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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  April 12, 2012 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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an encore of "after words" the hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. in this program, ira shapiro and his book the last great senate he looks at the centers of the 1960's and 70's who passed the civil rights and great society legislation. mr. shapiro says the senate was diminished by the republican gains in the 1980's and hasn't recovered in the last 30 years. he talks with vermont independent senator bernie sanders.
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>> u.s. senator bernie sanders from the state of vermont and we are delighted to be here with author ira shapiro, and we are going to talk about the new book the last great set courage and statesmanship in times of crisis published by public affairs. welcome. >> guest: thank you, senator. thanks for doing this. >> host: let me start off with a hard question, who are you? what is your background and how did you get into this book? >> guest: line from new yorker originally, born in new york, grew up on long island, a product of the 60's that interested in politics during the 60's responding to the civil rights issue of the time and that ultimately to vietnam when the war was the dominant while we were in college, graduated 1969 and actually from brandeis university actually one day after graduation was able to
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start as the senate in turn for jacob javits for the summer. i guess i was impressionable but it made a big impression on me and i decided to go to law school and came back in 1975 and spent 12 years in the senate and in a sense writing the book because i've been fascinated by the senate for a long period of time. >> host: you make no secrets in their book that you are a liberal progressive democrat. you ran for the united states congress. talk about that and then do you feel that your political views play by the way you read the book or do you think you could be more objective? >> guest: flem clearly a progressive democrat. i've been involved in a lot of democratic campaigns, presidential campaigns and certainly my own campaign in 2001 and 2002 to try to get
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congress. but i don't think the book will reflect that on the early reviews of the book and the comments have been noted that it's quite fair. >> host: do you think republicans should read it, too? >> guest: i think that the book essentially took this is on the courage and statesmanship of what i call the great senators and the great sun - -- dennett. the epilogue indicates what happened since i think 1980, and it is critical of the republican move to the right and its impact on the senate. but it's no more critical of the republicans than many republicans have been. >> host: let me mention some of the figures that many of us will remember when we were young comedian you write in your
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prologue that in washington, d.c. and across the nation millions of americans who first were drawn to politics because of john f. kennedy, civil rights and the vietnam war remember the age when the senate was great. and these are the senators that ira is talking about when he talks about the great senate of that period, hubert humphrey, jacob javits, howard baker, sam ervin, jay william fulbright, william byrd, abraham, robert kennedy, wayne moss, henry jackson, ed muskie, warren magnuson, phill douglas, walter mondale, robert dole, frank church, john sherman cooper, eugene mccarthy, george, margaret smith, richard russell, george mcgovern, william that's mired and barry goldwater. that is quite a cast of characters and those are names i think that many older americans will remember today. of those names, which names pop out to you and which have
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impressed you the most pacs >> guest: let me say first of full disclosure the narrative of the book focuses on the last years of the great senate, the late 70's and it is backlit by what has happened before. my basic argument is there was a great senator from the early 60's through the 70's so all the people the you indicated were a part of that. the once the standoff prominently in my memory would include hubert humphrey who was perhaps one of the greatest centers of all time although i think somewhat of a tragic figure because of what happened to him during the vietnam war when he was vice president. he really invented the modern senate. the role to some extent. he communicated the senate to
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the public on the disarmament and civil rights particularly, and he was one of the great senators. the 60's and the 70's, the jury probe found moments in american history. coming back to what i remember is the question of the civil rights movement and the profound impact that have on this country but it wasn't only martin luther king jr., there was the black panthers, the assassination of the early 60's of president kennedy and what that meant to the country. clearly the war in vietnam profoundly impacted the whole nation dividing us and so forth. the rapid speed by which president johnson of the society and the impact that had.
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the cultural movement, woodstock and women's movement, the environmental movement, etc., etc.. talk for a moment about the great senate in your words and all of these profound movements and events taking place in american history at that moment at the time. >> guest: i think the connection is that historically the senate had been a disappointment that countries should be moving forward. robert carow and william wright have written and described the senate as unending revenge of the south for gettysburg. the one place the salt didn't lose the set or so it was a block on progress. what you saw in the early 60's and started in the 50's but the early 60's the senate became
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progressive. they became three much in tune with the challenges the country was facing to reverse of what you see is the senate being a partner of presidents in the progressive policies when they could become and the senators check on presidents when the president's extended their authority is in ways that were undesirable. so the senate ford closely with john kennedy and lyndon johnson on the great society and civil rights acts and was a check, attempted to be a check on lyndon johnson and richard nixon on vietnam and other excesses of executive power. but the key is a was a progressive senate, it was no longer the graveyard of the progressive dreams. and you'd find these centers that i usually write about were involved in every piece of
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social legislation moving forward and that period deeply involved. >> host: let me ask you this question. in 1980 as we know, ronald reagan won a landslide victory for president carter and democrats went from what was at, 58 members majority down to 46. a huge landslide lead all the presidential as well. i think many people might be thinking when you look at the title of your book with a last great senate if there was a great way to get their head handed to them? you saw there were great but 1980 the american people didn't think they were so great or is that not a fair question? >> guest: of course it's a for question. there were a number of elements that were at work.
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to some extent degeneration will change. many of the people described had come to the senate in 1956 or 58 or 62. they served three or four terms and to some extent, the electorate had decided that it was time for them to be changed, and some of the senators ran when they were in the ill health such as jacob javits and warren magnuson. they shouldn't have run again. but certainly there was a tremendous high in the country as the politics were moving to the right. what i describe in the book is that time moving to the right rich culminates at that time and ronald reagan's election and i also describe a set in the late 70's continues to do the nation's business and solve problems on the bipartisan basis so the liberal tide has moved out and that caused them to lose
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the election but a lot of things were still going on for the country. >> host: something that has always fascinated me about the country move into the right moving their job in a bipartisan basis with is the country move to the right, what role did the senate have not raising issues are making contact with ordinary voters and ordinary people preventing the country from moving to the right. i think the 70's should be remembered in part for the dramatic change in the u.s. economic position. 1973 is often seen as that great point, sort of the sweet summer of the postwar prosperity that lasted until 1973 when we got hit with the energy embargo,
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rising energy prices, the first blast of foreign competition etc. that the same time people started to feel stressed from inflation, they were being moved into higher tax brackets they thought should have made him wealthy year but it wasn't because the taxes were basically going up. there's no doubt there were a number of things happening in the 70's that changed the political climate dramatically, and the democrats, carter and the white house and democrats in the senate were trying to adjust to that to come forward with new policies that would adjust to that situation. i think they did some of them that they didn't have time to do all of them. >> host: if i'm not mistaken, from 1973 in terms of real wages in this country was the higher
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point we have been. is that your memory? >> guest: i wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. on the other hand, we had our high-end manufacturing jobs in 1979, so there was still quite a bit of economic strength, so what happened in the late 70's as you found that even though the economy is growing, inflation had gone to double digits and really of control. >> host: the relationship between people in this case in the united states senate and what's happening with the general public. they are fighting for your values and picking up with what's going on in the economy
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of these problems with health care in so on. to what degree were in your judgment and these senators addressing those issues or the issues of their time in a way that the american people are saying thank you during that period there was a property tax result, right? so there was the section that people couldn't afford to get higher and higher property for the democrats responding to that for example? >> the democrats were offering some tax cuts that were smaller the couldn't afford large tax cuts nor did they think we could afford a situation people pledge never to raise taxes again no matter what. what he sees the democrats responding to a lot of the
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challenges ranging from energy to health care they raised the minimum wage and other things, they pushed for the labor law reform and were not able to successfully overcome the filibuster. i think they were adjusting talking to come up with policies that responded to the challenges of the time but they were divided among themselves, too. president carter had a few of doing health care reform step by step. senator kennedy felt that health care was the unfinished business of the country so they differ among themselves, which often happens. that's healthy. but what you saw was the senate still managing to work together in a bipartisan way a lot of time >> host: use tichenor book about mansfield, good fan of mansfield. >> guest: a big fan. >> host: before mansfield was the majority leader and johnson
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was the majority leader and you contrast that still very different. talk about lbj and the democratic majority leader followed by mike mansfield, the differences and why you like the style a little bit more >> guest: lbj's live forever in the memory of the american political history and he was an extraordinary force as the senate leader and i describe him as sort of dragging the senate kicking and screaming into the 20th century he was instrumental in the first civil rights bill and the first break in southern resistance to civil rights 1957 act. he also aggregated a great deal of power and fund sticks and carrots nobody even knew existed. he made the senate work through the sheer force of his own will but he was abusive to people and
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he basically pressured people in a way that they got tired of faugh proof and he would withhold office space and committee assignments and punish people and by the time he left to be vice president come he had pretty much worn out his welcome. mansfield was the polar opposite of lbj. he was an asian history scholar who studied asia after world war i when he was in the service. he got to the house and the set a he was low-key and intellectual, very laconic and mansfield believed in the democratized senate the democrats, the republicans, the senior members from the younger members and he built the senate based on trust and respect, and what you see happening for the mansfield period are the things
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get accomplished because of the mutual trust and respect that was nurtured by mansfield. he was the only one that he was instrumental in nurturing. host could you are making the case of the majority leader mansfield was the nicer guy with style would work better? >> guest: i think he served 16 years, she was the longest serving majority leader ever. the senate in my view only had its greatest accomplishments under mansfield. mansfield's first major accomplishment is the civil rights act of 1964. lbj deserves huge credit for the presidential leadership that he provided but he still had a hand in the senator wanted to so he would suggest to mansfield. and he's in good health and if
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you filibuster you will be about to break them basically, keep them on the floor and he said that's not why i'm going to do it coming and he went to everett dirksen, the ranking member of the leader of the southern blot and he said this is how we're going to do it, we are going to do everything we can to overcome it but i'm not keeping people in all light and trying to break them that way. the leadership between lbj the former senate leader of mansfield now the president still coming from a very different position. >> guest: lbj's's accomplishments in civil rights will always be remembered she picked up the mantel after president kennedy was assassinated 1963, '64 was an extraordinary moment of political consciousness and the
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country that all of a sudden the historic injustice of civil rights was going to be dealt with, but the senate was the last bastion of resistance that had to be overcome, and what he did with hubert humphrey and everett dirksen and the other senators is an overwhelming victory for probably what was the most important piece of legislation ever enacted, the civil rights act of '64. >> host: in addition to the civil rights, which obviously was an enormous consequence for the country what are some of the issues that you cover in the book? the >> guest: looking back on these earlier years i have -- i go through things that happened in the late 70's, the treaty fight which was probably the hardest political fight on the foreign policy that we've ever
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had you go from there to try to save new york city, a financial rescue of the city at precisely the moment the tax revolt has just occurred sweeping in from california saying we are not going to spend money on these kind of things and yet the senate in its wisdom works with the administration and comes up with a relief package that's tough enough, has conditions and is tough enough to help new york city and was instrumental in the city's recovery. >> host: and senators voting to support new york of the moment are doing something other to become the other constituents didn't feel good about. >> guest: the constituents were coming around. new york was regarded better at that time than it had been several years ago at that time the first round of temporary relief had to come jerry ford who said basically i'm not going to help you and the famous
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headline in the paper, so they were feeling a little better about new york city, but the banking committee and the senate was following the situation very closely. the banking committee and the beginning of 78 said we are not plan to give them any more help. in the course of the next few months, the case was laid because the senate and the hearings are quite surging. if you read those hearings you would say these people knew what they were looking for and looking at. the governor that you carry, the mayor, the new mayor came, moynihan and chaffetz will be hard, richard lugar who just come to the senate stepped forward and came up with a plan. richard lugar who was still in the senate but was a very good
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example i think of one of the product of mental's democratized senate but he was a new senator but he had been a great mayor and if he was willing to step up and play an important role, the senate welcomed that. >> host: we remember in vermont george regan of course who was one of the telling figures of period as well or moderate republican, and what we remember and i remember interviewing him many years ago i gather that he come a republican and mike mansfield the majority leader democrat would have breakfast almost every day. what was that about? what does that indicate to you? >> guest: they were best friends, and they got together for breakfast every day they were not doing something else is my understanding, but is
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signified the kind of bipartisanship. i mean, that was from the top down the was the message that mansfield cent and that's the message of friendship sent, but there were numerous cases like this. howard baker told me a story. >> host: not everybody knows who he is. >> guest: howard baker of tennessee was one of the great centers, and he comes at the beginning of my book he has just because the six he becomes the minority leader 1977. he tried to be the minority leader a couple of times but hadn't made it. now he's the minority leader. carter as president, robert byrd has just become the majority leader. howard baker told me the story that the first time he went on a foreign trip as a young senator and he criticized lyndon johnson while he was abroad, and they were on the trip with him and he
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quietly took howard a side, senator baker aside and said a police found we don't criticize the president when we are in a foreign country. it doesn't matter who the president is coming and baker said to me the way he did it and the wisdom of what he said meant a great deal to me. baker took the lesson that they became very country close friends, and in the book there are times when you will see baker and rhetoric of collaborating to get things done. it didn't matter that one was a democrat and one was a republican. >> host: so the senate back then is a body trying to work with important national goals in a bipartisan way most people would sense that this doesn't exist today. as a talk about the contrast between that and what people perceive to.
