1994 elections: Is it the end of an era? — with Karlyn Bowman (1994) | THINK TANK


Ben Wattenberg: Hello. I’m Ben Wattenberg.
Last week American voters sent congressional Democrats to a crushing defeat. Does this
lopsided election signal a major realignment in American politics, or was it simply a natural
swing of the electoral pendulum? Joining us to sort through the conflict and
the consensus are E. J. Dionne, a resident scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars and author of “Why Americans Hate Politics”; Michael Vlahos, senior fellow
at the Progress and Freedom Foundation; Karlyn Bowman, a colleague of mine and a resident
fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Stephen Hess, senior fellow at the Brookings
Institution and author of “Live from Capitol Hill: Studies of Congress and the Media.” The topic before this house: the 1994 elections.
Is this the end of an era? This week on “Think Tank.” Why did Americans vote the way they did? And
where does this election fit in the American electoral history? Is it a post–New Deal
realignment, the rise of neo-populism, or did fed up voters just want to throw the bums
out? Nasty, aggressive, and very expensive election
campaigns were the rule on both sides in 1994, but American voters turned out to register
their displeasure chiefly with the Democrats. The Republicans picked up well over the necessary
40 seats to wrest control of the House from the Democrats for the first time in 40 years.
In the Senate, Republicans gained eight seats. Across the country, powerful politicians lost
to upstarts. Voters in the 5th District of Washington ejected Speaker of the House Tom
Foley. Dan Rostenkowski’s Chicago voters ousted him after 36 years. Some threatened
Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy, Charles Robb, and Dianne Feinstein, held on to their seats;
but in January, Republican Bob Dole will be majority leader of the Senate, and Newt Gingrich
will be the next Speaker of the House. E. J. Dionne, was this election and earthquake,
a tidal wave, a so-called realigning election that you as a young man will have to live
with the consequences for the rest of your life? E. J. Dionne: Well, I think it was a tidal
wave, but like a lot of tidal waves, you don’t quite know what the effects are going to be
when it hits. I think part of it, especially in the South, was part of a continuing realignment
toward the Republicans. And I think part of it was an expression of discontent that’s
been out there for some years and could continue to take different forms as time goes on. Ben Wattenberg: Steve? Stephen Hess: Well, obviously any election
that produces a Republican House for the first time in 40 years has to be at least a tidal
wave. I think I may be a good deal more skeptical than some of my colleagues about realignment.
An electorate that throws out Republicans two years ago and elects Democrats, two years
later throws out the Democrats that they’ve just elected and elects Republicans? Well,
who knows what they’re going to do two years from now? Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn? Karlyn Bowman: Tidal wave, tsunami, watershed
— I’m not sure what the appropriate word is, but I’m not sure I’ll see another
election like this in my lifetime. The last time the Republicans won a majority of the
popular vote for the House was 1946. Ben Wattenberg: That’s almost half a century
ago. Karlyn Bowman: That’s right. A major change. Ben Wattenberg: Okay. Michael? Michael Vlahos: Well, it could be a realignment,
and it could be the beginning of a long Republican stewardship, but that is going to have to
be up to them to create the vision that follows the shift in Congress. This happened in the 1890s, and that’s Newt’s
favorite period. And he brings up Mark Hannah a lot. In the 1890s you had Democrats controlling
Congress for nine out of the 10 Congresses before then, and then suddenly it shifted
by almost 100 seats, more than 100 seats, in 1895. And that was followed up the next
year by a watershed presidential election, which decided the course for the country.
And — Ben Wattenberg: That was William Jennings
Brian versus — Michael Vlahos: Right. And McKinley. And basically
— Ben Wattenberg: Grover Cleveland — versus
McKinley, right. Michael Vlahos: But basically you had a struggle
going on between backward-looking populists and forward-looking sort of immigrant, urban
industrial Republicans, and the Republicans won out and set up 35 years of dominance. Ben Wattenberg: So what you’re saying is
that this will be a — may well be a realigning election only if a Republican wins in 1996? Michael Vlahos: No, no. No, only if the Republicans
capture a vision, and of course — Ben Wattenberg: Capture a vision? Michael Vlahos: Yeah, they could win in ’96
and still blow it, but — Ben Wattenberg: Oh, I understand. But if a
Republican president wins in ’96 and they keep control of both houses, Steve, would
you then — Stephen Hess: Well, when you talk — Ben Wattenberg: — be convinced that — Stephen Hess: Yeah, sure, because you’ve
got to have an event. When you talk about realignments, we talk about Jackson, we talk
about what happened in 1828 — Ben Wattenberg: Andrew, not Scoop. [Laughter.] Stephen Hess: Andrew, not Scoop. You talk
about a realignment that was the Civil War. You talk about the realignment that Michael
talked about with monetary and industrial policy after the panic of 1893. You talk about
the Great Depression producing an alignment. I don’t think that there is a comparable
issue today. I know Michael disagrees with me, but he does it by collecting a variety
of — Michael Vlahos: Issues aren’t always clear. E. J. Dionne: I think Michael’s right in
picking the 1890s as a relevant period, but I’m not sure we know it comes out quite
that way. Michael Vlahos: Yeah. E. J. Dionne: Because I think what we’re
going through now as a country is a kind of series of crises related to globalization,
technological change. That’s creating a lot of uneasiness among voters. It’s the
same kind of uneasiness that happened during industrialization in the period from the Civil
War to the 1900s. You can talk about the realignment toward
the Republicans with William McKinley, but that was also followed immediately by the
Progressive Era. And I think you can make a case that the country could move in one
of two directions. It could move toward a kind of conservative vision, or it could move
toward something like the progressives did in terms of reform, including social reform. Ben Wattenberg: Now, you talk about the globalization
of the economy and technological change, and I want to ask you all what caused the voters
to vote as they did. But I want to mention one or two polls beforehand so you might get
a slight clue as to what I think. Shortly before the election, a Washington
Post/ABC — E. J., you work for The Washington Post — an ABC — a Washington Post/ABC
poll showed 68 percent of the public regarded social issues as the most important problem,
while only 13 percent said it was economic issues. Michael Vlahos: But don’t confuse the two.
I mean, we’re in a period of economic transformation, just like the 1890s, and the social dislocation
that comes out of economic transformation is the issue that affects people. Their lives
are being torn apart. And that’s what’s going on. Ben Wattenberg: Hey, look, this social issue
stuff — I was just reading Barry Goldwater’s 1964 — Michael Vlahos: Right. Karlyn Bowman: Good choice. Ben Wattenberg: — speech to the convention.
He lists out the crime and the welfare and all of these social issues as if it was contemporary.
This is — this didn’t just start. Michael Vlahos: No, it didn’t, but now it’s
being — Ben Wattenberg: That’s 30 years ago. Michael Vlahos: I agree with you, and it didn’t
just start in 1896 either. That whole industrial transformation had been going on for decades
in the country. If you remember the labor disturbances of 1876, all the depressions
that went on — there were three depressions in the 1890s — it culminates over a period
of time. And what we’re seeing is that people are finally confronting a real watershed in
their lives, and the economic transformation, which we can call globalization, information
revolution, is all bound up in the change in American life. Americans are very uncertain.
They’re looking for a vision of where we go from here. Karlyn Bowman: But then I think — Ben Wattenberg: Let — Stephen Hess: Let’s have the micro picture,
though. Michael Vlahos: Okay, sure. Stephen Hess: We can get too macro about that.
We’ve just gone through an election where the polls, the most recent Washington Post
poll, showed that three out of four Americans couldn’t name their member of Congress,
where two out of three Americans who are eligible to vote didn’t vote — Michael Vlahos: Right. Stephen Hess: Where we have a uniquely unpopular
president, where 25 percent of the people simply detest him and detest him in a way
that’s very interesting. When they detested Ronald Reagan, it was ideological, so there
was a comparable group that loved him. There’s no comparable group here. These are really
very unique situations in which I think we have to be very gentle in looking — Ben Wattenberg: You don’t — Karlyn Bowman: Ben, I think you’re — Ben Wattenberg: Go ahead, Karlyn. Karlyn Bowman: I think you’re right that
issues involving moral disintegration of the society are weighing very heavily on people’s
minds. And if you look back to the ’50s, the last time this happened, Americans were
concerned about our science and technology — could we compete with the Soviets? And
now the overwhelming concern in the polls that I see is about moral fiber. I mean, that has many dimensions. It has economic
dimensions. Are we going to be able to compete with other people in Southeast Asia, for example?
But it also has a great deal to do with the problems we have here at home, the ones that
we are not very confident that government can solve. And that’s a sea change. Ben Wattenberg: Look, Steve, you said that
it was unique — a unique election in part because Clinton was so detested by so many
people. Stephen Hess: Yeah, so to that degree it is
a vote of confidence. I mean — Ben Wattenberg: Well, but wait a minute. Wait
a minute. Stephen Hess: The beloved Tip O’Neill was
not right that all politics is local. Ben Wattenberg: Right, but — Stephen Hess: Neither is all politics national.
But there was an awful lot that had to do with Bill Clinton in this election. Ben Wattenberg: Yeah, but — Stephen Hess: Bill Clinton isn’t going to
be around forever. Ben Wattenberg: You’re telling me. But the
— but suppose — I mean, isn’t there an ideological component to not liking a politician?
Suppose Clinton had governed as a new Democrat, and he got all the liberals angry. He coalesced
with the Republicans in the center. In other words, he governed the way he ran, as a new
Democrat. I think three-quarters of those who hate him would be hailing him. Michael Vlahos: Well, what if it goes beyond
ideology? I mean, what if the old paradigm, to use a 25-cent word, of government, a bureaucratic,
enlightened state that came out of the Progressive Era — what if that just doesn’t work anymore
and in this period of economic transformation people see that it doesn’t work and they
wouldn’t throw it out? Ben Wattenberg: Would you accept this distinction,
that it is not simply an anti-government vote, but it is an anti-what-government-does vote?
And — Michael Vlahos: And an anti-bureaucratic-state
vote, because the bureaucratic state is collapsing in business. Businesses are not like IBM and
GM used to be — pyramids. They are now adopting a totally different architecture of relationship,
and that’s going into government. And what’s happening in this election is a reflection. Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn? Michael Vlahos: But — Karlyn Bowman: Well, I think Republicans have
to answer the question about whether this was an anti-Washington vote or an anti-government
vote, and I don’t think that that’s clear. For example, if you look at a lot of Republican
governors who were elected, they think government could do many things and they can do it well.
They streamline government. It’s a smaller government generally. Michael Vlahos: Right. Karlyn Bowman: But I think Republicans have
to answer that question about what the mood is about the city of Washington. E. J. Dionne: And Karlyn is right about — in
pointing to the governors. Because if you look at the governors elections, you didn’t
have a lot of incumbents thrown out, with a couple of notable exceptions like Mario
Cuomo. And the range of governors who were reelected — Ben Wattenberg: And Ann Richards. E. J. Dionne: And Ann Richards, yes. Michael Vlahos: Right. E. J. Dionne: But the range of governors reelected,
they tended to be, with a couple of exceptions, quite a moderate lot: Roy — on the Democratic
side, Roy Romer of Colorado, Dean in Vermont. You had people — and then on the Republican
side you had people like Voinovich or Jim Edgar. These are problem-solving governors,
and I think — Stephen Hess: E. J., you didn’t have a lot
of senators thrown out either. You had Sasser and Wofford, two senators, thrown out. In
other words, look what happened there. George Mitchell decided he wanted to be commissioner
of baseball or something else. He would have been reelected. The seat went Republican. E. J. Dionne: Boren might have been — Stephen Hess: Boren wanted to be governor
— wanted to be president of Oklahoma State University. Ben Wattenberg: Boren may run primaries as
— Stephen Hess: Okay, he — Ben Wattenberg: — against Clinton in my
judgment, right. Stephen Hess: He would have won. If Lloyd
Bentsen hadn’t decided he preferred to be secretary of Treasury, he would be in the
Senate. E. J. Dionne: Al Gore. Stephen Hess: Yeah, Al Gore. So, you know,
we could be sitting here today looking at a situation in which there’s a perfectly
logical — E. J. Dionne: Yeah, but, Steve — Michael Vlahos: But this is part of what happens
in Washington a lot, and this is one of the things you saw before the election. People
thought — and I looked at the last Cuomo push, for example. It was a whole hour, and
they thought that having all sorts of famous actors endorsing him, trying to really manipulate
and control people from the old standpoint of this ruling elite in Washington knowing
how to control elections, and it blew apart this time. Stephen Hess: Can’t you just conclude that
somebody after being in office for 12 years is worn out, that it wasn’t a massive question
of industrialization, but just that the people of New York were tired of Mario? Michael Vlahos: Well, I’m sure people in
the 1890s were — Ben Wattenberg: Steve, when all the dominos
or almost all the dominoes — you point to specific things, you know, Cuomo was 12 years
and — Stephen Hess: Yeah, that’s how politics
is. It’s a lot of little pieces we put together and make — Ben Wattenberg: Yeah, but you could put a
lot of little pieces on the other side, but when all the dominoes, or almost all the dominoes,
fall in the same direction, particularly in those open seats, where there’s no incumbency
advantage, and they all go roughly the same way — E. J. Dionne: Absolutely. Ben Wattenberg: I would say, you know, you’d
better start talking realignment. This is big-time stuff, particularly when you have
that lurking values issue that the Democrats had a shot at and Clinton blew it. Stephen Hess: But you started off by saying
that the Republicans are saying what Barry Goldwater said. All you did is have a party
that takes a majority. E. J. Dionne: But I think we — Stephen Hess: That’s not realignment. That’s
the party has been successful in basically what it stands for. It is a conservative party. E. J. Dionne: I also think one of the things
