tv Amanpour Company PBS November 6, 2018 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
hello, everyone. welcome. here's what's coming up. ♪ god bless the usa >> evangelicals flood the zone for trump weighing their priorities against his foibles. plus, these mid terms could have an unprecedented surge of women in power. gloria steinem fhas been waging this fight for decades. and why is this country so deeply divide?
>> welcome to the program, everyone. now conventional wisdom has a much vaunted blue wave surging over the congress tomorrow. at least in the house of representatives. but a major factor, the political power of the christian right is one to seriously contend with. some 80% of white evangelicals backed donald trump in 2016 and now two years later, their support is still at an all time high. as one of them says, if evangelicals are removed from the white vote, trump loses. on the left, struggling to comprehend how people of faith would support the president who as they see it has hardly been a model of christian living. but president trump has been a major political advocate for christian laws and values and
they are pouring money and organizational support into republican races all across the country. now, tony perkins is a leading person in this fight. he is the president of the family research council, a deeply influential lobbying group and he says the religious right is in a spiritual war with the rulers of darkness. welcome to the program from washington. >> thank you. good to be with you. >> let's start with the beginning. i said that you are putting a lot of effort, organizational and financial into these races, into republican races. and i understand that you and your organization have been sort of been working on get out the vote. can you tell me what you're doing? >> well, you've covered a lot of territory here. i can tell what you we're doing is we're working churches across america to bring them on an understanding of what's happening in our nation. and the quote that you alluded
to earlier was from a sermon i preached in ephesians 6. the rest was we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities. and the issue is not with people or with parties but with the spiritual influences. so there is concern about the direction of our country. there's concern about religious freedom which continues to be a major issue for conservative voters. and one of the reasons they did back trump in the general election is because he promised to defend religious freedom and the exercise there of. and that's what he's done as president. what we've seen is more and more pastors and churches who really understood the threat in the last eight years, are remaining very supportive of this president and his policies. >> i want to ask you whether you are at all troubled by what i alluded to. president trump and his personal life and what he's been saying in terms of refugees that others. you know he uses quite harsh,
edgy language. and he's had all these issues, stormy daniels and others. people want to figure out how people of faith support that kind of individual. and i think i'm hearing you say that it does boil down to politics and the kind of politics you support. >> no, that's a really good question. but it's more than that. because the support for donald trump does not come in a vacuum. we go back to the 2016 presidential election. in the primary, most us were not with donald trump. i was not a druonald trump supporter. it is when we had to make a real choice between hillary clinton who pledged to continue the policies of barack obama who were, his policies were antithetical to most christians in this country, especially his attack on religious freedoms such as little sisters of the poor. so they decided to take chance on donald trump. based on the promises that he made, based on that he wrapped
himself in the republican party platform, and that he chose a running mate who we all knew, that was very clear on these issues, and to the surprise of many, he has kept his promises and he has advanced those policies that he said he would. do nothing has changed. those behaviors were prior to the election. there may be differences and disagreements on some policy initiatives and some of his tweets that he puts out. the evangelical community remains supportive of this president because he's kept his promises. >> just to be fair, hillary clinton herself is a religious woman and she would say that she supports religious freedom and so, too, would president obama. i understand your differences. >> abortion. >> precisely. that's what it boils down to. so i want to ask you this if you still stand by this. in january, a long time ago, you told politico, as long as trump doesn't disappoint evangelicals politically, they'll stick with
him. when his policy stops and his administration reverts to just personalities, that's where i believe the president will be in trouble. so first, i guess, you still believe that. is there a line that you -- >> there are two things. two things i said in that statement. and i've said this repeatedly. our support for the president is not unconditional. our support for him is if he keeps his promises, as he has, and this behavior that we hear so much about prior to his election, he is alleged to have engaged in. if that were to occur now, the support would not remain. that's not happening now. it is stuff that happen in the past. everybody knew he had skeletons in his closet. that's why they weren't with him in the primary. when it came to the choice between and he hillary clinton, evangelicals chose someone who lined up with them on the policy issues and he has kept those policies, or those promises, and is implementing the policies. as long as that continues, and
