'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Sunday, June 17, 2012
Read the transcript to the Sunday show
Guests: Keith Boykin; Peter Goodman; Ben Jealous; Chloe Angel; Michael Tomasky, Chloe Angyal, Jesse Jackson
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning, if the key group in this
election white voters, and if so, what is it that the white people want?
Plus, eve and fur and vagina monologue for going to Michigan.
And the evolution of the civil rights movement I have been waiting for.
But first, the businessman president, we have tried that and thank you,
sir, but I would not like another.
Good morning and Happy Father`s day. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
It`s day three of Governor Mitt Romney`s every town counts to where to back
roads of roll America. There he is, live, right now, (INAUDIBLE)
Cleveland, Ohio, addressing the further state crowd. The five days, six
state road trips which culminates on Tuesday in his home state of Michigan
finds Governor Romney doing his very best John Cuber Melon camp impression.
You know, playing the part of a guy who could just be himself in a small
Of course, those claimed town Sandusky back roads are also part of the well
trod rein of highly contested fellow gram states. But the guy with the
rolled of sleeves, yucking it up with the locals couldn`t it be further
from the guy, Mitt Romney, is asking Americans to vote for. Namely, the
multi-millionaire private equity CEO whose experienced running a company
makes him the perfect person to run a country.
It`s the only job experienced he mentioned in this campaign ads that
started running last week in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I spent my life in the private
sector. I spent m time in business. And I business, by the way, there is
no question about whether or not you are going to balance the budget. You
have to balanced your budget or you go broke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. We are going to give it to him.
As CEO, Mitt Romney didn`t just balance the budget, he kept them solidly in
the black. Over the course of his 15-year career at Bain Capital, he did
what`s successful businesses do best. He made money. Billions of dollars
for Bain Capital investors. So, there is no question, he is a qualified
How exactly that does make him qualify to be president? When "Time"
magazine`s Mark Harperin pressed him on exactly that question in a recent
interview, here`s what Romney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a
perspective on how jobs are created. Right now, we have an economy in
trouble, and someone who spent their career in the economy is more suited
to help fix the economy that someone who spent his life in politics and as
a community organizer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So let`s see.
Knowing how to create jobs and the career in the economy, if those are the
most relevant criteria for president, then I`ve got a proposal for a write-
in candidate. Jay-Z. No, no, really, Jay-Z.
According for the Mitt Romney handbook for how to succeed in the
presidency, he has what it takes. Devoted husband, loving father, and of
course, private sector experience. Because by Jay-Z`s own declaration, I`m
not a businessman, I`m a business man. He hasn`t just worked in the
private sector, he is the private sector. And as for being a job creator,
Kanye and Rihanna`s careers are testament to his skill in that area, as is
everyone who has been employed by the record label, clothing line, concert
promotion and talent management company, nightclub chain cuts, medic
company, and basketball team that have all contributed to Jay`s
Now, 460 million may not seem like much compared to Romney`s fortune. But
Jay is not the son of a former governor. He was raised by a single mom in
Brooklyn`s mercy project. Talk about American economic exceptionalism.
So, Jay meets all of Mitt Romney`s requirements. Maybe he should be on the
short list of VP. Except, of course, he shouldn`t. Because being a
businessman does not qualify Jay-Z to in the position that would put him in
charge of running the United States of America. And being a businessman
does not a qualifying experienced for Mitt Romney either.
Now, if only he had a record of governing, I don`t know, a state, that
might give us a sense of how he might run the country.
Joining me now this morning at the table are Michael Tomasky, special
correspondent for `Newsweek" and "the Daily Beast," Keith Boykin, CNBC
contributor being bet columnist and former Clinton White House aide and
Peter Goodman, executive business editor for "Huffington Post," and the
author of "Past Due: the end of easy money and the renewal of the American
Thanks to all of you for being here.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, Romney tells us, I`m a businessman, that means I
ought to be president. What do you think of this argument?
KEITH BOYKIN, BET COLUMNIST: It didn`t work in Massachusetts. You know,
if you have this business experience and supposed to be applicable to help
you to be a governor or elected official, why didn`t it work in
Massachusetts? Why was Massachusetts 47th out of 50 in job creations? And
what Mitt Romney is offering isn`t very convincing. He is saying, he`s
going to lower the unemployment rate to six percent if he is president over
the next four years. That`s exactly where the congressional budget office
already estimates it will be on his own.
BOYKIN: Like he will do anything for the economy.
HARRIS-PERRY: Tomorrow, I`m going to make the sun rise.
PETER GOODMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, HUFFINGTON POST: I would argue that some
of what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts worked very well, and that was
what bought into the idea we need government. That you can`t fix
everything with the private sector, in fact, he imposed fees to reduce the
deficit he inherited, including fees on gasoline sold at the pump. These
are things that would get him kicked out of the party if he proposed this
in his run for the White House.
He also, of course, embraced access to health care for everybody, something
that he doesn`t want to us remembers. So, I mean, this is a guy who has
proven that government does matter, and yet, he doesn`t want to run on the
platform today because that makes him look like a socialist.
MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: All of the things won`t discuss now.
Listen, my take on this is that, there are different kinds of businesses in
America. Bill Gates came up with a brilliant idea. Steve Jobs. So,
nobody be grudges them their billions. They came up with something really
A guy or woman who, you know, starts with one shop, one pizza partner and
through the sweat of the brow turns it into a chain, they have done
something. They have invented something. Mitt Romney isn`t that kind of
businessman. Mitt Romney actually isn`t a businessman. I would call him a
capitalist. A certain kind of capitalism.
HARRIS-PERRY: A very good one.
TOMASKY: A very good one. But a branch of capitalism that grew up
relatively recently in American history in the 1980s, this private equity
buyout kind of concern. Conservatives say that private equity has
dramatically increased the productivity of American business, they have a
point, but it hasn`t helped wages and the problem is stagnation of the
middle class and he has done nothing about that.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, I want to go exactly this point. Because I think,
you know again, no one begrudges that he is a decent businessman or in
this, I really like to call him, a really great capitalist. This is
terrific is all the way back from December 2011, in the "Atlantic," by
Megan McArdle where she talks about what do we want from a president? I
love this notion that consider what we want a president to be, a visionary
who can articulate a common purpose, that unites fractious, interest
groups, a master negotiator who can push and advance America`s interests in
the world. And also, combine resistance against lobbyists and its
congressional opponents, a bold decisive leader, someone who can manage his
vast staff of experts.
So, these are real skills. Some of these skills come from an experience
that you might have in the business world. But being a CEO and being
president are really quite different. You can`t hire and fire.
BOYKIN: Two totally different things. You know, the last president who
presided over a drop in employment, drop in deficit, and the craze of 22
million new jobs was a guy named Bill Clinton who spent almost his entire
life in government.
HARRIS-PERRY: No. It was governor of Arkansas, right? You know, with all
due love and respect to the people of Arkansas, it`s a small state, right,
in terms of its budget in that sort of this. He wasn`t managing billions
in that way.
BOYKIN: And the economy took off like gang busters under this guy who had
no business experienced. You know, the last two presidents who we had were
businessmen were George W. Bush and Herbert Hoover. One led us in to the
great depression, the other managed us to the great recession.
The problem with the argument that Romney is arguing - providing is that,
it misunderstands what the role of business. Businesses do not exist to
create jobs. They exist to create profit. And they create profit
sometimes by creating jobs, sometimes by losing jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: I need to you say that again because I was this moment to go
viral. Business learns the business of doing what?
BOYKIN: Businesses should not exist to create jobs. They exist to create
profits. That`s the fundamental misunderstanding of Mitt Romney`s
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Absolutely. And for me that is - it requires us,
therefore, to have an argument about what government is meant to do.
GOODMAN: Yes, that`s right. I mean, the problem for running for CEO of
the country is that, again, when are you the CEO, you work for your
investors, you work for your shareholders.
GOODMAN: It is about maximizing return, and you don`t get to say, well
this group of people over here, they are not really helping us out in terms
of GDP, so let`s get rid of them.
GOODMAN: Which is in essence, you know, what we had when we put our chips
on the idea that the markets can take care of everything, that if we just
get government out of way, the private sector can fix all of life`s
We lived through that that`s how we got the great recession and a lot of
people got kicked out.
Now, I think the idea that Mitt Romney is a capitalist, you know, that`s a
useful way of looking at. He`s an investment banker in essence. He looks
at things that somebody else built that somebody else created and then, he
figures out how do I maximize that for myself and the people who gave me
the money to step in? That won`t get us there in terms of getting the
country back to work.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, it is actually possible that Jay-Z with his one mic,
coming up from the party project, more of what we need in this moment?
