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tv   Book Discussion on The Politicians and the Egalitarians  CSPAN  July 24, 2016 8:00am-9:01am EDT

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well. he founded the innocence project which is a very importantpr project that uses dna to exonerate people who are wrongly convicted. i've sent a couple of clients to them. but what he did in that courtroom was unconscionable. again, we were objecting, the judge was overruling. so, you know, i can only take it so far with what i think of barry scheck because, you know, the defense does what they do. but the thing that's funny to me and i kept pointing it out but - no one seemed to care, was that his theories were conflicting. at one point he would say, oh,ai they planted the blood trail, then at another point it got contaminated in the lab, and let me just say one thing about that. .. there are ad oj's blood and sprinkled i would between bundy and rockingham is insane for one reason. the blood trail was from -- was discovered that led from bundy all the way into rockingham, into his bedroom, before he came
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back from chicago. so, no one had him. no one had his blood. no one had anything, and the blood trail was already there. many hours before he got back. so, not even possible. >> go ahead. >> you have always been really inspirational to me in my life, watching you as a child. he should've been doing at most
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maybe six years for manslaughter and it's so it's all wrong. we fought and fought and fought at every level, every level. i don't know what to tell you about that because it's a heartbreak that, i don't know what to tell you, other than i keep in touch with them and they keep writing to him and telling i believe you, i know. it's the only thing that is left to offer because we've exhausted all of our you can do that but as far as you feel personally i haven't found a way to do. i don't know what to tell you. bless you for the work you're doing. >> defined the danger of developing to take a skin because of the experience she said, they don't want to expose yourself to that over and over? >> you can't. i don't you could develop so thick a scant as not to suffer over an injustice no matter what type of lawsuit it is. at the end of the day whether
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you're a defense attorney or prosecutor it is all about justice. >> i think we are out of time. they are cutting my throat lastr night thank you very much and thank marsha for being here. [applause] i hope people go out and grab book and have assigned and say i hi to her. >> absolutely and thank you all for attending this presentation. she will be signing books record outside the auditorium and the lit fest appreciate your feedback. you can go to www.printer's row lit to provide that. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
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here's a look at some of the upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country.
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>> good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to barnes & noble upper west side. tonight i had the distinct pleasure of introducing other sean wilentz. he is a george henry david 1886 professor of american history at princeton university and author of the prize-winning the rise of american democracy, bob dylan in america and many other works. he brings us to take his new book, "the politicians and the egalitarians: the hidden history of american politics" in which he reminds us of the
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commanding role party politics has played in our struggle against economic inequality. at the nation sounded americans believe wealth extremes would destroy the revolutionary experiments in republican government. that i did have sent shape national political conflict. he understands understanding of this nation's political and moral character. historian and intellectual henry louis gates, jr. writes wilentz has a vast knowledge of the american past while exploring in his unique ways the interplay between raw party politics and the ebb and flow of reform efforts. in offering his take on pivotal figures from jefferson to the boys, lincoln's lbj, wilentz challenges us to debate is to introduce a way that honors the best of the democratic system is written about so provocatively throughout his career.
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even what i most disagree with him, his arguments are always vigorous and passionate, lively and engaging. so without further ado please join me in welcoming author sean wilentz. [applause] >> thank you for that lovely introduction. thank you all for coming out on this rainy night. it's great to be back at barnes & noble, back home. it's great to be here. it's supposed to rain when i'm here. title the one that is. at any rate, the book tonight is "the politicians and the egalitarians." ia few words about granted i'm going to read a fair amount because that's the best way to get across with this book is about. little bit of background. sometimes write a book without realizing you're writing it. that was very much the case with this book.
