National Conversation on Rights and Justice: Building a More Perfect Union: Closing Keynote Panel
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National Conversation on Rights and Justice: Building a More Perfect Union: Closing Keynote Panel


>>David Ferriero: Okay. Now can you hear
me? Archivist of the United States. It’s a pleasure
to welcome you here to the National Archives Building for the closing keynote conversation
our series of National Conversations in 2014. If you already heard this it’s okay because
we have new people in the audience. In 2014, I attended a civil rights summit at the LBJ Presidential Library to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The summit brought together four U.S. presidents, civil rights leaders, scholars, and activists together to discuss the future of civil rights advocacy in America one of the biggest things
to come out of the conference for me was the realization there is so much to say about
rights and justice 52 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The idea for the National Conversations was born out of this need to continue these crucial discussions as a federal agency, the National Archives is responsible for the charters of freedom, the
Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights and for the collection and
protection of 13 billion other records that tell the American story. In its continued
challenges and successes towards creating a more perfect union. We have chosen the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights to feature an exhibit “Amending America” in the Laurence F. O’Brien gallery upstairs. As the permanent home of the Bill of Rights, no institution is better poised than the National Archives to not only celebrate the anniversary
of this extraordinary document, but also explore its meaning for civil rights today. We wanted
to use this moment to engage Americans in conversations about complicated issues such
as class, gender politics, race religion, and sexual orientation through our national
conversations. The content of the discussions build on the National Archives holdings connecting
key fundamental documents to the challenges before us. But our larger goal was more ambitious
to advance discussion of these critical issues in communities across the nation to bring
to the forefront challenges to rights and justice that persist 225 years later. Over the past year
several National Archives locations across the countries as well as other cultural institutions have hosted the national conversations. Our first one concerning civil rights and individual freedoms was at
the Jimmy Carter library in Atlanta in May. Other conversations with LGBTQ, human and
civil rights, women’s rights and gender equality, immigration, barriers in access and educational
access inequity was held Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas. Now we are
here at the National Archives Building for our final event, Building a More Perfect Union, an event which brought all
of these conversations together. I want to express our gratitude to our partners
the National Archives Foundation for supporting this series, and a big thanks go to our lead
sponsor for Amending America initiative AT&T, as well as the Ford Foundation and Seedlings
Foundation for their belief in and support of the National Conversations. And now I would
like to introduce A’Lelia Bundles, who is the president of National Archives Foundation.
(APPLAUSE) (LAUGHTER)
>>Thank you very much David. And welcome to everybody on behalf of the National Archives
Foundation board, and welcome to those of you who are watching, it’s always a pleasure
to be here with the Archivist of the United States and his hard working staff at the National
Archives and our hard working foundation staff who have been putting this program together
really for a year and a half. As David mentioned, there have been programs in other cities and
tonight is the culmination. So, we could not do this without our wonderful sponsors, we
really thank AT&T, as well as the Ford Foundation and Seedlings fund who have supported us throughout
the ‑‑ throughout the programs that we have put on in different cities as well as
the Amending America exhibition. How many of you have been to the archives before? There
we go. So thank you all very much for your support. How many of you are members of the
National Archives Foundation? Wonderful. Those who aren’t here and online, please go to archives
foundation.org and sign up. We would love to have you as a member and then you get priority
entry when we have events. So, I thank you very much for coming. I thank our sponsors
and I know you are going to enjoy the program. (APPLAUSE)
>>David Ferriero: And before we begin the panel, we are going it view an introductory
film featuring John Lewis, narrated by Cokie Roberts entitled: Amending America.
(Video is played.) (Music)
>> The constitution is a living document Its not static.
>>As citizens we need to make it real not just for some of us but for all of us.
>> The phrase: With liberty and justice for all mean all. We are one people we are one
family we are the American family.>> the discovery of an individual’s liberty
is one of the foundational values of being an American citizen. America has been struggling
to define the rights and justices associated with that liberty since the creation of its
constitution. From this struggle evolves the monumental Bill of Rights and 17 more amendments
to define and protect our liberties. Over time the amendment process has been tested by a
nation whose national sense of liberty, equality, and the inclusion of all citizens evolved
with turbulence and struggle.>> We were planning a March on Washington
in 1963. I would hear Dr. King say things like: We must learn to live together as brothers
and sisters if not we will perish as fools>>Freedom true freedom is not given by the
government freedom is taken by the people. The people of America are becoming aware
of this freedom through their fellow human beings, and I call them human are their’s
to give.>> the issues that compel America to continue
to define the quality of fairness, I think it’s innate. I really believe that it’s in
our soul. That we believe in freedom. Freedom of the individual. We believe that humans
have a right to peacefully coexist with fellow human beings
>>There are two monumental statues on the Pennsylvania side one inscribed study the
past. The other what is past is (inaudible). The message is, we should be able to learn
from our history so that we are not repeating the same mistakes over and over. And the role
of the National Archives is to ensure that people have access to the records that demonstrate
how those rights were achieved so that we can learn from those records.
>>With over 11,000 proposed amendments to the Constitution and only 27 of those actually
ratified our pursuit of rights and justice continues to be a vibrant part of our democracy.
It’s up to every generation of Americans to own our democracy and continue this national
dialogue of defining our personal liberties.>> It is very, very important for all of
us, all of us as one people to take ownership to learn the system of justice. This is our
democracy. It belongs to all of us. We must talk about it. We must debate it. We have
to continue to fight every single day that we do not we will go backwards. We don’t want
to go backwards. We want to go forward and complete our effort to create a more perfect
union. (Music)
(End of video.)>>David Ferriero: As a democratic nation
the United States has sought to spread democratic ideals and principles throughout the world
increased globalization has led to a rise of populism and nationalism on both the left
and right of the striking a balance between an open global society and protections for
national sovereignty and identity will be key to moving democracy forward in the 21st
Century. Our panel tonight will explore the role of the United States in an open global
society. Our moderator is Soledad O’Brien, an award‑winning journalist, speaker, author
an philanthropist. She is CEO of Starfish Media Group, a multi‑platform media production
company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on range of social issues
O’Brien anchors and produces the heart telephone political magazine program matter of fact
with Soledad O’Brien she also works with real sports with Bryant Gumbel and PBS news hour.
