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Before that, we'll talk about Trump's embrace of the violence and chaos in Kenosha and Portland. Joe Biden's response and his return to the campaign trail in the latest covid developments, including the race to produce a vaccine before the year's over.
Tommy is out today. It is his birthday. So happy birthday, Tommy.
Happy birthday, Tom. Love it.
You had a love it or leave it over the weekend. How was it? John was great.
We had we had some day. I'm going to ask you that. You're going to be like I was pretty mediocre. Listen, they can't look.
They can't all be they can't all be perfect. No, this is a great episode.
We had Kara Swisher came and judge the monologue and shared a story about Kim Guilfoile. Back in her days from San Francisco, Alex Morris talked about his primary against House Ways and Means chair Richie Neal. We had Alicia Garza to talk about the protests and Guy Branum and Erin Ryan joined to talk about the convention. It was great. Up, great up.
One quick note before we start. The conventions are over and a lot of states have less than one month to finish registering voters ahead of Election Day.
Earlier this year, Votes Save America teamed up with Powerpack to launch the every last vote fund, which supports aggressive on the ground efforts to mobilize black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities who are routinely the victims of targeted voter suppression efforts. They support groups like Souls to the Polls in Wisconsin, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and many more in the battleground states where we need to win. So far, you've all raised over four hundred thousand dollars. Please help us reach our goal so we can make sure that every last vote is counted.
Go to vote. Save America. Dotcom's every last vote to donate and learn more Tuesday is also national poll worker recruitment. Day comes earlier every year. We are working to recruit 10000 poll workers. If you are healthy and able, please consider signing up to be trained and work as a poll worker at your polling location. You can find all the information you need again, vote Save America dot com.
So let's get to the news.
On Saturday night, a caravan of Trump supporters drove into downtown Portland over the objections of law enforcement. Many were armed. They started fights and they shot tear gas and paintballs at protesters and journalists. One person was also shot and killed. He was a member of a right wing group, though the Trump organizers say he wasn't part of their violent caravan, a video of which was tweeted by Trump on Sunday with the words Great Patriots. Trump also liked a tweet that said, quote, Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why he decided to vote for Trump.
Rittenhouse is the right wing radical who's been charged with shooting and killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week. He also received support from a College Republicans chapter in Arizona, a Republican candidate, a Republican congressman and a number of right wing media figures.
Lovatt, why do you think Magga World has decided to rally around this particular teenager who can be seen on video shooting people?
Terrible question, John.
No, I think it goes to the same motivation that led Trump to have the St. Louis gun couple speak at the convention. It is a culmination of where the Republican Party has been and the conservative movement has been going for a while. You know, I said it as a joke, but it's also true, which is the fundamental message of having that that couple at the convention of what Trump is saying is basically, if you're white and afraid anything is justified, anything is justified to support Donald Trump, anything is justified against people you don't like.
Anything is justified to help your side.
And I think the reason they're doing this, if there's a if there's a kind of coherent reason, it is that they don't they want to talk about protests not as a access point to a conversation about race. They want to turn it to an access point, to a conversation about crime and chaos and violence and socialism. And as much as they can make this vigilante kid a hero, they are saying that the violence was justified because what these people are doing is radical, extreme, dangerous, violent, etc.
I think it's I mean, it's also it's grievance politics. It's like it's to me, it's cancel culture taken to its extreme conclusion. Like, here's this poor young kid charged with murder after defending himself from a mob and this Democrat runs city that's descended into chaos. And once again, the media is lying about what really happened because they're out to get conservatives. And so he becomes a symbol of how they're all victims. And in this society, like this is like a right wing cultural thing in their media, I guess.
Why do you think that in the coverage of all this, the discussion about what is clearly organized right wing violence just gets mixed in with a larger discussion about looting and. Destruction and general chaos and the protests, like it does seem to be a completely separate and very dangerous problem, but it all gets sort of mashed together. Yeah, it does. I mean, it's sort of a symptom of the larger ways in which false equivalence is created between what's happening on the right and what's happening on the left.
You know, this kid like. This kid drove from 30 minutes away from across state lines to defend businesses, really. He went there to be part of it. He went there to be part of the fight to have a chance to be on the right side, to have the chance to maybe pick a fight or have a violent altercation, to be in the mix, to be in the mix of this very exciting moment where violence on the right is justified.
Right. That's what's spreading on Facebook. That's what this kid is after.
You know, one thing I was noticing when I was thinking about these this this sort of comparison that's being made is, you know, we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement.
We talk about the protest movement.
You think, well, who who's the leader? And the answer is it doesn't seem to be really one leader. There's a bunch of different leaders because in many ways is an organic movement that has grown up in response to a genuine harm, genuine pain, genuine systemic injustice that is manifest in police killings and then in a host of other ways. And then you think about what's happening on the right, well, who's the leader? We know who the leader is.
It's Donald Trump. Right. And so you look at what these two groups of protesters seem to want.
And on the on, though, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the the the the protesters on the street in Kenosha, they are protesting against specific harms and seeking justice.
What do the Trump vigilantes want? What do they want? They want to hurt those people. They want power.
They want domination. They want their side to win. They want to prove that that they're not going to give up control of in their minds.
I don't know.
You mean you talked about Rittenhouse traveling to Kenosha? The same thing happened in Portland on Saturday night, right. Like these this Trump caravan was organized in the suburbs. The police told them explicitly, do not go into downtown Portland. So they said right. Originally their route was to be around Portland just to drive through. Oh, we're just showing our support. No one did that. They did most of the caravan decided to go right into Portland because they wanted trouble.
They started fights. They shot tear gas. They are trying to find violence. Right. And part of it is just like everything so mixed up. You have you have a couple of different things going on in these cities. One is like a group of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests, which we have seen happening since June.
And these are mostly peaceful protesters. Then you have yeah, you have a few antifa elements here and there. You have some anarchists here and there. You have people who are looting here and there. Right.
And then you have organized right wing violence.
That is I mean, we've seen one hundred and eighty seven appearances of paramilitary and other far, far right actors at rallies nationwide from late May to early June. Most of the arrests in Kenosha have been of outsiders, something like 70 percent of the arrests there, outsiders. So these were people who are coming into Kenosha.
