Transcript for It's a 'great time' for Democrats to 'hit the reset button': Yvette Simpson
roundtable. Right now I'm joined by Rahm Emanuel, Yvette Simpson, Chris Christie here in the studio, also Matthew dowd in Austin, Texas, Heidi Hamp in North Dakota this morning. Thank you all for joining us. Rahm, let me begin with you. It took a while to get to the final result. It's not that -- four or five days. What's the big message from this election? Well, I think a couple things at least on the presidential level. Style is the substance in the sense that this was very much what Biden said not only about my character versus the president, but the character of the country and the country was -- I kind of back to grant park, 2008, that was bilation. This is catharsis and in a sense that this is a relief from this darkness of attack and pitting. I think Americans were ex-lawsoned by the constant pitting against us and they want Washington a little distant in their lives, go back to your work. Get our lives -- we'll get our lives in order, which is why so many were focused on the pandemic and the economy in a sense of being able to get back to some level of normalcy. I do think also the vice president is a bit of a restoration to that normalcy but has to be transformative and has to walk both sides of that sidewalk together. So I think that in this many -- there are many issues. But if you look active states that flipped from 2016 to now, there is a lot of similarities and at the end of the day, Joe Biden, even though he was ridiculed in the primary, the breadth of his coalition, that is how he has to govern, and he has to be authentic to that breadth, and that is who he is as a character that people felt comfortable with him with this responsibility. Chris christiresident trump won 71 million votes at least. In the end though it still was a referendum on him. Well, yeah, I think you heard me speaking since the summer that he couldn't win a referendum, not in the middle of a pandemic, not in the middle of an economic recession that was caused by the pandemic and in the midst of real racial issues in our country. You can't win a referendum in that respect. The referendum winners are people like Bill Clinton in '96 and, you know, Ronald Reagan in 1984 where there's not a lot of argument that the country is moving in the right direction, the good direction. But the message of the election too is a mixed message, which I think from listening to the vice president last nighthe hears. You know, Republicans added to the house. We don't know quite how many yet but at least five, maybe more. Governorships flipped. State legislatures flipped towards Republicans, and more likely than not a Republican senate, so that even reinforces more your premise, which I adopt that it was a referendum election at the presidential level. But it was not a rejection of Republican policies across the country because if it was, there would have been the wave that Rahm talked about beforehand rather than the undertow that I talked about before. Yvette Simpson, it will depend on those two special elections in Georgia on January 5th. This is the culmination on the democratic side of four years of Absolutely. And I think we need to continue that. You know, I think this is a great time for the democratic party to hit the reset button. Like let's go back to our roots. Organizing is our foundation, remember the big wave of '08 that came from a strong organizing foundation built by Barack Obama. Let's continue to build on that and let's talk to our votersconsistently. Let's as the President-Elect said let's make real the promises that we have made to the base of the party who has been with us, who showed up through a pandemic. Let's make sure that we recognize that before we go out and start, you know, trying to build this huge coalition. Let's show the folks who showed up that we love them and let's continue to stay consistent. I do want to push back a little bit on the flip situation. We won a lot of seats last cycle and Republicans got some of those back, but I do believe in places where we were true to our mission, we won. For instance, the Progressives who were in swing seats all won. But the moderates who were in swing seats didn't.d I think part of that is we didn't make our message clear enough. Go with what you know. Go with talking about serving real people. You can do that in moderate districts, and it doesn't have to feel extreme. It just says, I'm here for you and I represent you. That is the foundation of the people's house. The representative form of government. Let's continue to reinforce those mess ans. Matthew dowd, what were the Well, I think the people were saying, I'm tired of the chaos. I want calm. I really don't want to hear from the president every single day about every single thing. I think -- a year and a half ago or two years ago, somebody asked me what the slogan should be for a candidate running against Donald Trump. And I said, make America boring again, and I think the country just doesn't want to hear -- if I were Joe Biden, I would stand up on the first day in office and say, guess what, you're not going to hear me from me on weeks on end because I'll be in the oval office and you won't have to worry about me. One thing I'll say, George, yesterday was a good day for Irish catholics. Joe Biden is an Irish catholic but even as importantly, notre dame beat Clemson last night, the number one team in the country, so I mean I think we're a divided country. I think people want calm and decency and character. I don't think people are satisfied with either of the two political parties. On election day they got a lot of