he stays on the straight and narrow as president, the support will remain. >> tony perkins, clearly his supporters, and by a huge margin, including the evangelical community, his base, believes for instance in his current immigration policy or tactic or pronouncements from the oval office, whether it is the separation of families, whether it is the essential hard line against refugees, slashing the number of refugees allowed to come to the united states, they believe -- >> i don't think that's fair. >> why not? >> because first off, there are two issues here. the evangelical community and broadly, more broadly, the christian community, there is not uniformity in the thinking on immigration in those policies. now, here's what there is agreement. on we're a nation and we need to be secure. to the degree these policies are to secure our nation, whether at the borders or whether it is the
refugee resettlement, when it comes the immigration, we are for legal immigration. and i think you're going to actually see, most likely after this election, you're going to see the parties come together and come up with a workable immigration policy. there are many in the republican party supported by evangelicals. and you've even seen the president's position softening on this issue of immigration. one is the problem of those here in this country already. we know we have to deal with that and provide a way forward. i think that the primary issue that the president has got the support on is providing the security for this nation. whether that's at our border or again in the resettlement program. >> mpe rkins, i hear you again but i have to ask you this. even his own republican leaders in congress, we hear, are trying to persuade the president to start doubling down on this
caravan threat. he sent final,000, or he will send 15,000 to the border. they're nowhere near the border. most people don't believe there will be an invasion. he keeps using that language, as emhimself, as successful campaign rhetoric. so i'm very interested to hear what you're saying about a successful post election immigration reform of both parties. >> hold. on i want to ask you how you pass what the vice president and others, the white house press spokesman, use the language to extend the separation of parents and children at the border. this is what they said. they used a bible verse to defend that separation policy. and then basically, any american who commits a crime will be separated from his or her child, et cetera. then what the bible actually says is that, you know, christianity is supposed to
transcend barriers of race, class, nationality, wealth, neither jew nor greek, neither bond nor free, male nor female, for you are one in christ jesus. what i'm trying to ask you, could you dpefd as a christian? >> what did i is i took a group of pastors to meet with the attorney general and sat down and that was the beginning of working through a policy that would keep families united. and try discourage that. the reason many of these families were coming and these children were coming is because of lax enforcement of our policy. so by creating this magnet to bring people here, we were dividing the families. so again this goes back to securing our border. making it very clear that we're a nation. we have borders. we're going to enforce those immigration policies. but doing it in a humane and a
family friendly, if you will, way. and the administration responded to that. >> that assumes there is a problem and a massive influx of immigrants. in fact the opposite is true. since obama, there's been more leaving than coming in. so it is a successful election issue and that is, i'm trying to figure out where one draws the line in quote/unquote demonizing the other. you yourself have said, and i can quote you back to yourself, you wrote, this country must come together. we've seen a spate of hate crimes. i'm trying to ask you, you are a faith leader, what do you advise the administration? if indeed we're going to see some close mid-term -- reconciliation -- >> first of all, look, if we're talking about immigration, i think the president is doing the right thing by securing our
borders. whether it is 7,000 or 70,000, i think it is important that we are a nation ruled by law. people can come here and they can come here legally. america is very generous. i just got back from the middle east. i was in the uae. they're a nation of about 10 million. u just have to do it by the e. rules. by law. and i think this president is enforcing the law as the american people elected him to do. >> yeah. again, everybody believes in security. there's not one single political party or individual who doesn't believe in security. >> that's what he's doing. >> right. but it assumes there is a problem of a massive influx. none of the facts support. >> you don't know who is in this caravan. there are people that infiltrate that caravan, they can come in, that do not want to become a part of american family.