And it's like, you know, these these these groups are getting radicalized on Facebook. And this is not like the first time we've seen this in the Trump era. Right. I mean, we have been here like Charlottesville, the Tree of Life synagogue, the pipe bomber who tried to assassinate the Obamas and the Clintons, El Paso. And now this.
We have seen the rise of right wing violence time and time again over the last four years, since Donald Trump has been president. And should we be surprised with the rhetoric that he uses?
No, I mean, that's another thing. I also think you can, of course, go back further on these issues, of course. But even, you know, you think about the way in which the kind of right wing machine word up to defend George Zimmerman after the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. An earlier example of this kind of vigilantism. This is a this is a right wing machine, a propaganda apparatus that has been poised to defend a president like this, to help president like this in this kind of a kind of fascistic radicalization.
I think what what what is so scary about it is this isn't a top down instruction in the sense that the Trump campaign, the Trump administration, Donald Trump himself, is issuing specific diktats about what he wants to see in the formation of militias and the radicalization of his of his supporters. He simply sort of sends out just relentless incitement, relentless calls to violence explicitly, implicitly.
When the shooting when the looting starts, the shooting starts retweeting just sort of random acts of violence from black people, from out from a random black person against a random white person. Right. Just to say just to stoke the tensions and stoke the tensions.
And the goal is to you know, there's this term stochastic terrorism, which is what happens when and when when, you know, you know, a figure like Trump or an ideological group sort of puts out a bunch of information and just hopes lone wolves and random people kind of take up the mantle, never act, don't act at the direction of, but act at the behest of some kind of of of a terrorist organization or radical element.
And what we have here now, I think, is something like stochastic fascism, where Trump pumps out a bunch of hate, pumps out a bunch of misinformation, pumps out a bunch of of of calls to violence. And he just waits to see what happened and what's so terrifying all about that. Is that is that the decision is not in Trump's hands, once he does that, the decision is in the hands of a troubled 17 year old kid.
It's in the hands of a random person who's going to decide to take matters into his home hand.
It kind of takes it takes politics and it turns it violent and it puts it into the you know, what we talk about, what happens in the news, who lives, who dies, then becomes determined by some of the most troubled and broken people in our society.
And, you know, to all the if I can, both sides conversations out there, like show me a single elected Democratic official or one figure on the left, one figure on the left who stands up and encourages violence or incites violence the way that Trump has when the looting starts, the shooting starts when he tells people at his rallies to get aggressive with protesters, when he talks about the cops whacking someone's head, when they throw them in the car.
How many times has he done this? How many times?
And then at his convention show highlights a white, rich couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters and rewards them with a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, allows them to talk to the nation. What signal does that send to other people who might want to do them? What do you think? By the way, when the person with the biggest bully pulpit in the nation is saying that every day?
Yeah, I mean, those people are charged with the crime. He's he's relegating criminals, right. People who break the law to point guns and scare people and threaten to kill people.
I think what Jamelle Bouie said about this was it was just it was perfectly set, which is a president who speaks of shooting people in the street, who elevates those who threaten to shoot people in the street, cannot be separated from the individual who does eventually shoot people in the street. It is not that complicated. It's right.
And it's also it's also a mixed message for Trump politically.
So on Sunday, he tweets nearly a hundred times, tweets that included attacking Black Lives Matter protesters as agitators and thugs, accusing protesters of staging a coup against him, retweeted an own tweet that said that he then he attacked Democrats for not controlling the violence and celebrated his own violent supporters. At the same time, doesn't his support for right wing militia types and magga folks who fired tear gas at people sort of complicate his law and order message?
Yeah, you know, I actually asked Cornell Belcher about this. And it is a contradiction, right? You know, there's a contradiction in his messaging around race, which is compassionate, not racist. And by the way, the protesters are thugs and you're justified to point weapons at them.
He wants seem strong and in control and that he can stop violence while also encouraging violence on the part of his allies and stirring enough trouble to make it the central issue of 2020. Right. He wants to say, like, I'll stop the violence, but look at all this crazy violence. Don't talk about covid. He says Joe Biden encourages violence. And then he says, check out these vigilante heroes. Check out check out these violent heroes. He says, I'm very strong and very tough.
And then he says the media is being mean to me. Right. He does these things over and over again. There's just everything he says has a contradiction in the point Cornell makes is that sometimes that can be effective. Right, because sometimes can be effective to have two competing messages at the exact same time. Right. He can speak to one group of people and says, oh, no, I'm not racist. You can speak to another group of people and says, let's beat the crap out of them.
Yeah, I mean, the problem comes when they start mixing them together. Like, I think the campaign made a huge mistake when Kellyanne Conway went out there and said the more violence, the better it is for Trump because she gave up the game. Similarly, Kayleigh McEnany was asked if Trump would specifically condemn the violence perpetrated by Kyle Rittenhouse, and she said she wouldn't she wouldn't do it.
He wouldn't condemn the violence. She said he's not going to get into that.
So on the on the day that after days of Trump and people on the right saying Joe Biden is not condemning the violence, Joe Biden is not doing enough, condemn the violence. And then Joe Biden goes out today and we'll talk about this in his speech and sort of condemns the violence. And Trump chooses not to condemn the violence of his own political supporters. And I just think you can't you can't run on a message that you're going to control the violence and that it's all the Democrats fault when you don't say anything about your own supporters and you in fact, you actively encourage them.
You know, it's just it's a completely mixed message. I mean, like there is you know, we'll talk about sort of the polling I know you talked about with Cornell. Like, the problem for Trump is there is polling evidence that support for Black Lives Matter protests has declined and concerned about violence and looting has increased. It's mostly among white voters and Republicans, and it's particularly in swing states like Wisconsin.
But the same polling, the same polling shows that views of how Trump is handling race relations and public safety and crime have stayed the exact same, the exact same. So when it is about Trump, when Trump gets involved in the equation, people negative partisanship kicks in and people start realizing that like he has not. Done anything to fix these problems because he's been the incumbent for the last four years, and that's why I'm so even as even his attitudes might shift a little bit about the protests themselves and the violence in the city's attitudes about how Trump has handled them are just not changing at all, at least so far.
It could change, but.
