Can We Fix Our Damaged Democracy? | Conversations with Jim Zirin

Can We Fix Our Damaged Democracy? | Conversations with Jim Zirin


♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪ JIM: HI THERE. I AM JIM ZIRIN. WELCOME BACK FOR MORE CONVERSATIONS. WITH US IS A FORMER CABINET MEMBER AND DOMESTIC ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON, JOSEPH A. CALIFANO JR. JOE HAS WRITTEN A DYNAMITE BOOK WITH A ROUSING TITLE, OUR DAMAGED DEMOCRACY, WE THE PEOPLE MUST ACT. HE IS FOCUSING ON AN ISSUE IMPORTANT TO US ALL. HE SEES A DEEPLY SEATED PARTISON DIVIDE, ALONG POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND RACIAL FAULTLINES. COMBINED WITH A SHARP DECLINE IN PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN OUR VENERATED INSTITUTIONS. HE ARGUES THAT THE REAL THREAT IN 21ST-CENTURY AMERICA COMES NOT FROM ISIS, TERROR, RUSSIAN HACKING OR FROM CHINA TRADE BUT WE OURSELVES. THAT WE ARE SO MUCH AT ODDS. I’M GLAD TO WELCOME YOU BACK TO THE PROGRAM. JOE: IT IS GREAT TO BE HERE. JIM: YOU HAVE BEEN A WASHINGTON INSIDER FOR MANY YEARS. YOU’VE BEEN A MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. WHY DO YOU WRITE A BOOK WHERE YOU ARE SO CRITICAL OF THE STATE OF OUR GOVERNMENT? JOE: THIS IS A FUNDAMENTAL SYSTEMS CHANGE IN OUR GOVERNMENT. IT HAS BEEN BUILDING OVER HALF A CENTURY NOW. THE PRESIDENT IS TOO POWERFUL. THE CONGRESS IS CRIPPLED AS I SAY IN THE BOOK. THEY ARE JUST NOT FUNCTIONING. THE COURTS, AS YOU WELL KNOW FROM YOUR OWN BOOK, HAVE BECOME PARTISAN. MONEY AND GERRYMANDERING AND A HOST OF THINGS ARE POLLUTING THE SYSTEM AT A TIME WHEN EVERYONE IS SPLIT, THE MEDIA AND THE POLITICS, IN GOVERNMENT, ARE SEVERE AND DEEP. JIM: YOU SAY THIS IS NOT AS LIBERAL DEMOCRATS MIGHT SEE IT, A DONALD TRUMP OR RICHARD NIXON PROBLEM. NOR IS IT AS TEA PARTY MEMBERS AND REPUBLICAN LEADERS MIGHT SEE IT A HANGOVER FROM THE HUNDREDS OF GREAT SOCIETY DOMESTIC PROGRAMS ADOPTED IN THE 1960’S. THIS IS ABOUT THE PERSISTENT AGGRANDIZEMENT OF POWER BY ONE PRESIDENT AFTER ANOTHER REGARDLESS OF PARTY. IT RUNS FAR DEEPER THAN TRUMP, NIXON, CLINTON, FDR, LBJ, AND OBAMA. HIS FRUSTRATION WITH THE GRIDLOCKED LEGISLATIVE PROCESS BY ISSUING EXECUTIVE ORDERS TO IMPLIMENT HIS POLICIES. THIS IS QUITE A STATEMENT. HOW DID THIS EVOLVE? JOE: THE PRESIDENTIAL STAFF STARTED TO BUILD. THE ORIGINAL NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WAS VERY SMALL, CREATED IN THE NATIONAL DEFENSE ACT. JIM: WHEN WAS THAT? JOE: THAT WAS 1957. KENNEDY AND JOHNSON HAD A STAFF OF ABOUT 50. 50 ALL THROUGH THE WHITE HOUSE. THEY HAD STAFF OF 20 OR 15. EVERY PRESIDENT HAS KEPT ADDING TO THAT STAFF. THE CHANGE CAME WITH CLINTON AND THE BUSHES. BY THE TIME OBAMA LEFT OFFICE, THERE WERE 450 PEOPLE ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STAFF. IN THE FOREIGN AREA, THERE WAS SOMEONE FOR EVERY ASSISTANT SECRETARY AT STATE. POLICIES BEING MADE AT THE WHITE HOUSE, IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE BETWEEN BEING SECRETARY OF STATE OR NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, I THINK SMART PEOPLE WOULD TAKE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER. JOE: AND YOU WOULD NOT HAVE TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE. JOE: DO NOT HAVE TO BE CONFIRMED. THAT IS JUST ONE STAFF. THE LEGAL COUNSEL, KENNEDY HAD TWO PEOPLE, TED SORENSEN AND MIKE FELLMAN. JOHNSON HAD A FEW PEOPLE. THEN THAT STARTED TO BUILD. JIM: THEY DID NOT HAVE THE LEGAL PROBLEMS THAT DONALD TRUMP HAS. JOE: OR THAT CLINTON HAD. OR NIXON. NIXON STARTED TO BUILD IT, THEN TRUMP, BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS AS THE STAFF HAS GROWN, THE POWER HAS GROWN. 