tv After Words CSPAN March 5, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
the first sentence of the book is the history of american search tennis him as a betrayal. >> will discuss the history of american politics and why the right went wrong. conservatism from from goldwater to the tea party and beyond. coming up sunday, in-depth live with author and investigative journal jane mayer, her most recent book is dark money, the hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right. join the conversation and will be taking your phone calls, tweets and and e-mails from noon until 3:00 p.m. eastern.
watch book tv all weekend, every weekend weekend on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> next on book tv afterwards program, washington post columnist talks to williams of fox news about republican politics. >> host: the author of why the right went wrong, from goldwater to the tea party and beyond, ej, thank you for doing this. you are a much a steam columnist for the washington post but people think of you as a liberal columnist. is this book intended for liberals, conservatives, or both? >> guest: i like to think of both, thanks for doing this i really appreciate it. at the beginning of the book i make the point that a healthy conservativism is in the interest of everybody including liberals. i also make the point that i grew up in a conservative family
and only started becoming a liberal in my early teen years. my dad and i had a lot of great arguments, he encouraged them. he thought it was a good was a good thing when kids and parents argued about politics. i say that because i don't look at conservatives as some sort of alien creatures, even though my politics are those of a liberal with a social democratic inclination. i wrote the book first because i think as i say we need a strong conservatism because conservatives are often like to speak of her tradition even though sometimes traditions need to change. we need need to come up with ideas that duty criticism and conservatism always skeptical of progressive efforts to think that you can somehow remold human nature. i agree with conservatives that human nature is a constant that you have to deal with. i'm very concerned with what has happened to the american right over the last 50 years.
i think the obstruction that you have seen in washington of the inability for the parties to get things done goes far more to the radicalization of the right than it does anything that has happened on the left. the prime example of that oddly enough is obama care which was a plan obama put forward that relies very heavily on ideas that conservatives put forward many years before. it was part of romney's plan and massachusetts with ideas from the heritage foundation. it had ideas from people like bob dole put up as an alternative to bill clinton's healthcare proposal. yet it was was not enough. i could recite examples of that old way down. >> i think there are other examples but let's go back to the start of your book because we are in a political season and you start the book by talking about the rise of donald trump and he suggest that trump, the
roots of the rise of trump are in conservative history and it helps to explain why your opinion, the right went wrong, so explain how the roots of trump are in conservative history. >> guest: the first sentence of the book is the history of american conservatism is a story of disappointment and betrayal. i quote at the beginning of the book eric erickson from a red state conservative blog where he says the republican party created donald trump because they made a lot of promises they did not key. ever since barry goldwater, republicans promised to create a small government which no republican president could do whether you are talking about next and, reagan, or either president bush. they promise to roll back the cultural changes in the 1960s but most of the country did not want to rollback those cultural changes in their
efforts failed. more recently a lot of republicans including no trump has said that they would try to change the ethnic makeup of the country back to where it used to be that is a call for deporting 11 million people. that is one way in which the rise of trump is explained by this history, the other is the republican party has relied for many years on the votes of white working-class voters. as conservative writers writers eyesight in the book like among others have written the republican party has gotten working-class votes and done absolutely nothing materially for white working-class voters. i think when you look at the trump vote it is very heavily about to people in the low middle class, working class who are just angry and tired of -- one of my favorite quotations is from john kennedy who said in his inaugural address in 1961, he who foolishly writes the
power on the back of the tiger and up inside, i think the republican establishment has been writing this tiger of resentment along comes donald trump and he says white a minute, they're fake and i'm the real thing. a thing. a lot of voters are rallying to the real thing. >> host: in fact in the book you talk about the goldwater campaign i think you describe it as a disastrous campaign. he he lost in a landslide to president johnson but you describe his appeal as based on white, southern male backlash to the civil rights movement, so does trump reflect that route. >> guest: he does often reflect that route, some of his language goes backs to richard nixon or george wallace language about law and order, he explicitly use some of that language in the speech. goldwater was one of the most and maybe one of the most consequential losing candidates in american history, maybe maybe
