Tim Alberta, “American Carnage”

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45:51
Giller ISM in America and so I think
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that obviously did lend an added sense
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of urgency to the 2016 election and let
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me answer your first question by
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mentioning somebody else who’s vital to
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this entire narrative arc and that’s
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Mitch McConnell because let let me say
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this and and you certainly you’re
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certainly free to disagree but but we
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would not have president Donald Trump
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today he would not have won the election
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in 2016
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had that Supreme Court seat not been
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dangled out in front of voters in
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November of 2016 by blocking hearings on
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on Merrick garland President Obama’s
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nominee to fill that Supreme Court seat
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when Antonin Scalia very unexpectedly
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died in 2015 by by blocking hearings and
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not allowing Merrick garland to be
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confirmed Mitch McConnell helped Donald
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Trump to mobilize untold numbers of
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voters who may not have been willing to
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turn out and vote for Donald Trump
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otherwise and Mitch McConnell’s the
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first person to realize that he and I
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had a discussion about this in detail
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when you think about the fact that
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Donald Trump won the presidency by three
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states Michigan Wisconsin and
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Pennsylvania by a combined margin of
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seventy seven thousand seven hundred and
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forty four votes and when you look at
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the exit polling in those states and the
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issues that were most important to
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people and when you see that somewhere
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between 18 and 22 percent of the
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Republican voters in those states said
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that their number one issue was judges
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do the math Mitch McConnell whether you
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love him or hate him whether you are a
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die-hard liberal or a bleeding-heart
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conservative Mitch McConnell
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absolutely delivered the white house to
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Donald Trump by holding open that
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judicial vacancy and traditionally I
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think we all can recognize those of us
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who pay a lot of attention to politics
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those nerds among us that conservatives
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traditionally are much more invested in
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the judiciary than our Democrats and
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that is a big source of concern right
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now on the left you have some ascendant
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groups now trying to match on the left
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sort of the apparatus that has been
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built out on the right with the
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Federalist Society and others but to
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answer your question absolutely the
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judiciary was critical to the outcome in
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twenty
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Dean yes sir I’m curious if during your
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reporting you you spoke to any Democrats
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who had some some regret or even just
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self-reflection about the attacks they
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leveled on John McCain and Mitt Romney
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in o8 in 2012 in the sense that when
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they leveled largely the same attacks
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against Donald Trump they sort of came
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off as the boy who cried wolf that is an
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excellent excellent excellent question
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and the answer is yes look folks
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MIT Romney in 2012 Jake Tapper at CNN
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said said this to me once and I thought
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it was perfectly put at least through
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the prism of the mainstream media and
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the media perception of MIT Romney in
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2012 he was the dog torturing robber
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baron and by 2016 he was the white
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knight of the Republican Party and what
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changed right what changed during that
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period
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look Mitt Romney like any candidate for
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high office should be held to a high
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standard but the obsessive coverage of
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Mitt Romney’s sort of weirdness his
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other nests
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you know he irons his jeans he said that
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his wife owns a couple of Cadillacs you
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know look we all get it that you know he
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as he said self-deprecating Lee when he
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was wearing a tuxedo at one of these
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white tie dinners he said finally I get
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to wear something out in public that we
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wear around the house right and he got
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it right but it was almost to the point
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it was almost to the point of absolute
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absurdity by the end of the 2012
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campaign and as you may recall there was
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this presidential debate with Barack
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Obama in which Mitt Romney was asked
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about needing to diversify the federal
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workforce and specifically why there
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aren’t more women in high-ranking
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government positions and Romney offered
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this very very interesting well thought
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answer about how when he was governor of
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Massachusetts he had made that a top
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priority and that it heard him how
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whenever he was attempting to fill a top
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staff position that all these resumes on
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his desk were men and so he went to his
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chief of staff who was a woman and he
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said look I want to get more qualified
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women into these positions and as he’s
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answering this question
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Romney then says and she did and she
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wanted bringing me these whole binders
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full
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women now to any reasonable person who
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was listening to that you think man
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that’s good for him it was a really
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thoughtful substantive answer and for
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the next 96 hours all you heard was Mitt
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Romney as a misogynist and Mitt Romney
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doesn’t know how to talk to women and
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Mitt Romney is weird and awkward and
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look folks I am just sitting here
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telling you I travel to 38 states in
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2016 covering the campaign I’ve talked
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to a lot of voters I will tell you
beyond a shadow of a doubt that the
desensitisation people have begun to
feel especially conservatives who feel
like the media is always beating up on
their guys
they have been numbed to it and when
2016 came around these criticisms of
Donald Trump oh he’s immoral
oh he’s unethical oh he’s a hypocrite
he’s a womanizer he does and says these
disgusting vulgar things they fell on
deaf ears for a lot of voters they tuned
us out and that is something I also
touch on in the book I think it’s really
important to understand the role that
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the media and public perception plays in
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all of this and this book is not meant
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to hold up a mirror just to Donald Trump
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and just to the Republican Party it’s
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meant to hold up a mirror to all of us
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because I think every single person
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sitting in this room can probably do a
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little bit of soul-searching and a
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little bit of reflecting on how we got
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to this point the role that we all may
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have played in it either individually or
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collectively I I have two related
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questions one is to what degree did in
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terms of victory and moving forward will
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vote suppression and gerrymandering be a
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factor in keeping the Republican
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majority moving forward or not not
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majority but being able to hold the
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White House and the Senate second is
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what accounts for the Republican Party
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which has been chronicled in books like
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chain reaction and Nixon land you know
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maximizing racial resentment in
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dog-whistle racism to the now bullhorn
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races and we have with Trump what
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accounts for that transition boy two two
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good and complicated questions the
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simple answer I can give to the first
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one is that obviously Republicans were
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able to move right pretty systematically
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as a party after 2010 not just because
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of the takeover in Congress but
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because of the takeover in state
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legislatures across the country and
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rebuy regaining the ability to draw the
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maps in many of these states they were
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able to structurally get a foothold and
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solidify their power now the 2020 census
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is coming and there will be an
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opportunity for Republicans and
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Democrats alike to fight for the ability
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to draw those maps and that is a huge
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focus right now obviously for Democrats
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who feel as though they have been
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targeted systematically and very
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effectively by these Republican
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gerrymanders I should remind everyone
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that political power but political
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parties exist to promote and protect
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their own power and the Democrats have
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been known to do a little bit of
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gerrymandering themselves and as
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high-minded as I would like to be about
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this process in these calls for reform I
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will believe that Democrats after
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winning back some of these state houses
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will not abuse the gerrymandering power
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when I see it because if you look at
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some states like Maryland it’s a bit of
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a Picasso painting I if I were king for
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a day I’d wave a magic wand and we would
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have a nonpartisan redistricting
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commission every state in America we
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would redraw as many of these lines as
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close to 50/50 as possible not because
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it would give us a bunch of mushy
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moderates
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but because we could actually have a
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debate of ideas let me say this really
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quickly because it shocks people when I
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say it I give talks all the time about
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Congress and when I say this it blows
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people away
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Democrats flipped 40 seats last November
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right that’s a wave election by
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anybody’s metric 40 seats is a big deal
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it is a sweeping rebuke to the
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president’s party and yet how many
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voting members are there in the House of
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Representatives anybody for 35 what is
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40 out of 435 but eight and a half
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percent okay you go back to 2010 biggest
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wave election we’ve seen in our
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lifetimes anybody remember how many
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Republican pickups there were in 2010 63
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oh man 63 Republican pickups in 2010
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biggest wave election we’ve ever seen in
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our lifetimes
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what’s 63 out of 435 s about 14% I
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cheated I’m not that good at math I
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promise I’ve memorized these things the
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point I’m trying to make to you is that
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in the biggest wave election we’d ever
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seen in our lifetimes in 2010
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86% of the seats in the US House of
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Representatives remained loyally
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partisan locked down by one of these two
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parties and in 2018 went another big
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wave election 92% of them roughly
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remained locked down by one or the other
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party what does that tell you it tells
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you that the overwhelming majority of
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the elected officials we send to
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Washington are not chosen in November
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they are chosen in their primaries and
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what do we know about primary turnout
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well in your average off your
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congressional primary election turnout
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is gonna be somewhere between seven and
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fourteen percent and who are the seven
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to fourteen percent who are turning out