She has appeared as an anchor or contributor on all three networks is philanthropy editor
of worth magazine. O’Brien anchored for CNN morning programs, created the in America documentary
series, the black in America and Latino in America, which continue to be produced under
SMG and are subjects of an annual speaking tour. Earlier in her career she co‑anchored
on weekend today and contributed segments to the today show and NBC nightly news. Her
coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned her and CNN a George Foster Peabody award. She also
received another Peabody award for the coverage of the BP gulf coast oil spill. Her reporting
on the Southeast Asia tsunami garnered CNN an Alfred I. DuPont award. She is also the
author of two books, her critically acclaimed memoir, the next big story and Latino in America.
O’Brien was named journalist of the year by the National Association of black journalists
and one of the news weeks 10 people who make America great. In 2013, O’Brien taught at
Harvard University as a distinguished fellow and was appointed to the board of the directors
of the Foundation for the National Archives. In 2015 she joined Rand corporation board
of trustees. Please welcome Soledad O’Brien and our panel.
(APPLAUSE) (APPLAUSE)
>>Hi gentlemen. Good evening everybody. This evening we are going to be talking about democracy
and America’s place in the world, I am going to introduce our panelists to you, we will
begin at the far end with Ambassador John Negroponte, a member of the council on foreign
relations. He became the first director of the national intelligence, first director
of national intelligence in April 2005 before that U.S. Ambassador to Iraq he worked in
the private sector and served in 8 foreign services posts in Asia, in Europe and Latin
America if you know John Negroponte has 17‑page bio, it’s about his illustrious career, you
can find out much more. Next to him of course is Ambassador Stuart Holliday, president of
Meridian international center to advance global security and prosperity through leadership
and diplomacy. U.S. Ambassador for special political affairs. Next to me, William Cohen,
31 years of public service, includes stints as congressman and senator from the great state
of Maine. Went on to lead the Department of Defense under President Clinton. Nice to have
all of you gentlemen with me again. Very, very long resumes, I encourage you to look
up. I want to talk about the world today and America’s place in the world. What does democracy
mean today in 2017? Secretary Cohen, why don’t you start us off?
>>I ‑‑ I ‑‑ you have conflated the two. In terms of democracy we don’t know
for sure what our role is in the 21st Century. We have been through a period in which the
United States have been the dominant force in spreading democracy openness, accountable
rule of law, embracing (inaudible). We have been through this period, now we are starting
to retrench having been through two wars there is a retrenchment on the part of the American
people. It’s not exactly ‑‑ sorry. It’s not
>>Do you need to take that? (LAUGHTER)
>>No, if it rings Mission Impossible, it’s my wife.
(LAUGHTER)>>You need to take that.
(LAUGHTER)>> And so, we are struggling now. We have
tried to have an aggressive policy promoting democracy. What we found is that you can’t
transplant a tree in soil that hasn’t been fertilized, it can’t bear fruit, it has to
be nourished, you have to have water and roots, you just can’t take our form of democracy
and plant it. We learned very strong lesson in The Middle East. We are still learning
it as we go. I think it’s harder to say what is our role. It depends on the leadership.
President Trump campaigned on the basis of coming back home America, let’s take care
of building here at home, your infrastructure is crumbling, et cetera. From the top saying
we have to take care of America first. No one campaigns on the notion of America second,
or any other country second. But you can’t be first unless you have friends and allies.
And so that’s the rule we try to build relationships with other democracies if we can to spread
our security as far as we can. I don’t want to live you a long senatorial answer and I
he yield the balance of my time. (LAUGHTER)
>>What’s the definition of democracy to you, because Secretary Cohen said openness accountability
rule of law all of those things which are actually not technically the definition of
democracy, how do you define it how do you think about how it proceeds here today in
the United States>>I think you know, democracy means you know
the rule of the people the participation of people in electing their government in if
you look at the last 40 or 50 years there has been a great expansion of democracy in
the world. The map looks very different. But it used to be that the idea of our democratic
system and values was sort of in many cases the ideal. The French of course we borrowed
a lot from the French they had several republics between the French revolution and where we
are today. It became, I think, a move from an expression of how we select our government
to the idea of individual liberty. And the idea that country governments especially the
United States ‑‑ United Nations where we have one note some countries are not elected
democratically they are not representing the people of the country. So, I think what we
have seen is a little bit of a shift recently away from the democratic outcome or process
as the highest sort of order for many countries to sort of stability. And that’s caused, I
think, a little bit of a shift and the idea of democracy is the forward principle that
we use in the world to kind of express our values and who we are. So, it is a an evolution
it has ebbs and flows at the end of the day there are 7 and a half billion people in the
world do they have a voice or not. We in the United States believe they should. I think
that’s the principle that drives a lot of our, a lot of our principles in foreign policy.
>> What do you think caused that shift that Ambassador Holliday is talking about the democracy
as the forward thing that’s hey wait a minute let’s make that stability as the forward thing.
Maybe a shift in how we think about democracy within the United States today.
>>Yeah, I ‑‑ I don’t know how much of a shift there has really been. Democracy can
have many different manifestations. First of all I agree with Stuart if you take since
World War II there is a robust growth of democracy. First of all, you have to think about the
decolonization process there were 50 or so countries who were the original charter members
of the United Nations there are something like 193. There is proliferation of all of
these countries. They got self determination like Woodrow Wilson wanted them to have. Most
of them have gotten it now. Some people argue there is too much self determination should
Kosovo or ‑‑ you could argue about whether they have all of the attributes really to
become an independent state. The next order of things after having independence as a sovereign
nation, and sovereignty of nation seems to be very much of a guiding principle of international
relations was the kind of system you had internally. And well it may be somewhat of an arrest of
things in a moment or cause or setbacks in particular regions we could talk about particularly
maybe in The Middle East or certain other parts of the world. Generally the March has
been toward greater individual freedom. I just one regional example because it’s one
which I have quite a bit of personal experience I serve three tours in Latin America during
my 44‑year government career. And the difference between the profile of Latin government, governments
of this hemisphere today and the profile in 1960 is almost night and day. Practically
everybody wore a uniform in that day wore sunglasses looked a little bit like a typical
Latin dictator. There are instances in the moment but they are few and far between. They
are so few and far between they become the notable noteworthy exceptions i.e., Venezuela
or Cuba. But a lot of countries have been democratic that weren’t then. So, I wouldn’t
say that the trend has reversed by any means. Maybe there are setbacks here and there. I
think that’s the natural ebb and flow of things. But I think the direction is going to be towards
democracy last point I am getting too long winded here in my first answer, but would
be modern methods of communication they can be a tool of repression but they are obviously
a tool for self realization including political self realization. I think that’s become a
way of ‑‑ that’s become very supportive of the notion of democracy in many, many different
countries. It’s hard to suppress information these days a Hell of a lot harder than it
used to be>>Everybody is president on Twitter would
agree with you on that. (LAUGHTER)
>>There is a panic I think if we turn for a moment to the United States there is a ‑‑
I think it’s fair to call it a panic about what can democracy (inaudible). People are
talking openly like it democracy today in America being challenged. What do you think
of that idea?>>Well, okay, it depends on how you can have
openness and also discipline. You know a river without its banks is not a river it’s a flood.