TOMASKY: Yes. Again, Jay-Z made something.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Right. And Beyonce would be our first lady, which I
So, up next, Mitt Romney`s Massachusetts record and trivia question. Who
said it? Romney or Jay-Z. Asked in a magazine interview whether he
considers himself a good businessman? This gentleman responded, "yes,
because when I promise something, I deliver it, and I expect the same from
We will have the answer after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, I asked you who said it, Mitt Romney or
Jay-Z. When asked if he considers himself a good businessman, he said yes,
because when I promise something I deliver, and I expect the same from
The answer is, Jay-Z.
Now, Mitt Romney is fond of saying that he spent most of his life in the
private sector. Most, but not all. Because of course, there was a four-
year period between 2003 to 2007, where he dedicated his life to being
public service. I`m referring of course, to that bullet point on his
resume to which he tends to gives only passing mention. You know, when he
ran the entire state as the governor of Massachusetts.
Not sure why he doesn`t talk about it more, because it actually includes a
few greatest hits, like that time when he gave everyone in Massachusetts
health care, and the president thought it was such a great idea, that he
decided to try the same plan for the entire country. Remember that? It
At least, 62 percent of Massachusetts presidents who love their health care
think so. But running a new record means highlighting the good and
defending the bad. Like when Governor Romney cut $277 million from local
education and $137 million from higher education in Massachusetts which
left the state`s towns and counties stuck with a heavy share of tack
Still with me here are Michael Tomasky, Keith Boykin, Peter Goodman and
joining them is Chloe Angel, editor of Feministing.com.
So, he does have a governing record. What do we learn if instead of
thinking of businessman, we think of Governor Romney.
TOMASKY: We learn as many people may know already , because it`s been
often repeated that Massachusetts is 47th in job creation under his tenure.
I have looked at the numbers here by year. Now, it is true there was a
2001 recession that he and all governors, has to deal with.
So, you know, you can cut him a break for that. On the other hand, does he
cut Barack Obama a break for the 2008 great resection?
HARRIS-PERRY: Not so much.
TOMASKY: Not so much. If you do one, you have to do the other.
CHLOE ANGEL, EDITOR, FEMINISTING.COM: I think it`s something about gooses,
ganders and sauce.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Pots and kettles and that sort of thing.
TOMASKY: They did come back by his last year, but it`s important to note,
Melissa, by his last year, he lost interest in the job. He was in the mid
30s in the polls and he didn`t run again, a, because he was running for
president, b, because he would have lost.
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is interesting, though. This idea, as you were
saying, Peter, look government still has a role. You know, I think, even
about sort of our founding documents, and declaration of independence, the
notion that the governments are founded among men not to maximize profits,
not even to minimize deficits, but to provide some opportunity for human
beings to reach full potential.
I just want to listen to President Obama, who earlier this week did try to
articulate a role for government. Let`s play off of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Through government, we
should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. That`s how we
built this country. Together. We constructed railroads and highways, the
Hoover dam and the Golden Gate bridge. We did those things together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And by the way, those things were good for business.
GOODMAN: Indeed. And, in fact, if we relied on the private sector to give
us our transportation system it would be very easy to get from Los Angeles
to New York and Washington to New York, and, you know, good luck getting to
Huntsville, Alabama where there are people who need jobs and have goods and
services that they produce that they would like to contribute to the global
There are lots of areas of life that can`t be addressed without government.
That`s how we got government and that goes from pedestrian stuff like
picking up the trash and delivering mail back when that was really
important to figuring out how to put it dollars into research institutions
that can eventually see the way for high-growth industries, then otherwise,
won`t come into being without a government role and produce jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: You know, the way you point that, that kind of longer time
horizon, the idea of not being accountable to a shareholder this quarter,
for what we`re doing this quarter, but rather having the longer time
horizon, being able to say, we have to make investments in the future.
That feels like the thing that`s gone from our federal government. Like
we`re in the 18-month to raise money in order to run for office again sort
of time horizons.
BOYKIN: I think it`s gone for quite some time, but it`s getting worse
because there were caused comes of one side of the political system. But
we have a situation this past week, where, you know, Mitt Romney is out
there is saying, we don`t need teachers, firefighters. We don`t need more
policemen on the street. At the same time, unemployment is high right now.
Still relatively high. 8.2 percent.
But, you look at it based on education, you understand why education so
important. The unemployment rate for people with college degrees, a very
low 3.9 percent. For people with high school diplomas or less, 13 percent.
If that isn`t a statistic that tells you we need to invest in education, I
don`t know what is.
And yet, Mitt Romney is going exactly the option doubling down on this
whole nonsense and we don`t need to invest in the one area of our economy
that is going to make us a stronger nation.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. Because it`s a kind of jobs to change where our
economic sectors is a different thing. We are not making things a few
things with our hands. We partly work things with our hands and even then,
we are really making them with machines with our hands, So we require a
higher level of knowledge.
And you now, I do want to ask a little bit about the idea, you know, good
luck getting to Huntsville, because literally right now, good luck getting
there. In the in the stimulus package, when the money came through to the
Republican governors, they didn`t spend it to build the light rail. They
didn`t Tuesday to build the next Hoover dam.
GOODMAN: They rather pander ideologically than actually get themselves
involved, roll up the sleeves and pragmatic solutions to problems. And,
you know, the knowledge that we have, the government that is going to have
to lead the way, we are going to have to print some dollars in the short
run so we can pay down the deficit in the long run through putting people
back to work.
HARRIS-PERRY: And if they made those jobs, wouldn`t we have - I mean, the
unemployment rate could be in the high 7s if the public sector had not shed
TOMASKY: Yes, right. Might do several hundred thousand jobs in the
unemployment rate would be much lower. You know, there was one program
inside the stimulus package called these build America bonds that were very
successful that helped build, for example, a new hotel and convention
center in Downtown, Dallas. Helped build a lot of things that most people
who if they walked down the street and would see this thing and say all of
that, think the private sector built that. No, the stimulus package helped
build several of these things. But the Republicans dismissed it as in
boondoggle for New York and Los Angeles. And the program is dead, although
it was really effective even in red states.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, on these boondoggle things, that one of the
complaints from the left, it is so interesting to hear this idea that it
would be Romney who would be the great businessman president. But Chloe,
obviously you know, one of the criticisms from the left is that President
Obama has been too much of a businessman president.
Can he make the claim, look actually, I have been quite good for Wall
Street, for profit, for private industry?
ANGEL: I think he`s absolutely paneled, though you will never get that
from the right. And I don`t think you`ll ever hear from business, still
certainly going to hear from Jamie Dimon.
ANGEL: I want to pick up on something you said before the break. You said
when you are CEO, you are accountable to your investors. And the thing is
that we know who Mitt Romney`s investors are. We know who is funneling him
money for his campaign. We know who his investors are and it is not the
American people, right. He is a Wall Street guy. We know is he reluctant,
who is he going to answering to. It`s the top one percent. And I - he is
not going to act in the best interest of vast majority of Americans because
we know who he has invested on.
BOYKIN: Let`s go back to what you just said a moment ago there about what
Obama has done or what the economy has done for Wall Street.
BOYKIN: And this is why it`s so important to focus on main street now.
The stock market is up incredibly since Obama took office. The Dow has
doubled from 6,500 to now nearly 13,000. It is actually over 13,000 a
Interest rates are at historically low records, and inflation is low and
BOYKIN: Corporate profits at record highs, corporate is sitting on $2
trillion in cash according to the Federal Reserve, and they are not
BOYKIN: So, the business community is doing quite well.
HARRIS-PERRY: They are good.
BOYKIN: We are doing quite well, and that`s I think part of what Barack
Obama is trying to say when he says the private sector is doing fine.
BOYKIN: But it is main street that is not doing fine. And that`s what we
need to focus our resources. It is not give more tax cuts to the wealthy
and the businesses who are already prospering.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the pretty amazing thing is government actually has the
power to make a difference on main street.
So, coming up, corporations versus governments and who ultimately looks out
for the little guy? Exactly this question, and I think you know the answer
to this one. But, that`s after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Mitt Romney believes that if you can make good business
decisions for companies, you can make good policy decisions for people.
Whether or not you`ll agree with this, depends upon your ability to
reconcile the extremes of this dichotomy. Corporations maximize
properties, governments are supposed to maximize the public good and
governor Romney has no problem connecting the dots and making the case of
his experienced in business means he knows how to create profits and
creating profits create jobs, right?
Except that here`s the thing, the two things don`t always go hand in hand,
especially in modern times, when corporate profits are soaring, but private
sector hiring is not.
