UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 10, 2013
Guest: Eleanor Clift, Shannon Moore, Mary Bono, Ari Berman, Jonathan Capehart, Abby Rapopport, Amanda Terkel, Robert Bucholz, Gregory Angelo, Charles Stile
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: And at the start of this Sunday morning in mid-November, we`re thinking a lot about rights. The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would make it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Whether it will actually become law is an open question, but the roots of this bill go back a lot farther than you might think. More on that in just a moment. Democracy means every political office is open to anyone. And in Philadelphia last week, a member of the Whig Party was not only on the ballot, he won. And he`ll be here on this show this morning, a real live, elected Whig. We`re very excited about that.
We`ve been thinking a lot lately about the right to vote and laws across the country that are making voting a lot harder. You may have heard that in Texas, in addition to Wendy Davis, a man named Jim Wright was told he didn`t have the correct paperwork to vote last week. He used to be the speaker of the House. We`ll be talking about that. And also, secession. A new kind of secession, not from the United States, but from individual states. People who want to be Americans, but think they`re trapped in the wrong state. There are now some secession movements like that in the U.S. right now. Do any of them stand a chance and what do they say about the politics of America right now?
But first, a poll by "Huffington Post" and YouGov a few weeks ago asked Americans a simple question. Is there a federal law that bars employers from firing people because they`re gay? Given that more and more states are now legalizing gay marriage, and more and more Americans are realizing that they are friends and coworkers and family members of people who are gay. Well, it is not surprising that nearly 69 - that exactly - 69 percent of the people in that poll said yes. There is surely a federal law against firing people for being gay. And only 13 percent said there wasn`t. But the 13 percent are actually right. For all of the amazing social progress of the last few decades, there remains no federal law protecting gay employees from discrimination. It is a case of history being put on hold.
Story picks up in the early 1970s, when a wave of campaigns to extend rights and protections to a number of minority groups began reaching critical mass. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were less than a decade old, Richard Nixon was creating the first federal affirmative action program, the equal rights amendment cleared Congress in 1972. And a host of cities and towns across the country began an acting ordinances to protect gay people. In that environment, the next step was inevitable. Two members of Congress, two Democratic members of Congress, Ed Koch and Bella Abzug, both from New York City, both of them rivals in an epic mayor for race - race for mayor that would play out a few years later, they joined together to introduce what was called the Equality Act of 1974. For the first time ever there was now legislation in Congress to ban employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. And it went farther than that, extending protections to women and unmarried people as well in housing, public accommodations and public facilities like libraries. It went nowhere in Congress that year, but given the tide of social change, seemed like the sort of bill that would slowly but surely work its way to passage in the years ahead.
In fact, it wasn`t long before there was a companion bill in the Senate. It was introduced by Paul Tsongas, he was a Democrat for Massachusetts. But what no one saw coming then was the backlash. Brand-new, well organized backlash from culturally conservative forces. It was the pace of social and cultural change in the 1970s that gave rise to what we now call the religious right. Fundamentalists and evangelical conservatives, many of whom had never previously been involved in politics. They found their leader first in Anita Bryant, a one-time beauty queen who had become the spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission and a dabbler in conservative politics. When Dade County and Florida passed an anti-discrimination ordinance, Bryant launched a fight to repeal it, "Save Our Children," that was the name of the group she started. And she and her group won at the polls in a landslide. And so she went national. Other cities, it enacted gay rights ordinances and with Bryant in a growing army of religious conservatives now engaged, those ordinances began falling one by one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": Wichita, Kansas, has or had a law upholding the rights of homosexuals in jobs, housing and so on. Yesterday, there was a vote on repealing the law or keeping it on the books. The vote was five to one for repeal.
REV. RON ADRIAN: How can we possibly have a law giving special rights to sex deviants without infringing on the rights of our children? That`s what this election has been all about.
ANNOUNCER: 38 other cities still have gay rights laws and now there is concern among those in favor of equal rights for homosexuals that would happen in Wichita could happen in those cities too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The president as this was playing out was Jimmy Carter, a self-described born again Christian, a Southerner, a man who`d attracted plenty of religious conservative votes on his way to the White House. But as Bryant`s movement grew and as conservative evangelicals like Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberson began echoing and amplifying her agenda, Carter became to them a turncoat. In 1977, his administration hosted the first ever White House meeting with LGBT leaders.
Social conservatives thought Carter had shared their values, but he ended up being far too liberal on cultural issues for their tastes. So they made an alliance with Ronald Reagan, what was it called the new right of the Republican Party. They drove Carter from office in 1980 and they elected scores of fellow travelers to the House and the Senate that year. The idea of a federal ban on job discrimination against gays was dead for the foreseeable future. 1980s is also when the AIDS crisis hit, and suddenly the political efforts of the gay community and its allies were redirected, away from workplace issues, and toward much more basic questions of life and death. Climate finally seemed to be shifting in the 1990s when Bill Clinton won the White House, pledging to end the ban on gays in the military and to enact that federal anti-discrimination law that had first been offered 20 years before.
There were rumblings then from Hawaii that that state might soon legalize same sex marriage. And so the -- so the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, ENDA, was introduced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Today we seek to take the next step on this journey of justice by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Several of these brave men and women have joined us here this afternoon. They are American heroes who paid dearly for being true to themselves as they consume their professions. They performed well, were rewarded by being fired or brutally beaten. For them, ability didn`t count, bigotry did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But this remained a volatile politically sensitive subject as ENDA worked its way toward a Senate vote, so did something called the Defense of Marriage Act, a preemptive effort to protect states in the federal government from being forced to recognize any gay marriages performed in Hawaii if that state went ahead and legalized it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JESSE HELMS, (R - NORTH CAROLINA): God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. If the Senate tomorrow makes the mistake of approving the Employment Nondiscrimination Act proposed by the distinguished senator from Massachusetts, it will pave the way for liberal judges to threaten the (inaudible) policies of countless American employers and in the long run put in question the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: This produced a particularly dark day for the gay rights movement. On September 10th, 1996, the Senate passed the Defense of Marriage Act overwhelmingly and then an hour later, it rejected ENDA 50 to 49. A week after that, Bill Clinton signed DOMA. That was 17 years ago. And in some very big ways, the world has changed a lot since then. States are now legalizing gay marriage. Half of all Americans now live in states where it is the law. The Defense of Marriage Act is history, gays can now openly serve in the military. But protection from job discrimination, there has been no progress there at the federal level. Nearly every Congress since 1994 has reintroduced ENDA. Then watched it collect dust. This past week, it finally got a vote in the Senate. This time, the votes were there. 64 to 32, there were ten Republicans who voted "Yes."
But it can`t become the law until and unless it passes the House. John Boehner`s House. The Tea Party controlled House. And here is the word from John Boehner`s office on this subject, quote, "The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs." In their autopsy report after last year`s elections, Republicans specifically cited gay rights as a "gateway issue". But before they`ll even consider listening to the rest of the GOP`s message, the young voters will first want to know that the party is OK with equal rights for gays. And unless something unexpected happens in the House, that won`t be happening anytime soon.
To talk about the future of ENDA, I want to bring in Eleanor Clift, she`s a contributor to "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," MSNBC contributor and opinion writer for "The Washington Post," Jonathan Capehart. Amanda Terkel, she is senior political reporter and politics managing editor of Huffingtonpost.com and former Congresswoman Mary Bono from California. Thanks for all joining us today. So, Amanda, I mean you`re on Capitol Hill, you`re covering this. Maybe you can just take us through quickly what exactly was in the legislation that got through the Senate this week, this 64 to 32. Because I know there was sort of this religious exception that was carved in. Maybe you can explain that a little bit and explain exactly how you see the prospects in the House right now.
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, many conservatives who are opposed to this legislation say it would give gays, lesbian and transgender individuals special rights. But that`s not true at all. Basically, what it does, is it says that it is already illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace on the basis of their gender, their sex, their religion, their age, disability. This would simply expand that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, there is an exception for religious and religiously affiliated groups, so schools and organizations that are specifically affiliated with a religion, they do not have to follow these rules. It is a very, very broad exemption for these religious groups. And now, so, how this will go forward in the House as you mentioned, John Boehner does not seem like he wants to take up this legislation. But I`ve talked to Congressman Jared Polis, who is the lead sponsor of this legislation in the House.
KORNACKI: A Democrat from Colorado.
TERKEL: A Democrat from Colorado. He`s confident that if it is brought up in the House, there are enough votes for it. Right now it is about 21 votes short in the House. There are 11 Democrats who have not yet come out and said if they will support this. So if you pick up them you need ten Republicans. And Paul - Congressman Polis said that he`s talked to Republicans who are privately supporting it, but they haven`t come out yet. So there will be a lot of pressure from Democrats for Boehner to ...
KORNACKI: So, this is - I mean - so this is part 26,000 of the story we keep hearing for the last three years.
