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“…because t...

“…because they don't believe in rights for people. They don't believe in people voting equally. That is anti-American. -- Rob Richardson

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ROB RICHARDSON
Welcome to Disruption Now. We haven't done live in a long time. Anyway, panel, it's good to have you all back here -- my man, James, Tunde, Ameshia Cross.

We are here to talk about the legacy of RBG, what that means and how it ties to black lives and “Black Lives Matter” and equality. And I’m actually going to talk about the Breonna Taylor case very briefly because the two tie in. Follow with me.

When we talk about civil rights in this country, black rights in particular, it’s more tied to the Supreme Court. Who's on the Supreme Court than anything else? Don't believe me? Take a very brief tour in history here. Dred Scott case starting there.

During slavery, Dred Scott sues, as you may know, for his right for freedom because he was living in a free state for about four years and he said because of that, the laws of that state should apply. He went to the Supreme Court… and you could probably guess how this is going to end. They said, “No, Negro” -- they didn't probably say “Negro” but that's neither here nor there -- “you don't have those rights. You're not a citizen. It doesn't apply to you. Sorry. End of discussion.”

Fast forward, about 40-plus years, we've had a civil war. Lincoln is there. The Republican Party is founded on giving equality and getting rid of slavery. Very different now but that's neither here nor there. I digress. That's how it was founded then. They were largely in power and they passed the--

In order to overturn Dred Scott, that case I talked about earlier, they made sure that we were citizens, theoretically. They passed three constitutional amendments -- the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the 15th amendment -- getting rid of slavery, making us citizens, giving us the right to vote. Seemingly, right? It seems like that's pretty clear.

Now just think about what it takes to get a constitutional amendment. Two-thirds of the House in the Senate have to pass it -- two-thirds. That's nearly everybody. We can't get two-thirds of them now to even agree the sky is blue. You can't get them agree on anything.

JAMES
Right. That's because the sky is orange in certain parts of the country, right?

ROB
Okay, point, thank you very much. But even if we all agreed that the sky was orange and they were looking at the same view, people would try to argue that is purple. I mean I don't know. They would just make it up. If it was raining outside, they would say it's sunny. You get my point.

It's actually always been very hard to get things done and it's very hard to get two-thirds. But it doesn't even stop there. Three-fourths of the states had to approve this thing. So you had nearly the whole entire country agree that black people should be included as citizens. But Supreme Court said once again, “Hold up. No. No. No. That's not how we interpret those amendments. We don't interpret them that way.” Therefore, you can be separate but equal and essentially erase all those gains.

Despite gaining constitutional amendments, despite having control of all the states, the Supreme Court of United States took away the rights of African-Americans. And they lived under the terror of domestic terrorism of Jim Crow. That's what led to all the things like the black massacre of Wall Street and all those things that happen over and over and over again because we still had no functional rights because the Supreme Court, essentially, yanked it away.

Okay, people might say, “That's a long time ago.” But hold on, the war on drugs and the rights that were taken away from mostly black people… You're supposed to have a right against unreasonable search and seizures. This thing called the “Fourth Amendment,” one of the original amendments to the constitution, somehow, when it applies to black people, it just doesn't apply anymore. So starting a case called “Terry v. Ohio,” that started “Stop-and-frisk,” which I know every black person in America understands “Stop-and-frisk.”

Fast forward to the Breonna Taylor case, people now are outraged that none of the officers were directly charged in this case. Everyone's blaming lots of people. They're blaming the attorney general. They're blaming the system in Louisiana. And I’m not saying those don't play a role but they are a part of a larger system that's in place, and the biggest role is the Supreme Court of the United States.

And when people think about these things, that's usually not in the general part of the conversation. I can tell you, those on the right, they've been strategic about it. -- Ameshia, I’m going to start with you because I want to have this conversation.

How they think about judge, they've got it down to a science. They start recruiting you in law school to make sure that you go to the federalist society. So they know your views; so they know what they're going to be.

And democrats… I got to say the only thing that the democrats usually talk about is Roe v. Wade. And I’m not saying that's not important. But usually, the conversation doesn't get to black lives and the Fourth Amendment and so we have to understand why this is important. But do you think the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the profound impact that could have… Not on politics -- that's too easy -- but on what's going to happen to rights in terms of the direction of this country. Do you think democrats now, both the voters and the elected leaders, will be more strategic and really understand what's at stake?

AMESHIA
No. Quick answer is “No.” I think that what we've seen is a marketplace of ideas where there are democrats who now, at least in the interim prior to the November 2020 election, shows some level of concern because it got down to the wire in those four republican senators that many democrats were counting on to basically stop the vote or a Supreme Court justice who would now replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Those hopes are all but gone.

I think that what we're seeing right now in addition to an influx of major cash, the Democratic Party, make it plain, $90 million. The largest fundraising, overall, the Democratic Party has ever seen was given within 26 hours of RBG's death, to not only Joe Biden's campaign but also Senate races and other down ballot races.

So I do think that there are people who fully acknowledge and understand the role of her passing and what that means for a lot of the progressive policies and the progressive laws that we've seen put in place but I don't think that, at large, democrats fully understand the role of the courts.

And I say that because time and time again, we've seen strategy after strategy from republicans, not only at the federal level but also at the state and local level, when it comes to advancing judges and making sure that their electorate understands the importance of judges to maintaining a stronghold on certain elements of society whether that is what we've seen at the state level.

The reason why a lot of women's reproductive rights have been taken away isn't because of Roe v. Wade. That's still standing policy at the national level and we saw that the Supreme Court still holds that. But at the state level, we saw over 450 bills passed within the past six years specifically aimed and targeted at stripping Roe v. Wade apart at the state level. And a lot of those bills were passed and actually substantially pushed and strongly supported by judges at that level.