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>> guest: it was deep in the dna of the senate. at staff level we were always told if we can up with an idea and i was a democratic staffer, the first words were go find any republican. we fought on those terms and there were republicans to find every committee level use of democrats and republicans in every committee working together the key votes were never particularly partisan. it is almost dena letcher iced in terms of partisanship there were other differences that were not partisan differences. we have lost that over time, and what the epilogue tries to do is explain how and when that got lost. basically the republican party has continued to move to the right, and they have embraced a tighter partisan model that now
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the senate is trapped so that the street party votes become very commonplace and that's not the way the senate used to work but it has changed over time, and you will find that republican senators, republican senate leaders used to work very closely with democratic presidents but have stopped doing that, and that math said has created the atmosphere and the working senate. >> host: something we deal with everyday on any issue of significance some of notte significance we need 60 votes. there wasn't the case back then in most instances. >> guest: it wasn't the case back then but interestingly, senator, what the book indicates is that robert byrd, the majority leader, and who who revere the senate traditions and knew the rules better than anyone else felt the senate was
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always threatened with possible paralysis by the filibuster. she had seen senator james allen of alabama come up with a new kind of filibuster, opposed cloture filibuster, and robert byrd tried very hard to reform the process and did in 1979, but 1979, that long ago, she said if we didn't make serious reforms, we would have a paralyzed senate and some of the language he used is likely heard 30 years later. so the senate i tried to say in the but the senate usually worked but it worked because of the mutual trust and respect and accommodation the senators reached. >> host: talk for a brief moment about some of the
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democrats and republicans you see as the outstanding figures >> guest: the people i put on the cover of the book, kennedy was one of the great centers of all time. i cheated a little bit because his greatness actually was even more deeply established after 1980 that he was already a powerful senator during the 70's howard baker was perhaps the epitome of courage and statesmanship. howard baker was a republican. howard baker was the minority leader as i said. the panama canal treaty comes up. president carter says we need to the associate an arrangement with the panel panel to allow access to the canal but we are not going to continue to possess a great howard baker's reaction was this has been around for
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years. why now, why me? and he was thinking of running for president, seriously coming and he knew if he supported the panel can now treaties it would probably be the death knell of his presidential hopes, but he did it any way because he thought the national interest required at. it jacob javits on the cover, republican of new york universally regarded as perhaps the smartest lawyer and best legislator of that time routinely would go to three or four committee meetings, annoyed the hell out of other senators the coming into the meeting demanding his time and going to the heart of the issue. he always managed to get value. you read other books about the senate, by other senators and they say don't make me debate. it's too frightening. ed muskie is on the cover as well. it was a wonderful story when he
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came to the senate, democrat of maine, she'd been a very good governor. he comes to the senate and he gets on the wrong side of lyndon johnson, disrespects him and johnson gets mad and gives him the worst committee assignment to possibly give him. he sulks for a while and then realizes he's given him a favor. johnson put him into the position of becoming an environmental leader because the environment became the issue that it did right in the early 60's, sees a very famous for that and then there's robert byrd on the cover. >> host: we are going to take a short break and be back in a moment to talk with ira about how the but has changed in the senate over the years. thank you.
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>> host: ira, a lot of people out there to say the least are not enamored with what's going on in washington today. they think we are descended into single-digit favorability, not somewhere behind god knows who. i want to quote and i want to chat with you a little bit to get your view as to what's happened. the senate was once a quite respected institution that is certainly not the case right now. let me quote from your prologue and this is what you say the
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election of 1980, the was the reagan shot of the great senate and the senate has never regained its stature or reclaimed its special place in the country and in three decades since the senate the house has become a third wheel in our political system. president reagan, clinton and bush and house of representatives and its powerful speakers, tip o'neill new gingrich, and nancy pelosi. the dissent for greatness didn't go unnoticed. in 2005, the political historian wrote that, "a profound sense of crisis now surrounds the senate and, quote, it would grow the worst. as barack obama took office in january, 2009, with america facing its economic crisis since the great depression of the already diminished senate in virtually dysfunctional, torn by partisans from palm paralyzed and is obsessed with
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fund-raising, the institutions and frustrated by the lack of accomplishment and unable to change the situation. the once proud senate offered to be of itself on the words of george parker and, quote, the empty chamber. end of quote. all right. elaborate on that. >> guest: i think what i try to explain in the epilogue, which the epilogue somebody said to me you can't just ended in 1980, you've got to sort of connected, and i felt the need to do that. >> host: i think that's right by the way. >> guest: what the epilogue says is 1980 election shattered the senate and was the hugest exodus of the progressive democratic experience to senators of all times replaced by a very conservative republican neophyte senators, so
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it essentially shattered what i call the senate ecosystem. but i said in the epilogue the senate made a seemingly solid comeback in the mid to late 80's. there were still quite a few good senators are around and it wasn't unreasonable to think they would reclaim its position and if you look at the mid to late 80's you will see a lot of accomplishments on the bipartisan basis, so there was a comeback. dennis started down i would say in the early 90's and has continued to go down to read the difference was the partisanship and the desire of republican leaders not to work with democratic presidents. to some extent that started with bill clinton, the republicans never really acknowledged bill clinton as a legitimate president. and it got much worse with
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barack obama. you know, supporters of barack obama sometimes say that he was naive to think that he could transcend partisanship. count me among these people on the believe the national narrative that in a time of crisis we would come together across party lines, and that didn't happen. he hadn't gotten the cooperation that he needed, and the republicans like to make fun of his statement that the elections consequences, but they do have consequences. the fact that the republicans had won seven out of ten presidential elections since 1968 before obama have consequences. obama was entitled to think that he would get cooperation, not uniform cooperation, but cooperation from the minority. we don't have a parliamentary system, which guarantees the party in power, the right to get its program done.
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we believe in a cooperative minority, and she hasn't had it, therefore the senate has looked worse in the last few years despite i have to say karl pointed this out to me when i spoke to him very frustrating here we can't get a lot of things done even though we've gotten some big things done. so i don't want to say that nothing has gotten done, but the process has then polarized, and the process has been often paralyzed. >> host: this contrasts the period that you write about. >> guest: it does. the reason i wrote about the late 70's, somebody said to me you are writing a book about the list of flights of the carter years that will sell well.
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some of the same kinds of problems, interestingly carter and his white house diary that cannot last year in the notes to the diary she said president obama is facing a lot of the same problems that i face but i had one advantage. what he meant by that is he had a bipartisan senate that would work with him because the house he had a democratic house just as president obama had a democratic house that he had a different senate. >> host: let me ask you this question is not only the senate hasn't changed the world has changed from politics has changed on citizens united which says corporations and billionaires' can spend as much money as they want on political the advertising people and our
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political system into the control of a very small number of people. a bed is just not what american democracy as opposed to be about. but the role of money and politics has always been there. talk about money and politics and how about ties into the changes we were seeing between the senate of today and the senate back then. >> guest: it's an important question. i think there is no doubt in my mind that it is harder to be a good senator an effective senator now than it was. the demand to raise money requires a great deal of time from senators and the senators and that but didn't actually have to put in. >> host: tell me about that. i'm very interested to get by. >> guest: the campaigns were not expensive. i remember senator tom eagleton who was a good friend of mine
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who i worked for, democrat of missouri and she was outraged that he might have to raise a million dollars if he ran for reelection. so, the price of the campaign has gone up dramatically and it's taken a toll. >> host: i think people don't know what kind of to what has taken. you see democrats and republicans spending huge amounts of time raising money and it's not -- no one person has an intellectual level that conceal can bring to spend $4 a day raising money and then worry about the important issues facing the american people. it doesn't work like that. more -- people are obsessed with cancans and raising money, citizens united has made a very bad situation much worse to raise even more money to combat
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corporate money. but what you're saying is inflation accounted for that kind of money raising pressure without a significant background. >> guest: i am not saying they didn't concern themselves raising money but they didn't have to spend that kind of time buy any means. >> host: that is a very important factor. >> guest: at generally -- just on the time alone and contributes to the fact that -- and the senators have said so, they say it regularly, we don't spend time together. we are running back to the states come to fund-raisers, we actually don't know each other. the senators then spent a lot more time together in part because of the way the senate worked. the senate wasn't televised on closed circuit either. the senate started being televised in 1986. there was closed circuit into the office is a little while before that, but what that meant
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was if you wanted to know what was going on in the senate, you kind of wandered over to the senate and you would see the senators would go -- the do committees in the morning than they would have lunch, usually together, then they would wander over to the senate chamber or the cloakrooms. they were around the senate floor. >> host: said devotee members on the floor. >> guest: i don't want to exaggerate but there were a lot more. they were around. the interactive all the time. senator baucus of montana that's still there but came -- he was elected in 78. he said the dining room we used to eat together democrats and republicans come and that doesn't happen anymore. senator daschle and susan collins said you've got to find ways for people to interact more, so i think there has been a loss, but i also think is a harder media than it ever was.
