Guests: Randi Weingarten, Bob Herbert, Ari Berman, Judith Browne Dianis,
Michelle Bernard, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good morning, from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with shooting unarmed
teenager, Trayvon Martin has not yet turned himself in after a judge found
he misled the court in his bond hearing. Zimmerman has until this
afternoon to show up.
And in Egypt overnight, thousands of protesters clashed with police
and each other, reacting to sentences handed down for the killing of more
than 800 protesters last year. Former President Hosni Mubarak was
sentenced to life, but six former police commanders were acquitted.
Right now, joining me today, we have MSNBC political analyst, Michael
Steele, former chairman of the RNC; Randi Weingarten, president of the
American Federation of Teachers; Michelle Bernard, founder and president
and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy, and
former president of the Conservative Independent Women`s Forum; and Bob
Herbert, former "New York Times" columnist and distinguished senior fellow
and the progressive think tank, Demos.
All right. In two days, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker
will become the only third governor in U.S. history to face recall
election. Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is behind,
but within striking distance in the latest polls.
Democrats fear a loss will reverberate beyond Wisconsin. Ultimately,
the outcome will be determined entirely by turnout. The fact that unions
and activists have gotten this far was almost inconceivable a year and a
half ago, when Walker was first elected. Despite the formidable forces
arrayed against them, union supporters have engineered recall efforts, not
against Walker, but against many of his supporters in the state legislature
as well, all while Walker runs TV ads funded by out of state backers.
In fact, the race is likely to shatter state spending records, Walker
alone has spent nearly $30 million, to just $2.9 million spent by Barrett.
On Thursday, in the last debate before the election, Barrett hammered away
at Walker`s out of state backing. In one of his sharpest attacks yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR TOM BARRETT (D), MILWAUKEE: Scott has done a good job
traveling around the country and becoming the rock star to the far right in
raising millions and millions of dollars. And those people have an agenda
that`s not a Wisconsin agenda. It`s not about the people in Milwaukee or
Green Bay or Appleton, it`s about the Tea Party movement and what he can do
to make this the Tea Party capital of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And its heart, the Wisconsin recall is about the rights of
public workers to unionize and collectively bargain -- rights that Walker
eviscerated as soon as he took office.
Former President Bill Clinton drove home that point at a rally for
Barrett in Wisconsin on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I can just hear it now,
Wednesday, all of those people that poured all of those money into
Wisconsin, if you don`t show up and vote, we`ll say, see, we got `em now,
we`re finally going to break every union in America, we`re going to break
every government in America. We`re going to stop worrying about the middle
class. We don`t give a rip whether poor people get to work into it. We
got our way now, we got it all, divide and conquer works -- you tell them
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I think the story of Wisconsin is a fascinating one, because
it seems to be a microcosm of the entirety of our politics in so many ways.
I mean, the incredible ferocity with which the agenda was pushed through by
Scott Walker and the Republicans who are elected, the backlash it
precipitated, the highly unusual recall election and now, you have a state
that is this seething, polarized, intense fraught place with very high
And then on top of that, there`s the vision of what post-Citizens
United campaigns look like, which is there`s a loophole in Wisconsin state
election law that allowed a lot of unlimited money to be raised, $500,000
checks. It`s a somewhat grim and dystopic vision of what American politics
looks like. It seems that we`re staring at the future of American politics
in the Wisconsin race.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: We`re certainly dealing with our
present. I mean, I think the reality is Wisconsin represents in a broader
sense how the unions will play in this new political environment, how money
plays broadly speaking in this political environment.
But more importantly, the diminishment of political structure. In
other words, a lot of this is not driven by the organized DNC, the
organized RNC. It is driven by people. And that is the one thing, that
was the one takeaway going back from when this first began. I always link
this to the Tea Party, as well as the Occupy -- this movement of people.
Whether you agree or disagree with the political story, the fact that
people now see themselves as engaged through structures that aren`t
structured I think is a very good thing.
HAYES: See, I think that`s a fascinating point. But I want to point
out, there`s a massive asymmetry here, right? If you say, you know, what
is it, the law in its majesty allows the rich man and the poor man to sleep
under the bridge, right? That, yes --
STEELE: The rich man has more cover.
HAYES: The point is that you know, yes, in this new unmediated world
where there is no organization, like both you, Bob Herbert and you, bodega
owner and you, Charles and David Koch can all participate at whatever level
you can participate, right? And the point is that, the numbers are
shocking, it`s $30 million to $4 million and there`s an estimated of $60
million on Scott Walker`s side.
I totally agree with you. It is this kind of unmediated future. But
that unmediated future looks like it just concentrates power more in the
hands of people who already have it.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS: That`s the essentially point. When you say
we`re looking at the future of the United States, I agree with you, we`re
looking at the present. But what the, what progressives should be taking
away from this is the reality of what`s at stake.
And that it is more important now than ever to begin to come
together, no matter what happens on Tuesday, even if progressives lose on
Tuesday. That it is time to fight back. Otherwise, it`s going to be game
over before very long.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Exactly. So I
mean I agree with both Michael and Bob. But this is not an issue of unions
versus Scott Walker. This reminds me of you know, somebody throws
something into a theater. Like a smoke bomb or something. And then says -
- it`s your fault when you`re in the theater, running out for cover.
The unions actually in Wisconsin didn`t start this. What they did
was they, when Walker was elected, they actually gave some concessions in
order to balance the budget and Walker said, no, I`m taking your rights
away. And then he said, on top of that, I`m cutting billions of dollars of
education, I`m stripping away equal pay for equal work, I`m going to do
some work in terms of voter suppression.
And so, what you have here is extremism versus a bunch of people in
Wisconsin, including some of the unions, saying let`s try to fight this
mid-course. And I think Chris is right. We`ve gotten to, and it`s a "we"
because there`s hundreds of thousands of people that are doing this, from
farmers to workers to kids, high school and college kids, to teachers and
nurses, and they basically have gotten to almost this line where then you
have millions of dollars of money, fighting against them.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARDCENTER.ORG: Well you know -- what I was
going to add, though, to me, it`s not just what`s happening in Wisconsin,
he think this is going to be very important. We talk about what`s going to
happen at the state level throughout the country. But also with the
election, the presidential election in November, here`s one of the most
pressing and important questions: many states like Wisconsin are facing
enormous budget deficits.
So there comes a point in time when the entire, American public
whether they are Republican, Democrats, progressives or conservatives sit
back and say, some of these arguments are pretty silly. Let`s have a real
discussion about how we not only cut our budget deficit, without raising
taxes or without raising taxes at an extraordinary level. But also do
something to stimulate the economy.
These are questions and statements that need to be made by every
HAYES: It just so happens I have a policy solution for you, which is
aid to states, put in the Recovery Act, which Republicans have just killed
rhetorically every time. They call it a bailout to the states.
I would also say, if we cared about states as much as we cared about
the banks, we would lend them money at zero percent, right? We care about
banks enough to say your balance sheet is in the trash can, we`re going to
let you warehouse all of your terrible assets on the balance sheet at the
Federal Reserve but loan you money at zero percent, but the states, he
don`t do that.
STEELE: Well, let me tell you as a former state official, the
problem with what you just said, this aids to states, it comes with a very,
very long string attached to it for a lot of these states, who cannot buy
into what the federal government proposes, which is often I`m going to give
you money now, and you`re going to do all these things that`s going to
increase the debt --
STEELE: Right. So, this money pales in comparison to what your
outlays are going to be in the future. So, a lot of states back off of
And the second piece just to round it out is for a state, all money
flows down, right? No. It stays at the top. It`s like cream it just sits
there. So counties, municipalities do not see the raw benefit of getting
all this federal funds or even state monies that come from extra taxes 0
whatever the governor proposes.
So, you`re talking -- to your point, you`re talking to a fundamental
realignment of how this system works at the state level. I think that`s
the beginning of the noise you hear right now.
BERNARD: And what is the governor supposed to do. If a governor
comes into office and you come in and you`ve got a $3.6 billion deficit
that you`re looking at, what do you do? How do you decide what to cut?
WEINGARTEN: But this governor cut corporate taxes.
HAYES: Right. He cuts taxes at the same time.
WEINGARTEN: And this governor has also, so he cuts the investment to
education, he also at the same time, cuts people`s rights at the very same
time as they were willing to do the concessions.
My point is this, people in Wisconsin -- the workers in Wisconsin
were willing to deal with Governor Walker and he turned his back and said,
no, I`m going to cut your rights.
This is America. In America, we actually try to solve problems and
what we`re seeing -- we should --
HAYES: Let`s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.
BERNARD: The politicians, right.
WEINGARTEN: But if you don`t -- I mean, we`ve seen this picture in
terms of take Great Britain. Austerity doesn`t work to get us out of a
BERNARD: Austerity alone doesn`t work. Austerity alone doesn`t
work, that`s clear, we need stimulus, also.