Here to help me understand why is Michael Tomasky and joining us now is Ben
Jealous, president and CEO of NAACP. Also back us with Peter Goodman and
OK. So, we have been talking a bit about this, but I think I want to go
about this really carefully. Why is it that the skills are not
transferrable from I`m a CEO of a corporation to I`m now going to run the
very complex thing that is the American government?
GOODMAN: When are you the CEO of a company, you run the company. If you
don`t like what somebody is doing in the company, you can fire them, you
can completely transform the system, the structure. Moreover, you have you
a very clear target that`s defined by metrics. You are trying to get
dollars to your investors.
When you are president of the United States, you have to deal with
congress, you got to deal with public opinion, you got to deal with the
divisions of geography, religion, tradition, you don`t get to decide
everything. Moreover, you are accountable to a very complex outcome which
is what we call the common good.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Ben, actually, and if is a little bit closer to your
job, I mean, it is a little bit more like being the executive director of a
nonprofit organization, one that has a board.
BEN JEALOUS, NAACP PRESIDENT: A very big board.
HARRIS-PERRY: A very big, right. A very big and very diverse board that
may often disagree with one another. And it has sort a mission, right?
So, the mission of the NAACP being to bring about racial justice. But at
what point do we say, OK, we have that all worked out. Very different than
do we have higher profits today than yesterday.
JEALOUS: You know, look. We have to get back to a place in this country
where we practice a value that got us out of the great depression.
JEALOUS: We need a commander in chief who is really going to paint the
front end or the back end. We can paint on the front end by actually
investing in jobs, holding families together or we can paint on the back
end, by families falling apart, increased investments in welfare, increase
incarceration. And that`s what we need.
You may be a business leader and be able to do that, but what we have seen
is that when it`s a big fight against poverty in this country, people have
come out of Senate, come out the congress, folks who know to actually
And what worries me is that no matter who is president, I don`t see how we
get consensus in this Congress no matter who is in control to get past
those 67 votes or the 60 votes that you need actually to get something done
in the Senate. And we saw something with control, 400 good bills, all of
them get lost in the Senate pretty much.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I want to listen just real quickly. Because this
point was made, I think it`s easy to hear from points not themselves in
business. But I love this point made by an Amazon investor, multi-
millionaire and ted talked. This is (INAUDIBLE). let`s listen to what he
says about precisely this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Rich people don`t create jobs. Newly businesses, large or small, anyone
who has ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a course of
last resorts for capitalists. Calling yourselves job creators is not just
inaccurate. It is disingenuous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Hiring more people is a course of last resort for
capitalists. If you can do it without people, please do.
GOODMAN: Exactly. Nick is my good friend, by the way. I`m proud to say.
And I have heard him give versions of that talk. And I talked with him
about it over the phone, and he`s making a really important point and I
made it briefly in an earlier comment and want to return to it, expand a
We have two crises in this country, the immediate one is what happened in
September 2008. But we have a longer one that`s been happening since 1973.
It doesn`t get talked about as much. And it doesn`t get as much attention
because it didn`t happen so dramatically.
But middle class wages are stagnant in this tournament for 40 years, and
they even went in reverse during the Bush presidency. They haven`t done
very well so far under the Obama presidency, because of the horrible
economic situation, rebounding a tiny bit.
But this is a big, big problem. Productivity has gone like this. The rich
have gone like this. Corporate profits, as you mentioned, have gone like
this. Middle class have wages gone like that. Slightly down.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And Congressman Jesse Jackson just introduced a bill
to raise the minimum wage and again, you are hearing the sort of outcry.
If you raise minimum wage, businesses will shed jobs, this is exactly the
opposite or wrong thing to do. But it seems like the American dream is
rooted in our ability to work one job that allows to us go home in the
evening, see your families and children, communicate.
GOODMAN: And, I mean, an important point to add to what Mike has said,
this idea of trickledown economics which is essentially what Romney is
running on when he says elect me because I know to run, I know how to make
money in business. So, if I can make money for my investors, then everyone
will do well.
Well, we tried that. It didn`t work out. That doesn`t even work out
within the private sector. I mean, you can work at a fabulously wealthy
corporation, where shareholders are making out like bandits. This happened
if you happened to work on wall street and weren`t one of the guys with the
corner offices before the crisis. And you got tossed out and you probably
lost your retirement.
HARRIS-PERRY: Or the secretary to the guy --
GOODMAN: The paper towels. A lot of jobs were definite on a bubble, that
was very, very nice for the people in the one percent, and these people are
who are often financing the Romney campaign. It didn`t even worked out
trickling down within those companies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so, the middle class wages are not stagnant,
when they are moving up. This is a part of the American dream piece. But
again, I like your point about delivering the paper towels.
The other piece of it is middle class folks, who live on the edge, buy more
stuff when they have more wages. And when they buy more stuff, you have to
hire somebody total work at the Walmarts to sell them that stuff. And you
got to find somebody else. I mean, there is this weird sort of this notion
of class warfare that we keep hearing coming from the white, I am wondering
if there`s - what happened to our angst about Wall Street that we were
delivering so beautifully in the kind of occupy Wall Street for whatever
their -- my critique has been. They really got us to think about what
about the 99 percent has fell silent at this moment in the debate.
JEALOUS: What`s natural for us in this country, not to vote on our
situation, but the aspiration, and we see voters sort of like buying a
ticket for the lottery, it doesn`t matter what the odds are. The prize
And so, what you saw with occupy was, for a moment, people considering
let`s go based on our situation. If we vote based on our situation, we
would very add politics in this country and would ask, let`s see the
economy that was actually nurtured our families rather than one that sort
of terrorizes them in a away.
JEALOUS: Because, it is hard to afford daycare, you know, it is hard to --
you have to work two jobs, it is hard for a parent to just have time to
spend with their children.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And contributing to our community, right. Just doing
all of the other things that it takes making sure you are taking care of
mom and the kids and everything.
We`ll talk more about this and particularly this relationship between Wall
Street and Washington, because I was uncomfortable this week. He was
getting a little too close for comfort.
This is our trivia question. Which U.S. president dropped out of business
school and later opened a men`s clothing store, only to have it fail, prior
to entering politics? I`m going to have the answer, right after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Before the break, we asked you, which U.S. president dropped
out of business school and later opened a men`s clothing store, only to
have it all fail prior to entering politics? The answer is Harry Truman.
After World War I, Truman and his buddy opened a haberdashery in Kansas
city. And it didn`t make it passed the recession and closed in 1922. So
this week, we saw a glaring example of how business and politics can come
together to make strange bedfellows. Only it was not just strange, but
entirely too cozy in that bed when Jamie Dimon went to Washington to
testify before the Senate banking Housing and Urban affairs committee, I
think Jon Stewart tells put it best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0
JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: They didn`t just haul Jamie Dimon into
tell him how nice and good he is and huge he is, they brought him in there
to talk about how terrible they, the Senate, are.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We can hardly sit in judgment of your
losing two billion. We lose twice that every day here in Washington.
STEWART: Does Senator DeMint think that spending money is the same as
STEWART: You know, I have $10 million here yesterday, but now all I see is
this (bleep) highway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Still with me are Michael Tomasky, Peter Goodman, Chloe
Angel and Ben Jealous.
Yes. I mean, since when does government, you know, spending money on the
public good count as losing money? How is this, the same thing as what
happened at JPMorgan?
JEALOUS: You know, when you look at how he was treated, you have to take
into consideration the number one and number two people interrogating him,
their number two contributor is his company.
JEALOUS: I mean, you just got to, you know, on the fact that I think that
we should ask the Senate to wear Nascar jackets.
HARRIS-PERRY: Who they are sponsored by.
I like Chloe`s point about who their investors are, and who they have to
And yes, obviously, we have seen a lot of folks before the Senate recently,
including, right, a member of the federal government and that`s Eric
Holder, who was certainly not treated, right, attorney general Holder was
not treated at all in the way that Jamie Dimon was, wasn`t it? Hey, come
on back, and by the way, you are doing a good job on that whole justice and
fairness thing. That certainly not how they expressed themselves.
GOODMAN: He turned the Senate into like the team that the Harlem
Globetrotters plays against in basketball. I mean, it was - hey, could you
say some more nasty things about the Volcker rule and Dodd-Frank and tell
us how, you know, too much financially good is going to kill us all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And so, where is the outrage? We were doing well with
ANGEL: I think there is still plenty of outrage. I want to go back to
Mitt Romney for a second. Because I think it`s really important to note
that on financial regulations, Mitt Romney is even more relaxed and lay
back than Jamie Dimon.