So I think that when you're talking about the Supreme Court, not only at the federal level but also the Supreme Court of various states, the understanding from republicans is that you want to get people in office who are going to be able to pick these judges who will help push the agenda that supports the republican party and what republican voters support and stand on.

Democrats don't necessarily have that same strategic ideology when it comes to judges. Historically speaking, the appointments of judges have not moved democrats. Democrats don't vote on it and it's actually hard for democrats to fundraise on it. This will be, with RBG, the first time in our nation's history where democrats have actually been attentive to these judge appointments.

Now only time will tell if this actually last. But I think that because of RBG's standing in America, because of her progress not only in terms of women's rights which everybody touches on but also in terms of civil rights and in terms of LGBT rights, in terms of the rights of teachers and the rights of people in the workplace and workers compensation and health care.

She had a bed of policy and ideas that basically span multiple generations. But also she was a progressive before being a progressive was cool. And she gets a lot of kudos for her work within the women's rights movement. But she did a lot outside of that. So I’m glad that you pointed to some of the civil rights wins of the Supreme Court.

But we also have to bring those up to modern day. Without her casting some very important judgments on those things, we would not be where we are right now. And I think that all of that is up in the air.

To be honest, there are a lot of democrats who are effectively upset at not only her passing but also the acknowledgment that President Trump is more than likely going to get somebody in to fill that seat before the end of the year whether it's before the election or in the lame duck session. And that is perfectly constitutional and that does change the shape of the courts which would leave democrats only a couple of options -- either expanding the court itself, meaning, adding more seats -- another thing that's perfectly constitutional -- and what has been talked about among many, adding Puerto Rico and DC as states.

ROB
Yeah. James, do you think democrats understand at this moment finally… I kind of relate to a story. I’ll be very quick on this. So my sister, as many of you know, passed away but she helped me not be afraid and--

The first fight I ever had was against this bully. He just kept pushing me and pushing me and pushing me and pushing me. Finally, one day… Well my sister actually pushed me to do it. But anyway, I did end up getting into a fight with him. I won the fight and then he backed down from that point.

Do you think democrats finally understand? They think like pointing out hypocrisy of what republicans have done is going to work. These people don't care. Do you think they finally understand they're going to have to respond in kind in order to actually get things accomplished or do you think we're still going to be here in status quo state? What do you think?

JAMES
No, no. I don't think they have any idea. The republicans and the republican tactics haven't changed.

ROB
They’ve been consistent.

JAMES
Yeah. When Mitch McConnell snatched Merrick Garland away from Obama, it was clear at that point what was going on. None of what has happened is not foreseeable. When Kennedy stepped down so that Kavanaugh can get in, that is being strategic. That is understanding that, “Hey, there's uncertainty in the future so let's figure out how we can… This is important to us.”

The concern I have -- and I don't think this is democrats and republicans. I think this is republicans versus Americans -- is that republicans want what they want more than everybody else wants what they say that they want because republicans are just willing to lay more on the line and go after it more. And that's not to say I’m admiring that because I think that involves breaking the rules and doing things that you shouldn't be doing in breaking the spirit and the letter of the rules. So I’m not trying to valorize that. But at the same time, democrats have to know what they're up against.

Well let me say that the democrats should recognize what they're up against because it hasn't changed. The same tactics have been going on and yet they still… Joe Biden is out here right now talking like he's going to bring all these republicans back to the table and everything is going to be just like 1983 when he gets elected. So I see that and I’m saying, “Well no.”

The republicans have demonstrated that they're going to act in bad faith when it comes to this stuff. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to act in bad faith but that means that you have to prepare and you have to approach them in a way that no, they're not going to do--

Just because they say that you should do something doesn't mean that they're going to do that themselves. And you can still go against somebody like that without blowing up the whole system. But you have to recognize, you have to admit to yourself that, “Hey, they are not going to approach this with a level of honor and a level of decency that I would do it so therefore, I have to deal with them in the way that they act, not in the way that I want to act.”

ROB
Yeah. I agree with that. -- Tunde, what is your thought here, the fact that when you look at this, to get to James’ point, could it be that if--

First of all, Joe Biden and Senate democrats have to win -- that's one thing -- because if they lose… This is a mute argument like… whatever. But if they win and they don't actually do something impactful, can that actually break democracy because people will just lose faith in them? And then we go into a state where not only nothing changes but we have these significant rollback. And you have people that invest in… By “invest,” I mean “vote” for democrats to see some change. And all they get is the same thing because there's nothing substantive done.

So my question is two. It's twofold. One, will this be the last stand for moderates in the democratic party if they don't do something significantly to show that we're trying to move the ball forward in terms of equality and rights? And then two, what has to be done? What should be the strategy, from your point of view, in terms of where we go from here? Obviously, it's a really big turning point in American history.

TUNDE
Yeah. Great questions. I generally agree with Ameshia and James's sentiments coming into my turn to talk here. I'm not sure with regards to the question about the moderate democrats versus if this is the last stand.

I think there's a part of that that actually is true only if we compare the Democratic Party as maybe a lagging example to the Republican Party where republican-based voters got upset at the moderates and the kind of establishment in the Republican Party. Let's say during the Bush administration was like the last straw and then that led to the tea party which led to a purge of pretty much all moderate republicans from national congress and Senate. Maybe there's a few left in the Senate. But that has then led to a polarizing environment because you have more fringe and further right people in office that don't want to compromise and don't have moderation in their mind.

ROB
And they're winning.

JAMES
And they’re winning.

TUNDE
Then that goes back--

JAMES
They were put there not to compromise.

TUNDE
Well that goes back to James’s point. So then it creates the environment where it's just the ends justify the means and you get rid of what might have been norms -- because he makes a good point in making a distinction between breaking rules and just breaking norms because there is a difference.

