S1: The following recording may contain explicit language I can’t get more explicit than May with literal say it may. It’s Monday, January 13th, 2020 from slated to digest. I’m Mike PESCA. President Trump went on the safe space of Fox News to lay out what he said was the imminent threat from Kaseem Suleimani.
S2: I can reveal that I believe it would have been for embassies, but Baghdad certainly would have been the lead. But I think it would have been for embassy, could have been military bases, could have been a lot of other things, too. But it was eminent. And then all of a sudden he was gone.
S1: His Eminence, the Donald speaks of imminence. And I suppose we must all acquiesce. But the senators were given the intel briefing, hadn’t heard of this plan to attack four embassies. Other administration officials who explained the imminence of the attack had never cited four embassies. And after careful questioning on, I count three out of the five Sunday shows. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper admitted, okay, there were literally four embassies per say. But, you know, it kind of felt like there were four embassies. It was that type situation. So in a nutshell, the president was lying or as they say, when movies are based on a true story. But then you find out that the main white guy protagonist in real life was an Asian beetle. He wasn’t so much lying as conveying an emotional truth. Presidents lie. All presidents lie all the time. Many times a president will lie about a casus belli. That means they lie us into war. He certainly will lie to get him out of the accountability for war. We get it. It’s all priced in. But it is notable that the secretary of defense ultimately did not back up his lie as Per finally had to admit it. Here he was on Face the Nation.
S3: Was very different. What the president said was he believed that it probably could have been attacks against additional embassies. I shared that view. I know other members of national security team share that view. That’s why I deployed thousands of American paratroopers to the Middle East to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other sites throughout the region probably.
S4: And could have been that is that sounds more like an assessment than a specific tangible threat with a decisive piece of intelligence.
S3: Well, the president didn’t say whether it was a tanjil. He didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably he believes you’re saying goodbye isn’t one. I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.
S1: Maybe the president got the message about the four embassies from the leader of the Boy Scouts who called him to tell him he was Time’s person of the year for his groundbreaking research into windmills causing cancer. Like I said, all priced in trumps at over 15000 lives are misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. And Mark Esper finally broke down and indicated that the embassy threat was misleading. How ever Esper then went on to evoke an historical precedent which almost broke my brain. He was asked about congressional oversight of military action against Iran, military action that he just admitted was in part or has been justified by lies. Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked, why can’t Congress have this debate?
S3: As that debate ensues, be conscious of the messaging, particularly to our troops, because they are looking for messages. Do they have the support of the American people while they are in harm’s way? Why do I say that? My Pedersen’s predecessors have said that in the past. And I had the personal experience in the nineteen ninety one Gulf War. I was on the ground preparing for our final actions to go into Iraq. We watched very carefully the debate in Congress in mid-January that year to find out did we have the support of the American people and our lawmakers?
S1: Well, of course, you carefully watched the debate and the vote in Congress. It literally decided if there would be a Gulf War, what went on then? A vote about the authorization of military force is what many in Congress want. Now, if Esper is saying that the reason that Congress should be wary of a debate now is that in 1991 they had a debate and that the troops would have felt, I don’t know, bad or sad. If Congress didn’t support them.
S5: Well, guess what? They wouldn’t have felt bad or sad if they went into Iraq. They just wouldn’t have gone into Iraq. The troops were waiting not for a pat on the back or a thumbs up, but they were waiting, literally waiting for congressional authorization. And if the vote had been no, there’d be no. Gulf War was close to 250 to 183 in the House, 52 to 47 in the Senate. But Congress authorized and war. We did wage as I was trying to figure it out. The best I could come up with is that espers point was basically a I’m a veteran. It’s true, it was airborne. And also b. Congress shouldn’t vote against wars. And maybe in case they would vote against wars, we just shouldn’t let them vote at all. I think that’s what the point boils down to.