So the question becomes can you in fact have a democratic system ours is a republic but
a democratic system in which every one’s voice is treated equally and weighed equally then
it’s just a question of numbers. Well if that’s the case, then you don’t need members of congress.
You just put a toll booth up and you can call it in or Twitter it in tweet I guess is more
appropriate. You don’t need to have members trying to exercise judgment. What is troublesome
to me, is that we are taking the ‑‑ the weighing of options and conflicting competing
interest we are taking that judgment away from people we elect. We turn to see what
the latest poll is. This poll says the following. These ten polls show the following. And to
me, that’s ‑‑ that is contrary to our best interest. I think everybody has a voice
but not everybody should be heard in terms of weighing their voice at the same level.
So, that’s part of the challenge of democracy. How do you have people who are elected to
office to represent you, and yet you take away that ability of them to make the judgment
by just the weight of numbers. So, it’s a real challenge, I think in the future. When
I was in the congress in the senate, it used to be for example you were judged based on
how you voted. Which is fair. You go home and explain it to your constituent. Then it
became judged on whether or not you co‑sponsored a bill. If you don’t co‑sponsor a bill then
you definitely voted in a certain way on a particular group. Now it’s not even that.
Now the question is if you don’t announce in advance before you have a bill to sponsor
whether you are pro or against it. So, we are taking away the judgment factor and I
think that’s harmful. I think we are in the short‑term we are going to go to a much
more executive oriented policy where if congress can’t make decisions it’s a stalemate it gives
the executive more power. I think that’s more likely in the short‑term. The long‑term
I believe Ambassador Negroponte it will swing back and see the restrictions of limitations
of having executive authoritative power without check. And we will come back to a more balanced
system now I think it’s shifting.>> I think our democratic institutions are
strong. But I think there are three areas that are of concern in terms of how they are
used and what comes out of them. One of them is obviously the extreme partisanship you
see driven by members of congress having to go back to the districts to raise money the
districts themselves and how they are shaped S. so there is that piece. The second is what
I would call a sort of an apathy in terms of ‑‑ maybe this ‑‑ I know that
may colleagues who are millennials don’t like it when I say this ownership of our democracy.
And the process of participation. And to make sure that the responsibility of being a citizen
entails not only taking advantage of this great country in terms of our security and
quality of life but participating and being educated about the issues. I think we have
work to do there. And the third area is unfortunately I do think the media I’m not attacking the
media in any way it’s a business, and there are ‑‑ there is always pressure to reach
an audience that may agree with you. And to double down on that. And I think that we ‑‑
you know used to have Walter Cronkite, who could say something if he is saying this then
obviously there is a canary in the coal mine about a particular issue. We don’t really
have that anymore. Unfortunately, there are also all of these blogs and independent voices,
some of which are simply driving us further apart. And so those are three areas I think
we need to keep an eye on but the fundamentals of our institutions I think remain strong.
>> I think we need to be careful to Secretary Cohen’s point about our political representation.
I don’t think the founding fathers envisaged a direct form of democracy. They didn’t see
this rusoist Town Hall. This is not one Town Hall meeting of 360 million people. And that
we ‑‑ they stitched together a pretty elaborate political structure that was designed
to buffer the political decisions that were made from all of these different emotional
inputs so that the legislative process could be sort of a filter for all of that. And we
don’t want to lose that. We don’t want this country to have NGOs and so‑called civil
society making our political decisions for us. And based on how much money they can raise.
Or how loud they can shout. So, I mean, I think that’s an important problem. The only
other thing that I would mention Stuart alluded to this democracy in this country is not ‑‑
does not mean that you have the liberty to be ignorant of the issues. And ignorant of
how our society works. And I find it a little bit disturbing how younger people seem to
just practically have no interest in any of these issues. And I think that’s basically
not necessarily a healthy situation.>> Does democratizing people’s voice it’s
more democratic you are giving perspective on the Walter Cronkite voice he missed a lot
of stories they are not interesting to him. If you are a person of color you might not
see a story about yourself because that is not important. Expanding social media and
media generally you could argue you are democratizing it is it that inherently divisive when
you hand everybody a mic and they talk about something personally important to them?
>>The information age or internet, it’s a river as I talked about before. It’s a river
where there is life flowing through it’s also a sewer. How do you filter out the sewer from
the river.>>That is so true talking about social media.
(LAUGHTER)>> And when we use the Walter Cronkite example,
Walter was a filter ABC had a filter and did the three networks they might be biased a
little bit to the right or left. It felt at that time (inaudible) you felt basically they
are telling you the truth. We don’t have that confidence anymore. We don’t know who is telling
us the truth. The media has been certainly attacked. And I think it’s false. So who do
you believe what is coming out the networks Soledad what is coming out of social media.
If you don’t have some kind of a filter in your mind in terms of what is real and what’s
MEMOREX, what is fake, you are heading into a Netherworld where you float ‑‑ where
you are floating on a sea of uncertainty. People are deciding for themselves or hunkering
down and go to the networks they feel comfortable as well.
>>Does that damage democracy?>>I think it damages it in the sense that
had this horizontal integration of information is now being verticalized, new word. It is
being siloed. So to the extent that you think that you are democratizing information you
are creating vertical silos they are going down and not shared horizontally. That’s a
challenge certainly in the political world in terms of intelligence sharing we learned
that from 9/11 how do you have information you are sharing horizontally. I think it’s
a real challenge to a democracy if you are looking and listening to one voice that sounds
exactly like the voice in your head reinforcing it that is not helping democracy but hindering.
>>To jump in on this one particular point, the size of the news and media people trying
to influence you, I mean, citizens have to have some sense of the history of this country.
I mean, it can the ‑‑ it cannot, it cannot operate as effectively it seems to me as a
full‑fledged citizen unless you understand the basics of the history of our country.
It’s not that hard. But people actually have to take the time to learn it.
>>I wanted to key off John’s point more broadly about being knowledgeable and being aware.
It’s not just the citizens it’s also our political leaders as well.