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back in 2001 i wrote an essay about egalitarianism in american political life and it was not economic egalitarianism, called the lost love gallantry and tradition and it came out just after 9/11 and nobody cared. it bombed. as far as i know the editor about are the only two people who read it. some years later i was thinking about politics and post-partisanship, and just at the time when the president obama was -- more partisan and so that fell away, too. but i realized that, in fact, those two essays put together actually had an argument to them. the more i thought about that argument the more i realized i had been making that argument for a very long time in one way or another in a variety of essays, reviews and all sorts of things. i looked over that a lot and
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thought with a fair amount of work there's the book here on this theme of politics, egalitarianism, party politics and how to work together and how they have worked together in the american past your so here it is. this is the result. the politicians and egalitarians. two groups, and may be the key to the entire title is this very nice, this wonderful ampersand in the title. the ampersand is about the and, very often americans think of legalized as pitting the politicians against the egalitarians, the egalitarians against the politicians. they are always at odds. politicians will not do anything unless pushed in the egalitarians think they are all a bunch of kooks. american politics i already
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works best when those two groups converge. indeed, you can understand american political history of the great events in american political history are those moments and they are very unusual and it'll happen all the time. when the politicians and the egalitarians actually converge. that's really what this book is about. but it is a book of parts and begins actually i want to open this up, it's not simply about hardheaded politics. it has a moral purpose as well. that moral purpose is underlined in the epigraph which comes from early work published in 1929. it really sums up what this book is about so i will read it. it may be well for the statesman to know that statesmanship easily danger rates into opportunism into opportunism cannot be sharply distinguished from dishonesty. but the profit on to realize
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that this high perspective and i'm compromising nation of his judgment always has a note of irresponsibility in it. francis of the cc may have been a better christian than pope innocent the third. but it may be questioned whether his moral superiority over the latter was an absolute as it seemed. nor is there any reason to believe that abraham lincoln, the states that an opportunist, was morally inferior to we gerson a profit. and must be judged in terms to which they count of limitations of society which the statesman must and the profit need not consider. that is the moral underpinning of this book. i laid out introduction and double read more from there. there are two keys to unlocking secrets of american politics and
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american political history. for historians and enthusiasm for insight of a new and attractive sort of miss ladies keys and now they are hidden from sight. once recovered and put to use the keys quickly demonstrate their usefulness. the first key is to recognize both permanent reality and the effectiveness of partisanship in party politics. americans have been loath to believe these things that the founding generation distrusts parties. the framers designed the national government they hoped would avoid partisanship's fee-based ambitions in destructive tendencies. more than a hundred years later, reformers of the progressive era similarly distrust the parties and try to replace them with nonpartisan elections and independent commissions of experts. americans in our own time think likewise. we deplored partisanship.
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we want government conducted in a lofty manner, without adversarial confrontation and chaos. but more than 200 years of anti-partisanship has produced nothing. this is because, despite their intentions, the framers built a political system which inspired polls until partisan politics. after some badly needed constitutional tinkering, assistance and fostered the rise of professional, mass-based national parties. and nation as large and diverse as the united states has require parties both to turn this content into laws and institutions and to prevent chronic a little break and. americans device election rules that hand victory to the winner of a plurality of votes which according to the axioms of political science virtual treasures a two-party system in which third parties do not last. possibly partisan politics is built into human nature. it is certainly built into the american version of human
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nature. and partisan politics have survived because in the united states it has worked well, or well enough. historians nowadays business this basic truth. they regard the political parties as entrances to democracy, and glorify political outsider and social movements. they point with justice to the countless and unending episodes are partisan politicians corrupting our politics and sustaining social rocks. yet the great issues in our history have been settled not from friction between politicians and egalitarians but from the convergence of protest and politics. party democracy has exceeded even in addressing the most oppressive of all american problems which was slavery, and which indiana could only be settled in blood. impeded by party system designed to keep slavery out of national politics, anti-slavery partisans and politicians build parties of their own.
