Politics in the Age of Trump: the 2018 Midterms and Beyond

Politics in the Age of Trump: the 2018 Midterms and Beyond

[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome, everybody. It’s OK. I’m Eric Patashnik, the Director
of the Public Policy Program here at the Watson Institute,
and it’s a pleasure to welcome you today to
what I’m sure is going to be a really stimulating
conversation on politics in the age of Trump, the
2018 midterms, and beyond. One of the important things
about American politics is an election is always
around the corner, and here we are again. And that’s one of
the things that keeps our political process
so vibrant and interesting. And we have two
phenomenal speakers to shed light not
only on the midterm, but a broader conversation
about our two party system, and the evolution
of the American state, and some of the
challenges we face. So let me introduce them. First of all, Jenny Backus,
who is the founder, owner, president, everything of the
Backus consulting firm, which specializes in strategy
development, campaign and project management, and
intergovernmental consulting for corporations,
media outlets, trade associations, nonprofit
organizations, academic institutions,
and political campaigns, and committees. Before starting
the firm in 2016, she served for three years
as a senior policy advisor and head of
strategic partnership in engagement for Google. She has extensive experience
in politics and public policy. Jenny served in the first
two years of the Obama administration as the Acting
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, and the Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary for strategy and planning
at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that, she held
important communications and press secretary
positions with the Democratic Congressional
Campaign committee, the Democratic National
Committee, and US Senator Harry Reid. In addition to running her
own consulting business, she also serves on
a number of boards, including chair of the National
Network to End Domestic Violence, the World Learning
board, and the DC Public Library Foundation board. And she is an alum of
Brown, so welcome back home. Class of ’90, yay. Thank you. And our second speaker
is Brian Jones, who’s currently a
partner at the Virginia based Black Rock Group,
where he creates and manages public affairs and
public relations campaigns for a
diverse set of clients, ranging from Google and Uber
to the Human Rights Campaign, and even the Friends
of the National Zoo. That was my favorite of
the clients you listed. It’s an interesting one. Yeah. Over the past two decades, Brian
has helped lead communications and advocacy efforts for
a variety of industries. In the nonprofit
realm, he’s worked in support of marriage equality,
early chartered education, eradicating child
sex trafficking, and keeping kids safe online. He’s also been very
active in the world of electoral politics. He served in senior roles for
the presidential campaigns of George W Bush, John McCain,
Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, as well as serving as
communications director for the Republican
National Committee. And has been named one of the
top free agent GOP operatives by the Washington Post. He currently serves on a
number of boards as well, including the National Network
to End Domestic Violence. He earned his master’s
degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, and
his BA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. So welcome both of you,
it’s great to have you here. And they will begin with
a brief presentation, and then we’ll have some
conversations, and plenty of time for Q&A. Great. Well first of all,
I just want to thank Eric and Carrie Nordland,
and Christy, and everybody from the Watson Institute who
has had warmly welcomed us to Brown today, and also,
just for the great work that you guys are
doing in Washington DC. As many of you know,
the Watson Institute is actually trying to
be much more prolific and out there in DC, and is
producing staffers everywhere. Everywhere I go in Washington,
I meet someone from Brown, so it’s really fun. Like, I meet people that
have run for Congress and been elected. The last time I
was in this room, I was sitting next to Tom Perez
when he was an Obama appointee. And now, he’s running the party. My former RA, Tom Perrelli,
is coming back this week, I think, with Denis McDonough. So Brown has a lot
of people out there, and I’m very proud to be
here, and I am very grateful for the invitation. And I want to say
before we start, thank you to my very
good friend Brian Jones. It’s never fun to go
on to college campus these days as a Republican,
but it’s important. And that’s one of the
things that Brian and I want to talk about. I also want to ask you that
Brian is not personally responsible for everything
that the Republicans have done, so he’s got a lot of his
own opinions, some of which I agree with. And Brian and I
have actually had– and Eric will talk about
this before we start– we’ve had the
opportunity to go up against each other
in political battle, and I think he
won early battles, I won some of the later ones. But we also used to
work together at Google. He was one of my
best consultants, and I would hire
him in a minute. I’m glad he’s my
friend, but I also think he’s one of the
top in the business, and we’re lucky to have him. So thank you for coming, Brian. Thank you for having me. All right. Well, we’re going to go
through some slides here. You kind of get
wedded to PowerPoint slides when you
work in Washington, but we promise it’ll be fast. We want to set up
the conversation a little bit today with some
thoughts that we’ve had. And then take your
questions, because I think this is a great thing
about American politics– is the dialogue, and lots
of different opinions. So Brian, you want to
start with the first– you have to do the clicker,
because I’m technically– Let’s see here. So politics in the age of Trump. And I think that one of
the things that we wanted to talk a little about today is,
how did we get to where we are. I think there’s a lot of people,
both on the Republican side, Democrat side, and
in-between, trying to figure out how exactly
did we arrive at this place. So we’re going to try to
break down some things that we believe have kind of
led to the American political system being where it
is now from a number of different fronts. And the first thing
that you’ll see here, we have this slide
that illustrates distrust in government. And you can really
take a look at this, and this is very
instructive, I think, in terms of seeing
where things were, going back obviously, in
the Eisenhower, Kennedy administrations. Really big problems
developing in Vietnam. And if anyone is watching the
Ken Burns series right now, you really see that
kind of illustrated. And then really, this
continual erosion, a little bit of a pop
up towards the end of Clinton, beginning
of George Walker Bush. But a lot of distrust in
government, and people not viewing government
as a place for solutions, but being part of the problem. Is there anything else you
want to mention on that line? I was just going to
say, on that trend line, I think you do see
moments when certain sort of inspirational presidents
are elected, the confidence– or if there’s
national disasters– but I think overall, there has
been a developing narratives that government doesn’t
work for people. And I think that’s
some of the language that you heard, if
you listen to Trump. And I think it’s important to
see that that distress is not just a product of Trump,
though– that it has been building for a long time. So you need to
understand that in order to think about how
to solve for that. So this one is increased
political polarization. And actually, Brian and I
are kind of, in some senses, an odd couple these days, if
