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Flipping districts from red to blue with Rep. Max Rose: podcast and transcript

Chris Hayes speaks to Rep. Max Rose, a freshman Democrat in Congress who won a historically conservative district in 2018.
Image: Congressman-elect Max Rose New York's 11th Congressional District
Congressman-elect Max Rose, D-N.Y., stands outside the Longworth House Office building on Capitol Hill on Nov. 30, 2018.Melina Mara / The Washington Post/Getty Images

After two years of a Donald Trump presidency, voters turned out in the 2018 midterms to deliver Democrats the House by a historic margin. That freshman class has its fair share of rabble-rousers who are using their platforms to shake up Congress from the left of the party. But those members of Congress aren’t the ones who won Democrats the majority — for that, you have to look at the candidates who flipped district after district on election night.

That includes Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y. 11th, an exceptionally fascinating guy who won a historically conservative district. Frontline members like Rep. Rose are the cornerstone upon which this Democratic majority is built, and will therefore be crucial to maintaining that majority in 2020. So how is his approach different — and how is it being received by his constituents?

MAX ROSE: We have to constantly push to Mitch McConnell, because this is an army of one at this point-


MAX ROSE: Whose side are you on Mitch? You've got senate seats that you have to hold onto, you have to hold onto your own seat, and I for a fact, that your own voters voted to make America great again, voted to drain the swamp-


MAX ROSE: And we are pushing pieces of legislation right in front of you, where you can accomplish that. So whose side are you on Mitch? Because we're not going to allow for you to bank on our political ADD, to bank on this sense that we are just going to claim victories by passing them in the House. No. We have to constantly be pushing this to him.

CHRIS HAYES: Hello and welcome to Why Is This Happening? with me, your host, Chris Hayes.

So there's about 40 freshmen democratic members of Congress, in this Congress, elected in 2018. And you probably know some of them by name, in fact one of them has just become like a household name, like a fashion brand or a pop singer, AOC, which is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who's the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and I think there's a very good reason that she has gotten the attention she's gotten. She pulled off this unbelievable improbably primary upset, she came out of nowhere, she is just a phenomenally dynamic individual with political talent just oozing out of her, and also has this kind of fearlessness to her that she doesn't shy away from attention in the way that a lot of freshman members of Congress do. A lot of you, like, they get to Congress, and then it's like they don't want a ton of people talking about them all the time, because the less said about them the better — they'll do their thing, they'll go to their own constituent meetings, they'll bring home the bacon, and then they'll be re-elected.

So Ilhan Omar is another member of that freshman class you've heard a lot about, and Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley. The new members of Congress that have gotten the most attention tend to be on the sort of left flank, the kind of progressive, rabble-rousers in the caucus. But of course, that's not, as many people will be quick to point out, those aren't the people that got them the majority.

The people that got them the majority were folks that won from Republican districts. And those folks tend to have a different set of politics. Now some of them, Katie Porter for instance, are sort of well-known and kind of progressive rabble-rousers, and also represent a swing district. Katie Porter is someone you've probably heard of, she's from California, she is very, very good at interrogating folks at hearings. She's had a bunch of viral moments, she's a law professor who really, really, really knows her stuff. And she's in a sort of interestingly situated place. But there's folks like Sharice Davids, who's in Kansas who won a very tough race against very tough odds, who is not getting a ton of national attention but who is the kind of cornerstone upon which the Democratic majority is built.

And there are dozens of those folks in what are called frontline districts, that are districts that Trump won, particularly, or that they beat incumbent Republicans, that Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party and the DCCC are thinking about as they think about the next election. Those are the folks you have to protect. They're the people that when you think about what bill should we bring up, and what should the Democratic agenda be, they're the people you're thinking like, "I don't want them taking tough votes. I don't want them getting crosswise of their constituents, who are generally, relatively conservative." So how do we protect them? How do we think about them?

And I think one of the most interesting members of that class is right here in New York City. A fellow by the name of Max Rose, who has been on the show a few times. He's the Congressman from Staten Island. Staten Island is one of five boroughs in New York, it's the only one that voted for Trump, it's traditionally pretty conservative, it's had a lot of Republican-elected officials throughout the years, it's kind of a suburb in the city, it's ethnically considerably more whiter than a lot of the rest of the city, a lot of single family homes, a lot of cops and firefighters, a lot of veterans, a lot of folks who served in the U.S. armed forces. And Max Rose is just a totally fascinating cultural traveler, who has moved through many, as you'll see in this interview, many different milieus. In an America that is increasingly balkanized, in an America that is increasingly has these kind of cultural micro-climates that people inhabit, where folks live in one world, and they are around folks that think like them and have their politics and come from similar cultural backgrounds, and don't necessarily sort of move through the full panoply of American cultural life.

Max Rose is this guy who just kind of moved through all these different universes of American cultural life, and it's what has sort of attracted me to him as a kind of interesting figure, and as a person who I wanted to make someone we interviewed, and I will say, this is the first time in the history of the podcast that we've interviewed I think a sitting politician — well, that's not true, we interviewed Larry Krasner, who is the elected Philadelphia DA, but it's the first sitting member of Congress that we've interviewed. We interviewed John Kerry, who was a former politician. And you'll see in this interview, I approach this interview the way that I generally approach the podcast as a kind of biographical exploration, drawing someone out on where they're coming from, it's not like a TV news interview. Max Rose has all sorts of policy positions people may like or not like, we get into some of them, but a lot of them we don't, because what I was really interested in talking to him in this interview was just hearing where he came from and how he thought about representative democracy in this moment.

When you have a culture and populations that are as polarized as ours tend to be, when cultural divides get as wide as ours seems to be, it's a genuinely interesting problem to think about how you cross those divides in your personal representation of a group of people. Like I just got elected to represent 700 to 800,000 people. They run the gamut, some of them I really don't agree with on a lot of things, some of them I do. But they're my constituents, and then I've got my own beliefs. And so every day I got to wake up and figure out like how do I deal with the distance between those two things? How am I true to myself, how am I true to my constituents, and how do I navigate this extremely treacherous political territory, and this very polarized electorate at a time when I'm sitting in a district, I'm going to stand for re-election, that doesn't necessarily love the Democratic Party and has elected a ton of Republicans before me.

The other thing I should note is that I don't know why, but I think just because we're both outer-borough kids from New York, we end up swearing more in this interview than normal. Producer Brendan McDonald, I think, referred to us as outer-borough ruffians and said that we should warn you if you're sensitive to that kind of thing, so there's a higher level of casual profanity in this than normal, but you just put a Bronx guy with a Brooklyn guy and a Staten Island guy and then this is what you end up with.

