– I wanna welcome you to Queensborough Community College’s Fall Presidential Lecture Series, and our very special
lecturer, Mr Hank Sheinkopf of Sheinkopf Communications. The Presidential Lecture Series was begun in 2000 with the fall lecturer
coming from the University, or a national sector in
which the University works, in this case clearly there are so many to choose from with Mr. Sheinkopf, but he’s also an alumnus
of the University, and continues to complete studies for even more advanced degrees, so I’m sure he’ll be distinguished as a professor in addition to being a lecturer one of these days. In the spring we have a presidential lecturer representing our faculty, and we look forward to sharing that announcement with you shortly. Our professors are rather distinguished in and of their own body, and it’s always a wonderful opportunity for the community and
members of the faculty and staff and our students
to join us for these events. We have a Presidential Lecture Committee, and I’d like to thank them
very much for their work, Dr. Sasan Karimi, Dr. Sasan Karimi was previously
a presidential lecturer, Dr. Amy Traver, Dr. Mark Van Ells, Vice President Karen Steele and myself, and we appreciate your input and recommendations going forward, those of you who are members of our community and our campus. With us today, we have several distinguished guests, not that you’re all not distinguished, however we’re fortunate to have the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Alan Dobran and his wife Linda here, and I want to thank you for
making the time to come. And we also have a gentleman by the name of Eduardo Marti, who began
this series back in 2000, Dr. Marti is our Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges at the University, welcome home again. (audience applauds) Well I’m rather curious as
to what happened last week, and I don’t know that
any of us is really sure, but Mr. Sheinkopf who
has a lifetime experience in observation and certainly in strategies for campaigns and the aftermath
will offer his insights as to the outcome of the
most recent elections, both local, state, maybe national too. His presentation will include Q&A, he’s looking forward to hearing some wonderfully stimulating
questions from our audience, and we never fail in that regard, so I’m going to turn the
podium over to Mr. Sheinkopf, and again please welcome him. (audience applauds) – I have to thank you for the
kind introduction president, and hello to so many friends
that are in the room, and thank you Ronnie Weprin
for being of assistance today. I’m gonna talk for a little bit and then I’m gonna ask
you to ask me questions so we can all talk together. Let me make a couple of observations about what I think didn’t occur, I don’t think this is
the end of the earth, Martians are not landing, this is not coming to an end, there will be no massive
hurricanes or flash floods, that’s not what occurred last week, but something else more
significant occurred. To say in the year 2010 that the American
political system is frayed, is to be less than accurate, to say that it is in trouble is probably much more accurate for
a whole host of reasons. And it’s not that we should bury it yet, you’ve got to be reasonable and say this is lasted
for more than 200 years, it’s done very well, it’s taken the shocks of Watergate, and in other countries if you had a thing like Watergate occur, or an Irangate, or the attempt to pack
the court by Roosevelt, or the creation of a National Bank, you’d probably has massive
insurrections in the streets, and people taking to the streets and killing themselves or others. That didn’t happen here, so this system as we know it has lasted rather well and done a good job, before we get to that I’d like to take a point of personal privilege. It’s kind of a moving experience for me to come to this campus, the first time I was
ever here was in 1967, which was before the beginning
of the world I think, because I was in the first
class at your college, and the classroom were
the two Quonset huts at the edge of the campus, and the offices were the two Quonset huts at the end of the campus, and I think that my
life really began here, and the University gave someone like me who had come from very poor circumstances and absolutely no shot at education, the opportunity to become
whatever people think I became, I did my masters in the University, I was a policeman, and Alan Dobran who’s here, he and I wrote our first exams together, and if I get a little bit more patience I’ll finish my dissertation, then I’ll be doctor, and then you can all do you know what. Anyway, I owe a lot to this university, so I’m very glad to be here and I’m very glad to see all of you, I think my life probably began here, and it is with deep gratitude
all these years later, after having traveled millions of miles literally to do
ever this is that I do, that the beginnings of
that road began here, and I hope the beginnings
of similar roads occur under great leadership for thousands
of other young people. That being said. (audience applauds) I’ve worked on just some biographical data so we can put this in context, I’ve worked on an estimated 700 campaigns in 44 American states
and 15 foreign nations for heads of state all over the world, at every level from city
council to president, I’m a former presidential adviser, I worked for President
Clinton in ’95 and ’96, and I’m uniquely qualified to
talk about the relationships between what happened last
week and what happened in ’94, because in 1995 after
the loss of both houses of Congress to the
Republicans by the Democrats, I was one of the people, Dick Morris, yeah, that Dick Morris, recruited, he never did anything with me
I wanna be clear about that, recruited to go to the
White House, and helped the president get out of the problem. But let’s define what the problem is and that’s define what occurred. The Democrats lost the Congress last week, they think they won the Senate they probably did by votes but
they didn’t win the Senate, there’s something else going on here, Democrats across the board lost college educated people, they lost Catholics, they
lost blue-collar people, they became a marginalized
party in most states, the gains that they made in
2008 were completely reversed and states which generally
were heavily Catholic or regions that were heavily Catholic, even in New York state for example, if we look at the five seat loss and we look at where it occurred, we look at the ethnic
make-up and racial make-up and divisions of those places, they tend to be heavily Catholic, heavily blue-collar, upstate, Staten Island, all gone. So the party that was supposed to go back to its original roots of
being the representative of the working class in the country, reversed itself and went
in the other direction. Very hard to put into context, we think that in an economic recession where unemployment
hovers we estimate at 10% but where if you go to Flint, Michigan, the unemployment rate is probably closer to 25% and probably averages
out in the nation above 10, I’d say in the 12 range or better easy, if you go to those places where you would think the
Democrats would do better, because the democratic identification with blue-collar people
and working class issues, in fact they didn’t do well at all, in fact it was quite the opposite, much like what happened in
1980 with Ronald Reagan. So how did we get to this point? Take a thumbnail sketch
of American politics in the last let’s say 45 years or so, or maybe a little less, let’s go to 1968 and let’s
look at what happened, and let’s look at that time, I think, by the way my bias is either region, religion determined political activity more
than most other things, and that ideology is really important, and I wanna leave the