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to vote in those primaries are they the
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very reasonable persuadable moderates in
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the middle of the electorate who just
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want you know competent governance and
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who are willing to listen to arguments
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on both sides generally not into your
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uncle who sends the weird emails and
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your colleague who posts the crazy stuff
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on Facebook right and God bless them
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because at least they’re engaged with
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the process but why aren’t the rest of
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us we keep sending these people back to
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Congress and expecting a different
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result Congress has a huge personnel
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problem and a big reason why is because
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so many of the people we send there the
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overwhelming majority of the people we
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send there are elected in primaries and
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when you never face a general election
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thread in your district
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what is the only incentive you have it
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is to protect yourself in a primary and
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when you are oriented as a lawmaker
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toward protecting your flank and a
56:03
primary every day you wake up it’s gonna
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have some really bad results for the
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country and as more’d as we are you got
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me on a tangent here but as worried as
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we all may be about the executive branch
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and some of its unsteadiness right now
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the legislative branch in my opinion is
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a much bigger concern because the
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presidency is a transient office Trump
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will come and go but the legislative
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branch of the federal government is is
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structurally in deep deep trouble and it
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there’s no end in sight for it to the
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second question really quickly about the
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racial dog whistling look I just
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mentioned what happened last night as
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you said it’s not a dog whistle at this
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point it’s just not and Donald Trump is
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obsessed with the base Jonathan you know
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this better than anybody if you talk to
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people around the president he talks
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incessantly about the base and when he
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talks about the base he is talking
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generally very narrowly
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about the core people in his who come to
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his rallies who wear the maggot hats
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these typically tend to be your
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blue-collar your more rural and exurban
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middle and working class Americans white
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evangelical in many cases and they are
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the true believers right they are the
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people who are with Trump no matter what
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as he said if he shot somebody on Fifth
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Avenue they’d still be behind him but
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what Trump is missing is that with
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incidents last night with every one base
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voter who he may be mobilizing he’s
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probably also alienating a suburban
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college-educated
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socially moderate Republican who wants
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tax cuts and they may even want
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conservative judges but they’re scared
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out of their mind by what they saw last
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night you know there’s an old saying in
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Republican campaigns why would a
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Republican ever go address the
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n-double-a-cp a Republican presidential
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candidate dress the n-double-a-cp
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because you’re not gonna pick up any
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more black votes and the answer is
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always it’s not to pick up black votes
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it’s to pick up the votes of white
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suburban nights who want to see you
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engage with the n-double-a-cp
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politics is a coalition business and
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Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016
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not just because of his base that we all
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love to read about and all of these
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stories from middle America about the
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you know auto mechanic in the diner in
58:15
Ohio somewhere those people matter
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obviously and they are you know big
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supporters of the president but the
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president won his campaign because he
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had overwhelming support of these
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traditionally Republicans suburban
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moderates and what do we know we know
58:30
that in 2016 they voted for him and we
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also know that in 2018 by virtue of this
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Democratic takeover at least a
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significant chunk of those traditionally
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Republican suburban moderates they
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flipped they voted for Democrats in the
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suburbs from Salt Lake City to Orange
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County to Detroit to Atlanta all across
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the country so Donald Trump is playing
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with fire here and it’s not just because
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he’s mobilizing the Democratic base it’s
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because he is potentially alienating
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that other half of his coalition that he
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needs to win in 2020 thank you so much
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sure we are running out of time but I
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want to take these last three questions
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here if that last two questions here if
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that’s I’m sorry I’m giving very long
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answers
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hi this may be beside the point at this
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point but during the campaign I always
59:16
thought that Donald Trump’s hope for
59:20
outcome would be to win the popular vote
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and lose the electoral vote and he could
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go back to his business and say he was
59:27
cheated and you know not be worried with
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the running of the government because he
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didn’t obviously prepare anything for a
59:35
transition and election night he looked
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pretty shocked and like he didn’t want
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this well I would draw a distinction and
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I want you to weigh in this also I would
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draw a distinction between not wanting
59:48
to win and not expecting to win because
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I did an awful lot of reporting on this
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and I was never able to find anybody who
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could credibly tell me that he did not
59:59
want to win Donald Trump is a very
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competitive guy and we had to listen for
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18 months to all of these talking heads
60:05
on cable tell us that this was just to
60:07
promote his hotel that this was just to
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get his name back in the news that he
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just loves the reality TV glare that
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Donald Trump was gonna drop out before
60:15
the Iowa caucuses he didn’t actually
60:16
want to be President what all of that
60:19
missed is that Trump is a fiercely
60:20
competitive individual and that he loves
60:22
the grind of competition I don’t think
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that Donald Trump expected to win and
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matter of fact all of my reporting tells
60:30
me that he did not expect to win as I
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say in describing election night in the
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book Trump had to pretty quickly rewrite
60:36
his election night speech because he did
60:38
not have a victory speech prepared
60:40
and when Reince Priebus whispered in his
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ear in one of their little war rooms I
60:44
think you’re gonna win everybody in the
60:46
room sort of stopped and time Stood
60:48
Still and Trump said okay we got to go
60:50
upstairs we got to go to the residence I
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don’t have a speech so Donald Trump from
60:58
everything I know was certainly not
61:00
expecting to win the presidency because
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he could see the same polling that we
61:04
all saw and not just the public polling
61:06
anybody inside of his campaign who tells
61:09
you that they thought that Donald Trump
61:10
was going to win is lying to you I’m
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telling you that straight up and that
61:13
includes Steve man and who loves to go
61:14
around telling everybody the Trump was
61:16
gonna win he knew it from day one it’s
61:18
nonsense okay the war
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Republican I did not interview for this
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book with Steve Bannon and Swann gave me
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a high five for that the other day
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because for crying out loud
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talk about an unreliable source so that
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is that is the distinction I would draw
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but you tell me what you think about
61:34
that shout it out I don’t know what’s
61:47
going on there he 100% wanted to win and
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you know I remember being in a barn in
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Virginia on Falls Church Virginia on
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like 1:00 a.m. or I think Sun Monday
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morning I guess last few days of the
62:04
campaign and Donald Trump was doing his
62:06
eighth rally of the day or something and
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he wanted to win he really wanted to win
62:10
as much as anything he hates to be
62:12
humiliated people close to him believe
62:14
that he entered the campaign really is a
62:17
promotional vehicle one person close to
62:19
him told me he described it as the
62:21
world’s greatest infomercial but I think
62:24
one of his more revealing interviews
62:26
early on he says I think it’s worth
62:28
maybe mark Harper and he says he thinks
62:30
maybe it’s not on the record maybe
62:33
they’ve said that subsequently in public
62:35
that he thought he gave himself a 20%
62:37
chance of winning as time went on a
62:41
couple of things happened he got
62:42
addicted to the crowds and I don’t know
62:44
if people in this audience have been to
62:45
Trump rallies but I’ve been to a lot of
62:48
them and the only thing I can explain
62:50
I’ve covered politics in two countries I
62:52
have never seen a politician have such a
62:55
visceral connection with a crowd and the
62:59
only thing I can compare to is like
63:00
being in a Rolling Stones concert they
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know the lyrics they know the lyrics
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it’s call and response
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you know he’ll say Hillary and the crowd
63:08
will just immediately start chanting
63:10
lock her up he’ll say the media the
63:12
crowd will immediately start chanting
63:14
CNN sucks it’s a drug for him and he was
63:17
intoxicated and he loved it and then as
63:20
time went on he thought well maybe I can
63:22
win I guess I’m down to the last two
63:23
Tim’s right none of them thought they
63:25
can win Steve Bannon does like to remind
63:28
me he did send an email which I still
63:30
have two weeks before the election where
63:31
he did predict all the states
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I tend to think it was bluster more than
63:35
anything but he really was saying behind
63:37
the scenes that he was gonna win if that
63:39
makes any different but other staff were
63:42
like pre briefing us as reporters and
63:44
saying here are all the reasons why he
63:46
lost this is before the election and
63:48
here’s the way you can spin it etc so
63:51
you know that that would that’s the
63:54
reality yeah to add a final really quick
63:57
thought to that I spent the final week
64:00
of October I spent that week on the
64:03
campaign plane with Vice now vice
64:05
president pence then governor pence and
64:07
I can tell you as surely as I know that
64:10
I am sitting here with you that nobody
64:13
on that plane save for maybe Mike Pence
64:16
believed that they were going to win and
64:18
it was really interesting because they
64:20
were all beginning to spin me
64:21
essentially on Mike Pence 2020 right
64:24
they were all attempting to sort of you
64:27
know polish pence as the guy who was the
64:30
stable figure in the campaign and who
64:31
rejected the ugliness and the guy who
64:33
was going to come out of this looking
64:34
good and something really interesting
64:36
happened and it happened the day after
64:40
as you may recall
64:42
Pence’s plane went off the runway at
64:45
LaGuardia and I was on that plane
64:47
and it was kind of a remarkable scene as
64:49
the Secret Service jumped up with their
64:51
pistols and hovered near pence and
64:52
nobody quite knew what the hell to make
64:54
of any of it everyone on that plane that
64:58
I was with for almost a week
64:59
all of Pence’s top staffers said the
65:02
same thing no way that we’ve seen all
65:04
the numbers he cannot win Trump cannot
65:06
win on the last day I was with them we
65:10
had to get on a different plane that
65:12
didn’t have Wi-Fi because of the earlier
65:14
night’s incident and just as our plane
65:17
was coming down into Pennsylvania
65:19
dipping into cellphone range every
65:22
single person’s plane on the phone blew
65:24
up with an alert that James Comey had
65:28
sent a letter to Congress reopening the
65:32
investigation into Hillary Clinton’s
65:33
emails and I will tell you it’s
65:35
indelible in my mind I can see it today
65:38
there weren’t many of us on the plane
65:40
there were five reporters I believe in
65:41
four or five Secret Service and the Vice
65:43
President and five or six of his staff
65:45
were all
65:46
they’re clustered and I’m telling you
65:48
kid on Christmas morning does not begin
65:50
to describe the looks on the faces of
65:52
the pants people because for the first
65:54
time in the entire campaign there was a
65:56
flicker of hope however fleeting but a
65:59
flicker of hope that oh my goodness can
66:01
you believe our luck we might actually
66:03
win and I will remember that until the
66:05
day I die yes sir it’s my recollection
66:08
on the day the Access Hollywood tapes
66:10
were released the emails for John
66:14
Podesta were released like half a day
66:17
later I think so that that was another
66:18
factor in place but my question is why
66:21
is my conservative brother forgotten
66:23
that he’s an anti-communist you’re
66:24
suspicious of Russia
66:26
you know the Russia thing is actually
66:28
really fascinating because you will hear
66:31
a lot of Republican defenders of the
66:33
president say you know focus on what
66:35
this administration does not on what he
66:38
says and I think that by and large
66:42
that’s nonsense
66:43
I think that as I explained a minute ago
66:45
what the president says is of enormous
66:47
importance it moves markets it moves
66:49
military personnel at the president is
66:52
the most powerful person in the world
66:54
Russia is actually a pretty interesting
66:57
example of what they are talking about
66:59
however because if you were to examine
67:01
on a policy basis the administration’s
67:04
approach to Russia not his personally
67:06
but the administration’s and most
67:08
Republicans in Congress you would think
67:11
that it is a pretty typical Republican
67:13
you know cookie cutter Republican
67:15
approach to Russian relations in in
67:18
terms of sanctions in terms of some help
67:21
for allies in the region
67:23
the president’s relationship with
67:26
Vladimir Putin is so bizarre that I’m
67:29
not sure we will ever get to the bottom
67:30
of it and I’m not trying to be funny and
67:32
saying that it’s just the truth I don’t
67:33
know that we will ever understand look
67:35
and it’s not just Putin right the Donald
67:38
Trump has this affinity for strongmen
67:40
across the globe we have seen it time
67:42
and again and it is vexing not just to
67:44
us but to people in the administration I
67:46
don’t think that it will ever be
67:48
thoroughly explained but with Russia in
67:52
particular there is a huge chasm between
67:55
the president sort of playing footsies
67:57
with Vladimir Putin
67:59
and joking with him about election
68:00
interference and how he locks up
68:02
journalists ha ha isn’t that hilarious
68:03
all that stuff contrasted against the
68:06
administration itself and and the State
68:09
Department and the Republican Congress
68:10
and how they have approached Russia it
68:12
has been much more traditional so it’s a
68:15
little bit odd in that respect thank you
68:19
for coming out tonight everybody and
68:20
thank you so much for thank you guys
68:24
[Applause]

