Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: November 1, 2014
Guest: Katon Dawson, Maya Harris, Cristina Beltran, Hedy Weinberg, Ian
Haney-Lopez, Kai Wright, Cristina Beltran, Joe Madison, Aaron Phillips,
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: This morning my question, is Scott
Walker fooling anybody in Wisconsin?
Plus, President Obama`s stealth campaign and Jeff Chang on the colorization
of America. But first, it`s the first Saturday of November. Happy Sadie
Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. Tonight in high schools across
the country, teenagers will be dancing and socializing around the punch
bowl in the beautifully awkward way they do at that age. So many things in
high school culture have changed over the years. But not the principal
idea behind Sadie Hawkins dances. Whether it`s at Hunter High School in
Salt Lake City, Utah. Or Michigan City High School in Michigan City,
Indiana. Or Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. The
young men at these dances will be the invited dates of the young women in
attendance. The popular American tradition has evolved some over the
decades. I mean the clever and inventive new ways that girls ask their
dates are now documented on, shared on Pinterest boards. But it all
started with a comic strip in the 1930s. Remember Al Capp? Creation Li`l
Abner? He was the naive immature son of Mammy and Pappy Yokum in the
fictional dogtown of Dogpatch, USA. Now, this strip, a long running satire
of American life in politics also included a character named Sadie Hawkins
who was in search of a husband in Dogpatch. One day in November, 1937,
Sadie`s father rounded up all the town`s bachelors for a foot race.
Whoever Sadie caught had to marry her.
Soon after the comic was published the tradition took route. College
campuses started holding Sadie Hawkins dances as early as 1939, in which
roles were reversed. Girls were able to choose their dates. The trend
would reach a fever pitch before Sadie finally caught up with Li`l Abner in
the comic and married him in 1952.
Now, fast forward to Tuesday where the importance of a woman`s choice will
translate at the polls. We could just as well call it the Sadie Hawkins
election, because women will be key, and not just in deciding who wins and
loses. In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan-Grimes is trying to unseat Senate
Republican leader Mitch McConnell in an incredibly tight race. Equal pay
for equal women has been a common rallying cry for Grimes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON LUNDERGAN-GRIMES, (D-KY) CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: When it comes to a
senator that after 30 years hasn`t learned that the women of this state, of
this nation, deserve equal pay for equal work. He says that preferential
treatment. Are we ready to deliver a knockout? Let me hear you say yes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: In Iowa, poll data show Republican Joni Ernst is widening
her lead over her Democratic opponent Bruce Braley. Ballot measures in
three states, Tennessee, Colorado and North Dakota, could, if approved,
jeopardize a woman`s constitutionally protected right to choose. And just
four days before voters head to the polls, President Obama gave a speech
Friday on the economy. And administration policies directed at, you
guessed it, women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While many women are working
hard to support themselves and their families, they`re still facing unfair
choices. Outdated workplace policies.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Yes!
OBAMA: That holds them back. But it also holds all of us back. We have
to do better because women deserve better. And by the way, when women do
well, everybody does well.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Those remarks were delivered in Rhode Island. One of the
country`s bluest states. But where gubernatorial race is quite close. The
Democratic candidate is a woman, and it`s no secret the women`s vote is
key. But it is, of course, a little more complicated than that. Let me
take you back to the last time we talked about the gender gap here on MHP.
It involved Virginia last year when Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of
Virginia and the credit widely went to women voters. It`s true, women came
out strong voting against McAuliffe`s opponent, Attorney General Bob (ph)
Cuccinelli and his policies against reproductive rights. But here`s the
important takeaway. McAuliffe didn`t win among all women. He won among
black women. Take a look.
In 2013 McAuliffe captured 51 percent of the overall women`s vote. But he
received only 38 percent of white women`s votes. And an overwhelming 91
percent of African-American women`s votes.
Let`s underline that. Nearly every black woman in the state of Virginia
who voted, voted for McAuliffe. That`s exactly what happened in President
Obama`s re-election in 2012. He won the votes of women of color.
And now a new report. This one right here, reveals just how much of a
growing force women of color are in the American electorate. According to
the Center for American Progress, in the last two years, more than 2
million women of color have joined the vote eligible population, and since
2000, there are more than 12 million new eligible women of color voters and
these eligible voters are exercising that right at very high rates.
Research shows in the last election cycle, black women registered and voted
at the highest rate of any group of voters across race, gender and
ethnicity. A turnout rate of 70 percent.
This report shows women of color have increasingly the potential to sway
electoral results, influence which candidates run and when and play a
greater role in shaping the policy agenda. Joining me now, the author of
that report, Maya Harris, a senior fellow at the Center for American
So, Maya, I want to start with this. It`s not quite a myth of the gender
gap. But it is a misunderstanding of the gender gap. Is it really a
gender gap, or is it a race gap? What is it?
MAYA HARRIS, SR. FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, you know,
it`s race and gender. And I mean that`s why, you know, I wanted to do this
research and do this report. Because what we uncovered is - I mean it`s
not that simple, right? Which is that women of color are the fastest
growing segment of America`s largest voting bloc, which is women. They are
also the most active segment of the people of color vote. You know, in
terms of their turnout rates. And so, what we have seen in terms of the
participation that they have, it`s really, really dramatic. You need to
actually dig deep into the numbers to see what that really means. So you
highlighted at the top of the show the fact that over the last, you know,
period of time, women of color have grown, you know, 12 million voters.
That is 72 percent. The growth in the voting eligible population of women,
is women of color. Just in the last two years since 2012 the voting
eligible population growth of women, it`s been 90 percent women of color.
And so, what`s important is actually to look at the intersection of these
two things, because what we do in our conversation about the gender gap is
we talk about women. We talk about people of color.
HARRIS: So our conversation tends to be all gender, no race.
HARRIS: All race no gender.
HARRIS-PERRY: All the women are white. All the blacks are men. And some
of us are all brave.
HARRIS: Exactly. And the women of color standing at the intersection and
they are invisible. And so, what`s this report was designed to do was
actually to make these numbers visible to really, you know, illustrate the
power inherent in women of color.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, allow me to understand that. Because if you kind of
take the back and you say, OK, typically when we look at what ought to
predict voter turnout. Not voter choice, but just voter turnout, it should
be education, it should be income. A variety of things where African-
American women, like Dena`s (ph), other women of color actually end up
relatively low on the scale. And yet overwhelmingly outperforming. What
is it that is bringing women of color to the polls that is clearly
different than sort of what our typical models of what should bring people
to turnout are?
HARRIS: Well, I think that women of color have a lot at stake in what
happens in our elections. And the fact is that the, you know, the issues
that are at the center of the lives of women of color don`t often make it
to the center of our political agenda. So they have a lot of stake in
participating. You know, it`s sort of if you`re unseen, unheard, people
are unaccountable to you. And so I think that women of color understand
the importance of government. They understand the importance of who is
selected to represent us in government. And I think that that helps to
drive their participation. They really do have a deep stake in what
happens in these elections.
HARRIS-PERRY: I wonder, though, if given how the importance of women of
color in these key elections, putting everyone from the president to the
governor of Virginia in their office, if nonetheless there still seems to
be a lack of accountability. I mean, when I think about can I articulate a
black woman`s agenda. Can I articulate a Latina agenda? If I could, and
it might be hard, I would still have an awful hard time showing that these
candidates who are now office holders as a result of these voters, have
been actively pursuing that agenda.
HARRIS: Well, I think that, you know, that speaks to a couple of different
things. One is, that it`s not just about casting your vote on Election
Day. You actually have to stay engaged with your political
representatives, with the political process in between elections. To hold
people accountable. So I think that the mobilization, the organization of
women of color between elections is really important in order to seek that
kind of accountability. But it also points to the point about, you know,
being engaged in every election cycle. You know, not just in presidential
elections. But also in midterm elections. Which is where women and women
of color tend to fall off.
HARRIS-PERRY: So why in - within the African-American communities are
African-American women so much a greater proportion of the voters? Is it
about fellow disenfranchisement? Or, so, in other words, is it about black
men being shut out or is it about black women actually being more active
than their white counterparts? These of the - these are the men in the
HARRIS: You know, I have to look more deeply into that to give a
definitive answer. But I would suspect it`s both. You know, women - Black
women really are leaders in their communities, leaders in the families.