Jamie Dimon says this week, we need stronger regulation, not necessarily
more. Mitt Romney doesn`t even agree with that. And he is more loving
fair even. And, you know, the other -- one of the favorite statistics and
sort of how we can see how well people are doing, is the Christmas retail
sales statistics. We do have one from 2010, Neiman Marcus in 2010 was up
by 5.5 percent, Saks, up 5.3 percent, Discount Retailer, they were up to
2.6, but there was Walmart down 1.3 percent.
And I would say, I love this stat because, you know, the idea that Neiman
Marcus and Saks are up in 2010, like we are just about point beginning limp
out of recession. But those who can spend at Neiman Marcus and Saks, they
were way up. Folks who are buying their stuff at Walmart, regular families
trying to fill the Christmas socks, down.
GOODMAN: Which really does underscores what we`re saying about Romney.
Because what American business is very good at caterings, the traditions,
it is dealing with, and what it is dealing with now is incredible
inequality where most working people can`t even pay their regular bills.
Let along go to the Neiman Marcus to go fill their closets with new
And the results to that are American businesses very good at catering to
the handful of people who have spending power. That doesn`t add up to job
growth on --
JEALOUS: The whole notion of the jobless recovery with unpatriotic idea
ever created. I mean, we should be getting back to this notion that we
aren`t recovering unless we are recovered unless the people of this country
are recovering. And we have these corporate spending machines that are
saying, we can have a recovery, you just won`t have new jobs. That is not
a recovery. That`s our country that has stolen from us.
HARRIS-PERRY: In fact.
Coming up, a historic coalition is forming on the streets of New York later
today. And Ben Jealous is going to stay around and talk to me about it,
and about why they coming together of racial civil rights gay civil rights
activists a really big deal.
And as we go to break, I want to leave you with this father`s day message
from Trayvon Martin`s dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: This father`s day, will be the
first without my son, Trayvon. I will say a prayer for all the dads across
America who shares this grief with me. Last year, 30,000 fathers lost a
son or a daughter to senseless gun violence and we have to come together to
protect our children.
I`m asking you to consider sharing this message with the governor of your
state to rescind the stabbed your ground law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And we`ll be right back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Later this afternoon, racial civil rights, LGBT civil
rights, state, labor, and community groups will all come together in a
silent march against New York city stop and frisk policy.
The nonviolent protest will start in Harlem and end in front of New York
city mayor Michael Bloomberg`s residence.
Now, for civil right groups, the history behind silent marches dates back
to 1917 when the then 8-year-old NAACP marched through New York city. To
protest lynching, segregations and race riots in east St. Louis, Illinois.
Today`s event also historic. Because we will see a union between civil
rights leaders and LGBT leaders who are joining forces to draw attention to
discriminatory policing practices, like stop and frisk.
My next guest says that both groups have a long record of being harassed by
police. And joining me now is Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.
JEALOUS: Hey, good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m actually really excited about this. During the
moment where we were sort of pushing for the president and then the NAACP
to come out in support of marriage equality, I also kept saying, and once
that happens, I also need to see this alliance on both sides, so that the
issues that are in our community that we see, the intersection, and so, I
have to tell you, I`m very excited about today`s march.
Tell me about why are you passionate about it? Why it matters.
JEALOUS: Well, look. In most cities in when you ask who gets beaten up by
the cops? It is frequently the answer comes back, black people, people of
color, and the gay community.
JEALOUS: And so, it made all the sense in the world to stand there and
stonewall with the leaders of 35 gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgendered
groups, you know, surrounding us saying on this issue, we stand with the
black community, we stand with the brown community, people of colors
because we know what it`s like to be targeted because of what you are,
rather than what you are doing.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. And so, folks who don`t know, stonewall is kind of
the watershed moment in the contemporary LGBT right movement, right? It is
the place where literally New York police harassed, even acts of violence,
against gays, people who were there as patrons and then the protest that
came after were really launched what we think of is the modern gay right of
So, both of those things. And we talked a lot about the CC McDonald case
here. And she is trans-woman, who is also African-American and when she
was initially being harassed, it was both the n-word and anti-trans and
anti-gays slurred being hurled at CC, right? So, that intersection.
Tell me what you want this march to do? You are going to end up with
Bloomberg`s house. What do you have as message for the mayor?
HARRIS-PERRY: We`re starting in Harlem, 110 street, get to avenue at 2:00
p.m., marching silently to Bloomberg`s house. We will bring 25,000 people
to his house for father`s day.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. How nice of you.
JEALOUS: Because his cops have taken away father`s day from us. You know,
there will be on average, 1,800 stop and frisks today. Mostly young black
and brown men. Last year, there were 700,000. This year on paper,
800,000. There are so many stop and frisk of like boys and men between 14
and 24. That their actions more stop and frisks of that age group than
people in that age group in the city.
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, the idea that you can stop and frisk more people, it
means that they are being stopped and frisk multiple times.
JEALOUS: We have some boys who claimed that they have been stopped 60
times before they turned 18. We have girls who look like ballerinas who
have been stopped four times this year.
JEALOUS: And so --
HARRIS-PERRY: We were saying, we were looking at those numbers because,
you know the numbers have gone up so dramatically on stop and frisk under
Bloomberg. It was a bit surprising for me to see that massive increase.
JEALOUS: So much nicer than Giuliani.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, exactly. Well, I mean, I think to myself, we had a
narrative of Giuliani because of the acts of violence by the New York City
police was a problem. But I`m not sure there is quite the same national
narrative. When you look at the number like that, from 97,000 to almost
686,000 stops over the course of his mayoralty.
JEALOUS: And if you go back to 1999, when we had the big Diallo case here
and the focus was on the street crimes unit who were the people who
actually created the stop and frisk program, and we said that we had two
One, he killed Mr. Diallo with 40 bullets and he tried to pulled out his
wallet. The other one was This is what happened when you have this massive
stop and frisk program. We call them massive then, it was 80,000. This
year, about a pace 800,000.
JEALOUS: And so, you know, can be kinder or gentler face. But the
experienced of our children is quite something different. And we have
kids, six, seven, eight years old, teasing each other at school, because
they are stop and frisk virgins, because the expectation, you will be at
the doorway of the mass incarceration before you are 8-years-old in this
You have cops stopping you, frisking you, mistreating you again because of
your color, not your character or your crime you committed. Nine out of
ten people stops and frisk are innocent. Nine out of ten are of color, and
99 percent don`t have a gun. And that notion that this makes us safe
really defies logic because what every criminologist will tell you, is that
when you engage in massive street level racial profiling, you build a wall
between the most victimized community in the city and the tops.
And so, that is why it is not surprising that while New York City has
brought some from 29 percent last ten years, L.A. has brought down 59
percent, New Orleans 56 percent, Dallas 49 percent, Baltimore 37 percent,
all without this program.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And, you know, that point I just want to be sure as we
go out of the segment and we really make that again when you were stopping
and frisking on the street like that, you create a culture where people do
not trust police officers. They don`t share information. They won`t
cooperate and that makes everyone less safe, not more safe.
JEALOUS: Exactly right. So, please join us. I`m intend to (INAUDIBLE).
HARRIS-PERRY: Absolutely. Thank you, Ben. I greatly appreciate it.
Thanks to you, Ben Jealous. And good luck with the march today because it
is deeply, deeply matters to all of us.
Coming up, this election can all boil down to white voters. Yes, we are
going to talk about white vote right here. We are going to dig on the
numbers right after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Racial and ethnic diversity is important to our political
conversation here in Nerdland. We discussed the importance of the African-
American citizens, analyze the significance of Latino voters, even trace
the growing influence of Asian-Americans in this election.
But this week, we will reminded of another group, one that seems to
diminishing but has re-assertive itself in recent weeks demanding attention
of their special concerns. Yes, it is time to talk about the complicated
of and contradictory white votes.
Remember, this report from last month? Whites account for under half of
the births in the U.S. In the 12-month period that ended last July, only
49.6 percent of American voters were non-Hispanic white infants.
Now, it is going to be decades before white people are demographic minority
in this country, and even longer before they relinquish their position as
the majority of voters.
The Pew Research Center says that there were a out of the record, 131
million voters in the 2008 presidential election, the exit polls show that
74 percent of them were white and 71.3 is the percent of eligible voters
today who are white.
Even though 63.7 percent of all people in America are non-Hispanic whites,
which is a reminder, that the white vote is still a powerful electorate
bloc that cannot be ignored.
Can you guess last time that a winning Democratic presidential candidate
actually won the white vote? One clue, it is the same year that the 24th
amendment abolished the Jim Crow practice of the poll tax.
Yes, the last time a democrat won the white vote was in 1964, when Lyndon
B. Johnson routed Barry Goldwater.
In 1976, Georgia governor Jimmy Carter came close when he secured the White
House with 47 percent of the white vote. No other democrat has even gotten
within striking distance of the white majority.
