American Democracy in the Wake of Trump: How Will Biden Govern?
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 12:50 – 2:00 pm
Zoom | Berkeley Law
*Scroll to the bottom of the page for transcription*
The November 2020 presidential election saw the largest voter turnout in history and the highest percentage of the electorate in 60 years. President Biden won by a substantial margin of the popular vote but the Democratic Party majority in the House of Representatives became narrower and the Senate resulted in a tie that can be broken by Vice President Harris. This program will discuss how President Biden will govern in light of the relatively narrow margins in Congress and continuing political polarization in the country. UC Berkeley Associate Teaching Professor and presidential historian Terri Bimes will moderate the program with Thomas Mann, Resident Scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley and Steven Hayward, Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute and Lecturer at UC Berkeley.
Steven Hayward is an American conservative author, political commentator, and policy scholar. He is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and a visiting lecturer at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School. He was previously the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and was the inaugural visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013–14. From 2002 to 2012 he was the F.K Weyerhaeuser Fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, and has been senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco since 1991.
Terri Bimes is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, teaching courses on the presidency and the senior honor thesis writing seminar. Her past publications include articles on populism and presidential elections. She also directs the John Gardner Public Service Fellowship Program.
Thomas E. Mann is Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution and Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He held the W. Averell Harriman Chair at Brookings between 1991 and 2014 and was Director of Governmental Studies between 1987 and 1999. Before that, Mann was executive director of the American Political Science Association.
Terri Bimes: Welcome, my name is Terri Bimes. I’m an associate teaching professor in the Traverse Department of Public Policy – I’m sorry – of Political Science at UC Berkeley and this is this forum is called American Democracy in the Wake of Trump: How Biden will Govern. I thank the Berkeley Law School Public Policy and Law Program for hosting this event and the Institute of Governmental Studies and the Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research for being co-sponsors. Thanks also to Brad Barber and Drew Kloss for their help in putting on this event. Today is the last full day of president Donald Trump’s presidency, thirteen days after the January 6th capital riots, and we have less than twenty-four hours until Joe Biden is sworn in as president. Two goals in today’s panels is: looking at what will be the effects of the trump presidency on the state of politics and also democratic governance more generally and second looking at how the events of the last two weeks will impact Joe Biden’s first hundred days. We are honored to have two excellent panelists today who can help us understand these issues and put them in historical context. Tom Mann is a distinguished affiliated scholar with the Institute of Governmental Studies. He’s also the senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He’s published many books, but two of note that you may be interested in checking out, one is “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism,” which he co-authored with Norm Ornstein and a second book, “One Nation After Trump,” which was co-authored with E.J Dione and Norm Ornstein. Steve Hayward is an author, political commentator, and policy scholar. He’s a lecturer in the Berkeley Law School and two books of his that you may want to check out are “The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980” and “Churchill on Leadership: Executive Success in the Face of Adversity.” So those books could be very relevant in today’s discussion. So I’m going to ask questions and I’m hoping that the audience will will put your questions in the chat function and we’ll try to incorporate your questions as we go along. So my first question is: Mitch McConnell has indicated that he thinks Donald Trump is a drag on the Republican Party while other republican members of congress are positioning themselves to be the heir to Trump. What happens to the Republican Party post-Trump, and more poignant to this audience at the law school, how does the conservative legal movement deal with the aftermath of the Trump presidency? Are there lessons for the movement? I’m going to let Steve take the lead and then we’ll go to Tom. And I ask each of the panelists to try to limit yourself to four minutes.
Steven Hayward: Well thank you Terri, I’m gonna run a stopwatch here and try and be good. So well, the first half of your two-part question is a little tricky to figure out. So the dilemma for Republicans is Donald Trump has arguably, I think, probably expanded the base of the Republican Party to some extent while losing some parts of it and is it net larger or will it be left net larger than it was before his arrival five years ago. You know he did bring a lot of democrats to cross-party lines. I recommend to viewers who are interested read the book by John Shields and Stephanie Murobject that Tom’s friends at Brookings published called “Trump’s Democrats” and will they stay with the Republican Party and another candidate obviously there are people like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and most famously who are trying to position themselves to be the successor to Trump with varying degrees of success. Actually that’s, I think, you’d say not success. And meanwhile republicans, as we know, lost some suburban voters over this last four-year cycle and are they going to be able to get them back or have they lost a lot of them for good? That’s a longer running story the erosion of republican strength in the suburbs goes back at least to Bill Clinton in 1992 I think you’d say. So a lot’s going to depend, I think, and we’ll come back to this in your second question – I think second question said Terri – is how’s this impeachment business going to play out over the next six weeks, six months depending on how that happens? And then the related question is is whether Trump is going to fade away, you know, like old soldiers, like Macarthur said or whether he’s going to try and stay in the mix? The mischievous part of my soul, if I were a democratic strategist, would be on the phone with Twitter saying “Could you please turn trump’s twitter feed back on?” because, you know, that is the the way he stirs things up and he’s got that find some other way to stay in the spotlight without it, which he may well do we’ll see. So I think right now the republican leadership is completely uncertain as to exactly what it’s gonna mean and how things might fall out going forward. Now the the narrow second question is, you know, the federal society, the conservative movement, those are overlap but distinct things. I think the – first of all I do want to make clear for people who don’t necessarily follow this, the federal society is not like the ABA, you know they don’t rate judges or judicial candidates, they don’t propose or lobby on legislation – and one of things I’m going to be interested in seeing is, you know, their annual conferences they have every year in November typically have a lot of liberals come to debate with the conservatives that form their core, so Cass Sunstein has come, Jeff Rosen, and going down a list of people who’ve participated in federal society meetings. I wonder if that will continue or whether there will be a boycott or reluctance for people to continue those kinds of debates and conversely will the American Constitution Society, which is the sort of smaller liberal counterpart of the federalists, will they continue to invite conservative speakers to come? We’ll see about that things are you know pretty bitter and at the moment the wider conservative movement is, you know, that’s, you know, they got their nose been on a joint five years ago because Trump won the nomination without them – in fact against the opposition of most parts of the conservative movement – and of course they mostly fell in line behind him and now I think the same uncertainty that people like Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy in the house face is also afflicting all the main conservative activists and intellectual groups. So to see how things shake out is the position I’m taking at the moment. So I’ll stop there and let Tom get in his licks.