ideological argument beside, let me come back to region religion. 1968 ends the forty-year relationship between Catholics in this
country and the Democratic Party. Why? 28, 1928 which the late
scholar and the extraordinary, the most important American political scientist in the 20th
century, one V. O. Key, determined that 1928
was a critical election, we define critical elections as points in time for your purposes
where extraordinary things happen when historic conditions are right for a major
shift in party activity. And voting patterns. That’s clear, clear
enough for our discussion. So 28 is a critical election, the mantra in newspapers
across the country is that Al Smith the
then governor of New York and the candidate for president of the Democratic Party
would bring rum, Romanism and rebellion into the country, headlines across the nation excoriating Catholics, abusing them, accusing them of the most
extraordinary crimes. This is remember, 1928 is only 65 years since
the Know Nothing Party which with the anti-Catholic
anti-immigrant party was able to create near majorities and control the governor’s
offices in states, and in Massachusetts, you wouldn’t think it possible, but Massachusetts was
a know nothing state, governor was a Know Nothing Party, New York was the home of
know nothing philosophy, guys like Samuel Morse, yes the one who invented the telegraph. He was the author of anti immigrant anti-Catholic tractates. So what you find is people coalescing about protecting themselves, the groups become protecting and what to do as they organize within the protective shell
and then vote together, the churches and other
locals, much as we do today, not with churches but
in community centers, and other places where
people learn civic behavior, they come together and
then they vote together because they share a common ethos. So 1928, coming back to 1928, Al Smith runs for president,
gets beaten badly, a critical election occurs, Roosevelt wins in 1932, and the New Deal coalition
holds for a long period of time, the country being in trouble, when the country is in trouble people do extraordinary things, instead of having an insurrection because the unemployment was rather high, the political conditions
were rather onerous, we didn’t have people
running in the streets, what we did is we created a monarchy, and we called that monarchy
the Roosevelt monarchy, and we elected it four times. Essentially what we did was, we said whatever he does is fine, you do what you want, the kinds of restrictions we would place on the president today, or the intelligence community, or the legislative activities, or the president’s ability to do whatever he wanted to do were completely removed. Because the country was
in extraordinary trouble, and organically what the system did was seek to protect itself, give us the monarch that we never wanted that even George Washington would not have taken that monarchy, and it works for a while
and everything’s fine, we have a common ethos, we
have a common sense of service, people get drafted, or serve or volunteer, or don’t wait to be drafted
into the armed services, we rebuild the nation, we repair our infrastructure, the government prints money, the rest of the world seems
to be in real serious trouble, but America stabilizes itself, World War II happens, the common ethos arises, we have a sense of polity, of comity, C-O-M-I-T-Y, the regional differences that were part of American voting patterns, the unresolved issues
confronting the South that were not resolved in my view until Bill Clinton became
the president in 1992, reconstruction. And just as an aside, anybody who disagrees with that position of course you’re welcome
to in a scholarly way, would have to explain
to me why shipping rates were different for southern states, and higher than they were for the North, while effectively an internal
tariff system was set up to restrict the south’s
ability to grow economically, it really didn’t end until like I said, Clinton, it
finally came to an end. But coming back to the story, so king Roosevelt is there, the country has a constant
ethos, World War II occurs, people serve, and the voting patterns
remain pretty much static, why? The south is gonna vote Democrat because the Republicans did reconstruction and they’re never gonna forget that, the Catholics are gonna vote with the southern Protestants and they’re gonna be Democrats, right? And then there are some
problems in other parts, the WASPs, whatever they are, we don’t have many in New York by the way, I haven’t seen any, I walk down 5th Avenue looking, are there any White
Anglo-Saxon Protestants here? The only people answer were the Jews, yes we’re WASPs, they’re not. They’re doing whatever
they’re doing trying to maintain the power structure, but everybody else is in one place, the country builds itself, the war ends, and then something happens, because of the prosperity
created by the Second World War, people leave the cities we think, although I’m not so sure that in the case of New York
is what actually occurred, my research is all about that. The notion of how we
vote begins to change, the idea of prosperity
becomes very significant, because the income
differentiations begins to grow, we had a world essentially before World War II during depression, when everybody was poor and
there was some rich guys but people were generally
at the same economic level, now the economic
gradations begin to change, and thus the voting
patterns begin to change, and the thing that occurs
that is most interesting in the post-war period
from my perspective, is as the states rights movement heats up, as a response to civil rights, and I believe to regional
economic difficulties. (cell phones buzzes) That’s in my pocket. Regional economic difficulties, there something else that goes on, there’s almost an exchange
of congresspeople, what do I mean? Southern Republicans, excuse me, Northern Republicans suddenly disappear and are replaced by Northern Democrats who then disappear and
become Southern Republicans, there’s an exchange of voting patterns where people effectively switch by region, and the Catholics in the Midwest, those Northern Catholics
that I talked about, remain essentially in place until 1968, the chaos of the civil rights era, the destruction of the
sense of calm and community, comes to an end, people see the Vietnam War
on the screen every day, the country looks like it’s
about to be torn apart, the 1968 election occurs, Nixon’s the one is about race and it really is about race, but you see on the screen in the first really great television race, his troops standing there with bayonets and a discussion of
chaos and how the country has to be put in order and
there’s only one guy can do it. White Catholics see this, the cities that they live in that they built their communities in, where the parishes are, are in flames, and what do they do? They move to the suburbs, they take their institutions
as best they can with them because they can’t
take the parishes with them, the parishes are static, they do what they can, they
relocate in the suburbs and they become Republicans, as a response to the
chaos in front of them, the lack of community, and Nixon wins the election. With the help of the South. So the very political
structure that was created that long period ago
somehow gets ripped apart and we survive that and we go through
Watergate and all the rest, and we go forward in time, television becomes the
medium of communication, there is less discourse, and because the advent of television and the increase in regional variations, and the religion connotation
of politics itself, there is less discourse, and there’s more
competition over resources that the government is now
doling out in larger numbers, and the discourse becomes almost