i'm actually thankful that people want to come to this country. they want to come here. that's what america is about. bringing people here. they just have to do it legally so we can make sure that they're here for the right reasons. >> nobody wants the law to be broken. but again, bits language, isn't it? you have this caravan in which the president and others talk about felons infiltrating, exotic, code word for middle eerngers, invaders. i'm asking you -- >> well, the president of honduras -- >> in a political context, we're already very divided and you yourself have called for some kind of reconciliation among americans, haven't >> i think we're conflating some issues here. the president was speaking on facts based upon what the honduras president said, their intelligence uncovered within this caravan. the president was making issue to that. i do think our conversation in the united states as americans,
whether we're republican, whether we're democrat, whether we're independent, liberal or conservative, i do think that the rhetoric has reached a point that we're no longer having conversations. we're talking over, not even talking over, we're shouting over each other, and i do think that we have to find a way back to, where we can disagree, we can disagree, but do so in a civil manner, that respects one another as human beings. >> i think those are very, very welcome words. do you know, i just want to pick up from what you just said, you were in the uae, where you were meeting with leaders there. i guess trying to get protection for christians and other faiths, or your own faith in that part of the world. while you moved on or the team moved on to saudi arabia, and that obviously is really important and central at the moment, given to what happened to one of our colleagues, jamal
khashoggi, work and living in the united states and working for an american organization. >> just to be very clear, i did not go to saudi arabia. >> right, but the team did, didn't they? >> some of the others went on. i did not. >> do you know what they might have said to, i believe they met prince mohammad bin salman. >> they did, but i have not had any conversations with them. i chose not to go to saudi arabia. i don't feel that this is the right time. >> on principle? >> yes, i don't feel it was the right time to go. >> that's interesting, actually, since you made that point. what do you think -- i know you're not a politician, but what do you think america's relationship should be in the post-c post-khashoggi world? >> we don't have all the facts. i'm troubled. i don't believe turkey and what they have to say. i don't believe saudi arabia and all they have to say, and they've been a great abuser of rights and religious freedoms in that country and they're a negative influence in that part of the world. i know the crowned prince is
supposed to be a reformer, but i'm going to withhold judgment until i see all the facts. i'm just going to say i'm troubled by what i see at this point. >> um-hum, indeed. i want to read something to you, which i think is really, really interesting, given these elections. one of the evangelical leaders quoted over the weekend said, the number one thing anybody can give, you know, the faithful is supreme christ but the second greatest thing we can give this generation is the supreme court. talk to me a little bit about what you hope, if you get the votes that you intend, want, will be the trajectory, and of course, again, in the framework of the kavanaugh, very, very divisive hearings and appointment. >> well, you just go back to the polling in the last election 2016 election of the supreme court, fact yoofactored very hi terms of the evangelicals voting in the election for donald
trump, and here's why. you go back to the issue of whether it was prayer in schools, bible in the schools, ten commandments in the schools, abortion on demand in 1973, none of those issues were done by legislative bodies. those were all done by the court. for the last six decades, we've essentially had an activist court that has taken on the role of legislators, and so now, what you see happening, and this is why i think even the motivation in the wake of the kavanaugh hearing will pour over into this election, is that people see now, we are at the verge of having a court that's anchored to the constitution, that will operate within that framework, and not do policies that should be done by the congress or by the people. >> i want to end by just playing you a little bit of an interview that i conducted with another faith leader, christian faith
leader, william barber, who received the macarthur genius grant, and again, he was talking in the context of this divisive political atmosphere in the united states, this sort of tribalism, and mindful of the fact that, according to the latest "the washington post"/abc poll, 75% of white evangelicals from the u.s. describe the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants as positive compared to just 46% of americans overall. i just want to play you this sound bite about what he believes it means to be a conservative. >> first of all, to be a conservative is to hold on to the essence of. the essence of the bible, if you cut out all the scriptures in the bible that talk about how you should treat the poor and the grimmigrant the bible would fall apart. if you're anti-the poor and anti-immigrants, you're not being conservative. you're not holding on to the essence of. >> how do you respond to your fellow faith leader? >> i'm into the holding on to the essence of the bible.
i'm holding on to the principles of scripture and, as a christian in america, what we seek to do is to work out knowing that we are in a secular government, but we can take those principles and argue for and shape policy just as everyone else in our country has the right to do. the scripture does speak to the poor, does speak to the immigrant but it also speaks to the rule of law, and the fact that in almost every imassistance you read in the old testament about taking in the poor, the immigrant, the stranger. it is then that they have an obligation to operate by your customs and your laws, the assimilation. it's the rule of law, and that's where many on kind of the left side of the ledger in the faith community fail to see the rule of law and how the two go together. >> tony perkins, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us. >> good to be with you. now, if evangelicals are
trying to build a firewall for president trump and republicans, women voters, women activists and women candidates intend to be the battering ram that smashes into that wall. since the 20 16 electi16 electi have marched and organized for office in unprecedented numbers. gloria steinham says she's never seen anything like this in her 83 years on the planet. she graduated from smith college in the early 1960s and her extraordinary life is the subject of a new play called "gloria alive" and the actress, christian lahti plays steinem in the title role. here she is recreating the address. >> sometimes we put our bodies where our beliefs are. sometimes pressing "send" is not enough. the constitution does not begin with "i the president."
it begins request "we the people." >> glo aria steinem and her doppleganger kriststst lahti jon mi mimi. welcome. >> thank you. >> let's describe and talk about the issues at hand right now. we've talked about an unprecedented number of women running for congress and running for governors and running for all sorts of different offices. first to you, gloria. what do you think the effect will be? what do you hope to wake up to on wednesday morning? >> democracy. little thing like that. just look at who our elected officials have been, regardless of party. look at who the authority figures in our culture have been, and the rising women's movement, not just here, but around the world, is saying wait a minute, if the authorities don't look like the country by sex and race and so on, do we really have a democracy? and they are surging to transform us into a democracy.