you look at the stats that are out there. People inside the
political parties, both out in the quote,
unquote, “real world,” and in Washington, are
increasingly only talking to people that agree with them. And we’ll talk a little
bit more about the media. We think there’s
some reasons for that because of what’s happened
to communications in media. But it’s become very disturbing
that more and more people of each party don’t talk to
people of the other party. And that’s kind of a
little bit why we’re doing this roadshow together. Because there are people that
actually do work together. It’s a little bit less
in the political realm, and more in the problem
solving realm– whether it’s corporations or nonprofits. People that come to
Washington, and want to be able to talk to
both sides of the aisle– that’s where friendships like
ours have really developed. I mean, we have a lot
of things in common, and we’ll talk more
about that with Eric. But I think the increased
political polarization in the country– you know and it part of it
is red state, blue state. I mean, a lot of defining people
by what party they vote for. That’s dangerous, and I think
that’s kind of another reason that’s led to this moment. Anything else you
want on that one? The chart of the far left,
the opinions of people from the opposite party– the very unfavorable, I
think, are very troubling, because you’re talking
about a generic individual. You’re not talking about
people specifically. So just seeing this
rise in unfavorably in terms of how people
view the opposite party is, I think, problematic. Distrust in the media. This is something else
that’s kind of lead, again, to where we are
now with President Trump. This belief that the
media is not fair, not reporting objectively. And again, going back
just from the late ’90s to where we are now, and the
numbers continue to go down. And certainly,
with the narrative that we see now in
terms of fake news, it’s probably only
going to get worse. So again, I think another
contributing factor to what we saw, the
kind of alchemist’s mix, which occurred that allowed,
I think, the current president to do what he’s been able to do. And again, some
of that goes back I remember working
on Bush-Cheney, and Dick Cheney
successfully sort of waging war on the New York
Times with some expletives that I won’t replay here. But it’s been a tradition. Both parties, but more, I
think the Republicans have done a good job of framing it. I don’t mean to blame you,
it’s not all your fault. But I think there’s
also been a rise on the progressive side of the
corporate ownership of media. And people have a lot
of problems thinking that some messages
aren’t coming out, or the lack of diverse voices
inside media ownership groups, or actually, on the air. Changes in the media landscape. I think this is
really important. I do think a lot
of the segmentation that you wind up seeing now in
the current political discourse can definitely be
traced, to a sort extent, to the rise of social media. People are segmented
in their little groups. They can communicate
with individuals, who are just like them,
which just reinforced their own existing viewpoints. This is a little dated
here on the left, but you can see
basically, people getting their news online. Overall, you see the
decline in television, decline in print newspapers. You see online going up. And again, online
means not just someone who is looking at news
stories, but looking at things through their social media feed. And I do think you
can’t go back on that. But I do think you’re
in a world now, if you want one
point of view, it’s much easier to just consume
that one point of view. I worked at Google, so I
could see ad sales numbers, and how that team grew
political campaign year after political campaign year. And I even I didn’t
connect the dots, and wake up, and see sort of
how influential it’s been. And I think as Congress has
been doing these hearings in the last couple of days
with the big media companies and seeing the extent– and I’m not necessarily blaming
the media companies here– I do think that most of
us, it was a wake-up call with this election about
how could this happen, and how could information be put
out there that wasn’t accurate. I think this was a big
wake-up call for us. But again, another
thing has been sort of happening for a while. And I also think the other
part of this slide– it’s not just a social media, but it’s
a concentration of ownership inside these media groups. So I don’t know how
many of you know about Sinclair Broadcasting. It’s an organization
that hopefully not, but probably will get a
license to own a bunch of local television stations. But it’s also happened
in some of the media ownership of the newspapers. Again, not just
picking on one side, but the sort of
changing ownership, the failing revenues, the
closing of newspapers. There are some signs
of hope, still. Although I’m more
worried with Sinclair. But look, a lot
of people believe what they hear on their
local radio and local TV, inside their markets. They get their
sources of news there. A lot of people from
communities that maybe didn’t speak English at first still
trust their ethnic language newspaper. So Hispanic media, Chinese
media, newer immigrants. Even though it’s
in English, they go back to sort of
some of the groups that they have identified. So there’s some hope for trying
to get some kind of diversity into this, but I think
Brian is totally right about you can shop around
and find who you want. And this is just the more
on the rise of social media. Anything you want
to add on here? No. I think we’re going to jump
right now to another factor. So part of thing
with Trump too, I think you’ve got this
environment, I think, where you’ve got
distrust in government. You’ve got this changing
landscape of media. You’ve got more fragmentation
within the parties. And into it, walks an
individual who, on some level, has been uniquely positioned
to capitalize on it. And one of the things
about Trump, I think, that people have to remember– I grew up in the greater New
York area in New Jersey– is Trump is someone has been at
this for a long time, you know? He kind of came of age in the
world of New York real estate media, dealing with
tabloid headlines. So today, we deal
with 140 characters. I mean, he has been dealing with
this world for 30 years, right? Trying to get that quick
hit on the New York Post, or on the front page
of the Daily News. And as Jenny pointed out in
the conversation earlier, you know you look at
“The Apprentice”, right? I mean, this is someone who
has had hundreds of millions of dollars of free advertising. He also, for all of
his issues he may have, he is quite adept
in terms of how he knows how to throw a media
cycle, and deal with the media. So he is very, very much a
unique actor in that regard. And I think he believes that
any press is good press. I mean, he’s fine
with being attacked. In fact, it sort of
brings him an energy. And again, going back
to agree with Brian, when we were doing
these slides, I was like, OK, I can’t I should
have remembered that when I woke up a year and a
day ago in complete shock. I actually didn’t really go to
sleep after the last election. This is a thing that I think
the Democrats massively underestimated in the last
presidential election– just how mainstream and just
who Trump was talking to. When I was growing
up in politics, it was always a dream to
try to land an interview with a presidential candidate. And it wasn’t always easy
with guys like John Kerry on “Entertainment Tonight”. Because I looked
at all the data, and that was what the
persuadable women that I needed to move in those states– were getting their news from
“Entertainment Tonight”. So oftentimes,
that would be we’d have to throw some
party in Hollywood, and then get him to do
an interview with Barbara Streisand, which maybe wasn’t
the right message either. But I like Barbara
