tv Joseph Hoeffel Fighting for the Progressive Center in the Age of Trump CSPAN December 31, 2017 2:30pm-3:16pm EST
to the docks with the head of the -- and watching him receive secret sealed orders from either the captain of the vessel or from a gestapo officer. because hitler had a gestapo officer in every ship that left germany and went abroad.>> he forces and other programs online at booktv.org. >> i think we will get started. my name is nancy hammeke marshall. i have a great good fortune of being the executive director of the best public library and at least montgomery county. [applause] [laughter] possibly the state and possibly the world! [laughter] i am proud to introduce joseph hoeffel to you all today. he is a former congressman, state legislator and county commissioner. from pennsylvania. he holds a bachelor of arts
degree in english from boston university. a doctorate degree from temple, the author of the iraq live, how the white house stole the war. in his suburban pennsylvania community. he was the first democrat elected in 60 years the statehouse. the first democrat ever reelected to congress. and the first democrat to chair the montgomery county board of commissioners. a final personal note, his wife, francesca, is one of our most valued and talented volunteers. we cannot let that go without saying! [applause] >> hello everybody! i am so happy that all of you are here it is a beautiful day. you could have been doing other things. and i really appreciate your choice to be here with us. let me just say how much i
appreciate what nancy hammeke marshall and her great staff to hear at the abington township library. this is a magnificent community asset. and nancy, thank you and keep on trucking! we are lucky to have such a wonderful library here. it does not matter that the air conditioning is not working. we are going to raise the temperature a little bit today anyway! who have a good discussion and i hope that you have a lot of questions and comments to make after i make a few remarks about the book and about some of the things i wrote about in the book. i am delighted that my wife and family are here. you have already heard about francesca and i have a few things to say about her in a few minutes. but if all of my family members are here i want three of the four granddaughters to be acknowledged. the book is dedicated to our four granddaughters. elsa, louisa is not here, mavis and nellie are here.
i'm very happy about that. [applause] i -- in august 2004, i was campaigning for the u.s. senate. in johnstown, pennsylvania.i was walking out of town with about 30 volunteers and staffers being trailed by a sound truck. really a big rv with eight foot tall smiley photos of me on it. with the sandblasting. we are trying our very best to make as much commotion as it could going out of town to get as much attention. i happened to be watching this one house with a screen door that burst open. a young man, not more than five years old marched out, went to the edge of the front porch. surveyed the commotion, put his hands on his hips and said, what the hell is going on here? i looked back and realize that
young man needs an answer. i could not give him one of the time. because i was laughing too hard. but the shape of our politics today, i think they are all asking a question to one degree or another. our political system is broken. there is jewish partisanship. too much bickering. not enough consensus building no reward for compromising. both political parties are to blame. in the excessive political warfare has really just stagnated our politics and gridlocked government. i was in politics for 40 years. 25 years in public life. a lot of good things happen to me in that time. my first visit to the white house in november 1999. 1998 as a congressman elect. bill clinton was our tour guide. a bipartisan group of newly elected members. i went out on the balcony and
got goosebumps. i snuck into the bedroom and sat on the chair and sat on the bed and bounced up and down a few times. it was a remarkable experience. the first flight on air force one, members of congress get to hitch a ride whenever the president flies to their part of the world. my first time they sent me down on this chair with a telephone and despite attendance and feel free to make a phone call. there is a communications specialist on the other end of line. so i sat there and looked at it into the flight and finally picked it up. the guy said, hello congressman. i said, would it be okay if i called my wife? she is at work. this is not a government call it is a personal call. he said congressman, and when it flies on air force one, either because their spouse or their boss. i do not know what took you so long but i've been waiting for you to pick up the phone!
