tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 6, 2015 11:36pm-2:01am EDT
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 once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
host: you served formally as an abbasid or two switzerland inlet -- as an ambassador to switzerland in liechtenstein. in looking at this relationship between the u.s. and iran, where do things stand now? guest: i am optimistic. in 2009, the two big missions were of secrecy. to get the swiss government to agree to the enhanced sanctions. switzerland was at risk of being the whole of the donut in europe, the place iran would go to trade oil. and we have -- and our argument was we have to find some way to bring it to the table. when we finally bring them to the table and we get a framework agreement, this is a great step forward. we are where ahead of where we were just two years ago. host: the issue of iran will
land first and foremost next week with the senate. i want to play you some of the comments from senator bob corker, this set -- the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee and his concern over the deal expressed on fox news sunday yesterday. [video clip] >> one of the proposals being floated as a nonbinding vote by congress. you could disapprove the deal, but then the president could still go ahead and extend sanctions. is that acceptable? center corporate: -- senator corker: no, it's not. i think the bill we have laid out had strong bipartisan support. chairman menendez, who has stepped down, as we know, but chuck schumer supports this, tim kaine. there is strong bipartisan support for a binding vote in congress. the president needs to sell this
to the american people, and congress needs to be involved in this way. >> let me after the second question. the white house is that the president would veto the kind of legislation you are proposing. if you does, you don't need 51 votes or even 60 votes. you need 67 votes, which means 13 democrats to override his veto. do you have 67 votes? senator koerber: -- senator corker: i don't know if we have 67 votes or not, but we have 64 or 65 that we are aware of today. i talked to numbers of democrats over the weekend and i think there are many more that are considering this. look, i think the american people want the united states senate to go through the steel. -- this deal. they understand this is one of the most important geopolitical agreement that will take place
during this decade. this is an appropriate place to be. if the president feels like it's something that is good for the nation, surely you can sell this to the united states senate and the house. host: congressman don beyer your thoughts on the senate's role in this iranian deal. guest: i think senator corker is right that the congress does need to be involved. i think the congress does have a responsibly, which he is trying to fulfill, to sell this to the american people. but is also rented the same president that imposed the sanctions, -- but he is also right that the same power that gave the president the right to impose the sanctions gave him the right to listen. host: to join the conversation with our best, the numbers are on the screen. let's go to calls. mike is in monroe, georgia independent line. your first up. go ahead. caller: hey, guys, how are you
doing this morning? host: fine, thank you. caller: congressman, going above your pay grade and talking to us below your pay grade how do you answer about the inspection process given the last iaea president of it openly admitted that they lied about saddam hussein'as stuff even after they were in and kick out, in and kick out. how are we supposed to believe an independent agency that we have no representation in will be truthful to what they say? and i would appreciate a very honest answer. thank you. guest: we do actually have quite a bit of representation in the iaea. we have an american ambassador there. we have a significant michigan indiana, austria where there -- in vienna -- a significant
mission in vienna austria where they're located. the advisors have to come together for an independent audit. most importantly, we have been able to inspect all of their facilities. as the president said in this current framework, we will be able to inspect the uranium from their minds through the process to where does stored. that is a lot of inspection. host: going to the experience of the iraqi weapons specters, any concern that there will be things that will be missed guest: obviously, -- that will be missed? guest: there is obvious concern but we have to continue to work on it. we have gone 20 years without any infections in iran. now we will have unprecedented access. that is a huge step forward. host: rhode island, independent
line. caller: sir, i cannot disagree with you more. i was in the military and you scared me to death. first of all, we right now have found out about underground bunkers that they are processing plutonium in that we had no knowledge of and i can guarantee our inspectors will have no access to. that is number one. number two, if you are wrong how many children in the military do you have that you are willing to sacrifice to fight these people in the event that they come and bong us -- bomb us? and never three, why are you -- number three, why are you so against israel that you give them no say in this matter?
our president refused to talk to him. why? guest: thank you for your question about the military and sacrifices our military have made. we have already been involved in quite a few wars in the middle east. iraq one, a rack to -- iraq two, and now in syria. i think the major policy goal now is to avoid getting into another major war. as the presently that clear he -- clearly, it's not just avoiding war. iran without the steel could move very quickly and send forces in war posture. this is the single best option to avoid american loss of life, avoid having to use american or israeli military. and there is enormous difference of opinion within israel.
netanyahu is the premise are but not the only voice. i think what we are trying to do is make israel as secure as possible. no american president has done as much to strengthen israeli security at this one house. host: let's go to the calls. joe, democrat line. hi, joe, you're on the air. caller: good morning. usually when i call i say this is joe from the bronx, new york, a staunch democrat. what i want to say to you in reference to the topic we are discussing right now, when i speak to the people from main street, and those of the people i believe in, the people from main street, what they are saying is i wanted to try to talk to the republicans. you are the smart party.
the thing that the republicans are trying to do and you know that from the aca, this president, they want him to go down in history for having done things that president frady years are trying to do and make it -- that presidents have been trying to do for 80 years, make history. the only thing the democrats wanted to do was raise income, and they killed that. and now they are trying to oppose everything that is good for this country. host: joe, we will a you go there and get your thoughts. he mentioned main street. have you heard much from your constituents in virginia? guest: not a lot yet over the weekend. but i do know anything that
makes our heart -- our economy more secure and is good for business will affect our future. i don't think there is a smart party. i enjoy being in congress because there are a lot of smart people in both parties there. but i think humility has to come along with our so-called intelligence as we try to figure out what is going to be best for america and for the world. host: some look ahead to the debate that may be ahead on capitol hill, "the wall street journal" has a headline "political battle ramps up over iran." and the hill as well.
as a member of congress, who do you want to hear from to further strengthen your belief in the steel, your belief -- in this deal, your belief in the president? guest: eliot engel from new york and ed royce, the chair of the house foreign relations committee, they sent a strong letter to the president week or two ago about this deal. and i think this deal represents everything they asked for this letter. what i really hope for is that this does not become a democrat versus republican peace. as the president said in his interview with tom friedman yesterday, because netanyahu has concerns about the deal does not mean he should be aligning with house republicans are senate republicans. and because we like the deal does not mean it should be a democrat thing either. hopefully americans will be coming together.
as they say, political wars and at the water's edge. host: why do you think that's not so much anymore? guest: i don't really know, because certainly we have seen unprecedented support for israel with democratic and republican presidents alike since john kennedy forward. both republicans and democrats are upset with settlements and don't see that as a two state solution. and both parties together deeply believe in our responsibly to help secure israel's future. host: back to calls for congressman don beyer. in new jersey, hello. caller: good morning and thank you for taking my call. i just have a quick question. i'm wondering if anyone has taken any poll, or has gotten the polls of -- the pulse of the american people with this
decision with the decision that was made as far as the agreement. and also i noticed the iranian people were happy when their prime minister, whoever the sky -- whoever this guy is, but he brought the message back to them. also, the saudi arabians, the egyptians, and the jordanians, what do they feel about the agreement? do they feel that they will have to get nuclear weapons also? those are the questions i would like to know. host: ok, a lot on the table there. guest: to the point of the iranians celebrate this framework deal, i'm sure it's very true. their economy has been destroyed in the last several years by the sanctions that we have placed on them with the european union.
their growth rate, the devaluation of their currency, they have been a mess. anything that gives them relief. they were looking for a way out of the sanctions. someone described it perfectly -- we've let them keep the buildings, but taken out all the furniture. we gone from -- we got significantly down in centrifuges. we've gone from 10,000 down to 300 grams of enriched uranium. their plutonium has completely gone away. as i say, the buildings are there, but there's no ability to move out. by the way, netanyahu said in 1992 that iran was only a year or two away from making a bond and -- making a bomb and now it's 2015.