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the carefully rigged two-party system fell apart and the election to the presidency of one of the anti-slavery party politicians, abraham lincoln, forced the crisis that led to the slaveholders rebellion and in time in exhibition. ever since, all of the great american social legislation from the progressive era to the new deal to the great society has been achieved by into the political parties. the second key to american political history is the recognition that from the very start americans have recognized and sometimes been consumed by the need to combat economic privilege and to strengthen what walt whitman called the true gravitational, a vast intertwining reticulated of wealth. the struggle against economic inequality has been a great subterranean river in our political past, sometimes breaking through the surface, sometimes returning underground. americans have fought endlessly about the meaning of democracy and about government authority
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at about rights and about social justice. running through these fights has been a recurring insistence that vast material inequalities directly threaten democracy. this, too, we been reluctant to see. the founding generation did not claim economic equality as the founders believed that sound political institutions with sustained a just and harmonious society. we don't read about it in the declaration of independence, the constitution or the bill of rights. we do read about it though and numerous pamphlets and speeches as well as in the correspondence of thomas jefferson and james madison, and conflicts over economic privilege dominated american and national politics from the battles between jefferson and alexander hamilton to the furious clashes of the era of andrew jackson. slavery first stunted and then deformed american democracy, and its racist legacy is complicated, distorted and
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sometimes disrupted the politics of economic inequality. not only does white racism sustained and deep and great disparities of wealth, it just didn't american history so strongly that economic inequality has become systematic of racial injustice. to talk about one has often meant talking about the other. when anti-slavery forces attacked human bondage as immoral, but also attacked it as the cornerstone of hateful economic and political privilege as exercised by the aristocratic slave power and its northern accomplicaccomplic es. the war to crush the slaveholders rebellion became aware of emancipation that it was also from the start by giving you get american democracy against a domineering and finally secessionists slid hocrisy, its wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. after the egalitarian impulses of the civil war years dissipated, and ideology of rugged individualism, white
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supremacy and the blessings of big business subset all talk of inequality. efforts by blacks and their supporters to a full claim to the egalitarian tradition were crushed after the overthrow reconstruction, and trade unionists in a new class of induction workers suffered harsh repression. the so-called progressive movement and even more company dubroff issue of economic inequality back front and center as an time did lyndon johnson's great society which transcended the new deal by doing the fight for economic equality to the one for racial justice. but in the late 1960s the egalitarian politics unleashed by the great depression and then recast by the civil rights movement began losing steam, and losing its way. the long conservative era heralded by the election of ronald reagan to the presidency in 1980 seemed our aviation of great society and egalitarianism. conservatives advanced regressive economic and fiscal policies and launched a divisive
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and politicalpolitical ly devastating culture war based on race and religion. assenting accounting politics became framed by claims of racial identities and sexual affinities. pundits wondered why so many ordinary americans seem so willing to vote against their economic interest there for storing stride explained the shortcomings and continual failures of economic egalitarianism in american politics. yet the issue of economic equality has been the great perennial question in american political history. this has come back into focus since the great crash of 2008, involving republicans as well as democrats to decry the massive and growing divergences between the wealthiest americans and the rest of the country. how long the refocusing the last is hard to tell what it does prompt us to look where we have not wanted to look when considering past politics in the
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united states, and to see things that we have failed to see. so with these two keys, the primacy of party politics and the eternal underlying question of economic privilege and inequality, the whole of american political history begins to emerge more clearly. in the beginning, democracy in america rested on the proposition that vast inequalities of wealth were threatening and intolerable. securing that proposition since then has required getting it into party politics which has not always been easy to do. political leaders otherwise hostile to economic privilege have been crippled by their connections to slavery and jim crow segregation. at times neither national party has been over to widening gaps of wealth and power, or to the policies and institutions which abetted those gaps. relations have sometimes been fraught and in the absence of capable leadership, they have become destructive.