Streisand, so that was fine. But I think that we
have really struggled as a party, and most
candidates on both sides, have really struggled
to find a way to connect in the
mainstream media, and sort of take off,
and become viral. And Trump has mastered it. I think the other
thing that Brian made that’s just worth repeating
is the kind of sound bites that get you covered
in the tabs are short, pithy, and usually
picking on somebody else. I mean, Twitter was almost
built for Donald Trump. And so that’s why
I think he’s been able to sort of really, both as
a candidate, and as president, break a bunch of rules, and
sort of control the media landscape in a way that we
haven’t seen in a long time. The good news is
the media trying to fight back a
little bit, but it is a factor when you’re
thinking, how did we get here. OK. The divider, not to uniter. I hearken back to my days
as a Brown English major, when we were reading
Nietzsche, and I wrote a very brilliant
paper, I’m sure, on how to define the other. But that’s actually
a lesson that I have tried to remember in politics. And it’s kind of an
axiom in every campaign that I’ve worked on. The whole goal in a campaign is
to define yourself and define your opponent before
they can define you. And what I think Trump
has done incredibly well– not well– I don’t
want to use a word that signifies goodness– but
what he has done effectively, I think, is define
a common enemy. Or try to turn someone
else into an enemy so that it’s a bad guy
versus good guy, sort of simplistic fight. And a lot of what he does is
defining other people as– part of it is his narcissism,
I think, and part of it is just his tactics. And Bannon has helped
him stoke that. He’s not afraid to
lie down with people that other politicians of
every party never would have. And he’s definitely doing
it on a racial front. I mean, it wasn’t
surprising to me to look into the
Washington Post poll that just came out this Sunday,
and see that half of America thinks that Trump is biased
against black people, and 55% of America thinks
Trump is biased against women. I mean, that’s just
shocking numbers for a president in a modern day. And it’s because,
I think, he has– it’s the same skills
that brought him to master the tabloid media. The tabloid media always
likes to have a bad guy too. And he has created
some new people and picked fights
that you think, who would pick a
fight with the NFL. And he picks a
fight with the NFL. Or who would go after
kids that are in college, or little girls with cerebral
palsy waiting to get deported. Or who would go after
Gold Star families, and pick public fights,
and walk away with them. But that’s all about sort
of defining who he is, and who he isn’t and. I think, unfortunately,
who he is not someone who is black,
brown, or probably a woman. No, no, and I agree
with what you’re saying. Even within the
Republican Party, he’s picked fights against John
McCain, Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake. Corker. It cuts across a lot
of different fronts. We’re going to take a
little look at the midterms, and 2020 as well. And I know we’ll have some
more conversations about that. But I think right
now, it’s really hard to say what’s going to happen. I mean, certainly, the
generic ballot right now does not look
good for Republicans. It looks good for Democrats. Democrats are also doing a
very good job on the recruiting front. If you’re a Democrat, this is
definitely the year to run. But right now, it’s a little
uncertain for our parties in terms of how things are
going to wind up shaking out. Yeah, and just to
build on that– and you can go to the next
slide, if you want– that slide shows just how
hard it is on the Senate side. So starting with the Senate. The Senate map is almost
impossible for Democrats. Democrats are
running in 23 states. 10 of those states, I think– I hope I’m getting
these numbers right– I’m winging it backwards,
reading it backwards. But 10 of those states are in
Trump controlled territory. And in fact, Roll
Call, this morning, came out with our top 10 list
of most memorable senators. And the only Republican on it
is number one, Dean Heller, who singlehandedly– it was like watching
a political meltdown. I don’t think anyone could
have handled the health care situation worse
than Dean Heller. He was like John
Kerry, but on steroids. I don’t mean to be so
mean to John Kerry, because I actually
think he’s been a great Secretary of State,
and he was a good boss. But before, he was against it,
before, he was for it, before, he was against it. He’s the most
vulnerable Republican. Every other person on that
top 10 list is a Democrat. So we are running
races in West Virginia, we’re running races with Claire
McCaskill in Missouri, Montana. Florida, which is sort
of a tossup state. So the Democrats
have a lot to do, and I think it would take a
tsunami size wave in order to flip it for us. We do have some interesting
candidates running in places. Arizona is an interesting state
on the presidential front. On the House side,
things look much better. The retirements–
sort of the three R’s of looking at the midterms–
recruitment, retirement, and resources. Resources, I think, democrats
have outraised the Republicans in a couple of
cycles on the NRCC. But on the other hand, you have
got this Trump money machine. He’s raising a ton
of money on his side. He doesn’t really love
Congress right now, but he does love to win. I also think that
there are some policy challenges for the
Republicans with the tax bill. And we have nice meaty
things as Democrats to unpack and use against them. Some of the votes that
they’ve cast are not good. There’s also the curse of– I call it the curse of
the presidential Bambino, in some senses. Presidents in first
midterm lose generally, other than George Bush, and
that was right after 9/11. Generally lose lots and lots
of seats in their off year elections. And when the president’s
approval rating is a net negative 22, which
it currently is right now, I can understand why Nancy
Pelosi has already sent me three e-mails today about how I
need to invest in the D triple C where I used to work. But turnout for Democrats
is terrible in midterms, generally. Now again, I think we have
a different kind of year, and we have some different
kind of problems, and we have a different
kind of president who’s not afraid to endorse
the Nazi party, and attack people for
their racial heritage. But it is challenging. And there’s an interesting
thing in The Washington Post– you read about the
congressional ballot being– Fox News even says
it’s 15 points. But if you look at turnout
models of likely voters, the race gets down to 48 to 46. So our voters are younger
people, people of color, women, non-college
educated women. All of those categories
are folks that don’t always vote in midterm
elections, and you need a really organized
turnout operation, which, unfortunately, we
don’t really have right now on the democratic side. I think Jenny has already
gotten to a number of these statistics. You coined this
phrase, the M factor. Yeah, there’s always
the October surprise, but there’s also, what I’m
saying for the midterms, is there is an M factor. So you have a mad
man in North Korea. You have Mueller, who’s
doing this investigation. And then you have John McCain,
who symbolizes two things. And I’ll let Brian,
who worked for him, talk a little bit more. But John McCain,
to me, shows what could be really bad for
the Democrats politically, but really good for
the country– is if Republicans start to
stand up and oppose Trump. He was the lone
person who saved– that’s not fair, actually. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins
actually were there first. So women were there first. But he was what he
was the last person to come in to save the
Affordable Care Act. He’s also, I would
say, the conscience of the Republican Party. Sometimes, I have
