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tv   Finance in Political Campaigns  CSPAN  March 12, 2016 10:30pm-12:03am EST

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i came to politico to start the magazine about 2.5 years ago. i think this is going to be an exciting new platform to take us into those ambitions. >> sunday night, at 8:00 p.m. >> next, a bipartisan group of former members of congress discuss the history of campaign finance. they talk about court decisions and legislation on who can finance campaigns and how much they can get. and they discuss improving the system. this was hosted by the national archives. you for hosting us in this marvel -- marvelous building. this protects the history of the united states of america. we at the association of the
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former members of congress, and i want to say that you, we appreciate the partnership we have within the archives. it has resulted in discussions. -- resulted in excellent discussions and deliberations across the political aisle. they are not part of -- we are nonpartisan and we hope in november this will bring us to a new time, a new time when the white house and the congress get along. we can only hope. before elections can be one, they need to be run. and these days to run an election means one thing, finance. bemused atight i was them -- new hampshire primary, economist -- a panelist at the john kasich was going to be able
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to really give jeb bush a hard time for the establishment of a. kasichsaid, oh no, john cannot out fund jeb bush, end of story. theses what we deal with days, because money has become so pervasive in our system. many individuals and organizations are taking a look at this whole situation. our group that we are joining with tonight, the archives and with former members, is issue one. this is an important conversation. and i thank you for coming, because this is important for the future of the system. let me quote from the website. this is a nonprofit organization committed to putting everyday citizens back in control of our democracy, by reducing the influence of money on politics
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and policy makers. .his is an important initiative a bipartisan group of 120 former members and government, working together to bring attention to this issue. lovenk you because i people who are interested in something that could hurt the whole system. i am a proud member of the reform. very profit and all former members you will see, they are part of establishing issue one and being part of it. they are very knowledgeable. we will take a serious look at we haveg campaigns and an outstanding panel. let me ask them to join me on stage and you can help me in welcoming them. a democrat from louisiana, senator bennett. [applause]
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senator bill brock from tennessee. a democrat from indiana. who after his service in the house was our country's ambassador to india. and meredith, the director of the campaign legal center in the areas of campaign finance, voter rights, political communication, and government ethics. [applause] things flowing and keeping these folks going, will be the job of the moderator, and story and, a comic strip author, western for the, and a -- west wing writer.
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i want to say thank you, because to have a place like this and the caliber of these panelists and discuss what is bothering us, the fact that money has taken over election. we cannot continue this way. i thank you for coming. [applause] >> thank you. i want to thank all of you for coming out on a very cold night. i want to thank the national archives for hosting us. and the u.s. association of former members of congress for sponsoring the event. we are very lucky to have such a distinguished panel and former members of congress with us. a group whose careers have stand eras, they have survived them all and they will be sharing experiences and
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insights with us. i want to thank meredith for being here. we are glad to have your expertise on hand to try to navigate the complex and changing landscape of campaign finance. i will have questions for each of you. we want to this to be a conversation, so if you want to jump in at any time, i know that members of congress are used to that. but congress roles -- rules do not apply tonight. and later we will take questions from the audience. in the spirit of the subject of the evening, the microphones will go to the highest bidder. meredith, we with are marking as we all know, i say marking, not celebrating the 40th anniversary of the buckley decision in the supreme court. this is the decision that equated spending with speech.
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can you walk us through buckley, what it decided and why it is such an important decision? meredith: i will spend a minute explaining how we got here, because it is important to see how the issue developed. i could start back with the start of the country, but i don't think i will go back that far. i think that you need to look at this through the scope of the last century, where you had the 1907 corporate ban that was passed and the aftermath of the railroad scandals, into the 1940's, where there was a ban on campaign contributions, this was after world war ii and the steelworkers strike. after that, in the aftermath of watergate, and a series of court cases. the one that people paid the
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most attention to was the buckley decision. what was critical was the differentiation between how the court interpreted the treatment of expenditures versus contributions. it really kind of fabricated the way that these were treated under constitutional law. saying that, in terms of expenditures, we could not put limits on expenditures for candidates. you could have independent expenditures. independent expenditures were not corrupting. you could give a small contribution, small of $2000, anything after that was corrupting. if you spent $1 million independently, that was not corrupting. alsouckley decision touched on issues in terms of coordination versus independent spending. and it also looked at some of
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those areas about how you can get around spending limits. things like contribution limits, how much you can give to a party. that you could have the ability to give money to a party, then that money would go to candidates, potentially corrupting influences in the exchange. the other notable question here in terms of court jurisprudence was the notion that you could not exactly equate money with speech, but that obviously the ability to spend the money had free speech implications. it was really this notable leaking of first amendment rights. this had really not been the jurisprudence and it changed more than 200 years of how the country looked at the link
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between speech and money. i will move very quickly, so you can see where we got today. after buckley you had austin versus michigan chamber of commerce. that is important because they looked at the corporate contribution ban and the ban on that was upheld. the philosophy on that was, it had the ability to distort the process if you allowed corporations to cap treasury funds. austin tooved from the bipartisan campaign reform act in which i know that some of .ou up here lobbied on i did. it was challenged in a case, very notable that the color -- court upheld that. -- on whatry constituted corruption. and then after mcconnell, citizens united, in which contributions were committed,
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followed by another case, which allowed super pac's to raise and spend unlimited money. thethe last, in which campaign conjugations were thrown out by the court. the most important things, the differentiation between expenditures and contributions of also the court saying that the only constitutional ground to discuss these kinds of limits are the grounds of corruption and the appearance of corruption. so, that is important because when you got to this last court case, the court basically in the robert majority opinion said, unless you have a quid pro quo agreement, then you really do not have corruption. it is a reminder in the kennedy decision for citizens united, that seeing the buying and
