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tv   Democracy Social Issues Panel  CSPAN  April 6, 2015 10:10pm-11:37pm EDT

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is on the rise joblessness hopelessness is on the rise, young people are having a terrible time finding their way into careers and into the mainstream. there is a huge housing problem and education crisis police-community relation violence, we saw a few examples of what we are dealing with here. sometimes, when that goes on, when those kinds of conditions go on, it can make people more conservative. by conservative, i mean more frightened, and more, feeling they have to hold on to what already exists, because it is too risky to consider certain kinds of change, even though they also want change and they feel that change is critical and needed. they are torn, in some ways, because the conditions of life can be so difficult. i wanted to start by asking each
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of you to talk about that from your vantage point and your experience. are the difficulties that our communities and people are facing, is that acting as a break on certain kinds of political changes? if so, how do we break through that? are there also new ways of looking at the political scene that people are beginning to experience in your view, from where you sit at geoeye will throw that to you. >> you pointed to me. i think, if you look at what is happening not just in society today but what is also happening politically as well as in business, there is a dramatic shift taking place regardless of what we do as leaders.
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we see it in terms of a number of people who were registering as independents, that is having an effect. in business, we see change taking place, as well. there is now new technology and information, new systems that people can operate organizations are becoming flatter. we are watching the rise of what is called the exponential organization, that are being pushed and promoted, often times through crowdsourcing efforts. the reason they win is because they put ideas over hierarchy. that seems to me to be exactly what has to happen in politics today. it's the idea that what we need is a system is it -- promoting ideas rather than squelching ideas. the existing system is built on a hierarchy. it is built around power and
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interest groups have a disproportionate voice in side the system than people do. those changes i think, they are happening organically our system is way behind the political curve. tio hardiman: when the elephants fight, the grass suffers. we need independents to step in the middle and say, we have to get the job done. when i ran for governor, a lot of my friends said, this guy has got to be crazy. but i took care of business. i traveled the state, i visited people, and the majority of voters i spoke to were independent voters. they said, it is time for change. i spent only $50,000 of my own money. the people were tired, and they latched onto my campaign. this is the key. in illinois right now, 80's --
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88% of african-american males are unemployed. i put that on top of my platform. another statistic, 85% of homelessness in chicago takes place in african-american communities. nobody wants to talk about police brutality. i put that on my platform. what happens is, some politicians take on those issues , say they are going to do something about it, and then they drop it all of a sudden once they are in office. it is an enormous issue to take on. as an independent, i like what you said, make it happen. i only needed 5000 signatures to make the ballot. since i knew a lot of people, i went out and got 50,000 signatures myself. [applause]
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that is what it has come down to for me. lenora fulani: i have been thinking about this a lot. the first time i voted, i was nancy and i were running for governor. i was running for lieutenant governor. i had never been in a voting booth in my life. where i had been in the world was in the midst of poverty. i am a from -- i am from a small town. my family is poor, my cities poor. more and more poor people exist and are coming to be poor in this country. and so, i think it is critical for people, poor people, and people who are not for who care about poverty to come together around the issue of
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strengthening democracy. to me, what that means, it has nothing to do with who gets elected, because the people get elected in formation that have created the poverty. they don't care about it. they don't want anything basically, to do with it. they don't talk about poverty in this country. so i think that we have two continually deepen people's understanding about the relationship between these two. i think the african-american community has a particular role to play in this. we have been taught the reason why we are poor is because we are shiftless. not because we weren't let in. [applause] there is no way to engage these issues unless we come together
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and not just go to the voting booth, do what we are doing today and what people are doing which is create an environment where voting means something. [applause] joan blades: i will take off from that. the more i have been exposed to the political system, the more dysfunction has become clear. coming from the background i come from, grassroots participation is what makes the difference in my mind, the most toxic environment i can think of her politics is washington dc, where there is very little flexibility. this system is structurally rewarding the wrong things right now. i always remember the fdr quote
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you have convinced me, now make me do it. it is about giving the leaders that want to be good leaders because most people want to be good leaders. they do not go into this because they want to undermine people, and -- prosperity is something that everyone will say they want. and i believe them. but we have different visions of what that is. talking about the healing at risk -- feeling at risk, your ability to greg -- to be creative, for me to care about, what i care about here, and you care about me, and we are having a conversation about problem solving. we will come up with a superior solution to when i don't trust you or like you. or i think your ideas are really stupid. all of a sudden, you get these adversarial solutions that,
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frankly, are terrible. i think we have the most expensive health care system in the world per capita. we are not in the top 10 in outcome, not in the top 20. how can we achieve that? first, we have to do it ourselves. we model what we want to see and we have that -- i want to meet your needs, you want to meet my needs. and the outcomes will then be dramatically better and we will, up with something better. [applause] paul johnson: i think that also speaks to the existing architecture in the system,