as far as the saudi's and the egyptians, some of this is tied up in sunni versus shiite. but also, we have been involved with the saudi's against iran all these many years. the possibility that there might be peace and reconciliation might be threatening to them. host: congressman don beyer is our guest. he is a freshman congressman from virginia. we are talking about your calls -- we are taking your calls and talking about the framework for the agreement with iran last week. on another note, you are set to replace chris van hollen as the finance chair of the congressional then democrat campaign committee. -- congressional democrat campaign committee. what is the biggest challenge for you to get quality candidates and take back the house in 2016? guest: that is the big question
in it, finding quality candidates. we need 30 seats. we are at 188 right now, which is the fewest democratically since harry truman was president. we had a tough year in 2010. we lost 65. and this last week, after the ebola scares and the isis beheadings, it was a pretty terrible election. one in three eligible americans even showed up to vote that day. our job is to get great candidates and for people to be excited enough to turn out. we expect some improvement. even if we can get 18 to 22 that is a big step in the right direction. host: it is early yet, but is your game plan any different from what congressman van hollen laid out? guest: i'm really on the fundraising side, as chris was the finance chair. lots of fundraising and trying to stick by the spirit and a
letter of all of the fdic ideas. i do not like united citizens decision is all. we want to help fund those candidates on the edge, the reds or blue or frontline candidates. and there will only be 60 or 70 of them that have a chance to win. some seats are safe for the republicans and some are safe for the democrats. we will be focusing on those seats that we have a chance. host: let's go back to calls. california, joseph on the independent line. caller: hello, and good morning everybody. i just want to remind everybody that israel got its nuclear weapons with their ally in south africa when they were in the apartheid regime. they were outright fascist. me being a black person, i don't think israel should have any nuclear weapons. i think we should put sanctions on israel to get rid of their nuclear weapons. guest: thank you, joseph.
one of the interesting things to come out of the last conference with the nonproliferation treaty, which iran has signed and israel has not signed, this frame is a big step in the right direction. israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons. i don't know they have them or not. certainly, it is a worthy goal that there be no nuclear weapons in the middle east. host: on the line from oklahoma, james. good morning. caller: good morning and thank you for taking my call. i totally agree with the guy that just talked about israel not having nuclear weapons either. mr. netanyahu, he came over and he lied to the american people and he also lied to his own people when he said he was against the two-party state right before he got elected, and then switched back and said, well, i am for the two party state.
i think the american people, especially the religious right here in america, should understand that without the united states netanyahu would not have a bed to sit on, much less to sleep in in israel right now. we are the guys holding those people up. i don't think you'll ever get the religious right here in america to agree with anything the democrats or obama will try to do with iran, any kind of agreement. they will just disagree with it over religious prejudice. and that to me in my mind is someone that likes to think about things -- as someone who likes to think about things, it's irrelevant. we do have a talking point.
we did finally get them to the table. but the israelis are extremely jealous of that. and as far as negotiating, they cannot even negotiate with the palestinians. we have every right to be over there, to talk to a ron -- to iran, and those people have a right to celebrate, because they are finally getting some of that stuff off their backs that they have been carrying around now for about 20 years. i will be celebrating, too, if i finally get a little food again. host: that is james. guest: thank you, james. john was on just before i was and he was one of the original hostages. he pointed out many years ago when he was deputy secretary that all those years only had 10,000 nuclear weapons aimed at the soviet union and they had
10,000 aimed at us, we always had an embassy there. we had a consulate and discussions. we haven't had an embassy in iran since 1980, i think. finally, to get a dialogue and the chance for peace, the chance for reconciliation, this is a good step forward. host: tony from pennsylvania, republican line. caller: i think obama gets a lot of credit. it's a good deal and it's a good chance to avoid war. my problem is all of the rhetoric against iran. correct me if i'm wrong. isn't it true that all the security agencies, including the saudi's, agree that iran has not attempted to make a nuclear weapon? isn't this a country that has not attacked anyone in 112 years? and i always hear the republicans saying the same line state sponsor of
terrorism. but when you talk about terrorism, isn't it israel that seems to bomb their neighbors at will in response to these sky rocket attacks and killed tens of thousands of people in lebanon and syria? who is the terrorist. -- who is the terrorist here? host: lots of questions. we will let congressman baier respond. guest: thank you for your perspective. there's a lot of history here. when i was ambassador in switzerland, switzerland represents us. this was ambassador would say, as much as we distrust the iranians and think they will cheat, the iranians distrust us going back to 1973 when we helped to overthrow their democratically elected president. it goes both ways. there is skepticism. my big problem with netanyahu when he came to speak to congress when he -- when the
they came to the idea of no deal is better than a bad deal, he did not discuss an alternative. there's this option that iran will hurry to make it bomb which brings on military action. that is what causes bloodshed. as we know from 1939 and 1914, was the first bullet flies, you cannot predict what will happen. host: were you in the house chamber during that meeting? guest: i was. i spoke out against the invitation. i thought it was very bad lyrical etiquette, very bad diplomacy. but also out of respect for the relationship between the united states and israel, i wanted to go and give him the respect of listening to the argument. host: you're a congressman from northern virginia. a lot of your constituents are federal employees. i wanted to ask you about the budget proposal, which is on the
front page of executive magazine. talking about ben cardin, "i will send in front of the bus to protect federal pay and benefits." talk about that. guest: it is more bad news unfortunately. ever since reagan we have been talking about getting government off the backs of our people. we tend to look at federal employees as a bad guys, but they are the good guys. since the 1960's, the private sector workforce has grown by 145%. the number of people in america has grown by 66 percent. in federal employees have grown by 9%. we are getting more and more work out of fewer people. in the last several years they got no raise at all. 1% last year. i think the president proposed 3% this year. it probably will not fully hold up in the negotiated budget. we are really trying to balance
the budget on the backs of federal employees. who are the ones helping to make our country so strong. we forget that our federal employees are the ones that protect us at the airport, and the fbi, border control -- border patrol, homeland security, so many things that are good things they do for us. host: massachusetts, bob, independent line. caller: good morning. my first comment is for those who are nervous about israel's reaction to the possibility of iran having a long -- a bomb. we should not forget that in 1963, we almost went to war over a small island 90 miles off the coast of florida that had, we discovered, nuclear tipped missiles from the soviet union. and the resulting deal wasn't to reduce them, move them over here, or reduce the payload, the deal was, get them off the
island entirely or we will strike you militarily. now, that was a long time ago and it was a different world but that was a nation that felt threatened. i understand israel's concern about this. my question is, how do we know with this deal that iran will do what it says is going to do with dropdead, boilerplate accuracy, no fooling around, total truth? how do we know that they will say what they will do? host: and i will add onto that, congressman baier, a tweet from robert who says, we had an ear agreement with north korea. we know how that turned out. why would this agreement be any different? can you cite the proposed proportion of the agreement guaranteeing unfettered inspections at anytime anywhere? guest: thank you bob, and sandy.
first, let's go back to the cuban missile crisis in october, 1962. the great challenge their, what people forget is that we also had nuclear tipped missiles in turkey on the soviet border. and the trade-off there, which doesn't get a lot of play, is that the soviets took their missiles out of cuba and we took hours out of turkey. there was a trade-off, just as there is with the sanctions right here. and the soviet union was feeling just as threatened by american missiles on their border as we were by cuban missiles 90 miles away. but on the issue of trust, too this is an issue in any treaty anytime. back to the soviet union, and 10,000 missiles each way, we are now and i believe, 1800, with a plan to go to one third of that. most people plan to go down to 600, and i'm sure the soviets fear that we would cheat and we fear that they would cheat also.