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selling of influence will not create problems of undermining public confidence in the government. whether you believe that or not, that is up to you individually. questions ismy whether you believe that and what defines corruption. brock, you, senator like senator johnston were elected around the time that congress passed the federal election campaign act in 1971. you were in office for the , the fecaera reforms and for the buckley decision. i wonder if you can speak to the changes that you witnessed during your tenure? how did it affect you as somebody who is running for office on either side of the events? as someone who is trying to get something done, did you feel
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that money was playing a greater role in that time? that, myrock: i think first race for the senate was 1970. and, i do not think that we thought much about it. checks, andke cash, never got any -- i'm not sure what that meant. idea that money was sufficient to cause a serious corruption, i do not think that most of us thought about that until watergate. then we began to read the story of people going to jail for the --ng, i guess it was
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we thought, well, something is going on. after that, 1974 limits were imposed and again, this do not have any effect on me. , though, one specific case which we had in -- up inusinessman of tennessee and he was used to tapping all the suppliers to his company, saying that if you want to do business with me, i want a piece of the business we do together. then he would turn around and give it to cash, whether local or national. wasnt to see him because he a political, not just a giver, but in activist. he said, have this for you. i said, jack, i know what is in
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there and i cannot take it. is newspaper clippings. [laughter] i said, i do not think so. he said, trust me. i have these two guys with me and we had given about one mile. and i said, i need to open this. it was a huge stack of bills. not newspaper clippings. and i told one of them. i said, take it back. i am not going to jail. , $5,000,ver it was whatever. i said, i will not do it. he was heartbroken. he had been doing all of his life. all of a sudden, we began to see the change of rules.
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and it did not work before we got there, but it was a different world. we were reacting to this kind of thing. and trying to see if there was not some way to make sure that if there was corruption, that we could stop it. least thetop it by at campaign side. that was the hope. host: thank you. senator johnson, can you speak to the same question? did you see a change? did it become a greater concern to you and constituents? 1972,r johnson: iran and the first year that the federal election campaign was reformatted. that was the one declared unconstitutional in buckley. it was a very good act that
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restricted contributions of $1000 per person per election. the restricted the amount he said -- the amount you could spend. it really worked very well. .t kept people from spending they could only spend $40,000 of their own money. declared976, it was unconstitutional. from then on, we ran under, you expenditures.d i was very concerned about it, because you could see that every year it got worse. it started off, they did not know how to spend the money. combineshave a huge that know exactly how to do opposition research, polls, targeting of people.
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, in one houseto race, $100 million. ruinedo absurd it has ie senate as a bill brock and -- i was very concerned and i had a committee chair man and i had a bright staff. he said, what can we do about it? we researched up and down the ,ow we could solve the problem given buckley, that was before citizens united. and we came to the conclusion that there was not much you could do. was anr, i thought this act -- which i voted for and even that was declared unconstitutional. so i am convinced that the only one way to deal with
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expenditures, contributions, and what has corrupted the whole system, is to have a constitutional amendment, or a vote on the supreme court. citizens united was 5-4. there are some other things that maybe you can do that would marginally help. but, you need a constitutional amendment. we should put it in now. every candidate for president now has endorsed it. i was just reading yesterday, bush said that he would eliminate citizens united. donald trump, every stage he makes -- speech he makes, i do not want your money, i want your vote. and you know hillary clinton and bernie sanders, they are for it. we should have a constitutional amendment.
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ask every candidate, are you for it? do you want to deal with this issue? you should do the same for every member of congress. if we did not pass it quickly, we could start a movement. talkse me, bernie sanders about a revolution, we need a revolution in this issue now. oft: we will do canvassing the former members about the constitutional amendment and other ideas as you indicated, there are other possibilities that might be pursued. i would like to get to those before we go to questions from the audience. congressman, you were a long serving member of congress. saw and were affected by the changing dynamics of congress that are often limited on both sides on the aisle, the spike in
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bipartisanship, the breakdown of what used to be a very collegial group of folks. i wonder how big a role you think money has played in that? there are a lot of things that feed into this. let's focus on the question on hand, the role of campaign money. >> no question over the time i was there, increasingly for both parties, the leadership was encouraging individual members to spend a lot of time dialing for dollars. that helps to determine to some significant degree whether you will advance to the chairman and that sort of thing. in the old days, seniority was king. you do not have to -- can you imagine some of these guys dialing for dollars? they would not do it. and i think myself it has led to
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dysfunction within the congress, because so many decisions are funneled through, rather than allowing a leader of different authority -- and these guys were , you know, after the chairman, this was like ruling the roost. the secretary of agriculture and so on and so forth. that has changed a lot. i think that -- one other point i want to make on what senator johnson was saying, there are important decisions made by the court. they are supposed to be administering laws and it has been a very dysfunctional. there is a business of independent expenditures or something, this is an area where they could be aggressive. you could cut back a lot of that
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or make a truly independent, and they are not doing it. so as well as amending the constitution or replacing supreme court justices, whether -- this has been screwed up before, at least we ought to be looking at administering the laws we have effectively and that is not being done because we are gridlocked, we are not looking at positions and candidates come in and they are not filing a complaint. this is the law of the jungle out there as far as elections are concerned. host: ambassador, looking back, it was mentioned dialing for dollars. we are familiar with this. i'm sure that you are familiar with it. issue one shows us that 50% of people are doing this and not the people's business.