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which is designed to keep people out. it is designed to be exclusive. if you go to arizona independents makeup 35%, they are the largest unorganized group, they outnumber republicans and democrats. yet, if you run for governor in arizona as an independent, you need 6000 signatures as a democrat, 7000 if you are a republican, 39,000 if you are an independent. if you are on the ballot, your last. -- you are last. you have to have a voter list because you have to know how to communicate with voters. it is free viewer a democrat or republican. it is $100,000 if you want to run as an independent. and last, this is the one that is crazy to me. in 1994, we passed an effort to allow independents, and i was involved in this, that allowed independents to vote in the primaries. the primaries -- one of the
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things they have done is, they have said we have an automatic early voting list. you end up on the list if you voted on an early ballot the year before unless you are an independent. if so, you have to re-register every time in the primaries. meaning, the rules are rigged. they are rigged to keep that group of people out. amongst hispanics, a large percentage of hispanics is independent. this is the largest voter suppression effort we have seen the country. if this happened in the south, it would -- we would have seen it as such in the 1960's. instead, today we ignore it. we are not paying attention to the fact that there are a large number of voices who today are being silenced because of the architecture of the system. [applause]
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jackie salit: let me see if i can pick up on this. in the first round here, part of what i hear everyone describing in different ways is, there is a set of things that have become intractable in this country intractable poverty, intractable conditions that produce violence intractable systems in the political sphere that do not allow people to participate. it is almost as if things are frozen in place. and everything is allowed to be only that it already is. how do we break through that? tio hardiman: i think we have to
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organize the independents. i think we have to present -- you know, the solutions to the powers that be. when i ran for governor, iran is a democrat. at the same time, i made a lot of enemies. i did so well, and what happens is, even some radio stations and tv shows, it appears they were on the payoffs of the politicians. they let me get on some of their shows. it is difficult, because as you said, the system is rated. it will take the multitudes are the people to continue organizing and standing faith with the issues. we have enough independents in the country to make major changes in a lot of states. but it will take a real leader from the independents to push the agenda. the same way people are organizing in ferguson, we need independents to organize an
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effort that is second to none to push the agenda of the independents. independents'voices need to be heard. that is what i would like to have. [applause] joan blades: one of these things that lenora fulani: one of the things that -- to me, one of the ways democracy can impact social crises is, to me, what democracy is is powered to the people. we have to take ourselves seriously as the people to -- who have to produce that. so many things, like the way in which poverty is understood and organized in america, keeps us apart. i have been speaking to a lot
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more white poor people over the past few years, and i say to them, you are poor. the things you have going for you is that the government says to you, at least you are not black. but that does not feed your children. that does not yield with the crisis in your homes as you work to come to terms with that. we have to do something about that, and what that means is that people have to come together and work in ways to transform this. we have to have honest conversations about what is happening in this country and in our world. i spent hours teaching the black and latino community individually and overall that it is poor, and poverty is not a personal position, it has come about as a result of the history of our nation and the abandonment by so many different
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institutions. everything is a mess. to the degree that we accept that and we can cross those lines that exist between us and white people and other people which is what the independent movement i think has done so well, but it has to grow at the bottom around these issues come also. i think we can transform america. and that is what we should be working on. [applause] jackie salit: did you want to speak on this? joan blades: i'm thinking systemically. when you are talking about the different communities when conversations are specifically designed because we live in a self-segregated communities.
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when i asked my progressive friends to have conversations with someone with a different view, they say, i don't think i know any conservatives. [laughter] i live in berkeley. [laughter] jackie salit: so does my daughter. [laughter] joan blades: that is a terrible thing to say that we have that much division. and we know that, when people with like minds talk together about an issue, they get more radicalized on that view. that is part of what has been happening to us. we are living, increasingly, in a narrative stream. when i talk about an issue with my conservative friends, sometimes our fact, they are
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different. they are very different. that makes it difficult for us to have a good discussion and solution. the conversations are an invitation to start reconnecting , and that the core of this initiative is one small, simple tool. it is about making that human connection. most people think it is our intellect that guides us but actually, our emotions guide us. when i like you, i hear what you say, and it has a lot -- i am more likely to remember it and believe you. and i am more likely to be sitting there trying to figure things out with you in a way that will try to make you happy. if we can just start having relationships, then our potential for solving all these
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issues, i would love to have living room conversations about the arizona structure. i bet you, people across the board would say, that's not there. i would like to change that. but we are sending up flags all the time. this is the tribe i am in, and if you are not in that tribe, be careful about what you say. then, you don't really get real. this is a self fulfilling prophecy. we find ourselves drifting apart. my hope is, as independents, you have the desire to be part of the democracy and help heal it. you guys are in a wonderful position. you're an -- in a position to say, i will be a human part of this conversation and democracy. [applause]
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paul johnson: in 2016, we hope to be ground zero on this issue let me give you an example that i was involved with. the minds of elected officials. at the end of the day, that's what we are talking about, correct? i became mayor at 29 but before that, i was on the city council. i was elected to 24 years old. i had a great fortune of having terrific parents and nine brothers and sisters. nonetheless, i came from a poor area and iran in the district that was ready much an affluent area. i won by knocking on doors and meeting people one at a time.