jennings bryan on the other side matches him because he fundamentally alters the republican party, the republican party was the party of lincoln, it, it was the party of african-americans, civil rights. it was very strong in the northeast and middle west. when goldwater came along even though he was no racist himself, he was a decent man who actually supported local civil rights law back in phoenix, but he was against a federal civil rights bill and he echoed the segregationists because he was in favor of state rights and he thought civil rights law interfered with private property rights. suddenly suddenly the map of the country changed fundamentally in the makeup of the two countries changed fundamentally. southern, white, segregationists who had been on the long flight from the democratic party decisively shifted to the republicans and
over time that called for a realignment of the north. first african-american's left in droves, goldwater only got 6% of african-american vote, then in the northeast and midwest a lot of suburban, moderate republican said this is not a party anymore so they started to leave, the last thing the goldwater campaign did was set up a purge. when conservatives took over the party they purged all of the liberal republicans over time and we forget there were a lot of liberal republicans like -- slowly they purged most of the moderates out of the party, the republican leaders wonder why trump and ted cruz have been so strong this year is because most of the people may have voted for more moderate candidates are now no longer republicans, that was all set off by it goldwater be when i come back to ej because you describe in your book listening to ronald reagan give
a speech in support of barry goldwater, time for choosing. you. you said you were electrified by that speech. >> i was a 12-year-old-year-old conservative sitting there with my dad, i had the experience that night of millions of conservatives were we saw this guy, ronald reagan as the guy who would lead conservatives out of -- we knew that goldwater was about to get clobbered, then you saw the guy who could liver the message but in a way seem to have the capacity to reach lots of other people, i note in the book one of the fascinating historical points is there to politicians, really three counting brian who made their careers on one speech, reagan in 1964 were from that moment on conservatives identified him as their leader and of course brock obama with a 2004 convention
speech. i have fun comparing what each was doing with their big speech. reagan was trying to define conservativism opposed to establishment liberalism. barack obama and many ways was trying to push aside that conservativism and try to reestablish his moderate, liberal consensus in the 2004 speech. goldwater became a conservative hero that night, my first chapter i argue that goldwater is the hero conservatives but he's also a problem. the chapter and reagan is called the ambiguous hero because he was the movement leader who, many of the right-wing really identified it but they also had to govern with democrats and about compromising when they had to. so after cutting taxes they
raise them a bunch of times. but his heroic status with conservatives meant they did not think he wanted to do that where is when george hw bush did it after reagan he was pillared forever. so i do blame reagan but they also blamed the elder bush. >> host: let's go back a little bit. when we talk about the roots of modern conservativism beginning with goldwater and reagan, i think there is a little bit of a precursor to that in terms of what was going on in the 50s. i'm very interested in the fact that you have william f buckley creek national review. you also have at that time i think it is robert welch was with the john burke society taking on president eisenhower and saint eisenhower's not a real conservative. in fact i think he called him a commie. how do you explain then how we get to goldwater from eisenhower
who i think would fit as one year moderate republicans. then then what does it mean when you have william f buckley, author of conscious of conservative, best-selling book and definitely one of the key text, take on welch. >> guest: goldwater's book was written by buckley's brother-in-law. it's the buckley's were right there at the beginning. national review was founded in 1955, the first words of its first editorial spoke of it standing of force history yelling stop. what they wanted to stop was the flow of liberalism in america that started with franklin roosevelt and continued through harry truman. many conservatives including buckley by the way did not like dwight eisenhower because they
saw him as a republican enabler of the liberal tradition. in the book i argue that ike is the alternative model for a different kind of conservativism. we we need to get back to that. both buckley and welch represented two sides of this rising conservative movement. buckley was more intellectual, he really wanted conservativism to play in the same arena that liberals did so that national review was started as an alternative to the great liberal and also back then the reporter. he wanted to take liberals on straight up as conservatives with intellectual equals. one of the things i do talk about and here again raise is very important to this conservative story, national review early on identified with the segregationists in the south i quote in a national review editorial and some of the things buckley wrote essentially
defending the exclusion of blacks from the electorate. something buckley later came to regret and he apologized for. it's important for conservatives to be honest with themselves as to how much they were quite conscious of racial backlash as a building block of their coalition. on the other side buckley was against so many of the other prejudices on the right. he fought anti-semitism which had at times a strong hold on some people on the right. he also fought the john burke society. i think it was buckley who said that welch called him a communist it was a objective age of the communist conspiracy, something like that, he said it's not a can -- he didn't think that ike's trip or anything. he was was very critical of ike. the national review led it out of the conservative movement.