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, there has been a few people that have pointed it out that fear that this issue is shifting is not necessarily justified by the polling yet. I don't think that's a reason not to sort of ask these questions. I think you're right. Right like that. Biden's approval is not tied to the approval of the protests, but at the same time, approval of the protests overall has shifted. And it's also true that the further we get away from the Republican convention, I find it hard to imagine the lingering memory of Donald Trump.
Nice guy antiracist will stay in people's minds, given what he's saying. But at the same time, it does seem like what Trump wants to do is two things. One, he wants to make protests about crime, not race.
And he wants to talk about protests because he knows as much as this is a mixed bag for him as an issue, it is a better issue for him than the ongoing economic crisis and pandemic that has leveled the country.
And so figuring out, you know, this is something that Cornell talked about as well, but making sure that that we as Democrats are talking about both. Right. Not ceding the territory on issues of race, not ceding the territory on what's taking place in the cities, while at the same time making sure we're making an argument around what's going on in the economy, what's going on in the pandemic.
Yeah, and it is a coverage issue, too, because remember in June when the numbers for Trump were horrible on these issues and Biden, you know, had basically his biggest lead of the campaign, what were we seeing on TV? We were seeing mostly peaceful protests then. We were seeing police brutality, not just, you know, in the killing of George Floyd, but against protesters every day. And we were seeing Trump trying to gasp peaceful protesters right now.
And we weren't seeing as much. We were seeing some of it, especially on local news. We weren't seeing as much looting and destruction and stuff like that as time has gone on. Right wing media has basically been playing scenes of destruction and looting on loop twenty four hours a day and we haven't seen as many images of peaceful protests, even though they're continuing. We just haven't really seen that break through to the media coverage. And we had a week at the Republican convention where Trump was actually relatively disciplined in his own messages about this because he didn't say much during the week and then his speech was scripted afterwards.
Now, that's gone. Now, Trump, as we saw over the weekend, is tweeting one hundred times about saying all kinds of horrible things. So the old Trump is back and we'll see what that means for how opinions form on this.
He over the weekend took a made sure he said protesters your ass.
It's just it takes like one day to get back to normal. You're seventy two. But it was like seventy two hours and he was back off the fucking wagon. You mean.
You mean he means protesters my ass. I couldn't understand that. I think he meant to say protesters.
Protesters my ass. They're rioters, they're on TV. But I think he saw the phrase my ass and he thought I'm not talking about my ass.
I don't care what expression your ass out there, your ass.
I'm sensitive about my ass.
I'm sensitive, but my, my, my, my shape famously. That's why my suits are so below your ass. I'm not talking about my ass. I'm the president.
I'd say America is brought to you by Stamps.com as we slowly adjust to a new normal slowly, how much fucking time do we need? It's been it's been six months, John.
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You know, given all the problems that have been going on, it's really about time that he got postmaster specific. That a joke? I don't know. Keep going. Stamps.com, Ventracor Cricket Podgy America's brought to you by Neum. There's no question the 20 20 is piling on the stress of the election and everything else in the news.
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Let's talk about how Joe Biden is handling all of this, so ever since George FOID was murdered, Biden has praised peaceful protest and condemned any kind of violence or destruction, he said many times. But Trump and the right wing media and, you know, a good number of Twitter pundits have decided that Joe Biden must say that again. He must say it more. So he spoke today in southwestern Pennsylvania. And on Sunday, he released a long statement that condemned the violence, but also pointed out that Trump is recklessly encouraging violence.
He said in his speech today, quote, Trump may believe that tweeting about law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is. Does anyone believe there will be less violence if Trump is re-elected?
What do you think about Joe Biden's message on the protests and violence and Trump's role in both?
I really appreciate it. I thought the statement he put out over the weekend was so strong and so simple, I. I decry violence on the left and on the right. I call on Trump to do the same. Basically he won't. I think the speech today reaffirms that and then also makes sort of a larger, sort of more hopeful argument about the comparison. You know, I think it's the right thing.
I think he's doing the right things that, you know, I don't I say that not just not not like sort of looking at the cross tabs, but just as someone observing what he's saying, I think it sounds right. It feels like it's meeting the moment.
It's it's it's a statement about how sad and broken our politics is generally that we're in this debate right now about what Joe Biden needs to do to decry violence. Right. I mean, you know, all these sort of right wing pundits say that, you know, Tim Miller wrote a piece about this in the wall work that all these right wing pundits, especially the ones that like to keep Trump at arm's length, they want to have a debate about everything other than Trump.
Right. They want have a debate about everything other than Trump inciting violence.
And one example that I thought actually spoke to just how how much of a kind of bias there is against Democrats in this debate.
Is Laura Ingraham right? She has one of the biggest platforms of conservatism. She and Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity every night sort of fanning the flames of right wing violence, said why hasn't Joe Biden spoken out sooner against violence? And she linked to the statement from March.
She linked to the old statement because he's been doing it over and over again. They are relying on short memories. They are relying on misinformation. They relying on smears of Joe Biden, because I think Joe Biden has been kind of pretty consistent on his message for the better part of a year, if not longer.
Yeah, I mean, I thought it was a very strong speech today from Biden, and I think it was strong because it could have been purely defensive sounding. Right. Everyone told Joe Biden what was the right tone, Joe Biden, even though it was bad faith, and then he had a bunch of Twitter pundits and then you had the George Packer piece. Biden must go to Kenosha. Right. And everyone.
So they they all told him that he needed to. You must say that you condemned the violence and he did. Right. He said from the speech, writing is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. It's lawlessness, plain and simple.
He also had a pretty funny line in the speech, I thought, where he said, ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?
Really everybody? That is one of the things that everyone just left and right sort of you're like, yeah, no, that's crazy. Of course you're not. But that wasn't most of the speech.
Most of the speech was him going on offense against Donald Trump for what we were just saying, like, do you feel safer in Donald Trump's America? Ask yourself that question. When you go to the polls, like, do you think there will be less violence if Donald Trump is re-elected?
Again, ask yourself that question and then he broaden the issue out to not just crime and public safety, which is the territory Trump wants to fight on. But he started talking about the pandemic because, again, we're talking about safety in the context of some looting that is going on in some cities versus a pandemic that is forcing most people in the country to stay home out of fear that they may get sick and die. That is that is what we're talking about.