violent on some occasions, the only way the federal
government can make things happen and you take the educational system and desegregation as an example, is to use money as the stick and the carrot at the same time. Which only increases the competition between regions and areas for federal dollars and
thus for political power. While all this is going on, the shift of voters from
the north to the south, because of the industrial belt where Catholics live
is cleaning itself out, jobs are declining, relative pay scales are declining, it’s all going on within
a 40 or 50 year period, pretty fascinating, right? But they remain in the Republican column, and they stay there, let’s see, ’68 Nixon, ’72 is Nixon, ’76 becomes Ford, he loses to Carter who is really a very conservative southerner, and a response to what
people see as chaos, it should sound familiar. 1980 comes, we’re in a war, we’re really in a war with Iran, because that’s really started already, we have economic chaos, remember the fuel lines, food prices have increased because the cost of fuel has gone up, sounding familiar at all? Reagan becomes the
defender of the Republic, because we are always looking for that defender to try
to clean up this mess, eyes go to Washington, we say here’s a guy, he looks, he’s just got that
extraordinary something, because television told us so, and southern Protestants are
doing what they’ve always done, since we can record
anyway going back to ’28, going back to ’32, they’re voting with Northern Catholics, and they did that with Nixon, they did it across the board, so that balance remains in place, and as they’re together all the time they do things like they
elect Richard Nixon, they elect Ronald Reagan, they elect Bill Clinton. Why? economics, and again the competition
for federal money, and control of jobs and economic
stability in those regions. But then comes George Bush two, ’cause one is short-term, interesting guy that gets
tossed out on economic issues, again southern Protestants and Northern Catholics with
the help of Ross Perot. We get to Bush two, Post Clinton, who wins very narrowly because of the complete
schism within the nation. Again Southern Protestants, Northern Catholics versus everybody else, it’s almost an iron triangle, all the terrible things that happened happened and then 2002 occurs, yeah, 2000 occurs, no forgive me, ’92, ’96, 2000, 2004, why is Bush re-elected and
the numbers are terrible? Insecurity, and I don’t think that that one applies, and then we get to the present
moment of Barack Obama. Barack Obama gets elected
because he is the antidote to the insecurity that people are feeling about a failing economy, and are unsure about national defense and the waning of the American ideal. So we come now two years down the road, and what we find, if we look at the data non-anecdotally, we see that 45% of the
American public believe the night before election day that the country is moving
in the right direction, that unemployment is extraordinarily high, that the president’s favorable
ratings are under 50%, that the nation is riven about its future, sounds like 1928 or ’32, right? Or ’80 or ’92, or 2000. So what does this all mean, if you look at the totality of the picture what you find on paper is
that nothing’s changed, that the cycles of American
politics are rather boring, for example are they more volatile or less predictable than in decades? I don’t think so. The candidates may have appeared more volatile because they’re in living room on your television, but voter patterns were
not much different, you had candidates who
were unusual different, people are not stupid by the way, they did not vote for the
woman from Delaware for Senate, and I’m sure that she’s landing to earth at this very moment, although I’m very concerned
when the bottom of the broom, the witches broom hits the atmosphere of the earth that it may in fact explode, and she could do herself damage. They didn’t vote for Carl Paladino who was out there with her
but he was on a spaceship, they didn’t vote for that woman,
what’s her name, in Nevada, which is very important by the way because Reid’s son was on
the ballot for governor, but guess what? He didn’t win, and he knew things were so bad all he could do was call himself Rory, and before that he’s been a
Clark County Commissioner, Clark County, Las Vegas, Nevada, probably the most powerful job in the country next to Los
Angeles County Supervisor, total control over land use
and everything else imaginable. So it’s not what you think it is, let me just go back. There’s no disruption really in my view for the electoral pattern, which during any mid-term election is traditionally and historically a referendum on the
current administration, what’s new? With only four exceptions in the entire history of this country, every single president since Lincoln has lost seats in the house, in the mid-term election, then modern exception is 2002, what’s that about? Well we just had the Pearl
Harbor of our generation and people responded in
ways that made some sense, they wanted stability. What has changed, though, and I think this is the part that gets dicey and goes
back to what I started, how are we doing so far by the way? Interesting? Okay, it goes back to what I wanted to say, what I’ve kinda touched on at the beginning when I
first started talking, what is troubling is that we are, there is something that
has changed in all this, and what has changed dramatically is the sense of ideology and party, and this portends something very different for this country and for any democracy where party becomes obsolete and charismatic leadership
becomes the norm of the day. The best example of this
we can find right now, is in Latin America, you had an existing
democracy called Venezuela, where you had regular elections, you had two parties that were functioning, a democratic alliance and COPEI which is Christian Democrats, they worked very well, then suddenly over time, suddenly over time, this great stupidity, suddenly over time, which means someone woke up, some political scientists or some political
consultant woke up and said, by the way I just suddenly noticed it, but it was happening over time, suddenly someone woke up
and said wait a second, both ADE, the Democratic Alliance, and COPEI are dysfunctional, non-ideological, charismatically driven, candidates driven as opposed
to party ideology driven, corrupt. Sound familiar? Those in power seem to be
getting more and giving less, it’s all about them and not about us. The system is breaking apart, old guys don’t let new guys in, somebody runs up the middle you may be familiar with his name, his name is Chavez, both parties collapsed
and what do you have, a fascist state. You can argue that that could happen here, why do I say that? It’s my concern because we are not getting civic education, if you ask the average
person in the hallways here who goes to this fine institution of higher learning to give
you the political breakdown of events of the last 60 years that I gave you they would
probably be incapable. We are losing the ability
to translate American ideas into civic learning because
we don’t have places to do that anymore, for those of you who
have read Robert Putnam, you’ll know about the argument which I think it’s difficult to prove, lots of social capital, it sounds good, but there may be a non-connective way to make the argument by looking and seeing what parties used to do, what civic associations used to do, what they’re doing now and
what they’re not doing now, and the fact is the Democratic Party as well as the Republican
Party are in such extremis, that they have to hire
people to do the things that political parties are supposed to do. So effectively the people complaining about outsourcing are