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i knocked on 80,000 doors over 12 months. and i met those people. those had an effect. i met many good republicans during that race who had ideas and talked about issues that were important to them and for businesses. we passed a martin luther king day inside the city of phoenix and the governor passed it by an executive order at the state level. there was a republican primary. when bruce left, it was a very heated primary and people thought immoderate fellow was going to win. once we won the primary, it was
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pretty much set to win the general election. the very first thing that we did , the very first thing i'm going to do is to get rid of that darn martin luther king day. he began to make comments. you can look them up. they are real comments. i was maritime and i had to do with them across the country. he said thing when i was he young guy, black people like to being called pick in any -- pic kaninnies. hope came to arizona. does he speak english? he went to a jewish convention and felt that they ought to be happy they live in a christian nation that doesn't do to them the things that other people do to them. the guy was radical. when you get rid of martin luther king day, we went to the voters and put it on the ballot. he came back and put on an item that was exactly the same.
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he was successful at doing it. we went back and did it again. here is how we did it. i organized business leaders. i spoke to people on the other side. i listened to people who did not think exactly how i thought. and because of that, we could build a coalition. arizona is still the only state in the nation that has passed martin luther king day by a majority of its citizens. we are very proud of that. [applause] the same electorate that voted in evan meek him. they have to deal with issues where they have a papers only please bill. it was struck down by the u.s. supreme court. we had another issue that said you could legally discriminate against gays. the list goes on and on in terms
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of what comes out of the legislature that is far right wing. they do not represent the arizona voters. they represent the 4% of the people that show up in a republican primary. the key is for arizona, for us to be able to break out of that and give a voice to the majority of those voters, to make certain you change that architecture. here's what's even more important. you can't get people to understand poverty unless you are willing to understand commerce. you can't get people to understand how to fix problems until you understand the importance of working together. a nonpartisan system, in my opinion, is meant to facilitate communication between all five so that you can do the things important that move our society forward. [applause]
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>> let me see -- jackie salit: let me see if i can dig a little deeper. let's talk about democracy and poverty. let's talk about it. how does democracy, at this point, put us in a position to value democracy. how do you see that at a political level, a moral level? joan blades: in 2005, he was on the independence party line. --lenora fulani: nobody has ever gotten 50% of the black vote in the last 20 or 30 years.
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unless they were democrat. it was phenomenal. thinking i was going to pay nothing. including everyone, the -- nobody at knowledge that 50% got out and voted on the independent line. and so i think the reason for that is because that announcement comes hand-in-hand with the fact that you can step outside of the box, do something different, and reorganize yourselves in such a way in the political arena so that you have power. and the people that run the city were determined that they were not going to convey that.
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this whole cold season has been living in housing and there has been no heat. that is a political issue. that has to do with people knowing that you can stand up and say you'd better turn on this heat. o'er the area that we are in, we are not going to vote or you. that whole host of things for me would be taken on if you build people's sensibilities involvement, and the growth and importance of democracy. and the relationship between democracy and voting and changing our lives. but we have to work on that because there isn't that relationship. it they get elected and do nothing. they led the people freeze. you try to freeze them out.
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[applause] tio hardiman: unless we talk about political structure, we need candidates to have the opportunity to participate in debates with the candidates and put those issues on the table. pat quinn refused to give me a debate even though i committed 28% of the state vote. he would not debate with a guy like me because i'm different and i'm not worried about being politically correct. he couldn't survive the debate with me either because his world experience is different than my world experience. i am born and raised in the projects. all of us have overcome adversities and we made good of our lives. we can present issues at the grassroots people are experiencing right now. and solutions based on my expertise anyway. and of the solutions is making sure we have the open primaries. and we have independent debated
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processes because that word -- i want to say this in chicago politics right now. on behalf of what going on with african american leadership in chicago right now. believe it or not, i 130 counties downstate. i had more problems with my own people. in chicago, african-american leaders came together to knock an african-american lady off the ballot. they stood a chance to really make a big difference in chicago. they are supporting him. we represent 37% of the voting. the votes -- this is not really about the race. when you have a voting bloc like
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that, use it here advantage. they came together to knock the most qualified african-american female off the ballot. the system is playing a role with that. not just african-americans. poverty, immigration, issues with violence, sexually transmitted diseases on the rise. we need somebody that will represent the people sincerely. that is where independents come andin at. [applause] lenora fulani: i don't think we can rely on the two-party system for debates. we have to take our debate to the street. they are never going to let us in. the only way we will be in is if we change where "in" is. it's on the street.
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[applause] joan blades: i was going to take this to getting people voting. the number of people that are not participating, the younger you are, the less likely you are to participate. someone was quoted as saying more 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds got arrested then voted last year. that is horrifying. and when you are trying to change the issues of poverty -- as a co-funder, one thing that causes a poverty spell is the birth of a child. and people that are incredibly overwhelmed already with their lives, it's hard to ask them to vote when they don't see anything happening.