Ibram X. Kendi, “Stamped From The Beginning”

Kendi’s National Book Award-winning study argues that racism in America has grown from deliberate policies rather than from emotional responses like fear or hatred. Starting with the Puritans, Kendi traces the development of racist ideas and their effect on racist practices through the lives of five thinkers, discussing Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. Within these profiles Kendi, professor of history and international studies at American University, identifies three strains of thought about race: segregation, antiracism, and assimilation; outlines their differences, and points to how each can be discredited in order to free the nation for the post-racial era it has long yearned for.

Kendi is in conversation with Wesley Lowery, a national correspondent for The Washington Post and author of They Can’t Kill Us All.

Jason Stanley, “How Fascism Works”

Jason Stanley discusses his book, “How Fascism Works”, at Politics and Prose on 9/25/18.

In this clear and direct primer, Stanley, the award-winning author of How Propaganda Works, draws on a wide range of history, philosophy, sociology, and critical race theory to define fascism, explain its mechanisms, and help people identify its red flags. At its most basic level, fascism is simply a movement that achieves power by dividing a population. A country can have fascist strains without actually being fascistic, Stanley says, and he identifies myriad seeds of authoritarianism in U.S. history, from the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South—which inspired Hitler—to the more recent birther movement and the rise of Trump. More generally he cites ten hallmarks of fascism, such as the mythic past, propaganda, anti-intellectualism, and unreality; on the rise today, these must be resisted if we are to stop fascism from gaining hold here.

https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9…

Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Before coming to Yale in 2013, he was Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Stanley is the author of Know How; Languages in Context; Knowledge and Practical Interests, which won the American Philosophical Association book prize; and How Propaganda Works, which won the PROSE Award for Philosophy from the Association of American Publishers. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Review, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications. Stanley lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his family.