so i called and francesca laughed at me and i enjoy the rest of the flight. i got to meet john lewis! our civil rights icon. i took a bus trip with him on the 35th anniversary of the march to montgomery.over the bridge. 35 years after he had beaten over the head and on the bus t.v. monitors, there was a documentary laying showing john lewis being overrun by the alabama state troopers in his white trenchcoat. coming down the aisle 35 years later was john lewis. just chatting with people saying he was the host of the trip. and demonstrating that quiet dignity and strength. that he used 25 years to call us to our better selves. many exciting things but i have never ever before seen our national government in such disarray and dysfunction and as it is today. in the late 60s i protested richard nixon and the vietnam
war. i was convinced that my government was lying to me. 30 years later when george w. bush took us to war in iraq under false pretenses, i was convinced my government was lying again. to my frustration i was part of that. and now today, i do not trust anything that i hear. when donald trump speaks i cannot tell if he is telling me my truth will greatly exaggerating the truth or simply lying to my face. he does not seem to say what he means or mean what he says. his tweets, the simplicity of them simply do not match the complexities of government. he does not honor the personal norms and political dealings that most of the rest of us were very hard to honor. he is divisive, nasty,
narcissistic. he plays one group against another group. i really do think unless the president mends his ways and learned how to bring the country together and wants to bring the country together, it will end up being the worst president we've ever had. the question is what do we do about it? what is going on around here? my granddaughters are exiting before you that bad word again. [laughter] my son gave me a bad look when i said that before. what can we do to bring the country back? it is my view that progressives need to fight for the political center. of our political arena. or civic arena. the policies that are not only socially liberal, that is the easy part for us. but also fiscally responsible. that is the close part. by the progressive center, i mean while progressives believe that government has a vital role to play. in our society. by leveling the playing field and maintaining a strong safety
net providing for the least, the last and the lost among us. and creating opportunities. as best as can for every citizen. in the center is the broad middle ground in our political arena where people can come together, people of goodwill and can seek consensus and compromise and honor that compromise. and without partisan wrangling and extremism. so, if we're going to fight for that center, what should the agenda be? i think the first thing we need to do is oppose the right wing mantra. i'm starving the beast. the right wing talks about cutting taxes and shrinking government. and then cutting taxes more and shrinking government more. they call this starving the beast. i think that offers very little hope to most americans that do need a helping hand in order to improve the quality of their
lives and make a better future for their families. i think we ought to have their own mantra. balance the budget and invest in people. balance a budget so we can invest in people. we need to get our fiscal house in order. and both parties are badly to blame for the lack of fiscal responsibility. we spent $4 trillion a year in our national budget. our national debt is $20 trillion a year. it is like a family having a symptom of $100,000 a year and a debt of $500,000 a year. that family can't invest for the future. they cannot prepare their house, they cannot pay for their children's education. that is the situation our country is in today. to fiscal commissions in recent years made recommendations to show us how to do that. it was tough love. they were hard recommendations but they were workable and
should receive discussion in washington. president obama appointed one of them. the simpson bowles commission. and the president just did not talk about at all. and i really think barack obama a huge opportunity to show leadership on the issue. deficit reduction is the name of the game. he needs to be shared on a 50-50 basis. democrats just want to raise taxes. republicans just want to cut spending. neither one is going to get 100 percent victory. there has got to be a balance. i suggest 50-50. i suggest doing it in a way that protects lower income americans. then we need to invest in people. i really do not need to discuss -- better public schools so we can maintain a social and
economic letter upwards. it has been the mark of america and the pride of america all of these years. more economic development, job training, community rebuilding programs. improved healthcare. there has been a lot of healthcare debate i think it is time for medicare for all. i really do. [applause] it is an expensive proposition but it is less expensive than the inefficient system today that has millions of uncovered americans as well as bureaucratic overhead and excessive paperwork an insurance company advertising profits, will be much better off if we just spread medicare to all of our citizens. then we need to fix the politics. there's a lot of reforms in sentencing, public financing of elections, no more no-bid
