'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, May 12th 2013
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
May 12, 2013
Guests: Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner, Celinda Lake, Stephanie Schriock, Maya
Wiley, David Haley, Sheila Frahm, Thomas Frank, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Pat
Brady, Rachel Stassen-Berger, Kelvin Atkinson
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning from New York. I`m Steve
Kornacki. Pakistanis voted yesterday to return to power former prime
minister Nawaz Sharif who was ousted in a military coup over a decade ago.
And NASA says two astronauts on the International Space Station appeared to
have fixed a potentially dangerous ammonia leak after a hastily ranged
space walk yesterday.
But right now I`m joined by Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner, executive director,
CEO and cofounder of MomsRising, a grassroots group that promotes policies
affecting mothers and families. Celinda Lake, president of the Democratic
polling firm, Lake Research Partners, Stephanie Schriock, president of
EMILYs List, political action committee that works to get Democratic female
candidates in office. And Maya Wiley, founder and president of the Center
for Social Inclusion.
On Friday, President Obama delivered an important White House address in
defense of the signature achievement of his administration, the Affordable
Care Act, likely to be one of the premier issues in the 2014 midterm
campaign. The president made his remarks to a room full of women and the
very first constituency he thanked was moms. He then asked all of the
women there to help him fight Republican attempts to derail the Affordable
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thanks to the
women in this room and people all across the country, we`ve worked really
hard and it`s now been more than three years since Congress passed the
Affordable Care Act and I signed it into law. And those of us who believe
that every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care have
an obligation to now make sure that full implementation moves forward the
way it needs to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The president`s political appeal to mothers came not just two
days before Mother`s Day, but also amid a growing movement to mobilize
mothers on a range of national issues, most prominently, gun control. This
weekend, for example, the group Moms Demand Action is holding rallies in
cities and towns across the country for tighter gun laws. At each event,
participants are reading from a document called "A Mothers` Bill of
Rights", which declares, "the rights of American mothers are under attack
by criminals, the gun lobby and legislators who are unable to stand up for
common sense gun reforms. The right of mothers to protect our children
shall not be infringed." Mothers are also directly challenging elected
officials. Last week, for example, Moms Demand Action held a protest
outside the Columbus, Ohio, office of Republican Senator Rob Portman. He
was one of the senators who voted "no" on expanded background checks last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mom says shame on you. You usually take pause
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And on Friday, mothers in New Hampshire organized by the group
Mayors Against the Illegal Guns delivered letters to the office of
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, another no-vote on the background checks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear senator, no mother should have to bury her
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were really disappointed (inaudible) and we know
it`s not the whole solution, but it`s certainly a big part of it. Thank
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The mothers aren`t mobilizing just on the issues of guns and
health care. This week, mothers marched for immigration reform outside the
offices of Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. On Capitol Hill
Wednesday, a group called Dreamers Moms, using the name given to young
immigrants who have been in the country since before they were 16, asked
Republican Senator Marco Rubio to stand by efforts to reform immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (speaking Spanish): We`re moms of students across the
nation of Dreamers. And we are lobbying for family reunification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, Celinda, I`m seeing all of these -- we talk about gun
control and there are all sorts of different groups with moms in their name
CELINDA LAKE, LAKE RESEARCH PARTNERS: ... pushing for this. We have all
these others issues, immigration, health care, there are groups on the
right that are trying to mobilize moms, there`s an anti-deficit group out
LAKE: That`s right.
KORNACKI: Is this - is this a new trend we`re seeing about the sort of the
targeting and mobilizing of mothers in politics? Is this different from
where we were five, ten, 20 years ago?
LAKE: Well, actually it`s back to -- a return to a trend we had. We used
to have, you remember the Million-Mom March on Washington for guns. We used
to have moms ...
KORNACKI: The Million-Mom March was like ten years ago, right after
LAKE: That`s right. And moms really mobilizing. And then moms have
declined in their participation, actually. And in the 2014 elections, we
look like we`ll be missing 11 million mom voters if we don`t do something
about it. So, this is very exciting to see the authority of moms coming
back to the forefront. Health care`s a great example. 80 percent of the
decision makers in this country on health care are moms. It`s the one
issue where your mom tells you what to do, go to the doctor, get the
insurance, but they haven`t been heard in the political debate. It`s been
a political fight rather than a health care fight. So this is a very
important mobilization. It`s really back to the future.
KORNACKI: It is, though, I feel they have been heard the last few months,
at least on the issue of guns.
KORNACKI: I guess there`s something particularly powerful in the wake of
Newtown, in the wake of the movie theater shooting last summer, when it`s a
mother speaking up and saying, this happened to my child or I watched this
happen to somebody else`s child and I don`t want that that to happen to
anyone else`s. It seems there`s a particularly powerful message there.
KRISTIN ROWE-FINKBEINER, MOMSRISING: Absolutely. We had a tipping point
with the tragedy that happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where
women woke up across America to the fact that our gun violence prevention
laws were horrible. They`re inadequate. And 90 percent of the American
public now know that we need background checks. And so what we`re seeing
is not only women and moms calling for safer gun policies, we`re seeing
elected leaders take huge hits in their polling numbers, when they vote
against moms. We saw that happen in New Hampshire, where there was a 15-
point drop. And what we know is that moms are a powerful political force.
A lot of moms think that they`re having this problem alone, and we know
that when this many people are having the same problem at the same time, we
have a national structural issue. So, sharing the stories of moms,
bringing them forward, is a powerful political impact.
KORNACKI: I guess when I think of the -- let`s take the issue of guns in
particular. Because we`re at this moment now where the background checks
bill failed last month in the Senate, but it doesn`t seem dead yet. It
seems like it could come back and it could be enacted and if it happens, if
that happens then this mobilization of moms is going to be a big part of
that. I guess what I`m wondering is, politically, is it about, you know,
Celinda talks about women, mothers who sort of have sat out over the last
decade coming back into it. Is it about mobilizing them and making them a
part of the process, or is it more the idea of - there`s a particular power
of mothers to shame - to shame public officials, to generate whether it`s
sympathy, you know, whatever, to sort of move wider public opinion, because
they`re mothers. There is (ph) like the status of mothers.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: So, there is. And I think we -
it`s a very powerful symbol, right? I wish my children would see this
WILEY: But it`s a very powerful symbol to have a mother, but I think one
of the things that we should acknowledge is that women, particularly
mothers, it`s so - when to talk about ten years ago, you could go back to
1966, when Edith Dooring led women who were on welfare on a march from
Columbus to - from Cleveland to Columbus starting with 150 and by the time
she got to Cleveland, she had literally 2,000. And they were chanting, "We
feed our children rice and beans, the rich drive around in limousines."
And, you know, this is - so women, particularly mothers, particularly low-
income mothers, have been extremely active in social issues for decades. I
think what we`re seeing is exactly what you`re pointing to, Steve, is we`re
seeing the difference in the way that politics is recognizing how lifting
up mothers as an active force that they`ve been is useful to advancing some
of the policies we`re debating.
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, EMILY`S LIST: And I`m so glad you brought up that
point. You look at the women leaders at the grassroots level that amid so
much change. But let`s also look at who`s there making policy. And
slowly, but surely, we have more women`s voices and more mothers in the
United States Senate, in the House of Representatives. EMILY`s List has
been committed for 28 years to work to elect Democratic women to office.
And we just had a historic election in 2012. We have for the first time in
our nation`s history 20 women in the United States Senate. And you look at
the conversation that is starting to change on critical issues, even in
just five months, five months that they`ve been in place. I mean
particularly, not to -- the gun issue has been so incredibly important, why
it`s not dead is those women and the good men with them aren`t going to let
that background issue be dead. But let`s look about what`s going on in the
Armed Services Committee and the conversation about sexual abuse in the
military. We have five Democratic women on the Armed Services Committee.
You tell me if there`d be hearings if we didn`t have those women there.
There haven`t been hearings for decades on this issue. So, that`s the
other pew (ph), that people who are making policy, there is more and more
women in there. Not enough, but more.
KORNACKI: Right. Right. And is there - on the gun issue, is there
something about being a mother that made a story, I think it was overnight
in Texas, and there was, I think it was like a three-year-old who was shot
by a five-year-old, something like that. And we had a number of stories
like this. In fact, I think we have a graph. This is just since Newtown.
These are shootings that have been documented of kids. This is just since,
you know, last December and there`s like 75, I think, that have been
documented. You see the states are kind of shaded there by - nine in
Florida. We had (inaudible) Texas overnight. I think the child who was
shot overnight is on a ventilator right now, still alive. We had the story
in Kentucky. I think the one that got the most attention two weeks ago in
Kentucky, a grandmother took two kids to the store and in - there`s this
group, this company, it`s the Crickett Gun. Actually, I think we have the
ad. I want to play the ad. This is kind of amazing. It is literally a
rifle marketed towards children. It`s called "My First Gun," and this is -
this ad was on their Web site, I think it`s been scrubbed, but Slate caught
it and I want to play that ad for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Hey, where are you going?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: To shoot my new Crickett rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I wish I had one.
ANNOUNCER: My first rifle. A moment you never forget. The Crickett is
the perfect way to get young or small framed shooters started right, with a
safety-promoting design. It`s soft shooting, affordable, and accurate.
Girls and even mom will love the way they can pick one to their own taste.
Start your own tradition. Crickett. Find yours online or ask for a
Crickett rifle at your local dealer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, a grandmother went out shopping with her grandkids and
bought My First Rifle for a grandson and then he used it and shot his
sibling and there was a death. And I mean I wonder if there`s something
about being a mother that makes that story particularly resonate and make
something like that just a particular call to action.