21:00
so I you always hear to set it up you
always you I always hear people saying
well when when presidents a president
Trump take an example when his
supporters don’t realize they’re not
getting the material benefits they
expected they will throw you know he’ll
lose their support unfortunately that is
not how this kind of politics works it’s
not a politics of material benefit
it’s a politics of loyalty fascism is
about loyalty and power it replaces
material interests it replaces truth and
reality by loyalty and power ah as
Arendt says the fascists resemble Mafia
bosses they stock their administrations
with with family members and and and
people from their businesses because of
loyalty and that’s
Sisseton so I don’t look at people who
21:52
do that and say they’re being
21:52
inconsistent I say no good you’re being
21:54
consistent because loyalty is your thing
21:56
so uh so so what you what what in that
22:04
chapter I believe in him klemper is
22:06
talking about how much the psychological
22:09
wages of German as’ tied your tied
22:12
Germans to Hitler even well beyond the
22:16
point at which they should of April 1945
22:19
the Red Army is in the gates of Berlin
22:21
and clampers trudging through the woods
22:24
with a soldier missing an arm and he
22:27
says to the soldier I guess it’s time to
22:29
give up and the soldier says what do you
22:32
mean Hitler’s got them trapped and
22:35
klemper says what what the soldiers a
22:37
young man he’s lost his arm you know
22:39
what is he and Klemperer says uh and the
22:44
soldier says yeah it’s Hitler’s
22:45
birthday’s coming up and Hitler just
22:47
meant to suck the Red Army in and trap
22:50
them he’s never lied to us yet and
22:53
klemper says he’d been lying
22:55
consistently year after year after year
22:58
after year I mean literally people would
23:01
till the last moment I mean I’ve spent
23:03
years of my life in Germany and I’ve met
23:04
people who still believed in him so so
23:08
you know the bond of loyalty
23:11
what fascist politics tries to do is it
23:14
tries to break down your any of your
23:16
connection to your material interest and
23:18
say well what you have is you have you
23:20
national identity your ethnic identity
23:22
and your bond with the leader and that’s
23:25
why and and that bond is so powerful and
23:28
so meaningful to people that they will
23:30
you know they will just to see that they
23:33
will like it will last through great
23:36
trial and tribulation it will last you
23:39
certainly the loss of their material
23:41
interests and if you look at countries
23:42
that suffer from fascist politics I
23:45
would say Russia right now is one uh you
23:48
can see that the leader becomes very
23:50
popular even as people’s economic
23:53
situation becomes worse so you can’t
23:56
like wait around for oh you know when
23:59
their health insurance gets taken away
24:00
though no it doesn’t work like that I
24:03
mean
24:03
these are you know air Dewan in Turkey I
24:06
mean these are leaders who win elections
24:08
and they win elections by a politics of
24:10
loyalty they win elections by lying so
24:14
so so I’ll talk for five more minutes
24:19
and then and then take questions so I’m
24:23
going through so what I do in my book is
24:25
I give you a template I give you a
24:27
template of of sides I used to be I am
24:32
an analytic philosopher but I’m not just
24:34
one of the many things I am but I sort
24:38
of like militantly did not pay attention
24:40
to the world as my stepmother and my
24:44
father would always remind me and so
until birtherism so my first New York
Times piece in 2011 was about birtherism
because I had read enough Arendt to
realize that was weird that shouldn’t
happen in a democracy and I recognized
the trap the trap is something that’s
familiar from the protocols of the
Elders design and my family both my
parents are Holocaust survivors my
mother and father two of my three
parents are Holocaust survivors and and
so obviously protocols the other design
is something you talk about in when
you’re very young and some advantages so
so so this trap of you know Hitler said
the the lying press the press is owned
by the Jews and you can tell because
they never talk about the prosperous so
very familiar I recognized it
immediately I mean it was like maybe I
should write something not on the left
parenthesis so so so in 2011 I wrote my
25:53
first New York Times piece about that
the trap always works like this mr.
Trump President Trump when he came to
political consciousness he went on an
interview in Fox News and he said CNN is
controlled by the leftists and Obama you
can tell because they’re not talking
about birtherism that’s the same move
was made in the 30s the delusion plasa
the mainstream press you
they’re controlled by the Jews because
they don’t say they’re controlled by the
Jews law and justice party in uh in
Poland the hilariously miss named law
and justice party comes to power in 2015
in a country that had been whose
economic whose GDP had been going up
26:36
Civic Platform has done very well so it
26:39
wasn’t economic anxiety it’s not
26:41
economic anxiety in Bavaria either but
26:46
they came they did this move to I’m
26:48
emphasizing this because comic pizza is
26:50
right here uh so I can’t not talk about
26:53
the conspiracy theories as a sign so so
26:56
so what Piz did what law and justice did
27:00
is there was a Smolensk disaster when
27:03
which was admittedly horrific when a
27:06
plane carrying all of Poland’s political
27:10
leaders and business leaders and
27:12
military leaders crashed and and and
27:15
everyone was killed and there were about
27:18
between 20 and 25 conspiracy theories
27:22
about that crash it was pilot error
27:24
it was pilot error but admittedly it was
27:27
hard to believe it was pilot error so so
27:30
law and justice Road that to power you
27:34
know it was all about the conspiracy and
27:37
it was the Communists and it was
27:39
d’Arnaud communists in Poland but it was
27:41
the car just like there were no comic
27:42
very no communists very few communists
27:44
in the American South but the KKK still
27:46
acted like there were it was the
27:50
Communists it was the Russians
27:52
it was the Liberals who were who were
27:54
hiding out hiding the real facts of who
27:57
brought that plane down and you could
27:58
tell that the newspapers were owned by
28:00
the people who did it because they
28:02
didn’t report on it and when I saw
28:05
birtherism I was like oh yeah that’s
28:06
familiar and conspiracy theories work in
28:10
a weird way and I’ll end with us only in
deference to comet pizza conspiracy
theories function they functioned to
break down the epistemological spaces
they functioned to break down to their
their simple narratives that make sense
of of panic fear in Poland’s case
– and loss paranoia they’re not meant to
be taken at face value so Edgar Madison