And it's and Biden today was, I think, trying to shift the debate back to that. And I think it was I think it was really smart. And the other thing he did was and then Pfeiffer wrote about this in the message box today, he instead of talking about Trump as a scary authoritarian.
Right. Which, yes, of course, Trump has authoritarian tendencies. I'm scared shitless of them. But again, the more we depict him as a scary authoritarian, the more some voters find that as comforting because at least he'll restore law and order as a strong man. Right. And what Dan suggested and what Biden did today is to go after Donald Trump is weak and ineffective. He has been president for four years. He has done nothing about any violence.
He has done nothing about the pandemic. He has done nothing about the recession. He is weak. He can't denounce his supporters because he is the candidate who is held hostage to radical supporters, not what he claims Joe Biden is. He's the one who's held hostage. He's the weak one. He can't do anything. He's the one who fucking hit in the White House in the bunker when there were protests outside the White House. Like the more you call him weak and ineffective, the more it resonates, not just with.
Voters, but independent voters and even soft Republican voters who actually just want a president who will lead and get stuff done.
So I was going to ask you a bit about the sort of I'm calling it a very low level Democratic freakout over Biden, the crime issue, the polls. I know you're going to talk to Cornell about this, but like how much you think it's warranted. Why is it happening? Is this just is it just everyone's scared? I think everyone's scared.
I think everyone's scared. And I think everyone carries around a lot of 2016 fear. I also think at this point, Cornell makes is it is not been wrong in this country to bet on racism. It has not been wrong in this country to bet on Donald Trump's ability to use racism to win or to change the subject. And I think that there are people that are, I think, worrying fairly. And then I think there are people who are allowing some pretty anecdotal evidence to lead them to spit up a bigger narrative that's maybe not earned.
Right. Like, you know, if Donald Trump wins the White House, it'll be because of what happened this week.
That's there's not a lot to justify saying that their reason to be concerned about the fact that there's been a shift away in terms of support for these protests, as I think as you pointed out, images of the protests have have become more about kind of the unrest taking place in some of these cities at night. I think that that's a reasonable thing to be concerned about, whether or not it will impact Joe Biden, even though it hasn't really borne out in the polls, I think is a reasonable thing to be concerned about.
The fact that, you know, to your point, you know, polling in terms of Donald Trump's approval on crime hasn't moved at the same time. Crime is one of the few issues which polling has shown he has an advantage over by none. And if he can shift the conversation back to that, clearly they think that that's at least a place where they have a chance of winning the debate or liking the terms of the debate. So I think there are, you know, to what Dan would always say is like like worry, don't panic.
And I think it's a reasonable thing to be concerned about and to watch and to to make sure we're not being sanguine about it.
At the same time, I think Joe Biden's statement over the weekend, the speech he gave today seems to be the speeches and words of a candidate in a campaign that understand this and are striking that balance really effectively and like kind of like and hour, by the way, like not being like our our our kind of being responsive to what's taking place in the news without being, I think, kind of jerked around by Twitter.
I mean, look, fear has driven the entire 20 20 race from the beginning. It was it drove the primary. It's driving the general election. And it is you know, there was plenty of fear in 2016 that Trump would win.
And he did the fear that after seeing four years of Trump, he may be re-elected is incredibly intense among a lot of people and a lot of people who are pundits and a lot of people who are Democratic voters and Democratic strategists and journalists like I get it. I get it, you know, but I think I don't know what will happen.
We don't know. We say we're out of the prediction business. And, you know, I have been getting over the last couple of days a bunch of people, how's it going? Is it going to be OK as Joe? But I don't know if it's going to be OK. I just don't I'm not going to tell you it's going to be OK.
All I'm going to tell you is like we have to focus on what we can control and not worry as much about what we can't control. Right. And like Joe Biden has has right now in the polls, according to five thirty eight, an eight point lead. Right. An eight point lead would be a blowout bigger than Obama won against John McCain in the midst of a financial crisis where John McCain's party was the incumbent party dealing with that crisis. That was in 2008.
That was a seven point win. That was a blowout. Joe Biden is now at eight points.
We are in a more polarized country with closer elections than we had in 2008. So it was. I know. Is it possible that Joe Biden wins by eight points or nine points? It's possible. I don't think it's likely in a polarized environment like this. Right. Donald Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin by like less than a percentage point. So is Joe Biden going to win them by five or six points? It's unlikely because states don't move that much in four years.
It's possible. But is it likely? Not really. So therefore, you're going to get polls narrowing in. And the first people that are going to go back to Trump, sort of soft Republicans, white voters, especially non college white voters that are in some of these swing states.
So we were probably likely to see that anyway. Does what happened last week, what's happened in Kenosha accelerate it? We don't know.
Like, one thing I would suggest is if you want to know what's on voters minds and you want to know how to persuade them, start calling them, adopt a state, text them, call them, have conversations with voters, figure out what's on their mind. Maybe you'll find out that they're worried about the violence. Maybe you'll you'll find out that they're worried about something else, you know, like the best way to do to control what we can control, which is to spend every day persuading voters instead of looking for barometers of where everyone is at every moment.
Yeah, I think that's right. I also I also do think, like I think one of the reasons people feel afraid and one of the reasons. People feel scared, among many others, is it's saying is a race tightening is, I think sometimes a proxy for saying how is this close? How is it that we're going to be close to election and it's going to be tight?
And I think the answer there is obviously there's there's there's very sort of, you know, complicated answer to that.
But the simple answer is the structural cultural political crisis that made someone like Donald Trump possible has not gone away in the four years that he is president. We are we are trying to fight in 60 days problems that have been festering and growing over decades. And that is going to be a very challenging job. That's going to take a lot of hard work and hard politics for years and years to come.
Even if we manage to remove Trump in November, the fundamental problems in our society are there. They are headwinds against us. And that means that this election is very scary and it should be we should be scared because Trump can win.
Of course he can. Yeah. And you see, to your point, you see a lot of people are like, I can't believe that's still 40 percent plus of the country thinks this way. And it's hard and it's like it is.
We you know, we talked about this before. It is there's a tendency to divide people into anti Trump zealots and Trump zealots, and there's no one in between. It is uncomfortable to realize that there is a significant segment of the electorate, especially in swing states, who may say, I'm totally with Trump on this law and order crime stuff, but I hate how he's managed the pandemic.