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>> guest: let's talk about that. money is significant and let me just vouch for that the amount of time the members and the it is an outrage and has to be addressed but talked about the media world has changed. right now in the house or the senate is your doing committee it's going to be televised on c-span or elsewhere. talk about the case then. what does that mean in terms of how people relate to each other, etc.? >> guest: it's a complex question but i believe we have so much media and so much coverage that to some extent it cheapens the debate. in the senate that i described, if you heard frank church was going to speak on vietnam, a democrat from idaho and an early opponent, people went to hear the speech. as a big event and the was true
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of a lot of the speeches. people didn't speak fell lofton, but when they did, the word would get out. the speech on the floor would get attention, so it was a different kind of thing. also, of course, now the media is sort of ubiquitous and there's a very contentious media on each side which is not the case in those days >> host: the speech on the floor was significant. members would listen and the media would pick up because it wasn't that frequent. now those political observers would say being on fox or cnn or msnbc talk to a lot more people and it's more significant given a speech on the floor in those cases is that true? >> guest: it is significant that there is just so much malaise of their it's hard to
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break through. a lot of noise and it's hard to break through. in those days you have less malaysia's. you also have senators who were known and regarded in certain areas as national figures. so when they spoke, people listened to them. when robert kennedy, jacob javits, walter mondale went down to florida and out to california to look into hunter the got a lot of coverage for that. senators were doing something they were shunning a spotlight on these issues. george mcgovern and bob dole worked on hunger for years together on a bipartisan basis. they've shown a spotlight on issues and because of who they were it moved to the country and the legislative process. it's harder to break from now because of so much.
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spec what we go back to an issue i consider to be enormously important. a lot of folks inside the beltway especially coming and i will focus on the institution which is by definition fascinating. 100 people, different personalities, different states, different political compositions and makes an interesting dynamic. but i personally believe that waters far more important is the relationship between what goes on in the senate, and the need of the american people. in other words, if theoretically you could have a wonderful senate, they all love each other and get around in the country that's not a great senate that is a failed senate in my view and as you described, during the 60's and 70's enormous problems faced the country today may be even more dramatic problems to the chat for a little bit about the relationship between these
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people who you admire so much, the relationship to the american people to read >> guest: i think that this ties and a little bit with what we've been talking about in terms of how the senators spend their time, certainly senators now or hyper aware of what is on the mind of their constituents. that goes with the territory. we used to have to read mail but not as all kind of ways. you are barraged with it. so, senator is no with the people care about. the issues are hard, the question of whether you can find a consensus or bipartisan consensus to move ahead is hard. those senators found ways of understanding what was going on with their constituents and in the country. then they addressed the problems and they address the problems
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not only successfully, but they address the problems year after year, and they were on the fourth cutting edge of dealing with the problems facing the country. i think the senators have the capacity to do that but they are trapped in an institution that is operating in a way that doesn't do that >> host: did the senators at that time spend more time in washington than we do now? i never spent time in washington on the weekends. i'm always backing vermont or someplace else, usually vermont but that wasn't the case back then. >> guest: it's hard to generalize there are some senators i think to spend time in washington, they're always been some that have gone back to the states a lot, but the amount of time they spend actually legislating and thinking about the issues that lead to
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legislation i think was quite high, and what they understood and i think certainly there are centers now that understand this, and i would say they understood the basic deal you've got the privilege of being a senator and often multiple six year terms. you can drill into these issues but in return for that privilege, when you stop the pressures that are on new, new state matters and called for get your party and it's the national interest that matters most. with those people stood for is basically the north star was the national interest and they did things vigorously in q1 when you could and sometimes you lost by you or not there to obstruct for the most part there were few
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exceptions would you rather to answer to the senate the senate was supposed to take collective action, and i would gather them in your judgment, certainly my judgment. >> guest: i think that has changed and although some people debate this, i think there are both in the rules change that are needed for the senate bill would make it work better but a change of attitude is very, very important. i was struck when senator alexander of tennessee last fall with the republican leadership's that i'm leading the leadership because i want to be free to make bipartisan compromises of the sort that a senator should make and what he was saying was innocence and not functioning the way a senator should. the senate isn't functioning the way it should i not going to
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quit in frustration and to change my approach. >> host: take us back to the 60's and 70's and some of the memorable examples of people doing hurlock profiles of courage and things that we look back and say that was pretty good. >> guest: i indicated howard baker. he was a moderate republican, his mother was a great politician or stepmother was a great politician in her own right said he's like the tennessee river he always goes right down the middle. but he gave up, really gave up his opportunity to ever be president because of his position on the panama canal
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frank church who was the democrat from idaho his staff said to him you are active on this, you are done, you won't be reelected. >> host: without a whole lot of political gain. it was ferociously , so he stood up and he was the floor leader on it and he lost in 1980 by a very narrow margin, but there were all lot of examples of that sort come and the other thing that's interesting when you look of the votes on the big issues i described in the late 70's many of them have passed without 60 votes ultimately. the past because the senate concluded we have had a debate on this. we have really gone into the issue and now it's time to vote but it's not just time to vote and the difference between then and now is there was a consensus that the plan that the majority rules 51 votes would carry. >> guest: that's right although -- and i think that
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basically the said as long as we have had a good debate but everything was different in the sense that jimmy carter was not strongly respected by a lot of the members in the senate. some of them run against in some thought they should be president. they didn't really respect him at certain levels. but he was the president. they respected the office and his proposals were taken very, very seriously. so that there was one chapter i write about president carter proposes to solve to saudi arabia, never been done before of a crucial moment in the middle east. apec, the action committee strongly opposed it. henry jackson and jacob javits, the giants and the senate, friends of israel strongly opposed to it, the senate goes
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with carter and says his arguments for better. howard baker and abraham helped carter get this done and some months later carter has the opportunity to mediate peace at the camp david accords. the vote was i think there were 28 democrats that ran for it in 26 republicans. it was completely bipartisan and was completely on the merits of how they solve it difficult issue and they didn't spend months on it either the did it pretty quickly. >> host: at the time there's enormous discontent in the country today, people are hurting, millions of workers the standard of living is going down. 50 million people, no health insurance, we have the most
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uneven distribution system great depression. people are worried what's going to happen to their kids, the workers losing their jobs so there's a lot of discontent today to help put in your judgment these lessons of the 70's impact on a positive way the problems we are facing today? what lessons can we learn and apply to the serious crisis facing the country today? >> guest: i think we do face very serious crises and it isn't a colin since the other countries are facing those crazies particularly advanced economies, europe, japan, etc.. but, the reason i stressed what i did about president obama when he came into office and the absence of cooperation is because i think we would have had a better and faster economic recovery and public confidence
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in the government had there been cooperation we should have had in my mind a larger stimulus. >> host: let's review what happened is virtually there was a republican support. we got three republicans which included senator specter who switched parties at the time so centers that supported a were virtually i think ostracized and their caucus and it didn't have to be that we as many republicans who i think knew better had stepped forward we would have had the stimulus and we would have done it more quickly. the country but have thought we have a government. what happened last year when we almost defaulted public confidence which was already low when to dramatically down.
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the lesson of the book i think is the senate is one of the balanced meals in the system walter mondale has called the senate the national mediator. if the senate works it makes a difference, if it doesn't work it really takes a toll on the country devotee. i'm hearing you say only in responding to the problems facing the nation but bringing the nation together in the sense of confidence to put it very well there is an example in my book their president carter at the end of 78 says we are going to recognize peoples republic of china and he gets the right-wing republicans and some of the democrats are saying you are selling out taiwan. it looked like it would be another panama canal fight.
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within a very few weeks, the senators led by frank church and jacob javits who were on the foreign relations committee had fashioned a compromise that solved the problem that we would recognize china but we wouldn't desert taiwan and by the time it was done the had defused the whole problem. they brought the country to get your. jesse helms even supported the package at that point and so, yes the government working and working together means something to the country. >> host: in people's respect for the institution at that point was much higher. i think it was higher. look, some people would say congress bashing is a uniquely american habit that goes back to rodgers and mark twain some people are always complaining about conagra's, but when they saw this senate, the civil-rights act of 64, the
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arena in which the vietnam war was opposed and ultimately brought to a close holding richard nixon accountable in watergate, coming up with an energy policy however difficult it was, they saw it working. >> host: welcome ira, we're running out of time. i want to thank you very much for discussing your buckets the last great senate, courage and statesmanship in times of crisis. thank you very much for being with us. >> guest: thank you. i really appreciate it.
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>> now, an encore of "after words," the hour-long program where we invite you associate every authors. in this program, richard thompson ford and his book, "universal rights down to earth," mr. ford argues unforeseen issues that arise when western nations try to change the lives of melody and thanks for seeing universal human rights. he is interviewed by suzanne nossel, former chief operating not serve human rights/and counsel on foreign relations foreign relations >> host: hi, rich. glad to be here with you this afternoon. >> guest: likewise. enjoy the chance to read "universal rights down to earth." what drove you to train your lens on the human rights movement? was made that a subject of interest for you? >> guest: well, most of my
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work has been in the area of the advance of civil rights and i've been interested in civil rights for quite a long time. a little background in the 1980s finance online school, there was a quite heated debate between legal scholars on the left about the question of rights. and i was just a student at that time, they found it to be very interesting debate between a group that has come to be known critically of legal studies and another group being the scholars of color that later became known as critical race theory and about the status of rights and legal discourse when rights are a good idea and whether they were. the critical position was one that became known as the number of criticisms in a number of concerns about the search of rights, most witches had to do
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with the worries about the way they shape political consciousness and the way they affect it political movements. and the response from people that became know as critical race theorists became quite powerful. it's defending rights in particular was civil rights for dispossessed were subordinated groups and very, very strong terms. i found that to be fascinating. i think both made very valid points about the status of rights, when rights to be useful as opposed to counterproductive braids. so one thing that became clear to me with there is a general conception of rights and more race would be better we should extend rights to my situations and more people in more context. the critical legal studies critique nathan fairly powerful points against that idea david thoreau is good and suggested
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that to me at least that we think of rights morris tools to achieve some men in the important question was whether or not describing something in terms of rights would be a good mechanism for achieving the subsidy vendor whether it might be good. now again, that debate i think never was quite resolved. it certainly wasn't. they're a second second-generation set examinations of rights by some of my colleagues at stanford, other people who i know and respect a great deal to look at how an assertion of the legal right would play out in a particular institutional context. so rather than asking general terms to be a good idea to have a right against this type of discrimination, we ask once you have it, what happens on the ground? what happens in particular institution? just to give you concrete example of what i mean by that, and we have rights against
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discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, disability, very important legal entitlements for people and employment and accommodations. how did they play out on the ground and went to look at the specific dynamics of employers. so one must then -- and this is a lesson that came from vicki schultz a scholar a heel law school is a lot of the uptake happens not in court. you can't figure it out from the statute or the legal precedent, but it happens and how it's taken a human resource managers that are relatively low level. so that was civil rights laws could interpret it to human resource managers, management consultants, employment lawyers is an important aspect of what is mean to have a legal right.