that is why we have so many infections. i cannot quote the framework agreement because it is many pages long and i have not memorize the whole thing, but there is unprecedented inspection of uranium from the line all the way to spent uranium. host: i want to let the listeners know we have a framework for the deal that was released last week. you will find it on our website www.c-span.org. but go to tampa, florida, mike on the democrats line. caller: good morning. i would just like to point out that we still have over 2.5 month to hammer out an agreement with iran. let's not get our hair on fire about this potential agreement. the other thing i would like to say is that let's not forget that the real nuclear flashpoint, or potential
flashpoint, is pakistan. let's not forget that they are the ones who sold equipment and know-how to korea. have a nice day. guest: thank you, mike. i think many foreign-policy experts believe that pakistan is far more problematic because they have so many nuclear weapons, and sometimes instability -- insecure stability in terms of leadership. there is already a bomb, for example. we have to be careful. what is lost in the debate with israel, too, is that the principle of destruction is very operative. do we ever think that iran could use a nuclear weapon without destroying its entire country? also with the issue of israel and cuba, if israel does have weapons, we have to think about the psychological impact it has on its many hostile neighbors. including iran iraq, saudi arabia, and others. host: here in new york city
tommy on the republican line. caller: i don't understand. why do we have to have a deal with them? justly the sanctions as they are. if we see that they are honest and complying, let loose in the sanctions. why give them anything? we don't have to give them nothing. do you remember 1979? they are the first ones who started this anti-american stuff. and like you said, you are a government employee. you democrats are worried about every other country. you don't worry about america. you are elected by americans. as you say, you're a government employee you -- to do great things for this country. don't worry about turkey and iran. worry about american people. you don't have to give into them. given to us. if you feel they are doing what they should be, then this led --
the sanctions little by little. guest: the way to move forward in a framework agreement is that the sanctions have not slowed down iran's nuclear processes at all. right now, they have 10,000 grams of enriched uranium. that 20,000. -- and 20,000 centrifuges. they have made enormous cave -- breakout capability, which could be realized in two or three years. we want to ensure that they will never have nuclear weapons. and it's not just iran, too. everyone understands that if iran actually build a nuclear weapon, then egypt and saudi arabia will be forced to do it very soon. israel might have to the same thing. you get a whole new wave of nuclear arms race, which we have not had since the nonproliferation treaty. this is a very important thing and it is about america. because instability in the middle east, as we've seen again and again it tends to dry and
american soldiers, american loss of life, and huge american financial costs. host: a couple of divergent views on the iranian deal on twitter. let's hear from richmond virginia, james on the independent line. welcome. caller: good morning and glad to be on. thanks for c-span. i have several things. first off, i support the treaty 100%. i just wish we could get israel in on the deal. and as far as the people saying we cannot trust them, how can anyone trust us? ire member we signed a treaty that we would not -- i remember we signed a treaty that we would not torture, and we tortured.
and we have about 150 house of representatives people -- i hope you were not one of them -- that goes over to israel on a fact-finding mission. and the only thing i found out that they found out was, naked politicians could not walk on water. i will listen to your comments now. guest: we clearly need international agreements on so many different things. they make the world a safer and better place. i think we want to bring the israeli people into this agreement as much as possible. the primary beneficiaries of this are the israeli people, and their security. there are huge american interest in this also. but we have kept them fully informed every part of the way and we continue to do that. host: on international agreements on other issues, the when climate change is this week
and the president announced new target goals of greenhouse gases mission reduction i 28%, delete believe, by the year 2020. -- i believe, by the year 2020. what does congress into due to affect that change? guest: i've been very frustrated and one of the primary reasons i ran for congress was to be a leading voice for climate change. and trying to take it out of this democrat versus republican kind of debate. in the post this morning, alec from the legislative council said it was not a crime to be a climate denier. many of the colleagues i've talked to privately have agreed that we need to work on ways to move forward. no country has made as much progress on greenhouse gas emissions as has the u.s. since 2009.
we have done a good job, but without legislation from congress. we could do a much better job with some of the interesting ideas coming out. host: to some of the con -- comments you have made about the death of climate change. they did some reporting on that. what is your take on their political act rating? guest: their death rate was worldwide from weather-related events. it was clearly a statistic. i will not use that statistic. and the bad part of that is that it takes us away from the real damage that is being done. and i don't the you can measure it so much in u.s. deaths right now. we are seeing diseases, and just illnesses related to respiratory things, wildfires, he related. the best leaders think long-term 10, 20, 30 years out. that is when climate change will have a big impact.
think about the nations that will disappear, like the maldives, or the 55 million and the dishes that will be displaced as the water dries up. -- bangladeshis that will disappear as the water dries up. host: what is the car industry's role in climate change are where is the car industry headed in terms of renewables and alternative fuel vehicles? guest: in a really good direction. i'm very excited about it. 1992 through 2008, our cafe standards were set at 22 miles per gallon and we make no progress. actually, we may come to a logical progress, but we turn it into bigger and heavier and faster cars. -- we made tons of technological progress, but we turned it into bigger and heavier and faster cars. we are much better off than we were. and you see manufacturer after
manufacturer coming up with new products. i drove a toyota to capitol hill a few books ago -- i don't sell them, by the way -- but it was fueled with hydrogen and gave off water. no carbon whatsoever. host: a couple more calls. here's alan ingber. -- here is alan in brooklyn. caller: there's a comparison here in the iranian argument by the republicans between real and immediate threats and make-believe threats. i think if they focused as much attention on the long-term danger to america of not attending to climate change as they focus on the possibility that the iranians will not respect their agreement 10 years from now. -- 10 years from now, we would be in very good shape toward viable climate policy. and likewise if the republicans would be motivated more by -- i
think the republicans are motivated more by denying obama a congressman. think back to 1980 when many of the viewers were not born yet, and they had this october surprise where bill casey repeatedly went to europe to negotiate with the iranians to hold back our hostages purely to deny election. and there is an element of that in the letter by representative cotton to try to poison the well not to hurt obama, but to poison success. i think we need to focus our long-term national interest on climate and iran. guest: alan, thanks for the perspective for survival long thought that the greatest national security challenge we face in the long run is climate change. certainly immediate needs syria, isis, and this framework with iran and others.
but if you look at what can affect billions of lives, it is what we are doing with our climate. i'm an amateur scientist, so i believe in humility. science is always contingent of the we learn new things everyday, but let's build on what we know now and we can always adjust. host: one more call here. here he, pennsylvania, laura. caller: first, the representative is fighting off a lot of calls this morning. there are a lot of americans who do not back israel. i think we give them an out a lot of money. it's a very's piece of land. -- a very small piece of land. those people ought to be all millionaires over there by now. but the thing that really started making me pay attention to this was a while ago, we had asked israel's military that we pay for you guys can stand
down. netanyahu was in charge and he said, screw you, america, we are going to go on the boat and they killed an american kid, a child. a 19-year-old kid. i don't know who else they killed. the boat was fine and they ended up letting it go through. this was israel for you. they gave us lip and we give them all this money. host: that incident, when did that happen? caller: that was a couple of years back. i don't know if the boat was going to pakistan or palestine or wherever it was going. it was on the news and everything. they shot our kid, a 19-year-old. even though we asked them not to go on the boat. host: we will get a response from congressman buyer -- congressman beyer.