HAYES: That`s what you`re here for. John Nichols is online from
Wisconsin. We`re going to hear an update from him about what`s going on
the ground right after we take this break.
HAYES: We mentioned before the asymmetry of the spending in
Wisconsin, which is the numbers are really eye-popping. I just want to
throw them up in the screen.
This is spending by the campaigns, which does not include spending by
outside groups, which in the case of Scott Walker has been about the same,
right? So, he spent $29 million, Barrett has spent $2.9 million. So, he`s
getting outspent 10 to one. And there`s another $30 million coming from
In terms of the donations we can track and again this is just the
donations coming through the campaign -- 62 percent of Scott Walker`s
donations are from out of state and 26 percent from Barrett`s are from out
What this says to me is that the Republican Party, the conservative
establishment, particularly I think the U.S. Chamber of Commerce types,
view this as, as a defining battle. They view this as -- they cannot let
Scott Walker lose, because of what it says about this balance of power.
And I don`t think there`s necessarily been from outside the state, the same
emphasis and focus from progressive groups.
I want to bring in John Nichols, Washington correspondent for "The
Nation" and associate editor of "The Capital Times" in Madison, where he
joins us from now.
John, how are you doing?
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: I`m very good, Chris. And I`ve been
enjoying the conversation so far.
HAYES: Well, I want you to give us your thoughts. One of the things
I`m, I find interesting about this is, it seems to me that the tenor of
politics in Wisconsin feel like they have changed in the last two or three
years. In some ways, the argument that Barrett is making is let`s get away
from this contentiousness. If you want -- if you don`t want this intense
contentiousness, I`m your guy. And I wonder how effective that is
NICHOLS: I don`t know if that was the most effective argument. Tom
Barrett came in initially and he said, I want to end the civil war. The
problem is there`s a lot of folks in Wisconsin who frankly like the civil
war. They didn`t necessarily like the suffering of it, but we thought it
was a pretty good idea.
And so, the thing to understand about Tom Barrett is he`s sincere in
saying that. He is a conciliator, a guy who tries to bring folks together.
He was that in the state legislature, in Congress, as mayor.
But he`s also a very progressive fellow. And as the race has gone
on, it`s been extremely interesting to see him kind of build up and get a
lot stronger. The last debate on Thursday night was a remarkable
performance for him. I don`t say that remarkable like oh, he was the
greatest. It stood out because it was so much stronger than I had ever
But I will say one other element here. I think that the best way to
understand what is going on in Wisconsin right now is that progressive
forces are in many ways arguing for a set of old values. For a sense of
how politics has traditionally been done.
Whereas Scott Walker has brought in a national template. His
campaign in almost every sense has been nationalized -- nationalized money,
nationalized consultants, nationalized messaging that has far less to do
with day-to-day in Wisconsin than with this sort of an austerity push that
frankly sounds an awfully lot like a lot of European central bankers.
HAYES: That I don`t think would be a particularly good ad for Tom
Barrett to run. Scott Walker sounds like Jean-Claude Trichet.
HAYES: You referred to -- you referred to the debate performance let
me play a clip from a particularly strong moment in that debate between
Walker and Barrett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you trying to conquer? When you say use
those words, what do you mean?
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: The special interests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s who you`re trying to divide and conquer?
WALKER: In our case it`s about standing up and finally having
someone that`s willing to stand up with the hard-working taxpayers of the
BARRETT: It was clear that you weren`t going to stop at the public
unions and that you were going to continue to pit people against each
other. You did intend to divide and conquer, Scott, you wanted to pit
people against each other. Because that`s the way you operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is in response to a now somewhat infamous clip of Walker
telling someone that his strategy was divide and conquer, first you go
after the public unions and then after everyone else. What is the outlook
like for the union movement and the labor movement in Wisconsin if Tuesday
does not go their way?
NICHOLS: It`s tough. We can`t, you know, kind of mince words on
this. The fact of the matter is that the conversation you refer to between
Governor Walker and his largest single donor, a woman who has given him
$510,000 in basically the last year, was about not just weakening public-
sector unions. She asked specifically about enacting right to work for
less laws, the concept that you would take away a huge number of rights for
And while the governor says he won`t do that, the fact of the matter
is, that Scott Walker has scoped out his governorship on a concept of
dramatically weakening unions. It`s interesting to note that his last
major appearance with an out of state figure was with South Carolina
Governor Nikki Haley, who proudly says she`s is a union buster and an
evangelist for right to work laws. So, I think that unions are hard
HAYES: We have, we have a little bit of sound of Nikki Haley proudly
proclaiming herself a union buster and his biggest donor calling on a --
precipitating the divide and conquer quote right after we take a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE HENDRICKS, HENDRICKS HOLDING COMPANY CEO: Any chance we`ll
ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a
right to work?
WALKER: In fact --
HENDRICKS: What can we do to help you?
WALKER: We`re going to start in a couple of weeks with our budget
adjustment bill. The first step is we`re going to deal with collective
bargaining for all public employee unions, because use divide and conquer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s the infamous divide and conquer comment Scott Walker
gave billionaire Diane Hendricks, one of his big contributors -- Michelle.
BERNARD: A question, John -- Michelle Bernard speaking. Question
for you, what has been the response of Democrats in the state of Wisconsin
when people I think rightfully ask the question which is what`s wrong with
asking public employees to contribute to their health care, to contribute
to their vision coverage, to contribute to their dental coverage, so that
state budget deficit can be reduced?
NICHOLS: I think there`s been two responses. First, state employees
-- and remember, this is not just about state employees, it`s also about
county and municipal employees, everybody who is in a public-sector job,
teacher, nurse, snowplow driver.
The first response is that these unions have taken concessions over
many, many years. Taken furlough days, cooperating in all kinds of efforts
to balance budgets. Remember, Wisconsin has a balanced budget law. We
cannot have an unbalanced budget. And so for the last more than 50 years,
we`ve had public-sector collective bargaining, in hard times and good,
recessions and upturns and the budget has always balanced.
HAYES: In fact, Milwaukee --
NICHOLS: And so, the notion that -- yes?
HAYES: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett drove a very hard bargain with
his own municipal employees union, which made them somewhat skeptical of
them as a candidate here in precisely these types of negotiations, but got
the concessions he needed to close the gap.
NICHOLS: You don`t -- you do have to take away collective bargaining
rights to get public-sector unions in Wisconsin to work for this state.
HERBERT: And that`s a really important point. Because it`s possible
here, to get lost in the weeds and miss the essentials of what`s happening.
This is about money and power and it`s about the concentration of money and
power at the top in our society.
It`s about much more than Wisconsin. And what the other side, the
side -- you know, I`m on the side of the progressives. What the other side
wants to do is keep their folks organized. And make sure that their
opponents are not organized.
That`s why labor unions are such a great threat. They are organized
and they can exercise political clout. They don`t want people organized in
any way and they don`t want them to have the kind of money to spend on the
political process that would be effective. So that`s essentially what`s
going on here -- and that`s why Chris is right when he says --
HAYES: Smart man --
HERBERT: -- what`s going on in Wisconsin is giving us a vision of
what will happen if we allow it to happen in this country.
STEELE: I get your vision thing, all right? You know I understand
it. But you know I`m not buying the sympathies here in terms of all of a
sudden, oh, poor unions, they`re haphazardly --
HERBERT: No, they`re not poor unions. Unions are powerful. Unions
STEELE: For the first time they have found an opponent that is
prepared to deal with them toe-to-toe in terms of raising money and
organizing. So, yes, we want, we want the left and the progressives to be
organized, because they always have been and they`ve had the structure to
do that. For the first time you`re seeing at the grassroots level, at the
grassroots level, you`re seeing conservatives organized as well.
And the question I have for John in terms of, you know, I get the
idea of Wisconsin being this sort of battleground on policy. But let`s
talk about the politics here.
The president has not been to Wisconsin, all right? He was near it,
the last couple of days. But he`s not been in there to press the point.
If he`s such a union guy, if he`s such a progressive`s progressive, where
Number two, the money. Where is the national money? You just had
the national chairman show up last week to spend some time raising money.
So you know, I hear all the kerfuffle -- I like that word -- about
Republicans and conservatives pouring in all this money. About you where
is the left?
This is your moment, this is your chance to push back --
HERBERT: I can`t believe I`m agreeing.
STEELE: John, I want to know, where`s the left?
NICHOLS: Sure, let me answer Michael`s question. It`s a good one on
several fronts. First off, Barack Obama is a medium-cool president, that`s
just reality. This is a hot fight.
Barack Obama has stayed at arm`s length from this fight from the
beginning. It`s interesting, so, too, has Mitt Romney. Romney came in
during the presidential primary, and said some nice things about Scott
Walker. But he has not been back.