KORNACKI: If John Boehner would only put it on the floor, the votes would be there. Well, Jonathan, I want to - how you think about there were two amendments, there is this Rob Portman amendment that was passed, it was by a voice vote on this religious sort of exemption language that Amanda was describing. There was a more far-reaching amendment offered by Pat Toomey that didn`t pass. But I wonder, how do you think of the amendments that they offered - do you think this has been watered down in a significant way or do you think this is a still sound piece of legislation?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, the fact that it passed the Senate and it`s sitting in the House, if they can just get the thing passed, and get the protection there, it`s a victory. Just get the thing on the books, and then, if people feel that the law is too porous or isn`t effective or that the religious exemption is too broad, then you can go in and tinker with it. But, you know, all this conversation might be useless because of one person and that is Speaker Boehner. And unless he allows the bill to go to a vote, you know, we`re all just talking. And that effort in - and that effort in the House would be for not.
KORNACKI: Well, so, Mary, a congresswoman, you know the Republican House world better than anybody at this table. You were part of the Republican House world. What do you think is going on sort of in John Boehner`s world right now? What do you think the thinking is on this and what are the prospects of a Republican House actually taking this up soon?
FMR. REP. MARY BONO (R- CALIFORNIA): Well, first of all, you have to remember there are what - 16 more legislative days left on the -- in the calendar and that`s it. Not a whole lot is going to happen. Sadly, I don`t know where immigration reform is. There are a lot of issues still that should be, you know, moving forward, that aren`t. Look, I know John Boehner, I know him very well. I know John is very sensitive to this issue. But in John`s defense, first of all, it has been a pretty tough year, I think the caucus has been very divided and brutally divided. I don`t miss those conferences, I can imagine right now it is like a rugby scrum inside, behind the closed doors.
KORNACKI: Is this something you would vote for if you were ...
BONO: I did vote for it.
BONO: I`m a supporter of ENDA.
KORNACKI: And what do you think John Boehner -- you know him a little bit. Is this the kind of thing - I`ve heard this about a number of issues with John Boehner like - wow, if it was a private ballot, he would be for it, he would be fine with it. Do you kind of view it that way, or this is like he`s just nervous about ticking off the right so much and losing his job, but otherwise he would be fine with this?
BONO: No, and I don`t want to speak for John Boehner, I don`t want to say what he would do with this bill and how he would vote, but I can say that he`s been very sensitive to me, you know, I`ve been pro-gay rights for my entire career, and he was always very sensitive to me, he came to me first, talked to me, you know, to me about these issues. But, you know, I`m also kind of curious why there are 11 Democrats who are not vocalized - there, you know, how they`re going to vote yet. And who are they and why are they where they are and why do they get a free pass. I think it is important to focus on them too. Because for a lot of Republicans, it is a tough vote. It is going to be a tough vote, they`re from tough districts. You know, I represented a great district who is, I think, you know, would be reconciled on all of these issues. But a lot of my colleagues didn`t, so for a Republican to vote, I, giving a Democrat a free pass on a no vote, I would love to know who these Democrats are. And why.
KORNACKI: Sure. The balance they are overall - as we saw in the Senate voters, overwhelming Democratic support ...
BONO: Right, of course.
KORNACKI: And almost no Republican support, but ...
BONO: But, you know, it was important to say that we have come a long way. We really have. And, you know, whether it happens this year or next or the year after, I think we have come a long way. And I hope the gay community recognizes these are victories, the direction is going in a positive way. Maybe not as quickly as they would like. But I hope they take it as a victory.
KORNACKI: Sure, I think there is a certain amount of impatience that gets built and we start seeing states enacting gay marriage. And then saying you can`t have a federal law banning workplace discrimination, patience start - but I don`t know, what do you think what would it take, what do you think it will take to get the Republican House to act on this and for that matter, to get those 11 other, you know, conservative Democrats on board.
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yeah, first of all, it is going to happen. If it doesn`t happen in this Congress, it will happen, but the current Congress doesn`t run out of time at the end of this year. It has another year. And it seems to be, you`ve got primaries in the early next year and into the spring. After those primary challenges are over and Republicans are no longer fearful of the challenge from the right, some more Republicans and maybe some of those Democrats are also worried about primary challenges. I think people are freer to act and they`re going to want to put points on the board for the November elections. So, I think there is a possibility that this could come up next year and I look at what happened in the Senate, Senator John McCain and Orrin Hatch who voted against ENDA 17 years ago, each flipped. John McCain`s wife actually signed a petition urging him to vote and we know what his daughter thinks.
CLIFT: And Orrin Hatch is a prominent Mormon and the Mormon religion is not apparently, not as aggressive against this as they were against gay rights in California pretty recently. So, I think religious organizations are, if not becoming actively for ENDA, you know, no longer, they`re neutral. So, I think the pieces are in place. And, you know, I look at this, in my lifetime, this seems to have happened with the speed of light, but I recognize that people who are, you know, directly and intimately associated with this issue feel like it has taken forever. But if you date the beginnings to the Abzug and Koch proposal, and then you look at the suffrage movement, which started in 1872, women got the right to vote in 1920, it takes 40 or 50 years in this country for these kind of changes to happen, even though it feels very rapid for the last several years.
KORNACKI: It`s what`s right. It`s one of those things you step back and you say, wow, the, you know, minute to minute, the change isn`t there, but in the big picture there are huge changes.
CLIFT: Right. We have been rowing that boat for a very long time.
KORNACKI: There you go. Well, we have -- we`re going to bring in a guest, actually, a Republican, the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans, the leading Republican gay rights group, we`re going to ask him about what he`s going to try to do to get Republicans on board with this soon to keep rowing that boat. So, we`ll talk to him right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DAN COATS, ( R), INDIANA: There is two types of discrimination here that we`re dealing with. And one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every American. Through our Constitution, a cherished value of freedom of expression and religion. And I believe this bill violates that freedom and diminishes it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, Senator Dan Coats, Republican of Indiana, this past Thursday, right before a legislation protecting gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination passed the Senate with ten Republican votes. Dan coats was not one of them. And now attention turns to the Republican - controlled House. Joining us now to discuss the bill`s prospects in lower chamber, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans Gregory Angelo. And Gregory, I appreciate you joining us today. I guess the first question I`d just ask you is sort of, when we look at public opinion on an issue like gay marriage, for instance, one thing that always jumps out at me is the country is moving, it`s sort of past majority support now. Most polls now support for that, in the mid-`50s, maybe even into the high `50s. But the breakdown is stark, when you go Democrats, it`s like about 80 percent or so, when you look at independents, it is well over 50 percent. Do you think Republicans, it is down at like 20 percent. And it is the same thing we poll other questions about gay rights. And with Republicans, it is just dramatically lower, I mean not just with the Democrats, but with independents. What is it that makes the Republican Party in general so hostile the word that comes to mind to a legislation like ENDA?
GREGORY ANGELO, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Well, you know, first, a couple of things come to mind regarding the marriage issue. While you say that the numbers are low for Republican support of civil marriage for committed same sex couples, the fact is the numbers are growing. The fact is also that there is considerably more support for civil marriage for same sex couples among Republican Millennials. So, there is definitely a generation gap there.
Also, you know, I will say that my discussions, whether it is about civil marriage for committed same sex couples with Republicans or the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, the fact that religious liberty is something that comes up repeatedly among Republicans. So, when it comes to the marriage discussion, I`m always out there front and center, pointing out the difference between civil marriage, which is a piece of paper you get from the government that says that you`re married in the eyes of the law, and then holy matrimony, which is the sacrament that occurs in the church, that is between two people and their priests and god. And that`s - we`re obviously fighting for the former, not for the latter. Religious exemptions are also something that we`re pointing out in the version of ENDA as it exists right now. There are a number of Democrats, people on the left, organizations who are not happy with those religious protections.
And so what we`re saying as Log Cabin Republicans is that if you support religious liberty, you need to support this version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, because it protects those liberties. And if the Democrats pass this bill as they would like to, they would run roughshod over those religious liberties.
KORNACKI: So, you believe - so take for instance like, the proposed Toomey amendment, so we had the Portman amendment that was - the Toomey amendment would have gone farther, and so basically any religious affiliated organization has any sort of ties for religion, that doesn`t want to hire gay people, doesn`t want gay people working for them, because they are gay. You don`t think they should be allowed to do that, to say that we don`t want to hire gay people?
ANGELO: We were not supporters of the Toomey amendment to the Employment Nondiscrimination Act for the fact that we believe that the religious protections that exist right now in the bill are the cleanest and they`re also the strongest. The religious protections extend the same exemptions that exist for any religious organization covered under title seven of the Civil Rights Act to any religious organization that would be applicable to the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. So, we have 50 years of case law right now that backs up those religious exemptions. There is precedent that exists there. If you passed - if we had passed the Toomey amendment, it would have created actually more of a gray area, it would have actually created more litigation. And for that reason, we were not supporters.