You know, they get other people to the polls. They get other people to
vote. They talk about the issues in their families. They talk about the
importance of actually going out and voting. So, I think, you know, in the
example that you gave, black women, they tend to be active in terms of
their civic engagement and civic participation. But there`s no doubt that
issues around disenfranchisement have had an extraordinary impact on the
black vote and in particular, the vote of black men.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks. Stay with us, Maya. I`m going to bring in some
additional voices to the discussion, as we take a look at specific races in
everything from women and their guns to threats of castration to the weird
thing about having two last names. What do I know about that? We are
three days out from the election and there`s a lot to get to. We`re going
to be right back. I`m going to clean my glasses so I can see some.
HARRIS-PERRY: When you run for office part of the deal is getting to know
the people you want to represent. And vice versa. Yes, you can work the
crowds and give speeches, yes you can craft quirky and memorable campaign
ads. But one of the best ways to make sure voters know you, and know where
you stand, is to sit down with the people who really know the local issues
at stake, local reporters. That`s why national media takes notice when key
candidates sit down with the editorial boards of their local newspapers.
It`s a chance for reporters to go one on one with the candidate and really
dig deep on the issues that matter to their readers. These meetings are
often newsworthy, and that`s not surprising. And for some candidates, even
a little uncomfortable. Just ask Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic
candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky. During interview last
month with the editorial board of the Curio Journal, she was asked who she
voted for in the last presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you vote for President Obama, 2008, 2012?
ALISON LUNDERGAN-GRIMES (D-KY), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: You know, this
election isn`t about the president. It`s about making sure we put
Kentuckians back to work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you vote for him?
LUNDERGAN-GRIMES: I respect the sanctity of the ballot box. And I know
that the members of this editorial board do as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you`re not going to answer?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks in part to a 2010 interview with the newspaper
editorial board, we know how Wisconsin`s Republican Governor Scott Walker
really feels about reproductive rights. You say you might be confused by
his recent campaign ad that seems to suggest he considers abortion an issue
between a woman and her doctor. It is so far from his real record that I
even sent him a letter about it recently. And it`s a far cry from the hard
line he took in the 2010 interview with the editorial board of the
Milwaukee journal "Sentinel."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the same issue. You oppose abortion even in cases
of rape and incest. Tell me if I got that right?
SCOTT WALKER: That`s correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: From Scott Walker`s moment of truth to another candidate`s
moment of bizarreness before losing in the Republican primary for Oregon`s
U.S. Senate seat. Mark Callahan was asked to leave a meeting with the
editorial board of the local paper, week after testy exchanges like this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Climate change, do you believe it`s a myth or a
MARK CALLAHAN, (R-OR) CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: It`s a myth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you on the Easter bunny?
CALLAHAN: What`s that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, where are you on the Easter bunny?
CALLAHAN: Are these really the questions that I was called here to answer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We represent .
CALLAHAN: I called you out for putting blah blah blah blah on your notepad
and now you`re asking me questions like this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe Iowa`s Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Joni
Ernst was hoping to avoid a scene like that when she decided to just skip
meetings with the editorial boards of three key Iowa newspapers. "The Des
Moines Register," "The Cedar Rapids Gazette" and "The Dubuque Telegraph-
Harold." Or maybe she hoped her now famous hog castration ad would be
enough to have voters squealing with delight. Ernst says she skipped the
meeting with "The Des Moines Register" because she knew the editorial board
would endorse her opponent. Democrat Bruce Braley. Ultimately, she was
right. All three of the newspapers she dissed, just turned and endorsed
Braley. Maybe Ernst didn`t want to risk her slim lead over her opponent.
The last Quinnipiac poll shows her with a four-point advantage heading into
the final weekend of the campaign. Or maybe, just maybe Ernst didn`t want
to face those editorial boards because she knew she would have to face some
pretty tough questions on everything from her position on guns to the role
of gender in the race. And why a woman poised to make history in Iowa is
not winning over Iowa women. That story when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is looking to make
history by becoming the first woman ever to represent Iowa in either house
of Congress. Ernst isn`t running as a breaker of glass ceilings, but she
has skillfully created her own unconventional brand of femininity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mom, farm girl and a lieutenant colonel who carries
more than just lipstick in her purse. Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful
spending, and once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni is going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s not forget the ad that rocketed her to the top of a
crowded primary field, where she defeated four opponents, all of them men.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST: I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to
Washington, I`ll know how to cut pork. Washington`s full of big spenders.
Let`s make them squeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, you got to love it. Her strategy looks like it`s
working in the general election. It`s still a tight race, but according to
the latest Quinnipiac poll, Ernst is up four points over her opponent,
Democrat Bruce Braley. But it`s not because Ernst is raking in the votes
of her fellow Iowa women. The Republican gender gap is still in play as
much as ever. According to Quinnipiac, Ernst is trailing Braley when it
comes to women voters, 50 percent back Braley. Only 42percent back Ernst.
But she`s handedly beating Braley among male voters by 17 points. And this
is all part of Ernst`s strategy. She was never trying to overcome the
gender gap, to win women`s voters by virtue of her too being a woman. As
she told "The New York Times," I`m not running on my gender." Back with me
is Maya Harris, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Joining us now also is Katon Dawson, a national Republican consultant, and
former South Carolina GOP chair and Cristina Beltran, associate professor
of social and cultural analysis at NYU.
So Katon, is it that Republican women just make more sense as midterm
candidates because they`re running on a kind of like being a woman that
defies sort of narrowly defined femininity? And after all, it`s more men
that are going to show up to vote in this election.
KATON DAWSON, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Let me - I think Joni is
probably one of the most authentic candidates we have in the country. What
you see is what you get. She - you know, the big point about men is Joni
hit the entire target when she was shooting the gun pretty good. She was
on target, on message. I tell you what I did find out about Republican
primaries especially, Melissa. In South Carolina, but very disappointed
early on about electing women in Republican primaries. Better candidates,
more articulate. And in the early 2000s, Melissa, we couldn`t get anybody
elected. We did a big survey on the universities. I did just - and we
found out the reason why our women weren`t winning was the female voters.
They were asking three more questions of women than they were men. And I
thought it would have been the male vote was holding us back from electing
women in the Republican Party. That wasn`t the case. It was female voters
asking, are you qualified? What are you going to do with your children?
Can you do the job? The male voters weren`t asking any of that. They were
- did you hit the target? Are you talking about taxes?
HARRIS-PERRY: Can you castrate a hog?
DAWSON: Yeah, can you cut a hog .
DAWSON: So he gets bigger in the offseason? I understand that.
HARRIS-PERRY: But that`s interesting to me. This idea that in this case,
as we`re thinking about a gender gap, it`s in the other direction, and I`m
wondering if we see something here, we typically think of sort of women
candidates as having a trouble getting male voters, but if instead the
issue is that women are less likely to cross the partisan divide in order
to just vote for a woman because of an identity politics connection.
CRISTINA BELTRAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Right, right.
It seems like clearly women in some ways are generally populations like
African-Americans, Latinos, are a little bit more pragmatic than that. I
think they tend to look at policy and take that somewhat seriously, right?
Like that`s something that matters to them. But I think the other thing
that`s really interesting here is that we have often talked about the
Republican war on women. We`ve talked about the Republican Party`s
anxieties about race. But we don`t talk enough about are the pleasures of
multicultural conservatism and the male voters enjoy supporting women
candidates. They agree with ideologically. And so, I think there`s a
certain kind of pleasure that conservatives take in voting, white voters
take in voting for candidates of color, and male voters take in supporting
a woman. What it makes them feel like, the pleasure they take in her
changing up traditional gender norms. So, there`s something else going on
there that we don`t tend to notice.
HARRIS: You know, I mean I just - this is a fascinating race. Because I
think, you know, she`s made her appeal to men. Quite successfully so. But
she has some appeal to women. And, you know, but I think at the end of the
day, for, you know, women voters the question is not really so much, you
know, what she looks like and more, you know, what she stands for. And
this is where when women voters actually care about the issues when they
show up to the polls, and they want to know where you stand, this is where
you know she runs into trouble. And she has run into trouble when she, you
know, in her talking about the personhood amendment, you know, you know, in
the segment that you talked about her not showing up for the editorial
boards. You know, I mean staying away from having to talk about the
issues, and in particular the issues that affect women. Because in some
ways her record is not going to help her with women voters if they do turn
up to the polls.