Welch when he walked in so this is a
point that my colleague at UConn Michael
Lynch had made which I think is very
powerful he pointed out that when Edgar
Madison Welch walked in and and fired
three shots in that restaurant um three
or four shots I’m not exactly sure how
many uh I he was acting rationally right
if you thought that the Democratic Party
was running a child sex ring in the
basement of commet pizza by all means go
and free the child the children but he
was immediately denounced by Alex Jones
and everybody else as a spy for the
Democratic Party
so Michael Lynch makes this point to
point out conspiracy theories you’re
doing the wrong thing if you believe
them
they’re just supposed to make you you
know hate the target more they’re just
supposed to make you hate the target
more they’re not supposed to be believed
like that so what I do in my book is I
give you ten properties of fascist
politics the book is not about fascist
government I’m not saying you know you
could it’s about fascist and key and and
the difference being fascist government
fascist politics is tricky anyway
29:50
because fascism is our power so fascism
29:52
is a method to come to power people are
29:54
always like well do you really believe
29:56
that that does do do such and such
29:59
people like President Trump do do they
30:02
really believe you really believe he
30:04
believes the things that other fascist
30:06
movements uh believe uh and my response
30:10
is it doesn’t matter because fascism
30:12
isn’t about belief it’s about power so
30:15
it doesn’t matter like its first hit me
30:20
when I was reading Richard Grune burgers
30:21
1975 work on fat banks thanks to my
30:25
father’s library I have a rich
30:26
collection of history sociology
30:28
philosophy and psychology of the Nazis
30:30
so much else but uh but he says many
people think of the Nazis as morally
pure anti-semites they were devoted you
know devoted to killing Jews and
definitely
believed in it and got up and were very
neat and but actually a lot of them were
just thugs
they were just mafia gangsters and they
didn’t care about killing Jews they
cared about money they cared about
Jewish art and property but they were
doing the devoted anti-semitism thing
they didn’t care about it what they
cared about was the profits they got
from it and that’s I think what we need
to focus on when we think about fascism
it’s a tactic it’s a way to delude us to
seize power and retain power and and and
it has it like the history in our own
31:23
country thank you right he did he
31:33
started his campaign in the in that in
31:38
that county for the missus what was it
31:41
Philadelphia Mississippi right then I
31:44
forgot the name of the County Fair um
31:45
but but we’re good we’re good men and
31:49
Chaney were near we’re on a journey and
31:52
certainly we have the welfare clean
31:54
trope that you know the racial coding
31:58
now I think that one thing you get so
32:02
you have these really tripling down on
32:07
on America’s racial history on America
32:12
ground American racism in that camp in
32:14
those campaigns you have militarism and
32:17
you have and you have the and you have
32:20
the aspect and you have something that
32:24
is last chapter of my book social
32:27
Darwinism which is connected in certain
32:30
ways to economic libertarianism although
32:33
it’s inconsistent in various ways but
32:34
the idea is I talk about Hitler’s speech
the industrialists you know fascists
talk about winners and losers makers and
takers it’s all about you know who wins
has value who loses has no value so that
whole way of going on the other hand
Reagan does not explicitly you know
fascists are harshly on to
anti-democratic you don’t
32:58
the enemy of the state you you have you
33:01
okay to go on the Reagan I mean look
33:03
there’s gonna be a lot of overlaps
33:05
between social conservatives between
33:07
various forms of conservativism and
33:09
fascist politics but we can’t condemn
33:12
everybody we can’t say it’s a spectrum
33:15
fascist politics is a spectrum and and
33:18
our familiar conservatives are gonna be
33:21
on that spectrum just like just like
33:23
Bernie Sanders is gonna be on the
33:25
spectrum to something much more extreme
33:27
I mean he’s on the spectrum to Denmark
33:29
but yeah there are certain things he
33:31
says that are too bad leftist
33:33
authoritarianism so there is this
33:35
spectrum and and I don’t mean to and we
33:39
have in a liberal democracy we have to
33:42
have social conservatives we have to
33:44
have libertarians we have to have we
33:47
have to have progressives and socialists
33:49
we have to have this spectrum we’re
33:51
gonna have this spectrum but what
33:52
happens when you get something really
33:54
worrisome which I don’t think you quite
33:56
had you didn’t have with Reagan is when
34:00
you have these different things I mean
34:01
look at Reagan on immigration for
34:03
instance I mean he isn’t demagoguing on
34:05
immigration
34:06
he isn’t when you have these overlaps
34:09
when you have you know social
34:11
conservatives business and corporate
34:13
elites libertarians all coming together
34:17
and nationalists coming together and
34:19
saying let’s have a group you know a
34:22
constellation and we might disagree on
34:25
certain things but let’s unify and then
34:28
you can get fascist constellations there
34:30
but I I think you know I think Reagan
34:34
had elements that are there like but
34:38
also we have to remember that lots of
34:40
Canuck just like you know you wouldn’t
34:42
want to say that oh very socially
34:46
progressive policies just because they
34:47
do that in communist countries that’s
34:49
communist
34:50
so I wouldn’t want to paint Reagan as
34:53
engaging in fascist politics he’s not
34:55
harshly anti-democratic in the way that
34:58
you you find with just respond really
35:02
quickly I guess my my thing was the
35:04
militarism and really the dangerous
35:06
militarism during his empire is yeah
35:09
but really the building of the empire
35:11
and like the really the strong anti on
35:14
this strong racist tone of things is
35:16
really right and the and though and and
35:18
those are overlaps and and i think a dis
35:21
analogy now is you don’t find President
35:23
Trump actually being as Empire oriented
35:28
I mean it’s tricky there people will say
35:30
I think now people use fascist politics
35:32
they used to use it in in the 30s it was
35:35
used to mobilize people for war
35:38
now it’s used to demobilize people so
35:41
it’s a tech it’s a set of techniques and
35:43
you know and it overlaps with techniques
35:45
and and and you know and people use some
35:48
of them you know there’s a spectrum
35:53
there’s a spectrum and and yeah I want
35:58
to thank you I think this is a very
35:59
important discussion and I’m from the
36:01
Caribbean grew up in the Netherlands and
36:04
it’s been a quite a significant amount
36:06
of time they’re in a different type of
36:08
Netherlands then it has become sadly
36:10
enough right when I was the Netherlands
36:11
if you had told him that characters I
36:15
mean these guys would be twenty to
36:17
thirty percent of the population
36:18
literally people would lock you up and
36:19
put you in a psychiatric institution say
36:21
thinking too much you literally are you
36:22
kind of lost it you know this is not
36:24
what the Netherlands about we are you
36:25
know civilized decent people although
36:27
you know they have a very we have a very
36:30
horrific history of colonialism which is
36:34
not talked about at home but the issue
36:36
is a few questions and these questions I
36:39
think are provoked by some of the things
36:43
you said I think you wanted something
36:45
quite profound when you said that what
36:47
we are dealing with now is a demobilized
36:50
depoliticize and the ideologized pop
36:54
population populations not only in
36:56
America see if this was only happening
36:58
in the United States okay okay but I’m
37:02
so called fringe Dutch I mean between
37:03
brackets right I’m from the Caribbean
37:05
but so-called French Dutch um this
37:09
France right the last elections right
37:11
people were panicked that marine lepen
37:13
walks into the White House right and we
37:15
know if she walks there what is going to
37:17
happen she’s not made she made it very
37:19
clear from well you know one of the big
37:21
problems I see is that in you
potentially the Muslims become the new
Jews absolutely you know the Muslims we
come to new Jews right
but the issue it at that I want to deal
37:30
with here is a more profound issue that
37:33
this type of fascism is indeed to
37:34
mobilize the demobilize in essence what
37:37
you have a mass talks about legitimize
37:39
the crisis of the West right and the big
37:40
problem is when you have a legitimate
37:41
Christ is not taking place on one level
37:43
alone right economic social political
37:45
legal right moral ethical domestic
37:48
international on all different levels
37:50
the white West and not is facing crisis
37:53
on crisis and crisis that are feeding
37:55
back in and creating problems another
37:57
problem that you have in a Western I
37:59
think this is a major problem me and I
38:01
didn’t think you touch on it is that if
38:03
you look at the populations here right
38:04
populations that are so-called
38:05
Democratic you know I mean I’m glad you
38:09
began claiming that the democracy always
38:11
never much of anything at all it was
38:13
much more a job to fool people and then
38:15
in democracy the issue is that in these
38:18
populations a long time twenty to thirty
38:20
percent of the population remain quite
38:22
fanatically right even look what
38:25
happened to Communist Party in France
38:26
right the communists moved move over to
38:28
the fascists they didn’t tell you how
38:35
how strong the Communist identity of
38:39
brotherhood and sisterhood of rattle and
38:41
stuff like that so I mean how do you see
38:44
and the big problem of your face is that
38:46
often these fascistic parties tend to be
38:49
the most mobilized part of the
38:50
population right right
38:51
why well well well the majority of the
38:54
party although somewhat against I mean
38:55
Hitler never got a majority he always
38:57
got forty percent but but they are
38:59
highly mobilized and you only need forty
39:01
in a small
39:03
organized minority to create have
39:05
everyone is scared I mean everybody’s
39:07
killed so how do you see and do you see
39:10
anywhere in the West at this point in
39:12
time really
39:13
they since the average trade unions are
39:16
gone the socialist and communist party
39:17
out are we and very few intellectuals in
39:20
academics are really really speaking out
39:22
as a really standing up here and say
39:24
wait a minute here guys right you people
39:26
in the Western or not you white people
39:27
in a western or not right now I’m saying
39:29
that’s kind of provocative because my
39:31
part you know your apps a most European
39:33
a most of the European descent but the
39:36
issue is you
39:37
white people in to not be very careful
what you’re doing right because you are
facing a massive influx of black and
brown people here because of global
warming what do you do when you across
that when you look at the Mediterranean
50 60 million Africans are about to come
genocide you fall back the default
position of genocide let me hear what
you guys said yeah let me just say one
39:57
quick thing I’m gonna get another
39:58
question there was a great series of
points that you raise the climate change
point Timothy Snyder talks about that at
the end of black earth he warns that
that’s our big and I talked about that
in my book as well picking up on Tim’s
on Snyder’s points that you know climate