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and sometimes they turn out in ways that one couldn't have anticipated and one could not have even a wanted. is it that is the last night that would interesting to bring to bear on questions of human rights that are often stated at a high level of generality. what happens on the ground that they are actually implemented? what are the effects of articulating something and ascribe any particular social conflict or particular concern in terms of rights? postcodes yet, i would agree to that the debate rages on and how they worked human rights issues both within government, addressing questions like what rights should the united states be prepared to acknowledge your firm. for example, at the united nations, these questions are very much alive. what will it mean to acknowledge this right? is enforceable? what would be the real world consequences of signing onto the
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notion of an entitlement or a value as a right? i've also been part of debates along those lines within the nongovernmental effexor and human rights organizations. so i certainly think that the debate in the equity that you are exposed to during law school are very relevant here. i am curious. i don't know when your book went to press, but the pub date is 2011 and i don't know to what degree you are able to bring into your lens the events of arab springs that have been folded over the last year and not as an outpouring in all of this energy and unexpected quality and power of that movement and assertion of what
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was often referred to as demand for right. you know, more than that, but it was that at least in part. is that what you're thinking about? >> guest: unfortunately, it was completed before those events occurred. would love to have been able to read about them, but couldn't. so it has to be informed of my thinking. in fact, since the mange group was sent to press, avid thinking a lot about events in india, for instance, an anticorruption about occupy wall street. all vibrant social movements that some of which take up the language of rights and some of which don't in ways that surprised me quite frankly because very often when a progressive social movement emerges, it does adopt the language of human rights in one form or another. that's a promising to stay in the book we make and to what is
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the human rights century that there's a tendency to write more and more social conflict in issues in one way or another in terms of rights and in terms of human rights. now to some extent, this is a testament to the power of rights and the human imagination, that they really have captured the imagination of people across the world in a wide variety of circumstances and inspired people to take action for social justice and that's the profound legacy of the human rights movement and its remarkable success over the past few decades. you know, at the same time, based on my study, the questions arise about whether or not and what was the effect of thinking about the movement particularly in terms of rights might be.
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and this is the place where i found interesting things. on the one hand, often when i talk to people engaged in human rights advocacy and attacked them about the specifics of legal entitlement, enforceable, what are specific remedies, who would be responsible for guaranteeing the right, they would say, you know, that is not really where were coming from. when we think the human rights issue, we need to advocate for comprehensive social changes via some cases people say we don't talk about entitlements and enforcement. we talk about working with institutions to help improve, which is very interesting from a domestic lawyers perspective sounds not so much like rights, the something different. so there's an interesting question about the status of rights in the discourse. at the same time, very often there would be a crucial moments
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a reference to entitlements that meets the imagined potential of enforcement some sort of authoritative body, all of the hallmark characteristic of rights for merely speaking. and that fusion of the two is fascinating. again, this week is human rights a great deal of power. but if i'm critical, i don't want to be understood to be opposed because that's certainly not the case. but it does raise questions that, you know, that i thought my fair examination that i'm able to settle the line on. >> host: yeah, you make the point in your book and you touched on this in our conversation already that use the human rights, at least in part as a means to an end. you think the question needs to be asked about whether they are the right tool for the job. who should decide that? and mean, is a decision that the
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rights advocate should make? the victim of the alleged abuse should make that decision? should the court make that decision? you know, where does that get adjudicated? who do you see as the rightful judge? >> guest: that's a really interesting question. short answer, all of the above. now, the long answer -- i want people to think about right advocacy in this context as an intervention in the social field and an intervention that is a lot like policy dating. so when human rights advocates of dance the human rights agenda or describe something as human rights or put pressure on governments or other organizations on the basis of human rights, but in a sense of policy intervention may have some degree of power in this
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respect. they think it is tempting when people do this kind of social advocacy to think we don't have any power. we are speaking truth to power. we are constraining the power of other people. in some contexts, certainly fits the fact is, human rights advocacy, human rights can have a great deal of power. the player in international politics. and so, one answer to the question is yes, the advocate should ask the question is describing this in terms of human rights a good way of achieving humanitarian goals? is it likely to clarify what is at stake in the conflict? or is it going to make it perhaps harder to see what is at stake in a given conflict are easy to ignore some of the potential outcomes are consequences of an intervention? is that likely to help us to achieve our goals and certainly
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describing things that often has an extremely effective strategy for convincing others to take action. but is it likely to do that? worth it likely to do perhaps in some cases encourage the wrong type of action to make it harder to see other states involved? those are questions i think everybody ought to ask. >> host: as someone who has worked on human rights issues, both in government and currently at amnesty international, which is one of the organizations, you touched on, to some extent in your book, and curious, what is your understanding of this state of the debate within organizations like amnesty over those issues? because my experience honestly has been that they are debated. of those are debated rigorously and there are -- you know,
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organizations are known for nothing as much as they are opinionated senior staff and there's always a full range of. so my fans is there is a vigorous debate, but perhaps what you are seeing is the outcome somehow not reflect team what you might regard as the right balance between these competing considerations. so what if you could touch on -- is that a procedural shortcomings that these debates are happening? but are somehow debates had been that the outcome is and always as refined as a maid he? >> guest: well, i certainly am not seeing the debate aren't happening. that is that the claim i went to
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me. i would like to think that the book could help to inform the debate by bringing new tears. and that may save this as well. the questions, as well in similar -- though it is not as if the only context in which these kinds of considerations are relevant in which i think there might be things to add to the debate within the context of international human rights, certainly not and i don't need to point to suggest those organizations are the last -- the human rights organizations are not doing as good of a job as having these debates. i only need to suggest -- it does seem to me that potential and the sister again across the organizations that i described, to a fact that discussions and
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my sense in talking to people involved in these organizations is that, that that may be a risk in some contexts. it is not the people don't have a discussion about whether or not it's a good idea to engage in a particular type of advocacy. but whether or not it might be in some circumstances better to describe and which organizations would be best at that and primary focuses to do something that doesn't involve rights are not. i simply imposing them. >> i think that they are -- they're a good question and they get asked, do you know, there is not -- you know, even now is the readily available set of terms or language in which to let
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these debates play out. one thing that occurred to me in reading your book, you assert the idea that at least i hope that characterize this fairly, but there are times when human rights advocacy sort of barrels forward without taking into account the full range of policy considerations, inequities that it should. you give an example of work on women's rights in the city of stanton is go and its decision to end fast and improve streetfighting to help safeguard women who are vulnerable to violence, you know, walking home in may. he sort of say an obvious coming in now, policy good for affected
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women. but you know, can we be sure that the discussion took into account the trade-off here? installing those lights meant fewer resources to a great playgrounds and play spaces for children and how can we be sure that the proper way of those equities to place. and i think was your suggestion they are is the human rights advocates bair for greater responsibility than they consistently showed lawyer to do some of that wayne themselves. and i question his this, having sat around a variety of different tables to discuss these issues. and my mind there is a big difference between the senior staff meeting at amnesty international and the interagency meeting at the white house. at the amnesty discussion, you know, we are human rights
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advocate than our job is to bring human rights lands to whatever the debate may be. you know, the interagency table where you have the state department human rights bureau and you might have the pentagon and the treasury department, you know, this night different voices at the table and facilitator of that conversation has to pull it all together. human rights is only one piece. i guess my question is, do you really see it as their responsibility as the human rights advocates to do that when a nap or is rather their job to feed the human rights and let the political process and other actors balance out those equities. >> this is a great question. that's a success story because what they've done that and i've
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talked to the women involved in the advocacy so i don't want anyone to think that i'm critical of that author. quite the opposite. i want to say that was an example of a cooperative relationship with the city. they weren't talking about and lived outside the domain of rights formally release classically understood here that i typed up they said we weren't talking about suing the city or some individual have any specific entitlement. we were talking about how we could make this study more responsive and helping them to come up with ways to measure how successful they were only work for the city and came up with an audit in order to evaluate the city's policies in the city sounded very hopeful. and very interesting as a shift away from individual entitlements and potentially litigation or a focus on that kind of relatively formal idea of rice to something much more comprehensive. what i did want to suggest the
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and the discussion you referred to as as one moves from strict advocacy and into the more policy consulting type role, there is a sense in which the person is becoming kind of a magic of government, and here i want to suggest the sharp line between government and nongovernmental organizations are between advocates of the state begins to become blurred. this is another way in which nongovernmental organizations are players in policy when they're actually exercising political power. and that is a good thing. but it is a shift away from the typical high school civics idea of the way government works. now, when one adopts that rule, yes, perhaps there's a greater responsibility to think about the range of consequences. someone needs to do it.
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i understand typically this isn't the advocates rule and it may seem unfair to say the advocate has to take on that responsibility lie with the other responsibilities dirty taking on. but there is a broad question that i believe is raised anytime we begin to describe a particular set of issues in terms of right, which is which issues do get described in terms of white rice and which is possible in terms of rights in which i left out quite and given the fact that the rights the rights the right to be one legal theorist but it has a, something that takes the right to be one legal theorist but it has a, something that takes precedence over other consideration and jumped the? it's the right, and entitlement. you have to be this many worry the other stuff gets into
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consideration of competing concerns in trade of some logrolling, the right surfers. that's the aspiration. given that, yeah, there's some responsibility to think through whether the particular issue at play should jump the? or to what extent the policy ballot should have been. i want to be clear. i am not saying the policy balances on san francisco. i think the city had neglected concerns of women for a long time in the city was able to see how they could improve through the advocacy. so is only using that as an example of the kinds of concerns that might become more pronounced as we move into what we could call a second generation of human rights advocacy that looks less like formal rice and adjudication, with a judge or judge lake parties responsible concern since that day and my sense is becoming more and more prevalent
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within human rights work. >> host: yeah, you know just to respond to your last assertion, i think it is becoming a major area for, although it could also is helpful to keep in mind the distinction between that kind of engagement with the willing part or in the form of a government that could be the city government of san francisco for the new government of tunisia hope oakland human rights technical assistance from the u.n. high commissioner for human rights to come into tunisia and draft new laws and train personnel versus human rights advocacy in a situation where a government is recalcitrant. you know, do share aside, for example and there is no scope to work cooperatively and the emphasis is how to ratchet up
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pressure on the government and pray for change. you know, i think more so perhaps then the idea that carrying out this balance is a burden. i think it's also much of that and leading advocate is truly plain advocacy role, you know, in the context of a situation where they are trying to pressure to drive change, by doing that balancing and taking into full account, you know, the range of competing equities that may weigh against the human rights claim, i think the region that is sent down if it is sort of acknowledged and recognized the wayne appleby done in the court of public opinion by the government officials on the receiving end of advocacy. but the job is to stake out a strong position and recognize
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that through this policymaking process, you know, other considerations will come into the mix in the final outcome is probably not going to look like precisely that set of recommendations that the advocate has put out. but by putting up a strong set of recommendations, the advocate will help assure that the outcome is just a little bit closer along the spec drachm to the desired that might otherwise be the case as it works through all these competing considerations, financial, strategic, depending on the context. so what you accept that it is the appropriate role for human rights advocate to sort a stakeout that part of the spectrum? you know, and it knowledge meant that the final outcome will find that they are, but if somebody doesn't stakeout that station,
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that it will be even further water down into the mix. >> in many circumstances that's absolutely appropriate. discussing the human rights deals is there such a broad range of potential sites of intervention and a broad range of differing circumstances. advocacy in the context of the recalcitrant state and advocacy and consulting of a friend layer state. part of the concern in the backdrop of all this you have an idea that each instance whether we discuss the same thing, which is some articulation of human rights and one question and even
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in the context of consulting one is more than that of advocacy because that is what we typically do in the context of human rights as if we are advocating in the context of the recalcitrant state. and so i think your suggestion i find quite convenient is right in line with that i would like to suggest that these differing contexts may require differing roles, the fact that we describe something in terms of rights doesn't mean we need to do the same thing on the ground in each instance. but i wonder whether that will be harder to see in the trenches. >> host: i wanted to go back to the point that i think you make persuasively, which i think is true that human rights advocates have become powerbrokers of a sort.