CAPEHART: Gregory, it`s Jonathan Capehart. You mentioned Republican millennials a second ago. And it made me think of the GOP autopsy that we were talking about in the previous block where, you know, quite a bit of ink was paid to the fact that, you know, for the Republican Party, for the future of the Republican Party, and to capture Republican Millennials, the party has to -- should look to LGBT rights issues as a way of bringing in Republican Millennials, basically to save the party. But as we have seen with lots of things talked about in that autopsy, that autopsy has been shunted to the side, so how do you get your party to focus on LGBT rights in a way that not only brings in Republican Millennials, but brings in those moderates out there who would love to vote for the Republican Party, were it not so mean spirited?
ANGELO: You know, I don`t know that those recommendations of the RNC`s growth and opportunity report have actually been shunted to the side as you say. It certainly doesn`t fit the mainstream media`s narrative that there are these roadblock Republicans. But for anyone that says that it is impossible to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in this Republican controlled House of Representatives or the LGBT protections are not something that this Republican House is looking to pass, I would point out the fact that this House has already passed LGBT protections in this Congress. It passed the Violence against Women Act, which included protections for LGBT individuals, both protections about sexual orientation and gender identity. It passed with the votes of 87 Republicans and House leadership including Speaker John Boehner allowed this bill to come to the floor, allowed the members to vote their conscience.
KORNACKI: I appreciate - no, I appreciate the point there, but so on this question of ENDA, though, so this - if you`re saying there has been movements since the 2012 election, do you expect in this Congress that the House of Representatives, the Republican House will take up and pass ENDA and would you consider it a failure in proof that they did not learn from the autopsy if they don`t?
ANGELO: Well, number one, you know, I think that the Violence Against Women Act and its passage really gave us as an organization a road map to pass ENDA and showed me that while passage of ENDA in this Congress with this Republican - controlled House may be difficult, it certainly is not impossible. The fact is, if you have significant push from members of Congress who have already stated their support and their co-sponsorship of ENDA and you have a similar and concurrent push among grassroots, especially among Republicans, 56 percent of Republicans nationwide say that they support ENDA. If you make sure that that pressure is there among constituents, among Republicans, I think there is a solid chance that you will have House leadership allow their members to vote their conscience on this issue.
ANGELO: But it has to be that pressure from within and from without.
KORNACKI: Bottom line then, do you expect that in this Congress ENDA is going to pass the House of Representatives?
ANGELO: We have all options on the table right now. There are various means that we could pursue in order to see passage. We`re just continuing to view the lobbying that we have always done and I`m hopeful. I`m no Pollyanna, but I certainly see that there is a possibility for passage. And anyone that did not enter this lobbying fight thinking that we need to focus on both the Senate and the House shouldn`t be lobbying for this bill in the first place.
KORNACKI: Oh, OK, as the long bottom line. But thank you, Gregory, I appreciate it. The time - Gregory Angelo with the Log Cabin Republicans is joining us. I appreciate your time this morning. We`ll pick this discussion up right after this.
KORNACKI: I want to show something. It was kind of interesting to me, we have ten Republicans who had voted for ENDA in the Senate last week when it was up. That`s -- you can see them right there on the screen. And that`s - there is some progress. And we have like McCain and Hatch as we said, who had voted no originally and they voted yes - now. The interesting thing, though, is if you go back to the 1996 vote, there were eight Republicans back then who voted for it. And this tells us something, I think, about the evolution of our party. Because if you look at those names like William Cohen went on to work for the Clinton administration, Spector left the Republican Party, John Chafee`s son Lincoln Chafee, left, Jim Jeffords left the party, Mark Hatfield was always an extremely liberal Republican. I mean, so, it`s sort of like back then in today`s politics, most of those names would almost be Democrats. Now we`re actually talking about trying to get into actual conservative Republicans, like a guy like Jeff Flake, you know, Dean Heller, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, that`s the real challenge right now. What is your sense, congresswoman, I guess, among Republicans in the House? Could you put a number on how much support there is for this?
BONO: I cannot. I wish I could, but I don`t know. And I think it is one of these issues that until they are really pressed, many people aren`t going to figure out if they want the red button or the green button. But I think as I was saying in the commercial - I think the hearts and minds of many Republicans are slowly changing. I think people are recognizing in their own lives that they love somebody, who is gay or transgendered in my case, and I think that hearts are softening slowly. So, I think when it comes time to vote, and if that`s vote of conscience, I think you`re going to see a lot more than you would expect.
KORNACKI: I wonder have you had -- maybe you could tell us about conversations you`ve had, where there are a lot of religious conservatives in the House of Representatives, Republican religious conservatives. Have you had conversations with them about this issue and how do those conversations go?
BONO: Well, I have and I, you know, I was saying earlier that I don`t know if I would talk about it, but, oh, well, here I go. When my stepson Chaz was on "Dancing with the Stars," you wouldn`t believe how many people in the Republican program were telling that they were rooting for Chaz to win "Dancing with the Stars". You know, saying, that the American heart sometimes opens slowly, they don`t know how it changes or when it changes, but for me to walk through the Republican cloak room and hear, go Chaz, we`re rooting for Chaz. I felt really good. I thought that my colleagues would be kind of teasing me or, you know, whatever, that`d be getting some negative reaction, but they were very, very positive and supportive. So, who knows.
KORNACKI: And, I guess, that`s a lesson there about the role of culture in general. A show like modern family on television now where people see, you know, the definition of family can be a little bit more inclusive than we thought before. Maybe that affects the political debate a little bit, too.
CLIFT: Right. The change in pop culture, art imitates life, life imitates art. It is this wonderful circle. And, you know, I do think that people now do not stand up and say that if you`re gay, you`re somehow degenerate and then none of that language, which was present 17 years ago. You didn`t hear any of that today. And this was about religious freedom, and the religious freedom exemption was seen as sort of a gateway to avoiding the law. Now, I don`t think you - and the business community supports ENDA. So you see the powerful sponsors that were opposed 17 years ago are all on the other side.
KORNACKI: But isn`t there like -- this could be an inflammatory comparison, I`m sorry, but I always remember, you know, when it became - you couldn`t safely politically oppose civil rights anymore, states rights, states rights, states rights, something like this religious liberty sort of -- the term now that is used for people who don`t want to say I just don`t want to give protections to gay people?
CAPEHART: Well, yeah. And that`s - I used the word shield during the commercial break. But that`s the shield. But, you know, cultural, you know, culturally and cultural issues, modern family, "Dancing with the Stars," that`s the first gateway where people get to see people who aren`t like themselves, get to know them, even if they`re fictional characters, get to know them, get to like them, and then that bleeds into real life. And then we`re seeing how it bleeds into politics. So we talked about Senator Portman as somebody who we`re not quite sure where he is on issues, but when he came out and changes his position, I believe on same sex marriage, not because of, you know, some philosophical change, but because his son came out and because he loves his son very much, they`re best friends, that he decided, you know what, I love my son, I`m changing my position on this, and I`m going to speak about it publicly. And so the more people like that, the more Rob Portmans who come out and say that they -- that they have gay people in their lives who are very close to them, nothing has changed, and that they`re changing their positions, which I think a lot of people expect politicians to change their minds on all sorts of issues, but when it is on an issue, something as fundamental as sexuality or you throw in any of the other sort of core issues, abortion rights, sort of - for a lot of people immigration is a core issue, but on something like this, where there has been so much antagonism and mean spiritedness, to see someone, to see more than just Rob Portmans, but folks all over the political spectrum saying, hey, this is a similar issue of our time and I support it and I`m going to push for it, it is fantastic.
CLIFT: Well, it often takes the personal experience and sometimes that`s frustrating. I remember when Senator Strom Thurmond came out in favor of stem cell research, because he had a child who was diabetic. So the personal experience --
KORNACKI: It does, it does fare - inform. But Amanda, we got to go back. I`m going to put you on the spot ...
KORNACKI: Just like I put Gregory on the spot, because you cover it. Do you think in this Congress that ENDA is going to end up passing?
TERKEL: I think it is a long shot. But talking about the personal experiences, what I think you`re going to see is LGBT advocates taking this back to the home states of those lawmakers who don`t yet support it and trying to personalize it. You know, bringing out someone who served openly in the military as gay or a lesbian and being, like, look, they served openly in the military, but now that they`re a civilian, they have to go back in the closet because they`re worried that they`re going to be fired because they live in a state without these protections.
So, you`re going to end, and I think that in part was why "Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell" repeal was so successful. Because you saw these patriots who had served and who weren`t able to do so openly tell their stories, and that`s what they`re going to be doing, going forward to try to make it hit home more for the members.
KORNACKI: The power of the personal example. In just a few minutes, we will be joined live by a member of the Whig Party. I`m not kidding, a Whig won an election last Tuesday. But this isn`t your great, great, great, great grandfather`s Whig Party. We`ll hear from him, we will find out whether the Whigs are ready to retake the country by storm. And if they`re still mad at Andrew Jackson.