contracts. and gerrymandering. i think we have a shot to have that happen. there is a very aggressive effort made at the state level, in state court and supreme court is nationalistic is from wisconsin. i hope that they will and gerrymandering. pennsylvania is one of the poster boys. in 2012, 52 percent of pennsylvanians voted for their local democratic candidate for congress. and 18 members of congress. you think by the ratio that it would be nine ãnine between the parties are 10 ãeight one or the other. but is 13 republicans and five democrats. because last -- with republicans in charge and democrats citizen democratic states. i'm being evenhanded here for just using pennsylvania as an example. politicians cannot help themselves when it comes to redistricting. in the last pennsylvania -- the democrats were packed into five
districts and republicans are spread out as a small majority. 13 republicans to this day win the elections and it showed how the politicians are choosing their voters. rather than the other way around. it really does need to be reformed. we need to oppose the presidents america first agenda. it just warmed over isolationism and kind of a brand-new nativism that i think is dangerous. we need democratic alliances. we need trade agreements. we need mutual defense agreements. we need open and fair trade. and we need to stand for that as progressive screen to display the courage of conviction for the right wing is very good at demonizing liberals. and we need to fight back and we have data stored itself and
we need to tell it. in 1983 francesca and i were on a private of israel. and the group taking us, took us out to the settlements around jerusalem. where very brave israelis were choosing to live on the heights in order to deny them from palestinian terrorists. so we met with these folks and chatted with them and one woman, a very young woman had three or four children already. she was describing her she was putting her family on the hilltop for the political purpose of protecting our country. and seven and a good asta, by the way how many children do you intend to have? she said as many as it takes. that was a woman of conviction. no doubt about it. putting her family's security on the line. when i was in congress one day, i saw charlie wrangle got arrested for demonstrating
against the -- genocide in washington. i thought that was a good idea. and i profit, the police were in on it, kind of like professional wrestling. no one was going to go to jail but you could be arrested and $50 fine and hopefully make a point. i came home and told my wife i would like to do this. i've never done anything like this but i like to do this. and she asked me some very critical questions.and i thought for a minute and said if you're going to be arrested and i'm going to be arrested! so she jointly. and really very proud of that and we went down and we demonstrated and got arrested. trying to stand up for the people. and in the paddy wagon on the way to the police station, i was riding with our fellow protest he commented quickly. who just died.
wonderful man. i said to him, you know mr. gregory, this is my first time being arrested for civil disobedience. as a congressman, that is great! i hope you keep doing it. i have been arrested 300 times! and what we paid the fine i look back in the police station and gregory was in there with all of the staff around him, the policeman, clerical staff and it was like, they were just so moved by his presence. they were shaking his hand, talking with them. people of vision to make a huge impact. progressive need to bring it every day. we have to talk to voters where they live. something that hillary clinton did not do. she did not lose because of emails. she did not lose because of jim comey, although he should have been fired by barack obama. she lost because she just did not bring it. and the best example of anyone that i have ever saw that
brings it every single day is her husband. i've never seen anyone with bill clinton. he has the ability to connect with people and it is legendary and well-earned. i can save a lot of stories. every democrat active international politics and the 1990s and 2000 have about 10 open to stores because he was everywhere! but my favorite was a writer took with him after another flight on air force one. he was coming to philadelphia to sign a bill at independence national park. and all of us around here got an invitation to fight with him. and another guy said no, it is november 2000, and i said a flight on air force one? of course i will go! i did not get to talk to him on the airplane. but when he got off of the plane he said to ride in the limousine with him. i remember three things. the first is he pulled down the flap and looked in the mirror in the back of the limousine. his hair was askew and he licked his fingers slid down
his hair. then he asked me about my district and it immediately became clear he knew more about my district and the surrounding districts than i did. the man was extraordinarily competent. but the best thing is, and this might be hard to describe. he had a police escort but the sirens were not wailing and it was not even an unannounced visit. i think he just wanted to get out of washington. and would get it to philadelphia and we start turning around corners. as we would turn a corner the people walk about, take note of the police cars and then this big black car with flags on it and they turned and realized, they looked in the back window and they would see bill clinton. he was talking to be over here. as we turned the corner to return and make eye contact with the passersby and do a little wave and a loan mod while the passersby their eyes.
