Congress expert Norman Ornstein on what the debate over the debt limit says about dysfunction in Congress, and his ideas for how to fix it.
Guest Host: Tom Gjelten
An emotional election season comes to a close, with results few anticipated: Donald J. Trump is America’s next president. The transition of power begins with a meeting between Trump and Obama at the White House. Obama described the 90-minute session as “excellent” and “wide-ranging.” Speaking in New York, Hillary Clinton concedes the election. She calls on supporters to give Trump “a chance to lead.” In down ballot races, Republicans win big maintaining control of the House and the Senate. And three states including California legalize marijuana use. Tom Gjelten and our panel of reporters discuss the week in news.
- Laura Meckler National political correspondent, The Wall Street Journal
- Josh Kraushaar Political editor, National Journal
- Karen Tumulty National political reporter, The Washington Post
MR. TOM GJELTENAnd thanks for joining us. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's off today. This week, one of the biggest upsets in American political history, Donald Trump defeats Hillary Clinton. President-elect Trump meets with President Obama and with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. Democrats, meanwhile, struggle to understand the populist wave that rolled over them.
MR. TOM GJELTENJoining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup are three of the country's top political reporters. Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal, Josh Kraushaar of The National Journal and Karen Tumulty from The Washington Post. Hi.
MS. KAREN TUMULTYHi.
MS. LAURA MECKLERGood morning.
MR. JOSH KRAUSHAARGood to be here.
GJELTENAnd I'm guessing our phone lines are going to light right up today. If you want to join our conversation, our number's 1-800-433-8850. Email us, email@example.com. You can always join us on Twitter or Facebook or find our website. And if you want to watch the show, remember there's a live video stream of us here in the studio on our website, drshow.org. Wow.
GJELTENKaren, Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House described Donald Trump's victory as the most incredible political feat he had seen in his lifetime. I'd say a lot of people agree with that.
TUMULTYI think that is absolutely true. It surprised everybody. I think a lot of people within Trump's own campaign were surprised, if you judge them by some of the things they were saying during the day on Election Day. And...
GJELTENSo how did it happen?
TUMULTYWell, I think the story of this election may be as much about who didn't show up as who did. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, neither one of them came within half a million votes of -- as many votes as Mitt Romney when he lost to Barack Obama by 5 million votes. So that really does tell you a lot about this election. The so-called Hillary coalition that her campaign was absolutely banking on, minority voters, young voters, even the Latino surge didn't really happen.
TUMULTYAnd you look at -- you think, you know, if having Donald Trump at the head of the other side of the ticket is not enough to bring Latinos out, you know, what would? So you know, ultimately, it was just that Trump supporters were -- and, again, I can know all the calls are coming in and pointing out that Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote, but the fact is, what won this election was that Trump supporters were a lot more passionate and they showed up.
TUMULTYAnd a lot of the supporters that Hillary Clinton was counting on as she was looking at the electoral map did not show up.
GJELTENJosh, three states come to mind, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.
KRAUSHAARYeah, the story of this election is Midwestern white working class voters who supported President Obama in large numbers or at least give him a sizable share of the vote both in 2008 and 2012, overwhelmingly swung to President-elect Trump. And their towns like Youngstown, Scranton, Joe Biden's hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania, these were working class Democratic union strongholds that, you know, there was a lot of speculation during Obama's second campaign that they could tilt to Mitt Romney.
KRAUSHAARThey didn't. They were very loyal Democratic voters that just really were disaffected with the economy under the current administration and I think the culture wars. You know, we don't -- this has gotten as much attention, but the police shootings, the racial divide in the country, I think a lot of these voters really felt left out, really felt disaffected as a result of what's been going on. Also, national security and terrorism issues were a big deal in a lot of these communities as well.
KRAUSHAARSo you saw this massive swing in rust belt Midwestern states among voters that supported Obama and now swung to Donald Trump.
GJELTENLaura, pick up on what Karen started to say and that is sort of the unexpected parts of this electorate in terms of who voted, who didn't vote, who they voted for. What caught your attention the most?
MECKLERWell, I think that Hillary Clinton had two problems. One is what Josh was just talking about, which was being swamped in the upper Midwest. The flip side is she also didn't win the emerging -- what's supposed to be the new emerging Democratic states, places like North Carolina. She didn't win Florida. She didn't win the places that have more diverse populations. You know, at the last minute, she went to Arizona. They thought they might be able to win there.
MECKLERObviously, she did not. So I think that it is every important to think about who didn't show up. You know, it isn't -- is wasn't so much the margins with minority votes, but the turnout. And you know, there's been -- sort of been an article of faith for the last eight years that, you know, the cards were all in the Democrats' court when it came to running -- the presidential election, that they -- I apologize the mixed metaphor -- but that demographics were on the Democrats' side, that the minorities are rising as a share of the overall electorate, that young people are more liberal and they are obviously rising as a share of the electorate as they get older and more young people come into the system.