S1: It’s not as bad as being caught in a lie, but since Trump has done that 15 thousand times and espers modes and methods of argumentation are new to us. I thought I would. I like his reasoning as another piece of evidence that this might not be the dream team of the best people. We had all been promised. On the show today, I shpiel about a solution to so many of our representation problems, a solution that’s fallen out of favor, but to me seems preferable to the non solution of spasms of discontent, which we now seem to have embraced. But first, one thing’s for sure about politicians, be they Democrat or Republican. Republicans are worse. While the current batch certainly seems to be the rally round the Trump and deny global warming thing. Deal breakers for me. But what if you wanted to make the case? Okay. Okay. But you know, Democrats aren’t that much better. I happen to disagree. But maybe the problem isn’t that these two parties are both bad or that one’s good and one’s bad, or that neither is good enough. Maybe the problem with the two parties is that there’s only two of them. Political scientist Lee Drutman thinks so. Otherwise he wouldn’t have written Breaking the two party doom loop.
S6: I’ve been enjoying the writings of political scientist Lee Drutman for quite some time now. Maybe enjoins the wrong word because what Lee Drutman writes about his all the flaws of our political system. But then he proposes solutions. So you might think, oh, that’s the part you enjoy. No, it’s not, because it has the effect of me saying, yeah, that’d work and it’ll never happen. Well, he’s put down all his ideas, all his frustrating because they’re mostly true ideas into a new book about pretty much the biggest bad thing that’s going on that expect explains so many of the other bad things. It’s called breaking the two party doom loop. The Case for Multi-Party Democracy in America. Hey, Lee. Hey, Mike. So why is I know that you did a lot of research on, say, money in politics, and a lot of people say that’s the biggest problem. But why do you think partisanship, the current flavor of partisanship is worse than anything else, like money in politics, corruption, racism, bad media, etc.?
S7: Okay. There’s a lot of terrible things going on, aren’t there? Yeah. Yeah. So pick up the part of the parade of horribles. Yeah.
S8: And that’s the worst at that parade is is hyper partisanship because it fundamentally threatens the basic foundation of democracy, which is a shared sense of fairness, a shared sense of legitimacy and the basic procedures of elections and and government. And what we have now is really unprecedented level of binary hyper partisanship that is fundamentally destroying that foundation. And in the book, I argue that this is actually something new, that while we’ve already we’ve always had a two party system, what we have now is a genuine two party system with two truly distinct national parties, equally equally balanced, both of which have a chance to take control of Washington at any given election and that close competition in deeply divided two party system. It is is a real threat. And I know for a long time we had overlapping parties and didn’t really matter that much whether Democrats and Republicans were in charge. But now we have these two truly distinct parties and no resolution and just escalating hyper partisanship ahead.
S6: Right. And the irony and I’m using this word correctly is that it was political scientists who didn’t cause it, but said it would be a great thing if our titular two party system were ideologically sorted. And I’ve talked about this on the show. We could go back to this big 1950 study where they said, yeah, we have two parties, but what do they really represent? Wouldn’t it be a great thing if the Republicans were just. I don’t even know if they actually made the prescription, but weren’t. Wouldn’t it be a great thing if they were really just a conservative party and a liberal party that would have so many benefits came to pass? And, you know, current political scientists are saying actually it’s the worst thing that could have happened.
S9: Yes. So let’s listen to you and those of your ilk. Well, not all political scientists are the same.
S8: And there were certainly plenty of folks who were political scientists in the 1950s who said actually, that’s a terrible idea. But certainly at the time, you could understand why a lot of political scientists might come to the conclusion that we ought to have more distinct parties, because when the two parties are basically the same, it’s really hard for voters to send clear signals and to know what the parties actually stand for. And that’s an important piece of democracy, is for elections to actually mean something. Secondarily, that two party system was really based around a lot of consensus, which meant that a lot of the differences in the country weren’t being aired and debated. And in particular, it was a consensus not to deal with civil rights at the national level and perpetuate the Jim Crow South, which I think we would not consider a greatest success of American party politics. Now, I think the mistake that they made was not in saying that party should stand for something is in thinking that there should only be two political. Parties and at the time they thought, well, it couldn’t possibly come to pass, that American parties would become ideological and quite distinct because American politics was so ideological at the time. So ultimately it was a failure of imagination to understand what it would look like to have two truly distinct parties representing two very different geography’s very different values and fundamentally different ideas of what it means to be an American.