So I'm I'm not sure how I'm going to vote. And if the pandemic is on my mind and that's in the news, I might vote for Joe Biden. And if I see more crime, I might vote for Donald Trump. Like when you spend all your time on Twitter and watch the news, you're not primed to think that a lot of those people exist in the electorate. They do. And that's like it's not very fun to realize that. But they do.
And like, we have to go out and try to get those people to vote for Joe Biden, even if they're with Trump on some issues and just.
Yeah, you know what? The fact that the economy is growing and there is no pandemic and his approval is at 42 percent and the economy collapses, our society is shut down and there's an unchecked pandemic that's killed a hundred and eighty thousand people on track to 200000 by the time we get to the election. And his approval rating is. Forty one percent that we're that polarized. That's a tragedy. That's it's a fucking problem. You know, it's a huge fucking problem.
We're not going to fix that problem with this election. Let's just get him out of there first and then we can go. That's that's a long term problem. No one's saying that Joe Biden is getting elected, is going to fix all this shit.
No. And then we can start to see very hard work of proving that Democrats were were correct to earn the vote. That's the hard thing. That's what comes next. For now, everyone just feel you get to feel super shitty until this is real shit.
Step at a time, one step at a time. Just get him out of office first. Then we can deal with the larger structural polarization problem.
All right. Let's talk about the latest covid news.
There have been signs over the OK, sure. Syria topic. No, actually, this starts with there have been signs over the last few weeks that the outbreak is slowing, especially in some of the south and southwestern hotspots here in L.A. Better numbers. Check them all the time.
John, I just you should know that I'm at an Airbnb in Temecula and things things are Temecula. They move a little bit slower.
You know how far things is. Give us the address for so long in some places. But cases are now growing in the Midwest.
And on Sunday, we had six million total cases and more than one hundred and eighty thousand deaths, according to The New York Times, quote, nearly half of the top 20 metropolitan areas where new cases per capita rose the most over the past two weeks are college towns. The University of Alabama alone has more than a thousand cases. Meanwhile, Trump has a new pandemic adviser who believes that masks might not make sense, that kids are at risk, and that the United States should embrace a strategy of herd immunity where you just let the virus run through the population, which would kill up to two million Americans.
First question, why do you think the pandemic isn't getting quite as much media attention as it was a few months ago or even a few weeks ago?
I don't think it is more complicated than attention spans and we have gotten accustomed to it. It is a kind of new normal. They don't have much more to say. We're still failing to contain the virus. We still don't have the national leadership that we would need. And there's a kind of.
Fatalism that, well, this is what has happened and there's no changing it, even though at any moment, at any moment we are eight weeks away from substantially reducing infections and putting the country at a much better trajectory.
But we just don't do it in part because we need national leadership and it's absent. And also, you know, the president is the assignment editor for the country now. He's a chief content officer for Fox News. And he has decided that we're going to talk more about law and order. And and so we do. Yeah. And I also think I think we've been here before.
We were here and sort of May and early June where there were there's a series of outbreaks that then declined that got that improved, the numbers improved. And we sort of thought we were out of the woods. And it May and June. We saw a bunch of places. L.A. was one of them that opened too fast. And then suddenly the cases went back up again.
And so I do think we've sort of we keep lulling ourselves into thinking that when caseloads decline in some hotspot areas, that maybe the virus is on its way out. Right. And I think what we've seen is in some of these hotspots, what's happened is a there's been, you know, another round of closures. There has been massive mandates. And unfortunately, the worst part, like so many people, have gotten the virus and some of these places that they have not reached immunity by any stretch, but at least they're getting closer because so many people contracted the virus.
I think what we're seeing I think what the what's happening at colleges right now and especially in the Midwest is you're starting to see positivity rates rise now that colleges are open. And I worry that this is going to happen when most schools open in September.
And what follows the rise in positivity rates is inevitably a rise in hospitalizations and then a rise in deaths. And instead of having sort of one giant terrifying hotspot like we had in New York in the spring, we're starting to see, you know, we had Florida and then we had Texas and then we had Arizona and now we're going to have the Midwest. And so you're going to see different parts of the country have these outbreaks over time. And, you know, maybe it will start grabbing headlines again once school open.
And I hope not. But what schools open and people start contracting it? Like that's going to be an unfortunate reason that's going to be in the fucking news again. But it may just happen. The other thing is you're starting to see more outbreaks in rural areas.
And and also the outbreaks are disproportionately affecting black and Latino Americans.
And what's really sad is because of that, you don't see it in the news as much anymore.
Yeah, I think that's right.
And also, you know, it was but months ago that we were told it would be gone by summer and that summer would have some magic ameliorating properties.
My fear, too, is like there's souce. Others have said for a long time that once this combines with the flu, once people go back inside in the fall, that we could see a real resurgence. And there's no indication that we're doing what is necessary to prevent that from happening.
And the fact that all these schools are opening and closing, opening and closing, not sure what they're going to do. It's all predicated on the lack of leadership from the administration is all predicated on the lack of a national strategy, lack of clear, clear direction and consistent guidelines that are being enforced across the country. And, you know, we're trapped. We're just trapped.
And look, it's we keep saying it's a lack of strategy. But, you know, you hear about this new advisor and it's like actually he's now making clear that the strategy that's what they said to Jim Acosta after his speech on Thursday. Everyone's going to get it eventually. That's basically the official strategy now of this new medical, quote unquote, medical adviser to Donald Trump, who's basically embracing herd immunity, saying we should be like Sweden, Sweden, which has one of the worst death rates in the world.
This is the thing that was it's a bias in our politics generally that long precedes Trump. It's on both sides. We just don't like comparing ourselves. Americans do not like comparing themselves to other countries. They just don't we don't do it. And so we can have a whole Republican convention for a week. That's all about how the virus happened because of China. And Trump did everything right. And there's very little comparison to what other countries in the exact same circumstance did.
There's no comparison to South Korea. There's no comparison to Germany.
And, you know, I think it sucks, John. It's well, if you think that's one part of the strategy is herd immunity. The other part is rushing a vaccine out the door. Before the election on Sunday, FDA Commissioner Steven Hahn told the Financial Times he'd be willing to issue an emergency use authorization to fast track a vaccine before the Phase three safety trials are complete.