outsourcing democracy, to things like the Working Families Party, to active and professional
voter turnout operations, so the parties were supposed to be there to turn voters out whose sole existence if you read the scholars
is about election periods, about fermenting voter activity, are not capable of doing that. And maybe from a non-scientific standpoint the only thing that gets people to turnout is an internal clock that
I’m convinced voters have that gets them to turnout at
a particular time of the year. Kind of like when the geese fly south and they make your lawn dirty, you know what I mean, like that, that’s what’s happening, because the parties are not doing it. What do they stand for? They’re cuing devices to
tell people where to vote. Is labor the place where people go to get their information from? It can’t be, because what, in the public sector, New York and California are pathological, but you could probably say that under 10% of the entire population of the country, working populations today organize for collective bargaining, less than 10%. So that would be a place where people would learn how to learn
civic information, right? But there’s not of them
organized to do it. Would the local Masonic Hall, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Elks, places where people would
share particular ideas and have loci for organization right? Gone. And the history of Catholics
in New York the church was the place where
organization first occurred, people used that as a ground
to begin to move from, churches function any more, the New York diocese in Manhattan, the New York Archdiocese is
going to be closing 32 schools. So the places where people
were able to organize, the sites where they
organized from don’t exist, so how are they organizing? From the television, and from the television
they’re not getting ideology, they’re getting something else, they’re getting imagery of candidates, so when you don’t have ideology and you don’t have party structure, you have party breakdown. Now when I was a young guy
the political scientists that I grew up around as a graduate student, and before that, used to say well if you’re an independent, then you were pathological
because you didn’t stand or believe in anything, but the great news by the way, and the danger to democracy as well is that that great center
where the independents live who are moving more to the
right on a constant basis, and by the way, political scientists
won’t tell you the truth, because they all lie to
you, now I’m only kidding, political scientists who read the literature know a couple of things, they know that the registering
in the past at least, and we don’t know if this
will hold for the future, for people as independents was a midpoint between going from Democrat to Republican, I’m not sure that’s happening right now, because now we have
permanent independents, what’s happening is that that center of independents is growing, the parties have moved to the right, and I’ll talk about the
Tea Party in a second, the Republicans have moved to the right, the Democrats have moved
all the way to the left, the polarization is greater, the great center is the new swing vote, and that great center is
growing at an exponential rate. We have never seen as many independents registered at any time in
our history as we have today, and not just as independents, but as nonsubscribers, who choose not to take
party identification at all. What does the Tea Party
have to do with this? Because you all want to hear
about the Tea Party right? Shake your heads. The Tea Party is a social movement, social movements always bear watching because they tell you about the potential for change in a society
in a given period of time, at a given moment. They tend to do their jobs
that social movements do, and then disappear or become reincarnated in some fashion in another
way that doesn’t work usually, I.e. the civil rights movement
did its job very well, the Civil Rights Act was passed, they tried to go into
poor people’s business they went out of business. They tried to end the war that was over. The Townsend movement
said we need pensions, the Townsend movement for
those of you who are alive, not many in the 20s
and 30s very important, the result of which we have pensions today and Social Security, right? See any people saying you must join the Townsend movement? Did their job, gone. Political parties become institutions, social movements are temporary vehicles, the Tea Party is a social movement. You have to ask yourself this, this social movement the Tea Party, what is it about, what differentiates it, and why couldn’t more Tea
Party people do better? Social movements have a couple
of characteristics okay. They tend to have their
own repertoire of behavior, where individuals collectively behave in a particular way at a particular time, they have their own language, they talk about things in
ways that we don’t understand, we think we do, but the conversations are internal between the participants not us. They tend to be single focused, single focused on single
issues and single arguments, populist movements, I’ll give you an example
where social movements have become institutionalized in a second, and then died after they met their goals. So what does this mean in practical terms? Why couldn’t Carl Paladino talk English? Because he was a Tea
Party guy and everything that came out of his mouth
was Tea Party language, so when he went public to talk to people no one knew what he was talking about, ditto the woman running
for Senate in Delaware, there’s a whole host of them, another guy, the guy who put on the Nazi uniform, he said this is fine, because he thought people
were paying attention and able to understand
what he was talking about, he was a Tea Party guy, it had nothing to do with Nazis, and everything to do with
his inability to communicate, because he was in that movement and could not break himself free. What’s the future of that Tea
Party and what does it mean? Well it successfully pushed
the Republicans to the right, the same way the civil rights movement successfully pushed the
Democrats to the left. Will it be lasting? We don’t know, because I’m not Houdini
or am I Nostradamus. I’m a political consultant
and a political scientist, we don’t know what the
lasting impacts are, we do know the Republican
Party has been pushed to a place where it will be very hard to come back for a while, and we do know that there is another problem the Republicans face, and I’ve talked about
what the Democrats faced, the Democrats were in trouble for 40 years before
Bill Clinton came along, I was one of the authors with
a fellow named Bill Knapp and a guy named Mark Bannon and a guy named Dick Morris of Clinton’s language in 1995 and six, let’s see a good commercial was let’s see, cutting Medicare 270 billion violates our duty to our parents, cutting education 170 billion violates our duty to provide opportunity for all, cutting the environment hurts all of us, the president’s plan, you could just insert
whatever you want after that, I’ve wrote that with Bill Knapp. The Republican problem
is that the Tea Party seems to be the providence
of one Sarah Palin. So what’s so bad about that? The problem the Republicans
face is they have a winner take all political
system in primaries, unlike Democrats who have
proportional wins in primaries, so Sarah Palin is not gonna
win in New Hampshire probably, my hunch, but she’s probably
gonna win Iowa caucuses, where it’s more personal, and she’s probably gonna go
on to South Carolina and win, if that occurs the
pressure within that party to stay to the right to defeat her will be not insignificant. Obama, he’s gonna keep on the left because Boehner and those guys are gonna make sure he stays there, because they know what we know, which is successful presidencies tend to come out of the center, only in points where there’s real problems can they come out of the left or right. Reagan on one side crisis, right, Reagan response to a