(LAUGHTER)>>Because, unfortunately, if we have a river
and a swamp, you have a choice where you want to swim. And the political discourse today
between political leaders is taking place through these ‑‑ because they don’t have
relationships anymore, because there is not comity it’s taking place through the media
and through these voices. Therefore, there is a reaction that’s taking place where one
person is expressing themselves and ‑‑ and forcing another to immediately react to
a characterization of what they said in a certain way. And it creates you know frankly
the wrong kind of filter. So, I think having a lot of voices is a great thing. The question
is, do our political leaders and elected officials need to get down there and basically be sort
of Gulliver and held down and be reactive to all of these voices or should they show
leadership vision and a little bit rising above this fray.
>> One example from personal experience, when I was a young man, if you couldn’t be
President of the United States the next best thing would be United States senator. And
during the time that I was growing up a time I was serving, very few people left the senate.
You either died in office or were defeated. Rarely did any members leave. 1996 there were
14 members who resigned. And they did so for different reasons. But the fact was there
was a ‑‑ there was a sentiment that was pretty deeply felt that the rewards of public
service were being drowned out partisanship was trying to rise to a level where we weren’t
talking to each other. You couldn’t be seen having dinner with the opposite members of
the political spectrum. That has taken a toll on the system. Now I have been in ‑‑
I left thinking well new blood will come in it will get better. But it didn’t get better.
Until last night I was at an event last night which gives me hope. I was at an event which
there was a cross‑section of senators all the way from Maine to Oklahoma. And they were
sitting down talking about the need to inform the public about why foreign assistance is
in our national security interest. Because back to the John Negroponte point. Most citizens
are completely unaware and don’t care they were saying the constituent saying you are
spending half the budget on foreign assistance. And they said cut it down to 10%. And one of the senators from my home state of Maine said I will take it. It’s only 1% of the budget goes to it. We are not
an informed public and when you don’t have informed citizenry you have difficulty persuading
people they should respond to reason, rationality and see compromise as something in part of
the democratic system.>>Is cable news destroying democracy, if
I said, listen, I have an amazing story to pitch, I want to talk about the rate and percentage
of foreign assistance from the state of Maine to Oklahoma, literally you know what they
would do.>> Go to public broadcasting.
(LAUGHTER)>>If I couldn’t get Kim Kardashian to walk
through it, in some capacity, no.>>Angelina Jolie.
>>Since she lost Brad Pitt we lost that ground. The media there was no one who would run that
story if would not be more than 15 seconds of a reader there is no deep dive into how
much money we spend on foreign assistance part of the reason, I think, that elected
officials don’t bother to talk to each other go straight to the cameras that’s where the
value is for them. They need to get out in front of a story. There is no up side to being
seen negotiating. The only up side is many could up with a pithy statement to defend
what they are going to do.>> Let me tell you not only what you say
but how you say it. In terms of how would I try to sell this notion of making this an
interesting story. I would say I go first to Walter Reed and I would show all of the
soldiers who have been suffer grievous injuries no arms legs half a head whatever. You go
up there and see that on any given day. I would say this is what we are sending our
young sons and daughters into this world out here. There is a better way to try and influence
world event than just resorting to the military. And there is a way to do it if you can provide
assistance to a country so that they want to stay in their own country would help them
to have a rule of law. We help for the benefits for our experience. You can sell that on the
basis you are saving the lives of our kids or sons and daughters. We are protecting the
national security of this interest because we are providing this kind of foreign assistance
you put it in terms you want your sons and daughters to have to go through this to protect
is there a better and less expensive way? It depends how you sell it.
>> If I could add there is also the press likes the unexpected voice. You know, when
General Mattis said we cut back on diplomacy we are going to have to make more bullets coming from
him it’s news the State Department it’s not. So, we have to do an effective job of getting
the word out about these things.>>What is the role of globalization and in
terms ‑‑ upon nationalism? Do you think that globalization has discouraged ‑‑
I think there is a theory globalization might discourage nationalism. I think the opposite
is true I look back and of course I was wrong on that. I don’t think I was alone on being
wrong on that what has happened?>>So, huge subject. Maybe I can start with
NAFTA since I was involved ‑‑ I was ambassador to Mexico and was there during the time we
conceived and negotiated the NAFTA I think part of the idea of that was a that ‑‑
was that we live in a global economy, that in order to be competitive, we have to find
ways of integrating our manufacturing operations with our neighbors. Which in fact we have
succeeded as a result of implementing this NAFTA over a 25‑year period we succeeded
in doing we have gotten some benefits from developing this Northern American manufacturing
platform. That have made actually made us more competitive globally. What the critics
of globalization and I think they sometimes conflate the issue of globalization with the
issue of them having been somehow or another their employment having been affected by technology
and rising dramatically rising productivity of our remaining workforce. They think it’s
globalization that’s done that to them. And it may not be globalization alone and in fact
you could make the case if we hadn’t had these arrangements with a country like Mexico, more
jobs would have gone to China. Even more than have saved perhaps shifted from the United States
to Mexico. But that ‑‑ so, it ‑‑ the issues of globalization and technology
have become intertwined as it affects certain parts of our workforce. And I think what we
have seen in a number of countries including our own, and I think that was a factor in
our most recent election some of these people who have lost jobs as a result of jobs moving
to other countries, becoming alienated with our economic system, and have fed this sort
of populistic trend it happened in a number of countries in the west. I think that the
answer to that is to not stop globalizing not to end free trade. Which I think would
be probably more deleterious to our economic well‑being. I think it points up the challenges
to our education system to help the workforce of today really prepare itself for the jobs
of tomorrow. And as far as I am concerned that’s probably one of the top three or four
social issues in our society today, and I think it’s probably one of the top three or
four issues in practically every other industrial country in the world.
>> I think as a nation America has always had sort of an exceptional view of itself
and a reluctance to suborn, it’s sovereignty in any way to anyone else we are a nation
of immigrants we forged this country and there is a certain ‑‑ there has been a certain
degree of we are different. That said, I think there was a disconnect that happened in parallel
with this expansion of technology and the shift from jobs to manufacturing from manufacturing
and services. And that is I think a lot of American people began to believe globalization
for Washington was a goal. It wasn’t the environment we are actually living in that’s the way the
system moved. But it’s the outcome that the elites seek is globalization versus globalization
is a phenomenon driven by markets and shifts in population. We have to compete in the global
environment. I thought it was interesting the President was in Iowa criticizing trade
when a lot of Iowa’s economy is dependent on international exports of agriculture and
it’s very heavily trade dependent. When you don’t explain the linkages between your, you
know your local economy and the export markets and what you need to survive it’s again it
gets back to an understanding of what these dynamics are.