And let me emphasize to you. Mitt Romney doesn`t have anything else
going on right now. He could come.
NICHOLS: Both parties, both presidential candidates have stayed away
from a fight that is frankly far more intense and far more interesting than
the presidential race.
Now, then let`s go dot second part of the question. The second part
of the question is about, you know, the left coming in with its money to
equal the right`s money. It`s notable that the Koch brothers, our friends
David and Charles, have the ability to in and of themselves put in more
money than basically the labor movement should they choose. Now, they
haven`t gone to that level. They`ve only come in in the small many
But the truth of the matter is that I think people are looking at
this in the wrong way. They`re looking at it purely as a money versus
money fight. That is not what`s happening in Wisconsin.
It is a national -- let me finish the thought, if I might. It is a
national money power fight on one side and the governor has an immense
amount of money power, versus a people power fight on the ground.
Now, I don`t want to make this too unnuanced, the truth of the matter
is there right wingers, conservatives, who are active on the ground, they
very energized. But from the labor side, the progressive side, it`s
unbelievable what is happening.
I was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Green Bay, Racine, Burlington during
the last 36 hours, all over the state, every place I went, the biggest
problem I had was getting out of the parking lot at the union hall or the
call center, whatever people were mobilizing, because there was so many
I was in Racine yesterday, there were 500 people in the parking lot,
you know, waiting to go in and get their walking lists. In Madison
yesterday morning, they were training people to walk in groups of 50. It
is an amazing thing going on.
WEINGARTEN: But it is not -- where I would disagree with John is
that what I`ve seen, the times I`ve been to Wisconsin before this fight,
and now, during this fight, is that this is workers and regular people,
versus money. The unions may actually have an ability to organize, or used
to have an ability to organize.
Look, look at what Mitch Daniels did in Indiana. He went after the
public unions first. And then as soon as that was done. Then he went
after the private unions. So when you see what governor --
HAYES: Well, let`s also not cut out --
WEINGARTEN: People actually did not support him. You had Republican
WEINGARTEN: But when you looked at the poll numbers about going
after right to work, people said, why are you doing this instead of --
HAYES: Let`s also not -- I had a friend who was a political
organizer once who said signs don`t vote. The same thing is true about
dollars, right? I mean -- there`s money and there`s a huge amount. We`re
hammering home this money point but there`s genuine mobilization among
actual people on the right in the Milwaukee suburbs. So, it is an
activated populace on both sides.
Let`s talk more about what the fight looks like, right after a break.
HAYES: Talking about the money power and people power and the
balance between the two in Wisconsin. We have John Nichols in Madison,
And, John, what`s fascinating to me here, again, we`ve hammered home
the money, and I think it would be said enough. I mean, the asymmetry
money is, is eye-opening and shocking when you see it. And it portends I
think some ugly things about the future of politics, the present of our
That said, there is mobilization among the citizenry of Wisconsin on
both sides, right? There`s progressive mobilization and conservative
mobilization. And what`s been interesting about watching Wisconsin unfold
was that there`s a lot of mobilization against Scott Walker elected.
A massive progressive counter-mobilization when you pass the
collective bargaining law. We saw the protesters in the streets of
Madison, the capital, and it seems a counter-counter-mobilization from
conservatives on the right in response to that. And so, you have two
intensely mobilized populaces right now. Is that more or less where things
NICHOLS: I think that`s exactly where things are. I`ll go, I make
it clear --
NICHOLS: I can say bluntly that Scott Walker would not be
competitive in this race without the money. The money brought him back
from the wilderness. He was in terribly bad shape and spending $30 million
amazingly enough, has an impact.
But once we get beyond the money and start talking about what`s going
on with people. There`s simply no question that there is a conservative
mobilization, it`s very intense and very real. It`s different than the
labor progressive mobilization. The conservative mobilization is much more
through direct mail, through phone conversation, through some rallies with
Americans for Prosperity and groups like that.
The labor mobilization is a return to something that frankly we
haven`t seen in a long time in Wisconsin or most other states, which is,
physical presence. I mean people -- I have been in towns of 7,000 or
8,000, towns of 3,000 or 4,000 where as I drive into town, I see people
walking the streets with clipboards, knocking on doors. You just haven`t
seen that in a long time.
HAYES: Can I make a contrarian point then? What we see is oh, this
horrible conflict between that has riven Wisconsin, the civil war as it`s
called -- and, Randi, you`ve talked about sort of pining for days of more
comity, right, and regular order.
WEINGARTEN: But that`s true.
HAYES: But maybe regular order equals apathy and activated citizenry
of this kind with people in the streets of kinds is what democracy should
BERNARD: And have a very real and honest discussion. About what the
role of public-sector and private-sector union should be in our politics.
I mean my stance on this is a little bit nuanced.
HAYES: I don`t think we`re having that discussion.
BERNARD: I think we should. I think it`s something we should be
discussing. There has to be, I believe people who sit back and ask very
basic questions that have nothing no do with how much money anyone is
putting into the Wisconsin race or elsewhere. But at what point in time do
private corporations for example, private individuals begin to feel like
they solely exist to feed, to feed unions?
WEINGARTEN: Wait, wait.
BERNARD: I`m playing devil`s advocate. And I have a question --
it`s a very serious question. We go back and we look at Boeing. How is it
possible that a union can be so powerful that they can be in a position
where they can prevent a private company from moving from one state to
another? It`s a basic fundamental question of fairness.
WEINGARTEN: Let`s look, just look at the whole notion of what is
happened in terms of wage inequality in this country. When we had a third
of the United States of America, was in unions in the 1970s, our economy --
in the `60s, the `50s, the `60s, our economy was, was the envy around the
world. We were a growing middle class.
Between `73 and now, we`ve gone from 34 percent unionization to 8
percent unionization. At the same exact time, we`ve had huge wage
inequality. There have been places after places after places where when
you don`t have people having the right to have some way of bargaining their
wages, you see wages in the middle class going down.
That is what the union movement is about. They`re not -- it`s not an
And so, if we`re talking about the United States and growing a middle
class, we need to actually have workers have a voice.
HAYES: Can I just say, can I just say one thing?
HAYES: No, that`s fine.
Just empirically in terms of the data, you cannot look at the data
about the American political economy and conclude anything but that --
unions are on the decline, median wages have stagnated, inequality have
gone up, corporate profits have gone up. Those are the facts on the table.
Whether you think the balance is still out of skew with 8 percent
union density and stagnating median wages, you can make that argument. You
can say we need zero percent union density.
But you cannot make an argument -- I just want to establish what he
story of the country is -- you can`t make the argument that unions have
been in assent over the last 30 years, or that inequality is diminished, or
that median wages have been rising (ph), or the corporation profits have
been going down.
HERBERT: It`s also a question of fundamental fairness, why should
the corporations and the bosses on the one side be organized and the
workers not be organized to fight for their own interests? Workers have to
STEELE: No problem with that, Bob. But the problem is I get the
landscape as you both laid it out here. But the reality of it is, you
cannot act like the unions have not contributed to their own decline. You
cannot act like unions have just sat back and they`ve been the victim of
some right-wing conspiracy to come in and defund them or disorganize.
HAYES: You --
STEELE: So, they`ve contributed to that slide by their aggressive
behavior. The mandates they put on their workers to extract monies -- I
mean don`t --
WEINGARTEN: Wait, wait. And what about the banks?
STEELE: Some wonderful panacea to all of our problems, they`re not.
Sorry, they`re not, wake up.
HERBERT: Unions should be more aggressive. The left should be more
aggressive. The right --
HAYES: Hold a sec --
STEELE: The left with the unions in the first place and that`s the
problem. By the statement you just made, you`ve now excluded a whole bunch
of pro-union Republican or conservative workers out there --
HAYES: Help a brother out here, hold on a second, Randi?
John Nichols, I`m going to thank you, thank you for staying on the
line. We`re going -- from Madison, Wisconsin, thanks so much and obviously
we`ll all be watching your reporting closely the next few days.
BERNARD: Thanks, John.
NICHOLS: It`s going to be a hell of a ride.
HAYES: I want to actually, I want to do one more, let`s talk about
this, I want to talk about the Boeing case and button up this broad union
conversation right after we take a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We`re going to keep fighting
the unions. I`m going to keep being a union buster. We`re going to keep
talking about tax relief and we`re going to keep bringing in jobs to South
There is a reason South Carolina is the new it state and it`s because
we`re a union buster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. And that`s Nikki Haley proudly proclaiming
himself a union buster in South Carolina, we got a kind of rhetorical
HAYES: And went to Wisconsin and the status here in which we gazed
down upon the history of the entire labor movement and what it`s
I want to say quickly -- no, it`s a very good conversation to have.