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can you talk about that pressure to raise money and how does it affect the other 50% of your day? ambassador: that is a great question. we have a republican from the midwest, a republican from tennessee, democrat from louisiana, the deep south, a midwesterner, all of us uniting and gathering together to encourage the people of our country to take back democracy. and demand the government we deserve. let's talk about how this money is impacting the electoral process, the governing process, and the recruitment of good candidates to run for congress. and we are doing it in the appropriate place, because in the archives we have the sacred documents that have founded our country on the basis of equality for people, and opportunity. yet the system that has
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dominated, the big money and billionaires and the families that have provided half of the money for campaigns that we are going to write now, are determining not only cool when, but who will -- not only who will win, but who will run. so i think that this is one of the most fundamental questions that we face in this presidential year. al qaeda is importing, foreign policy is vital, and certainly in a quality in america and more opportunities for jobs in the 20th century, but -- 21st century, but this issue of our democracy and who runs and how they represent the country is a fundamental piece of solving all these other issues. education and -- so when i first ran in 1989, i need to take on the incumbent
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had been in office for 10 years. he had spent about $1 million. i needed to raise $1 million through fish fries and other contributions, but we both knew, the republican iran against, we both knew that we needed to raise money. , buckley ands other decisions and the door started to open up. independent expenditures outside groups, things that could add into the contribution levels. eventually, you some members spending more and more and more of their time, dialing for dollars, raising money. they were not going to the committee, they were not talking to republican across the aisle
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to figure out how to balance the budget or deal with climate change, they were on the phone at headquarters, raising money. 1, 2, 3, 4 hours a day. that not only impacts who will want to run in the democracy, this impacts when you get to washington, how you do your job. and who you do it with, and how you govern, and to the work of congress. and then it impacts on top of oft, it impacts the kind people that we are going to see running for president. and where they spend their time and who they talk to, so i think that this is a critically important issue right now. and i am delighted to see that there are people who care about
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it and we can talk about some of the solutions. aboutmeredith, you talk the definition of corruption as it has involved over the supreme court decision. i bookmarked that and i am coming back to that. to throw it open to the group, the corruption, how do you define corruption? defining itme court to nearly as the kind that rarely happens, where you have newspaper clippings in an envelope? is that the only kind of corruption that concerns you, or should not only the rest of us, but our justices and judges elsewhere -- >> one point, there is a difference between individual corruption, people taking money and using it for personal purposes, and corruption of the
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process, where you get illegitimate decision and people buying public policy. there is less individual corruption in congress than there ever has been. and i think that people, personally, by and large they are honest and conscientious. we have not had to be like this for years, they were very concerned about this. but people raise money for committees. and sometimes they are consuming because they want issues to be raised, because they have a provision there that they are trying to protect. and this weakens the ability of the process, of the system, to improve the way that we are governing. iredith: that is the way -- think that people talk about corruption -- the word i prefer is corrupting. this is a system in which, and i
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would recommend this, a new book by richard painter, the who is -- who is the ethics counselor for president bush, he was making the issue about this and talking about not only the jurisprudence of corruption and the appearance of corruption, but i think that what we are seeing reflected in this is -- there isat no doubt that it is happening every day. a gift -- a big donor gives influence. if you are in average american, the chances that you have of having that same kind of next in mill, everyone's and a while you might get an opportunity to meet with a senator or representative, but there is an ability to be heard and have
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influence. i guess the most corrupting part of the system is this access. >> i would echo something that my friend talked about. i do not think that there are a bunch of members, jeff, dialing $5,000,ars and raising $10,000 a day and putting that money in their pocket. that is not the problem. , they start the day at 8:00. this is usually on tuesday. they may go to a committee assignment, then go to raise money for five hours on tuesday. wednesday, a little bit more fundraising and another fundraiser at night. and maybe a little bit of work. thursday they go home. so much of that time that they should have been doing the people's business working on government problems, water in
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infrastructure projects, addressing the issues of affordability in higher education, they are not doing this. they are instead talking to people who can afford the $5,000, $10,000, a $5 million, so instead of talking to the teacher and hearing about how they are worried about jobs, kids, how many jobs the kids might have in their lifetime, that member may be on the phone, listening to somebody on wall street talk about derivatives. on something they need to do legislation that may be coming up later. so is that a corrupting influence on the system? is that assiduous to democracy, is that unfair to the rest of
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the people of america, yes. yes it is. that is not how the system is supposed to work. that is what needs to be changed. respect for my colleagues up here. i really do not like the word fare. -- fair. i am worried about what is happening to our country, where live. i want you to think about what it feels like to really care about an issue that affects you directly, or your community or family. you know, you just know, you do not need to see who is raising money. you know. gave that the guy who
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$20,000 is going to get his phone call answered. the odds of you getting a phone call answered our visit -- are zip. to you andat does the sense of what this country is all about, the genesis of it, decore of a -- the self governing politic with representation, what that does to you when you look at that, i happen to think that this is a problem. and i think what has been done to divide the parties -- we are down to one out of seven americans voting in a primary elected candidates are in primaries, because you get the democrats, you get the republicans, we do not have to worry about -- 14% voting in a
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primary. but, nuts vote in a primary. [laughter] >> single issue people. people who have a passion for a particular thing. but it is not a broadly based look at my family, my community. if i honestly cannot see a way to have an impact, why would i vote? if i do not vote, why would i trust the system? i might as well vote for chowder. that discovers me -- that scares me. i do not call it corruption, i just think it is an erosion of everything that this country stands for, that people could come to a conclusion that they
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do not have a voice, because of the way things are operated. it scares me to death. public getscan to this. the polls show that over 80% of americans think this is system is rigged because of money and politics. so the time is right to change the system. johnston: they say it is too hard. i was there when we passed equal rights amendment. it was a highly controversial issue, but it still passed. that is a long story. rescission and how long you have to do it, but i believe this could be done. and if you cannot do it, you can at least start a movement.