>> The irony of the President being in Iowa criticizing trade. He has appointed the governor
former governor of Iowa to be the Ambassador to China during the course of the campaign
said our economic enemy or adversary. So it gets really back to education at all levels.
We can’t stuff technology more than you can stuff time in the bottle. And technology is
really erasing many of the jobs and opportunities that we have had in the past so the
question becomes how do we keep ahead ‑‑ how do we educate people to do more. Part
of it has to do with the leadership from the President on down to members of congress the
state houses. We haven’t been honest with the American people. We haven’t been honest
in the sense that we have promised more than we can actually are willing to pay for. When
I was growing up in my parents borrowed any money they borrow it on my behalf. Today we
are borrowing money from our grandkids. And signing the bill and say you pay the check.
It’s an inversion of our sense of responsibility to future generations. So part of it has to
do with technology and what it’s doing in our lives. There are many people like me I
would maybe I won’t speak for John Negroponte but I am receiving Social Security. I really
shouldn’t be. In terms of the people who are able to work beyond the Social Security age
now, we are living longer. We hope to be a hundred. According to the latest in technology
and medical science, there is a convergence taking place. That the predicting within 20
years we may be able to extend quality of life almost indefinitely. Sounds great for
us at the end of the spectrum. But there is a social problem how do we pay for it? We
have people living longer like me, still working, and yet we are depriving the youngest of our
generations they don’t have food to eat. We are not taking care of the people behind us.
And so that means leveling with people. You can’t take ‑‑ saying all of the entitlement
programs they are off the record you can’t touch them. They are entitlements no touching
it is the third rail. We have to have more people willing to touch the third rail. As
it’s going now there is no way our kids and grandkids will pay the bill. We are just pushing
the problem off. Whereas if you explain to people let’s say that Social Security I paid
into it I am entitled to get it back. Let’s treat it as an insurance program. I pay insurance
bill every month. And a live insurance bill whatever, I hope I don’t have to collect on
it. But I don’t get my money back. I am buying a chance my for my survivors. We have to look
at the entitlement programs in that fashion. Make them equitable, deal with the poorest
first and the lower income. But people who are in the upper brackets we have to get into
the subject of affluence testing. The republican I heard tried to touch this during the course
of the campaign was Chris Christie, it didn’t last long, he floated the idea it dropped.
The reality we have to come to grips with our financial our financial house is not in
order. We are extending our debt a half a trillion every year. How long did we continue to do
this? So there is a revolution in banking that has to take place it means being honest
with the American people saying this is our predicament help us devise a way support us
in laying out a plan, we had a plan a few years ago when Al Simpson was involved in, this
didn’t go very far. We have to get back to talking about fiscal rationality. We have
to be fiscally sound we have to be improving foreign investments and we have to be educated.
John’s point we have to be educated TS Elliott said where is the knowledge we have lost in
information? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? So, we have more information
available to us in any time in the history of mankind and yet we have less and less knowledge.
>> Can I ask about education for a moment understanding how government works is critical
to a functioning democracy and we know well I guess I would say education is failing,
then it undermines democracy. I came back from spending a bunch of days working in Detroit
where 40% of the population is in poverty. And 47% are functionally illiterate. Where
everyone, you know, raves about the fabulous coffee shops downtown mid town the neighborhoods
look like prairie and farm lands. That’s not just Detroit. There are many American cities
that are really struggling to figure out what to do when manufacturing has left. How do
you ‑‑ how do you embrace education when the last 50 years the story of education in
Detroit has been terrible. It’s not ‑‑ it’s been a struggle? Doesn’t that impact
democracy?>>Well, it certainly does. And you know,
America has our GDP has grown income and equality is a major issue. But it’s not just about
resources. We have also had a decline, I think, in the value of education in many communities.
Where it used to be that if you went to school and you got a college degree, you ‑‑
that was your ticket. And I think we have to do more not only in terms of innovating
in education but also in helping strengthen the fabric of these communities and societies
to allow kids that want to go to school and excel and be public servants. That that’s
going to be just as, you know, just as lauded as a short‑term perhaps respect from their
peers and their you know current environment. I think our higher education is still the
envy of the world. In many ways. Although, I think there is a case to be made that there
is a lot of theory being taught and perhaps not you know when you get out of college in
terms of how you apply that in your career. Maybe there is some additional vocational
and you know, practical knowledge that’s necessary. But what you are talking about is really an
economic issue that is impacting education. And that’s a bigger question.
>>Well, you know, for every Detroit or maybe for a Detroit there is also a Pittsburgh or
other places that I think have done better in meeting some of these challenges. I think
it’s going to require investment, it’s going to require ‑‑ these are questions are
rebuilding communities it’s not only an educational issue. I think another thing that we can learn
from perhaps some of our other western democracies is the value of vocational training which
the Germans for example are tremendous model of that. And I this I that we are starting
to try to emulate that more in some of our practices. The idea of a training apprenticeships
and so forth. I think maybe some new approaches to preparing youth for the life that lies
ahead.>> If I can add you sparked one thing when
I was in Texas working for the governor vocational training was a bad word it intimated that
you were having a two‑track society, right? A society and Japan has been criticized in
the past for this. Where you know by the time you are 8 whether you are going to be going
to college or not. But there are with the Germans and others new approach it’s not either
or binary situation. The vocational track may be the first step towards a full college
degree. It’s just a different way to get there. And I think that kind of creativity is very
important. But the other piece is early childhood development. You know very well. If you don’t
get to these kids, early on between what is it three, four five years old, and you know
you begin to stimulate and engage the brain and you know, we have a lot of kids who unfortunately
are starting late in the game. We really need to do more to ‑‑ we can only as country
go as far as the citizens who are most in need. We have a lot of citizens in need.
>> It seems to me we lost confidence in our institutions. And that has potential to undermine
not only democracy here at home but democracy abroad. If you look at the media which we
talked about confidence in our elected officials confidence in our financial institutions at
times why have we lost confidence and what is the impact here and abroad of that loss
of confidence.>>Dysfunctionality. If you don’t have confidence
in your institutions everybody is fighting and every person is for themselves part of
it has to do with having respect for the institutions perhaps knowing less about them for example.