I want to say quickly just one thing about the Boeing case, because you
mentioned it and I want to be clear about what was at play.
I mean, in the Boeing case, and that`s why Nikki Haley has been sort
of on the frontline of anti-union rhetoric from Republicans. You know,
Boeing has its headquarters in Seattle and the CEO said at one point, we`re
thinking of moving because of the labor problems they`ve had.
Now, it happens to be the case that your rights as a worker are
protected by law statutorily that there cannot be recriminations for your
exercising your legally protected right to strike or to collectively
And if the CEO says we`re going to move this and get rid of your job,
you Seattle Boeing workers because you pursued entirely legal, statutorily
protected collective bargaining rights or strikes that were sanction under
the NLRB, that`s illegal by the NLRA. And what was found in the NLRB said
was enough cause to issue an investigation.
Now, it didn`t stop them from doing anything, eventually the case got
dropped. But I think people hear this and they think, oh my God, the
unions have people, they`re really calling the shots here. And the fact of
the matter is, we do have a set of rights that are enshrined in the law.
The problem is in actuality, those rights enshrined in the law in the new
deal of the Wagner Act, the National Labor Relations Act have been totally
chipped away and they`ve been chipped away through a variety of means, a
lot of them having to do with lack of enforcement or breaking the law and
the companies just choosing pay fines because if you for instance,
illegally hire someone who is trying to unionize, the fine you have is
three years later once the process has been adjudicated, to pay back wages.
OK, throw a few thousand dollars, you`ve stopped them from
unionizing. So, we`ve seen a variety -- I`m now on my soap box, but bear
with me -- we`ve seen a variety of ways that the right enshrined in our
laws and actually enshrined internationally recognition of what a basic
human right is have been eviscerated and chipped away on the actual ground.
And so, that is the long-term perspective of what unionization in
this country looks like. And I think what I like about that Scott Walker
clip is I want Republicans to be honest and say, we don`t want there to be
unions that exist.
I think most Republicans think, it would be a good thing if all 50
states were right to work and there were no labor unions in America and,
hey, let`s have that argument because I think that`s actually the honest
one. I don`t think Republicans are there yet. But I feel like isn`t that
the case? Don`t you think that`s the case?
STEELE: I think that`s the case. I don`t necessarily subscribe that
all Republicans view labor unions through the same lens as Nikki Haley and
some others. I mean, Nikki Haley, South Carolina, right to work state like
Virginia and some others. I, you know, as I go back to the point I was
making with Bob. That is, you know, there are a lot of you know, blue-
collar union Republican/conservative workers out there who do not
necessarily subscribe to this anti-union view.
The frustration they have -- the broader point I was trying to make
in that rhetorical rocket we were on -- is that over the last 30 to 40
years, since the 1960s, we`ve seen a diminishment of the effectiveness of
unions by the way they have, the union bosses, folks like to say, have
behaved in projecting union power. And that has turned off a lot of those
HAYES: I`m going to end it there. We`ll return to this, the union
boss to your left disagrees.
HAYES: We`ll move on to Republican Governor Rick Scott who orders a
voter purge in Florida. Are we in for another Bush v. Gore? That`s next.
HAYES: All right. A little Beastie Boys intro.
The state of Florida now has three days left to tell the Department
of Justice whether the state will comply with DOJ`s demand to stop purging
thousands from its voters rolls. So far, Florida has shown defiance. On
Friday, a spokesperson to Secretary of State Ken Detzner told the
"Huffington Post," "We are firmly committed to doing the right thing and
preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot. We`re not
going to give up efforts to make sure the voter rolls are accurate."
Florida officials admit removing illegible voters, but say they`re
only trying to remove people who are not citizens.
The systematic removal of thousands of people from its rolls without
DOJ approval seemingly violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, hence of the
smack-down from the DOJ.
This is not the first time Florida has denied residents the right to
vote. The nonpartisan Brennan Center estimates that Florida wrongfully
disenfranchised around 12,000 qualified voters before the 2000 election
which was then decided by a margin of 537 votes. Only after the election
was over did Florida admit its vote purge was flawed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: A two-year effort to eliminate tens of thousands of
illegal voters from the voter elimination list has been less than perfect
according to Florida election officials interviewed by NBC News. The state
hired a private company to identify ineligible voters, and even the company
admits, its own list had errors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, Republican governor of Florida Rick Scott`s list of
suspected noncitizens stands in total of 182,000 names. Also this week, a
federal judge blocked the enforcement of key provisions in Florida`s new
restrictive voter ID law passed in late 2001, which I should add is
separate from the state`s attempts to purge its voting rolls of
noncitizens. Florida`s efforts are not unique. Fifteen states across the
country passed new voting laws in past year alone. As many as 5 million
people could be affected in the 2012 elections, according to the Brennan
At the table with us now is Ari Berman, author of "Herding Donkies:
The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics,"
political correspondent for the "the Nation" magazine and has been doing
the best reporting on the whole country on this issue here.
ARI BERMAN, THE NATION: Thank you, Chris
HAYES: It`s great to have you here.
BERMAN: It`s been fun to cover.
BERMAN: Never a dull moment.
HAYES: It`s incredibly eye-opening.
Florida strikes me as the absolute vanguard in this respect. Is that
a fair statement there? They`re the most out there, the most extreme in
BERMAN: Yes. Well, first, it`s Florida, OK? So you say the word
Florida and you mention things like voting and people start to pay
attention. But Rick Scott was elected in 2010 he did three things
Number one, he revoked the right for ex-felons to be able to vote
which happened under Charlie Crist in 2008, the previous GOP governor.
Immediately that was one of the first things he did in office, 100,000
people couldn`t vote who would have been able to vote. A few months later,
he passed this omnibus election reform bill that basically did two things.
Number one, it made it harder for nonpartisan groups to register
voters, people like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote -- very
noncontroversial group, they made it onerous for them to register voters,
they had to suspend their voter registration drives. And then he cut short
early voting from 14 to eight days, including banning it on the Sunday
before election when African-American churches historically mobilize their
So, those three things, the disenfranchising of ex-felons, the
cutback in voter registration drives and the cutback in early voting, that
happened before the latest voter purge.
HAYES: Right. That was --
BERMAN: That`s the pretext.
HAYES: That`s the pretext. And we should note I mean in all of
these cases there are tremendous racial disparities in the affected
population. The data for instance mass registration drives by third-party
groups, higher percentage of African-American and Hispanic voters are
registered through those than white voters, right?
BERMAN: Twice as much African-Americans than Hispanics registered to
vote through voter registration drives in 2008 than white voters, African-
American accounted for 54 percent of early voters in 2008.
It`s no coincidence at what Republicans are doing. They look very
carefully at how Obama won, who voted and the tactics they used. Voter
registration drives, early voting were key to the Obama victory. So, not
only do they cut back on those things. Then they put these photo ID laws
in effect, which we know not only 11 percent of Americans don`t have these,
20 percent of African-Americans and 20 percent of young voters don`t have
So, they specifically targeted the core of the Obama coalition, that
quote-unquote, "Coalition of the Ascendant," which is young voters,
African-Americans, and Hispanics.
HAYES: Michael, I want you to respond to that, because it does seem
to be a national trend.
But, first, let me take a break.
HAYES: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With me this morning, I have MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele,
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Ari
Berman of "The Nation" magazine, and Bob Herbert of the demos think tank.
We`re talking about voter suppression efforts in Florida. You laid
out the case how there`s tremendous disproportional he can of the laws that
were passed by Florida. In terms of what constituencies they are most
likely to suppress the vote of. Young voters, African-American voters
particularly and now with the new voter purge, Latino voters.
Michael, what do you say, when you hear this?
STEELE: Well, you know, I believe in having fair and open access to
the ballot box. And I think that, you know, like a lot of things in this
country, that`s underreported what happens on election day at various
polling places around the country. I mean, people generally don`t -- you
know, highlight the problems that may occur.
Now that there`s a focus and an emphasis on those problems and trying
to deal with them, I think that that`s a good thing. If it means that
we`re going to open up the process.
For the GOP, I`ve always said going back to when I was a state
chairman and certainly as an elected official, don`t be afraid of the
ballot box, don`t be afraid of folks who go to the ballot box. Always be
in a position, forward position of encouraging people to have access to
that ballot box. Yes, we want a fair and open process. But let`s open
this thing up in a way that we`re not then labeled as trying to suppress
the vote, which we`re not. I mean, rank-and-file Republicans are not out
there trying to suppress the vote. There`s a general call for
rehabilitating our electoral system. I happen to disagree with purging
felons. I mean, I think that on a case-by-case basis, you can make the
argument for someone to come back into the system ...
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Sure.
