that, I think, also is a really unhealthy dynamic.
47:33
Because all of a sudden, white Christian voters
47:35
become the enemy.
47:36
Like, they’re the other guys.
47:37
They’re not in our tribe.
47:38
And I think this kind of tribalism thing
47:41
is a real danger, I think, for our politics today.
47:48
David, I wanted to give you the first set of questions.
47:52
I thought I had a night off.
47:54
Oh, I thought you–
47:55
[LAUGHTER]
47:55
I thought you wanted to come in.
47:56
I heard you saying that you wanted to come in.
47:58
No, I will be happy to give you a night off.
48:00
There are a couple of things I would [INAUDIBLE]..
48:03
So we had a presentation here a couple
48:07
of months ago by a young scholar at Calhoun College
48:12
who, as well as putting a race slant on theirs,
48:19
put a strong gender slant on it as well.
48:22
Arguing that, really from the Vietnam War Era onwards,
48:27
there was a distinct creation of a kind of Evangelical
48:30
masculinity that came around through patriotism,
48:36
support of the military, support of patriarchal values
48:42
in the family, support for the police, and so on down
48:48
the line.
48:49
And being also quite resistant to feminism
48:53
and pressure from that.
48:55
So it’s another, as well as the other pressures
48:57
on pushing this constituency further to the right,
49:03
she made a pretty compelling case,
49:05
even through the popular literature of the Evangelical
49:07
constituencies, of how this kind of constructed masculinity
49:12
became also a part.
49:14
And that would be true, right, through a range of things.
49:17
Maybe even over guns as well.
49:18
I don’t know.
49:19
Mhm.
49:19
And maybe the second thing I’d ask you to comment on
49:23
is it seems to me that the Evangelical constituencies I
49:29
know are kind of against you liberal elites of all kinds.
49:36
Whether it’s activist judges or the liberal media,
49:40
the Ivy League universities, Hollywood, a whole bunch
49:44
of things that they feel are a concentrated attack
49:49
on their values.
49:50
From just a liberal a elite, broadly conceived.
49:56
So those are two things, maybe, to add to the mix a little bit,
49:59
that I’d be interested to hear your views on.
50:02
OK, great.
50:03
Thanks.
50:04
You can jump in here too, [INAUDIBLE]..
50:06
I’ll take a stab at the gender one.
50:08
That first image that I showed with the family prayer
50:12
I don’t think is coincidental, that it
50:14
had the most prominent figure in that photo
50:16
is the patriarch sitting at the head of the table.
50:20
We have some antique furnishings in our house.
50:22
Some you may have this too.
50:24
We have a dining room table from the 1940s in our house,
50:28
and it seats–
50:29
1, 2, 3– six.
50:31
And there’s only one chair that has arms.
50:33
[LAUGHTER]
50:36
And it was literally built into our furniture
50:40
in the 1940s and 1950s, this sense
50:42
of where– and that’s called the captain’s chair, right
50:45
and that’s where the father sits at the head.
50:47
It only fits at the head of the table.
50:49
It won’t even fit around the side.
50:50
It has to be on one end or the other.
50:52
And there’s a chair at the other end too but,
50:54
it doesn’t have arms.
50:55
It just this one.
50:56
And so I think it’s literally built
50:58
into the fabric of our culture and our architecture.
51:01
I mean, it was there.
51:03
And so I think that’s been a part of it.
51:05
And the other thing I guess I would sketch
51:07
is it’s part of a bigger kind of hierarchical world
51:13
view, where gender is kind of a very clear conception.
51:21
It’s black and white.
51:22
There’s man, there’s women.
51:24
Each know their place.
51:25
There’s parents and there’s children.
51:28
There is this real ordered, hierarchical world.
51:31
And I think it’s the breakdown of that–
51:34
and it’s whites over blacks.
51:36
It’s very clear.
51:37
Everyone knew their place in the pecking order.
51:39
And I think it’s the dissolution of that sense of space.
51:44
And particularly, if you’re on the top of that pyramid,
51:46
you feel that very decisively when it starts to crumble.
51:51
And I think that’s part of what’s going on,
51:53
and so that’s why the gender pieces have to be part of it,
51:56
I think, in the construction here.
51:59
And then the other piece– was remind me the–
52:02
[INAUDIBLE]
52:04
Yeah.
52:04
I mean, that’s certainly been there.
52:06
It’s– I mean, I’ve certainly had people from my–
52:09
just to make it from a personal example, the way it works
52:13
is that your local church will–
52:15
in the Baptist world, licenses you
52:18
to the ministry on your way to seminary.
52:20
It’s kind of an endorsement from your local congregation
52:22
as you’re heading off to seminary.
52:24
And there’s a reception, and that sort of thing.
52:27
And I’ve certainly had at least two people
52:29
come by and give me the “Don’t let seminary ruin you” speech.
52:35
There was kind of that sense of things,
52:37
like, don’t lose your faith at seminary.
52:40
It turns out I lost my denomination at seminary–
52:42
[LAUGHTER]
52:44
–with the way things fell out.
52:47
But I think there is–
52:48
that has been there.
52:50
And I think it has been this kind of embattled South.
52:53
And again, it has a kind of racial tinge to it, right?
52:58
Everything from the War of Northern Aggression instead
53:01
of the Civil War, to Confederate flags everywhere,
53:04
to Daughters of the American Revolution putting up
53:06
monuments here there and yonder about the Civil War.
53:09
All those are markers of a world kind of gone by, I think.
53:14
And that’s why I think this–
53:16
I really Trump’s cam– we haven’t really
53:18
talked about this explicitly, but I do
53:19
think that Trump’s campaign slogan,
53:21
he’s going to make America great “again.”
53:24
Right?
53:24
It was that last piece that had more power than anything else.
53:27
Yeah.
53:28
And on the homestretch of the election cycle, I mean,
53:30
he was really leaning on that.
53:32
I mean, he was literally saying, I’m your last chance, folks.
53:36
If you don’t vote for me this election cycle,
53:39
you will never see a Republican like me
53:41
in your gen– in your lifetime.
53:44
And he was kind of just naming the demographic changes.
53:47
Like, I’m your bulwark against the change.
53:49
Mhm.
53:50
Yeah, I think there’s a paradox on women in this area.
53:54
On the one hand, if you overlaid women
53:57
into some of these charts, especially women
54:01
have been tilting more Democratic than men since 1980.
54:08
That’s really when the gender gap started, opening up
54:10
with Reagan’s election.
54:12
In the country now, the gender gap under Trump
54:15
is truly astonishing.
54:17
And so that if you actually added women to these pictures,
54:22
they would–
54:23
men would fall out into all these–
54:27
or a much bigger piece of the Republican coalition.
54:34
On the other hand, women are also
54:37
the most religious people in– or more religious,
54:40
on the whole, than men.
54:43
They’re more likely to be believers.
54:44
They’re more likely to belong to churches and synagogues,
54:48
and especially churches, though.
54:50
And they often take leadership roles.
54:53
So not necessarily always the formal head,
54:57
but they play a very prominent part.
55:01
One of the– Theda Skocpal here at Harvard is doing a wonderful
55:05
study with two colleagues, Vanessa Williamson, and–
55:08
I’ve forgotten the other colleague involved in this.
55:11
And they are looking at eight counties in–
55:15
I believe it’s Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin,
55:19
and Pennsylvania.
55:20
Trump counties in Trump states.
55:22
And it’s two Trump counties in each state.
55:24
One more rural, one more exurban, suburban.
55:29
Here’s an interesting fact out of their study.
55:31
They have found that in those eight Trump counties,
55:35
there– these are pro-Trump counties,
55:37
they have found 10 anit-Trump groups that got organized.
55:42
Two interesting facts about the leadership of these groups.
55:46
One, every single one of them is either a lead
55:48
or co-led by a woman, and many of these women
55:52
come out of the mainline churches.