In my mind the until recently the Supreme Court was the most respected institution in
the country. And yet the Supreme Court has a veil didn’t have public proceedings for
the most part in terms of their decision making. And so, you people said 9 disinterested justices
deciding a rule of law you could have a 5‑4 split that’s okay the public would accept
that. Part of the reason we admired the institution is we didn’t really see how it worked. And
you transfer that to congress now I go back to may own participation that I remember when
Howard Baker came senator came and said we automatic to bring television into the chamber
and I that was not a particularly great idea the senate used to be a club of a hundred
members debated during the course of the day and (inaudible) worked out arrangements. Once
you put the camera on now you have people who are not talking to each other talking
to the camera. Because that’s how being recorded for every potential opponent you have in the
future>>Have not democratized the ability to see
what the official you pay as a tax payer.>> It has and also diminished the respect
that familiarity.>>Familiarity breeds contempt.
(LAUGHTER)>>if everybody has the same knowledge base
there is no reason why you hold somebody else with more reverencee or respect you would assume
people elected to congress have success to information not available to everybody some
of its classified most of it is open but you used to defer to their judgment and today
if everyone is on the same level in terms of information, then you have less confidence
or respect for that institution. That’s a down side let’s not have openness it doesn’t
come with all asset and no liability that’s one of the issues of people only one institution
really enjoys respect of the people military. American armed forces are the finest in the
world. You see them in action. You understand why they are the envy of the world. But people
defer to that. Look at what we are doing now we have the President of the United States,
I am not being partisan here, he said I am going to defer to the military in terms of
how many troops we might need ‑‑>>Can I jump in on the military?
>>Okay.>> Just for a sec. I think it’s ‑‑ I
think it helps or I want to try and help answer Soledad’s question. I served in Vietnam as
diplomat from 1964 to ’68 and then in the next administration I was the director for ‑‑
for Vietnam for a three‑year period under Henry Kissinger. I remember taking a trip
to Saigon when I was on Kissinger’s staff in 1970 and visited one of the military hospitals
in Saigon. And the doctor there explained to me that he was getting at least two or
three cases a night of people coming in who had taken several vials of opium or whatever narcotic
it was but they were out of it General Abrams was telling us visiting General Haig telling
us about how they would give beer to soldiers they would allow them to have a certain amount
of beer out at the outpost because in part to help deal with this problem of addiction
so they would be allowed to drink a little bit when they were out. And then as you know,
our military had a terrible, terrible problem with addiction and all kinds of disciplinary
issues after the Vietnam war was over. But they proved something about institutions that
is very important. They can under the right leadership they can reinvent themselves that’s
what happened with our military.>>Let me give you ‑‑ I agree. We are
at a low point following Vietnam. It was at that low point we said we have to ‑‑
we have could recover confidence and rebuild our military guess what happened? It didn’t
come from inside the military. It actually came from congress called gold water nickels
it was congress who determined we have to help change things because change rarely comes
from inside any institutions corporate government any kind of institution change has to come
from outside as well. Gold water nickles was passed, it changed the way joint Chief of
Staffs operated. Then we had a situation really involved in this issue special operations
command. I helped get that through with the help of Sam Nunn and the military was absolutely
opposed we don’t want special operation command. Then we were able to overcome that guess what?
Special operation command is now perhaps one of the highest rated in fact I just spoke
to the 30th anniversary of it. But we did, in fact, rebuild from within saying we ‑‑
we lowered standards we have drug problems we have post traumatic all of these problems
we are going to rebuild.>>Is that a metaphor for the other failing
institutions Americans would say well maybe there is a vision where people have faith
again in the media and people have faith in banks that is ‑‑
>>That’s what John is saying.>>Resoundingly so. I think it’s a little
bit ‑‑ if you ‑‑ in the (inaudible) theory of economics creative destruction you
go through this process of people reinventing ‑‑ I think what Bill was talking about the with
the senators he met yesterday looking for ways they are witnesses to the effectiveness
of some of our program abroad. They finally woken up saying, my God no one is getting
that message across to the public we have to do something about it if I heard you correctly.
>>Yes.>> That’s (inaudible).
>>One second, I want to tell folks, anybody who wants to ask a question, I want you to
invite you to come up to the microphone there and there I will take your questions in just
a moment.>> I was going to say to your broader point.
I think there is a crisis of leadership more broadly in the sense that the distance between
leader as you mentioned and citizen is there ‑‑ and the citizens that demanded this to an
extent but you know, there is a loss of, I guess, respect in certain cases. Maybe you
know, water gate might have had something to do with it there might be other issues
in other countries where you have had when Charles de Gaulle took his helicopter from
Paris, they thought this man (inaudible).>>(inaudible).
>>Almost a God‑like leader. When Winston Churchill lost election after World War II
after his victory, we are doing with athletes and almost everybody we build up and then
tear down to a certain extent I think there is a certain degree of not wanting to feel
that there is somebody that has some sort of divine authority over us. That we have
become a little bit leery of leaders not in every country by the way. The strong leader
is going strong in ours, it’s tough to emerge as a hero. Who are our heroes today.
>>A final question before we get to our questions what is the greatest challenge to democracy
today?>>I will say one word, ignorance.
>>Well, education, I think is another way of saying the same thing.
>>We have got to inform ourselves. If you can ‑‑ I think it was Jefferson who said
if you think you can be free and ignorant you are fooling yourself. You have to be informed.
Especially today. So, information. And with information you can then at least try to survive
in a very competitive world. One of the things I wanted to add about John and Stuart, the
State Department today is being diminished in significance. It’s, I think very dangerous
to our country. There is an institution in which we house our diplomats who go out on
the front lines you mentioned Vietnam and elsewhere they are doing the work they are
soldiers too. They are on the front lines exposed just as much as our soldiers are in
many ways yet the State Department has been the funding has been cut radically in terms
of budget proposal. And hopefully there are members of congress will say no, no, Roosevelt
had a great book if everything becomes military then the military becomes everything. If everything
becomes war the military becomes everything. We don’t win wars by dropping bombs and bullets
you have to persuade people this is a better way of doing things our State Department is
being injured it’s one of the key ones we have to restore credibility.