Terri Bimes: Great, thanks, thank you.
Thomas Mann: Wow, Steve, three minutes and a cheery I think assessment overall for the republicans and the conservative movement. Mine is a little more pessimistic, but perhaps not in the short term what will happen but but over the longer course. I mean we’ve just survived an attempted coup and had a violent insurrection in the capital. One might think it’s a sign of strength that we survived it but it’s important to remember that Donald Trump incited this this insurrection and Donald Trump would have been impossible without the Republican Party. Steve it’s not that they supported him as he sought the nomination, it’s that he wanted over them and then they became enablers. Donald Trump wouldn’t have become as destructive and worrisome had he faced the first branch of government through its majority party that was in a position to basically constrain what he might do. I think Mitch McConnell is a very practical political leader and he figured “Trump’s gonna be with us, we’re gonna get whatever we can of our agenda through with him.” That meant tax cuts, judges, and a reduction in regulations and and basically we’ll try to keep any damage occurring to the Republican Party itself. But in McConnell’s case there’s no love of Trump, he’s sort of embarrassed by his behavior and rightly, so Trump now by gallup terms has had the lowest public approval ratings since polls began in the 1930s and he’s ending it at a low point for himself by gallup thirty-four. He has a a very loyal and strong base but it’s a, it’s only a part of the electorate and it’s a slightly larger part of the Republican Party. But when push comes to chug trump could not win national elections without all of those republican identifiers voting for him even if they disliked him and I think that’s part of the problem that we face. So the the real question in my mind is can American Democracy succeed with the Republican Party that has, for over a decade, really been an insurgent outlier and and and not fundamentally accepting truth and science of rejecting most of the inherited policy regime and basically despising its political adversaries. That’s negative partisanship and so democrats have returned the animus that’s for sure but but it’s in a position now to see if the Republican Party wants to associate itself from Trump or really be be in a position to break away and try to have trump be the dim memory that we once experienced and survived.
Terri Bimes: So just let me ask a quick follow-up: after the 2012 election loss in the Republican Party, there was a post-mortem that got a lot of attention. That advice was not really followed by Donald Trump. But but will there be like a post-mortem after this election where the Republican Party tries to shift directions after these last four years or will they sort of stay the course given that they picked up some seats in the house and, you know, close and did did pretty well at the state level?
Steven Hayward: All right very quickly I would think not for the simple reason, and you just put your hand, put your finger on it, below the level of the presidency the Republican Party did extremely well. I, you know, I’m tempted to taunt Tom who thought it possible, for a decent reason, that there would be a big blue wave and democrats were supposed to add seats in the house, they targeted and spent big money on state legislative chambers, and thought it likely to take the senate back and, you know, they got lucky that Trump helped them get the senate back of the Georgia runoffs. So, you know, below the level of Trump, the Republican Party, in fact I know a lot of republicans day after the election were delighted, they thought, you know, “Trump the albatross is now gone and the position of the party looks pretty strong.” So it’s a little different than the 2008, 2012 when republicans really got clobbered and had to rethink where their erosion with voters had been and it’s I think we still haven’t quite started out exactly what happened here. Is it really the case that a lot of voters split their tickets? The evidence on that looks to be mixed but so anyway wait and see.
Thomas Mann: Yes, Steve’s certainly right about about this election but if you turn back to where republicans were when Trump ran for and won the presidency and where they are now, it’s it’s not quite as good at any of those levels. They had a larger margin in the senate, they they had a a pretty nice margin in the house that then got collapsed in and destroyed in the midterm elections of 2018. Similarly, they’ve lost a little ground in in the state legislatures and governorships so it’s it’s up for grabs in many respects. It’s important what the congress does now, first of all with the impeachment trial. I think McConnell would love for Trump to be convicted, so as to send him off to his activities in Maralago and beyond without, without having to be dealt with within the Republican Party. McConnell wants to run the Republican Party and have the power and he’s not all that excited about being the minority leader. The two Georgia seats were were very important to him. It’s also going to be important to see whether the house acts to evict or censure or punish in some ways the the nuts in the house, the Q-anon sympathizers from Georgia and Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama who who was inciting the mob down on the mall on the sixth. I think it’s going to be important to see whether democrats feel a need, as well as republicans, to separate themselves, not just from Trump, but from the violent far right extreme groups who who have made a step they’ve uh a move they’ve never made before instead of bombing a government building in Oklahoma city or other selective matters. They really attack the capital and that’s of a different order and we’re going to learn whether the Republican Party is prepared to be a a serious governing party – not a marginal far right minor party like like we see in Europe – but in our two-party system whether they’re going to have the credibility to accept the laws and norms of this country and act as a governing party that actually has an interest with an agenda in governing is prepared to work with the other side and to accept and to accept the legitimacy of elections.
