Need to Know: Nov. 9, 2012

Need to Know
Episode 261
Airdate: November 9, 2012

ANNOUNCER [narration]: THIS IS NEED TO KNOW WITH … MARIA HINOJOSA. SCOTT SIMON… RAY SUAREZ AND JEFF GREENFIELD.
JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: ON THIS EDITION…THE MOST EXPENSIVE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN IN AMERICAN HISTORY IS HISTORY.

MITT ROMNEY: This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the President will be successful in guiding our nation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: BUT WITH THE SAME REPUBLICAN HOUSE, THE SAME DEMOCRATIC SENATE, AND THE SAME PRESIDENT, WILL THE KEY PLAYERS BE ABLE TO OVERCOME FOUR YEARS OF DIVISIVENESS?

FOROOHAR: We’re out of an election cycle now, but we’re still in the two percent economy and I think that the pressure of that is going to force some kind of change.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: THE NEXT FOUR YEARS – BUMPY ROAD AHEAD OR A FRESH START? NEXT ON NEED TO KNOW.

FUNDER BED

JEFF GREENFIELD: Welcome to Need to Know. Well, now we know who—what we don’t know is what—or how. What can the re-elected President Obama and the Republican house do to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff”—that combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that threaten a new recession. How can a gridlocked Washington find the means to get the stalled process of government working again? What lessons does a defeated republican party draw from a changing American electorate? How can Barack Obama avoid the “second term curse” that has afflicted just about every president in modern times? These questions blend urgent matters of public policy with bedrock questions of pure politics….which is why we went looking for some answers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions…and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states…

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: THERE WILL BE NO REST FOR THE WEARY. ONLY DAYS AFTER WINNING A SECOND TERM, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA MUST FIND A WAY TO WORK WITH THE SAME REPUBLICAN-LED HOUSE THAT THWARTED MANY OF HIS BIGGEST INITIATIVES OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS. AND TIME IS SHORT. UNLESS A COMPROMISE IS REACHED DURING THE UPCOMING LAME-DUCK CONGRESSIONAL SESSION, THE NATION WILL DRIVE OFF THAT SO-CALLED FISCAL CLIFF IN LESS THAN 8 WEEKS. THAT WOULD AUTOMATICALLY TRIGGER ACROSS-THE-BOARD TAX INCREASES AND HUGE SPENDING CUTS THAT COULD WELL CAUSE ANOTHER RECESSION.

RANA FAROOHAR: I think the fiscal cliff is clearly job one for the president now.  It’s one of the reasons that the markets have been so unsettled in the run up to the election.  And it’s certainly the biggest economic issue facing the country in the next two to three months.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: RANA FOROOHAR IS AN ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR AT TIME MAGAZINE AS WELL AS A COLUMNIST THERE.

RANA FAROOHAR: Acting quickly and decisively is going to be really key because that’s gonna set the stage for the kind of bipartisan cooperation that he’s gonna need to solve almost every issue in the country, from job growth to tax reform, to immigration. Unfortunately, I think the House is going to be as difficult, if not more difficult to work with than it was in the first term.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: AND SINCE THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT BOTH EMERGED VICTORIOUS TUESDAY NIGHT, NEITHER MIGHT BE INCLINED TO BUDGE AS THEY HEAD INTO THE UPCOMING NEGOTIATIONS.

PETER BAKER: When we get into the nitty-gritty, when they actually get down to this– to the– the nub of this, into the substance of this neither side has an incentive to– to give up.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: PETER BAKER IS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES.

PETER BAKER: Republicans believe that their opposition to tax increases, you know, is a fundamental part of their election strategy and that they held onto the House, so giving up that argument seems nonsensical to them. President Obama going all over the country telling– everyone who’ll listen that he thinks the wealthy need to step up, play more of a part in solving this deficit crisis, so he believes that the voters ratified that philosophy. And so you know, when push comes to shove it’s gonna be– it’s could be quite a mess.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: IF THAT’S NOT TRICKY ENOUGH, THERE’S ANOTHER CHALLENGE FACING THE PRESIDENT, SAYS BOB HERBERT, A SENIOR FELLOW AT DEMOS, A LEFT-LEANING THINK TANK, AND FORMER-COLUMNIST FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. IT’S SATISFYING THE PRESIDENT’S CORE CONSTITUENCY, INCLUDING AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND HISPANICS, WHILE TRYING TO WORK OUT A DEAL WITH REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS. HERBERT WORRIES THAT ANY GRAND BARGAIN TO AVOID THE FISCAL CLIFF MIGHT COME AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PRESIDENT’S MOST RELIABLE AND FERVENT SUPPORTERS.