crisis, right wing politics, right wing politics, right left, no left, right, Reagan right wing, Obama left wing, right, responds to crises at a particular time, where those kinds of attributes
are things that voters want. Obama’s gonna be all the way over here, Reagan gonna be, she’s gonna be all the way over here, or some other person competing
against her will be here, so what happens to the great center? That is a problem we face, and that is the danger in the breakdown of political parties, because we don’t know who
will run up that middle, that is one of the
outcomes of this election, this great polarization. The other thing is what
I call great con job, which makes me more of a pundit now and less of a political scientist, the great con job is that people have gone to the voting booth, the great symbolic place of American power and American democracy in ’06, ’08 and ’10 and upturned the system, what has changed? In the process of upturning the system economic
conditions have worsened, the relative distribution of wealth has remained absolutely intolerable, absolutely intolerable, the purpose of a democracy that survives because you have a fair tax
system that redistributes wealth in a way that ensures that there is no social revolution, and American exceptionalism
makes us believe that we can never have
such a thing happen here, because it’s impossible after all, but we did have it just last week, except we didn’t have it in the streets we had it in the voting booth, but the third time, so what do you think is
gonna happen the fourth time? Do you think people are gonna say oh yes, I don’t like these clowns I’m throwing them all out and I’m gonna
go on my way and be happy. If you looked at the faces
of the Tea Party people you’d have to presume
that that’s not the case, all populist movements
at some point revert to some type of overt activity, whether it is in the street, in other words going back
before Williams Jennings Bryan, I would suggest to you that if you think about the anti-immigration
movement as a populist ideal, which resulted in the creation
of the Know Nothing Party, proof that a social movement,
anti-immigration-ism, right? No nothing-ism, or the American Party
they called themselves, could become an institutional
player and then meet its goal which is gaining
power and then going out of business which is what happens with social movements right? Which happens, so I would suggest that
if you look at the face of the Tea Party people and you realize that even lunatics have
something legitimate to say, something to hang it on
which is there are no jobs, the industries that
people in those movements in the states where they coming
from are not coming back, that the era of the $75 an hour auto worker including benefits is over, that pensions, where pensions really are is questionable, when people figure that out
they’re really gonna get nuts. When you have this entire
change going on all the time, that you’ll see some
kind of social reaction, what makes the mix even stronger, or what changes the
dynamic and maybe makes it more stable is the changing nature of the American population itself. We live at a time, and you hear this all
the time of great change, but we really do, the time is really close when the American we see will not be the American we knew, what does that mean? We think of America as
a European melting pot, that is over, we are seeing now for the first time in our recent history anyway
a nation which is less, that can tie less of its roots to Europe than it can to South
America or Asia or Mexico. A nation which is very different in every way shape or form, where the political ethos
will be more reflective of populations we don’t
know an awful lot about, but we’re gonna have to learn to acculturate with and
assimilate with as well. So I think it’s kind of interesting, I don’t think anything’s
changed in the system, but I think the external
pressures on the system are such that future
voting patterns may change, one thing is sure and then
I’ll take your questions, African Americans are the
most reliable components of the Democratic Party and
it has less to do with race then it has to do with the word Democrat and the studies are pretty clear, that is sure. The other thing that is sure, is that with the Republican control of state legislatures
and an unparalleled means that the Congress has a
higher probability over the next decade of remaining
somewhat Republican because of reapportionment, if you look at states like Alabama where I believe the people
in their wisdom chose to have Republican
constitutional officers, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Auditor, Secretary of
State and Attorney General, and keep the legislature in the hands of the Democrats did the exact
reverse for the first time in a hundred years and
tossed the Democrats out. To do such a pathological thing, pathological because it is not done, tells you that the electorate is angry and disturbed and hoping
that the political people will do something to change the conditions that created the anger in the first place. I, too, as an American
hope that they will, and now I’ll take your questions. (audience applauds) – [Michael] Yes, I’m Michael Finer– – Good to meet you Michael Finer. – I also wanted to go
back to what you said (mumbles) My question is about did you
ever address the nastiness, I think it all developed from
back in ’62, ’63 one year, (mumbles) Lyndon Johnson, all the way to the current era, and I haven’t seen anything
quite like how things happened and then it got worse with Bush, and then what happened with Bush was the Democrats became jealous and what they say about the
Republicans is incredible, I noticed the level of this nastiness was significantly higher. (mumbles) – Thank you Ryan for the water by the way. (Michael mumbles) So my question is, to what extent is the
nastiness and how much further, you say there is no insurgency
is going on in the streets, who’s to say that it can’t develop from the streets going back
and forth with each other, and quite frankly we just
had a meeting (mumbles) and we were ready to build these kind of things but we didn’t wanna– – Yeah, but your question, what you’re really saying is, Hank, what is going on, why is it so nasty, and what does the future portend. Okay I thank you Mr. Finer, it’s a good question I can
answer it in a different way, I hope you will like the answer if not, you’ll have to invite me to a candidates night so I can act like an idiot. First of all this is not new, I would suggest that the
first negative campaign occurred by that great
protector of democracy, he was the guy that did it, his name was Thomas Jefferson, and he tried to get Alexander Hamilton killed which he was
ultimately successful at, and publish newspapers
and documents excoriating him and even talking about
his racial background. And Alexander Hamilton the creator of the American currency
system and the rest was black, it’s simple, so he was a great man Jefferson, the Democrats who did that, disgusting. They went after Andrew Jackson’s wife, they called her a whore on the
front pages of the newspaper, they being the owners of whatever media was available at the time, ’cause he had the temerity
to invite average people, Andrew Jackson did, into the White House, how dare you do such a thing. Let’s see what else. Abe Lincoln a great man by
any measure was portrayed as an ape and as an animal and a monster on front pages of newspapers
across the country. Corporations did that because
