tv Congressional Careers Remembered CSPAN August 22, 2016 3:30pm-5:00pm EDT
about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies. to learn about their politics, policies and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span 3. coming up today here on american history tv, while congress is on break, a look at congressional history. up next, it's a look at the congressional papers collection. and then the history of organized crime in the south during the 1950s. that will be followed by history and research on the u.s. capitol page project. >> queen latifa
time in washington d.c. and how things have changed in the u.s. house of representatives since the 1980s. we hear from nancy johnson and peter torqueleson. this is about 90 minutes. >> i'd like to thank you all for coming this morning to our session on former members of congress, our donors and audience. i'd like to introduce our moderator this morning, david cain, a senior lecturer and public policy, faculty chair and public administration programs in the john f. kennedy schools of government at harvard university. since joining the faculty in 1992, professor king's courses have focused on legislatures, political parties and interest groups. he is also a member of the core faculty within the car center for human rights policy and is a faculty affiliate of the toebman center for state and local
government. in the wake of the 2000 presidential elections, professor king directed the task force on election administration for the national commission on election reform, chaired by former presidents gerald ford and jimmy carter. that effort culminated in landmark voting rights, legislation signed by president bush in late 2002. he later oversaw the evaluation in new management structure for the boston election department and he served in the advisory board of americaelect.org. in the past he directed the executive program for senior executives in state and local government. professor king is the author, co-author and co editor of three books and is blib published in a group of books. please welcome david king. [ applause ] >> thank you. is this amazing just to be in a
group of people who are like you? isn't that wonderful? i know there's always a level of cynicism any time we talk about politics and especially when we talk about legislatures in the united states today, but i think every one of us may have fallen in love, if not with another person, certainly fell in love with some ideas in the j.k. 11,000 section of your library. i remember being camped out there for a long time. thank you so much for being here. you have in front of you not only the subject of your studies, i feel a little bit like they're insects and we are all ent molgss. so we're going to try and understand nancy johnson and peter torqueleson a little more. we have also agreed that we want to hear your questions and your perspectives and open it up to a
broader discussion as we move forward. nancy johnson asked just before we stepped up here whether or not we want to talk about rhinos, and was rhino a thing when peter was in congress. said, well, it was just starting to be a thing. congress is changing quite dramatically or at least it seems. i'm remembering though when speaker thomas bracket reed in the great state of maine was speaker, he had a narrow majority in the house, a thin republican majority, and you probably know he ushered in reed's rule and young democrats complained to him and said two things that were just as true then as they are today, he said the rights of the minority are to show up at work, collect your pay, and that is it. and then he said democracy stops at the door of the united states congress, which is a challenging but important point because
article one of the constitution wasn't placed there just by happenstance. article one was the most important branch of government in the eyes of the founders. the core at the center of a representative republic we have the house and the senate which are not run democratically. we have political parties that are not nominating folks in a democratic manner at all. it's caused quite interesting results. so when nancy johnson, one of the great moderate republicans of our time was challenged and called a rhino, that was a significant challenge at the time. today we don't worry about rhinos if you're republicans. if you're republican in the house today, you worry about being cantored. so it's a different kind of dynamic. so the institution is remarkably stable in some respects and yet it never stands still which reminds me of another famous quote, this from oliver wendell
holmes junior. he said the law must be stable but never stand still. congress must be stable, the rules, institutions, the basic idea of representative democracy stays stable, but the institution is always changing. so the institution that nancy johnson from the great state of connecticut entered in january of 1983 and left after the election in 2006 when she lost, when she left in january of 2007, that institution had changed quite dramatic will i already. but the institution is still quite stable. important work has to get done. appropriatation bills have to be passed. peter served in the my majority and the majority as a republican from massachusetts. now that's almost the definition of a rhino, but the term wasn't really widely used at the time.
when we were putting this panel together, robin reed asked us who do we want. well, we want the very best. doesn't matter if they're d or r, we want people that can be introspecti introspective, tell us how the institution has changed and what it was like for them and what their relationship with you as administrators and librarians and educators, how that interaction might actually work. we are obviously the institutions of representation are changing at all times, but the way we learn about them, the way our children will learn about them, will have you forever more at the center. i would like to introduce first and hear from nancy johnson and second i want you to hear from peter torqueleson, two wonderful former members of congress. thank you. nancy. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> i think at the beginning here, i'll stand up.
being short you don't see a lot until you stand up. i'd rather see your faces. it's a pleasure to be here with you and it's been a great pleasure to work with the uconn library as we put my papers there and talk about accessibility and so on. i hope in a few months to completely retire. i'm still working in washington, so a lot of my friends are there and i have a different perspective on what's happening. it does pain me terribly that the press tells you practically nothing at all about the big changes that have taken place in restoring a deliberate tif body, particularly in the house in the last four years. just to give you a little sense of the difference between then and now, let me just tell you that when i went down to washington, i was in my early 40s.
i was a seasoned state senator. i had been the ranking member on all the important committees, appropriations and education and planning and development and in connecticut that was a very, very important committee and really looked at what do we do regionally, how do we manage waste, how do we do a lot of things. i had had a lot of experience. i was in my office in my first year and they're debating a hud bill whether or not seniors could have pets in public housing, and we had been through that in the state senate. believe you me it's something people feel very strongly about, and public housing just isn't in the big cities. so i went over to the floor and said my piece. so as i walked on the floor there was my friend stewart mckinney, one of the really great minds of all time.