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i bet you, i bet you if we ask how many of you would help ring a doorbell or something to try to help, i bet that everybody would say, yeah, let's do it. that is all across the country, the country is ready for it. when every presidential candidate says they are for changing the rules and we do not even try to change it, we need to try. we have got to try. post: if i could ask you a follow-up question, the polls are clear. you mention the number and we are seeing it across the different polls, same result. democrats and republicans, they feel just as strongly about this. this is manifesting itself in the primaries on both sides and there is a reason that all candidates are speaking to this. reformn that, why is
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such an uphill battle? why is it so difficult to translate? 60-40 issue,ven a this is an 85-15 issue. and maybe the 15 could be persuaded after hearing about it from candidates and from elected officials. >> first you have to try. johnston: we need to have an amendment put in. if you do not like the one i gave, get another one. go see somebody and say, would you introduce this? the run ads and have questioners on the debates say, are you for such and such amendment? if not, why not?
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if you think that the constitutional amendment is not the right way to go, what is your solution? believe me, i have tried. we have spent weeks trying to figure out a way -- we did this before citizens united, that was lovely. but it is so clear and simple. the amendment says that congress may define and regulate contributions and expenditures. very simple. that is this whole thing and if you do not deal with that, then you cannot deal with expenditures and contributions. that is the problem. host: yes? >> if you pass that and turn over to the federal election commission, you are not a publishing a whole lot. -- accomplishing a whole lot.
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the supreme court has a difficult job, they're trying to balance freedoms that we have. you can go one way or another, so they struck a balance and said that they were naive about politics and expenditures. but if it is not administered effectively, it seems to be the thing to say that the system is not working so we need to amend the constitution. >> let me try to referee. it is tough to do. i think that bennett is right and you are right. we need to go after bold ideas to turn the system upside down and we need to chip away. this is difficult because there is so much money dominating the system, it is paralyzed and frozen this way. we have a president who appointed me to a job i am very grateful for. and who gave a great talk in springfield about reclaiming our
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politics. and becoming more civil and cleaning up money on the system and making it more fair. hisas an executive order on desk and he has had it for many weeks, to clean up how the federal contractors do business with the government. and to say to all federal contractors, you need to disclose who you give money to. because, you are not going to win a contract based on contributions, you will need to win it on merit. we need the president to sign that executive order and take a modest step forward to clean up the system. i think he will do that. and the bipartisan group is encouraging him very strongly to take action. and that will have an impact. we are talking about big ideas to reform the fcc and the isches -- fcc, which
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worthless right now. they are not doing anything to enforce the laws. if somebody breaks the law and it takes a contribution, nothing happens, because of the 3-3 split, the democrats, republicans are tied up forever. we are talking about a solution and the bipartisan group we formed. democrats and republicans, to overturn citizens, to consider and push the constitutional amendment, to get the candidates for president on record, 20 point, to actually interview the nominees for supreme court and ask them, will you vote to overturn buckley and citizens united before they appoint them. i think you have to start with success, chipping away at this corrosive system dominated by money.
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at the same time, go after the old ideas to completely change a system that is number -- not representing american people. meredith: you asked a question, why we have no action. to some degree, i can give you a one word answer, that would be mitch mcconnell. and senator mcconnell has taken this issue on from a very personal standpoint. he has blocked most things to update the financing system, to move forward. there was actually a vote in september 2014 on the constitutional amendment to overturn buckley and citizens united. vote, not one42 republican voted for it.
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so it was totally a partisan split. right now, when you talk to the american people outside of washington, the conversations you have about money and politics are amazing. everybody gets it. i can tell when there is a registered lobbyist, you go to the hill and essentially the door is slammed in your face. where we have had success, is with fcc reform. we worked hard on a bill, a bipartisan bill, that had to democrats and the two republicans, to try to fix the federal election commission. i will note that the two andblicans went on the bill got phone calls from the leadership, saying what did you structureo the party on the republican side has taken a position that they believe --
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they oppose the amendment, they oppose efforts to change the system. my hope is that what you see in this election with mr. trump, mr. sanders, the other candidates, this dynamic is changing and it is an unsettled electorate and you will see more residents -- residents with this issue. there is a total division between what you hear in the countryside and what the polls show you and what you hear in washington. >> things have fundamentally changed. the republican presidential candidates are supporting this. -- whaty, jeb bush donald trump is running on. ted cruz has said this. johnston: before they
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had a bow, this is before the huge contributions. the public has changed. look at the polls. you think the leader of the senate, if the american public is concerned about that is going to be able to stop this? that would be like holding back the tide. things have changed. meredith: from your lips to god's ears. eff: there are a number of ideas out there. one of the most popular suggestions in terms of this massive problem, there is an appeal to thinking bold and as you said just as -- bold, as you said jessica but when i think about this analogy, see how it applies.