KORNACKI: Tomorrow isn`t just another Monday, it is also Veterans Day. And because of that, our friend Patrick Murphy, a former congressman and an Iraq war veteran and colleague here at MSNBC, will be hosting a special hour of television just a few hours from now, right here on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the stuff that I experienced in my life is extreme edginess, extreme. One minute I can be your best friend, and all of a sudden you just say hi to me and I want to tear your head off. If I drink a coffee, I feel like my heart`s going to explode because I`m already like - you know, it is like a quasi-machine gun, but it`s my heart. I can`t sleep at night. If I get over four hours of sleep a night, something`s wrong. I`ll see bikes lent up against telephone poles, I think, oh, man, is that going to blow? That`s what an IED is. You never know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s from wounded, the battle back home. It`s a documentary that is going to be shown in conjunction with "Taking the Hill," a one hour discussion on veterans issues` broadcasting live at noon from the national September 11th Memorial in lower Manhattan.
KORNACKI: A few weeks ago on this show, we looked back at the demise of the Whig Party. And you could blame me for casting the Whigs as the thing of the past. And the last time we heard from them, they were fighting ferociously with King Andrew Jackson, they were nominating General Winfield Scott over their party`s sitting president, Millard Fillmore, and they were falling apart due to internal disputes over slavery.
But somehow this week lost in the mire of all of the higher profile elections across the country, a Whig was elected to office. And, no, it is not the reanimated corpse of Henry Clay. This is a living, breathing, 39-year-old Philadelphia resident Robert Bucholz who won an election this week with 36 votes to his opponent`s 24 to be a judge of elections. Judge of elections, if you don`t know, because I sure didn`t, is a four-year position that puts him in charge of his local polling place on Election Day. Responsible for overseeing equipment and procedures there. Bucholz is a member of the modern Whig Party, which says it stands for civic engagement and pragmatism over narrow ideological thinking. And so, here he is, the man who is maybe single-handedly bringing back the Whig Party. Robert Heshy Bucholz, fresh of his victory. He joins us from Philadelphia.
Tell me, Robert, go ahead - welcome, thank you for joining us on the show today. And I guess, I got to ask you, I mean we all read about the Whig Party in our history books. It`s the name we kind of laugh at, it just seems like such an anachronistic thing. Why on Earth would you say in the year 2013 I want to align with the Whig Party? What does that mean to you?
ROBERT BUCHOLZ, WHIG PARTY: Well, I didn`t identify growing up with either the Democrats or the Republicans. Especially these days where they -- we have the shrill shouting at each other. To me, the Whigs were a third way. They were neither liberal nor conservative. They arrived at their platform through consensus, through their online forums, their round tables that they`re starting up now. So it spoke to me and it spoke to the voters whose doors I knocked on. I mean, my district is not a heavily Whig district. And ...
KORNACKI: No, there aren`t many of those in America these days. Well, but is - so, it sounds like you`re saying like the Whig message kind of spoke to you. It sounds like there is actually an organized Whig presence around you? Are there meetings? Are there other Whigs in your area? Or is this just like you sort of read through history books and then you said, you know what, darn it, we need the Whigs again?
BUCHOLZ: No, the Whigs are a real party. There was another Whig that is holding office just the other side of the Delaware in New Jersey. It`s a real established party, it`s not one of the major parties, but their platform spoke to me and to many, I guess, many of the people whose doors are knocked on.
KORNACKI: I mean actually, it sounds like you`re describing the message that a political independent would give, that there is too much bickering between the two parties, there is not enough common ground. But are there any sort of core issues, any specific issues that you think the Whig Party is advocating, you want the Whig Party to stand for, that the Democrats and the Republicans aren`t?
BUCHOLZ: Well, some issues, some issues were closer to the Republicans, some issues were closer to the Democrats, but we`re more of a centrist because of the way that we arrived at our platform. A more of a consensus kind of thing. And so, so the Whigs, I guess, if you -- Whigs would be what the average American consensus then would be. We still stick to many of our core principles from, say, 1848, building infrastructure, so maybe it is not canals and railroads these days, it would be a high speed Internet, it would be fixing our bridges. But I think that a lot of people were receptive to a more moderate centrist view with less - less ....
KORNACKI: All right. So, you got infrastructure that definitely was the sort of the Henry Clay message. So, there is a bit of a platform there. And I thank you for keeping the fiery anti-Andrew Jackson rhetoric to a minimum today.
KORNACKI: So, I appreciate that. So I`ve got to give you a little hard time there. I appreciate you joining us this morning. America`s, I guess, second elected Whig, apparently, there is another one in New Jersey, Robert Bucholz, thank you for joining us this morning.
I also want to thank Amanda Terkel, I don`t think she`s a Whig ...
KORNACKI: ... but she`s with "Huffington Post" and she joins us today. I really appreciate it.
According to the inner web it was either the Chinese general`s Sun-Tzu or the Godfather`s Michael Corleone who said keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Here`s what I think: neither of them had anything on New Jersey politics. I`m going to explain that next.
KORNACKI: I spent a chunk of my career covering politics in the state of New Jersey, which gave me a front row seat to watch the U.S. attorney for the state. I got to see how over his seven years on that job, he systematically brought down Democrats and Republicans, all over the state, top to bottom, north to south. When this federal lawyer left the U.S. attorney`s office, he made a run for statewide office, and a very successful one. You probably know who I`m talking about by now. His name is Chris Christie. Governor Chris Christie. And in his new job, his relatively new job, the governor has approached interparty politics with a different philosophy. He doesn`t really care what party you belong to, so long as you are pro-Christie.
As "Bergen Record" columnist Charlie Stile wrote this week, "Upon assuming office, Christie adopted a "for me or against me" ethos. So, while many of his policies have been conservative, the way Chris Christie has played politics as governor hasn`t been. If you`re a Democrat and Christie believes you`re in a position to help him, then that is an alliance Chris Christie wants to forge. Democratic mayor of Newark, check. Democratic president of the United States, check. Democratic state senator, union leader, party boss, check, check, check. This is Governor Christie`s emo and we have known about it, while we sort of have known about it for four years now.
But something happened this week in the wake of Christie`s resounding re-election victory that took it to a new level, a new extreme, if you will. His dedication to building alliances of convenience with powerful Democrats in New Jersey actually led Christie to go to war with a major Republican in his home state. It`s an amazing story, I don`t believe it is being talked about anywhere else.
A man who pulled back the curtain on what has been going on in New Jersey, joins us now, Charlie Stile, "The Bergen Record," and Charlie, you`re exactly the person I want to talk to this morning about this, because what is happening in Jersey is so complex and you explained it so well in your column this week. But I think I want to start by just explaining this to people, New Jersey is a Democratic legislature and Chris Christie has gotten some very conservative things done. And he`s done it with the help of Democrats. And you can -- you explained really well who these Democrats are and how he`s built alliances with them. So, I`ll start with one of them. This is a guy named George Norcross ...
CHARLES STILE, "THE BERGEN RECORD": Yes.
KORNACKI: Who is like the Democratic boss of south Jersey. Tell us about him and what Christie -- what the relationship with him and Christie is like.
STILE: Well, George Norcross hails from Camden County, he`s an insurance executive, and he`s built this sort of - this modern suburban political machine that started in south Jersey, it was instrumental in helping launch Jim Florio`s bid for governor, and since expanded throughout the state. He`s probably the most powerful Democrat in the state. More powerful than some say than any elected official. And Christie and he had -- Christie had started fostering alliances with him early on in the -- quietly, early on in this tenure, and because George Norcross commands such control over an influential block of legislatives in both Houses, his close high school buddy is the Senate president, he also engineered the leadership of the assembly, he was part of a deal that broke the new assembly speaker, so he had control there. Simply, majority leader was one of his people, so he has immense control over the legislature, so Christie realizing that quietly ...
KORNACKI: And what does George Norcross get from Chris Christie as being his partner?
STILE: Well, the biggest thing he got was the reorganization of higher education in New Jersey, which was a long sought Norcross priority. And what that did was create a new public research hub in south Jersey, with a medical center, excuse me, a medical school as the centerpiece. And that`s a tremendous thing not only for - I mean that`s going to draw a lot of federal dollars down there, but it is also going to be a huge patronage and labor as magnet ...
KORNACKI: This is going to build the Norcross Empire even more.
STILE: It will cement that.
KORNACKI: And he was - and these were when people think of the signature legislative achievement for Chris Christie, it`s going to be this pension reform plan that the unions are all up ...
STILE: And he delivered the votes for it.
KORNACKI: George Norcross, a Democratic - delivered the votes.
STILE: It was - that`s - when you see Christie trumpeting this whole bipartisan reputation of his, it is not because everybody got collegial in the room, it was because he got quietly transactional behind the curtain with people like George Norcross and his allies in the legislature ...
KORNACKI: And there is a code to the story, which I teased there, which is just extraordinary. We can explain this quickly. This week, after the elections, the state senate is going to reorganization after this week`s elections ...
KORNACKI: And the Republican leader of the state senate is Tom Kean Jr., and this is the son of Tom Kean Sr., the former governor, Chris Christie`s mentor.
KORNACKI: Chris Christie tried to take out Tom Kean Jr. this week.
