tv [untitled] CSPAN April 2, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm EDT
staff, whatever that you were probably thinking not quite so much in specialization, but as you see many staffers leave to go to lobbying firms. okay, now i have people here and there. not only do i have connections inside the congress but outside the congress and certainly the dole enterprise is famous for its linkages over time so again, i think there is a model there. >> i would say as far as how the public responds to the sort of procedures that used and things like filibusters and the deem and pass when i was under consideration, generally i think substance trumps procedure and people are going to respond primarily based on their
opinions of the policy itself, so on an issue like health care particularly where people do have pretty well formed opinions, not necessarily by the details of the legislation but in the general question of the role of government, i think that is going to be-- and i think that is what we are seeing already in the immediate aftermath of the first policy indicate once again the public is very divided along policy lines in this evaluation of this. polls generally show there is a negative perception of congress and that people don't like this partisan bickering. if you asked people if they think there should be more i partisanship they say yes there should the more bipartisanship. the problem is when you follow up on that, if you are a democrat or a republican what does that mean to you wax what it means to most people is of
course bipartisanship means the other party should admit they are wrong and agree to what my party is proposing and that would be bipartisanship. that of course reflects these positions in the public virgo so that is basically the way i see public opinion responding to health care or most of the other issues of the day. >> just change it in the electorate allow us to see. >> and some sense billing on burdett's point on lindsey graham is, you could argue that today that one form of maverick behavior is to be disloyal to your party or nonstick with a message consistently whereas in the 1940s and 50s, these mavericks if you look at their voting behavior and positions on key issues, on the core issues for their party they were lying with their party's majority position. so in this partisan and polarized senate, one way to be
a maverick is to try to work with the other side. now that exposes you to a much different problem than a maverick in the 1950s face which is you have to go and get in the primary and the primary especially is where the folks alan is talking about are the most active. so then if you are maverick today you had better inoculate yourself like john mccain is seriously trying to do today by adopting a least the essential issues now and not being too much of a maverick. so, i think that is one change. i think within the parties, to be a maverick you also need different things in the minority and majority party today whereas if they used to think of being a maverick as using all your prerogatives, thousands of amendments holding things up, if you are in the minority, that is fine. and, in the majority there is a lot or pressure especially when you see the minority doing this coordinated effort, so that is one of the points.
the talk of individualism and the senate, it is right at one level but it is combined with this partisan teamwork, and so there is a real problem being a maverick against that in the majority. you really face a lot more sanctions and justice approval if you are going to do that today so i think it is a different political meaning of it is really much different now. >> i would like to open it up to the audience. we have someone i think that is going to have a microphone, so if i could recognize you. right there. >> one thing that seems to me to be unique with the current senate, and also the house in the period between 1950 and the present day is the evidence that
there is such a thing now as party line, which is seriously enforced in the republican instance and the senate, and also in the house, and that seems to me to be absolutely unique. there has been party coherence in the past, but have only one person from the maine to cross the line is extraordinary, isn't it? isn't it? i can't think of a single instance when you had anything like that. you always have a certain number of people who were crossing the line during that entire period, so it is unique. and i would like to hear your explanation for this. >> i think we see less and less
