Skip to main content

tv   Congress Political Parties Polarization  CSPAN  July 11, 2020 4:59pm-6:01pm EDT

4:59 pm
>> you are watching american history tv, covering history sees fans style with event coverage, eyewitness accounts, inhival films, lectures college classrooms, and visits to museums and historic places. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. ♪ c-span has unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events. you can watch all of c-span's public affairs programming on online, or listen on our free radio app, and be part
5:00 pm
of the national conversation through c-span's daily "washington journal" program or through our social media feeds. c-span created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> the national constitution center in philadelphia hosted a session on political progress and polarization from the civil war through today. andkers included historians a political scientist. the event took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the national constitution center provided the video. great honor to introduce our guests. what an amazing panel. america's most established historians and scholars of congress to help us understand our current vexations. is resident emeritus at the university of
5:01 pm
richmond. of many booksor on the civil war and reconstruction, including, i highlightite that "-- i will highlight one, a forthcoming book, "southern journey." welcome, it is an honor to have you. edward: thank you. jeffrey: joanne freeman is a professor of american history and american studies at yale university, where she specializes in the politics and political culture of the revolutionary and early national period. she is a cohost with edward ayres of a popular history backstory." she is the author of many books as well, including
5:02 pm
"pathbreaking." also, "field of blood." joanne, it is such an honor to have you with us. joanne: the giver having me. jeffrey: norman ornstein studies u.s. congress. there -- it is worse than it looks, how the american constitutional system collided with extremism and relevant for tonight, the broken branch, how congress is failing america and how to get back on track. he is a friend of the center and appears frequently on our programs. it is wonderful to have you back. norman: always a pleasure.
5:03 pm
jeffrey: let us jump right into the history of the violence that consumed the nation in general and congress in particular in the years leading up to the civil war. joanne, we will begin with you because your book, "field of blood," describes it vividly and the statistics are striking. you write that there were more than 70 violent incidents between congressmen in the house and senate chambers or in a nearby streets or dueling grounds. there were 109 riots nationwide. is it true that there was more congress and in the nation in general than now? why was it and give us a sense of how violent congress was. joanne: sure.
5:04 pm
first,er your question this is an obvious thing to say, but congress is a representative institution ended very much does reflect the ether those of the time, and the fact of the matter is in the first part of the 19th century and even the second half of the 19th century were very violent. some of the violence you see in congress is representative of that moment. what i was interested in and what drew my attention was the amount of it and dynamic of it. yearsre discussing the leading up to the civil war and it is worth noting that the violence, or at least the extreme violence begins in the 1830's. it is not a constant wave, it comes and goes, that it is the 30's, 40's and 50's that see this. if you track who is fighting whom, initially you see
5:05 pm
one party fighting another and then over time, you see north versus south and slavery is at the center of the fighting. what is interesting most of all violence as a tool in antebellum congress, is southerners knew that to a certain degree they had an advantage because they were more willing to engage in hand-to-hand combat than some of the northerners. they used that advantage on the floor. they used it as a tool of debate and would deliberately intimidate and threaten northern congressman, and some of them would silence themselves or sit down or not stand up rather than risk the threat or being humiliated in front of the public eye being threatened and having to back down. all bye was attacking itself, but what was particularly interesting is it was a deliberate pool of debate.
5:06 pm
is byime, what happens the 1850's, mid-1850's, some northerners decided it would be tool, too.-- their jeffrey: it was a powerful moment in the book when you describe how northerners would challenge southerners to duel and it decreased the violence, and you quote a letter that you whenmove you to tears, three representatives all pledged to challenge a future to fight,- duelers when it became known that northern senators were ready to fight. i have to say finally that we have this wonderful new exhibit on the civil war and reconstruction. we have thaddeus stevens's cane, and i quote your book on how
5:07 pm
some people would run for congress on the grounds that my left hook is better and i will beat him up. incredibly powerful. , it is often said or at least it has been said by norbert mccarthy from princeton, that we are more polarized today than at any time since the civil war. you are such an expert at party systems. can you explain what it was about the political parties right before the civil war that let us to be so polarized then? back througho of soy and you see echoes much that is familiar to people today. if you look to the period leading up to the civil war and the party system, they had a party that ultimately was transformed into the modern republican party.