STEELE: ... to be a part of the voting population. So my broader
point is, you know, I think the party has kind of put itself into a
rhetorical hot spot unnecessarily. By creating an impression that our end
goal is to tell black folks, we don`t want you to vote.
HAYES: But let`s -- let`s ...
STEELE: And that is not the case at all.
HAYES: Yeah, I mean but also let`s just be clear about the way that
American politics work. I mean, it is the case that 90 percent of voters
voted for Barack Obama. African-Americans, now, what 92, something like
that. There are a lot -- there are certain constituencies, and this is
particularly true of African-American voters, that vote reliably for one
ARI BERMAN, THE NATION.COM: Right.
HAYES: And so, it is a strategic imperative, even if you are the most
racially enlightened Republican in the universe, right, to not have -- to
create obstacles for people that you know are going to vote against you to
go to the polls.
STEELE: But Chris, when you`re voting at those percentages, 90-10,
STEELE: It doesn`t -- you`re not going to impact that vote to the
point where unless you can get that vote down to 60 percent, or 50 percent,
-- that`s a heck of a lot of suppression. You`re not going to ...
BERMAN: 12,000 ineligible people, 12,000 eligible voters kicked off
the rolls in 2000 in Florida ...
BERMAN: That was 22 times the margin of victory for George W. Bush.
And I have to say, one of the biggest lies perpetrated by the Republican
Party, I think in this election has been -- has been ...
STEELE: (inaudible) 4,000 people are going to vote for the other guy,
BERMAN: Well, 41 percent of them are African-Americans, that was
three times the number of African-Americans in the state. They voted for -
HAYES: We can`t assume. Because the key -- the key core truth about
American politics is precisely that. You can`t assume.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: So where are then,
the -- if that`s the case, Michael, where are the corporate CEOs that will
stand up and say this voter suppression is wrong? This anti-diversity is
wrong? Where are -- where are people ...
STEELE: You`ve got the premise ...
WEINGARTEN: Look, Chris was the one who said ...
STEELE: You`ve already -- you`ve defined it with a negative, you
defined, you defined the ad as exclusively voter suppression.
BOB HERBERT, DEMOS.ORG: I define it with a big negative.
HERBERT: There`s voter suppression in this country, the Republican
Party is pushing it. And it is racist.
STEELE: I disagree with that.
HERBERT: And I cannot believe that there`s anything ...
WEINGARTEN: Aside from Ari, look at what look at what has happened
even in Florida. The moment that Scott was elected, Chris, a Republican,
said this is wrong. We`re going to make sure that people get a second
chance, put all of these folks back on the rolls.
STEELE: You`re talking about felons?
WEINGARTEN: Second -- ex-felons.
STEELE: Yes, ex-felons. You`re right.
WEINGARTEN: And so, the moment Scott gets elected, he says we`re
going to start purging. The moment Walker gets elected, starts purging.
You have in 15 states, since 2010, you see these kinds of ..
HAYES: With Republicans?
WEINGARTEN: With Republicans, these kind of roll suppression. Where
is the outrage on the other side about that?
HAYES: Can I also just say, can I also just make a broader point?
There`s no reason that in 2012, people should have to affirmatively
register to vote. No, I`m sorry, you ...
HERBERT: It`s crazy.
HAYES: ... somehow amazingly, the post office always knows where I
live. And so, as every -- you know what I mean? Like ...
BERMAN: Well, this is my biggest thing, is whether you`re a
Republican or Democrat, nine million people were unable to vote in 2008
according to MIT for a variety of problems. Not knowing where their
polling place is, not being on the voter rolls. Et cetera, et cetera.
Instead of making it easier for those 9 million to vote, we`ve now made it
harder for 5 million people to vote. So, if you care about democracy, no
matter which party you represent, you should be concerned about how
difficult it is to vote.
HAYES: I want to play an example of a 90-year-old veteran, who was
sent a letter indicating for it-- they made this list that was over
100,000, 180,000, and then they actually sent out letters to the first
2,700 or 2,600 who were in that group. They sent them to local county
election supervisors, who can then choose to send them on or not send them
on. These are the first sort of attempts at the purge, right?
Some of the local election supervisors said we`re not going to do it
because we don`t trust the data. But this is a 91-year-old veteran who was
sent a letter indicating Florida did not think he was a citizen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL INTERNICOLA, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: I never had any trouble. I
voted here for the last almost 15 years around here. And I voted in
Brooklyn when I lived in Brooklyn. And I really don`t understand it. It`s
-- to me, it`s like an insult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So that`s, that`s just a colorful illustration of your point,
BERMAN: Well, no, and I think the voting rights movement needed
someone like this. They needed a 91-World War II veteran that everyone can
say that looks like my grandpa, and then say why is this guy on the
noncitizen voter roll. And you look at this, those 2,600 voters that they
claimed were -- the first batch targeted these 2,600 voters. Three-fifths
of them were in Miami-Dade County, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, and
20 percent of those voters were actually voters. I mean, they weren`t non-
citizens, they were eligible voters. And so, you look at that number. If
you take 20 percent of 182,000, that`s 35,000 potentially eligible voters
that Florida would take away the right to vote for.
HAYES: I want to bring in Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights attorney
and co-director of the Advancement Project, a voting rights advocacy group.
She represented the NAACP in their lawsuit against the state of Florida for
voting rights violations during the 2000 election. And there`s a legal
case here. We`re talking about a policy case or a moral case. There`s a
legal case here that what has been happening in Florida violates the Voting
Rights Act, and in fact there`s a federal judge who agreed with that
argument. What was the argument about how that violated the Voting Rights
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS, ADVANCEMENTPROJECT.ORG: Well, hi, thanks,
Chris, for having me.
This actually, the case that went forward was a case against the law
that restricted voter registration drives. And that case basically what
Florida did was, you know, not only were they attempting to put roadblocks
in the way of actually voting, but also in registering. And so, what they
had done was that there was a 48-hour rule. If you did registration, you
had to turn in those registrations within 48 hours or they could fine you.
And not just the organization you were doing the registration for, but also
the individual person.
And so, this really had an impact on registration drives. So groups
like the League of Women Voters, who had been doing voter registration in
Florida for 75 years, shut down their registration drive. And as Ari said,
we also know that people of color tend to register more often through voter
registration drives. So that was knocked out. So Florida has a black eye
But then the next thing is the purge stuff. And so I feel like I`m
living like, you know it`s like the movie "Groundhog Day," you know, where
I just keep reliving the same story since 2000. It happened in 2004. And
now here we are again, going through it again.
HAYES: I want you to articulate what -- actually just bore in a
little bit on the details, because the Voting Rights Act is such -- is
arguably one of the most important, if not the most important piece of
legislation passed in the 20th century. I want you to articulate why --
why this was in violation of that very important law right after we take
HAYES: All right. Judith Browne Dianis of the Advancement Project.
I want to get into the Voting Rights Act. Because I think one of the
things that I think is important in thinking about what`s happened in
Florida and other states, is that -- people will say, for instance, Rick
Scott, let me play Rick Scott saying that he`s not -- he`s not targeting
anyone, right? That whatever disparate impact of this, that`s just an
accident. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I can`t imagine anybody, I mean anybody
would target anybody. I think -- I think what your expectation is, is that
your government makes sure that it does everything we can to have fair
elections. That only people that register to vote, vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And the brilliance of the Voting Rights Act is that it
recognizes that the history of voter suppression and disenfranchisement of
African-Americans in particular has been the history of policies that can
be called race-neutral, right?
DIANIS: That`s right.
HAYES: A literacy test doesn`t say if you`re black, you can`t vote,
right? A poll tax doesn`t say ...
HAYES: ... and so, it looks at the disparate impact.
DIANIS: That`s right.
HAYES: And I think it`s just key -- key to hitting that point,
because you can always defend these policies in racially-neutral terms.
We`re just trying to insure the integrity.
How does -- how does the getting rid of third-party registrars and
registration drives run up against the Voting Rights Act?
DIANIS: Right. Well, it runs up against the Voting Rights Act,
because any time that you have a policy that you put in place, that
disproportionately impacts people of color, it`s, you know, it gives you
the evidence that, in fact, there was a -- there might be a discriminatory
intent. But you don`t have to show that the legislature set out with the
DIANIS: It`s just that the impact, it fell disproportionately on
people of color. And in this particular case with registration, really,
the information shows, the evidence shows that in fact, African-Americans
and Latinos actually tend to register through these voter registration
drives more than anyone else. And that if you roll back voter registration
drives and the League of Women voters, and Rock the Vote and NAACP, for
example, can`t do voter registration drives, it makes it harder for blacks
and Latinos to vote.
And so, that`s why it falls under the Voting Rights Act. And I`ll
tell you that you`re right, Chris, I mean, it`s, you know, when we look at
literacy tests, it`s not like, you know, literacy tests were passed by
states, and you know, in every state they said we`re trying to target black
people. We don`t want them to vote. Instead it was that they just put
these laws on the books, knowing who this would target.