Terri Bimes: Right great, great. Great, well let’s get on to the second question. I see that – thank you to the audience for posting your questions in the chat function – it seems like a lot of them have to do with the Biden administration so I will draw upon them in the next next round of questions. The subtitle of this panel is how will Biden govern and I’d like to do a lightning round before I before I get into the meatier questions and so I’d like you to respond panelists with a yes or no whether these these events. these pieces of legislation will happen during the Biden administration. So the first one is: the end of the filibuster. Tom.
Thomas Mann: Yes.
Terri Bimes: Steve.
Steven Hayward: I think mostly no. They might perform it, but I don’t think they’ll get rid of it.
Terri Bimes: Statehood for D.C. and/or Puerto Rico.
Thomas Mann: Yes for D.C., uncertain on Puerto Rico.
Steven Hayward: Yeah I think likely not.
Terri Bimes: Court packing.
Thomas Mann: No.
Steven Hayward: No I agree with that. I don’t think that’ll happen either.
Thomas Mann: By the way, the court’s fully packed already. Trump and McConnell got a lot of judges appointed and they’re up to their eyeballs and judges no way —
Steven Hayward: No I was spending his FDR. FDR got all nine before he was done.
Terri Bimes: What about conviction of President Trump in the senate impeachment trial?
Thomas Mann: That’s a tough one. I think — what do you say Steve?
Steven Hayward: Flip a coin.
Thomas Mann: Yeah, I think that’s close. I think it’ll either be, you know, three republicans come along and vote with all democrats or or twenty plus republicans will join all the democrats. It partly depends on on what transpires in next week. What more we learn about about the president and the insurrection, but I could see a popular movement developing and remember the the Trump movement in terms of the popular vote – that is citizens who cast their ballots – is is still very much a minority party and government and we live in an era of minority control, but every once in a while majorities get worked out about something up about something. So I think it’s possible, but a coin flip is probably the best bet.
Terri Bimes: Great okay. So I’d like to take you a little bit more time to answer the next question: what impact do you think the January 6th riot on the capitol and Trump’s impeachment will have on Biden’s ability to pass his agenda in the first hundred days and will those events make it any easier to build bipartisan coalitions or will it distract from his ability to to really focus on his policy agenda? Why don’t we go Tom and then Steve on this one.
Thomas Mann: Okay, the context is certainly important. If if it were the same as when Obama came into to office, Mitch would do the same thing. His object would be to defeat Obama’s agenda as a way of regaining power – in the congress and eventually when when the White House. But, but it is different. One, the republicans could be in the midst of a Civil War, think 1861 and and that could lead to some cooperation among republicans including McConnell. I could see McConnell getting behind a COVID bill, a vaccine bill, public health bill as well as some jobs activities and trying to work see if some negotiations are possible on the first bill. But in the in the end I think there’s no market for bipartisanship among republicans beyond what I said that is a concern about the context, about the insurrection, about the impeachment will and and certainly COVID. So we’ll just have to see, see what’s going to happen. But but I believe that Biden will talk unity and and play Mitch’s hard ball when it comes to adopting the agenda. The one advantage he has is is that the stuff he wants to pass is actually popular in the country. He’s not asking them, he’s not worrying about deficits and tax increases right right now, although he’ll he’ll get to those on the upper one percent or 0.01 percent eventually. But the things he’s saying is “We’ve got a crisis, people are dying, four hundred thousand today. That mark was hit dying in the US from uh from the virus.” So I think I think that gives him room to advance an agenda that will attract some republicans and on one or two items that are important. McConnell may decide to bring his some of his troops along.
Terri Bimes: Steve do you agree with Tom?
Steven Hayward: Part of that, yeah. So yeah, the the capital riot business. You know I always like to think of what the historical parallels it might be. Tom mentions 1861, when I think you meant the Democratic Party was divided, of course right.
Thomas Mann: Yeah of course.
Steven Hayward: Right and I think I see part of that, the more modern parallel it’s it’s not quite the same at all but I think about the riots in Chicago in 1968 that so badly shook the democratic party and yet Hubert Humphrey rallied from 20 points down to almost win that election but it carried over after the election of course and those divisions in the Democratic Party that that was a part of this part of that story they festered for quite a long time I think. And so that may happen with republicans. I think republicans are shaken by what has happened, specifically and more generally with Trump, and that’s let’s see how that settles out. I think that’s connected to the impeachment question and, you know, I could say a lot about that. I’ll just say one or two things of possibilities which is I could see the whole thing going away in six months for several reasons. One of them is the public might say “Why are we going back to this?” depending on what else may be learned as you say Tom. It might also be if I’m a democrat – and I’m going to speak like a cynical, political operative here – why do I want to solve the republicans problem for them by giving him a chance to get rid of Trump once and for all? I think you, you know, I think you want to keep your opposition divided. So that’s one cynical way of thinking it through, we’ll see. On the spending question I think you’re quite right, you know, McConnell he’s always been a big spender. I’ve heard second hand he’s always said no senator ever lost an election because they didn’t spend enough money.
Thomas Mann: Right.
Steven Hayward: And in fact, you know, I remember doing my research for my Reagan book on his presidency finding Reagan complaining in his diary in 1986 about this gosh darn freshman senator from Kentucky who won’t uphold my vetoes of big spending bills. So I think you’re quite right, I think I think what’s happening here is pretty straightforward. I think Biden’s 1.9 trillion is an opening bid and I think plenty of republicans, especially McConnell, will be happy to go along with two-thirds of that amount and so they’ll be arguing over particular things about, you know, which particular interests and sectors are helped the most and so forth. And I do hear that the Biden people would like to pass the COVID relief bill by regular order which means subject to a sixty vote filibuster rather than using a reconciliation process which I bet they want to save for bigger things – the tax changes and stuff that are, as you mentioned, second part of it. So that’s that’s my analysis of the sort of state of the games that are about to unfold.