guest: that was a complicated incident. it was in 2010, a turkish ship going to gaza. there was concern that there were weapons on the ship as opposed to only humanitarian goods. and i think there were 10 or 11 deaths as a result, and one american citizen. host: do you think as a result of this proposed iranian deal that it's likely that the white house last week announced military aid to egypt, that the administration would provide more military aid to israel? guest: i think the administration is very committed to israel, and saudi arabia, and egypt. we had conversations with leaders in both saudi arabia and egypt over the weekend assuring them that a framework deal with a ron did not mean we were abandoning legendary alliances with others. host: >> on the next washington
journal, economic correspondent nancy cook. about long-term unemployment numbers and the economy. then from the center for responsive politics will discuss residential campaign fund-raising rules. senator rand paul scheduled fund-raising announcement. then, the american press institute about the rolling stone magazine university of virginia brings dory. -- great story -- rape story. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. >> during this month, c-span is pleased to present the winning entries in this year's studentcam's video documentary competition. studentcam is c-span's annual student competition that encourages middle- and high-school students to think critically about issues that affect the nation. students were asked to create their documentary based on the theme "the three branches and you," to demonstrate how policy, law, or action by one of the three branches of government has
affected them or their community. cole sebastian, thomas norris, and amy gilbert from montgomery blair high school in silver spring, maryland, are one of our second prize winners. their documentary focus on the immigration of undocumented youth. announcer: 70,000 children alone, afraid, searching for hope, with no one to turn to escaping from lives of trauma and hoping to find a place to call home.
announcer: carlos flores aragon is one of the 70,000. he immigrated from honduras and was eventually placed in a home. he now lives in takoma park, maryland, with his foster family. announcer: the office of refugee resettlement, or the orr, and local programs for undocumented refugee minors, or urm, are working to find housing for these youth across the nation. but there are thousands more to come, and the orr does not have enough resources to process a huge number of unaccompanied minors. carlos is one of the lucky ones. but without government funding the programs that put him where he is could now clog up or even shut down.
the house of representatives must be willing to allocate enough funds to these programs to keep them running. these programs are what nurture the demographic that will shape the future of the american economy. the urm program consists of local programs nationwide that work to find undocumented refugee minors homes and futures in america. the program that found carlos a home is called lutheran social services, or lss. we met with the clinical supervisor of the urm program at lss. >> we recruit foster families. we train the families to work with the kids and also provide case management for any kids that are in foster care. we basically do that, but it is a specialized type of program for unaccompanied youth from other countries. all those services that a traditional kid in foster care would get, but knowing that there is a lot of cultural differences and things like that, the idea is that they are
getting prepared for when they age out of the foster care system that they are ready to live independently when they turn 21. announcer: recently, through an executive order from president obama and a new budget passed in the house, funds are being allocated to stem the flow of immigrants to the country, and over 5 million immigrants will be able to gain citizenship. large sums of money are now being used to support the large number of child immigrants coming into the u.s. >> well, all that money to support those kids comes kind of out of the same pool, also the office of refugee resettlement and that is, our programs. the concern was, rather than adding funding, they would just sort of take money away from other programs, such as refugee resettlement, to support youth programs. what we would hope for is that not that they would be taking money away, but rather they would be adding money to meet the need, rather than taking money away from places where there is already a need. announcer: success in the
american workforce and the american education system can be extremely difficult for urm's without programs such as lutheran social services. >> well, the value is that they are providing all the necessary social services that these children and youth need. announcer: bill ecenbarger is an attorney who often works with refugee children. bill: and they are often -- there are issues involving serious trauma. they have been oftentimes emotionally, physical abused sometimes trafficked, so they need mental health services a lot of times. lutheran services also provide a case manager who checks in with them periodically and they work on life skills, just learning to cook and clean on their own and take care of themselves, basically. they help get them job training. they often help put them in the right educational program. a lot of these youth come and they are 15, 16, 17 years old, and they have very little formal
education. announcer: many americans believe that the u.s. government should not be helping any immigrants in any way. they believe that immigrants will steal american jobs and increase crime. secretary of labor of the united states thomas perez was able to explain why immigrants are so important to a prosperous economy. secretary perez: well, america is a nation of immigrants. immigrants have helped build america. immigrants are more likely to have a college degree than native-born immigrants. something like one in four workers in the health care field is an immigrant. so immigrants from the beginning of time have been a robust part of our nation's economy. and what we see in other countries who do not have the robust immigration patterns that we have -- countries like japan -- they are confronting a workforce crisis because they are not replenishing the workforce. and one thing that immigrants do as well is they contribute to
the social security trust fund. that is our system, and it relies for its success on a robust cadre of workers, and immigrants provide that labor. bill: i do notice a lot of -- that the youth who come through the urm program are much more highly motivated. they want to be a part of society. they want to work hard. they want to really attain the american dream and often are able to give back to society in a lot of useful ways. announcer: those who oppose the assimilation of immigrants claim that immigrants are un-american. but there is nothing more american. when one describes the american dream, there is no dream closer to that than the dreams of the children that come across our borders. the urm programs are essential to the success of the demographic that is most essential to the success of america. if these programs lose their funding, young immigrants will not be able to grow into the contributing members of society that america needs.
announcer: to watch all of the winning videos and to learn more about the competition and watch the videos, go to c-span.org and click on studentcam. also, tell us what you think about the issue these students addressed in their documentary on facebook and on twitter. >> next, representatives steve russell of oklahoma talks about his new role as a member of congress and his previous career in the u.s. army. he represents oklahoma city district, including oklahoma city and shiny. he sat down with c-span last month. host: congressman steve russell from oklahoma's fifth congressional district is a freshman representative. a few months into the job, is it what you expected? rep. russell: i think the legislative pieces are. i had served a term in the state senate in oklahoma so i got to
see how the sausage is made and whether you are playing junior varsity or pros, the rules are about the same, just one is bigger. in terms of the dynamics, i think the surprising thing has been a lot of the division and gridlock we often get accused of. it's surprising that it is not fomented by us, it is outside groups that seem to profit from that division and dust it up to raise money. host: how do you fix it? rep. russell: i think you fix it by -- the american public has such a low opinion of congress. yet, most people like their particular congressman or congresswoman. i think trusting us a little bit that the things that we are trying to communicate back, if they're in contradiction to the
"i love america" or "i hate america" pact, whichever it might be -- maybe take the information we have and realize there is some truth behind it. host: walk us through your routine. oklahoma is not the easiest place to get to from washington, d.c. how often are you in washington? what is your daily routine here and then when you go back to your district? rep. russell: oklahoma city is in the middle of the country and it takes time to get here. i will typically be here -- not every weekend do i go home. some weekends, there are things to do. if there is a particular large bill that will be in markup in committee, 700 pages long, that takes time to read. so i try to do due diligence. other times, i was a national speaker for eight years with the premier speakers bureau and
traveled all over the country and still do some of that. although, the rules have changed. i still get around. i was in missouri this past weekend. i won't get home every weekend but i try to get home about two weekends a month and then i will be here the remainder of the time. or in and out from here. host: why did you decide to run for congress and when did you first think of public office? rep. russell: politics has been a surprising path. i retired from the united states army, in the infantry, in 2006. i had been deployed three out of five years, so it was pretty hard on my family. my oldest daughter at the time was a senior in high school, so i wanted to settle all of our kids the last chance we had so i took it.
i did a lot of veterans advocacy work, traveled around the country trying to take my personal story to convince people to back our troops while they are fighting rather than bickering about it. let them get it done. in the course of that, that gathered the attention of politico's and others and party officials. before i knew it, i was approached to run for state senate in oklahoma and ran in 2008. did a term there. left in 2012 under my own volition. did my business, i have a rifle manufacturing business and i wanted to pursue that and then my book and my speaking. coming to congress really was not even on the horizon. it was a result of when senator dr. tom coburn decided to retire early. james lankford successfully ran for his seat, but in doing so it vacated oklahoma's fifth district.