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steel, the driving force in american political history has been the effort to curb the power of concentrated wealth, whether the power of the slaveholders or the power of industrial pluto craps. often egalitarians berated politicians a slow-moving wafflers, and politicians despair it relatively oblivious to democratic governance. but just as it is crucial in the democracy for egalitarians to educate, so it is vital for politicians do all they can to advance equality within public opinion in the constitution. sometimes the point of amending the constitution as was the final destruction of slavery. american political history can be understood as these of politicians and the egalitarians and to the faithful occasions when their labors converge. i should have stepped in because it's basically a. that's looking to offer in this
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book. but there's more, a lot more. basically for our two essays to the start. want on partisanship impose partisanship and other partisanship in american history and the contest over whether parties are a good thing or a bad thing, arguing in the in the post-partisan and anti-partisans always, to nothing. a second essay on the egalitarian updated to get to 2008 to show how, in fact, that idea, the idea that, in fact, it will ruin american democracy, how it's changed, how it's altered, how it is threaded through american history sometimes and grandpa sometimes coming back up as a very much has since 2008 as a very evident in the current presidential campaign. having done all of that into essays i can move on to look at some specifics. so we are chapters on thomas
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jefferson, starting with tom paine, thomas jefferson, a piece on john quincy adams, lots of abraham lincoln. on through to lyndon johnson. so what i think i will do before taking questions, and how much more time have i got? how much more time have i got? five, 10 minutes. let's see, in five, 10 minutes what do you want could be what you're thomas jefferson or would you rather w.e.b. dubois. du bois win right away. that's good. i'm happy to read that part. du bois fits right i it's righte of his comp chronologically in the middle of the book, and he's important because well, you will see. in his mysteries education, the
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aging henry adams lately ushered in the 20th century with the scientific prophecy of expanding chaos and accelerated historical time. a few years earlier his fellow new alert and harvard man, the young w.e.b. dubois ushered in the new century with his poetic equally mysterious the souls of black folk. and with it a prophecy of his own. the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. bold prophecies still live with as many portends for the rest of this entry had asked for the one just past. bitumen apparently never met or corresponcorrespon ded. adams left his teaching post in the harvard history department 111 years before du bois about o complete his second undergraduate degree in 1888, although du bois dating someone to 40 with athens disciple, albert bushnell hart. their temperaments and their generational experiences were utterly different. when was the chronicler insider
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who do, the other was the chronicler of marginality. ya their careers and their legacies they are comparison. both trained in berlin as well as at harvard, absorbing a new spirit of germanic scholarship that enslaving themselves to its prose style. neither intended to be, a historian, and both wrote masterworks of american history fix and what each believed was the crucial passage in the nation's political to build a. adams, the administrations of jefferson and madison. for du bois, reconstruction. oath wrote novels in which a woman was the protagonist. both were meant of autobiographical imagination who wrote achingly of leading double lives, grandly equating the burdens of that double mess with america itself. long after his death, adams was a member as an important historian but was read mainly by professionals.
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his reputation revived roughly 60 years ago, cheating nearly coltish or portions merely because of the education. the post-world war ii vote for american studies at athens as the great zionist -- ironist of the gilded age and after, and the education became an undergraduate sensitivity in the beat 1950s. du bois, -- forgot to say -- i'll keep going. du bois complement into liking 63, has been enjoying a different type of extended revival over the last 30 years. instantly celebrated for the souls of black folk, always admired as an architect for what became the modern civil rights movement, du bois suffered in america for his fellow traveling capped by his former enlisted at age 93 in the communist party as
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well as for its pan african nationalism. a cost medical incidents he died in god on the eve of the march on washington and the next day roy wilkins, ahead of the national association for the test of public people, which du bois had helped to found a 1909 respect for the marchers of the news while carefully remarking that in his later years, doctor devoids chose another path from this. less measure tribute arrived from kosovo, and mao zedong. it took the upheavals of the late 1960s and the two decades of continuing racial turmoil for a new generation of professors and activists to repair to boy's reputation, not simply as a propagandist organizer but as an intellectual. although with other competence, the early incarnations of was ws become the african-american studies that it deserves great credit for retrieving the souls of black folk and black
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reconstruction in america which belong prominently in any collection of american classics. indeed on campus and off, du bois and his writings have become so respectable that they're almost impossible to avoid. his major books and essays although curiously not black reconstruction in america are in shine -- enshrined in the vibrant america. there are endless conferences and lectures dedicated to raise consciousness and the color line. and his life is the subject of a major folder's biography by the scholar david lewis, both wines of which separately won the pulitzer prize. so he's become a big deal. but he was a big deal back then, too. i want to make that point. from the moment it appeared in april 1903 the souls of black folk cause a sensation. among black leaders james