LAKE: Well, one of the things we`re seeing in the data, is that people
think these are episodic incidents, that there`s nothing we can do about
it. And what`s really interesting about moms, is they say, yes, there`s
something we can do about it. We can have protections, we can have limits,
we can educate people. There`s actually a huge gender gap on the data
where moms are horrified by these kinds of events and dads are saying, yes,
we should go get our son that kind of gun. And mom is saying, no, let`s
keep the ammunition separately, let`s keep these guns safe. But the NRA is
mobilizing moms to say, you know the power of this voice when both sides
are trying to have moms speak to the issue.
WILEY: I want to accept (ph) that 72 percent of women ...
WILEY: ... are in favor of gun control.
And so, one of the things that`s interesting to see, is in the differences,
I think it`s 50 to 54 percent of men depending on which ...
WILEY: ... of the various provisions we`re talking about.
LAKE: That`s right.
WILEY: And I think it`s really important not to separate identity out of
this, right? Because for men, I think one of the reasons we don`t see
those numbers higher is the masculine mystique of being able to defend and
take care of the family. And women, and particularly mothers, organize
protection differently. Right, we organize protection around safety. We
organize protection around making sure that there aren`t dangers out there
for our children, rather than trying to step up to danger in an aggressive
way. And I think that`s part of the symbolism of moms. Is that we protect
differently, we protect the safety.
FINKBEINER: And let`s talk about who are moms. So, 82 percent of American
women in the United States of America have children by the time they`re 44
years old. So, oftentimes when people talk about moms, it sounds like
they`re talking about this sort of small, mysterious group ...
FINKBEINER: ... but actually, it`s the majority of us.
LAKE: Everybody`s got one.
FINKBEINER: It`s all of us. And everybody else there has one. So I hope
everybody`s wishing their mom a happy Mother`s Day today.
LAKE: That`s right.
KORNACKI: Note to self.
FINKBEINER: Exactly. Exactly.
FINKBEINER: But it`s important to know, that right now this is gun safety
issue is a big one. And to your point, moms notice safety issues. The CDC
reports that 30 people are killed by guns each day in our nation. This is
a safety issue. And we see MomsRising up not only around gun issues, but
around other public safety issues. Like the growing momentum for getting
paid sick days. 80 percent of low-wage workers don`t have access to a
single paid sick day. We`re also seeing it around health care.
FINKBEINER: We`re also seeing this at MomsRising around immigration
reform. So we have moms coming together all the time to say, listen, we
have a structural issue. We have a national problem. We have a safety
issue. We need to be able to raise our children, so they can thrive and
importantly, so our national economy can thrive. Women make 85 percent of
purchasing decisions. And so when we`re making less wages, which moms do,
when we`re not able to spend our money, when we can`t raise healthy kids,
then the whole economy suffers. So bringing this to a national economic
discussion, I think, it`s also important.
KORNACKI: There was - I was - I was just looking at the exit poll data
from the 2012 election, and a statistic really jumped out at me about
mothers and voting, and I want to share that statistic after this.
KORNACKI: So when it comes to the voting patterns of mothers, there`s a
really stark divide. I think it was revealed in the 2012 election we have.
This is from the exit polls. If you break it down, married mothers, 44,
Mitt Romney last fall, 51 to 48 percent. Unmarried mothers voted for
Barack Obama by 74 to 24 percent. When I looked at that, that was - I was
surprised, first of all, to see that Romney had won among married mothers.
I guess for some reason I was assuming that that would be more of a
Democratic lean, but those numbers ...
SCHRIOCK: Well, it was such a significant gender gap. And you can see
why. I mean we`ve got a growing number of unmarried mothers who are by
choice and by necessity making that lifestyle choice. But what we`re
seeing in these elections, women decide who is in office and who isn`t.
Because there are more women in the population, there`s more women in the
voting population. And though that the married mother number is a little
Republican there, it`s not by a huge margin. You see that huge growth.
And you go - and then you go into the single, you know, without children,
women, and they far vote for the Democrats.
KORNACKI: Is this something about marriage, though? Does it make women
more Republicans ...
KORNACKI: ... or does the institution of marriage attract women who are
more likely to be ...
LAKE: It attracts -- it`s more religious, particularly more religious
women. And also, you`re more economically secure if you`re married.
LAKE: And so one of the things that`s really driving unmarried women to
vote so Democratic. But let`s be clear, and that data was from the Voter
Participation Center, a great group, the married mom still voted a lot more
Democratic than married dads did ...
LAKE: Only 49 percent of men and women agree when they are married under
the vote (inaudible)
KORNACKI: But you were making a point, too, about the growing sort of
clout, prominence ...
KORNACKI: ... of unmarried mothers, too.
LAKE: The biggest societal change that we`re seeing in this country right
now is in 1980, 18 percent of births were to unmarried moms. Today it`s 41
percent. Half of births to women under 30 are to unmarried moms. This is
a sea change in our society. And if you want to talk about the show we`ll
have two or three years from now, it`ll be how the unmarried moms really
set a policy agenda, because we don`t have a government institution, a
state legislature, or an employer ready to deal with half the moms being
FINKBEINER: And to Celinda`s point about economics driving this, I want to
just step back for a moment and talk about what happens to women`s wages
when they have children. So, one study found that women without children
make 90 cents to a man`s dollar. Moms make 73 cents to a man`s dollar.
Single moms, that`s that 41 percent, are making 60 cents to a man`s dollar.
And women of color are taking increased wage hits on top of that. So, we
have a dire situation here, actually, where a quarter of young families are
living in poverty. And because of that, we see people being the canary in
the coal mine. We see people having babies and it costs an extraordinarily
high amount of money for child care. Child care now costs more than
college in most states in our country. We hear all of this information
about how to save for college, how to get Pell Grants, but we don`t have
how to prepare for a baby in that same way. And so parents are having a
baby off a cliff, off an economic cliff. And they are saying, whoa, this
is a problem, we need to elect people, leaders who will help deal with this
issue so that we can actually raise children and work. Because in order to
work, we need our kids to be in safe, enriching places.
WILEY: There`s also a race and demographic issue here. Because when you
look at the women who voted for Mitt Romney, 56 percent of white women
voted for Mitt Romney. And that, also, geographically happened in the
south and in places in which - where Celinda`s talking about where you`re
going to have ideological and religious differences. So, it`s not just
about gender, and it`s about the complexity of race, class, gender and how
it all mixes. I want to say one anecdote, though, to your question, Steve,
about married women. I know a canvasser who was canvassing in Boston for
Barack Obama in 2008. And he so - a young African-American man. He knocks
on the door of a home, of a white home, the woman answers, the wife
answers, a white woman, and he says, ma`am, may I ask who you`re going to
vote for. And she says, sure, wait a minute, and she turns around and she
yells back, and she says, honey, who are we going to vote for?
WILEY: And his answer was, using the "N" word, we`re going to vote for the
WILEY: But it was fascinating, right, I mean but it also suggests that
there is still some unfortunate relic of ...
SCHRIOCK: It`s getting better ...
WILEY: It`s getting better.
SCHRIOCK: It`s getting better.
WILEY: But I know ...
KORNACKI: If you noticed ...
WILEY: Shocking ...
KORNACKI: ... for all of the sort of backwardness in that, they still
voted for Obama.
WILEY: Exactly. But it was - but it does - it was such a powerful
anecdote, though, about even having a woman turn around to ask her husband
who they were voting for was amazing.
SCHRIOCK: And it happened. We run - we run into it, too. On EMILY`s
List, when we`re going out persuading women voters. And you run into,
again, so much better than it used to be. I wanted to hit on your point
about, well, both points about the policies and then who`s making these
policies. I`m talking about equal pay. Now, there is legislation written
or proposed, I should say, that is trying to get brought up in Congress, is
trying to get brought up in states across the country. Goodness, New
Jersey has passed and Governor Christie has vetoed it three times. I mean
so there is this move that we`re back to who`s in there making our
policies. And though we have made inroads, and though we are at 19 percent
of Congress as women, we are still only 19 percent. And those countries
where we see a much larger percentage of women in elected office, we are
seeing equal pay. We`re seeing child care policies, we`re seeing - we`re
seeing governments that are reflecting the societal needs. And one of the
reasons we pushed so hard to recruit strong, Democratic women to office,
and I`m going to talk to some after this, because there`s some right here
that I think we should talk about running, that we need these women`s
voices there, or we`re missing a huge part of society in the conversation.
KORNACKI: Well, you`re getting at an interesting point there. And we talk
a lot about the challenges that women face in running for office and in,
you know, holding office. I wonder about the particular challenges that
mothers face. Or women who are pregnant face. There`s an interesting
story from the relatively recent past about a woman who faces challenges.
I want to share and talk a little bit about it after this.
KORNACKI: So, I`m from Massachusetts originally and I can remember living
there about ten years ago when Massachusetts had its first female governor,
her name was Jane Swift. She also became the first governor in the country
to give birth while in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KORNACKI: And it ended up being -- obviously, it attracted a lot of
attention, it attracted a lot of unfortunate headlines too ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
KORNACKI: ... because she was fined by the ethics commission because she
used state employees to watch her kids, at one point. She was from the
western part of the state, three hours from Boston, she flew a state police
helicopter home, got reprimanded by the ethics commission for that. So, it
ended up being - there were a lot of negative headlines that came out of
there. I`m wondering, you know, what is the climate like today for a
pregnant woman or for a mother with a newborn or something in politics, to
be running for office and holding office.
SCHRIOCK: Well, and every time something like that happens, I remember
watching that happen in Massachusetts as well and going, you know, this is
- it`s so complicated, the ethics stuff is so complicated. But because
that happened, it`s a little bit easier today. Because Debbie Wasserman
Schultz who is a mother, a congresswoman, the chair of the DNC and the girl
scout troop leader, at least she was for a while. I don`t know how she
pulled all this off, like there are role models who are breaking through
this, and there is examples of how to make it happen. Kirsten Gillibrand,
senator here in New York, who also had a child in Congress, we have others,
not as many as we should, but it`s starting to change. And every time
there`s a little breakthrough, it makes a huge difference. And I just want
to commend Nancy Pelosi, when she took over as Speaker of the House for
that brief moment, we`re hoping she will (ph) be back there again soon,
which she set it up so there was a place that women could go with their
children who were serving in Congress. No one had thought of that before.