and he looks at me -- also ranking member on the house subcommittee. he looked at me and he said what are you doing here. and i said i'm going to speak on this amendment. he said you are? well, you know i can only give you two minutes. i said, yes, i know that. he said now, don't go over. i said i won't. so i did my thing and as i came off he said, nice job, but remember, freshman are to be seen but not heard. and true enough, over the next two months, coming up and down the escalators going to various places, members would say to me, nice job, nancy, nice job, because there were only two women there so everybody knew exactly who i was and their staff or they had seen me on the television. if you get up there and say really dumb things, and that happens your freshman year, you get up and say something that's totally political and without
substance or act, and you're remembered for it. so it was very good advice. and i was very careful, particularly when i saw how visible anything i did was. but nowadays, fast forward who when the republicans became a majority and a group of us got together about six months into that session and said, now, we've got to teach the freshmen that the floor of the house is different from the campaign trail. they're debating substance, not vision for the most part. they're just bringing too much political rhetoric into the floor. so we talked about that for a while and we began gently to teach them. i remember one time each party somebody had somebody who
manages the floor and knows exactly what's going on. if you missed it and you don't know what amendment you're working on or what bill you're working on, they will tell you. one time i rushed to the floor and he said vote yes, i'll tell you why later. he didn't have time to explain it to me. he knew my district, he knew me and he knew i needed to vote yes. but with all the absolute flood of subjects and information, you have to pick trustworthy people whose lead you will follow if you don't have time because you only have so much time to train your own staff and they are in their 20s, usually right out of college, energetic, smart, but completely inexperienced. so their conclusion may be completely wrong at the beginning. over time they get to know you
and your record. i came in with a senate record. i didn't want to contradict my record. anyway, that whole thing of accommodating a freshman -- to finish up, a little later on, that guy came over to me and he said, you know, the california ladies, i understand that they flew all night, but they can't come on the floor in jeans. he said i want you to talk to the ladies about dress, but don't think it's only the women. i'm having some of the men talk to the men about their dress. so there was a decorum on the floor of the house that politics took precedence over the substance began to be a problem. we really needed to focus ourselves back on the fact that we are legislating policy. for instance when you're on the floor nobody calls you by your
first name or your last name. it's the gentle lady from connecticut. the fact that there were two or three, it didn't matter. in the record they put in parentheses, johnson or whomever. but on the floor of the house, you were the gentleman from massachusetts or the gentle lady from connecticut. i don't know how much we want to do now and how much we want to do later, but there were a number of terribly controversial subjects while i was there and one advantage of the papers, to me the big advantage of the papers being available to someone in our library and after i gave my papers to the library, we moved so i went through all these papers that i kept. when you go through all the clippings from beginning to end, you see it completely different. you see politics that is totally
different from our politics from today. some of it we have to get back to. some of it i'm glad it's gone. but you see things that you don't see otherwise. and kids can see that and they can see the limit. for instance, i said always in the school whenever i was out for a day in the district, the fifth graders, that's the last grade at which they're smart and articulate and they'll ask you any questions, whether it's the last one they heard their parents discuss or whether it came off the television. you can see all that boil up and particularly in our era because in my district i have 41 towns, i had about six or eight newspapers published every single day, and they needed to know what they should publish. they didn't need to know what i thought about things. i needed to bring it down to
that town and what was going to make a difference. they each had radio stations. the radio stations followed the school games and the follow lunches. you better be able to say something quick and easy to help them understand what your congress was doing for you today. the challenge was the many ways in which you could penetrate the minds of the constituent. not only news prints but radios and all kinds of organizations. i went to every chamber, every town, every lion's club, every senior citizen's center at least one and other organizations as they grew and developed, responding to particular things. for a while land trusts were very active and needed a lot of help as to what they could and
couldn't do and so on. so that rich relationship, i would do community days, plan my schedule in such a way that i would go to this little tiny town, speak to the fifth grade. i got there, they wanted me to speak to every grade so we had to rearrange it. you would go to school, sit down with the businesses in town, go to a factory that was particularly important because of a foreign competition issue. sometimes you would speak to the workers as to what you were looking for, why you were there. so you had the opportunity to have a very rich relationship with your constituents. oh, yes, and of course you had to be there when anything important was happening and they had a ceremony. there would be me and the state senator and the state rep and the mayor. but we were all part of the community envisioning its own future or managing its own life,
building its own family and creating its own schools. it was a wonderful privilege to serve. but it was a deep and systemic relationship the issue of representation. now because there's not so many avenues to reach through but also members are spending more time raising money, they're less intensely interested. i came into politics from basically serving on boards and being an active pta mom, so it was just kind of a larger arena for what i had been doing as a stay at home mom. but you see that in the papers. i was surprised at how visibly it came through. and now i'm sorry that i made the decision not to keep all the
copies of the columns because then we would send out columns every single week. sometimes we didn't think they got picked up. other times every paper would pick them up. but it kept >> it kept those people educated about things that were going on and subjects we were dealing with. it was printed everywhere in health care but i kept only one copy. so now i'm sorry that you can't look. so it's a great challenge to serve and they would see in the papers the difference and what was politics like. what have we lost? what do we need to gain? and the other thing is the extraordinary amount of work a member has to do. not just work in their district. my husband is with me. and we didn't realize we had no
life at home. because you got off the plane and one staff was waving good-bye and the other was greeting you all prepared. we got our set of things now for you to do but also the intellectual challenge. i never worked so hard learning as i did as we were privileged to be able to sit with arms control an, you know, you have to sit with the people that are making the decision and thinking the thoughts. when we got into 911, the armed services committee and all of us needless to say they didn't give us the highest level information because it has got to get out but you really have the opportunity and also the responsibility to know both sides of issues. not just one side. so we lost some of that.