we’re going to have to look at more closely over time is what was the nature of the turnout
in this election. See, I think that Clinton and the Democrats have a very large internal
problem, that they got beat because they couldn’t come together around a coherent program of
government. And I think voters were angry about that independent of their ideological
position, although there is certainly some ideological component to it. And then Clinton’s problem in terms of his
unpopularity is that, if you think of the group that’s benefited most from the recovery,
they are by and large better-off people because they were in a better position to benefit
from the recovery. They didn’t like Clinton because he raised their taxes, or they were
Republicans. The people who would have been the natural Democrats — and I think many
of them didn’t vote — were the people who haven’t felt the recovery yet. So this
side is disappointed, and the other side doesn’t like Clinton’s policies. Ben Wattenberg: Speaking of this side, this
side of this panel is the technocratic side, all right? They say, “Well, there was all
these little” — E. J. Dionne: I would never have said that
— Ben Wattenberg: — “these little Rube Goldberg
machines, and it didn’t quite work. We didn’t quite get turned out.” And we some — E. J. Dionne: Oh, no, I don’t think it’d
be a Rube Goldberg — Ben Wattenberg: — ideologues over here. E. J. Dionne: No, no, no. I don’t think
it’s a Rube Goldberg problem. I don’t think this is, you know, pulling a few levers.
I think this is really a matter, a deep matter, of how can Democrats govern the country. Can — new Democrats have said you’ve got
to restructure the government; you’ve got to do a bunch of things differently. So-called
old Democrats have said we’ve got to solve some problems and use government. Clinton
promised a synthesis, which was, we’re going to reform government — that’s the new
Democrat side — and we’re going to use it — that’s the old Democrat side. And
it didn’t — Ben Wattenberg: Hold on. I want to hear from
some of the ideologues here. Karlyn? E. J. Dionne: Could I defend myself, though? Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn, was this election
a rise of conservatism, sort of round two of the Reagan revolution? Karlyn Bowman: I think we’ve seen a rolling
realignment, and I think the country is becoming more conservative over time, and — though
you don’t see that in the straight ideology numbers, but certainly you see that, I think,
in the election that we had last week. Michael Vlahos: It’s a different kind of
conservatism, though. It’s not fiscal conservatism. It’s not “let’s be 20 percent less than
the Democrats.” It’s not “let’s be 20 percent less than FDR.” It’s a different
kind of vision. You talked about governors. It’s because
people want to see power devolve to more local arenas. And when you look at realignments
in the past, at the time it occurs, it never seems as obvious as it does in retrospect. And basically, if you look at — you saw
the Times-Mirror survey, for example. You have different groups and constellation of
voters moving away from their former affiliations. The fact that Clinton was such a manifest
failure in his promise to keep the old coalition together is a sign of how far things have
gone. You have a whole group of Perotistas basically who are right there to be grabbed
by the Republicans. You have a divide that isn’t simply a divide of ideology; it’s
a divide of whether you look backward to the bureaucratic state or forward to a different
concept of American life. Ben Wattenberg: All right. E. J. Dionne: Can I — Ben Wattenberg: Wait a minute. Hold it. I
— Stephen Hess: I was writing that speech, though,
for Eisenhower, though. I mean, really, seriously. [Laughter.] Seriously. Ben Wattenberg: What did you say, Steve? Stephen Hess: I say I was writing that speech
for Eisenhower. Michael Vlahos: Oh, you still don’t get
it. [Laughter.] Stephen Hess: Let me say, is it not true that
in the South at least, as E. J. started our discussion, this is a continuation, the completion,
of a post — E. J. Dionne: It started in ’48. Stephen Hess: Certainly in ’52 when Eisenhower
took Texas and Florida and Virginia. E. J. Dionne: Virginia. Stephen Hess: So we had it at the presidential
level. Then it moved to the gubernatorial and senatorial. Now it’s at the House level. Ben Wattenberg: I should point out to our
audience that — Stephen Hess: We have completed — Ben Wattenberg: Stephen has — Stephen Hess: Yeah. Ben Wattenberg: Although he’s a man young
— short in tooth, a young man, started working in the Eisenhower administration. Stephen Hess: Yeah. Ben Wattenberg: He was three at that time.
But — and then you worked in the Nixon administration. Stephen Hess: Yeah. Michael Vlahos: Your micro-interpretation
is very persuasive at the micro level, but you have to understand, I would hope, that
there are these periods when things shift and break in America. Stephen Hess: Absolutely. But, Michael, I
— Michael Vlahos: And to deny that that’s
happening — Stephen Hess: No, no, no. Predictions — I
predict that tomorrow will be like today on realignments, which means that I’m only
wrong once every 40 years. Michael Vlahos: Right. Stephen Hess: I may be wrong now. Michael Vlahos: Okay. Stephen Hess: But the odds at least are with
me. Michael Vlahos: You see, the — E. J. Dionne: Could I throw one more element
into the pot? Michael Vlahos: Go ahead. Sure. E. J. Dionne: This is about a voter who realigned
in this election. I was on the phone with one of my oldest friends, a historic Democrat
who voted straight Republican on Tuesday, and he said he walked into his polling place
and he saw a lot of people hang around, mostly guys, he said — mostly middle-aged guys
— and he said these were people with kids. They were worried about bringing up their
families. They thought it’s their responsibility to do that. And he thinks a lot of these people
voted Republican simply as an expression of their deep belief that a certain kind of personal
responsibility should rule and that the government isn’t going to solve the problem that’s
in their heads. I think that — Michael Vlahos: You just hit it. Personal
responsibility is the — E. J. Dionne: I think that that — Stephen Hess: Did he move to the suburbs? E. J. Dionne: Well, yes. And exactly right. Michael Vlahos: No, wait. He said different. E. J. Dionne: I pointed out to him these were
people who didn’t need government at all — Michael Vlahos: This is a really important
point, though. E. J. Dionne: And that that’s the issue. Michael Vlahos: This is a really important
point. E. J. Dionne: That’s exactly right. Michael Vlahos: That’s the watchword of
the future, is individual — Karlyn Bowman: But government isn’t even
helping those people who need it, and I think that’s one of the most serious problems.
And that’s what part of this election was about. It’s not helping people who need
it. And people want to see responsibilities devolve to the states and local areas where
more can be done. New federalism may be back — Richard Nixon — long after his — Michael Vlahos: Yeah, individual responsibility
is really the watchword. Ben Wattenberg: Now, wait a minute. Hold it.
Let me just turn to something else. Who is going to be the next president and why? Karlyn,
you can tell us that, I know that. Karlyn Bowman: I wish I knew the answer. I
don’t know the answer to that question. Ben Wattenberg: How many party — how many
people are going to be running? Karlyn Bowman: Oh, I think you could see a
couple of independent candidacies. I think you could see Clinton challenged from both
the right and the left of his party. Ben Wattenberg: Who would challenge from the
right and the left? Karlyn Bowman: Casey in Pennsylvania. There’s
been some talk about that, that he might challenge from the right. Ben Wattenberg: Uh-huh. Karlyn Bowman: Jesse Jackson could run as
an independent. There’s been some suggestion that David Boren could run as independent.
Colin Powell — no one knows yet whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat. Ben Wattenberg: Bob Kerrey, we hear, might
challenge Clinton. Karlyn Bowman: Possibly. And the Republicans
have obviously a very large group, and it’s hard to — for me to see who wins. Michael Vlahos: Yeah, the Republicans have
two years to put together a vision, and whoever best offers that vision most forcefully and
most authentically will be the nominee. Ben Wattenberg: Is the — Michael Vlahos: No, no — Karlyn Bowman: I’d like to believe that
but — Ben Wattenberg: Go ahead. Michael Vlahos: No — Karlyn Bowman: I said I’d like to believe
that, but I think that who has a lot of money at the beginning of this process because the
primary process — Michael Vlahos: Hey, we all know that, but
let me finish on this though. Ben Wattenberg: Is the Contract for America
a vision? Michael Vlahos: The Contract for America is
something that was kind of a groundwork and a first step, but I think you’ve got to
go a lot farther than that. You’ve got to talk about what’s really happening to America.
But on the Democrat side, if Clinton moves to the new Democrat to outflank the Republicans,
you’re going to see a third-party candidacy probably, and you’re going to see — Ben Wattenberg: By Jesse Jackson — Michael Vlahos: The Democrats split up. Ben Wattenberg: Right. Michael Vlahos: So that’s a real interesting
prospect for the next election. E. J. Dionne: First of all, I think Clinton
could still be the next president. Karlyn Bowman: Yes. E. J. Dionne: I think we are in such a strange
and volatile mood that I do not think we should rule that out as of now. Michael Vlahos: No, no, absolutely not. E. J. Dionne: But I think the — on the Republican
side, a lot of people are going to end up looking at these governors, because I think
it’s very important to see this election as a reaction against Democrats in Washington,
but not against incumbents in the statehouses with those couple of exceptions, and that
somebody like Lamar Alexander is out there, I think, talking in very interesting terms
about how do you assemble a new Republican program. In fact, he’s gone back to the
Progressive Era, too, and is talking about Herbert Crowley — Karlyn Bowman: Absolutely. E. J. Dionne: And what does a new Republican
program look like? I think that’s very interesting. Karlyn Bowman: E. J., is it possible that
those Republicans could run as favorite sons? Stephen Hess: Well, yeah, I would say that
Clinton — Ben Wattenberg: Hold on. Let’s get Karlyn’s
question. We’ll come to you. Karlyn Bowman: My question to E. J. is: Could
these Republican governors run as favorite sons? Because the primary process is over
so early this time, about 60 — what? Sixty-five percent of the delegates are selected by March? Stephen Hess: You won’t find that anymore.
That was the way it used to be — Karlyn Bowman: They just won’t buy it? Stephen Hess: Before 1952. That’s — E. J. Dionne: I think that’s very hard. Stephen Hess: It’s interesting, but it’s
not going to — Karlyn Bowman: But could they agree to think
about it as a group and — E. J. Dionne: But you could have — Karlyn Bowman: It’s — I mean, it’s just
an interesting idea. E. J. Dionne: It’s an interesting question
in the sense that they wouldn’t be favorite sons in the old sense, but Pete Wilson could
well carry California. Bill Weld could well carry Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Karlyn Bowman: Exactly. Christy Whitman. E. J. Dionne: So you would have the effect
of favorite sons without real favorite sons. Ben Wattenberg: What about some of those Midwestern
governors who are so popular? I mean — E. J. Dionne: Engler, Thompson — Karlyn Bowman: Thompson. Ben Wattenberg: Engler, Thompson. Stephen Hess: Yeah, they’re all good — Karlyn Bowman: Edgar. Stephen Hess: — vice presidential candidates. Michael Vlahos: Yeah, you’ve got — Ben Wattenberg: Yeah, and therefore, couldn’t
they say to their voters, “Look, you know, let me represent you out there; just — I’m
only running in this state. There are so many votes — so many, you know, convention votes
here. Don’t vote for any of those guys; vote for me.” And have a real convention? Stephen Hess: I would argue that, if Colin
Powell turns out to be a Republican, he’ll be the Republican nominee. And it’s not
a vision where we’re looking for, but it’s a leader. We haven’t got two years for vision. Michael Vlahos: They go together — Stephen Hess: I would say that — Michael Vlahos: Every time in America. Stephen Hess: Bill Clinton, although he’s
likely to get the nomination, is also a possibility to be the first incumbent president since
Chester Arthur in 1884 to be denied the nomination. So want to play games? We can play it either
way. Ben Wattenberg: All right. Let’s — we
started with E. J. on a sort of round robin. Let us try that again as we close this discussion.
What do you distill from this conversation that you agree upon and disagree upon as a
panel here? What would — how would you — E. J. Dionne: I think — Ben Wattenberg: Sum up what we have just heard? E. J. Dionne: I think we agree that these
elections were a big, big, big deal, and we don’t quite agree on what that deal means.
I think that there is a sense that something is roiling the country out there. I think
everybody agrees on that. Ben Wattenberg: Values, E. J. E. J. Dionne: Yeah, I knew you’d say that. Ben Wattenberg: Yeah, I know you knew — E. J. Dionne: And I think values is part of
it. I think the kind of economic change we’re going through is part of it and affects the
values. I think where we disagree is about how clear
the direction of this change is. My own view is that we’re in the middle of it, and we’re
not — it’s not clear, at least to me, what direction this change is going to take. Ben Wattenberg: All right. Steve? Stephen Hess: Well, I certainly think in the
short run, the next two years, that the president, blocked in terms of a legislative program,
is going to be ironically the foreign policy president and there invent government president. Michael Vlahos: Yes, absolutely right. Stephen Hess: And that otherwise we’ll go
into the 1996 election looking for vision on both sides. The vision that E. J. suggests
for Clinton sort of coming down the middle I think is much too subtle and nuanced. Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn, how do you distill
what we have learned this morning? Karlyn Bowman: I agree with the agreement
that we’ve just discussed thus far, but I think that the contract is a vision, albeit
an imperfect one. And there is some ground for Republicans to try to change things in
this city. But it’s a very imperfect vision at this point. Michael Vlahos: This was the last hurrah of
the progressive movement, and a historical era is finally over in American politics that
was protracted far too long. And whether or not you see the Republicans rise with a new
vision that carries them forward for 35 years of dominance or not, you’re still at the
end of an old era and the beginning of a new one. Ben Wattenberg: I agree we are at the end
of an era, which as Karlyn knows I’ve been saying for — what? How long? Fifteen years
that you’ve known me. Michael Vlahos: You’ve finally — [Laughter.] E. J. Dionne: You’re always in the middle
of a transition period. Ben Wattenberg: All right. Thank you, Stephen
Hess, Karlyn Bowman, E. J. Dionne, and Michael Vlahos. And thank you. We enjoy hearing from our audience. Please continue to send your comments to New River Media, 1150 17th Street, NW, Washington,
DC 20036. Or we can be reached via email at [email protected] For “Think Tank,” I’m Ben Wattenberg. Announcer: This has been a production of BJW
Inc., in association with New River Media, which are solely responsible for its content.