disagreed with him, but he’s willing to
stick up to Trump, and he’s also kind
of a maverick. You know, I think the thing
with McCain is, on some level, the hard thing is
it’s not surprising that McCain is where he is, or
Murkowski, or Lindsey Graham. I think the real
change will occur is if you see
somebody who’s more in the kind of leadership– McConnell, Thune. McConnell, Thune, Cornyn. That’s when I think it matters. I don’t think we’ve gotten
quite to that point. Corker to a certain extent,
but he’s retiring, right? So I think it’s almost
like, on some level, once it gets beyond McCain,
that’s when it really. But he will continue to be
kind of leading that charge. And any one of those
things, if any shoe drops, can really change the
political landscape, obviously. And the world, if
it’s congenial. A quick word on 2020. I mean basically– I want to actually jump forward
to this one picture here. Jenny and I were looking
at this last night, and there was an article from
“The Hill” of the 43 people who could be the
Democratic nominee. I mean, right now, I think
on the Democratic side, one of the things you’re seeing
is it is a bit of a jump ball. Jump ball. I think the ball is just
rolling around on the court. There’s not that one candidate,
or those two or three candidates who appear to be
the obvious front runners. I also think people talk
about 2020 with Trump, and there’s an assumption, well,
he’ll definitely be primaried. He could be. But quite frankly, a primary
opponent could be good for him. That gives him an opponent,
it gives him someone to run against, and
it gives him a chance to engage in that combat
that he’s good at it. And I don’t know if John Kasich
is necessarily the answer. On that front, I agree. I mean, there’s nobody that
is a front runner right now. Now that being said, I’ve
seen presidential cycles and presidential campaigns
change on a moment’s notice. I personally feel like– I was just saying this
to Brian earlier– this is probably half
wishful thinking, but actually, if I
was advising somebody, I think this could
be a moment for sort of an Eisenhower-like
candidate from both parties. Someone who’s outside
the political system. A lot of the stuff
that Trump was saying– I mean, Trump is the most flawed
messenger in the entire world, and is probably mentally ill. Sorry, I resolved myself to
be more moderate on this, but my personal feelings
are coming through. That being said,
some of the sort of fanatic things
about him are actually things that the country
probably does need. If we had a real
truth teller in there, if we had somebody that
could really make a deal and bring parties
together, if we had someone who was willing to throw away
the old, and bring in the new– I think if you go back to the
very first slide we opened with, that distrust
in government– people don’t think government
is working for them. I think a lot of people
voted for Trump because there are like, all those guys,
it’s a big joke in Washington, they don’t get anything
done, and we might as well send in America’s favorite
clown to try to stir things up, and get things going. What we didn’t realize is
just how dangerous he was, and just how far he would go. And just how inconsistent
intellectually he is. I mean, that’s the
thing that’s probably, from a policy perspective,
most damaging. So there’s a lot of
sort of candidates that have been around that
are elected officials, but I think both
parties actually have to start thinking
a little differently. Now what we don’t want to do
is make the mistake– and sorry Eric, I’m talking
too much– but we don’t want to make the
mistake that I think happens in a lot of
presidential campaigns that I’ve worked on,
which is that you try to run the last race. Brian has a really
good point where he says, yes, most
candidates are reaction to the last person,
but you don’t want to run the same kind of race. So that’s something that we
do have to be careful about. But I think it’s not
just a jump ball. Like I was saying, the ball is
rolling around on the court, and I think that there’s lots of
people that could come and grab it, and go with it. And I hope we sort of have
a healthy conversation about where we’re going. The slide before that– and
we should go to you now, Eric– it is an interesting
thing about this– look at that, you are so talented. Just to end and open
discussion, these slides sort of
make all the points that you were making before. And I’m also kind
of a map junkie. But this is the 2008
race, which I worked on, and Brian, you did too, I think. And this is the 2016 race. And in some ways, these
maps sort of look the same. But in some ways,
they look different. The colors have gotten darker. Like the blue states are bluer,
the red states are redder. That’s something that
is an evidence of sort of the increased polarization. The demographics of
the country are sort of hinted in here, the
changing demographics that are coming in the country. The fact that the
Midwest will, once again, as it has almost every
cycle, matter again. And Florida. That’s going to be
a hotbed of action if you’re from those states. You will probably become one
of the most valuable voters in the world out there. And just how close the races
are, really, and sort of have divided the countries are. Anything else on
the map for you? No. You may want leave it
there to just start off the conversation. Great. Well, thank you for that. Great overview. So one of the
reasons I thought it would be terrific
to have you here is you both worked in
politics, but you also have some outside perspective
as well, which is great. People who really understand
how the game is played. But you’re not tied to any
particular point of view. So I wanted to ask you a little
bit, to step back, each of you, and assess, not just Trump,
but where are the two parties. So if you look at each
of them for example, it’s clear they have
challenges, but they’re not the same challenges. You look at the
Democratic Party, and they have lost a
tremendous amount of power over the last decade– 1,000 seats or
something it’s been said at the federal,
state, and local level. They just cannot win elections. They seem to have
increasingly lost the ability to have touch with
the ordinary American voter. They’re having
difficulty communicating, seem to be struggling with
working class Americans. And there’s also obviously,
now, a fight about the direction of the party between
the Sanders wing and other more
establishment politicians. So on the Democratic
side, I’d ask you both, where do you see
the party going, and what are their challenges. And on the Republican
side, they have tremendous electoral
success, and yet there’s some important
questions about them. Is the Republican Party
now the Trump party. Is that the dominant
wing of the party, if you see the
leadership of the party in McConnell, and so on,
essentially working with Trump? What happened to
traditional conservativism? Is that still alive in
the Republican Party? I also wanted to know about
their ability to legislate. Here they are, having
a very difficult time. They can win elections,
but can they actually pass important legislation. I just got back from the annual
meetings of the Public Policy Association in Chicago, and
there was a question there. We had a really nice panel. It was a bipartisan panel
with experts from both sides, somebody from the Cato
Institute and on the right, and people on the left as well. And the question that came
up that wasn’t resolved is, does the Republican
Party have a warrant deficit. Is there a lack of
expertise, people who are working with
Republicans, to actually be able to design bills in areas
like health care, maybe taxes, that will actually
strike those difficult balances, and make
legislation work. Or the Republicans
become so ideological, they’re unwilling to
make the hard choices that you have to make in