Thomas Mann: You know it’s it’s interesting it turns out, Terri, that that I think democrats are going to get two bites of the reconciliation apple because because the republicans didn’t use theirs in the last congress, we’ll wait to see. But I think they’re eventually going to be playing hardball on reconciliation and they may even need, if if it’s a matter of high importance to the democrats and republicans, just are determined to filibuster it. Joe Manchin now favors four trillion dollars for infrastructure spending. How about that?That’s the guy who doesn’t like the filibuster to be reformed. So I think many things are possible. What what I emphasize is think about what we have here – Joe Biden, you know, he ran for president twice before. He was the favorite but he was the status quo, centrist pragmatic type. The activists, the progressives were so disappointed and yet if you look at his appointments thus far and look at his agenda, and the agenda by the way is not just the coronavirus and the economic recovery it’s also racial justice and climate change and he is pursuing an exceedingly ambitious agenda. If the country feels it’s it’s really in trouble, he may, he’d probably like to use 1933 and Franklin Roosevelt as the model for for his presidency. Unfortunately he doesn’t quite have the numbers in the congress to to pull that off immediately but I think it should tell us that we shouldn’t expect business as usual in the congress. I think Mitch’s will just kill it. It doesn’t, it doesn’t matter, no one cares if we kill legislation and I don’t think he can do that. Something, several things historic have happened. We’re not going to forget January 6, 2021 for a long long time. We’ve had a racial injustice awakening and we’ve had a, the resurrection of the white supremacists in this country and they have arms and they’re ready to be violent and they’re aligning with other fringe extremist groups and this this changes our politics. There’s not going to be much normal about it which means you probably can’t trust what Steve and I are saying.
Terri Bimes: Just a quick follow-up on one point there, well maybe two, well I’ll just say this, Tom, we can argue about this later: and yet Trump somehow got the highest share of the non-white vote of any republican in sixty years, which still ought to be a puzzle to an awful lot of people. I have lots of thoughts on that, but I’m watching for one phrase tomorrow in the inaugural address, Tom, that bears on your point. The phrase that’s we’ve heard talk about New Deal too or new whatever, the other phrase that’s been bubbling around for a while now and is “the great reset.” A lot of people in Europe are saying this, a lot of bankers are saying this. I’m going to be watching to see if Biden uses that term in his inaugural address tomorrow and that’ll be a sign that you’re right he’s going to put the pedal to the metal on a progressive agenda.
Thomas Mann: Sorry.
Terri Bimes: You might be able to get your point in. This that this is a related question: what, this is from one of our audience members, what does the Biden administration need to accomplish, to prevent radicalizing more members of the Republican Party? You know, will he’s proposing all these very progressive policies, does he risk alienating and radicalizing more republicans with those agenda items?
Thomas Mann: They don’t need anything from Biden to further radicalize. We’ve had a over a decade of the radicalization of the Republican Party. It’s been well traced. There’s these two guys in Washington almost a decade ago who who who tried to argue, without convincing Steve, that the republicans were were a radical insurgency in our politics and I think it’s it’s really played out quite uh quite actively. If you look at what Biden is proposing, it’s all popular. It’s not he’s not proposing to take people’s private health insurance away from him, from them. People think some of the things government does is really terrific and ironically even some of the Trump lovers associate with social security and medicare and government doing the stuff they’re supposed to do. We’re talking about a culture war here and performative positions that republican state– Steve I think the answer your question about about Trump increasing the the non-whites is that is that there’s a culture war going on and some African Americans and Latinos are conservative on some of the culture issues. All the while the country as a whole is moving is moving leftward and is much more, much more tolerant so well I’ll stop there.
Steven Hayward: Well, you know, to quote my favorite president , “There you go again Tom.” You know, I’ve long one I’ve long wanted to do my own quantitative analysis that will generate the exact opposite result of the famous curve that you and Norm did but I would point people to, you know, the Pew, I think, the Pew survey people on their measures of polarization. I think they conclude that democratic members of the house for example, actually it’s the public they measure, I think house members follow the public that the polarization of opinion shows that liberals have moved further to the left than republicans after the right and fight about that all day long. My witness for this– well put it this way: how about a democrat who once said in voting against the Humphrey Hawkins full employment bill back in the seventies. That was a really watered down bill it didn’t do very much, but this senator who voted against it said “Senator Humphrey is not cognizant of the limited finite ability government has to deal with people’s problems.” That was Joe Biden who voted to cut capital gains taxes that year, voted for all the Reagan tax cuts, and was endorsed for re-election in 1978 by guess what? Howard Jarvis. Now Biden’s great superpower is he, and why he is where he is, is that he’s always inhabited the center of the Democratic Party. He knows which way the party is moving and he moves that direction. All those old things, and by the way remember he was also moderately pro-life at one point too, and so the point is is just track Joe Biden’s path and you’ll see how the Democratic Party has moved. What was it I was going to say about all that? I forget what, something but–
Thomas Mann: You want me to respond and/or maybe Terri doesn’t want me to but I just fundamentally disagree with Steve um on this. I’ve actually entered, been involved in, public discussions with pew and it turns out they’re measuring in many respects not the the extremity of positions but the consistency of positions on both sides. It turns out a lot of Americans are inconsistent – they believe in a conservative position on one thing and a liberal on on the other that said: if you look at the extremes of the two parties – one we shall go unnamed here. You know gets itself involved in insurrections overturning the government that thinks climate science is a hoax that accepted Trump’s lies for four years, that enabled want to be autocrat and kleptocratic and who brought to Washington the worst administration we’ve seen in our in our lifetimes, while democrats are looking like a sort of center or even center-right party to beef up the safety net a bit. I mean the Republican Party, as I as I said before and there’s been a lot of scholarship on this – Pippa Norris has summarized all of it – but the Republican Party looks like no other center-right party in democratic politics. It looks like the extreme, sort of far right, who are annoying but aren’t in power.