There was a report out of Florida that they were about to start a Phase three vaccine trial there on the Oxford vaccine, and it was stopped for political reasons. The FDA, because the FDA might now bypass, bypass the safety trial and just and just rush it out the door. This is after Dr. Fauci told Reuters the other week that, quote, The one thing you would not want to see with a vaccine is getting an emergency youth. Use authorization before you have a signal of efficacy.
He said one of the dangers of a vaccine without a safety trial is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial. Trump obviously thinks this would help him win re-election. What do you think of just the political judgment on that?
Yeah, I mean, that's the first thing I thought, which is if you stop the safety trial, you actually just create a new safety trial, which is the safety trial of giving it to everybody that's wanted it. So this isn't just about a vaccine.
There are multiple vaccines being tested. That's the whole point. You want to get the results and see which ones works best, the one that's most effective. These percentages really matter, right? Because the threshold is 50 percent. Right. And it can either reduce symptoms or reduce transmission.
Well, if one is slightly more effective than another. All right. We're talking about a scale of which that could mean tens of thousands, if not more, lives on the line.
Trump doesn't care about that. Trump's people don't care about that. They just want something. He wants to have a fuckin needle in his hand handed to him by a man in a white coat that he can shove in Danske Vinos arm on television on October 17th. That's what he wants. He wants somebody given a shot to Kayleigh McEnany on television.
That's all that matters. You can see that Democrats have some work to do on this issue just in the framing, because you can already tell the media is primed to equate vaccine announcement with October surprise with everyone worried. Trump has figured it out. And now now he's going to win. And I think I think it is a mistake to believe that Trump announcing a vaccine is going to suddenly make an entire country be like, oh, yeah, he has fucked up the pandemic for this many months.
He has consistently put politics over science, wacky conspiracies over science. This whole time he asked us to drink bleach, but after all this time, now he's got the vaccine.
So I'm with this guy, you know? Yeah. I mean, like the navigator polling, you know, bears this out. Most people are worried about the negative consequences of moving too fast in a vaccine. Two thirds want Trump to stay out of a vaccine announcement altogether.
Even a majority of Trump voters, one million voters don't want Trump in a stethoscope in beakers. Turn it on. They'll give him the Bunsen burners, spin in the spin in the center refusers. I don't think so. Yeah, that makes sense.
20 percent of Americans say they'd get a vaccine if Trump announces it, which is a pretty scary number for a lot of reasons. But I do think that, like the questions, the Democrats and Joe Biden and he's already doing this, but the Biden campaign and Democrats have to ask is which candidate do you trust to deliver a safe, effective vaccine to every American?
Just ask that question. Who do you trust? Do you trust Donald Trump to give you the safe vaccine or do you trust Joe Biden?
Yeah, it's also worth, I think, pointing out to that, like the White House messaging is already starting to I think they recognize their failures on containment in some way, in some place, in their kind of collective strategy. They know that there's been a grand failure on containment. Even they would never say it out loud. And so even in their kind of messaging, they're saying we've always made the vaccine and medicine the central priority and how we treat the pandemic.
So they're already starting to kind of preview that this is part of their big strategy, that their strategy was always to kill 200000 people and then rush into a vaccine before it was ready. My other question about this is, like in terms of their message calendar, how does the rush unsafe vaccine schedule against Barres? Biden charges that he's going to announce that the Department of Justice.
Well, John, they have three debates. So you're going to want on the first debate, you're going to hold up the needle. You got the vaccine. The second debate, you've got Bill in the audience with a subpoena and the third debate. You know, we're going to leave that open because who knows? Maybe he's going to pardon.
He's going to he's going to pardon. No, he pardons. It's you know what? It's getting too dark. I'm not even going to say you're going to pardon me.
He's going to bring he's going to bring a bunch of antifa to the third debate and say that they're Joe Biden's secret relatives, even friends.
OK, on that note, when we come back, we will have Lovett's interview with Obama pollster Cornell Belcher.
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He's a pollster who worked on Barack Obama's campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and the founder of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies. He's also a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. Cornell Belcher, welcome back to the show.
Thanks for having me back. I'm honored.
So we're coming off of the Republican National Convention. I think we've all now had a few days to let the experience marinate.
There seem to be these two contradictory messages, right? You have the St. Louis gun couple. You have Trump stoking fear. These these socialists, these protests, they're coming for the suburbs. And then at the same time, they tried to share this message that Donald Trump is compassionate. The real Donald Trump is kind and empathetic and very hardworking and not a racist. And anyone who says that is really misleading you in a deeply unfair way. They're obviously in contradiction.
What is the goal of having those two disparate messages? And do you think it's been effective? I think the let me just back up what? What they were trying to do in the convention tells me a couple of things, what it says, because you're right. What was glaring about the convention was every day of the convention, and sometimes for some days you had more than one speaker trying to validate that Donald Trump was not, in fact, a racist.
And it was so over the top and so obvious that it tells me as a pollster that they are seeing something in their data that tells them that his racism is being a this is a disqualifier to talk to a certain swath of voters this time around. That wasn't necessarily so in twenty sixteen.
So it's problematic that that in this volatile time where we have so many young people protesting and we see the deaths of of of unarmed black men by the police, that. The idea of electing someone who is a racist and fans racial division is probably not a good idea.
So they really went in on saying that he is trying to validate that he wasn't a racist, I think was crucial walkers. And I think it hurts my heart that people think he's a racist. So that tells me that that his racism is actually problematic to these voters, to a certain segment of voters. The other piece is he still was doubling down on some of the most. Outrageous fear mongering that that you'll ever hear in this ideal that, you know, only he can save the suburbs and of Biden when he's going to do something to destroy you.
Those are in contradiction. But. And I don't want to say this, they come across as being cynical, but. American history is full of contradictions, and people and Americans hold contradictory views, so I don't actually don't think this is going to hurt him. I think I think a lot of people outside looking in go, well, that doesn't even make any sense. But what of the last several years of Donald Trump has made any sense at all?
Right. And he's still got and he still holds on to being off on a poll. Forty four or forty five percent of the electorate. So I don't think it was going to hurt him. I think I'm I'm afraid at some of it, in fact, will help them. I think the idea that him having all these validators is Valdés of color point out that he's not, in fact, a racist. Will that give someone to people who think he's a racist?