order to actually pass bills. So if I could ask each
of you to sort of talk about the two parties,
not just in 2017 and ’18, but where are they, and
what are their challenges, and what are they going to have
to focus on to be stronger. Go ahead. I think on the Republican
side, look, in DC right now, I think people, a
lot of individuals, are in a straitjacket over this. Because the DC world
is largely people who come from the world
of traditional Republican politics, at least the world
that I’m familiar with. So I think there’s the sense
right now of, at one point, the Republican
Party may have stood for a strong national
defense, limited government, power of the individual. And now, in the
Trump era, it appears to be standing for
different things. I know a lot of people
don’t necessarily feel comfortable with that. I’ve heard a lot of
people, Republicans, who have worked for
years, or their lifetime in Republican politics saying,
I don’t know, is this the way the party’s going. I think that as long as
Trump remains somewhat ascendant within
the party, that’s probably where it will be. The big question
will be probably, after Trump, on some level,
does the party continue to reside there or not. I do think– and Jenny was
talking about this earlier– kind of being critical
of Republican leadership. I think that’s easy to
do, and understandable. I also think that on
some level, they’re in a bit of a tough spot. I mean, we live in a
totally reflexive age. He just became president nine or
10 months ago, so on some level I do think there’s
this notion that you have to give him a shot. But I do think the
Republican Party is in a real tough spot
trying to figure out who they are exactly. I don’t think that’s a
question we know the answer to, and I think it may take a
little while to flesh that out. On the Democratic
side, obviously, I’ll leave this one more to Jenny. But it just seems right
now that there’s just this complete vacuum, right? And who steps into that vacuum. And I think that some people
would seem conceptually good, but can they actually
do it, right? And I think by a year
from now, all of this is going to start
for 2020 in earnest. I mean, it’s going
to kick off early. I think it’s going
to be pretty intense. Some of the people you
think who could be good early probably won’t be. If you go back to
past political cycles, remember going back a few
years ago, the hot people– Rand Paul was hot. The most interesting
man in politics. Chris Christie was hot. So sometimes, that people
who look the most intriguing when the presidential
cycle really kicks in, wind up flaming out. Or getting beat up
by their neighbor. No, just kidding. It’s a really tough
and hard question. And it’s one I’ve been
thinking a lot about. I think for both parties, the
nature of political parties has really changed,
historically, with the rise of the
campaign finance decisions and the outside money. I mean, the roles
of the parties are different than when Brian and
I first started in politics. You know, I don’t love that,
but I can see in some cases why voids were stepped into. I don’t think we’ve had, on
the Democratic, candidates that have wanted to own the
Democrats for a very long time. To own the party, and
democratic values. Bill Clinton had some
fabulous policy ideas, but a lot of how he ran
them was in a triangulation against his own party. It was a marketing sort
of trick that he pulled. Not every policy
of his was great, but that sort of led
to the beginnings of Howard Dean, or Bill
Bradley, some of the people that were feeling like,
what’s so wrong with being for the working man. What’s so wrong with
being for diversity. And is wasn’t that
Clinton was doing that, but a lot of how he got covered
and the narrative that he built was he was a different
kind of Democrat. He wasn’t like the
same old Democrat. But to the Clinton’s
credit, they at least invested when they
weren’t bankrupting us of defense scandals. They did invest in the party. And they would go to party
events, and they liked the DNC. And then we got Barack Obama,
who, another amazing person– you hear him talk, and you
just are in awe of him, and his ideas. And very calm, no drama. But again, he and his folks were
less interested in refashioning the Democratic Party, and more
about creating Obama credo. And I remember getting in these
massive arguments with Rahm Emanuel when we first were
trying to fight on health care and stem cell, and planning
a health care conference. How many Republicans
are you inviting, Jenny. Does Chuck Grassley ever speak. And sort of the Republicans– it was very clear from day
one with Mitch McConnell, who wanted to just
oppose everything that Barack Obama
did, that this sort of new utopia of Republicans
and Democrats working together like Obama so
beautifully painted in his convention speech– wasn’t actually the
political reality. And that goes back
to that partisanship. So we’ve had a
couple of presidents who, for different
reasons, have not totally helped the party get strong. And the party’s been created
sort of a money pass through. So the party is weak. And we didn’t focus
on winning elections in the right parts
of the states. We’ve been sort of
like rock stars, falling around the
presidential candidate. I think for both
parties though, now, I think that both
parties are going to have to nominate candidates
that bring people together. The Sanders thing is
really interesting. I mean, I grew up in Vermont. Bernie Sanders actually
rented the apartment in my parents’ house. He taught me how
to play stickball, and he was my basketball coach
when I was in fifth grade. So I’ve known him
for a very, very– He can shoot? Yes, he can shoot. There were great pictures
of him in New Hampshire. That being said, he’s
never been a Democrat. And that was always a
very frustrating thing to a person in the DNC. And he and my mother grew up
in Vermont politics together. And you know, he kind
of had his shtick. And I wasn’t
necessarily for him. I was kind of a little bit
neutral in the primary. Probably more for Clinton
because she was a Democrat, and she would help people. But he raised some
really important issues that resonated with me,
with the economic focus. But I think the strength
of the Democratic Party is to move forward, and
how do we move forward from here, is our diversity. I think the Republicans have
made a short term tactical– not Republicans, Trump
has– and the Republicans, by not standing up as
vigorously as I wish they would, have made a decision that– if you look at
some of the flyers that are in the Virginia
Governor’s race right now, the sort of rise of racism,
the denigration of women. I mean, that is a
voting force of people. To win elections,
you have to convince people who either don’t
like you or haven’t voted to vote for you. That’s basically how. So Obama expanded
the electorate. He brought in millennials,
he increased turnout with people of color. Hillary thought that they
would replicate that model. We still need to be able
to talk to independents, and working class
people who used to be the bedrock of
the Democratic Party. So I think that’s a real
challenge for us going forward. So it is really
super depressing. And I’m writing checks right
now to candidates instead of– not like I am that rich– but
my few dollars that I can do for political donations are
going to candidates and people. But I think it’s going to be the
candidates and the people that are going to end up
reorganizing the party in order to win on the Democratic side. On the Republican
side, I think you guys have got to figure out what
to do with the changing demographics of the country. Because the pure
numbers, the charts are not going to hold it up. And I think that that’s
when those things too, where it was something that,
after 2012, the already talked about that. I worked for Ken Mehlman
at the RNC in ’05 and ’06. Ken was talking about it then,