55:54
Many of them have mainline church backgrounds.
56:00
And obviously, these are predominantly white areas
56:02
that voted for Trump.
56:05
And so on the one hand, you see a picture
56:10
that– of a past that had religion
56:14
overlaid with patriarchy.
56:16
On the other hand, you have very religious people who are–
56:21
very religious people, being disproportionately women,
56:24
many of them in leadership roles,
56:26
and many of them out of mainline Protestantism.
56:32
And just one story from our class.
56:35
We had a wonderful Unitarian minister in our class
56:39
from a par–
56:41
his church was in Dallas.
56:43
And it takes guts to be a Unitarian in Dallas.
56:46
[LAUGHTER]
56:47
And he said that after Trump’s election,
56:52
his church just filled up because it was
56:55
known as an activist church.
56:58
And I couldn’t resist looking at our students and saying,
57:01
God works in mysterious ways.
57:03
The purpose of Trump’s election is to turn America
57:06
into a nation of Unitarians.
57:08
[LAUGHTER]
57:11
Go ahead.
57:12
Could I– can I respond just to–
57:14
well, just two more and then I will give up.
57:18
One is, I did ask Theda Skocpol and those those counties
57:21
whether they–
57:23
the non-college educated women who split for Trump like 62%,
57:29
I think?
57:29
Wasn’t it something like that?
57:31
Whether there was any shift there in support for Trump.
57:34
In other words, whether this was essentially
57:36
college-educated women who were organizing against Trump,
57:39
or whether there was any movement
57:41
in that other constituency.
57:42
And she said she didn’t really know the answer
57:44
to that question.
57:45
She hadn’t really gotten to it.
57:46
But that’s an interesting–
57:47
Yeah.
57:48
The second thing, and I’ll finish with this
57:50
and take my night off, is really just
57:52
to switch over to the Democratic side.
57:54
And so I did read somewhere in the reflections on the campaign
58:00
that the Democrats were nervous about talking about religion.
58:04
And one reason for that is that a lot of the young staffers
58:06
on the campaign came from metropolitan areas
58:10
and were simply inured to that language,
58:12
and weren’t comfortable with it.
58:14
And she wasn’t particularly comfortable with it so it.
58:17
So I’ve just got–
58:19
so my question about that is, given your demographics,
58:23
would it be smart for the Democratic Party
58:25
now to stay away from those topics, with the assurance
58:33
that things are moving in that direction with the younger
58:36
generation?
58:37
Or does the Democratic Party need
58:39
to find a voice of how to talk about these issues,
58:42
the way that Hillary fai–
58:44
in my view, wasn’t able to do about her Methodist roots
58:48
and upbringing?
58:49
So if you were a Democratic strategist,
58:55
which of those two options do you
58:56
think would make the most sense?
58:57
All right, so you’re going to get me
58:58
in trouble with this question.
59:00
I don’t know.
59:01
Do you want to take a run at that first,
59:02
or do you want me to–
59:03
I have a strong view on this, but I’ve always–
59:07
I kind of want to do it first, because curious.
59:08
All right, all right, All right.
59:09
I’ll go.
59:09
All right, we’ll see–
59:10
My view won’t change, so–
59:11
[LAUGHTER]
59:13
No matter how brilliant you are.
59:14
Yeah.
59:16
So here’s what’s interesting.
59:18
If I gave this presentation in England
59:21
about the percentage of unaffiliated people
59:24
in the country, the British people would be thinking,
59:27
where did all those church people come from?
59:30
Because we’re talking about 24% of the country
59:33
being unaffiliated.
59:34
That means that 3/4 of the country
59:37
is affiliated in some way or another.
59:40
And even among young people, we’re talking about 4
59:42
in 10 being unaffiliated.
59:45
That means that 6 in 10 are affiliated in some way.
59:49
Now, it’s a dramatic sea change for the US context,
59:52
as we have always been kind of the exception
59:54
to the Western developed world in terms of religiosity.
59:58
And so this is new for us.
60:00
But I think–
60:03
I’m of the mind, the parties certainly
60:05
have to hone their messages and speak to their base.
60:08
But again, from my money, I think
60:12
that it’s a dangerous game to play,
60:15
I think, if a political party decides,
60:18
we’re going to so tailor it to our base
60:20
that we’re not going to speak a language that still most
60:23
of the country understands, and that
60:26
is meaningful for most of the country.
60:28
Even most young people, still.
60:31
And I think it’s about how it’s done.
60:33
I think the kind of wearing it on your sleeve
60:35
and sort of slapping the– and this has actually, I think,
60:38
been something Democrats have been guilty of,
60:41
is because they’re uncomfortable with it, what they tend to do
60:44
is sort of slap Matthew 25 as a bumper
60:48
sticker on whatever the policy briefing is
60:50
that they’re going in for.
60:52
And somehow, that makes it a kind of faith-based kind
60:55
of grounding on it.
60:57
But I think something that’s more organic–
60:59
and I think Hillary Clinton could have pulled this off.
61:01
Because I’ve been in smaller settings and heard
61:04
her tell her story.
61:05
It’s not awkward.
61:06
It’s not– doesn’t feel contrived,
61:10
and I think she could’ve pulled it off.
61:12
And I think if it feels like it comes from the heart
61:14
and it’s not about–
61:16
it’s more about who I am, and what
61:18
energizes me and grounds me as a candidate,
61:20
I think that’s something that’s not
61:22
going to be that off-putting to people.
61:24
Even for people who have a kind of deep suspicion of religion
61:28
writ large.
61:29
That’s my take.
61:31
Yeah.
61:31
Three points.
61:33
One, I can’t resist just this notion of this rising nuns
61:36
under–
61:37
people under 30.
61:39
In a sense, the under-30 generation
61:41
is becoming European.
61:43
Because we’ve always made a big distinction
61:46
between churchgoing Americans versus non-churchgoing.
61:50
Particularly Western Europeans, but now pretty much Europeans
61:53
in general.
61:54
Peter Burr, the great sociologist of religion,
61:56
he used to joke that elites were more secular,
62:01
and the mass of Americans were more religious.
62:03
And he said that India is the most religious country
62:07
in the world, Sweden the least religious.
62:08
And America is a country of Indians governed by Swedes,
62:11
he said.
62:12
[LAUGHTER]
62:13
This [INAUDIBLE] quip.
62:14
What?
62:15
Remember his Harvard quip? he’s like–
62:16
That we often mistake–
62:18
that academics tend to mistake the Harvard Faculty Club
62:21
for the country as a whole.
62:23
[INAUDIBLE]
62:24
[LAUGHTER]
62:26
And so I just think that is an interesting development.
62:28
Yeah.
62:29
But point 2 is I personally think
62:31
it was a disastrous error on the part of the Democratic campaign
62:36
not to encourage Clinton to speak about Methodism
62:42
and its role in her life.
62:44
And I think we have a lot of examples in our history,
62:47
but one in particular where a public figure could speak
62:52
very clearly to secular people while often
62:57
speaking in religious terms.
62:59
And that’s Martin Luther King.
63:01
And Martin Luther King’s rhetoric
63:02
was a brilliant fusion of the Declaration of Independence
63:07
and the Constitution on the one side,
63:10
and Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Matthew 25,
63:13
and a lot of other parts of it on the other.
63:16
And I think that what’s happened is–
63:20
and I think this is very dangerous for religion.
63:23
In the last two days, I’ve run into two people who–
63:26
two women, who said, I own actually quite beautiful
63:29
crosses that I used to wear, and I don’t
63:32
want to wear them anymore.
63:33
Because if I wear them, people automatically associate me
63:37
with the Religious Right.
63:39
And it is the association of religion
63:43
with certain kinds of right-wing ideas,
63:46
and particularly among young people,
63:47
and particularly among gay and lesbian people,
63:50
that turns off the younger generation.
63:53
And I think there was fear in the Clinton campaign,