All of that said, one of the things that comes through in this, I think, is that Max Rose has a pretty interesting theory about how he's going about representing folks at this moment of maximum polarization. At a time when our cultural gaps have gotten so wide, and because he's kind of lived across these cultural gaps, he's got a way of both being authentic and kind of performing authenticity, and thinking about the gap between himself and his constituents and how to keep that as close as possible, that is a really fascinating window into how those frontline Democrats, who are in those districts, where they got to get up every day and serve constituents who may not like the Democratic Party, and may like Donald Trump, may vote for him again, may not like the direction of the country but are ambiguous about too much lefty claptrap, like those folks are right now in a weird way at the center of what the political destiny of the nation is. How they cross that gap, and I thought there was no one better to talk to about that than Max Rose.

You're, to me, a really interesting figure, in New York politics, in American politics, in congressional class, and partly because just your background, the world you grew up in, which I want to talk about first.


CHRIS HAYES: You're a kid from Park Slope?

MAX ROSE: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS HAYES: Your parents were academics, is that right?

MAX ROSE: My mother's a professor at Birmingham Community College, still. My father has been in the medical business. My family started a blood testing laboratory in the fifties in Brooklyn. And actually my great grandfather opened a diner in Williamsburg called Kellogg's Diner.


MAX ROSE: Still there. It's funny man, when you've been in New York long enough, when your family's been in New York long enough, your family history largely becomes a history of failed real estate opportunities. So yeah, when the family had the diner, they were selling two-dollar eggs to cops and gangsters.


MAX ROSE: Now it's 50-dollar eggs benedict to hipsters and bankers.


MAX ROSE: But we sold it, so I could have had a self-funded campaign brother, we're even good to go.

CHRIS HAYES: So you were raised in a Jewish household. Did you guys belong to a temple? Were you fairly observant?

MAX ROSE: Yeah, went to temple, Union Temple in Grand Army Plaza. I was bar mitzvah-ed. I don't want to purport to having grown up in a strictly religious household, but certainly culturally and religiously speaking, grew up Jewish, definitely.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah, bar mitzvah-ed, high holy days.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely.

CHRIS HAYES: All of that.

MAX ROSE: Oh totally, totally.

CHRIS HAYES: Describe the politics worldview of your household.

MAX ROSE: Yeah, I mean, well first of all, my father's from Marine Park, and he's an old-school dude who didn't really have much interest in talking politics with me or anything along those lines.


MAX ROSE: Yeah, he's a total values-based guy. His speech at my wedding was, he stood up in front of us, he was holding a cocktail, 200 people there he goes, "Work hard and love each other." And then he walked away. And he's right. He was right.

CHRIS HAYES: It's not bad, I mean if you're going to give-

MAX ROSE: I mean everyone loves him, consummate salesman, total mensch, great guy. My mother, and I love her with all my heart and soul, but she didn't have much to say to me if I hadn't read The Times and been prepared for a discussion when we sat down.

CHRIS HAYES: So she was political- and news-focused.

MAX ROSE: Totally — the intellectual pillar of the household in so many ways, and there were these incredibly vibrant discussions when I was growing up that became actually quite heated, but in a loving way, centered around really the north star being what is our obligation, and how do we make the world a better place. But I also grew up in a world where you didn't meet many Republicans, there was not nearly enough real debate, and it wasn't until I enlisted in the military that I got to understand what this country is really all about.

CHRIS HAYES: Well, so just to give people an idea, I mean so Park Slope is a shorthand, it's a cliché, which is kind of unfair, because it's tens of thousands of people-

MAX ROSE: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS HAYES: And places are diverse, but in New York, it's a cliché for a certain kind of liberal, professional outlook. It's got this co-op and they have fights over like Israeli olive oil and like it's a place that Trump probably got 10 percent of the vote-

MAX ROSE: If he was lucky.

CHRIS HAYES: ... In the Park Slope precinct, just so that the people outside understand when I say, when we're talking about Park Slope here, Upper West Side is another sort of shorthand neighborhood, and you grew up quite a bit in that milieu.

MAX ROSE: I mean yeah, I think that the neighborhood has certainly changed rapidly in the 15 years since I did live there.


MAX ROSE: Doesn't stop my current opponent from calling me Park Slope Max.


MAX ROSE: Whatever and so forth, and there's a reason why she does say those things, there's a reason why-

CHRIS HAYES: Right, because that excites some part of people's thinking and stereotypes.

MAX ROSE: Totally, my previous political opponent claimed that Max Rose is not one of us for having grown up 20 blocks away or 40 blocks away from where the congressional district begins. Having gone to school in the congressional district and lived in the congressional district since I came home from Afghanistan, years ago now, so you're right. It does point to something, and I don't think though that what you just pointed to is a policy issue.

CHRIS HAYES: No, no, I'm not-

MAX ROSE: It is largely a cultural issue. These are the types of people that will often say, "Why don't they vote according to their economic self-interest?" Right? These are the types of people that said to me when I enlisted-

CHRIS HAYES: You're talking about Park Slope people?

MAX ROSE: Sure, absolutely.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah, right.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely. When I was enlisted in the military: "Max, you're going to be the smartest one there, because the only people that enlist in the military are poor kids of color who have no other options."


MAX ROSE: There's an arrogance that I think we do have to confront.

CHRIS HAYES: Totally, yeah. The thing about New York, one of the great ironies of New York, and I say this as a lifelong New Yorker myself.

MAX ROSE: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS HAYES: I grew up in the Bronx and sort of outer-borough kid and has moved through different circles in New York, is that the irony is it's this cosmopolitan city that can be extremely provincial. It's just a very provincial place, like you create your little life world in New York, and that could be ultra-orthodox in Brooklyn or it could be super liberal secular in Park Slope, or it could be a million other things-


CHRIS HAYES: ... And you operate in this little world, and your whole world could be a bubble.

MAX ROSE: And my parents are a great example of that. My father, born and raised in Marine Park. My mother, raised in Lower East Side and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. They're the same age, they never under any circumstances would've crossed paths, and if they had, they would have not have gotten along in any way, shape, and form, and they would have felt as if they were from two different states.

My father when he was growing up, there was the Jews on one block, the Italians on one block, the Irish Catholics on another block. My mother grew up in a far more eclectic environment where her father was an artist, mother was a teacher up in Harlem, and then they got divorced and my grandmother remarried a African-American union construction guy, and they moved to central Brooklyn. And he played the saxophone in the church, and she grew up in that environment.

CHRIS HAYES: She must've been in that neighborhood in that time, I would imagine there was not a lot of white folks there.

MAX ROSE: No, no. In fact, probably, the only other white guy was Marty Markowitz, their state senator.

CHRIS HAYES: Former Brooklyn borough president.

MAX ROSE: Yeah, 1972 or something.


MAX ROSE: Marty Markowitz knocks on my grandmother's door, I remember her — no I wasn't around — but I remember my mother saying that my grandmother yelled, "There's a white guy knocking on our door, what's going on?" And that was Marty Markowitz going door-to-door when he was a state senator. And this is actually not something I've ever spoken to publicly, but my mother growing up in a biracial household, was an unbelievable experience for her that she in many ways, communicated down to me.