MECKLERAnd that was just turned on its head in this election because they did not turn out. Now, one thing that they did turn out twice for Barack Obama, but Obama has never been able to mobilize those voters for anybody other than himself. So he didn't get them in 2010. He didn't get them in the midterms in 2014. He went on the trail, aggressively on the trail, as did his very popular wife and said -- he said, I will view this as a personal insult if you do not -- if you destroy my legacy by somebody who is, you know, uniquely unqualified for this job.
MECKLERAnd yet, the people who supported him in such large numbers did not come out this time.
TUMULTYWell, and another thing is that Barack Obama, for all of his own electoral success, as he leaves office is leaving behind and absolutely devastated Democratic party. Not only are they shut out of power in Washington having not the White House or either house of Congress, but when Barack Obama was inaugurated, there were 34 Democratic governors. There are now 15. State houses all over the country have flipped. More than 900 Democratic state legislators have been voted out of office on his watch.
TUMULTYSo I think that one of the most interesting stories politically going forward is going to be how the party regroups.
GJELTENYou had a brilliant piece about that and we'll get to that later, Karen. Josh, so as Karen says, President-elect Trump is going to have a Republican-controlled Congress. He's also going to, right off the bat, be able to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will produce a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. We're talking here about someone who likes power and he's going to have a lot of power.
KRAUSHAARHe will and we went from, a few weeks ago, expecting a potential Democratic wave to seeing a Republican wipeout in this election. And the court is now going to be a -- we're probably going to see a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation and you're going to see -- I mean, the big question to me, though, is the relationship between Speaker Ryan and Trump because they represent two different wings of the Republican party. And Paul Ryan, notably, at the very end of this campaign, actually did endorse more enthusiastically Trump's campaign in Wisconsin than he had for some time.
KRAUSHAARAnd the big question for the Republicans is, is there going to be a conservative governance? Is Trump going to adhere to what Paul Ryan believes, the more free market principles that Ryan has -- that's defined Paul Ryan's public service? Or does this more populist side of the party that Trump represents on immigration and on entitlements and fiscal issues, does that end up winning the day? And it's going to be fascinating to see these internal divides in the Republican party show up as President Trump governs.
GJELTENSo it's going to be a real challenge for both the Democrats and the Republicans as they figure out their future, Laura.
MECKLERAbsolutely. And the challenges are flipped. I mean, we thought we were going to be covering a Republican party trying to put itself back together. Instead, we're covering a Democratic party trying to put itself back together. I think one of the ironies here is that one of the things Hillary Clinton focused on during her campaign is that she tried to do party-building. She tried to lend support to down ballot candidates. She always talked about -- when she was in a particular state, she would have those candidates on the ballot with her speak before her.
MECKLERThat's something that Barack Obama never did. He was -- his campaign offices had one name on the wall, which was Obama. She really ran with the party. Obviously, she is out of the equation now so now the first thing we're going to see is an election for the chair of the Democratic National Committee. That's becoming a conversation about what the party should be and how it should focus. And then, but inside -- the Republicans, though are going to be the ones that are fascinating to watch as this all unfolds. They're all on the same page at the moment, but I don't know how long that'll last.
GJELTENWell, Karen, as you correctly pointed out, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote and since this election, we have seen protests every night across the country. The Obama coalition still exists. There are a lot of people very angry about this election result. Donald Trump says he wants to unify the country, but it's hard to imagine a country less unified right now than -- right.
TUMULTYYeah, and ironically, a lot of those people who are out there protesting are the very same people who were horrified when Donald Trump said that he may not accept the results of this election. So I just think that, you know, everybody's in their own echo chamber here and that -- there's no unification until people can step out of those.
GJELTENJosh, so Donald Trump, during the campaign, said Barack Obama was the worst president U.S. history. He said Hillary Clinton was the most corrupt person ever to run for office. Then, in his concession speech, he praised Hillary Clinton for her service and after the meeting with President Obama yesterday, he called him a very good man.
KRAUSHAARIt was a surreal scene at the White House yesterday, knowing that -- first of all, the President and Trump had never met, at least according to Trump's telling of the story and the animus between the two throughout the campaign, the fact that the President said that he couldn't be trusted with nuclear weapons and the animus of the birther movement that Trump fueled throughout -- even before he ran for president. It was remarkable.
KRAUSHAARAnd it's a credit to both that they were able to at least tell the country that we have a president-elect, we need to unify as a country and it was hopeful guidance as we see these protests taking place across the country. Hopeful guidance from our two -- the president-elect and our current President that we need to come together as a country.
GJELTENJosh Kraushaar is political editor with The National Journal. My other guests are Laura Meckler, she's national political correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, and Karen Tumulty, a national political reporter at The Washington Post. We're figuring out what happened this week with this election, what all the ramifications are domestically, politically. I'm Tom Gjelten. Stay tuned. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
GJELTENHello again. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm. And this is the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup. And my guests here in the studio are Laura Meckler from The Wall Street Journal, Josh Kraushaar from the National Journal, and Karen Tumulty from The Washington Post. All three, top-notch political reporters. If you're just joining us, remember this is the one hour of the week when you can actually watch us here in the studio. Live video of our show is streaming at drshow.org. You can also, of course, call us and join our conversation. Our phone number is 1-800-433-8850. We're also taking emails.