Bill Clinton won an easily 39 percent in 1992 three-way race with George H.
W. Bush and Ross Perot.
Now, President Obama actually made up ground with white voters when he won
43 percent of their support in 2008. And this past Tuesday, a Gallup daily
tracking poll indicated that the president is now losing ground among those
white voters, polling at only 38 percent support over the last month.
Seems worry I some, until you remember that 38 percent is also exactly the
level of support that candidate Obama enjoyed in the spring of 2008,
according to the same folks at Gallup.
So, what should we make of the elusive white voters. Will President Obama
find ways to win him back in his re-election coalition? Or can he win with
robust multi-racial coalition that looks more like America`s future than
And if he is going to appeals to white voters, we have to ask, what do
white Americans want? I`ll ask that of a panel of white people next. Yes,
right here on "MHP," an all-white panel.
Every once in a while it happens. Right after the break.
HARRIS-PERRY: Rocky. You are going to talk about the great white vote.
So let`s take a look. This is the most current NBC News map of the
battleground states for this November`s presidential election. And there
are nine in total: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire,
Virginia, North Carolina, Florida.
And President Obama won every one of these in `08. But in five of
these states, one displayed in orange, candidate Obama lost the white vote
to Senator John McCain in 2008. In Virginia and North Carolina, both
states that the president won overall, less than 40 percent of white voters
cast ballots for him.
So, it`s a safe bet that both the president and Governor Romney will
be vying for white vote this fall, which led me to ask -- what is it that
white people want?
Let`s start with jobs, since we know that the economy is the top
issue in this campaign. White unemployment, currently at 7.4 percent.
That`s bad, but it`s much better than the national average of 8.2 percent.
And compare to black unemployment of 13.6 percent, it`s basically a
It seems like white Americans should be flocking to support the
president`s reelection, given their relatively robust situation in this
So, how does a candidate approach those still critical white American
voters who comprise more than 71 percent of the electorate?
Joining me now to break this down are some Caucasian folks. One
again, Michael Tomasky of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast"; Chloe Angyal,
an editor with feministing.com; and Peter Goodman, executive business
editor at "The Huffington Post".
So, I`m laughing a little bit as I do this introduction because
obviously we feel very comfortable talking about Latino voters, black
voters. But we rarely sort of think of white voters, that we think of as
the norm, as an actual voting bloc. This is in part, because you guys are
complicated as a group.
PETER GOODMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: We don`t think of white presidents.
I mean, how many people said, that George W. Bush, that`s it. I`m not
voting for another white president.
HARRIS-PERRY: Barack Obama has to carry this label. He`s not just
an African-American person who got elected president. He`s the nation`s
first black president. So much of what he does is seen through the lens.
Not to make light of your question. I think your fundamental
question comes back to something that Mike said in an earlier segment,
which is people of color, by and large, already knew that this economy had
been dysfunctional, particularly amongst lesser educated, lower skills
working people who long before we got into the great recession were having
a hard time just getting to work and bringing home enough money to pay the
A lot of white voters on the other hand, have found themselves over
the last eight, 10, 12 years now increasingly in that group of people for
whom the middle class dream doesn`t work anymore, and a lot of those people
were really happy to help elect the nation`s first black president and felt
that this was a transformational event that they were participating in.
Whereas, I think you could say to a lesser extent, and we`re, of
course, you know, trading in stereotypes here, but African-Americans and
Latino voters, by and large, didn`t expect Barack Obama becoming president
was going to fix everything. Some white people did.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. It`s interesting that you say. I wrote a piece
for "The Nation" that said we`re all black Americans now, which is just to
say that, you know, things like 10 percent unemployment had been normal for
African-American communities for such a long time. The idea of being
reviled and hated in sort of the age of terrorism, man, we`ve been doing
that since like the 1800s, right?
So, this idea that somehow vulnerabilities that communities of color
have long experienced, that white Americans would be experiencing them for
the first time, may be what some of this angst is about?
MIKE TOMASKY, NEWSWEEK: What -- you go ahead.
: Thank you.
CHLOE ANGYAL, FEMINISTING.COM: What you said about the unemployment
figures, what you know, the relatively robust situation in which a lot of
white Americans find the themselves. And yet they still feel aggrieved,
they still feel like the economy is bad, because privilege is always
They are in a position where a lot of Americans of color have been in
for quite some time, and yet, this is new for them. And so, they feel like
the economy is still bad, and they don`t see that things are much, much
better for those of different races and ethnicities.
This resistance that we have of talking to the white voter, I was
going to say, but we`re an incredibly diverse group of people. You know,
my concerns as a straight white woman living in New York are completely
different from those of a white lesbian living in Tennessee --
ANGYAL: -- earning -- you know working at a minimum wage job. I
think that resistance is actually really helpful because it helps us to see
possibly for the first time, how completely ludicrous it is to talk about
the Latino vote, the black vote, women`s vote. These groups of hundreds of
millions of people as they though they vote on just one issue.
We know that, you know, obviously, statistics are helpful. I`m a
sociologist by trading. Generalizations are necessary and helpful. But we
are talking about -- you know, there is more diversity within these groups
than between them.
HARRIS-PERRY: And on this question of generalizations -- I mean,
when we look at, for example, the only black executive we have in our
system in large numbers, which has been black mayors. Research shows over
and over again, that black mayors tend to be re-elected with a higher
percentage of the white constituency voting for them than they were
initially elected with.
So, that should say that if President Obama is like black mayors,
then we actually should see more like 44 percent, 45 percent. Is this a
racialized reason? Or is this really is just a kind of slippage just about
sort of Republicans that the fact that whites tend to be more likely to be
Republican. He pulled some Republican voters because of disaffection with
George W. Bush last time.
TOMASKY: It`s somewhat racialized. There`s no question about it. I
believe he got 44 percent of the white vote overall last time. And I think
he`s not going to do that well. So, he`s not going to be elected as
Among college educated whites, he won slightly against John McCain.
He lost quite badly among non-college educated voters by 18 points, 58 to
40 percent. The problem I think Melissa is there is a tremendous anxiety,
as your "Nation" piece astutely pointed out.
There`s this new level of anxiety among white voters that they never
experienced before. Not just now. It looks like into the future. We`re
entering an age of austerity, where terrible choices are going to have to
be made. Budgets are going to have to be cut. Oxes are going to be gored.
It`s going to hit them, they are anxious about it.
Barack Obama represents this America that just isn`t them. These all
these other folks.
GOODMAN: One other dimension among progressives. Now, let`s point,
amongst under 30 voters, Barack Obama is now trailing Mitt Romney,
according to a Harvard poll, 37-44. I mean, we`re talking college crowd
Part of what I think is going on is when you talk to self-identified
white progressives, you will sometimes amongst fellow Caucasians, you will
hear people say some variant of -- Barack Obama, he`s been such a
disappointment. He`s an Uncle Tom. Now, I`ve heard this. Now, you think
GOODMAN: That`s not something a white politician has to deal with.
He has to actually deal with a label imposed upon him by progressive white
electorate, that is trying to say we know what a black politician is
supposed to be and he`s not fighting hard enough.
You know, it`s fine to say, Barack Obama is a shill for Wall Street.
Barack Obama hasn`t tried hard enough to create jobs. That`s all fair
You get into racial designations like that, it illustrates the fact
that this guy has a much greater burden as the nation`s first African-
American and somebody who carries the mantle of the transformation leader.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to pause right there because I got into a big
trouble for a making a very similar argument. And so, since you`re white,
I`m going to let you make it.
This idea that, if you look at -- if just break out ideology and
whiteness, right? You say, OK, let`s say that white Republicans voting for
a Republican candidate, might be about race, but totally lots of reasons to
think it isn`t about race, right?
The real issue is what happens for white Democrats and white
progressives. Those who, you know, my favorite moment of the `08 campaign,
was the Oregon speech, where they are coming out in kayaks, right, to see
the black guy. And I was like, wow, what`s going on in America?
But if there was -- if he is held to a higher standard than Bill
Clinton, right, just our most recent Democratic president, who also
happened to be quite moderate, sometimes really pretty conservative, but
white, if there is a lower percentage for Barack Obama`s, President Obama`s
re-election than for President Obama`s re-election, that distance, that
little space, could we think of that as a kind of racialized progressive
angst? Or is that over -- over playing what`s going on here?
GOODMAN: I think in the margins, that is reality. I think when you
start high, you have a long way to fall. And we are talking about a guy
who took office with incredibly high expectations. I mean, on policy
alone, people were comparing him to FDR, saying this was an incredible
crisis that he inherited, and it created great opportunities.