>> and was i correct when i said that the women, and i know you're a feminist as well as an actress portraying gloria, are trying to shape up as the battering ram against any more sort of walls against women's rights? >> yes, of course, because we got this radical idea that women are human beings in the '60s. >> where did we get that? >> i don't know. >> crazy idea. >> and then it was about a third, and gradually, gradually, gradually it has become the majority, and actually, black women are on the forefront of this, and if you look at the vote, you see that black women voted something like 90% against trump, and 51% of white women especially married non-college educated women dependent on their husbands voted for trump. >> i'm going to get to that in a second. you said who would have thought it, kristine. you said yourself it wasn't until about the '70s that you
assumed feminism, that you got to grips what it was that affected you and until then, you had thought that being a second class citizen was a biological fact. >> i did. i saw my mother. i saw all my friend's mothers in my suburb basically white suburb of detroit, and saw that they were all second class citizens. nobody worked. none of these women worked, except in the house. they were housewives and mothers, and they were treated with disrespect, and i saw that, and it broke my heart, but i thoug thought, that's just the way the world is. i went to college and in the end, it was a whole new world, and silvia plath wrote when she first went to smith it was like a watermelon cracked at her feet, this big, juicy watermelon of possibilities and life cracked open, and that's how i felt when i went to college and learned about gloria and robin
morgan and betty fredan and feminists and it became an eye opener. it changed my life, and feminism has been my life jacket that helped me navigate to a world i detected finally in the early '70s, a world that didn't respect or like women. i so am grateful to my feminism. >> you credited gloria with saving your life. you used that word. >> yes, it's true. >> first of all, how, and -- >> because other women saved my life. we get it. it's contagious. when we see someone who actually is a whole human >> i was honored to get this part. gloria and i had been friends for a long time and i heard there was a play being done about her. i didn't know if i was right for
it or the right age or anything and i e-mailed everybody. i e-mailed gloria, e-mailed the producer, e-mailed the director. i didn't know the writer, and just said throwing my hat in the ring. if it comes to this, i'd love the opportunity but i don't know if i'm right but know i'm interested, and then it happened. >> and what do you portrayed ine theater every night? >> look how lucky? no, because both as an actor and as a human being, i mean, i feel immensely honored. the first idea of kathy najimi, who is a friend who said i should play my own life, i actually tried to do and could not do it, no way, but that's how it started. >> and i've heard both of you say that, in a way, your lives have been, correct me if i get it wrong, but you're living your mother's unlived lives. >> yes. >> gloria, you had a particularly really
heart-rending relationship with your mother, who you love, but was very sort, she was unwell, full of anxieties, right, and you sort of, your childhood was spent looking after her. >> that's true, but what i discovered later, that before i was born, she was a journalist, and she was an amazing journalist. she was the sunday editor of a newspaper at a time just a few years after women got to vote, but she was trying to be a mother, a wife to a wonderful but totally irresponsible man, and the pressures on her were so great that she had what was then called a nervous breakdown and was in a saner to y er sanitorie of years and it broke her spirit so i was seeing a broken spirited woman. it took me a long time to understand. after i wrote about her, people would say to me, aren't you afraid that her illness is hereditary, and i would say, only if patriarchy is
hereditary, because she was not ill. >> did you have a similar situation with your mother or did your mother had an unfill filled life? >> after six kids went off to college she became a painter and actually became a pilot. >> a pilot? >> she was soloed. she didn't fly a lot but she did solo. before that, i did feel that her spirit was broken. i did feel that she did not have, i mean first of all, being financially dependent on my father, she would have her credit cards taken away if she misbehaved. that was heartbreaking for me to see. even to this day i have a separate bank account from my husband, it's important to not be financially dependent on a man. i saw how damaging that was, and she had to ask me to lend her money when she wanted to help our mentally ill, her mentally ill daughter, my sister, because my father didn't want to do that at the time, and thought it was against her need to be independent, and anyway, i saw
her being broken by that kind of stuff, and i was determined not to ever be that way. >> and we should say that there's a rationale for this here, which is controlling reproduction, and the religious leader you just interviewed, the single issue that he actually mentioned aside from generalities is abortion. now, nobody is pro or against it. that's not the point. the question is, who makes the decision, the woman or the government? he thinks the government should make it. we believe the woman should make it. i support his evangelical women and whatever decision they make, but i think they have a right to make it. >> so this is now the crux of the matter, right? >> yes. >> because clearly this political battle is this battle, this cultural battle, and women are, again, the front line targets. >> but it's not just, well, culture is what happens to women. politics is what happens to men, but it is the first most basic