i looked at it. i could see a path to get there and i thought i don't want to look back on my life thinking maybe i could've helped my country and did not try. i thought win or lose, i will try. the people of oklahoma sent me here. it has been a real honor. host: you come from a long military tradition -- the army in particular. talk about that and why you decided to begin your career in the military. rep. russell: my ancestors go all the way back to the revolution serving in uniform. my sixth and seventh great-grandfathers were captured in 1780 by the british and were imprisoned in detroit until the treaty of paris. they were eventually released. nearly every major war since that time on one side of the family or the other. i always wanted to be a soldier. most of my family were not
career soldiers, but they did serve. my brother served eight years in the navy. my dad served in 1953. it was something in our family it was always an interest, a topic of discussion with relatives. anyone that knew me as a child would not be surprised i became a soldier. host: where did you grow up? how many in your family? where did you go to college? rep. russell: i grew up in del city, oklahoma. as far as we can ascertain, i'm the only federally elected congressman to ever come from del city. a small suburb of oklahoma city. i have an older sister and then an older brother. he is in the middle of the three of us. i had a four-year army scholarship, rotc scholarship and that allowed me to go to college.
i went to university and got a degree in public speaking in debate. i never thought i would use it for a living. i just thought if they will give you a degree for talking, sign me up. i was trying to get a commission in the united states army. and it was something i enjoyed. so, it turned out to be a good decision on many levels. i met my wife there. we have been married 30 years this year. embarked on a military career. host: what is the key to being a successful public speaker and what is your approach? rep. russell: i think the most effective speakers are those that can relay stories. we see that through so many examples. christ, sermon on the mound or -- on the mount or in prabbles he would tell tore -- in
parables, he would tell stories and connect with people. you would also see many in history, the great orators, they don't do it on the fly. abraham lincoln, gettysburg address -- prepared remarks. winston churchill, might have looked like it wasn't, but he had prepared remarks. martin luther king, prepared remarks. oftentimes, if you go to the podium meandering, it comes across as, well, meandering. i think the diligence behind it and then to make it appear natural and connect with stories, people can relate to that. host: how influential were your parents in your life growing up and as you pursued your career? rep. russell: very influential. i nearly died several times from birth. i almost died at that time. i had the opposite blood type of my mother. the rh factor was different.
she had had a couple of miscarriages prior to me and i nearly died at birth. she has always told me that i was her little fighter. that does something to a child. that you are not going to quit you are going to persevere and stay with something until you get it done. i survived a bout of appendicitis. my appendix ruptured. it was about six or seven hours before i had any medical attention to do with that. i did not know what it was. i felt better after it ruptured. peritonitis set in, i was in intensive care for weeks, two major surgeries. my folks at that time thought they were going to lose me. host: you didn't know it ruptured? rep. russell: i didn't. i had a stomach ache, things hurt and suddenly it felt better. the pressure was relieved. then i went outside and played. it was on a saturday. by that night, i was doubled over blind in pain.
i remember asking my mother during that time, i asked her am i going to die? she was honest with me and she says we don't know. she said we are praying and we believe you will make it. i appreciated that. it made me want to fight that much harder. on the heels of that, prior to that -- oklahoma, no stranger to tornadoes -- i was in a devastating tornado at my grandparents and it killed a neighborhood girl next door to them and leveled the entire area. we crawled out from under mattresses in a small tin building because the alternative was to be in trailers, which was not a good idea. i have always felt that we are pretty much immortal until god is done with us and then at that point, it is time. i've not really given it a whole
lot of thought. i approached it that way in combat. i think those childhood experiences conveyed that if there is some plan that i am meant to fulfill and i am diligent, then perhaps it can be done. if not, then all of my efforts are not going to matter. i certainly had that kind of faith when i was in combat. host: you are not afraid of death? rep. russell: i'm really not. the act of it is not too thrilling, but as far as what would happen afterwards, i'm really not. i know christ is my lord and savior and i take that faith very seriously as most of our framers and founders of this country have. it should be no surprise to millions of americans who hold similar faith. i take great comfort in that that were something to happen, i believe that i will be eternally secure because he promised if i would believe in him, i would have eternal life.
host: with any experiences in your life, has your faith been tested? rep. russell: it absolutely has. in battle, your faith plays a tremendous role. i've had to do some terrible things. processing that has been a long journey. as an infantryman, you are not dealing with electronics or working with some machine, you are on the front lines. you are carrying a rifle bayonet, grenades, ammo, water -- the basic implements. and with those organizations they are the ones that are designed to go find the enemy, not just react to them. in my excursions, we certainly found a lot of different enemies. i have had to watch friends get hit. i've lost some soldiers.
very, very tough to deal with. i have had to take human life and fight my way out of ambushes. those experiences are, they stay with you your entire life. but, they are not insurmountable. i try to relay to people if you were in a horrible car wreck or some devastating storm or something traumatic, it would impact and shape your life, but it does not mean you don't function. it means you take those experiences and they shape you for your future experiences. that is how my faith has helped me process those battle experiences. host: one of those enemies saddam hussein, the book behind you, now in paperback, "we got him," what happened? rep. russell: i had the privilege to command an infantry in tikrit, iraq. it was 1000 soldiers.
we were there in 2003-2004. we got involved largely due to geography. it was not something that, where we thought specifically we would go find saddam. we were an infantry battalion task force that was occupying his hometown. it became readily apparent very quickly that saddam was probably being harbored there. we got incredible information, intelligence and we began to work that. we worked that with a number of other teams. two special operation forces teams over a six-month period. we worked very, very closely with. we developed from the ground up a lot of our own intelligence. my commander, colonel jim hickey, who works on the senate staff now, was a marvelous warrior. general ray ordierno was our commander in the fourth infantry division. those were my two immediate commanders.
they gave me great latitude. i'm very grateful for their bravery and trust. we worked together as a team. my unit was not the only one involved, but was one of about half a dozen. it was very humbling to participate in that time. to lead the raids. we nearly captured saddam in the summer of 2003. we did not get him, but we got personal effects, papers, $10 million in cash, $2 million in jewelry. it turns out, he was captured six months after that raid across the river. you could see the two places from one another. you could see his home, where i had soldiers using it as an outpost, all three could see each other. it was really interesting and i count it a great privilege to have participated in that. i give great credit to all the units involved.
my book, it has been noted for its vivid detail and a lot of the experiences we went through. that was very important to me coming home was to tell our portion of it. it was to make sure it did get told so it did not get erased from history. host: during all of this, you and your wife raising five children, three adopted from hungary. explain how that came about. rep. russell: we had two children at the time and we wanted more. she was concerned about some flareups of childhood arthritis. with each pregnancy there was a chance that could recur so we began to look at adoption. we were stationed in europe at the time. i went to a men's conference in germany.
there was an army doctor and he had adopted two boys from hungary. worked in an orphanage there. one thing led to another, we began to explore how he did that process. then we used a facilitator, a marvelous lady who lives in san diego, she and her husband with their two very small children -- the oldest was 18 months -- in the hungarian revolt of 1956 they fled. they made it over the mountains into austria. vice president nixon at the refugee camp picked five families to become instant u.s. citizens and they were one of the families. a miracle story. she worked for the department of defense for years after that. when she retired, she began to work to place orphan children in hungary with soldiers because she has such love for the military having worked around it. one thing led to another and we adopted a set of orphan siblings. they were five, six and eight in 2000.
host: where are they all now? rep. russell: oklahoma city metro area. my oldest daughter, she's graduated from college, runs a business. my oldest son works for hitachi. they are all doing pretty good. trying to find their way. i got them all to 18 without incident or crime. i'm thankful for that. now, it's on them to make a good life of their own. i'm very proud of them. host: what about your life here in washington as a member of congress? what do you want to achieve? what's your objective? rep. russell: i think the main thing is that we need to get back to the basics of life liberty and property. the government has a federal role. abraham lincoln put it really well when he said those things that we can do ourselves, the government ought not interfere. those things collectively we
cannot accomplish, the government may have a role. i think we should keep it in that perspective. it is tempting for the government to want to take over every aspect of our lives but that is not something we need to do. the american people are resilient. they largely want to be left alone. they want to have fruit of their labor. they're willing to pay some taxes for roads and schools and things we all need. but, they don't want a government that tells them what to eat, what to drink, how to be clothed, how much they can do that or the other. the american innovative spirit has always defied that and it still does today. i hope to bring that reminder, as we go back and look at our framing documents here in this town -- magnificent to see them -- they remind us we can pursue that happiness, that we do have life, liberty and property.