When she was moving into college, she went to college in Stony Brook, and her father, stepfather, his name was Lester, was carrying boxes into their room, and it was a shared room, and she remembers her roommate, a white woman, turning to her mother and saying, "Why didn't we pay somebody to carry our stuff here?" About her father, the man she grew up with as her father, and so it was a fascinating way for her to grow up, and I was blessed to have him as a grandfather, before he passed.

CHRIS HAYES: So you got these eclectic streams of New York kind of running through and into you. You grew up in Park Slope, you go to Poly Prep which is a high school in your district now that you represent, it's in that district.


CHRIS HAYES: And that's an interesting place too, because it's a private school, but it's in sort of outer borough Brooklyn, so it's not like a Tony Dalton or-

MAX ROSE: Well it's not, in fact-

CHRIS HAYES: It's a different group.

MAX ROSE: Well, it's a totally different — my father went there too. When we were playing basketball against Collegiate, and Joakim Noah was in my graduating class, Collegiate students used to chant to us, "That's all right, that's okay, you're going to work for us one day." So there was this odd sense of like-

CHRIS HAYES: What a bunch of assholes. By the way they had a s----y basketball team, Collegiate, and we used to run them off the gym, just for the record. If you're a Collegiate basketball player out there-

MAX ROSE: Yeah, you're a tough Bronx kid.

CHRIS HAYES: No, I played for Hunter, we got our asses kicked, but we ran Collegiate.

MAX ROSE: They are a bunch of a------s, but there was definitely this sense that Poly was first-generation people.

CHRIS HAYES: Totally. Yeah, there are New York private schools where it's all CEOs' and bankers' kids and things like that.

MAX ROSE: Yeah I know.

CHRIS HAYES: Poly's not like that.

MAX ROSE: My buddy his father ran a big casket business, another buddy his father ran Utz Potato Chips, a lot of doctors, a lot of people in the construction business.

CHRIS HAYES: So then you go to Wesleyan, this is where the story gets even more interesting to me, and I've had good friends go to Wesleyan, and I spent a lot of time in Wesleyan campus, I went to Brown, I’d go visit. Again, Wesleyan, like Park Slope, has a certain image it communicates to people.


CHRIS HAYES: A certain stereotype. And some of that's grounded in truth, it's a lot of super liberal artsy kids taking a lot of drugs. It's basically what — that was my big takeaway from-

MAX ROSE: Totally different than Brown by the way. Right?


MAX ROSE: Totally.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean you do a lot more drugs in Wesleyan actually, I was sort of always shocked by the — so do you do ROTC at Wesleyan?

MAX ROSE: No, no, so I-

CHRIS HAYES: Because they don't have that there, right?

MAX ROSE: I did not enlist until I got home from grad school.

CHRIS HAYES: Okay, right.

MAX ROSE: So right after Wes, I went to grad school.

CHRIS HAYES: So what kind of kid are you at Wes? Like the Max Rose who's now representing Staten Island and Marine Park, right, who served in the U.S. Army, representing Staten Island now, a district now that is considerably more conservative than, say, Park Slope, things like that. What kind of kid are you at Wesleyan? What is your worldview and politics at Wesleyan like?

MAX ROSE: Yeah so I, still to this day, the only campaign I've ever worked on was my own. So I was never highly attracted to working on campaigns nor was I very attracted to advocacy, growing up at Wes. What I was, though, really interested in was the act of actually getting to work. And so I was doing some community organizing in the Middletown area which is a classic — you could call it post-industrial, economically disadvantaged area — and then my senior year, I actually did spend a good portion of my time working for then-mayor Cory Booker.

So I was deeply fascinated by this sense of how can I be in the game? What is the modern day movement where you feel as if you're in the arena? And I actually always felt as if that was in government action. Not necessarily being on the outside yelling what should be happening, but being on the inside and trying to positively effectuate it. But I never wanted to be — I felt like I always somewhat aware of this, you call it a Park Slope cultural attitude, at Wes it's certainly very prevalent, there's some elitism in there.


MAX ROSE: There's some degree of not wanting to get your hands too dirty, there's some degree, though, of most importantly, not wanting to be a part of institutions.


MAX ROSE: Not wanting to be a joiner. Thinking that institutions are inherently evil, and I am probably an institutionalist at heart.


MAX ROSE: I spent the bulk of my career in Congress and the army.

CHRIS HAYES: Right, right, right. Right.

MAX ROSE: Which is more hierarchical, I don't know.


MAX ROSE: So, and then also, I was just a normal college a-----e.


MAX ROSE: Who was trying to figure things out and probably doing some degree of delayed maturity, and not nearly probably as popular as I would've liked, but I'm working on it.

CHRIS HAYES: Well what was your — what do you mean by that?

MAX ROSE: What do I mean by not being as popular?

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah, I mean like I think there's all a certain amount of adolescent angst we have in college.


CHRIS HAYES: But I mean like I don't know, what was your crew, who were your people there, like who did you hang with, you know?

MAX ROSE: Yeah, I mean I definitely hung out with people that were, while interested in the world, did not take themselves too seriously. I'm not sure if I necessarily hung out with the intellectual crowd, I probably liked to party a little too much, but people that were very embracing of art, and culture, and prided themselves in being in an eclectic group. But I think that there was an eagerness that we had to get out there.


MAX ROSE: A real eagerness to get out of Middletown, to get out into the world and start to try to be in the game. And I constantly — if I could go back, that's what I would really slap myself upside the head with — is just stop being so eager. This is going to happen, this is going to come.


MAX ROSE: You're always thinking about the next step.


MAX ROSE: And I was guilty of that in grad school too, of just constantly thinking, "Can't wait 'til this is done so I can do the next thing," and really it's a disease that takes a while to get over.

CHRIS HAYES: I catch myself now. I am so that way, too, and it's a thing I try to work on. I catch myself imparting it to my kids now. Like it'll be Monday, and I'll be walking the kids to school, and instead of just us experiencing where we are, I'll be like, "All right, so next week, so Friday we're going to... " And it's like, why am I transmitting this neuroses to my kids of always thinking about, what's the next thing? What's the next to-do list item? What's my next accomplishment? What's the next plan? And they're kids, so they're like, seven and five, and they're just like, "I'm walking to school." They're in the moment.

MAX ROSE: Right.

CHRIS HAYES: They have the thing that mindfulness tries to train you for, and here I am, the grownup, being like...

MAX ROSE: And I think I put a lot of pressure on myself, rightfully so. It was transmitted down from my folks-


MAX ROSE: That were basically like, "Look, if you mess up, man, I'm not sure what excuse you have."


MAX ROSE: And that's totally justified. Totally. I was given all types of support and luxuries growing up. There was no excuse for not doing well. This is not a "woe is me" story, but there was certainly an element of man, how do I figure this out so I can make sure that I am living a productive lifestyle?

CHRIS HAYES: You go to grad school in England, is that right?


CHRIS HAYES: In international relations.

MAX ROSE: No, I do a program in philosophy and public policy. It's a fascinating program where you're really analyzing public policy issues, whether it's criminal justice issues, the size and scope of the state, surveillance issues. But you're analyzing them through the lens of classical philosophical texts.