5:08 pm
along the way, we had a know nothing party that was verlyn lee anti-immigration. virulentlylee -- anti-immigration. they became the parties we know today, democrats and republicans. and you have the overarching issue of race and slavery. for a while, the democratic anti-slaverytrong lean. we had others, copperheads, who leaned another way. with republicans, they had abraham lincoln, who became the force in the republican party
5:09 pm
against slavery. ed will talk about how things change in the aftermath of the assassination of lincoln and what changed with the reconstruction period. all of those things, life-and-death issues to so many, really created a level of polarization in society. all -- it broke down along regional lines, and that continue to persist, but not in the same way as the parties changed and the democratic party, which became a more dominant party many decades later, had a merger of southern and northern democrats. but the division was there, the polarization of society and the parties. mccarthy is right that's what we are seeing now is something far more distinct than what we have for in any other period over 100 years. jeffrey: that is fascinating.
5:10 pm
you are teaching that the party system during the civil war mirrored the party system paired just as -- system. just as the violence in congress mirrored the violence in society. argues that those -- sometimes found themselves defeated. advanced faster than thought possible. tell us how it was that with each victory of the armies of the south provoked northern andort for abolitionists, as norman invited, if you could take us through reconstruction and tell us about how the party system realigned and the country became less polarized even as
5:11 pm
support for reconstruction was ultimately abandoned. saying,as norman was the polarization between the democrats and republicans during the civil war, it is a fundamental fact that people tend to forget. people would say the democrats lost, they only had 47% of the vote. i think we've seen in our own time, the other half of the electric doesn't -- electorate doesn't go away when they lose. the election went to the democrats after the suffering of the civil war. had some battles gone differently, lincoln might not have been reelected. northern democrats were as racist as white southerners. they hated everything the republicans were doing.
5:12 pm
the white south said ok, we have lost, but meantime, lincoln's election, andrew johnson becomes he seems to cut some slack for the white south. they go great, let's push for everything we can get, let's reinstitute as much slavery as possible. before republicans come back in the congress. right now, there is a -- president running everything. too,sounds familiar, right? inn republicans come back after riots in new orleans and memphis and widespread violence against like people across the south, republicans say we cannot have lost 350,000 men for this. we must restore the purpose of the war. the white south was running roughshod. the white south just keeps pushing and pushing and northern
5:13 pm
republicans essay ok, it is going to take an amendment to the constitution that you have to support. you will have to allow black men to vote and the delegates. you have to rewrite the constitution before you come back and so that you can show us youare not -- you admit were defeated but not that you were wrong. you had congressional permission to go out and talk to people across the south, and what they were looking for was rebelism. the spirit that even though lay lost, -- even though they lost, they were still rebels. that spirit is still holding on today. as a result, you would not have had the 14th amendment if the republicans had not felt that if they did not revise the ,undamental law of the land they would have joined together.