they owned the newspapers, let’s be clear. Let’s see what else we have. – [Man] You’ve got Cleveland. – I’m sorry? – [Man] Cleveland. – Cleveland was another one, the illegitimate child, which in fact he did have by the way, the scholars tend to indicate, but was that the business
of the public at the time, Jack Kennedy like Al Smith was excoriated because he was a Catholic, and it took a tremendous amount of courage for him to stand up, and also to help with organized
crime in West Virginia and Illinois to stop
people from complaining about his Catholicism which
they’re pretty good at. This is not new, what is new is the amount of television, and the amount of money in politics that is permitting these
kinds of messages to be used, that is different, the amount of money being spent in politics is overwhelming. There was a piece done, I got a call from the late Sid Zion who was a reporter for The
Daily News and The Times, an interesting fellow, died recently, in 2005 I guess, he said there’s a young
reporter I want you to talk to, and he wants to do a piece and he needs to do it with you so he
can get in the papers, I said great. So I don’t know what the hell I did but I always like to help people, I’m sitting there and I do this interview and the Sunday Times
shows up at the house, and is a magazine, and open up on the back cover is, all the borough president’s men, Hank Sheinkopf has told to, and I forgot the guys name but I hope his career to be a good one. I said I felt like Carl
Furillo, the Reading Rifle for those of you that
remember the Brooklyn Dodgers because he made about $2.30 a year and had to live on a
walk up and that was it, and he was a major league star, and when I broke into the business that’s the kind of money we made, we didn’t think we were that smart, and a lot of us did this, and I was in the first generation, second generation of consultants, the first time I got paid
to do politics was in 1969. And I met the woman of my dreams who I divorced, which is always wise. It was a bad dream. Anyway, anyway the point of the story is that it’s gotten more nasty
because there’s more of it. And that is the difference, and then unregulated internet which everybody seems
to think is wonderful. I had a fight with this
with a fellow who believes and kept telling about the
freedom of the internet, and I said well you know it’s okay, but we have FCC regulations that require that you identify your ads on broadcast then you oughta identify
them on the internet. We’re not holding people responsible to a level of discourse
that befits a democracy. It is true and one of
the better books written about politics still used in classrooms 50 years afterwards called let’s see, The Semi-Sovereign People
by E. E. Schattschneider who talks about in the
prologue talks about that in order to have a
democracy you need to have noise, and what commonly becomes
the sub governments people underneath that you never see destroy democracy and you
need to have the noise, but you need to have noise that people take responsibility for. What makes this more complicated, and makes it worse, and defines where the money comes from, which really goes to answer
your question at another level, is that these governments
at the representational level do not work for the people, the United States Congress
does not represent you, that is the problem that the Tea Party people are
really screaming about, the people who were elected
to the State Senate, the State Assembly, the United States House
of Representatives, less so with the U.S. Senate, because there’s more public view, how do we define that? Because they get killed more often, I.e. they get knocked out of office, but the people at these local legislative levels really don’t work for you, they work for the mining industry, the oil and gas industry, the physicians, the insurance companies, blah, blah, blah, the trial lawyers, because they pay for campaigns because the cost of doing
campaigns is so high, a very important book which
I don’t recommend to you, written by Anthony Downs many years ago called An Economic
Theory of Democracy, makes the case that
ultimately what is logical is that people wanna get the
benefit that they want to get, which means that they
wanna get re-elected, so therefore people will do
what they have to do to do that. So all the letters you get home from congressmen on complaints, or congresswomen that come off machines that print these things or
machines that print these things, but your interests are not attended to, because the interests of voting for things that will determine how
much campaign money comes in most cases is much more important, because the rational act
is to get re-elected, if you’re interested in this stuff, there’s a book by David Mayhew called Congress: The Electoral Connection which I recommend to you. And there’s stuff done
by a political scientist named Jack Walker which
I also recommend to you, but that is what’s occurred. We have become in the
creation of democracy, there’s a whole theory
by political scientists in the ’60s and ’70s, less so the ’70s, but certainly the ’60s, that groups were the
ways that people organize and I touched on that before, well in fact that’s the case, but the groups are organized in Congress are the interest groups, that’s why we don’t get
minutes of subcommittees, because if you got minutes of subcommittees you’d
really know what’s going on, then you’d really get
sick and then everybody would be a member of the Tea Party. Okay? Carl. Carl Altari talks. – [Carl] (mumbles) I wonder if it is, none of this is new. How we handle information
coming through television, it seems we mix news with opinion. And we don’t want newspapers to do that. (mumbles) Rational reporting, television is increasingly unable to know which is news and which is opinion, do you agree with that? – I think that Carl Altari says it has become more difficult to determine, we should all thank Carl Altari for his service to the people of the city, he’s helped create real
jobs for a lot of people, and real institutions, but Carl Altari’s question is, is kind of personal to him and to a lot of the rest of us, is what we are seeing in the
coverage of campaigns news, the coverage of public life
news or is it something else, what is the differentiation
between news and opinion, and is a viewpoint being portrayed rather than anything else, are we able to get hard news any more? And I would suggest the answer is no, we never got hard news, and the New York Times coverage of the Middle East is a perfect example of absolute unquestioned bias, the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the Democrats in most
cases it is an absolute bias, depends on the circumstances, and also there’s a guy who found me in the South Bronx in the
early part of my career, he told me that I would be
a great man in politics, and I said you’re absolutely insane, he took his teeth out and
put them on the table, he was insane, he took his teeth out of his
mouth and put it in a napkin. And one of the things he taught me, he’s dead now, his name
was Walter Diamond, one of the things he taught
me was that everything is fine but it really all
depends whose ox is being gored. So the Conservatives have a beef that they need to create their
own broadcast opportunity called Fox News and their own journals and their own think tanks are all part of this to get a particular
point of view across, the answer is yes. Was there unfair coverage of things, if you watch NY1, and you
listen to this one anchor, when the word Republican comes up she starts talking, tapping,
dancing and singing, I don’t know what her card
is like, she lost her mind, is there a bias? There’s always a bias, the question is does it interfere with people getting information? I would argue that Americans are getting more information than ever before and they’re able to