>>It’s education and ignorance are the biggest risk to our democracy at a time when the word
fake news and intentionally fake news is also part of our lexicon, now we know education
system in many communities is not struggling but out and out failing. If that’s really
the biggest risk to our democracy I think we are knee deep in the risk right in this
moment, am I unjustifiably concerned.>>That’s what is going to spur action in
our country.>> Intelligent, educated, motivated patriotic
people can help step up to that.>> America we always rise to the challenge
when it becomes untenable and it becomes intolerable. And we ‑‑ programs like this and others
that are sounding the call for more focus on education and civility. By the way. I think
are critical.>> We are going to take questions we will
start over here and head over there do we a favor introduce yourself before you pose
our question to our panelist the only rule I have ever make sure there is a question
in your question. (LAUGHTER)
>>Thank you. My name (inaudible), thank you for the presentation. Thanks. But I think
democracy is really going downward. And economy is going downward. And you say you don’t ‑‑
you don’t really supposed to get Social Security benefits. I think you better take it because
a lot of people they look and don’t get it not because they are not entitled to it but
they are deprived. Now in this world, it’s getting complicated, you are hearing about
productivity you are supposed to be getting better but all of the invention and technology
high tech and everything. Really they are going back ward if you think about (inaudible)
the reliability about personnel, about staff, and they are hacking your technology it’s
not really from Russia maybe from inside maybe from FBI or even they are controlled by the
corporation or financial institution. So I just wonder how do you restore our democracy
and improve our economy and you our productivity would you be able to tell administration say
we got to get rid of those disservice. Increase productivity, that’s the way we can improve
our democracy and improve our election process.>> Let me stop you for a moment and ask the
panel, she is moving in democracy, productivity and economics, is that how you see it as well
all of those things are interconnected, if democracy goes down productivity goes down?
>>Well, you can have authoritarian dictatorship where the economy is going up for a time.
So, you can’t link them like that. I think the point is, I don’t want you to misunderstand
what I said. I think the fundamental challenge for the United States is to put our fiscal
house in order. That means you know try to move toward a balanced budget. The last time
we had it was during the Clinton administration. There was a reason for that in terms of the
tax policies put in place before that. But the motion that you have a fiscally sound
policy means that you will take care of the people at the top, the age beyond 62 and 65
and 68 and those above who need it. In terms of going forward for the younger generations
in the 20s and 30s saying you are going to retire when you are 75 maybe longer living
longer because you can’t continue to expand programs without a workforce that can support
it. So, that requires education, educate the new generation coming up. You have higher
skills or better skills for the environment. And it also means you are in control of your
spending habits. If you simply lock in payments regardless, again I am working, I am happy
to be working, if not I want to my Social Security. I rather see money going to me go
to inner‑city kid not eating well or having an education. It may sound socialistic, I
think it’s more how do we invest in the future of taking care of our older generation but
having a balance. Right now we don’t have a balance. The kids in the lower end are hurting
and the people at the upper end of hurting as well, except for those who are wealthy.
>> I think you need a strong economy to have a good democracy. But I think our productivity
is an issue. I think the United States is a productive country. We are the center of
innovation. There is a lot of exciting economic energy coming out of the ‑‑ I think the
problem is what Bill said, which is taking care of the house. Taking care of the infrastructure.
Our infrastructure needs a lot of work. But, also making good policies relates to our fiscal
policy in the private sector technology sector there is a lot of good things ahead. I don’t
think any country in the world would trade places with us.
>>Over here.>> Hello Megan, thank you so much to our
distinguished panel, I have learned so much tonight. And I’d like to ask you about you
have all spoken about education it’s so important. So I just looked at that wonderful pie chart
they have on the (inaudible) percentages I found 54% and then I found 6% for education.
And so, I am just curious, having reflected on our discussion this evening, and understanding
how important education is, that we have a well informed generation coming in to leadership
rule that you are in now, thank you so much for your service. How do we provide that education
including of course civics so they understand all about government, thank you
>>I think that data that you are talking about is probably the federal ‑‑ it’s
probably the discretionary part of the federal budget. Which is of course not the totality
of American spending as you know, most education does not come under the direct purview of
the federal government. It’s localities for the school system and then it’s mixture of
private and public universities throughout the country of which there are literally thousands.
I don’t think there is necessarily a conflict there. I think we can make provision for our
defense, and for good education at the same time. I think we are at the ‑‑ I think
where the problem arises is what Senator Cohen was talking about earlier, I with is, that
we ‑‑ the entitlements have budget has ballooned, has mushroomed so much there is
practically no money left very little left for discretionary spending at all. And so,
we end up having anomalous situations where the people in the on The Hill and in the administration
are talking about cutting tiny relatively smaller budgets like the State Department
budget, to make up for some perceived defense short fall. We are going to pay for increased
defense spending by cutting the State Department. Go figure? I mean, how do you do that? So
I think our problem is more the question of entitlements than it is the tension between
security and education.>>Yes, we have got to put the emphasis on
education. I spend time going to China frequently. How many engineers you think they are turning ‑‑
turning out every year? It is enormous the emphasis they are placing on science and technology.
Yet you look at the. States and some members of congress and on up saying that we deny
science. Well there is an alternative science. Other countries are placing their emphasis
on science and technology. Why is it that the students who are immigrating the families
who are coming into this country from Asia in particular, why do they do so well here
in this country always the a the top? Because of a discipline within the family emphasis
on education. So, until we come back to recognizing that to be a serious country we have to have
serious people. To be serious minded people we have to invest in their education. That
means making choices. Whether John just mentioned taking money away from the State Departments
for what? In order to do what? We are not making intelligent choices and frankly I am
happy to see what is taking place on The Hill. Because congress is saying wait a minute this
is not right. It’s ‑‑ it’s short‑term thinking and it’s dangerous. Because our diplomats
are going to help resolve the issues bombs and bullets, again don’t bring you peace.
As an end result it helps bring you there the diplomats have to be at the table. So,
it’s education alt our level the presidential level to say it’s key for survival if we don’t
have it we won’t survive as a first rate.>>Hi. Thank you for taking time to be with
us tonight. My question is going off of what was discussed here. I mean, when we think
about the three legged stool when it comes to foreign policy national security and dip
low mass see I appreciated your point on the role of congress right now in terms of accountability
to the executive branch on the proposals to the reorganization of the State Department
and USAID structures and the CIS task force launched in a bipartisan way (inaudible).
And I am curious because you had mentioned someone had mentioned here having unlikely
actors speak out for development assistance and deployment like General Mattis when it
comes to civil society and nonprofit and NGO organizations what can (inaudible) in order
to advocate effective in an effective way in this very unique political dynamic to ensure
dip low see development of defense are taken into consideration but have equal weight ‑‑
we are making the case now State Department USAID needs more attention.