S6: Is the problem that there are two parties, one a Liberal Party and one a conservative party. As much as it is the problem that let’s put both of our cards on the table where both Democrats are left leaning to some degree or another, is the problem that one of those two binary choices has gotten so, so out there, so dysfunctional, so antithetical to equity?
S10: I think the answer is both. The fact that we have a two party system, a genuine two party system is a problem. And the fact that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right and has embraced an increasing Lee some might call anti-democratic view of democracy, making it harder for people to vote. That’s a serious problem. But the challenge is there’s no way to resolve that problem in the two party system, because a lot of folks identify as Republicans and a lot of folks think, well, the Democratic Party is not for me. So the only alternative is the Republican Party. And they’re motivated as much by preventing liberals from taking power as they are from supporting what the Republican Party stands for. So the only way to break out of this, this gridlock, out of this doom loop is to essentially blow both parties and allow more parties to flourish, new coalitions to emerge. So then not everything is a is a Zero-Sum political contest. It’s not everything is trench warfare for the fate of the nation.
S6: But wouldn’t the more doable strategy just to be Democrats beat these totally radical Republicans? They beat them on the state level, on the local level, on the national level. They do the blocking and tackling. They also propose a vision. They also maybe benefit from the demographics, which you rightly say are a little bit overblown, but they benefit from a demographic shift. And therefore, within this two party system, we want to change the system. You essentially make the Republicans more sensible. You bring about that. You breathe into life. That autopsy that Reince Priebus did for the party, we have to become less white supremacist and less anti-immigration. And that’s an easier fix than a total overhaul and a change in the way American politics is always, ever been.
S10: Well, I think one of the challenges is that one that understates the the inevitable backlash against whatever party is in power. People overstated that in 2009 when Democrats took unified control of government. And then there was a backlash. Now, this is a predictable pattern in American politics. People are conservatives there to be a thermos static nature that America moves more in a more liberal direction when Republicans are in power, in a more conservative direction. When Democrats are in power. And I think we would likely see that same pattern continuing. So I’m not sure how Democrats are going to get enough of of a of a majority given those predictable patterns. And finally, I think that the more troubling part of that is if it looks like Democrats are going to start to be in a permanent majority position. I don’t think the Republican Party is going to say, well, we should suddenly moderate. I think the message that they will take away is we have to fight even harder and be even more aggressive. And that’s when democracy will really be threatened. I mean, I think that’s already some of what we’re seeing in the Republican Party now, and it will just get worse and worse.
S9: So, yeah, I don’t I don’t see how the Republican Party is going to moderate when all of the moderates have left the Republican Party and there’s nobody within the Republican Party coalition to say, hey, let’s totally do a 180 on the values that we’ve been fighting for and be the party of multi-culturalism and immigration to compete with the Democrats.
S6: So there are different methods of voting and a lot of them are used in places as, you know, obscure as Maine and Ireland. Give me your favorite ways that we could vote differently or maybe even structure how our legislation works that would give rise to a multi-party democracy. Yeah.
S8: So there are a lot of forms of proportional representation. Most advanced democracies have some form of proportional multi-party democracy.
S11: The version that I recommend in the book is a is a version that is very similar to what they have in Ireland and what they have in Australia, which is a system of rank choice voting. And in the House I would combine that. With multi-member districts, which would create a proportional system in the Senate, I think you’d have to keep the single winner elections. I’d also increase the size of the House and I’d also get rid of congressional primaries. And I think the combination of all of those things together would would move us towards a multi-party democracy.
S12: Look, I think the challenges that we’re at a moment in which there are a lot of challenges broadly to liberal democracies throughout the Western world, there’s the backlash to the financial crisis and globalization.
S11: There’s the increasing divide between the cosmopolitan urban parts of the of the countries that are doing well and engaged in a global economy and the post-industrial rural, exurban parts of the country that are increasingly left behind between younger and older generations.
S8: And the question is, which type of party system is most equipped to resolve those issues? And to me, the danger of the two party system is that it reified and amplifies those divisions in a way that becomes Zero-Sum and binary an all or nothing.