question is who controls reproduction? if we didn't have wombs, we'd be fine. >> yes. >> it's all about -- and that's where patriarchy began which is relatively new in human history and racism reinforces it. you have to restrict reproduction more in order to maintain racial separation. so it's no accident that he is first and foremost trying to take women's control of our own bodies away. >> so the question is, this is established law in the united states, is the right for a woman to be able to choose, roe versus wade, 1973, i believe, and clearly there's an effort, because president trump talks about it, and others talk about it, the religious leaders talk about it, to start the court to change that. >> yes. >> what do you both, what do you see going forward or do you think there's no way that could be changed? kristine? >> i do feel roe v. wade will be
reversed, up to the states. i think that was trump's objective and he achieved it by stacking the court, and if women do not have the right to choose what to do with our own bodies, we will not be living in a democracy. so what's at stake tomorrow, election day, is not our general democracy, which is at stake, but truly women living in a democracy or not. if they don't have the right to do what they want to do with their bodies, there's no freedom for women. >> i mentioned the numbers, but this is an unprecedented number of women running. >> yes. >> in terms of numbers and percentages, we didn't, we haven't seen this since post-anita hill in the 1992 election. >> even greater than that. >> much, much bigger. what do you attribute it to? what do you think the end result of this will be? >> well, i attribute it to a will to govern our own lives, and not to have big daddy up there telling us what to do.
let's not forget that this president lost by 6 million popular votes, 3 for hillary clinton and 3 for other candidates. he is only in office, because someone, the russians and someone understood the electoral college. he is not a popularly elected president. he is not legitimate in the sense that most americans believe in one person one vote. >> so what do you do then? because you heard tony perkins, and there's obviously a massive clash between people like you, what you've just said, and people like the base, who believe he's more than legitimate and are delighted with him and are greeting him at every single rally with great fervor, including women. how -- i mean, is there a way at all to be able to reconcile two very diverse populations in the united states? >> well, i think so, because if trump wins, he will take away
the democratic decision-making power of women especially, and others, too, and if he loses, we get it back, so i am fighting for the democratic right to govern their own lives of all those evangelicals, and they're fighting against ours, so i think that we are enough of democracy so that the defense of their rights and mine will win. >> see, i go's that's important, the defense of their rights and yours. >> yes, absolutely. >> so can i play a little bit from tirana berg, the original me too founder because there seems to be and i'm interested in your perspective on this in a moment a backlash of woman on woman to the me too moment right now. one year later, there's a backlash, but let's listen to what she said foe to me about i. >> we are not people to be pitied. we are a power base that votes along our needs and vote along the things that we want to see change in policy, so that means more women being voted in, but
not just women, women who believe the same things we believe, women who are able to see us and hear us and believe us. >> so there seems to be as she alluded to this sort of attempt to portray women who are complaining about harassment and abuse as promoting a culture of victimhood and she's like saying we're not victims. we are to be believed and we are to be able to speak our truth. how do you attribute that now, of all times, of certain circles of women basically lobbying against other women? >> i don't see them. i don't know who she's talking about. >> i do. i hear them. >> i see them, too. >> you do, kristine? >> well, i mean, we're lobbying for people to be able to speak their own truth, and it is probably the case that, for some women to hear the reality of other women -- you know, remember the days when people, when a woman was raped and
people would say, well, why did she go to that neighborhood, and what did she have on? >> right, yep. >> it's sometimes easier to blame the victim than it is to blame the person who is the perpetrator. >> now they're saying isn't that awful, our sons, our brothers, this and that, they won't be able to flirt, won't be able to hire women or interview women. you're hearing it. i'm hearing it. >> yes, what was it, the man me too or the him too, it was a support group, now trump has kind of twisted that into being men are victims. i don't think men are victims. i think women by osmosis internalized misogyny and like in the play, we say it's not we live in a patriarchy but it lives in us. the low self-esteem that women don't matter. it's everywhere you look, in the