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as david mentioned, i wrote a book about franklin roosevelt. before president roosevelt courtd to pack the beginning in 1937, he spent a couple of years considering other approaches to deal with the obstacles of the supreme court. as you know, the supreme court was striking down one program after another on a whole range of different constitutional grounds. there was a movement for a constitutional amendment at one time or another, either taking power away from the court, giving more power to congress, defining the process, a whole range of things. there was a lot of support. roosevelt decided against it, he said i think the problem is not the constitution it is the court, what can we do about the court. there is not a lot you can do and i do not think that any of you would suggest packing it at
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this point. is there something -- let's talk about it. [laughter] meredith: maybe. jeff: is there a problem in the constitution that needs to be resolved in this manner, or are we waiting for the next up in court appointment. >> to have a constitutional amendment pending and a debate going and the questioners at the debates talking about it, that protects the supreme court. senator johnston: the supreme court listens to the public. look at the second amendment. when i came, the second amendment was considered to be only relating to militia. and through really political activism, they legitimized the subject and the supreme court changed it.
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they listen to the public and they have listened to this. they have been pretty tone deaf and not being able to see where this has done to the country. but they will eventually. so, it goes hand in glove. in washington, we tend to concentrate on washington. it is where we have worked and what we know. the great news is, not only that we now have presidential candidates talking about the political process being broken, which leads to economic inequalities, but we also have states across the country, 25 states, that have taken this issue on. to reform their own states, cleaning up lobbying and trying to please the connection between lobbyists -- clean the
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connection between lobbyists and senators. francisco, seattle, maine, all passing legislation at the local and state level, and republicans cannot object, this is states rights. either people at the gas rates -- you have people at the grassroots trying to do more, trying to do more at the local level. they are doing more at the state level and local level to address, as i said, some of the inequalities in the financial system. and in the campaign system. tim: when you see this movement from arkansas to california, cross main, this does a couple of things. it puts pressure on members of congress to pay attention. so you meet with a republican member of congress and say, look, the state passed all of
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these reforms, what is wrong with doing this at the federal level? this is a pretty compelling argument, the state's argument to do something common sense. to the point where a constitutional amendment can build support at the state level, where you will have to have support eventually, to get a number of the states to be in favor of this, too. again, you have to fight to chip away and do the fcc reform, the federal contracting reform, make congress accountable and to do more, chain them into this if they are not convinced on the argument of it, and do this national effort to address the states taking this on and a constitutional amendment. together, i think that will take the system back.
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will it be done next year? no. two years? no. three or four years? i think we have a shot. johnston: i do not believe it would take that long. when people say, look at the history of the constitutional memo, things have changed. the public is on fire with this issue. look at what is going on. look at the debates. watch donald trump, he says, i do not want your money, i want your vote. and he says he will take a back from the people who have this country rigged. jeff: before we go to the audience, yes? senator? senator brock: i am the old dog.
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any time you do something, there are consequences. there is a response to a perceived need. we are really good at saying we can fix something. the thing that attracts me to what tim is talking about, if you do believe in representative government and that it works, i guarantee it works best at the local level, when you can talk to your mayor, or your state legislature. it works second-best at the state level. and probably the least best appear -- up here, in washington. if you want to see change, i think you do have to start that
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local and state level. then you begin to address the hazard of the consequence, because the genius of the federal system, we have 50 states, we learn from each other. then you begin to build behind your case. you make it partisan, you make it a national demand, you run a risk. i fully believe there is evidence that when the people of this country begin to move, the court does listen. it does affect what they do. we had a very close vote on citizens. one boat makes a difference that vote -- vote makes a difference. is importantd this to us.
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jeff: if anybody has questions, please line up by the mic. , not only atsay the state level, but we have a fairly open process and individuals, and we see with the presidential campaign. can you imagine the candidate going on tv and the next day, $6re is 6 million -- million. the perception was, she already has the big bucks. and the donald trump is getting a lot of support because he is saying, i do not want your money. -- the purpose of all this money at the end of the day is votes. if individuals take control and take responsibility and support candidates, even
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small conservations make a big difference -- contributions make a big difference. wondering what you thought of the idea of, instead of limiting money, instead of having money matched on the other side. an idea that might not have traction, to be put out there, at least a discussion of it. that tim to the point was saying, there are ways in which matching has worked. new york has a matching system. seattle has a different system, a voucher system, which they are spending $100 to every registered voter and they can give that money to a candidate of their choice. a number of times, for 30 years,
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the president of system, had a matching system that were 12. -- that worked well. one of my political concerns with the constitutional amendment, this is a different question, but it is a very easy answer for politicians. i am for a constitutional amendment. i actually like to see people who are put to the test, are you going to support the legislation to form the fec. are you going to support a system of making small donors. i want to get these guys and make sure there is an opportunity to not just make a general statement, but to move forward and make changes. there are changes you can make in the rules about what money sitting senators or representatives can accept, that do not have to go through the
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whole legislative process. in addition to the executive order. so a matching system, a robust small matching system would help with an important change. right now, the incentives for candidates are the big dollars. there is zero incentive for an individual to give a small dollar contribution, because if you like the big ones are really going to make you or drowning out -- drown you out. >> i would say that these are good systems. the problem is, you get matched, you make a pledge. senator johnston: i am only go to make small conservations and that is matched. but your opponent can spend unlimited amounts. if younot deal with him are not both playing by the same rules. >> i am talking about matching
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the other side, if somebody puts in $100,000, then the public money matches against 100,000 that they put in. say you have an even battle on the money. was in arizona. the court said that was not constitutional. >> so -- senator johnston: we worked on that and found out it was not constitutional. jeff: over here. >> i worked for -- in north-central indiana. now the senator. give a tweak to on two points.