was a very long pieces and editorials which i quote in the book. yet the john mark society influence has never left the right. when i talk later in the book and we can get there about the tea party, maybe their ideas and many of their books were old conservative books. if you look at glenn reading list, you can see they were old reading books. it's the new old light because they are a lot of echoes in the 40s and 50s in the tea party. >> you also have to deal with and jean mccarthy and the whole mccarthy movement that takes place during the 50s. >> guest: mccarthy was a very fascinating character. they defended buckley and later
in life buckley wrote a fascinating novel about joe mccarthy that was a little more complicated than his original view. yes, mccarthy and all of the charges against liberals who are not communist but he was charging that they were communist i think it echoes over many years. i'm a liberal who is wary of yelling mccarthyism every time when conservatives make an attack. not every attack is mccarthyism, nonetheless this tendency to see an enemy within is very much there and parts of the right and you have seen it in the obama years, this notion notion that he was a secret muslim and all of that. i think that too has roots in
the mccarthyism back in the 50s. >> host: were up to the goldwater., i just want to go through the goldwater agenda. his platform if platform if you will as he is running and 64. he is for ending social security, he is for ending aid to school, he's were ending federal welfare program, ending farm programs, he's really opposed to unions, that comes through in the leading conservatives of that era. of course we come back to race and he felt that brown v board of education which ended segregation in the public schools unconstitutional. this is a barry goldwater and here comes ronald reagan in support of goldwater. they lose, but nonetheless as you argue this is the seabed for modern conservativism. it is anti- social security,
anti- schools, anti- racial integration at that point. >> guest: one of the fun things about writing this book is before i started i sat down with a lot of conservatives, politicians and i had long chats with them. they knew i was a liberal and they knew i was going to be critical of conservativism. they also knew knew eyes trying to figure this out and try the tell the story straight. one of the great interviews i had was with vin weber the former congressman of minnesota who described himself as an 11-year-old goldwater follower going to his dear on aunts, loyal republicans and they asked them if they were put up a goldwater side. the two and said well could we just put up something that said vote republican. then said why don't you want to put up a goldwater site, ben
said we don't really like what he is saying about social security. then they said that with my first lesson on the cost of ideological politics. even his two aunts then. this was the core of the goldwater program. he said i do not intend to reform government because i want to reduce its size. all of this went down badly with a lot of americans who had accepted the new deal. ike one and nixon did well in 1960, he almost he almost want, some republicans think he actually won and lost on some stolen votes because they were willing to live with part of the deal. it they thought it became part of the american way of life. goldwater didn't. what happened is when he called way up to 1980, first reagan off that great speech got himself elected governor of california. indeed he turned out to be just as persuasive as my dad and nine
all of those conservatives out there that he was that night. he also came along what there was a big backlash against liberalism. 1966 was a huge push back against lbj and the great society, and civil rights on the issues reagan used with opposition to an open house in the in california. you you had the beginning of the student rebellion on campus at berkeley, reagan pushback against the student rebellion. pat brown was a very good governor of modern california but nonetheless had been there eight years, have become become far less popular and reagan beat him. then when he governed he did a number of things he cut government in certain respects he was a governor who signed a bill dismantling it with the
abortion law and later he recanted that position and became pro-life. he signed a bill while he was governor and conservatives again seen him as a fundamentally conservative because of what he had always said from the time he left the democratic party in the 50s all the way through to that time he was still a spokesperson of conservative ideas. so he ran a can of halfhearted. he got a significant number of votes against and they are hoping to get enough votes to open up the convict convention. next the made it through with the votes of southern republicans. that was the beginning of southern strategy inside the republican party. then in 1976 reagan nearly beats
a sitting president gerald ford, granted a president president that took power only after nixon's resignation. he came within a handful of delegate votes upon seating gerald ford for the nomination, when ford lost he was clearly established as the strongest republican for the nomination. quite surely a conservative writer. he wrote a book on the 76 race arguing that really set goldwater up in the party up in 1980. >> you mean set reagan up. >> guest: yes. in fact fact the goldwater reagan thing is fascinating because my interviews with conservatives another person i thought he was bill kristol and he first said when the tea party needs to think about the governing side of reagan as well as the movements i. he thought for section and said