Political Chaos in Venezuela & The Rise of a Cocoa Cartel | The Daily Show


You may remember that Venezuela
is a country in chaos right now. The economy has crashed,
people can’t afford food, and two men both claim
to be the rightful leader– President Nicolás Maduro and the head of the Venezuelan
congress, Juan Guaidó. And over the weekend,
there was an awkward moment when Guaidó showed up
at the office and found that Maduro
had changed the locks. WOMAN: There was chaos
outside Venezuela’s opposition-controlled
National Assembly. Security forces blocked
opposition leader Juan Guaidó from presiding over
a special session of congress to elect a leader. At one point yesterday,
Guaidó tried to climb a fence, but was prevented
from entering. Guaidó has been recognized
as Venezuela’s head by more than 50 nations,
including the U.S. Opposition leaders blamed
President Nicolás Maduro for the move to try
and oust Guaidó. Goddamn! What is going on
in Venezuela? It’s like
Southern America Ninja Warrior. What is that? Politicians are trying to climb
over the fence just to vote. That would never happen
in America. Can you imagine Mitch McConnell
climbing a fence to try to get into Congress? Although he probably
wouldn’t climb. He would just try and ooze
through the bars. (laughter) He’d just be like, “Yeah,
I’m-I’m mostly skin. Yeah. Mm. Yeah.” Seriously, I’m very impressed
by Guaidó, because there’s no vote
that would be important enough for me to try and jump a fence that had all of
those sharp points on top of it. I’d be like, “Uh, is this a vote “to replace my testicles
for free? Uh, then, no,
I’m gonna wait outside.” I bet there was one politician
inside the building who was like, “I wonder
which way Guaidó’s gonna vote, “because right now, he seems
to be on the fence! “Get it? Get it? Just me? Okay.” (applause and cheering) All right, and finally… if you love chocolate,
first of all, congratulations on being basic,
and, second, prepare to pay up. The top two cocoa producers
in the world– this is front page news
in the Wall Street Journal– have decided to join forces
and form a cocoa cartel. Ivory Coast and Ghana, combined, produce about two-thirds
of the world’s cocoa supply. MAN 2:
Wow. MAN: And they are banding
together to raise prices. So you can expect the cost of
candy bars, ice cream and cake to go up about 16%. Premium cocoa prices are due
to take effect in October. This is
a super interesting story, ’cause on the one hand,
you think of chocolate bars… -Yeah. -…and you think,
like, Willy Wonka, -and, like, everyone’s having
fun. -Right. -Yes. -Nah.
-And the golden ticket, yes. All right, this is big. Two of the world’s biggest
cocoa producers have teamed up to form the cocoa cartel, which also happens
to be my stripper name. (laughter) Don’t forget.
Tickets are still available for the show at the Man Cave
next Tuesday. The DJ doesn’t come in
that early, so I need you guys to hum
Britney Spears while I dance. (laughter) But for real, but for real,
it’s a cocoa cartel. It’s a real thing.
Sounds like a lot of fun. ‘Cause now I’m imagining,
like, cocoa dealers opening briefcases
of cocoa powder. Like, “This better be pure.” And just like, “Mmm! Mr. Toblerone
will be very pleased.” (laughter) It’s also funny how,
when the news anchor said, “Most people think of chocolate,
they think of Willy Wonka.” Who? Who thinks that? ‘Cause you realize Africa makes
75% of the world’s cocoa, right? So if Charlie got
a golden ticket in real life, they would ship him to Ghana
to meet the real Willy Wonka. -Yeah, that’s who that would be.
-(applause) That would be
the real Willy Wonka. (applause and cheering) That movie would be completely
different if it was real life. Charlie would be there
in the factory. Willy Wonka would be like,
“Now, Charlie, look at me. “Look at me, Charlie. “You are the captain now, okay? “That fat German kid
had to die, Charlie, “because you are the best. “So if anyone comes,
you tell them you are running everything here,
all right?”