like this. and he did all of this without breaking his conversation with me. just almost as a kind of, he just did it. and it was amazing.i know those get one home is in honey, i saw the president today! and he looked at me. and he waved at me! maybe as an example. but he was on his way out national politics and have to be great communicators. the first time i had to use a teleprompter i was nervous as can be. 1990s as i was speaking at the democratic convention of the candidate. of course it was 2:30 pm in the afternoon and nobody was watching it but that is all right! they said there will be a screen here, a screen here, a screen on the desk in a big screen across the hall. your speech will be on all four
screens. and they said whatever you do, congressman, i was a candidate. whatever you did, do not stand there and jerk your head from screen to screen. you look like an idiot! be relaxed and turn your torso, look as natural as you can. so francesca and i had lunch before the speech. i was a nervous wreck. i said i can't do this and i can't do that! and she said to me after two minutes, honey, relax. i have the answer. forget about the screen, and do not look down. look straight across at the big screen. your speech and as you do it, just keep turning your shoulders like this. so i laughed and i got through the speech. i have not lost my belief that politics matter in government is important and makes a difference in peoples lives. the night of my first election in 1976 at the statehouse, i found myself in the middle of night on my feet in my boxers
dancing around the bedroom during a flurry of punches. uppercuts and jabs. i was shadowboxing in the moonlight. with the excitement of my public office. the last election i contested was 2010. a four-way primary for governor. i came in fourth. there was not a lot of shadowboxing that night. but i have not lost my belief that all of this matters. i know that donald trump is not winning. right now.he is not expanding his base, his poll numbers are terrible. at the moment, i think it is safe to say he is a big loser. we have got work to do! and we have to believe in ourselves. we have to move to the progressive center with policies that are socially liberal and fiscally responsible. and we need to get good things done for the american people. thank you. [applause]
i would be very happy to answer questions. before we do, we will have a book signing and the book will be on sale for anyone that would like to buy it. the publisher is charging $37 which is too much. and amazon is charging $35 right now. even that is too much. i'm going to charge $30 today. and half of the proceeds will go to the library. [applause] i want to do my part to support this great institution. if anybody has comments or a question or would like people time? >> what would you say to the bernie sanders support as i do not want to move the progressive center but would rather double down and take the party to the left or even abandon the democratic party
completely? >> that might make them feel good but i do not think they will have governmental success. america does not govern on the extremes. at least not for long. neither party can get much done at all unless it is bipartisan to begin with. and if it is on the far left of the democratic party or the far right, it is not going to happen. you have got to be going to compromise without your principles. or another way of putting it, seek consensus basic areas of agreement. and accept two thirds of what you want. i am digressing here a little but no governor having trouble with the republican legislature. i think back and i think ed rendell got two thirds of -- because he was willing to do it and do deals with them.
nothing unethical. certainly nothing illegal. just swapping favors and doing stuff. people sometimes get a bad rap but you have to get common ground. that is what i would say to the bernie sanders folks. yes, ma'am? >> i been calling brenda boyles office in washington also brian fitzpatrick and a friend of mine said the best way to get your point across is to call them. and their aides are wonderful. they write down everything they say and they say i will pass this along to whoever. i will also call governor walt about the educational fund. but i want to hear what you think is the best way for us to express our opinions to the people who represent us? >> the best way is the most personal way that you can imagine.
manage, rather. get a one-on-one meeting with the congressman or the mayor. it is hard to do, no doubt. if you have a group it might be more doable. to get a personal meeting. personal meeting is better. a phone conversation with elected official, that is better than a personal letter. but a personal letter is better than a petition. a petition is better than an email.i do not think we must count much anymore. just work to make it as personal a touch and repetitive. repeating your outreach is useful. this is valid for going tear township commissioner to get a pothole filled or a stop sign put in. forgetting the library air conditioning system fixed. [laughter] we lobby all the time at different levels of government. the more personal it is the better.
yes? >> what is your position on -- >> i had not favored them for legislative bodies to do favor them for executive offices like governor, mayor or president. there is an argument to be made for term limits. a number of long serving officeholders get stale. they get lazy. they do not work as hard. i think part of the problem with government is the bureaucracies are there.the special interests are there. the governmental agencies are there. they are entrenched and very firm in their beliefs and seniority. the legislative branch needs some people of wisdom and experience also. just having a bunch of newbies in the statehouse or u.s. congress, i do not think that is the best way to go. yes?