BOB HERBERT: You have to be very careful when you’re in these budget and fiscal battles to see that you protect the people who are most vulnerable. 

JOSE ANGEL RODRIGUEZ: I need Medicare. I ain’t rich. It’s expensive, I know. But what? My wife’s, she had a heart attack. She’s had cancer twice. She’s been sick all her life, you know? People don’t understand how important Medicare is.

BOB HERBERT: He’s walking a tight-rope between– what are the interests of the people who gave him his mandate and– what he perceives as the sort of his– economic imperatives. I think– I think the House Republicans are gonna continue to be intransigent. I think that there is likely to be some kind of an agreement– in connection with the fiscal cliff. But I think that that agreement is going to require Democrats to make some– pretty serious concessions– in their position. And I would be surprised if the Democrats get the better part of the bargaining.  Because it seems to me that the Republicans– have proved– have shown that they’re much willing to stand fast on– what they consider to be matters of principle than a lot of the Democrats have been willing to do.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: BUT WHATEVER IT TAKES, SAYS RANA FOROOHAR, DRIVING OFF THAT FISCAL CLIFF MUST BE AVOIDED – NO MATTER WHAT.

RANA FOROOHAR: Nobody can let us go over the fiscal cliff.  We tried that once.  The world markets didn’t react very well.  I mean, the U.S. is still at risk of being downgraded, which would make it more expensive to run the kind of debts that we run.  And that would be a real catastrophe for the– the economy.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: ONCE A DEAL IS STRUCK TO GET PAST THE FISCAL CLIFF, THE TOP PRIORITY FOR BOTH THE PRESIDENT AND THE NEW CONGRESS REMAINS EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS BEFORE TUESDAY’S ELECTION – PUTTING AMERICANS BACK TO WORK. TODAY 23 MILLION AMERICANS REMAIN UNEMPLOYED OR ARE WORKING LESS THAN THEY’D LIKE TO.

JOHN LARSON: What about that last day where they came in and said, “Hey everybody, you’re all- you’re all gone.” Can you just tell me about that day?

CLYDE WILSON: Well, my boss, the guy who bought the place, called me into the office and talked to me about it and told me that was my last day, that was it. He says that– that I’m no longer needed and that, ‘We’re going another route. ‘

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: LAST YEAR, THE REPUBLICAN-LED HOUSE BLOCKED THE PRESIDENT’S JOBS CREATION BILL, WHICH SUPPORTERS SAID WOULD HAVE GENERATED NEARLY TWO MILLION NEW JOBS THROUGH INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS AND THE REHIRING OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING TEACHERS. NOW THAT THE ELECTION IS OVER, CAN THE TWO PARTIES FIND COMMON GROUND ON A PLAN TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY AND CREATE JOBS?

BOB HERBERT: I don’t think that there is– much chance at all of a burst of big-time job creation. I really don’t see that happening.  So I am pessimistic about the economic prospects of the country– in the short to medium term.   I think that we– are just gonna sort of struggle along the way we’ve been struggling along.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: AND THAT, SAYS HERBERT, MEANS REAL TROUBLE FOR THE ROUGHLY 100 MILLION AMERICANS WHO ARE POOR OR, AS HE PUTS IT, NEAR POOR.

BOB HERBERT: I think the employment situation even though it gets an awful lot of attention is actually worse than people might glean from media coverage and from what the politicians have been saying And we look at what’s happening with kids coming out of college, 50 percent, only 50 percent of four-year college graduates from about 2005, 2006 up until now have full-time jobs. And many of them are working at jobs that don’t pay a lot of money – that don’t require a college degree – in many cases that don’t have benefits. And when college graduates are taking away those jobs, you can imagine what it does to the youngsters who have only a high school diploma or have dropped out.