HARRIS-PERRY: So it`s interesting to me. Because part of it is this kind
of substantive issue question. But the other part of it is the style. So,
you know, here we have Ernst who`s projecting a certain kind of style. The
other interesting style question comes up literally in just women`s names.
So if you`re going to run like a man, one of the questions becomes, which
man? Should you run like your daddy or your husband? Nunn is getting all
kinds of pushback for using the name Nunn, which is her father`s name. And
Hillary Clinton when she was Hillary Rodham Clinton, back in `92, all kinds
of grief for keeping both her father and her husband`s name.
BELTRAN: Right. Right. I mean there was a lot going on. She was Hillary
Rodham, if you remember, in the `92 primary. I mean she was Rodham. And
so then Rodham Clinton and then now we have lost the Rodham. So, it`s just
sort of peaks to the fact that even though she is an incredibly popular
woman, there is still enormous anxiety about gender norms, and what it
means to be a feminist and what it means to perform femininity. Like in
some ways, it`s interesting that conservatives can actually perform kind of
complicated gender roles in ways that people feel more comfortable with or,
I don`t know, just sort of attend to in different ways than -- if a
Democratic woman talked about castration, it would come across very
differently I think to the popular media. They wouldn`t be nearly as
enamored of it as having a conservative woman do it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I think we first saw this in sort of the ways in which
Sarah Palin changed what a national candidate looked like immediately on
the heels of Hillary Clinton`s run for the presidential nomination. That
was meant to have launched Katon, in 2010, the year of the Republican
women. There were all of these Republican women who ran for the first
time. But then we actually saw a regression in the number actually
elected. So, if this year ends up being a kind of year of the woman for
Republican women, can these women actually make it into office, and if they
do, are they good for women more broadly?
DAWSON: Yeah, I think, look at Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina,
Indian-American woman, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, the Republican Party
is doing OK. We have got a long way to go. Tim Scott, African-American
Republican senator is going to overwhelmingly win on Tuesday. So we have
come a lot further than we have. We have got a lot of things to do. But
when you watch that Joni Ernst. And you watch - it`s going to be how they
perform when they get into office. Because again, the female voters watch
policy more careful than the old voters. I know that it statistically as
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to take a look here, and take - listen for a moment
to Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning for Alison Lundergan Grimes. And
come out and ask you a quick question, Maya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D) FMR. SECY. OF STATE: It`s just unbelievable that in
this day and time someone would be telling the women of Kentucky they don`t
deserve equal pay for equal work. If there is only one reason that will
motivate you to go vote in 20 days, put that at the top of the list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is equal pay for equal work the kind of thing that will
motivate you to go vote in 20 days?
HARRIS: Will it motivate me to go vote? I mean what we have seen in the
polls is that this is an issue that resonates overwhelmingly. Not just
with women, but also across the political spectrum with men, too. I mean
the question of whether or not women are getting equal pay for equal work
is a salient issue among women voters, and frankly, you know, all voters.
And so, I mean they`re hitting the women`s issues hard. Because in this
race, obviously, the turnout is going to be really key, you know, on
Election Day of women and you know, these economic issues are what women
are talking about. What they`re concerned about in terms of, you know,
feeding their families and being able to take care of themselves. So those
issues do resonate.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, Scott Walker tries to woo Wisconsin women by trying
to be very un-Scott Walkerrish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In 2012, Republicans here in Wisconsin repealed a statewide fair
pay law. Now think about that. Just like I don`t understand why somebody
would be against somebody having health insurance, I don`t understand why
would you want to repeal a law to make sure women are treated fairly on the
job. That`s your platform? That`s your agenda? Earlier this year, it
don`t make no sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama as we only ever see him on the
campaign trail. This week he was campaigning for Wisconsin gubernatorial
candidate Mary Burke. A year ago Burke seemed to have little chance
against the conservative darling and incumbent Scott Walker. But now poll
after poll shows her within the margin of error. And the real clear
politics pulling average has Walker up by just two points. The races a
pure tossup. Now, Burke has been able to close the gap in part by
attacking Walker`s record on women`s issues. Especially reproductive
rights and equal pay. That leaves Walker on the defense. After he was
criticized for signing a law that could shut down one of the four abortion
clinics in the state, Walker released an ad painting him as reasonable on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT WALKER: The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. For real? He is not reasonable on reproductive rights.
And just this week, Walker released an ad starring a lieutenant governor, a
woman, to respond to political attacks over Walker`s repeal of a law that
has allowed women to sue for pay discrimination in state court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary Burke wants to create more opportunities to sue.
We want to create more opportunities for women to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m not convinced, Maya, that equal pay is - so this
goes back to our very first conversation about, whenever someone says the
women`s vote, you have to say "which women?" And so, I`m not convinced
that equal pay becomes the kind of issue that really like motivates you in
those last moments to get out to the polls. Because I think individual
women of a certain class don`t see equal pay as their concern. Right? And
that - that ultimately it becomes again that same intersectional issue of
poor women. Spouse-free women, right? Women of color who in circumstances
of economic inequality, who might otherwise have also in a way voted for
HARRIS: Well, part of people - some of the people who - they are trying to
turn out are black voters in this race. And, you know, black voters .
HARRIS: In Milwaukee, right? And so that is going to be important. And I
think it will be interesting to see what happens with minimum wage also on
the ballot in terms of how, you know, that helps to drive turnout. But you
know, I mean I think that these issues are also being raised so that you
can begin to look at who these candidates really are. Because talking
about equal pay in Wisconsin means also talking about, you know, Walker
taking a position, publicly in terms of his rhetoric. But in the reality
of his politics and his policy having a completely different position. And
so, it allows you to also unpack who this person is. The same thing about
being reasonable on choice issues when, you know, he has the most extreme
position on abortion, defunded Planned Parenthood. So, when you really
peel back the curtain and start diving into some of these issues like equal
pay, like, you know, women`s health, it gives you an opportunity to see who
the candidate really is.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, this is an interesting idea. And I`m wondering about
this just from a pure strategic point, Katon, about men who are running
against women for office. Because, you know, I`m in North Carolina right
now. I`m watching Thom Tillis running against Kay Hagan, it has been
brutal. I mean on both - just some of the nastiest, most vicious attacks.
But in his closer, Tillis has now decided to play nice guy. I just want to
play this for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOM TILLIS: It`s been a long campaign, and a rough one. If you blamed
all you see on TV, you would conclude that Senator Hagan is a bad person,
and that I am, too. It`s a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean, that`s just a shame that if you believe my ad, you
would just hate her. But I mean, it`s like I - those are just part of me
like, are you serious? But I wonder, is this a strategy especially when
running against women? Do you - in the end have to pull the punch in order
to look like the nice guy?
DAWSON: You better. You better. This isn`t - a peel back to curtain
election. This is an election on the big issues. The president is six
years late on the wage issue. He`s coming in as a validator this year.
That`s almost up. He`s a little late.
HARRIS-PERRY: But he was pushing the minimum wage.
DAWSON: But he hasn`t gotten anything for it yet. So, he`s there. This
is a bigger issue election. And this is a base election. Tillis needed to
do that in North Carolina. McCrory blew out the North Carolina`s
governor`s race, and Mitt Romney won by a point and a half. He just
slimmed through. So North Carolina is still ebbing and flowing. Tillis
went in and did a lot of heavy lifting on a state that had been controlled
by the Democrats for a long time. That`s the baggage he`s been tagged
with. But there`s a good chance he wins. That one is tied to there. It
has been one of the most volatile races there. To transform back - the
three, the three political machines we`ve talked about here. And that`s
the Scott Walker - that I envy of in South Carolina. It`s Mitch
McConnell`s machine, Mary Landrieu`s and Scott Walker`s. Those are three
of the finest well-tuned political machines in history.
HARRIS-PERRY: And you mean just in terms of the capacity.
DAWSON: The mechanics ..