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johnson would claim that the grits impact of any book since "uncle tom's cabin." william james, excuse me, his undergraduate mentor andover dispatch a copy of it to his brother henry who privately placed it a little backhandedly as the only so the book of a distinction published in many a year. in germany max weber whose lectures are now in a splendid effort and went to work finding a translator. went to work finding a translator. but within two years du bois american public had arranged for a third printing as it became a book of discussion, entry articles cross the country and the exception of most white southern newspapers, and those controlled by the friends and supporters of du bois greater antagonists booker t. washington. for a collection of mainly
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reworked previously published essays on race relations by a young black sociologist and historian atalanta university it was a success unprecedented in the history of american letters. the part of controversy was the perks third essay of mr. booker t. washington and others. the voice of what's been admire of washington, he prays and forcing the, he prays and forcing the atlantic up my speech, urging racial accommodation in 1895 by dean mote in a more radical direction over the previous five years. the boy's objections were political. he was scored a racial equality but they were also cultural. like washington du bois was -- better one generation out of slavery but washington's you attended by fundamental pessimism about the worth of black people's cultural resources. he had little faith that the potential extended beyond
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gaining the most practical knowledge about raising pigs and getting on in the world. to du bois wil was offer proud o announce washington's pessimism was a lie. elevating materialism that denied black folks soul. or more precisely, their souls. the plural was critical to the books larger purpose of establishing black america's cultural presence and identity. du bois, who as lewis pointed out loud essays with a jeweler's position was very exact about the title, the souls of black folk. not the sole of black folks. after the egyptian indian, greek and roman, and the mongolian, he asserted in the books will cite a passage from the negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a
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failed and gifted with second sight in this american world out of world which yields a note to self consciousness but only since himself through the revelation of the of the world. this double consciousness, the sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, by measuring one's soul by the capable world looks on in unused content and pity. one every feels his trainers come an american company grow, to souls, two thoughts to a second child strivings. to warrant ideals in one dark body is dark and strength alone keeps it from being torn off under. the history of the american negro is the history of this strife, this longing to obtain bandit come to merge his double stuffed into a truer self. in this emerging he wishes neither of the older self to be lost if he would not after
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americamerica for america has th to teach the world and africa. he would not believed his negro cell in a flood of white americanism 40 knows the negro blood has a message for the world. he simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a negro and an american. without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face. those are heartfelt, brave, and seductive words. and anatomy of racial alienation unlike any that preceded it, if they thrilled and persuaded du bois admirers. indeed, they are so seductive that even today it is easy to miss their intended ambiguity. how to blend a painful self-consciousness and stirring forthrightness with a muddled lately toward mysticism. and i spent much of the essay explaining that muddled mysticism and other very much is
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a part of what du bois was talking about the making it a very audacious book but a very strange one as well. this is how i conclude. kind of account for this. finally, the strangeness and capacity of the souls of black folk arose less from a broad historical circumstances that from the strangeness and audacity of its author. du bois arguments to the test, the quality folk who prodded themselves on being representative negroes. as his ideas took shape to the young du bois main event and they felt himself to be the most marginal man in america. the future profit of the color line had been born a mulatto, in blood about one half a more negro and the rest french and dutch he claimed in one letter. in massachusetts the northern states widely considered the cradle of abolitionism but it
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was a state he literally like those hardly free of racial prejudice. at harvard, only the seventh minute of african descent admitted, he won praise from his teachers but he felt distanced from his fellow students at his humble class ground as well as bicycle. he would later write that he was asked but not other place. in berlin where lewis observed du bois been so the most exuberant and carefree days of his life, he soaked up all he could in the classroom, awestruck, proud, determined to make the most of his miraculous if fully merited opportunity. yet in germany the division in his soul deepened as he heard his teacher to one of the intellectual founders of prussian area nationalism to the greatest of all the professors in his estimation, explode from the lecture podium, and i will not conflic effort much of it ot the translation is not mulatto's are inferior. they feel themselves inferior.
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is no book is filled with the generic self-conscious angst of a precocious graduates abroad but with special twist and turns. descriptions of solitary midnight ceremonies by candlelight with prayers to the zeitgeist about filling destiny, descriptions of mornings given over to contemplation and singing to himself and his german boardinghouse, america the beautiful, and steal away the jesus. and then after his return and as he completed his doctorate at harvard can america's foremost young black scholar found himself confined to the first cut in his first teaching post to the lower reaches of the black academy at what was then the third rate college in ohio, knowing it would never teach acting white college or university. he suffered a singular fate.