of that over time. in other words this is a culmination of a trend that we have been seeing over time toward increased party unity, so it has reached maybe a new level , at least on the republican side on some of these big votes where they have been able to pull together virtually unanimously and on the democratic side there have been some defections, but it is really not new. i think we have seen this developing over a period of time. >> it is not new, but it is-- the number of people who have graph viz., the number of unanimous votes where one party votes unanimously and the majority of the other party votes the other way. it used to be in the house. i actually had a graph like this in the paper but it used to be if you left out the speaker, you may get one or two an office where is it became, starting in the mid-'90s it really starts
to grow and just continue so you are getting dozens and dozens of them in the house and in the senate. that is new and when you think about it from olympia snowe's perspective, she didn't vote for the bill on the house. she voted during committee. and you just think about it from the standpoint of the one-- if you are going to be the one person it is an awfully difficult place to be, especially when the messages you give them one vote and this is a bipartisan bill. we vote together and we are really able to depict this as a partisan power grab, that is a powerful appeal especially in a world where people say majority control is up for grabs here. you were fighting for that. their world in which you have 20 moderates versus a world in which you have three moderates is just completely different. >> and in the house where the republicans put tremendous pressure even on this one guy, the one republican who represents an overwhelmingly democratic district in louisiana
got elected just by chance-- well, when the incumbent is caught with money in the freezer. that i mean, you think if anyone would, cross party lines because he represents such a democratic district that they put tremendous pressure on him, not that it would have made any difference in the outcome but just the symbolism of it, so it is becoming more like the house of commons. it really is, except in the senate of course you have all these anti-majoritarian rules. >> and i think it is fascinating to watch the campaigns for the 2010 senate. when you have people who are pretty clearly moderate, mark curt who will be the nominee in illinois, immediately responding with a partyline repeal the health care. charlie crist in florida is
being challenged by the speaker speaker of the house, and they are very conservative. he was challenged to come out for repeal and 15 seconds later he came out for repeal. he probably got a tweaked. [laughter] i would like to put in one counter argument. on some issues, the recent jobs bill for example, there was crossing of the aisle and i do think privately at least, it will be interesting to see if we get a public manifestation of this but privately there are a fair number of republican senators who had to be questioning this absolute no. whether that manifests itself in any systematic behavior i don't know. my guess is, and there are some pairs of people who didn't-- democrat and republican who won a given issue will try to bring
something up and work together, but that is by far the exception rather than the rule. >> i think it will depend on the outcome of the midterm elections and if republicans do well in the midterm elections, then i think that is going to bring forth a strategy and the conclusion they are going to reach i think is this is working and if they are still in the minority, continue and if they hit the majority i don't know what they will do with that. >> other questions? >> and thinking about the idea of polarization as well as you mentioned the apprenticeship, how much are those affected by a 24 hour news cycle, talk radio and two polar opposites tv stations further polarizing the public?
which came first, the media or the politician? >> i think there is no question that the media today are reinforcing this polarization. that-- and actually i think fox news plays and almost unique role in this. they have really played a huge role in inciting and promoting this tea party movement if you want to call it a movement. you know, and but certainly in general, the media are much more polarized now than they were 40 or 50 years ago. people are getting very different messages depending on what they are tuning into and that is true with cable tv, talk radio and the internet, so which is cause in which is effect is really hard to say but it certainly plays into this heightened polarization. >> another question?
>> i would like to maybe have any or all of the panel respond to what they think term limits would do for the democracy, whether the democracy would be better served with term limits or not. >> i don't think we need term limits and i think they are a bad idea but we don't need them because i think there is actually a fairly high rate of turnover already and actually the percentage of those serving in congress today who are they are, say if you go back 12 years or more ago, it was pretty small. you know so it may not appear there is that much turnover taking place but there actually is, and in my view, the voters are dissatisfied they can vote out the people they don't like.