the government has to protect those things and also promote good policy to protect those things, not take away and encroach upon it. host: can you carry on with those principles and yet also compromise with democrats? rep. russell: sure, i think the framing of the constitution was a giant compromise. you had the states that wanted autonomy. you had a need for a road, communication and defense system that they could not really provide. so, they were willing to ditch the articles of confederation for the constitution. they labored over it. john jay, james madison, alexander hamilton, many others -- they debated, studied and looked at past democracies and wondered why they failed and determined we needed a republic, a representative republic with checks and balances so that one
side could not usurp the other and then even divide it further among the branches. when you hear complaints about you can't get anything done in washington, it was designed that way. it was designed so there would be competing interests. i think when you come to overlapping circles of need, that is where you can find compromise. that is where you can find the things that most americans can get behind and you can do. already seeing it and doing some of it. my dad was a democrat, my mom a republican. i grew up in a house divided. i think it is important to listen to both sides. no person has all knowledge. i learn something from everybody i talk to. i think it is important that we keep that perspective. at a minimum, we will be more solidified in defending our beliefs that they were correct but an alternative, we may gain
new information that persuades us to a better view. you cannot do that if you don't build relationships and don't reach across and talk to one another. that is a problem. we have to work on that more. host: any thought on how long you intend to serve? have you thought about that? rep. russell: i have not thought about that. i just find it amazing i am here. i'm very humbled and honored. i think as long as the people of oklahoma feel i can represent them well, i'm enjoying the work. i would not say i like the work, that is a strong word, but i do enjoy it. i feel equipped for it, i have life experiences as a businessman, as a soldier, as an author. a speaker. i bring a lot to the table. i have worked with teams my entire life, building them, leading them. solving tremendous problems. so, i feel equipped to be here
and i hope to be useful to the country for as long as that is practical. host: my final question on the personal side -- what is the biggest challenge of being a member of congress? rep. russell: your time is completely consumed by handlers and others. i think having time for my faith, for my family -- i'm fortunate that with our kids being grown, we travel back and forth together. the government does not pay for us to keep an apartment here or her travel to come up, but there is a cost if you don't. we are rather fond of each other after all of these years. we have determined we want to do that. she has been a great support to me. i think building those types of margins in your life so that you can take a step back with a
fresh look and then, as a warrior, i have tried to keep fit my entire life. it allows me to have a clear head and good energy. finding time for that has been a challenge, but it is doable. host: congressman steve russell of oklahoma, thank you for your time. rep. russell: thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> each night this week at 9:00 p.m. eastern, conversations with a few new members of congress. >> when you raised your hand and took the oath of office what were your mom and dad thinking? >> i knew my mom would be crying and my dad was proud and it was funny, my dad is 82-year-old, he usually walks with a cane, he showed up and didn't have a cane. i said, do i need to send someone to your hotel and get your cane. he straightens up real stiff and said, i'm in the capitol, i don't need a cane today. he walked without his cane for the entire dayism know they were
super proud. >> five newest members of congress talk about their careers and personal lives and share insight about how things work on capitol hill. join us for all their conversations each night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. >> a conference of independent voters met in new york last month, that's next on c-span. then a conversation on wages corporations and the economy. and later, a look at the advancements in battery technology. kentucky senator rand paul will officially announce his bid for the presidency tomorrow. senator paul would become the second candidate in what is expected to be a crowded g.o.p. presidential race. we'll have live coverage from louisville kentucky, at noon eastern here on c-span. later in the day iraq's
ambassador to the u.s. will talk about some of the military and political challenges facing the country. live coverage from the middle east institute starts at 3:00 eastern. self-identified political independents met in new york city last month. coming up, we'll hear from jackie salit who wrote "independent rising," the committee for a unified independent party hosted this event. >> please welcome to the stage the chairman from united independents of illinois, david cherry, along with the pollster who helped get mike bloomberg elected, doug schoen.
doug schoen: jackie salit has been in front of the front lines and begin depended movement before there was an independent movement. i am proud to have worked with her for 25 years. as a colleague and as one of her students. she has taken the movement from a party-based movement, as it was during the reform party days to move beyond parties, to organizing and empowering independents without a political party, and creating new tools for the exercise of power and bringing people together across ideological lines. for 30 years, she has been willing to speak out against any kind of effort to cripple or subdue the independent movement. whether it came from a republican, a democrat, or even
an independent. here is a quick look back at a few of those moments. >> the reform party is a sham. >> the attitude that calls the reform party a sham, it is that attitude that inspires millions of americans to become involved. it does matter what the attitude is, because that is the kind of dismissive attitude that -- there are lots of people in the progressive movement who are concerned about the possibility of a less-center-right coalition that is populist, that breaks up the old coalitions, your magazine recently ran an article attacking the buchanan sit down with dr. lenora fulani, a leading figure in the reform party, because of concerns that
the populist left-right coalition will have too much of an appeal to your constituents and to the base of the democratic party. and i think you should be afraid. >> progressives just don't have the full clout. without compromising the principles, they can enter into these ad hoc alliances, and that is the only way they will prevail. jackie salit: i think you make an error when you focus on using independent politics as a mechanism to quote unquote move the democratic party to the left . what the left has to do is get out of the democratic party, out of the confines of political correctness, and go to the american people. >> you are a member? i am aim member -- a member of the anti-party. [applause]
>> thank you for the kind introduction and thank you for having me to your biannual conference yet again. i sent to cathy stewart that this has become a growing, and i daresay enduring, pleasure for me to have a chance to introduce jackie salit. i say growing pleasure, because as a political consultant, you are supposed to advise. you are supposed to be all-knowing. the truth is, jackie has been one of my teachers, too. i began in, i think, the introduction suggested, as someone who worked with mike bloomberg. it was a fusion effort. it was a republican and independent party workers and advocates in 2001. low and behold, what we learned in the election, and this is a
statistical fact, is that mike bloomberg would not have been elected mayor without votes on the independent party line. i think he governed for most of the 12 years when he was mayor as effectively as an independent mayor. i think that is due in large measure, and insubstantial amount, to the work of the independent party, and jackie salit personally. jackie is and remains a teacher of mine, because there is a huge agenda that we will be discussing today, that people like jackie, all of you and i daresay, me, have been working on. yes, open primaries. yes, political reform. yes, recognizing that the largest single political grouping in america, according to gallup, and david said it, our independence -- are
independents. somewhere north of 40% are independents. let me say some other things about jackie personally. this is important. i don't have to make clear to anyone in this room how tough it is to be an independent. what i've said to people as i have worked all over the world the toughest country in the world that i found to work outside the boundaries of established parties is the u.s. that is very sad, but all too true. jackie has been a leader for the 30-odd years she has been involved in opening up the process. she is unique in that she is a compassionate, giving, and loyal person. she is a thoughtful person, and she sees the big pic her. she is able to discuss
grassroots politics, coalitions, and the larger challenges of the movement. there is an effort in this country to open up the political process. open primaries political reform, in terms of campaign contributions. but also, in terms of redistricting as well. the party leaders do not take advantage of their inherent advantages in various legislatures to rig things against the people. i have never been more optimistic about the urgency and necessity for reform, then now. i am, frankly, completely, completely convinced that with the work of people like jackie, success will be achieved, if not this year, in the future. this one thing that this attendance on a rainy day in the winter shows, as before, is that
the commitment of independents is as strong as it has ever been , if not stronger. one final word. in hearing people's biographies and hearing people ask commitment to independent politics many having left established parties, i am left with one thought, which i think is of seminal importance. nobody would have had the commitment they have, the success they have had, and the interest and passion, but for the leadership of jackie salit. i consider myself someone to have benefited in or mislead intellectually, personally, and professionally, from my friend who i am proud to -- i was going to say endorse, but endorse and introduce, jackie salit. thank you very much. [applause]
sarah lyons for putting that beautiful video together. [applause] wow. our america, there it was. it was fun also, looking at the clip of myself, i had not seen them for a long time until the staff pulled them out for this purpose. that was kind of cool. the first one, actually, the one where i am arguing with john, i liked that one, for a couple reasons. one, it was my first national television appearance since i was miss bosco on the bozo the clown show. [laughter] for those of you of an appropriate age, it was in -- a