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you've got to convince people that voting is the way to show up. it other forms of participation. lenora fulani: i hear you. i think young people don't vote because they are not stupid. [applause] what i really think they are saying to us is, you have not put something in place where my voice can be expressed and heard. you don't even have to be young. there are lots of people that don't vote. nothing transforms. i think you have to focus on ways for people to make voting something that you do because it will transform the world. you have to teach people to be
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political in ways. participate in what we're trying to do, which is to change what this political system looks like. i must say, i know there is a notion that black people and latino people and white people are poor because we have babies. we are not poor because we have babies. we are poor because we have not been led into a system to function. even if you don't have a baby, if you can't read, can't go to school, if you're not part of it if you stand on the street corner long enough, there isn't that much to do which is why we built this project. you will get pregnant. [applause] joan blades: i agree with you
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about everything you've said. the basic story of a huge number of people that have baseball out of the middle class when they have babies -- i'm saying that we have people entering it in a way that is growing. our growing population of not middle-class in poverty is a huge problem. we want to have everybody become middle class. we have a huge bias against mothers in the workplace. and against single mothers in particular. joan blades: i love you. i just a want to blame our social crisis on babies. joan blades: if you have a bias against mothers, you have a bias against babies.
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$.75 to the equally qualified men's dollar. women have babies, and that goes up to 18. that is one of the things we have to credit. we don't hate mothers. at least, most of us don't. i mean, we've got how many mothers here? how many people have mothers? that's kinda it. [laughter] paul johnson: the mom issue. i'm clearly pro-choice on the mom issue. here is what i would tell you on the poverty issue that seems to make sense to me. i think the solution is
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symbiotic mutualism. a recognition that we are not really divided into parties. i watch what is happening with the tea party movement which has been mainly co-opted by the republican party. the message seems to be one that the real problem is government. the government has created the problems that we have and what we need to do is remove government and the problems would be fixed. on the other side, the occupy movement which has been in many ways co-opted by the democratic party seems to say that government is not the problem. it's the private sector. the corporate sector. here is my answer. we have become the mightiest nation and we did it through a process that said both of them are wrong. start with government. government played a key role in building our infrastructure and
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the ability for people to participate. it passed regulations that are very important to congress. the ability for women and minorities to be able to participate has clearly been helpful to our economy. on the other side, the private sector are creating products that we are shipping around the world. they are changing our quality of life. effectively, both are important. as to give a speech on poverty. i did so. they asked me, how do you fix poverty? nonetheless, i kind of gave us feel to them. i said, in the united states, we like weird people. we have tesla and edison and einstein. we talk about how great they are.
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we tax them. we begin to create a system that pay to educate a whole new group of weird people. if we lose that symbiotic mutualism, i guarantee what will happen to poverty. it will get a lot worse. we are all sitting in the same rather narrow boat together. the fact that people often times look on the other end of the vote -- of the boat. without recognizing that they are tied together. the business side does the same thing to leaders on the poverty side. recognizing we are connected is the only way to survive this thing. it is the only way to continue what has become the mightiest nation in the history of the planet. [applause]
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jackie salit: in a couple of minutes, we will open it to the floor for questions and comments. the issue of myths around the political system and the cause of social crisis, it has been touched on by a number of you in your comments. could you each tell us, what do you think is a myth that needs to be busted in order to break down some of these barriers that we are talking about? what is a myth you would like to see crumble? tio hardiman: one that i would like to see crumble is that you have to have so much money to win political office.
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because i would like to recommend anybody running for high-level office, go out and get double the signatures you need. not just to make the ballot, but to win the entire race. to me, that is a big myth. television networks, radio networks, the media. they keep pushing the fact that if you don't have big money, you cannot win. we've had examples of some people -- rahm emanuel has $30 million and is running against troy garcia. so it can be done. no matter what the critics may say. the gop continues to try to undermine president barack obama. i'm not saying he's the best man in the world, but he's the president. they continue to try to undermine his leadership. i would is leave it at that because i'm kind of angry about
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the way they've done that. the reality of it is this. either you respect the president , that is the bottom line. we keep going outside the boundaries of what we think is right, showing racism still exists as we know it does. don't get me wrong. we know it exists but you guys are living under the gop right now and they don't care how they show it. all up front. covert is one thing and over does another thing. -- overt is another thing. [applause] paul johnson: two myths i would like to debunk. i find it absolutely fascinating that the leadership inside the gop are intent on making certain people know that they do not like the president of the united eights.