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third times, occasions for here in washington or in brussels or even perhaps in cairo or benghazi, people are listening to and thinking about what the human rights organizations are saying and the human rights organizations can sometimes drive media coverage and public debate. you know, they cannot put an issue onto the agenda of the u.n. security council. that's true. yet on the other hand you talk about, you know, the real struggle that has gone on in this country around a very, you know, which you assert anything to write lee, the most basic idea that torture is unacceptable and the fact that now, more than 10 years after 9/11, that the bedrock comment is still not fully accepted and
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they think we saw that in the context of some of the recent debate between the republican candidates for the nomination. you know, you attribute as i understand it, at least in part you attribute the failure to more firmly at trench the absolute ban on torture on what you see as the dilution of the language of rights to include things like a right to housing, right to food that really kind of in your mind a saying, you know, call to question that he that he had a phrase for enforceability of rights and i think your suggestion is by invoking rights language in those areas, the advocates have weakened, you know, the force of the norm against torture. but what i wonder is really, is that the state of the debate on torture really more a reflection of the limited power of the human rights movement and the
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fact that these ideas codified or paper at the convention against torture and other human rights instruments that they are still not fully understood, appreciated, accepted come even by senior government officials. to me that demonstrates the progress human rights advocates have made from time to time been able to touch the levers of power is really finite and limited. >> guest: i agree with all of that. i don't want to overstate the case to suggest that the reason we don't have stronger provisions on torture is entirely because we water down rights of these other contexts. but i do want to suggest that there is a trade-off to be made, that there is a potential for kind of inflation of the
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currency when there's certain things, certain issues with the language of rights is an easy and neat set come to the question discrete, with actor in question needs to comply and guarantee the right is clear and where we can say they really should be no compromise. they really are no competing considerations. the cases with the right really is a trump or we say look, the fact that one angst may be in some circumstances you get some useful information out of it prisoner by torturing him in her just doesn't cut it. and we are not trading up for balancing the equities at this point. no torture. but other things vitally important. one of the things i want to focus and zero in on it saying
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something may not be the right focus doesn't mean that it is less important. it means that rights aren't a good tool for getting out. they're not helping to clarify the issues and get where we need to go. so that things have questions about whether or not it makes sense to describe food or housing as a right with the ability to guarantee that is so much more complex, requires interrelation of different institutions and economic act there's and trade-offs does the type was inevitable that people say well were making progress over doing the best we can on balance or there's other parties involved that we can't control them are not sure who the writers really good against. they give rights in those terms as involving trade-offs and balancing might bleed over into the cases where there really should be trade-offs because that is a worry. and again, this is a war you
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take from the domestic context. we seek to team thing in domestic rights. to the extent we begin to have rights that basically boil down to policy balancing, the very strong and the nation is to move almost rights to policy balancing. it's a great way to go because we do with policy questions. but sometimes it is not. so there is a question of trade-offs there. now again i don't presume to answer the question. i don't say therefore you shouldn't have rights on these other species. they only want to suggest that there is a potential cost and that cost might have had a fax, may have had an affect in the context of the torture issue. and i think we agree we would very much like to see a stronger
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and more robust international norm against certain types of things, something not so easily subject to manipulation as we seem in the context of torture after 9/11. >> host: that me share with you a dilemma that we confront from time to time at amnesty international is also a subject of discussion when i was serving government. let's take the right to food. the obama administration has a very strong principled commitment and set of policies behind food security and they've put considerable resources and political capital and ambitious food security initiatives, a program called feed the future. that is a clear policy
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commitment. in the u.n. context, the administration was confronted with the question of how to respond to resolutions, human rights resolutions on the right to food that were introduced by other countries and that oftentimes contained provisions in clause says that to varying degrees were really not things the united states could fully embrace. in some cases because they were muddy statements of the nature of the rights poorly framed. another case is to repeat considerations of intellectual property that would come into play. you know, sometimes they were legal interpretations with which the administration was not entirely comfortable. the dilemma would he come, you
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know, given the administration's clear policy commitment in favor of food security, the object of voting against were even abstaining and declining to support a resolution that inevitably was favored by the vast majority of other countries around the world and would consistently voted in favor of a resolution on the right to sue became difficult. and there were opportunities to articulate an explanation of possession. the defense of the time this doesn't that just kind of get lost? and isn't the message of the united states is discrete standard error on food security of voting against the right to food just impossible to explain, you know, at a human level and how does one reconcile the apparent disconnect? you note in your book that we look at these instruments very
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differently than most other countries. their many countries to sign on to instruments and resolutions that bear no relationship to their domestic practice and yet for us to insist that our legal concerns or issues with language, you know, to override the sort of moral and hortatory and paired it has been on the side of the right to food and the advancement of food security becomes passed and i'm curious what you think about it. >> fascinating question. one of the trickiest things about writing this book for me was the team through the ways that particularly in the international human rights context rights for both kind of
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straddled that a moral imperative and aspirational ideal and more practical informal mandate. so from that disc of the legal realist veridical positivists, what we mean by right arbeit searches it substantiated. if it dares to write it means that somebody is entitled to demand something of someone else. we need to specify exactly who the other person is and exactly what it is they are entitled to. the legal realist wrote a great typology about how rights can play out in various contexts. so lawyers tend to think about rights in a relatively narrow way. anyway that's what the u.s. does when they look at the fine print of the treaty and say we don't really support that or that's a problem for something over here. of course the administration is also impede the bull's-eye is on
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us. were the biggest player and never will come after us as soon as we violate or don't adhere to some provision here. so it's tricky for us to sign on. but at the same time there is the aspirational side in which many people say what we mean when they say the right to food is that everyone should have food. who could be against that? so they sign on. and as you say, as i discussed the book comes sometimes it has the a relationship to what they're actually doing and it's very difficult to think through how those two interact. that is one of the biggest challenges. but the greater challenge in the context of international human rights because the field is so much more chaotic. there is such a wide range of potential instruments and articulations of human rights. everyone understands that to some degree the human rights are
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aspirational and so it doesn't matter whether they are formally codified or not in some circumstances there's are so formal codification of the specific consequences. i think it makes it a very challenging although of course a very promising domain. but one of my main concerns in the book is to note the way the language kind of has occupied the field so when one wants an international statement about food security as you put it, it becomes articulated language of rights and takes on a particular set of characteristics that may or may not be the best ways to achieve security. so i think that's fascinating this conflict to train the right to sit on the one hand and a very strong policy commitment to food security on the other hand. the example i talk about in the book involves india and the way
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of concern when i started to survey the field with the idea that it was the right to food seemed to suggest that it was the state primarily that was responsible. now understanding that human rights advocacy is beyond the idea that only states are implicated. but often there's a fallback that the state is the main guarantor. and the indian context of state was a huge part of the problem. the administrative incapacity, the petty corruption and what have you so some advocates have a relatively small number and name the economist suggests really rather than ask the state to do more to guarantee food, security, we need the state to do less. we need the state to move out of the distribution of food and instead, provide subsidies and allow markets to take over, which seemed to me to be a plausible suggestion given the
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decades of difficulty of actually carrying food security, but looking at it through the lens might have made it harder to see that solution and even that some people to oppose that solution can see that as kind of the idea if the state were to step back, even if it was likely to have the state step back. >> host: one thing that occurred to me in reading that section of your book was a distinction between the role of the state and affirmatively providing a right versus interfering which is exercising enjoyment of a right. but i want to come back to the question. you know, taking into account your debate and i think you're very thought-provoking discussion of the merits and disadvantages of using language
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of right and the economic, social and cultural context connecting site right to food, right to housing, how was that the horse left the barn on macos x i think what we have seen is historically, you know, traditional western focus on what are often termed civil and political rights, things like freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and then in a second wave driven largely by countries in the assertion that human rights must look at questions of socioeconomic development, advantage and disadvantage and the adoption of a covenant on economic and cultural rights and a whole set of u.n. resolution that are introduced in past year
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after year on these rights. is there really -- you know, at amnesty international and knowledge gene our role as a global movement that unites people worldwide on behalf of the set of rights, you know, recognizing that agenda needs to reflect the rights that are uppermost, you know, for all the members of the movement. not just some, is there any kind of turning back the clock on this? is this really a live debate now? how do you see lessening the current state of the discussion with your ideas? you know, given the way things have unfolded and the fact that this language of rights is not so much the u.s. domestic context. they're not very often here but
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certainly globally they are really difficult contest. >> guest: yes, that's a great question. i want to say a few things. one i absolutely see the dynamic annuity human rights advocates would feel compelled to move into different areas because those are the kinds of concerns for most in the minds of many of the people they are dealing with. and again, i want to emphasize that in many, many ways they see there's a remarkably positive advance, something we should all be extremely happy about and proud of. in my discussion i only want to also raise some small capitals. and yet, on the question of
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whether what might change now, it seems to me this is always evolving and the way that the notion of rights in particular has captured the imagination of so many people is also the case that we see movements focus on other things and the society arab spring and the question of an anticorruption fascinates me and i wish i had the opportunity to address in the book because once you see in the movement is primarily human rights and articulated in that way, but they were. the arab spring had an element, but they very much a democracy framed in those terms of investment in india is anticorruption much more so than
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the right to food or any particular theme. and i want there to be room for that, too. i want there to be room for thinking about issues another race. and so the worry is that -- that rights have become kind of a default utopia. and now i'm kind of racing and samuel mullane spoke, the last utopia, but the idea after all the other utopian ideals have become discredited, human rights or what is left committee left in it became depository for the energy was once limited postcolonial struggle for your communism or socialism or any other political movements. and i hope emphasize this but there's many advantages and the
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language now understand the immaturity and we can at least make sure that it doesn't violate a certain set of rights. we may not be would change the world, but we can at least make sure things don't get to that release push for discreet improvement. that's the real strength of the human rights improvement and i want to emphasize that. but i also want to say that i hope there is room for a few more comprehensively and i think it's probably a good thing that it isn't a rights movement and focused and that's a different way that's needed to. and of course something like the arab spring is sufficiently still an hard to say how it will
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shape. that's so yes, the horse is out of the barn. and yet, every instance to either leave the barn or not or other was to leave the barn -- and won't leave the matter for any further. but maybe this would make a tiny contribution is leaving open the possibility for thinking about issues another race also. postcode let me ask you about a practical example that is the current debate over and come disparity and that's kind cherry and the fact we have a presidential candidate but i think was just reported as being the well he is in american history with a billion dollars to the name, which has set its effective tax rate is 15%.
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is that a violation of anyone's rights? as our system of income distribution something that interferes with the realization of weiss? or should white's language have any role in this debate in the movement and the absurd to call attention to and demand some redress of disparities here in this country? >> guest: that's a really interesting question. that's not the first language or choose to do with those questions. it's interesting that occupy wall street is not primarily a rights-based movement any to hear a lot of discussion about rights. you can easily imagine mckenna might have been framed in terms of a right to a job or write to equity or something like that. but very powerfully focusing galvanize the imagination of lots of americans on this
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question of income distribution in the 99% is a quite evocative metaphor and i think it's a good thing it wasn't framed primarily in terms of rights. so again, it's focus is still somewhat unfocused. it's kind of typical for movements when they first begin. now, could rights play a role quite sure. i'm a lawyer. i could construct some rights arguments around in equity and start with how they deny people an effective right to vote. they restore the political process, the degree to which many influences the political system needs we are moving through them further and further away from a real democracy and republican form of government. i think i've heard someone make the argument that at some point and come disparity might violate the constitutional right to republicans form of government. so i can imagine and i wouldn't be opposed to them.