GJELTENA lot of people want us to define some of the terms that we have thrown around -- white working class, middle class, college-educated white people, they -- who did they vote for? White women voting for Trump. Please have your guests define the characteristics of the elites. That's an email from Michael in Fort Mill, S.C. So, Laura, we're trying to dissect the electorate here and figure out which segments of the electorate support who. But, boy, this is -- it requires a sociologist -- ...a political sociologist to do this, doesn't it?
MECKLERIt sometimes does, absolutely. So the white working class vote is one -- been talked about a lot. And what we mean by that when we say that is obviously people who are white, that people identify their race themselves when they talk to pollsters or when they talk to exit pollsters. And then working class generally means people who don't have a four-year college degree. So that's the way it gets defined in political terms. So the reason why whites and non-whites are separated out is that they tend to vote in very different ways. So people who are part of the so-called working class don't have jobs that require college degrees and who are white tend to sort of see the world in a different way than poor or non-college educated black or Latino people.
MECKLERNow these are huge generalizations. We're -- we have a big country, where millions of people get put into each of these buckets. So this is not a precise identification of any one person. There are many exceptions to every single thing that we say here today. But the reason why the -- we talk in these terms is just to try to get our hands around it, you know...
MECKLER...with so many people to try to give them a sense. Is there -- was there another term there that we needed to define? Elites, I'm not sure how -- yeah, elites is probably in the eye of the beholder. But I do think that one thing that Trump's campaign made clear was that this idea of the establishment...
MECKLER...and that is the people who have been running Washington, there's a lot of anger against those.
GJELTENInsiders versus outsiders. Enough with the post-mortem, though. Let's try and look forward, Karen. Joshua talked about the meeting between Trump and Obama at the White House, and already there's of course a lot of speculation about who Trump would bring in, how he's going to handle this transition. What have you seen so far in these 48 hours, really, since the results, in terms of how the President-elect Trump is looking at this transition?
TUMULTYReally not a lot. This was something that the, you know, Donald Trump had said during the campaign that, rather than focusing on sort of the broad strokes of this transition, he wanted to focus on winning. Probably, you know, a wise decision. We've had certainly conciliatory language. But the speculation -- and I don't -- is that, you know, will he bring these sort of, you know, these voices who dominated his campaign, including this, what they call the alt-right, into the White House with him?
TUMULTYYou know, we have seen so many different models for a transition. Bill Clinton wanted to do big, symbolic things during his transition. He wanted to appoint a cabinet that looked like America. He wanted to have a big economic conference where everybody could see how smart he was. And in retrospect, they discovered they had not built the White House infrastructure they needed. They had a very chaotic first year. George W. Bush sort of had to do it on the fly because of the re-count. By the way, one of the unseen stories at the time was that was when Dick Cheney is sort of setting -- is sitting there in McLean at his dining room table figuring out how to set up the government.
TUMULTYAnd Barack Obama wanted -- seeing the mistakes Bill Clinton had made, brought in a former Bill Clinton chief of staff, John Podesta, to run his transition. Decided to really focus on building the White House. And you really saw a sense of what kind of centralized governance there would be out of the Obama administration. We don't know any of that stuff yet about Donald Trump. But it's a real clue to at least what governance is going to look like in the early years of his administration.
GJELTENWell, Josh, it seems to me that Donald Trump is going to have to make a couple of major pivots here. I mean, he's been on the attack throughout this campaign and now he needs to inspire. That's a very different mission for a leader. He's also someone who, according to what we've read, really likes to run things himself. He's now got the entire U.S. government, the United States of America to administer. He's going to be much more -- he's going to have to be much more of a team player. I mean, this is going to be challenge for Donald Trump, isn't it?
KRAUSHAARWell, look, it looks like, based on a lot of the names being mentioned for the top cabinet positions, these are people that Jeb Bush could have appointed in a Bush cabinet. Rudy Giuliani, Steve Hadley, Chris Christie, who was at one point a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. So I actually would caution that Trump, well, when you're an inexperienced executive -- and we see this in governors that are celebrities, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger...
KRAUSHAAR...they actually kind of rely on the establishment more. They -- lobbyists actually have bigger roles.
GJELTENIn spite of running against the establishment.
KRAUSHAARIn spite of running against the establishment. So I would caution that. I mean, and I would watch closely for that chief of staff position, because...
GJELTENYou don't think it's going to be Steve Bannon from Breitbart?
KRAUSHAARWell, if it is Steve Bannon and then -- I might take what I said back. But if Reince Priebus is chief of staff -- and he is sort of the ultimate establishment player, having headed the RNC for the last two elections -- you know, it's a sign that the establishment is actually winning out, despite the political rhetoric in the campaign.
