A More Perfect Union: A Dialogue on American Value

A discussion on how our values play into decisions about the budget.
3:00 | 10/19/11

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Transcript for A More Perfect Union: A Dialogue on American Value
Question I think that they bring me Jack this that says that we have to do. At least spent a portion of our minds and our resources more on the futures. President being willing. To cut back in the present for the sake. Of the future Georgia -- just connect a couple of points and building from Richards Richards very helpful comment regarding the importance of that value. Of our belief in the future. We were given -- gift our generation. That was a gift of opportunity. Came from our parents and -- grandparents. -- if did not come without sacrifice. Everyone of us know that our parents and grandparents sacrifice to enable us to have the kinds of opportunities. That we did in our lives in the question for us right now. We engaged in the level sacrifices necessary to provide for ours our young people I think -- -- but don't bring in -- but here because it. I can also imagine -- that Natalie -- no you go to. Any number of middle class households across the country and they -- who are you kidding. We're sacrificing every single day especially in this economy right now. Not. While not sacrificing. On not -- -- every middle class household. Witnessed traveling the world and in coming back home. And looking at what we have now we give up a lot we can give up some of us. Give up a lot -- And want to focus. On something. I believe been -- And I think the dialogue and the debate -- for that we have -- throughout congress after congress after congress is what we're gonna have to do until we get right. Because. We can't what do what else are we going to do there's no place bad. And you've got young men and women who have no jobs. Love going off to die literally to protect. This mess that we had. So we can't give up now I'm back I'm myself yet but I'm back -- my wife. I've seen the -- I -- the demonstrations. We may not have a focus. What did what one fundamental. Value is the whole that this nation views the opportunity to all. And there aren't things that we can sacrifice now the least of us. Have not much to sacrifice a person like myself and some mothers we could be -- long. We can give more. We did very well. You know and the thought of that for many of buses and now we don't wanna do it but we have to if we're going to -- Build -- -- taken a slightly different directions Peter I think you've heard about this and forgive me if I put words in your map and correct me where I'm wrong but what it. Wouldn't that providing that opportunity. For every one. Can only be -- we can only do big things. If we have a little less democracy. If -- basically. Give give politicians the space -- commissions -- -- to go do their work and say that we're not gonna put it. For a vote lately we're not we're not going to allow the process to -- -- and try to find a way. To push it through because we believe it's the right thing I know -- I had slightly. I think one of the core problems here is that we are increasingly not one. Nation if you look at the evidence we are effectively two nations united by -- single congress. We -- physically and virtually separating ourselves into two opposing camps to -- dramatic degree. It literally to the point of at the neighborhood level neighborhoods becoming increasingly Republican or increasingly democratic. And then you have the technological change in the media. And we get -- news feed your effectively having. Differently combine that with the redistricting and computerized patient districts and people -- makes -- even worse and all the social psychology literature shows that if you put like minded people together in a group. The group becomes much more extreme. In any individual and I think that's I don't actually think that it's just a political system -- the population I think we are getting the political system that reflects. That growing divide in the middle is an increasingly in place to -- Peter I think you're absolutely right the only thing is I think -- -- collectively were questioned his -- with a -- can we do anything about it. So university yours school system more tax system. Can work either reinforce that work can work against that and I think we ought to be working to change that. I don't think I think -- at some illusion to think that government can do this divorced from the people we have to bring the people with us. You can imagine a government solving some portions of our deficit. -- without people who may be right may be wrong but you can't imagine solving this problem up -- Because they don't and you very much that there they've also participated and you know we have trust ourselves that's I think. Critically important. I think you asked why is facing government reduced and I think faith and a lot of institutions are reduced -- -- for instance in the Catholic Church to name. I'm an unfamiliar way it is reduced and eighth and others and they think corporate America's -- vacate corporate America patent -- so there is this. If you could argue is this we've been told the last. Many many years you are important by yourself. Make it on your well do it alone. And so we've been taught over and over again you're supposed to stand on your own two feet the idea of working in an institution. Almost to ethical. To a whole notion of this. Fierce individualism. So part of what has to change is a belief that we actually do. Need our children our parents. Our friends our church our can you know our our all those institutions that help. Blew us to one another. I just would note that the one institution in American life the