5:14 pm
that's what i mean. , tothe 15th amendment really make sure that you can't take away the vote. begins ending almost as soon as it begins. in virginia, it is over by 1870. in 1871,ction starts 1872, and is drenched in violence. the white south brings on the fundamental change in laws recognizing that if you were a native born american, you have fundamental rights. after reconstruction comes to an end, united states settled into a pattern for a long time. very closely contested election with the south -- especially around the turn-of-the-century,
5:15 pm
and north and the west republican. most contested, finely calibrated elections in american history. a few votes could change the outcome. it is a fundamental restructuring. , polarizationy finds a way to happen, whatever the situation. winner take all, to parties, ups but there shifting, is a polarizing impulse in american political culture. jeffrey: thank you for all of that. what an important point that it gamese fear of losing the -- the gains of the civil war that led to the 14th amendment. we tell the story of the civil about the debate, stevens saying we will have the
5:16 pm
majority forever and bingham says we might lose it and we need to put it in the constitution. that the losers might not go away gracefully is prescient and sobering for today. joanne, we have a bunch of questions from our friends. says, whenn northerners are willing to fight back and southerners stop challenging, is that like facing up to a bully? abouto have a question whether any members of congress are trying to reach across the , and auring this time question about whether in the prewar era, was slavery and unspoken catalyst? thosen respond to any of that strike you as provocative. joanne: sure. thefirst question about
5:17 pm
northerners and southerners, i would say the southerners don't stop fighting. they are just thrown off their feet in the sense, because the northerners have been caving in all along and suddenly northerners were fighting back. the word bully asked the question is right on target. that is the word people used at the time for the people provoking these fights. brooks, preston brooks, that was his nickname. there was a sense that these people before the second half of the 1850's, the southerners were picking on people who could be bullied because they did not fight back in the same way. what happened is the northerners, and the northern congressman campaigning on the idea that they would fight the slave power. there was a reality to that in congress.
5:18 pm
some of them came with weapons and literally made it clear. ,he document you mentioned these three northerners explain why they will dual from now on. the part that captured me was at the end, after describing with all of this emotion, they say we are putting this down on paper so that future generations will understand how hard it was to fight slavery on the floor of congress. so they make clear precisely what i'm trying to describe in the book. it is bullying, but what happens when you are being bullied? i suppose there is a simple answer, but if you stand up to a bully, sometimes it is useful to do. i also will mention other people were reaching across the aisle. there were. after a certain amount of time, that became very hard to do. at aan see the mere hint
5:19 pm
certain point in the 1850's, that someone would reach across the aisle is sometimes met by they will joke, but the joke will be yeah, you do that. one congressman says to another, you do that and you better tell your kids to put their sunday best on because they will never see you again. there were some people trying. in the handful of years before the civil war, people were reaching across the aisle often. -- i'll off the floor. in theuld not do it public eye, so they try to do it in a separate space, but i those -- that point, those were not issues that could be compromised. jeffrey: a reminder that compromises only possible some ties -- sometimes in private. the constitutional convention was in secret and you could force the compromises. but when everything is tweeted in real-time or even when the press was watching during the
5:20 pm
civil war, it is different. everyone wants to talk about the president, and we have to learn our history at the same time. that's why i am not jumping right into modern questions. many of our friends are asking why isn't congress standing up to the president today? congress tolerate the refusal of president trump's personnel to receive subpoenas to testify before committees? should this behavior immediately have been punished with fines or imprisonment? , howso have the question can congress regain its oversight of the executive branch? and our very first question asked, why is congress, especially the senate, so willing to bow to the executive? norman, in the process of
5:21 pm
answering those very valid questions, do give us some historical context. during the civil war, it seemed congress was more ready to stand up to the president, and they passed the civil rights act over the republican president's veto, and indeed impeached him because of its distaste for his policies. willingcongress being to stand up to the president then and now. norman: i will digress a little bit because i want to bring in more history. by a is a wonderful book historian called quote the first congress -- "the first congress," and it did not consist of towering figures except for a james madison here and there. they were mostly mediocre people. but they saw that the institution meant something and had respect and they did some remarkable things, including the
5:22 pm
bill of rights, of course. because they had institutional loyalty. they knew of the constitution was going to work, they better get going. but step back a little bit, the constitution was set up through those compromises to give an inordinate amount of power to the south. they knew it. it wasn't just the way they set up the so-called 3/5 compromise. the electoral college the nature of the house of representatives gave them a lot of clout, and because of the determination to maintain slavery and the reconstruction after their power voter suppression. i would remind you of something most people don't realize, the house started with 65 members. at 435.ast in 1929 it did not change in size after