63:57
and particularly among the more secular young,
63:59
that they would be turned off by this.
64:02
And also, that there’s a lot of anger among younger people,
64:06
again, particularly gays and lesbians,
64:08
toward very conservative Christians, who they perceive
64:12
as inimical to who they are.
64:18
But I don’t see in this country, given
64:21
what Robbie said about the 75%, not
64:26
to talk to religious people was a mistake.
64:32
And it was, finally, in a way, the most authentic piece
64:35
of Hillary Clinton.
64:36
Anyone who’s ever heard her talk about the role of Methodism
64:41
and why it created this commitment in her
64:44
to social justice–
64:46
it’s very believable, because as best I can tell,
64:49
it’s actually true.
64:50
And that’s a really helpful in politics.
64:53
Yeah.
64:55
So I– and that– besides which, we have this electoral college.
64:59
And if you want to carry Michigan and Pennsylvania
65:02
and Ohio and Wisconsin, I don’t think you can just say,
65:05
we can do it on the secular coalition alone.
65:09
I’m not for it.
65:09
I wish we didn’t have an electoral college, but we do.
65:13
Who wants to– please.
65:17
You’re right near the mic.
65:18
OK, thank you.
65:20
My question, it’s really about Billy Graham,
65:23
but I have to set out a couple historical things that
65:25
haven’t come up.
65:28
In the 1920s, there was a rise of a nativist populism,
65:34
and the KKK, funded by some wealthy Southern Baptists,
65:38
really made a push to come into Southern New England.
65:41
And my family is from Connecticut,
65:43
and my grandfather made a stand, a public stand
65:47
that was memorable in my family, about that.
65:50
God bless him.
65:50
While that went on–
65:51
[INAUDIBLE]?
65:52
I said, god bless him.
65:53
Yeah, yeah.
65:54
For us that’s true.
65:57
That went on for five, eight years, and perhaps in the end,
66:01
you could say it was really wiped out
66:03
by The Depression and then the World War.
66:06
At the end of World War II, the Churches of the World,
66:11
the World Council of Churches, anyway,
66:13
really confronted the German churches, Lutheran
66:17
and Catholic, and said, you did nothing.
66:20
You let all of these fascists sit in the pews
66:23
and feel loved by God, and you did nothing.
66:27
And that’s totally unacceptable.
66:29
And American mainline denominations
66:31
took that to heart.
66:33
And in my own college graduate school era
66:36
of the ’60s, boy, everything was full of that story.
66:42
In the ’50s, just when this was really ramping up,
66:46
Billy Graham stood up and said, hey, here I am.
66:50
I’ll give you all the cheap grace you want.
66:53
Come on down to me.
66:54
You don’t have to do any of this moral stuff.
66:58
And he cheap-graced his way to millions of bucks,
67:01
and I would say, really set up Franklin Graham to take over
67:05
and take it one step further.
67:08
So I’m having a little trouble today
67:09
with all the warm things being said about Billy on the radio.
67:14
But my family never liked what he was doing,
67:19
I do think he saw–
67:21
he’s a good salesman, and he saw that he
67:23
could sell what the others were no longer trying to sell.
67:32
Comment on that?
67:33
Go ahead.
67:34
No, you go.
67:34
You work for the rabbi.
67:36
I am actually looking up something
67:38
on my little phone here.
67:40
Yeah, so it’s interesting.
67:43
The one thing– the thing I would say that–
67:48
I resonate with in what you’re saying
67:49
is that there’s a version–
67:52
a kind of abstract version of this personal relationship
67:58
with Jesus that runs deeply through Evangelical life
68:02
and through Billy Graham’s speaking.
68:04
That that’s what’s most important,
68:06
is that you get your naked self right with God through Jesus.
68:12
It’s this very one-on-one personal thing.
68:16
What tends to be missing from that
68:19
is the connection to social action and social justice.
68:22
Now, it’s interesting to him– he’s a complex figure,
68:24
because he really–
68:26
for the time, I mean, he was very clearly trying to de–
68:30
he refused to hold rallies in some places that
68:32
were try– say, you can only come with segregated audiences.
68:34
He’s like, I’m not going to come.
68:36
Are we going to have it or not?
68:38
He was– at the time, King, it’s worth remembering,
68:42
was a controversial figure even in the mainline churches
68:45
in the 1960s.
68:46
Even in the African American denominations, King–
68:48
in many of them, King was a controversial person.
68:52
And Graham reached out, had him do the opening thing.
68:55
So I– it’s interesting that he doing that kind of stuff.
68:58
But at the same time, i think one
69:00
of the other ways I’ve been thinking
69:02
about how Evangelicalism sort of hid its racial history
69:08
is through this very personal view of Jesus that doesn’t
69:12
connect to social action.
69:14
So you can be personally right with God–
69:17
and you can see this over and over in Southern sermons
69:19
from the ’60s, and before the Christian Right
69:22
got politically active.
69:23
The trope was, that’s politics, this is religion,
69:27
and the two don’t have anything to do with each other.
69:29
But you can only really say that if you’re
69:30
at the top of the heap, and the status quo looks good to you,
69:33
right?
69:34
Then that makes a lot of sense.
69:37
But that disconnect, I would say,
69:39
that’s what resonates to me that as maybe the weak point,
69:43
I think, in what got reinforced.
69:47
At the same time, he was working to desegregate things,
69:51
propping up a theological view that didn’t have a lot of teeth
69:56
to it in terms of racial justice.
69:57
[INAUDIBLE] talking about the [INAUDIBLE]..
70:00
Uh-huh.
70:01
Yeah.
70:01
Yep.
70:02
No, I appreciate your question.
70:03
First of all, I like the way you linked what
70:05
you said with the first part.
70:07
Because, of course, cheap-gracing it,
70:08
you are channeling Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
70:11
who was in the part of the German church that stood up
70:14
to Hitler.
70:15
And that was his phrase.
70:17
What I was looking up is Reinhold Niebuhr
70:19
was a great critic of Billy Graham,
70:21
and it was precisely on this point.
70:24
And in a way, Graham could be said
70:27
to have popularized the reaction to the social gospel
70:33
among fundamentalists a long time before.
70:37
And so on the one hand, it was a more open, less-angry form of–
70:45
that Evangelicalism was a less-angry form
70:48
of fundamentalism, and this was a less-angry form
70:51
of Evangelicalism.
70:52
So in that sense, the warm Billy Graham is a real story.
70:56
On the other hand, at the root of that
70:58
is a very, very conservative view of religion that did not
71:02
have this social challenge in it, and that Graham,
71:06
in the end, really was quite conservative.
71:09
He was a very close friend and ally of Richard Nixon’s,
71:13
for example.
71:15
And it was not a social justice faith at all.
71:18
[INAUDIBLE] has to [INAUDIBLE].
71:22
Yeah, yeah.
71:24
Although in the ’50s, that was a fairly broad [INAUDIBLE]..
71:28
[INAUDIBLE]–
71:32
Yes.
71:32
–[INAUDIBLE].
71:34
It was a major part of his platform.
71:37
Yeah, so your point is correct.
71:40
I had a choice of writing a column on him this morning
71:43
and I chose–
71:43
I let my colleagues do it.
71:45
Because my feelings about him are complicated,
71:47
the way yours are.
71:50
Because I accept what Robbie says,
71:51
but I also think that those are two sides of the Graham story
71:55
that we just have to accept.
71:57
Who wants to– who– oh, the gentleman back there,
72:01
we’ll come to you.
72:02
Yeah.
72:03
Thank you guys both for coming.
72:06
One thing you said during the talk was, quote,
72:10
“Nothing inside Southern Baptist churches in Macon, Georgia,
72:14
has anything to do with race.”
72:16
And so I actually have an interesting story.
72:19
My grandfather, his parents were Syrian-Turkish immigrants.
72:24
They moved in 1909 to Macon, Georgia.
72:28
So my grandfather was born the last of nine Jewish kids
72:35
in a big family in Macon, Georgia.
72:37
And when I asked my grandfather about what