TUMULTYAnd by the way, it's important to note that the single most important job of the White House chief of staff is determining who and what information gets to the president.
GJELTENWell, Laura, one of the interesting things that I read about in this meeting yesterday between Donald Trump and Barack Obama is that they -- that's exactly what they talked about. They didn't talk about big issues. They talked about sort of the logistics of running the White House apparently.
MECKLERAnd that really makes sense. What are they going to talk about, about big issues? Are they going to talk about whether he's going to build a wall or tear down the Affordable Care Act? I mean, I don't think that they would have much common ground on any of the substantive issues of the presidency. But running the presidency, that's a different story. And I think that it's notable, I've -- you know, President Obama has taken a very, very welcoming, positive attitude towards this transition. I think that he really appreciated the fact that President George W. Bush took that approach when he was on his way in.
MECKLERObviously he was not President Bush's choice of a candidate either. Now, we didn't have the kind of vitriol that we have had in this campaign in that one. But still, he appreciated the fact that he -- Bush facilitated a smooth transition. And he seems determined to do the same this time. So, yes, I think talking about how the White House functions is a natural point of conversation for them. And that meeting, we should not, you know, which, it's kind of a ritual of Washington that you have this meeting. And it could have been very pro forma. But they did talk for I think it was an hour and a half...
MECKLER...which is a lot longer than it was scheduled for. And, you know, clearly, they had something to say.
GJELTENSo we saw at various points during this campaign, Karen, sort of changes in tone on the part of Donald Trump, where he would go from being very bombastic to being sort of calm. So far, since his election, we've mostly seen the sort of down-to-earth -- I'm not sure if humble is the right word, but...
TUMULTYWell, sort of. I mean, just -- we saw -- it's -- publicly, he's -- in his public statements in front of microphones, he's been very conciliatory. But we saw just last night two -- a huge change of tone in that he first tweeted about the protesters. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting very unfair, exclamation point. And then, this morning, he tweeted, love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud. You wonder at this point, you know, are they taking his smartphone away from him and sending out -- which of these is going to be the Donald Trump that we see in the Oval Office? Or are they going to take away his Twitter account?
KRAUSHAARThis is why the chief of staff position is the most consequential appointment he's going to make. And I think that will tell you a lot about the -- how he intends to govern, whether it will be more like the tone of the campaign or more like the tone of the last couple of days. But, I mean, that's the big question. And Pence is also a very major player in this administration. He may be the most influential vice president in modern history. Even compared to Dick Cheney, who was fairly influential in his own right.
KRAUSHAARAnd another big question is, how much does Trump delegate? Is he going to be, you know, doing the businessman CEO model, where he allows his cabinet -- gives a lot of power to his vice president? Or is he going to be a micromanager like we saw at moments in the campaign where he wants to tweet everything, he wants to be in charge and he doesn't like underlings overruling or criticizing what he has to say?
GJELTENLaura, let's talk a little bit about what we -- what kind of policies we're likely to see enacted here in the first months of the Trump presidency. Very interesting chart -- I think there's charts in both The Washington Post and The New York Times this morning sort of outlining all the big areas where Trump made very bold promises, some of which accord with Republican orthodoxy, many of which don't accord with Republican orthodoxy. Now if, as Josh says, he brings in a bunch of Republican establishment insiders, what does that tell you about how ambitiously he's going to move on infrastructure spending, renegotiating trade deals, some of these things that actually defy Republican orthodoxy?
MECKLERWell, actually, infrastructure spending I think is something that for a long time was something Republicans supported. Now, in recent years, they haven't been willing to pass that under Obama. But I don't think that that's something that flies in the face of their belief system. Now, how you pay for it is another story. I don't know whether, in today's Washington, given the campaign that he just ran, paying for things matters anymore. But that is a question on the table. I don't think infrastructure challenges that. But -- and I do think that could be an early move we see.
MECKLERNow, on other matters, it's a different story. So trade deals, for instance. I think that he was, you know, absolutely anti-trade. In fact, you could argue that that was the most important thing that -- important issue, in terms of driving his electorate behind him. That is going to take a little longer to play out, I think. You know, renegotiating trade deals is not something that happens with the blink of an eye. I think we can safely say that the Trans Pacific Partnership is dead for the foreseeable future. Maybe, who knows if it will ever be revived. But I don't think we're going to see that happen, certainly under President Trump or in the lame-duck session coming up.
MECKLERImmigration is something that divides the party. You know, there are Republicans still who believe that -- both believe that they need to grapple with this issue in a positive way and also think it's important for their long-term political health. Donald Trump just offered some evidence on the other side of that equation. A lot of what Trump can -- immigration policy he can do on his own though. And that has to do with how many people you deport.
MECKLERNow, he may not be able to build a wall by himself. He needs appropriations for that. But he can go about changing the way immigration laws are enforced. He, right now, if you're an illegal immigrant living in this country and you're not a criminal or a recent border-crossing -- crosser, you're pretty safe, if you've been here for a while. That might change.