You know, some of those white voters in the suburbs who are comfortable with him on racial stuff? Will that make them go? Well, maybe he's not a racist.
It might. So in that context, Trump is going to Kenosha. You have Joe Biden speaking before members of the National Guard, both addressing the protests that have followed the shooting of Jacob Blake.
You know, there's been a kind of mini Democratic freak out over the last couple of days as to whether or not there's been a shift in attitudes around the protest and therefore that will in some way hurt Joe Biden. Speaking to this contradiction Trump is offering, Nate Silver said, well, hold on a second. What we're seeing here may not be have anything to do with Joe Biden, may actually just have to do with what happens when Donald Trump fades from the story in some way.
That that actually what we saw was support for for the protest was really just born of negative partisanship about how poorly Donald Trump was handling racial unrest and the uprisings that were taking place across our cities.
So Republicans who might have been on the fence get this reassuring message around Trump and race. What do you think happens now as the campaign continues, as Donald Trump tweets incendiary things? Do you think that message has the ability to stick or do you think he'll begin undoing it as he continues being himself? That's a lot of questions. It was a lot of questions, there's a lot of questions and one question for sure. Let me try to unpack some of that.
One is that I think this is I think this is really important. For the movement, if you look at it, I was just doing online focus groups last week and. And you do get the sense from especially from Softworks himself, Republicans who were initially on the side of the protest that that they are that they are getting uncomfortable. And when you look at some of the public polling that's out there now, that shows I think one of was in Wisconsin that showed 42 percent of the voters there now think that the protests are a violent.
The progressives are beginning to lose and are beginning to lose the narrative. And and that's a real problem because we are we know most of the protests are not, in fact, violent, and and some of the fact checking has come out to show that a lot of the violence that's being that's unfolding in the protests are actually from right wing groups. But nevertheless. I think we are beginning to lose the narrative around this, and that's dangerous when you when you're with and support for the for the for the for the movement is is shrinking, showed the same poll, showed the support for the movement is shrinking, which shouldn't be surprising if, in fact, you think that that the movement is now violent, which is of course, what Donald Trump and Republicans and what Fox News puts out every evening.
So we have to adjust. And what I would say from a broader standpoint is, one, we have to figure out how we. Take back the. The narrative around the protest, but to and this is important, but it's also tough is a tough conversation to have with some of our with some with some of our some of some of our folks who feel so passionate about. Is that marching like like Dr. King and others of the civil March civil rights era.
Marching is only one to.
And I think I think the dog agrees, marching, marching and protests are only one tool in in in the in the toolbox, and it's a really important tool.
What what these young people taking part in these Black Lives Matter protest have done because they awake the world.
To the injustice, they've awaken the world to the ugliness and not only in America but around the globe, people are are chanting Black lives matter. And they're and they're thinking about policing and justice and issues of race different. The protests have done exactly what they were supposed to do. But now we have to be sophisticated and what are the other tools in the toolbox now for us to, in fact, use to move us along towards our goals? And you have to start thinking, OK, besides the protests, because the protests have done their job.
We should declare victory for the protest because we work in the world to this and we can now have a discussion about this that's different than it was before the protests started. So what's the next step? And will you think about Democrats in the House passed the Justice and Policing Act, which is the most sweeping reform in criminal justice that we've ever seen. And it is, in fact. Everything, almost everything that that that most of the protesters are arguing for bans, chokehold bans, no work, not Warren's body cams goes after a qualified immunity like House Democrats heard them.
And acted on that on the protest. So the protests have done exactly as opposed to so. So what's the next step? That bill is sitting like many other bills on the desk of Mitch McConnell. You know, catching dust. So are the protests the best tool now? Or what are the other tool in the toolbox that we must go to in order to to to to move along this action even further? I think that's a. I think that's a worthwhile conversation now for the movement because and I think that that that's that's important.
Right. I think for the protests. But the protests have done the job. Now, is this now almost pulled from the tool box and move it forward? So I am concerned that the narrative we're beginning to lose a narrative around the protest. But also I'm more concerned that that we're that we're that we're not seriously focused on it, focusing on what are the other tools that we must now pick up in order to move our agenda forward. That I think we have to have a real conversation about what are the next steps?
So one difference between twenty 16 and now is we're in the middle of a crisis, a massive pandemic. And obviously one goal Donald Trump has is, as far as Fox News assignment editor on Twitter is to get the conversation away from covid, get the conversation away from the pandemic and move it back towards crime, because it's an issue on which he thinks he has an advantage.
How much do you think the goal for Democrats should be to refocus back on the economic crisis and the pandemic, both of which Donald Trump has made worse and inflamed?
It's not over. Yeah, it's not it's not an either or.
There are two pandemics hitting America. One is Colvert and one is the continuation of race racial division. And so I reject the idea that we can't walk and chew gum. We can't have a conversation that is about healing America's racial divide and a conversation about healing our car or getting America back to work. If we can't do that, then perhaps we should be in power. So. To that end, you know, Democrats, one thing where we're trying to do is reach people who have been sort of traditionally marginalized, traditionally had their votes suppressed, traditionally have been sort of underrepresented in elections.
And we're trying to figure out how to reach those people. To your mind, what do you think is the best message?
You know, we're doing this through every last vote, which is the kind of effort that we've launched. To your mind, what is the best message Democrats can be using right now to speak to those voters, to make them feel confident that their votes will be reflected and counted and to get them to see the value of turning out to vote?
Yeah, that's a good question. And I wish there was a silver bullet, but there's not a silver bullet. And I'm going to answer that question. But I would go back before I answer that question. Because because because because the the point that you brought up about what so many in our progressive community are parsing is conventional wisdom. Let's just not talk about that. So let's just talk about economics.
It is the problem. It is partially why we can never of we keep kicking the can down the road because progressives are our have is just don't want to talk about race and racism. They always want to talk about something else. Republicans have historically understood the power of race and racism and tribalism in this country. And that's why for the last several decades, they've been a lot more successful than. And in twenty sixteen and moving forward, it wasn't about race, it was about economics.