My concern would be, unfortunately, that the Democratic Party will probably end up going down the same road as much as the right likes to call everybody that claims they're a democrat to be ultra-lift and liberal. The reality is people like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are actually moderate democrats. They're not AOC. They're not Bernie Sanders.

I do feel that there is a risk that if the moderates don't prove themselves in this election and then thereafter, to your point--

ROB
That’s really my point. Like we don't have to do everything they say but they got to do something.

JAMES
Yeah. I think that by, let's say, the midterm of 2022 or the next big election of 2024, you could see a version of the tea party on the left that's serious, not what the Fox News and the right tells us is left-wing fringe but a real version of that coming home to roost. So that's that.

And then the second part of your question is… You know, I don't know where it goes from here. I think one of the things… Sometimes, I think we--

You know, the Supreme Court is a big deal but then I think Supreme Court justices throughout history have surprised everyone. People on the right were surprised when John Roberts sided with the Affordable Care Act. There's other examples like that.

My concern coming into this …I think Ameshia is right. I think it's over for the Supreme Court.

ROB
You were such an optimist though about the Supreme Court. But you are right--

TUNDE
What I’m saying is whether they are able to do it before the election or not, they still have through late January. Even if Biden wins, they've got the Senate and Trump as president. They're going to get their picking.

ROB
The only people that wouldn't do it is… Maybe democrats wouldn't do it but republicans are going to do it. [Laughter] Republicans are going to get their pick.

AMESHIA
[Inaudible - 16:09].

TUNDE
My only concern is that--

ROB
Well let me just say this. It's never been done this close to election ever in history.

TUNDE
Well that doesn't matter because it's not illegal, right?

ROB
I'm not disagreeing. I’m just getting a point.

TUNDE
That’s what I’m saying. I’m tired of watching democrats rerun all these republican talking points from 2016.

AMESHIA
And it doesn’t matter because constitutionally, there is nothing wrong with doing this.

TUNDE
Correct.

AMESHIA
So [inaudible - 16:30], the time frame doesn't matter because there is no time frame limitation within the constitution itself. This is perfectly legal if the ball is in your court and you have the Senate. One of the reasons that Obama--

Yes, I wish Merrick Garland had at least been called up for a vote. But even if he had been called up for a vote, democrats did not have the Senate and Merrick Garland still would have been shut down.

JAMES
We don’t know that.

AMESHIA
The belief that democrats had--

ROB
No, we don’t know that.

JAMES
We don’t know that.

AMESHIA
The belief that democrats had at that time was that Hillary Clinton was going to get in in that next cycle and [crosstalk] [inaudible - 16:58] and they were wrong.

ROB
Which is more of the problem, too, I think. Go ahead.

JAMES
That’s strategy based on hope again.

ROB
[Laughter]

JAMES
That doesn't work. Okay, the strategy can't be, “I hope this works out.”

TUNDE
Yeah.

JAMES
I mean I think that one… I got to give Tunde a hot tip because he's pointed out previously that the issue… Actually, the democratic politicians, yes, they have an issue as far as being assertive and aggressive enough but also the democratic and Americans in general -- this is Tunde's point but I want to make sure it gets made because it's such a good point -- that they don't give their elected officials cover once they elect them in office. They sit back and say, “All right.” With Obama, his first two years, they said, “We put you in office. All right, now solve all the problems.”

ROB
Yeah.

JAMES
They don't give them cover. They don't keep pushing the issues the way that you see on the right where they keep pushing that stuff over and over again. The right puts their people in there to not compromise. And so when they don't compromise or when they do then rules… because, “Hey, we don't want to put Merrick Garland on so, hey, we won't even give them a vote.” Their people cover them for that. “Yeah. Yeah, we're good with it because we don't want Merrick Garland in there.”

ROB
Yeah.

JAMES
This is a government of the people by the people and for the people. And if the people don't want it enough, they're going to lose it. And that's what I think you see is that people just don't want this enough on a day-to-day basis or on an election-to-election basis. Why do we have to work so hard to get people to come out to vote? It’s like, “Yo, clearly, this isn't that important to you except you just want to get on Twitter and complain about it.” Well if it's important to you then show up and vote.

And they're going to try to stop you from voting. You know how you can do that? You show up and vote. Enough people will get through and then they won't be able to keep doing that because they're going to be out of office. The whole republican game is based on not everybody voting. Why do you think that is -- because they think they can pull it off.

ROB
Yeah.

JAMES
So to me, you got to want it. They demonstrate that they want it more than the rest of America does, period.

ROB
What should be the strategy?

JAMES
If that’s the case, they're going to pull it off.

ROB
Okay. So Ameshia, what should the strategy be of democrats? Let's assume everybody that RBG's replacement is looking that way, that it’s going to be Trump that picks it, should they now do what you say? Should they look at packing the court to bring another two on? Should they look at maybe making term limits which they can do constitutionally, too, which I think actually would be popular from American’s point of view anyway. Should they add DC and/or Puerto Rico as a state? What should be the strategy assuming they win? The first strategy, you got to win.

AMESHIA
The first thing democrats need to do is [crosstalk] [Inaudible - 19:30]…

ROB
Let’s assume they can win. That's a hell of an assumption knowing democrats.

AMESHIA
…the Senate. We have to be mindful that the presidency is not the only thing that's up for grabs. If democrats don't have the Senate, this thing is dead in the water. With that, I think that they should have all strategies on the table.

Previously, he said it repeatedly, Joe Biden has been against expanding the court. He's been against expanding the court because under his belief system, should democrats pull this as somewhat of a nuclear option, who's to stop republicans when this thing tilts back the democratic way from also expanding? And what's to stop the court from having 20-30-40 people on it when either side gets frustrated because it's tilting in one direction?