S13: But do you think that our parties make us fractious or how fractious we are? Has given rise to these very far apart, sorted parties?
S6: Because I worry that if there were this system with all these different parties and the most that anyone could wield as, you know, ten to fifteen percent, we’ll have a situation like Italy or like Israel. Now, you know, just keep we keep forming governments. There’s no continuity of power to some extent. It is a feature, not a bug, that even though you might not have the full support of the majority of the American people, you are president and you have the power. We have very strong presidency, unlike a lot of other countries, given our spot in the world, unlike Italy, I think it is to our benefit that we have a strong, relatively strong executive.
S12: Well, we could still have a reasonably strong executive in a multi-party system, but I think the the danger is that in a two party system, if neither party has the majority, you’re in this system of endless gridlock and the coalitions get basically stuck. The advantage in multi-party system is that, yes, sometimes you have to hold another election or it takes a while to build that coalition, but then you can build a governing coalition. And, you know, I think coalitions should be fluid because majorities are changing and that’s OK. The question is whether the legislation and the policymaking is ultimately somewhat stable. And I think the danger of our of our bifurcated two party system is that as the parties have pulled apart, the policy goes from very far. Right. And then to the left to the to the right, to the left. And there’s no stability. As for the question of how divided we are, I mean, certainly America is a is a divided nation. But I think the two party system is amplifying and redefine those divides in a way that makes it very hard for us to resolve those debates because we’ve cast them so much in terms of all or nothing. Either the Democrats rule or the Republicans rule. But in a multi-party system, no single party has the pretensions or the illusions that they will be the dominant majority. And so they have to build coalitions. They have to compromise. That’s just the name of the game and that’s institutionalized in the system.
S8: And I think that was how our politics operated in a in a different period in which we had something much more like a multi-party democracy within our two party system.
S6: And finally, the cover of the book, Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop has an illustration of animals painted red, white and blue and you got your donkey and your elephant. But then there are three others in there, I suppose, representing parties yet to be born. There is a wolf looks like a grizzly bear on its hind legs and hind legs and some sort of puma. What do you imagine these? If you had to write fanfic on these parties, what would they be? What? What’s the Grizzly Bear Party? The Wolf Party and the Puma?
S8: So in the final chapter of my book, if people make it that far, I do envision a future scenario in which we do have a five party system and the five parties that I envision are on the left, that there’s a social Democratic Party think Bernie Sanders. There’s a moderate new Democratic Party. Think Joe Biden. And then on the right.
S7: And that’s new. That’s new. Well, you know, I mean, new quote. It’s beautiful, Judy. OK.
S8: There’s a new Democratic Party. Think, think, Pete. Boobage edge. There is a a reform Repub for which there is a reform Conservative Party. Think Marco Rubio. There is a sort of Christian free market party. Think Ted Cruz. And then there’s a Tucker Carlson. Well, I’m not sure if Tucker Carlson. I would I would put him a little bit more in the final party, which is the nationalist populist party. Think Donald Trump or Tucker Carlson.
S7: Right. And who gets who gets what? Animals? I don’t know. It’s up for grabs, whoever. Let’s do it. Who do you think? I don’t know.
S12: I’ll give the bear to the to the to the socialist Democrats. If the the coyote to the to the to the Ted Cruz Republicans.
S7: And now I’m not looking at the end of my book. Well, I think I think I think the puma forget the permit would be actual Trump. Yeah. All right. He’ll be actual Trump. Just. Just Trump. All right.
S6: Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the political reform program at New America. He is the author of Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop The Case for Multi-Party Democracy in America. Thank you so much. Thank you, Mike. This was a lot of fun.