DIANIS: Just like voter I.D. If you look at voter I.D. in Wisconsin
where we actually have a voting rights lawsuit, under the Voting Rights
Act, you know, we brought that case because 78 percent of black males
between the ages of 18 and 24 do not have state-issued photo I.D. in
Wisconsin. And so it has an impact on blacks and Latinos, and we actually
think that legislatures knew this. They knew who they were going to impact
in the end of it. So, but I don`t need to care about the intent.
HAYES: Right. Right.
DIANIS: As long as I show the impact, that`s enough.
WEINGARTEN: So why -- so, but you know, taking this a step back, we
should be trying to encourage people to vote, not trying to take their
rights away. And so that`s why since 2010, it`s like you see state after
state after state, have done these voter I.D. laws, voter suppression laws.
Florida and Wisconsin were the worst case in my judgment. And the -- thank
God for the Department of Justice, thank God for the NAACP ...
DIANIS: That`s right.
WEINGARTEN: ... because they came in and they said, stop it.
STEELE: I have a question for you, Judith on that point. This is
Michael Steele. To the point that was just made about the Justice
Department and others, what is the ultimate adjudication here? I mean
where, where are the indictment of election officials? Where are the
indictment of election programs or strategies by the Justice Department, or
more importantly, by a federal -- federal court or the Supreme Court? How
do you see this being played out from a judicial perspective, if there is
this -- this wholesale assault on the Voting Rights Act, and people feel
that they`re being disenfranchised? How is that getting played out in the
DIANIS: Well, I mean, I think we`ll see over the next few months,
because there are a number of cases pending. So, we`re involved in cases
in Texas, we have a case in Wisconsin. And we have a case in Pennsylvania,
which is actually under their state constitution, not the Voting Rights
Act. But I mean, it`s important that we -- we will see. Because this
really hasn`t played out. Before like the Indiana law that passed was
actually under the Constitution. Now we`re finally seeing the numbers and
we`re seeing what the impact is, so that we`re able to bring these Voting
Rights Act cases. It`s really important that the Department of Justice
actually has stepped up.
DIANIS: And we`re -- we`re very excited by that one. We actually
sent them, the Advancement Project, a letter about these Florida purges on
May 17th, saying to them, hey, this is happening in Florida. We need you
to stand up, because actually they are covered -- Florida has several
counties that are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. And so,
they have to go before Justice to actually get it approved.
And so the Department of Justice just the end of last week, stepped up
and said to Florida, in fact, Advancement Project is right. They didn`t
say that in their letter.
DIANIS: But they should have. Advancement Project is right. You
have to come before Justice and get this approved. And by the way, let`s -
- let`s add this -- to what Scott has done. In fact, you can`t purge
people under the National Voter Registration Act within 90 days of an
DIANIS: So why the last-minute change of the game? Why the last-
minute purges? I think we know the answer.
BERMAN: Well, DOJ, it`s also important, is challenging new voter
restrictions also in Texas and South Carolina, which are among the worst in
the country. But it`s also important to note that Section Five of the
Voting Rights Act, which is what the DOJ used to challenge the Florida law
in other states, that is being challenged by at least six different
Republican states. There was just an appeals court verdict in Shelby
County, Alabama, that upheld Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which
basically forces states to get approval from the federal government, but
this is going to the Supreme Court.
BERMAN: And the Supreme Court could very well overturn Section 5, and
that could be an absolute catastrophe for voting rights.
HAYES: Yes. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 creates a
special set of procedures ...
HAYES: ... in which the Department of Justice and the federal
government has to clear, pre-clear any changes to voting laws in the
covered states, which are the states and some of the counties of the old...
BERMAN: No, the Supreme Court already hinted that they might do it.
If this happened, this would be the Citizens United for voting rights.
HAYES: Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights attorney and co-director of
the Advancement Project, thanks for joining us this morning.
DIANIS: Thanks for having me, Chris.
HAYES: Ari Berman, it`s great to have you, Ari Berman, political
correspondent for "The Nation" magazine, thanks for joining us.
BERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. What did two mild-mannered wonks say that seems to
have gotten them thrown out of D.C. polite society? That`s next.
HAYES: Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, two well-respected scholars
known for non-partisan and non-inflammatory analysis, have a new book out
blaming Republicans for the country`s political dysfunction. It`s called,
"It`s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System
Collided With the New Politics Extremism." And here`s a sample. Quote,
"The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier, ideologically
extreme, contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime.
Scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts,
evidence and science and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political
But going against the conventional wisdom that both sides do it
appears to have consequences. Just recently, Ornstein told Greg Sargent of
the "Washington Post" that since the book came out on May 1st, none of the
Sunday shows have invited them on to discuss their latest work. This is
kind of a big deal, because for years, until now, Mann and Ornstein have
been staples of the Sunday shows. They`re a brand in Washington, the go-to
guys when the media need a quote from a political expert.
So, I`m very pleased to have them here, doing their first national
Sunday news program to discuss the book. Thomas Mann of the Brookings
Institution and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.
And back at the table is Michelle Bernard, founder, president and CEO
of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy, and former
president of the conservative Independent Women`s Forum.
Gentlemen, let`s talk about the central thesis, which I think is one
that people that covered -- I spent a few years in Washington as the
Washington editor of "The Nation," covering the Hill, and it`s very
apparent if you`re covering Washington day by day, but I think poorly
understood outside Washington. This idea that we have a constitutional
system set up, and we now have norms that have been established,
particularly in the Republican Party, that are somehow in tension with that
constitutional system. Elaborate what that story is.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There really is a huge mismatch
now between the kind of political parties we have, which are highly
polarized, very strategic and engaging in a permanent campaign against the
other. And the set of political institutions under which we have to come
to some agreement. That is, we have parliamentary-like parties, but we
have a separation of power system, in which majorities can`t act. This is
made even more troublesome, because one of those political parties has
veered off the tracks. They`ve been aggressively oppositional in every
respect. And they have tools, including the filibuster in the Senate, to
deny the majority an opportunity to act. And even if they can`t defeat it,
they can take steps to string it out, to discredit it, to de-legitimize
whatever happens, and then they can even take steps to nullify it by
refusing to confirm the agency heads that are needed to make the laws work.
HAYES: We`ve seen that with the CFPB, this Consumer Financial
Protection Board, in which Dodd-Frank was passed, it`s a duly constituted
law. I mean, it`s been -- it went through all the constitutional
procedures and it`s signed into law, and there`s been objections from
Republicans saying we don`t object to the specific individual that you have
nominated to head the agency, we object to the existence of the agency, and
therefore we will not nominate -- we won`t nominate anyone. It doesn`t
matter. I guess the question is, how high on the list is the filibuster
and filibuster abuse in how -- in what`s causing the dysfunction?
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, it`s certainly
a major part of it. And part of what`s going on here is this is a very
different use of the filibuster than we have ever seen in the history of
debate in the Senate. The last several years, it`s not a filibuster used
on occasion with an issue of great national consequence where a minority
feels deeply and intensely about it. It`s used routinely even in
nominations and on legislation that ultimately passes unanimously, simply
as a weapon of obstruction.
You`re now allowed after a filibuster is broken, 30 hours of debate.
Republicans have decided to use all 30 hours. They don`t debate, just so
they can run out the clock in effect.
But it`s not the only thing. You know, it`s not just the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau. It`s the Center for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, to keep the health law from being implemented. And it`s also, I
should add, you know, when you look at examples of things that have gone
wrong. We had Republicans in the Senate push hard for a commission to deal
with the debt problem, a congressionally-constituted commission with more
teeth than the Simpson-Bowles one that was ultimately created. In the end,
seven original co-sponsors in the Senate of that bill voted against their
own bill to preserve a filibuster because they didn`t want to give
President Obama what would look like a victory.
HAYES: This is one of the key elements of this, I think. So, there
is -- there are the institutional problems, the way the filibuster has been
HAYES: The fact that we have this constitutional system of checks and
balances, and not a parliamentary system, which worked when you don`t have
parties that act in a parliamentary manner. But when you have parties that
act in a parliamentary manner, you get this dysfunction, but also this idea
that it has become the case that if I am a Republican and a Democrat adopts
my position, I by definition can no longer endorse said position.
HAYES: Which makes any kind of compromise impossible. And we`ve seen
it on the individual mandate, which of course emanated from the hallowed
halls of conservative think tanks. We saw it on -- we`ve seen it on
climate change. Why is this -- what changed to make this the case?
MANN: It tells you it`s more than ideological differences. It`s an
all-out war. It means as an opposition party, you are prepared to change
your position if it will prevent the president of the other party from
realizing any kind of victory.