Bush was talking about them. This is something that
the party, I think, has been acknowledging,
and talking about. And then all of a sudden,
Trump comes in, and just detonates I don’t know what. But I mean, takes it a
whole different direction. I mean, in the long
term, Republicans, clearly, that’s going
to be a major challenge. But I think there
have been Democrats that have thought
demography is destiny, and we can inevitably
win elections. And the country is
changing demographically. But it’s changing
more slowly than some of the democratic political
strategists believe, and particularly
midterm electorates may still look quite different
for a number of years. Well, I think that’s a
great point that you just made that goes back to you
win the presidency if you make people think
you care about them. Because most people do not walk
around with an RRD on them. You know what I mean? Are you going to solve
that problem for me. And I think after
this election cycle– and you’re seeing
it in the polling– Republicans and
Democrats are like, the country is being
ripped apart at the seams. The values that we stood
for are not the same values that they used to. So there will be a uniter
frame that comes back. And so you have to be able to
be a president for all people. I think what’s been happening is
the people have used the media, and both parties have been OK
with just talking to the people that they need to talk to. And I think sadly,
crisis is going to force that kind of uniting. And I think practical needs to
solve problems, like Russians meddling inside your
election, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. Or the rise of foreign powers,
or the weakening of the US in the world. Those are all issues that
are big, heavy, real issues that both parties
need to work on. Yeah, and I think one
of the challenges, though, that’s happened
is you have that you have the changing
demographics, which everybody acknowledges. But over the last
30 years, you’ve also had other changes occurring
in America as well, right? You’ve had certain parts
of the country that have been left behind
in terms of wages, lost jobs, opioid addiction. And I think that part of
what happened with Trump is people got fed up with it. They felt like concerns
weren’t being addressed. The Clintons represented
the status quo in a way that probably no other candidate
could have represented, except for maybe Jeb Bush. And on the other
side, you’ve got a guy who just said, I’m
just going to detonate, you know what I mean? And we don’t know
what’s going to happen, but something different
is going to happen. So I think you kind of have
these competing factions, where it’s not all happening
in isolation, which I think has been
part of the reason why you see
Republicans continuing to do a lot of these states. I’d like to open it up. I’m sure many people
have questions. I don’t know if there
are mics around or not. No? OK, let’s go here,
and then there. You’re first. So you talked a bit about
changing demographics. How much of changing
demographics will be offset by
something like gerrymander? That’s a super great point. I have been trying to
support, as much as I can– I haven’t been in the mood– sorry Tom Perez, because
you’re a great guy– but I haven’t been in the
mood to support the DNC. But I’ve been trying to
support holder’s efforts. I went to the D
triple C in 2000, which is this congressional
campaign committee, because it was a redistricting year. And there were really
interesting fights. And I thought I would learn a
lot about the map to help me– because I just worked on
the Gore campaign– to help me understand what was
happening in the country by learning that. We completely dropped the
ball on redistricting. We also dropped the
ball on investing and winning in state
legislative races, which is hugely important. And then to a lesser
extent, governors. We actually have
some opportunities of governors this year. And governors are
really important. David Broder and Dan Balz– Dan is still alive at
the fabulous political– he’s up at Harvard. Sorry, Dan, you have
to come down here. And David Broder,
who passed away. They were people who taught
me how to do communications on the Democratic side. And I learned very early on
that they love governors, because they covered enough
politics on both sides to see that some of the most
interesting policy leaders, governors are problem solvers. They have to come up with
policies to solve problems. But they have an
executive function, so they can make decisions. They were always
super interested in talking to people
on both sides, and would always go to the
governor’s races every year. We as a party, again, we got
kind of rock-star fixated. Because we weren’t winning very
many presidential elections. I have Obama, and I
will never forget that. But I have 15 years of working
on elections back to Dukakis that Democrats didn’t win
presidential elections. So I think that’s a
fantastic question. We have to start to undo that. I think some of the
stuff that you’re seeing is in Iowa, some of these places
where nonpartisan commissions are coming in, you’re
actually getting some real diversity of voices. And some of the people that are
saying some really interesting things are coming from
districts that they’re not all reflective of themselves. So they’re forced to
make some compromises. So I think the hope in
Congress on both sides has been in states where
the redistricting has been done in a more– I’m a little bit
worried about what’s going to happen to redistricting
with the Supreme Court, to be perfectly honest. That is a whole other factor. We don’t have a
slide on that one. But that’s a little
bit troubling, and that’s where a Trump legacy
could be very detrimental. But that’s a great question,
and it’s actually a big problem for the Democrats. Good. You agree? Yeah, yeah. Question there. Hi, so thank you both so much. And I want to start out by
saying how much I admire your ability to remain moderate
and sort of nonpartisan in your presentations
because it’s something I have a hard time doing. I have two sort– I promise I’ll try to be super
brief– comments, and then a real question. And they blend into each other. The first comes off
of this idea of trying to talk to people that
you don’t agree with, which everybody is saying is so
important for moving forward. My problem with
that, and I wonder if you can help
me get out of it, is that I don’t
think that there is parity between what
people are being extremist or insular about. So it seems to me that
Democrats can be unreasonable, people on the left can be super
unreasonable, MSNBC is biased, and Rachel Maddow has gone
off the rails in my view, even though I used to adore her. But the things that they’re
talking about and arguing for are not false. They’re biased, but
they’re not lies. Whereas if I look at sort of
the Murdoch, Fox News, Sinclair conglomerate, which will control
72% of news in people’s homes in this country, they
do propagate lies, demonstrable lies. And so the idea that there is
extremism on both sides to me is you’re being super fair, but
I wonder if part of the problem is that there actually
isn’t parity between the two poles on this spectrum. And that, to me, speaks
to a deeper problem, and that’s the second comment,
which is the Kardashian culture that we currently inhabit. And the idea that someone
like Steve Bannon, who is kind of a media guy,
Hollywood guy, Seinfeld royalties, is sort
of the perfect person to represent the level of
breathtaking incompetence when it comes to actual
policy, but really great skill at
media manipulation and popular culture media. So obviously, I’m a Democrat. I read Breitbart all the
time, I think it’s important. I actually mentally cannot stand
it for more than 15 minutes at a time. It’s incredibly toxic, right? But there is
something about it– the idea that we would get
to a point as a culture where blow it all up seems