votes, but people weren't satisfied with either political party on election day, and so I think we're going to go back. I think it's actually a good moment because in order to get something done, people are going to have to cooperate and compromise, and that's what most Americans want. They want cooperation and they want compromise and to get the job done. Heidi Heitkamp, the President-Elect said it's a mandate for cooperation. Heidi? Hi. You know, I want to push back a little bit on this idea that moderates didn't win. You know, I think that it's pretty easy when you look at the districts when you're a Progressive running in New York City, it's really easy to win elections as a Democrat. It's not so easy in states like mine and I think that the most important thing that we can do is identify successes. Early successe all Democrats could agree on, whether that is curbing the cost of prescription drugs, which theesident tried to take as his own. It's going to be really tricky, but I think for Joe Biden, yes, he needs to have the right rhetoric. But he needs to have victories for working people in this country to establish that base and solidify that base for the next two years and hopefully four years. Progressives in swing states won. Progressives who ran on actual issues in swing states won, and so we're not talking about folks in New York. We're talking about people who just flipped these red seats like Katie porter, like Mike Levin, seats we never had before. They won overwhelmingly and what I'm saying is no matter where we are, and I think we agree on this, Heidi, no matter where we are, let's talk to the issues. Let's not run away from them. And I think there was this expectation because trump was such a vitriol character that we could win by just saying trump is bad, and what I'm saying is serve the people in your district and find out what they need and we can deliver that. The real fear I have, George, 2022 is right around the coordinator. Dfa got our first application for a candidate running for U.S. Senate yesterday for 2022. 2024 is around the corner. We'll need our best. I'm not sure anybody is ready to hear that yet. It's scary. It's right around the corner. I know we'll be seeing maybe some presidential Kates for 2024 maybe starring to talk soon, and what I'm saying, let's not wait. Let's have that conversation now. Let's organize. Let's build. Because we're going to need our base to win. I think what you're saying is listen to Heidi, Yvette, Rahm, is the difficulty going to be unifying the democratic party while reaching out to Republican. Yes and no. I think if you go back to the campaign, he did actually a very, very good job of keeping everybody inside, and actually the truth is the Progressive wing of the party was less ideological and more pragmatic that we had an overarching goal. Let me draw back. Joe Biden is a Progressive. He said it. But there's a lesson to be learned. Jeremy corbyn lost in England and Joe Biden won in the United States. That you can make -- the first step in Progressive politics being enacted is winning and elected. You can -- and I agree with Yvette about organizing, but organizing not just with it's either my way or not. Being very -- and they were Progressive. They -- and when Joe Biden said in the debates, I beat Bernie Sanders, you didn't see Bernie Sanders yell or scream. He understood the singular goal, is, a, beating trump, B, making down payments on Progressive policies. They may more incremental than some like but go there and I think Joe Biden if he doesn't stay true to the coalition who elected him and if you're not authentic, whatever you want to say about Donald Trump, and I don't like what he did to America, what the reason his people showed up is they thought he was authentic. If you can't be authentic, fake Chris Christie, you said that Joe Biden had the right words last night speaking out to the trump supporters. How does he follow through on that, and then the flip side of that question is, are Republicans ready to work with him? I mean, it's kind of stunning that you haven't seen him congratulated by more Republicans, the Republican leader of the senate has not acknowledged his victory. I think you've only had senator murkowski and Romney so far acknowledge the victory. Will he have a willing partner in Republicans? Just so that people who watch us often think that at times Matt dowd and I don't agree on anything, here we're getting together. Here's my mask this morning so Matt and I are on the same page this morning though we don't often agree on some other things. Listen, I think it's going to be issue by issue, George, in terms of whether Republican also work with Democrats and vice versa. Don't they have to start by acknowledging his victory? Well, of course, they do, and, you know, listen, this was a very contentious election. You have the president sitting in the white house not acknowledging it, and I think there's lots of Republicans who are trying to feel their way around that. Still afraid of him? That's why to me I think it was so important early on to say to the president, if your base is for not conceding is that there was voter fraud, then show us. Show us, because ICAN't show us, we can't do this. We can't back you blindly without evidence, and that's why I said what I said on Wednesday morning and on Thursday night. And I'm hoping that more Republicans move in the direction of saying, not that we don't support the president, he's been a friend of mine for 20 year, but friendship doesn't mean that you're blind. Friendship means that you will listen to somebody, give them their opportunity, and if they don't come forward