5:23 pm
the 1910 census because the southerners saw that if they kept responding to the population by adding members, it would dilute their power and give more power to african-americans who were emerging. so they figured out how to keep the size at 435 and use their power of redistricting and apportionment, use their ability to maintain control to basically keep blacks from having any role , significant role in the south, and keep the laws of such that there would not be significant civil rights, which we did not get until the 1960's. there is a lot of history we have to keep in mind, and we also have to keep in mind that it was those southern democrats from the 1930's all the way through, really, a long period years of40 consecutive power in the house of representatives for democrats, where they built a compromise
5:24 pm
coalition against northern democrats that maintained voter suppression and their role in the south while giving democrats power. in the aftermath of that, as the south changed and regions began to change, it was the republicans who moved in, took over from southern democrats, and began to court voters in a way that also was focused around race and suppressing the power of race. i want to get all of that on the table. what i would say about the questions that were asked directly is we have gone from polarization to tribalism. that began, i would say, much more with new enrich and -- newt gingrich and his arrival in congress in 1978, and a change in our politics and in particular, a change in the republican party that i would say bluntly is more like a cult
5:25 pm
now than a provisional -- a traditional political party. the framers built in a recognition that you could end up with the president who would not behave in a fashion that puts the entire country first. his ownt look out for interest or his family's economic interest, or subordinate the interest of the country to foreign powers, sometimes for economic gain. they built in safeguards. the electoral college was one, but prime among them was the first branch, which because it was elected independently and not holding to a president because of a belief that the members would have what political scientists have called institutional patriotism, would provide checks and balances. if you have a party that subordinates its own institutional interests because of a corrupt president or a
5:26 pm
cult, you lose that fundamental check. if another one of those checks, the independent judiciary, is cast to the side with a desire to fill it with people who also will have loyalties that don't match what we believe should be an independent judiciary, you lose many of those checks and balances. we have lost a large number of them now. the role of the senate to use the power of confirmation of judges and executive officials, of congress to use the power of the purse to put some boundaries around a presidency or bad behaviors by members of the branch.e ranch -- windows begin to shred, you lose control of the system and i believe that's what we have had the last several years and i don't believe the framers would view it in a positive light. jeffrey: powerful statements. defined the
5:27 pm
difference between polarization and tribalism? i heard norm saying it was the difference between a clash of ideas, which we saw during the civil war, and a clash of partisanship, which we see today. today, people are unwilling to buck their party in a way they weren't during the civil war, when congress took its institutional role more seriously even when it meant disagreeing with a president of the same party. norman: just very quickly, if you viewed the other party as were the people who are trying to solve problems but just have misguided ideas, you can agree on what the problems are and then work through compromises and the political process, where you can at least achieve some accomplishments along the way. if you begin to believe that the other party is a group of people people trying to destroy your way of life, preventing them from gaining power, keeping them down, becomes the central goal.
5:28 pm
you will swallow hard and except a number of things that otherwise would be unacceptable to you. that's where we are now and i believe that is the fundamental difference. jeffrey: that is amazing. whether you take less of ament that willingness to recognize people from the other party as people of good faith less than at the civil war, which is an amazing statement. and i want to tell our friends watching about the powerful website that you helped to establish electing house of representatives, where you seek to recapture the role of congress as an equal branch of side-by-side with the presidency. really granular data about how landslide presidential wins failed to produce policy victories and you need congressional and presidential majorities to coincide to get
5:29 pm
sweeping legislative reforms. thatd: yeah, the fact is as historians looking over long periods of time, we are good at seeing how things could have turned out, but it's always could have. if you pull the camera back, you see the broad patterns. the democrats maintained control throughouse from 1954 1994. think about all of the things happening in america in those the stability of partisanship. that is something to think about. we don't want to glorify that because in many ways, that control was based on the sovereign south and its own kind of tribalism. men you have just white disagreeing with other white men , they can feel a solidarity.
5:30 pm
part of what we are seeing now is the political system that encompasses more americans. which is the way things should be. if you think about stability in the house of representatives for , weter decade after decade want to point out that that was kind of a deal in which the white south would get what it wanted, being left alone was segregation for as long as possible, and at the same time, it would work with fdr. you would have the leveraged deal in which different constituencies were served. i agree with what norman is saying, that the norms have fallen apart. is, we don't want to forget that all american policy has been built on tribal identity.