but the work that you have to do i can honestly say, it's about as demanding as any job america has to offer but the worlds are also about as great as any job you could have. >> thank you for those comments. it's interesting that nancy and i both being in new england we had the curse of the hourly shuttles which is because there's always a plane to get back home people expect you to be home all the time. i remember talking to a colleague of mine to idaho and by the time his nondirect flight got back to idaho he had a flight to get to his house. he is not someone that's going to rush home or rush back because it wasn't practical. nancy and i and people live in the northeast and were expected
back. as soon as congress adjourned and the staff would be there and i told people my days were always longer in the district and defendant c. often times a session would end. and get some sleep. and my district to have in one night. and remarks going into the next event while everyone sat down and ate. it's the way to maximize your contact with constituents and that's what people expect. they want to see and ask you questions. that was part of the policy. before i was a member of congress i was a state representative and not only was i in the minority but i was in a tiny minority so you have tiny issues that will come by and lob
yiss and they would talk to the chairman of the committee and that was that. a lot of issues would come up and you would not get any contact done at all. every issue is important to somebody even if it has nothing to do with your district. i maybe have a dozen farms with my district and agriculture is a huge issue and there's always people lobbying on agricultural issues period. my district was interesting. northshore of massachusetts. and we have some of the communities in the city and we also have some of the healthiest suburbs in places like that and i was able to interact with people across the sphere and everyone wanted you to know and understand what your situation is and that is part of my education and the process. learning that you have to
represent people. may have very different opinions on what is there. and i was thinking that, in new england we saw that process a little bit before. we saw him lose his primary because he was not -- he was a democrat in name only and in his particular case he was able to run in the general and defeat the democratic nominee and then at the end of that term he retired but it's a process we have been seeing and the parties go to the two extremes. you're not going to have moderates there in either side. that's the worse for america that's happening. you know, that for me, something to say, it's mind boggling. that's what his opponent ran on and if you remember i studied
this a little bit. the issue is being whipped on the house floor at the time. and immigration reform bill. okay and people were looking at well they didn't want to do something to address the issue. and that was used to attack eric cantor on it. he wanted to see what the sport was. it was still used to attack it and low and behold he's defeated. there was no mention of bringing an immigration bill to the floor for republicans after that. it's like why can't you do that but there aren't other members that want to sacrifice their career on an issue that we just saw the majority leader of the house defeated in his own primary for.
it worries incumbents of both parties. nobody wants to stick their neck out so far. depending on the year, somewhere between like 60 or 80% of districts are considered one part of the other. they are only worried about a primary opponent. several weeks ago david and i run on the panel. will the california system help, will the louisiana system help but some type of chance for the voters to say we're not going to choose between the most liberal democrat and the most conservative republican. we want a choice other than that in certain circumstances. but we're not out there yet. i was just looking at the
situation right now and the race for president, the democrats look like they're about to nominate the least popular nominee of the major party ever except the republicans said no wait a minute. we want to have somebody more unpopular than immigrants. i'm still scratching my head at that. that's what looks like our choices are going to be in november. and mimicking what is happening and congressional districts and when hillary clinton started running she was not the most liberal person on the issues and during the campaign she has begun to echo the position. and she's certainly close with
that. it's a different situation than you normally have. the republican side. i don't know what to make of it. donald trump on paper does not appear to be conservative or republican yet and he had republican votes. somewhere like 40 or 42% and you'll be the nominee. and in interesting times we are all living in interesting times we all know where it is headed but for members of congress their function was even more important now and for those of you that study the congress your work is important as well. and in terms of explaining that to me, nancy mentioned fifth graders, the younger the crowd that you can get to, i think the more impact that you can have,
the people with the most open minds explaining to them that there is still a major role for congress. that their participation is he essential. and you shouldn't look at it as choosing our leaders as something that other people do or it doesn't matter if you both are defeated for re-election. i lost by less than 400 votes. one vote per precinct. and you could really have a role in that. but i won't begin to predict exactly where the situation is going to lead us. and it's ultimate control.
explain and engage people of all ages and for the role as keepers of that information. hopefully you'll find some students along the way. and a paper in school and whether it's for the blogs and the rest and i'm glad that you are still there trying to deseminate that information that is essential for democracy to work. >> i'd like to move the conversation about that and you have been thinking about and there are are and in political science they call it an
overdetermined problem and that there are so many answers to how in the world did this actually happen? so let's just go through a hand full of them and after i go through the hand full of them i'd like to hear from nancy and peter again from their perspective on what they have seen change and then we'll go to you for questions and answers. so we are now based on measurements done with something at princeton and best known for this. and in american history. it's difficult sometimes to measure and nominate scores but we're in the third great molt now. the third great moment in american history of polarization and civil war, the second great moment of polarization and at
the end of the progressive era and the realignment of parties and the election 1932. and we're here now at the 3rd moment. so there have been these massive changes to be quite problematic. one civil war and second in major realignment of the parties. well, the parties have been realigning quite sometime anyway. and that is issue number one. why do we have polarization. the political parties have changed. when i was young the republican party in massachusetts was considered the liberal party in massachusetts and the democrats were the conservative party in massachusetts. this begins to change in the early 1960s and by the late
1960s as the base of the republican party first signalled by the nomination. and unsuccessful first challenge and 1980. and this realignment. and the correlation between a person's individual and self-proclaimed identification around ideology and it begins in the 1960s and accelerated around the race. the second argument is that the -- this is an argument i want to shout out to a young scholar. and in the 1970s.