i just think it is a mistake to arbitrarily set, and they certainly don't think it is going to do anything to change polarization and partisanship. i mean, there is no reason to think that would have any impact nor do i think other institutional-- people talk about redistricting reform or having that instant runoff election. there was just an op-ed in the "new york times" suggesting-- tom friedman was talking about that. because it doesn't deal with the underlying-- the underlying causes are the divisions that exist in the country. the country is very divided and the politicians are reflecting the divisions in the country. they are not imposing them, they are not creating them. they or their. >> by and large most political scientists aren't for term limits. i would simply add, if you factor in five forthcoming retirements, plus in all probability a couple of
incumbent losses, you are really going to have in 20 years 82, 84% of the senate replace. that is a substantial, a substantial turnover. and the price you pay, we know it from state legislators analysis, particularly when term limits are fairly short, the cost and expertise, the ability to really make the legislature work. as we had a lesson in the last few weeks, it is difficult to make these legislatures work. that loss of expertise is probably far more serious than what you gain with some--. >> 20 years from now the only senator that will still be in the senate will be robert erred mac. [laughter]
>> another question? 's buf told us what is happened over the last 50 years. is there any hope going forward? >> come tomorrow. [laughter] >> i don't think it is all bad. i mean my view is that polarization has some very positive consequences. it gives voters clear choices. we know, we have a much better idea as opposed to 40 or 50 years ago when we had these conservative democrats and moderate liberals and republicans and party lines weren't as clear. now we have a better idea what the choices are and the result is actually that rather than turning off the electorate, it is actually energized the electorate. we have had higher turnouts. not only higher turnouts but more people participating in other ways. or people putting yard signs out, more people making
phonecalls so in some ways it is really beneficial. i think obviously there are some problems translating that into policy outcomes that have to do with the fact that institutions were not designed to accommodate this type of ideological politics that we have today. but i do think there were some positive things that come from it. >> very quickly on that, to say that there is an election in november 2008 that had a very strong result give or take joe lieberman, 60 votes in the u.s. senate and an overwhelming majority in the u.s. house, and it strikes me that that election should have had some consequence , and i think in the last few weeks, with obama,
pelosi, reid, whatever, i think what you are really seeing is a manifestation of what happened in november of 2008. and if things don't work out, you know who to blame. there is no ambiguity here. so again, i think with that kind of electoral results, to overwhelm the senate obstructionism, the electorate deserved it seemed to me a kind of response and they got one. [inaudible] >> i would agree with burd that there has been significant policy change, not as much as some people would have expected in november 2008, but now with the health care that changes the
general scorecard on that. i would say a couple of things. i would say i disagree a little bit with alan in terms of the positive view of the polarization and in terms of the political system. i think there's a difference between intense policy disagreements and policy disagreements that are framed in terms of the legitimacy of the people in office, the fundamental legitimacy of the president and other people that i think is something that has happened before in american politics. it is not unprecedented that i don't think it is necessary-- i don't think that is a particularly common feature. i think we saw before the civil wars. i think we sought in the 30s and 40s but i don't think that is common. that is i think something to be worried about and i don't think feeling that is reflecting-- it is a reflection of a small portion of the public about the public is more polarizing than it was in the past, it is not
the case that the average voter or the median voter in the district is says polarized as the elites are. so, i think to part a little i, think the real problems in terms of governance and they say this coming from california, which is a seed every day in california is california has very polarized parties. democratic majority but not a two thirds majority but to pass the judge-- budget you need two thirds and what they found is that parties have polarized. nobody can pass the budget. nobody is responsible. nobody knows who to blame and there is just an intense sense of cynicism in the state. the danger is, take the polarization in the senate and congress, add the 60 vote requirement, voters will then have a very difficult time knowing who to hold accountable when you do get gridlock and failure and i think that is a recipe for real problems down the road, and i'm not sure
whether they will solve it or not, but that is the core issue i think. >> i agree with your first , absolutely. i think it can be carried too far although i am not sure how small minority it is and necessarily questions legitimacy i think it is a fairly large minority on certain questions. >> a note of hope from history, we have had periods of extreme polarization in our nation's past and new coalitions and new issues will come along and form and i don't think this is by any means permanent. we have a question in the back. >> since the 60s we have had a revolution in the south and i wondered, what if you alluded to the polarization of parties based on race. it seems to me that you haven't addressed sufficiently the effect of that race has had, particularly in the house but also in the senate.