50 OR 60 OR 70 SPECIAL COUNSELS TO THE PRESIDENT. WHEN GEORGE BUSH WAS TRYING TO GET THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO OK THE TORTURING OF PRISONERS BY THE CIA, THE PRESSURE, RESISTED, TERRIFIC PRESSURE, THEY OKAYED IT. WHEN OBAMA WENT INTO LIBYA AND WENT TO THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND SAID DO I HAVE TO REPORT THE HOSTILITIES TO THE CONGRESS OR GET OUT IN 60 DAYS, WHICH THE LAW SAYS? THEY SAID, YES YOU DO. OBAMA WENT TO HIS OWN COUNSEL WHO SAID, NO, YOU DON’T. SO THAT HAPPENED. ON THE DOMESTIC POLICY SIDE, I HAD THE FIRST DOMESTIC POLICY STAFF, FOUR PEOPLE. THAT STAFF IS NOW 250 TODAY. THEN COMMUNICATIONS, THE COMMUNICATIONS OPERATION AT THE WHITE HOUSE IS SO VAST, IT IS LIKE HAVING A GOVERNMENT OF MEDIA. STATE RUN MEDIA, WHICH WE USUALLY THINK ABOUT AND A COUNTRY LIKE RUSSIA OR CHINA. YOU HAVE WHITE HOUSE.GOV, YOUTUBE 24 HOURS A DAY, TWITTER, INTERNET, INTERACTIVE INTERNET, 24 HOURS A DAY. YOU HAVE OVER 400 PEOPLE IN COMMUNICATIONS NOW BECAUSE THEY ARE WATCHING EVERYTHING. PULLING THINGS OUT ON EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA, AND THEY ARE PUMPING OUT, WHETHER IT IS OBAMA MAKING SURE THAT CNN AND MSNBC GET EVERYTHING, OR TRUMP MAKING SURE FOX NEWS GETS EVERYTHING, THAT IS A PHENOMENAL THING. ONE CBS REPORTER SAID IT IS STATE GOVERNMENT RUN MEDIA. THAT KIND OF POWER PLUS ONE THAT YOU WILL BE VERY FAMILIAR WITH, WHICH IS THE PRESIDENT — THE CONSTITUTION SAYS FEDERAL LAW CAN ELIMINATE STATE LAW. SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND. NOW THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND IS ALSO THE REGULATIONS AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS THAT PRESIDENTS ISSUE OR THAT THEY DIRECT THEIR DEPARTMENTS TO ISSUE. WE HAVE A PHENOMENAL CLUSTER OF POWER. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE THREE BRANCHES, SEPARATE AND EQUAL. THE CONGRESS IS NOT EQUAL. THE CONGRESS HAS REALLY — IT IS CONSUMED WITH RAISING MONEY. I HAVE IN THE BOOK A SECTION OF EVERY SINGLE DEMOCRATIC MEMBER OF CONGRESS WAS ASSIGNED AN AMOUNT OF MONEY TO RAISE. THERE IS A CHART, HOW MUCH DO THEY RAISE, HOW MUCH CASH ON HAND. JIM: AS SOON AS THEY ARE ELECTED, THEY HAVE TO START RAISING MONEY FOR THE NEXT RACE. JOE: THEY HAVE WHAT IS CALLED CALL TIME. DEMOCRATS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO FOUR HOURS OF CALL TIME PER DAY. THEY HAVE TO WALK ACROSS THE STREET. JIM: THEY CANNOT DO IT ON GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. JOE: YOU HAVE IT RIGHT. TO RUN FOR OFFICE, A SENATOR IN THE 2016 RACE HAD TO RAISE ABOUT $30,000 A WEEK FOR EVERY WEEK OF HIS SIX-YEAR TERM. JIM: YOU ARGUE THAT OUR LEGISLATIVE SYSTEM HAS BEEN CORRUPTED BY CAMPAIGN-FINANCE ENABLED BY THE CITIZENS UNITED. TELL US ABOUT THAT. JOE: SURPREME COURT SAID MONEY HAS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. JIM: HOW DOES MONEY HAVE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS? JOE: BECAUSE THEY GAVE IT TO IT. JIM: FIVE JUSTICES SAY SO. JOE: THAT MEANS SOMEBODY LIKE THE KOCH BROTHERS ON THE RIGHT OR SOROS ON THE LEFT TO SAY TO A MEMBER OF CONGRESS I WANT THIS. YOU STAY WITH ME ON THIS CLIMATE POSITION. YOU STAY WITH ME ON RELAXING RESTRICTIONS ON MARIJUANA USE, AND I WILL GIVE YOU ALL THE MONEY YOU NEED. THERE IS NO LIMIT ON HOW MUCH SOMEBODY CAN GET EITHER DIRECTLY. THE BOOK LAYS OUT HOW MUCH OF A FARCE IT HAS BECOME. YOU CAN GET A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE- WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE ALLOWED $2700 PER PERSON, YOU CAN GIVE $10,000 TO EACH OF THE STATES, WHICH IS HALF $1 MILLION, AND THEY CAN GIVE IT TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. JIM: THE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES BEFORE A CANDIDATE ANNOUNCES, HE CAN CONTROL HIS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES TO RAISE MONEY, NOT INDEPENDENT, AND SUDDENLY IS SUPPOSEDLY INDEPENDENT AS SOON AS HE ANNOUNCES. JOE: YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. THINK ABOUT THIS. WHEN A CANDIDATE IS GOING TO RUN FOR OFFICE, A USED BE THE FIRST QUESTION HE WOULD ASK OR SHE WOULD ASK IS WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY DISTRICT, MY COUNTRY, MY CITY, OR MY TOWN? THE FIRST QUESTION IS NOW, CAN I RAISE THE MONEY TO RUN? IT IS NOT JUST THE CORRUPTION OF MONEY ON PUBLIC POLICY. I THINK THE MONEY PROBLEM, THE CORRUPTION ALSO AFFECTS THE QUALITY OF CANDIDATES WE CAN GET. IT CAN BE AWFULLY DEMEANING TO RAISE MONEY. LBJ USED TO SAY, I HATE THIS WHERE PRESIDENTS HAVE TO GO HAT IN HAND TO PEOPLE WHO WANT SOMETHING FROM THEM. SOMEBODY SAYS, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND MORE THAN HALF YOUR TIME RAISING MONEY, AND YOU SAY, WHAT DO I NEED THIS JOB FOR? WE HAVE THAT EFFECT. WE ALSO HAVE THE COURTS. 5-4. WE CANNOT EVEN GET TO 6-3. JIM: THEY ARE PARTISAN DECISIONS WITH REPUBLICAN APPOINTED JUSTICES VOTING ONE WAY AND DEMOCRATIC APPOINTED JUSTICES VOTING THE OTHER WAY. JOE: CONSISTENTLY. JIM: OVER MANY YEARS. JOE: WE HAVE THIS ISSUE WHERE A DISTRICT JUDGE CAN ISSUE A NATION WIDE INJUCTION. YOU GO TO THE RIGHT JUDGE, AND IF YOU WANT OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION PLAN DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL YOU GO TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS. GO TO THE JUDGE, JUDGE DECLARES IT UNCONSTITUTIONAL, IT’S DEAD. IF YOU WANT TO KNOCK OUT TRUMPS PLAN, YOU GO TO SAN FRANCISCO, GET A DEMOCRATIC JUDGE, HE’LL KNOCK IT OUT AND IT’S DEAD. I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, THIS IS REALLY AFFECTING OUR FREEDOM AND ABILITY TO GOVERN. JIM: JUSTICE SCALIA WAS FAMOUS FOR SAYING THAT THE BILL OF RIGHTS DOES NOT REALLY PROTECT YOUR FREEDOMS. ANY BANANA REPUBLIC CAN HAVE A BILL OF RIGHTS. WHAT IS REALLY PROTECTING YOUR FREEDOM IS THE CHECKS AND BALANCES AND DIVISION OF POWER AMONG THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT. YOU ARGUE THAT IS ALL BREAKING DOWN. JOE: EXACTLY. IF DONALD TRUMP SCARES THE HELL OUT OF YOU, DON’T KNOW WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO TODAY OR TOMORROW, THIS IS A NONPARTISAN BOOK, BUT IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT DONALD TRUMP, YOU BETTER LOOK AT THE MASSIVE AMOUNT OF