in the house we had the organization act. the favorite of everybody in the room. and it was quite a moment because in this act moving toward sunshine legislation, all votes in the committee as a whole were then made reported votes. previously votes in the committee as a whole, only the final passage vote was a recorded vote so the crafting of the legislation through the amendments tree was hidden from public view. and you didn't know how people actually vote. that seems undemocratic and it seems undemocratic.
the push to make that major reform was actually done not by citizens groups and not by organizations that want to more successfully and accurately see how they were doing. >> instead of looking at each other and crafting legislation at the amendment stage every little moment had to be crafted in public view because their final votes, their amendment votes would be amply identified. and the data on this are crystal clear. there's a ninth edge moment and later adopted and for every state legislature we have day at a there's a dramatic increase in
party line voting and we see members becoming more polarized themselves? no they are actually also presenting themselves to a more polarized constituent sy and to the specifics. that's issue number two. there are times when transparency leads to particularly unwelcomed. the reorganization, issue number 3 is something we also don't talk very much about unless you're into inside baseball and that is the institutional rules, unwritten rules and change so dramatically. when you two are on the hill gouk to congressional
allegations, these travellers. you may have got on the go along on a few of these at a time. members were not sleeping in their offices which frankly is disgusting but now happens widely. they would move to washington d.c. it was an -- you know, if you slept in your office in the 1970s, you would have been laughed out of the institution and now it's recommended because you don't want to go native. beginning in 1994, republicans and then later democrats decided they were going to no longer move their families to washington d.c. but they would keep running back home. it reinforces this idea that the institution is really only running on tuesday, wednesday, and thursday and then you have to get back home but also means you're not getting to know your colleagues in a deep and careful and thoughtful and loving way which it used to be. there are many unwritten rules that have been violated and
beyond sleeping in your office and not living with other colleagues another very important one was thrown out in 1994. and that was the strong and violent rule, you could not violate this rule. if you were a sitting member of congress, go into another member of congress's district and campaign for their opponent because if you do that how are we going to sit down face to face two days later or two weeks later or two months later and try to cut a deal? if i know that something i tell you in private as we're trying to craft legislation and do the common good. if i know that that is going to be used against me and you're going to use it against me in my own district, that's insane. when that genie was let out of the bottle in '94 it was a disaster. rules and procedures are not
what is written down. they're norms and behaviors. the 4th big one and this will be the final one is participation in primaries. there's a very strong regular relationship between when primaries happen and how extreme the candidates coming out of those primaries are likely to be. it's called the primary gap. the primary gap is the amount of time between the primary, let's say it was in june and the general election in november. if you have a primary in june and a general in november that's a pretty big primary gap. what if you have a primary that's actually binding in may? or in april? the primary gap in the united states, forget about the presidential primaries. i care about binding primaries for members of congress. the primary gap has been dramatically increasing and when we look at how people represent
their constituent sys based on that primary gap it's clear. the smaller the gap, the more moderate and wide ranging the candidate will be because if you have a primary, let's say in late september, now you're also appealing to a general election constituent sy. you have to broadcast and motte narrow cast but if you have your primary in may or in june it's all about bringing out the narrowest possible vote. primary turn out has been on a decline. if we look at off year congressional elections, so forget about the president at the top of the ticket. off year congressional elections beginning in 1966 and going through to present day, it is a
decline. and in this congressional primary and in the last primary 11,800 voters turned out. it's astonishing and it's not the moderates no longer turning out, it is the moderate that no longer turn out. it's the strong identifiers still turning out. these are things that we can change. we can change how primaries operate. we can change the timing of the primaries and maybe change how gerrymandering work. the law must be stable but never stand still. the institution is stable but it's always changing and right now we're at a pretty difficult time and it doesn't have to be that way. it's one generation away from
losing our democracy but we're one generation away from having the most vibrant and lively and dynamic democracy that we can possibly imagine and that's going to take everyone in this room. so i'd like to -- i was just preaching and i'm sorry. my parents are ministers. >> how many of you saw front page coverage. >> it's not even switched on. >> is it on now. >> oh, wow. >> how many of you saw about a month ago front page coverage of richard neil that was a massachusetts member of congress. the longest serving now in the massachusetts delegation and sam johnson a long serving member from texas having a press
conference to log their bill. their bipartisan bill to fix the social security disability program that is sked crueled to go bankrupt this year. >> outrageous. look at all the tensions going broke everywhere. look at what is happening and this one is actually going bankrupt. this is a bipartisan solution. he said he was a great guy. he said i want the press to note this is bipartisan. in my mind the primary number one cause of the problems in governing america fall at feet of the press. they don't report so much.