popular television show in the 60's and 70's. i was on that show, and i got to drink a glass of chocolate milk on national tv. i realize, of course, afterwards, that it was great training for the later part of my career. [laughter] because i had no idea how many bozos i would be on television with. [applause] so that was good. but the other thing is, the appearance with john, which was in the mid-90's, john was -- you get a sample of it he was very worked up on the show and i responded. this was before, as i said, it was my first appearance on national tv. i had not yet learned that what you do when someone comes at you in an adversary comes at you and attacks you, is that you kick them in the teeth, and then, you
smile. i had not learned the smile part yet. i am very glad -- grim in that. in the fox peas, 20 years later, i say, i am in the anti-party. ha ha ha. i learned to smile at the end of everything. the fox piece, that actually captured something about a turning point in the movement, which david cherry referenced in his introduction to me about the shift from party-based organizing to organizing independents without a political party. but as a force. as a lever against the defects and dysfunction and frankly, the inhumanity of the political
system as it is currently organized and based in the two parties. what we have seen over the last 20 years has been a very very steady growth in the size of the number of independents in this country. doug and david referenced it. in the year 2000, the presentence of -- the percentage of americans who were independents was 35%. as of now, it is about 42%. that number is, in my view and i think, in the view of a lot of people, is a very meaningful number. it is a very meaningful phenomenon. we have seen, of course, as the size of the independent voter block has grown, one of the things that happens in response to that, at least initially, is an attempt by a lot of the
powers that be to minimize that, or to paint a picture that suggests that that is really not that meaningful, or not that significant, the fact that 42% of the country have this aligned, in terms -- disaligh ned in terms of their politics. the establishment tries to the little bat and interpret that a way, if you will. that is taken the form of, well, 40 2% may say they are independents, but they are not really independents, because when it comes to the election time, they vote for democrats or republicans. in most elections, that is the only choice people have. i think that fact, that fact of political life in america which simply does not go away, no matter how much the party or
political professionals or the media try to marginalize it or paint it as something that is casual or does not have real political and historic significance for the country, no matter how much that goes on, those numbers and that movement continued to take hold. and, while it is not the case yet, that this phenomenon, this independent disalignment, has developed into a full blown american seachange, a full-blown movement that is able to create and move an agenda to change the culture of politics, that has not happened yet. that is what we are working on. but i do see and this is part of what i wanted to share with you briefly this morning, i do see a growing number of
situations and circumstances and conflicts, if you well, that are going on around the country that i think are important, because they show that, as much as the political establishment might want to try and put the genie back in the bottle, they can't. they can't do it. for example, just to give you a sense of what i am talking about, we all know of course that in california voters, in their great wisdom in the year 2010 voted to transform the election system in the state of california, and they and acted -- enacted a top to system. for those of you not familiar with the different systems, what the california system basically does, what the voters did is, they said, look. here is a fundamental principle
that we will operate with. this principle of the electoral process has to be that every voter has full access to every stage of the political process without having to join a political organization as a condition for entry into the political process. and so the top-two system was adopted in california in order to enforce that principle. and that the game -- that became the law of the land in california. i see my california friends in the audience. [applause] that was a huge victory. and so, naturally as you might imagine, when this system was passed and implemented immediately, all of the power players tried to do -- tried to figure out what to do about it.
could they overturn it? could they cut some sort of deal that would in ely rate -- emilia rate the effects of that. i said, let's have become precision. let's deal with the issues. let's break it down. but most of all, let's do that in such a way that we can bring the people of california the people of america, all of the people into the process of saying what kind of democracy we want to have. that is our job. that is our job. [applause] so, in california, i wanted to share this with you, this tickled me a bit. recently, the university of california-berkeley journal of politics and policy came out with their february edition. the entire addition was devoted to an analysis of the impact of top two. they published 15 articles
written by 18 political scientists. let me just say, generally speaking, the attitude of these political scientists towards this new system was not sympathetic. not sympathetic. i wanted to share with you some of the titles of the articles, because i got a kick out of this. they are kind of scary. these are political scientists. if you were -- if you even buy the idea that there is a science, that political scientists are experts in, which i don't, but i find it entertaining. they came up with scary titles. top two, too soon to tell? why the top two primary fails california voters. here is my favorite. is california's top two primary
bad for women candidates? guess what the answer was? [laughter] but as i say, this is a good ink. it is good to bring these issues out. it is good for the opposition to have to put their cards on the table. it is good for us to have to argue, why this system is a better system for the voters, for the people of this country. that is part of what i want us to talk about today in the panels we are holding. we have some incredible leaders with incredible expertise and vast experience in community organizing, in holding public office and fighting for democracy and political reform in fighting as outsiders and fighting as insiders. i want to use this time, and use their experience, to dig deeper into these issues. i think they are so very important. the thing about this that i really want you to understand is, part of what happens when
you open these issues up, when you bring them out into the public square, is that people are forced to take positions on things and they actually get thrown off their gain. they get thrown off their game. that shows you the power of what it is we are doing the power of focusing on structural political change. it does not fit into the traditional ideological category. it really scuttles the conventional political wisdom. it forces people to do things that get there off their -- get them off their game. after the california pisa's came out, and a number of folks who were ardent supporters and defenders of top two like john updike, wrote pieces that were published in the papers that refuted what
the uc berkeley journal said. this provoked a lot more conversation from a lot of different places, including a very very histrionic response from a guy, the founder of daily kos, considered a radical left wing of the democratic party. here is what happened with the daily kos guy. he wrote an article criticizing top two. he said, here is the basic thing that is wrong with top two. top two promised that it was going to deliver a more moderate legislature. but it didn't. so now we know that it is a bad system. he was very perplexed on several accounts. first, top tube does not promise
a more moderate legislator. some may advocate for it on that basis, but that is not its promise. the second thing, and the most important ring, daily kos has based its entire political career -- what do you want? do you want moderate? what exactly are you going for here? the reason why i think this is important, is that this is an example of, in this case, a political player being thrown off their game. the existing categories don't apply. you can't invoke the same things, the same arguments and level of political appeal. you can't invoke those things because top two readers -- read
a straight bank reform, the whole gambit of political change elements that our movement is interested in, and let me say by the way, there is a broad cross-section of issues people bring to the table on the structural political reform part. that is good. not everyone agrees with everybody on these issues. we will see that in some of our panels. i think that is a good ink. i am happy about. i want to have open, honest, direct dialogue about these issues. these are important issues for the country. but the thing to see about this is, the way our movement grows and perhaps this is maybe the core message i want to give you today, is that it grows because changing the game is not something that happens up here. it is something that happens in the real crucible, in the real
day-to-day life, in the new political battles, in the new political conflicts that are enfolding in this country. that is how the game changes. in the state of mississippi the open primary system, through politics -- threw the system into turmoil. mississippi is an open primary state controlled by republicans. in the internal lectins -- in the midterm elections, the incumbent senator, thad cochran was challenged by chris mcdaniel in the primary. he did not receive enough votes to win the republican nomination without a runoff. so, that race went to a runoff
in mississippi. the race was between thad cochran, a somewhat moderate republican senator, and a very social conservative tea party candidate on the far right. so what happened in that situation? cochran and his people, smartly went out to the black leadership in mississippi and they said, you know what? we want to come to you and make an appeal to you to bring out lack of voters in -- black voters in this election and support of senator cochran, and use the fact that there is an open primary in this state, and anybody can vote in this runoff, you don't have to be a member of the republican party because it is an open primary. anybody can vote in the runoff. ring this community into this election to defeat the far right . we will expand our support for the things we are trying to bring into the african-american
community to deal with issues you are concerned with. what use your political mobility to defeat the right. and that is what happened in that election. that is what happened, because it was an open primary. i am not sitting you're advocating for thad cochran or any such thing. he is not my cup of tea. he is more my cup of tea even the tea party, but we will leave that open for discussion. the point is, this situation has gotten everybody in mississippi into an uproar. this thing happen that wasn't supposed to happen. voters who were supposed to vote actually went over here and voted. they produced an outcome that was not expected. voters did something they weren't supposed to do. in this case, african-american voters did something other than vote for a democrat. the world is changing. the world is changing. that's right.