STILE: Because he -- for a couple of reasons. One is he was unhappy that Tom Kean was responsible for the Republican legislative effort. He - because of a feud with Steve Sweeney, Norcross` ally, he tried to take out Steve Sweeney, spent a lot of money in that, and there was a lot of disgruntlement because if that money was spent in a couple of other key districts, Christie might have had a majority in the Senate.
KORNACKI: So this is amazing. Tom Kean Jr.`s crime in Chris Christie`s eyes was trying to elect Republicans.
KORNACKI: He was going after Democrats who helped Chris Christie. He tried to elect Republicans and Chris Christie turned around. It didn`t work, but tried to take him out of his job.
STILE: And there is another reason, too. Steve Sweeney is a labor leader. And Chris Christie has been fostering a nurturing relationship with the trade unions and they`re indebted to Steve Sweeney. And so there was a lot of unhappiness that Tom Kean was trying to take out the big labor leader. And so Christie didn`t want that to happen either. So there is a colossal irony there, that, you know, the leader of the Republican Party, the suspicion was that a leader of the Republican Party, Chris Christie, was doing the bidding of the most powerful Democrat in the Senate. And that`s why the -- for the first time in the Senate, Republican caucus in the Senate, rebuffed Chris Christie.
KORNACKI: It is amazing. Well go read - I think we put a link up to read Charlie`s column this week. I mean this is what New Jersey politics is actually all about. We`re talking about Chris Christie and bipartisanship. You`ll understand what exactly it means if you read this.
I want to thank Charlie Stile from "The Bergen Record," for joining me today. And we`ll be right back after this.
KORNACKI: This is Jim Wright. And it wasn`t long ago that he was the biggest fish in the biggest party in one of the biggest states in America. He`s born in Ft. Worth, Texas, nearly 91 years ago, in December 1922, the day after Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, flew combat missions in the World War II, then came home to Texas where he entered politics and he began the long, slow, steady climb to the top of the ladder. Wright won a seat as a Democrat in Congress in 1954, that was Eisenhower`s first midterm, the year the Democrats won a majority that they would hold for the next 40 years. At 54, election made another Texan, Sam Rayburn, Mr. Sam they called him, speaker of the House. Mr. Sam took Jim Wright under his wing, showed him the ways of the chamber, set an example that Wright would emulate for the next three decades. Building friendships, alliances, clout within the Democratic caucus, putting him in position, finally, at the age of 64 to claim the speaker`s gavel when Tip O`Neill stepped down in 1986.
It was the high point of a long painstaking rise. That high point also coincided with the emergence of a very new, very corrosive, very personal style of opposition party behavior. It put Jim Wright`s leadership on an immediate crash course with rising conservatives` ruthless ambition. Formal ethics complaint was filed against the new speaker by 73 House Republicans. The main charge centered around Wright`s book "Reflections of a Public Man." Former staffer said he had spent hours in the government payroll working on the book and the publisher paid Wright an unusually high royalty.
It certainly didn`t look good, but one member wanted to deliver a lot more than a slap on the wrist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia who instigated the Republican charges against Wright, claims that amounted to money laundering. Wright has said he feels about Gingrich the way a fire hydrant feels about a dog.
REP. JAMES WRIGHT JR., D-TEXAS, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Most of this stuff goes back to ten years or so, you know, they`ve dredged up and recycled and resurrected things that have been in the newspapers, years gone by, down in my district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Gingrich`s confrontational politics were winning him fans in the conservative grassroots and loyalists within the House GOP ranks. And he and his allies scrambled to tar Wright with everything - with anything they could find. Charges about his investments in relationships with Texas businessmen, the violent past of one of his top aides. Wright wasn`t an angel, but it wouldn`t have mattered if he was. Gingrich knew he could make his own career if he could take down the top Democrat in the House. And it worked. By 1989 two years after Wright had realized that lifelong dream of becoming speaker, Gingrich was chosen by his Republican colleagues for their number two leadership post, while Wright found himself abandoned by his caucus.
Leading to May 31st, 1989, Wright stood in the well of a packed House chamber and his wife Betty weeping in the gallery fell on his sword with one parting plea to his colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: Both political parties must resolve to bring this period of mindless cannibalism to an end. There has been enough of it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The chamber applauded for ten seconds and 20 seconds, 30 seconds, they rose in a standing ovation, both sides of the aisle. Wright said he hoped his resignation would be "total payment for the anger and hostility we feel toward each other."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: The nation has important business and it can`t afford these distractions. And that`s why I offer resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But there was no era of good feeling after that of bipartisanship and trust. In fact, things only got worse after Jim Wright left. Gingrich shoved his way into the top GOP leadership spot and then the speakership and a Gingrich style came to define the chamber. Wright`s loyalists fell victim to it including his closest Texas ally, Congressman Jack Brooks, who was driven from office by a Gingrichite named Steve Stockman in 1994, it was the year of the so-called Gingrich revolution. But then, Texas was changing. Marching farther and farther to the right. As another Gingrich ally climbed the leadership ranks, Tom DeLay. And by 2003, DeLay was the House Majority Leader and used his muscle to push the GOP to power in the Texas state legislature. Which allowed that new Republican majority to push through an unprecedented mid-decade gerrymandering scheme that sent more Republicans to Washington. And finished off the careers of the old Jim Wright loyalists who were still left.
And that Texas state legislature has only gotten more conservative and more Republican in the decades since then. Which is why when the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act earlier this year, the Texas legislature acted almost immediately to institute an onerous voter I.D. law, one now drawing national headlines for all of the long time voters who are suddenly being denied ballots. Which brings us back to Jim Wright. Now, 90-year-old Jim Wright, 91 next month, understanding he needed a vote -- a voter I.D. card to participate in last week`s local elections, Jim Wright went down to the local Department of Public Safety office, he handed over his old driver`s license that had expired in 2010, because he doesn`t drive anymore, he is 90, after all, as well as an I.D. card from Texas Christian University, that`s where he taught after leaving Congress. And he was told, sorry, those don`t meet the requirements. Wright then had to return the next week with his certified birth certificate and then and only then could he get the document necessary to vote.
25 years ago, Jim Wright was the most powerful member in the House of Representatives. Today, he can just barely vote in a local election. It`s a story of how American politics has changed, how Texas has changed, and what effect that change is having on a lot of people.
And here to discuss this, we have Ari Berman, he is a contributing writer with "The Nation," former Congresswoman Mary Bono is still with us, Abby Rapopport, she is a staff writer at "The American Prospect," also a resident Texas expert, and back with us at the table is MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart.
And Ari, I`ll start with you because you`ve been following the voter I.D. law. There is sort of voter I.D. push around the country, more than anybody else. The Texas law is called one of if not the most stringent in the country. Tell us exactly what this law does and why somebody like Jim Wright, why somebody like Wendy Davis, for that matter, is having trouble voting right now?
ARI BERMAN, "THE NATION": Yeah. And that was a great introduction, Steve. And I`m glad you laid it all out in your intro. But there is really three major problems with the Texas voter I.D. law. The first major problem is the number of people who don`t have I.D. According to Texas` own number, 600 to 800,000 voters don`t have a driver`s license. So, right there, I mean you`re talking about a very large segment of the electorate. Registered voters who have participated in the past, who can`t participate now, unless they get this new I.D. That leads me to the second problem, which is that it is not that easy to get the I.D. Jim Wright, as you mentioned, had to get a certified copy of his birth certificate, which his assistant procured for them. How many voters, if they are denied once, are going to go back, pay for a birth certificate, arrange to get it and then after the second time, go to the polls? That`s kind of a difficult process. Then you have the issue where there is only DMV offices, 81 of 254 counties in Texas don`t have a DMV office. So, if you live in a county without a DMV office, if there is no mobile I.D. unit helping you, how are you supposed to get one in the first place if you don`t have an I.D. and you don`t have a car? And the third problem is this requirement that ensnared - Wendy Davis ensnared, Greg Abbott, the attorney general that the name on your I.D. has to match your name in the poll books. And if it is not "substantially similar," then you have to sign an affidavit to vote. Now, that doesn`t sound like that big of a deal, but a lot of people don`t want to sign an affidavit after vote. For example, it causes confusion, it causes longer lines. So, there is a lot of problems in the of Texas photo I.D. This was only the first election -- this is an off year election in 2013. The fact that we had all these problems shows that it is going to be a much bigger deal.
KORNACKI: We have this statistic here, this is from the New York Times on Wednesday, it`s looking at the increase in provisional ballots that were cast, comparing 2013 and 2011, which I guess was a similar year. In 2011, again, not much going on electorally. 738 to 2,354 this year, that`s about three times greater. But you`re saying, Ari, the real effect is what is going to happen when you have real statewide election playing out.
BERMAN: There is two huge effects. First is the number of people who don`t have the I.D.s, will they get I.D.s? We`re talking about 3 percent to 5 percent of the Texas electorate doesn`t have a driver`s license. That`s a huge percentage that can swing a close election. Are they going to get the I.D. in time? The second problem is, even if they have the I.D., are their ballots going to be counted because of this requirement that their name has to match. Are the lines going to be longer, is there going to be more confusion? How many more provisional ballots are we going to see, are those ballots going to be counted? There`s just a lot of issues here. This is why this law was blocked in the first place by the federal courts in 2012.