before speaker boehner became speaker he was asked at the press club in washington, big deal. speeches at the press club. six months out before the election should you become speaker? what will you do to restore civility. that's our language in washington to talk about all of this and he said i will make it my business to restore regular order. i'm reading this in the washington post. nobody will get that. i wonder if he told the team he's going to do that. because the republicans started writing legislation in the speakers office because they had a desperate need to feed their base. nancy pelosi wrote the entire affordable care act and the committees were told no
structure amendments around the edges and that was why it didn't work so well. because it didn't have the airing. you can't make this stuff up. you know, law is law. i can tell you that the human research committee ways and means committee where we did foster care and does the childr children's and under tax law is where you find social security. we take all of your money but we give it back. and a foster child has no means of income. so we had a lot of hearings on these things and both richard neil and sam johnson are on the ways and means committee and this is a victory.
it's not like the way you paid doctors. and every year they never know if they're going to get paid or not get paid. now when boehner said i'm going to return it to regular order that got no press. and they know better. now my first thought was did you tell your guys that? so boehner started that process. they'll see the chairman and go see the subcommittee chairman. he said to me one time good friend of mine i serve with him many years. we both -- he's from michigan. spent a lot of time in michigan and who is your democrat. now he announced when he became chairman that any amendment that
bipartisan sponsorship will be taken first and most all the amendments put themselves at a disadvantage if they don't so they all get bipartisan support. now if you get by part is on support i'll tell you about ted kennedy i hope. he was really concerned about children in health care and he wrote this spill. it became known as chi and he could not find a sponsor in the house. he needed a sponsor in the house. part because the republicans were in the majority in the house. so his staff approached my staff and my staff and i talked about it and i said you know it's an entitlement. anyway, i read it and we thought about it and i said well i have to talk to him because i can't co-sponsor this if this is just through medicaid because medicaid is a joke. you cannot find a doctor to take medicaid so it's just a false promise. i am not going to do that.
so ted and i met in his little office in the capitol and he told me the history of it. it was a lot of fun. we had a good time and he agreed that they would not have to deliver -- they would not have to do it through medicaid. they could do it through whatever program they want and connecticut became known as husky. so that's a good thing since huskies win and children joined husky hah didn't have other insurance but we needed that flexibility at the state level and reforms for foster children. i knew how different the state health care systems were so that was my contribution. we couldn't get the senate on board. he's the key person and he said i can't do an entitlement. i can't do an entitlement and you may remember what happened to his colleague from utah and what a hard primary. he said i can't be out there
having lead a new entightment so this is important. now in some states this meant it couldn't serve all the children but on the other hand you have the ability to manage the program the way you want. you can pair it with things that you're doing. you can put it down entirely through community health centers because the fed pays big money for community health centers. much bigger than under medicaid but it's way deep into the legislative session. we had the support of newt gingrich. i don't know how they got it done but they did. it didn't go through committees. it did two out in the final bill. i don't remember if it was a reconciliation but it got woven
in because some things are other controversial to get through the committee process unless you have several years. a good bill takes five years from idea that everyone agrees with to legislative form. we should have kids study hast the initial one? what does it come out as? because it can't go in and serve connecticut and still serve wyoming. you can't have a bill that's the same for chicago and good for connecticut. so you have to -- legislate as good a profound experience. it goes right to the heart of how you build human communities and how you relate to one another. what institutions you have already built. this is why the affordable care act. i'm a big advocate and was an early advocate of universal coverage. but because it was done the way it was, it's laid over and it
doesn't fit, you know? it can't tie itself down because in some states there's a much better pattern. i was interested in one that got the right to expand coverage but not through medicaid. they can do it through the waver section. it's been there all that time but wasn't flexible enough until toward the end and then it was too late to say do it through the waiver system. do it your own way. and fascinating and interesting and see how it was done then you can see what was good and what wasn't. currently because he made that commitment and started that process ryan is even better about it. ryan is going to have a program that the house republican members are going to run on so that he can get them out from under whatever the dialogue is
at the time. and those, the structure of that, the republicans did this with a contract for america and that was a pretty hoos group that did that and it was signed off piano everybo off by everybody. you saw how boehner got completely done in by his own folks. his only choice was to go to the floor and let the body work it's will. i've seen speaker dos that. it's happened. it used to be part of our process. he did it a couple of times. and ryan is really providing the leadership to let the committees work their -- think through this
issue in their own committees and yet it comes back the conference process. whether that will result in compelling enough initiatives to be a platform to run on, that's strong enough to in a sense power through trump and hi a totally different view of the trump sanders race as i call it but i said too much already. i'll come back another time if there's time. >> it was just getting interesting nancy. >> no, it's fascinating for me to listen to nancy because i understand what she is talking about and if you don't at some point there's going to be questions that you are going to ask us about this but what i see is that, you know, when the
republicans took power in 1996, or 1995, rather, it was the first time in 40 years they have been in the majority in the house and the other times they have been in power for just one term unless you went back to the 1920s. and it's been a long time since the republicans have been in the majority. and normally when the party switches power you go to the most senior member and the party was a majority. and we have to ask the page and the closest thing we had to a member before and we are learning our way in term of the process and, you know, sometimes you look at things that need to be changed and you don't pay as
much attention to it and while the first term of the republican majority and over time this is easier if the speaker does it and unfortunely it became common place both when the republicans were and the majority in the early 2000s as well as the democrats took over for four years and you don't see the negative as it's happening and then the case with john boehner a two party southern land is one thing. he was the speaker of the house with three parties in the house. two were on the republican side but most people didn't know until he ended up re-signing that there was a block of republicans that looked at themselves as a separate party from the other republicans and it's very difficult to preside in a body like that.