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joe donnelly was the most successful joe donnelley is the most successful man i knew. we took meetings, two people show up. rep. roemer: that's no reflection on joe. audience: no, no, he's hilarious. great guy. that's probably still the case today. sure congresswoman rowarski the same congressman petri, i'm sure you saw the same thing. a certain extent, i don't think it's a question of access. i think thinking about the challenge, someone said, organized greed will beat disorganized democracy every time. and i think that's really the hasn't come up here is the kochclassmate, brothers but if you're a republican you can talk about soros like my brother does. that challenge, thinking about the challenge, i think, is
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important, and the access is there if people will take it. my role working in south bend, indiana, i think i talked met probably 5,000 people in three years. i had one person come to us who a request that was not purely self-interested or ideological. person said, this is a good idea that i see in the tax code. a tax professor. just tosecond thing is, the point, is i think to a certain extent we've created a business, too, and i think this gets under-commented so i'm curious to hear the panelists' thoughts on this. i love capitalism but a fiduciary have obligation to maximize shared wealth. two, they can spend unlimited in elections, so three,
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corporations and their officers have an obligation to corrupt democracy. they have an obligation to spend in our government as will maximize their wealth, their net present value. hear whatious to people think about not only a problem for our government which butalk a lot about in d.c. a problem i'm sure people have areed about in board rooms, they obligated to spend money? how do they spend that money? on the first part of your question because you asked it about indiana and my home district. i used to do the same things that joe did. can turkey roast in wanata, indiana, where we'd get 40 people to come on a sunday get access to their congressman. we did that all over the district and joe does that. mentioned that now waloreski is doing it. one of the reasons they're doing is they're smart
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politicians and good public the other key reason we all do that is because that is one of the few competitive congressional districts left in america. we have a system and this is to senator brock's point, where, instead of having people fight for their districts and talk to their and listen, charlie cook, now, i think estimates that about 25 out of 435 really competitive races in america. >> less than 50, for sure. rep. roemer: somewhere between 25 and 50. are reallyat competitive. how can that be in our great have 350 that you people that don't even have to go and meet with their constituents? and then they come back here to washington and they raise money.
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theiron't raise money for election. they raise money for their chairmanmanship. for their many leadership pac. they raise money for the rnc and dnc, so that accumulates all this money that oftentimes puts other priorities in the queue legislatively and maybe not that person, the joe donnelley or tim jackie waloreski met with to do something to make higher education more affordable. that falls down the line. system,s corrosive re-districting and money that has lead to a democracy that is dysfunctional and deadlocked right now. we get the government we deserve. thepeople of america get government they deserve. up and revoltally and take this government back, going to change it, whether it's a constitutional
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amendment or f.e.c. reform. the american people really have 75% or 80% frustration rate, "i'm mad at hell," but are you going to do something about it? that's the key right now. meredith: you've raised an important point, the impact of the current system on two issues. the committee for economic development, which represents the fortune 500 companies, has come out with a very strong how thet talking about system has turned into a legalized shakedown from their perspective. the second is our national defense. i wish mr. hagel perhaps was here. how the special interest system results in expenditures on the defense side that folks in the pentagon don't even want and so this is a is system that's think too often, you that talke's a notion about this money in politics, this kind of progressive or liberal issue. to seewhy i'm so pleased
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this group that issue one has put together because it shows a left or right issue, but how you think democracy should work. been studies that have looked at some of the states that have adopted some of these matching systems in public financing. guess what they find? it's not a republican or a democratic system. it's just a different kind of system. community isess suffering. our national defense is suffering because of the current system. >> just one point, too, on what tim was saying. thesek about all districts being safe and only 30 or 50 being competitive, and yet there's tremendous turnover. the majority of the senators, their first year, or were until recently. the average member of the house or four termsree if you say how can it be they've all saved seats, so on. a lot of them quit once they get
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go in withstem and the best of intentions and they're honest people and trying end up a difference and systemushed into this where they're dialing for dollars in hopes of being effective and they're like, this is not why i got into this, and they leave. reallyhave a tendency, able people, higher education people in the rest of congress history, supposedly, i don't know if practical education. we have tremendous turnover because of the way incentives, once you get into .he system sen. johnston:please, anybody thinking about it, don't start saying the system is corrupt in terms of people.ct on work.s it's dysfunctional but i'm going
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lifell you in my experience and i guarantee you there's no disagreement up here, the huge, overwhelming members good, honest,e payoutiotic people who are there to make aey wanted difference and leave because it's really hard to make a is inence when the system deadlock. not just money. it is re-districting, it's a whole range of issues. have to deal with one issue at a time. andt with this or go home say for gosh sakes, look at what california, the midwest, and are doing on districting, look at what others are doing in finance. let's try it here in tennessee or arkansas, ohio. and we learn from each other and begin to create this movement that says we're going to take the country back. put it. good way to but we're going to give ourselves a voice again. we've lost our voice.