media, down the street, in your neighborhood. it's a won assistant daley mindfulness, for me as a feminist to be conscious of how many times, so many forces of someone like me who i've spent my life since gloria saved it, really trying to combat that kind of tug of misogyny that is internalized, and i think a lot of these women are feeling that, and they have to -- my appeal to them is be mindful that it's so much better to be a full human being and not a second class citizen. >> this is a phenomenon of all discriminated against groups. >> yes. >> in days of anti-semitism, which are not over but are better than they used to be, there was literally a desire to change your name to be the only jew in the club. we absorb society's opinion of us, and that happens to women, too, but the purpose of a movement is to counter that, and
say we each have a right, not mine is not more than yours, but we each have a right to identify ourselves. >> so you've spoken a lot and you started the conversation about how black women really led this fight, and you call yourself an intersectional feminist. i want to play a part from the play, which points this out. >> is dorothy pittman "headline news." she is dorothy pittman hughes. >> one of the first multiracial child care centers. we focus going mainly to the south. we see there are feminist speakers in other parts of the country. >> less likely the south. >> and less like lie the two of us together in the south. ♪ when the truth is found >> it is stunning and i want to know where you think that intersection is right now and is it still intersectional? is it march progress going forward? >> it's becoming ever more clear
how diverse we always were, but the role of black women in starting and founding the women's movement and feminism all together is still not in the history books. i mean, like native american history, black history, there are two things. history in the past, and they are not the same. >> you said native america. the whole set is like a circle which gloria found out that native american women dealt with their lives through story telling in a circle, and the thing that just blew my mind was the part where you were speaking to, she was called man killer. wilma man killer, somebody you met of the iriquois nation. >> cherokee nation. >> was it the iriquois invited by benjamin franklin? >> yes. >> tell the story. it's remarkable. >> i didn't know the democracy of our founding fathers, without the mothers, i guess, the
fathers anyway based democracy, benjamin franklin invited members of the iroquois confederacy to -- >> the constitutional conference. >> -- the constitutional conference and based democracy on that iroquois confederacy, was a balance between men and women. >> and matrilineal. >> and the first question was said to be where are the women? they couldn't understand that. >> question still being asked. >> and greece had slavery and no women, excuse me, no, that was not the basis of democracy. >> it was the native americans. >> it was the native americans. >> which is an amazing lesson to learn, all these years later. >> yes. >> you are a hopeaholihopeaholi. >> true. >> hope keeps us marching forward. gloria steinem, kristine lahti, thank you for joining us.
our next guest says america's political climate is mired in tribalism. george packer believes people are branded by badges of identity, not of thought. women versus men and redder have lus blue, not good versus bad. packard tells our alicia me den nez how, in the age of trump, fear is also drowning out moderate republican voices. >> thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> you've written extensively about the midterm elections, one of your most recent articles was about tribalism in america. looked at a study that asked questions about tribalism. what did that research find? >> it was a group called more in common and the report was called hidden tribes. they wanted to find out what believe believed beneath their political opinions, what are their world views, what values do they hold? they surveyed 8,000 americans, and they ended up dividing them into seven tribes, based on answers to questions about child
rearing, about tradition and authority, about personal responsibility versus social circumstance, and from left to right, there are progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, sort of the checked out moderates i tra diagnosisal conservatives, devoted conservatives. the two extremes are only about 18% or 20% of the population >>er' t ethey're the people we the most from. >> they're on cable news the most, their tweets are the loudest. they are the ones most to engage in politics and also the whitest and the highest income, and the closer you get to the middle, the more the income drops and the more minorities there are. so the picture is of very educated, well-off people on each extreme making a fair
amount of noise with very strong convictions and not believing in compromise or in looking for a middle ground, and then a lot of people in the middle who feel ignored by the political system, not heard, and who wish there were more compromise and who find the tribalism of our politics depressing. >> do you buy this notion of tribalism? >> to some extent i do. i've always felt that there is no secret majority waiting to vote for michael bloomberg for president. that's a myth that technocrats and people on wall street may cherish. there really are a lot of people in this country who are polarized from each other, who don't know how to talk to each other, who look at the political opponent and see an adversary, if not an enemy but the categories break down once you examine them too closely. nobody is simply affiliated that neatly with one group.