and said i'm not come paining for the job. if you want me to do it, you come to me and we'll workout something. so the regular order from john boehner and the bumps that went with it and now speaker ryan that was very much determined not to write legislation in the speakers office i think is a good thing for the country even though it's going to have some bumps along the way as well. it's a situation where the process is headed in the right direction and it continues in that direction and there's a lot of unknowns that we'll just have to wait and see what happens. i think it's an improvement that you do allow members to participate. you don't allow -- you don't set yourself up in a structure so that a group of 30, no matter who they are can have veto power over the process. you want that to continue and in
some cases, if you're going to be a majority party, styles you have to accept a defeat but you have to, you know make sure that it's a narrow defeat if you can and move on to the next issue. if you try to block everything your party is thorone out of power. that's one thing have been researching and want to do more study on. in 1994 elections the republicans had not won the majority in four years. bill clinton was the first president of either party to control the house and senate going back to jimmy carter. and two years later, you know, we lost the house and the senate. his party nancy says but it's very interesting, a couple of years lost a few and ended up leaving the speaker and then you
have george bush elected as president in 2000. winning the electoral college by the bare minimal and nominally the majority of the house and senate but the senator of vermont was independent so the democrats had control of the senate and then we had 9/11 and bring 2006 the american public again soured on what was happening and it wasn't just they were in my view not just disapproving of what george bush was doing but disapproving of what the republicans in congress were doing too and threw them out of power in the house and the senate and my ability is getting worse overtime because i thought it's going to be a dozen years at least before the republicans take the house back after losing it. it's just the way it's going to be and then barrack obama wins huge victory in 2008. 2010 comes around and
republicans take the house back and make huge gains in the senate. and so, you know barrack obama had a two year window of one party control and the american people said we don't like the direction this is going in. i'll stick my head out and say if by chance one party controls the white house, the house and the senate after this election i predict two years from now the american people will take at least one brafshlg of the congress away because the partisanship driving the primaries and the election there is not what people want to see in a national agenda and their only way to veto that is to say in the next off year election we're going to have a shift of membership to get that done. >> very good point. thank you. questions, comments, observations. >> yes, sir. >> can you speak about your relationship with your repositories? have they done anything that's delighted you?
and is there any down side to having your papers collected? >> i donated any papers to the massachusetts historical society. so on paper i am in great company because my papers are with thomas jeffersons and swron adams and john quincy adams. they have done something to delight me and that is they have not touched themment so it's a case where i thought i had a lot of papers and then nancy told me how many boxes she donated and it's like i don't have that many anymore. so they're in a situation where they have not tackled them yet and i am not in any hurry on that one but i do stay in active contact with them. obviously they have quite a few projects going on of national importance and i'm sure we'll get to that. that is fine by me. they'll be safe for when the
ceilings crack. >> i just want to make sure when we ask a question, let's repeat the question so everybody can hear it. >> another question, yes, sir. >> i know recently having gone to defendant c. and visited our delegation from oklahoma as a repository that gets into that conversation the immediate concern is operational research down the road. a lot of the people are going to continue to be in public play. even they haven't touched the papers yet what is the comment and the advice that you give to say donation is a big thing. a good thing. a positive thing. and i struggle in those conversations to communicate with people in this environment. and understand the pressure on earth and i understand that
there is life after congress and they have to keep that in mind. and they're facing the question of who to toe nate to and how to donate the papers. >> well, i donate mine to uconn and they have a very sophisticated system and i have organized them quite impressively. you'd have to ask them how much demand they get to look at them. i don't think we really learned how to use this material. to our advantage. it's a different material to be for and we have done it at an era where nobody uses it. so the idea of them looking will you something that was written and done by others and is it at the top of their list and
historically it won't be important but i do think that we need to refine how we use it. when i was defeated it was in the first election in which there have been disciples in the elections. time delay was known as the hammer but actually what he brought to the republican party was a greater determination to raise money. we were always without money and always behind and the unions contributed standard money to the democrats and standard labor force and the republicans didn't have anything. now the evangelicals were turned into that. at least the labor force for awhile so we went -- but that election that i lost was the first one and interestingly enough he was the head of the operation. the first one in which the goal was to go after people's character. before that it always had been go after their stand on issues.
but it was very interesting to watch how that was. that's a whole different story. i think, you know that effected us as we donated our papers we made sure there wasn't anything that would be misinterpreted easily. at least that's wha was told. i don't know i didn't do it. but i do -- i've always told you that when i retire i do want to spend some time with him and when i moved i went through my note pooks more carefully and slim it down for my kids or something. the interesting thing is not in the slimming town. the interesting thing is in the volume of it and seeing what the communication was and so mine is now better than theres. there were places that were incomplete so have to give that to them.