discount what is not true, they’re getting more information not less. Hold on, well you’re right, this young fella here
just out of high school says they’re getting may
be too much information, that may in fact be true. The 24-hour news cycle
has changed what news is, content changes by the minute because the situation of public
life changes by the minute. A case in point in my own career. I got a phone call one morning it was about 8 o’clock in the morning, and the call was let’s see, the governor’s gay, he’s
coming out of the closet, you will know what this is in a minute, coming out the closet in
a news conference at 4 PM, they’re trying to extort $50 million out of him and we need you
in Princeton in an hour. It’s the kind of call you
every morning you know. (audience laughs) You just say I know that calls
coming today I can’t wait. I changed the lead of the story for the press corps every half an hour, to catch up on the news cycle. And then it became live news, so the timing of the
cycle which never ends, the need to create
content which is endless, creates news that isn’t news, and opinion that’s not rational, because what we live in, and this, we can thank Walter Winchell and the gossip columnists for, is a culture of gossip and entertainment, and there is absolutely no
reason, why, irrationally, that gossip and entertainment should not be the way our
political systems function, and by the way they are, because we’re less concerned in coverage, and they’re studies done about this, and I think if I may be mistaken, but Dr. Jamieson of the Edinburgh School has done a lot of work in this area, coverage of news and campaigns
versus coverage of tactics, by that I mean the horse race. Now we’re all rational
people in this room, right? What would you rather read, the horse race or the coverage? Would you rather read a position paper that’s 75 pages long that talks about grants and aid formulas, or would you rather read about, this one’s ahead this way on this day by these points because he did that and X and Y and so-and-so said, of course you’d rather read that. Would you rather watch a negative campaign ad which has the right music, Dr. Jamieson has written about this, Kathleen L Jamieson, has the right music, it’s kind of entertaining or interesting, or the one that’s like, oh yeah, that’s him and
the dog and the wife, or her, the husband and the dog, which would you find more interesting? It’s kinda like the notion of pornography, I had a guy once to say to me, he said, “You know Sheinkopf
those ads you create are pornographic they’re
so harsh and mean.” I used to create some
pretty harsh and mean ads, I’d say, “How so?”, I’d say to him, “Did you ever watch pornography?” He said, “No.” I said, “Well what did you sit there like “this when you saw it then so
you know what it looked like.” Look, it all depends
whose ox is being gored, but the content is changing, because the strictures and the variables I just talked about, increased need for content, more information going out which may in fact may not be true, unverifiable internet access, failure of people to take responsibility for information on the internet, and the redefinition of what is truth, which is a serious problem, but I think you’re right, and not the purpose of
this particular lecture, but a serious problem we face in a world where gossip and entertainment have become the staple rather
than hard information with a population that is
less civically educated and subject to more rumor, dangerous. Yes ma’am? – [Woman] Why has it been so difficult for a viable third party to
gain power in the United States. We have so many dissatisfied
voters who have voted, 50% of what they are told is garbage, and then you have men
other than Ross Perot, getting closest to having
a viable third party. – Oh we did, we have the Whigs, in New York State we had
the anti-Masonic party which was very successful. – [Woman] I’m not talking about 200 years. – The Know Nothings were very
successful in New York state. The question is, a serious question, a very important one that I’m
gonna try to answer quickly. Why have we not been
able to have a viable, this lady is using that that word, a viable third party in this country? For a host of reasons, one, voting is a habit, it’s habitual, people tend to do the same
thing again and again and again. – [Woman] Is it lack of leadership? – No I don’t think it’s leadership, I think it’s the fact that
voting is a repetitive process, it’s learned, remember I talked before
about the internal time clock, which I have no way to quantify but I have a theory that
that’s really the case, and someday I’m gonna
do some field work on it and you’re all gonna be bored
by the outcomes of the study. Voting is a habit, people tend to vote in one way or another, and matter of fact on your block, depending on where you live, you live in New York City right? On your block, if you said to people I’m
voting Republican today, they might come with an ax and come to kill you depending on where you live, or they might send you a psychiatrist, you said your voting Democrat and you live in Glendale
they might say okay, we’ll have the guys out to get you later. It depends where you live and
what the pressures are on you. But generally people tend
to make single choices, they tend not to manipulate the ballot, they tend to vote in columns and lines, because people cannot store
information in the same way, if there is a concept issue dissonance where we know social
scientists have been pretty able to prove over time
that multiple ideas, people just can’t contain them, there’s too much going on, there’s too many other stimuli. Number one, number two, with the two-party system in place, the state boards of elections
and state election laws generally across the country are rigged to ensure that qualifying as a third party is very difficult. – [Woman] So really it’s a
defect in the structure of– – Well it’s a defect in the structure, but frankly it’s good for the stability of the system overall I would argue, because I will now give you examples of countries that have
multiple party systems, Italy, does not work, doesn’t work, Germany, sometimes works, Merkel is working out, Kohl stayed too long, England, they’re a 12th rate
power which exists simply because we make sure
they have atomic bombs and enough weapons and money, I can go on and on, Israel it’s insane, they have a multi-party
system in order to correct it, they corrected it by ensuring that they could directly
elect a prime minister. It just doesn’t work, it does not provide the stability, and those governments tend to collapse, but you’re right about
defects in the system that ensure that the
system protects itself, which is both good news and bad news. – [Woman] The ability to raise money. – Well I’m gonna get there in a second, the ability to raise money, and what I’m worried about someone who cares deeply about democracy, that, and has spent his life trying
to make sure that people vote, not that they don’t vote, but that they vote, I’m very concerned about
a rich person with nothing but charismatic leadership
and cash running up the middle to create that new party which is those blanks or independents or nonsubscribers in the middle
that I talked about before, so we’d better hope that whoever does that is a good human being. Ma’am? Someone? Yes ma’am? – [Woman] Yes I would like to know what’s your opinion on
what Obama has done so far, and also if you state that the anti-Obama feeling has anything to do with race? – It’s a very important question, it has two parts, one, my personal opinion, yeah, if I’m getting this wrong I want you to tell me please. I’m being asked for my personal opinion about what Obama’s done so far, I’m gonna take care of