there are all sorts of ways in which it gets complicated web you ask questions. for example, a lot of people believe racism is a serious problem in america, i think 80%. around the same number are opposed to affirmative action in higher education. so when you ask, you know, where are the racists, where are the white supremacists, it turns out there's a lot of people who might make you think they're in that category on the basis of one question but are not on the basis of another. in other words, people are more complicated than our politics gives them room to be. >> you wrote something that stood out to me perhaps because i'm the mother of a small child. people who would never tolerate cruelty or lying or ordinary impoliteness in their children cheer every excess of their leaders, none more so than president trump. >> i mean, i talk to trump supporters who are kind, generous people who i would count on in a crisis, and whose
children are exactly as i described in there, and i avoid the subject of politics, because i don't want to hear why they're for him, and i don't want to get into that argument, which is a hopeless argument in almost every case. i'd rather think of them as the people who, you know, helped me build a fence or whose kids babysat for my kids, than the people who support a president who i think is morally the worst president in the history of the country. >> what do you say to those who think that makes you complicit in allowing what happens happen? >> we have to live. we're human beings. if politics takes over everything, we're all going to be destroyed by it. >> i think there are those who argue that is an argument that one can make from a position of privilege, that being white, that being a male in this moment are privileges. >> and yet, that survey found that, when it comes to, for example, things like political compromise, or taking personal responsibility, or things that maybe seem the middle of the
road or center right positions, the overwhelmingly white progressive activists are less likely to be for that than black moderates or passive liberals or whatever tribe comes from that survey. so it may well be that, yeah, i can sit here and say i want to talk to my neighbors, even if they're for trump, but i think if that's really about privilege, then we're all doomed, because it means either you're privileged or you're going to disintegrate, you're going to descend into a maelstrom and be chewed up for it. everyone who wants to live has to find a way to talk to people they disagree with. i do despair for our future, by the way. i'm in the least bit optimistic, but at least try to have a margin where politics can't infect every relationship. >> in your most recent article that came out today, you profile
congressman ryan costello. why him? >> because he was willing to talk to me. it's not easy to get republicans to talk to "the new yorker." at least it wasn't for me. i tried what i thought would be the path of least resistance, retiring republicans, and even then, it was hard. he's retiring, after two terms, because the pennsylvania supreme court redrew the districts of a congressional district in pennsylvania, redrew the lines very unfavorably for him, and rather than try for re-election in a democratic district, he retired. he will retire, but he's also open and interesting and spontaneous and fun to talk to, so i spent quite a bit of time with him. >>s will, it seemed, reading the article, struggling to reconcile his values, and what his responsibility is to speak out against the president and his own party. >> right. he represents a suburban
philadelphia district. it's a moderate district. he is a classic moderate republican, tax cuts, deregulation, fairly progressive on social issues, cares a lot about climate change, guns, so in other words, he has practically no future in the republican party, as it now it constituted. he's a nearly extinct creature, i think, and a lot of them are retiring, so there will be even less common on the battlefield. he is appalled by a lot of what president trump does, but he's also a loyal soldier in the republican conference in the house of representatives. he is very admiring of paul r n ryan, speaker of the house, and you know, when it comes down to it, that's his team, and he generally votes with them, but he tweets, and speaks on cable news quite openly and critically
of the president. so that makes him a fairly rare republican in washington these days. >> right, and there was a time when standing up against your own party was lauded as brave, respectable. we're no longer living in that moment. >> i remember when i was younger, senators like howard baker from tennessee, daniel patrick moynihan of new york, others who were mavericks. that was the word that people used, and it was a compliment, and even if their party leaders were frustrated by them, and their party activists were pissed off they couldn't count on their votes, there was a grudging respect and sometimes of a deep respect for those two senators, and people like them, and now, you know f there's someone analogous t might be jeff flake of arizona. >> frustrated republicans and who democrats believe does not work for them. >> if you're jeff flake you can
give a speech, write a book, denouncing the republican party, saying things any liberal democrat would be cheering, it's not enough, because he still votes for tax cuts and to repeal obamacare and for brett kavanaugh, and so for democrats, it's just words. for republicans, he's a traitor and his approval ratings are i think close to the single digits, and he had to retire because donald trump and the party base went after him. so he, too, is a nearly extinct republican. >> you wrote in the same article, moderates are seen as more expendable than conservatives. why can't those members of congress that grapple with the president find their voice? >> well, those who do are sort of isolated. there is a caucus or a group called the tuesday group, about 50 republicans who meet on tuesdays, and are somewhere near the center, they just don't have
much clout in congress, because the party leadership, paul ryan, speaker, and the people around him, have to keep their eye on their right wing, which is the freedom caucus, the same number, 40 to 50, but they have the power, because they can threaten the leadership with a block vote to get rid of them. they did that with john boehner, the predecessor of paul ryan, and they have the activists and the media and really the heart of the party on their side. >> so is what's limiting them then a fear they won't be effective or fear they'll be voted out? >> the latter. i mean fear, i asked charlie dent, why aren't more -- sorry, charlie dent is another moderate republican from pennsylvania, who is already retired, in the middle of the term, so he's out, but he was probably the most outspoken congressional republican since trump got elected. costello voted for trump. dent did not, so there's a bit of a distinction between them.