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but i would find it odd if that were the main way that we went about thinking about this issue that has such obvious precedent in terms of long historical struggle is about equity and class relations and what have you. >> host: you type in the book about how rights need to be situated in their context. i'm paraphrasing. you should by all means correct if i don't have a right, but rights become meaningful in a political context in that they can't be understood sorted divorced friends that social malia in which there've been asserted or applied. do you worry that technology not
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can become a kind of cover justification for the traditional argument of cultural relativism and moral relativism come the idea that women's rights mean something different under sharia law, freedom of expression is something other than what they know our racial equality in the jim crow south was inventing that is culturally grounded. i mean, i do distinguish which which you are saying from those long-standing and human rights advocates have discredited arguments? >> guest: i do want to distinguish, but i don't accept that relativism at all. what i want to suggest is that the right, and the way actually operate involved in iraq deemed
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as institutions and with cultures so that what i want to advances the idea that one can be placed in the context that would work the same way every time. so let's take the example of jim crow south for instance. what one is tempted to imagine to happen was reiterate to racial equality in various contexts articulated and then that wright was imposed in jim crow south and changed as a result of the particular edition of the right in the same position. but what really happened is that the right to change people's hearts and minds and people in power and more than just the right, so culture change and particularly in the jim crow south, but today the reason i
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can expect to enjoy a reasonably courteous service to encounter in the former confederacy is not only because there is a legal right, but also because the culture exchanges to the extent that most people want to deny service anymore and that is a process that involves the relationship between the legal intervention and political institutions on the ground and the degree to which an legal entitlements only in the context of which are widely accepted. i think that important to emphasize. the most important victories the civil rights movement which is making races and discredited in some game that people were shooting does, not simply directly enforcement and that's going to be true in other contexts as well.
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>> host: yeah, i think what you're saying is there is an interplay and a cultural context with the rate and assertion and we see that playing out right now i'm gay writes burgess discourses ahead and i think that is, at least from the perspective of amnesty international, that is an important role in the rates of discussion to have that catalytic effect on cultures and societies that don't feel badly, but that need to be jumpstarted and pushed to get to a different place. we are out of time. i want to thank you so much for this discussion. i've learned a great deal and i'm really pleased to meet you and engage with you about your
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book. just to thank you so much. i've really engaged it. >> up next, more encore "after words" up up with linda killian discussing the swing vote with michael tenacity. ..
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ed at 9:00 on her book about bernie madoff and 10:00 p.m. both about mexico's drug wars. it is prime time friday night on c-span 2.
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the hour long program where we invite guest hosts and interview authors. the untapped powerful independents. the political writer and colonist argues that the growing group of u.s. voters is more united than party infilluated voters. he takes with michael to mast i can editor and chief. >> welcome. >> thank you for having me. great to have you. tell us, what is the swing vote about? >> well, it's about our political system. it's sort of where we're at and where everything is right now. but the for the book was that 40% of all american voters are independent. more than either republicans or democrats. which to me means they are
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dissatisfied with the system and the two parties. and i've been covering politics for a long time and i wanted to address this. i wanted to get at what are the voters looking for? who are these voters? what do they care about? what do they want? and how can we fix it? because i don't anyone could say that -- our system hasn't become fairly dysfunctional. so this largest voting block in the nation have determined the outcome of every election since world war ii. the swing voters that the book is named for. and they're tired of being ignored and unrepresented and not having a say in how politics and governments is run. and i begin the book with thomas pain. i end the book with thomas pane not to be grandiose thinking of
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gingrich when i used the word. common sense, there's the sort of thomas pane book that light the fuse of the. to be governed bit people. and i think we need to return to that. i don't think we're there right now. so i think that was -- i hoped in some small way to light a fire under the people and get them going and get them motivated. >> tell us why we should be worried about this. why is it a problem? >> well, our system is fundament ically undemocratic. one of the ways is primaries. so in half the states in the country, 40% of all the voters can't participate in the primaries. and so they have no say in who gets nominated. and as a result, we get more and more extreme candidates on both
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ends of the spectrum who are nominated by the party activists. and then that's who is getting elected to congress. coupled with the way that congressional districts are drawn. another big problem. which is leaving out the middle. the middle is totally disappearing in congress. so you have the for a left and the for a right, and unable to cut deals. unable to govern which is why i think we have a congress with a 9% approval rating. >> my reading of the book indicated that while you do blame both problems for the problem that you blame one side more than than the other. that side is the republican side? >> i think you're right. i would say that i set out to blame both sides equally when i started reporting the book. when i started writing the book
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i felt both parties have been ignoring the center. but i think in reporting the book and of course, i was reporting the book for the past two years, the tea party had sort of been rising during that time and making its vote heard. so you had some very spectacular prominent primary elections in 2010. for example in delaware where mike hassle was challenged by a questionably, i'm no a witch o'donnell. very popular in the state of the republicans.
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and she said forget this and she went to the candidate and she won. more than 50% of all the voters and alaska are registered. so, i do think there would be more of a cleansing and more of a purity test on the republican side. i think the republicans have moved way to the right. i think the recent birth control debacle, you know, 98% of all women use birth control, catholic women and women of every other faith. i think this is the kind of
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social, you know, right wing effort to inject religion into the public sphere but i think centrist voters, independent voters don't like. and they think the economy is the problem, the deficit is the big problem, there are other issues, but we have moved past issues like whether gay people should be able to get married or, you know, abortion should be a private choice. on the democratic side, i think the democrats kind of had a big swing to the left in the 1970's. quote you know, when george mcgovern ran for president, and they had their realignment. i think bill clinton obviously was more of a centrist president, not all the left democrats like him. but he was -- the last standard of there before barack obama, and so i do think it is time for the centrist democrats and it is more a question i think that they tell them to go sit in the
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corner. they tell them then get out of the party. that is my wheat on it. lincoln is a moderate to conservative challenged by unions last time around and lost her primary, democratic senator from arkansas. but for the most part, i do think the republicans hewed to a much more sort of litmus test. >> host: why do you think it is? is it psychological in some way or ideological, about discipline and the attitude of having political power? what is it do you think? >> guest: that's a great question. it has been a strategy they felt has worked for them and coalescing and energizing the base. increasingly i think the republican party has become, and i quote tom davis, a former moderate republican, as men from
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northern virginia and saying much the same thing the republican party has become a party of older white males southern voters. they are not a party especially with this birth control and that tends to appeal to women as much. they don't appeal to minorities. i think the hispanic vote, very rapidly growing vote and very important swing vote i think with their behavior they can kiss the hispanic vote goodbye even if they pick someone like marco rubio to be the vice presidential candidate from florida, the senator juan. even if they pick him. i think they may win some hispanic votes but i think hispanics are very, very upset with their rhetoric on the immigration and with what is going on in the southwest, and in a lot of southwestern states in arizona communicative in some of the southwestern states the
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population is the 50% of the entire state population. so this is not a trivial voting bloc at all. saddam i just think it was a ploy to play the debate, but i think it's a mistake if they want to be a majority national party. >> host: let's talk a little bit about the book's structure and the work you did in assembling the book. just described -- excuse me -- describe how you organize the book and the work you did to put it together. >> guest: yeah. first of all, the most important thing to me was finding the independent voters, that they were the bedrock. i wanted to describe who they were. i wanted people to hear their voices. so, that was critical to me, finding the independent voters. and i settled on the swing states i would focus on. the book talks about more than
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that. there's a chapter on congress and the presidency and other things but there are for some states, colorado, ohio, virginia and new hampshire one that i think are the swing states in different regions of the country. so i began to reach out to independent voters in those states and i got the voter lists from secretaries of state and registered voters and call people on the sun at 7:00 at night and said -- just called people cold that registry independent so that public information registered unaffiliated is what most states call it. >> host: by the way we should tell people that in many states you can't get the information because you don't have to enroll by party in how many states? >> guest: about half. was koza in the state's people have to -- >> guest: actually in ohio, in colorado and in hampshire i could find the unaffiliated voters. in virginia and ohio, people
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don't register by party and use other ways to reach out to independent voters. but i would call people on the phone and say i am a reporter and i am working on a book about the independent voters and, you know, and about 80% of the cases they were very happy to talk. come and by and large when this came up i did an event recently devotee dear jeff of "the new york times" and he and others said the voters don't know very much, they are not informed, and i didn't find that to be true at all. i find that the independent voters may be slightly more disengaged because is it the chicken or the egg that is because they are so set up with the party system and the way that is practiced. the group to the cougars like no
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labels and independent voting dhaka order, they talked me put some of their voters in different states. >> host: and you assembled these groups myself to the course of? >> guest: myself. the political consensus of a great deal of money for focus groups, so i was a neophyte doing this and it was a lot of work and very challenging. and then i travel to the states a few times and i said about the work of meeting these voters and finding out what they think. in addition to the voters of course i interviewed elected officials and activists and all kinds of different people. i mean, certainly at least 500. >> host: that's a pretty good sample size. let's get to your for typologies of independent voters for the success of chapters on these states and each of these states
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of deputies and the republicans. i'm not sure now. by the time they know where things will stand in the republican party, but i will say that republicans are the fund raisers, they raise the money for the republican party, there are plenty of them out there but they have been kind of driven out of office because of the move to the right. >> host: did you hear from them sadness or anger? >> guest: both. certainly in new hampshire i talked to a number of former and current state legislators who have fallen to the npr
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republican category. some had lost primaries driven out of the legislature and some who were still in there and trying to fight but felt very marginalized by the more conservative republican leadership in the new hampshire state legislature. so, they did feel the party had been sort of taken over and that there wasn't room for them in the party. >> host: do you think the of the largest of the group's? >> guest: no, not by a long shot. no, no. >> host: let's get to the other three groups starting now. you have the starbucks and dad's coming in you locate them symbolically in virginia. >> guest: in the suburbs of virginia. that is the largest group, the starbucks moms and dads. they are the power voters and the desires of the reelection as. these would be suburban moms and dads, people who live in the suburbs. 50%, more than 50% of all americans now live in suburbs or exurbs. in 1980 it was 30%, so it's
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growing rapidly. and these suburbs are very racially diverse, increasingly so. and these suburban voters swing. they care about the economy, number one, jobs, the deficit, they care about education issues, they care about keeping the country safe. and they have totally swung in 2006 they voted for the democrats. in 2008 they voted for barack obama, but in 2010i think probably turned off a bit by the health care reform growth of government concern about the economy. they swung almost 20 points for the republicans. so, day -- >> host: some state home also because the turnout was so much lower. >> guest: that's right, that's right. the turnout was certainly lower than 2010. and they are up for grabs this time around.
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>> host: so distinguished a script from the npr republicans, they are enrolled republicans. these people are probably enrolled unaffiliated? >> guest: the npr republicans are a mixture of republicans and independents. none of them have left the republican party and have become independent because of their frustration with the social agenda. it may be a mixture. the starbucks moms and dads would be independent but they also might be center right republicans and center right democrats. it is a little tricky because the book is called the swing vote and i am focused on independent voters, and that's mostly white talked to, but they are also registered democrats and republicans who swing quite a bit, too who just haven't changed the registration or maybe they want to be able to vote in primaries. >> host: 20% of democrats across the country call themselves conservatives
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ideologically and it's something most people may not know. we shall also point out we are using the word unaffiliated and independent energy. >> guest: that's right. i use the word independent to sort of be more accessible way. in many states the registration category is unaffiliated or not enrolled. >> host: interesting. third group, younger people. >> guest: the facebook generation, people under 45. they are registered in the highest percentage of independence as any other age group. while they voted bigtime for barack obama in 2008 but it's a big question not so much given her the republicans are thinking of nominating, not so much but the republican this time around where the vote at all.