what they really need to do is realize the goldwater side did not work and they need to embrace reagan. there is that that ambiguity about goldwater and reagan runs through reagan himself. >> host: what's interesting to me is initially by the way republicans seem to value family-planning, were open to the idea of contraception, certainly maybe even abortion but then as you get into nixon, not only do you get nixon taken a stand insane we are going to have a southern strategy appealed to the south very explicitly after the civil rights movement of the sixties, but also we are going to appeal to the church and to people who are faithful, the catholic community had been voting democratic. part of that argument was about abortion. >> guest: the family-planning issue is so interesting, another thing about the goldwater campaign by the way is that goldwater really began to pioneer the use of moral and
religious issues during that 64 campaign. another great book on this. i was very goldwater reminded me of this 30 minute video that goldwater campaign put out it's really worth finding on you to for those who want to go back, it showed all of the decadence of the conservatives condemned for years, it showed women dancing with very little close on, all all of this stuff and it kind of appealed to conservatives who said that our country is going down the wrong path. you almost heard the words take our country back in 1964. that moral element was first injected their by barry goldwater, family planning is an
odd issue because for a long time and a lot of states including my native massachusetts, the were party that often opposed legalize family-planning because they were primarily the catholic party. and in the protestant party were in favor of making family-planning legal. abortion kinda be began to change the equation because there are a lot of americans who were for family planning who were not for abortion. when nixon ran against george mcgovern he was running against what recall permissive values. so the slogan that was often cited against mcgovern turned out it was words that set off the record by senator tom eagleton but that did not come out until somebody years ago were acid, amnesty and abortion. where governor it was he legalizing drugs which he was not really for and abortion which the party was split on.
at that point they started to become much more pro-choice than republicans were. >> host: this was an error of sexual revolution. you you had the advent of birth control, the pill. i think that too plays into the idea of sort of wanton behavior and loose morals to some of the republican values. >> guest: absolutely and some of the traditional and evangelical christians. that is also when he started to see real change on what was broadcast on television. so bring it right into your home, the shows were like ozzie and harriet, and father knows best which are very traditional family shows. suddenly mass entertainment was becoming more and more racy which really bothered a lot of conservative people in the country. so this was a building up in the early 70s, interestingly it was jimmy carter who first rallied the evangelical vote. when it turned out that jimmy
carter was a born-again christian christian a lot of our profession, the press said what in the world is that? one writer said that we treated evangelical christians as if they were some exotic tribe and bali when there were millions and millions of our fellow americans. carter rallied the evangelical vote by people like martin blackwell on the republican national committee from virginia, a legendary leader said wait a minute, they're all of these social conservatives. we can rally them to the republican party and they approached jerry falwell and jerry falwell did leave it. by the time reagan ran in 1980 this was a going operation and
in 1978 in 1980 and 1980 where the elections where they really began to rally this vote. jimmy carter's greatest drop-off drop-off between 76 and 80 was really among his fellow evangelical christians. over time more majority, those folks marked into the christian coalition when pat robinson ran for president. was in 1988 against george hw bush. so what you have on the right is a number of strains and a number of ongoing conflicts. >> host: let me just come back to that. i think that is a theme of the book that i want to bring the viewer, listeners too. you talk talk about the sense of grievance, betrayal against federal republicans. clearly if we go back, and the
fact is he's not being listened to a minicamp to send in your disconcerted by the fact that nixon doesn't deal with and then you come forward again on then there's a sense that he promised to cut government, lower taxes and tax is getting higher. even though reagan is a great republican icon of our day back then there is some discontent. this then becomes a a theme in your book that time and again that why can't elected officials take back america or in trump language make america the 1950 that they were more comfortable in, especially the white southern mail?