There is an argument to be made for that. But there's also an argument to be made for being weak when it looks like republicans are willing to go in and do everything. And democrats are always extremely cautious. So right now--

ROB
That’s my argument.

JAMES
Hold on, Ameshia. Ameshia, Ameshia, hold on. Hold on. Hold on. There’s no argument to be made from that. What's to stop the republicans from doing it? Well what you're doing now isn't stopping the republicans from doing anything anyway.

ROB
[Laughter]

TUNDE
[Inaudible - 20:25].

AMESHIA
[Inaudible - 20:26] there's nothing to be said about it.

JAMES
No way.

AMESHIA
Now, would more people support term limits? Who knows? Term limits could be a good idea. But I think that he has to do--

If let's say Biden gets in and we get a democratic Senate, they're going to have to mitigate this Trump pick because there is no way in hell he's not going to put somebody in before… you know, whoever gets this next election cycle. And even if he gets reelected again, he's definitely going to make sure that somebody is appointed before he would assume office the second time should he be reelected.

I think that this places Puerto Rico and DC, in terms of their statehood, in a very interesting position. As all of you know, Puerto Rico and DC have been fighting for statehood for decades now even at times when there was a democratic-led presidency and Senate and they never saw those arguments get the light of day. I think that it's very interesting on many points that now this is the move. But I think that republicans would fight it tooth and nail. Again, this is largely dependent on democrats winning the Senate.
ROB
Of course. They'll lose power.

AMESHIA
This is largely dependent on democrats winning the Senate. If we're paying attention to the Senate races right now, there are several very tight ones. And there are ones that we saw some of that post-RBG fundraising money go-to that honestly shouldn't have gotten it because they don't stand a snowball’s chance in hell of electing a democratic senator.

But I do think that we need to be very, very strategic about turnout for this vote. We need to make sure that people are not getting frustrated beyond belief and staying home because the biggest issue with this election cycle, and I think this goes back somewhat of what James said a moment ago, is that there's people who just have lost faith in the system completely. There are people who feel very put down. They’re very disinterested in what's going on especially after they saw RBG passing and feel like the writing is on the wall. And there are people who honestly believe that Trump is going to win again and that Biden is not stepping up with as hard of a message as he should when we're watching what's going on in the country right now.

And I think that all of those things put together makes it very difficult to predict what turnout is going to look like. Let's set aside the impediments to voting that we know are going to happen. We're watching the ships with the USPS system. We're watching what's going to happen with the polling places being shut down in various areas, with polling machines not working, with lines as long as hell. If people can stand in line for the PS5, if people can stand in line for Michael Jordan shoes and everything else, hell, they can stand in line for this. It’s a life or death situation.

ROB
Or Popeye's chicken and sandwich that you love.

AMESHIA
You have to invest in it. And it is life or death [crosstalk] [inaudible - 22:52] on the ballot.

JAMES
If you want--

AMESHIA
Everything that we hold near and dear. Housing is on the ballot. LGBT rights are on the ballot. Civil rights are on the ballot. If you are not getting out and making sure that your voice is heard this election cycle, you don't have a… I know people say this every election: “You don't have a reason to complain.”

But no, there are some serious repercussions to people not getting out and voting this election cycle. And the republicans are literally working day in and day out to make sure that they dismantle every bit of progress we've made.

ROB
Yeah. And the hope strategy, the hope that Trump picks somebody that may be fair is not a strategy. As James said, it's a silly strategy because it's more likely that he will pick somebody that agrees with stop-and-frisk, that does not want to get rid of the status quo. So we have to--

AMESHIA
But we already know who his top two picks are. He has Judge Lagoa out of Florida because he wants to win Florida. And then he has Amy Coney Barrett who in Midwest. But she's also someone who tilts extremely far right. She's not only known for some of her racist litigation but also she's somebody who does not stand for any type of police reforms. She has pushed anti-LGBT policies and she stood before courts and she was against that. She's somebody who we all know is extreme right -- you know, even right of President Trump in the Trump administration right now.

So no, he's not looking to have a moderation on this court at all. He's not looking to even have John Roberts. He's only looking at judges who take extreme stances…

ROB
Right.

AMESHIA
…and that should be frightening to everyone.

ROB
It should be. And the lawsuit--

TUNDE
Can I say something real quick?

ROB
Hold on.

TUNDE
All right.

ROB
The loss of RBG, the biggest thing right now, she was able to influence the court that was already right-leaning to come to the middle. She was able to talk to them and relate to people in a way. And having her gone, like the other two--

This is no disrespect to them. Maybe they'll evolve into the position. But RBG was able to do it and kind of be a center balance for, really, the court. Now that part is gone. And we can likely have somebody that wants just basically having Mitch McConnell in the Senate… I mean in the actual judgeship which is actually very scary. -- Tunde.

TUNDE
Yeah, I know. Look, I’m hearing it all and to me, it's like this is a consequence of not being prepared and the spoils go to the winner. What I hope doesn't happen is that the democrats puts on, and pardon my French, on a live feed but a shit show like what happened with Kavanaugh because the reality is we have a republican president and a republican Senate. So the expectation for them to put someone that's not conservative on there is like smoking crack. I mean they have a right to pick the judge they want.

And that's my point to democrats -- why, to me, democrats have just screwed this all up the last few decades. The republicans are being rewarded for having a game plan. Like we said earlier, they focused on the courts. They told their voters how important the courts were all these years. From every topic they could come up -- abortion, immigration, guns -- all the stuff that is near and dear to them, they framed it around, “You need to have the right judges.”