5:31 pm
it was racial for most of american history and made visible by disenfranchisement and suppression of voting. so we are seeing that. every allowed to see how congressional district in the u.s. voted from 1840 through the present and you can see which ones flipped. i come from a strange one, the only congressional district in the south that has voted republican since the civil war. people look at this later, not now, in the corner of tennessee there is one red area, with andrew johnson elementary school. beinglifetime, to go from republican in 1950's in the south and what dean republican today means -- being republican today means is entirely different. that's why it is confusing.
5:32 pm
you will see people today attacking democrats who want to support getting rid of confederate monuments because all of those guys were democrats back in the day. but being a democrat in the 1850's and what being a democrat today means were entirely different things. i think we can see the broad ships and a great stability. shifts and a great stability. after the great transition of the south from democrat to republican, the system with newt gingrich coming in, there is kind of an equilibrium through the political system that has many origins in the social system. jeffrey: fascinating. we will talk about some of those causes. link on there the
5:33 pm
website -- not now, no surfing during class. afterward. a is amazing to dig into particular election and learn about it. joanne, one thing you raised in the civil war era and is now relevant today to polarization attribute somend of our current polarization to a world that was recently argued that people are more likely to play to the base on twitter than to serve institutional interests of the white house, presidency or even the media. talk about the role of technology in polarization throughout history, especially beginning in the civil war period, and what we can learn about it. joanne: sure. moment i find myself singing about often these days is the telegraph, the rise of the telegraph as a form of technology. before the telegraph, there was
5:34 pm
a certain amount of wiggle room in congress. if you said something you are sorry you said or did something you were sorry you did, you could rush over to the newspaper office or reporter and change what you said a little bit. there was wiggle room. it was easy right thing to keep things away from the public eye, a more limited number of supporters in washington. the telegraph fundamentally changed everything. it takes away the wiggle room. 45 minutes and everybody knows about something. all of a sudden there are all of these reporters from washington and all over the nation who can travel that distance, stay there, and telegraph ekholm what they are seeing -- home what they are seeing. congress loses control of the spin. congress,nk about ideally speaking, is supposed to be an ongoing conversation between the public and the representatives in one way or another.
5:35 pm
the public says what they want, representatives respond in a way, if it is an election, it gets adjusted. technology changes that conversation. there are moments i think, and right now we are in the social media pseudo-equivalent of the technology age, where no one really understands the absolute give-and-take of that form of technology and everyone is trying to master it and manipulated and take advantage of it, and every now and again, something happens and no one expected that to happen. the telegraph removed wiggle room. imagine now if someone says something goofy at a private dinner and someone has their phone and tapes it and then tweeted or puts it on facebook, the entire world hears it. that is an entire generation that lose control of the conversation to a certain degree. now they are doing that at hyperspeed. moment where the conversation has changed
5:36 pm
fundamentally at a time when it is highly polarized and everyone otheringring -- everyone else. i am an american who loves america and you are evil others. that is a dangerous time to be in this time of hyperspeed. it is made worse by the fact that we have the first president who is a tweeting president if you think back just a few years ago people were trying to figure out what that meant, how do you take a tweet, is it formal, is it not formal? it is kinda mind-boggling and i think we take it for granted the degree to which technology can fundamentally scramble a workings of democracy. i think that's some of what we are feeling our way through right now. scrambletechnology can the work of democracy, that's a good way to describe it. we are feeling our way through it in a dramatic way. we obviate some of
5:37 pm
the polarization the last time around. we saw similar issues with technology and a fraying party system but nonetheless we evolved to the relative stability of the postwar period. lessons, that reconstruction of the deliberate madisonian model, what does it tell us about how to get out of the current situation? norman: it will not be easy to get out of it. listening to joanne, there is a little book called "the victorian internet," which is a wonderful description of how the telegraph changed the world, and a lot of people thought it was wonderful that we could communicate face-to-face and wars would end and lots would change for the better. what we see now is things can change for the better that they can also change very much for the worst and you can enhance
5:38 pm