DAWSON: The mechanics of it. Forget about the - forget about the issue do
mechanics are moving that vote? Those three right there are on the goal
HARRIS-PERRY: So, and yet, I`m wonder then. So, if that`s the kind of the
gold standard for moving that vote. But women and particularly women of
color are increasingly becoming sort of the deciders, even in base
elections, whether or not these sort of - this old machines, right, this -
or establish machines is - maybe the way to think about it, can still move
these kinds of voters.
BELTRAN: Right. Right. I mean I think - I think you are exactly right.
That we - too often we talk about like what women want, you know .
BELTRAN: . and what women believe. And Democrats participate in this.
They say these kinds of things. I think it`s actually unhelpful, because
what it doesn`t help voters and citizens understand that there`s a
difference between identity and ideology. And that what you are is not
what you believe. Right? That there`s actually complicated relationships
between what you are and what you believe. And you are many things. You
are working class.
BELTRAN: You are African-American. You are Latino. So, I think, you
know, rather than helping people understand that, you know, the Republican
Party, I`m always sort of impressed by, I can`t decide if it`s just pure
cynicism or enormous hutzpah, to just sort of go from I was saying this,
but now it`s quite - that`s the opposite.
HARRIS-PERRY: What a shame if you were to think that Kay Hagan was a bad
person. Not that I - anything.
BELTRAN: Quite the opposite! It`s just kind of impressive. And you`re
like, how did he do that? But I think that, you know, the idea then is if
you just talk about this in terms of like women, that, of course, Scott
Walker is going to say, look, I`m woman adjacent. I`m fine. And, you
know, you can get sort of a proxy to speak for you. But ultimately that
doesn`t help us think about the real complicated issues of what different
women need politically and how you organize for that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yeah, up next, midterms are about a whole lot more than just
candidates. There are three state ballot initiatives this year that could
put women`s reproductive rights at risk. And in Tennessee some lawmakers
are just waiting for the chicks (ph).
HARRIS-PERRY: One way or the other, 2014 may go down as another one of
those infamous the year of the woman in politics year. Candidates like
Joni Ernst, Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes have made strong
impressions in their bid for the U.S. Senate. Or 2014 may mark the year of
the woman in a far more ominous way. Because it may prove to be the year
millions of American women lose access to their reproductive choices. It`s
been 41 years since the Supreme Court guaranteed all women a safe and legal
abortion access with the landmark ruling, a Roe versus Wade. In a 7 to 2
decision, Justices rule the state of Texas violated lead plaintiff Jane
Roe`s constitutional rights to privacy by denying her access to an abortion
and forcing her to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
But little by little, opponents of Roe have found places where law is
vulnerable and have managed to chip away at women`s rights. Between 2011
and 2013, individual states passed more than 200 abortion restrictions.
More than the entire previous decade. In Texas, abortion providers are
waging a legal battle over a law that would shut down all but eight clinics
in the state. Meantime, voters in Colorado and North Dakota will vote
Tuesday on personhood measures. That would effectively block abortions in
those states. And then, there is this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the Women`s Center. We need an ambulance
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re listening to an actual 911 call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is her breathing completely normal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is she changing color?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tennessee has compromised the health and safety of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does she have any abdominal pains?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m sure she does. She`s in the middle of getting an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That`s a campaign ad from Tennessee. An antiabortion
measure that critics have called insidious, deceptive and just plain crazy.
We`ll explain why next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is Amendment One simply returns our
constitution to the way it was before. Neither for abortion nor against
That`s actually not true at all. What the Tennessee Supreme Court actually
did in 2000 was to say, hey, we have a crappy law in the books.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tennessee is an abortion destination. Out of state
women now account for one out of every four abortions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was in my 20s, I was raped. By a neighbor.
If I had gotten pregnant from the rape, I would definitely have wanted an
abortion to be one of my options.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amendment one makes no exceptions for the awful
things that can happen during pregnancy. Amendment one is just government
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: What you just saw are some of the jaw dropping dueling
campaign spots inundating voters in Tennessee. In just about 72 hours they
will decide whether to overhaul the state`s constitution by radically
changing the established legal understanding that women have a right to
choose. Tennessee`s amendment one would essentially give legislators in
Nashville card blanch to restrict, regulate or repeal any abortion law in
the state. Including those that governs cases of rape, incest or when a
woman`s life is at risk. The measure reads in part, "Nothing in this
Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the
funding of an abortion."`
Conservatives in the Tennessee legislature have been trying to get
amendment one on the ballot since the controversial 2000 ruling, but the
state supreme court struck down the slate of anti-abortion measures. The
ruling also declared that Tennessee`s constitution contained a fundamental
right to privacy, including the right to terminate a pregnancy. Now
supporters of reproductive rights fear amendment one could change all of
that. Headlines like this one from my prolife web site, and the ambiguous
wording of the measure itself have convinced some that what lies ahead is
an on slaughter, restrictive new regulations. And they all out war on
reproductive rights. Joining our panel from Nashville is Hedy Weinberg who
is executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. Nice to see you this
HEDY WEINBERG: Good to see you, thank you, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, the latest poll show that opponents of amendment one are
slightly behind, but the race is simply too close to call. What are you
hearing from folks on the ground this weekend?
WEINBERG: That`s what the poll numbers are showing. We are confident that
voters will go to the ballot box on Tuesday and vote no. This is an issue
that has been discussed and debated. It is true. It`s confusing and
misleading because the proponents are putting out messages that are not
true. But individuals across the state know and believe that politicians
should not be involved in this personal health care decisions that women
make, and that in fact, that`s a decision that should be left to women,
their families, their health care providers, their faith leaders, and that
government should have no role in determining what is best for a woman`s
HARRIS-PERRY: So both sides of this debate have called the other side
HARRIS-PERRY: In this campaign. Help me to understand what the nature of
that claim is. That there`s -- that it`s not just sort of a hard fought
battle but the people are lying.
WEINBERG: Sure. You know, I think you have to start with the text of the
actual language. The text of the amendment, where it appears to say that
there are, in fact, exceptions for women who are victims of rape and
incest. Of if their life or house is in danger. And, in fact, that`s not
true. They added that language to make it appear as though there were
exceptions. But in fact, the language is very clear, and the intent of the
proponents of the amendment is very clear, that in the long term, they want
to outlaw abortion. In the short term, they want to be able to remove the
right to privacy that the Tennessee constitution found. And they want to
be able to put in place medically irrelevant and cumbersome laws that would
affect women`s ability to access safe abortions.
HARRIS-PERRY: So hold for me just one second. I actually want to come to
you for a second, Katon. I actually think that there`s a reasonable space
within public discourse for a conversation about the issues of pregnancy
termination. Like I actually think there`s space for that. But I am
legitimately surprised by a conservative movement to amend the Constitution
in an anti-libertarian direction, in other words, in order to provide more
government oversight for something. Does that make sense? So that even
within the context of their being space for discourse, this seems counter
to what Republicans say is central to their ideology?
DAWSON: Well, there`s room for a conversation. But there`s not room for a
conversation in a Republican primary. When you jump into the southern
states especially and look at the platforms of our primaries in South
Carolina and Tennessee and North Carolina, you look at the primaries. They
are formed and they are pro-life advocates at the table. Rightly so. They
won their place. This is a political campaign. This is the only thing
going on in Tennessee. There`s very little else going on in Tennessee but
this race and it`s hard hitting. And you can see the operatives on both
sides have been hired. And even when you watch commercials on both sides,
it`s a little uncomfortable. And when you can make me uncomfortable with
commercials you`ve done a lot.
So the issue is personal. It`s getting waved over. I mean there`s - the
conversation is going to be had in the 2016 race again. It`s not over.