HAYES: But why -- but this is the thing that I never understand when
we tell this story. When we try to think about this story.
HAYES: That has always been the case. Why weren`t, that those
incentives, incentives for total obstruction seem to me always to be the
case in politics, right?
MANN: Oh, yes.
HAYES: I mean, you always want to beat the other guy. You want to
beat his brains in, if politics ain`t bean bag, I mean so why isn`t the
case -- why hasn`t that always been the case? Why haven`t former Republican
majorities said, oh, you know what, now that you believe in this, we don`t
any more. Why is that not--
ORNSTEIN: Problem-solving used to be the name of the game. And I can
go back to Everett Dirksen, working with Lyndon Johnson to get the Voting
Rights Act through, in a way that was not necessarily going to work to the
advantage of his party, at least in the short-run. The problem-solving now
-- partly it`s the era of the permanent campaign -- has taken a back seat
to short-term victories.
HAYES: See, that sounds suspiciously like a platitude to me. And I
want to dig into that right after we take a break.
HAYES: We`re talking with Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein about their
book, "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks," which is about dysfunctional
government in Washington, particularly the extremism of the Republican
Party and how that -- the party has evolved in such an extreme fashion that
it`s made governance extremely difficult, if not impossible in Washington.
I just want to give a little empirical grounding to this, because
there`s one of these -- this is one of these arguments you can have that
can begin to sound very abstract about who is more extreme than whom.
Politicians have actually come up -- Keith Poole -- sorry, political
scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal have come up with this now
somewhat famous index, called the DW Nominate score, which is a way of
analyzing where parties are in their ideological extremism, and here`s a
graph showing House polarization 1879 to 2011. And what you see is a real
-- that upwards tick of the 90 percent Republican and 10 percent
Republican, which are the ends of the party, they shoot up much faster than
the bottom two lines, which means they`re veering off to the right much
faster than the Democrats are veering off to the left, and the same thing
more or less in the Senate, if they can just show that up, although that`s
a little messier.
But if you look at the DW Nominate scores, there is some empirical
But we were talking about what the causal story of it is, and you say
they`ve become implacably opposed to the political opposition they face.
But I don`t understand why that`s different than someone you say, well, it
used to be about problem-solving. Well, why was it about problem-solving
before? Why were there a certain set of cultural norms that pertained in
Washington before and now those norms are different?
MANN: It`s a combination of things, you know. Partly, there were
prior to this polarization a number of Republicans who were outside of that
zeitgeist, who wanted to legislate. But over time, they came to leave the
party, and the center of gravity in the party became vehemently ideological
and oppositional. And then, the backdrop to this in the broader society
with the new media really came to support a whole new set of norms that
said, we -- we are engaged in a holy war.
HAYES: But why are -- yes, Michelle.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARDCENTER.ORG: I`m sitting back, and not as a
political scientist, just as your average citizen watching all of this.
And I look at the differences between how Republicans and Democrats
interact with one another, with the Democrat sitting in the White House.
And Republicans hated Bill Clinton. But he was able to get welfare reform
passed. He was able to get NAFTA passed. And so you have to sit back and
you have to ask yourself, well, what`s different now? We`ve got Barack
Obama in office, and all of a sudden the polarization to me seems to be
even worse. The anger, the statements of we want to take our country back.
And there`s a part of me that has to ask, do you feel in doing the research
for the book, that any of this has, in any way whatsoever has to do with
the fact there are a lot of people on the right who are frankly just angry
that the president of the United States is a black man, and are willing to
basically destroy the country from a legislative perspective just to make
sure that not only does he not win, but the Democrats don`t win.
I mean, we`ve got push-back on passing the Violence Against Women Act.
Push-back on so many different legislative things that you would think
would be a complete no-brainer.
HAYES: How big is the racial component to this?
ORNSTEIN: Race is never far from the surface in American politics.
But if you look back at some of the things written and said about Bill
Clinton in 1993 and `94, I mean, I remember "Wall Street Journal"
editorials that placed him close to being an accessory to murder when he
was governor of Arkansas.
And it`s true that in `96, we got cooperation. But in `94 and `95, we
had total opposition, unanimous opposition to everything. It worked in the
`94 elections. Then we got the shut-down of the government. Newt saw that
that was going to lead to a disaster for Republicans in Congress and
cooperated through a year and a half. And then of course we led to
impeachment. And I think, you know, if we`re looking at causes of this,
Newt is a major part. And part of it is understandable.
HAYES: A pioneer.
ORNSTEIN: Well, the fact is, when Republicans were problem-solving,
they were in the minority, and that was for 40 consecutive years. Newt saw
the way to move it to a majority. It took him 16 years, but he got it.
And now we`re in an era of party competition, where anybody can win. You
put that together with the demise of moderate Republicans and the stakes
being much higher, and all of this is a toxic stew, and we (inaudible) race
HAYES: Let me just make quickly the point that part of what -- in
terms of race never being far from the surface. Of course, the thing that
made moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats was the scrambling of
the essentially the country working through the politics of reconstruction
and the Civil War for 100 years after it happened, 120, 140 years after it
happened, right? So we had this historical accident in terms of partisan
affiliation that created northeastern moderate Republicans, it created
conservative Southern Democrats. That sorting process essentially worked
itself out, so you don`t have this crossing anymore. But that crossing,
which people kind of pine for, was just happened to be a historical
accident about which party essentially occupied the South during
Reconstruction. And there`s no like justification for it, and it`s also
hard to see how we go back to that, right? That was an historical accident.
We can`t reconstitute the strange partisan affiliations of geography that
were borne out by the Civil War.
STEELE: I agree with that, but I think you also have to look at this
from the angle of, you know, it`s not just the, you know, Republican
conservatives who kind of found their teeth and their bearing now, you
know, on policy and other issues. But you also look at the impact within
the Democratic Party as well. I mean, you`ve got this -- the Blue Dog
democrats, as much as we pine for moderate Republicans, oh, my God, where
are they? Well, where is that conservative voice, that moderate voice
within the Democratic Party? And to the point about Barack Obama,
absolutely race is not just beneath the surface, it is on the surface.
BERNARD: It is on the surface.
STEELE: OK? That`s number one. For both parties, quite frankly.
Number two, I think the reality of it is, with Barack Obama versus Bill
Clinton, you have much more of an ideological split. Bill Clinton, for
whatever you want to say about him, was a good old boy. He was a home boy.
He had the conservatism in him to a degree that people felt more
comfortable than they do with someone ideologically --
HAYES: But wait a minute. Let`s correct the record here for a
second. You say that now, but that was not what Republicans were saying
about Bill Clinton. They were calling him a socialist, draft-dodging, pot-
STEELE: Let me finish my point and I`ll be quiet. But I got that.
You are absolutely right. But to the point you made, Bill Clinton did
something that hasn`t happened yet. And that is, found those pieces of
legislation where -- where a Newt Gingrich and he could work together.
Newt, just like Reagan had Tip O`Neill, Clinton had, you know, Newt. Who
does Obama have? It`s a very different climate.
HAYES: OK, now, you were shaking your head vigorously, because you
think this is incorrect, this is totally theoretically and historically
invalid. And I want you to explain why after the break.
HAYES: Michael Steele just made the case that you hear often, which
is that both parties are at fault with polarization, and Barack Obama has
refused to compromise in ways that others would. You were shaking your
head during that--
STEELE: He was having a small conniption.
HAYES: Why is that not the case?
MANN: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are very much alike,
ideologically and even in terms of procedure and approach to the
Republicans. Democrats had their days of extreme movement. That would be
the `60s and early `70s. But once the Dixiecrats left the Democratic
Party, the rest of them have stayed on a pretty even keel. The movement
has been on the Republican side of the aisle. You ask where are the
moderate Democrats? They`re in the White House. They`re in the leadership.
They are now --
HAYES: Believe me, I agree.
MANN: They are a center-left party that would like nothing better
than to make deals to preserve the social safety net, to deal with the
problems of budget deficits and the rest.
STEELE: So Barack Obama`s politically tone-deaf then. Because he
can`t seem to find that core that Bill Clinton did, to get --
HAYES: No, what he`s saying is the Republicans are on strike.
MANN: It`s entirely a matter of what the Republican Party is doing.
Because they are the ones that have become much more committed to all-out
opposition. Barack Obama`s election was the occasion for an explicit
statement from the Republicans, we are in this to defeat Barack Obama. We
have no interest in passing a welfare reform bill. We`re in a war. And
that`s what it`s all about.