>> there was just an article in the paper and one of the things sitting at the court in pennsylvania. the court will not rule on this until the supreme court rules in wisconsin. i mean -- >> i read that too. the group is agitating this forcefully as they can. trying to get the court to respond. it is hard to lobby a court. you cannot get a hold of a judge. and, i think through public advocacy they are trying to raise the point that the state court system want to deal with this. in time to effect the 2018 election. my guess is that they will not. they will wait for the supreme court to make a decision. and, there is a practical reason for it. if the court struck down these plans and 2018 just repetitive and you would have to redistrict in 2019 and then do it again 2021.
that is impractical. but i hope the supreme court deals with this. it is long past time. the supreme court has set standards but the only one they have enforced our one man, one woman, one person, one vote. and this must be continuous. they cannot have idols. they have set forth standards like compactness and keep in communities of interest together but they've never enforced those standards. if they would do it one time, the states would have to redo their plans and in states like pennsylvania have districts that are not continuous and go all over the place for political purposes. yes? >> and what do you think about the electoral college system? can it be changed? >> yes, of course! but it does not see -- seem to
if i can remember them. it was montana, north dakota, south dakota, idaho, wyoming, and iowa. 7 million people between them. twenty-one electoral votes. pennsylvania has 13 million people in 20 electoral votes. so, that group of voters happen to be republican majority i just had more impact, with technology things can be hacked and i think we can accurately count everybody's vote in the 21st it gets to the tricky because the democrats are at a disadvantage. and that's it i was a to them. except, that i honestly think
it's just time to reform that. we have the ability to do that. >> so the bernie sanders questions but also idea versus voter empowerment. seems like the republicans have gotten traction by this voter fraud stuff. if we could empower more voters, my feeling is we might have more of a democratic process rather than these wonderful ideas of healthcare for all which would be great, but what if we could change voting to put it on sundays when working-class families don't have to work and don't need two days to go from their farms to the towns.
that's an antiquated system to. >> you write. there is a lot of wasted change voting. same day registration, automatic legislation, there are many ways some states have experimented they seem to work well. it is caught up in politics. everything seems to be caught up in politics these days. which is the whole purpose of the book. politics is coming up the work so much. will be better off as a country of more people participate and it's easier to register row. so thank you, for raising up. >> how can we put politics aside and hope they will for their conscious rather than be
reelected? >> the voters could solve this if they are careful about who they selected and did not reward the extremists in either part. it's hard to figure that out. it's hard to know how your representatives are voting day in and day out. there ways to figure it out but it takes effort and work to know how they are performing. but, if voters started publishing the obvious extremists of fighters that would go a long way. gerrymandering reform would help a great deal. pushes the democrats left and republicans right. they get punished for compromising doing something on a bipartisan basis.
the only worry about their primary election and don't want to be challenged. so they stop compromising the performance of their duties. the country has to calm down. cable news has to be more responsible and accountable. stations i watch have gone so far left. i kind of like it but they are so far left and once in a while there is other stations that are so far right the country has to wake up. sounds trite, but the public really has to demand change. >> constantly the line is busy. >> pad is a nice man. i like him. we got along well. he didn't take shots at me.