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that is interest -- united states. that is interesting all by itself. part of it is driven by the myth that they really are that interested in the policy side of the equation as opposed to the power side of the equation. who has the majority and who wants the majority? the senate will set up to be the firewall, they said, in the beginning years to make certain that there was a more stable response to what might happen politically. but what has happened is that because they are not just running for election every six years, they want to control the majority -- they run for election every two years. it creates an inability for that firewall to work. one myth that we have to break down is that they are not in it for the policy. they are in it for the power and
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the public intuitively understands that. this has been perpetuated in arizona on a daily basis. people that register as independents do so because they are either apathetic or ignorance. that is their view. they don't recognize it is an affirmative statement about what they care about and that's why people are registering as independent or nonpartisan. they have given up on the existing political system and they believe there has to be another way. lenora fulani: one myth that i would like to totally eradicate. under the current system, if you vote, you can make a difference. [applause] because the issue isn't just simply voting. it has a lot to do with what you are voting for. what the parties represent, what the people represent. and people get beat up so much all the time around not going to
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the polls and voting. but in some ways i think it's important to recognize that when people keep voting and the same things happen, it turns them off to politics, power anything. i was thinking that people are smart. you don't vote unless you give a real and actual alternative. you play into the hands of the people that take the vote and do nothing. the other thing that i just want to say is that poverty is self-perpetuating. that it is personal. even in segregation, i don't think that we self segregate. i think we have been segregated. people don't even think they can live next door to each other unless you are of some elite class.
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neighborhoods are organized in that way and that keeps able from knowing who the other is. people are not responsible in this country for being poor. the country, the nation has a responsibility for doing something about poverty. i think politically, we have a responsibility. i feel like we have a responsibility for doing something about poverty and the way that it looks for everybody is we have fight against poverty. we didn't create it. nobody said you want to live off of fifth avenue or would you rather live in the most rundown inaccessible community in the city? and people say, i think i will take the latter. we ended up there because of the consequences of history and lack of political support from the people that run the city and country. [applause] joan blades: so many good myths
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have already been put out there. i think the one i am most focused on right now is about the other. the other being kind of dimwitted. the other being mean-spirited. the other being callous. and the good news that if you take the time for the kind of space that allows for listening the conversations could be listening. even these people, how can you do that? most of the people get into whatever role they are playing. it is a good place. i'm sorry. i just don't want to go there
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but i think it is true of the vast majority of people throughout the spectrum. and how do we start opening things up so that we start benefiting from the richness of our views fused together and our energy put together. jackie salit: i will open the floor up to you. we will get some house lights and microphones on the other end of the aisle. i asked my panelists here to join us in this discussion. sir? >> i have a statement that i would like to make. i am part of cic a, the community for independent community action.
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we must continue to organize on the grassroots level and that nonpartisan and open primaries is a must if we want to commit to true democracy. we know for a fact that the democratic party has taken our votes for granted and have sold us out. and that the republicans are only going to let us in if we are willing to come in through the back door. i want to thank dr. newman and dr. fulani. our children cannot grow unless they are first taught to develop. i want to personally thank dr. fulani for giving me the opportunity to grow. [applause] you see, i have two degrees. and i still find it hard to find a job. and i thought that with all my education and all my knowledge that things would be a little bit easier.
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but i am still a person that was brought up in poverty. it's something that i had to realize and i thank dr. fulani for giving us the tools to empower us. more importantly, i want to say that i'm so great old to be here in this room this morning with a number of movers and shakers that are thinking independently. thank you so much. >> my name is bob perls and i'm a former new mexico state representative. iran for congress and for about 13 years spent or 10 hours a day campaigning and walking door-to-door much like the mayor discussed. and all of that activity of mine , i will change my registration to independent. [applause] and hopefully provide some
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leadership for this movement back in new mexico because it's so important. my question for this group because it's been a fascinating discussion, it is really difficult to talk to folks about how you make the connection between the disconnect of what they want to see in policy and actual changes in all of these process things that we talk about. whether if it's instant voter runoff, top two, public financing. nonpartisan districting. i want to hear each of you tick off if you could pass one thing in the state legislature or one thing through referendum that would change and empower in dependents and the conversation, what would you like to see happen?
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lenora fulani: i would like to see nonpartisan elections because it is so critical. the way that you teach people is not a talking activity. put an independent on the ballot and have them work on the campaign. have them participate in the grassroots activity of trying to support an independent. send them to a debate that they can't get into. let them learn how to -- [indiscernible] it is like the best lesson in the world because they are having that experience and they are shocked. because this, after all, is a democracy. paul johnson: mine would be nonpartisan elections, eliminating the subsidies for political parties, making sure all candidates are treated equal regardless of how they are registered. if i were to give you my second
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one, i don't like the existing structures in the legislature. the fact that they meet in caucuses and that those caucuses are partisan, they stymie good ideas and conversation. it will be a nonpartisan basis. tio hardiman: basically, i concur. i won't repeat what i agreed with already. joan blades: lots of changes. yes. jackie salit: thank you. ditto to everything that was presented here. going to one of the points that dr. fulani made earlier about not voting in the judgment call so many people are making.
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the reason i like a lot of these proposals including the focus on primary reform is that right now, the voters are related to the things that happens last in the political process. we have to change the definition and the meaning of what choice is. rather than being a passive consumer at the end of the assembly line to being an active creator of the choices that are getting made. that is one of the reasons why i think primaries are important. >> i am an independent leader. i live in harlem. i did grow up poor in this country. i want to say thank you for convening this conference. it's important we continue to do this work.