The Logistics of the US Election


This video was made possible by Dashlane. Browse the internet faster and easier by signing
up for free at dashlane.com/Wendover. On November 3rd, 2020, hundreds of millions
of Americans will all make their way to their local polling stations to cast their votes—deciding
who will be the next President of the United States of America. That day will be the cumulation of a multi-year,
multi-billion dollar election process, but before that all truly ends, the votes need
to be counted and the winner has to be declared. As soon as the first polls close at 6:00 PM
eastern time, there begins a massive overnight exercise to count hundreds of millions of
votes and, typically, declare who will next lead the country by the early hours of the
following morning. While the true effort doesn’t start until
the early evening of voting day, the first results come in the early morning of election
day, before most polls have even opened. A few small towns on the East Coast—most
famously Dixville Notch, New Hampshire—all compete to be the first precinct in the US
to report results. New Hampshire state law allows polling places
in the state to close early as long as all registered voters have cast their ballots. Given that the town only has a dozen or so
registered voters, this process is typically finished in minutes or seconds. In front of a cluster of cameras from nearly
every major news organization, the votes are read out and tallied. The process of counting a dozen or so paper
ballots in a small town is not tough, but a few hours later, the rest of the country’s
polling locations will open—each of which eventually has to accurately count up to thousands
of votes. What makes the US election so difficult to
conduct right is that there are over 178,000 individual voting precincts, each of which
can and does do things in a slightly different way. Some use paper ballots that have to be read
and interpreted manually, some use paper ballots that are scanned by a machine, some use electronic
voting machines, and some even allow for absentee voting over the internet. The selection of a voting method is a difficult
balancing act—hand-written paper ballots are simple and cheap which means that a polling
station can process loads of voters at once, but they’re much more difficult to count. Electronic voting machines are expensive and
complicated meaning they’re often in short supply, leading to longer lines, but counting
and reporting the votes happens almost instantaneously. Also a major concern in the selection of voting
method is security. The most secure ballot is no doubt a handwritten
paper one, as submitting a fraudulent vote involves physically acquiring and submitting
a ballot—something that can’t be easily done at a large scale. Arguably the least secure method is electronic
voting machines as anything electronic can be hacked. Almost every voting machine out there has
been hacked in some way or another in controlled experiments at hacker conventions such as
Defcon. In the real world, it’s impossible to know
for sure how often voting security has been compromised, but we do know that these machines
can be hacked which is why still today much of the US votes the same way it did hundreds
of years ago—on paper ballots. First to close their polling places will be
parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 6:00 PM eastern. The second that happens, everything shifts
into counting mode. Both states use a mix of optical scan and
direct record electronic voting machines. For example, the majority of Kentucky’s
machines are Hart InterCivic eScan’s. These are those optical scan electronic machines
where a voter physically fills out a paper ballot, shading in bubbles for their preferred
candidates, then feeds the sheet into a machine which scans the responses, and then records
and tallies the votes. In Indiana, however, the majority of their
machines are Microvote Infinity’s, which are examples of direct record electronic machines. These are fully electronic machines where
the voter selects their candidates of choice on the screen before pressing a button to
cast their votes. Once 6:00 PM rolls around, though, the machines’
voting modes will be turned off, they will print out a physical paper backup displaying
the tally of votes for each candidate, and the poll workers will remove a sort of memory
device that stores the totals. Every step of this process has to be witnessed
by multiple people, usually of different political parties. These papers and memory devices are all then
packed up in sealed envelopes and gathered together. From there, the votes need to make it to a
central vote-counting location. Usually, they’re driven there by the county’s
police to assure there is no interference. That works in most places, but not all. For example, anyone who’s been in Los Angeles
in the early evening, when their polls close, knows that it would take hours to get a vehicle
from Gorman, on the northern end of Los Angeles County, to Norwalk, where votes are tallied. Therefore, the county uses helicopters to
fly voting records to Norwalk from across the county, and therefore ends up spending
many millions of dollars on each election day. Traffic is less of a concern in Indiana and
Kentucky, though, and so, not long after 6:00 PM eastern, votes will start arriving at their
central counting locations where all the memory devices will be plugged into a tabulating
computer that will record the results. They’ll also add in the results from early
and absentee voting as well. Given the electronic nature of this count,
once votes have physically arrived at the site, the process doesn’t take long, but
throughout it all, it will be observed by a bipartisan grouping of poll workers and
officials. Of course, the way the world hears about the
results of the election is not via the government itself, but rather through the media. Almost always, the media tells the public
who will win the election before all the votes have come in, and they make this call based
off two key pieces of information. The first is election-day polling. There are two competing systems of polling. The first is the Associated Press’ VoteCast
system—a relatively new method where voters are polled at home via the internet and phone
in the days leading up to election day—and the second is the National Election Pool system
used by ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC. This system uses the more traditional exit-poll
method where individuals leaving polling stations are asked who they voted for, in an attempt
to gather a representative sample. Both of these systems give media organizations
an idea of how voters are leaning on election day, and help them know where the results
are likely to swing. The second major data-point used to project
election results are the results themselves. A small sampling of results from a county
should be roughly representative of the county’s results overall. The Associated Press stations about 4,000
of its reporters in vote-counting centers all across the country, and as soon as these
counties report results, the reporters call them in to the AP’s office in Spokane, Washington. There, one of hundreds of data entry personnel
will answer the phone and put the information into the AP’s system. These data, which may at the time of entry
be unofficial, are used by news organizations all around the world. Throughout the rest of the night, results
will come in precinct by precinct and the AP will call the results precinct by precinct. The last polls close at 1:00 AM eastern time
in Alaska, however, more than likely, the country will already know who has won the
election by that time. The AP’s DC bureau is in charge of calling
the race. They’ll one-by-one declare each state won
for one candidate or the other. Some states they’ll know from the second
polls close which way they’ll go. For example, in 2016, the highly democratic
states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland along with the District of Columbia
were all called for Clinton by the AP the very minute polls closed in those places at
8:00 pm eastern. The AP just knew off of historical voting
trends and exit polling that they would certainly go blue. Meanwhile, battleground states, with a fairly
even mix of democrats and republicans, tend to be trickier to call and require a good
proportion of actual results to come in. For example, Minnesota’s results in 2016
weren’t called until 11:09 AM eastern and Alaska’s not until 11:58 AM eastern on the
day after the election. Far before the last state is called, through,
the combination of electoral votes designated to the called states will exceed the required
majority, 270, and at that time, the AP will send out what they call a, “flash.” These are the very highest tier of AP alerts,
reserved for, as they describe it, events they, “expect to be one of the very top
stories of the year.” The AP averages less than two flashes a year,
and such an alert has been used for events like the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the resignation
of Pope Benedict, and the death of Nelson Mandela. It is not always the AP who is the first to
call the race, but more often than not, they are the first major news organization to declare
a winner. Historically, this tends to happen between
9:00 and 11:00 pm eastern, but sometimes much later, and sometimes much earlier. From there, tradition kicks in and the loser
calls the winner, the winner throws a party, and the next day the sitting President calls
the President elect. The true, official results might not come
in for days or weeks as the states work to tally every vote—not reliant on probability. The moment that happens, though, the clocks
reset and the US and world again begins the four-year process leading up to the election
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Will Impeachment Guarantee Trump Re-Election?


All right. We are taking calls for a one of
the last times at 2019. The phone number is of course six 1783604750. Let’s go next to our caller from the three
one seven area code. Who’s calling today from three one seven three one seven. I heard you
click on there. Yeah, there you are. Hi there. Um, my question is, um, um, I’ve
heard you talk about Trump not likely being impeached, uh, due to the, uh, Republicans
just smacking it down in the Senate. Uh, do you think he has a real shot at being present
despite going back on all of his campaign promises and using ice the way he is allowing
children to die in custody? Like how will that not destroy him in the upcoming election?
Like what are your thoughts on that? Because his vote, his supporters either don’t
care or don’t believe it or think that it’s the fault of Democrats or fill in the blank.
So yeah, I so Trump will, I don’t believe Trump will be convicted by the Senate on impeachment.
Um, I do unfortunately think that unless we really get turnout up and really do what is
going to be very hard work as a, as a general rule, it’s hard to knock off an incumbent
president. It’s particularly difficult when you have one with a cult of personality around
them. The cult of personality around George W. Bush was nothing compared to the cult of
personality around Donald Trump. So I F I, I agree with you. How could someone vote for
this? I understand your frustration. I hear the frustration in your voice, but unfortunately,
I think that Trump is likely to lose the popular vote, but he very well may win the electoral
college again and get reelected to another four years and it will be horrible. Oh my gosh. Well that was the, a question.
Well, that was the answer I was hoping not to get, but I, I appreciate that. It seems
like the situation that we’re in, but um, but listen, it’s not a foregone conclusion,
right? I mean, that’s the thing we’ve got to, we, it’s up to us. It’s, we’ve half the
country doesn’t vote. If people go out and vote, it’s very easy. We don’t even really
have to convince anyone to change their mind about Trump. We just have to make sure that
the people that normally don’t vote and might not otherwise vote, go out and vote and then
we win. It’s just easier said than done. Right. Right. Well, I’ll be, uh, I’ll be looking forward to it for sure.
All right. Thank you so much for the call. Very much appreciate hearing from you

EU Referendum: Professor David H. Dunn


Hello, my name’s David Dunn. I’m professor
of International Politics and head of the Department of Political Science and International
Studies at the University of Birmingham. Today I’d like to share some thought’s about what
is very positive about the European Union and what that contribution is and why we should
stay part of what is a positive force in world politics. The first thing to say is that as
a historian of war which I partly am, war is the universal condition in European history
for the last 3000 years. War is older than sovereignty, older than the nation states and every generation
has thought they’ve been past war and that war was a thing of the past. This was true
in 1918, true in the 1930s and the European project, it’s main purpose has been to address
the causes of war and to build what’s called a security community through functional integration
and to actually ameliorate the causes of war and that, I think it has done very successfully
over 70 years. In doing that it has also spread security throughout Europe, it’s actually brought peace
and stability to Greece and Spain that had dictators, it’s over the years it’s also embraced
and socialised the former European communist countries of Eastern Europe and in doing so
it’s created a large space in Europe that is secure, where the prospect of resort to
force within that community is now a thing of the past. Now Europe is going through a
lot of challenges, the resurgent Russia, the challenge of ISIS. Now is not a time to set
a process in motion that would destabilise and possibly end what has been a long sustained
period of peace in european history. But Europe’s not just about peace, europe is also about
prosperity. The creation of the single market has been a massive boon for the european economy
and a massive boon for the UK in Europe. Back in the 1970s, which I remember, Britain was
the sick man of Europe. Our economy lagged behind Italy, it lagged behind France. Now it’s
the second biggest economy, partly because people invest from overseas direct foreign investments
in the UK as a way of getting to a market 500 million people. That’s why Toyota, and
Honda and Airbus and even Kellogg’s and Microsoft invest in the UK as part of a wider
market and that’s hugely beneficial for the UK economy. The same thing is true about the
City of London. The City of London, the joke there is, that it’s rather like Wimbledon, we provide
the venue but not necessarily all the players. Because there are 300 thousand French, there are
hundreds of thousands of Germans, all Europeans work in the city and make that a truly European
and global financial hub. Free movement of people makes that possible and the economy
benefits enormously. 25% of the UK economy is financial services and that’s as a consequence
of the free movement of people and membership of the European Union. We’ve also actually
benefited from a single European space. We’re part of a larger community. By being part of something
bigger, we are better. Less xenophobic, less racist. We actually understand Europe, we travel
around Europe, we actually experience Europe in a different way. The prospect of jumping
on an aeroplane and flying off to a European capital for the weekend is a thing that
was completely alien 50, 60 years ago even 20 years ago. Now we see ourselves in a different
context, we are part of a larger European project. We have a larger sense of ourselves that is
better as a consequence. We’re also actually better on the world stage by speaking with
one voice. When Britain speaks on the world stage as 70 million, that’s one voice.
If we lead in Europe and speak on behalf and lead 500 million then we have a bigger voice. We have a chance to export soft power values, European values, on the world stage through
the institution and I recommend you stay in as a consequence. Thank you.