>> guest: nixon is a fascinating figure he was one of the most liberal presidents we have he established a dramatic relationship he created osha, that will i can patient all health administration. he and x social security, a lot of these conservatives were very disappointed in nixon and i talk about them suspending their support for nixon, there is support for them call john ashbrook in 1972 primaries and primaries and did not do very well. his campaign, his bumper sticker had a no left turn side. then reagan came on. and then jerry for was also seen by many of them as insufficiently's conservative when they took over.
rockefeller, the great liberal enemy was more conservative than they gave him credit for. he was very liberal and certainly in new york it was his vice president. ford had to a piece of by dumping rockefeller by putting dole on the ticket. >> .. his spending was more on defense than on social program but conservatives didn't held it against him.
they sure held against george w bush when he raised taxes. then you get the second president bush and the tea party really began without the name in the reaction that began to take hold at the end of w's administration as it was seen as failing and conservatives didn't really want to define it as a failure of conservatism. never mind that most of that spending was in baghdad and not in buffalo or biloxi. much of their constituency is over 65 and they criticized him for no child left behind behind and for being open on immigration. he generally was open on immigration. he tried to pass immigration reform. at the end of each of these presidencies they said what did
we do all that work for. we still haven't changed the way these politicians say they are going to change things. we should not be the least surprised that the whole thing is blown up in 2016. >> this is the key point. they have this notion of greed and the trial an elected official and now we come to a critical point in the book and the impeachment of bill clinton which you describe as a low point in american history can you explain. >> that whole period was a low point in american history. clinton had his relationship with monica lewinsky. he denied it and denied it and then finally admitted it.
there were two reactions in the country of two majority reactions. one majority reaction was this was wrong in the country wanted to condemn it. the other was that we know a lot of politicians have led less than exemplary sexual lives and we don't really want to impeach him for it. they did want to impeach him because the country, for him luckily, was in very good shape at the time of this economy. the deficit was replaced by a server plus -- surplus. the americans felt good about the country per his approval rating stayed quite high, in the 50s or 60s and the question the pollsters asked was do you
approve or disapprove of the job president clinton is doing. they were fine with him on the job they just didn't like the scandal. the whole election in 1998, the mid- term was around the impeachment issue and the republicans were really pressing in a complete break with history that was later to be repeated by george w. bush in 2002 after 911. the party in the white house actually gave seats to the house of representatives. everybody said this is a verdict against impeachment. the democrats adopted a position that said we will censure him and move on. we'll declare that we don't like this but we won't try to impeach him. a funny thing happened after that election. newt gingrich was deposed as the republican leader and the green gingrich saga is a big part of my book. that saga probably wouldn't have moved to impeach clinton. i think he did read that election. once he was pushed aside and
robert livingston, the guy who was supposed to be a successor was pushed aside when another sort of story about his sex life emerged, the new republican leadership was sort of let the control of this issue falls away. henry hyde, the chair of the judiciary committee how they wanted to push on with impeachment and they did. it was a mess. i think the country didn't have to go through it and didn't want to go through but we went through it anyway. >> what was the impact on the conservative movement? i'm really interested in the republican party here. >> the intriguing thing is, if if you look back at that time, why did the republican push for him each minute.