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the turnout of the highest percentage voters under 30 turnaround in the lowest percentage. barack obama energized them but he raised their hopes as he did a lot of the independent voters but he was 20 post partisan and was going to work with the other side and was going to get things done in a new way. but to come to a starbucks from the white house. so i think they are a lot of it turned off by what they perceive to be the lack of change. they have student loans and the need jobs. so they told me if you talk to a group like rock the vote, which is a liberal organizing group, they will tell you young people are liberal. they will just tell you that. they are certainly a group of conservative young people who would be hardcore republicans but they tell you the majority of people are liberal.
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but i found as they would vote for republican that the republicans gave them a reason to vote for them. if there was a republican candidate who didn't stress the social issues because obviously young people under 45 have totally moved on to a marriage and abortion and this kind of stuff that they can be more fiscally conservative. they are concerned. from paul wants to legalize drugs, and that is quite dismissive of them. they like ron paul for his lead and they like him to then he's a truth teller. they would -- i want a politician that tells us straight you don't want the same problems from the politicians. >> host: interesting. and the fourth group, a slightly older group, a group that you
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base in ohio, the america first democrat who would be the ronald reagan democrat, what we traditionally thought of as the ronald reagan democrat, these would be the left built, the midwest would be a place you would find a lot of these. in massachusetts that's who got scott brown elected to the senate. there's a lot of independent voters in massachusetts. believe it or not, this is the liberal reputation. >> host: there are more in massachusetts democrats aren't there? >> guest: yes, there are curiosities would be, tend to be lower middle class manufacturing based employees, policemen, firemen, even teachers can be america first democrats in the midwest, and it they are more socially conservative than probably any of the other groups
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and they're very concerned with a loss of manufacturing jobs. they've been hit hard, for example in ohio hit very hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs, and i think barack obama -- didn't really to read this group in 2008 but he wants to add them to the coalition in 2012, so i think some of his language about tax cuts break for the companies that create jobs here not allowing the companies to write off their expenses on the move jobs overseas, a lot of these kind of things he's brought up for the recently in terms of tax reform designed to appeal to this group. but i do think some of the things the republicans have done is the states like ohio and wisconsin with their anti-union legislation has turned off this group. so i think this work is more in plebeian it would have been if the republican governors didn't
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overreached. >> host: taking all these groups together and thinking about the two parties as they now exist, what do the democrats, start with the democrats, what would the democrats need to do to win the allegiance of the kurds, and in doing those things, would it necessarily alienate the existing democratic base? as you see it. >> guest: i think to tell you the truth both of the democrats and republicans could do the same thing to win this group. and i think to a certain extent would turn off the base, but i think that's what we need what these voters want is they want the two parties to work together. i'm getting ready to write a piece for the atlantic about the fact that we may see no
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legislation passed in the next eight months with congress in session. people realize congress isn't doing its job, you know, and independent voters said to me listen, i don't get paid if i don't do my job if you're a group trying to work in this sphere and have a piece of legislation, no budget, no pay. it's been years since the congress passed the budget and you don't pay the members of conagra's if they don't pass the budget so they want to see them work together. they want action on the deficit and are concerned about the deficit and the economy and i think they understand that the two go together and that the day will come very soon when we got to deal with the deficit and this incredible weight hanging over our head. they want to make sure the country remains safe, but they also i think are happy that we are getting out of our foreign entanglements because they feel
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that we have problems here at home that we need to be addressing. they would like to see less money in politics, they would like to see political leaders being more responsive and they are concerned about fairness as it relates to the tax code have to the benefits that the wealthy and the eletes to get in they don't feel that they are getting. so i think these are all issues, you know, that they would like to see the congress address. >> host: let's talk about congress and the president or the presidency. let's start with congress. so, why do you think this becomes such a dead-end? is it the money? is the ideology? is a the kind of partisanship that started in the 90's? it is all of those things, of course, but what is the main thing to you? >> guest: i don't think there is one mean a thing. i think they are all factors.
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my first book was about the republican revolution, and i wrote about new gingrich quite a bit in that book and i wrote about him recently, and i think it is fair to say that he is sort of the architect of the current mess in congress. it's true this the democrats were and were dismissive to the republicans to sit in a corner and be quiet but when new gingrich became speaker it was nuclear war to get to a whole nother level and he saw that the way that he could win that congress for the republicans was to demonize the democrats. it wasn't enough to save their ideas were wrong or we have a better idea. he had to say they were terrible people that wanted to wreck the country. so that escalated the - become a
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hard feelings, the inability to work together, and also the constant and drum beat, the republicans constant drum beat that the government is bad, inefficient, bad, terrible i think it has sunk and in the way the negative campaign commercials sink in, and i think now the american public has gotten onto the bandwagon about the government is bad, and there are a lot of things that are inefficient about congress and the dhaka government but it's obviously very necessary, and the idea is to make it work better. so i think the - partisanship, the isolation, the congressional schedule, which sounds like kind of a minor thing, but members of congress now flossy and on tuesday afternoon for the first vote, they fly out on thursday night so they can be home fund-raising or holding the
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meetings were campaigning, and they never eat dinner together, they never socialize together. i live next door to a former member of conagra's who was a democrat, and i would mention a republican and he didn't even know who he was. if they are not on a committee with someone they don't know the other side. and if you don't -- there is trust if you don't develop relationships. the leadership is a problem. mark warner, the senator from virginia, the moderate democrat from virginia was very involved in a gang of six and the deficit reduction efforts and with saxby chambliss of georgia, republican, and they just got their head began by the leadership who wasn't remotely interested in this bipartisan effort to work on the deficit because it didn't fit the talking point.
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it didn't fit the we are right and we are going to make the other side look bad and we are not going to work together and fight for every advantage to let you know, rick santorum in a recent republican debate said something about in explaining the vote he said public is a team sport. in other words he had to go along with the leadership because the leadership wanted the vote and he was part of the team. >> host: talking about no child left behind. >> guest: that is the mind set on capitol hill and it is largely male. it's a majority of men and they have a sports mentality. there are winners and losers. we are going to beat their brains out. you know, and that is the mind set. not that we are going to work together and try to get something done. >> host: how about money? >> guest: money is a difficult and intractable problem. i thought that mccain-feingold was a good idea, the campaign
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finance reform, and it's proven to maybe not be so good in terms of unintended consequences that we have the supreme court united decision and i think there is no doubt money effects outcome on capitol hill. money buys access money to buy used weeks in the tax code. it's a lot easier to put in a taxing poll of the benefit for the corporate entity than a day's a government program, and there is a lot of that that has been going on to really talk to the former congressman about this, and he said to me money isn't just the mother's milk of politics, it is the yogurt and cottage cheese, too. it controls everything. i don't know how to deal with this without a constitutional amendment to the money always finds a way. one of the fix is i have in my book is that i say independent
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voters should make small contributions. 50-dollar contributions to candidates the white. they think of doing the right thing to work together and coming up with solutions if you think about 40% of the electorate making the small contribution that could actually be a lot of money and of course barack obama raised a lot of money in small contributions. >> host: but it's not just campaign contributions it is money spent lobbying. i remember during health care i think they spend nearly a billion dollars lobbying against the health care bill and against a different elements for the inclusion of different elements. >> guest: symbol st reform. >> host: it's really a bigger problem in a way. >> guest: and all i really have to say i'm not sure how you deal with that. it's a first amendment right. i don't know how you deal with
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that members care about money because they want it to pay for campaigns and it is the means to an end. mostly they care about votes so the money is just the way to get the vote through advertising so if the voters showed up and the voices are heard i would like to hear the to make a difference with a grandmother candidates against the incumbent. i like to think they can make a difference. >> host: remember the people in both parties who you think are admirable and are trying. you mention mark warner, you have a section in the but you talk with mark warner so he's obviously want to talk about him and who on the republican side do you think is, who is their warner, who are some folks? >> guest: obviously there are olympia snowe and susan collins from maine who are centrists republicans who -- >> host: what have they actually done --
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>> guest: here's the thing to tell you the truth. i think that they have been a side. susan collins, excuse me, olympia snowe of running for the election this year and i thank the is the kind of called into -- she will undoubtably have a tea party challenger. >> host: is very tea party-ish. >> guest: someone like senator lugar from indiana, another person especially in the area of foreign affairs there's a long history of working in a bipartisan way. >> host: obama's told friend. >> guest: even orrin hatch from utah, who is nobody's moderate, just like robert benet is terrified of the tea party. >> host: and both face primaries. >> guest: so i think that tom coburn who is not a moderate and
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is definitely a conservative, very fiscally conservative who was in the class of '94 in the house and then took some time off and became a center from oklahoma, tom coburn was in a gang of six, and i think -- i've always found him republican. i've always found him to be very honest, very straightforward, we worked in the gang of six. i think she has a good relationship with barack obama and respects them and he's always tried to be honest and work on the deficit and he cares a lot about the deficit reduction to be he's not running for reelection next time though. he's announced he's not running for reelection. >> host: some of his freedom comes from the sense that he was retiring. >> guest: that's right, so she is free to say and do what he wants and the republican party can't do anything to him. you know?
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>> host: let's get unhittable that and talk about the issues to this problem because they are hard to come by. you're prescriptive chapter on will be honest with you it's a little brief but i don't really blame me because it is hard to figure not what the heck to do about this. we are going to talk about the two categories of solutions. the first one that occurs to most people when they think about our dead lock system is they think about a third party presidential candidacy from the center to beat you have some time in your book to that. do you think that is the solution or could such a person actually when? >> guest: those are two separate questions. >> host: people should be extending their energies, let me ask it that way. >> guest: i will say that the -- and we are going to hear more about an independent challenge this year as this group of americans get going. this is a group that has least
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$20 million, they have a goal to be on the ballot in all 50 states. what they are doing with that money is collecting signatures and getting on the ballot without a candidate right now just for the blank spot on the ballot. they will be at the top and they will be the first line of about probably coming and we don't know yet who that candidate is going to be. >> host: do you have any idea what kind of person that might be? can you type south of the hypothetical? >> guest: condoleezza rice or general petraeus or certainly jon huntsman is the kind of candidate i think would be in this space. he says he has no interest urning for a third-party candidate so i'm not sure who they are going to approach. it's supposed to be any age voter can go online and nominate, but of course you can't nominate a candidate that is completely unwilling to participate and go along with it.