Immersion – Hitman in Real Life | Rooster Teeth


In stealth games, characters can often grab a disguise in order to blend in seamlessly with crowds. Take “Hitman” for example, where players often conceal their identity, In order to take out high profile targets. Come on. Just wearing a disguise to assassinate someone in the middle of a massive crowd would be MUCH more difficult in real life. …Or would it~? [Loud static] [Epic intro music] [Soft spy music] Welcome to Season 4 of Immersion™. Today, we’ve come out to our Rooster Teeth ‘Ballroom Simulator’ To run one of our biggest experiments, ever. We’re gonna be testing to see whether or not A Hitman could use a simple disguise to stealthily navigate a crowded room, and take out a specific target. AND- To help us run our experiment today, Two of our fan favorite lab rats, Michael and Gavin. Gavin: Hey yo!
Michael: Heeeyyyy! Burnie: Hey, welcome back, guys! Well, Gavin, I felt like you had to do this one because you’re so synonymous with the franchise. The fans all know that you play
this game and play it well. Do you feel pressure to do well here today? Gavin: Yes! I mean, on paper, this should be my game. Burnie: Should be! Michael, do you have experience playing Hitman games as well? Michael: Oh yeah. I’m pretty, uh, experienced. I’ve dabbled in the, uh, in the bald head. Burnie: Yeah?
Michael: Yeah. Burnie: Well, to add to the pressure, we’re gonna be filling this room with over 200 RTX attendees. Gavin: It’s a lot.
Burnie: You’re gonna have to navigate through ’em. Here’s how the experiment is gonna work. You are going to infiltrate a political fundraiser for congressman Mike Hawk. Your mission is to assassinate the target and exit the ballroom without being caught. If your target leaves the event before you’re able to carry out your mission, you lose. If you’re able to kill the congressman and exit the ballroom, you win. But, be aware. If the target goes down, security is gonna start pulling the
masks off of all the guests. If you’re unmasked, you lose. While the target is giving the speech, you can decide how to make your approach. Will you disguise yourself as one of his avid supporters and using a poison sticker take him out face to face? Perhaps, you will dress as a waiter and covertly poison his drink at the VIP table upstairs. Or will you disguise yourself as one of his trusted security guards, and eliminate the target as he takes a private phone call. Gavin: Right. Bollocks, though. Because everyone in this room will recognize our faces. Burnie: Ah. Okay. Well, that’s why everyone in the room will be dressed in the same shirt and they will have a different colored masquerade mask. Now, to give you an advantage, we’ve also given you a selection of wigs, hats, coats, even different shoes so you can customise your look. Just to keep you guys motivated, we have armed all the security guards with one of these. (taser crackling) Michael: Why?! Every time!
Gavin: …every time… Michael: In the show, you just… stun gun.
Burnie: They’re great. Gavin: When was the last Immersion episode without one of them? Gavin: Pacman?
Michael: What you got, look down. Burnie: What? Alright, let’s do the experiment. (spy music) Political assistant: Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Thank you so much for joining us for
this momentous fundraiser. So without further ado, the moment
you’ve all been waiting for, I present to you, Mike Hawk! (crowd cheers) Burnie: Okay, the lab rats will be entering through the second floor elevator. Their first opportunity to take down the target will be downstairs as soon as
the congressman finishes his speech. There are 5 security guards surrounding the perimeter. 2 downstairs, 2 upstairs, and a
bodyguard who follows Mike Hawk. Like our lab rats, all the guards in today’s experiment are Rooster Teeth employees. So they can definitely recognize Michael and Gavin. But, the guards have no idea which of our past lab rats will be running our course today. The guards will not act unless they recognize the lab rats and they see them
performing suspicious activity. If they do, they will begin removing everybody’s masks. Alright! Michael is entering the fundraiser from the second floor elevator. Let’s see how he does. (Mike Hawk speech in background) Michael: Jesus Christ! There’s a lot of people in there. Fucking neeeerrrrves. Burnie: Michael begins already armed
with the poison sticker. If he places this on anyone’s skin, the target will instantly be poisoned. (crowd cheers) Michael: Yeah! Mike Hawk!
God, he looks like a douchebag. Michael: Waiter’s only… Oh, it’s back here. Oh yes! Waiter’s outfit! Oh, poison. Fuck yes.
Ohohoho, this guy’s getting poisoned. Mike Hawk: With my skills, as a master debater. Michael: What the fuck? Is this guy just talking about his dick the whole time?
Mike Hawk: I’m here today, to rally for Mike Hawk. Mike Hawk: God bless you all, and God bless America!
(crowd cheers) Burnie: Michael is taking way too long to put on his waiter’s outfit. Mike Hawk is already
done with his speech. Michael: Yeah, no shit. 4 minutes is
not enough time at all. Guard Tyler: Copy that. The congressman is making his way towards the stairs. Burnie: Alright, Michael better hurry up and get upstairs if he wants to poison that drink in time. Burnie: Wow! Okay, Adam did not recognize Michael. Guard Kyle: Changing positions. Michael: Security only, eh? Okay, interesting. It’s gotta work shit. Assistant: Alright.
Mike Hawk: God, I hate this things.
Assistant: I know, I’m so sorry, sir. Michael: Shit, here comes the guy just fine. Let me just put that in your drink…hohoho…
making you drink so many… Assistant: Can I get a drink for Mike Hawk? Michael: Don’t say nothing…yadatata… Michael: Oh no!
Guest: I’m so sorry, can I help you clean up? Michael: Naw, I’m good. It’s alright. Burnie: (laugh) Did he just spill the drinks? He just wasted all the poison. Assistant: Thank you.
Mike Hawk: Oh, thank you. Guest: Sorry.
Michael: Hey, accidents happen. Michael, under breath: Fucking piece of shit. Alright, new plan. Time to head to the security office. Guard Tyler: Making my way to the congressman now. Michael: It’s fucking go time soon. This bitch is gonna die. Burnie: Whoa! That was really close. I really wanted Tyler to spot him. Guard Tyler: Securing the VIP area. Burnie: Well, that was obvious. Looks like Michael was recognized by a fan. Michael: Alright, I’m going into the security room. Burnie: Yup. Michael blew his cover. The fan has reported the suspicious activity. Guard Jon: I’ll check it out. Guard Jon: Michael’s spotted near the security office. Michael: Oh sweet. A knife! I’m gonna stab him so hard! This is the real test. How does 47 change so fast? Guard Kyle: What are you doing in here? Michael: Oh, I was uhh…just straightening my shirt. Guard Kyle: I got Michael.
Michael: Hey, wait! No! Stop! (dramatic fail sound effect) Burnie: Well, obviously the guards won that round. (elevator ding)
Let’s see if Gavin can do any better. Is that Gavin? If his wig doesn’t give him away, his nose definitely will. (crowd cheer) Mike Hawk: Well, folks, for years I’ve thought long and hard about that question. And I’m here to tell you that Mike Hawk
stands firmly for all of you! (crowd cheer) Gavin: Is Jon the best they could’ve
come up with for a security guy? Guard Jon: I’m not sure, I think I saw Gavin. Be on the look out for him. Guard Adam: Copy that. Burnie: Looks like the guards may have spotted Gavin. He better be careful. Mike Hawk: …to rally for Mike Hawk! God bless you all and God bless America! Burnie: Well, the congressman is finishing his speech. And Gavin still hasn’t made a move. His run may end even quicker than Michael’s.
(Gavin whistling) (crowd chanting “Mike Hawk”) Gavin: Just gotta go in with confidence, is all you need. Just a walk in like you belong in it. That’s it. Mike Hawk: Hey, thank you. It’s gonna be a big rally. I really appreciate it. Of course, I’m ready. Gavin: Alright. Good to go, let’s get some bevs. This one’s for me. Waiters are allowed to drink, I think. So we’re good. Let’s get some more fodder, shall we? That cheese is all for me. Thank you very much.
Just take the whole bloody thing. Assistant: No more handshakes. Gavin: Oh shit! Someone’s behind me. Burnie: Wow! Gavin is cutting it close! Gavin: Cheeeese. Burnie: Why is Gavin not masking his British accent? That’s not very stealthy. Gavin: Okay, I’m going for it. There you go! One for you. I feel like that was obvious. Feel like I just did that in plain sight. Mike Hawk: Oh yeah. (stuffing his face) Ah this is wonderful. Guest: Cheers to you, sir. Burnie: Unbelievable. Gavin is pulling a
hell of a comeback. But he better be careful because as soon as the congressman goes down, the security guards are gonna start
pulling off people’s masks. (Mike Hawk choking)
Assistant: Sir! Sir, are you okay?! Sir!
(crowd surprised) Assistant: 911, I need an ambulance.
Guard Jon: We’ve a code red.
Congressman is on the ground. Guard Kyle: Masks off, up against the wall. Gavin: Potential commotion in here. Adam: Everyone stop, hang on. Sir?
I need you to stop and take off your mask. Gavin: Uhhh, you want some champagne? Guard Adam: Stop what you’re doing and take off your mask. Gavin: Alright, gimme a second. Guard Adam: Gavin! Stop! You’ve been caught! Burnie: (laughs) Oh he’s gonna get tased! Gavin: (screaming) OH SHIT! (dramatic fail sound) Gavin: I DID IT! IT WAS ME! (elevator ding)
Burnie: Okay! Seems like Michael and Gavin can’t slip past the guards while working alone. Let’s see how they do when working together. Assistant: Mike Hawk! (crowd cheers) Michael: To politics!
(drink glasses clink) Burnie: Why are they being so obvious? Michael: Alright, I’m gonna scope out- Oh shit. We’ve got a guy standing right at the security office. Let’s just mingle til he clears out. Gavin: Yup. You want double fist? Michael: Yeahyeahyeah. This looks normal. Just get shitfaced.
Gavin: Yeah. Burnie: Dear lord! Gavin, slow down. Michael whispering: Oh, he’s touching his ring,
he’s going to leave. Guard Kyle: Changing positions. Michael: I’m going in, boi. Watch my back. Gavin: That’s how you champagne, boi. Mike Hawk: For years, I’ve thought long and hard about that question, and I’m here to tell you… Michael: I’m good to go and
I’m not getting caught this time. My boi’s got my back! Burnie: Uh oh. Jon is taking
his post outside the security office. Michael: Dude, this vest is nice.
I should- I should actually steal this. Guard Jon: Moving to the second position.
Guard Kyle: Copy that. Guard Kyle: Circulating second floor. Michael: Buttoning suit, getting dressed. Just like my mommy taught me. What the fuck?! Where’s Gavin? Holy crap. There’s a guard.
(suspense music) Fuck! That was close. I’m gonna murder Gavin! Where the hell is he?! Burnie: Yeah, where’s Gavin? Is he downstairs? Doesn’t appear to be in the waiter’s room. Is he still upstairs? Oh! There he is talking to Michael. Michael: I got the knife.
We can just get him on the way out. Gavin: Okay, how about this? How about this? We’ll wait for them
to be over there, right? Michael: Don’t point.
Gavin: He’s having drinks, right? Gavin: I’ll take out his bodyguard. You take out him. We’ll come down. We’ll shank Ellis on the way out. Guard Adam: Nice to see you, congressman. Gavin: Well, let’s mingle. Shall we?
Michael: Let’s mingle. Yeah. Gavin: Augh man! All the booze is gone. Did you see that? Guard Jon: I think I spotted Michael. I’m not sure. Guard Kyle: I know it’s Gavin. I saw him. Burnie: Guards are confused because they don’t know that both lab rats are inside. Gavin: We should probably pretend
that we don’t know each other. Michael: No, that’s fine. We don’t. Sir? Back off, sir. Gavin: Sorry. Sorry, I just…trying to make friends. Kinda socially awkward at these. Michael: Full of shit. Here he comes, here he comes. Where’s that idiot? Where’s that little idiot? Target’s approaching, target is approaching. Gavin: Oh! Guard Tyler: Well, whoever it is, they’ve gotta be close. Guard Tyler: Be on the lookout for
any suspicious activity. Mike Hawk: Hang on. I- I gotta get a drink here. Assistant: Can I get a drink for Mike Hawk, please?
Burnie: Looks like Gavin is going to use the poison sticker. Let’s see what he does with it. Assistant: He needs a drink.
Mike Hawk: You know, look, I saw a good sick on the road. Take out a few of these drinks, I’d have problems that way. Gavin: Hey. Thanks for doing all the work you do. Burnie: How in the world did Gavin get away with that? Guard Jon: Tyler’s down. I need backup. Guard Jon: Get out of my way. Michael: Ugh *stabstabstabstab* Burnie: I think one stab would’ve sufficed. We should get Michael a therapist. Guard Kyle: What’s going on? Did you see who did that? Michael: What’s going on?
Gavin: That guy there looks suspicious. Michael: Dude, I went all over him. Guard Adam: What’s going on? All guards check in. Guard Jon: It’s Michael and Gavin.
They’ve took down the congressman. Michael: I’m gonna go take out Adam, you keep walking. Guard Adam: Take off your masks. Everyone take off your masks. Michael: I’ve seen a suspicious individual around here. Guard Adam: Huh? Oh! Augh… Michael: There’s a guard sick back there.
Gavin: Don’t mind if I do. Gavin: Don’t mind if I don’t. Guard Mariel: Adam is down. I need backup. Burnie: Wow! They made it! I honestly can’t believe it! (victory music) Burnie: Now Gavin, you play a ton of Hitman. How did this compare to actually playing the game? Gavin: Pretty good! That was pretty immersed. I was like, really planning my routes. You don’t wanna blow it. Cuz you know. The load times. Burnie: Right.
Gavin: To restart. It’s a nightmare. Burnie: Alright. Well, I think on the second run, you guys did a better job. How did you guys think you did? Michael: A plus. Plus!
Burnie: A plus. Burnie: I gotta say I agree. I think you guys did fantastic on the second run. We wanna thank all of our RTX attendees. I think the real winner for today is friendship. Michael: Awwww, yeah!
Burnie: Teamwork. You guys working together
Gavin: That’s us. Michael: Teamwork!
Burnie: Teamwork! Burnie: Is that the poison? Michael: Yeah, you’re dead.
Gavin: Yeah. Michael: You’re dead. Gavin: See the way. Burnie: If you wanna see other Rooster Teeth employees playing Hitman in real life, sign up to become a First member on RoosterTeeth.com (outro music)