CHRIS HAYES: That's cool.

MAX ROSE: Yeah, I mean, look, all of these questions boil down to things that are rather enduring. Questions of what is freedom? You know, freedom from, freedom to. Questions of what is the role and function of the state? And I ended up looking at the global institutions became a big part of my focus. I was looking at the International Monetary Fund, stuff that I never actually thought that I would be — wasn't interested previously. And LSE is such an interesting place. It's such a global institution.


MAX ROSE: Everyone is just very, very cool. You only get graded at the end of the year.

CHRIS HAYES: This is the London School of Economics, and people are coming from Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Argentina, I mean, from everywhere, across the world to go there.

MAX ROSE: Oh yeah, I mean it's really the global elite's children.


MAX ROSE: For better and for worse.


MAX ROSE: And also, really a bastion of far-left progressivism, as well. And global finance. They're like intersecting...

CHRIS HAYES: That's interesting, yeah.

MAX ROSE: Man, that was a great year. That was a fantastic year.

CHRIS HAYES: What year was that?

MAX ROSE: '08 to '09.

CHRIS HAYES: And then you enlist.

MAX ROSE: I enlist, yeah.

CHRIS HAYES: I want to talk about that, right after this. So, you enlisted. How did you make that decision?

MAX ROSE: I'd be lying to you if there was a lightning bolt. People always ask me, "When did you decide to run for office and when did you decide to enlist?" And the truth is, is that both are such hard things to do that if you have a holy cow moment, it's really not enough.

CHRIS HAYES: Right, because you'll undo it.

MAX ROSE: You'll undo it, yeah.

CHRIS HAYES: You've got to stay with it for a long period of time.

MAX ROSE: And it sucks! And it's totally arduous and there's so many elements of it that are monotonous.

CHRIS HAYES: Let me ask you this question, one of the features of modern American life is this sort of tribal balkanization that you were talking about, right?


CHRIS HAYES: And this is borne out in the data when you look at where the recruiting centers are and who is recruited into and enlists. NCOs, also officers, I mean, also if you look at West Point, it's also true there although less so. It is not in the cultural milieu in the world that you're from. And Wesleyan, whatever-

MAX ROSE: I know, and that was one of the big reasons why I was attracted to doing it, because that is not a good thing. But what was fascinating is that when I did decide to enlist, people... And this is at the height of the financial crisis, people were really doing two things. One is they were actively trying to convince me not to do it. It was this sense, and it was about a year that I was having these conversations of, I'm enlisting or I'm about to enlist, or I'm thinking about enlisting, and it's almost like they think it's an invitation for a tribunal. But they don't do that if you say, "Look man, I'm going to work for Goldman." Or, "I'm going to law school."


MAX ROSE: You know? I'm sure you would.

CHRIS HAYES: Just to have that conversation. Have the intervention.

MAX ROSE: But certainly at that point very few people were having to endure those conversations.


MAX ROSE: But the second thing that they would do, which is fascinating, is that they would also say, "All right Max, but so you know, you're going to be the smartest guy in the room." You know? They were saying things... and I mentioned this earlier, of how no one joins the military because they want to. And what I found out when I enlisted is that I was the worst soldier there.

I mean, think about it, growing up in New York City, right? You never go hunting, I never held a gun in my life. I'm naturally the guy that never knows where his keys are, I lose everything, I'm mechanically basically illiterate, I can't put anything together. My father's a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, he just knows how to call a guy — he's got a guy for everything.


MAX ROSE: He never does anything with his hands. So it was an entirely different culture, and I got the s--t kicked out of me in Basic Training, man. When you think about it, I mean, I did Basic Training, Officer Candidate School, Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, and then I went to Ranger School. And that was a year and a half, about 21 months of training, straight through.

CHRIS HAYES: And not being the A student.

MAX ROSE: No man, not at all.

CHRIS HAYES: Right. Which itself is, I mean, the periods in my life where I've gone into a thing where I get my a-s kicked and I'm not that good at it, suck.

MAX ROSE: Yeah, no, totally.

CHRIS HAYES: They really suck.

MAX ROSE: I mean, they totally suck. And then when I was in Ranger School, Ranger School's a minimum 62-day course based around four different stages of sleep and food deprivation. I was in Ranger School for over 200 days. Like, I failed in every way conceivable. Then I broke my foot as well, and I convinced them to let me stay. It was a total s--t show.

CHRIS HAYES: When you told your parents you were going to... So you're working with this for a year in your head. Do you remember, I just want to... and you can say no, but do you remember where the idea first... Like, not like, "Oh, I had some epiphany." When did it float into your mind?

MAX ROSE: One thing that I'll never forget, so then senator, United States senator Barack Obama spoke at my commencement. Ted Kennedy...


MAX ROSE: No, at Wesleyan.

CHRIS HAYES: At Wesleyan.

Barack Obama
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks during commencement at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, on May 25, 2008.Jessica Hill / AP file

MAX ROSE: So this was '08, before the presidential election. His speech was centered around a call to service, but he did not mention military service. He mentioned virtually every other conceivable type of service, but did not mention military service. I remember being incredibly startled by that and thinking that that is just a social wrong. It was a total wrong.

But here's the other thing about me enlisting, because what I don't want to go down the road is of trying to say that this was me giving something to the military, as if I was doing the military a favor. I was called to serve because I knew I had something to give. Let's put that b------t aside and let's talk about what the military gave me.

One is, is that I certainly didn't feel like I was a man yet. I certainly didn't feel like I had experienced any adversity of any significance in my life. I certainly felt like I needed to do this type of service that I would never have the chance to do again. But also, this was at the height of the counterinsurgency movement. This moment, this unprecedented moment in our nation's history where we had these PhDs who could win a bar fight, who were leading this massive change in this incredibly large institution. People like McMaster, Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, who through FM3-24, the first field manual in the history of the Army that had a bibliography, where they were talking about pushing power down to the lowest ranking officers and non-commissioned officers and having them use a holistic toolkit to pacify a region.

And I was incredibly intrigued and curious about this movement and it was something that I wanted to take part in. Something I felt I could contribute to but also something I felt like I could learn from. And to have had the chance to be a part of that is something. I could never repay the military for that, it gave me so much more than I could ever give it. I went in with my eyes wide open around that.

What's interesting, though, is that our perceptions around military service and when people were submitting me to these elitist tribunals, when I was enlisting, it's centered around the fact of you're giving the military something, you're serving, but this is not a profession. This is not something you could be good at or bad at. And it is.

Drill Sergeant Reed, I'll never forget him. I was like, this piece of s--t roving sociologist in Basic Training for my first 30 days. "Why did you enlist? Why did you enlist? Why are you here?" I remember Drill Sergeant Reed coming to me and saying — he was an Army sniper and he went to me, and I'll never forget this — he said, "You know, I'm proud to be doing this and I think I'm damn good at it and I want to keep on doing this for the rest of my career."