change is gonna lead to immigration
crises that you know crises immigrant to
massive immigration that we’re gonna
have to deal with but let me say
something about the point of oh you know
40:27
the majority minority point that oh soon
40:29
the countries give me a
40:30
majority-minority president Trump and
40:32
his campaign always emphasized that you
40:36
know uh my colleague Jen Richardson the
40:39
great social psychologist she she has
40:42
done this experiment she’s on a number
40:44
of experiments on the on this she showed
40:46
she when you get she presents white
40:48
Americans with three three questions
40:52
three different groups of white
40:53
Americans the first she says in 2042 the
40:56
Netherlands will become majority
40:58
minority the second group she says in
41:00
2042 the United States will become
41:03
majority senior citizen and the third
41:06
group she says in 2042 the United States
41:09
will become majority minority and then
41:13
she asked him a series of political
41:15
questions the first two groups don’t
41:17
change their MA they did they their
41:19
politics doesn’t change that she gets a
41:21
test of them before what their political
41:23
leanings are the third group of white
41:25
Americans that’s presented with the
41:27
information in the United States is
41:28
gonna become majority minority becomes
41:30
more becomes again more against the firm
41:33
ative action more against the air for
41:35
immigration and interestingly because
41:38
Jen Richardson is a genius she added
41:40
this they become much more in favor of
41:43
increased defense spending so so that oh
41:47
we’re going to become majority minority
41:50
it it enables right-wing politics or a
41:55
certain kind of politics maybe not right
41:57
wing but that could you talk a little
41:59
bit more about what appears to be
42:02
increased white anxiety and white
42:05
feelings of white victimization and how
42:08
does how to talk a little bit about
42:10
Trump’s role is he a symptom of
42:15
something that’s going to continue after
42:17
him or what happens to fascist movements
42:20
when leaders disappear ah
42:22
you know that’s that’s that’s re they
42:25
always have succession crises but I but
42:27
I’d you know we have more Trump’s so
42:30
there so but he is an expert a real
skilled expert at milking white anxiety
there was that quote that he that he and
and the psychological wages of whiteness
point like remember that thing he said I
remember I don’t remember when he said
42:46
it but you know he said something about
42:48
poor white trash and someone someone
42:49
said what is that he said like me except
poor so that connect he’s I have great
respect for his rhetorical political
abilities
we’re always it we always have this
43:01
nascent the dominant group
I mean think of the men’s rights
movement I mean is there any more
aggrieved group on earth than men when
their representation in the Senate goes
from 98 to like 83 or whatever 75 you
know you know just look at how men act
and you know and you know and that’s
what’s going on and that’s what happens
it’s all look at France the example of
France there’s a good example you know
43:30
the the aggrieved the you know we’re
43:34
losing our culture we’re losing our so
that’s a big one chapter in my book is
called victimhood and it’s all about
this it’s a whole chapter just about
this could you wouldn’t would you agree
that an important benchmark for
43:49
authoritarian is in this country might
43:52
have its roots in Eisenhower’s farewell
43:55
address in 1960 I guess in which the
44:00
leading General in the world
44:01
representing the strongest country in
44:03
the world
44:03
I spoke about this fear and then
44:06
subsequent to that you had three of our
44:09
foremost civil rights leaders slain
44:11
under dubious circumstances the official
44:13
narrative which only thirty and thirty
44:15
percent of Americans believe and then
44:17
you had this Vietnam War and there were
44:20
protests all over the country or there
44:22
were cities burning there were people
44:24
killed at Kent State and now we have
44:29
multiple Wars and nobody says a word so
44:33
what’s your take on this so I have a lot
44:35
in my book on Nixon
44:36
so I’m when I talk give talks on that
44:39
people because Nixon is a model for
44:41
Trump President Trump of course I mean
44:44
law and order politics you know Nixon
misses miss rep you know there’s a whole
protest misrepresented as riots think of
Baltimore 2015 so I talk in my book
about how Fox News described uses the
word riot use the word riot seven out of
every 1000 words
in describing Baltimore what happened in
Baltimore and protests only two words
out of 1000 CNN used them roughly
equally around three and a half words
per 1000 riot and protest and MSNBC used
riot two words out of 1,000 and protests
almost four words out of 1000 to
describe Baltimore to this radical
partisan difference in descriptions of
political protests the sixties you
really saw that you know so much so that
someone of my age I’ve been 36 for 12
years ah is I can’t even say Detroit
protests cuz it doesn’t come out of my
mouth because I was raised in schools
that just taught me Detroit riots you
know but then you you have Kathryn
Bigelow’s movie then you realize an
actual history they were protests and
you know you just focused on like one
you know a few people doing bad things
and you paint them a certain way so the
sixties Nixon’s campaign you know again
my books not about fascist government is
about fascist politics I think you see
with Nixon a lot of use of fascist
politics and I’m sure you couldn’t go
back because as I’ve been saying this is
us it’s not them do
you think the history of the the take on
Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Johnson might get
a more critical view because he kind of
laid the groundwork for Nixon and and
his involvement in the war his refusal
46:29
to get out of it the pressures that kept
46:32
in a minute so so in in in in a week in
46:35
October 12th at Harvard bookstore I’ll
46:37
be in discussion with Elizabeth Hinton
46:38
who’s who has written the greatest book
46:41
about the domestic policies of job
46:44
Johnson and and Nixon from the war on
46:48
poverty the war on crime the making a
46:50
mass incarceration in America and that’s
46:52
about the domestic policies so it’s a
46:54
different point you’re asking about the
46:55
foreign policy but I think on domestic
46:57
policy you know there are some issues
47:00
with Johnson that lead to Nixon as well
47:04
I mean John a lot of Johnson’s projects
47:07
in the in in cities were with minority
47:13
populations we’re sort of like here’s
47:15
how to learn to pull off here’s how to
47:17
act like someone with a job or something
47:19
like that rather than providing people
47:21
jobs you know which is like you know
47:24
trumpet was smart and you know could you
47:26
imagine Trump going to like rural
47:27
Michigan and being like I’m going to
47:29
teach you how to act like bankers no he
47:32
wasn’t doing that
47:34
so so right so so I Nixon I talk and so
47:38
those are interesting questions in the
47:39
Hinton book I think talks about the
47:42
hints of Nixon and Johnson while giving
47:45
him credit for certain things so first I
47:49
just want to say thank you for coming to
47:50
talk tonight who’s really interesting
47:52
and so my question is or first I’ll just
47:56
say on you mentioned that a key tactic
47:59
of fascists is to caricature the
48:01
center-left has been communists but I
48:05
feel like it seemed to me that you made
48:08
that same mistake when you talked about
48:10
how when you talked about opposition to
48:14
unions because that seems like a pretty
48:17
mainstream right dumb view to be opposed
48:20
to unions right I didn’t mean to I I
48:22
don’t mean to say that each so there’s
48:25
ten different aspects to fascism each
48:27
one of those aspects is going to be
48:29
familiar
48:30
from ordinary conservative father’s okay
48:31
it’s the combination but it just didn’t
48:35
occur to me that opposition to labor
48:37
unions is a uniform feature of all
48:40
fascism I learned that in doing the
48:42
research for my book so no you can have
48:45
good sound economic reasons you know
48:47
there are good for each of these things
48:49
you know for each of these properties
48:51
for you can be I mean some of the
48:55
hierarchy some of the chapters about
48:57
racial hierarchies okay that’s pretty
48:59
fascist but but you know as I say in my
49:02
book economic libertarianism overlaps
with fascism on social Darwinism like
winners have value losers don’t but
they’re different in other ways like
consistent libertarian will never
generalize to groups and say you know
white people have more value than
non-whites because they work harder and
win more you know so so there are these
overlaps and you know I just think it so
screams out from you from the literature
it’s just universal that’s you know you
go to Portugal and you go to their
49:33
Museum and Lisbon and they talk about
49:35
the attack and labor unions and you know
49:38
it’s so universal and you has to be
49:40
mentioned but of course you can
49:42
criticize labor unions and not be a
49:43
factor yeah thank you and for each of
49:45
these thank you we are your parents uh
49:50
well my stepmother is here and she
49:55
helped a lot with the book she gave me
49:59
she gave me and my brother-in-law’s is
50:01
there where you are profound and you are
50:04
brilliant and I think your parents your
50:07
family should and friend should be very
50:08
very proud of you
50:10
now I’m well read on reconstruction but
50:14
the issue that you spoke about with
50:16
respect to anti unions and wealthy
50:21
whites in the north coming down that I
50:25
have not read about and do not know
50:27
about I knew you know certainly with
50:29
Rutherford putting the nail in the
50:30
casket and you know wanting to a peace
50:34
to south and pulling the troops all
50:35
right so that he could win the election
50:37
I want you to talk a little bit more
50:39
about the north in
50:42
you know coming against the the labor
50:45
unions and I wanted to get your take on
50:49
what happened in Charleston with the
50:52
massacre at you know mother Emanuel
50:57
Church as well as what happened in
50:59
Charlottesville
51:00
because after listening to you you do
51:03
see a theme and when you know Trump come
51:06
you could say the most horrible thing
51:08
about McCain
51:09
I prefer winners in people who don’t get
51:12
duh you know yeah so so I’ve been
51:19
spending more time lately for my sins
51:22
with former members of Nazi parties and
51:26
I mean I was a so a friend of mine is
51:29
Tony Mack Lear the director of like
51:31
executive director of life after hate he
51:33
spent 20 or so years as a Nazi and
remarkable man and he’s very clear that
the law I mean I think we all know this
from David Duke the long-term goal of
the American Nazi Party was to to be
respectable and for that they had to
have people who were not respectable
so Tony Mack Lear said at one talk I won
symposium we’re out together he said the
first time I was on Montel Williams I
was a skinhead with combat boots and
tattoos the second time I wore a suit
and he explains that you need the
killers the radicals out there to say
that’s not us you’re seeing this all
over you’re up now you know the Austrian
Kurt Sebastian Kurtz all what happens is
that the right wing parties are like
we’re not not white supremacists the
white supremacists are the ones actually
killing people the ones marching on the
streets were respectable we’re in
government were in and but they need
each other so the in order for the for
the people in power who are pushing
white supremacy to plausibly deny that