People on the Street: What is the Purpose of Government?


{Off screen} What do you think the purpose of government is? I believe the purpose of government is to protect people, and to help them when they need it. {Music} It’s to basically be scared of the people, and to listen to the people, and to protect the people. So, the government is in place for the people. It’s their responsibility to oversee everything that goes on throughout the entire United States. To protect my sovereignty… and nothing more. Well, the purpose of government is to make everything run smoothly. There’s a lot of things going on in the world— economy, there’s a lot of different issues, relationships with other countries… and I think it’s important to have people who are well-educated in that field make the important decisions for the country since you voted for them. I guess to just keep people safe and make regulations so that everything doesn’t go to hell, basically. And to listen to what we want as a whole nation, not just the individuals. To provide guidance to our country, to help it in times of recession, and to back off in times of economic growth. It’s to provide foundation and to give us something to interact with other countries— a face to represent our country. I think the purpose of government is to ensure the well-being of those that are in society and basically to set guidelines, maybe, boundaries and regulations which we can all abide in peace together. To make the best decisions for people as a whole and then to promote the great values that this country was founded upon. I think that’s what the government should be about. The purpose of government is to take a million people’s ideas into a funnel and to just drip it down in a line onto paper and the ones that fall out you look at those, then you decide which of those will be the best, and then you run with one of those. But then what happened to the ideas that were left over in the funnel? That’s the only problem. That’s what I find. Especially with the way that Congress is situated and all the earmarks and everything that’s going on, The purpose of government is supposed to be to take what’s in the best interest of everyone and to make it policy for everyone. But the problem is, there’s no such thing as an objective view that one person can give for other people because you’re always going to be affected in some way by what you want or how you feel. So, the true purpose of government can never be a thing. There are a number of things I could say to this. But I have to say, there needs to be some type of structure to actually facilitate and organize the nation, our country. And people who actually have to work, make a living, don’t have the time actually to facilitate that. So they elect people who are actually— that is their job, and we put the trust in them and it’s basically to make sure everything is run properly. To provide for the people when they can’t provide for themselves, and in a way to protect people from each other because we do have all these natural rights, things like that, but when we start to infringe on other people’s natural rights, that’s where the government mostly comes into play.

Why Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea – Computerphile


E-voting is a terrible idea After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, election officials
in some parts of America decided that they’d allow emergency e-voting from home. You’d
download a ballot paper, you’d fill it out, and then you would email or fax it back to
them. And yes, some people still fax. This was a terrible idea, and here’s why. Physical voting is centuries old. In that
time, pretty much every conceivable method of fraud has been tried, and has since been
defended against. Because of that, attacks on physical voting don’t scale well. It takes
so much effort, so many people and it only takes one person to leak your conspiracy and
the whole thing falls apart. Electronic voting, though? You can attack
with one person. It can take about the same effort to change one vote as it does to change
a million. And it can be done without even setting foot in the country whose elections
you’re trying to rig. There are two key parts of an election. Anonymity,
and trust. First of all, anonymity. You cannot let anyone pay, bribe, or threaten in order
to change someone’s vote. If you put any identifying mark on your paper ballot, if you sign it,
if you write your name on it, if you do anything that could, in theory, be used to check how
you voted, your vote is thrown out and ignored, just so no-one can be forced or bribed to
vote a certain way. And yet, because you marked your vote, and
you put it into a sealed box, and that box was only unsealed when it was surrounded by
everyone with a stake in the election, you know that your vote has still been counted,
even though you’ll never see it again. That’s the other key: trust. You never, ever,
ever, trust any one individual. Ideally, you don’t trust any two, or three. People can
be bribed, can be threatened, can be incompetent. I mean, hell, people have been all three of
those things. But like I said: the more physical votes you want to change, the more people
it takes and the less possible your attack gets. Everyone can see what’s happening and
keep an eye on each other, particularly if they don’t trust the other side. So let’s talk about voting machines. Problem 1: Auditing the software and hardware In theory, you could have open source software
that everyone has checked and everyone is happy with and that’s been used for years.
In theory. Never mind that you only actually do a full-scale test of this software every
few years when there’s actually an election, let’s say theoretically it can be done. But how do you make sure that software is
what’s actually loaded on that voting machine in front of you on the day of the election? And I know that immediately, someone is going
to want to comment about checksums or crypto. Which is great, except now you have to trust
the software that’s checking that hash. Or more likely, the one person that’s checking
it for you. You’ve just moved the problem. And if you’re thinking “I could verify that”,
then turn your brain the other way, and think “how could I break that?” because there are
trillions of dollars — that’s not an exaggeration — riding on the result of big elections,
and that’s an incredible motivation. If you’re coming up with sneaky ways to get around it…
believe me, so are lots of other people. It might be one angry techie, but it might
be an entire political party, or the huge corporations who want one party to win, or
entire nation states who want one party to win. And all that is assuming you’re even allowed
to verify the software that’s running, which you never are, because plugging unknown USB
sticks into a voting machine is a bad idea. Not that that stops people plugging unknown
USB sticks into a voting machine. It has literally happened. Let’s remember, these machines have
to be left in a room with the voter and no-one else in order for them to cast their vote
anonymously. Oh, by the way, the machines are frequently programmed by sticking a USB
into each of them in turn, so if you compromise the first one, jackpot. In practice, you don’t have open source software,
you have proprietary, unaudited software which you just have to trust. This is real, by the
way, around the world, there are some elections that run on this. And remember what I said?
This is an election. You don’t trust. And maybe you’re thinking, you could have
an audit trail, you could have a paper backup that the machine prints out as you vote. In
which case, congratulations, you’ve just invented the world’s most expensive pencil. One of
the reasons Britain gives people pencils for voting, by the way, is because we’re worried
that pens might be switched by any voter to contain disappearing ink. Erasing pencil ballots?
Takes time, and if you can do that, you can just throw them away. Disappearing ink? It
might be an urban legend, but it might actually be a plausible attack vector. This is the
level of paranoia we need to work at here. And don’t think you can get away with all
this by using a pile of paper ballots and just counting them electronically, either:
an electronic counting machine is still a black box that a pile of ballots goes into
and a mysterious number comes out of. They’ve got exactly the same problems. Problem 2: Votes In Transit There are three ways of moving the magic electronic
ballot numbers from the voting machines to the final count. You could treat the machine like a regular
ballot box, you seal it in a plastic bag, move the physical machine with two people
in the vehicle to the count, and then unseal it there. No-one does this. You could copy the result onto a handy USB
stick and move that instead. Do I need to run through how easily… no. Okay. Or, and this is what usually happens, you
could tell the voting machine to upload the results over the internet, optionally through
a third central server, and potentially not over a secure connection, and probably without
any checksums or tests. [exasperating] Problem 3: Central Count Program And right at the end, there’s the program
that takes all these numbers, all these votes, and produces a final count. Now you’ve got
all the same problems you have with the individual voting machines, except now only a few people
can even see that machine, and it’s been hidden away in a private warehouse somewhere for
the last few years. Good luck verifying that. And all this — all this — is before we even
talk about online voting. I could talk about all the ways which you
could hijack ballots, block an email address — because after Hurricane Sandy, the ballots
were sent by email — or any of the ways you could do a man-in-the-middle attack on that.
All possible. And those are just if it’s a well designed
system. There are reports of actual live elections
where there were cross-site scripting attacks in the e-voting page, where they’d misspelled
one party’s name, and where they’d put the wrong party’s logo next to a candidate. Sorry,
did I say elections? I meant election. That was all the same election, it was in Hampshire
in 2007. But never mind all that. Depending on which security company you believe,
somewhere around 5% and 50% of desktop computers are infected with something. And that’s just
the scammers trying to set up botnets and minor extortions using private computers.
If you want to affect a load of votes, try infecting the computers at the public library.
But never mind all that. We’ve seen what big scary countries and big
scary corporations can do when they put their mind to it. Given that someone designed an
immensely complicated worm that spread around the world just to break some Iranian centrifuges,
imagine what someone could do if they wanted to throw an online election. Remember, again, when you hear “just trust
us”, or “just trust me”, or “it’s a computer, it doesn’t go wrong” in an election, something
has already gone disastrously wrong. Imagine all this electronic voting, only without
computers. Would you be happy walking up to someone anonymous in a ballot box, or worse,
calling a number on your phone, just telling them your vote — but they promise to keep
it secret — and at the end of the election all those people, who have been sitting on
their own, phone up one other person in private and tell their results, and then that final
person — who promises to count it all up accurately — announces who’s won? Because
that’s essentially what electronic voting is. It is a terrible idea, and if a government
ever promises to use it, hope they don’t manage it before you get a chance to vote them out.