unlike some of the other republicans that surrounded my district. but he has not been responsive. i'm surprise. he's a smart guy. he doesn't have to hide behind staff he can handle himself in public, and he ought to. bob casey has not been available to people. there's a picture of bob and the inquirer last spring is have a town meeting of philly lisa that's great then i read the article, it was his first town meeting in philadelphia in six years. before his last reelection. bob casey is better than that. he can defend himself so i don't know. >> what you think of the new
passage for citizenships joining the military the new block of the path to citizenship for immigrants joining the military. >> i'm not familiar with that particular path to immigration. i hate trumps immigration policy. i hate the way he plays one group against the other. i'm glad the courts held up the travel ban. i think it is a bad thing for the country. i do not like the sanctuary cities movement. i applaud the mayor for speaking up against that. and i'm surprise the trump administration is pushing that. the trump administration said he cannot hold funds for that. and you can only hold up those
funds, has to be related to the funding. sanctuary cities want to uphold all of it for housing, schools and nutrition, i think it's unconstitutional and illegal. fortunately, i don't know enough about your question to give you a good answer. >> a friend of mine is a republican committeeman. he wanted to be a delegate to the national convention. he received dozens of calls before the election asking him who he was committed to. he says i'm going to hold my commitment until i get there and hear the delegates. so people wanted somebody committed to trump regardless of whatever was said. you can go in the middle.
>> did he go to the convention? no. >> while the 2016 election will be studied for generations. because of the anger and the mistakes that were made. but there were valid reasons for voters to be upset. we do have income inequality and we do need change. that is what trump stood for. it's just different people paddling around in his done nothing about economic stagnation. that's why he won. hillary wasn't talking about that. she is talking anti- trunk. i think she won all three debates. but her advertising at the end
was so anti- trump and i thought people have already made their minds up, she should have been making an economic argument. that's i democrats were put here. we may be wrong and waste money, but that is what we are here for. and she did not talk about it. she won the popular vote but did not win the election. so the election in 2016 will be in the textbooks for a long time. we have time for two more questions. >> do you think the democrats have learned something from the 2016 election and we can hope -- will be a little bit better the next time around? >> i hope so.
right now they're tempted to sit back and let trump get into problems. but that does not help the government any. schumer posey were ready to work with tron. i want the president to succeed. i don't like donald trump very much but i want the president to succeed because i want the country to succeed. so those deals, one on the debt limit and -- you should keep doing that. and the democratic leadership should cooperate where they can't do some bipartisan deals. they don't know who the next candidate will be for president on the democratic side. the party is uncertain right now because there has never been an opponent like donald trump. in hillary's defense, i do think sexism played a role. in the russians played role. you want to talk about division,
they were using robots on this bernie sanders site. they're saying please don't believe everything you read. if it's too good to be true don't forward it. there are so and discord, what are we going to do about that? >> the whole russia cyber security thing is getting attention. i assume we can do a better job technologically to protect against that. your comment about hillary is fair, there was sexism, james comey did rake fbi procedures, her e-mail problem is of her own doing but she lost control of that issue than cannot put the genie back in the box. i still think it was the lack of the economic message that cost her the election.
that's a people care about. people are worried about everyone's job success thing flooded the things happen but made the argument i think that's why she lost. i hope we can all do better. i'm out of town. [applause] >> you're watching book tv and c-span2. television for serious readers. here's a lineup look at the book, in the midst of winter. then robert looks at franklin d
roosevelt throughout for terms in office. on afterwards at 9:00 p.m., christopher scalia, son of the late supreme court justice share some of his father's speeches. at 10:00 p.m., beverly discusses what race relations in america. we wrap up at 11:15 p.m. with anesthesiologist who explains the science behind anesthesia next prayer some personal experiences. that happens tonight on book tv. seventy-two hours of authors and books. television for serious readers. >> i wholeheartedly believe that the fault lines between all the different radical factions, you're right and i pointed out
in the book. if you are me to elaborate on the term radical islam and if it's politically correct, i'm not a politician. or pretending to be politically correct. i am a muslim american and i can tell you i am not offended by that term. i really don't care what they call. you can call them savages twisting a religion, but the truth is spending this time discussing the label is taken away what they actually are. who cares what we call them. what we need is to understand the fundamental difference between the groups between radical islam and the tenets of the religion. the silly way to defeat them.