72:41
it was like growing up in Macon, Georgia,
72:43
he said, well, Andrew, after dark, there
72:46
were no Jews, dogs, or blacks allowed on the street.
72:52
And so as a Jewish kid looking up to my grandfather, the idea
72:56
that race never existed inside of whatever happened inside
73:01
of Southern Baptist churches sounds–
73:06
doesn’t sound too right to me.
73:08
And I also think that tonight we’ve
73:11
talked a lot about white Christianity,
73:14
but we haven’t really–
73:15
here at the Divinity School, we often
73:16
wrestle with questions of justice when it comes to God.
73:21
And if we think about this long arc of Christian decline
73:25
that we’ve outlined tonight, we also
73:28
recognize the same historical period represents
73:31
tremendous increases in things like mass incarceration,
73:36
destruction–
73:37
I mean, white wealth over those periods,
73:40
compared to minority wealth, has been astronomical.
73:44
So we see the consolidation of white control over society,
73:48
and we know that 53% of white women voted for Trump.
73:55
So I guess my question to you guys
73:58
is how does your approach take into the racial catastrophes?
74:07
Over 3 million incarcerated folk today, increasing.
74:12
Deportations.
74:16
How does that not stem out of those same white spaces
74:20
from the past?
74:21
The rise of white culture?
74:24
Let me take the thing about– what
74:26
I said about the inside of white Christian churches.
74:28
I want to make sure I’m not misunderstood.
74:30
I wasn’t saying that narrative was true.
74:32
I was saying it was being told.
74:35
And so that, I think, is what’s remarkable,
74:38
is that I could grow up– and I went to church five times
74:41
a week growing up.
74:42
Like, I was there Sunday morning, Sunday night,
74:45
Monday night visitation, Tuesday night Bible study,
74:47
Wednesday night prayer meeting.
74:49
That was my schedule growing up, so I was there all the time.
74:54
And so I wouldn’t have missed it if it was there.
74:56
And it just wasn’t there.
74:57
I mean, there wasn’t a narrative at all, because–
75:01
all white.
75:02
There was– and it just, it wasn’t ever a part.
75:06
Even when we were talking about our own history,
75:08
we had like Baptist training union on Sunday afternoons,
75:12
and that was the time when you’d talk about the denomination.
75:15
And it just wasn’t there really.
75:17
Not all the way back, it wasn’t there.
75:18
About the ’60s, none of it.
75:20
I was there.
75:20
So I’m saying that there’s a literally whitewashed narrative
75:25
being told inside churches that, I think,
75:27
hid the racial history of the domination.
75:31
And I think that was a huge problem,
75:33
and is an ongoing huge problem for–
75:36
and what’s great, Macon, Georgia is a great example.
75:40
There are two First Baptist churches in Macon, Georgia.
75:43
They sit about 50 yards apart downtown.
75:47
One of them is African American, one of them is white.
75:51
They used to be one church.
75:53
They split during the Civil War when
75:56
it became too tense for slave owners and slaves
76:00
to be in church together.
76:01
And so they gave permission for the African American slaves
76:04
to go build their own church before they were emancipated,
76:07
and then after the Civil War and the Emancipation,
76:09
they continued their own church.
76:10
Those churches have sat for 150 years on two corners of Macon,
76:14
Georgia.
76:15
Until the last five years, they finally
76:18
get two young pastors who kind of looked at each other
76:20
and went, what are we doing?
76:22
We’re sitting here– and they started
76:24
doing some joint things between the two churches.
76:27
But that’s like the last five years that has happened.
76:31
It’s a sort of long, long story.
76:33
And your point about the Jewish community, I think,
76:37
is really important, and it’s part of this narrative.
76:40
Yeah, in the 1920s, huge anti-Semitic stuff going on.
76:45
And it’s really important to remember,
76:46
the KKK was a white Protestant organization.
76:51
It was shot through with Protestant Christianity.
76:55
It was anti-Catholic, it was anti-Jewish,
76:57
and it was anti-black.
76:59
And that is its history, and it was propped up
77:03
by white Protestant churches all through the South where
77:07
it really had its stronghold.
77:08
So I think remembering that is really important.
77:12
We’re hearing echoes of it even today in Charlottesville.
77:15
We heard not just stuff around race, and pride,
77:19
and the Confederate flag, and that’s a– but
77:21
they were chanting “Jew will not replace us” in Charlottesville.
77:26
So it’s still hovering there with us,
77:28
even though attitudes have largely
77:30
changed in the general public.
77:31
And the rise of the KKK in the ’20s that you referenced–
77:35
and it was really powerful in some states in the North,
77:38
particularly– they basically took over Indiana for a while.
77:42
On top of being anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish,
77:45
it was deeply anti-immigrant.
77:47
And it’s worth remembering that the ’20s were
77:51
when the toughest immigration law was passed by Congress.
77:56
It was a kind of a backlash, not at all unlike the backlash
78:01
reflected in the Trump campaign.
78:06
I will– before we close, I want to tell a very personal
78:11
Southern Jewish story.
78:12
But I’m going to wait till–
78:14
to close with it, because it’s actually a–
78:18
it’s a warm American story about the lines of hatred
78:22
always being unexpected.
78:25
But I wanted to just go to a couple more questions.
78:28
The gentlemen here.
78:30
Yeah, go ahead.
78:31
Yeah, here’s the mic.
78:34
Thank you.
78:37
It’s not clear to me a couple of statistical points.
78:44
And then I have a larger question.
78:46
Did a majority of white Christians
78:50
vote for Donald Trump?
78:53
Yes, yes.
78:54
Yeah.
78:54
I was afraid of that answer.
78:55
Yes.
78:56
And the spike in– or the big shift
79:02
in the statistic that you’ve stressed most,
79:05
about how under Obama, white Christianity shifted
79:10
from a majority of the population
79:12
to a 43% minority in eight years,
79:21
I suspect that that– that I’ll get
79:23
a “yes” to this statistical question too,
79:26
that that was probably the fastest shift of that kind
79:31
in American history.
79:32
Yeah, you can s–
79:33
Robbie’s suggesting another “yes”?
79:38
I believe that’s true.
79:39
Yeah.
79:39
I mean, it has been dropping, really, since the ’70s.
79:42
But this 11– more than a percentage point a year is
79:46
definitely more [INAUDIBLE]–
79:47
But more of that comes from the rise
79:50
of religious disaffiliation than from racial change.
79:52
Yeah.
79:53
That’s why I was trying at the beginning to–
79:55
in other words, you’ve had a very precipitous drop
79:58
in religious affiliation among younger Americans.
80:03
And so some of that is racial change and immigra–
80:07
because of immigration.
80:08
But more of it is from religious disaffiliation.
80:11
Yeah.
80:12
The other point that I didn’t talk about,
80:14
but that is interesting, we’re talking
80:15
a lot about white Evangelicals.
80:17
One of the reasons why we’re seeing their drop
80:20
is actually that fertility rates among white Evangelicals
80:23
have gone down.
80:25
And that’s mostly because there has
80:27
been an uptick in Evangelical women getting college degrees
80:31
over the last generation.
80:32
And so we always know that’s a corollary.
80:34
So that’s all these kind of interesting–
80:37
in the mix that has lowered–
80:40
that has made family sizes smaller.
80:43
And then with the– you get smaller family size,
80:45
disaffiliation of young people, the whole group
80:48
starts aging and declining.
80:50
And that’s part of the story here.
80:53
So there are– and this was my third and final question.
80:57
So clearly, there are a number of drivers of this 10% drop
81:03
under Obama that has made us–
81:06
that has brought about the title of your book, The End of White
81:09
Christian America.
81:11
Well, you– and of course, you’ve
81:14
just given us, both of you, a number of the drivers.
81:18
Which of these driving factors do you
81:20
think was the most important?