i asked dent, why are so few republicans speaking against the president, when the grounds for doing so are just overwhelming? he said, my answer in one word is fear. so fear of not getting reelected, fear of a primary challenger, fear of i guess being shunned, being ex-communicated. >> so would you call costello a victim of tribalism? >> yes, in a way, he is. he's someone who, no matter your party affiliation, you kind of want people like that in congress. he takes policy seriously. he studies the issues hard. he is sort of old-fashioned in believing that your committee assignment is really important, and reading the bill is important, and making your way up the hierarchy is important. he started out as a town supervisor, and then a county commissioner. if that kind of politician goes
away, and everyone is a loud mouth on cnn or fox, and becomes nationally known for having a quick and nasty thing to say, then that's a pretty poor version of representative government. >> we're in a moment where much of our partisan politics is also commingled with identity politics. that's not new. >> no, it's ancient, because people vote and believe and act sometimes in accordance with who they are. who am i? the groups of various kinds that you belong to. for a long time, republicans claimed to rise above that, that they were speaking to americans, and they were speaking to the middle class and the heartland, and it was the democrats who were a bunch of special interests based on identity. it turned out that all the while, the republican party was moving toward their own version of identity politics. you don't see it clearly, but i
think newt gingrich is the beginning of this, because he introduced a level of partisanship that was so intense and sort of no holds barred, so disregarding of norms and ethics that it turned washington into sort of a kind of world war i style trench warfare, and over the years, the republican trench, because it was so fixed and static and so willing to do anything to win, became more and more the white working class trench. that became the republican party's base, and once that was their base, they kept pushing both language and issues in that direction. sarah palin is a good example. i see a line from gingrich to palin to trump. trump is full-throated unapologetic expression from the very top of our government, but it was beginning a long time ago, 20 years ago with gingrich, and gingrich now and
surprisingly is a big fan of donald trump, because they understand each other. they speak that same tribal language, which is both partisan republican and also it's the interests of white americans, white christian, kind of rural americans. that's the republican party today. >> democrats certainly have their own identity politics as well. >> yes, yes. i mean, hillary clinton's campaign always singled out and kind of called out the different groups in her coalition, and this is sort of a normal democratic thing to do, gay americans, straight americans, black americans, white americans, hispanic -- to name every identity group, and then to kind of say but we're all in that together, but really what some voters hear is just the names of the groups, and so they don't think this is all of us. they think no, she's actually talking about certain groups, and that didn't work very well in 2016 because she was both i think handicapped by that focus
and also by being a traditional establishment politician in a year when a lot of americans wanted to blow the establishment up. so it didn't -- i think it's a dead end, and i think a candidate who tries to make, for example, me too, into the rallying cry of the 2020 campaign is not going to be able to escape the trap the democratic party sometimes sets for itself. >> thank you so much, george. >> my pleasure. >> daily politics and tribalism are indeed a dangerous trap, as we see in the surge of nativist candidates all across the world. that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour" and company on pbs. join us again tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour and company.
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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: it is election day. voters across the country head to the polls with control of congress and many state houses at stake. we will have live analysis all night from our seasoned team of observers, as we track races for the senate, the house and governorships. it is the first test of the trump presidency at the ballot, and the results will determine the balance of power, and shape policy to come. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major fundior