tribalism and division through that medium. but i would say, you know, when broaderarties that were , which is what we had really from the 1930's on, and to some degree before as well. when you had in the republican party, they used to call -- and when i got to washington in 1969, they called the southern thecrats bowl weevils for insect in the south. but we had market republicans knowing northeast, the -- new england region. washington, oregon and california was a republican region and we called them gypsy moths for the hardwood trees. we had this grand sorting and
5:39 pm
are parties polarized ideologically, and created a real dilemma. and did not have populist surges until 1980's and 1980 -- and 1990's where media and c-span, for example, could exacerbate some of those divisions. but we had leaders who understood larger obligations. one of the things i would say is we have been talking about race as a dividing issue, we would not have had those dramatic civil rights bills, 1950 7, republicanswithout being decisive factors. it was bill mccullough from ohio in the house, others in the senate, who helped to make sure you could overcome the southern democratic opposition to those
5:40 pm
things. that began to see changes polarize us further, the opportunity was there, exacerbated by technological change. emerging, talk radio and cable news, with leaders who found they could gain power and advancement by adding to this tribalism. the business models would have us careen out of control. without major changes in media, it will be hard to bring about. now i believe has happened is we have a republican party that i think is going to have to go through at least three elections in a row with losses not just in 2020 but 2022 again, to get traction back to what are conservative people but problem-solving and not willing
5:41 pm
to use divisive things like race and immigration the way they have been used in the past to begin to write the ship and move us in a different direction -- right the ship and move us in a different direction. but it will not come easily or quickly. we have to brace ourselves for what will be an extended period of real challenges trying to solve the major problems we have -- economic, racial and otherwise. jeffrey: thank you for that sobering thought. norman: have a nice night. [laughter] jeffrey: absolutely. we are at the solutions part of the discussion. have a question, how big a crisis is this and do you see a path to fix the problems of congress, gerrymandered districts, voter suppression? norm just suggested you need a
5:42 pm
total re-conception in the way the parties relate to the media to get them to be able to liberate again. your thoughts on solutions, and i have to ask them it is such a great shout out to your teaching abilities, williams says ed was my teacher so you have to ask my question. hasn't congress created an imperial presidency that they have been complaining about? edward: thank you. i feel it is important to think about what is happening right now outside of the political system that is going to have profound effects on the political system. my self, have referred to southerners as if they were white. black southerners have moved politics all the way from reconstruction.
5:43 pm
there is no 14th amend meant a fabric and american people are not making it clear they are willing to risk their lives to amendment if african american people are not making it clear they're willing to risk their lives to vote. reconstruction is not just republicans in the north. it is black people in the south eating their lives on the line to show what they would do with american freedom. then you take the people with the least power in american society, poor african-american southerners, after 100 years of disenfranchisement and segregation, they lead great moral revolution of the u.s. and voting rights act and civil rights act that follow. that will not happen if they are not in the streets. matter isck lives are allwing look, you
5:44 pm
tied up worrying about tweets and meantime we are dying. things have to change your -- change. i think a more optimistic through line is the people who have been most victimized by the political system have also been the people best articulating american ideals. it is hard to know -- who would've thought, thinking about all of this history, who would've thought two or three years ago that most americans would have supported weeks long protests against the police? and it is the way it was done and the voice people are using. the only lesson i've been able to discover is nobody had any idea what would happen. it is one surprise after another. terriblee through periods of dismay. ofmay be seeing the sprouts
5:45 pm
a new era coming up. before the nice words for my friend, that's what i was going to say. that we don't want to forget -- disempowerh people, they have taken it upon themselves to define power in whatever way they can, and right now it is to remove the symbols of the order that can only hold for so long. are punitive powers and american democracy at work even now. was to the and that question from one of my students. jeffrey: it was a great answer. knowd: i think when people that voters have their backs, they will. people are developing more courage when they know they are
5:46 pm