So having women at the top leadership positions. I mean Nancy Pelosi had
had her children, her children were grown, they were in college, they were
professionals. But she understood what it was to be a mother and now a
grandmother. And so she wanted to make the work environment, even the
Congress, a place that was helpful to mothers. And that`s why we need,
truthfully, I`m on it again, more women`s voices in the ...
WILEY: 36 percent of women are women of color. And so even when we look
at Congress, you know, we`ve made tremendous strides and it`s extremely
important and we`re still not mirroring the population in terms of women`s
leadership. And one of the dynamics here, first of all, for a woman of
color to be a mom, particularly if she does not have a partner, which,
unfortunately, is true for a lot of women of color, much harder to run for
office for several reasons. One, you`re stigmatized by virtue of the fact
of being a single parent as if something is wrong with you. Secondly, I
mean for many of these women who are in office, who are either pregnant or
running for office pregnant or with young children, I`m guessing they have
both a lot of financial support and very supportive partners. Because it`s
- I have one at home, I`m not running for public office, I do run a not-
for-profit, I would not be able to do it without him or without the
resources that our combined incomes allow us to take care of our children,
while we travel, while we work. And these jobs, my brother actually works
for a congresswoman who`s an incredible leader. She does not go home. I
know what her schedule looks like, because he`s with her. I don`t see him.
He does not have children. It is an extremely complicated thing. And it
only works when you have the kinds of family supports that Kristin was
talking about that we need all families to have.
LAKE: But, you know, we need to work on voters, too. Because, actually,
voters, including moms, are tough on candidates, women candidates with
young children. And everybody likes the male candidate who has young kids.
They say, oh, that`s great, he`s going to be concerned about the future.
The first question, particularly for women governors, as Stephanie knows,
who`s going to take care of the kids? If there`s a national emergency or
emergency in our state, is it going to be the kids or is it going to be my
family that you`re worried about? So we have to work with voters.
KORNACKI: Is there a (inaudible) - and the other thing, I remember, with
Jane Swift was her husband was a stay at home dad ...
LAKE: Right. That`s right.
KORNACKI: ... and I remember there was a lot of kind of snickering and
sneering and the threats - and there were a lot of jokes made about that.
Is that - that also seems to be part of a challenge ...
LAKE: That attitude is shifting, actually. It`s so funny, the attitudes
about men shift faster than the attitudes about women. And actually,
there`s a great book coming out by Lisa Madigan`s husband, who is a
cartoonist and a stay-at-home dad called "Captain America," talking about
as their partnership is, that`s one of the things that`s facilitated their
family, it`s his ability to be a stay-at-home dad and have his career at
FINKBEINER: And Celinda raises an excellent point. I mean one of the
things that we need to see increasingly happen is the question, the test.
When we see women sort of vilified in the media, would they do that to a
FINKBEINER: Would the same questions be asked about a man? Everybody
watching the news with their kids and just on their own needs to be asking
that question. If this was a man, will we be concerned about this? Often
the answer is no. And this is not just important in terms of electing
women. This is also important in terms of the wage gap. So, I`m going to
go back to the wage gap. So what happens is, studies show that women are
taken off the management track for fewer late days when they have kids. So
they`re penalized for having kids. And we also know that there`s a
significant hiring bias. We know that with equal resumes and job
experiences, moms are offered jobs 80 percent less of the times than non-
moms. That`s equal resumes and they are offered $11,000 lower starting
salaries while dads are offered $6,000 more. So we have a significant
question that we as a nation need to address, which is discrimination
against all moms. And asking that question over and over again, if this
was a dad, if this was a woman without children, then would we still be
concerned? Because one of the things we know, we have over a million
members across the country who are working hard, who are playing by the
rules, who often have two jobs. I mean it costs now $200,000 to raise a
kid from birth to age 18, not including college. So moms are working hard
and three quarters are in the labor force. And they are working just as
hard as non-moms, if not harder. And so that assumption of, you know, kind
of being backed out of work, we find, is not true, according to our
KORNACKI: I see. You put that price tag out there from birth to age 18,
KORNACKI: Maybe a decade from now. I want to thank Celinda Lake, of Lake
Research Partners, Stephanie Schriock from EMILY`s List and Maya Wiley from
the Center for Social Inclusion.
Mark Sanford`s victory over Elizabeth Colbert-Busch this week had nothing
to do with race and it had everything to do with race. I`ll explain next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The (inaudible) revolt against President Truman reaches its
climax at Birmingham under the (inaudible) banner. Venerable Alfalfa Bill
Murray comes out of retirement to join in the protest against the president
civil rights program. More than 6,000 flock to the Rump convention to
select the presidential ticket. In the forefront of the move ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was 65 years ago this summer. Southerners bolting the
Democratic Party over its embrace of a civil rights plank and holding their
own convention, a rump convention, to nominate a rival presidential ticket
for the 1948 election. They called themselves the Dixiecrats, also their
official name was the States` Rights Democratic Party, the presidential
candidate, Strom Thurmond, then the 45-year-old governor of South Carolina.
The Dixiecrats wanted to keep Harry Truman from winning a second term to
make him pay for the civil rights plank, to make him pay for integrating
the Armed Forces, but their sabotage didn`t quite work. Thurmond carried
four Southern states that fall, but Truman still won the election. There
was a lot of commentary this week about Mark Sanford`s surprise victory
over Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina`s first congressional
district, that Sanford won Tuesday`s special election by nine points, we`ve
been told, is a credit to his savvy as a campaigner or to Colbert Busch`s
flaws as a candidate. Or to the public`s increased willingness to look
beyond personal scandal. But the reason he won and won so handedly is a
lot simpler than any of that. It`s really nothing more than the story of
how race and politics have played out in the south since that `48 Dixiecrat
walkout. And the story is this, white Southerners, in the deep south
especially, almost always vote Republican. It can be hard to fathom now,
but from the end of reconstruction through World War II, Southerners, white
Southerners voted almost universally for Democrats. In 1936, for example,
FDR racked up more than 98 percent of the vote in South Carolina. 98
percent! In the South of those days, the Republican Party was at best a
rumor. But those white Southern Democrats were coexisting in a party that
also included northern liberals, liberals sure increasingly adamant that
their party take a firm stand for civil rights. Those tensions first came
to a head in 1948, although after that election, a fragile peace was
But by the early `60s, it was utterly untenable. In 1964, LBJ finally
broke the southern filibuster in the Senate and passed the Civil Rights
Act. His opponent in that fall`s election was Barry Goldwater, a
Republican who had joined the Southern filibuster. Nationally, Goldwater
was a disaster. He was blown out from coast to coast. But in the South,
especially the deep South, he was a hit! In South Carolina, he took 59
percent of the vote. In Alabama, 69 percent. In Mississippi, 87 percent.
Yes, 87 percent for Barry Goldwater. This really was when the modern
Southern Republican Party was born. The Voting Rights Act was passed a
year later in 1965 and re-enfranchised Southern blacks began registering
with the party of LBJ and civil rights, not the party of Barry Goldwater
and not the party of the filibuster. While Southerners began leaving the
Democratic Party and claiming the GOP as their new home. The sorting out
process took decades, but today it`s basically complete. And the
statistics are stark. Today, Republican presidential candidates routinely
win three quarters of the white vote in the South. Excuse me, in the deep
South, that`s South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana,
the number is even higher. Mitt Romney racked up 89 percent of the white
vote in Mississippi last year. Much was made of President Obama`s struggle
with white voters last fall, but really his problem was with southern
whites. Outside of that region, he didn`t do that badly. There are a
number of African-American Democrats who represent deep South districts,
that are protected by the Voting Rights Act. These are districts that have
large black populations. But had she beaten Sanford, it would have made
Colbert Busch one of only two white Democrats from the deep South in all
Congress. Really, she didn`t have much of a chance. South Carolina is
part of the deep South. Its first district is 75 percent white. Romney
won it by 18 points last fall. It wasn`t Mark Sanford that Elizabeth
Colbert Busch was fighting, it was six decades of history.
Kansas, on a collision course with the federal government, and know, this
isn`t 1854. That`s next.
KORNACKI: The Republican-controlled state legislature in Missouri passed a
bill Wednesday, declaring all federal gun laws null and void within the
state`s borders. A state declaring itself exempt from federal law is
called state nullification, and supposedly that went out of fashion around
the time of the Civil War. But it`s not just Missouri. This week, state
houses in both Texas and Louisiana each passed similar bills, making it
nearly a dozen states now where at least one chamber has voted to nullify
all federal gun laws. It is Kansas, however, that actually passed its gun
nullification bill into law last month, putting that state on a collision
course with the federal government and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The collision course that is still playing out as we speak. It began even
before the bill was passed, when secretary - when Kansas Secretary of State
Kris Kobach, he is the same Kris Kobach who pushed restrictive immigration
laws across the country a few years ago, described nullification of gun
laws as a way to check the Obama administration`s power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRIS KOBACH, (R ), KANSAS SECY OF STATE: Any attempt by a federal agent to
regulate it s a felony in the state of Kansas. That is a very important
constitutional pushback from our state. We are drawing a perfectly
justified line in the sand, saying, under the U.S. Constitution, you, the
federal government, have no authority to tell us how many rounds there can
be in a magazine, if that magazine never crosses a state line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: When the bill did pass into law, Attorney General Holder wrote
to Governor Sam Brownback, telling him that the measure, quote, "directly
conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional" and that
federal laws will still apply in Kansas. I want to get to Brownback and
Kobach`s replies. But first, I want to bring in Democratic State Senator
from Kansas, David Haley, author of "What`s the Matter with Kansas? How
Conservatives Won the Heart of America" Thomas Frank, he is also a
columnist with "Harper`s Magazine." And Sheila Frahm, the former
Republican senator from Kansas. I guess I`ll start - we can put up - this
was the reply to Eric Holder`s letter from Governor Sam Brownback in the
last week. We can put this up right now. And he says, "The people of
Kansas have clearly expressed their sovereign will. It is my hope that
upon further review, you will see their right to do so." I`m going to go
out on a limb and say the Obama Justice Department is not going the see the
right of Kansas to nullify federal gun laws. But Sheila, I would love you
to address what`s happening in Kansas here. Because your story, for people
who don`t know is when Bob Dole left the Senate in 1996, you were appointed
to replace him and you ran in a Republican primary against Sam Brownback,
and it was sort of the moment that he kind of built his name. And also,
sort of a big moment for his wing of the Republican Party in Kansas. And I
think that`s what people maybe don`t realize. There are two wings of the
Republican Party in Kansas and that`s what this is sort of about, in a way.