that in a different way, two, do I think the negative reaction to him has anything to do with race? The answer to the second one is yes, the answer to the first
one is I’m not a happy guy, because I’m a Democrat, unabashed, I’m a Harry Truman Democrat
which means I believe, there aren’t that many of us left, in a strong national defense, providing opportunity for people, and stopping corporations from raping and pillaging the land, I believe in a fair tax system, and I belief that American is a beacon of light for the world, not something to be ashamed of, that American values have
been the great organizing tool for the world system and have kept us, kept Russians from doing
what they like to do which is killing everybody in Europe. And have stopped people all
over the world from killing each other until late, when
we failed to do our job. That being said, my beef with the Obama administration is about the health care plan, not for the reasons you think, I believe in single-payer, I think a civilized system has that, I don’t think that giving
one sixth of the economy to the insurance industry is a good thing, I faced off against the insurance industry as a consultant and trial
lawyer versus insurance industry battles throughout the south in the 90s, I faced Rove a lot, he lost a lot, I did not in those battles. I think as an observant person, as a religious person, I am very deeply concerned, and I think about that in the context of the American system, about a healthcare system
controlled by an industry whose sole job is to
actuarially insure its income, that is very dangerous, and concomitantly when you put
that to the following fact, fact this is not internet
nonsense or some creation that 48% of every health care dollar is spent in the last 30 days of life, now if you are actuarially
concerned about this, there won’t be a last 30 days of life, there won’t be a last 60 days of life, there won’t be the last 90 days of life, there may be the last 120 days of life, that’s not the American way, and that’s not what religious people do, I would rather have seen him stand up and say I’m for single-payer
that’s my principal position. Which brings us to the basic problem, not with him but with the
political system at large, if we are a culture of gossip
and entertainment and we are, anybody who denies that, anecdotally go to any news
stand and tell me what you see, the dehumanization of women and gossip and entertainment
in those windows, if that is the case, then our politics are
not separate and apart, which brings us to another point, we often fail to understand
that what happens in our politics is reflective
of the society at large. If we’re not engaged in discourse then we’re gonna do something else, if we can’t create coalitions
then we’ll polarize. If there is no national common will then there will be individuals acting out, the politics determined
what our society is like, these things have real impacts. This is not a game, this is serious, but what we have turned it
into is Monday night football, without understanding the value of it. A vote by Congress to defund or not fund significantly transportation systems in the East, and instead to make sure
that oil companies do better by funding four lane highways
results in pollution, a loss of jobs, a loss of revenue and the
destruction potentially of lives and of urban centers. These are serious things, these are not accidents. So when a president of
the United States says let’s make the insurance industry well, because that’s the best I can do, I get nervous, because I don’t like corporatism, and as a political scientist, and I assume there are others in the room, we know that a nation state development where corporatism stands, it is very close to fascism on the scale of nation state development, and that is not something good, because you destroyed choice,
you destroying freedom and you create bureaucracy, dangerous, that’s my position on that particular one, I hope you understand, thank you. – [Woman] One more question here. – [Man] I just want to quickly ask you as an English professor, one of the things that I tend to do is shows students pathways between where there are and
where they might get to, and sometimes it’s disconnect
in the liberal arts, they don’t quite understand how to get to point A from point B, have a task you have there to explain it, could you take a moment to explain how you got from CUNY,
to where you are now, academically, professionally– – I’m not a great, Alan Dobrin knows me longer
than anyone in the room, and I’m not a great self
promoter in that way, I’ve always let my ideas
and my accomplishments. I was a poor kid from
Hunts Point in South Bronx, my mother was 15 when I was born, my father was 19, I was out of the house
working when I was 12, I was separated from my brothers, I went to a place called Green Chimneys which is pretty well known, I’m on the board today, which is a residential
center for tough kids, I lived on the street a lot, dropped out of high school, decided to go back, had to find a place to live, I lived with the rosters
of Green Chimneys, and there was only one place
for me to go to school, without which I would never
have got an education, my father was a resident of New York City, even though I hadn’t lived
there for a year I came back, I lived in the basement
of a house on 78th Road, and 153rd St because I thought I was going to Queens College. But somehow somebody
signed a piece of paper when I went to register at Queens, they told me I wasn’t
there but I was going to this new place called
York which had buildings, which was operating out of a public school on Springfield Boulevard which
didn’t make much sense to me. Anyway the toilet was upstairs
and the shower was upstairs, you didn’t do it that often she didn’t want to disturb the landlord, and I worked in restaurants, because I figured you’d never starve while I was putting myself through school. And then in 1969 I was trying
to pick up some extra money, we used to have parking lots
on Hillside Avenue 179th St, they’re probably not there anymore, and I knew a fella whose
father owned a lot, and to pick up some extra dough, and plus I joined the
restaurant workers union, I was a county man and I’d get 30 a day, I think that was a lot of money. I worked a place, like the
stage at the Carnegie at night, it was pretty tough work six days a week. Anyway so the guys father who owned a lot, said to me, you know I was honest, I was making $20 a morning I
think with tips of five bucks, he said, “How you’d like to
pick up 30 bucks a week?” I said what I have to do, ’cause reasonable, I always like to drink, and it was $0.35 a shot, and $0.15 a beer, so I did the arithmetic pretty quick. He said well there’s this campaign, 1969, campaign and I said what do I have to do, a little of this and a little of that, okay I did that, whatever this and that was, and the guy was Herman Badio
and he was running for mayor, and it changed my life, because here was a guy who
had come to New York City as an orphan without a dime in his pocket and no family, a lot like me. And free education, CUNY had saved his life. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Thank you Mr. Sheinkopf, and that is what we do at CUNY, and certainly at Queensborough
Community College, is educate, offer
opportunity for advancement, I think many of you in this
room are illustrations of that, and certainly probably no
more than our guest lecturer, and we’re very appreciative
of your remarks today, thank you. (audience applauds) As is our tradition, we have a small reception outside, and you can mingle a
bit with Mr. Sheinkopf, it’s part of our program for today, we appreciate your coming
here and look forward to seeing you at the spring lecture again, thank you very much and
thank you Mr Sheinkopf.