KORNACKI: As soon as the vote -- that section of the Voting Rights Act was invalidated by the Supreme Court, the legislature in Texas swung into action. Abby, can you tell us that story, where this comes from in the politics of Texas, where this push came from?
RAPOPPORT: Where the voter I.D. -- they have been trying to pass this for years, and actually it, you know, passed kind of at the expense of things like the Senate two thirds requirement, in the Texas Senate. You used to have a two-thirds requirement on everything, two-thirds, not just a majority, had to pass a law. And they did away with that to pass this law. You had a tremendous amount of infighting going on, you know, in both 2009 and then again in 2011, when it eventually passed. And, you know, ideas for 2007. This was a big push going way back in Texas.
KORNACKI: How much of it -- how much of it comes from the election of President Obama, and the emergence -- we always talk about the emergence of this new Democratic coalition that -- the rising demographic coalition. You look at who potentially is affected by this, in a lot of cases, it is members of that coalition.
RAPOPPORT: So, you know it was interesting, I was looking back at Greg Abbott`s involvement with voter fraud kind of claims, and they go back before President Obama, you know, in 2006, there was a big push to prosecute people who help the elderly vote by mail. It was almost entirely Latino and African-American kind of volunteers who are helping members of their communities to cast ballots by mail, but they didn`t check the right box or they took it the wrong way. And they were prosecuted for that. So it goes back before -- 2008, though, really did change the game and I think, you know, if you`re familiar -- you covered True the Vote, groups like that, that were actively going into polls with polling sites and saying, you know, we think there is fraud happening here that we`re going to be able to see, that really got fully started in earnest post Obama --
KORNACKI: Congressman, this is a big -- the theme of voter fraud and of passing these sort of state wide voter I.D. provisions is a major theme in the Republican Party, it is proliferating all over the country. I wonder what you think of that as a Republican, and when you look at your own party, where is it coming from, where is this idea that voter fraud is the top issue that has to be urgently combatted with aggressive steps like this? Where is that coming from?
BONO: First of all, let`s -- I`m kind of identifying with our Whig Party friend right now. There is an answer to this. It really is important that every American who casts their ballot is who they say they are, and I think both sides can game the system, and I think as the future goes on, both sides will game the system.
I think we have the capacity and the capability to actually create -- have elections that are free and fair, and we can do it, and I don`t see anything wrong, truly, with presenting an ID to say who you are. And I think if voting is important enough that people ought to make sure, people can prove who they are, and we can do it and we have been doing it in a way that does not - look, the long lines thing doesn`t work. More and more and more people are voting via absentee ballot. So you`re not showing an I.D. You do one time when you sign up and get an absentee ballot, you can get it for the rest of your life if you so choose.
KORNACKI: But when you hear what Ari was just describing about what is involved in this sort of -- the hurdles this creates for people, for a lot of people out there, sure, you got your driver`s license, you`re driving around, it is fine. But for the elderly population, for the people -- low income people, this is a lot tougher.
BONO: Registrars of voters -- I know the one in my county, the district I represented for 15 years, always had trouble just getting the ballots counted. They don`t necessarily have the assets they need, and in our case, they did a really terrible job. But if we ask for these things to be done, it can be done. It can be engineered in a way that people actually easily show who they are, with, you know, I think with proper engineering of the electoral system.
But to say it is one-sided or trying to suppress a vote, you know, I don`t know that`s true. I do know that coming here to the MSNBC studio today, I almost didn`t come in because I didn`t bring my I.D. You know, so shame on me for doing that, but they literally said I couldn`t come in because I didn`t have an I.D.
BERMAN: But the thing is, I could have gotten onto MSNBC with an expired driver`s license. I could have brought a student I.D., I could have brought a faculty I.D., they all would have been accepted, and probably they wouldn`t even need an ID because they know who I am, I`ve been there enough. The second thing I`ll say about the fraud problem, there has been one conviction for voter impersonation in Texas since 2000. This is a nonissue. There is no voter impersonation in Texas.
KORNACKI: This is the question -- Jonathan wants to get in here, this is what I want to get into this, I want to get into this in the next segment, Mary, because it`s where this urgency comes from in the face of a statistic like that. There is no clear, obvious problem (ph). We`ll pick that up right after this.
KORNACKI: So pick this up, and, Jonathan, I`ll give you the first word, we`ll go to you right away.
CAPEHEART: I`m glad Ari said what he said in terms of talking about their -- these voter I.D. laws being a solution to a problem that doesn`t exactly exist. And I bring it back to the first segment, an hour ago, about the GOP autopsy and all these great things that the party said it needed to do. One of them being reaching out to African-American voters, basically broadening the tent to try to get people who won`t look at the party.
One of the reasons why African-American community - two reasons why the African-American community writ large won`t look at the Republican Party, well, one, Barack Obama is in the White House, but, two, African-Americans view the Republican Party as being extremely hostile to the black community. You look at the voter suppression efforts in 2012, one of the reasons why African-Americans, there were those long lines at African-American polling places, was one, they wanted to vote for the president, but, two, they thought I`ll be dammed if someone tries to stop me from voting, from exercising my right to vote.
And so what you have happening here, with all these efforts, I think the Republican Party, they run -- it runs the danger of -- from their point of view, from their perspective, of energizing the Democratic base. Folks will -- African-Americans in particular will go out and stand in line for hours in order to show the Republican Party that you will not --
KORNACKI: I think we can put a piece of data on this. In Ohio last year, where you had a significant shortening of the early voting time and everything, African-American share of the electorate went from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent because people were willing to go and stand in those lines. Mary, I wonder if you can respond to what Jonathan is saying, in terms of like the message that intentionally or not, you seem to be saying not intentionally, but the message that is being conveyed to minority voters, to African-American voters, to low-income voters, the elderly, the message that is being conveyed by these laws, by pursuing these laws around the country, what do you say to that?
BONO: First of all, look, my experiences are a little bit different. I have tremendous frustrations with the registrar of voters in my home state, and everything. There should be no reason that there should be long lines ever. Why they can`t orchestrate and engineer a solution that you get to the polls and you have 15 minutes guaranteed in and out and vote, they can really figure that out, they can predict turnout models and they can get the lines down.
So to me, you know, I have a lot of frustrations on the other side. Voter suppression, look, whether it is or is not, whether the study you say is true or not, and that was many years ago, I believe that both sides and maybe the Whig party of the future will orchestrate and figure out ways to game the system. I just believe that unfortunately those forces are out there for everybody. And I think it is not fair to say it is one side or the other.
KORNACKI: The reason I say I`m focusing on the Republicans on this is because that`s where all of the energy on passing these laws is coming from. It`s Republican states, Republican governors and Republican legislators who are doing this.
BONO: I`m in California. Don`t make me defend Republicans--
RAPOPPORT: We were just talking about this during the break, there needs to be more investment in elections. And when you talk about things like the long lines, that has to do in part with the fact we don`t invest in our elections machines, we don`t invest in having skilled workers who we pay a good -- there is a lot of things we can do to improve the elections. When it comes to voter ID, if we really want a fair voter I.D. law and we really invested in going out, putting the burden on the state to get people an I.D., the state kept that I.D., and when they showed up, they looked up your name and there is a photo that pops up and it is you, that would be fine. I think that would actually get more people into the system. Because it is not a good thing that --
RAPOPPORT: That would require a tremendous investment and I don`t -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tea Party would say that would be the national I.D. card.
BERMAN: Two states had voter I.D. laws before 2008. Now about a dozen do. And the thing that changed was Barack Obama changed and the quote/unquote, coalition of the ascendant electorate, young people, women, minorities, and that`s why the first law that Texas passed after the 2010 election was a voter I.D. law. It was literally the first bill that was filed in that new legislative session, because they wanted to try to stop demographic change in that state. Who doesn`t have I.D.? The Hispanics, the largest, fastest growing segment of the electorate in Texas, they`re 46 to 120 percent more likely to not have I.D.s than whites are. More likely to live in counties where there are not DMV offices, they are more likely to not drive. You have this issue in Texas where the demographics are changing so rapidly, and Texas Republicans are doing everything they can to try to stop a demographic (inaudible), through the voter ID law, through the redistricting they passed that`s now in court.
KORNACKI: That`s the other question. The Justice Department, a number of other groups are pursuing in the courts, trying to stop this. I think that`s supposed to be the procedure is supposed to start earlier this month. Is there any sense, expectation, Abby, how that is going to go?