Taking the pulse of a nation — with Karlyn Bowman (1995) | THINK TANK


Ben Wattenberg: Hello, I’m Ben Wattenberg. With 17 months to go until the 1996 elections,
it’s time to check the pulse of the public. To get a sense of what voters are thinking,
I recently took part in focus group sessions composed of 19 men and women in Dayton, Ohio. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The day when we took prayer out of the schools, guns came in. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
You’ve got to have two incomes in order to meet a standard of living that two or three
people can live on. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The government doesn’t really represent the people. They represent themselves. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The moral decay, I mean, it scares me. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The welfare system, one thing it does encourage is having more children because you get more
money. Ben Wattenberg: Joining us to interpret these
interviews are Everett Ladd, executive director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research;
Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute; Andrew Kohut, director of the Times Mirror
Center for the People and the Press; and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. Taking the pulse of the nation, this week
on “Think Tank.” Let’s start with some background. Pollster Fred Stieper arranged the focus groups. Panelists were limited to those with total
annual family income between $25,000 and $75,000, suburban residents, and no more education
than a bachelor’s degree. In short, these are the kind of voters who
swing elections inswing states, and these voters are very concerned about the state
of the nation. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Seems like no one wants to be responsible for anything anymore. It’s always somebody else’s fault. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I think the root of most of the problems, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the
moral situation in the country. You know, it all starts in the home, whether
it’s a single parent or not. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
You’ve got to have two incomes in order to meet a standard of living that two or three
people can live on. So our economy may be up in that we’re moving
a lot more money, but everybody in the family has to work to do that. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Now I’ve heard in the past, many of the black ministers have stood up in the pulpits
and said that the day when we took prayer out of the schools, guns came in. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I’m tired of all the entitlements. I’m tired of people taking handouts all
the time and not contributing to society. Ben Wattenberg: Everett Ladd of the Roper
Center, how good a technique and how useful is this focus group idea? Everett Ladd: They’re great as a starting
point, Ben, to get people to have a chance to express in their own terms what’s on
their mind. They’re treacherous, though, in some ways,
you know. They’re very susceptible to leadership. Ben Wattenberg: Well, we’ll cancel this
program then. Anybody else? Norman, what do you think of them? Norman Ornstein: Well, I think Everett is
exactly right. What they — what a focus group can do is
give you some texture. You don’t want to do focus groups without
also looking at the public opinion broadly behind them, see how representative they are. And of course, questions can be shaped in
a way that do frame what you get. What we’re getting here, though, I think,
is some expressions that we’re going to find wide support for around the country. Ben Wattenberg: Andy Kohut. Andrew Kohut: What they show is the flavor
of public opinion rather than the extent of public opinion. And it’s often very important to understand
the flavor of opinion, not only the statistics, and that’s what focus groups are good for. Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn. Karlyn Bowman: I agree with that. I think that they add some flesh to the bones
of public opinion. Ben Wattenberg: The sense that we got when
we filmed this — and again, you may accuse me of looking for it because I write about
it — but that this really was, in terms of intensity, a values-driven electorate. I mean, they talked about the economy, and
they talked some even about foreign affairs. But the hot-button issues, the ones that were
really intense, did come about on these so-called values issues. Is that what’s going on? Andrew Kohut: Well, I think that people are
angry, and they’re angry about some very basic things. They’re angry about their job situation,
their earning situation, but they’re also angry about crime and upset about the pervasiveness
of sex and violence in the popular culture and the general moral decay. There are no shortage of things that people
care about, that are very central to their beliefs about citizenship, morality, and so
on and so forth. Norman Ornstein: We have a stereotype, I think,
that economics drives elections. I think right now values drives economics. What you get from these focus groups and what
I get as I look at a lot of public opinion results as well is that in the aftermath of
the Cold War, in the nature of the global economy, people are worried about the values
in the country, but they also see that their own sense of values — if you work hard,
you get rewarded for it, if you’re loyal to the place where you work, there’s loyalty
coming back down — that those basic values have eroded. Now you work hard, two people work hard, you’re
not doing as well as you used to. The government’s taking more from you, and
it’s going to people who don’t deserve it. And there’s no sense of security anymore. And that’s reflected in a kind of anger
about the people in charge. Karlyn Bowman: A lot of people, I think, have
wondered why President Clinton isn’t getting much credit for an economy that’s in the
fourth year of a recovery, and I think it is because a lot of the underlying concerns
are about moral fiber. Do we have what it takes to compete? Do we have what it takes to solve the problems
of cities, of racial problems? Do we have what it takes to deal with family
problems? And I think people are asking a lot of questions
about those, and that’s what you see in your focus groups. Everett Ladd: People who write about politics
write about the economic dimension so much. The moral dimension is much more important
most of the time. You can call it values, or I choose to call
it the moral dimension of public thinking. It has been the most important throughout
most of American history. It’s the most important now. It’s the area where we think we’re in
trouble. We know we’re doing a fantastic job economically. We are. We’re leading the world. Everyone knows that. Finally Americans are a little more aware
that we’re leading Japan, too. Ben Wattenberg: Give me, Everett, a 45-second
summary of American history to back up that idea that most elections are not economically
driven. Everett Ladd: Well, from day one, Americans
have been concerned about values issues. Slavery was obviously a large moral question. It was the predominant issue shaking this
republic in the first 70 years. As you move on, questions like what’s going
to happen to the country as it absorbs many more people, and will our values change? Will we hold to traditional values? Ben Wattenberg: On the immigrant — Everett Ladd: Yes. Ben Wattenberg: Yeah. Everett Ladd: A question like wet and dry
was a moral issue, going far beyond use of alcoholic beverages, a question of cultural
values in the United States. So it showed at every stage. Ben Wattenberg: Okay. The folks in Dayton had a lot to say about
a whole range of issues. Let’s take these one at a time. First the government. Our focus groupies are not happy campers. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Right now I’m very confused with the government. All I see is parties fighting each other. I don’t see anything getting done. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a
Democrat. They’re so busy fighting each other. All the issues are going by the side while
they sit there and bicker. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The government doesn’t really represent the people. They represent themselves. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I just don’t think they’re doing anything. I don’t think it’s — I’m not sure
if it’s one side or the other of the aisle. I feel like they — somebody will come up
with an idea, and they’ll squash it. Ben Wattenberg: Andy Kohut, at Times Mirror,
do you pick up this sentiment of great cynicism about the government? Andrew Kohut: Every year since 1987, we’ve
done a national survey about values, and each year we’ve found more skepticism about political
— the political process and more doubts about the effectiveness of government action. It’s one of the great consistencies in our
surveys year after year. Norman Ornstein: If you notice, in the last
Times Mirror survey, or a couple of surveys ago, we found that more Americans identify
as independents than as either Democrats or Republicans. And I think we see some sense of the bonds
that tie people to parties, certainly they’re lessening more for the Democrats than for
the Republicans, but they’re lessening more generally. The sense that — Ben Wattenberg: That the Democratic Party
is — Norman Ornstein: — is in bigger trouble
than the Republican, but — Ben Wattenberg: But they’re both in trouble. Norman Ornstein: — neither party is in the
ascendancy in terms of capturing a majority of Americans. The sense that you get here, which I think
is reflected in surveys, is they’re all the same, they’re all bickering, they’re
all more concerned about themselves than about the rest of us. And that’s why this interesting political
dynamic that we have right now — with a Democratic president and a Republican Congress,
where neither the Democratic president in the majority, the Republican Congress in the
majority can benefit from gridlock, from a sense that there’s more bickering going
on — may drive them, because of those public attitudes, towards doing something more than
they might otherwise. Ben Wattenberg: Andy, what are the political
implications of this sort of feeling? Andrew Kohut: Well, the most simple conclusion
you can come to is that it’s very bad news for the Democrats. The Democrats are the party of government. They represent an activist view of government. And the Democrats can’t clearly convey what
they stand for because they have historically stood for government, and that’s a difficulty
for them. Ben Wattenberg: Okay. The group participants had some tough thoughts
about welfare, tough but perhaps not as tough as you might think. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
For the people that have born into the system and that’s all they’ve ever known — number
one, can you really blame them because that’s all they did know and it’s just automatic,
here it comes — they’re at peace within the system. Why get off the system? Ben Wattenberg [from videotape]: Suppose they
had a welfare system where they said if a teenage young woman, girl, whatever you want
to call her, has a child out of wedlock, they would cut off her cash welfare benefits, but
they would continue with Medicaid and food stamps and prenatal, all the other stuff. Does that make sense? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Yes, because they encourage you — the welfare system, one thing it does encourage is having
more children because you get more money. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I was not working and thrown into the welfare system. I saw people who wanted something for nothing. They don’t want to work. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I don’t feel it’s a black-and-white issue. I think it’s — I think there’s generations
and generations that’s been on it, and the families are so used to it. So when their kids get grown, they have the
same reason to go out and have babies out of wedlock, and it is the domino effect. Ben Wattenberg: That’s true for whites also,
generation after generation? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Yes. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Oh, yes, for sure. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
They’re on it because they’re frustrated that even if they got a job, they’re no
better off. Then when you get a minimum wage job, then
you — most of them don’t have any health care at all. Ben Wattenberg: We had an interesting response
in this section and in a section we did about crime, where I asked both the panels we worked
with whether this was principally a black issue or was it an issue of the whole population. Was this a taboo, that people didn’t want
to say it? Or is this — is this for real, that this
is seen as abroad American problem, not race-specific? Karlyn first. Karlyn Bowman: Concerns about the welfare
system are universal, black, white, rich, poor, young, and old. They think — Americans think the system’s
broke. That’s what you heard in your focus group. And they also think it encourages a culture
of dependency, which has caused enormous problems for the society, and I think that’s certainly
what we heard with one of the speakers there. At the same time, they’re very sympathetic
to those people who have been born into a system that just doesn’t work, and it just
doesn’t get people off welfare. Ben Wattenberg: Everett, is there — there’s
some phrase for it, a taboo response or something like that, where people won’t talk about
what they think. Everett Ladd: Well, there certainly are cases
of that kind, but I don’t think that’s the case here. There’s a widespread sense across racial
lines that the system is broken in important regards. And indeed, I thought the Wall Street Journal/NBC
survey a couple of months ago, where they had a special sample of welfare recipients,
the extent to which recipients accepted a devastating critique of the system. Norman Ornstein: It was a striking survey. You know, they asked people, “Do you think
that most of those on public assistance want something for nothing, in effect?” Eighty percent of Americans said yes. When you asked those who had ever had public