SCOTT SIMON: What do you do for a living? What’s your job?

MAN # 1: I’m working McDonalds, flipping burgers.

MAN # 2: I sell clothes, shoes, anything you need, I can get it.

MAN # 3: Struggles for opportunities. You gotta start creating opportunities for the jobs.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: FOROOHAR OF TIME MAGAZINE IS A BIT MORE UPBEAT ABOUT THE JOBS PICTURE.

RANA FOROOHAR: We are on an upswing.  We’ve had about four months of decent jobs growth.  The last jobs figures came in very strong, which is probably– one of the things that helped the president in the election, but we’re not outta the woods yet. 

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: FOR HIS PART, PETER BAKER SAYS THE JOBS CRISIS COULD CONCEIVABLY DISAPPEAR WITHOUT ANY POLICY CHANGES AT ALL.

PETER BAKER: Just the cycles that we normally see in the economy would suggest that eventually growth begins to tick up. Some studies suggest that there could be 12 million new jobs in the next four years even without any new changes or new policies.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: THE TRICKY PART IS HOW TO LOWER THAT 7.9 PERCENT JOBLESS RATE WITHOUT DRIVING THE NATION EVEN FURTHER INTO DEBT AT A TIME WHEN THE NATION IS ALREADY HAVING TROUBLE FUNDING KEY PROGRAMS LIKE MEDICARE. EACH YEAR, THE DEFICIT NOW GROWS BY MORE THAN 1 TRILLION DOLLARS AND THE LONG-TERM NATIONAL DEBT HAS GROWN TO SOME 16 TRILLION DOLLARS.

PETER BAKER: To make more jobs, to get the economy going again they need first of all to resolve this uncertainty about the deficit and spending. Right now businesses are holding back in making investments, at least some of them say they are because they don’t know what next year will bring in terms of their tax rates, in terms of where the government will– be filling in demand in the economy.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: BUT WHAT DO YOU DO FIRST? STIMULATE TO TRY TO CREATE MORE JOBS? OR TRY TO BALANCE THE BOOKS? THAT IS WHERE THE TWO PARTIES DIFFERING PHILOSOPHIES COME INTO PLAY AND IGNITES THE POLITICAL DEBATE. BUT EITHER WAY, MUCH LIKE THE FISCAL CLIFF, SAYS RANA FOROOHAR, THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS MUST FIND A WAY TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE.

RANA FOROOHAR: I think that at the end of the day, this election was won on jobs.  And you can talk about social issues, you can try and scare people with ads about Chrysler.  But, at the end of the day, people want jobs. They wanna feel that their income is growing. 

JOHN LARSON: So, what percentage of your original pay are you getting?

LEE ANNE CHAMBERS: Fifty percent.

JOHN LARSON: So, you’re working every day as a teacher?

LEE ANNE CHAMBERS: Yes.

JOHN LARSON: You’re gettin’ paid half as much?

LEE ANNE CHAMBERS: Yes.

JOHN LARSON: And your benefits?

LEE ANNE CHAMBERS: I have no benefits, and I’m not allowed to dip into the sick time.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: INEVITABLY, THE DEBATE ABOUT JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IS TIED TO THE DEBATE ABOUT TAXES. AND AT THE HEART OF THAT DEBATE IS ONE CENTRAL QUESTION: DOES LOWERING TAXES GENERATE JOBS AND GROWTH? DEMOCRATS DISMISS THE IDEA. THEY NOTE THAT DURING THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION THERE WAS A JOBS BOOM EVEN AS TAX RATES FOR THE AFFLUENT WENT UP, AND THAT THERE WAS VERY LITTLE JOB GROWTH DURING THE GEORGE W. BUSH YEARS WHEN TAXES WERE CUT. RANA FOROOHAR THINKS THE REPUBLICANS MADE A LOT OF SENSE ONCE – BUT NOT NOW.