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i like the question about what myths because one of the ones i would like to bust up is that america is the greatest country in the world. america needs to deal with its history, its origins, we need to reorganize how we like to think about ourselves. when you say you are great all the time, that means you won't take any kind of reflective stock of how you got to where you got. wiping out the native americans, enslaving african-american people, and continuously oppressing and locking up latin american people because they want to come here, those are not great things. [applause] we need to get real with ourselves and get honest and we can reorganize how we are together.
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what we call revolutionary conversations because they are hard conversations that we don't want to have with each other. i do appreciate this conference and all the dialogue and conversation that's going on here. i did work on dr. fulani's 1988 campaign where we had to get 1.5 million signatures to get her on the ballot. you get in the grassroots and you knock on the doors and you talk to people. you learn something about where you are, who you are, and what we need to do. get involved. get activated. talk to open primaries. it's a solid tactic that we can organize around and create dialogue around these issues. enjoy the conference. it you all look beautiful. thank you to our leaders.
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>> my name is jason olson and i am part of the independent voting network. i want to say thank you very much for hosting us again. it's wonderful coming out here and seeing so many amazing faces in the auditorium. the myth that i would like to explode is that the world just is the way it is and there is nothing that ordinary people can do about it. i think that this grouping of people right here shows that no matter what the odds are, there is something we can do about it and i'm very happy to be part of that with all of you. i was wondering for folks that maybe this is your first time to one of our gatherings -- how has this conversation impacted you? how will you take away from meeting various folks here as you continue to approach the
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various reform efforts and work that you do in your lives? tio hardiman: how the conference has impacted me as i see the makings of a major independent voters movement. and i want to play a role. i see it. that's all i can say for right now because i believe in movements, ok? i think about nelson mandela's life and i think about the power of a person to make a difference. and nelson mandela's life pretty much embodies that. a movie called "kill the messenger" on his life, they exposed the cia and the government after they introduced crack cocaine into the black communities. they say he committed suicide
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because he shot himself in the head twice and he never got another job once he exposed the story. i'm just saying there are a lot of things that have taken place in the history of the country that we need to bring to the table so you can get past those issues. i have been inspired. you can see that by the way i talk. paul johnson: the lesson i take from this, it's always fascinating to me. i come from a state with a very conservative legislature. it's not even a fair word. often times people who are on the extreme, our goal is to bring them back to the center. it which is a leftward movement. in other states, you see the exact opposite where the democratic party has overwhelming support and they stifled out voices as well. it often times is not an issue
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between right and left. it's simply an issue of do you have a voice or do you not have a voice? what is probably the single most important thing in the movement is that is not going to be carried off by a single state doing what they want to do. it has to be a national lever. it there has to be a national group of people coming together to talk about its importance. you will always find differences, and you will begin to find that area where we have common ground and move it forward. [applause] joan blades: and what reinvigorations we can have to have people showing up in the polls and the off ears. -- off years.
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that the leaders are really working for us. i don't have the answers to that right now. it is exploration. let's move on. there are truly viral moments. i sometimes call it a goldilocks moment where it is not too cold or not too hot. it's just right and this can take off. you can talk about the slow build. it is a punctuated equilibrium. things can slip. will the independent movement be part of helping it slipped in the way i am dreaming? i don't know. >> i'm from new hampshire and a longtime activist. i think most people are many
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people don't vote because they are not inspired by the candidate. the wall street two-party crap trap. they have to bring there to the polls -- their clothespins to the polls. i think we are ready for a voters revolution. 10 years ago, people looked at me strange and now everybody says yes. we have to flush congress. they are full of -- never mind. i question is, do you think we need to run independent candidates for local, state, and federal elections? the time is now. tio hardiman: i concur. i agree with you. i definitely agree. joan blades: right now, my
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experience with the political processes that throwing in another candidate is sometimes helpful. but it doesn't go to the core of our divisions. that is where my real interest is. so what going to cause the flip? i'm just putting that out there as my question. jackie salit: we will run this discussion until 12:30 p.m. until we break for lunch. i want to ask people to keep your statements are your questions concise. >> thanks to each of you for leading this discussion. americans actually hate american democracy and i think that's
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part of our problem. i would like to thank mr. johnson for the image of the canoe. my name is philip. i'm from new york. i'm homeless. i take from what you've said that if i think -- if i sink, you sink. i have suffered long-term homelessness because -- despite a college degree. i want you to make homelessness and issue across the nation because we are seeing increasing criminalization of homeless people despite the fact that there is an increasing number of college-educated people and veterans among us. this is, of course, a particular question of interest to me. i am involved with advocates in new york city and would like to throw the issue out to the national party. that this issue becomes important to the party across the country. thanks very much.