81:22
And I’ll yield.
81:23
Yeah.
81:24
Well, I think we–
81:27
as E.J. suggested, we’ve seen this kind
81:28
of steady and predictable racial and ethnic drop that’s
81:32
underneath everything.
81:34
And I don’t have the chart here, but if I showed you
81:36
the curve of–
81:39
over time, the trends over time, the percentage of Americans who
81:42
claim no religious affiliation, it starts in the 1990s.
81:46
And it’s single digits in 19–
81:47
like 6%, 7% in the 1990s.
81:49
It just starts upticking a little bit into the 2000s,
81:53
and in the last decade, it just looks
81:55
like a lot of rhythmic uptick.
81:56
It just takes off.
81:58
And so it is kind of turbocharge across the last decade
82:02
kind of thing.
82:03
And we’re seeing it.
82:04
It ticks up like every year.
82:06
I mean, it really is a measurable phenomenon.
82:08
[INAUDIBLE]
82:10
Yeah.
82:12
And just on your point, you might ask the question, well,
82:16
if these numbers moved in that direction under Obama,
82:19
how in the world did Donald Trump win
82:23
the election if those numbers are going this way?
82:26
And the answer to the question is, older people turn out
82:30
at higher rates than younger people,
82:33
is the single most important factor.
82:37
And there was a slight downtick in African American turnout
82:41
from the Obama election.
82:43
But it’s really that a lot of these numbers
82:46
are driven by young people who under vote,
82:49
compared to old people.
82:51
And so there was–
82:52
there may be one or two elections left maybe
82:56
in this coalition.
83:00
Even that is questionable, but it
83:02
has to do with voter turnout.
83:04
And if Trump turbochargers young people’s turnout,
83:09
then this coalition is fundamentally– basically
83:12
finished, I think it’s fair to say.
83:14
Although everybody’s been saying it’s finished for a long time,
83:17
and they’ve been wrong.
83:18
So it’s worth– sorry.
83:19
Can I just put one fine point on this real quick?
83:21
Just to kind of spell this out, though, white Evangelicals
83:24
make up 17% of the population.
83:27
So they’ve declined down to 17% of the population.
83:29
In the Trump election, they made up 26% of voters.
83:33
26% of the what?
83:35
Of voters.
83:36
So at the ballot box, they are 9 percentage points
83:39
overrepresented at the ballot box because of higher turnout
83:43
rates, relative to other people in the population.
83:46
Our best projections are it’s going
83:47
to be 2024 before the voting population looks
83:51
like the actual population looks like already.
83:56
That’s a good way to put it.
83:57
Yeah
83:57
I was going to say, the role of black women
84:00
in the Alabama special election for the Senate.
84:02
Yes.
84:03
I mean, that turned it against the Evangelicals candidate.
84:09
Right.
84:09
It was African Americans and it was young people,
84:12
that the line that you draw across that vote is age 45.
84:17
45 and under voted 61% for Doug Jones.
84:22
Over 65 voted overwhelmingly for Roy Moore.
84:27
And then you had very effective organizing
84:30
within the African American community that
84:32
produced a significant turnout.
84:36
It’s always been true in Southern politics
84:38
that if you get a good African American turnout
84:42
and a white vote of around, depending
84:45
on the state, the share, it only has
84:47
to be around 30% of the white vote in Alabama
84:50
and Mississippi.
84:51
But usually for the Democrats– and it
84:53
usually doesn’t reach that.
84:55
And that’s why they keep losing elections.
84:57
But Jones had the two-fer of a really good African American
85:02
turnout, combined with that share of the white vote that
85:06
rose, particularly because of younger people.
85:08
But I think it was African American women in Alabama,
85:11
if I’m not mistaken.
85:13
It was historic that they turned out at rates un–
85:15
we’ve never seen.
85:16
They outvoted African American men,
85:18
and they outvoted white men and women,
85:21
in terms of the rate of turnout in the election.
85:23
Although African American women tend to always turn out
85:26
at higher rates than men.
85:27
That’s true for quite a while.
85:29
But you’re right–
85:30
It was higher than whites.
85:31
Yeah.
85:31
What?
85:31
It was higher than whites in the Alabama election.
85:36
Oh.
85:39
Thank you.
85:41
I said–
85:43
No, go ahead.
85:44
Thank you so much for the talk.
85:46
This is really inspiring and very interesting.
85:49
I want to shift to–
85:51
I mean, Rob, in the book, you talk about– or one
85:54
of the very interesting things in the book
85:56
is that you talk about you use three institutions, basically,
86:00
to think through this decline, or end, of white Christian
86:06
America.
86:06
And I want to go back to this particular idea.
86:09
Most of the discussion was obviously
86:11
about the demographic change, but I
86:13
want to ask, how do you see the changes in the institution?
86:16
And by that, I don’t mean formal institution.
86:18
But I mean the institution of white Christianity
86:21
and politics.
86:23
And this takes us to David’s comment about the presence
86:26
or lack thereof of a particular presentation of religion
86:33
in politics in, say, the Clinton campaign,
86:36
or in Democratic campaigns.
86:37
And I want to ask, are we looking at the absence
86:40
of religion in politics?
86:42
Or are we looking at the absence and the dismantling, if you
86:46
will, of a particular mode of engagement between religion
86:50
and politics that we probably can characterize it
86:52
as white Christian American institution?
86:55
And in this same line, in a way, are
86:59
we looking at a different kind of identification
87:02
between religion and politics, between religion and race, that
87:05
transcends since what you described
87:07
as this kind of invincibility invisibility of the question
87:10
of race in the traditional white Christian narrative,
87:14
towards a mode that identifies the lines
87:17
between the individual and the public in a different way?
87:20
And in this same vein, just one last point.
87:23
In relation to AG’s comment about MLK
87:27
and his role, or his narrative, or his ability
87:30
to merge political and religious discourse,
87:33
I wonder if, again, we’re looking
87:35
at just a different language.
87:36
That the calling on religious symbols
87:39
here is not one that comes from a particular mode of power
87:44
or privilege, but one that comes from a prophetic narrative that
87:47
is part of the traditional–
87:49
the tradition of African American
87:51
prophetic religious expression.
87:54
And that probably, this is really the difference here.
87:56
That we’re looking at the disappearance
87:59
of a particular mode of institution.
88:01
So I want to hear what you think about how
88:03
this demographic change maps on the institution
88:06
of white Christianity in politics and beyond that.
88:09
Thank you.
88:10
All right.
88:11
I’ll take a piece of that.
88:13
So thank you for bringing up the institutions, though,
88:15
because I–
88:16
this is like nose counting up here,
88:18
and I think the institutions matter.
88:21
So I’ve been, for the next project,
88:24
reading a lot about South, and Calvin Trillin,
88:28
who’s a great journalist writing in the Civil Rights Era .
88:33
There’s a collection of his essays out in book form,
88:36
and the title of the book is– the lead essay,
88:39
or the lead article that takes the title of the book
88:43
is called Jackson 1964.
88:46
And one of the things that struck me in that book
88:49
is that he talked about the civil rights workers that
88:52
were on the ground in Mississippi
88:53
throughout the delta, and then kind of headquartered
88:56
in Jackson.
88:56
That often, their key media strategy
89:00
was to get the attention of the National Council of Churches.
89:03
And that if they could get the attention of the National
89:06
Council of Churches, they then saw that as a conduit
89:09
to Congress, a conduit to The New York Times,
89:11
a conduit to The Washington Post,
89:13
and they could get national media attention.
89:15
That was the conduit through.
89:17
I don’t know anyone today who thinks–
89:20
that’s their media strategy, is to get