But Tennessee is who you will let - matters and who is in the state house
WEINBERG: Totally agree. I mean I think in the state house this is a very
partisan political issue. I have confidence that across the state in
homes, in churches, synagogues, mosques, on the street, Tennesseans believe
in their right to privacy. And Tennesseans do not want government or
politicians interfering in women`s personal, private, health care
decisions. So I think there is from our perspective, and understanding in
the communities across the state that no is the right way to vote to ensure
that women`s privacy rights are protected. It`s difficult, though, because
as you point out, there`s some very misleading ads. And there`s really the
intent is so clear. The intent is to outlaw abortion or make it so
difficult to access. These laws that they say they want to pass and they
describe them as common sense, are not common sense. It`s very clear that
they`re medically irrelevant. They create difficulty for women, who have
to travel from rural communities, limited income women, women of color to
be able to access abortion. Because there are - again, there are seven
clinics in this state. Women have to travel. Sometimes up to three, four
hours. And if they have work responsibilities, family responsibilities, to
require them to stay for 48 hours, 72 hours, which is what some of the
politicians and those organizations backing this amendment, want to create
these waiting periods. Making the assumption that women don`t think about
these very difficult decisions beforehand.
HARRIS-PERRY: Maya, I just want to come to you .
HARRIS: Yeah, you know. It is - it is personal. And I think that one of
the votes to watch in Tennessee are going to be black women. Because black
women are impacted by these issues profoundly. And they actually
overwhelmingly favor safe and legal access to abortion regardless of their
own personal feelings about abortion.
HARRIS-PERRY: This is the key. What one can believe that you would never
make the choice for yourself? But still believe that there`s a fundamental
right to privacy, and that the government should not be at the core of
HARRIS: That`s exactly right. And I think, you know, t`s going to be
interesting. You know, election right around the corner. In all the races
we`ve been talking about today, you know, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Kentucky
and North Carolina, you know, it`s going to be interesting to see what the
black women do.
HARRIS: Because in all of those races, they are a key vote. It can be a
pivotal vote. And I think that they .
HARRIS-PERRY: I got to get us out of here on time. Thank you to Hedy
Weinberg in Nashville, Tennessee. We are going to be watching what happens
on amendment one. Here in New York, thank you to Maya Harris and to Katon
Dawson. Cristina is going to be back with us in our next hour.
And up next, race, the midterms and President Obama`s stealth campaign.
There`s more Nerdland at the top of the hour.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. The election of
President Barack Obama on November 4th, 2008, was not the only watershed
political moment that day. Because the election of the first African-
American president in 2008 was made possible in part by African-American
voters who, for the first time in a presidential election, over-performed
at the polls. Accounting for a greater share of votes than the percentage
of eligible voters. Then, in 2012, those voters made history again. Not
only did they increase their numbers from 2008, but for the first time on
record, black voter turnout surpassed the rate for white voters. In the
outcomes of those two elections, we saw what happens when America`s
increasingly diverse electorate expresses its policy preferences by flexing
its electoral political power.
But in the midterm election, between the two presidential cycles, Democrats
also received a lesson in what happens when those voters decide to stay
home. During the 2010 midterms, the share of the black vote dipped from 13
percent to 11 percent and Republicans secured landslide victories and
majority control of the House.
That midterm dip is a trend that has been consistent for African-American
voters during off-year elections. And with Election Day 2014 just three
days away, it`s a trend is foremost in the minds of Democrats who know they
need those voters to turnout, if they`re to fend off a Republican takeover
in the Senate.
As "The New York Times" analysis of voter data shows, as Democrats try to
defend their majority, African-Americans can help swing elections in races
in Georgia, Louisiana, and maybe Arkansas, but only if they turn out at
higher than forecasted rates.
So it sounds like a simple enough strategy for Democrats. Go get the black
vote. But it`s certainly a strategy where Democrats have one undeniable
advantage, the fact that one of African-American`s most consistently
favorite politicians also happens to be the number one Democrat in the
But here`s where Democrats find themselves in a bit of a conundrum because
while President Obama is very popular among African-American voters, he is
deeply unpopular among the share of the national electorate whose votes
they also need.
So how to get the voters who tend to stay at home without alienating the
ones who are most likely to show up? The Democratic Party solution to that
quandary has become apparent in its final push to get black voters to the
polls. Activate stealth mode.
In recent weeks, national and state Democrats have been making explicit
appeals to black voters on a wavelength only they are tuned into. If you
don`t know where, it`s on the dial of your black radio station.
If you don`t know where that dial is, you likely missed President Obama
using it to reach an influence of popular African-American radio hosts to
warn their audiences against sitting out this election. Here he is, two
weeks ago, on the Steve Harvey morning show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Back in 2010, folks didn`t vote, as a consequence, the Tea Party
took over the Republican Party. We lost the House. If people voted at the
same rates during midterms as they did during presidential elections, we
would maintain Democratic control of the Senate, would have a good chance
of actually winning back the House potentially.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Two days later, Ricky Smiley morning show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Less than half of us vote during midterm elections. We actually
now vote at very high rates during presidential elections, but during
midterms, we just fall asleep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
OBAMA: And I just can`t afford that. If you want me and Michelle to do
what we need to do the last two years to really make a difference then
everybody has to have our backs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Later that same week while making the rounds, stumping for
Democratic candidates in Maryland and Illinois, President Obama had black
audiences applauding with recognition when he asked for help in motivating
their favorite politically apathetic relative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Don`t just get the folks who you know are going to vote. You have
to find cousin. He`s sitting on the couch right now watching football,
hadn`t voted in the last five elections. You got to grab him and tell him
to go vote!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama has also been the centerpiece of a seven-
figure campaign by the Democratic National Committee to target black
voters. The campaign includes this ad that has run in black newspapers
during the final weeks, urging those voters to get his back, and this clip
that`s been airing on black radio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: No Democratic president in U.S. history has faced the level of
obstruction from the Republicans that Barack Obama has. It`s critical that
we continue to fight for change and vote on November 4th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: But as "The New York Times" reported this week, President
Obama isn`t the only subject of that stealth campaign to reach black
voters. In the south, it`s also included explicit appeals that link the
midterm elections with the movement for racial injustice, invoking both the
past history of the fight for civil rights and the present day calls out of
Ferguson, Missouri, for an end to police violence.
Joining me now are Kai Wright, editor-at-large at colorlines.com, and Ian
Haney-Lopez, a law professor at UC Berkeley, a senior fellow DMOS and
author of "Dog Whistle Politics, How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented
Racism and Wreck the Middle Class," and Cristina Beltran, associate
professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU and author of "The Trouble
And I don`t know whether I should be happy about the campaign or appalled
with the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t be appalled.
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m a little appalled with the Cousin Pookie of it all.
IAN HANEY-LOPEZ, LAW PROFESSOR, UC BERKELEY: Obama has that tendency to
play to the culture stereotypes that play well with whites. He brought
HARRIS-PERRY: I don`t know if white people know who Cousin Pookie is.
HANEY-LOPEZ: I do think they have a sense of African-Americans staying on
the couch and not getting up off the couch and getting to vote and Obama
has traded on that a couple of times when he`s talking about the need for
African-Americans to take more responsibility.
That`s the message he usually gives to white folks. It`s unfortunate to
see that creeping into his message to black folks. But listen, bottom
line, he`s saying we need to vote. People of color need to vote and more
important than that.
And this is what some of these other ad campaigns are doing. The ad
campaigns are saying, when you vote, keep in mind the state of race in the
Keep in mind problems like stand your ground laws or the violence in
Ferguson. Vote with a sense that there is racial stratification in our
society, and we can deal with it through the Democratic process. I think
that`s just a key important message, and I would love to see more people
HARRIS-PERRY: So I`m down. And yet, Kai, I feel like so in North Carolina
where I live, if I have to keep in mind the question of police violence
while voting for Kay Hagan, I don`t know. It`s not like she ever said
anything about it.
So I guess part of what I wonder is just how effective an Obama surrogates
he is for candidates who have worked so hard to be like, I don`t know, I
never seen or been around anybody named Obama.
KAI WRIGHT, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, COLORLINES.COM: Or anybody named Pookie, I
HARRIS-PERRY: And by the way, he did not sit out the last five elections.
He`s the reason President Obama is president. So I just want to redeem
president -- I mean, Cousin Pookie.
WRIGHT: Yes, and by the way, looking at those numbers. Pookie voted
pretty well relative to history in 2010 also. Honestly. The midterm
election results are turn out is still higher than it was for presidential
turnout in 2004.
But I think your point is exactly right. There is a lot of stuff that the
Democrats and these specific candidates have not done for black people. So
people are excited about the candidates. And bringing out the president to
say, hey, help me, that`s something.