speaking for a majority of people who want justice. i think you will see a new progressive era that will be is beingry soon and established by young people should -- young people. i think looking at cycles, there is reason to believe that some of the things we have been worried about may have a chance to heal themselves. we will see. jeffrey: thank you for all of that. i have some any questions and i know you want to respond -- we cannot predict history that we can, as you have argued powerfully, all of you have, learn from that and contextualized. i have to argue, seem less silent today than they were during the time of the civil war, to put it mildly. be protests have large peaceful and people are not
5:47 pm
beating themselves up in congress. why do things that seem more violent now and is that true? and i will put on the table this big scene that susan coleman raises in which you introduce the drive to transparency, televising committee hearings and even conviction seems to get in the way of dealmaking. is there such a thing as too much transparency? if that's true, might the first amendment prohibit any regulation of media technologies that would allow the kind of moderation and compromise that madison expected? joanne: ok. jeffrey: there is a lot there. joanne: i might have to ask you to remind me. the first one, is it less violent now and why? part of it is that the united states in 2020 is not the united when during an
5:48 pm
election he routinely had people killed at polling places. there was an incident in washington in which a canon was shot at immigrants and a polling place. there was a level of routine violence that was very different. in part, we are in a different moment. moree seeing i think violence and threatening behavior than typically we might expect to see. i think that's part of what people are responding to. i think some of it is being encouraged and that is why it is there. yes,ay or another, i think we are less violent, but we are seeing a lot of extreme language and extreme behaviors that go beyond where i think we would be comfortable with under normal circumstances. goes, as transparency that is the paternal problem. -- eternal problem. transparency on the surface is good, we can all see what is happening.
5:49 pm
we can get justice. aen things happen in front of public, that complicates them enormously. how do you balance the need to work behind the scenes and then move forward to present it in a way so that the public is responsible? i don't have an answer for that, i just think that's one of the fundamental questions of balance and politics in general, but particularly in congress, which is so bound up with public opinion. you asked a second question i think, which i have now forgotten. do you remember it? if not, i will go back to what i wanted to say before. jeffrey: go ahead. i think this is the last round, so closing thoughts as well. joanne: good. that we talking about
5:50 pm
are at this moment where many bad things have happened and might happen and find our way out of them will take a lot of time and work. ed was talking about the booming of new kinds of progressive change i suppose the way -- change. i suppose the way think about intenseduring extreme change and unstable behavior, as ed said, we have no idea what will happen. we don't know how this will go down. we don't know if we are circling the drain or if it will be ok. unstable asans is --y deal now, there is room as things feel now, there is room for change. what matters is how we respond to what is going on now. how we realize that what is going on now, things are
5:51 pm
changing and we don't know what will happen, but there is room for growth in addition to collapse. i suppose the way i join them together is just to encourage people to realize that it is vitally important the people think about this moment and its importance. some of what we are seeing is a great sign of that. but it is important for people to realize that big trends help change -- help bring change and things are not necessarily over with. jeffrey: a wonderfully important note. it is a metamorphosis and people can influence it, as you settle powerfully. thank you for bringing things together so well. norm, your closing thoughts, i will not presume to shape them. what would you like our friends to leave from this discussion? norman: a couple of things.
5:52 pm
one is that we can do some things structurally, difficult as they may be. i was part of an american academy of arts and sciences commission on the common good, and we had a whole list of things we could do. enlarging the house of representatives, altering the electoral college, bringing about if we could akin to the system mandatory attendance at the polls and other things that could improve the process, elections and improve institutions. i also leave you with another challenge we have. things so many positive happening now, including a wider awakening i think among white americans that have been ignored for so long. that minneapolis and others have set out. that black lives matter is a meaningful phrase, not something
5:53 pm
to push to the side or ignore. i think the immigration struggles have taken us back to what it means to have a larger, better society. but the institutions that were built by the framers are going to be more distorted as time passes. it has nothing to do with donald trump. by 2040, 70% of americans will live in 15 of 50 states. collegens the electoral will have more instances, if we keep it, where the winner of the popular vote wins the presidency. it means 30% of the americans who do not reflect the economic dynamism will elect 70 of 100 senators. we know that natural residential patterns as well as the way in which we do districts, and the supreme court basically brushed aside doing anything about partisan gerrymandering, and it will destroy the house further.