89:21
the National Council of Churches on board.
89:24
It’s just that that institution has really changed.
89:27
When that was founded–
89:28
I have an account of the cornerstone
89:32
of the big– maybe you’ve probably been to the God Box
89:35
Building, and it kind of– it’s actually dubbed “The God Box”,
89:39
that was at the time called the closest thing to a Protestant
89:42
Vatican the world would ever see when it was founded.
89:45
The cornerstone was laid by President Eisenhower,
89:49
and when it was opened, there were
89:52
30,000 people that turned out for the opening
89:54
of this building.
89:56
And it was kind of this great gathering
89:58
of the mainline Protestant denominations in the building,
90:01
and it was this real sense of power
90:03
that it was going to be this gathering and reinforcing
90:11
and guiding power in a single direction.
90:15
It very quickly sort of never quite fulfilled that purpose,
90:19
but it’s notable today.
90:20
It’s still there, the National Council of Churches,
90:22
but they’ve abandoned the building.
90:24
They’ve now moved to DC, and they’re sharing, actually,
90:26
the Methodist building on Capitol Hill, which
90:29
has its own similar story.
90:30
As the largest Methodist building,
90:32
and the only religious building on Capitol Hill,
90:34
it sits right between The Capitol and the Supreme Court
90:37
Building.
90:37
If you look out one, you see the Supreme Court.
90:39
When it was founded, they were raising money for it,
90:42
the Methodist Women dubbed it a Protestant sentinel
90:45
on Capitol Hill.
90:46
Right?
90:47
It was right there to kind of keep an eye on things.
90:50
They even built apartments so that members of Congress
90:52
could live there and share a cafeteria,
90:55
and they could rub shoulders with them on a daily basis
90:57
and kind of influence policy.
90:59
And you know, those buildings are still there
91:01
and doing important work.
91:02
But they don’t have the kind of stature or influence
91:05
that they had in the 1960s.
91:07
And I think that mode of, yeah, we
91:09
got this big Protestant, behemoth institution
91:12
that everybody has to stand up and pay attention to.
91:15
That era is also, I think, gone.
91:18
I was thinking there will soon be Koch brothers condos–
91:21
[LAUGHTER]
91:23
–in DC, God help us.
91:25
Just two quick points.
91:27
One is I think there has been a tension
91:31
throughout American history between prophetic religion
91:34
and what you could call the alternative.
91:37
Liturgically, you could call it law-based.
91:40
And the African-American church has always
91:43
partaken of the prophetic.
91:46
And I’ve always found that you can–
91:48
if you’re talking about talking to a Christian,
91:52
you know which side they are on by whether they quote Micah,
91:56
Isaiah, and Amos or Leviticus.
92:00
And whether they–
92:01
[LAUGHTER]
92:02
–quote– whether they quote the social passages of the New
92:06
Testament or the conversion passages of the New Testament.
92:11
And I think you saw that in the fight over slavery.
92:14
You saw that over social justice issues
92:19
in the progressive era in the ’30s.
92:20
I mean, you saw it in the Civil Rights years.
92:22
I think that’s a deep tension that’s always running
92:25
through American religion.
92:28
The second is a set of cycles where religious questions are,
92:32
more or less, central to American politics.
92:36
And we get accustomed to one and are
92:38
shocked when there is a change.
92:42
And if you just go from 1928 to 1932,
92:45
1928 was an election saturated with religion, both
92:49
because Al Smith was the first Catholic candidate
92:53
for President, and because prohibition–
92:56
and whether to continue it– was the central question.
92:58
And all of a sudden, a funny thing
93:00
happens on the way to 1932, which is the Great Depression.
93:05
And there’s a great exchange between Jim Farley
93:07
and the Democrats, who were really
93:08
torn by these questions, and particularly prohibition.
93:11
And some Democrat in Missouri wrote Jim Farley and said,
93:16
I don’t understand why wet Democrats–
93:19
you know, pro– anti-prohibition– fight
93:21
with dry Democrats, when neither of them
93:25
can afford the price of a drink.
93:26
[LAUGHTER]
93:28
And suddenly, we went through a long period
93:30
where public religion was not as present.
93:35
And then everyone was stunned when the Christian Coalition
93:38
came along.
93:39
But really, it was just a return to that earlier pattern.
93:44
Are you Rabbi Telushkin?
93:45
I am.
93:45
I want to welcome you.
93:46
Before you came, I welcomed you, not only as a learned scholar,
93:50
but as the father of one of my very favorite students
93:53
here, my advisee, Shira, who is brilliant.
93:56
So thank you.
93:58
I’m honored.
93:59
So let’s get the rabbi a mike.
94:02
Do we have– is it– where–
94:06
ah, thank you.
94:07
Oh, I’m sorry.
94:09
I saw the– can you hold on?
94:11
Let me– I don’t want to be gender discriminatory here,
94:15
but I was just so happy to see Shira’s dad here that I–
94:20
go ahead.
94:20
So this is, I guess, a measurement question
94:23
and a broader question.
94:25
Within your category of white Christian,
94:27
I’m wondering if you’ve looked at voting patterns
94:29
and attitudes within or between different levels
94:33
of religiosity.
94:34
Yes.
94:34
Because I know, after the election,
94:36
I saw some evidence that suggested
94:38
that white evangelicals who attended church weekly, or more
94:42
frequently, were less likely to vote
94:44
for Trump than evangelicals who just kind of superficially
94:47
identified as religious, but didn’t necessarily–
94:50
that didn’t manifest in any behavioral measures.
94:53
And so I’m wondering, if that’s the case, how much work
94:56
religion is doing here, versus just
94:58
some sort of white, conservative ideology that
95:01
has become linked to religion.
95:04
I’ll just say one thing quickly, and turn it to Robbie.
95:06
What you just said, I think, was true in the primaries
95:09
than in the general election.
95:11
In the primaries, the genuinely religious evangelicals
95:14
were shifting– voting mostly for Ted Cruz.
95:17
And the self-identified evangelicals
95:20
who didn’t necessarily go to church
95:21
were much more likely to go to Trump.
95:24
And you’re absolutely right that, in the second group,
95:27
saying you’re evangelical is a kind of cultural marker
95:31
more than it is a deep religious commitment.
95:34
Whereas the Cruz evangelicals really
95:37
were the religious evangelicals, which
95:39
is why Cruz beat Trump in Iowa, and part of why
95:44
Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin.
95:47
So you’re right.
95:47
In the general, I think–
95:49
as a general rule, higher rates of church attendance
95:55
produce higher Republican voting,
95:57
though I think some of that is overlaid with age.
96:00
Because age also produces higher Republican voting.
96:03
So it’s notable that we see this pattern repeated
96:05
with Romney, as well.
96:08
Romney’s favorability rating before he
96:10
became the Republican nominee among white evangelicals
96:13
was in the 30s.
96:15
We measured a month after he became the Republican nominee.
96:18
It was up, nearly at 70%.
96:21
So we see these same kinds of patterns.
96:23
And it’s about partisan alignment, right?
96:25
Once the candidate becomes the Republican Party nominee,
96:28
evangelicals basically align their views.
96:30
It’s a miracle.
96:31
[LAUGHTER]
96:32
Church-going or not church-going, they
96:34
align their views with the Republican party’s nominee,
96:37
and that’s what we saw in that character question.
96:41
The favorability numbers looked that way.
96:43
If there’s one group, though–
96:45
I do want to– this is a great point to insert this point.
96:48
If there’s one group that looked different in the Trump
96:50
election, it was Mormons.
96:52
Yeah.
96:53
It’s the only group that significantly looked different
96:56
than– now, they had Evan McMullan on the ballot.
96:59
So in places like Utah, that drained off votes.
97:01
But it was the only group that really did move
97:03
away from their typical support for Republican candidates