Steven Hayward: One more little thing – a very rifle shot point Norm, sorry Tom, Norm it’s easy to confuse you two guys right? Here’s something nobody knows: basic energy research spending under the Trump administration doubled. I think it’s basic materials research spinning on the national labs. I’m not sure the Trump administration knows that was happening but it did, I just actually did. I know what I was going to say, Terri, about the riot business. You know things can change in a hurry and I was just recently going through some of the literature from the early sixties about the radical right. A lot of the language now was around the early sixties. See Stanley Moss, the attorney general of California, did his breathless report about the threat from the John Birch Society and within five or six years and even Lyndon Johnson was saying as late as 1965, “My great fear is the radical right.” Of course pretty soon it came from the radical left, no one saw that coming. I’m not predicting it necessarily, but it wouldn’t surprise me if occupy wall street comes back in some form or another, just because who would have predicted a Trump be a coronavirus. Who the heck knows what’s next? But don’t be so sure that the current narrative is the one that’s going to be determined what our future is because we’ve seen things surprise us before.
Terri Bimes: Do you think Trump will be out in the in the lead on those those efforts Steve?
Steven Hayward: Well I mean no. He’s not, look, he’s not a thinker right? So so–
Terri Bimes: But he’s a leader and he’s charismatic and a lot of, I mean–
Steven Hayward: He might, you know, I wouldn’t be at all surprised depending on how this impeachment business goes if he doesn’t keep very publicly open the idea of running again in four years and that’s the real wild card in things.
Thomas Mann: That’s one of the reasons why conviction in the senate is such a high-stakes matter. In my view, American democracy doesn’t work without two sort of mainstream governing parties who accept the legitimacy of their political opposition and are prepared to cut deals when it’s possible and necessary. So we will, we will, we will see. Trump is, in some ways, his disappearance would give the republicans an opportunity to rebuild and have some shred of chance of appealing to people under fifty years of age who are expect tolerance when it comes to matters having to do with personal reproductive rights and same-sex arrangements and other life life choices. Right right now it’s a generation lost and they’re going to be growing in size and some of those other republicans are going to be leaving. And Terri you asked early on, reminded us of Rice Priebus’s effort to have the Republican Party rethink and they said “Yeah let’s do it!” And then Steve Bannon and Donald Trump came along and they decided that we could win. There were enough still whites and white democrats who weren’t, who were macomb county-style democrats, who hadn’t yet made the move to combine with a mobilized cultural right to win an election. They haven’t been winning the popular vote in presidential elections. They won once, I believe, it was 2004 except without all of the others democrats have won, and this time Joe Biden won by seven million plus votes. So republicans with its present posture can take advantage of the opportunities provided by our non-majoritarian elements of our constitution, including the electoral college, the apportionment of the senate, single member districts, the appointment process and length of term of members of the supreme court. They can take advantage of that and make a big difference but eventually if that bigger part of the electorate sees nothing to appeal to it, then they’re going to be having a hard time doing it. So I hope they make the change.
Terri Bimes: Good. A question from our audience is about building on some of the, you know Steve you said that Trump received the highest share of non-white voters. I haven’t seen that number but why, this this audience member wants to know why have minorities been voting more republican elections? Will that trend continue? And why did that happen especially when you think about Trump’s rhetoric?
Steven Hayward: Yeah, so well several reasons. One is – and this has been very poorly, not it hasn’t been reported at all – the Trump campaign did a superb job of reaching out, especially new hispanics and I could go through some of the very technical things that they did. I’ll just mention one: for example they didn’t just do Spanish language radio ads, they actually went so far as to find out what radio stations do Hondurans listen to and Guatemalans and they got someone to cut the radio ads for those stations who had a Honduran dialect as opposed to just a generic Spanish speaker. And I don’t think republicans had ever done that before and I think there’s other parts to it. By the way– and then the question is the incompetence of not figuring out their weakness with suburban white voters which is really where they lost the election. I also think– Tom put a finger on a little bit, I put a little more broadly, about a lot of minorities are culturally conservative. And you know there are surveys showing, for example, that a lot of Hispanics have never heard of the phrase Latinx or Latinx, however you use it, and the ones who do hear about it don’t like it. I think that an awful lot of the racial consciousness Tom was talking about – is a controversial thing to say – is actually much more fervently held by white liberals than it is by a lot of minorities. Now I say Trump had the highest share, it’s still thirty-three percent of Hispanics which doesn’t world beating. And you know fourteen percent of black males and ten percent of black females, gender gap there, but those are higher numbers than you’ve seen for quite a long time.
Terri Bimes: Yeah even George W. Bush – I thought George W. Bush did–
Steven Hayward: Supposedly he did very well in Texas in certain states. The thing about Trump is he did, but he improved the Hispanic share everywhere, even in California. And so I think a lot of, you know, for certain number of minorities they don’t they don’t they’re not bothered by Trump’s personality. Some actually like it I think.