I hope that we can transition as a culture to that view of military service, where it's like, I respect you for your service. Not thank you, necessarily, but I respect you. No one ever thanked anyone for going to Harvard.

CHRIS HAYES: Right. That's right.

MAX ROSE: They say, you know, "How can I get you into my network?"

CHRIS HAYES: But let me ask you this. So I've come to think of this in two ways, right? I'm from that world that is very removed from... There's one guy basically from my Bronx neighborhood that I grew up in whose wife is in the service and whose father served and sort of very connected. But by and large it's been something that's not present. You know, my grandfather, other generations, obviously.

I guess there's two things. So there's the institution, all the stuff you're talking about is the institution. Which is to me, fascinating and I get. Then there's the fact that you're going to deploy to a war zone. And those two things are not always together in the history of this country because there's long periods of time in which we haven't been in active combat, right?


CHRIS HAYES: You know, you could go and do your service and you could be stationed somewhere, you would get a lot of training obviously. There's always the possibility you'd be called upon to deploy somewhere, but you know, for this period, you're not just signing up for these institutions, you're going to go to war.

MAX ROSE: Right.

CHRIS HAYES: How do you think about that part of it? Because I think that's the part that would be hard... that's the part that I would really wrestle with, both personally and if my friend was going to go do it. Not the elitist b-----t about like, "You're too good for the Army," but like, "You're going to go be involved in violence."

MAX ROSE: Well, there was definitely a sense of people were often talking to me about whether or not I agreed with American foreign policy, as if that should play a part in someone's decision to serve or not. You know, we shouldn't be advancing a notion of like, pu pu platter service, you know, in this country, where if you agree with our foreign policy decisions, then it makes sense to enlist, if you don't it doesn't.


MAX ROSE: In fact, I think it's even further of a justification to enlist in the military if you disagree with the decisions that our political leadership has made because, you know, if not me then who? And it warrants a sacrifice just as much because the conflict will go on whether or not you take part in it. But I think that amongst soldiers there's definitely this sense of invincibility, but there's also a deep love of deployments.

CHRIS HAYES: I've heard that from everyone that I've-

MAX ROSE: I mean, I miss it. I really never met a soldier who hasn't to a certain degree. And look man, I compare to what other soldiers have seen, it pales in comparison, but I've seen my buddy, my people I love, people I was entrusted with leading get hurt. And that's something I never want anyone to have to relive and it's something that I always think about and beat myself up about.

But what I've experienced during deployment was this unbelievable sense of purpose, this purity, this sense of camaraderie, this sense of simplicity as well. And this sense of incredible excitement, this feeling that you're living in the moment. So much of what people intuitively are seeking in this world, many soldiers find in combat. Now that's not to... I'm not trying to glorify war here, but you've seen this phenomenon.

CHRIS HAYES: Totally. Many of the people I've spoken to through the years.


CHRIS HAYES: I mean, it's also a love/hate, right? I mean, part of the love is like, hating the moment by moment and all the s--------s of it and all the embrace the suck and all that.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely. When you're there, you cannot wait, you can't wait to get home. There's absolutely no doubt about that. I think we have been engaged in forever wars that have to end, and that's a political judgment. But I also think it speaks to some of the failures of modern day society, too. That the only time I felt that is out at deployment.

CHRIS HAYES: Right, but that always strikes me... and I've heard this from people, right? Because you were just saying, "I'm not trying to glorify it," right?


CHRIS HAYES: But like, there is this ancient notion, I mean it goes all the way back to the first texts we have on war, right? I'll say, man, because it's very gendered, has some deep purpose or highest calling in that act. That there's some plane of existence one achieves on the battle field that can't be achieved-

MAX ROSE: Like what did Churchill say, there's nothing better that could happen to you than getting shot at with no consequence?

CHRIS HAYES: Right, yeah.

MAX ROSE: Or something to that effect.

CHRIS HAYES: What gets hard about describing this is to divide it between a normative statement and a descriptive one, which is like, there is something happening in a soldier in deployment that is unlike any experience you will ever have, and is elevated in some sense.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely.

CHRIS HAYES: Which is distinct from a kind of normative sense that like, war is glorious.

MAX ROSE: Right. Right, right.

CHRIS HAYES: But those two get run together. You know what I mean? Like they really do.

MAX ROSE: Well they definitely do, but it's, I think, veterans' responsibility to make sure that war is not glorified.


MAX ROSE: That we have an adequate understanding of the incredible human cost associated with it, both during war and thereafter. I mean, we're seeing 20 veterans die a day from suicide, which is significantly higher than what the numbers should be if you just think about the rest of American society. To say nothing of the incredible cost in treasure... so we all, I think you and I both understand that but there is a sense though that it is something that only young people could really achieve. That in modern day-

CHRIS HAYES: Wait, say that. What do you mean by that?

MAX ROSE: Well let’s think about the pressures that we've put soldiers in in Iraq and Afghanistan. First is the frequency of deployment. I have friends... I just deployed once, this is nothing compared to what these young men and women have done, four or five, six times. People who have 10, 12-year-old children who have spent more time at war in Iraq and Afghanistan than they have with their children. And we've asked this, we have demanded this of them and they've done it.

CHRIS HAYES: And to be clear, we're talking war, war. You know what I mean? There are ways that the services will require you to be away from your family right?

MAX ROSE: Right.

CHRIS HAYES: In a career, this is on a plane that we have not seen in basically the country's history over this duration.

MAX ROSE: No, and that's... you know, look in the surge, 15-month deployment. You know, guy's left with a two month old, come back and the kid doesn't recognize them.


MAX ROSE: I mean, I can't even fathom going through that. But then you hit on a really interesting second point, which is that this type of modern day warfare is far different than what we've seen at any moment in our nation's history, where it used to be... it was a far more linear fight. You approached the battlefield and then you left, and your body chemistry was able to recalibrate and you were able to turn it off. What we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan is 360 degree conflict, that every time you leave the wire you are hyper-vigilant, not only in the face of the enemy but you're also fighting a ghost with IEDs.


MAX ROSE: I mean, we got into very few actual engagements with the enemy, but it was an IED fight, and that produces a horrible, horrible effect on the young men and women that have to endure it. But here's the last thing as well, and this was part of counterinsurgency effort, which was an understanding that all unnecessary civilian deaths have to be avoided. So what we asked of our young men and women, and what we continue to do is an amazing, unparalleled expectation for courageous restraint. And it happens every day and it's never, ever reported on.

You know, I had a gunner, 19-years-old, 20-years-old, and there were an unbelievable number of times where we got a call saying... you know, one instance, four guys coming down a hill, likely carrying weapons. And you go, and you're about 400 meters away. The gunner's got the best eyes on and he sends a simple message, "I think they're police officers. Not wearing a uniform. I think they're police officers." You listen to him, you move up a little more. Turns out they are. Seems like an average day, right? But imagine if he had made just another decision, right? Which would've been sanctioned by international law.