Remember, during the Bush administration, they called Anthony Kennedy an activist judge. I remember Tom DeLay did that when he was speaker of the House because he went against something that DeLay wanted. And he said he had researched it on the Internet. Because the Internet was something new, Tom DeLay used that politically against the court and said, “Look at this activist wild, wacky liberal judge.” And the guy wasn't even… You know, he was appointed by Reagan.

So my point is, is that democrats need to stop responding and reacting if they want to win ever again on a real way, not just a presidential election once in a while and not as a response to such bad governance by the republicans because in my lifetime, basically, it's Bill Clinton who won because Ross Perot helped fractured a vote during a recession when Bush was unpopular. And Obama won after the worst financial crisis… second worse in a hundred years next to the Great Depression and also that John McCain screwed up picking Sarah Palin.

ROB
And Obama is this phenomenal candidate, too.

TUNDE
And both Obama and Clinton as just politicians are… They walk on water. I mean they're like Reagan -- very skilled at communicating.

ROB
Correct.

TUNDE
So democrats have not been able to get over the hump with just a regular kind of candidate given a regular democratic message and--

ROB
Because there is no way… Because to your point, Tunde, there's not a consistent message.

TUNDE
Correct. But it’s also to James’s point that they still don't really understand their opponent and don't respect what the opponent's willing to do in the fight.

AMESHIA
Exactly.

TUNDE
They're coming to a gun fight with a knife in a sense or whatever the way you say it.

JAMES
Man, they’re coming to a gun fight with a bouquet of flowers.

TUNDE
Yeah.

ROB
[Laughter]

JAMES
They know nothing. But yeah, there’s--

TUNDE
That's my point, James. My concern is that they're going to go into the Supreme Court fight like they did with Kavanaugh and make this--

AMESHIA
And it’s not going to be worth it.

TUNDE
Yeah. Make it a shit show--

AMESHIA
You don’t have the voices. You don't have the people. [Inaudible - 27:55].

TUNDE
Exactly. And in the end, to me, Kavanaugh was a regular republican judge. He wasn't like a psycho right-wing bigot type. If they were to succeed in derailing him, my thought was, “Well Trump's just going to appoint the most right-wing person ever,” just to stick it in their eye and they'll win that one. So I’m not saying democrats shouldn't put up some sort of fight that they… whatever but--

ROB
It has to be strategy.

TUNDE
That’s what I mean. They got to accept that, “Okay, this one's over. We screwed up this journey so far.” And whether Biden wins or not, like we just said, Trump's got till the end of January with a republican Senate. He's going to get his pick [crosstalk] [inaudible - 28:33] for the future.

ROB
I would still make it difficult because republicans would do that, too.

AMESHIA
There is no way to make it difficult. You mean just argue and argue? Yes, we're going to [crosstalk] [inaudible - 28:40].

TUNDE
I know. That's what I mean. The only way to make difficult risks, you getting more egg on your face.

AMESHIA
Exactly.

ROB
Let me just say this really quick--

AMESHIA
And it could backfire for you electorally because…

TUNDE
Correct. I agree.

AMESHIA
…all they’re going to do is turn out the republican base.

TUNDE
Correct. Just focus on motivating your base.

ROB
Well I agree with that. Let me go to that point. I think, one, democrat should… You can make a commercial based on what I just said. I don't think a lot of people understand that Supreme Court can take away your rights. And people understand that. But then Joe Biden running, they have to say, “This is what we're going to do.” Because you know what, if republicans actually believe… They don't believe that they are going to do these things. If they believe that they would add Puerto Rico, DC and pack the courts, republicans would think twice about doing this because they're saying, “Well do we want to actually do that?”

JAMES
I don’t know.

ROB
They don't believe democrats have the guts to do it.

AMESHIA
Well I don’t think [crosstalk] [inaudible - 29:27]. Republicans just don't think that they're… They don't think that Biden is actually going to take the White House.

ROB
That’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah, they don’t believe--

JAMES
No. Republicans… Yo, Republicans shoot first. That’s it.

AMESHIA
They also think that this… whoever they pick should bring out their folks. [Crosstalk] [Inaudible - 29:39].

TUNDE
Remember, it’s very psychological. -- I’m sorry, Ameshia to cut you off there. -- Because here's what brings out to me, guys. Sarah Palin said something that I was naive to at the time but in the last 12 years, I’ve come to really understand what she meant watching the progression of our national politics. She said when Obama got elected--

ROB
[Crosstalk] [I got to hear this. We’re going to close your opinion now - 30:01].

TUNDE
…”We got to take our country back.”

ROB
Oh okay.

TUNDE
But think about what she said. There's a certain part of this country that will fight to hold onto whatever they perceive as their country. Then there's a lot of the rest of us who have accepted the fact that almost like we're renting space here from them. That's the psychology here. We're not fighting like we want this shit.

The people in DC and Puerto Rico, what you need to do is not to scare republicans. You need to motivate those voters to say, “I need 100% participation from DC and Puerto Rico so that when I win, I turn you into a state.” And that's the problem with democrats. To your point, they'd be doing it thinking about how they can gain republicans. Republicans don't care about democrats.

ROB
Correct. Correct, Correct.

TUNDE
Republicans only care about democrats to run over them, period.

AMESHIA
And the ones that they think are [crosstalk] [inaudible - 30:57].

TUNDE
There’s no love going to be shared in this whole kumbaya that Biden's talking about. And I’m not the kind of guy that wants to advocate conflict. I’d like to have both sides wanting to compromise and each one come away from the table not 100% happy because they all had to give up something. I'm just saying that the opponent of the democrats does not behave that way.

ROB
I want to make this clear of James point. They're the opponent of democracy right now because they don't believe in rights for people. They don't believe in people voting equally. That is anti-American. That's what that is.