GJELTENLaura Meckler is national political correspondent at The Wall Street Journal. I'm Tom Gjelten. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And remember, you can watch this hour of "The Diane Rehm Show." We're live video streaming at drshow.org. And again, our phone number is 1-800-433-8850. There's still a couple of lines open and we're going to get to those calls in a minute. Karen, I want to go back to the point you made early on, which is about how Democrats are going to figure out their future going forward. They've been decimated at every level of government, down to state legislators. They don't have much of a bench. They're going to have to come up with some strong candidates.
GJELTENAnd there's also, as you suggested, real division within the Democratic Party about what lessons to take from this -- whether to move to the left and to embrace populism, which is the force that apparently brought Donald Trump to power, or to maybe move back to the center and try to recapture some of the white evangelicals who have deserted the party? Maybe bring in some moderate Republicans who are very uncomfortable with the Trump presidency. I mean, those are two very different strategies going forward.
TUMULTYThat's right. And I think we're going to see it first played out in the race for who's going to be the new party chairman. We've already seen Howard Dean is -- did it before, who was known for a 50-state strategy -- has put his hat out there. And Keith Ellison, the congressman, Muslim, has also. Elizabeth Warren gave a very interesting speech yesterday in front of the AFL-CIO, where she said that what the party really needs to come to grips with was that, as hard as they worked to portray Donald Trump as unacceptable, and despite the fact that, you know, huge numbers of Americans considered him, you know, unqualified for the office, they nonetheless voted for him. Because he did represent a kind of change and he did represent a kind of populism.
TUMULTYI think that that is an argument you're going to hear a lot coming from the party's populist left. The argument on the other side from the sort of centrist wing, which is not very vigorous these days, is that, how are you going to defeat right-wing populism with left-wing populism?
GJELTENYeah. And, Josh, I'm wondering, I hear about the changing of the guard. Have we heard and seen the last of Hillary and Bill Clinton? Are they likely now to sort of recede? Will they continue to play a role going forward? Or, you know, will Barack Obama, as the former president, sort of take a more political role? Or will he sort of move into the background and do things that ex-presidents like to do.
KRAUSHAARWell, the bigger question is what does -- when, one, President Obama becomes former President Obama, what does he do?
KRAUSHAARThe Clintons are done with. I mean, there's already a lot of recriminations behind the scenes about the campaign, about how Hillary Clinton was the absolute worst candidate, given the anti-establishment times we live in. I also just wanted to not that the fact that we're talking about Howard Dean as the more moderate, more conservative Democrat in the DNC race shows how far left the Democratic Party has drifted.
KRAUSHAARAnd I have to side with the centrists, who, you know, the Democratic Party, during the Obama presidency, has been moving to the left, thinking they could mobilize the Obama coalition to victory, despite the fact that they were alienating increasing numbers of swing voters, moderate voters, despite the belief that mobilization was more important than persuasion. And now they're finding themselves -- after losing the House, losing the Senate, and now losing the presidency -- in the wilderness without not a lot of good options. Trump is going to capture that populism. And if he governs somewhat effectively, it's kind of hard to be more populist than Donald Trump.
KRAUSHAARSo the most logical path back is to try to pick off some of these pro-business, moderate Republicans and try to get some of the old DLC, pragmatic centrists back in the party. But it's not easy to find the candidates that can represent that point of view.
GJELTENBut as, Laura, as we said earlier, the Republicans also have some big decisions to make going forward. I mean the demographics still aren't with them, are they?
MECKLERRight, they aren't. They still do have a problem, absolutely. And if those voters who stayed home decide that they want to turn out, then this would have been a very different election. As you said, or as Karen said earlier, you know, neither one of them even reached the Mitt Romney total from 2012. So I do think that Republicans have a challenge. But, you know, right now, they're looking pretty good. They're running the House, the Senate and the White House. And I think that -- and they're going to preserve their majority, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
MECKLERSo I think the challenge for them is to figure out how are they going to govern? You know, what are they going to put forward? What -- where are they going to serve as a check on Trump? And where are they going to get behind him? And I, you know, we're going to see those questions play out. So, for instance, I think the tax policy is a fascinating question. You know, Trump had a tax proposal, a huge tax cut with -- and it disproportionately benefits the wealthy, because they pay disproportionately more taxes. Well, is that a populous move to cut taxes on the rich? I mean, and are they going to all go behind that? We'll see.
GJELTENAnd he has also promised to protect Social Security and the safety net, which is not something that's going to be easy to balance with his promise to reduce the deficit, it's fair to say. Okay. We're going to take a short break right now. When we come back, we'll go to your phone calls. I'm with Laura Meckler, Josh Kraushaar and Karen Tumulty. I'm Tom Gjelten. Stay tuned, we'll be right back.
GJELTENWelcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm and this is the first hour of the Friday News Roundup. This is the hour where we discuss domestic news, and of course, the big domestic news this week is the election of Donald Trump. And with me to help sort it all out are Laura Meckler, a National Political Correspondent at the Wall Street Journal. Josh Kraushaar and Karen Tumulty in similar roles at National Journal and the Washington Post. And we're getting some thoughtful and interesting emails.
GJELTENAnd comments on Twitter. Linda in Manistee, Michigan writes, I'm a white, college educated, Clinton voter from Michigan. Democrats got taken to the woodshed by Republicans. I fear that in the post mortem, Democratic Party leaders will focus on the Comey letter for this loss. She's referring to the letter from FBI Director James Comey who pointed out that the -- that there was a kind of a re-opening of the email investigation of Hillary Clinton. She says, she's worried that Democrats are going to focus too much on that letter and blame it for the loss.
GJELTENWhen we had a fundamentally flawed candidate who was anointed by the Party before the primary process began and was unable to energize former Obama voters to even vote in the general election. I'm wondering if she might have been a Sanders supporter. It kind of sounds like it from that letter. Here's an email from Doug, who warns us not to denigrate the protesters. The protests are a healthy reminder to Trump and Congress that more than half of the country dislikes Trump's character and policies. Those voices need to remain big and loud during Trump's first 100 days.
GJELTENDon't expect us to roll over. You know, an interesting point, Karen. I mean, really astonishing exit poll results showing that a strong majority of people didn't think Donald Trump was qualified to be a President, to be fit as President. They prefer -- they, according to those data, they actually thought Hillary Clinton was much more qualified, and yet, they voted for Donald Trump. But the fact remains that there are a lot of Americans that aren't comfortable with Donald Trump as a person.
TUMULTYAnd I think the recent history of protests like this is that unless you come forward with an actual agenda, as opposed to just, you know, a primal scream, you don't get very far. And a lot of that energy would probably be better spent figuring out and motivating people to get to the polls.
MECKLERBut, you know, but I'll just offer another thought there. Which is I think either just whatever, two, three days after the election, there are a lot of people who feel that they need a primal scream. And there -- it's, you know, they're not ready yet to figure out a plan. But long term, obviously, that's right. That's what they're going to have to figure out, how to mobilize this. But there are just, I think, a lot of people, you know, we're talking-- we're just days away from when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were talking about how this man is a threat to the Republic.
MECKLERSo, you know, it's a pretty hard pivot to go from hearing people say that to let's all, let's all unify.
TUMULTYAnd were it the other way, it probably, we'd be seeing the same thing in the streets. But I think it speaks to a basic almost unhealthiness in our society, in our media culture, that everybody gets to live in their own echo chamber.
GJELTENBut Josh, what I'm wondering is given these figures of how many Americans weren't entirely comfortable with Donald Trump, what does that mean about the honeymoon that he is going to get. I mean, is there going to be impatience on the part of his supporters?
KRAUSHAARWell, I think the big, big tell is going to be not the Democratic Party, but how well Paul Ryan and some of these anti-Trump Republicans can work with the Trump administration. And I also wanted to comment that there's a lot of talk about how, you know, people don't know who these Trump voters are, but one of the more fascinating things, when you look at the exit poll data, is how well -- surprisingly well Trump did with college educated white voters. He won college educated white voters by four points.
KRAUSHAARHe won white women and more African Americans and Hispanics actually voted for Trump than Mitt Romney. So, for all this talk that there's this miss -- you know, we don't know any Trump voters. You don't know where these people are coming from, Trump outperformed Romney among minorities and he also did respectably -- he didn't do nearly as well as Romney did with college educated whites, but he did a whole lot better than the public polls suggested.
KRAUSHAARWhich means that there were a lot of people that didn't want to say they were supporting Donald Trump, but ultimately, cast their vote for him.
MECKLERAnd the most astonishing thing I think I saw in the exit polls, in assuming they're correct, is that he -- that Donald Trump got a two percent, percentage points more of the Hispanic vote than Mitt Romney did.
GJELTENRight. Let's go, let's bring some of our listeners in on our conversation now. First of all, to Anna in -- who's calling from Silver Spring. Hello, Anna. This is the Diane Rehm Show.
ANNAHi, so, my question is the following. I mean, I've been getting, I've been seeing on social media a stream about a petition that people are signing to -- for the delegates to vote against the respective votes in here -- in their states. To me, that of course, doesn't hold water.
GJELTENYou mean in the Electoral College.
ANNAAnd you know, it's equivalent -- yeah, and it's equivalent to the protest that you see in the streets. I mean, as you were talking, it doesn't hold water to just like emit a primal scream unless you undo the elections as they went. But my question is regarding the actual system. How (unintelligible) is it that in this day and age where we have social media, you know, how does that even play a part? Isn't it important, maybe, to revive that because then it somehow gives Trump a populist, you know, candidate that sort of manipulated segments of society like white workers from the rust belt.
ANNAAnd then got his victory through that, because that's how -- she did win the popular vote, so that's my question, regarding the system.
GJELTENAnd you're precise concern is that social media, with social media, people are more informed about choices and maybe we should trust the popular vote more than we have in -- over these last 200 years.