97:08
in the last election cycle.
97:09
And if you look at some of the more outspoken critics
97:12
of Trump, you’ll see many of them are Mormon.
97:14
You’ll see this kind of pattern.
97:16
I keep thinking I want to write something about the real values
97:19
voters.
97:19
Right.
97:20
And I think there’s something going
97:22
on in the Mormon community about a sense of having been
97:26
an oppressed religious minority once
97:28
upon a time in our history.
97:30
And so even though there’s obviously
97:32
a very, very strong conservative streak among Mormon voters,
97:38
there is still this sense of the danger of mistreating
97:43
religious minorities.
97:45
By the way, I’m totally persuaded
97:46
Romney didn’t win the Republican nomination the first time
97:49
because he was Mormon.
97:51
And that’s why Mike Huckabee– that’s
97:53
one of the central reasons why Mike Huckabee overwhelmed him
97:57
in Iowa, which really helped derail his election.
98:00
And there is no question that, the first time around,
98:04
his Mormonism, I think, was very harmful with this constituency.
98:10
Yeah, Rabbi, welcome.
98:13
Thank you.
98:14
And you could imagine, to my wife, Deborah, and myself,
98:17
the greatest honor is being identified as Shira’s parents.
98:20
Oh, thank you.
98:21
So thank you.
98:21
[LAUGHTER]
98:22
It occurred to me that the issue, I think,
98:24
with Billy Graham was he just was trying to spread goodwill
98:30
and over– and went– and de-politicized.
98:32
Because it’s interesting.
98:33
He was not only a disappointment in that way to liberals.
98:36
George Will wrote one of the most devastating columns
98:39
against Graham when Graham visited Russia, and gave
98:42
a speech in a church telling everybody in the church,
98:46
your job is to be good workers for the state.
98:48
It so demoralized the Christians who were there.
98:51
There weren’t even that many Christians there
98:53
because the KGB had filled it up with a lot of their people.
98:57
So I think it was an overemphasis on steering away
99:01
from the political.
99:03
Also, the comment about Graham vis-a-vis Kennedy
99:06
as a Catholic, I think we also recognize
99:09
that an anti-Catholic position was very widespread still
99:14
in 1960.
99:15
Norman Vincent Peale, who was certainly not
99:18
a particularly conservative Christian,
99:20
opposed Kennedy because he was a Catholic, which
99:22
led to one of Adlai Stevenson’s great lines,
99:25
“I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling.”
99:27
[LAUGHTER]
99:28
And even–
99:29
I love that line.
99:30
And one of the very significant events affecting
99:34
African-American voters in that election
99:37
was when Martin Luther King was arrested.
99:40
Kennedy intervened.
99:41
Nixon, whether because he personally didn’t care
99:45
or making what he thought was a smart political decision,
99:47
didn’t intervene.
99:49
And King’s father announced that he was now supporting Kennedy–
99:52
He switched.
99:53
He switched, leading Kennedy to remark to some of his friends–
99:56
he didn’t say it publicly– imagine,
99:58
Martin Luther King’s father, a bigot.
100:00
But then he added, but then again, we all have fathers.
100:02
[LAUGHTER]
100:03
Yeah.
100:05
And one other request, if anybody can help me on this.
100:08
I’m serving as an advisor to a Jewish Museum,
100:11
and one of the things we’re working on is,
100:13
what has been the impact of Judaism on the world?
100:16
I remember once reading somewhere–
100:17
and I have not been able to find documentary evidence–
100:21
that obviously, slave owners wanted their slaves
100:24
to be Christians, but that they were–
100:27
I remember reading this.
100:28
I haven’t seen evidence of it.
100:30
That they actually had Bibles printed up
100:32
for slaves, in which the Bible was printed,
100:35
but the Book of Exodus was left out.
100:37
Yeah.
100:38
Oh, OK.
100:38
I’ve heard that, yes.
100:39
I want to get that on display somewhere.
100:41
I’ve heard that, as well.
100:43
And what’s fascinating is how deeply important the book
100:48
of Exodus is in every African-American church,
100:51
and how central it is African-American preaching,
100:53
for obvious reasons.
100:55
I mean, “let my people go.”
100:58
But yes.
101:00
I’m going to try to remember where I have found this
101:03
because there were very–
101:06
the first slave owners tried to keep the slaves illiterate,
101:11
and actually didn’t want them reading the whole Bible
101:14
because the Bible is very dangerous.
101:15
And there was often a tradition of one slave, at least,
101:20
becoming literate.
101:21
And the original African-American churches
101:24
were in the woods, and they were–
101:26
and the slaves were very conscious of those parts
101:30
of scripture that pointed to the freedom.
101:35
And so I think, in some cases, they were limited Bibles.
101:38
But in a lot of cases, the effort
101:40
was to keep the slaves illiterate so
101:42
that they would only hear the parts,
101:45
say, of Saint Paul, that said slaves, obey your masters,
101:50
and that sort of thing.
101:51
Which was the part that influenced Billy Graham when
101:53
he spoke in Moscow– in Russia.
101:54
Spoke in Russia, yeah.
101:54
Thank you.
101:55
One quick point on this.
101:56
It’s worth noting that in the 1940s–
101:58
I think it was 1947–
102:01
“The Christian Century,” which was the liberal publication
102:04
arm of the Protestant world–
102:07
published a 14-part series worrying about Catholics
102:12
in the country, and whether–
102:14
and it ended up being a book by the editor of “The Christian
102:16
Century” called, “Can Protestantism Save America?”
102:19
So there was deep, deep worries across–
102:21
not just in the conservative end of the Protestant world,
102:23
but in the liberal end of the Protestant world.
102:25
Well, it was said that–
102:26
In the ’50s?
102:26
–anti-Catholicism was–
102:27
1947, I think.
102:28
–anti-Catholicism was the anti-Semitism of the liberals.
102:31
And what’s fascinating about anti-Catholicism is it had two
102:35
completely different strains–
102:37
a right-wing strain in Conservative Protestantism,
102:42
and a left-wing strain that saw the Vatican–
102:45
and you could find some old stuff
102:47
in Vatican documents, pre-Vatican II that was
102:50
pretty chilling to liberals.
102:52
There was the famous Catholic catechism
102:55
that had the question, what is liberalism?
102:56
Answer, liberalism is a sin.
102:59
[LAUGHTER]
102:59
And it was Spanish.
103:03
“Liberalismo es pecado.”
103:05
And so Paul Blanchard was socialist,
103:09
who wrote “American Freedom and Catholic Power.”
103:11
So that there were these twin engines of anti-Catholicism
103:17
in the United States.
103:18
We have to close, is that right?
103:20
I want to tell my southern Jewish story, if I may,
103:22
because we’ve been very serious here.
103:24
And I always find this an upbeat story about,
103:28
it just depends on what the lines of division
103:31
are in a community.
103:32
There was a gentleman who was a second father to me
103:34
after my dad died.
103:35
His name was Bert Yaffe.
103:36
He grew up in Sparta, Georgia.
103:39
His dad ran the only general store in Sparta, Georgia.
103:43
There was a great tradition of southern Jews running the one
103:46
store.
103:47
When Bert was a teenager–
103:49
and the big split among whites in southern towns
103:52
was Baptist, Methodist.
103:54
And they couldn’t stand each other.
103:56
So when Bert was 16, he wanted to go out
103:59
with a Methodist girl.
104:01
And in order to do that, her parents
104:03
made my friend join the Epworth League.
104:08
Bert, from the only Jewish family in Sparta, Georgia,
104:10
proceeded to get elected President of the local Epworth
104:14
League.
104:16
Later, he and the Methodist girl broke up
104:19
and he wanted to go out with a Baptist girl.
104:21
And as Bert told the story, they didn’t give a damn
104:25
that I was Jewish.
104:26
What they couldn’t stand is that I had been President
104:29
of the Epworth League.
104:31
[LAUGHTER]
104:31
I want to thank you all very, very much for being here.
104:34
[APPLAUSE]
104:43
[MUSIC PLAYING]