5:54 pm
what voters want will not be reflected and the courts will take us further and further away from popular will, whatever it is, with those elections. we have work to do to prevent a crisis of legitimacy in the system that goes beyond some of these issues we have talked about, and even transcends deep there -- deeper divisions along racial and ethnic and regional lines. jeffrey: thank you for that. ed, the last word is for you. edward: let the civil war emancipation remind us that things far worse than we can imagine can happen and things far better than we can imagine can happen. the most powerful institution of slavery in the modern world coming to an end was a something people could not plan for. report, andderful
5:55 pm
the final part of that after all of these impressive structural changes, is the specific culture of the country. it is what you are doing right now. it matters what we are thinking and saying and talking to each other, and we have to keep that alive, too. cycleer the election brings us, we have to keep our specific culture of democracy alive. that's what i think. jeffrey: thank you for that, it is such an important reminder. it does matter what we say and do. for all of your friends who are taking an hour during your busy evening, asking such great questions, and you're hanging on our every word as i can see in the chat box. it is a reminder that when we come together to learn with reason, we can indeed appeal to the better angels of our nature and grow together in wisdom. that's what the constitution center will continue to do, bring you brilliant minds like the ones you just heard. so grateful to all of them for
5:56 pm
having spread so much historical and constitutional light. joanne, norm, ed, thank you so much for a wonderful discussion. friends, thank you for joining. we will see you on june 30 for the atul for the constitution and -- a battle for the constitution and the future of policing. have a good night. thank you. >> this is american history tv, covering history c-span style with lectures, interviews and discussions with authors, historians and teachers. 48 hours all weekend, every weekend, only on c-span3. [ambient street sounds] >> american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend, featuring museum tours, archival films, college lectures, and discussions on the presidency,
5:57 pm
civil war and more. you can watch these in their entirety on our website, here is a quick look at one of our programs. [chanting] >> by early afternoon, field arrest forms were reinstated and arrest totaled over 7000, the largest single day arrest total in american history. capital does not possess facilities for detaining 7000 prisoners. no government should stand ready to arrest and detain thousands of people at one time. when the police were forced to take action, there were also forced to use facilities which provided a minimum of security, shelter and sanitation. this was what the demonstrators
5:58 pm
wanted. manual, itn the greatly enhances our tactical position if the jails and detention facilities are filled with demonstrators. the specter of thousands of people jailed in the government's unsuccessful attempt to contain mayday will graphically demonstrate the political isolation of the warmaking government. tens of thousands going to jail will make the choice is clear to america's rulers, and the war, d the war face chaos. filledemonstrators cellblocks and jails, police established a temper a holding facility at robert f kennedy stadium. [yelling] >> that was a short look at one of our many programs available in its entirety on our website.
5:59 pm american history tv, exploring our nation's past every weekend on c-span3. >> you're watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter @c-span history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. >>next, on the civil war historian harold holzer and , valerie paley of the new york historical society talk about artifacts featured in their joint publication, "the civil war in 50 objects," in this program they discuss documents related to slavery, abolition and recording freed men to the union army. the conversation took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic and the new-york historical society provided the video. at 7:00 p.m. eastern, 4:00 p.m.
6:00 pm
acific, and interview with korean war veteran. at 8:00 p.m. eastern and 5:00 p.m. pacific in lectures in history, and american history professor looks at the civil rights movement from the 1940's through the 1960's. now i would like to turn our attention to some objects that help describe the civil war. as a curator in the museum realm, particularly history byeum, i am always struck , documents ons display, have the power to stand in for larger historical narratives, presenting so much more than they are structurally defined by as an object itself. for those of you who missed last week's program let's talk about this book, the civil war in 50 objects. how effective do you think it is


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on