like a viable option. To me, that is the deeper, more
existential problem, right? And all of the policy stuff
doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a commodification
to culture. There’s a commodification
to the advertising, and to the media, that
is all part of a bigger existential crisis,
I think, that we’re having that has to do
with the commercialization in American politics. And the problem that we’ve
discovered about the ads isn’t just that
people can buy them, and we don’t know who they
are, and Twitter is big, but that ads and confirmation
bias go hand in hand. And so I’m sorry for
all the long comments, but this is my actual question. Part of the reason people
stay in their bubbles is because humans have a way of
seeking out things that confirm what they already think. And I wonder then, what are the
problems about what we really think, and I want to
push back a little bit against this Democrats
forgot about the working class, because
everything I’ve read has shown that it was upper and
middle class white people who put Trump in the White
House, not the poor, not the working class, especially
not just the white working class in terms of
who actually voted. So am I wrong about that? Because it seems the
confirmation bias had a lot more to do with race,
immigration, fear, terrorism, Islamophobia, than it
does we forgot about coal. No. You have a lot of
really interesting– Sorry. No, a lot of really
important things. Let’s start with the first
thing that you just brought up. It’s really important
not to confuse– and it’s hard– but
it’s really important not to confuse Republican
policies and most elected Republicans with the propaganda
machine that has built up with Fox News, and Sinclair,
and the stuff that comes out of Trump’s mouth. Because I don’t think– there’s
a secret cabal with Bannon and some of those people
writing all that stuff, but it’s not happening
over in the capitol. And Congress, sadly,
they don’t seem to remember it,
is supposed to be the brakes on the crazy
car that’s out of, control and they’re not there. But the people that can stop
the crazy mess right now from a policy perspective,
immediate dangerous things like DACA, taking
away DACA, like some of the crazy
stuff in the tax bill– those are going to
have to be Republicans. So we’re going to have
to be able to have a conversation with
Republicans, as a country, and support them– and this happens to me a lot
of Twitter, because Twitter is a weird media. But when a Republican
does a good thing, and stands up to
Trump, even though I hate where they are
on abortion, I really didn’t like their last tax
bill, and their health care bill was terrible, but they stood
up when he said something, or someone said
something that was crazy, then we ought to say, good job. I mean, you’re going to
have to be able to put it. So separating the elected
officials from the machine. Now, elected officials take
advantage of the media machine, and one of the ways
that have to do that is to create new things
in popular culture. And it’s really hard to sort
of go against those things. And if you watch
popular culture, mini skirts are in one year,
and they’re out the next year. I don’t mean to be trivial,
but like you can change opinion in popular culture, and
what’s hot, and what’s not. I mean, that’s
part of the reason. It’s like eating
popcorn or Chinese food. You eat it, and you’re
satisfied for a second, and then you’re hungry
the next second. People want something
new and different. So that kind of world is always
looking for something new, so you could maybe
redefine opposition to some of this stuff as new. Now what you hit on that
makes me not be able to get up in the morning is– I didn’t think racism went
away when Obama got elected. I was personally shocked
as a political person that we were able to elect
someone named Barack Hussein Obama. It went from zero to 60. Like, we were fighting and
fighting to get people of color to run, and all of a sudden,
he just rewrote the rules. But it didn’t change some of
the stuff that was out there. And some of the stuff that the
Republican Party does is wrong, but sometimes, some of the stuff
that the Democratic Party does is wrong too. I am trying to find a solution. I’m going to be
a proud Democrat, and I’m going to stick up
to ideas that I don’t like. But absolutism on both
sides, and a refusal to listen to each other– I guess there’s no
way to solve it. The last thing I’ll say
on the working class is demographically,
Democrats have not won white men or a white working
class men for 30, 50 years. College educated white women did
elect Trump, and were a margin, but you can sort
of break that down. And there were racial messages
that were put out there. There are always
racial messages. I’ve been working in
politics on both sides– I mean, not on both
sides, but there’s been racial messages
that are put out. Sometimes, Democrats
put out messages that we’re the only party that
cares about African-Americans. It’s not always
equivalent, and I don’t think there’s an equivalency. There’s a reason
why I’m a Democrat. We can’t pit one side
against the other side. But we have to also
stand up for our values. And I think that’s the
kind of weird balance that I think the party
is going through, and I’m personally trying
to go through about, where is that balance. And I personally am
not going to ever say we should talk less about
race, or we should not be defending the NFL football
players– it’s a free speech issue to me. But you have to figure out a
way to say that someone that doesn’t agree with you
can still respect it, and I think it’s in
message consistency. Yeah, I think it’s
such a tough issue. And I don’t know
how you pull back. And quite frankly, part of
the challenge with Trump is he’s done a lot
to just continue to stoke those
divisions, and just highlighting them, and
making it harder, I think, to come together. Hopefully, at some point,
we can get back to a point where there is some
level of unity. We were talking earlier
before about the fact that you do see a trend
in American elections where the person who’s
the president sometimes is a reaction to the person
who went before, right? I mean, Jenny was
mentioning that were Obama is intellectual, and
a little cold, and distant. And then you’ve got this guy
who’s just like, in your face. But Obama’s a
reaction against Bush, who was viewed as
being unintellectual, who was a reaction
against Clinton, who was seen as being dishonest, right? So maybe people will
get sick and tired of whatever this program
is that’s on right now. I will say, though,
I hear your point on some of the stuff,
the Democratic stuff. But at the same time
in Virginia right now, we’re dealing with this
election with Ed Gillespie– you have a whole
conversation about Ed and what seems to
be a developing fake southern accent, even
though he’s from New Jersey– I know Ed, and I’m
from New Jersey, so I can see it and hear it. But at the same
time, the Democrats ran this ad where they had
someone in a pickup truck with a Gillespie
chasing a little kid. And you’re like, don’t do that. It doesn’t make
sense politically, because it’s just
going to upset people. And to the other
side, it’s just going to say, well, now I know how
you– and quite frankly, even among Democrats, you’re
sending a message, well, if I drive a pickup
truck, I know how you see me. I’m a racist because I
drive a pickup truck. So it’s all part of this
combustible mix right now that’s just so
unfortunately toxic. And the other thing
is, I was at HHS when we passed the health care bill. And we had zero– you’ve got to actually be
aggressive and have messengers, and like, go on the offense. I thank God everyday
that Obama– he was the only one inside his
administration that actually wanted to go forward
with health care, other than Kathleen
Sebelius and Tom Daschle. He was the only one. Everyone else was