RANA FOROOHAR: I think that the Republican idea of trickledown economics, supply side economics and the idea that you can– make business grow strongly by cutting taxes worked a long time ago.  It worked when rates were much higher.  They were being cut from, you know, 60% to 50%, 60%– down there from. But when you’re talking about cutting tax rates from, say, 35% to 28%, that is not going to create a growth boom. However, what business wants, and I think what individual Americans want, is simplification.  I mean, our tax code is riddled with loopholes that have been paid for by business.  And– it’s the convolution that people wanna get rid of because that’s special interest coming in and tearing things up and, you know, creating loopholes that are very, very unfair and also result in reduced revenue.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: NOW, HOW ALL THIS GETS RESOLVED ANYTIME SOON IS DIFFICULT TO SEE. THE PRESIDENT ACHIEVED ONLY A NARROW POPULAR VOTE VICTORY, CAPTURING LITTLE MORE THAN HALF OF THE TOTAL VOTE, AND WINNING BY A SMALLER MARGIN THAN HE DID FOUR YEARS AGO. INDEED, COMPARED TO 2008, HE GOT SEVERAL MILLION FEWER VOTES… THAT MIGHT HELP THE REPUBLICANS NEGOTIATING POSITION.

PETER BAKER: What we’ve got is an election that left us with no consensus on the big, big issues of tax and spending and the role of government. President Obama wants to use this opportunity to let the– tax increases expire on income over $250,000, for the wealthy in other words. House Republicans vow not to let that happen. And so after two years and $4 billion of campaign ads and spending and so forth we’re right back where we started.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: EVEN AS THE PRESIDENT AND THE HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER STRUGGLE TO COME UP WITH SOME SORT OF AGREEMENT ON TAXES AND SPENDING TO AVOID THE FISCAL CLIFF, INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS LOOM THAT COULD WELL IMPERIL THE U.S. ECONOMY. ONE CONCERN IS THAT THE RECESSION IN EUROPE AND THE SLOWING CHINESE ECONOMY COULD HARM AMERICAN MANUFACTURERS AND EXPORTERS. BUT THE MUCH MORE PRESSING ISSUE IS IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S EFFORTS TO STOP IT THROUGH PUNITIVE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS. AND WHAT IF THOSE SANCTIONS FAIL? JUST THIS WEEK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU MADE CLEAR: HE DOES NOT FEEL COMPELLED TO WAIT FOR WASHINGTON’S APPROVAL BEFORE STRIKING IRAN MILITARILY – A MOVE LIKELY TO CAUSE A HUGE SPIKE IN OIL AND GAS PRICES. RANA FOROOHAR SAYS WHAT WAS LOST IN THE RUN-UP TO THE ELECTION WAS THAT THE SANCTIONS ARE STARTING TO UNDERMINE SUPPORT FOR IRAN’S REGIME.

RANA FOROOHAR: President Ahmadinejad is widely considered now to be a major economic mis-manager of the country. His popular support in Iran is declining. He’s come under fire from leaders in Iran itself for his mismanagement. So I think the hope would be that, at some point, you’re going to see a leadership change and Ahmadinejad is gonna be out. And a more moderate leadership is going to be in, and then you can have a real conversation about how to allow nuclear energy to proceed in Iran that’s not weaponized and not a threat either to the U.S. or to Israel.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: IF THERE WAS ONE TAKEAWAY FROM ELECTION NIGHT 2012, IT’S THAT THE GROWING HISPANIC VOTE WAS KEY TO THE PRESIDENT’S RE-ELECTION AND NOW POSES A LONG-TERM THREAT TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

MARIA HINOJOSA: So the motivating factor for you, like, if you had to say look the reason why you support Obama so forcefully is because what?

NINA SIMMONNINI: Right now Obama and the Democrats for me represent everything that I want. The independence, the healthcare, helping – the illegals find a place here.

BOB HERBERT: Latinos largely see the Republican Party as just generally hostile to the interests of Hispanic-Americans.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: RONALD REAGAN FAMOUSLY SAID MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO THAT HISPANIC VOTERS ARE NATURALLY REPUBLICANS – THEY JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET. IF THAT’S TRUE, MORE THAN 30 YEARS LATER, THAT MESSAGE STILL HAS NOT GOTTEN THROUGH. PRESIDENT OBAMA WON APPROXIMATELY 70 PERCENT OF THE HISPANIC VOTE THIS WEEK AND, FOR THE FIRST TIME, HISPANICS COMPRISED 10 PERCENT OF THE OVERALL ELECTORATE. THAT NUMBER IS ONLY GOING TO GROW IN FUTURE YEARS, FURTHERING ENDANGERING THE GOP’S PROSPECTS.