we need to put real thought into how we do that and how we answer member's concern about this because it's very real. on the other hand, it's been out there all the years they have been serving and what has been written is you can see what they really did and what they really thought versus what the press simply thought and what the press said they did. i have gotten to be very, very down on the press and the last few years i was in office, maybe the last 8 years the reporters were so ignorant it was pathetic. they didn't know anything about dpovrnment or policy to issues. before that when i started we had a very seasonal knowledge and another guy and it was just
personal. and i think there's great papers. you should be doing. we should be in our high schools. having kids write a paper on why we should elect trump. one team in the class. and it's not that much fun to talk about hilary right now. it's much more and you think the republican party is in trouble. and so we know each other better than i know most of the other members of congress. i forgot what i was going to say. >> you were talking about trump. >> trump is responding to and he
would have gone away. the fact that he didn't go away, who would have thought sanders would have lasted so long attacking hillary clinton that's been secretary of state and never have we had a candidate of that caliber attack like this. and helped. now remember trump's philosophy is the government has let us down. it's a crummy organization. it just feeds on its own. there's some truth in what he is saying. like it or not. i remember all the years i struggled to get people to see how we could do international trade and still have a industry. you have to be able to do both. you can't to one or the other. so the issues are complicated and at the same time we killed
off our newspapers. killed off the communications equipment. we even killed off town meetings. they couldn't have town meetings because they would be picketed by a special interest and the article would be about the picketing but this is the press. instead of going in and listening to what people were saying to me, what i was saying to them the article would be simple. it was the steps and the picketing. look at trump. who made trump? not trump. that first debate. the question to everyone person was well how did you do when trump called you this name? never have we had a national debate with that focus. so if you look at trump and what he has tapped into not one of us understood the level of disconnect between people and their government and it's destroying us. democracy cannot survive without mutual respect for other people's opinions and it's not
there anymore. because we have killed it. so trump is a problem for all of us. bernie is the old democrat that thinks the government can do things better than the private sector. well that is a huge threat to the way we have built our society. if you can do it better, how would row do it. have come to take a proverse joy in this election. because really, how disruptive? much more disruptive than if we argued about whether we should or shouldn't have invaded iraq. so love it. >> just a comment on so if you
have people retiring and your organization is going to reach out for them, still keep it there. if they're thinking about running for office and you're able to keep it unseal fine. but there was a democrat that retired a few years before me and he went out of his way to say he burned all of his papers. they were not happy about that. so it was just like, you know, you did what? but the record is so valuable it's worth it to do that.
and i'm thinking it needs to be a little bit longer period of time. historians will still have a crack at it but you don't want people not seeing things. as it is now in politics, plenty of it doesn't get reported. a lot of the work that i did, i did it on the house floor and i would go and i was not, nancy a very senior member, she had people coming to her. as a newer member i would go to the senior members on the floor and say i need this, can you help me with that? and the comment, the best comment you can get is i'll see what i can do. but there's no written record of that and so you're not going to have that part to look at anyways so for the little bit that is written that might help you understand what happened you really want to try to preserve that as much as you can and you also don't want people to be afraid of committing things either to hard writing or electronic writing because then you have no record to work with
at all. >> i just want to have a couple of scatter shot quick answers to this. i'm sure as well about electronic resources and who is going to store the old e-mails and so forth. i want a shout out to the sunlight foundation. they're grant project specific and some of their projects will last for a couple of years but they have done droppingly wonderful work on keeping the materials available up on capitol hill and take a look at their website. you can put in for them with with them for a specific project if you have one in mind. and made a substantial contribution to improving the understanding and recordkeepings around congress through the madison initiative which i think is actually up for renewal soon. so they have done great work and then i also want to shout out to a book that you haven't seen yet but if you want to have it
reaffirm how important the work is, i have seen this in manuscript form. garrison nelson's new book coming out on speaker john mccormick is going to give you chills. it's a phenomenal piece of work. and finally as somebody that doesn't spend as much time as garrison did, and someone that spends a lot of time in the libraries i want to thank everybody for continuing to arrange things chronologically because i really never know what it is that i'm looking for and the index usually doesn't help me that much so in order for me to understand what is happening in connection it's the chronological files and specific pins and files that are
incredibly helpful. so don't get too organized. leave nit chronological order and i'm a happy person. the next question. >> yes, sir. >> either the former members of congress may answer, my perspective is that of somebody over the years that's done research and has written some focus and articles about former members of congress and what i have noticed over the years is user friendly for the researchers and it will be helpful and his or her writing project is that they're very greatly quality and utility. and it was the fall of 1997, they went to boston university to look at some of his papers and it's stunned about the fact that they brought out literally
brown paper shopping bags with this all coming through the letters and lily nilly and the speaker of the house. the fact that he had been a representative. a u.s. representative for more than 30 years. almost 30 years before. and much better experiences. and senator thomas and pushed and looking at the papers. and one of the two former members of congress. do you know what criteria or any you follow trying to decide where you want to put your papers in terms of how they're going to be cataloged and organized or treated. >> in my particular case, it did
not have a huge amount of fun. it was very pragmatic. there was a gentleman that was a state senator in massachusetts that would be a mentor for me and it's candidates i supported and after his father had been governor and house speaker and he was the mass historical society and he called me up and introduce it there. and i don't put any restrictions on the recommendation. i was probably giving them too much stuff but we went through and they had interest in that sort of stuff. i did put a lot of thought into organization. and given a lot of thought right now if i knew then what i know
now. i would have kept my files to begin with. and definitely could use some help and so i can't say of course that then but it's a good question. and he announced he wasn't going to run again. and a real leader on work force issues. and why would i lead that and a record is. they wrote their own history and that's what they gave to their library. and i think there's some usefulness in that. and we follow the lead of the librarians and what they wanted to keep. and threw out half the stuff they gave them.