ANNABecause to my understanding, the reason why the Electoral College system was devised was to give voice, you know, and to -- I don't, that's my, maybe that's my ignorance, but my understanding, that is why. I mean, it just -- there's a question of -- it raises in my mind the question of how important is it to maintain that system as opposed to right now in this day and age, how, how (unintelligible) is it? How does -- how, how important is it to maintain that system and because my question is, doesn't it, doesn't it provide force to a candidate like him with demagogue...
ANNA(unintelligible) reaches to certain strategic areas like the rust belt, like, you know...
GJELTENOkay. Okay, Anna, we got your point. Let's try and figure it out. We've certainly heard this complained about the Electoral College before. This is now the second election in the last 20 years that -- where we had a different result in the popular vote and the Electoral College. Laura.
MECKLERTrue. However, I think that we're -- there's something deeper underneath what she was saying, which is basically, she's saying that, hey, large numbers of people, and I think it's fair to say the people she knows, don't want this. So, how can we allow it to happen? He's manipulated the system. Well, I mean, the system is what it is. It's a state based system. It goes back to the founding of this country when states had a lot of authority to run this country. That there was a push and pull between the federal power and state power, and this is one of the things that came out of that.
MECKLERI don't know the details of the history behind the Electoral College, but I believe that was the -- that's the heart of it. And essentially, that's the system that we have here and that's how both candidates ran their campaigns. Both candidates knew where the votes were going -- which states were going to decide it, and truthfully, this wasn’t that close when it came to the Electoral College. I mean, she didn't lose this by just one state. You know, she lost several states that she needed. She lost several different types of states that she needed.
MECKLERI think that at base, the reason why she lost this was less about him manipulating people, which I think is a little bit condescending to those people. They made a choice. Now, they might be a choice that anybody that you agree with or that lots of other people agree with, but they made their own choice, and their vote is equal to yours. So, I think the bigger problem was that you had a candidate, Hillary Clinton, who was not at all a match for the moment.
MECKLERYou know, she did not have a message about change. She did not have a message that was at all looking for -- to tap the anger that was coursing through the electorate.
TUMULTYWell, I also think, and it's important to remember that, you know, the system stayed in place despite the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote by a bigger margin and lost the Electoral College by a smaller margin than we've seen this year. I totally understand and agree with the arguments that the Electoral College is anachronistic, but what you would lose by that, if you were to just make it the popular vote, is essentially big money would -- the candidates would camp out in New York and California. Nobody else would ever see them.
TUMULTYAnd these gigantic media markets would just suck up the billions by the billions.
GJELTENWell, rural voters were very big in this election, and rural voters would really not count for much.
TUMULTYNo, they would live -- flyover would in fact be flyover.
KRAUSHAARYeah. Absolutely agree with what Karen said that it actually -- the Electoral College actually constrains populism, because if you're just speaking to the base in Texas and California, that's the result of what would happen if we had a national popular vote contest.
GJELTENLet's go now to Brian, who's on the line from Michigan. Hello, Brian. You have called The Diane Rehm Show.
BRIANYeah, being in Michigan, I can tell you the problem, and from the interviews I've been hearing, I don't think they're still getting it. One thing Trump sold was one, the corruption. You know, Hillary. Two was all the money she's taken from big business, which, you know, you associate with the Republicans. But mostly, everything you hear is the free trade agreement, they feel betrayed. You know, Obama was supposed to relook at NAFTA. He never did.
BRIANYou know, when NAFTA first came out, even though Clinton signed it, it was, you know, a majority of the Democrats opposed it and the Republicans supported it overall. And that's been shifting. Now, they're not to the point of Trump, but, you know, they feel betrayed by that. And lastly, they haven't been selling the facts. Bernie Sanders talks about, you know, the one percent. There's this wonderful chart on inequality (unintelligible) that shows where incomes would be if we had the same inequality of 1979.
BRIANAnd every group would have another three, four, ten thousand dollars. The only group that would be behind, if we had the same inequality, is the one percent. And they'd be making 824,000 dollars less a year. Nobody's selling that. Nobody's speaking up and saying, hey, this is what the oligarchs are doing to you. And Donald's part of the oligarchs. Do you really think he's going to go against his own self-interest? I don't hear any of that.
GJELTENBut you would say, but you would say, Brian, that, would you say that Donald Trump spoke to those concerns more than Hillary Clinton did, despite him being a multi-billionaire?
BRIANOh yeah, definitely. And Ford moving to -- their new things to Mexico? I mean, he sold that, you know, the Democrats saved the auto industry, but what have you done for me lately? And then just not getting it.
BRIANThey're not selling it. They're not challenging. And you're right about the Republicans are going to be split between the, you know, the neocons interventionalists -- they're going to fight them. But that one percent oligarch that wants that free trade, how are they going to fight back?