like, this is a loser, you’re going to get killed. He knew it was going
to be his legacy. But the problem was he
didn’t build a message operation in that White House,
and they just didn’t build it. I mean, I like the people
that were in there, but they didn’t
raise lots of money to run ads to support
their nomination, whether or not you
like people doing that. And then I think the Republicans
unleashed this fury that was the Tea Party. And I was with
Kathleen Sebelius when we’d go to health care meetings
with poor Arlen Specter, who was like, totally sick, and
we’d have to hustle them out with state troopers,
because they bussed in a bunch of people. So when you unleash
a sort of anger, it’s sometimes
hard to control it. And I think that’s what’s
happening to Republicans right now. There’s were some
tactical decisions to show opposition, and
win political short points. And I get it– it’s very important. But once you do that, once
the beast is out and roaming, can you get the beast
back on a leash. And the beast is now
running the Congress instead of the Congress
running the beast. Great. Question there with
the microphone. I got one quick question
for you for each panelist. For Brian, a question. Would Trump be a happier and
stronger candidate in 2020 if the Democrats take
the House next year? And for Jenny, how does
the Democratic Party expand its appeal
beyond what appears to be a collection
of sort of relatively narrow urban-focused issues? I think I think
Trump would probably go through a period
of time where he wouldn’t be very happy,
because he’d probably be impeached. But I do think having someone
for him to run against, and having an other, as
Jenny was saying before, and having the Democrats–
that would, I think, give him a foil that
might benefit him a little bit politically. And it might benefit
him psychologically. Because right now, I think
part of the challenge– and I think people saw this
happening before the election– excuse me, right after he became
president– which is like, it’s only a matter
of time before he starts fighting with
Republicans, which is already kind of happening. So as long as Republicans
have everything, there’s only so much fighting
against Democrats he can do, and the fights, I
think, will be insular. So I think on some level,
even though I honestly believe that if the
Democrats took the house, they would impeach him. I actually kind of disagree. I think Democrats actually like,
right now, for the next four years– I don’t– but I would like to
have him gone because I’m just scared for the
future of the world. But I think politically,
some Democrats have made the calculation, and
Pelosi said this the other day, that they’re not going to focus
on impeachment if they first get in. They want to try to break the
narrative of partisan gridlock, which is going to the point that
you were just making before. I was out in Iowa
with an organization started by will
Marshall that started from the DLC, which is the
old sort of moderate policy wing of the Democrats. They were having a
heartland discussion. So my old boss,
Sebelius was there. Tom Vilsack, who I think
is a really thoughtful amazing legislator. And they were talking
about how the Democrats, we need to get back into the
heartland of the country. That our issue mix
is exactly where the people in these places
are, but they’re just not identifying us as messengers. So I think some of it
will depend on messengers. But I also think we do best
when we actually have policies that we can put forward. And I think we do, to
your earlier point– some of it is the luxury
of being in the minority for so long, and then being in
the majority in the governing part of the Congressional part. So we passed bills, and we have
legacies that we can look to, like Medicare, and
Medicaid, and policies that helped a lot of people. But then we didn’t have the
presidency for a long time. Then when we lost all of them,
we still have good ideas. And the Republicans really
haven’t invested as much in the ideas because you had
a message for them that kept winning elections and working. And that doesn’t
mean that Republicans don’t have good ideas. If you look at the
Affordable Care Act, it’s like 75% Republican
ideas on health care reform. So there are ways to bring
those policies together. You actually asked
something– one of the dangers that
Democrats have to be is not to be the
party of the coasts. And one of the most scary
things I ever heard in politics was when Karl Rove described the
Democrats as limousine driving, latte drinking Democrats. And there is, unfortunately,
a tendency of our party to sound elitist, and to
sound like we’re talking down to people, and that
we have all this money that we’ve made in the tech
industry or somewhere else. And we’ve got this
great education, and these people
don’t understand. There’s a lot of really
interesting articles coming out right now about all these
different groups that have gone out and done listening
sessions to the voters that didn’t hear their voices. And they sound like they are
well-meaning and good sessions, but we got to look a little bit
like we don’t have the droit de seigneur, like
walking in, here we are to listen
to your problems. John Kerry– they did a great
job of sort of painting John. There’s a great Jon
Stewart skit, again, picking on poor John Kerry, who
was a great Secretary of State, and a good candidate. But he had a presentation
that sort of was easily mockable about having Grey
Poupon mustard on his Philly cheese steak sandwich. I remember from ’04, one of the
things with John Kerry was he went to a Wendy’s, but then
had shrimp vindaloo from some Indian restaurant
delivered to his– The bus. The bus. And everyone went,
this is fraudulent. It seemed fraudulent. It wasn’t fair. You should be able to eat
whatever food you want to eat. You don’t connect with
working class people by saying, I understand you,
because you’re not the same. Where you connect is
like what problems are you trying to solve. What are your ideas for
making things better. We stopped for a while talking
about voters, other people. I think you win elections–
every candidate I’ve ever worked for– is the candidate that makes
elections about the voters and not about themselves. And opposition research, which
we both have used or created, all of that stuff– shame on us in some senses, but
it’s a way to go to that media that she was talking
about earlier. So I think it’s got to be
around honest conversations about whats the problems
that you’re facing. Some Factual conversations,
because many of these people are not getting facts about this
is actually how Medicare works. I remember when the
government shut down, I worked for Harry
Reid, I got a phone call that said, tell Harry
Reid and the government to keep their hands
off my social security. I mean, that was a real
phone call from somebody. And there was such a disconnect
during the government. So I think we’ve got to make
sure there’s some facts. And then we’re going to have
to have a dialogue about how to solve problems for them, and
not be, I know best for you. And that’s a really hard thing. This is the kind of conversation
that could go on much longer, but unfortunately, we’re
going to have to end it there. Thank you both for really
stimulating discussion. Thank you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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5 thoughts on “Politics in the Age of Trump: the 2018 Midterms and Beyond

  1. Complete BS again the left falling all over themselves not to make political enemies the right just rolls over the bs Neo liberals

  2. Jenny Backus your sooo hypocritical
    How about the CBC's association with Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, or
    Anti-Semite Washington, D.C. Councilman Trayon White??? Hmmm

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