MAX ROSE: It would've been sanctioned by UCMJ, non-uniformed soldiers with a weapon to pop off a few rounds.


MAX ROSE: Six hours later the country erupts in protest. Eight hours later the president of Afghanistan is notified.


MAX ROSE: 12 hours later the president of the United States is briefed on your actions. Next thing you know, it's all over news and it shifts geopolitics. 19, 20 years old. It's astounding!

CHRIS HAYES: And what's astounding too about the Army, and I think this is true of the other services as well is the necessity of pushing down that responsibility so low on that organizational chart, and then that 19-year-old is going to come back to the United States when they're 20, 21, and get a job that is almost certainly not going to give them that level of responsibility.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely not.

CHRIS HAYES: Or sense of purpose, or be imbued with someone saying to you, "You're responsible" in this kind of way that they've experienced. Like civilian life cannot produce that.

MAX ROSE: Experience if you come back to New York.


MAX ROSE: You know, where there's this sense often of, "Thank you for your service," but not that I understand the incredible amount of skill and acumen and experience that you're bringing to the table. And it's something that we have to really, really work on. This is why I talk so much about respecting people's service, not just thanking them for it. And that is especially in regards to these modern day conflicts.

You think about, we were basically junior officers during the surge in Iraq, the surge in Afghanistan, we're little mini-mayors.


MAX ROSE: Using tools of diplomacy and economic development as well as warfare to try to create some level of stability.

CHRIS HAYES: But, okay. Isn't there something insane about that? Just when you step back, it's like-

MAX ROSE: Absolutely.

CHRIS HAYES: It's like, yes, I get why that's being done, I read a lot of the COIN literature that was like, a moment... But there's also, like what the hell? How is that ever going to work?

It just seems like we... look, we fought a revolution in this country for self-determination. Max Rose, who's a very talented and impressive individual, I will state for the record here, using all of his prodigious talents with a bunch of extremely talented and committed and well-trained individuals around him, attempting to like, be the mayor of a town in Afghanistan.

MAX ROSE: No, no, you go and say... well, and it also gets even worse if you go into a little village and you try to do a Bobby Kennedy speech and you have nothing to give them, and then the Taliban comes and they can threaten to cut off someone's head, and they own that village.

CHRIS HAYES: But it's also, you're an American who... at some point is going to be back on some-

MAX ROSE: 100 percent, so this is... so let's talk about COIN though, for a second here.


MAX ROSE: Because I think that we have come away from it long enough to actually evaluate whether it is effective or not. I am of the opinion that we have overstated its effectiveness. You know, that when you look at the COIN revolution during the surge, so much of that as well was putting the Sons of Iraq on our payroll, you know, the ability to take a step back and say these people were fighting us, but now we can bring them to our side. Also building up a local military. We cannot overstate what our capabilities are both at home and abroad when it comes to government, there's no doubt.

CHRIS HAYES: But part... I mean, and this sort of segues a little into policy and I'd like to talk a little bit about what you learned in a sort of broader sense from this... you know, the think I keep returning to, particularly with Afghanistan as we watch this now enter... you know, it's the longest war in the history of the Republic, it's now in year 18. it's just that every player in the drama knows that they're going to be there eventually and we won't. That's the baseline conviction that everyone has. That's just the universal truth. It's their f-----g country!

MAX ROSE: Well, I'm not even sure if you can qualify it as one country on top of that.

CHRIS HAYES: Well, it's their neighborhood, or it is their turf, or it is their mountain, or their village.

MAX ROSE: The area that I was in in Afghanistan is now completely and wholly controlled by the Taliban.


MAX ROSE: A rural place in Kandahar Province, and I certainly don't think that it makes sense to continue this never-ending war. We have to achieve some type of political reconciliation between the Taliban and what is the governing establishment the former Northern Alliance, whatever you would like to call it. And that involves treating the Taliban as an actual entity. But there has to be two conclusions or two stipulations associated with that. One is, is that they, the Taliban, has got to agree that they will never host an Al Qaeda like entity ever again. And two, we have to have the residual capacity to respond if they do. But we have to understand what are the limits of American power, and thinking that we can supersede politics, supersede centuries-old conflicts and achieve some type of economic development there, or accelerate some type of liberal democracy is totally wrong and will lead to more wasted blood and treasure.

CHRIS HAYES: You got back, from deployment. You finished out your service term. How old were you at that point?

MAX ROSE: When I came back to New York? I was turning 27, I believe.

CHRIS HAYES: How old are you now?


CHRIS HAYES: Okay. When did the idea of running for office enter your head?

MAX ROSE: I would say probably only about three or four months-ish before I declared, maybe a little sooner than that was when I really kind of committed to it. It was always something that was an idea.

CHRIS HAYES: Right. I mean you've worked for Booker in Newark, you were interested in government.

MAX ROSE: I'd seen it. It was certainly always something that not only excited me, but also excited my friends, you know excited my loved ones. But there's a big difference between talking about it, go to any bar here, there's a schmuck talking about running for office, and doing it.

It was a weird three months. I proposed to my wife. And then the next day deployed with the National Guard to Australia for six weeks, and then came back and declared I was running for office and quit my job.

CHRIS HAYES: And what was your job?

MAX ROSE: I was the chief of staff of a network of outpatient clinics for the poor and the homeless, for an organization called Bright Point Health.

CHRIS HAYES: Oh yeah. Yeah yeah.

MAX ROSE: So every woman's dream, right? You propose. You deploy.


MAX ROSE: You quit your job.

CHRIS HAYES: Love ya. Love ya bunches.

MAX ROSE: And then you start doing a job that doesn't pay you. And involves working constantly.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah, six weeks in Australia, followed by running for office is a tough one too.

MAX ROSE: Yeah, yeah, but, I did always have a sense, as we kind of go back to the sense of what are the failures of the liberal elite? There's a sense that they have looked down upon serving an elected office. There was always a belief that-

CHRIS HAYES: Is that true though? That seems a little like a caricature.

MAX ROSE: No. I don't think that that's untrue. I think that there was always a sense of the more noble route is to advocate. And the more noble route is protest. The more noble route is to organize. The more noble route is to work in a non-profit. And not to look down on any of those-


MAX ROSE: As great pursuits, but there was a sense that again, in part and parcel of our disdain for institutions, that wanting to dedicate your life to holding elected office, look at the way we talk about this idea of a career politician.


MAX ROSE: We don't talk about career doctors in that way.


MAX ROSE: Do you ever hear someone say, "I want to become a lawyer, but I don't want to become a career lawyer"? It's ridiculous. But it's because we don't believe in institutions anymore. We don't trust our elected officials. And that is a life's work for me. If I could try to change one thing, it would be that. Making this a noble pursuit. And that's why I'm in it.

CHRIS HAYES: Okay. So you got elected. You ran a really good race.

MAX ROSE: Thanks man.