one of the reasons we advocate and work so hard for political reforms that open up the political process, is that we want to give voters, and we want to give communities, the opportunity to do something different, to use their power to use their vote, to create different kinds of outcomes, to upset the apple cart, to change the game and make it a case that the politicians and the parties can no longer rely on the conventional wisdom to determine how they run elections, how they govern, and how they represent the people of this country. that has got to change. [applause] i got a call from a reporter at political a few weeks ago -- at politico a few weeks ago, to talk about a set of things that were going on, were there were
challenges to open primaries and the states that have them. we are talking about montana mississippi, tennessee, hawaii south carolina, a whole load of things. we talked about, you have right-wing elements of the republican party trying to get the primaries closed in certain states and make the case that you have to join the party to participate in the primary and democrats are doing that in some places. anyway, we are having this conversation, he is asking me questions and i am filling human. finally, he says, here is what i do not understand. what i don't understand about this, about this seeming aggressiveness and acceleration of aggression on the part of the parties against independents what i don't understand is, it seems to me that what has been
happening, other than california and washington state, every time an open primary initiative is put on the ballot, whether it is a new york or in arizona in 2012, or in orgenegon twice wherever it goes on the ballot it loses. the independents and reformers get between 30-35% of the vote. and they lose. he says, given that, how come you are being so aggressive? they are winning at the ballot box. how come you are being so aggressive? so i said, that is such a good question. it really goes to the heart of the matter. it takes time to build a movement that can perform in
certain ways at the ballot box. it takes time, development history to make that happen. but, i think the reason the parties are being so aggressive in this regard, is that they know that the american people are on to them. they know that the dissatisfaction that they are seeing in the polling, we all know the numbers of how people feel about congress and how -- you know, the lowest rating ever in the history, 9% of people think they are doing a good job, that kind of stuff. they know, in my opinion, they know that it is not just about what is happening at the ballot box right now. or what is showing up in the polls right now. they know that. they know that the dysfunction
of the american political system is something that the american people are deeply, deeply concerned about. deeply concerned about. in my opinion, they are trying to take steps to push back against that sensibility, that feeling, that movement becoming a movement. i read a wonderful book that was written in the 1950's, called "the origin of modern science." i was introduced to that, by butterfield. butterfield talks about the scientific revolution. he talks about how a very
misunderstood part of the scientific revolution was that the feelings of masses of people in the world were changing in terms of their understanding of how the world was put together. this was a little-understood part. it is not just a bunch of smart guys in a room coming up with an understanding of the circulatory system. i think some of these impulses were helpful when i read this. i think some of these impulses that broke the scientific revolution, that sense that the way we think about and see the world is inadequate to what the world is actually becoming. i think that impulse in the scientific revolution is also driving if you will, a political revolution in america today, a sense of the part of the american people, from all walks of life, from all
different concerns, a sense that the way we are doing this, the way we are seeing this, is inadequate to the challenges we face as a country. i think that the parties and the powers that be, they don't understand it completely. but they do understand, i think they have a sense that there is a momentum, there is a process there is a developmental consideration of how our country is organized politically, and we need to make profound structural and cultural changes in that. i believe they see that. [applause] so, i want to move to our panel. i want to bring some speakers
in. and i want to close this section of sharing my own thoughts with you, in the following way. i am very glad, and feel very welcoming, there are numbers of people who have come to the conference this year who are considering bringing initiatives for talk to other the ballot -- top two onto the ballot of their state. i am excited that you are here and that you are coming not just to this event, but to this community of activists and leaders to learn and talk about what you are doing. i think that is so important. i want to see if i can share just a little bit of my own experience or wisdom or belief with you. when you start to do these campaigns, keep this in mind. i know you are like, you bring
in your poster. you bring in your consultant. you bring in your communications guy. you bring in your specialist. you bring in your database people. you crunch the numbers. you test the focus. go for it. but, but, you cannot get across the finish line without bringing the movement with you. [applause] you must bring the movement with you. that is the element that is the push, that is the foundation that is the moral compass, that is the base of making these kinds of changes. so do all the analysis you want to do and crunch all the numbers that you want to crunch, all
good, all good. the people in this room, and the millions of people that the people in this room represent you are the focus, you are the folks who will make the change. thank you for all you do. you are my inspiration. let's get to work. [applause] >> on our next washington journal, we will talk to nancy cook about the long-term unemployment numbers and the economy. the center for politics will discuss rules. and rand paul's scheduled presidential announcement. later, the american press institute about the rolling stone article about the
university of you -- of virginia rape. more now from the unified independent party conference. in a moment, a panel looks at the u.s. political system's ability to solve problems like poverty, health care and low voter turnout. jackie salit: let's get to it here. we took on a very big topic for this discussion. the title of this discussion is, can democracy transform the social crisis?
this is obviously a very big and important question. for the country, and for us. what i wanted to do, i wanted to see if i could ask each of you to share thoughts on the following question. in a time of social crisis that we are living through, poverty 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 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. let me 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. 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. steve jobs said, " 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 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. that is what is going on with the political climate here in america. 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 every walmart in illinois 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, 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] 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 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 to 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 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. that is what we are all suffering from. 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 for 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, 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 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 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. the others rotate. 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 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] 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 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 -- i ran as 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 rigged. 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 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 add. [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 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 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 deal with the crises 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 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 -- issues 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. 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 facts, they are 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 at 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 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 fair. 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] paul johnson: in 2016, we hope to be ground zero on this issue and we want you out there in our communities having these conversations. 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? scary thought. [laughter] 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 i an in the district that was ready much an affluent area. i won by knocking on doors and meeting people one at a time. 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. it had an influence on me. when i became a mayor at 29 years old, 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 a moderate fellow was going to win. once we won the primary, it was 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 mayor at the time 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 -- pickaninnies. 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. 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. i am 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 of what comes out of the legislature that is far right wing. here is the secret -- 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] 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 expanding democracy, at this point in america, put us in a position to value democracy. how do you see that at a political level, a moral level? how do we bring those two issues together? joan blades: in 2005, he was on
the independence party line. bloomberg got -- lenora fulani: nobody has ever gotten 50% of the black vote in the last 20 or 30 years. 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. with power, you do the things to impact. 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. or 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. they get elected and do nothing. they led the people freeze. you try to freeze them out. [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.