FMR. SEN. SHEILA FRAHM (R ) KANSAS: And this is the first session that we
have not had traditional Republicans in the Kansas Senate to help monitor
what`s going on and to help balance what`s going on. So we`re very
conscience of that across the state.
KORNACKI: And what happened to bring that about?
FRAHM: The past elections. Certainly, the governor-led coalition ousted
incredibly good senators.
KORNACKI: In primaries?
FRAHM: In primaries. In Kansas primaries, Republican primaries. And the
dissatisfaction that has created is large and growing.
KORNACKI: So you see, you have a situation where, I think the number, was
it eight moderate Republican senators last year?
FRAHM: Eight or nine.
KORNACKI: We were targeted by their own party`s governor in primaries and
lost. And you now have this conservative majority in Kansas. You have the
conservative governor, a conservative majority in the Senate, conservative
majority in the House, and this is what - Tom, this is what we`re suddenly
seeing. For the first time, conservatives have sort of unfettered power in
THOMAS FRANK, HARPER`S MAGAZINE: Yeah, that`s right. They got hold of
everything. But what`s really fascinating about this, and you know, the
ironies, I mean there`s a lot of hilarious ironies and not so hilarious
ironies, but you were talking about South Carolina earlier. And comparing
Kansas to South Carolina. You know, which is where nullification comes
from. Of course, nullification was, you know, you go back and look at your
American history, was invented by a guy called John C. Calhoun, who was
vice president, you know, and Andrew Jackson was president. That`s what I
But his idea was that the states came first. The states were prior to the
federal government. And therefore, they could just, you know, if they felt
that something was unconstitutional, if they didn`t like something, they
could just say, well, we, you know, we hereby nullify that in our state.
This is a doctrine from the 1820s. And it was bogus then, right? What`s
funny is that this was the preeminent doctrine of the slave-holding South.
OK? This is what -- this was how they rationalized what they were doing.
And Kansas was not just on the other side, militantly on the other side.
This is a state of -- this is the country of John Brown, in the Statehouse
in Topeka, there`s a big mural of John Brown and, you know, the war with
Missouri, the border war with Missouri, which was - pre-figured the civil
war. That`s what Kansas was. It was not the kind of place that would
ever, you know, give any sort of credence to a doctrine like this.
KORNACKI: And we think of Kansas, in modern times, Dwight Eisenhower ...
KORNACKI: Nancy Kassenbaum, a very moderate Republican tradition.
FRANK: They couldn`t get elected, you know, to anything there now. Not
even Bob Dole.
KORNACKI: What so - what happened? What happened?
FRANK: What`s the matter with this place?
It`s almost like I`m selling ...
Come on now, that`s a long story. But you`re seeing a microcosm of it
right here. You know, it`s the culture wars. We can talk about this all
day if you want.
KORNACKI: Let me -- Senator Haley, you were right there, you`ve watched
this unfold. You were - I mean it seems to me in the last year before
these primary challenges, the moderate Republicans in the Kansas Senate had
almost teamed up with the Democrats to stop the conservative agenda.
You`ve seen this play out. Where does this come from, what we`re seeing
right now with the gun nullification that`s at question?
STATE SEN. DAVID HALEY (D), KANSAS: Indeed, that is what has happened. We
are now finding ourselves, I guess I`m almost under assault. There are
constitutional majorities in both the Senate and the House for an extreme,
well, conservative ultra right-wing agenda. And so it`s almost like
Democrats and moderate Republicans are persona non grata. That we don`t
really have a say so. Because we know the veto - that if were to be one,
would he overwritten, and the governor there would back it up. The
concerns that we have, especially when we look at some of the issues, and I
think the conservatives kind of picked an issue on nullification on the gun
rights, where they could get a little traction, because it is a purely
state activity. It`s the made in Kansas, stamped in Kansas, guns that
wouldn`t cross, unlike, I think, the slavery issue when it was raised ...
KORNACKI: They`re trying to say, so they`re basically trying to say in
this - it gets to a broader conservative legal argument, but they`re
basically trying to say that the commerce clause doesn`t apply to federal
gun control rules, if you have in this provision, that the gun was made in
Kansas and will not cross Kansas -- it`s almost like they`re trying to set
up a Supreme Court fight over the commerce clause.
HALEY: Exactly. And I think that we will be seeing probably court action.
I know our attorney general has already said that he`s prepared, he`s asked
for in his budget, those funds to do that, from the general fund. We`re
expecting that. We`re waiting to see what happens in Montana with the
ninth circuit and what they`ll do. That`s going to be a precedent, I
think, because the Kansas bill is practically identical to what did happen
KORNACKI: Yeah, you mentioned Montana, and then that we`ll get into the
story of Montana. A bill signed we a Democratic governor (inaudible) a few
years ago. We`ll get into that after a this.
KORNACKI: I was mentioning Montana before we went to break. So, the story
of Montana was, it was in 2009, and Brian Schweitzer, and the news now he
might be running for Senate next year in Montana, he was the governor at
the time, Democratic governor, and he signed a bill that was passed, you
know, largely by Republicans in Montana, that declared, that basically that
federal government does not have the power to enforce gun control on guns
that were made in Montana and kept in Montana. Sort of that commerce
clause I was just talking about.
So, that`s been sort of percolating in the courts since then. There`s
another bill that reached the current Democratic Governor of Montana`s desk
recently, that would have prevented any municipal or any state workers or
anybody and I guess in the public payroll from enforcing federal gun
control. The governor vetoed that. So that happened more recently. But
these things are popping up all over the country. Like we said in the
(inaudible)- nearly a dozen states, where it`s passed at least one chamber.
And I just want to give people a taste of how extreme this language is.
Let`s look at Alabama. This bill passed the state senate in Alabama. "All
federal acts, laws, orders, rules, regulations regarding firearms are a
violation of the Second Amendment. The legislature shall adopt and enact
any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of any
federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations in violation of the Second
Amendment of the United States Constitution. That is just sweeping,
dramatic language about ...
FRANK: What`s hilarious, is they get to, they`ve just arrogated to
themselves the right to define what`s ...
KORNACKI: There is no Supreme Court.
FINKBEINER: ... violation of the Constitution. I mean it`s a clear
violation of the Constitution, to set state laws like that. And when we
look at what women and moms think about this, they hate it! They hate it!
Two-thirds of women and moms do not like it when we see our government
broken down. When we see sort of people coming out and making smaller
government. They think that government can help. And so what we`re
looking here is a culture war. And it`s going to have repercussions,
political repercussions, which Sheila was pointing out. I think it`s
pennywise and pound foolish for those very conservative folks to be pushing
forward policies like this. Because remember, women are over half of the
electorate, and if they are seen, particularly with the gun issue, as being
in the pocket of the NRA leadership, or I`ll just put it on the table, then
that`s a problem for them in the long-term.
KORNACKI: Well, what Sheila, what is the -- I guess I`m curious, we talked
about it, in Kansas are the moderate Republicans, the conservative
Republicans and the Democrats. Do you think as a result of the
conservatives having power and doing stuff like this, is there going to be
a reshuffling in Kansas where maybe those moderates move over or ..
FRAHM: Things move slowly and there are cycles, but we have a as a result
of what`s going on, many, many, many disenfranchised systems. I`m
surprised, when someone will ask me, what`s going on, they just know
they`re upset and they don`t know why. So there`s a strong need to review
what`s going on and to consider, how do we make a change.
KORNACKI: And is there -- so Governor Brownback will be up for re-election
next year in 2014. And I`ve seen some polling that says, you know, his
approval rating is down. It`s balanced by a lot of the nationals (ph) who
say, well, it`s still a Republican state. Can we be - should we be looking
for a primary challenge to Sam Brownback? Do you think that`s going to
take when the moderates go after him?
FRAHM: There`s a lot of discussion, do we need a third party? That won`t
work. Is there a coalition of the more moderates of our state, the
traditional Republicans and the Democrats who are concerned? Is there a
way for us to raise a voice, to help people understand there are
alternatives? We don`t have to do it this way, we can look at other ways.
But November election, November 2014, that will be after we`ve already
lowered our taxes and increased the local property taxes and taken away
funding for education in our state. People are concerned about that.
KORNACKI: OK. Well, I wanted - it`s also not a coincidence, I think, that
this is happening in Kansas and this is happening in other states during
the Obama years. And I want to get into that when we come back.
KORNACKI: Hello from New York. I`m Steve Kornacki here with Kristin Rowe
Finkbeiner with Moms Rising. David Haley, a Democratic state senator from
Kansas. Thomas Frank from Harper`s magazine, and Sheila Frahm, a former
Republican senator from Kansas.
So we`ve been talking about the gun nullification push at the state level.