[Crosstalking - Indiscernible]

JAMES
I want to get in one of these strategy points. I do think all of the options should definitely be on the table. Ameshia did a good job of running through. But what she didn't say, which I think should be the number one priority if the democrats are able to win some elections, and that is to get rid of the filibuster.

ROB
Oh yeah, can’t [crosstalk] [inaudible - 31:52] that.

JAMES
Yeah. Your point is well-taken as far as that the Republican Party is very anti-democratic, very authoritarian right now. If you measure that objectively… I was looking at something with Tunde the other day where they were measuring this based on center right parties around the world. And the Republican Party is most similar to like the authoritarian party in Turkey right now. So that being said, but the filibuster is also anti-democratic. So that's something that we can get rid of. And that vestige of a bygone era--

Look, if you got the votes in the Senate, they got rid of it already for judges. They need to get rid of it for everything else because we can't have 40 judges representing 30-something percent of the people in the country… or not judges… 40 senators representing 30-something percent of the people in the country because the Senate is already an institution that does not equally represent all Americans. The people in Wyoming have just as many senators as the people in California. Well if you let 40 senators shut everything down then you can't get anything done.

So the first thing they have to do is get rid of the filibuster and not thinking about what the republicans will do if they do it. Like everything the democrats do, it can't be about, “Oh if we would do this then the republicans will do…” No, no, no. You have to get rid of the filibuster because it's anti-democratic and then you can go from there and try to make moves and make things happen with the support of your people… with the support of the people who want you to make things better economically, make things more fair economically or who want you to make sure that everyone is guaranteed equal rights.

There are people -- they're called “Americans” -- who want that stuff and there are people who are fighting against that stuff and they're called “Republicans.” So if you want to make that stuff happen then you set up things as democratically as you can and then you go ahead and make it happen.

ROB
Oh I completely agree. I mean before any of this can happen, before DC can happen, before Puerto Rico can happen, before you can do anything with the courts, the filibuster has to go. And that's going to be the first test because there are going to be some democrats that say, “Well we want to be reasonable. Do we want to do the nuclear option?” Listen, you have nothing left. There is nothing left. There is nothing else to do.

AMESHIA
[Inaudible - 34:01]. Mitch McConnell will go down in history, whether people like it or not, as one of the most effective majority leaders this nation has ever seen.

TUNDE
Yeah, the most powerful man in the world right now.

AMESHIA
Not only did he [inaudible - 34:11] the bills but he also became the most powerful under the president… under this crazed-ass president himself. Mitch McConnell’s level of power and the power drive and focus he has utilized during his time, it is one that is not comparable to anything that we've seen in this country before and I think that that's something that people have to be mindful of. And he's not going to lose his Senate race, by the way.

So we just have to be very strategic… Democrats have to be very strategic because that's something that republicans have always been. They're in this for the long game. They are in this to make sure that they are mounting and building those assaults at the state level. And then now, they've also mounted and built several at the federal level and they will soon have the Supreme Court.

So for Biden and anybody who thinks like Biden on this, and I think that this is where the moderate piece sometimes can hurt you more than anything else, he's going to have to do things that he wouldn't normally have to do because we're in an era that we're not normally in.

So I think that this is going to be one of those points where democrats are going to have to flex muscle because republicans aren't going to stop.

ROB
Absolutely.

AMESHIA
And if you don't then they're just going to keep beating your head.

ROB
Listen to me, democrats. Everything in moderation, even moderation… You can't be moderate in every f**king thing. Some things you have to fight for because you know what--

I’m going to quote Robert Greene which we had a great episode with him before. Look back on the show. The 48 Laws of Power, “Everybody respects the bold. Nobody respects the weak” -- nobody. Your own voters won't respect you that are voting for you.

So this is the time we have to move and if we don't… First of all, we have to win and then when we win, we have to do something. We have to do something that you normally wouldn't do. These are not normal times as Ameshia said. The country is depending on you. This is not just about like democrats-republicans. This is about the advancement of rights; where we're going to be as a country. And we have to change because this is not working.

I saw Obama came out and said, “Well we should wait till after the election to do this just they did with me” as if these people care about your opin… They do not care. They don't care.
TUNDE
I wish he didn’t do that.

ROB
They don’t care. -- Sorry.

JAMES
They didn't care when he was president.

TUNDE
That’s funny because I was talking to James earlier on the phone, just having a random conversation, and that's what we were talking about. I said it. I go, “Just watching…” --You know, we're on September 23rd if this is seen in the future of 2020. -- I said, “Just looking at the last weekend in the optics of… Trump is being bold and he doesn't give a shit. He’s doing these rallies.” And I said, “I turn on MSNBC and all they do is bitch about the fact no one was wearing masks.” And I go, “You guys didn't learn anything from 2016. You're setting yourself up to lose because--”

It’s sad but it's true about what Robert Greene said. There's something in the lizard brain… you know, in our deep psychology, just our emotional state, that boldness, you can respect it and weakness, you don't, period.

And even the optics of Joe Biden giving speeches in an empty hall with a mask on and all that versus Trump with his thousands of people in his crowd and he doesn't give a f**k about a mask, pardon my French--

What I’m saying is whether I disagree or not with either one of them, just one is showing me that he wants me more. You know what I mean? Trump is showing like me--

AMESHIA
It means to die or kill everybody in the audience as well.

TUNDE
Yeah, I know. But what I’m saying is--

ROB
Yeah, I think they're something to this. Go ahead. [Laughter]

AMESHIA
But I get what you’re saying.

TUNDE
But that's what the human brain will say is…

ROB
No, no. I get it.