HAYES: Can I offer my own theory? Because you`re telling a cultural
story and about the way that norms change and the way that conservative
institutions have promoted that and the political entrepreneurship of a
young Newt Gingrich. How much do you think -- my own version of the story
has to do with inequality, and the version of the story is that there`s a
set of interests, political, economic interests that are at the core of the
Republican Party and a set of the core of the Democratic Party, and the
inequality allows the Republican Party to be more extreme. It`s not trying
to simultaneously represent capital and labor the way the Democratic Party
is. It has -- it can essentially just represent the interests of the
Chamber of Commerce and be protected.
ORNSTEIN: Well, I do think in the post-Citizens United world, it`s
going to be become more and more the case that you become a handmaiden to a
small group of people who will put billions in. And they will threaten to
put the billions against you if you don`t go along with it. That`s a part
But I think it`s broader than that. It`s a strategic decision made by
leaders. Getting back to Michael`s questions, if you just look at some
examples. The health care bill was not just the individual mandate. This
was the Republican alternative drafted by Grassley and Hatch to the 1993
Clinton bill, which of course they opposed totally. Not a single vote for
it in either House --and grafted on to the Romneycare bill.
And we went through seven months. This wasn`t Obama saying take it or
leave it. Seven months of painful negotiations in the Senate, where
Grassley himself, who opposed everything he`d supported before, stood up
and said I`ve been told by the leadership unless we get 70 percent of the
Republicans in the Senate, we`re not going to do it.
Look at the stimulus; 40 percent of it almost was tax cuts. No votes
in the House three weeks into the presidency. And we know that it was a
strategic choice made inaugural eve by leaders.
HAYES: Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, and I`m sorry, you have some
discussion of solutions here, and obviously we could do two hours on this
topic. And in some ways it is the core central topic of our politics. You
have some solutions in here, which we`re not going to get to today, but
I`ll that in the tease to have you back up on the program, because I`d love
to have you back. And keep talking about this.
The authors of the new book "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks." Thanks
for joining us.
What we should know for the news week ahead, coming up next.
HAYES: In just a moment, what you should know for the week ahead.
But first a personal update. You may have heard me say before, I have a
book coming out on June 12th. It`s called "Twilight of the Elites: America
After Meritocracy." And it`s about the crisis of authority in American
life and the national mood of distrust of our pillar institutions. It`s
available for preorder at online retailers. The update is that I`ll be
doing book events in New York City on June 12th and the 14th. I would love
to see you there, or any of the other upcoming appearances around the
country. You can find those at facebook.com/twilightoftheelites/events, or
on the "Up With Chris Hayes" website.
So what should you know for the week coming up? As you watch Congress
discuss avoiding another debt debacle as the campaign ramps up, you should
know a "Wall Street Journal"-NBC News poll found that Democrats had had a
big change of heart when it comes to whether a president should stand up
for his convictions or seek common ground. In 2007, Democrats strongly
preferred a president who sought middle ground by 54 percent to 35 percent.
Today, they prefer a president who stands on conviction by 50 percent to 45
percent. You should also note, however, that Republicans are still the
group least likely to value a president who seeks common ground. The poll
found that 65 percent of Americans want a president who stands for his
You should know the polarization we`re seeing in this country is not
symmetric. Republicans are moving much further to the right than Democrats
are moving to the left. You should know that part of the cause of this are
that the members of the parties themselves have very different views on
You should know the future of financial regulatory reform is in your
hands. "Rolling Stone`s Matt Taibbi recently wrote about attempts to
limit, cut and just outright block implementation of the Dodd-Frank bill.
It`s a topic that we have covered quite a bit on this show, and you should
know "Rolling Stone" is teaming up with Thunderclap to use social media to
call attention to the backroom shenanigans of banks and their lobbyists.
You should know Thunderclap is a social media tool that allows a whole
bunch of people to tweet the same message at the same time, and Taibbi is
enlisting his readers to join it, so they can direct concerted messages to
elected representatives overseeing the implementation of Dodd-Frank, and
push back against those seeking to block it outside the light of public
scrutiny. You should know you can find out how to be a part of that by
going to thunderclap.ip.
You should know that Tuesday is election day in Wisconsin, where
voters will have the opportunity to replace Republican Governor Scott
Walker, as well as four incumbent senators. One senator has already
resigned rather than face the recall election.
You should know that Wisconsin recall really is the single most
expensive race in the history of that state. You should know Walker has
raised $30.5 million since January 2011 and has spent almost all of it. Of
the total Walker has raised, 59 percent has come from out of state,
according to the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." Democrat Tom Barrett has
raised just $3.9 million since entering the race in March, and just 26
percent of Barrett`s donations came from outside Wisconsin.
You should know the right wing of the conservative establishment and
anti-union business interests around the country view this election as a
decisive moment for finishing the project they have been working on for 80
years -- extinguishing organized labor in this country once and for all.
You should know it is entirely possible and increasingly likely we will
wake up one morning in the near future and there won`t be a single union
left in America. You should know that future is not inevitable.
I want to find out what my guests think we should know for the week
coming up. Let`s begin with you, Mr. Michael Steele, what should folks
STEELE: I think you should know that when Scott Walker wins on
HAYES: Talking smack.
STEELE: Yes, a little bit, but the reality of it is, nothing changes.
In other words, you`re going to get into this summer lull, people are going
to start to retrench a little bit and gear up for the real battle this
November. So there`s going to be a little bit of hoopla Wednesday,
Thursday, but you should know it really doesn`t mean anything. Look for
boots on the ground and organization, not commercials and big money being
spent on commercials. But how the two parties organize themselves over
HAYES: Michelle Bernard, what should folks know?
BERNARD: I think people should know going into actually the next week
and the next year that the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, I
think probably one of the most important civil rights organizations in the
country, getting ready to celebrate their 50th anniversary. It`s called
Towards Justice. They are here. They will have boots on the ground
probably in every state in the country. Suppression of the vote is
probably I think one of the largest crimes we`re seeing committed on a
state by state basis in the United States, and the Lawyers Committee for
Civil Rights Under Law is here to help all Americans protect their right to
HAYES: We talked a lot about the things that are happening in Florida
and Wisconsin and 15 states around the nation. We`re going to keep
Randi Weingarten, what should folks know?
WEINGARTEN: So we started the hour talking about -- or two hours
talking about all this new organization and how social media and
individuals have kind of taken over in terms of this organization. Well,
the uber-uber-group of Netroots is meeting this week on Thursday to
Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island. It is a group of progressive
bloggers and others who talk about what to do in terms of boots on the
ground and using social media to really shine a light on all of these
HAYES: I am going to (inaudible) -- I`ve gone to Netroots Nation,
I`ve spoken there, I`ve been on panels. It`s always really a great time.
WEINGARTEN: It`s an amazing--
HAYES: It`s really good to meet people. It`s a lot of people that
just -- you know, it`s a lot of people that are, you know, teachers or
firefighters or insurance executives, they are just from all over the
country who have tremendous commitment and passion about progressive
HAYES: It`s a great experience.
WEINGARTEN: It`s a great experience.
HAYES: Bob Herbert.
HERBERT: This is in the context of the recent dismal jobs numbers.
Only a little more than half of recent college graduates even have full-
time jobs, and many of them are working in jobs that do not require a
college education. So that has implications. We know the economy is not
working very well right now, but that raises the question of whether the
economy as presently structured even can work.
HAYES: That, you know, you`ve opened up with like, you know, a few
seconds left in the show, you`ve opened up a big topic, which I think is
something we really need to talk about. And there`s a really interesting
debate that`s been happening among economists and wonks about whether the
problems that we`re facing in the labor market are cyclical or whether they
are structural. And there are very profound differences in the policy
implications of the answer to that question, and there`s interestingly I
think there is a progressive version of a structural vision of the problems
in the economy, and a conservative vision of the structural.
HERBERT: That`s right.
HAYES: And those are two different conversations, and they all end up
getting kind of thrown together and tangled up.
HERBERT: It confuses the situation.
HAYES: It does. And there`s obviously a lot of structural things we
need to address.
I want to thank my guests today. MSNBC political analyst Michael
Steele. Michelle Bernard from the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and
Public Policy. Randi Weingarten, from the American Federation of Teachers.
And Bob Herbert, from the Demos think tank. Thank you all.
Thank you for joining us. We will be back next weekend, Saturday and
Sunday, at 8:00 Eastern time. You can stay up to date on info about next
week`s show by checking us out online at up.msnbc.com.
Coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." Melissa is going to lay out
her vision for the affirmative case to voters that President Obama should
be making. She`ll also be arguing Wisconsin is not a bellwether. And
you`re going to want to hear why. And (inaudible) -- she`s dancing in the
background. We`ll take a hard look at the epidemic of violence in our
nation`s cities. Why are some cities seeing a spike in shooting deaths.
Marc Morial will join Melissa for that. You -- all right. You succeeded
in distracting me.
That is Melissa Harris-Perry coming up next, and we`ll see you next
week here on "UP."
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