REBECCA TRAISTER: The Republican party has to be open to talking about reasonable immigration reform.  They have to adopt that, think about it, and think how they should best address the issue.  Otherwise, it is political suicide.  You will never be able to see them this aggressive toward immigration again.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: REBECCA TRAISTER IS A JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR. SHE SAYS THE OVERWHELMINGLY DEMOCRATIC LATINO VOTE IS ONLY PART OF A MUCH BIGGER STORY – A STORY ABOUT DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFTS THAT WILL AFFECT ELECTIONS FAR BEYOND 2012.

REBECCA TRAISTER: Demographics are changing so swiftly in this country that everybody in every party, all of us, should be paying attention to it. Part of what you’re seeing right now, and what we’ve been seeing at large over the past couple of presidential election cycles is the country opening up to a kind of power and participation that is unprecedented in its 200-plus year history. So for about two centuries, you had one kind of person in this country who had political power, economic power, social power, sexual power, and that was white men. But what you see now is that complexion of the country is changing. And I don’t mean that just racially. I mean it also in terms of gender and sexuality and – and religion. This is terrifically unprecedented. And those people who are used to two centuries of sort of undisputed power are really kicking and screaming against it. That’s why you were having so many conversations about voter suppression, about trying to keep people from the– from the polls. A lot of these conversations felt like they were taking place, you know, before the Voting Rights Act in 1964, it was the last gasp effort to take us back before those social movements opened the doors to all these different kinds of people.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: IN THE DAYS LEADING UP TO THE ELECTION, SCENES OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY WORKING TOGETHER IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE SANDY — AND THEN PRAISING ONE ANOTHER — RAISED HOPES ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF GREATER BI-PARTISANSHIP. INDEED THE PRESIDENT STRUCK A CONCILIATORY TONE ON ELECTION NIGHT.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: A DAY AFTER THE ELECTION, HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER ALSO TALKED ABOUT COMPROMISE — EVEN ON THE MOST CONTENTIOUS ISSUE OF ALL: RAISING MORE REVENUE.

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: If there is a mandate in yesterday’s results, it is a mandate for us to find a way to work together on the solutions to the challenges we face as a nation.   For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions. What matters is where the increased revenue comes from, and what type of reform comes with it.

REBECCA TRAISTER: I do not think we can have another two years of the kind of paralysis that we’ve seen for the past two years. There is an awareness that something is not functional in Washington and I think there’s gonna be pressure brought to bear.

ADAM DARRELL: Everybody’s got an ego, and nobody seems to wanna give an inch.

JOHN LARSON: You mean like the two parties arguing back need forth–

ADAM DARRELL: The two parties, the two parties. I mean, you look at ‘em at a deadlock every day. And it’s sickening when people– people like us have to go to work every day and make compromises and deal with problems. And they seem to not budge.

REBECCA TRAISTER: I do think that this rather painful, drawn out election cycle and the painful, drawn out two years during which there has been so little movement and such an enormous amount of frustration about what hasn’t been able to get done. I wonder if we will not be at a breaking point with the American people.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: BUT PETER BAKER, WHO OBSERVES THE WORKINGS OF WASHINGTON UP CLOSE EVERY DAY SAYS THE PATH FORWARD IS COMPLICATED AND UNCERTAIN.

PETER BAKER: The voters were presented with a very stark philosophical choice — big questions. What is it that you want government to do in American society today? What is its role? How high, how low should taxes be? How much should we be spending? What is the proper relation between the government’s stimulating the economy or a new period of austerity given the sky high deficits we’ve got? And the voters decided to punt. They didn’t answer the question. They said stay with the same people – President Obama’s still in the White House, Harry Reid is still in charge of the Senate, John Boehner’s still in charge of the House. You guys figure it out, we don’t want to. And that’s left a very confusing message, I think, for policymakers in Washington about how they should move forward.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: THIS WEEK ONLINE…TAKE PART IN OUR WEEKLY POLL. THE TOPIC: THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK AND WHY. VISIT PBS DOT ORG/NEED TO KNOW.