TUNDE
…”This guy is fighting for me and my vote and this other guy is kind of being tepid and weak.” And which one is the average voter who's not all into this stuff like we are, that doesn't know every little fact and detail and they just kind of show up once in a while with the news and other times at work and taking care of their family? They're going to go with the guy that looks like he's bold and cares and is just punching through walls, not the guy who kind of looks like he's half stepping.

JAMES
Tunde, is this hypothetical person someone that's in America though? Like everybody's pretty much made up their mind at this point.

ROB
I agree.

JAMES
Trump's not over here winning new people right now. He's not even trying to. He's trying to [crosstalk] [inaudible - 38:15].

TUNDE
No. But I think what he’s doing is… No. But here's what I see… and I know my personal life is anecdotal. It doesn't represent 300 million people. But what I saw was people that I know that were supportive of him up until kind of the mix between COVID and the George Floyd stuff, they were really on the fence. They were starting to say--

ROB
They were never on the fence.

TUNDE
Well--

AMESHIA
[Inaudible - 38:36]. Well at least they were [crosstalk] [inaudible - 38:39].

TUNDE
Hey, let me just tell you, they will… Let's put it this way. They verbalized being on the fence, now they don't. Now they're right back in his corner.

JAMES
That may have been their own coping mechanism.

ROB
Right.

TUNDE
Close.

AMESHIA
No. Trump was smart enough to move back to something they cared about. So there were some republicans who did feel a little antsy about certain things and then Trump came back to the “white women in the suburbs, folks moving into houses, people of color moving to low-income housing next door.” He basically fell on the tropes that we've seen throughout American history for white people.

ROB
Right.

JAMES
No. But--

AMESHIA
So he said, “Okay, well, if it’s always [crosstalk] [inaudible - 39:10].”

TUNDE
But I think part of it--

JAMES
[Inaudible - 39:11]--

[Crosstalking - Indiscernible]

TUNDE
Biden was better… If the democrats were better, they could have captured some other [crosstalk] [inaudible - 39:17].

ROB
Well hold on. Hold on. Well hold on. Well… James go.

JAMES
If Trump can get on TV and say he's grabbing on body, you know what… and not lose an ounce of support, he literally could get out in the street and shoot people and that's it and he would not lose a vote.

ROB
Yeah.

JAMES
I'm telling you, people may say that they are--

AMESHIA
That was [crosstalk] [incorrect - 39:35]. That was a tape [inaudible - 39:36] on TV until it was released. He didn't say that in a live telecast.

JAMES
Oh it wasn't live but it was taped. Okay, that made all the difference in the world. If it was live, people [inaudible - 39:47]--

AMESHIA
[Inaudible]

[Crosstalking - Indiscernible]

TUNDE
No. But you know what, James’s point…

ROB
Hold on. Hold on. One at a time.

TUNDE
…the tape that came out from the Woodward book about his knowledge and deep understanding of the COVID risk in February, when that happened and no one batted than eye… I believe what James just said.

JAMES
[Crosstalk] [Inaudible - 40:03].

TUNDE
Donald Trump could kill somebody on tape and he wouldn't be down under 40%.

JAMES
The only question here is who wants it more?

TUNDE
Yes, that’s exactly--

JAMES
The people who are down for Trump are down for Trump and--

ROB
I think it's on the voters more this time.

JAMES
That’s what I’m saying. They got to want it.

ROB
Yeah. Nothing's really actually changed in the polls.

AMESHIA
I think it's on the Electoral College this time just like it was last time. And Electoral College hasn't necessarily been rightly moved. If you look at the map now versus the map four years ago, there isn't that much of a change which I think is more disturbing than anything else.

JAMES
Yo, I’ll tell you this, I would to believe with the direction you were going but I just can't. Think of all of the things that have happened over the past 12 months. Trump is just as popular now as he was.

TUNDE
I know.

JAMES
That's mind-boggling.

AMESHIA
His numbers are insane.

ROB
We've said this before. And this is why democrats running can't act like they're promoting to some mysterious moderate voter. Like, “Do what you believe, fight for what you believe and people will follow you.” I mean this sounds basic because it kind of is. But democrats have to feel like they're moderating their position. And they're just saying, “We are nice. We're not like that bad guy.” That's a horrible strategy. The better strategy is to say, “This is what's going wrong with the country. This is how we're going to make it better and this is why we are better leaders.”

AMESHIA
We're consistently pointing out Trump's wrongs. Everybody knows… Hell, Trump knows his wrongs. He says it all the time.

ROB
Everybody knows he's wrong.

AMESHIA
[Inaudible - 41:28] he’s trying to steal the election, he says “Yes.” He was waving the flag of having to steal the election. This is not anything that he's been hiding. It is blatant.

So I think that democrats have to have a different strategy. And it's not everything that's wrong with Trump. It is, “What is our reason for supporting you?” It is, “What are the things that you're going to bring to the table?” It is, “What are those policy goals that you have?” And it can't be something that we've seen republicans easily chip away at. If it is, we're going to protect Obamacare. Well tell us exactly how when the republicans right now are about to pick a Supreme Court justice and announce one by the end of the week. We know that this is going to happen.

ROB
Yep, I agree.

AMESHIA
The first thing they want to knock off is Obamacare because it is up again before the Supreme Court in November.

ROB
Yeah. And a lot of republicans won't like that decision. But you know what? Sometimes, people have to know that fire burn, shit stinks. It matters who's in office. It matters who the judges are. But we need to… And I hope democrats understand why they need to win this election and they need to appeal to their voters. They need to motivate their voters because you're not convincing Trump voters.

If Jesus Christ came back today and was running, He would lose to Trump. If Muhammad ran, Gandhi… I don't care who you pick. Trump voters are not moving. I want democrats to really understand this.