And it`s -- and it will motivate some folks. But I think people need to
keep in mind, people vote -- people support the president not because --
black people support the president. Not because, I love Barack Obama. But
what he represents. And Senator Hagan doesn`t represent that.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen for you a moment the run from which I just
moved, and in which Senator Landrieu is making a historic point. Let`s
take a listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Be very, very honest with you. The
south has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.
It`s been a difficult times for the president to present himself in a
positive light as a leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So there`s Landrieu acknowledging the south has not always
been the friendliest place. She`s also someone while being blue dogged and
conservative in a lot of ways was at the forefront of the apology of the
U.S. Senate for never passing the dire anti-lynching bill. She`s at least
BELTRAN: She`s sort of negotiating this dynamic. What I appreciate about
that in the Landrieu machine is sort of capable of talking about the
historic issues. And obviously in these elections people are going to deal
with targeting constituencies. We know they`re going to do that.
But I think what is incredibly unfortunate about this is that issues of
racialized police violence and voter suppression, those are American
issues. Those are issues that our citizens need to learn about, think
about, and care about.
If you just target it to the population that knows it`s a crisis, you`re
participating in the very schism that you`re now claiming you have to do
this targeting to deal with. I think that is really actually bad for our
And the other thing, I think that even under Obama, I think it`s really
interesting that black voters are simultaneously like essential and
denigrated. Black voters are like -- the Democratic Party is like the bad
boyfriend who wants to sleep with you and never wants you to meet his
mother. He loves you, but you can never meet his parents. It`s a bad
HARRIS-PERRY: This is the thing that makes me feel nervous, Ian, is that,
you know, ultimately, for example, what the Republican Party had to do in
its dog whistle politics to conservative Christian is stop dog whistling,
right? So you saw it in the late `90s, early 2000s. These are our people.
We`re all going together. So at what point are the Democrats just going to
have to say, you know what, we`re with the black people. Here we go.
HANEY-LOPEZ: I want to say it differently. So Cristina said something
really great. People have to talk to constituencies. But that`s also
really problematic because we need to look at how they`re talking to the
constituencies. It`s not equivalent.
What a lot of politicians are saying, overwhelmingly Republican. They`re
saying be afraid of minorities, be afraid of black crime, be afraid of
welfare abuse. Worry about the fact that the border is not secured,
despite that we`re deporting more people than in history.
They are appealing for white votes based on fear and anxiety that is
qualitatively different than saying to the African-American community, pay
attention to what`s happening in Ferguson.
Pay attention to what`s happening in a political process that doesn`t
value, you`re right. But their messages are fundamentally in Congress, one
is stereo types and the other is real social problems.
BELTRAN: Politics is about the art of persuasion, collective persuasion
rather than targeting.
HARRIS-PERRY: Get to do this in the commercial. But then when we come
back from the commercial, how President Obama`s stealth campaign is playing
out on urban radio, the black eagle himself is going to explain.
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama hasn`t been on the stump for the Democratic
candidates all that much this midterm election cycle. Understandable given
that many candidates have a desire to distance themselves politically from
him and his relatively low approval ratings. Those low approval ratings
are not across the board.
African-Americans still overwhelmingly support the president. A recent
"Associated Press"/GFK poll found the president enjoys an 85 percent
approval among black voters compared with only 34 percent among white
And so, if you are looking for the president on the campaign trail, you may
not see him much, but you can hear him, a lot. Lately on black radio
talking about getting all black voters and their Cousin Pookie out to the
polls, most recently with our guest, Joe Madison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My Cousin Pookie wants to thank you for calling his
OBAMA:: As long as he`s voting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He voted early.
OBAMA: I like that. We all got a Cousin Pookie, who is a good person, but
sometimes is not quite as attentive to his civic responsibilities as he
needs to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Joining us now from our D.C. bureau is the black eagle
himself, Joe Madison, host of Sirius XM program, "The Joe Madison Show."
Nice to have you.
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM URBAN VIEW: Thank you. It`s good seeing you.
HARRIS-PERRY: I keep saying I need to get a radio show because you got all
the bookings I can`t get.
MADISON: What can I say?
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m serious. It is fascinating part of what is going on is
a campaign over radio. Why radio? Why is it still so critical in the
MADISON: Radio is very personal. It`s in the mind. It`s in your head.
Working class people are going to work in the morning. You have a variety
of different shows. I mean, you listed Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, Ricky
Smiley, Yolanda Adams, The Joe Madison Show.
We all have different audiences, but I think most importantly the way radio
plays is we have very dedicated audiences. And I`m old enough to remember
how Georgie Woods in Philadelphia, Mary Mason in Philadelphia, Butter Ball
Junior in Detroit.
The black radio is the drum beat of our community. It always has been and
I think it still is, and the administration and it`s not just the
president, it`s members of his cabinet. I think we have had every cabinet
member on our show at one point in time.
HARRIS-PERRY: I can`t get none of them. Listen, do your listeners still
respond to the president as they did six years ago. When the president
shows up, or perhaps maybe when the first lady shows up, do you still hear
from your listeners that it is critically important to them that it moves
them to his cabinet members.
MADISON: I may get in trouble with the first lady. They respond to her
quite a bit. They really like her approach. She speaks -- I think, in
ways they can relate to. And let`s be honest, you know, Cousin Pookie is a
metaphor. It really says we cannot afford to be cynical.
And because when you`re cynical about politics or politicians it leads to
apathy and that`s what the first lady, who by the way is going to be on my
show Monday said. It`s just a matter of voting. This is what it`s really
HARRIS-PERRY: Let`s listen to it for just one second. We have a preview
of the first lady on your show on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We just have to get our
people, and young people, minorities and women, in the habit of knowing
that elections are forever. This isn`t about Barack. It`s not about me.
It`s not about who is just on the ballot this time. This is a forever
And we just can`t afford to let somebody else make decisions about our
lives for us. That`s what we`re doing. When you don`t vote, you`re
saying, OK, it`s on you. You fix it for me.
MADISON: You don`t vote. You don`t count.
OBAMA: You don`t vote. You don`t count. In this country, votes still
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Joe, hold for me one second. I want to come out to Kai
for one second. On one hand, I get this. You have to get people to the
polls. On the other hand, what about the fact, again, to the redemption of
Pookie, the metaphor, he has been coming out and voting and she has been
coming out and voting. I wondered have we managed to count even when we do
MADISON: And that`s again the problem. People do not connect -- so black
America is super, duper engaged. We see that in the streets of Ferguson.
We see it in all kinds of places. Not necessarily at the voting booth. We
don`t see an outcome. When people do not connect, they`re voting to
changes in their lives. And some at some point, that has to be addressed
if you want massive turnout amongst black people.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Joe, let me ask you. On one hand, there`s the first
lady saying, and I get this, this is partly about the exercise of the
franchise. You have to go out and be a durable voter, even if sometimes
your choices are not the best. On the other hand, isn`t there kind of,
well, I would like to see that on my ballot there is a meaningful
difference between candidate "A" and "B."
MADISON: I think you`re absolutely right. You do have to see that there
is meaningful ballot. That`s why it becomes a three-pronged approach.
I`ve always said this. It`s voter registration, voter education, and let`s
underscore that education, that`s very key and it`s also then voter
And so your panelist is absolutely 100 percent right that`s when they come
on, if you notice the conversation is not this -- I`m reading from q cards
the way she might talk to other media outlets. What I heard people say,
those who had a chance to preview the discussions, says it sounds
conversational. And that`s what they`re doing.
But let me tell you what really I think is turning out this black vote
early. This is brought up in the discussion. It`s when you tell African-
Americans that you can`t vote because of voter suppression.
Let me tell you, there`s something about us. When you try to take
something from us, you will, I can`t use the word on your show. I can use
it on mine. You will tick us off.
MADISON: A matter of fact, we`ll go out and get lawn chairs and sit in
line if we have to. And that`s what, I think driving a lot of people,
particularly in these southern states like Florida, Georgia and North
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, to Joe Madison, the black eagle of Washington,
D.C., giving us a perfect analysis of what Lawrence will call the
oppositional culture of black folk around the question.
MADISON: That`s what it`s called?
HARRIS-PERRY: Voting and oppositional culture, my friend.