And if we just come up with a better economics argument, we can all these voters who are not voting for us, if we can just come up with a better economic plan. I mean, I mean, my God, how many times are we going to fall for that trap? It's not simply about the economic stupid. It is. In fact, sometimes, quite frankly, in America, it is about race and racism. And let's not keep trying to avoid that conversation, especially when Republicans keep exploiting it.
I mean, it is malpractice of us to say that, you know, the Republicans are trying to exploit race and racism. So we're going to completely ignore it. Although given their history of being very successful at it, again, we're going to completely ignore it and try to talk about some of just economics. I mean, it's ridiculous. And by the way, as as a person of color, it is insulting and disrespectful because you know what?
Because, you know, why aren't people that look like me or die that died from covid, but they're also dying from racism. And I'm tired of racism. Right. I'm probably going to die a lot younger than you, John, because of racism. So let's stop at bulleting the conversation, let's try to actually solve the goddamn problem and at the Democrat Party isn't going to be about that within people of color have to rethink about what we're going to do politically.
So I think the Democratic Party better be about that and not simply be about, oh, we're not going we're not going to pretend racism isn't there. We're going to talk about something else. Well, God damn that. No, we're not doing that anymore. And all these young people on the street who bring it full circle, those young people on the street who we need to vote. In twenty twenty those five million or so Obama voters who sat out in twenty sixteen.
You better engage them in the conversation that is real with them. And it's not simply about minimum. Raising the minimum wage, it is about life and death and is about a system that is structurally tilted against them historically and is taking their lives and is beating them down. And if Democrats can engage that within, God damn it, Democrats don't deserve their vote. So at this moment, if you were talking to Joe Biden and telling him what he should do, how we should address this, how we should reflect that in his message, that he should what he should do to honor what you're saying, what would you be telling him to do right now?
I say. Well, first I'd say let's put some dollars behind the fantastic plan that they've already put out there. I mean, they have won. One of the one of the beauties of this past Democratic primary system is everyone had a plan for black or Latino voters. Right. Right. Right. My favorite was, of course, what he called the Douglas plan, which was which was a mere peats flat. I think it was a double splatter, like all of them had a plan for taking on structural racism by the House as a plan.
In fact, Biden's plan is kind of out there. I mean, Biden is talking about using the Fed to shrink the wealth gap. I mean, that's that's great stuff. No, no people of color, no ID, no people of color. I've heard of it. Know we did folks with about two weeks ago with actually after he came out with that plan and after Democrats passed justice and policing. And for those voters who who didn't. Those those Obama voters who didn't turn out in 2016 or voted third party in 2016, they haven't heard of any of that shit.
They have no idea. So the conversation. So the question really is you have. What you need, I mean, part of that part of the issue is so often these days, some of these voters think that Democrats aren't really fighting for them. Democrats aren't. Democrats take their vote for granted and aren't really fighting for them.
Well, show. And tell. How do you know what your plans to to address these issues of structural racism that have economic consequences, that have health care consequences, that have life and death consequences? What's your plan for doing for four for addressing that? I think they they have the plan. The question is, will they put the resources towards telling Tuxworth, telling those stories and empower? People on the campaign's. To be to validate those stories and also to tell the tell to tell those stories could no, we have to go right now because it reminds me of 2016.
Hillary Clinton actually had a pretty good criminal justice reform platform. And our focus, Foxwoods in North Carolina, in Charlotte. Shortly after, there was a press unrest in Charlotte because of policing issues. And we showed them the platform that Hillary Clinton had put out and she and they were like, who who's whose platform is this? Is this Black Lives Matter platform? This is exactly what we're looking for.
And they would they would mineable would not believe that was Hillary Clinton's platform on just as just as, you know, police reform, because truly, this was our platform. They would know about it. They would have heard about it. The campaign would have. Put it out there, right? I hope we don't fall in that trap again. I think Joe Biden, Joe Biden is a good man who's done a service to his country and certainly serve communities of color and young people.
And he has a plan that would benefit a lot of those young people who look or who are marching right now, who look like parts of the Obama coalition, who sat out twenty, sixteen. But I think the Democratic Party needs to engage them because. Like I famously said before, we grew the electorate with Obama, but there are Obama voters, not necessarily Democratic voters, so we're got to work very hard to bring them back into the fold.
Thank you so much for giving giving us all the time, I want to ask one last question, which is I think a lot of people listening to this, I think it's chastening. I think it's important that they sort of take what you're saying to heart. But what would you say to people listening the most effective thing they can do right now to be them to be most helpful? Not as pundits, not as not as people inside the Biden campaign, but just people out there trying to trying to help a neighbor to neighbor have a conversation.
Right. And before I was an Obama guy, I was a Howard Dean guy. And and there's no better there's there's no better voice than the voice of people that, you know. And what we did in in 2005, 2006, where we put money in states and we built grassroots organization around neighbor to neighbor, because we've covered a lot of the the ability of campaigns to do these massive canvasses are being taken away. So go to your neighbor, right?
Go to your your circle that you like. I said, go spread cool. But your circle that you're already in have these conversations.
You know, take take, you know, campaigns can do massive canvassing a neighbor to neighbor programs right now because kazakov it, but do it within your circle of people. And get them to vote early. The the issue is how I think we we lose this election is is the chaos and confusion that Donald Trump and Republicans are trying to put around voting. The more votes we get in early. The better it is, have these conversations about these important issues, neighbor to neighbor, because we can't canvass right now and make sure they get out and turn out, they vote early and not wait for the last minute and certainly not wait for the last minute to mail in their mail and their ballots, because this isn't about excitement about sort of the conventional issues after this election.
If we get to this election, we can talk about tax reform, we can talk about regulation. We can talk about whether or not big businesses have too much red tape they have to deal with. Right. We can talk about how we deal with with with border security. Those are secondary issues. What's at stake in this election is literally the death of our democracy. And none of those other issues matter if our democracy dies. Cornell Belcher, thank you so much for taking the time.
Good to talk to you. Thanks for having me. It's always my pleasure. Thanks to Cornell for joining us today, and we'll talk to you guys later this week. Hi, everybody. Are you optimistic? Week.
Oh, man. Oh, man. Bye, guys.
God Save America is a crooked media production. The executive producer is Michael Martinez. Our associate producer is Jordan Waller.
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