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raised by his heroic education to scholar loves unreached by all but just a handful of the whites. one who when he traveled road the jim crow car. a man of reason, he would not forsake his achievements but the world of reason turned out to be utterly unreasonable. casting him of all people as a pariah. here with all of its idiosyncrasies with the matrix double consciousness and it was untypical experience it could be imagined. but brains and arrogant as he was, with the prestige it could command among his fellow whites, he was able in the souls of black folk to translate his personal dilemma into a universal drama of race and render it convincing. and he will continue to do that for the rest of his life,
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transforming himself, moving around various places but constantly propelled by this idea of a universal drama coming out of his own soul, the souls of black folk coming out of his own soul. never satisfied, never address, he kept refashioning his alienated consciousness and in the continuing autobiography, he always wrote about himself a lot. kerry is wounded sensibility to the youth of segregationist downfall, over these momentous decades, however, the souls of black folk won du bois the most admirers as it has for today. with its dated racialism and is historical fantasies it will surely endure. in its endurance by some of its greatest ironies. it in his own time souls was to think of jim crow subsequent demise has made his theme of identity far more prominent.
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not just for black intellectuals but for an expanded black middle class and the competing claims of particulars and an acceptance in america where racism hardly abides, there is now all the harder. his double consciousness may prove inadequate to these pressures, simplistic, reducing universal bonuses and anxieties to racial terms. but if souls in part the heavy uplifting love of blackness and the soul of the sorrow songs, and with that in his more dubious passages a fabricated race of mysticism, it also describes an act of refusal, refused to allow alienation to become a surrender to self reference or to any cramped conception of race. quote, i sit with shakespeare and he raises not across the color line i move on and on
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where smiling men and welcoming women gliding gilded halls. from out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong live earth penetration of the stars, i summon aristotle and what sold i will. and all come graciously with no scorn and condescension. in his reclamation of the spirituality of the oppressed and to despise, du bois also wrote to what is nowadays sometimes glibly stigmatized as the culture of the oppressors. for all of their, crazy canuck took a beautiful defiance to write these words in 1903. their assertion of individuality and genius as well as race pride. today in a very different but still racialized america, their beauty has not dimmed. and that's doctor du bois. [applause]
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thank you. so is what the intellectuals in the book but we have some part of politicians as well. lyndon johnson, the most hard-nosed politician you can imagine. they are all part of the same story, all stored of politicians and egalitarians and how they go about making america the country we know. so without, maya, should return to questions? >> absolutely. raise your hand. >> before answer my first question i need some water. you could probably tell at the end of all that. let me get a little water. and we will take it from there. >> i was wondering how europe views relate to this nature of politics today, specially when you have two people rejected by the majority of voters speaks which two people are we talking
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about? >> sorry. obviously, trump and clinton spent bee being rejected by -- gaming they don't like them very much. they are not liked. this year is a wacky year. let's just talk without. because they were stresses and strains on both political parties. some of which we saw in events, some of which we didn't. political parties are important but they are coalitions and have stresses within the. indicates of the republican party, i think what we did see, some of us saw this coming actually, what the old reagan coalition of small government, pro-business, and what we call a cultural war wing of the party, white resistant. fell apart. came unglued. donald trump walked in and just took the nomination because of that split. the establishment had very little to offer its own people.