But also the racial component. I mean, this guy changed the course
of American history. And a lot of white people were very proud to go to
the polls and be participants in that history.
And from that comes this sort of aura that he`s above and beyond any
conventional politician we`ve known before -- and I think at least
subconsciously that creates expectations that, boy, Wall Street, look out.
And we`re going to get some modern version of the New Deal that`s going to
go beyond economics, going to go beyond politics, it`s going to be about
And suddenly we wake up and say, you know what? The great recession
was really awful. And it landed on three decades of unacceptable wage
growth. We have real problems in this country.
And the idea that one guy is going to fix all these problems, you
know, good luck with that. But --
HARRIS-PERRY: And one guy who had always been a moderate. You know,
if you look at his governing record, it`s sort of -- oh, it`s been
basically a moderate.
Young white voters, that was really the key for then-Senator Obama,
now, President Obama, it was really about young white voters --
ANGYAL: Who will speak on their behalf.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, what will you young white people do this time?
ANGYAL: Well, that`s sort of what I mean. I`m making up my --
that`s what I mean about intersectionality and how incredibly diverse this
large group of young white voters are. What we have in common is that we
are young and we`re white, and that`s about it.
You know, everyone -- like I said, statistics and generalizations are
helpful, but everyone -- if everyone goes to the polls with a different
major concern. There are some single-issue voters, but most people exist
at this intersection of thinking about the economy, thinking about foreign
policy, a whole bunch of things. And that decides how we cast our votes,
and I would never presume to speak for all of them.
And I also think it`s actually pretty difficult. You can look at
educational attainment and things like that, but it`s actually difficult to
draw an accurate and representative picture of the young white vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: Of clear conclusions.
Up next: what President Obama needs to do to regain white voters, and
he seems to be losing in the polls.
Later this hour, I`m also going to tell you why Michigan has gotten a
lot of buzz this week, more than any other battleground buzz. Don`t go
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m really not a guy that`s
going for the next step of my political career. Bob, I don`t have a
political career. I served as governor for four years. I spent my life in
the private sector. The private sector is where I`ve made my mark.
I am in this race because I want to get America back on the right
track. I don`t care about re-elections. I don`t care about the
partisanship that goes on. I want to get America right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Mitt Romney moments ago with a rare Sunday
morning interview on CBS` "Face the Nation," and also seeing, I`ve going to
say, one the oddest things I ever heard someone say who is running for
president, by saying I`m not going for the next step in my political
I wonder if he was dropping out next. I wasn`t quite sure.
But he was, in fact, trying to make his case why he should be
president and part of what we`ve been talking about here is how Romney`s
message, how President Obama`s message is going to translate with the
voting bloc that might be calling all the shot this election, white voters.
Back with me are Michael Tomasky of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast";
Feministing.com editor Chloe Angyal; and Peter Goodman of "The Huffington
Post." And joining us to add a little something to the mix is CNBC`s
contributor, Keith Boykin.
Thanks for coming back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s up with that?
HARRIS-PERRY: One of these things is not like the other.
So, I was prepping for the segment, you know, I loved the very funny
book, stuff white people like, which came from the blog, stuff white people
like. You know, thing like coffee, nonprofit organizations, organic food.
But also in chapter 8, Barack Obama. It`s a very brief chapter and
it says white people like Barack Obama, because they are afraid if they
don`t, they will be considered racist. Which is in certain ways, you know,
the point that you were making.
But I do -- like I want to not assume that white voters, even more I
would assume that Latino or African-American voters are primarily acting
out of racial interest, right? I mean, perhaps they are, what are the most
complicated things that a Mitt Romney or President Obama are going to need
to say to make the various complicated groups within whiteness say that`s
the guy who I think can move us to a new future?
KEITH BOYKIN, BET COLUMNIST: I think white voters are acting out of
their racial interest. I don`t think it`s just about Barack Obama, though.
I worked in the Clinton administration. And I felt there was the same sort
of pattern against Bill Clinton, not because he was the first black
president, but because Bill Clinton represented the Democratic Party, the
Republican Party carefully caricatured of the party of black people --
regardless of who the president is, who is the figure head.
The Republican Party has not only caricatured the Democratic Party as
the black party. But they`ve also described government as about black
people. When people think about government, they think about the
caricature that Ronald Reagan constructed, they`re Cadillac-driving welfare
BOYKIN: And they don`t realize that 2/3 of the federal budget goes
to Medicare, and Social Security, national defense, interest in the debt.
The amount of money we spend on welfare programs is infinitesimally small
for the budget, and the majority doesn`t go to black people. But they
don`t understand that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Just this week, Monica Potts has this beautiful piece
in the "American Prospect," pressing on the upward way of profile of life
in one of the country`s poorest counties.
And so, you might, oh, "American Prospect," poverty, this is surely
about African-American poverty, but it`s not. It`s actually a piece about
poverty and whiteness.
And so, this idea about racial interests might actually be counter,
right? In other words, white American who are poor, who are middle class,
who are working class, might be running against class interest even as they
are so-called protecting racial interests.
ANGYAL: And I think what Keith says about how the GOP has
caricatured the Democrats as the party of black people actually fits in
very well with the narrative of what real Americans as rugged, and not
dependent on government. Those people over there, they are dependent on
government. We`re not. We pull ourselves up by out bootstraps. We don`t
need government in our business, keeping our water clean.
We don`t need government doing things for us. They do. We don`t
want to be on that side of the tracks.
HARRIS-PERRY: What about white women? Is it possible this sort of
war on women language and this kind of invasive things that we have seen
around local GOP legislators behaving by restricting women`s reproductive
rights, is that a possibility for where you can find support among white
voters, really among white women?
TOMASKY: White women are a little different from white men. Not
HARRIS-PERRY: Not as different as you might think. Yes.
TOMASKY: Obama`s gender gap last time I think was 13 points,
probably will be might about that, might be a little higher if they could
really jazz up the issues they were talking about. But remember, married
white women vote Republican. Single white women vote Democratic. So,
there is a divide there.
You know, this whole subject, Melissa, is about the extent to which
politics are about culture, not economics. I don`t even bother to say
anymore, people are voting against their own economic interests. Well,
they perceive their interests differently then. They perceive their
interests of being in a country with guns and without a black president.
BOYKIN: And these are not economic interests.
TOMASKY: I know they are not.
BOYKIN: When you got have people like Sheldon Adelson who is giving
$35 million to Republican Party candidates and at the same time, you have
white voters in west Virginia who are voting for Republicans who have no
money or virtually no money, there is a disconnect, because they are
connecting to a party about millionaires and billionaires, even though they
will never be millionaires and billionaires. What is that, but voting
against economic interest?
TOMASKY: But they are voting for their arms --
GOODMAN: I mean there`s no scenario where Barack Obama or Mitt
Romney -- well, maybe Mitt Romney can -- cater directly to white voters as
white voters per se, identifying as such. You got to focus on the
narrative. And the narrative is, OK, I get it. Way bigger than the
important social safely net that`s disappeared for people at the bottom.
It`s that a lot of people want to get up and go to work, and bring
home enough money for their family so they can send their kids to college,
they can live in a decent place. They can`t do that anymore. A lot of
people haven`t been able to do for more than a quarter of century, and
awful lot of people have been added to that pot, people who used to be
middle class who are now poor or struggling to avoid poverty.
And he`s got to explain that there is a future, that we can invest in
something that will ultimately put people back to work and raise wages.
HARRIS-PERRY: It`s a big task, because that divide is a broad and
very old one.
But up next, we saw some very un-lady-like behavior on display this
week in Michigan when the "v" word got thrown around on the statehouse
floor. It got me thinking of all the other un-lady-like things we want to
hear from our women leaders. What it means to be a lady in-charge, next.
HARRIS-PERRY: One topic became all the rage this week. It wasn`t
the economy, Syria, or the election.
Democratic Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown on Wednesday
brought up something so controversial that she had state legislators
saying, did she just say that? If you don`t believe me, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. LISA BROWN (D), MICHIGAN: And, finally, Mr. Speaker, I`m
flattered you all are so interested in my vagina, but no means no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. She made a political argument, and
while she did, she used the correct designation for her own anatomy.
So, why did State Representative Brown dare to mention her lady parts
in the Michigan legislature? On Wednesday, Michigan joined 24 other
states, which according to the Guttmacher Institute have passed nearly 100
provisions restricting access to abortions in the past two years.
Shutting down women`s reproductive rights has been a hallmark of
Republican legislators who swept into office in 2010. This week, it seems
that Michigan lawmakers were also prepared to silence women`s voices.
After speaking about her vagina and a woman`s right to say no, the
Michigan House on Thursday banned Brown from speaking on the House floor.