i think they wanted to stain the clinton legacy forever. some people never got over the fact that he actually grabbed the white house back after 12 years of republican rule. they kind of thought now we've realigned the country and it turned out they hadn't realigned the country toward conservatism. they never liked bill clinton but also they wanted to tarnish his legacy so it would not be a usable legacy. the other side of it, which is something that has gone and then repeated over and over again in conservatism, a lot of republicans in congress weren't elected and competitive districts. they didn't hear those voices that said we don't like the scandal but we don't want to impeach him. they heard voices that said let's go full speed ahead with this. also, the the '90s were when the polarization really set in. i take a look at just comparing the 1990 congressional elections with the 1994 congressional elections. even in 1990, a lot of democrats, particularly southern delton democrats were still voting republican and house races. by 1994 the republican party had
become an ideologically conservative party. he really saw the parties begin to pull apart. i wrote that it's not surprising that the force fruit of this polarization which really took hold in the '90s was the impeachment of bill clinton. >> the interesting thing is here, in your book you talk about how clinton really moved toward the conservative ideology when he talks about this is the end of the era of big government. now he is taking on the language of the conservative and it serves him well politically. he does well with independence and what remained of moderate to liberal republicans because he wins twice, but doesn't that indicate that this conservative movement, you have power and
it's forcing clinton to the right? >> yes in the book, i quote a progressive activist who's been around a long time who said just as nixon was the last president of the liberal era, clinton was the last president of the conservative era. i think it's more complicated than that but it's insightful. clinton understood after three democratic defeats in presidential elections that there had to be some readjustment on the democratic and progressive side. i think some of that adjustment was necessary and it was possible to be against crime without being a racist. it was possible for pro work welfare without enacting welfare law. in the end there were cost to that. the crime bill that was passed
under clinton and clinton has now acknowledged this, create a massive over incarceration in the country that people like corey booker and iran paul are trying to fix in congress and a lot of people are saying this is an outrage and i think it is. there was a need to say you can do that without being conservative. i think the welfare bill he finally signed was far too punitive. as wrong as we provided adequately for poor people, what we got was a bill that was inadequate to that. more generally, he gave up a lot of ideological ground. he didn't have to say the era of big government was era. ironically he was saying that at the same time that he was actually cornering the republicans by defending medicare and medicaid and the education and the environment. these were all areas where
government was playing a big role. the pope government wanted the public to play a big role in that. it was in a broad sense successful. there was a lot that was politically necessary but i also think he gave more ground that he had to. the other area, which bill clinton himself acknowledges is on the deregulation of the financial industry which we discovered in 2008 went too far. you see here, clinton moving to the right even as he's a democratic president responding to conservative agenda, if you will, you will, in all the ways you just articulated but then you come into george w. bush. again we come back to the scene of the trail. the expansion of medicare under the prescription part d. you get some people who are discontented with his national
security and the weapons of mass destruction issue, one that donald trump recently touched on. so in all these ways, this theme of the ace of the party, the grassroots always feeling like were not really getting our moneys worth from conservatives and republicans emerges again. >> they were fascinating figures and they reacted to clinton in much the way clinton reacted to those who came before him. they understood that clinton had cornered the republican congress. they understood that a republican party that looks completely uncompassionate was not going to win national elections. compassionate conservative and was invented. it was actually invented back in the '90s by securing people who were quite serious.