S1: And now the schpiel, the Oscar nominations were announced today and like every year for the last, I think six. The celebration of the glories of cinema became a grumped fest about the paucity of female or minority nominees. Here was ceremony host Isa Rae after the best director. Nominations were announced. Vacillations Hustler’s Lorene SCAFARIA snubbed the farewells. Lulu Wang snubbed. Greta Gerwig snubbed, snubbing little women. It’s just what the Oscars do in 2015 and 2016. The Oscars were labeled as so white. Hashtag Oscars so white. There was a protest over the lack of minority acting nominees in twenty eighteen. Greta Gerwig was once again left off. The best director list causing Natalie Portman to say here are the all male nominees. And last year there was no shockingly blatant racial or gender specific snub. But just in case the Oscars were thinking of being something less than a total bummer. Kevin Hart was announced as host, then withdrew after scrutiny of his past homophobic jokes, jokes. That word being in quotes, jokes. Maybe it’s possible that on artistic merits, little women wasn’t as well directed a film as the Irishman or 1917 or the other three movies that were nominated. I don’t know. What does that even mean? You know, Greta Gerwig was pointing a camera and working with actors and eliciting performances. Scorsese, he was doing that, but then distorting some of their facial characteristics with deep aging technology. Sam Mendez was achieving some sort of technological miracle to make World War 1 appear as if it all happened in one take. I mean, you seem to be generally different things. Gerwig As partner, a romantic partner, Noah Bombach was also left off the best director list for marriage story. That’s a movie that’s a lot like little women. Great acting insight into the human condition. But mostly people talking in rooms. The Oscars these days seem not to define great directing as people mostly talking in rooms. Of course, the Oscars are subjective and they aren’t life or death. They aren’t Australian wildfires or the Quds Force or even educating our children. So let’s talk about something that is more like educating our children, educating our children, specifically New York City children. Although the issue I’m going to talk about is playing out throughout the country. Black and Latino children, schoolchildren are losing out on the advanced opportunities of selective high schools and magnet programs. I say black and Latino and not students of color because Asians are greatly overperforming, in fact, in New York City. Asian students make up fifteen percent of the overall student population, but account for 40 percent of the slots in the city’s so-called gifted and talented programs. Whites make up the same proportion of overall students by 15 percent. They take up about 33 percent of the seats in that program. This means that African-Americans and Hispanic students. Which are most of the students in New York City represent a small minority of students in gifted and talented classes. This is a problem, but you might not believe what one solution, one prominent solution is. It’s to end all gifted and talented classes. While the classes certainly benefit, the students involved are really sought after by parents. The problem is that black and Latino students are underrepresented in black and Latino moms and dads would love to get their students into the classes, but they can’t. So a task force assembled by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended let’s get rid of all the gifted and talented classes. Now, I was thinking, well, if the problem is there aren’t enough black and Latino kids in these classes, why not get more black and Latino kids in these classes? And let’s not do it through complicated end arounds like thinking about the wealth of the neighborhood kids from or the average elementary school lunch program, the average number of kids on paid lunch. They people come up with these complex proxies for poor ness or blackness or Hispanic heritage. And they’ve been proposed as a solution for the selective high school problems. But I have another solution. Just have a quota. This is also my way to address that. Oskar’s underrepresentation problem we were talking about have a quota. If women or minorities are underrepresented, make sure they’re represented in schooling. It would work like this. You take whatever minorities level of representation is in the overall population and you make sure and whatever you’re selecting for has at least two thirds that percent of representation. So when we talk about gifted and talented programs, they actually test four year olds to get into these programs to talk about all the kids in all the schools. So the schools are 25 percent African-American in New York City, which means that your gifted and talented program would have to have 17 percent black kids. And in New York City, 40 percent of students are Hispanic, which means that 27 percent or so of the gifted and talented slots will go to Hispanic students. And when it comes to high school exams, you don’t just have to go with the overall population in the entire school district. You could say, let’s just look at the overall population of every student who tested proficient on state exams and then make sure by quota they’re representative. It’s not a perfect solution. No, but the very fact that we have such a dire problem speaks very largely to the imperfections that abound. Stuyvesant High School, jewel of the city system. Eight hundred ninety five