But Brown is not so easily deterred. Maybe they could keep her from
speaking, but they didn`t say anything about writing.
So, Brown penned an op-ed in "The Detroit News" that reads, "These
lawmakers, predominantly men, have no problem passing laws about my vagina,
but when I dared mention its name, they became outraged.
You know what? I`m outraged too. I`m outraged that this legislative
body wants to dictate not only what women can do, but also what they can
A vagina that dares speak its own voice is a scary thing indeed, as
we have learned since playwright Eve Ensler first produced "The Vagina
Monologues" back in 1996. You see, when vaginas speak, they bring up
topics that make others uncomfortable -- menstruation, rape, genital
mutilation, birth, abortions, and, of course, love and pleasure too.
In hundreds of productions of "The Vagina Monologues" on college
campuses and community theaters, audiences have heard women talk about
vaginas in ways that ultimately lead them to ask for other scary things,
scary things like equality in the political process, radical things like
legislation that protects them against domestic violence, stalking, and
sexual assault, unmentionable things like equal pay and an end to sexual
harassment in the workforce. Shocking things like paid maternity leave,
and affordable child care and health care for kids.
Remember when women were told not to talk about their breasts in
public? Women decided that breast cancer should not have to be a silent
struggle. So, they started talking about their breasts, and that has
helped turned the tide on the disease, proving that there is a lot of power
inherent in women who start talking about things allowed, when others just
wish we would be silent.
So when Michigan Representative Lisa Brown started talking, there
were those who thought she ought to just shut up. Not here on the MHP
show. We are big fans of women who speak their minds about their bodies,
especially when they use anatomically correct terms to do so.
That`s why when we come back, we`ll talk to Michigan rebel rouser
herself Lisa Brown. She`ll be with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Back in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama swept
Michigan with ease. And until recently, the president`s popular auto
bailout looked like it was going to help him keep the state as blue as it`s
been in the last quarter century. Now, it seems to be that trouble is
brewing in the Wolverine State for Obama.
Michigan`s Republican-dominated legislature and the governor mansion
have welcomed outside conservative money which pelted the state with TV ads
supporting Mitt Romney, hoping to create a warm welcome for the Michigan
native when he visits state on Tuesday as part of his bus tour.
So, this week provided a window into the deep partisanship affecting
Michigan. On Wednesday, a deeply divided statehouse of representatives
approved new restrictions on abortion services after a heated floor debate,
a debate whose aftermath focused on one remark in particular. In fact,
just one word: vagina -- said out loud on the statehouse floor by State
Representative Lisa Brown.
She joins us now from Detroit, Michigan.
Here with me at the table is still Michael Tomasky of "The Daily
Beast", Chloe Angyal of Feministing.com, Peter Goodman of "The Huffington
Post", and Democratic strategist Keith Boykin.
I`m so excited that you`re here Congresswoman Brown.
BROWN: Not congresswoman.
HARRIS-PERRY: Representative Brown.
So tell me a little bit about the response that you have gotten from
your constituents, from voters in Michigan, since your remarks on the
BROWN: Honestly, I`ve been so overwhelmed by the response from women
and men, and teenagers, thanking me for being a strong voice, and not just
from my constituents. People all across the country, I`ve heard from
people in London. It`s been absolutely incredible.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, your remarks were prompted by a policy change, and
I want to be really clear about that. Talk to me about what is going on in
the issue of reproductive rights in Michigan right now.
BROWN: Well, there is a push by Right to Life to restrict those
rights and that`s what this bill was about, and it`s part of a package of
bills that were written by Right to Life, and the bill that we voted on,
that I spoke to, does a lot of things, the 45-page long bill. So, Herman
Cain wouldn`t have liked it very much.
BROWN: You know, it`s really -- in fact, one of my Republican
colleagues commented that he hoped this bill would put an end to abortion.
So it`s really kind of a back doorway of trying to really overturn Roe vs.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I want to back up to the panel a little bit here,
because I think there are reasonable people on both sides of the abortion
debate. I don`t think it goes away. I think there are deep ethical,
moral, religious, medical issues on all sides.
But I will say this -- what in the world do reproductive rights have
to do with the primary thing that Tea Party and Republicans coming in in
2010 said that they weren`t there to address, which was deficit spending,
which is the issues of state budgets? And I mean, I ask in all
seriousness? Is there some reason to believe that there is an economic,
big business reason to be literally going into women`s vaginas to make
GOODMAN: It has to do with ginning up turnout in the state of
Michigan among social conservatives, while you`re preventing turnout for
key factions of the Obama coalition by creating these barriers to access at
the polls, which should depress African-American, Latino turnout, while are
you`re boosting predominantly white conservative voters.
TOMASKY: The party was never just about economics. The Tea Party
was always about social issues. It`s a new name for a very old thing. You
know, conservative, right-wing, mostly Republican.
TOMASKY: It`s always been about social issues. There`s always been
an overlap with evangelicals. It`s not a new thing.
ANGYAL: At Feministing, we have been calling this the chubby hubby,
because it takes a whole bunch of really awful antitrust policies and lures
them to the worst ice cream you`ve ever tasted.
HARRIS-PERRY: But we like Ben & Jerry`s.
ANGYAL: This bill has restrictions on clinics for insurance, and
also for practicing which would put a lot of clinics out of business. It
has a ban on telemedicine, which is a huge thing for women who live in
rural or isolated areas where they can`t get to the nearest clinic. So, no
longer can they can get a prescription of Mifepristone RU-486, the abortion
bill, which means -- which --
HARRIS-PERRY: For rural women, this is a really big --
ANGYAL: Right, which turns this into an economic issue we were
talking earlier. It`s not just a single issue, abortion issue. It`s an
economic issue because if you can`t get telemedicine prescription, you have
to take time off work, drive to the nearest clinic, pay for a hotel and it
HARRIS-PERRY: But it also pushes abortion back later, right? If you
can get a prescription over the phone --
HARRIS-PERRY: If you are a person who has ethical angst about
particulate-term abortions, these are exactly the sorts of things that
would increase that abortions occur later and later in pregnancy.
ANGYAL: And lo and behold, a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, unless
it`s to preserve the life of the mother, which by the way, only a couple
states with 20-week abortion bans, like Kansas, Nevada.
HARRIS-PERRY: There`s actually more crazy stuff going on in Michigan
right now. So, we`re going to talk a little bit also about the frontier in
this battle over voter suppression, also happening in Michigan. She`s not
going to go away. She`s going to hang out with us.
The new plan is part of a voter ID requirement and restrictions.
We`re going to talk about restricting women`s reproductive rights,
silencing their voices, keeping them from the polls, all that`s happening
in Michigan right now.
HARRIS-PERRY: Last month, Michigan`s Republican secretary of state
office reported that more than 1,000 dead people and about 100 prisoners
appeared to have cast ballots between October 2008 and June 2011. So, the
state audit show that none of these cases was actually the result of voter
fraud. Rather, it was simply the fault of clerical errors. Nevertheless,
Republican state legislators passed several measures to tighten the state
election laws introduced by the secretary of state herself.
With me is Michigan Democratic State Representative Lisa Brown,
Michael Tomasky of "The Daily Beast", Chloe Angyal of Feministing.com,
Peter Goodman of "The Huffington Post" and BET`s Keith Boykin.
I want to come back to you, Representative Brown because this feels
like the other part of it, right, one the hand, it`s silence you for
speaking on the statehouse floor, but the other piece of it is it feels
like let`s silence voters from being able to speak at the polls in Michigan
BROWN: And just to go back a little bit. It`s beyond that, because
in regards to the bill that I was speaking to, many people came to testify
and that committee hearing and were silenced, were not allowed to use their
voices there. I had 10,000 postcards on the floor for my speech that said
I stand with Planned Parenthood. The Republican floor leader ordered the
sergeants to take those away when I was just bout to speak. So, those
voices were silenced.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want -- I sort of want you to repeat that again. I
want to be sure that folks don`t miss that are you telling me, you had
constituents that were using you as their representative, to be a voice for
them on the floor, and you were not allowed to present their voices?
BROWN: Not just my constituents. I had 10,000 postcards from people
across the state of Michigan that said I stand with Planned Parenthood.
Obviously, they oppose the legislation, there were three banker boxes, and
I was going to use them in my floor speech.
And right when I was about to start, the Republican floor leader Jim
Stamas ordered the sergeants to remove the boxes. So those -- again, I
tried to reference them. Kind of threw me off. And I tried to reference
them in my speech right at the beginning, just so, again, another way of
voices being silenced.