JEFF GREENFIELD: Finally, sometimes an election serves not just as a choosing mechanism, but as a measurement—a way of assessing how our country has changed.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: IN 1948, FOR EXAMPLE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S EMBRACE OF CIVIL RIGHTS SENT SOUTHERN SEGREGATIONISTS OUT OF THE CONVENTION—AND BEGAN THE ALIGNMENT THAT HAS MADE THE ONCE-SOLIDLY DEMOCRATIC SOUTH OVERWHELMINGLY REPUBLICAN.

RONALD REAGAN’S VICTORY IN 1980 WAS THE MOST CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT DEMOCRATS HAD LOST THE AUTOMATIC ALLEGIANCE OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS.

JEFF GREENFIELD: And what about 2012? Well, most observers are pointing to its demographic message: that white voters are and will be less and less dominant; that African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians form a larger share of the electorate; one that the Republican party must find ways to talk to, or risk permanent irrelevance. But there’s another message from 2012—one that speaks volumes about the cultural shifts that have been roiling America for nearly half a century.

JEFF GREENFIELD [narration]: FOR INSTANCE: TWENTY WOMEN WILL BE MEMBERS OF THE NEW SENATE; AN ALL-TIME HIGH. IT IS NO LONGER EVEN NEWSWORTHY THAT BOTH SENATORS FROM A STATE ARE WOMEN: THAT’S TRUE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, WASHINGTON STATE, AND CALIFORNIA; AND FOR GOOD MEASURE NEW HAMPSHIRE ADDED A WOMAN GOVERNOR THIS PAST TUESDAY.

OR LOOK AT THE NATIONAL TICKETS OF THE TWO MAJOR PARTIES; A MORMON AND A CATHOLIC FACED OFF AGAINST AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND A CATHOLIC. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE WHITE PROTESTANT ON EITHER TICKET. FOR THE REPUBLICANS, PAUL RYAN REPRESENTED ONLY THE SECOND CATHOLIC EVER ON A GOP TICKET.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT? IT’S THE SAME STORY: ONLY CATHOLICS AND JEWS SERVE ON THAT COURT, ONCE CONSIDERED THE NEAR-EXCLUSIVE PROVINCE OF THE PROTESTANT ELITE.

NOW LOOK AT THE GAY MARRIAGE ISSUE. EIGHT YEARS AGO, GAY MARRIAGE BANS WERE ON THE BALLOTS OF 11 STATES. EVERY STATE ADOPTED THOSE BANS, INCLUDING OHIO—WHERE, IT WAS SAID, THAT ISSUE HELPED TURN OUT EVANGELICALS WHO GAVE GEORGE W. BUSH HIS MARGIN OF VICTORY THERE.
THIS PAST WEEK, THREE STATES APPROVED OF GAY MARRIAGE—NOT THROUGH THE COURTS OR LEGISLATURES, BUT VIA THE BALLOT BOX. AND ANOTHER STATE REFUSED TO BAN GAY MARRIAGE. REMEMBER—ONLY A YEAR AGO, PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS ISSUE.
ON THAT SAME ELECTION NIGHT, THE FIRST OPENLY GAY MEMBER OF THE US SENATE WAS ELECTED—NOT FROM NEW YORK OR CALIFORNIA, BUT FROM..WISCONSIN.

JEFF GREENFIELD: And in Colorado and Washington, voters approved the use of marijuana not for medical purposes, but for recreational use. This sets up a conflict with federal law, but it is the first time a state’s voters have said “yes” to the use of marijuana for purely personal reasons.
Now why is this happening? Maybe it’s the impact of the 60’s generation now approaching retirement with its challenge to traditional norms. Maybe it’s the impact of mass media, always more tolerant about diversity. But for whatever reason it is why some years ago, the famed conservative William F. Buckley told me in a public conversation that the culture war is over—and my side lost.” Had Mr. Buckley been alive, he would have looked at last Tuesday’s outcomes and said, “as I was saying…” That’s it for this edition of Need to Know. On our next program, we take a look at how vast sums of money may have changed the 2012 election. What – if anything – can and should be done about it? Ray Suarez will be with you then. I’m Jeff Greenfield. Thanks for watching.

 
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