RAPOPPORT: I think there is a lot of fingers crossed on both sides. I think the -- you already had - Ari and I were talking about this before we came on, you know, in the redistricting fights that Texas has had, that you alluded to earlier, the most recent one, all these e-mails came out that were pretty blatant about how to kind of decrease Hispanic turnout. You had this description of the optimal Hispanic district, which is one where you had extremely low turnout among Hispanics, but a lot of them, so you could sort of claim it as Hispanic, but you knew you wouldn`t be representing that community`s references. So there is a lot of question as to whether there will be some similar e-mails when kind of fact-finding starts, that kind of thing, how much evidence is out there. They may have gotten smarter, about, like, e-mails are, in fact, evidence, you know, may not be something --
KORNACKI: This will be case to watch. There could be interesting things coming up in court. I want to thank Abby Rapopport with "The American Prospect," the "Washington Post`s" Jonathan Capehart, former up against the clock champion, I`ll add that too. If you can`t beat them, leave them. That`s the road some deep red areas and blue states are now exploring, and that is next.
KORNACKI: Another nail biter on up against the clock yesterday, professor and MSNBC resident nerd Melissa Harris-Perry shocked everyone by finishing in third place. But it was a gallant effort. She may have been able to eke out a second place finish if it were not for this third round question correctly answered by one of her rivals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Plans to create America`s 51ST state are on hold, at least for now, after six very conservative counties on Tuesday rejected a nonbinding plan to secede from this increasingly blue state. Mara?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Colorado.
KORNACKI: Colorado is correct for 300 points.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s right, Mara knew that a section of Colorado tried to form its own state, the 51ST state, would have been called North Colorado. 300 points for Mara there. The new secession movement, that`s what we`re talking about next.
KORNACKI: So if I asked you, if say, Illinois is a blue state or a red state, you`d probably say it is a blue state. President Obama`s home state, he won it by 17 points last year, by 25 in 2008. It voted Democratic for six straight presidential elections now. Has a Democratic governor, a Democratic legislature, this is a blue state. This is a very blue state.
But take a closer look, and you`ll see it is not uniformly blue, it is not a uniformly blue state. Almost 40 percent of the votes that were cast in last year`s presidential election came out of Cook County, that is where Chicago is. Obama crushed Mitt Romney there by a three to one margin. He won Cook County by almost a million votes, which is slightly more than he won the entire state by. Which means that Illinois is a very different state politically when you get out of Cook County. You can see it on this map. Look at all those red counties in last year`s election. Look at Effingham (ph) County in south-central Illinois, Romney won it by 50 points. Wayne County, that`s in the part of the state that`s closer to Nashville than Chicago, Romney won that by almost 60 points. Edwards County, Romney got 75 percent of the vote there.
Granted, these are small counties, they are ants compared to Cook County, but there are a lot of them in Illinois. Lots of deeply red pockets that are culturally, demographically and politically in step with red state America. Deeply red pockets that we never really think about, that we just kind of ignore when we just label Illinois a blue state and we pencil it in for the Democratic candidate every four years and never give it much thought beyond that.
This is the other story of the great sorting out of America. Over the last few generations, the two political parties have sorted themselves out ideologically, and the voters have slowly but surely figured it out. Split ticket voting, voting for one party`s candidate for one office, the other party`s candidate for another office, is increasingly a thing of the past. More and more voters are either part of blue America or red America. The lines separating these two Americas are deep.
But what happens when, say, you`re part of red America, you are a member of the red tribe, you are surrounded by fellow members of the red tribe, you live in one of those counties that gave Romney 80 percent of the vote last year. What happens if you occupy a small slice of red America in a big blue state?
What about the opposite? If you`re part of blue America, if you live in a place that gave Obama 80 percent of the vote last year but happen to be smack in the middle of a red state? Your state is controlled by a party you have nothing in common with. Party that doesn`t share your values, your world view, your sense of right and wrong, a party that is actively pushing policies and goals that you believe, that you know aren`t just wrong, but are destructive. And you`re powerless to stop it. You and your neighbors all see eye to eye, but your state isn`t a swing state, it`s never going to be. The other party has the numbers. No matter what you do. What happens then?
Well, on the extreme end, you get a secession movement. The headline on election night last Tuesday was that voters in 11 very red, very conservative counties in the increasingly blue state of Colorado rejected a proposal to split off and form a new state of North Colorado. In all 11 of those counties, there was at least 40 percent support for secession. And in five of them, the plan actually passed. So we probably haven`t heard the last of it.
Colorado used to be a red state. But its demographics have changed, and now Democrats control the governorship and both houses of the legislature. Their state gets bluer, will those deeply red areas stand by and take it? It is not just Colorado. The Washington Post this week identified 11 other current or recent secession movements. Conservatives in rural western Maryland wanting to break away from what has become one of the bluest states in America. Liberals in southern Arizona toying with the split from the much more conservative north, and so on.
Today there are fewer swing states than ever. Just about every state in America is either red or blue. Secession is an extreme idea, but it does raise a question. If your party, your philosophy is permanently in the minority in your state, what exactly are you supposed to do? To talk about it, we still have with us, Ari Berman of The Nation, former Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono of California, Eleanor Clift, the contributor to Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and joining us is Shannon Moore, progressive talk show host from the very red state of Alaska and the columnist with the Anchorage Daily News.
I am kind of really interested about what is happening in Colorado this week. I think Colorado is a perfect example of what triggers this reaction, in this case it`s a reaction in red-state America. In Colorado, Democrats finally got control of the governorship, they got control of the legislature, and they started passing progressive agenda items. One of them in particular gun control. And you saw the reaction of these rural counties in northern Colorado, we don`t want to be a part of this anymore.
BERMAN: I don`t think North Colorado, luckily it is not going to happen, would be a very attractive place to live, other than they have a great view of the mountains. This is being driven by a lot of the same stuff driving voter I.D. laws, which is a fear of demographic change, a fear of urbanization. Colorado is trending the way the rest of the country is trending, it is becoming more urban, it is becoming more diverse and it`s becoming bluer. This is the last gasp we`re seeing in North Carolina of this fear of the quote/unquote other America, the American way of life, whatever that means, is slipping away, and they have to try to preserve this idyllic kind of 19th century America they believe that the country was founded on. And so I don`t think it is really going anywhere. But I think it is indicative of a broader and more disturbing trend in American politics.
KORNACKI: It raises sort of -- it is the issue sort of across the country of what we see in Congress, the polarization we see in Congress, where there is no overlap between the two parties. Where we used to have liberal Republicans who can make alliances with Democrats, conservative Democrats who could make alliances, and people in Congress just sort of split off into two sides and the states have sort of all taken sides. So Shannon, somebody in your situation, you`re a liberal in one of the reddest states in America. Do you feel a certain level of --
SHANNON MOORE, COLUMNIST: I`m on the endangered species list.
KORNACKI: You are from Sarah Palin`s state --
MOORE: No, Sarah is from my state. I was born there. She was born in Idaho or some other secessionist place.
I think this is -- to see Northern Colorado do this and put this on the ballot, I thought it was really interesting, because what I see of the secessionist group -- and we have had a governor as part of the Alaska Independence Party, which is a secessionist group, it`s actually a pretty large party in my state, this idea of secession. There`s also the Native Alaskans who feel Alaska was bought out of, you know, a van, you know, in a parking lot from Russia. That it was stolen by Russia and then sold. They`re, like, what? So they have a little bit different sovereignty issue.
But there is a large group of people in this country, it feels large to me, I suppose, that are -- they consider themselves sovereigns. What we saw on the ballot was a result of this sovereignty movement, where they make their own driver`s license, they make their own -- they do not recognize the state, they have their own court system. We just had four people go to prison from the sovereign movement in Alaska, who were threatening to kill judges and troopers, and they were holding their own courts at the Denny`s in Fairbanks. This is the Peacemakers militia, and they`re in prison now for these really serious crimes, but this is because they do not recognize the federal government, and they`re saying we`re sovereigns. When they`re pulled over by a trooper or something because their license plate is weird, they`re, like, I don`t recognize your authority over me. This is the reaction. So this on the ballot is just the next step of that.
KORNACKI: So what is that like for you and for other progressives in Alaska? I wonder if you`re living in a state where you`re -- the chances of Democrats, of people who share your basic political philosophy winning real power in Alaska and enacting the kind of agenda you would like to see enacted seem pretty slim, what is it like to politically for you to be in a state like Alaska? Do you feel helpless, do you feel like, you know, I love my state, but I, you know, this -- what do you do?
MOORE: I think part of it is is that Alaska was protested to become a state because it was so progressive, that`s the reason they brought in Hawaii too, because they seemed so conservative. Alaska`s constitution includes a privacy clause. It is very, very progressive. The most progressive constitution you can have in the country, we have. We were a blue state. It wasn`t the ice age the last time we were blue. It wasn`t that long ago. And when oil came in, the conservatives came in, the evangelicals came in, and it shifted the political sway there.
I believe that Alaska will be a progressive state again. I really do. If I didn`t, I couldn`t live there. And I think our values, you know, our progressive values really match that of Alaskans, we just haven`t figured out the marketing quite yet. But at the same time, we`ll just -- we keep making some progress, but just like every other state, there is gerrymandering, all these other issues.
ELEANOR CLIFT, DAILY BEAST: These tend to be the rural voters. It is the primal scream. They`re mad as hell and they`re not going to take it anymore. But this is the 21ST century version of the survivalist movement. So they`re hunkering down and they`re voting to secede. They`re not going to get anywhere, because it would have to go through the state legislature and the governor, which might happen in some places, but then have to be OK`ed by the U.S. Congress.