and it's hard to know what to keep and particularly if you're interested in history, and there needs to be more feedback between the people running the libraries as to who uses what and what are they looking for in the academic world and there's so many things very important to the process and we were there at there would be a breakfast and you would be invited and they work through the freshman class to expose them to arms control. same with tax policy and on other things. there was a sense that you needed to be exposed to the great minds so you wouldn't see that in the paper so there's probably some improvements that
we could make and how does democracy function. you won't have any paper. in the new group you won't have any paper, it's all electronic. they do their constituent mail electronically and you have to decide do you print off one copy of all their constituent snail i don't know how you're going to do it. i don't know how they do it. whether they send short answers to the short e-mails but i remember when i was first elected i took toby moffett's seat -- because he ran for the senate, not because i defeated him. but when we went in to say see him he said, oh, yes, we answer every phone call with a hard copy. i thought to myself, you've got to be kidding. they weren't, you just do it because that's how you hear from your people so there's a lot to be learned about how to
cultivate this and it's very important because so many other repositories of that conversation have collapsed. the small newspapers and things like that so there's a lot to be learned from the communication amongst members about bills, with their constituents about bills and some of the letters you'd get from your constituents were very valuable. others were just -- you know, the number 1,000 on a certain subject from a big insurance company and they all wrote from the same letter but so that too has some significance. i think the libraries are remarkable resource that we have but like lots of resources, as times change you have to kind of figure out how to get people interested and we're missing with our high school kids and even those fifth graders how much fun it would be to have them if we could figure out how to let them do original research in the library about these people and have it organized in such a way they could do that,
that would be an interesting project. >> one final question but first another little sermon from me and that is over the last 20 years we've seen an increase in civics education in terms of common core which now on the act some of the history questions are obviously civics oriented, statewide exams are trying to drive more civics education. but we learned with our head and we learned with our gut and it's that interaction between the head learning and gut learning where real learning takes place and over the last 20 years we've seen a very disturbing monotonic trend down words, every year it's worse and that is in high school and middle school student government. they're going away. children may be learning in terms of book learning about
civics education, but are they allowed to have their own student government, student newspaper, class president, election? the answer is yes, many students still have it. but student governments in the united states are on a rapid decline but in very important ways. it's a rapid decline in particular in urban areas and in minority communities. we learn by doing, not simply by reading. i think it's wonderful that you all are associated with university libraries and big-city libraries. please, if there's a way for you to imagine reaching out to those middle school kids, their teachers, the communities that no longer have student government, there has to be a way to bring it back because we are, again, one generation away from our demise and one generation away from a truly vibrant democracy but it has to be something we practice and learn in our schools and libraries. who likes the final question? is there a dean of this assembly when everyone says, oh, oh, yes,
we must talk, you must hear from us. that person, does that person want to stand now and ask the final question? [ laughter ] >> or have they already spoken? we have four more minutes. >> well, i'll throw in an anecdote. earlier david mentioned how in massachusetts the republican party used to be the liberal party and the democrats were the conservative. well, 1948 is the first year democrats ever took control of massachusetts house of representatives. the republicans had it since the civil war. the guy that had it was a guy named tip o'neill.
and he was minority leader in massachusetts. and he found his great ballot question to organize elections on in 1948. the ballot question was to legalize birth control. the republicans were in favor of legalizing it and the democrats were opposed to it so tip o'neill owed his becoming speaker of the mass house and later member of congress to being opposed to birth control and that's how different massachusetts was in 1948. [ laughter ] >> let me tell you another anecdote. when we took the majority in the house under newt we took control of a lot of property we didn't even know sort of existed so newt created a team that was to go out and look at all of it. they closed four or five warehouses and stuff that was so old nobody wanted it and that was stored elsewhere. and so i just tell you that story because if trump comes in and looks at the government, that could be not all bad. the affordable care act did no
repealing to any of the old law, stark and other provisions. if you know people in health care they think -- have driven them nuts. but we need someone to do it. so we're literally desperate. we can't keep spending so much money on government. no one else is, to business is operating like it was ten years ago, none, and no employee is doing the same thing because they have different tools and you have to keep them on. and they don't learn it. you can't imagine some of the conversations. look at what's happening at the irs making it partisan.
partly because this issue of who's nonprofit is too complicated and the who's an interest group and who should be free and get a tax subsidy for free speech. i hope on tax reform -- i've come to the point where we wipe them out, we can't do this. when you're a nonprofit family service agency all it means is that the state government stops doing it, pays you less, considerably less to do the same thing that they were doing for more money and there's no way you can keep doing a good job if everybody pays you that so there's real coming to terms. certainly every 40 years we ought to think about what's the structure of our government.
>> thank you very much for all of you for inviting us here today. [ applause ] congresswoman nancy johnson, congressman peter torkildsen. thank you so much. i know there's been food for thought. i understand we're at the moment now where you get food for yourselves so break for lunch and we will see you later. thank you very much. american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend telling the american story through events, interviews and visits to historic locations. this month american history tv is in prime time to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span3. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history professors.
american artifacts takes a look at the treasure at u.s. historic sites, museums and archives. real america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and newsreel. the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies. to learn about their politics, policies and legacies, all this month in prime time and every weekend on american history tv on c-span 3. coming up today on american history tv, while congress is on break, a look at congressional history. we begin with a history of organized crime in the south during the 1950s. that's followed by the history and research on the capital page project and then historian and author david mccullough receives the u.s. historical society freedom award.