The Trump coverup no one is talking about: The emperor has no money

But Trump’s theatrics were also very convenient because they disguised the fact that he cannot now, or ever, deliver on his signature promise to create a “great” infrastructure program. This is why Trump “infrastructure weeks” have become a standing joke in Washington. LaTourette was right: The Republican Party is no longer interested in spending public money to solve big problems if doing so gets in the way of cutting taxes.

LaTourette explained this in his rough-and-ready way back in 2011 when he called the 2010 tea party class of Republicans “knuckledraggers that came in in the last election that hate taxes.”

One of those newcomers was Mick Mulvaney, now Trump’s acting chief of staff and budget director. From the moment Trump, Pelosi and Schumer announced their convergence on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan last month, Mulvaney began sabotaging it. “Is it difficult to pass any infrastructure bill in this environment, let alone a $2 trillion one, in this environment? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said.

He was far from alone because the entire Republican leadership in Congress is now part of the Knuckledraggers Caucus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly signaled that he had absolutely no interest in a big infrastructure plan if it required rolling back any part of the GOP’s 2017 corporate tax cut.

Democrats argue that because business is clamoring for infrastructure, it would make sense to ask business to foot part of the bill. They have suggested raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from the 21 percent enshrined in the 2017 law and pulling back on some of its other provisions.

No way, say the Republicans. A “nonstarter,” declared McConnell. Faced with the choice of bridges collapsing in a heap or reining in the tax giveaways, the bridges don’t have much of a chance.

Note that the meeting Trump sabotaged was about how to finance the plan. He had no way of coming up with anything constructive because, for all of his bravado, he is totally under the thumb of Congress’s conservative ideologues. His tantrum was part of the coverup no one is talking about: The emperor has no money.

This fact underscores a widespread misunderstanding about our politics. “Normal” Republicans are regularly described as privately horrified with Trump. Trump is said to have engaged in “a hostile takeover” of the GOP.

In fact, it’s Trump who has been taken over. He campaigned as a different kind of Republican, and his infrastructure promise was a major component of his antiideological image. But on all the things the ideologues and right-wing business interests care about

  1.  tax cuts,
  2. corporatist judges,
  3. deregulation —

Trump caves in.

We know the president’s boast that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” Perhaps Republicans in Congress wouldn’t go that far. Otherwise, they’ll keep standing with him as long as he prostrates himself before their tax-cutting god, even if this means showing he is too weak and powerless to fix the roads.

Forget left and right. This is what will determine the midterms.

And the most powerful faceoff of all may be “reform” vs. “corruption.”

.. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait was one of the first journalists to suggest how important corruption could be during this year’s campaign. Writing in April, Chait argued that it “should take very little work” for Democratic candidates “to stitch all the administration’s misdeeds together into a tale of unchecked greed.”

.. The advantages of the corruption issue are

(1) “corrupt” really is the right word to describe the Trump administration;

(2) a concern over corruption transcends philosophical dispositions; and

(3) the failure to “drain the swamp” is one of President Trump’s most obvious broken promises. Instead, Trump has turned the swamp into an immense toxic-waste dump.

.. Alas, we now know that basic expectations — from the release of tax returns by presidential candidates, to the avoidance of blatant conflicts of interest — must be codified. Scandals are like that: They teach us where existing laws fall short.

.. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced a resolution outlining a broad agenda that has been co-sponsored by 163 House Democrats.

.. They would start by restoring the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013; providing for nationwide automatic voter registration; ending purges that illegitimately disenfranchise many citizens; and outlawing gerrymandering by requiring states to establish cross-party commissions to draw district lines.

..  the package would codify ethics expectations of public officials — including presidents. To fight foreign meddling, it calls for “real-time transparency of political advertisements on all advertising platforms,” an ideachampioned by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

This is the fight of our lives. Here’s how we win it.

Senators such as Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin need to argue to those who are ambivalent about abortion, or even against it, that right-wing judges would sanction a plutocratic government with little capacity to defend their interests.

.. “The Supreme Court, in case after case, is freely imposing its own view of sound public policy — not constitutional law, but public policy,” Biden told me at the time. “What is at issue here is a question of power, whether power will be exercised by an insulated judiciary or by the elected representatives of the people.”

..  Biden acknowledged that the phrase “judicial activism” has “often been used by conservatives to criticize liberal judges.” But “the shoe is plainly on the other foot: It is now conservative judges who are supplanting the judgment of the people’s representatives and substituting their own.”

“The existing Court’s assault on voting rights, collective bargaining and religious liberty is awful enough — just imagine how bad working people will have it if another right-wing justice joins the Court.” He warned of the court “taking a vicious, anti-worker, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-civil rights turn.”

.. The future of abortion rights is central to the coming battle. But so are civil rights, corporate power and our democratic capacity to correct social injustices. Conservatives should not be allowed to distract attention from the aspects of their agenda that would horrify even many who voted for Donald Trump.

Call out his lies. He depends on them.

just calling out deceit is insufficient. It is essential as well to understand why Trump tells particular lies at particular moments and to be hardheaded in judging how effective they are.

.. Republicans on the ballot this fall should be asked if they see Pelosi as an “MS-13 lover,” and if not, whether they will denounce Trump for saying such a thing. I am not holding my breath.

.. Yet sometimes Trump engages in a perverse form of transparency. He signaled clearly that the whole point of his screed — during which he also re-upped his claim that Mexico would pay for his border wall — was about the midterm elections. Immigration, he said, is “a good issue for us, not for them.”

.. Why immigration? It’s not the central concern of most voters. A Gallup survey in May found that 10 percent of Americans listed it as the most important problem facing the country. And Trump’s wall is not popular — in a recent CBS News poll, 59 percent of Americans were against building it.

.. But currently, Trump and the Republicans aren’t focused on the majority of Americans. They are petrified that their own loyalists do not seem very motivated about voting in November.

..  just 26 percent of Americans strongly approved of Trump’s job performance, compared with 41 percent who strongly disapproved.
.. Trump and his party feel they need to screech loudly to get their side back into the game, and attacking immigration (going back to Mexican “rapists”) is the signature Trump talking point.
.. Republican House candidates are following Trump’s lead, according to a USA Today study published Tuesday, “blanketing the airwaves with TV ads embracing a hard line on immigration.” By contrast, health care was the topic most invoked in Democratic spots. The GOP’s emphasis may shift some after the primaries, but Republicans seem to know that wedge issues are more useful to them than their record.

.. Political polarization has many sources, but the prime cause of it now is the president himself. Polarization defines Trump’s survival strategy, and it means that demagoguery

  • toward immigrants,
  • toward crime,
  • toward special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe,
  • toward dissenting NFL players,
  • toward anyone who takes him on
— is what his presidency is all about.
.. What thus needs exposing is not simply Trump’s indifference to the truth but also the fact that he depends upon the kinds of lies that will tear our country to pieces.

Yes, we should be outraged about Facebook

Any campaign can acquire your listed landline number. But no campaign is permitted access to your hopes, fears, worries, passions or day-to-day business by way of a phone tap. Facebook’s accumulated information may not be quite like a tap. But the company sure knows a whole lot about you.

.. Far from obviating his need to testify, Zuckerberg’s statement Wednesday afternoon acknowledging “mistakes” and pledging to “work through this” largely repeated what we already know. He’ll have to do much more.

.. properly cautious about connecting the Cambridge Analytica story to Russia. But as Justin Hendrix, the executive director of NYC Media Lab , argued on Slate, there is evidence giving plausibility to the idea “that Cambridge Analytica helped spur the Russian disinformation operation during the 2016 election.” And the close ties between Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign, beginning with Stephen K. Bannon’s role as vice president and secretary of the company, mean that inquiries into such links are inevitable.

.. Are they unduly blocking transparency about how political campaigns are conducted and who is financing them? Were they indifferent to their manipulation by foreign powers?