dan coats was a speechwriter back in the day. bush really grasps that idea and so he and clinton had a third way. they were trying to create a fourth way. he was very proud, both bush and he were crowd that they proud that they turned it in to a way to reduce the advantage on that issue. after the election when bush failed to win the popular vote, those who thought he was going to win the election clean without the fight over florida and by winning the popular vote went back and discovered there really wasn't a moderate vote. bush partly backed away from this strategy and moved toward a bay strategy. he did raise some of the ideas but those ideas really had no
traction with the republican congress. of course 9/11 happened and that changed the course of the bush presidency. i think if bush had succeeded which is to say if the iraq war had gone better and turned out to be a good idea and not a bad idea as history will show, and if the great recession hadn't happened, then conservatives wouldn't of turned on bush. they would've excepted a few of these corrections that he had in mind but instead, they didn't didn't even notice the conservative things that he did such as the enormous tax that were enacted under bush. instead, they focused on those areas where bush did embrace big government. in the end, he had the worst of both worlds he didn't get the traction among moderates or progressives that he hoped to get out of his initiative or in some of these other areas. he did win a share of the latino
votes in 2,002,004 which is very important, but those gains weren't lasting. he didn't satisfy conservatives either. so you had over time, this rebellion against bush. i also talk about the fight for the republican nomination in 2008. eight. you did have the relatively moderate conservative john mccain prevail, but the point i make is that in both 2008 and thousand 12, the more moderate conservative prevailed because the conservatives on one and split the vote up and in mccain's case you had mike huckabee checking met romney in the iowa caucuses. mccain prevailed with a minority of the votes in those early primaries because the more
conservative candidate, huckabee romney and the others were splitting the conservative vote. that is why sarah palin ended up on the national team. if i could just finish this point, mccain wanted a more more moderate running mate. he knew the party was still under conservative control and did not want a rebellion on the floor of his convention and so he ended up picking sarah palin. even when it lost, the the party was still able to exercise enormous influence and create an important figure in our public life. >> sarah palin. >> what i'm coming to as your drawing this picture, since barry goldwater is the high degree of polarization that has come to identify during the two terms of brock obama, destruction, polarization in
terms of the repeated vote to try to defend or repeal obama care, blocking his nominees, blocking his regulation, lack of cooperation. but they would say obama is a monarchies trying to use executive powers and executive authority to pass bills or put in place rules and regulations without going to the congress. the result has been this high degree of clinical polarization. let's put that aside for a moment. inside the republican ranks there's also this high degree of polarization that we can see playing out in the presidential primaries and caucuses and you get donald trump. but why, i'm i'm going to ask, why this sense that the grass roots feels betrayed and they're saying we don't want any part of governance. that is what really troubles me.
it's as if somehow the republican party feels it's more important to show obstruction then to take the opportunity to work with an opposition party president and govern the united states of america. >> i obviously agree with you on that and i think it's deep in the cake. in the beginning of the book i argue that the polarization in our country is asymmetric. i talk about some of the democrats who move left, one of the pieces of evidence that is key to your point is that if you ask people would you prefer politicians who compromise to get things done or people who stick to the principles, about 60% want to compromise to get things done and only a third of want republicans want compromise. you do have this fundamental difference going on. i think the leadership of the
republican party, from the very beginning had decided that defeating obama required spoiling his program because after all he had promised to bring red and blue together. he said there was no red or blue america. all they had to do was to try to block as much of that from coming to pass as possible to be sure he was a failure. that took his fate in the hands of republicans. in the book i tell the story first pulled really well by robert draper about this meeting and the caucus room restaurant on the day obama was inaugurated. they basically plot to say, were going to block obama right out of the box on the stimulus. then mitch mcconnell tells
senate republicans, here's our strategy. again again it involved slowly blocking obama. he actually says our goal is to stop a second term of obama. it was all political and not about, this is the way they proceeded to .. out in the book there's a lot of criticism about obama and he could've schmoozed congress better. sure he could've done that better than he did, but this obstruction strategy was baked in the cake. i think he could've gone golfing with every republican member of congress and i don't think it would've made any difference to his overall strategy. so than if in fact they pursued this policy of obstruction and defiance in questioning where he was born, his faith in everything, why is it that as we are in the political cycle of
2016 we see the republican grassroots conservative save we don't like the republican establishment. they don't like mitch mcconnell they threw out john boehner. it seems like they just feel as if this fight of president obama wasn't enough. the establishment was trying to play a double game which is they wanted to cast themselves as a responsible governing party but they wanted to cast themselves to the grassroots as people who will stop all this terrible obama stuff. the want in the party, you have paul ryan doing it little bit, but even he is very much in opposition to everything obama does. here's where we want to go, is there any common ground we can