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[applause] lenora fulani: i think homelessness is poverty. i organize homeless people all the time. it is a very important part of what it is we are doing. it is critical. what i teach homeless people is that, with all the pain and misery, they have to get out here and help to build this because that will make the difference. paul johnson: in arizona, we created the central arizona shelter that was an organization that started while i was in office. and i was involved in putting together. we put business leaders on that group because our legislature and others completely ignored the issue. it was amazing how after we put corporate people on that board that they came up with good processes and procedures. they did a good job of keeping
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the organization healthy. they also became a voice to the other side. a concept that i would stress to you today is understanding the importance of symbiotic mutualism. you have to find ways to take these issues and bring people together on them. to educate and listen to one another. it is much more healthy for democracy and has a much greater sustainability. [applause] tio hardiman: homelessness is part of my platform when i ran for governor in illinois. i will keep that up there. >> i am a third-year student at the university of north carolina at greensboro. i have a question for the panel. that social and structural change to a capitalistic society
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whose foundation is bound on -- built on perpetuating violence. that violence is poverty. making the rich richer. joan blades: things are brought to society by virtue of a ground of people. society will not reorganize itself. are you? our young people and rich people that care about these issues and everybody in between? it's the activity that we need to organize people. >> i am heather dimarco and i have a question. it is something that really intrigued me and i agreed with both of you that we should not
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be blaming social injustices on babies. how do you think of the psychological development of the whole nation culturally? we are very passive when it comes to things. we can change the laws but culturally, we have become very sick. and to think a woman and a child is not worth change is quite sad in this nation. how to you think we can use psychology through developing youth as a tool to change the platform for used to be more interested in political situations? [applause] joan blades: it's about getting mothers and their kids to show up. we had a great number show up in
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washington state for paid sick days. just two weeks ago. we can have substantial successes at local. some of the paid sick days have been happening in cities. and at the state level, start modeling good behavior. it is a big system and there's a lot to do. my hope is that doing some of this work now, it will start moving faster and faster. lenora fulani: can all the young people in the room stand or raise her hand? -- your hand? that's my answer. [applause] >> hello i am the president of
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independent voters of nevada. i just wanted to share an anecdote from my visit with jackie salit when you joke about -- sopkpoke about changing the conversation. we lobby our legislature and we are faced with the most conservative legislature we've had in 30 years. the fact that we can't get them to the polls to vote and change what happens in the legislature. how do we change the conversation to a more inclusive and less -- they don't like the language. how do we change that conversation? the entire room came undone. these are democratic leaders
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from the state. it's supposed to be a nonpartisan group. they spent 45 minutes doing that. i just wanted to share that. >> i apologize for the cell phone. i ran a campaign called sweeney 2013 on the democratic ticket. my campaign was run with just $4000. we had seven candidates. one the democratic candidate -- once the democratic candidate won the primary, it was a shoo-in. i am thankful to be here because i snuck out of the house. four-year-old son. how does the independent party groom its candidates? i'm not looking, i'm not frustrated i'm just a little tired of the same two-party system.
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when iran in that primary, they were very upset. my goal is to have an independent voice. i don't feel switching parties because i am angry at one party really does anything. i've heard a lot of things about homeless and poverty. i just wanted to put it out there that when you have candidates that previously ran somebody like myself, i came here before. last year. my question is this. had you vet the candidates that you put there? and is there a groundswell with the minorities in the middle class, upper lower middle-class? i'm involved in sunset park. there is conversation at the table about one party doesn't do
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anything. you will have a lot of voters that are unhappy with a lot of things that are going on. i video'd it and wanted to make sure i did not sound like an idiot when i was debating these guys. i think your party can probably make some inroads. i just wanted to thank you. good work. it you never know. there is room for change. [applause] >> there isn't a national conversation about poverty as dr. fulani said earlier. when we last met two years ago there has been created a
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prominent international conversation about persistent and growing inequality of wealth and income. in the u.s., interestingly, it started with grassroots organizing and protests by occupy wall street. it has gotten much bigger. republican presidential candidates having to address this issue. the wall street journal on monday having an op-ed piece which tried to refute the idea that government and the political system can do something about these conditions. and so my question is whether you have been at all thinking about how to relate this to the problem of political dysfunction. one of the most recent books did
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a study of 23 or so democracies around the world. it wealthy democracies. they found there was a direct relationship between the extent of inequality in wealth and income and structure of the political system in terms of how many the toes -- vtetos there were before something could become law. we have a congress, senate president, supreme court. what can be added to that from the independent movement is to point out that we have yet another dysfunction, the partisanship of the political parties. that it should be put into the equation in this national and international conversation about what can be done about changing the growing inequality of wealth and income. my question is, do you think we can intersect this?