MECKLERI just think there's an irony here. Yes, on trade, he was much more in touch with that, but if you look at the other economic policies, Clinton wanted to increase taxes on the rich. Trump wanted to cut them. Clinton wants to increase the minimum wage, Trump does not want to increase the minimum wage. So, in fact, you know, if you dig into the issues. In fact, she was addressing these things, but she just wasn't the person, I don't think, she didn't have the message that allowed that to get through.
GJELTENI'm Tom Gjelten. That's Laura Meckler. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Josh, you wanted to jump in.
KRAUSHAARYeah. This is an election, when you look at the results, that's divided a lot more on class and education level than ideology. And when you look at some of these states that swung from the Democratic column to the Republican column, it's remarkable to see the Philadelphia suburbs, where Republicans once ruled the roost, actually voted a lot more for Hillary Clinton. And yet, Scranton, Erie, Johnstown, became Republican strongholds. In Ohio, which overwhelmingly supported Trump by almost double digits in this election.
KRAUSHAARIt was the strong, union rather, strongholds in Youngstown and along the eastern strip of Ohio that overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, even as the growing suburbs of Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati trended towards Hillary Clinton. So this is an ideology -- we didn't talk a lot about issues in this campaign, but we did talk a lot about class.
GJELTENKaren, before we wrap up this hour, I want to talk about some of the other races that we saw on Tuesday. There were a number of groundbreaking elections. We saw the first Latina Senator elected in Nevada to replace Harry Reid. The first LGBT Governor. I mean, we shouldn't disregard those developments.
TUMULTYYeah, that was Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Governor Kate Brown in Oregon. She has actually been the Governor since February of 2015, but she took the job -- she had been the Secretary of State because the Governor had to resign in the middle of a scandal. So this was the first time the state sort of was able to affirmatively elect her. I do think that we are, you know, the steps keep getting made. And so that as, I know a lot of women are very despairing that, you know, if not Hillary Clinton, what, what woman could get elected?
TUMULTYThe fact is that a lot of barriers are coming around, all around us.
GJELTENAnd Laura, also, liberal signs of creeping liberalism with the number of states voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
MECKLERAbsolutely. As well as increase the minimum wage, as we were just talking about. So, I mean, there, there is -- I, as Josh said, this was not an election, a Presidential election about issues. When you look at the issues, still the liberal point of view does prevail on a lot of things, even on immigration. 70 percent of the people in exit polls said that they supported legalization for people here illegally. So, go figure.
GJELTENWe have time for one more call. Gary's on the phone from Los Angeles. Hello Gary, you're on "the Diane Rehm Show."
GARYHi, I'm trying to overcome my extreme depression after the outcome of this election, but I'm absolutely astounded. I'm not someone who is against the media. I'm not someone -- I respect the vast majority of journalists and their insight and education. But I -- I'm just astounded that this issue of the Supreme Court nominee has not been brought up. I will not accept the legitimacy of the outcome of this election because of the voter suppression that took place that I have not heard enough talk about.
GARYThe margin was so close. In 2000, we have the intervention of the Supreme Court to throw the election to the Republicans. This year, we have the intervention of the FBI. And furthermore, here, my President, Barack Obama, had an opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. It's been stolen from him and given to the Republicans. This is completely unacceptable. I advocate that we all continue to protest.
GJELTENWell Josh, the charge that this election was rigged came mostly from Donald Trump before the election. And now, we're hearing it from the other side.
KRAUSHAARYeah, hypocrisy knows no bounds in politics. I do want to talk about the court, because I think one of the big blunders by the President was nominating an older white guy, a centrist, instead of someone who could excite the Democratic base. And what we've learned during the Obama presidency is that it -- identity politics has come to define the Democratic Party. And if you're not non-white, if you're not young, if you're not part of the new Obama coalition, it's hard to get the base excited about you, even if you agree on a lot of the issues.
KRAUSHAARAnd Garland did not excite the Democratic base. No one even talked about Garland on the -- in all these Senate and House races which was once considered to be a big battleground for Democrats. And Republicans were excited at the possibility of having a conservative Supreme Court. And they did mobilize on behalf of Donald Trump, even if they disagreed with him on a lot of issues.
GJELTENWell, one of the other points that Gary brought up was he was very critical of the news media for not being aggressive enough about this. And I think, just in these closing seconds, we need to point out that this is going to be a real question going forward. What position are news organizations going to take under a Trump Presidency? Donald Trump is someone who has said, threatened to sue news organizations that write stories that he considers untrue. It's going to be a real challenge.
GJELTENI think we'd all agree, for the news media to figure out how to cover this President. I'd like to thank my panelists, Laura Meckler from the Wall Street Journal. Josh Kraushaar from the National Journal. And Karen Tumulty, National Political Reporter at the Washington Post. Thank you all for coming in.
TUMULTYGreat to be here.
GJELTENAnd thanks to all the listeners. Sorry to those who didn't get a chance to weigh in. We have a lot of thoughts from our listeners on this election. I'm Tom Gjelten. This is "The Diane Rehm Show." Thanks for listening.
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