And so if you look at a map of the country, the red counties have always vastly outnumbered the blue pockets that basically decide elections. There has been this simmering anger for quite a long time.
Where I worry is if you get somebody like Senator Ted Cruz, who gives voice to people with these yearnings and it goes into the so-called liberty movement, and that it could really gain strength as an opposition movement, but I think right now it is kind of fun to talk about, but I think --
KORNACKI: I don`t think it is actually going to happen. Also, I should point out, it is not right now there is more of the activity on the right, it is coming more from the right, right now. But there are liberal groups too living in very conservative places that feel this frustration and that talked up secession too. We have a couple of proposed new states, I want to show them to everybody and we`ll talk more about the basic frustration behind the movement that I think both sides feel in a very polarized political country right now. We`ll do that right after this break.
KORNACKI: Just want to give you a taste of what some of the proposed or theorized states within states would look like and what is behind them. This is North Colorado, the one we`re talking about. This is what it would have looked like. They`re not contiguous. So I`m not sure how it would have worked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There would be a bridge--
KORNACKI: Yes, a giant bridge there, paid for by the state, but that would be the state of North Colorado. This is another one, this is the proposed state of Jefferson. This would comprise the rural parts of Northern California and southern Oregon. (inaudible), very conservative territory, this would be a red state. This is the same thing as behind the North Colorado movement. Here is a new twist on it. This would be called Baja, Arizona. What you have here are the most liberal areas, southern Arizona, this would become Arizona red -- reddish state now, this would be a very blue state now. Baja, Arizona they would call it. And then another one, western Maryland, real creative name there, this would be western Maryland, this is the -- that is the conservative rural Republican -- I believe Maryland has one Republican congressman and comes from that district out there. So that is -- we`re done with Baltimore and Annapolis and all that. We`re going to have our own state.
Again, like the energy for this right now, I think probably not surprisingly when you have a Democratic president and Democrats in Washington and the state like Colorado is turning blue, it comes from the right. There are examples of liberals living in very conservative areas where they feel this frustration too. And like I said, to me, what it speaks to is just the impossible to bridge divide between the two parties, because the lines between the two parties now culturally, demographically, geographically, so clear, so sharp and so deep, there often isn`t any common ground to be found.
BONO: It is important to recognize that people are different. Whether you live in Soho or Greenwich Village, whether you live in Northern Colorado, you are different. You live an entirely life, you count on different things. People in Northern Colorado happen to be hunters, they believe in their right to hunt and they believe that will be stripped away. A lot of -- not a lot of people living in Greenwich Village are hunters. They choose to live there because they don`t want to live in Northern Colorado.
And I think as an elected official, it is important to recognize that people have different beliefs. My congressional district was one that had no major city. I had a whole bunch of rural areas and I had some smaller cities that were more liberal. And you have to treat every constituency with respect and hear what they have to say. And if they feel they`re not being listened to, what course do they have but to do these extreme things. It is a mistake to think we`re all one and we should all live the same way. We don`t.
MOORE: But we do all want the same things. I think this cultural divide and this blue state/red state thing, I think this is really convenient for the media. It is really convenient for politicians to be, like, I can`t work with so and so, because this is the big divide and I`ll be a traitor, and there is a small faction running that. But at the end of the day, what people want is they want to be able to feed their families, they don`t want to have to choose between health care and rent, and they want to be able to, like, you know, have their life lifted up just a little bit, not be raptured --
KORNACKI: There is almost this tribalism has taken hold. I feel we talk a lot about sort of in the wake of last year`s election, there was some sort of conservative information bubble that existed, almost like a separate bubble that conservatives lived in. Republicans were so surprised that Mitt Romney hadn`t actually won 42 states because they had been promised by the radio stations they listened to, the web sites they go to, the pollsters who appear, but this whole infrastructure has been built up that is sort of for red America. And blue America has it too. I`m not saying this is just --
CLIFT: But there are some issues that are 70 and 80 percent across blue and red America. And background checks on -- for gun buyers was one of them. I think no employment discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered people is one of them. I think immigration reform actually polls quite high, because people see the value in that. So I think representatives can come together and find those slivers of --
CLIFT: Congress is out of step with the country overall.
BERMAN: The secession movement is happening at the same time that the Tea Party is going on and there is this broader ideology now of nullification, this idea that people want to nullify Obamacare, they want to nullify other federal laws they don`t like. I just wrote a story about this. I feel like secession, nullification, the Tea Party, the changing demographics of America, it all goes hand and hand, this idea that somehow the country is somehow slipping away, and you have to secede or nullify federal laws to break away from that. I think that`s a disturbing trend.
CLIFT: We did that with school desegregation in this country, there was what`s called a massive resistance. And we overcame that, with Republicans and Democrats, and Republicans in many ways really provided the real backbone to the federal government.
KORNACKI: But the Tea Party movement, Mary, there is, I`m not saying the entire Republican Party, the entire conservative movement, but sort of this Tea Party uprising in 2009, and there were a lot of factors contributing to it, but part of it, and Ari was speaking to it earlier, do you feel part of it is sort of the desperation that is sort of like almost like culturally and demographically, the America that they knew, they see slipping away, and it`s feeding a sense of desperation and sort of a siege mentality? Is that part of it?
BONO: Well, you know, as you know, I was no darling of the Tea Party, and I was very frustrated with the government shutdown. I think it`s the wrong way to go. I think the American people are right for expecting a government that functions. It can be more efficient, more effective, and we have the right to ask for that. So I really don`t want to speak to them. I think it`s important that we find a balance here.
But I think the Republican Party right now, it`s important while we`re in this painful place that we`re in, that everybody put their cards on the table and they say what they believe in, whether you`re pro-gay rights or whatever you believe in, put it out there and let the Republican Party find their way.
But I just want to say something to Eleanor. I`ve been a huge fan of hers for a long time. She`s talking about something right now that the media doesn`t talk about. And there is bipartisanship in Congress. And I know it`s hard to defend Congress, and I`m not going to try too hard. But the congressmen and women who go to work every day and actually work across the aisle and find consensus and work together, the media doesn`t focus on them ever, and I wish they would. Those are the congressmen who should be applauded, the ones who set aside differences and move forward the government and make the government work efficiently.
KORNACKI: And when you say there are 70, 80 percent issues, and you talk about background checks, I agree with you, but the interesting phenomenon, and it`s part of what`s behind this Northern Colorado push, it`s that what the governor of Colorado tried to do and did with a Democratic legislature, the background checks. And what would seem to be an 80, 90 percent issue got filtered through this sort of cultural divide of politics. And it wasn`t interrupted as, oh, this is a common sense thing. This is blue America threatening red America`s way of life. And if you can`t get past that, because they`re talking about seceding over background checks.
CLIFT: So he`s dealing with a backlash from a small number of people that he`s got to figure out a way to win. And this is more, what we`re talking about is more the last gasp of a dying white America than it is the dawning of the new American movement.
KORNACKI: All right. What should we know today, what should we know for the week ahead? Our panel will answer that right after this.
KORNACKI: Time to find out what our guests think we should know today. Eleanor, I`ll start with you.
CLIFT: I`m going to watch for the climb-down on Benghazi. It begins today with Senator Lindsey Graham on the Sunday talk shows. Is he now going to back off, saying that he`s going to block all Obama administration nominees including Federal Reserve nominee, Janet Yellen. CBS retracted its story. Republicans thought they finally had the goods on Hillary Clinton, and it`s all going to fall apart.
MOORE: I think this week, coming up, women across the country are really going to show up for the women of Texas. They, of course, have all sorts of clinics closing down because of the law there and waiting on the courts there. So those clinics will be closed at least until January, until the courts look at this, or February. So I think women will really start rallying for the women of Texas.
KORNACKI: All right. Ari?
BERMAN: This week is the second week of a trial challenging Wisconsin`s voter I.D. law. It`s the first trial under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court struck down Section 4. There`s a lot of national significance to this case.
KORNACKI: OK. Mary?
BONO: Mine`s easy. Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Make sure you get out, make sure you thank a veteran, every single veteran you know, thank them for their service.
KORNACKI: Absolutely. And Patrick Murphy`s special at 12:00. Don`t forget to watch that. And don`t forget, by the way, the Whig Party is back. I learned that today. I want to thank Eleanor Clift, Shannon Moore, Ari Berman, and former Congresswoman Mary Bono. Thanks for getting up this morning. And thank you for joining us.
Next weekend on "UP," it`s been 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On Sunday, we`ll talk about that day and the legacy he left behind. Our guests will include Harris Wofford, he served as special assistant to the president on civil rights, and Robert Macneil, who was covering JFK`s visit to Dallas for NBC News on that fateful day. But up next on MHP, race and the GOP. After Tuesday`s elections, has the party figured out the way to make inroads with black and brown voters? That and the unnecessary roughness exposed in professional football. Stick around, Melissa is next.
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