It is now a law in Kansas, setting up a showdown with the federal
government. There`s a similar law in Montana. There are probably about a
dozen other states that seem to be on a pathway, potentially, for this. To
me, it doesn`t seem coincidental that this is all happening in the Obama
era. There`s been a proliferation of this. We`re talking about guns right
now. There have been a number of bills introduced in legislatures across
the country to nullify Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.
We`ve seen a lot of legislation like this popping up at the state level,
and really at the red state level, since President Obama became president,
and the attitude that it is sort of, I think, what`s worth showing here is
Kris Kobach, the secretary of state from Kansas, who`s really been pushing
the gun nullification, when Eric Holder wrote to Kansas and said, no, you
can`t do this, his response was, "the Obama administration has repeatedly
violated the United States Constitution for the past four and a half years.
That abuse cannot continue. The state of Kansas is determined to restore
the Constitution and to protect the right of its citizens to keep and bear
arms." There`s so much going on there, but it really seems to come back to
FRANK: Somehow, you can`t win at the Supreme Court. You know, what are
you left with? You`ve got to nullify. But this nullification, if you go
back and read all the original nullification documents from before the
Civil War, it always begins - this is the premise is that the federal
government is tyrannical, OK? That`s the premise, that is the beginning.
It always starts with this. Have you ever been to Kansas, Steve?
KORNACKI: Sure. I`m a big Kansas football fan.
KORNACKI: The Wild Cats.
FRANK: When you`re out there, the idea that we`re living under big
government tyranny is extremely commonplace. This is something you run
into all the time. There`s a billboard out by Manhattan, you know what I`m
talking about? And you see this -- you encounter this all the time. It`s
not just in Kansas. This is all over the country. This is what the Tea
Party movement is all about.
You know, I want to shift gears very slightly. I was reading up on
nullification, I was reading Richard Hofstetter, the historian, wrote a
famous essay about John C. Calhoun. He called him the Marx of the master
class, because he was such a, he thought historically he thought in terms
of class and that kind of thing, but he said at the beginning of the essay
- this is an essay written in 1948 - nullification is something that is
only of interest to antiquarians now. This is something that is so
irrelevant, that is so lost in the dusty path of history, and I was
thinking about John Kenneth Galbraith who was writing about the same time,
said the same thing about austerity. Like, this is something that we don`t
even need to think about anymore. This is a 19th century doctrine that we
in the 20th century have moved beyond. And look where we are today, Steve.
In both of these cases, we`re back there.
KORNACKI: We should say, the Heritage Foundation in Washington, a very
conservative group. They did put out a report last year. They said, it
was called, the headline was "Nullification Unlawful and Unconstitutional."
So certainly there are conservatives out there who are saying no.
FRANK: Do you want to know why?
KORNACKI: It`s amazing, you look at that Kobach reply, though. There`s
just this assumption, he doesn`t substantiate this at all, in his
statement, but there`s this assumption that everything the Obama
administration is doing is just violently unconstitutional, and the only
way to protect the Constitution is basically by overriding it. But there`s
something about the Obama presidency that`s brought this out, though.
HALEY: The creativity, though, in this gun bill, is that it`s a purely
state activity. That it doesn`t cross state lines, unlike interstate
commerce and anything else, going back to some civil rights and even back
to slavery issues. Kansans are individuals and strong and need their
support for the issues to keep the Second Amendment strong. We do come
from there, and you know, I look at some of my constituents who want to
ensure that they have the right to bear arms in the Obama administration
and anybody else from D.C. is not going to tell them what to do. They have
that fierce independence. And some of those are our constituents.
And as Sheila was talking about earlier, we came in last year, we lost a
lot of good middle, traditional Republicans in our primaries that were
highly financed by the Governor Brownbacks and Secretary Kobachs of our
state. And as we approach 2014, next year, in the election, there`s no
guarantee that we will bring back common sense, middle ground, that will
listen to both sides.
KORNACKI: So how is this, in Kansas, how is this particular law being
received? Is it being received as, whoa, this is kind of nutty, or is it,
no, this is just a logical extension of Second Amendment rights that we
HALEY: Well, so far, conceal carry was a big issue. Former Governor
Sebelius, now secretary of health and human and services, vetoed conceal
carry. And after the veto was overridden and it was put in place, the sky
didn`t fall. I noticed in your last hour, you were talking about how many
murders have there been or how many homicides from gun violence? Those are
all illegal guns. So there are a lot of people who want to see in Kansas
legal gun ownership upheld. They`re urban, they are rural all across the
board. And so my concern is that this issue will get traction among a
broad constituency. That this particular bill will, because it could lead
to, of course, unintended consequences as we look at the whole question of
FINKBEINER: The ultimate irony here, though, is that there`s a group of
folks who purportedly are supporting the Constitution by violating the
KORNACKI: This is how we save the Constitution.
FINKBEINER: Further, there`s an increased irony here, which is that this
is a group of people who come out for saving tax dollars, for making our
government work, and this is a giant waste of tax dollars. Right now in
the United States of America, one in four children are experiencing food
scarcity due to economic limitations in their family. We have big problems
to deal with. We have issues that we need our legislative bodies at the
city, county, state and federal level to address that are real, that are
constitutional. And that will actually help our businesses and our
families. And because of this type of legislation, it`s distracting from
the real issues.
We need people to be able to drive on safe roads. We need our government
to make our infrastructure work. And when we`re mucking around with
unconstitutional legislation, it`s holding us all back. And I think that`s
the ultimate irony, because this particular group of political folks, you
know, go out on the soap box and say that they`re for what they`re against,
FRANK: It`s even worse than that. Well, it`s more ironic than that, let
me put it that way. And why do I say that? Listen, if Kansas gets its way,
which they won`t, this is all strictly for show, and the reason we know
it`s for show is if they got their way, every gun manufacturer in America
would be out of business tomorrow. Why do I say that? How could that be?
How could nullification lead to that? Do you remember -- we always think,
the federal government is so tyrannical, you know, big brother doing all
these horrible things. In 2005, the DeLay Congress passed a law to strike
down state, what were they, liability suits, liability suits filed at the
state level against gun manufacturers.
You had them all over America. And in some states, they were actually
going forward. These things would have put gun manufacturers out of
business. The U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush stepped in and
slapped down state level liability lawsuits, took that power away. That`s
a bizarre imposition on state authority. You know, that`s, you know, very
questionable, very iffy constitutional. If you can nullify federal gun
laws, you can nullify that. In fact, you should.
FRANK: Maybe they just did in Kansas -- in which case those lawsuits can
go ahead. In which case, gun manufacturers all over the country will be
out of business in no time at all.
KORNACKI: Well, and as we said, the sort of cute thing, the intentionally
cute thing within this legislation is the idea that it`s all within state
lines, and therefore it is exempt from interstate commerce, and therefore
the federal government can`t regulate it. But it`s been established by the
Supreme Court and in cases before that there is an interest for the federal
government, or there can be an interest for the federal government in
regulating commerce in one state if it has complications that go beyond
that state. I can`t think of in the current culture, anything more than
gun violence that potentially would go --
HALEY: One is the drug law. Looking at the federal drug laws versus some
of the states -- they`re having some of the challenges to the federal laws,
like interstate commerce, if, in fact, marijuana, for example, Colorado,
our adjoining state, does have marijuana, loose marijuana laws, but now in
Kansas, it`s still illegal. Can the federal law - especially if it goes
between one of the states - and that`s been one of the issues as we`ve
studied that, especially if someone has a script from Colorado and then
brings it into Kansas. What federal law would apply at that point? And if
a gun crosses, has made it into Kansas, from Kansas to Missouri, that`s
certainly subject to federal law. And some of the federal laws are not
usurped in the state law. For example, a felon cannot still be in
possession, it`s federal (inaudible) law, cannot be in possession of a gun,
even if it has made in Kansas on it and others. Of course, commission of a
crime and what have you. And some of those are still in play even in this
current law. But the question is the ownership and of course they`re
concerned about the bill that failed in Congress and whether or not that
would be revived in terms of how we would find those who would be able to
have them in the first place.
KORNACKI: Sheila, I just want to ask you, when you look at the evolution
of the party in your state and where it is right now, the Republican Party,
what is your sense of, do you have optimism looking at the future, that the
party will go back to having a vibrant moderate wing, or have we passed the
point of no return?
FRAHM: No, we will. The voices will continue to be heard. You asked how
this nullification is being considered by our people in Kansas. If you`d
say nullification in any meeting in Kansas today, 1 percent of the people
would know what you`re talking about. It`s not that big a deal.
Now, maybe it will become a bigger deal. What`s the concern is it`s going
to cost a lot of money to prosecute and respond to this at the Supreme
Court. That`s causing people trouble. Our legislature hasn`t finished
this term. They haven`t decided what they`ll do with the sales tax, they
haven`t decided how they`ll fund education. They haven`t been able to come
to a conclusion yet. Give them time, but the leadership says they`re going
to be finished very, very soon. I`ll look to the senator to tell us what
the schedule is going to be. But I think our citizens are much more
concerned about the bottom line reality of where we`re going with important
Now, I know in Kansas, we want to be able to have our guns. We want to be
able to have the assurance that they`re available and in a legal way. But
I don`t think that the routine Kansas citizens are paying any attention to
nullification. They`re not talking about it.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it is. It does seem like that there is an aspect here
that feels like there`s sort of a national conservative movement that`s
playing out in states where conservatives are in position to put this stuff
through the legislature. It`s an amazing trend to me, a trend that`s sort
of -- it`s been revived and it is unique to the Obama era. I`ll see if it
extends past the Obama era. That`s a longer term question. I want to
thank Kristen Rowe Finkbeiner with Moms Rising, David Haley, a Democratic
state senator from Kansas, Thomas Frank from "Harper`s" magazine, and
Sheila Frahm, a former Republican senator from Kansas.