POWER THAT IS NOW CONCENTRATED IN THE WHITE HOUSE. OBAMA COULDN’T GET ANYTHING DONE IN THE CONGRESS, SO HE GOVERNED WITH EXECUTIVE ORDERS. THE NEXT PRESIDENT CAN CHANGE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. WHEN I WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, FAIR HOUSING, UNIONS AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS PEOPLE ALL WANTED FAIR HOUSING. THEY WANTED JOHNSON TO DO AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. THEY WOULD CALL ME. I WOULD GO TO THE PRESIDENT, AND I SAID IF YOU ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER, AND HE SAID, WE HAVE GOT TO HAVE A LAW. WHY ISSUE AN EXECUTIVE ORDER? THIS IS GOING TO BE REALLY UNPOPULAR. THE NEXT PRESIDENT CAN REPEAL IT. IT TOOK A WHILE. THREE OR FOUR YEARS, BUT IN THE WAKE OF MARTIN LUTHER KING’S ASSASSINATION, JOHNSON GOT A LAW PASSED. DONALD TRUMP IS NOW WIPING AWAY WITH HIS EXECUTIVE ORDERS OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS. SINCE CONGRESS CANNOT SEEM TO LEGISLATE, THEY CANNOT REALLY PASS BILLS OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE. WHEN THEY DO, THERE IS SO MUCH COMPROMISE THAT THE PRESIDENT GETS TERRIFIC POWERS TO DEFINE THINGS. JIM: THEY DID OVERWHELMINGLY PASSED A BILL THAT THE RUSSIANS HAVE TAMPERED WITH OUR ELECTION, TRUMP HAS FAILED TO IMPLEMENT THE BILL. JOE: HE HAS PLENTY PRECEDENT FROM OBAMA AND THE BUSHES AND CLINTON OF PRESIDENTS SAYING, OH, THAT INVOLVES FOREIGN POLICY. THAT’S MINE. I DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. I DON’T HAVE TO IMPOSE THOSE SANCTIONS. I DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. WHO SHOULD BE ON WELFARE AND ELIGIBLE FOR FOOD STAMPS? THE LAW IS WRITTEN SO THAT THE INCUMBENT PRESIDENT AND STAFF WILL SAY THIS IS HOW WE WILL DEFINE POVERTY. THIS IS HOW WE WILL DEFINE NEED AND DISABILITY. THEY ARE REALLY MAKING THESE DECISIONS. JIM: THE PRESIDENT BECOMES HIS OWN SUPREME COURT. JOE: HE BECOMES HIS OWN SUPREME COURT, HIS OWN CONGRESS. WHAT IS CONGRESS TO? THEY PASSED THE APPROPRIATIONS BILL ONCE A YEAR. JIM: BEGRUDGINGLY. JOE: IT TAKES MONTHS FOR PEOPLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IS IN THOSE 2000 OR 3000 PAGES. JIM: PRETTY SOON YOU HAVE A $1 TRILLION DEFICIT. JOE: EVERY YEAR. YEAR AFTER YEAR. JIM: DOESN’T THIS REALLY REFLECT THE PARTISAN DIVIDE WE ARE IN AS A PEOPLE? IT USED TO BE THAT GALLUP WOULD TAKE A POLL, DO YOU WANT YOUR DAUGHTER TO MARRY OUTSIDE YOUR RELIGION? 60% WOULD SAY NO. NOW, THAT IS COMPLETELY SUBSIDIARY. THEY SAY, WOULD YOU WANT YOUR DAUGHTER TO MARRY SOMEONE OF A DIFFERENT POLITICAL PERSUASION? THEY ALL SAY NO. WE WANT TO ASSOCIATE WITH PEOPLE THAT SHARE OUR POLITICAL VALUES. JOE: I HAVE BEEN STUDYING THOSE POLLS. WE HAVE A TERRIFIC RACIAL DIVIDE BETWEEN THE PARTIES THAT WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT HARD AS A COUNTRY. JIM: WE HAVE A REGIONAL DIVIDE. JOE: THE DEMOCRATS CANNOT WIN A NATIONAL ELECTION WITHOUT 90% OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTE AND A BIG TURNOUT. AT THE CONVENTIONS, LOOK AT THE CONVENTIONS LAST TIME, 50% OF THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION WAS WHITE. 