slots for students. Seven black students got in seven. That’s not still the massively under Representative 7D, it’s seven. So what is the argument that if you have quotas that then black students who do qualify will be made to feel that they only got in because of quotas? Well, is that worse than allowing only seven black students to get into Stuyvesant? A lawsuit revealed that Harvard goes through all kinds of processes to ensure that the incoming class is fourteen point three percent African-American. That’s what their class is roughly in line with, very closely in line with the African American population in that age group. Now, I’ve never heard of a black student, Harvard, who at one point or another wasn’t confronted with the accusation. Oh, you only got in here because of race. And that’s tough that they have to go through it. It’s a cruel thing to say. It’s ignorant. The people saying it don’t know the truth of it. But let me ask you this. Is it worse than the alternative to have the school be widely underrepresented? Public universities went through this in California, Texas. They didn’t allow race to be considered in admissions. And what you had there was in UCLA, ten thousand applicants being admitted and 200 of them were black. So maybe a quota is better than that situation. And yes, maybe if some other ignorant, cruel Harvard undergrad turns to their black peer and said, you only got in here because of race. A, it might not be true. Or B, it might be a little true, but a lot better than they’re not getting in there at all. Let me talk about something I know well, the NFL, it’s experiencing a deficit of coaches of color. Just four out of the 32 teams have head coaches who are black and Hispanic. One method over the years has been something called the Rooney Rule, which mandated that candidates of color be included as finalists. This is a quota, by the way. You would enforce a team to give a job to a black or Hispanic head coach. You would just make sure that those candidates be put forward for consideration. This is totally analogous with the Oscars. You might not realize it because they make a big deal about who’s a nominee, but being a nominee is just being a finalist for the award. So if it drives Hollywood crazy or enough of Hollywood crazy when they nominate a slate of actors without any actors of color, why didn’t just mandate that they always include a person of color? Who knows if they had done that? Lo just might have won for Hustler’s. Also, since it’s a closed system with the academy. You never have to reveal if the candidate was a beneficiary of the quota system. I mean, if they had done that with J-Lo, I’m sure everyone say well, obviously she deserved it. She wasn’t a beneficiary of the system taking directing. If you mandate that a female director of the five directors, one has to be female. I bet you there would be a lot more female directors getting jobs in Hollywood. If you knew that 20 percent of the Oscar nominees were going to be female, then executives would start giving out jobs, hoping to be one of these nominees. And compare this to the current situation. The USC Annenberg School found that of the 1300 top grossing films from 2007 to 2019, on average, 4.8 percent were directed by women. Quote has got a bad rap in the 80s and 90s when we as a country were less racially aware and less likely to flat out say people of color are under representative. Diversity was not the priority then that it is now. And there was a lack of bluntness, which we definitely have now. But now we are willing to say there simply needs to be some black people or brown people or women people among this pool of people. Back then, we didn’t say it. Want to hear how much the idea of quotas had been denigrated. Let’s play this moment from one of the three presidential debates in the year 2000. Then Governor George W. Bush thought he was pretty clever when he said this. Now, affirmative action means quotas are my guess and it’s a phony. OK, so he’s a conservative. Here was Al Gore’s answer to that. I’m against quotas. They’re illegal. They’re against the American way. Against this backdrop, phrases like affirmative action took hold. They were soft, palatable ways to have a quota. Back then, if you had to rank the ills of society like Al Gore was essentially doing, I think people would say, well, quotas are worse than a lack of diversity. But now a lack of diversity has come to be regarded as not just regrettable, but as evil. Certainly more evil than quotas. So try a quota. How is not having a quota working out for you academy? How about you New York City schools? You threaten to tear down otherwise useful institutions because they’re not diverse enough. So mandate diversity. Would you rather have protest movements? Angst? Tension? Well, maybe you would. If the price of that were progress. But the point is, there’s been no progress. Quotas might be at worst a Band-Aid solution. But guess what you use when you’re bleeding, you use Band-Aids. Or in the case of institutions that are failing, not just our ideas, but it seems like are minimal requirements. They might want to try a quota.
S14: And that’s it for today’s show. Daniel Schrader produces the gist. He’s thirsty, but he’d like something effervescent. Try a soda. He wants to harness the powers of the forest, but needs a mentor. Try a Yoda. The gist. We need to cast a crackly, sad sack character actor who can play both Jewish and Italian, both comedy and drama. Trevor Goda, Rupert adepero, Jew, Peru. And thanks for listening.