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we feel the loss of that voice. scares us, all of jeff: we can take one more question, here. audience: thank you. i'll play devil's advocate, why not. so senator roemer, you said the corrosive and insidious but hasn't the system always been corrosive and insidious? it's not like before buckley it narnia, everything was good thatou had hearsts before running politics. there was still access by a limited few, it was just a limited few. so if money isn't free speech, equal accesssure to information for equal parties? rep. roemer: i think that's a question. i would say first of all that
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thee there's always been potential in this system that is increasingly been about raising money and members spending more it, that the gridlock andf this insidious system would come because ofnow complicated decision like citizens united, like mccutcheon, it has opened a tsunami of money in all parts of the system, plus you have the re-districting problem where state lettingures carving out seats for 80% of the members of congress on the house side and they don't have to legislate, they don't have to on your problems. all they got to do is keep a primary from taking place. have that problem layered on to this, in addition,
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these complicated supreme court cases, now at the presidential level, you have very wealthy americans that can write a single check to a single candidate and keep them in -- in iowa, in new hampshire, in south carolina, into michigan. they don't have to go out and convince all of you in this room to vote for them and give them money. onethey have to do is get person to bank roll them now and voice out there, sometimes for good, sometimes for not so good. and so you've got all these cascading influences out there happened at the same time that i think have really create a system that the not allow generally american average citizen to have the voice that jefferson and and adams and our founders said was an equal
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system for voting and accessing the system. working. jeff: if we can pause on super moment, if we can bear it. is there anything that can be done short of a constitutional amendment to put the super pac genie back in the bottle? meredith: there are a number of that can be done that i think would certainly change their role. one of the most ludicrous parts current system are the candidate centric super pacs. people remember mitt romney talking about my super pac. the whole notion, and the court this, is the notion of being totally independent. well that's a farce. actually partly at the door of the federal election commission. could come in with reasonable, rational rules about what constitutes independence, and so that's just a starting we'veto say, you know, had independent expenditures, people forget that, since
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veryey, and they weren't effective for the most part because you often had this lack of coordination. the messaging was often not right. now you have them working hand in glove. that's fixable. that's also other ways. the dark money groups, oh, my goodness. this is an i.r.s. problem. the i.r.s. has said, as long as you don't spend more than 50% of your money on political activity, you're a social welfare organization. that's ridiculous. these are very fixable problems. they're not going to go ahead think this is where mr. roemer hits the nail on the head. have to think in politics in two tracks. i'm going to disagree with you a little bit. experience of 30 years of politics is if most of the consequences are in fact intended, it's just nobody knew exactly and was paying attention. think there's so much that can be done even right now, this and certainly super pacs, the f.e.c. could move
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if it had an effective commission that was working. thing me just say one about independents. we had an election down in andsiana not too long ago one of the candidates was in a wreck on the day before the with a woman. it was no sex involved but she happened to be the chairman of his super pac. were -- it was a cup of coffee. curious, between the senate being a six-year term and term,use being a two-year how much relatively pressure there is on how about members to raise money versus senators. there's countries like the philippines that have a three-year term for the house so this reduces a little bit fund-raisingre for more timethat are 50%
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between terms. as i understand it, jimmy he left ther presidency, thought maybe the presidency should have one six-year term. what do you think of those ideas? sen. johnston: those of us on the other side of the equation would have argued stren strenuously against that. buckley, senators would generally raise their money in the year before the election. five of the six-year term, they would tend to their thingss and that sort of and house members didn't -- it wasn't as bad for house members, either. now senators raise money, all six years, and they do it morning, noon and night, weekend. it's -- these guys do not do the job. they are raising money.
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and they're traveling all over the country to do it. howink it's scandalous little time they spend learning their job. >> think about it. if all the seats are safe and all you're worrying about is congress, the 50 seats, why are doing? they're probably raising money to look frightening so people don't run against them. part of it is they raise money and contribute half or 2/3 of it candidates or to the the. or to many districts of the country, they're safe or they're rural and don't have tv stations in them, you still have to advertise but the costs are much less in rural areas than
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if you're in new york or connecticut or someplace like that. the actual money in most races isn't that much. broadcasters are making out like bandits. >> you want to make a lot of today, buy aica ando and tv station in iowa new hampshire and just wait for be onslaught of money to spent in the primaries in the presidential race. yourself if you're looking at the tube. one word was mentioned here that before and mentioned that's party. i don't know, you're the expert. aren't there limits on the parties now? meredith: there are limits on what can be contributed to the parties. sen. brock: ok. i think about this issue with primaries.
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what california's trying to do with winner-take-all primary. they say the top two people in a general primary run against each other. democrats, two republicans, whatever. but the idea is that by doing it to forcethey're going those two to compete for the where most of us are. think about that in terms of we took the limit off of theies, because then to run function is elections. they're not going to support primary. a they better not get in a primary, they'll be in real trouble. their purpose has to be try to get district reform, ok, but try people elected by competing for the majority of the public, not the one out of seven folks. perverse pacve a
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by putting unlimited money. we've replaced our two parties with pacs. we're crazy. pacs. controls the it's so upside down, what we got. it's crazy. jeff: we have time for one more question from the audience. audience: i have been really interested in issue one and the campaign legal center because, other things, you're very positive. i really appreciate that you're thating on concrete steps can actually be done now and i think that's really important. had is if youn i could only pick one thing that reallyld urge people to lobby members of congress on that you think would have the accomplished,g what would that be? sen. brock: you know where i stand. meredith: actually, i think, if short-term,ing which i often think about, the first place i would go other
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trying to get the f.e.c. to do something, that's a different question, is actually this the connection between lobbyists and bundling role that they play -- that this kind of unholy that kind of where you have the lobbyists coming and representing those that are the money.t of you have this kind of ability to the lobbyists not just give themselves -- that's not the real issue here. it's about this ability to and get the money credit for the money and then to come to the congress and knows that if you're who's organized all this money, you're getting in the door. that's a very fixable problem, actually, and it's very simple legislatively to do. just begins -- i think lobbying is a very honorable profession. been a registered lobbyist since 1987. ahappen to have never given