Thomas Mann: You know, Terri, we won’t really know what those numbers are until we get the verified vote counts. We depend upon exit polls and precinct returns and the rest. Where we know there was big change was in Dade County Florida with the Cuban Americans and on the South Texas border there were there were issues that really riled them up and there was effective campaign efforts by trump. So, but in the, basically the numbers, it’s still the case that the the turnout of blacks in Georgia made a real difference, okay? We can look at the percentage changes, you know, they may have been left. But if you if you really look, democrats would have lost their seats in the closest races had there been a serious loss of support among non-whites. It was marginal and Steve may be right, they may be on to something. But but my guess is unless they can appeal to young people, that’s where the Latinos are and unless they hide their white supremacists they’re never going to move beyond ten or twelve percent among African Americans.
Terri Bimes: The last question I have for both of you is to sort of come back and get the the bigger picture about, you know, what are the implications of the Trump presidency for democratic governance? Several political scientists have claimed that President Trump is a weak president. At the same time, many political scientists and others worry that Trump, President Trump, has endangered democracy. Now we can believe both of those things at the same time but I want to hear each of your thoughts on what kind of long-term impact has President Trump had on American Democracy and really be concrete in your in your explanation please. And let’s start off with Steve first and then we’ll end with Tom.
Steven Hayward: So I think there’s a beginning of an answer to this comes in two parts. One is the more precise nature of executive power. You know I have to say I always found it amusing when Trump would do these signing statements in the White House and he’d pull up a thing he’d hold it up or he’d signed it and some of them were consequential and some were purely symbolic, but it raised the question that’s been boiling for a while. I mean for a couple of decades now at least and will carry over into President Biden and beyond, which is, you know Obama called that he had a pen and a phone, you know, how much can be done on executive authority? How much discretion has been ceded by congress to the executive branch? This has become a very lively issue with the supreme court signaling for several years now that they’re interested in rethinking and tweaking maybe substantially how much deference the judiciary gives to executive agencies. And so I think, you know, as President Biden moves to undo things by executive action, we may see some interesting wrinkles come along because the courts did constrain Trump on several areas and some of those same constraints may apply to what Biden does. I’m thinking especially the DACA business. And so the point is: Trump maybe, I had hopes actually that Trump would provoke congress, doesn’t matter which party was running it into reclaiming some more of its prerogatives. The the second part of the question is about Trump endangering democracy. I think that many aspects of that argument are overwrought but there’s no doubt that he shattered what we call the informal but nonetheless important norms of how presidents are supposed to behave and how they’re supposed to conceive of their relationship with the American people. How they’re at least supposed to try to speak on behalf of all the people, even if their governing agenda is more partisan or ideological. And, you know, Trump that that’s just not Trump’s vibe right? That was not his thing. And I think that, I don’t know if it endangers democracy but it certainly does contribute so they did contribute may continue to contribute to the polarization of opinion in the country which was already barreling along in a bad direction all by itself.
Terri Bimes: So Steve let me just push back on immigration. You know was that because the there wasn’t really a, you know, the fact that that the Supreme Court did not uphold Trump’s overturning of DACA was that it wasn’t well justified? That, you know, they didn’t go through all the– they they didn’t provide enough justification that was needed to overturn DACA and they weren’t making a statement about presidential power when they turned that over it was more a statement about like “You just didn’t follow the process right.”
Steven Hayward: Yeah I mean I thought– I’d have to go back and look. I thought what they said was he didn’t actually go through the formal rule-making process–
Terri Bimes: Right.
Steven Hayward: Turn what Obama had done even though Obama’s original DACA ruling was, I guess, based on prosecutorial discretion and some other things.
Thomas Mann: Right.
Steven Hayward: I’ve lost a little fine points on all this and I thought “Okay that’s interesting.” And there were several there’s several other decisions. I mean one of the early courts – I’m not sure got the – he did get Supreme Court and they ruled a couple of times. One of them was: yeah he didn’t support, he didn’t give us good enough reasons. The census decision – that was another one. They struck down the the changes the Trump people wanted to make and how the census was conducted. And there I think they said “Yeah you haven’t given us, your reasoning is weak.” So yeah, they didn’t exactly say “You couldn’t do what you’re supposed to do, but you we need to tighten up the procedures for all this.” So that may be a step in the right direction as far as rethinking the scope of executive power.
Terri Bimes: But do you think, I mean, do you think the Supreme Court is really rethinking its stand on executive power or is it just a sort of a sort of more of a fine fine point putting a, you know, like “come back and if you do it right this time, you right, you know, if you follow all the all the rules you can definitely overturn DACA. You can definitely do, you know, make these changes.”
Steven Hayward: I think it’s both. I think the Supreme Court is wanting to rethink this, but of course remember the Supreme Court likes to do things in little steps. They don’t like to have big sweeping rulings and so that’s a real dilemma for everybody.
Terri Bimes: Yeah okay good. Tom what do you think?