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so, they've got to find someone who is willing to do this. the independent voters that i talk was, there were very divided, there was no unanimity of thought. some think we need a third party, forthcoming system, others thought that will never work and we've got to reform the system as it is and influence the democrats and republicans. some independents are sort of all over the map on their views on issues and all of them when it comes to whether or not it should create a third party. i do think a third party candidacy this time around what seems virtually impossible that it could be successful. it could be something the would build over a period of years. i don't think that is out of the question. and i do think, remember, ross perot in 1992 got 19% of the vote. that isn't an insignificant amount of the vote and i think
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that reflects the frustration and another thing he does raise the issue of the deficit to the national debate. and i think i have heard bill clinton say that if it is brought to the floor and is helped to make it a national issue that they dealt with. so, i do think that the influence of a third-party candidate might be in the issues they talk about. and in raising issues that the effort to candidates are not talking about. >> host: the deficit, a lot to ask another question on what you heard from people about this. i know that there's concern among independent voters about the deficit, but there's the argument that with of the private sector so strapped and some street in the end of credit so tight, just like we are a hearing about the although bailout as we listen to the debates about that and the michigan primary. with of the private sector so strapped, the government had to be the vehicle to pump money into the economy. did you hear any of the people
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express any sympathy or understanding in that argument? >> guest: you mean the president's stimulus bill whether it is a good idea? >> host: the idea that the private sector didn't have any money. somebody had to put money in the economy to keep things flowing. >> guest: it think they were aware of the fact the stimulus bill helped keep teachers, firefighters from policemen in place at the time the state governments which have to balance the budgets were cutting very severely. so i think they were aware of that. i think, you know, the deal with the deficit is going to take a lot of discipline and some sacrifice for everyone. and i was actually just talking about this and i think's, you know, if you think it's world war ii and the kind of sacrifice okay, it was a war. we were bearing down hitler. so the circumstances were a little different but we rationed meat for heaven's sake.
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people were really willing to sacrifice, and i think if people think it's fair, if people think the system is reforming itself, if the sacrifices and to be shared if we raise taxes on wealthy, if we raise capital gains, and then maybe we can also treat medicare and social security come and trim the mortgage interest deduction and do things that affect the middle class, i think that this could be explained adequately and everyone is in it together i do think they will be willing to do it. >> host: do you think the democrats are just as resistant on the entitlement reform as the republicans are on taxes? >> guest: yes. yeah. the leadership. so i think -- >> host: obama was floating a possible grand bargain with john boehner over the summer during of the debt ceiling negotiations. but you think even if obama tried to give a little ground on
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the entitlements, the democrats and congress wouldn't have gone there. >> guest: not at that point. i do think that the some symbols commission, which at the end of 2010 released its report and was very substantive and comprehensive and the president ignored it, didn't endorse at, just sort of let it lay there i think there was a missed opportunity, and i think some of the proposals -- in 2013, and of course will depend who is elected president, but i think that we are probably going to have to deal with tax reform and the deficit and will probably all be a part of the package that deals with the deficit in time of reform, tax reform coming and you will have to be a bipartisan effort. >> host: it will have to be. i think barack obama tar if he's president again, will want that. i think he can probably muscle some democrats into going along
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with it. but i think the republicans will think if we give him this victory that he is a victorious president whose approval rating is going to go -- am i wrong? >> guest: yeah, but i think again, if people make their voices heard and say enough of the krepp caminhas of the posturing. we want real solutions, and the members are going to stand for that election in two years. i do think it's possible. i really do. >> host: i think it's possible, too, actual. possible. i won't go any further than that. let's go back to talking about solutions outside the realm of a third party presidential candidate. what are some of the institutional reforms, structural reforms that you think need to happen that are possible, and for example, you talked earlier in the hour, you write a good book or good bit in the book about opening up the primary process. what would that do? >> guest: i do think my -- the
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structural reform i talk about i think are fairly modest. >> host: yaki a >> guest: y bald say we need a third party and the two-party system -- i think my reforms are fairly modest because i think they are doable and realistic and they are the kind of things that average citizens can push for in their own state and opening of the primary is very doable and the citizens should push for this. if they demonstrate columbia is one place it's not really a state so our voting rights are not existing to begin with, but the the the primaries and should push for them and if they have ballot measure process, the bell that initiative process they can do that by because if we had ( aires i think that kind of candidates we would see would be very different to the of the candidates had to appeal across
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the board we would have much more centrist candidates. >> host: if you compare the candidates nominated an open primary states versus the candidates nominated in the closed primary states as the evidence say the ones for the open primary states are more moderate? >> guest: i think it does to me by didn't do this sort of quantitative analysis. it would also to participation by the independent said. they would have to show up. >> host: it has to be developed at that time. >> guest: it does make a difference. i also talked about the redistricting reform, and both of these things are things that california is working on right now. california has adopted a top two-tier system for nominating candidates. i have concerns about that frankly as opposed to just an
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open primary, because i feel especially when you are running statewide in a state as suspensive as california but at least when you have had an independent who can get on the ballot as an independent candidate the bar wasn't as high for selecting the signatures and raising money to do that whereas in statewide california as you know we have had multimillion-dollar campaigns for the governor's, senators and california. the top two are not sure would benefit. it would open up the primary to voters but i'm not sure that it would benefit small candidates and challengers. they also adopted the redistricting in california and have the redistricting commission in any member of the public could apply for and participate in. and i think that we will see some better districts in california as a result. because the way the congressional districts are drawn they are drawn to protect incumbents of both parties, and typically the public has almost nothing to say about it.
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it rarely even gets to testify. most of the deals are cut in the back rooms between the sitting democrats and republicans coming into the public really is cut out of the process, and i think if we have -- i mean, right now in the estimate is we may have 50 trillion competitive districts out of the 445 are around the country. and if we have more, then again, they would have to appeal to the broad spectrum of the voters and to the center, not just the democratic or republican constituencies. so that is another thing that i think. as i mentioned, i think people should make small contributions. money-center to the problem in the system, money and influence the that gets to the heart of making the contribution and making your voice heard, showing up at meetings, e-mail and write your local officials, letting them know what you care about to
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give a talk about the groups like the illegal, but coffee part become independent voting, if people support those groups, i don't think any of them have had a significant impact yet but people can start their own groups in their own communities. the internet is quite a leveller and i think that they can blog and start newsletters and do all kinds of things again to be more activist. i think the key to this and this is sort of say i named my last chapter battle cry and use the thomas paine quote that barack obama used when he was sworn in as president we can begin the world again. the democracy is a participatory sport and the media we didn't really talk about which i think is also a big problem in this.
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they are very skeptical and jerry dismissive of these voters in the middle of these independent voters. they don't give them much attention, they don't give them much credit. they say how well the swing voters vote but that is the extent of the attention they give them and i think the need to prove dependence and politicians from. this is what i am hoping for. >> host: the book again is the swing vote the untapped cover of independence by linda killian. now we get to the fund white hart to the segment. talk about you. where did you grow up? >> guest: i grew up in connecticut on the shoreline in connecticut and offered connecticut in new haven which is an idea like a beautiful community to read it has the most beautiful green and all of new england as far as i am concerned. >> host: do for a journalist
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at npr for how long? >> guest: i was the editor of all things considered at npr. i had a sort of traditional media career someone my age would have. i worked at some newspapers and the oregonian, i worked at the telegram massachusetts, who worked at forbes magazine, and then i worked at npr as editor of all things considered and then i left to write my first book what happened to the republican revolution. and then for some years after that, i was the director of the boston university washington center here with a teaching journalism students and then left to do this book. >> host: it says you're with the wilson center. >> guest: i refer -- was the little people that is. >> guest: the woodrow wilson center is created as a living
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tribute to woodrow wilson who was the only ph.d. president that we have ever had. he was president of princeton university before he was elected president, and my dog my chocolate lab was named willson in honor of him and it is a center where the scholars in the country and international scholars can come in and do research and think about various issues affecting the u.s. future in the global issues. >> host: are you doing much traveling with the book? >> guest: i am. i'm going to be in ohio before this year's for super tuesday week speaking at ohio state and i'm very excited about that. i'm going to be making a trip to new england at the end of march, so that will be after this
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errors. i'm going to be speaking at a few colleges in new hampshire and i'm going to be at the main book festival on march 31st, so i'm looking forward to that. so, yes, i am travelling at the moment to some of my swing states to talk about this and i will be going to colorado in mid april. >> host: let me ask you about the president. you have a chapter about him. we haven't talked about him much yet. what is your assessment from this perspective in this context of his job performance? >> guest: well, i am a little critical of him. people think that i am an equal the opportunity critic. people think i'm overly critical of the republican party. ii'm fairly critical of house speaker nancy pelosi in the book, lighting and endangered, unnecessarily
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endanger her centrist democrat and more conservative democrat with some of the votes she made them take and i was writing about that at that time i was doing it called for u.s. news and was predicting exactly what would happen as a result of some of the votes that she was making them take. >> host: but most notably? >> guest: climate change joe, the cap-and-trade vote, and then of course the health care situation which passed without a single republican vote, and i think that democrats decision to do that as opposed to focusing on the economy i personally think was a mistake to read and i think progressives democrats are not happy with the health care reform. they wanted a single payer system. so i think it didn't really short of so much the democratic base doing this, and it angered
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a lot of other people who had health insurance and said you know what, i did there are more pressing issues we need to be dealing with in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. and i do think to some extent that barack obama's relative lack of experience before he was elected president i think we have seen the results of that to get i think he hasn't shown as much leadership as he should have, and obviously he has been dealt an extraordinarily tough hand both in terms of the republicans on willingness to work with him, and the economy and the terrible situation overseas in iran we don't know what is going to happen in the middle east. but i think that he could have shown more leadership when it relates to the deficit commission i think he should have embraced the some symbols
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deficit commission and been more upfront on that. i think that he should have knocked the democratic leader's head on capitol hill, sort of lbj and said this is the way we are going to do this, this is the way we need to do this. >> host: why do you think he didn't do these things? >> guest: i don't think it is in his personality. i think that he -- it is in the way he looks at the world. i think that he's a consensus guy. i don't think he's a confrontational guy coming and i also think it was to research and extend his relative lack of experience in the senate before he was elected president. >> host: talk a little bit about the republican race so far. [laughter] >> guest: >> host: obviously it's not controversial to say the party has gone a little further to the right this time around. what do you see is the future of the republican party, and i'm very curious about that.
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what might change this dynamic and real the party back? >> guest: i don't know. i would have said a year ago that mitt romney would be the kind of candidate that would appeal to the center to the swing voters, and that would have been a good candidate to challenge barack obama to appeal to the center voters, and i think the republican party has done everything they can to alienate the center voters and i think that mitt romney has been himself a million times in chongging to appeal to the conservative right who make up the republican primary voters. so -- and i think i have said we didn't talk about the media much, and life in the republican primary and the way the media has covered it there's an opportunity to talk about, which
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is it all in constant drumbeat about what a stupid thing did newt gingrich or rick santorum deutsch a day or what did mitt romney make and who is up and who is down, and i think substance is being ignored in this constant churning of the horserace and the drum beat of what's happening in the ray publican primary and i think it is turning all of lot of the voters, and i don't think the voters in the center as a result the polls have shown that independent voters have watched the republican debate in a lower percentage, even than democrats in the lowest percentage, and i think -- they think this is all salinas treat all of the sort of
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fighting and negative advertising and calling for an advantage, and i think they will focus in september or october and let the republicans fight it out, get a nominee when they get a nominee, when the conventions are held that is when the independent voters will start to pay attention. >> host: we are about out of time. one last question i want you to look further into the future and be realistic but optimistic. in ten years' time do you think that the system can be in better shape than it is now? >> guest: i certainly hope so. i hope all those people that are fed up, independent voters and others say with of the swing vote yes, someone gets it. they hear what i'm concerned about and they get involved and get active, because i think we
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say such serious problems in this country, but i think we have to reform the system and make changes in our political system as we can address them and i hope that the voters will read this book and get involved and cross our elected officials to make changes. >> host: the swing vote the untaught power of independent. linda killian, thank you. >> guest: thank you for having me. ..


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