CHRIS HAYES: It was a great race. It was one of the races I watched most closely. There were several contested races in the tri-state area that I watch very closely because I had either connections to them, or I had people I knew that were working on them. The only one I watched very closely was New York 19, Antonio Delgado.

MAX ROSE: He's a great guy.

CHRIS HAYES: Great guy. Extremely impressive dude.

MAX ROSE: Yeah. Get him as a guest on this too.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah. Tony is a reticent guy you know.

MAX ROSE: I'll talk to him. Antonio, come on the podcast.

CHRIS HAYES: I watched both those races. You guys both just ran really good campaigns. You had very good ads. You had an incredible field organization. You knocked on a million doors. You were there. You hustled. You talked to everyone in the district. You earned it. You went everywhere. You talked to everyone, which you gotta do. And now it's like, okay, you're a member of Congress, and you got the majority, and you guys can pass bills until the cows come home.

MAX ROSE: I know.

CHRIS HAYES: And nothing, you know Mitch McConnell's not going to do anything with it. What are your conversations back in the district now that you're a Congressman? How do you explain what you do for a living?

MAX ROSE: Sure. So, what I have tried to do from day one, is have a hyper local focus. And try to figure out ways in this divided government, in this government often filled with elected officials that care more about what you think and say, than what their constituents think and say. How do we show them that government can work?


MAX ROSE: So I got a bill signed by the president to eliminate an easement that was preventing us from building a seawall on the east shore of Staten Island. It was some horrible bureaucratic piece of b------t between the city and the state, and the federal government that was preventing this thing from getting built in the aftermath of Sandy. We got it eliminated.

Image: A boat and other debris sit in the Broad Channel after Sandy in 2012
A boat and other debris sit on Cross Bay Boulevard in the Broad Channel section of Queens on Nov. 9, 2012 in New York as the region continues to recover from the effects of Sandy.Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

CHRIS HAYES: And you put that into some other piece of legislation that passed presumably, right? It wasn't a standalone.

MAX ROSE: Yep. So, and now we're going to be able to initiate this project.

CHRIS HAYES: That's in interesting thing to me, because that is a very literally concrete win.

MAX ROSE: Absolutely.

CHRIS HAYES: Then you can be like-

MAX ROSE: We just announced that we're going to be changing the Verrazzano Bridge from one way tolling, which was put in place 30 years ago or so, but a Staten Island congressman, because it was cash based toll and it was producing congestion on both sides, to split base tolling. Now why does that matter?

CHRIS HAYES: Split the fare.

MAX ROSE: Yeah. Split the fare.

CHRIS HAYES: It better not get at me coming and going.

MAX ROSE: Not two way tolling!

CHRIS HAYES: When I'm running against you, I'm moving your district.

MAX ROSE: Split tolling Chris, but here's why that's significant though, because we have thousands of trucks every day, toll shopping. Coming from Jersey. We're Staten Island taking advantage of a free ride over the Verrazzano through Manhattan, through Brooklyn, through Manhattan, causing incredible congestion, not only in Staten Island, but in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I've got a field, Miller Field, National Federal field, that has had a soccer season for 20 years. Springtime. Fall time. They continue to mess up soccer season in the springtime. It's like it takes them by surprise. "Oh my God, I didn't know soccer season was coming!" And soccer season was continually delayed and they kept on making the community pay for the Port-a-Potties. We got soccer season open on time. And the government paid for the Port-a-Potties. I've got a post office in South Brooklyn in Gravesend where they keep on messing up deliveries because they're understaffed. I'm going to get them to adequate staffing. I'm going to get people's mail delivered on time.

So, what's interesting though in the Democratic party is we often scoff at this.


MAX ROSE: We often look at these things, I remember I was talking to a member-

CHRIS HAYES: I don't think successful politicians do though.

MAX ROSE: It depends what we now determine as a successful politician. Do you measure that by Twitter followers and Facebook posts? Do you measure that by ability to win a primary. I mean what, I don't know, but certainly old school politicians value this stuff.

But I was recently talking to a member who will not be named, and we're going back and forth. What are you doing? What are you doing? He'd say, "Oh I'm working on this theoretical project about X, Y, and Z, doing speeches at universities. What are you working on?" I said, "Soccer season's kicking my ass." And we have to make sure that we are not looking down on that. Every single person running for office right now is talking about, we need big bold expansive paradigm shifting measures, to address cataclysmic problems like climate change and sky rocketing equality and crumbling infrastructure, all of which are important. Everyone's got their own Apollo-like project. But everybody is missing the point here, that nobody believes that government can get anything done, and no one trusts their elected officials.

And if we can start to show these little wins-


MAX ROSE: We could actually build up people's belief in government. We can build up their trust in it and those are things that we can do in a divided government too.

CHRIS HAYES: Right. It's an interesting theory. My tendency is in the same way that people will say that Congress is unpopular, but they like their member of Congress. But I'm not sure those translate, so I'm not sure that they say "Well look, Max Rose, he's getting this seawall, I got my Port-a-Potties, I got my mail delivered, now I trust government to go do whatever moon shot." I mean they're going to trust you, which is good.

MAX ROSE: Yeah. Well we're going to find out because we have to believe it. We have to expand trust in government, if we have any hope of addressing the biggest problems.

CHRIS HAYES: That I don't disagree with at all. I totally agree with that. On this day, or the right day. I mean the idea, the ability to deliver, the ability that you say, "here's a way that we can tangibly improve your lives, we're going to come do it," and then the end result is a life that is tangibly improved, that is a ... you've gotta get that virtuous circle working.

MAX ROSE: You have to. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Apollo Project, which was sustained among multiple administrations from both parties, came after the Intrastate Highway Act, where we showed the American people that we can pave roads.


MAX ROSE: Across the country. But you know, I experienced this when I deployed. And I come back to this story often, when my vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, I was medivaced to Kandahar Air Force Base, and my life was never in danger, but I was a little banged up along with another guy in my platoon. The basic message I was given was that years earlier I would have died. More importantly, people I loved and I was entrusted with leading, would have died. The only reason why we lived was because of the double v-hole at the bottom of our strikers, pushed the explosion successfully away from its core. The only reason why that was there was because of governmental innovation, bipartisanship, quiet action where people didn't care about tweets or Facebook, they just wanted to get something done quickly. That's why I'm here today as a member of Congress. Because of governmental success.


MAX ROSE: I would like to be able to show people that that's possible here at home. I got cops, firemen, teachers, nurses, first responders, vets, construction workers in my district. Highest rate of unionization of any district in the country. They're not saying get government out of your back pocket.


MAX ROSE: They're not saying that. When they vote for Donald Trump or Barack Obama, Republican members of Congress, Democratic members of Congress, it is all with the hope that government will finally work again so that they can get something done.

CHRIS HAYES: We've sort of stayed clear of politics almost entirely.

MAX ROSE: I've really thoroughly enjoyed it.

CHRIS HAYES: I know. No it's been good. But I want to ask you this question on impeachment because it's-

MAX ROSE: This is the longest you've probably gone without talking about impeachment in a long time.