Thomas Mann: I’m not surprisingly more worried about the state of American democracy than Steve is. I’m not surprised that we face some headwinds, again we’ve think we saw signs of that many years ago. Our politics has has changed and yes we’ve gone through different kinds of challenges to our democracy. Reading about the radical right in the fifties and the sixties, which was my wife’s PhD dissertation topic, and then and then following McCarthy and seeing Pat Buchanan and, you know, Father Coughlin going back in time. We’ve had we’ve had scary authoritarian-like uh figures – Charles Lindbergh and the like – but this is really the first time we’ve elected a president and had a majority party in congress that was prepared to let him do basically what he wanted to do as long as that he did their their bidding. And I think many people in this country, as well as around the globe, were terrified that American democracy was collapsing before our faith. I think we we’ve had a reckoning with ourselves, we’ve rediscovered the legacy of slavery and the overthrow of reconstruction and Jim Crow in our society and one way or another we’re going to we’re going to face up to it. I think we’re saved ironically by the courts in spite of all those appointments by Donald Trump. The court’s ending with its sixty of them deciding that Trump and his lawyers had absolutely no grounds, no evidence, no argument to contest the votes certified by the states and eventually counted in the congress. I think while the social media has been very problematic for American democracy – there’s, I mean there’s a whole bunch of people in this country who are convinced they know what’s happened to those poor children h at the behest of that Pedophile Hillary Clinton and there’s nothing we can tell them to the contrary and they’re finding their way to the congress and that’s worrisome – but overall, the media at least called Trump out. It didn’t, he figured out a way, he learned what or knew instinctively what autocrats around the world have done. If you tell a lie don’t just tell it once. The more you tell it, the more likely it is to believe. Finally, I think civil society helped us out. There was a mobilization before the 2018 midterm election and and that made a huge difference by giving a branch of congress to control by the out party and was the beginning, I think, of the end of the Trump presidency. I think what happens to our democracy is up is up for grabs. We came so close to it being so much worse. Pence could have been killed, Pelosi could have been killed, there could have been a lot of blood in the capital. We could have had, you know, a relatively small number of votes reversed in a handful of states once again as we did in 2016. Although at this time it would have given the victory of the candidate to the candidate who lost by over seven million votes. So there’s, we came close, there are shortcomings in the law affecting the transition that have to be changed. If we’re going to overcome this, two things have to happen: one is we have to have some accountability and Donald Trump needs more than just being held to a single term and I hope republicans in the senate see it as in the interests of their country as well as their own interests to convict him and keep them from serving in other federal office, offices. So that’s the one thing. It’s also going to be important for the house to deal with members who’ve been absolute traitors in their midst from what they’ve said and done and they ought to be held accountable. There are staff members and members of congress who are afraid to be around some republican members of the house who like carrying their arms wherever they go and talk about killing people. It’s it’s a little scary. We may need a truth and reconciliation commission, certainly the legacy of slavery is with us and there’s really just devastating research now. I read abstracts every day but that show if you want to see how people are performing in, say a neighborhood, just go look to see what Jim Crow had produced back in the the twenties and thirties and it it turns out where Jim Crow was weakest and, you know, the the people moving in had other opportunities and they are doing much better. Raj Chetty, the economist, has done tremendous geographical mapping of all of this. So we’ve got much to answer for, but basically the Republican Party has to change. If, I think, another term of Trump and I wouldn’t have I wouldn’t have certainly bet my retirement on America retaining its democracy. I think I think a civil war is– might have been more likely, so we have a lot of work ahead of us to keep our democracy.
Terri Bimes: Great. Steve did you want to respond to what Tom just said or no?
Steven Hayward: Just to one point. I like to let Tom go on sometimes. I do think – one particular point though – I can think of nothing worse than the house expelling a bunch of members, whatever you think of particular statements and things they did. And the reason for that is that, you know, unlike the senate, it takes several months to replace house members – you gotta have a special election, governors can’t appoint them. And I think you will enrage all Republicans who, because it will look like getting rid of members so you can pass things more easily out of the house. Right now Pelosi’s got a big problem – she’s got this very narrow margin of what ten votes or whatever it is, we’re still waiting on one one seat I think from New York, and you know one way to pass stuff is to get rid of twenty or thirty republicans. I don’t think that would go down very well and I think even a lot of independents would think that was dirty pool. So really bad idea.
Thomas Mann: Yeah you need only four or five of margins or so them. No, I agree with Steve, I think it’s better to censure and shame. By the way there was talk on the other side, you know, you kill a few Democratic members of the house and by god the majority shifts back to the Republican Party. So I think de-escalating is good, but I think you can’t allow the Marjorie Taylor Greens and our new member from Colorado who resisted going through a metal detector machine so she could carry her gun on the floor of the house. What’s come out of her mouth since being elected is is is so awful, at least bring the appropriatum of the Republican Party in the house upon her. We need a need a little spine for the for the Republican leader in the house. It’s time to censure or in some ways show show call collegial disapproval of of their behavior.
Terri Bimes: Great. One of our audience members is asking: “What what can Biden do to bring our country together after the last, you know, few months, last four years? And listening to a report this morning about people who voted for Trump and how they they still trust Trump – they they may not support the approve of the the riot on the capitol, but they still support Trump – how is does Biden, is is that beyond hope for Biden to reach out to those Trump voters? Or is that is there something that he can do that you would recommend?
Thomas Mann: I think there’s something he can do. So I want to give you give you a short answer: I don’t think he should invite Mitch to have bourbon or scotch with them because neither drink. I think I think the whole notion of reaching out is is is really verbiage. It’s said, “Because the public wants to believe a fraction of it that it would be good if people could come together.” What it can do is legislate on matters that are important to the lives of citizens. The management of the coronavirus pandemic has been disgraceful. It’s it epitomizes cachistocracy and Trump’s narcissism came to the fore. He got involved importantly at the beginning and pumping some federal money into vaccine research and that paid dividends, but but then it wasn’t fun anymore and he left it behind and and we got the vaccines but we had no serious distribution system. So grabbing a hold of that delivering a hundred million vaccinations in a hundred days sounds kind of hokey, but it’s an important goal to set and to for him to direct his team to do everything possible to meet, I also think getting money in the hands of the people that are in those vehicles we see in every one of our cities lined up for block after block, that are coming to food banks because they simply wouldn’t eat without it. We we’ve had a a K-shaped recovery. You know I haven’t been hurt financially during this and I don’t think Steve has but a good number of people, at least half, people have been thrown out of their jobs and lost their small businesses and and it’s a tragedy. So produce results so that you have a chance of not saying “Oh I love my opponents but but government is important to your lives and we’re gonna we’re gonna make it, tend to your lives and your agenda.” Pay attention, as Biden has said, to the entire electorate. Don’t, as Trump did, eliminate one color of states, but say you’re going to try to help everywhere and then act on it. That would eventually produce a very successful Democratic Party, even surviving a midterm election ,although that’s not a good call now because the margins are so thin, but in the end, I think. it would create a better a better Republican Party and we need that.