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at the managed to turn back the clock culturallculturall y noted that much to offer in the wake of 2008. tax cuts and slash social security, this is not going to appeal. trump saw the end is a different kind of candidate. what's good come out of that is interesting. if a donald trump succeeds in taking over the republican party, get the nomination to let a vote if he wins the election, the republican party will have control of every level of government from the state governments album up to all the branches of the federal government and, because will take over the supreme court after the appointments are made, and that is extraordinary. if he loses, then there's a big fight within the republican party i think for the destiny of the party, and what part it will be is unclear. no matter which democrat it would become things would be very different if you have a democrat in the white house. you'll probably have a democratic senate and said he
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would have a democratic supreme court, a liberal supreme court. we haven't had one for 40 years. the country is at a crossroads right now at a think what we're seeing is we're at the crossroads but neither party had within the enough capacity to do with the problems that we're facing. i don't know if that answers your question. [inaudible] >> two people running that were rejected by majorities of both? >> i don't know i would go so far to say they have been rejected by the majority of the voters. we will see who gets rejected by who by the time we get to november. questions, questions? >> you mentioned the rise of the black middle class. if one sees that politics, the initial comment you quoted that
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politicians have to always faced up to, they are different in that sense. when the group that is marginalized, economic mobility in that group, they also come into politics. >> very much so. >> and how does that play out? how will you sort of deal that back, emerging and now wife develop black middle class who then gets into politics and how do they didn't do the manual and so one. so -- >> no question coming out of the civil rights movement there is a political class of african-americans. this book is dedicated to one of them. congressman john lewis was the epitome of the combination of being a politician and an egalitarian.
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there's no question there's a blackout and if you look at the black political class you can see it is pretty much held to the values that were forming this overwrites moving. you have created a black middle class but it's fragile. it's interesting to see a black voters are voting in this election. they're going anyway it seems to me not taking chances with the hard-won victories of the last 50 years been wiped away which, in fact, some would very much like to do, particularly and the realm of voting rights. voting rights are very stressed around the country and black voters get it the black american voters historic have always been the most sensible in my view, insurance understanding the interest and what they're up against. but yes, there is a class, no question. this is america, democracy.
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you are not going to have that see me cite and done. but if we fixate on the steamy side and i think we give up politics altogether and forget what else is there. so the case of someone like lewis, there are many others. there are also people like historically jesse jackson and so forth who did not go through the political system although jackson finally did what it ran for president. there's a kind of area between where politics and egalitarians kind of co-mingle, and that's what interesting and quite healthy and helps it to keep going. like all liberals the black middle class has greater pressure the last 20 or 30 years although we have the president of the united states. it's a mixed bag. >> your hypothesis as i understand it is the importance of partisanship. tend to be too much partisanship?
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for example, so that it becomes counterproductive to the ideals you are talking about? >> i'm wondering what you might mean. what would be too much partnership between the politicians and egalitarians? >> right now it seems like that is too much partnership. for example, the leader of the senate when he started his role said his major goal was to prevent a second term for obama. and also we can get a supreme court justice confirmed. that's what i mean by too much. >> gotcha. and another with looking at might be just to see the difference between partisanship and hyperpartisanship or partisanship which is obstruction or there to block anything else as senator mcconnell said.
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or main goal is to get rid of obama. that has been a dynamic in the republican party really going back to the '80s. but especially with the ascension of speaker gingrich in the early '90s. the republican party, because they guided its moderate to conservative wing, it got into a positive feedback loop so it just kept moving further and further and further to the right. that's what i see in the republican party. that's part of the problem, it is moved so far to the right that is completely unstable. it's old establishment could not hold on anymore because it's so riled up the base of the base is getting sick of establishment. that's an unusual situation. not all partisanship businesses are a good thing. there's healthy partisanship and unhealthy partisanship. what i think we've seen with republican party is unhealthy. however, it will be cured with
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other partisans. it will be cured by another party coming along and either rebuilding the republicans it is something that is less crazed or they will just be defeated. that could happen in this election. it's entirely possible the democrats would have insurgents with the election of republicans much like in 1932 learned to reconstruct themselves differently. it's not partisanship is always going, is the thing where to look to to get us through but without it we will probably to the problems. the ills in america, what's bad about america can usually be cured by what's good about america. there's something about that with partisanship as well. >> my question is about the role and influence of 21st century media. we've always had journalism from thomas paine's essays but how
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has its more than how is this influenced morphed? >> by agitated user is -- remember network, the phone network? some call a face in the crowd starring andy griffith. yes, the media thinks is going to run the show anyway in politics and has done so in ways that are distorting, to say the least, from fake scandals on the one hand to giving, you know, donald trump millions and millions of dollars free advertising at all he has to do to run a campaign is to tweak. that's not normal but the media has a lot to do with that. i think it's also dumb things down a lot. inevitably, i can think of to me ways to which the contemporary
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media have expanded the alignment of american politics so we do with as well. if you get someone to figure how to use it, some like trump very much has, then things get very dangerous indeed. because then the media becomes complicit. remember the days, there were enough people who care are less -- so remember our latest we heard about what happened when the first manipulated, great manipulator of television in american political life was senator joseph mccarthy with the hearings televised around the country for our parents all solve them. if we were old enough we saw them as well. and in no small part of the downfall of senator mccarthy was edward r. murrow. do you see edward r. murrow in our current media scene? i wish we did.