MADISON: I`ll have to remember that.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you, Joe. I appreciate having you on.
MADISON: God bless.
HARRIS-PERRY: Up next, can souls to the polls save the Senate for the
HARRIS-PERRY: On Election Day in North Carolina, if 23 to 25 percent of
those who cast votes are African-American, then Democrat Kay Hagan should
win handily. In Louisiana, Democrat Mary Landrieu will need a strong
turnout of black voters to be re-elected because they gave her 96 percent
of support in the last election back in 2008.
And this week the "The New York Times" reported that there is one key
reason the Georgia Senate race is too close to call. Quote, "The polls
show Ms. Nunn and Mr. Perdue locked in a dead heat, and all of Ms. Nunn`s
gains are attributable to changes in the racial composition of likely
Black voters hold the keys to unlock Democratic Senate victories in the
south. But will they be interested in voting for candidates who have so
publicly distanced themselves from President Obama? That may depend on the
kind of messages they receive from other communities leaders.
As NBC News senior political reporter, Perry Bacon, details in a new piece
for nbcnews.com, if these Democrats do win, they need to thank people like
Reverend William Barber, the president of the North Carolina NAACP, who
started a rally earlier this month that Republican imposed measures like
voter I.D laws were akin to wading through the blood of the martyrs.
And it`s not just the south where Democrats are counting on strong black
voter turnout. Further north in Ohio hoping to drive them in the African-
American community, religious leaders will be helping lead souls to the
The only Sunday allowed by law for early voting in the Buckeye State. One
of the leaders joins us now from Sure House Baptist Church in Cleveland,
Pastor Aaron Williams. Nice to have you this morning, Pastor.
PASTOR AARON PHILLIPS, SURE HOUSE BAPTIST CHURCH: It`s Aaron Phillips.
HARRIS-PERRY: I am very sleepy. I apologize, Pastor Phillips. Some argue
it`s inappropriate for churches and church leaders to be involved in
promoting and assisting with voting. What`s your response to that?
PHILLIPS: They wouldn`t know their history. We know it has been a long
time history from the African-American community that African-American
spiritual leaders, male and female, have always come, stepped up to the
plate when it came for speaking up for voters rights, civil rights and
making positive changes in the community. If somebody says that, they
don`t know their history.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, in that sense then, why is it that polls -- souls to
the polls matter? Is it a moral imperative charge, or physically bodies at
the church that moment and you can make the reminder to get voices in the
vans and get over there? Is it the organizational piece or the theological
PHILLIPS: It`s actually both. We`re putting our theological beliefs to
exercise practicality to make change in what`s happening to our community.
So we gather every Sunday, and we`re glad it`s the first Sunday this year.
That`s the most well attended service.
We know many people will be gathering and we always feel a responsibility.
It`s become a sense of community for us as well where we can be with our
brothers and sisters as well. And it`s a celebration for us. It`s a great
idea that we can strongly support and we have spiritual leaders all across
our country who strongly supports this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Pastor, hold for me one moment. I want to ask you about
this. Is this a kind of targeted marketing as well? In other words, okay,
part of this is harkening back to the moment of the Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King and the civil rights movement and the notion of a divinely
inspired social political movement. Is that different for African-
Americans than even for Latinos in the Catholic tradition?
HANEY-LOPEZ: Well, I think that bringing it back to Martin Luther King is
so important. It reminds of us of something that we have forgotten. We
have forgotten that African-Americans used to vote Republican and
Democratic. We now assume they always vote Democratic especially in the
age of Obama.
We think they vote Democratic out of racial loyalty. No. We need to stop
and back up. In 1960, when Richard Nixon ran against John F. Kennedy,
Nixon took 26 percent of the black vote. In 1963, the Republicans decided
to try to win white votes by appealing to racial anxiety, and the next year
zero percent of African-Americans voted Republican.
So what we`re living with now is a 50-year legacy in which Democrats can
count on black vote votes precisely because Republicans are using fear of
blackness to win white votes. When we have these conversations about
Democrats and the black vote, we also ought to be having a conversation
about why it is that race is so central.
That our politics are so polarized. That our parties are racially
identifiable, that`s not accident. That`s strategy. We need to recognize
HARRIS-PERRY: Pastor Phillips. Let me come to you on that. Part of what
we heard in the last blog is part of what people is going on is people
feeling like there`s a group trying to suppress their vote. Even more than
going out to vote for something, it`s going out to vote like, I know you
didn`t tell me I couldn`t vote. What are you hearing from folks in Ohio
PHILLIPS: Well, that`s actually an inspiration. I think Joe Madison hit
the nail on the head. That`s an inspiration to draw people together to say
you`re going to try to take something from me. We actually have a radio
broadcast. We go on the radio every week inspiring people to vote.
We know people listen to the radio on their way home from 5:00 to 6:00
every Thursday on the local black radio station here. So we have many
pastors who normally get involved in this kind of political activity, have
been engaged because they know strategy to keep us from voting.
When people hear the strategy is to prevent us from voting, that does
inspire us. It inspires me to continue to work harder and harder. This is
a big job. It`s a very important job where we have over 50 churches from -
- and 30 vans tomorrow. And we have churches from all.
Not just Baptist churches but Pentacostal churches. We have people all
across that will never come together. We`re not saying vote Democrat or
vote Republican. We`re just saying get out to vote. But make sure you
vote your interests. That is our point. Vote your interests.
We want voting against people against voting rights, people who are
suppressing union rights. We`re voting against people who don`t support
Medicaid expansion. We`re in support of our interest. Our interest is
with most of the times the Democratic Party.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Pastor Aaron Phillips in Cleveland, Ohio. Not
only correcting me on the name, but also managed to get in the time of his
radio show. That`s good work. Appreciate it, Professor Phillips. And
here in New York, thank to Kai Wright and Ian and Cristina are sticking
Up next, the book is called "Who We Be: The Colorization Of America." You
know we had to bring the author to nerd land.
HARRIS-PERRY: The election of President Obama demonstrated political
potential of the future American electorate. It was forecast by the 2010
census. According to census data, by the year 2043, non-Hispanic white
Americans will no longer be a majority group, which means for the first
time in U.S. history, people of color will constitute a majority of the
Those demographic shifts and the emergence of a browner America have, along
with the presidency of Barack Obama, helped push the big questions about
American identity onto fiercely contested terrain. What does it mean to be
an American who gets to decide? How does race frame American`s recognition
of themselves and each other?
In a new book "Who We Be: The Colorization of America", award winning
writer, Jeff Chang, looks for answers to those question in the place where
the fight over American identity has been the most visible in the creation
In the book he writes, "We live in an era in which the primary social
schism is not between red states and blue states, but between those stuck
on mono-culturalism in a singular American way.
And those comfortable with demographic change in cultural difference, those
fearful over the great America endanger of being lost forever, and those
hopeful about being made anew. Those stuck in black and white and those
living in color.
Jeff Chang, the author of "Who We Be," an executive director of Stanford
University`s Institute for Diversity and the Arts joins me now. All right,
so turn of the 20th Century. Du bois predicts the question will be the
color line, a singular color line. Is that still the question? Is it
multiple color lines? What is it?
JEFF CHANG, AUTHOR "WHO WE BE": It`s multiple color lines. What`s clear
is you all have been talking about the political strategy this morning.
And I was interested in talking about what`s happened with cultural shifts
and looking at the roles artists play in having us move towards new visions
of how we see each other and how we can live together.
In the 21st Century the lines get mixed up. But it`s important for us to
rep focus on race and racial inequality and resolving that question. We`ve
seen cultural desegregation here today. But at the same time, all indices
show we`re re-segregating at intense rates.
The gaps in wealth, income, homeownership, education are growing. And this
is under a black president. So this is a paradox of the time we`re living
HARRIS-PERRY: So talk to me about the idea that we can experience a
culture desegregation that all young -- all people of a certain age listen
to the same music. If I run into another 41-year-old, they know the hip-
hop lyrics as well as I do. No matter what race they are. How do you end
up with culture desegregation that doesn`t contribute to a lived policy
experience that is integrated one?
CHANG: But you know, the radical multi-culturalists in the `70s believed
that if we were able to hear the stories of underrepresented folks that
empathy would come out. Out of every empathy, we would reach a consensus
for equity and equality that hasn`t happened so much.