assistance, which is about 20 percent of the overall population, a majority of them said
that they thought a majority of those on public assistance wanted something for nothing. So you really do have a striking change here. But people want, as I think these responses
suggest, a combination of a hard-headed approach with some kind of a soft-hearted look at those,
especially children who have real problems. And if the public debate ends up taking a
really harsh tone to it in the Congress and with the White House, I think you’ll see
some sense of public backing away from it, saying wait a minute, let’s be tough, but
don’t go too far. Andrew Kohut: I agree with all of those things. I think blacks and whites agree that welfare
needs to be fixed. But I think among lower-middle-income whites,
particularly among some independent sectors, white independents, there is a lot of resentment
toward blacks about — on the welfare issue. It’s not — it’s not — this is not
an attitude held equally by blacks and whites. Ben Wattenberg: So that there is in some of
it a race-specific notion. Andrew Kohut: Yes. It’s not — it’s really not easy to elicit,
and it’s not often apparent in a small group of people like that, but if you do enough
extensive polling and push deeply enough, you’ll find among lower-middle-income white
people resentment. Ben Wattenberg: Recently there has been a
lot of discussion about affirmative action. Here’s what the focus groups had to say
about that. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Affirmative action has almost come back and bit everybody in the rear end, because a lot
of times there is reverse discrimination because of the affirmative action law. Interviewer [from videotape]: What’s your
understanding of what they’re about? And do you think they’re working okay? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
You mean like setting quotas for hiring? Interviewer [from videotape]: Is that what
they mean? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
That’s what it means where I work. [Laughter.] Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I think it can cause problems in the workforce where — and at the people that it’s aimed
towards. They become the objects that everyone hates,
you know, whether it’s a woman, a black or whatever, Hispanic, whatever minority you’re
talking about. They’re the ones that suffer. Interviewer [from videotape]: The affirmative
action programs are necessary? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Their intent is completely necessary. Ben Wattenberg: Everett, is that a pretty
good mix of what you’re all picking up in national samples? Everett Ladd: I think so. We’ve got three large programs in the United
States — maybe you can add another one, but certainly at least three large programs
designed in some substantial way to extend opportunity. Americans still want to do that, still want
to extend opportunity. I think Norm’s point is absolutely right,
that if you’re seen backing away from that goal in welfare reform or with regard to the
prime objective of affirmative action, you’re in deep trouble. But two of the three programs are in deep
trouble with the public, affirmative action and welfare. The third program, education — I’d say
that’s our third big equal opportunity program — is not in the same trouble, but it’s
in a fair bit of trouble on performance grounds as well. Ben Wattenberg: Norm. Norman Ornstein: It seems clear that what
you see in these interviews and what I think you see more broadly is that people see good
intentions run amok here in programs, that they’ve gone beyond the good intentions
to imposing solutions that are not fair-minded solutions. And you find even I think a substantial share,
albeit not nearly as great, in the minority community, with some misgivings about affirmative
action as it’s played out. What’s going to be interesting to see is
if we get pressure to basically move well beyond that goal, beyond the goal of reforming
these programs to make them work the way they were intended, to scrapping them altogether,
how that will play in the public and also how it will play, frankly, in the business
community that’s already integrated affirmative action very substantially into its way of
operation. The debate’s moving in that direction, and
we may get at least a little bit of a backlash there, but it’s going to be a very interesting
phenomenon. Andrew Kohut: Yeah. I think we’ve begun to see some of that
in reactions to the 104th Congress. Whether it’s affirmative action or it’s
welfare reform, people want reform. They want changes. They don’t want the social safety net completely
withdrawn. They want a more balanced approach, a more
common-sensical approach, a more level approach, but they certainly want to continue to try
to see the playing field leveled and to provide a social safety net for people. Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn, what about the partisan
aspects of this thing? It is said that the whole new public fight
about affirmative action is going to be devastating for the Democrats, that the anti–affirmative
action people will win this big referendum in California, et cetera, et cetera. Do you see it playing out that way in terms
of Democrat/Republican? Karlyn Bowman: I think President Clinton has
a problem. I mean, he has talked about having a task
force that will recommend federal approaches to a new way of thinking about affirmative
action, and he is trying to straddle a lot of constituencies within his own party, which
I think is going to be very difficult for him. Right now, it seems to me it’s a bit of
a plus for the Republicans. I’m not sure it works out that way in the
long run. Everett Ladd: The politics of it is really
murky. Americans want to extend equality of opportunity,
and if the Republicans are seen pushing too hard in a way that appears to be working against
that goal, they’re in trouble. The criticism of the programs is that the
programs aren’t — affirmative action and welfare as they’re operating now are not
in fact extending opportunity. Norman Ornstein: It’s going to be interesting,
Ben. Of course, many of the affirmative action
programs originated under Republican administrations and were pushed by Republicans. They have to be a little bit careful about
going too far there. Bill Clinton has to be careful about not looking
like he is in effect caving into a major constituency of his own party. Ben Wattenberg: Which is? Norman Ornstein: Which is the black caucus
and the black political establishment. If he, I think, stands up and basically says
affirmative action as a principle is right, but the way in which we have implemented it
in many cases is wrong and what we’re going to do is reform it, and gives some specifics,
I think he’ll be okay. And in that case, if there is some criticism
from the black political community inside the Democratic Party, it will overall strengthen
him. Ben Wattenberg: But won’t people say that,
“Hey, Mr. President, in your first two years in office, you extended the reach of equality
of results, quotas, proportionalism, whatever. Now, all of a sudden, you’re doing one more
about-face.” Norman Ornstein: I don’t know if we can
return to a debate that basically says we will move from the notion of basically mandating
outcomes to opening up opportunities. I’m not sure we can do that. Everett Ladd: Americans have made up their
mind on that question. They want affirmative action, which extends
opportunity and doesn’t become quotas, but they think it has become quotas. Ben Wattenberg: All right. And finally, here is what the people in Dayton
were saying about some of the presidential candidates for 1996. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
President Clinton is trying to do a good job. I think he’s different. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
The politicians muddied up the water. They started, you know, they had people coming
out of the woodwork accusing Clinton of adultery and stuff like that, which to me, who cares? I mean, you know, let’s get on with the
work of the United States government. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
I did not vote for him, and none of the issues that he stood for did I agree with except
for the welfare reform. And that’s the only one that he has not
done, which was a disappointment. Ben Wattenberg [from videotape]: What do you
— just open-ended — what do you think of Newt Gingrich? [Laughter.] Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Comedy relief. [Laughter.] Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Thinking about the whole thing, we’ve got half a dozen Republicans or some other Democrat
or a third-party candidate like Ross Perot or Jesse Jackson or Colin Powell or maybe
even Newt Gingrich, thinking of all the personalities, who do you favor next year? Who would you like to see elected president? Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Colin Powell. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Colin Powell. Focus Group Participant [from videotape]:
Colin Powell. Ben Wattenberg: Colin Powell. Norm, what do you think about — Norman Ornstein,
American Enterprise Institute, what do you think about Colin Powell? You wrote a piece about him recently. Norman Ornstein: I wrote a piece suggesting
a scenario. To me, what this suggests is something that
I believe, which is that the opening, the opportunity for a third force is greater than
it’s been in a long time. People will — more people would take a look
at that. And I think we’re going to see some candidates
also take a very serious look. What you also see is there is not going to
be a huge base of support for almost anybody out there. And what we know about Newt Gingrich in polls
I think is demonstrated fairly well here, which is he’s got an enormous amount of
enthusiastic support among Republican activists. More generally, there is some skepticism about
him that he would have to overcome, and it may take a while for him to overcome that. Andrew Kohut: People are looking for an exceptional,
charismatic leader. They want someone who will solve the country’s
problems, and the less they know about someone like Colin Powell in the political sense,
the more appealing he is. And Newt Gingrich, who represents a very specific
point of view, gets a harsh evaluation from the American public, and no political figure
has ever been elected president who gets the kind of reactions that Newt Gingrich gets. Ben Wattenberg: You know, we asked the Gingrich
question specifically, and you heard it, people laughed. It was as if you had mentioned a cartoon character. I was astonished by that also. What is that — Karlyn, what is that laughter
about? Karlyn Bowman: I think they laughed because
they didn’t think it was very realistic. I mean, he has a job to do as the leader of
the Republicans in Congress, and they may approve or disapprove of that, but they really
don’t think that it’s something that leads to presidential timber. And I think that was what that was a reaction
about. I’m not sure it was specifically about Newt
Gingrich. Everett Ladd: I think your excerpt missed
the country’s mood pretty substantially, though, in suggesting that — Ben Wattenberg: Thanks, Everett. Everett Ladd: Clinton is not in deep trouble. I think he’s in deep, deep trouble. Ben Wattenberg: Who, President Clinton? Everett Ladd: Yes. And I think the polls on the whole do not
reveal the extent of the trouble that he’s in. I think his position is akin to Carter’s
at about this time in Carter’s administration. And the polls didn’t pick that up either,
by the way, because people didn’t hate Carter and they don’t hate Clinton. And they admired many things about Carter,
and while they’re different things, they admire many things about Clinton. But they thought Carter was a failed president,
and they think Clinton is a failed president. And he is exceptionally vulnerable. Andrew Kohut: The interesting thing about
Everett’s comment is that opinion about Bill Clinton has been better this spring than
it had been earlier in the year, in part because of Oklahoma, in part because he’s standing
up to the Republicans and people are edgy about the Republicans. But we’ve seen no movement in the percentage
of people who say they are satisfied with conditions in the country. It’s still 25 percent in our survey. Norman Ornstein: Everett is absolutely right. He’s exceptionally vulnerable. But this set of focus groups suggests a couple
of other things. One is the opening to a third or a fourth
or a fifth candidate could very well work to his advantage. And the second thing is we have a public — Ben Wattenberg: To his advantage in the sense
that you have Clinton and anti-Clinton, and if you split the anti-Clinton — Norman Ornstein: Yes. If you have a Ross Perot and if you have a
candidate of the extreme conservatives out there, and you may have a couple of others,
not all of whom will — Ben Wattenberg: Jesse Jackson. Norman Ornstein: Jesse Jackson as well. But if you have a couple candidates like that
out there, Bill Clinton may very well be advantaged. Ben Wattenberg: Karlyn, you were going to
say something. Karlyn Bowman: I was just going to comment,
I think, about Clinton’s weakness, in response to Andy’s point. In a presidential election, it’s always
compared to what? And of course it’s compared to a third-party
candidate, but it’s compared to a Republican field. And I don’t think Americans have yet focused
much on the Republican field, and we don’t know how vulnerable that field is overall. And some people say that Bob Dole, the most
well-known of the Republican candidates, looks like a grown-up compared to Bill Clinton,
and that that would be an enormous asset. We just don’t know yet. It’s too early. Americans haven’t focused on those Republicans
yet. Ben Wattenberg: I kind of get the feeling,
you know, in those cartoon movies where the guy is running off the edge of a cliff and
then for a while he sort of stands there, and then — there’s a delay, and I think
that’s what you’re talking about with President Clinton. But again, it depends on the opponent. Thank you all. Thank you, Norman Ornstein, Everett Ladd,
Andrew Kohut, and Karlyn Bowman. And thank you. Please send any comments or questions to New
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