Marriage equality supporters are on their way to victory in another state,
and this time it`s thanks to their opponents. That`s next.
KORNACKI: Two days from now, the state of Minnesota is widely expected to
make history and become the 12th state in the union to legalize gay
marriage. The House passed a bill just three days ago and the Senate is
expected to do the same tomorrow. Once that happens, Governor Mark Dayton
has already vowed to sign the bill into law, likely on Tuesday. The
developments in Minnesota are just the latest in a broad and rapid national
transformation on the issue of gay marriage. But there`s an irony to this
particular milestone in Minnesota, one that was set in motion two years
Back in May of 2011, Republicans controlled the state legislature there and
voted to put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot
for the November 2012 elections. But in that year and a half, the
political winds shifted dramatically, and the blowback for Republicans was
severe. So on election night 2012, the anti-gay marriage amendment was
defeated, with only 47 percent of Minnesotans supporting it. And the
Republicans paid an even larger political price. In that same election,
they lost control of both houses of the state legislature to the Democrats.
Almost immediately, marriage equality advocates began lining up support.
In February, State Representative Karen Clark officially introduced
marriage equality bill, pointing directly to the amendment`s defeat as a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. KAREN CLARK (D), MINNESOTA: We had a trial run with the
constitutional amendment, and the people of Minnesota spoke loudly and
clearly, and I think my conversation with legislators indicate that many of
them are paying attention to that vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: On Thursday, Clark and other marriage equality supporters
celebrated in the state capital, when the Minnesota House voted by a margin
of 75 to 59 to legalize gay marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: I`m so grateful. I mean, the people who are out there really made
this possible. All the conversations that people had with their families
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I want to bring in Aisha Moodie-Mills, adviser to the LGBT
policy at the Center for American Progress. Pat Brady, former chairman of
the Illinois Republican Party. Democratic State Senator Kelvin Atkinson of
Nevada, who just came out last month on the floor of the senate during
debate on gay marriage, and Rachel Stassen-Berger, political reporter at
the Star Tribune. And Rachel Stassen-Berger, if anybody recognizes that
last name a little bit, the granddaughter of a Minnesota and national
political luminary, Harold Stassen.
RACHEL STASSEN-BERGER, STAR TRIBUNE: Very proud of that.
KORNACKI: I just wanted to get that in, because I have a fascination with
Harold Stassen. But Rachel, I mean, you`ve been covering this, it is
amazing, it`s a two-year story now that started in May of 2011, with the
Republicans in the state legislature there kind of looking at what the
Republican national playbook was last decade, which was put these anti-gay
marriage things on the ballot, watch the conservatives come out, and win
and get elected with them. They put it on the ballot in November of 2012,
and something very different happened.
STASSEN-BERGER: I would actually say it`s been a 10-year story. We`ve
been seeing constitutional amendment proposals in Minnesota. Michele
Bachmann was very primary in some of those early on. And finally the
Republicans took over the House and the Senate, and they passed this
amendment to the ballot. And after a really long and intense campaign,
spending millions of dollars with the anti side having far more money than
the people who were trying to pass this, Minnesotans said, you know what,
we don`t want it, and it was the first state to say that they did not want
this constitutional amendment.
KORNACKI: And it seems there was collateral damage, too. Seems you had
the legislature that swung Republican, excuse me, in 2010, swung back to
the Democrats in 2012, which gave them the power to put this into law.
STASSEN-BERGER: Absolutely. And one of the things that we saw, you know,
in other states, where these were on the ballot, Republicans came out in
droves. And in Minnesota, this sort of dominated the conversation. Unlike
previous years, we were not a presidential battleground. We had a U.S.
Senate race that really the Republicans weren`t taking hold. And so the
conversation in Minnesota around the election, the money, the energy, was
almost all on the defeating the amendment side, which brought a lot of
other Democrats out.
KORNACKI: There was an ad, I want to play this ad, you talk about that
money, but here was an ad for the amendment. These are supporters of
banning gay marriage in Minnesota. And we talk about how the sort of
political winds were shifting in the 18 months from when they proposed it
to the election. This was one of the messages that they went with. I
think this is an ad where they sort of acknowledged the basic popularity of
standing up for gay rights and still tried to couch it into an anti-gay
marriage message. And this is what they put on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my life, I`ve learned to be open and kind to all
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody knows somebody who`s gay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gay or straight, we`re all entitled to love and
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we can support gays and lesbians without changing
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marriage is still about children having a mom and a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m voting yes on the marriage amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes to protect marriage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On amendment one, we`re all voting yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, the rest of the state didn`t see it that way, but it`s
interesting to me that there`s sort of a bow there to, you know, the
political winds have shifted. That, you know, gay marriage opponents
recognized that, you know, simply running just on sort of demonizing gay
people wasn`t going to work.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, exactly. Because
there`s absolutely nothing that comes out in that commercial, and there`s
no other example that they can use to show how marriage, how everyone being
able to be marriage to get married, somehow denigrates the institution of
marriage. And that`s an argument that they`ve been trying to run on, which
is completely false. My marriage to my wife in no way affects my
neighbor`s marriage to, you know, their partner. And that`s the argument
that they`ve been trying to make, that just doesn`t resonate, because it`s
STATE SEN. KELVIN ATKINSON, D-NEVADA: I think it`s funny, because one of
the lines which I used on the floor, which was not preempted, was that if
this interferes with your marriage, that your marriage was in trouble in
the first place. And what I find, and I look at -- I`ve seen the video
that you`ve shown before, and what I always find offensive is that what the
one lady said about children and marriage, and being between a dad and a
mom. And I just find that offensive. You know, I have a 17-year-old
daughter whose mom is very involved and has a father, myself, who is very
involved. And so she still has her mom and her dad. So that`s a blown out
argument that`s kind of old.
PAT BRADY, FORMER ILLINOIS GOP CHAIRMAN: Plus, the argument they made that
marriage is only to have kids, versus it`s a commitment to adults,
consenting adults and to a loving relationship and to commit to one
another. So there are a lot of arguments about, well, they`re not going to
have kids, they can`t get married. That makes no sense at all.
STASSEN-BERGER: But I think to some extent, the people who are against the
marriage amendment, say, look, in Minnesota at least, we`re not ready for
this. We just had this very divisive fight over this amendment and we`re
not ready to legalize. Now, obviously the Democrats in the legislature and
a few Republicans in Minnesota say, yes, now is time, but there`s still a
lot of discomfort. You all have experienced that personally. So what the
people who don`t want this to pass say is it`s just not the time yet.
KORNACKI: I wonder, and maybe it`s in Minnesota, maybe in Illinois, maybe
in Nevada, but I wonder, have the experiences of states that have had gay
marriage -- it`s been more than ten years, or it`s been ten years, nine,
whatever, it`s close to ten years in Massachusetts -- I can`t count, I
don`t know. But it`s been basically a decade in Massachusetts, and I think
everybody will agree, Massachusetts is still Massachusetts.
MOODIE-MILLS: The sky didn`t fall. And I think that`s the key lesson
here. The sky didn`t fall. And every single state, where we`ve had
marriage, the argument was, oh, my God, all marriages are going to fall
apart, kids are going to be in these, like, unsafe environments. They`re
going to hear these messages that we don`t want them to hear. And the
reality is, is that none of it has happened. The sky hasn`t fallen. And
in fact, marriage as an institution has actually safeguarded more families.
It`s actually created stronger family units economically, emotionally, and
otherwise. And so that argument--
BRADY: Plus, the business community wants it.
BRADY: -- and where you don`t have it serves a detriment to people
bringing business to Illinois. That`s an argument for it that has nothing
to do with some of the other more emotional arguments.
KORNACKI: Well, Pat, you mentioned the business community, and the
business community, you know, a lot of - frequently align with the
Republican Party, and that`s sort of a part of this too. Rachel mentions
in Minnesota, not many Republicans were on board. We`re seeing this in
other states. And Pat, you have a very interesting and personal experience
with this in Illinois, very recently. And I want to get into that after
KORNACKI: So, Pat, you announced this week that you were stepping down as
the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, and it`s a fascinating
story, just reading this. You support marriage equality. You`re not the
only Republican in Illinois with that position.
BRADY: Republican State (sic) Senator Kirk came out for it as well.
KORNACKI: But this was sort of the -- this caused a lot of friction within
the party, and it sort of led to this sort of unfortunate moment for you.
BRADY: Yes. You know, I think I did it because I truly believe that this
is the conservative position, that we shouldn`t be in the business of
marriage, and if two adults want to enter a loving, committed relationship,
they should be allowed to do that. To me, that`s entirely consistent with
conservative Republican principles. A very small group of the central
committee, which regulates the state party, a couple of people thought that
wasn`t such a good idea and basically forced me out.
But it`s up in Illinois this week, I think it`s going to pass, and I think
most Republicans and a lot of people didn`t want to get on the record, like
Senator Kirk did, to support it and recognize, you know, the true
conservative position is support of marriage equality.
KORNACKI: That`s right. In Illinois, it`s passed -- it`s passed the state
house, but not the state senate. Is that right?
BRADY: It`s up this week.
KORNACKI: I keep getting these things confused. And the governor said
he`ll sign it. So Illinois, we could be adding to that list of states.
BRADY: Maybe this week. It`s on the speaker`s desk. We hope they have
the votes and we hope it will be this week.