>> would strom thurmond switched parties and then jesse helms came along, lee atwater came along and republicans took over the leadership of the congress, and whether you agree or not, they had an implicit racial appeal, and that has had a major impact it seems to me in this whole question of polarization, and it shows the party bases. >> absolutely, and i wanted to emphasize that point. i think the changing racial composition of the party coalition, with the democratic coalition and nonwhites becoming a very large share. the democratic party is very heavily dependent on nonwhite votes, and there has been a regional realignment, where the south has become the most
republican region of the country and even though obama made some inroads there, it is by far the most republican region of the country, and whereas the northeast which 50 years ago when bob dole was first elected to the senate, the northeast was the most republican region of the country, and now it is by far the most, notwithstanding scott brown, it is the most by far the most democratic region of the country so we have seen a regional realignment began it reflects this underlying ideology that raises an important component but that is not the only issue that is produced that. but yeah, living in georgia, believe me, i am well aware of that. >> i believe we have time for a final question. right there. >> the voters now, six months later, respond by electing as the house minority leader on the house bill.
the house bill that he said would he repealed. i cannot believe, and i would like to put each of the three of you what the result will be in terms of seats in the house. >> the results of the campaign for repeal? >> yes. >> well, first of all i think the democrats are certain to lose seats in congress in both, certainly in the house and almost certainly in the senate, and they could suffer pretty large losses, but i don't personally think the health care bill is going to be the most important factor in not. i think a big factor in it is structural. it is a midterm election that the president's party almost loses seats in the midterm election regardless of what else is going on, and secondly the democrats are at a high water.right now. they have gained over 50 seats the last two elections. they have democrats sitting in a lot of republican leaning districts so they are bound to take some pretty big losses are
likely to take some pretty big losses in any event. secondly i think the economy is likely to be much more important factor ultimately than the health care bill. health care will definitely be a big issue in a midterm election but my guess is it is not going to produce a big shift one way or the other because again health care is an issue that divides along existing party lines and divides democrats and republicans so i think it is likely to reinforce the divisions that exist within the electorate, but there may be certain individual, number of individual races where you can make a difference one way or the other. where you have some democrats in republican districts. it will be interesting to see how they voted, how do is voted on the health care bill ultimately makes a difference in the outcome of those individual races. >> lets not forget president obama will still be president and it is hard to imagine the house or senate republicans leading to a two thirds in either chamber. >> repeal is not going to
happen. >> you notice they have already started to say, immediately again but republican leaders repeal and replace, and something has to give to get it done. so i think they have been softened already. we will see what the polls look like. we are just at the beginning of this. oh yeah. i would like to thank again our speakers, the dole center in thank you all for coming. we will give you a final round of applause here. [applause] i invite you all back tomorrow for our sessions tomorrow as well. speak. >> there is more tomorrow. >> the heavy hitters come tomorrow. [laughter] [inaudible conversations]
>> bob barr who ran for president as libertarian party candidate in 2008 spoke about what he sees as the weakness of the two-party system. mr. barr was a four term republican member of the u.s. house from georgia before becoming a libertarian four years ago. he spoke at the commonwealth love in california in san francisco for just over one hour.
>> thank you george, and thank you to the commonwealth club for the temerity of inviting me back or go i think this is perhaps the third time i've had the honor in the pleasure of being with you all to share what far too few of our fellow citizens engage in, and that is ace here did that simple debate on current issues, public concern, public policy matters. i think the work that the commonwealth club does is not unique certainly is among the most important than a civic organization in our country and it is indeed a real honor to be with you all. one week ago today, i was in quite a different environment. i was over at oxford in the u.k. , speaking over there. and, the audience was somewhat small compared to the audience that i have enjoyed listening to meet the time i had been over there a couple of years before.
and i asked one of my hosts, one of the students at the oxford union whether it was something that had to do with my appearance or whether there was something going on that depressed attendance. they said, courtney love. i said excuse me? courtney love was speaking at oxford the very same night that i was there and apparently enjoyed a much larger audience. i have no earthly idea why but i'm glad that she is not here tonight so that we have a larger audience here. also, i appreciated george's instruction or request, i am not sure he is probably too nice to use instruction but his request to turn off cell phones. it does make the job of the federal government to locate just slightly more difficult, which i always enjoy doing. i also appreciate being