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with the issue of political partisanship? lenora fulani: yes. [laughter] [applause] >> my name is doreen. hi my name is doreen. i'm from bcc and invited by dr. rafael mendez. this is the first time i have ever been to a program like this and i really liked it. lenora fulani: we like you. >> thank you. i am thinking about being an independent voter. [applause] if i assert myself to be a poor person and the government or the president is never allowed to say poor person or poor people but keep seeing the middle class, how will i know that
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there is someone there that will recognize my condition and help me get out of it? and also, i want to be an independent voter. if i vote for any independent candidate, what is the guarantee that this president is going to recognize my condition in society and help me out of it. lenora fulani: i have two quick things. we keep talking about voting for candidates but we are trying to transform what the process is. part of what independence should be doing as they run for office is working on that issue. whether they win or lose. that is the issue. if i run for president of the united states, and i won't, but the system is not going to change. we are trying to change things systematically.
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what was the first thing you said? the first question you asked? >> if the president is not -- lenora fulani: oh. you dump him. [laughter] [applause] i'm serious. that's what you do. obama did that. he went from talking about the poor when he first ran and the 92nd inauguration, he talked about middle classes. [applause] jackie salit: we are going to take two more people from this side and two more people from this side. keep your comments very short. everyone else, you will get a chance to talk in the second audience discussion. >> i am a member of u.s. -- u.x. cica and involved with kids. my question is this.
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we have been infiltrated, our government, by outside forces. how do we get rid of those people that are actually inside of the white house with their policies and their lobbies? and they are taking money out of the american public that we need here for education, the kids. how do we stop the maniacs? tio hardiman: one way to stop is you have to vote more independent candidates in. that is the reality right there. paul johnson: the comment was made earlier about how we vett people. allow everyone to ron and the top to get to the next level. -- to run, and the top to get to the next level. the voters.
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>> i'm a graduate and i've noticed the united states of america is really the divided rates of america. everything in this country is separated. age, color gender. everything. religion. everything is separated but we say we are united. if we would focus more on solutions to the problems instead of focusing on parties it give the people more of a voice, we would find better solutions to these problems. i don't believe that it's fair that only two parties dictate these directions of how the country grows. i believe that if we have this political reform where we just eliminate parties -- just
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eliminate the parties. i'm being frank. i will wrap it up. if the end of the day, it's the solution we need. i am pretty sure you know what is happening. at the end of the day, i tell my clients that at the end of the day, we need to speak up. to have a better voice so that the solutions can be made more apparently clear instead of parties dictating. [applause] >> hi, i'm richard and i have a question for the doctor. i love the video greeting this morning. i saw that wonderful picture of you in 1992 campaigning in the new hampshire democratic primary and that picture said above it, two roads are better than one.
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what you meant by that, two roads to run -- i'm running in the democratic primary in new hampshire and i'm running in the general election. if we had a top two system in the presidential election in 1992 you could not have run. one of your roads would have been taken away. i wonder how you feel about that? >> first of all, what i was speaking to was the reality of the political process at that time and i was supporting reverend jesse jackson because historically his campaign was important in the democratic primary and i ran myself as an independent because i knew that the democrat party was not going to give their primary position or presidential spot over to jesse. so i don't know if this is a trick question but that had
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historical meeting. the next time that i ran that i ran on a two-road strategy. i don't know what else to say. what is it that you don't like? >> i'm a san francisco voter. my ballot -- >> i love the top two. that's what you're speaking to. the reason i love two top is because i have watched in the communities that i'm most close and we see all over the country the same people run for office and the same people get elected. there is no challenge in the black community and other communities. you can be the dumbest person in the world but if you've been in office for 55 years there is nobody to have a debate with. i'm passionate about it because i want people to go in there and i want them to kick their butts.
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>> i'm a san francisco voter and my ballot had one republican and one democrat. so i did vote for the first time in 50 years. >> that's fine. >> thank you very much. >> and good to see you. >> my name is dominique edwards and i'm a student at north carolina greensboro i'm a dance major and psychology major. the myth i'd like to break you don't care in getting involved. i'm 20 years old and i promise we're with you guys. we are together and we work
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together. creativity is such a beautiful gift and doesn't just lie in the hearts of painters and musicians and dancers. it's in all of us of the finding new ways to do things is an outcome of creativity not because they don't want to change but because they're scared to be creative. i don't know what we can do about this because our school doesn't allow us to practice creativity in a way that sticks with us as strongly as it it should so it sticks with us in all areas of our lives. let's have another round of applause for our panelists. copping up on c-span a
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conversation with virginia congressman don beyer. later in case you missed it last month's conference of independent voters. they're they're now a conversation with freshman house member don beyer. joined us on ""washington
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journal". -- the c om>> wall street journal continues. host: douglas has been back for a week, but we get a perspective on the iranian deal from congressman don beyer. we just finished up a conversation with a state department official for iran. as you see it, from a congressional plan view, what is you -- is your take on the framework? guest: i was very surprised that the framework was as comprehensive as it was. i think we got everything we hoped for and more. my great hope is that, as the president has asked for, that there be a congressional debate, but that congress does not prove to be a stumbling block in the deal has been worked out with the p5 plus one and iran. as the president has said, this is the best chance we've had in a long time to go forward, a


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