Terri Bimes: Steve, we have five minutes left so do you wanna– what what would be your advice for President Biden?
Steven Hayward: Yeah it it it’s gonna pain me to be partly parallel to Tom, except I’m gonna put it this way: I want to step back a little bit and draw our attention to the fact that the problem of severe polarization, which has been growing for years it’s not new at Trump or even Obama, I think it is related to a larger problem of our institutions in general public and private. So I always like to point to the gallop and pew and other pollsters who do what they call the “Trust question or confidence question.” And some of our viewers probably know this that, you know, back around 1960 when gallup started asking the question, seventy-five, seventy-eight percent of Americans said they had confidence or high confidence in the federal government to govern effectively. It’s been all downhill with a couple of brief back eddies. One of them that was sustained was under Reagan, but only got back about two-fifths of what had been lost in the sixties and seventies. And nowadays confidence the federal government will do the right thing is down around fifteen percent. Now it’s not just government, not just central government, it’s private institutions – the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, because of their scandals, banks, sports teams – there are very few big institutions that have held up very well in the last few years. The military is one of them and there’s maybe a lesson there because they focus on their mission of killing people and breaking things. The police, you know, they’ve been eroded a lot the last year for because of the various controversies. Nonetheless, the point I drop out of that for a president is: nothing succeeds like success. So yeah, if if the Biden administration get a handle on coronavirus and get the vaccines out faster. And then I think, by the way, I think there’s going to be an economic boom. A lot of reasons why I think that, regardless of what stimulus may be done. Then he has a wind at his back and I mean lots of criticism I think about what he’s doing a lot of things he’s gonna do, I don’t like the looks of very much. But that’s the big problem is how can you how can Americans regain some trust and confidence in their institutions across the board? I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know how to do it. Success helps some but I think this is a much broader problem than, I don’t know just polarization, I think it’s the most serious problem we have frankly.
Thomas Mann: And Terri, we’re actually agreeing on a number of things. Trust in government is a is a huge problem and we’re likely if we pass the stimulus that Biden will propose, have a real economic recovery not a tepid one when Biden couldn’t get– I mean Obama couldn’t get a a second and third stimulus going. We had steady increase in in in in employment, and that was a good thing, and modest increase in GDP, but that was, I think, the consensus among mainstream economists is that we did too little not that we did too much in terms of helping the economy. But this is a different kind of economic distress it we don’t need to stimulate demand. There’s a lot of demand waiting to have an opportunity to to go buy things and and and so on but we’ve got to get the economy up and running and then it’s going to roll so Biden may be fortunate to have a midterm elections with a with a really growing economy. The second thing though, well it’s it’s not it’s it’s an elaboration of the trust, where this comes from. Many many reasons – we’ve always had mistrust in this country and Jim Wilson, one of our dear friends and colleagues, departed some years ago reminded us that we were using as a baseline for measuring trust of the post-World War II era when the economy was booming and we had won the war and defeated the bad guys but then something happened that we had a real end to Jim Crow. We had a Civil rights act and a voting rights act and and politicians some politicians started seeing that there was some resentment among the uh the larger white citizenry that too much of the economic activity was going to the benefit of those who don’t deserve it and that became a theme of our politics and has never left us. I was present when Newt Gingrich first came to congress. Norm and I had him and other members of the class of seventy-eight and a small discussion group that met over dinner eight or ten times and I got to know Newt very well, but he was clear, he was a Rockefeller Republican who saw the handwriting and the changes and was tired of the republicans being in the minority and so he said “The best the best hope for us is to absolutely demonize the congress and the government and the people who control it.” And Newt made an art of that and it became really a part of the toolbox of of the Republican Party. Grover Norquist picked up the pace after a while, but obviously it’s much more than that. Now there’s discontent of the republicans you know by democrats and vice versa it’s it’s more than that. But I do think when you demonize government, expecting anything other than a drop in trust in government is kind of insane. It’s a result of a political strategy to gain and and a hold power and all we can do is is try to call it out as as performative and not substantive and does nothing to help the lives of of Americans and that’s the goal of politicians who want who want being a member of congress to be about something, to be solving some problems, who don’t believe in in a libertarian world in which government’s main job is to get out of the way and let the economy roll. It’s to become a little bit more understanding and generous and smart and. So innovate and and improve productivity and make the economy grow but understand we’ve got twenty, thirty percent of this country, certainly of kids, living in in deep poverty and they don’t have much of a chance of doing anything about it. Imagine if we were able to bring most of those into the the the middle class. I mean there’d be we would be one powerful economic machine and frankly we’d have some moral authority in the world. We’ve we’ve lost most of ours over the last four years and so we have a lot of work to do.
Terri Bimes: We do have a lot of work to do and unfortunately we’ve come to the end of our seminar. So I want to thank Steve and Tom for coming today and offering us your insights into politics and and what the future of of the, you know, what the Biden presidency is going to look like, and what are the ramifications of the Trump presidency. I hope that we can continue the conversation. I know the law school and the is thinking about doing more of these kinds of forums and I– well anyways, I urge, if uh the audience members if you have ideas for future forums if you could just put those in the chat we’d love to hear your ideas. And I’m sorry we did not get to more of your questions, but I hope we can answer some of them in future seminars. So thank you so much take care everybody. Bye-bye.