KORNACKI: But the question I have about, as this question sort of goes
nationally, you know, there are a lot of states that aren`t pure blue
states, where if it`s going to become a law, it has to have Republican
support. And if we look at Minnesota, for instance, this week, we have --
this is the breakdown by party of the vote in Minnesota on gay marriage,
and you can see, this was a one-party vote. Democrats were basically all
for it, and Republicans were basically all against it. Only a handful of
crossover votes. It sounds like in the senate, there might be a little
more Republican support, but again, this is basically, Rachel, a Democratic
STASSEN-BERGER: That`s right. But that handful of Republican votes is
very hard fought and hard won. As you know, for some Republicans saying
any support for same-sex marriage is political suicide. In Minnesota, we
see that there were four votes for it by thoughtful Republicans. There
were two Democratic votes against it in the House. We actually have a
Republican co-author in the Minnesota Senate from a conservative district,
who says, in part, this is sort of a libertarian belief. You know, let`s
let this happen, it`s about freedom. So I think that that debate is still
ongoing. And we saw even in Minnesota, something that would have been
unimaginable in some of the time that I was covering the state, is that
Republicans came out with a civil unions bill earlier this year. Now, that
was rejected --
KORNACKI: This was basically to forestall -- we`ll do civil unions instead
of gay marriage.
STASSEN-BERGER: But a couple of years ago, that would have been
unimaginable for -- and in fact, Democrats were offering civil unions as
sort of an alternative to a constitutional amendment at one point. So we
see how much things have changed, that Republicans were the folks behind
civil unions this time.
MOODIE-MILLS: But as partisan as it is, it`s also generational. So even
looking at the Republican Party, you have got like 64 percent of
millennials who are Republicans agree with marriage equality and believe
that everybody should have the freedom to marry in our country. And so I
think that what we`re also going to see is the tipping point over time, is
that as the generation that in the leadership right now in the Republican
Party starts to retire, we`re going to see the younger generation kind of
bubble up and take more of a similar stance saying, well, let`s get back to
our core values and, you know, thinking about the business argument, et
cetera, and that we`re going to see more of kind of an attitude of social
change for LBGT people in general within the party.
BRADY: The donor community, the young Republicans, and Senator Kirk, those
are the groups within the leadership that got behind me on this. And
that`s the future.
KORNACKI: The example that sort of sticks out in my mind, when I think of
Republicans who are being, you know, maybe having an instinct to vote for
this, but then, they`re like, well, I want to keep my seat, I don`t want to
lose an election, what they`re worried about is the primary election. It`s
not really the general election, especially in these more like blue states
like Illinois. I think the example of what happened here in New York
state, which passed gay marriage, I think it was two years ago now, three
years ago. And there were four Republicans in the state senate that went
along. And the business community rallied behind them. They said, we want
this too. We`re going to fund you, we`re going to protect you in these
primary challenges, and you know what? Two of them lost their primaries.
So there was a consequence for the very few Republicans in New York state
who came out and said, I`m for this. They did pay a price for it.
BRADY: Those were weak candidates, though. That`s a good example, but
it`s not all -- there`s a lot more to that than just the gay marriage vote.
So I haven`t seen it yet where anybody`s really paying a price. A lot of
these groups are paper tigers. They are threatening Republicans in
Illinois, but I`d like to see what actually happens.
KORNACKI: So what`s the culture like -- so we think of Illinois, you know,
Mark Kirk, a moderate Republican senator, Big Jim Thompson, moderate
Republican - Jim Edgar -- you guys have a moderate Republican tradition.
But is there a growing -- the movement that pushed you out, are
conservatives a lot more powerful than they were a decade ago?
BRADY: Let`s go back even further. We`re the land of Lincoln. I mean, we
are an abolitionist party. We ran on the principles, equality of
application of law for everybody. So I think what Mark Kirk has done is
taken the party back to its roots. And we believe in equality under the
law. And if we stay with that, we do pretty well.
KORNACKI: What about like Minnesota, Rachel? Because again, this is one
where people look at a blue state. I think the last time they voted for a
Republican in the presidential election was Nixon. You had Mondale in `84,
so that made it a little easier that year. But people look at it as a blue
state from the outside, and yet I always remind people, this is a state
that also produced Michele Bachmann, Rod Grahams (ph). There is a very
conservative Christian element to the Republican Party in Minnesota that
maybe keeps Republicans from voting with the overall state preference.
STASSEN-BERGER: I think that`s true, and I think that it`s way too
simplistic to look at us as just a blue state. Governor Mark Dayton, the
current Democratic governor, is the first in basically a generation from
the Democratic Party. So it`s not pure blue. The other thing to look at,
particularly as you`re looking at Republicans, if you think about the
members of the House who voted for same-sex marriage, two of those
Republicans come from kind of swing districts. Their districts on the
constitutional amendment said no, by fairly wide margins. So it`s not just
pure Republican, Republican or conservatives. And again, as you mentioned,
it`s a question of the endorsements, it`s a question of the primary, the
general electorate may be quite different.
KORNACKI: We have a map I want to show. It`s going to take a minute to
explain, but I think it shows something interesting about the future of gay
marriage in this country. We`ll do that when we come back.
KORNACKI: So Minnesota is about to be the 12th state with gay marriage.
Illinois, we said, seems to be on track, you know, potentially to become
the 13th. But I think I want to just look at the map of the whole country
here, because I think it reveals something interesting. Now, this takes a
minute of explanation. There are like 23 different things going on here.
But the blue states right there, these are states where gay marriage is
legal or with the star in Minnesota, about to be legal. The green, that`s
Illinois and New Jersey, these are states with civil union laws on the
book. And again, Illinois could soon be switching to blue. The states
that are striped, that have that gold stripe on them, they have
constitutional amendments that have outlawed gay marriage, but they also
have civil unions. And so what you`re seeing in these states is you have a
plausible pathway in the foreseeable future to getting to gay marriage in
those states. The red states where it`s either just banned by
constitutional amendment or just banned by statute. And New Mexico is
gray, because nothing at all has happened there.
So but when you put that all together, I think if you put those striped
states and you turn them blue, if you turn those green states and you turn
them blue, you basically have the red state/blue state map that we see
every presidential election. You have the red state/blue state divide.
And so I wonder if we talk about all the progress in gay marriage, but are
we going to hit sort of a stalling point, where this becomes -- if you`re
in a blue state, if you`re in Massachusetts, if you`re in Oregon, whatever,
you have gay marriage. And if you are in Mississippi and if you are in
Arkansas, tough luck. Is that what we`re on course for at least for the
next - for the foreseeable future?
ATKINSON: I think that that map, just like as you said, the presidential
map, I think that it will evolve as well. And I think as states around
those states become a lot more progressive on this issue, and they have
been. As you mentioned, even Nevada, where we approved domestic partners a
session ago. And now just this year is looking at -- well, we voted in the
Senate with the current constitutional amendment to legalize or at least
send it to the voters, so that they can weigh in on the issue of gay
marriage in our state. And I think you`re going to see that, and I think
you`ll see a map that is evolving, as some others said, about the issues
and all of the issues become a lot more moderate issues, and people align
people to do and make the decisions they want.
BRADY: If it doesn`t evolve nationally, electorally for the Republicans,
we`re going to have a problem. Because the growing group is the young
people. And if we`re going to keep it like that, then we`re going to have
a tough, tough time winning nationally.
MOODIE-MILLS: And we have to underscore the rapid momentum that we`re
seeing, though. If Minnesota passes the freedom to marry tomorrow, that is
going to be the third state within as many weeks. We`re seeing really
rapid progress --
BRADY: Six in the last year.
MOODIE-MILLS: Six in the last year. And in June, we`re going to get some
kind of ruling on California. So California, those stripes might go away
and it might turn back to being blue. So it`s really interesting, the
progress that we`re making, but how quickly things are shifting, and how
quickly things are shifting for conservatives too. I mean, for the Supreme
Court, the Supreme Court cases, you had like over 130 conservatives sign on
to amicus briefs, saying like, we support the freedom to marry, you guys
should like do the right thing, and you should also strike down the Defense
of Marriage Act. So we`re seeing a lot of momentum. And I think that`s a
really fantastic thing for us.
BRADY: And very liberal Dick Cheney was on there --
MOODIE-MILLS: Yeah, exactly.
KORNACKI: I`ve heard some Republicans -- I mean, there`s the Dick Cheney
example, and he has got the family reason, I guess, but I have seen a lot
of the Republicans who have spoken up for this, you know, Mark Kirk comes
from a blue state. There was just a Republican Senate primary in
Massachusetts where gay marriage has been on the books for a decade now.
And even sort of the most conservative candidate there said, yeah, I want
to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. So I see it happening in the blue
states, but when are we going to have the -- it seems like a an essential
ingredient. The evangelical Christian from Mississippi or from Kansas or
from Alabama saying, we need this too. That`s the thing I guess I have a
harder time seeing right now.
ATKINSON: Well, we can`t answer for those groups obviously sitting here,
and so they`ll have to come on your show and explain when their evolution
is going to take place. But I think what we`re saying is we`re seeing
conservatives and we`re seeing conservatives even in our own state. I had
a conservative woman in my - in the House come to me right after our vote
in the Senate and said, I`m proud of you, you know, I wanted you to know
that I`m going to support the measure when it comes over to the House. And
the assembly heard the measure this past week, and she didn`t tell anybody
why she was voting for it initially, but when she went and testified in the
committee and said she was voting for it, she came out and said that her
mom is gay, and her mom has a partner, and she`s in favor of it because her
mom should be able to marry the woman that she`s been in love with the last
I don`t remember how many years. But that is why she was supportive, and
that shocked the House again, and I guess Nevada can`t get anymore shocking
MOODIE-MILLS: You actually hit the nail on the head in a previous segment,
when you talked about what was happening in South Carolina, and you drew
kind of the race analogy in saying, like, you know what, these conservative
states have a real big issue that certainly is not about gay rights. It`s
not about like marriage equality. It way precedes that. I mean they still
have issues around race, they have issues around the religious right kind
of co-opting their values, that is a whole other political conundrum that
we need to be vigilant about dealing with. And the gay community is really
in lockstep and in partnership with all of our other progressive allies who
are working in those states, to make sure that we are trying to move the
ball forward in terms of the political process in general, as opposed to,
you know, regressing like they`re doing around voting rights and other
things. So, we`re working and we`re paying attention and we`re supporting
all of those fights, because all of them, you know, ultimately matter to us
BRADY: But the thing is ...