find with obama? it's all about rolling back things government does. that's why i point to eisenhower as providing an alternative path. now that's a long time ago, the eisenhower era and it would obviously have to be updated, but i think it's very relevant. eisenhower was a conservative and no one was more fiscally prudent than eisenhower. he was very pro-business. he believed passionately in the american way of life. he was strong but prudent in the use of american power in the world. he accepted that certain reform eventually become part of a country's way of life. i say he's very much a conservative in the tradition of the great philosopher. he accepted that some of the new deal had some problems that were
left over from the 30s. he also said government does have something to do with us. he talked about the big investment programs in our history, the new highway system and mr. malone program that helped millions of americans go to college. this was somebody who, i think conservatives could feel happy with the state of the country when eisenhower left office. i think what you mean is a quiet revolution in the republican party. there are hints of it now in the compassion and conservative ideas. there are hints and what a group known as reform conservatives are doing, but i ride in the book they need to go significantly farther than they have. i think perhaps the only way this will come about is if the republicans lose a third presidential election. there seems to be a magic in the number three. clintons came after three losses
was that a prediction? >> i think that if the republicans do lose this presidential election and i'm not prepared, all things being equal on the numbers on the demographics, they should win this election but i think it will be a closely one thing so i'm not prepared at this stage to say for certainty that the democrats are going to win this election. i'm saying if they win, then i think you will see the kinds of changes or at least will be a shot at the kinds of changes that i talk about. >> they had an autopsy after 12 and they're trying to do more
outreach to the minorities and women and young people, but what were seeing in 16 especially from the leading candidate donald trump has nothing to do with that. it's almost back to the grassroots, the southern strategy the betrayed white male that you ditched scribe in a book. it's almost they decided that autopsy was performed in another party in another country. they just scrubbed aside. one of the common responses i've gotten to my argument from my conservative friends is if they're in such bad shape, why did we do so well in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. why do we control all these governorships. some conservatives have said this themselves, yes they've done well in the midterms because the republican party is a conservative movement and they are so dependent on the votes of older americans. older americans vote very
heavily in midterm elections. the republicans are very weak among younger americans who vote more in presidential elections than in midterm elections. i hate to say this as a person of my age, but the future doesn't live on with older people. it lives on in the hands of younger people. so while they have been able to do well in these midterms and maintain their certain base, it doesn't all go well in the long run for the republicans as a national party. they need the younger generation which is more moderate or progressive on social issues, heavily latino and african-american and a party that takes this path is not going to remain a majority party. one person i quote at some length in the book is the chair of the republican party where
republicans used to be strong there. because of the way there alienated, that is now a solidly democratic state otherwise they're gonna end up in the same fix that we are in. that's where i do think the party needs to look beyond where it is. one lesson from trump, is that white working-class voters are really angry and are kind of tired of the republican establishment that has not delivered very much for them. i see a two-pronged reform strategy embodied in certain ways in the two defeated candidacies in 2012 which is, on the one hand the santorum lesson is the party has to pay much more attention to its white working-class base and donald trump is showing them that and
the other lesson is they do need some moderation on some of these social issues in immigration or they're gonna lose on that side. they are really brought together, but i think they independently in different ways highlighted two core problems that the conservatives have. >> the future for conservatism in the opinion of ej boils down to what and if i might add, how do liberals respond? >> thank you for that. the future of conservatism lies in the prudence and balance that i represented and henry clay represented in many other republican figures of the past represented.
do not pretend you can rollback all the things government has done. do not pretend that government is some kind of alien force in american life. pursue fiscal prudence pursue of pro- market pro-business strategy and try to defend the best part of british. i do argue we need a conversation on the family per the family makeup is a problem. it's a problem for working-class and poor people especially because the economy has battered them so much that it has created real problems there. let's have a better conversation on that in the idea that americans were gay and lesbian and have undermined the family. prudence and balance and moderation are conservative virtues. on the progressive side, progressives really do need to pay attention to the trump constituency and parts of the bernie sanders constituency. there is an enormous frustration in the country created by the
economic changes of the last 30 years. people in the working-class or middle-class who are feeling battered, they're not not making that up. wages have declined we need a more inclusive economy where we have shared growth again. everybody's income is not just growth for a small percentage of americans. they have to persuade people that government can work again. i think that's the job they haven't done. they haven't said we know people are frustrated with government. we need to do depend on government to solve a lot of problems and were gonna make it work better and solve some of those problems. i think a problem solving liberalism against a problem solving conservatism would make people a lot happier than we are now. >> author of why the right went wrong. conservatism from