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campaign contribution in my life but what's happened in thisngton, you've got combustible cocktail in which the lobbying community, the kind billionaires, the special interests, all kind of get in bed together and then be able to influence when goes on in washington. to me, if that's the first line that would at, least begin to change a little bit of how the town works. have --know, maybe you sen. brock: i think it may be aally hard to get done in short time. i really believe that we have an to address a lot of issues with the reform of the the burden on --m to be responsible, not knock the deadlock off and get with some specific actions that address the tangible problem we have. we're all good at defining a problem. the really easy to see problem. but getting the -- putting those
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position to effect the change. they're there. it possible. rep. roemer: i would say two things but they're connected and they're doable and achievable in the next few weeks, or several weeks. was president,dy there was a poll done and the american people were asked, do that government can be a positive force in your life? and i think something like 75% of americans said, yeah, i do, orther it's the post office veterans or, you know, something yes, can bet, positive. today, especially with our young millenials,ur that's upside down. believes at the national level -- some people believe at a local or state level government can be a positive force. that is depressing to see that. initially, in order
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to build momentum, show confidence that we can start this, show the reformer community that we can get some be two parts. one would be, let's all encourage president obama to this executive order and contracting sol a brighte's flashlight, sunshine on this process. every federal contractor that business with our government, they need to disclose who they're giving business to. do that.e can secondly, coming back to the f.e.c., the federal election lawission, you break the when you're running for congress and you take illegal or you break, you know, a limit, there is a limit. pay a price for that. and right now, literally nothing anybody.o congress, in fact, uses the
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tool tos a political almost confuse people in doinggn commercials of something wrong because they know nothing will ever happen so f.e.c. andeform the bill toress to pass a change the demographics there, maybe it rotates, four democrats, three republicans, upon who's president, it's never deadlocked 3-3, people independent appointed, that could do a lot to change the way that there's our election system and the way it's enforced and then you build from there. the statesoing to and the states are encouraged to keep up their reforms. see jurisprudence efforts, whether it's a new supreme court or a few supreme court members, a constitutional amendment you could work on at the same time. that's the kind of momentum we need to see from the american people on this.
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there's no silver bullet. functioning f.e.c. is the least we should expect and then thought, i've always it's a good idea, elections do cost money. pay it and youo diminish the role of large contributions if you encourage small contributions. so i introduced legislation when i was in congress year after systemou go back to the we had before, to give people a small contributions, a couple hundred dollars, it cost you anything, or a tax deduction for larger contributions. if people give a contribution, like buying a lottery ticket a little bit, you'll follow it more and get
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involved and the whole purpose is citizen involvement and a system that is responsive the average citizen but the average citizen has a too, and that is to understand that you don't just get rights. you have to have responsibility and we should encourage, not set up barriers to people participating. statementslosing from the rest of the panel? sen. brock: we got to do something to create a sense that it can be done. wins, shorte early victories that people can say, oh, i believe it's possible. once people begin to get a little bit of up to this will happen. it >> i just say one short thing. as you travel a lot around the world, you look at somebody like mandela. he spent 27 years in a prison in south africa and one of the things that sustained him was out,act that when he got
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he wanted to bring democracy to his people and he held up america as the standard for that democracy in the world, that we hope tot beacon of every other country. and what we had, he wanted for and equality for his people. traveloday, when you around the world, you start to hear from people, hey, you know what, america is becoming a lot more like the rest of the world. have competitive elections. you have money swirling all over system, you have a corrosive and insidious deadlocked system that doesn't get much done. we need to address this. we need to take this democracy back. and you can do it. people are listening to this argument now. fundamentally changed and if i think if we don't use
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terminology like buckley and citizens united and we talk and ourr democracy founders and equality for all ourle and the voice of citizens and that our democracy at stake, i think this is going to turn. i really believe there's a positive wave coming in america government. this meredith: my last comment, i think democracy is both robust and fragile at the same time. father left his high school i innk at age 17 to go fight world war ii because of the threat to our nation. taking my niece one time to the holocaust museum going through and we saw all the stories and they saw germany, actually, adolf hitler came to power through
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elections. stunned. they had no clue. every time we think about our think mr. roemer hit the nail on the head, we get the democracy we deserve. but i think a lot of us take it for granted. it's always been there. yeah, we had problems before but we've always stuck it out. more fragilemuch than that and i think we really and as a people can't assume just because we've had 200-plus years of a that we're entitled in some way to 200 more and if with what happens and the way the system actually works, these kind of very basically issues about democracy, we're going to lose it, and we're going to think, the heck happened here? that this ishink the time. i think senator johnston hit the nail on the head. wave and now is the moment to catch that wave and if
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it -- we i think we do own peril.our sen. johnston: >> they all sign or the refused to, and it is a big political issue. we need to make campaign-finance a political issue like that. the way to do it, to put in a constitutional amendments, and ask a member, are you for by givingontributions a power to the congress legislate or not? it could be a powerful way to mobilize the public. i am for all of these little things that we would do, this bill, the fec, they would probably support you. that is not the way to get a mobilized force going. which is what we need to do.
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with theo do that, is constitutional amendments, and as people, yes or no, are you for it? >> will that be the last word. thank you for sharing your experience. [applause] >> thanks to all of you. >> you're watching american history tv, all weekends, every weekend, on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook, at c-span history. on much as history, university of illinois press are -- professor sachs the latino labor movements during the mid-20th century. she discusses the program which brought thousands of mexicans to the u.s. as guestworkers. it examines the experiences of the workers. this is about one hour and 10 minutes.
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>> we are towards the end of the semester. i decided to talk about this. the braceros. bracero history. we will talk about it more in depth. we will talk about the article. i'm going to tell you a little bit about how i started being interested in braceros.


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