CHRIS HAYES: Well it was a welcome respite for me. I'm trying to think of a way to ask this that isn't, I'm trying to elicit the most honest possible answer from you.

MAX ROSE: Thank you for that honesty.

CHRIS HAYES: Well I guess it's like if I'm ... here's how I'll put it. If I'm in your shoes, if I'm Max Rose, there's about a thousand things I'd rather do than have to take an impeachment vote.

MAX ROSE: Why do you say that?

CHRIS HAYES: It just seems like if you're you and with your theory of the case, which has been a successful theory of the case, in your race right, which is hyper local focus. I'm going to pick the issues I'm going to fight on them and fight on those issues and be very clear on them. I'm going to control the issue space, which is something you did very well in that campaign, right. You're not running around reacting to this and that. It's like these are the things that we're going to stand for, this thing. You're going to control the issue space as a sitting Congressman, which is we're going to work on these things where I can tangibly improve your lives.

Then you've got this big national story, which is like the president's a lawless criminal. My editorializing. A bunch of the people that voted for you voted for him. Do you want to take that vote? If you can avoid it, it's probably easier in your, it'd probably make your life easier to not take that vote. But what do you think of that analysis?

MAX ROSE: Well I'm not viewing this, and I refuse to view this or any other issue through a political lens. I know, judging by your face, you think that I'm b----------g you, but in the same manner that I have spoken openly about my significant and sincere opposition to the travel ban-


MAX ROSE: The same way in which I have over and over and over again refused to consider the political consequences of criticizing Democrats.


MAX ROSE: As I've often done. I'm not going to view this through a political lens. On the same hand I did say that I'm not going to D.C. with a partisan pitchfork in my hand. And so my hope is that we can proceed responsibly, but we can also continue to remain focused on the things that we told the American people that we were going to do when we got elected.

The last thing I would want anyone to think though, is that we said that stuff, and then we're doing something different now that we got elected. Take infrastructure for instance. I am dumbfounded, dumbfounded, why we had to go to the White House, as if Donald Trump is a king, to ask him permission to do an infrastructure bill.

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah. Just do one.

MAX ROSE: Just do one. Push an infrastructure bill. Show McConnell that he is the hypocrite that he is. Continue to push it, push it, push it, push it, and then put an infrastructure bill on the president's desk. And then say Mr. President sign or veto. But if you veto this, then you can no longer talk about making our roads and our bridges and our highways and our airports great again, because China's running circles around us.


MAX ROSE: That I do want to remain to be our focus.

CHRIS HAYES: Right, but the problem with that, right is that McConnell can just kill all that stuff in the Senate. It's like, you can say, look there's 70,000 people dying every year of opioids in this country, it's insane. It continues to astound me. It's surpassed car accidents.

MAX ROSE: We're losing a lot of people in Staten Island and South Brooklyn.

CHRIS HAYES: Yes. And in the Bronx.


CHRIS HAYES: And in fricking Youngstown. And in you name a place, right. It's like you guys can pass the world's greatest package on that out of the House, and I don't know where it goes in the Senate. I guess my question is, there's the local tangible stuff you, Congressman Max Rose, can deliver, but on the domestic agenda, like we are going to try to bring down your prescription drug prices or do something very serious and sustained to prevent opioid deaths, I don't know how much of deliverables you can go back to your people with when you've got the governmental system we have.

MAX ROSE: Well we're at an interesting point in our nation's history, because actually it should be that the American people are incredibly and oddly unified. Donald Trump runs, beside immigration, runs, co-ops a Democratic populist agenda. The Democrats reclaim it and run on many of those same things in 2018, both times the American people are voting for change. We've been voting for change for 10 years. So yes. You're right, that if anyone claimed to their voters that they were going to solve all these problems in a divided government, they were acting as if their voters were lying, naïve, or stupid. And they should suffer political consequences for that. This is not going to be easy.

But with that being said though, I think that there are two potential outcomes of this. One is advantageous for the American people. One is politically advantageous for the Democratic Party, if we proceed correctly. We have got to not only pass this legislation, but continue advocacy thereafter. The same case around guns. Certainly the case around the opioid epidemic, which I think is one of the greatest public health crises that we're facing today. Certainly the case around infrastructure. We have to constantly push to Mitch McConnell, because this is an army of one at this point. Whose side are you on Mitch? You've got Senate seats that you have to hold on to. You have to hold on to your own seat, and I know for a fact that your own voters voted to make America great again, voted to drain the swamp and we are pushing pieces of legislation right in front of you where you can accomplish that. So who's side are you on Mitch? Because we're not going to allow for you to bank on our political ADD, to bank on this sense that we are just going to claim victories by passing them in the house. No. We have to constantly be pushing this to him.

And put pieces of legislation right in front of the president. Sign or veto. This is checkers, not chess Mr. President, and we are going to assert our constitutional obligation and ability to do just that. Pass legislation man. That's what the American people want. I don't think it should be too hard. I'm going to continue pushing for that until election day, and then I'm going to beat my opponent by double digits. I'm going to come back and we'll do it again.

CHRIS HAYES: That District is New York 11, which is Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. Congressman Max Rose, who's one of the freshmen Democrats. It's a great, great pleasure to talk to you Max. Congressman. Come back anytime.

MAX ROSE: It's always Max to you.

CHRIS HAYES: All right.

MAX ROSE: Christopher? Chris?

CHRIS HAYES: Yeah. Chris. Be good. Take care.

Once again, my great thanks to Congressman Max Rose, of New York's 11th District. I should note, it's not just Staten Island, it's Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn as well, so it's a pretty big district. I don't want to leave out the Brooklyn folks in his Congressional District, or I'll be hearing cross words from the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst.

We'd love to hear your feedback as always. We got some really interesting feedback about the conversation with Adam Gopnik on liberalism.

I like when we do our political theory conversations. A big interest of mine. We've got another political theory conversation coming up pretty soon about socialism, sort of a matched set we the liberalism one. So that'll be dropping soon. And you should send us your thoughts. I really also love when people talk about how much reading they're doing because of the podcast. We got a lot of feedback from folks after Brenda Wineapple's conversation about "The Impeachers." A lot of people saying that they bought the book, that they're reading the book. They had no idea of the history. I saw someone on Twitter who tweeted about it and changed her bio to currently reading "The Impeachers" by Brenda Wineapple, which I thought was awesome.

So, again, a lot of the authors we have, Brenda Wineapple's a great example, a lot of the authors we have are not necessarily huge bestselling authors who are like an enormous marketing machinery behind them so I will say that if you like what you hear and you're interested and you have the money to be able to afford purchasing the book, buying non-fiction books is one way that writers who are doing really good work can sustain themselves in this environment. So, if you do have the money and you don't want to support big chains, there's IndieBound, there's your local bookstore, and if you can't buy the book, your local library, and a lot of local libraries also have e-reader subscription services now, which is really awesome, so definitely do what you can to get your hands on these books. A lot of times the primary source material's even more illuminating than the conversation.

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