But as far as voter suppression, I think we need to look at who --
who is going to be most affected by these bills, and it`s going to be
minorities, going to be the elderly, low-income citizens and it`s going to
be women, and think about, you know, which way they tend to vote.
HARRIS-PERRY: Keith, this feels like democracy in peril. And I
don`t like to play the fear card, but this idea that a representative can`t
speak, not in a -- in a rude way, but in anatomically way. She can`t
present evidence from voters, and we`ll suppress the vote with new voter ID
BOYKIN: Yes. It`s exactly what it sounds like. In the White House,
you have reporters from "Daily Caller" who are stopping and yelling city
president. There`s a breakdown of civility. And there is a democracy that
is under attack, under siege.
Because the other side has decided that they don`t think Barack Obama
and the Democrats are legitimate as leaders of this country. And they`ll
do everything they can to delegitimize and stop them. They`ll go after
every target group -- women, blacks, Latinos, you know, gays, any group
that`s part of the Democratic Party coalition.
I don`t understand how you build a long-term political structure
doing that, knowing that, for example, Latinos are the fastest growing
segment of the population. And women are the majority of the population.
You can`t continue to run the political party based on alienating a
majority of the population.
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, you know, that said, demographics are never a
destiny. So, I always like to point out, there is that story, the lesson
from South Africa, which is when you see the -- the political encroachment
of the majority, all you have to do is so cripple government, just
basically what we saw in South Africa, selling off those nationalized
industries, they all get privatized. As long as those private industries
maintain all the powers and those industries are in the hands what is now
the new demographic minority, it almost doesn`t matter who controls the arm
So, when I hear this, when I hear the idea of can we hold on long
enough to push folks out. Michigan, Representative Brown, this is the
Midwest, like Americans voting, good progressive politics sort of thing.
And the idea of -- not so much of it being in play, like I can live with if
Michigan is in play, if f Michigan voters are making a choice.
GOODMAN: But is it fair? Is it going to be a real tally?
GOODMAN: Or is it going to be a lip mated result? We`re talking
about a party, ever since Barack Obama has came into office, has monkey
wrenched the country, has gone out of its way to impede any possibility of
a real recovery in a crass, cynical strategy aimed at sticking the
incumbent with the blame.
Now, in every state that`s in play, there`s an equal cynical play.
You drop super PAC money, you torpedo the place with negative advertising.
People so disgusting and confused on the day the election comes, maybe they
don`t bother to vote. You put real barriers to access in place through
these laws, you come up with bogus social issues that get some part of your
base rallied and hopefully have a really messy race and at the end of the
day your guy wins.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I don`t believe in conspiracy theories and it
feels like that`s what`s going on.
ANGYAL: We have to put what`s happening Michigan in a larger context
of a genuine effort to silence women from speaking about reproductive
rights issue. I also want to say that when we talk about women, we aren`t
necessarily talking about people with vaginas, and when we talk about
vaginas, we`re not talking about necessarily women.
But you look at Sandra Fluke, you look at Carol Moseley Braun, there
is a concerted effort by the GOP -- you look at obviously at Lisa Brown
this week, there`s a concerted effort to silence women on this issue that
very deeply concerns them.
And I would also say and obviously that goes in a larger context of
what`s happening with voter registration in Florida and states around the
country. I would also say that along with the GOP, seems to be making a
concerted effort when we look at media statistics about who gets to talk
about this stuff, about Planned Parenthood, about abortion, reproductive
rights, if you look at the figures that the fourth estate came out with
last week or the week before, 75 percent of people who have been quoted
talking about Planned Parenthood and abortion are men.
HARRIS-PERRY: I have to pause, because we`ve got some breaking news.
NBC can now confirm that Rodney King, the motorist whose beating at
the hands of Los Angeles police in 1991 caught on videotape, has died. He
was 47 years old.
The acquittal of the four officers who were involved in the beating
of King sparked the deadly L.A. riots of 1992.
I have now -- excuse me, Reverend Jesse Jackson. I`m sorry, I`m a
little thrown by the news.
Reverend Jesse Jackson on the phone with me. Reverend Jackson, are
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION (via telephone): Yes,
Melissa, good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for being here.
Obviously, the horrendous beating of Rodney King and the -- the sort
of movement that it sparked afterward, how are you feeling at this moment,
having gotten this news?
JACKSON: Well, there is a good measure of sadness, he become such a
fixture in our lives, his beating on the one hand and redemption on the
other, this book recently released, the tragedy of this situation created
unintended consequences. It illuminated the darkness on the tragic racial
profiling, political brutality, and the injustice of our criminal justice
HARRIS-PERRY: And, Reverend Jackson, right here today in New York, we
are -- we`re seeing a silent march, we just spoke with NAACP head Ben
Jealous on exactly this issue of racial profiling and now this very sad
news of Mr. King`s death.
JACKSON: Really from Rodney King to Trayvon Martin to the march
against racial profiling in New York City, an unbroken line, it reminds us
of the flaw in the moral character of our country. It reminds us of the
unfinished business. Tragedy seems to have trailed Rodney King.
We learned so much from this tragedy that`s been to deal with an
unsolved crisis in our society.
HARRIS-PERRY: Reverend Jackson, you were just in Los Angeles fairly
recently, because this was the anniversary of the riots that were sparked
in the aftermath of King`s televised beating and the acquittal of those
When you were there, what is the political and the racial mood of the
city of Los Angeles at this time around these issues?
JACKSON: The mood is increasingly intense. Trayvon Martin has
resurrected the issue, been about the police killings of blacks this year
(INAUDIBLE). So, that reminds us all over again.
Again, it goes a step further, Melissa, in that what`s being raised,
7,000 blacks are being murdered a year, 300,000 since 1976. The issue of
blacks being the weak link in the justice chain, the whole thing points to,
and, of course, the fact that he was beaten nearly to death on camera.
JACKSON: And walked away of his jurors of unjust peers remind us of
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Reverend Jackson, there is a great deal of
And on this Father`s Day we are as a country mourning the loss of
Rodney King. Thank you for being with me.
Up next, I`ll have a conversation about more of our unfinished
HARRIS-PERRY: For today`s footnote, a reminder. Tuesday is June
19th, also known as Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a 140-year-old celebration
of the end of slavery in the United States.
It commemorates the Union soldier, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived
in Galveston, Texas, with news that the civil war was over and with it, the
practice of human bondage. It had taken more than 2 1/2 years since
Lincoln`s Emancipation Proclamation for the news of freedom to reach
enslaved peoples in the Southwest.
And today, many American communities commemorate Juneteenth with
celebration, music, and food and historical remembrance. It was even
recognized by the 112th Congress in a bill co-sponsored by Midwestern
Democrats Danny Davis of Illinois and Michigan`s Carl Levin.
At a Juneteenth celebration, it is common to hear someone read Major
General Granger`s words from 1865. "The people of Texas are informed that
in accordance with the proclamation from the executive of the United
States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of
personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves
and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between
employer and hired labor."
Inspiring, right? The end of slavery.
Modern Juneteenth revelers are much less likely to read the next
sentences Granger spoke in 1865.
"The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes
and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to
collect at military posts and they will not be supported in idleness either
there or elsewhere."
A warning against idleness? To slaves? These were the people whose
unpaid labor fueled the profitability of Southern agriculture for nearly
two centuries, a declaration that no one has any responsibility for their
support and survival to slaves?
These were the people whose bodies were broken and whose families
were ruptured and dispersed whenever the whim or profit margin of Southern
plantation owners warranted it.
As we celebrate the freedom story of Juneteenth this week, let`s not
forget those final lines by Granger, let`s allow Juneteenth to be a
reminder of all we have learned from our past. You see, we know better
than to act as if those who do our hardest, worst paid, most reviled jobs
are dangerous enemies invading our country. They`re the backbone of our
We know better than to act as though profit alone is a sufficient,
moral guide for our collective lives. Government is here today as it was
in 1865, to ensure our work does more than build profits for our employers.
Our work must also build futures for our children.
We know better than to believe that a revolution for democracy and
human equality can be accomplished in a few short months. The struggle for
fair democracy is long and the need for vigilance is constant. We know
better than to believe that our country can survive when race or class or
sexuality are reasons that some are relegated to second class status.
Juneteenth is an American independence day celebration. But it`s a
complicated one. One that reminds us of the sweetness of freedom but also
the role that government plays in securing that freedom, and the necessity
to never stop working to perfect our union.
And that is our show for today. Thank you to Michael Tomasky and
Chloe Angyal, Keith Boykin and Peter Goodman, for sticking around.
Thanks to you at home for watching. I`m going to see you next
Saturday 10:00 a.m. Eastern when Rachel Swarms joins us to talk about her
And coming up "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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