most strongly fight that individualism. Military. -- and a whole is greater in the some of the sports. Team of mutual commitment. And the military in the judiciary probably air out piracy. And corporations the press congress and the White House. I think we do have to take seriously as your question implies that populism is not always the friend of compromise. And its politicians do sometimes have to do their work we're doing that now with the super committee where it was very hard to get agreement more broadly in the congress. I don't think it would be productive to take the occupy Wall Street people in the Tea Party people put them in the same room and asked them to have a discussion. That wouldn't address the problem and in fact need people that take their representative role seriously but -- the process. Two people have room. To make that exactly the kind of agreement are talking about -- you know tax reform that's gonna raise revenues in a way that's acceptable to Republicans. And entitlement reform that doesn't doesn't -- you know make sure that entitlement spending doesn't crowd out all other spending in the budget over the next few decades. In this -- you know that's the kind of agreement you need but I'm just not -- populism gets us in the current. One of the things that we we start talking about what is there are there what's the philosophy by which we do -- work it's 18 it set out what is the work to do. But the -- -- is under what rules are we going to govern and and and trust is one of those and stability is another one that Luis was mentioning. And -- the conversation we should began talking about is what it that the the rules. Interaction and philosophy if we're going to have the rules of engagement. And then if we think agreed to -- -- to come out -- with a trustworthy solution. For the come out with one that is more productive we're gonna how. Attention I think -- I mean I think everyone agree and that if you take the definition of civility in need. We should be polite we shouldn't call each other names we shouldn't. -- -- we shouldn't attack. RRR adversaries personally. But He gets a little more difficult if civility is he's taken more broadly. I mean compromise more generally compromise for the sake of compromise and getting -- -- that runs right up against. I think a lot of distrust people -- -- government you saw that. I think one of things you've seen in the last couple of them a couple of years is new members of congress get elected. Who want to maintain their integrity. And their own personal integrity and their own beliefs are more important than being civil in the sense of compromising for the sake of a greater -- It's interesting notion -- excess but civility toward the notion common. Would be at a different kind of -- And to the rules of engagement toward a goal you set -- has -- the goals that are very tough for us to me. But it -- -- some rules -- gauge by which we can all agree without without. Killing each other process we've got to come up with the solutions in order to maintain integrity in order to regain the faith of people happened that we've got to come up with -- -- -- -- -- -- that -- trying to get something done. Mean -- Believe I'm and I have set of principles. One maintain them but in the in the process of trying to get some things done. You have to make some compromise. I'm -- compromises -- principle but you know there's going to be a little bit here and a little bit there let's move that ball a little further down on the field. We have some folks in the congress it is -- that the principal. Of whatever it is that they're trying to maintain appears to be more important than ever actually getting anything done. That's a lack of responsibility. In my opinion please. I'm these -- and integrity if that's the question I'm asking. -- -- I would say. -- a couple things first I do think that a solution to these problems. Will require people. Of all political stripes and in a variety of offices. To decide. But the challenge is important and not. That it is incumbent upon them first to govern. And then. Only then. To be worried about getting re elect and -- plenty of people worried about getting reelected not a lot of people in my opinion or worried about governing. But you -- an important question earlier which is are we willing to give up some of our democracy. I actually think just as a mental exercise it's it's worth thinking about actually maybe we need more democracy. May -- what we need just as an example. Is the big idea that 36 senators stood together and said they were willing to sign up for thirteen and thirteen. The big idea. Through the miracle of technology. Put up to a virtual -- By the American people what do you think about that I have great faith and most people have presented with a balanced solutions that OK and -- -- -- I think public servants might be very informed well -- you know I -- that agreement is responded to white folks. You know. I think Carly. Makes a good point and -- just bring it home because the reality is it on the Big Three issues taxation. Defense. And putting Social Security -- more sustainable footing so that it's more secure into the future. The majority of Americans 70%. On taxing the affluent. A clear majority on reducing the defense budget -- a clear majority and putting source securian sustainable basis agree. If those changes are needed and that -- gets to Peter's point a fundamental change on that 9%. And so I think this is a case where lots of fire comes from 99 for senators and Tea Party years but the great majority of Americans on all three of the core issues. Agree that something has to be done.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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