KORNACKI: Pat, I want to hear it, after this.
KORNACKI: Pat, I rudely cut you off. You were going to say?
BRADY: Not a all. When she was laying out the bigger, broader
discrimination piece in the work that she does, but the brilliance here of
the pro-marriage equality people is they didn`t put it as a discrimination
issue, they put it as a commitment and a love issue and an economic issue.
And that`s where you get people like me more than just calling it
discrimination, which it likely is the last form of condoned
discrimination. But the point is they made the argument wisely on other
grounds and that`s why I think you`re seeing so much momentum so quickly.
ATKINSON: But I also think you need to look at when we talk about the
marriage and marriage being the bond of family and all these sorts of
things, I mean you look at a state like mine, we were talking about
business earlier, and that business, as far as marriage, because we marry
the most folks of anybody, but it`s heterosexual couples. But on the other
end of the spectrum, we`re also very high in divorce. And that`s not gay
folks that are getting divorced. And so, you really have to look at it.
And then from the business sense, it makes sense in our state. And so you
see business communities running polls now that they weren`t running
before. Trying to see where they weigh in on the issue, and all of those
polls are suggesting that our state and other states are ready to embrace
this type of change.
KORNACKI: I can`t tell you how many people in Massachusetts who support
gay marriage who like to point out the low divorce rate in Massachusetts
KORNACKI: ... has not ruined family life there. But it is - it`s
striking, we set this up at the beginning of that discussion, just that
Minnesota, to bring it back to Minnesota. You know, it felt to me like
what the Republicans in Minnesota were trying to do was just sort of the
2012 version of what Karl Rove and the Republicans did, you know, in 2004.
And just the idea of we`re going to put this on the ballot and it`s going
to just - this is going to be the magic solution. And, you know, I wonder,
have we at least gotten to the point where we`ve seen the last of those
sort of proactive tactics by gay marriage opponents where they`re at least
recognizing - they are sort of permanently on the defensive now. They may
still have a lot of, you know, sort of redoubts on the map, but they might
- they`re permanently on the defensive on this issue.
STASSEN-BERGER: Well, and if you looked at your map, I mean and you looked
at all that red, they already answered that question in so many states. In
the majority of states, in fact, there are constitutional amendments that
would ban same-sex marriage. So for some of these states, the campaign is
over, but it`s over not on the same-sex marriage.
KORNACKI: But is a day - like in Minnesota, so if Dayton -- Governor
Dayton signs this thing this week, for gay marriage opponents, do you think
- does this end? Or is this going to be like (inaudible) with health care,
where three years from now they`re still trying to repeal Obama care ...
KORNACKI: 39 votes. Do you think this ends it?
STASSEN-BERGER: Look, I don`t think it ends the conversation. I`m not
sure that there are any Republicans in a position to change it anytime
soon. You know, the Minnesota House is up next year, but the Minnesota
Senate is not. So it would take them another presidential year to try
again. And frankly, what we`ve seen in the polls on all of this, who knows
where the polling is going to be. Who knows where people are going to be
in 2014, in 2016, and in 2020?
ATKINSON: And we don`t know that, but we do know that the polling is much
different than it was in 2002, 2003. Again, look at the state like mine,
and what`s funny, is, you know, this - in our state is, it`s called, we
were defining the definition of marriage and so, and that definition meant
marriage between a man and a woman. But if you look at those and look at
even where our state has evolved from since then. I mean in 2002, let`s
just be honest, it was a political issue. As you said, it was for Karl
Rove and the rest of them to get all of these Republicans out of their
houses and to the polls and it worked.
MILLS: And look at just the last year. I mean this week is the one-year
anniversary of President Obama coming out in support of marriage equality,
right? When before that, we had a little bit of a majority. Like fairly a
majority of people in the country who supported marriage equality. Now we
have a significant majority, and that`s just in the last year. And we`ve
won four states - well, we`ve won four states plus two, plus hopefully
another one. But we`re seeing so much change happen in a short amount of
time in terms of the poll numbers that I don`t think that those type of
attacks will even be sustainable. I don`t think that it will be in
appetite for them.
BRADY: It will be a really bad development for conservatives and
Republicans, if someone`s leading the charge on this. And not to focus on
the other issues, which people (inaudible) - fiscal economic and where I`m
from, you know, public safety issues. Those are our bread and butter
issues. If somebody went into that kind of fight, just on that issue, I
think it would be bad for the party, bad for the (inaudible)
KORNACKI: What I wonder, so many times you look at Republican office
holders. If a lot of them, there are plenty of true believer hard-core
conservative Republicans. I wonder if a lot of Republican office holders
right now kind of secretly wish somebody could just take this issue off the
KORNACKI: It wouldn`t be somebody they had to worry about in the
primaries. And they, you know, they don`t want to deal with that, but
there is that pressure of - you say, especially in those red states that
deeply, deeply conservative base. And until that, you know, comes around
on gay marriage, you know that the red state/blue state map might be
something that`s with us. At least for the next few years. Anyway, what
should we know for the "Newsweek" ahead? My answers, after this.
KORNACKI: So what should you know for the week coming up? You should know
that the 19-year-old seamstress who spent more than two weeks buried alive
in the rubble of that horrific factory collapse in Bangladesh is recovering
in a hospital and is in generally good condition, according to her doctors.
While Reshma Begum survived, the death toll from what is now the worst
garment industry disaster in history passed 1100 yesterday. And
authorities say they have nearly reached the bottom of the wreckage. One
official said, quote, "We will not leave the operation until the last dead
body and living person is found." You should also know that the
Bangladeshi government says it has closed 18 garment factories in recent
days for failing to meet work and safety standards.
This week, the IRS inspector general`s office is expected to release its
report on why IRS workers in Cincinnati singed out groups with the words
Tea Party or Patriot in their title for a special scrutiny in (inaudible)
tax exempt status. Fox News and the right-wing media are already jumping
on the IRS for this, and you should know that they are totally right in
doing so. The scandal is real, but as Ezra Klein points out, you should
also know that the far more damaging scandal is how little the IRS enforces
the laws meant to keep tax exempt groups on both sides of the aisle out of
And finally you should know the concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere has reached its highest level in human history, 400 parts per
million. The latest data was reported on Friday. While this is a largely
symbolic milestone, it is truly unprecedented. You should know the
skyrocketing levels of carbon dioxide are man-made, and we`re already
feeling their impacts: more storms, more wildfires, more droughts and
rising sea levels that threaten our coastal communities. You should know
that despite all of this on Thursday, Republican Senators boycotted a
confirmation hearing for the president`s nominee to head the EPA Gina
McCarthy by not showing up to vote. Republicans said McCarthy hadn`t been
transparent enough, this coming from a group that chose to be invisible.
There is another meeting on McCarthy`s nomination expected this week, and
you should know the fight against climate change is not over, no matter how
many Republicans stand in the way. I want to find out what my guests think
we should know for the week ahead. Let`s start with Aisha.
MOODIE-MILLS: Well, you should know that next week it`s likely that the
Senate is going to vote on amendments to the immigration bill that would
equalize the unification process for same-sex couples or binational. A lot
of people think that adding that LGBT, if you will, amendment would derail
the bill, but you should know, that, one, it shouldn`t. Because beyond
those binational couples, there are over 260,000 LGBT undocumented
immigrants who are living here, in the United States, that also need that
immigration reform bill. And so, this isn`t LGBT issue beyond that
amendment, and we need to pass it.
BRADY: You should already know it`s Mother`s Day.
BRADY: To my mother Mary Jane and my lovely wife Julie, who is at home,
but in the great state of Illinois, the marriage equality amendment is
sitting on the speaker of the House`s desk, it could be called for a vote
this week. Hopefully, we`ll get enough people including some Republicans
behind it. So Illinois returns to its greatness in representing the land
of Lincoln as it should.
KORNACKI: All right, Kelvin.
ATKINSON: Thank you. And you should know my Republican friend to my right
just stole my alarm with the Mother`s Day.
ATKINSON: But ...
KORNACKI: Mine too.
ATKINSON: But you should know, I mean and even in this - in the state of
Nevada that the House has - it will be taking up the issue this week and so
we`ll really get an opportunity to see where our state is when we have -
which I still consider a historic vote coming out of that house and then
we`ll be more informed, but with the momentum that Aisha was talking about
KORNACKI: All right.
STASSEN-BERGER: And you should know since we`ve already discussed that on
Monday the Minnesota Senate will be taking up the same-sex marriage bill
and what we saw in the Minnesota House was a very civil debate. If you
want to see good people calmly explaining their differences, some tears,
some hugs, you might tune into that. And then, if that`s not enough, you
could turn over to the Minnesota House, where they`ll actually likely be
debating a measure that would say that you can`t prohibit gay people from
serving on the juries, so you`ll see that measure coming forward as well.
And then we`ll have taxes and spending and get back to our regular ...
KORNACKI: I didn`t know you could prohibit (inaudible) in juries.
That`s a whole other segment. All right. My thanks to Aisha Moodie-Mills
from the Center for American Progress, Pat Brady, former chairman of the
Illinois Republican Party, Democratic State Senator Kelvin Atkinson of
Nevada and Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Minneapolis "Star Tribune." Thanks
for getting up. And thank you for joining us. We`ll be back next weekend.
Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern Time.
Coming up next is Melissa Harris Perry. On today`s "MHP", first for
Melissa devoting the entire program today to one simple powerful
proposition: the poverty at America can be solved. Join Melissa as she
meets the innovative thinkers and doers America needs to forge a future
That` s Melissa Harris-Perry. She`s coming up next, and we`ll see you next
week here on "UP."
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