Everybody running, do not think you can convince a Trump voter. You cannot. It is a flawed strategy. It is a stupid strategy. It is a losing strategy. Do not do it. Please, listen to the sound of my voice if any of you listen to this. You probably don't but I'm just giving my advice.

Hey, last word on anybody -- I think we've covered it pretty well -- about the strategy with RBG, what's going on and the legacy she's… It's a big hole that's being left. And I hope people understand… And this can be a turning point for us because sometimes people have to go through a little bit of pain in order to make progress. I wish we didn't have to do that but… I don't know. It seemed like that's the case. That's the last word. Anybody else's last word?

JAMES
Yeah. I’d just like to say I thought that one of the things that was lost in this was… and the entire country's reaction following the passing of RBG was just… that we didn't get a chance really to mourn and to really appreciate, I thought, what she meant and who she was. I thought that was a missed opportunity. Everything jumped straight to--
And I get it. It's very juicy to jump straight to the Supreme Court and the implications and so forth. And there's a lot of things up in the air right now that everybody cares a lot about. But RBG was a remarkable woman and a great American. Things go on, obviously, and that's kind of what you see with this. But taking a moment just to reflect on how far our country has come, that long arc does still bend in a way that we would be proud of.

One of the interesting things about all this is that, right now, you can argue for the first time that the people who have equality front of mind or at least would like the country to try to do the right thing, probably outnumber the people who want it to be a rigid hierarchy based on certain set things that they hold dear. We probably outnumber them. But that doesn't mean that the people who want to oppress, the people who want to make the playing field unequal were going to give up. That means they're going to work harder. But even with all that, that fight will still be there tomorrow.

I just want to say that RBG was an inspiration and her service to her country is something that we'll look back on for generations and be proud of.

ROB
I agree. -- Tunde.

TUNDE
I don't have much to follow up on there. What I do want to say is, as James made that statement about people that want equality most likely are the majority of this country at this point, of all races put it together, but I want to remind the audience, too, that this is why this stuff is important. South African apartheid existed for decades and a lot of people lived very difficult lives under that. And the Afrikaans, the white South Africans, never numbered more than about 10% of the population.

ROB
Correct.

TUNDE
So just because you got all these numbers doesn't mean that a minority can't take control if they are the ones actually putting in the work. And I think that's what we're talking about today is that--

You know, towards your point earlier about my comments about Obama, everyone was excited when he got in but no one matched that tea party of the energy from about 2010 to 2016 and it's reflected now. So I think a lot of people that support democratic ideas, meaning the Democratic Party ideas, need to also look in the mirror after this election and say, “How are you going to stay engaged in between elections and in midterms and not just show up every four years when it's the big shiny object of a president?”

ROB
Yep. -- Ameshia.

AMESHIA
I think that James kind of took it away earlier but I would add that this is an election that is… I don't want to say it's an “existential threat.” I think that people have said that far and wide way too much. But this is an election that, for me, specifically, goes beyond partisanship.

If you're somebody who cares about women's rights, if you're somebody who cares about health care, if you're somebody who cares about civil rights, if you're somebody who just cares about us following the order of the law and having our constitution actually be lived and breathed by our elected leaders then this is an election where there is not two choices. This is an election where we must get rid of Donald Trump.

But it's also an election where the Senate is going to really matter. We know that the power of the Senate has gone up dramatically versus the intent when it was created under the constitution. With that being said, that power that is vested in it is largely very, very helpful to have when the presidency is also in your court.

What we're looking forward to this election cycle is that people will actually not just use their Twitter fingers, not just hashtag but also get out and vote. I'm seeing celebrity after celebrity. I just saw another football player today. This is his first time actually participating in an election at all. Dude has been alive for 34 years. I don't think that he's an irregularity in America at all.

What we need is for people… Even if it is your first time. Hell, this is a great first time to do it because this is an election that is literally going to change the course of America as we know it. We are currently watching America take an authoritarian slide and it only takes so much before you fall fully away from democracy and into a world that is unrecognizable to people who grew up in this country.

And I think that this is one of those elections where if you do not have your voice heard, if you do not step out front, if you do not fight and match the fight of the Republican Party right now then we're going to be in a place where we'll never be able to come back from.

ROB
Yeah. You ended it well. A great book on this is about “Why Nations Fail.” It really goes to Ameshia's point and I think people should read it. And I want people who believe in not only democracy but that believe in capitalism… Walk with me. For capitalism to work properly, in order for it to actually have economic inclusion, we have to have an inclusive economy which means that you can't have a centralized power that ignores the rule of law because guess what they happen to do -- they take everybody's rights because there is no rule of law.
So it's really interesting that you have a party right now that is supposed to believe in limited government, that believes in unlimited power for the executive in the office, that they can violate any rules. It doesn't matter. Here's why that should matter -- because at any point, they can take away your rights.

And so if you believe in innovation, if you want to see societies move forward… Societies that are less inclusive are less prosperous -- end of discussion -- across the board.

America has done better because we've been more inclusive in our economics and… We haven't been perfect but we've been more inclusive. And the less inclusive we become, the less opportunities that will happen for everybody.

So this election is not about democratic or republican as Ameshia said, as everybody's made clear. It's about the future direction of America and what it means to be an American and what America is. Is that ideal going to continue or are we going to be something else? We'll see in November. Until then I’ll see you next time. I’m Rob Richardson.

JAMES
I’m James Keys.

TUNDE
I’m Tunde Ogunlana.

AMESHIA
And I’m Ameshia Cross.

ROB
We’ll see you next time.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

HOSTED BY

ROB RICHARDSON

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Rob Richardson

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Rob Richardson is the host of disruption Now Podcast and the owner of DN Media Agency, a full-service digital marketing and research company. He has appeared on MSNBC, America this Week, and is a weekly contributor to Roland Martin Unfiltered.

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