It was really interesting to look at the MTV data binder poll that came out
this year. They asked millennials about their view on race. There was a
split. At one hand they said pushing towards color blindness. On the
other hand, they said we want to value all differences.
Now that`s what the culture war is about. Those are the two different
sides at war. And so we`re in a place where we don`t have the language to
talk about how we are moving towards 2042.
HARRIS-PERRY: So Cristina, I wonder about the idea that people can
articulate respect for diverseness and color blind or raceless future. Is
that our fault, as a generation? Did we fail to articulate that color
blindness might actually make it harder to be in a situation of respect for
BELTRAN: I think it has been a complicated sort of terrain we`ve been
developing and I think it goes in a number of levels. One issue is that we
have a real issue of scale here. So we have certain segments of people of
color populations. Latinos, African-Americans, live-in conditions of a lot
of cross racial contact, a lot of diversity.
And we have other segments in primarily segregated communities. First
generation immigrants and third generation Latinos so these populations,
the racial communities are all sharing the same world in many ways. We all
live in different kinds of spaces and places based on class, education,
So we need to get better at talking about the multiple diversities. We
can`t tell a story of a singular racial experience any longer. And we
never could. But the sort of sense of opened up opportunities now have
required us to think differently about how we understand the idea that the
communities have an experience.
I think in the `80s we talked about this as if there were a black
experience. Now it`s even more complicated. And so we need scholars and
cultural activists and performers to help us understand it.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we come back, I want to dig into that. When you see
somebody else of your race you give the nod?
HARRIS-PERRY: We`ve been talking about the kind of more complicated
experience. So maybe two or three episodes ago, there was a moment about
the nod and whether or not when you`re walking through predominantly white
space and you`re African-American, you see someone who is African-American,
do you do the acknowledgment?
Do you say we have a thing in common here? And in this moment of a
changing America, is it reasonable to nod at the other, you know, whatever,
black person, brown person, white person in your space. Should you not
presume that you know what the racial identities are, and "b" that, you do
in fact have shared experiences?
HANEY-LOPEZ: Well, I think all of us are moving through elite spaces.
Elite spaces are still overwhelmingly white. The nod is important. And sf
someone doesn`t nod back, it`s telling, right? But I want to say, look at
what`s happened to the way we talk about race.
We talk about race increasingly like it`s a matter of identity and like
it`s a matter of culture. Well, that`s a really easy way to integrate
because we could engage in someone else`s culture. We can try it on. We
can take it off. We can move on.
HARRIS-PERRY: We can feel like we have it all worked out.
HANEY-LOPEZ: Or buy one book and feel like I`m doing race. I`m doing
integration. We stopped talking about race as status and access to
resources and that`s what you see at stake, for example, crystallized in
segregated spaces or in these elite spaces that are still remain
overwhelmingly or still this phenomenon of tokenism.
We`re welcome as long as we don`t rock the vote by talking about the
whiteness of the space. That`s where you see segregation continuingly in
status and access to resources.
HARRIS-PERRY: Part of what I loved about hip-hop is it did both at the
same time. It was consumed right often by a very multiracial audience.
But the content of hip-hop was often about explicitly critiquing or being
around the question.
CHANG: I got a big kick out of naming the book after a DMX song myself.
It`s sort of getting into that space of, we`re here now. The question had
always been who are we? What are we becoming? May, this is who we be.
I`m really interested in the way that artists are able to intervene in the
culture to be able to offer these different types of ways of understanding
how we can live together.
So while I agree with you about race status, I want to emphasize it`s an
important place for us to be in the battle, right. You look at the civil
rights act, the voting rights act, the immigration nationality act passing
in the 1960s.
Those began to dismantle the structures of legal segregation, but you still
can`t legislate how people are going to live together. And I think that`s
why when we talk about 2042 that it`s a political question. The parties
are working this out. They`re trying to figure out right away.
It`s larger than that. We have to figure out a new political majority.
But the main question is how do we figure out what the majority is going to
be if we`re all minorities? That`s how do we create a culture that is
inclusive and open and will be allow us to move towards real equality and
equity, a fight in equity.
HARRIS-PERRY: So on the one hand, like I love this conversation, but I
also wonder if we`re over-intellectualizing the experience of race in a
certain way especially to the experience that culture is so lived, so
embodied that often even the cultural producers themselves wouldn`t quite
articulate the ways that those of us who read culture read it.
How do we get to yes, by doing the intellectual and big things, but just
making space for I nod because I feel you. I feel this thing we have
BELTRAN: Right. Right. I think there are a couple of things circulating.
There`s a very effective embodied experience of the politics of visibility.
And we still experience that. I see you. And I read you. I make
assumptions about you. That can be tricky. Look at the way they`re
They`re deploying the same kind of visceral poll. She`s a woman. Susana
Martinez is Latina. She is me. That logic is powerful. It`s real. And
it`s tricky and it requires a kind of negotiation to understand, but I
think we need in politics.
What I love about what you`re doing is it`s really important, I think we
are smarter in the aesthetic and cultural realm often than we are in
politics, in the realm of the arts. The arts allow us to think about the
gaps and pauses and the things that make art work.
And people just sort of have a way of understanding a song or film and they
respond to it in a way that sometimes politics aren`t capable of the same
subtlety and contradictions and paradoxes that our politics often fail at.
HARRIS-PERRY: I think we`re going to continue this well into the rank, but
I want to thank Jeff Chang, Ian Haney-Lopez, and Cristina Beltran.
Up next, do not go away. I want to tell you about our foot soldier of the
HARRIS-PERRY: According to the Philadelphia Police Department, there have
been 219 homicides in Philadelphia this year. The city is on pace to have
an annual homicide rate of 14.8 per 100,000. For cities with high rates of
violence, murder victims may receive only a mention on the news and become
a statistic rather than an individual.
Caught in the crossfire, carjacking victim, they become just a number, one
in 219. And rarely do we get more than a fleeting mention of the mourning
family, friends and loved ones trying to reconcile the pain of the loss of
their beloved or the communities grappling with the fear, stress and pain
of navigating the threat of potential gun violence or seeing community
Our foot soldier this week has made it his mission to remind us of those
taken by gun violence. Kevin Cook is a documentary photographer currently
pursuing a masters in photojournalism at the University of Missouri and
working on a thesis on the effect of urban violence in his hometown of
He uses his Instagram @kevincookphoto to shine a light on the violence in
Philadelphia and the lives of those impacted by it. Like the Cox family
who are seen here mourning the loss of their 25-year-old son, Terence, who
was shot execution-style near a restaurant on this street.
He shows us the family and trends of a man named Baruko who made t-shirts
in remembrance of his life, and also the family and friends of 23-year-old
Troy K. Smith whose mother couldn`t imagine the loss of her one and only
Kevin also shows us survivors like Terry who was shot five times during a
drug deal. He now does community outreach and Nate who lost his leg after
a gun fight he uses exercise to battle depression.
Kevin documents crime scenes like this one of a fatal shooting in North
Philadelphia in June and this one in West Philly just nine days later.
Kevin`s images serve as a reminder that neighborhoods deemed most dangerous
like Philadelphia`s 22nd police district are neighborhoods.
They`re communities where people live and love and aspire and grow and
dream and where they mourn and where they work to heal. Kevin frequently
takes pictures with his phone saying it allows a greater closeness and
intimacy in his photographs.
He captions the images with brief stories of the individuals he meets, for
him, the photos are about those stories, about those people, for his work
documenting the impact of gun violence in Philadelphia and reminding us
that each person is just that, a person, not a statistic.
Kevin Cook is our foot soldier of the week. That`s our show for today.
Thanks for watching. I`ll be back tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Hi, Alex.
ALEX WITT: Thanks so much. We`re going to talk about the strong reaction
to that viral video aimed at raising awareness about street harassment.
That woman right there, all about the threats she`s gotten since it was
posted. What she can do about it?
It`s only November 1st, but it`s certainly winter in some places in the
south. We`ll talk about that and the arctic air mass hitting a lot of the
And a creepy look at the end of this reality, film versus art intimating
life? I`ll speak with the screenwriter and director of "Night Crawler."
I`ll be right back.
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