with the proof, then it's time to move on. Matthew dowd? Yeah, I think if -- that the two political parties had both a successful night and a huge amount of warning signs on Tuesday night. Turnout was amazing. There was huge support of each political party. They had a higher share of their own political party's support than ever before, but there's a ton of warning signs for each political party, and I think they need to look at themselves and introspect on themselves. You have a Republican party who dominates now among rural areas and small towns and ex-urban areas and does really well with the white working class which used to be the democratic base but the Republican party has lost urban areas, is losing suburban areas, is not building enough on people of color, and the Democrats, on the other hand as I say, opposite of that they're doing very well in urban and suburban areas but lost a huge swath of the country and when you look at the election results, Joe Biden had a very big, huge victory, but along the way there was a ton of mixed results for both political parties, so if they sit there and point the finger at the other side and say, it's their fault, it's their fault, it's their fault, and I'm not saying there's equal blame on both sides, I think president trump, as you know my feelings about that, I think he took the country in a direction both just emotionally and psychically in a bad direction that I think the country didn't agree with and that's why I think he lost, but the two political parties have to look at their own tribe first and say what is it that we're not doing because we're not appealing to huge parts of the country that caused the division within the country. Heidi Heitkamp, can the President-Elect reach out to your state, North Dakota, reach out to that broad swath in the middle of the country that has gone deep red? I'm going to give you a proof point to where what Matt is just saying. 65% of the people in north Dakota think climate change is a problem. We're a big fossil state. We're a conservative state but yet they see climate change is a problem. They get concerned when they see radical ideas being introduced to completely upend the energy system because that creates angst in their mind both economically and in terms of cost of energy. There is a place that you can go in solving these problems that speaks to all sides and does not radicalize important issues in this country. We saw that with the pan which was incredible how masks got radicalized and politicized. We need to stop doing that and we need to come together and both sides have to address the concerns that the other side has on solutions for this country. You know, the unity that we have is unity about what the problems are. It's bringing together solutions that can bring everybody together so that we can walk together and solve America's problems. I think we have to start out by bringing you and Yvette together. She just said radical three times. You just called the base of the democratic party Progressives radical. That is not -- I mean, that's a Republican talking point. Progressives want everyone to breathe clean air, even people in north and South Dakota. We want everyone to have health care. Even people in rural areas and even people in working class white America. We want everyone to have a chance at the American dream. We're not saying leave people out. We're saying bring people in. But if parts of our party, when we bring home the bacon like we did yesterday call us radical like Republicans did, that's not the starting place of a good family conversation. One level said here -- one level said is, Bill Clinton's budget in 1993 which is an Mick plan. Barack Obama's health care bill got over the top by two senators, different senators from Nebraska. You got to be able to as Matt and others -- you got to be able to run in places and win, that's number one. Number two, you said to George early on lessons, red state Florida voted for trump, I hate saying red state but voted for anase in minimum wage. In Illinois where I'm from it voted for Joe Biden and against a Progressive income tax. California, a very blue state voted against workers' rights for gig employees. That was an awful initiative the way it was written. The point is life is implicated and to get the threads here, you're going to have to have policies that actually bring votes rather than push those votes away. You know, we're just about out of time. Chris, I have to ask a final question. What is it going to take for president trump to acknowledge what happened here, accept defeat, leave gracefully? I don't know, but what I will tell you is I'm overjoyed by this conversation because for Republicans it's what I've been saying -- That didn't work out for you last time, though. I'm just saying. It worked out fine for us. You know, what I want to see going forward is for people to acknowledge that I don't think this is a party problem. Candidates matter, George. This was not a party problem four years ago for the Republicans to win in the suburbs. Donald Trump won in the suburbs. This time Joe Biden won the suburbs because he was running against a candidate that the suburbs rejected. Candidates are what matters, the parties follow the candidates. Joe Biden himself said it. I am theemocratic party. Okay, so let's not make this a party thing. It's not. It is who do you nominate, and how do they present themselves and what kind of campaign do they run, and who are they, and the candidate wins and loses, not the party. That's going to have to be the last word. Great roundtable. Thank you all very much.
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