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but not with the cats but with the authority. i guess walter cronkite was the last person who have that kind of authority when johnson said we've lost the country. but i think, by becoming entertainment and losing all sense of importance of gravitas, the media has abandoned, abdicated its role and authority that it can exert. who cares what they think? people cared what cronkite though. people cared what moral thought. these were people standing. now they are entertainers. if anyone of them were to come and stand up to anything or for anything, would you really care? would you really be moved? i don't think so. so as the kids say that's very concerning. something to be concerned about.
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i suppose you go back and see -- it might even be worth, or could even be worse than it is today. and and another, another example, give a plug to a friend, plot against america, these are things we should be watching and reading these days the in everyone of them things turned out in the end. it is said that the almighty looks after children, drunks and the united states of america. so far so good, you know. i don't want to start a prayer session. that's not my intent but certainly it is something to think about, that we have been very lucky and let's hope our luck holds out. thank you all very much for a lovely evening. [applause] one more last applause for sean wilentz. [applause] thank you. thank you so much.
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please get a copy of the book over here. if you don't already have it, and light up next to the stage. will be signing books right over your. thank you so much everyone. [inaudible conversations] >> this is booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here's our primetime lineup.
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>> that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv. >> we think of this word and it is diffuse a cold and it seems to be an abstract the lies outside ourselves. people talk about in laboratories. but family, jeans have to do a family, it has to do with us. it has to do with how you and i are made. who in this room doesn't have a relative those affected by something which minimally tracked back to some interaction
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between genes and if i would. all of a sudden when i look back at the little thing, more than six pages or seven pages i said to myself this book is really can not just book, seven pages, this is about family. it's about ourselves as living organisms that emanate out of these things called genes and that's the conception of the book. >> he wrote this, and before you ask you about some history in some of the amazing figures you write about, you write this with a sense, i got a sense of urgency from you that you felt it was important to get this done now. there's a lot going on in science and you and i talked about this earlier today, he had a sense it's really important for people to begin to understand themselves, not just to leave this up to the experts. >> let me give you a sense of what's going on in science and let me help us have this
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conversation move forward. we are trying come we are learning to read and write they can do no. i'm saying is they're flatly because let me explain what that means. by reading i mean that obviously all of you know that in 2001 2001-2002 we update a sequence of the human genome. and by that i mean let's define what the genome is. the genome is the entire depositor of genetic information that is in your cells, that's in human embryos. it's written, your genome might be a cgd, i'm making this up. i haven't memorized it. [laughter] but here's what's interesting about it. this goes on in humans for 3 billion letters, and if you imagine it as a written as an
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encyclopedia, this encyclopedia would be 66 full sets of the encyclopedia britannica. so it would line up all the pages of this room and he picked up 66, one of the 66 books, it would read -- it would be inscrutable to you and me. and yet here's what's amazing. and yet out of that, this four letter code is you and me and if one else in the olympic it's an astonishing fact that that code becomes you, becomes me, small variation in the code, responsible in some part the difference between you and me. going back now to understand what the technologies allow us to do, number one, is we are beginning to read that code and beginning, emphasized, very clearly, we are beginning to be able to predict what might be or
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what might happen in your future for some part of the genome. to give you one example, if you have a brca1 gene mutation, it's not 100% chance you'll have breast cancer but your risk of breast cancer may be 10 times higher than the women who don't have that particular mutation. .. ..


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