25% WAS AFRICAN-AMERICAN. MOST OF THE REST WERE HISPANICS AND OTHERS. AT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION, 90% WERE WHITE, LESS THAN 1% WAS AFRICAN-AMERICAN. ABOUT 5% LATINO. THAT IS NOT HEALTHY FOR THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE THAT DIVIDE. JIM: IT IS ALSO THE SINGLE ISSUE DIVIDE. NO MATTER HOW MUCH SOMEBODY AGREES WITH THE CANDIDATE, IF THEY DISAGREE ABOUT ABORTION OR RIGHT TO DIE, THEY WILL VOTE AGAINST THEM. JOE: OR A GUN ISSUE. JIM: GUNS, GAYS, AND GOD. JOE: THAT IS A GREAT WAY TO PUT IT. THAT IS TRAGEDY. WE DON’T LOOK AT THE CHARACTER OF THE CANDIDATE. IS HE PRO-LIFE, OR IS HE PRO-CHOICE? IS SHE FOR MY VIEW OF CLIMATE CONTROL, OR IS SHE NOT FOR MY VIEW? IS SHE FOR GUN CONTROL OR NOT GUN CONTROL? THAT IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. IT IS LAID OUT IN THE BOOK. IT IS A TRAGEDY. I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THESE PROBLEMS ARE INTERLOCKED. ADD INTO THE SUPREME COURTS CITIZEN CASE, IF YOU GET BILLIONS, YOU CAN DO THAT. YOU CAN SAY I WILL ONLY GIVE YOU MONEY IF YOU GO WITH ME ON THIS ISSUE THE WAY I WANT. THESE GUYS BECOME FINANCIAL VENTRILOQUISTS WITH SENATORS OR CONGRESSMAN MOUTHING WHAT THEY’RE TOLD TO SAY. JIM: PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS AN APPROVAL RATING, AND PRESIDENTS ARE ALWAYS VERY JEALOUS ABOUT THEIR APPROVAL RATINGS AND LOOK AT THEM ALMOST EVERY DAY. HE HAS AN APPROVAL RATING THAT HOVERS AROUND 40%. IS HE ABLE TO GOVERN WITH A MINORITY APPROVAL RATING? JOE: HE IS ABLE TO GOVERN, AND THE REASON IS BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH POWER IN THE WHITE HOUSE. THE CONGRESS IS SO WEAK. EVEN THOUGH THEY CRITICIZE, THEY ARE NOT STRONG. THEY ARE NOT A COEQUAL BRANCH. THERE IS A LESSON IN WHAT HE DID FOR PEOPLE. VOTING, PEOPLE HAVE TO VOTE. WE HAVE TO HAVE PEOPLE VOTING KNOWING WHAT THEY ARE VOTING FOR. KNOWING THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO VOTE FOR PEOPLE OF CHARACTER. WE HAVE AN EDUCATION GAP IN THIS COUNTRY THAT IS MIND BLOWING. LOUSY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND IN RURAL AREAS AND CITIES WHERE KIDS ARE NOT GETTING AN EDUCATION. 40% OF OUR KIDS GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL ARE NOT UP TO SPEED IN BASIC MATH OR BASIC READING. THAT IS REALLY EXACERBATING THINGS. JIM: ABOUT 12% OF THE POPULATION IS FUNCTIONALLY ILLITERATE. THERE IS A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF BASIC CIVICS. 35% OF AMERICANS THINK GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSED THE RHINE RIVER. 30% OF COLLEGE GRADUATES TELL POLLSTERS THAT THEY NEVER READ A BOOK AFTER COLLEGE. MANY AMERICANS CANNOT NAME THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT OR EVEN ONE OF THE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT. 10% THINK JUDGE JUDY IS ON THE SUPREME COURT. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN ELECTORATE LIKE THAT? JOE: WE HAVE TO EDUCATE THEM. JIM: THAT IS GOING TO TAKE A LOT OF TIME. JOE: NOTHING IS EASY. IT TOOK 50 YEARS FOR ALL OF THIS TO ACCUMULATE. IT IS GOING TO TAKE TIME TO GET DONE. INVESTMENT SHOULD BE IN BETTER SCHOOLS. THESE STRIKES THAT ARE GOING ON WITH TEACHERS SAYING YOU KEEP CUTTING US, WE HAVE TO EDUCATE THOSE KIDS. THERE’S A FAMILY ISSUE THERE TOO. WHAT ARE THE FAMILIES DOING? WHEN YOU AND I WENT TO SCHOOL, MY PARENTS ARE LIKE YOU HAVE TO STUDY, CANNOT GO OUT TO PLAY UNTIL YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK. WE NEED SOME OF THAT SIMPLE STUFF. PEOPLE MUST VOTE. HILLARY CLINTON GOT THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION WITH 7% OR 8% OF THE ELIGIBLE VOTERS. DONALD TRUMP GOT THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION WITH 7% OR 8% OF THE ELIGIBLE REPUBLICAN VOTERS. PEOPLE HAVE TO VOTE IN PRIMARIES. THEY HAVE TO GET INVOLVED. IF YOU ARE OUT THERE NOW, YOU SHOULD FIND OUT WHETHER YOUR CONGRESSMAN IS GOING TO HAVE A PRIMARY AND GET INVOLVED IN THAT. JIM: MAYBE RUN AGAINST HIM. JOE: MAYBE. AND THE GERRYMANDER. JIM: IS IT A RIGGED SYSTEM? JOE: IT IS. THE REPUBLICAN WILL HAVE AN ENORMOUS ADVANTAGE OR THE DEMOCRAT. THE PRIMARY BECOMES THE REAL ELECTION. WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN OUR COUNTRY IS ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, THAT KEEPS PUSHING CANDIDATES TO THE RIGHT. ON THE DEMOCRAT, IT KEEPS PUSHING CANDIDATES TO THE LEFT. THEY MAKE THESE COMMITMENTS THAT I WILL NOT COMPROMISE. THEY COME TO WASHINGTON HAVING COMMITTED NEVER TO GIVE. WE HAVE TURNED COMPROMISE INTO A FOUR LETTER WORD WITH THIS SYSTEM. JIM: CANNOT GIVE IN TO EVIL ON THE OTHER SIDE. JOE: IT IS NOT A SINGLE PARTY ISSUE. THE REPUBLICANS ARE THE GERRYMANDER CHAMPION RIGHT NOW. FOR DECADES IT HAS BEEN DEMOCRATS GERRYMANDERED. JIM: WHAT ABOUT MEDIA? OUR MEDIA IS PARTISAN. OUR THINKTANKS ARE PARTISAN. JOE: WE HAVE FOX ON THE RIGHT AND MSNBC ON THE LEFT AND NOW CNN. IT USED TO BE THAT I AM A REPORTER, I HAVE A PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO REPORT THE FACTS. NOW WE HAVE CUSTOMERS. WE WANT RATINGS. WE WANT CUSTOMERS. WE WANT ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS TO WATCH. WE ARE SELLING A PRODUCT. THAT IS HOW FOX NEWS LOOKS AT IT. THAT IS HOW MSNBC LOOKS AT IT. JIM: IT IS ALL ABOUT SELLING SOAP SUDS. UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE COME TO THE END. I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU. ARE WE EVER GOING TO FIX OUR DAMAGED DEMOCRACY? JOE: WE WILL. JIM: HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO TAKE? JOE: IT IS GOING TO TAKE YEARS. WE CAN START WITH THESE CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS. IF EVERYONE WATCHING GOES OUT AND REGISTERS TO VOTE EARLY IN THE PRIMARY, THAT WILL HELP. THE SUPREME COURT, THE CASE CAN NOW BE MADE THAT CITIZENS UNITED HAS DILUTED THE VALUE OF THE VOTE SIGNIFICANTLY, AND EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE SHOULD COME TO GIVE CONGRESS THE POWER TO LIMIT THE MONEY ISSUE. THERE ARE TWO VERY IMPORTANT GERRYMANDERING CASES, ONE WITH DEMOCRATS IN MARYLAND AND THE OTHER WITH REPUBLICANS IN WISCONSIN. EARL WARREN, THE GREAT CHIEF JUSTICE SAID, THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF HIS YEARS WAS ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE. JIM: WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME. I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR COMING BY. IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND IT’S ALL ABOUT GERRYMANDERING. AND THANK YOU FOR COMING BY. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR MORE CONVERSATIONS. I AM JIM ZIRIN. TAKE CARE AND ALL THE BEST. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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