they’re white supremacists they need
Charlotte’s VLEs because they need to
say no no those are
supremacists and Tony McLaren explain
that this is long been the strategy I
know of of the American Nazi Party and
it’s and and David black the former the
the son of the storm front founder is
also very clear about this he’s like he
says what we hear from our leadership is
the kind of things that we always he
said our target audience was always the
person who said I’m not a racist but dot
dot dot so you need you need the
charlottesville and the horror of
Charleston which is unspeakable horror
of Charleston because those provide
plausible deniability to white supremacy
and power and and we know those of us
who study history and and who are a
woman of color as I am and a descendent
of people who were enslaved both or
53:50
maternal returns so we always knew in
53:52
the communities and certainly in the
53:53
South when people when the KKK took off
53:56
those hoods they were your local doctor
53:58
you’ll put your Sheriff your policemen
54:01
your store owners you know not all of
54:04
them but these were the respectable
54:07
people and it was the hood that allowed
54:10
them to to you know to really crucify
54:14
and you know and hang people and uh so
54:17
we I mean the wisdom of the black
54:19
American tradition guides me in my book
54:21
I mean I to be wells oh absolutely
54:25
that’s Du Bois obviously I probably owe
54:30
boys today but it’s he earned yes so so
54:38
because that those it’s that literature
54:43
that you get the insight into the form
54:46
fascism takes here and so someone from
54:49
like me who’s from Europe the certain
54:52
sort of particular masks fascism wears
54:57
here that’s something you really need
54:59
the black American literature to
55:01
understand but thank you for your work
55:03
and thank your parents
55:07
and my brother finds out it earlier this
55:16
year I read another book by a
55:17
psychologist named Steven Pinker called
55:20
enlightenment now staring me in the face
55:22
right over there and in the book he
55:26
argues that the world is getting better
55:30
and better and this is the best time to
55:33
be alive the best time to be born and he
55:36
extolled the virtues of of the future
55:38
and so I want to you know ask you what
55:43
what you feel about that how what’s your
55:45
response to that and are you optimistic
55:48
about the future I mean you’re talking
55:49
about possible fascism in this country
55:52
so let me quote my my father’s book the
55:54
technological conscience where he says
55:58
pessimism is very much the humanistic
56:01
view he says I am a pessimist pessimism
56:04
is very much the humanistic view so so
56:09
that’s just to say that I think that I
56:12
think Pinker I mean we could go on about
56:14
Pinker I’m not going to I think that
56:16
when you count you know says err already
56:19
does a takedown of Pinker a long time in
56:23
in famiiy this is that what’s this is
56:29
our book I’m just blanking
56:31
well discourse on Colonials do you thank
56:34
you so uh so and discourse and
56:36
colonialism where he’s like you know you
56:37
count you tell us about the diseases
56:41
you’ve cured you tell us about the you
56:44
know the new food that we access from
56:46
Europe and yet what about the religion
56:49
you destroyed what about you know the
56:51
traditions you eliminated what about the
56:54
ways of life you laid waste to can you
56:57
count those you know so Pinker it’s just
57:01
like no it only matters if you can count
57:02
it dignity doesn’t count you can’t count
57:04
dignity so you’ll also find me
57:07
criticizing Pinker in recent years
57:09
Pinker is very as a Pinker has not all
57:12
to write himself but Pinker does have a
57:15
lot of all right fans if you look at
57:17
Pinker’s views about the IQ debate their
57:19
problem i mean
57:20
as you’ll find some stuff on Pinker
57:22
there um you know this idea of we have
57:26
to face you know we have to face the
57:28
facts of difference nature I mean I
57:31
think he’s right that you know I’m not
57:33
for banning discussions but the
57:35
fascination that he has with the IQ
57:37
debate is something that I think is kind
57:39
of worrisome so and I’m worried about
57:42
the sort of technocratic way of
57:44
measuring human value that said in any
57:47
country that had the civil rights
57:49
movement and I mean if I did had to do
57:52
the civil rights movement I definitely
57:53
would have done it in Vermont but they
57:55
chose like Alabama and Mississippi so
57:57
given that I feel quite safe in the
58:00
United States ultimately I feel
58:02
optimistic because this is a country
58:04
that did that so the labor movement you
58:09
know Jane Addams I just wanted to make
58:14
two brief comments one about giving
58:18
value to things and if we really just
58:21
take a quick scan of history going back
58:25
to as far as we can go back it seems
58:28
like human life does not have a lot of
58:30
value it in just that’s just a general
58:36
comment and if we look at capitalism and
58:42
the globalization of everything and all
58:46
these wars and like you said there’s two
58:49
wars going on Noma and I’ve said this to
58:51
myself why is no one talking about our
58:54
troops that we still have in Afghanistan
58:56
and Iraq and in these places then
58:59
they’re still getting blown to pieces
59:00
and I know because my first job out of
59:04
college I worked at the VA hospital in
59:06
the 70s when the guys were first coming
59:08
back from Vietnam so that’s just what I
59:13
want to say about the value of human
59:15
life now on a lighter side I would like
59:19
to say which you which you said about
59:23
Dubois and then you said about the new
59:27
push for Black Studies in colleges and
59:31
that it was going to replace Shakespeare
59:34
yeah yeah I know it’s just it’s just a
59:37
joke but I just wanted to play on that
59:40
because it from my experience and having
59:45
done like studies and everything else
59:50
there’s a lot of credit and study given
59:55
to Shakespeare people who write Ln Locke
59:59
Dubois a little bit too much yeah and
60:03
also I wanted to say that most of our
60:07
most appreciated african-american actors
60:12
studied Shakespeare to the hilt
60:16
you know the most excellent Shakespeare
60:21
no I mean I mean that God is ultimately
60:23
you know I mean the great Jeffrey
60:25
Stewart Alain Locke biography talks
60:28
about I mean Locke won the sort of
60:30
literary prize at Harvard for for
60:32
something on its hat on Irish Irish
60:35
poetry and he gave a talk in a black
60:37
church in Cambridge saying look the
60:40
Irish created the greatest were were
60:42
colonized and oppressed and their
60:44
revenge was to create the greatest
60:46
English language literature and poetry
60:48
and he’s obviously encouraging taking
60:51
that as a speaking Paul Dunlop I think
60:54
it was also electrode and Dunlop right
60:56
absolutely so right and of course Dubois
60:59
sort of takes that to extreme the
61:00
extreme with the talented tenth so I I
61:03
don’t mean to by the way Pinker is a
61:05
liberal Pinker and I have family
61:07
disputes ultimately he’s a technocratic
61:09
liberal of a certain kind I have family
61:11
disputes with him but he’s obviously
61:14
gent in some general sense on my side
61:18
what he’s all right he’s all tracked
61:23
know the alt are certain aspects of
61:25
Pinker that the alt-right pick up on
61:29
that you know the the stuff which is a
61:32
danger of the messaging so I’m not he’s
61:35
definitely not all right he’s it’s that
61:37
you got to be careful I mean one should
61:41
be sensitive to the messages that like
61:45
Pinker said recently
61:47
I think it was in Davos and a panel
61:50
where he said you know the alt-right are
61:52
really bright tech-savvy people who come
61:55
to college and realize there are certain
61:57
topics that you’re not allowed to talk
61:59
about and then they feel shocked and
62:02
then they become all trite that’s the
62:05
kind of I think that was an
62:06
irresponsible comment of course he’s on
62:08
my side but I just think that’s an
62:10
irresponsible comment of course that’s a
62:11
comment that makes some people you know
62:14
that he does not agree with it puts them
62:17
in so that’s that’s that’s that’s all
62:20
I’m saying ultimately we can’t have
62:22
these family disputes between different
62:24
stripes of liberals and so I don’t want
62:27
to do that though I do want to say I
62:29
don’t think that’s why people become
62:30
alright we are unfortunately out of time
62:36
for questions although if you want to
62:38
make a brief question make it really
62:40
quick them we can fit it in the question
62:46
is for you to elaborate maybe we don’t
62:48
have time for any more elaboration on
62:51
anti-intellectualism which was one of
62:53
the 10 I guess that you have and you
62:55
didn’t really say much about it and it’s
62:57
a case that I see certain parallels with
63:00
the sort of the were the Left
63:05
philosophies of I don’t know class
63:08
warfare and I mean I think it seems like
63:11
now was an anti-intellectual yeah many
63:14
respects yeah I mean I think I think
63:17
that I what you get in fascist ideology
63:23
is is like the straightforward fascist
63:28
ideology is about appealing to emotion
63:34
not that there’s some emotions can be
63:37
perfectly rational as Martha respond
63:38
others as many philosophers would tell
63:40
you but the idea is to cut off reasoning
63:44
by you know fear panic and and and just
63:47
and then just replace and show you and
63:50
then present yourself as like the
63:51
solution you got this very explicitly
63:54
discussing you know in in meine Kampf
63:56
Hitler talks about you know propaganda
63:58
should appeal to you know the least
64:00
educated
64:01
so you know the idea that it’s the least
64:03
educated your who’s your who your
64:06
audience or no talk you know essentially
64:08
that’s what you want to appeal to Bannen
64:10
said you know we want unlock her up
64:13
build a wall you know we won on that but
64:16
there’s a kind what why I talk about me
64:19
anti-intellectual chapter is this all
64:22
across the world right now we’re seeing
64:24
in these condo countries I discuss
64:26
attacks on universities for being
64:28
bastions of liberalism feminism European
64:33
University of st. Petersburg was closed
64:35
down because of gender studies Central
64:38
European University was was attacked
64:42
because they’re spreading liberalism so
64:45
this kind of thing when you find
64:46
universities harshly targeted as
64:48
bastions of leftism and you know now of
64:52
course sometimes they are not Yale but
64:55
the the yell is a great place it’s not
64:59
that but you know when you find this
65:03
hysteria about this area about communism
65:05
being being directed at universities and
65:10
the media you know and fanned now it
65:13
takes the form of Gender Studies panic
65:15
about Gender Studies because that’s just
65:18
like Masha Gessen is clear about that in
65:20
her 2017 book that Gender Studies just
65:24
seems to be and and you know Pat McCrory
65:26
in North Carolina did that he said we’re
65:29
not gonna have this tax governor in
65:30
North Carolina said they were not gonna
65:31
be taxpayers paying for gender studies
65:34
or Swahili so so the idea is is you know
65:41
so you target universities in your
65:43
politics now all authoritarians target
as you say target universities in our
politics because universities are places
where young people protest against older
people and so that’s gonna be something
65:56
that that as I get older I recognize the
65:59
wisdom of seeing that as a problem but
66:03
yeah thank you
66:05
[Applause]
66:20
you

Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, “How Democracies Die”

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt discuss their book, “How Democracies Die”, on 1/25/18.

Levitsky and Ziblatt, professors of comparative politics at Harvard, have spent nearly twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies. Focusing on Latin America and Europe, respectively, the two didn’t expect to address the issue for the United States, but that changed when Trump was elected. Building on their December 2016 New York Times op-ed which asked “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” they emphatically answer “yes,” outline the specific risks he poses, and chart ways we can avert the threat of authoritarianism. Drawing on examples of troubled states from around the world since the 1930s, Levitsky and Ziblatt point out that warning signs of collapse include the weakening of institutions, such as the judiciary and the media, erosion of political norms, and the rise of incivility.

http://www.politics-prose.com/book/97…

Caitlin Zaloom, “Indebted”

Caitlin Zaloom discusses her book, “Indebted”, at Politics and Prose.

Based on a series of frank and personal discussions with students and parents across the nation, Zaloom‘s book documents how the struggle to finance college education is transforming middle-class life. An associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, a founding editor of Public Books, and author of Out of the Pits, Zaloom reveals the hidden consequences of student debt, describes the wrenching moral decisions parents make having to choose between jeopardizing their own financial security or forcing their children into debt, and relates the frustrations of navigating a labyrinth of government-sponsored programs, for-profit funders, and university aid requirements. Zaloom is in conversation with Dorian Warren, president of Community Change and Community Change Action.

Caitlin Zaloom is associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. She is a founding editor of Public Books and the author of Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. She lives in New York City. Twitter @caitlinzaloom