>>I run an organization that’s 75% funded by the State Department. This is near and
dear to my heart. (LAUGHTER)
>>I think Bill’s part of the group is U.S. school leadership coalition which is doing
a fantastic job and reaching out to not to typical usual suspects but business leaders
defense leaders and the like. But I would say that you know, you look at when we have
lost capacity in one of the areas in the late ’90s we merged USIA and (inaudible) and the
State Department, it’s very hard to rebuild that capacity once it’s gone. And of course
the State Department’s need reform John ran the State Department knows there are probably
areas where you need to have efficiencies and do things but this wholesale idea of taking
a tent and saying 30% 50% and you figure it out. It’s really not the way we should be
governing. And so, there are limitations to 501(c)(3) in terms of lobbying or advocating
but groups like the alliance for international exchange the U.S. global leadership coalition
and others are the voices now I am heartened by what I am hearing from your colleagues
a little bit if they can carry it back.>>You said something important earlier, you
said where are the heroes you remember the Paul Simon song, where have you gone Joe DiMaggio.
We are looking for Joe DiMaggio chances are we find them be belong the political realm.
I was with Bono last night. (LAUGHTER)
>> And there is a man who is deeply committed to ‑‑ to foreign assistance. To helping
the poorest of the poor in the world. So he is a star. He is able to gather people together.
Sports figures, they are our heroes we need more sports figures involved saying this is
a good thing to do because people will look up to those they think are nonpolitical our
musicians artists and athletes will have a great deal to say about setting priorities
right and trying to save us. Look at the world in a different way. And so it takes leadership
the heroes and many of the political world the heroes beyond the political world.
>> David Abraham very educated and over 60. (LAUGHTER)
>>(inaudible) (LAUGHTER)
>>I am not touching that.>>I have a multi‑part question. How do
we educate a people who only care if it adds to their bottom line? Second: Couldn’t we
have a proper representative democracy if we stripped big money of its power over government.
Next: How do we accomplish anything with the people who don’t want to pay taxes and finally:
Do you know anyone who wants to employ somebody over 60?
(LAUGHTER)>>Okay. How do we educate people who only
care about their bottom line?>>Well, you are talking to corporate America.
Corporate America hopefully will develop a sense of obligation beyond the bottom line
because that’s what they are in business for corporations are there to make money or to
the people who invest in them. I have argued this issue. Some of the boards that I have
served on saying that I didn’t think that they were serving a public purpose. They said
that’s right nor not serving public service but serving the purpose of the shareholders
you turn to NGO’s>>Forgive me for interrupting, those two
things have to be mutually exclusive, can’t serving shareholders at some point (inaudible)
>>Suppose you have a 30‑minute session on television talking about how we educate
our public. Would anybody sponsor that? National Public Radio or television might NPR, but
most corporations probably wouldn’t go, wouldn’t support you. So, you have got to present it
in a different way. You have got to show there is a self interest in that corporation doing
this because people if they are seen as doing good work, that other people will have a better
opinion of them their sales will actually go up. There is a balance that has to be struck.
Basically corporations are there saying how do we do more business and reward shareholders
for their development. If you know them having a good public service program that you are
there by spreading the good word to other people that enhances their bottom line you
can make that case.>> I think it’s actually moved a little bit
beyond that now when you see CEO’s of Apple Microsoft and these other companies their
employees demand the culture changes. The story about whatever happened to the CEO as
you know a cardinal or Duke or somebody that was considered the, you know, almost the President
of a little country.>> Secretary of defense.
(LAUGHTER)>>Secretary of defense.
>>Those days are sort of over. Those days are sort of over. What I have seen and again
it’s not perfect but if a company’s values are not aligned, you know, ultimately in a
market to serve and help and have inclusiveness and ‑‑
>>(inaudible)>>Look what happened to that CEO.
>>Uber.>>So, there is a lot of road to go there.
I know you asked three questions.>> I have ‑‑ John, can I throw you the
second question.>> Corporate social responsibility, I think,
has become a function that is almost universal now. Medium and larger size corporations so
I think a fair amount of thought is given ‑‑ I think of the example I did some work for
Wal‑Mart and they have transformed themselves philosophically in recent years about environmental
protection particularly about you know some kind of zero carbon future and oriented their
activities toward achieving that I see some hope there I really do.
>> Big money.>>Big money and politics.
>>Big money in politics, big power or government how do you take big money out of ‑‑ I
wrote shorthand fast notes. (LAUGHTER)
>>(inaudible)>>It’s one of the reasons I decided to get
out of politics. Not because I ‑‑ I come from a small state, didn’t cost a great deal
for me to run in the state of Maine. I found many of my colleagues were on the money trip.
And it’s true today, that they leave on Thursday night and head out to their constituency,
but also to raise money and it’s nonstop. It goes until Sunday night or Monday, they
come back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they are off again. It’s a constant money chase,
which I think it’s really undermining our system of accountability. You need to have
members of congress sitting there debating and doing it more than two and a half days
a week. Some would say asset having there only two and a half days a week. I think in
terms of the seriously of the issues we have complexity. Think about it we have a very
competitive ‑‑ competitive and complex and confusing world. So, what we need to do
is get clarity and you need to have informed judgments and you need to take the time to
understand the issues rather than ‑‑ half the members of the senate don’t know
what is in the health bill and they won’t know it until next week. We should make sure
they are not out fundraising and do the work to understand the bill. Getting back to it,
I don’t know there is any answer to it because it gets into free speech first amendment and
so they now virtually have no limits in terms of what can be spent by various PAC groups
and individuals can contribute up to you know $100 million on some of them. So, it’s ‑‑
I think it’s corroding. It’s corroding trust that money ‑‑ money talks the rest have
to walk>>Can I throw his third question out, and
two questions from the audience, how do you accomplish anything when the people don’t
want to pay taxes. Everybody wants a tax cut and we spent a lot of time talking about education,
how do you go talk about improving education investing in education and also ‑‑
>>(inaudible) don’t want to pay for them.>> Nobody likes paying taxes, right? It’s ‑‑
but you know, I think it is a question of fairness and it’s a question of also have
people perceive things like the corporate tax rate where we actually have a relatively
high corporate tax rate, a lot of people think corporations don’t pay a lot of taxes that’s
why they are moving off shore. And the question is, what do you do with that money? There
is a congressman John Delaney, many of you may know Montgomery County has a great idea
bring it back invest in infrastructure, make sure the money is staying here in the United States.
And I think that there is always been a question of the rights of the tax payer in terms of
who is paying the taxes which is the middle class largely. Creating a lot of the load.
And how do you get fairness that is a third rail issue. Because you have a group of people
would say ‑‑ that says, since (inaudible) no new taxes pledge that anything that looks
like a tax increase even if it’s offset is completely unacceptable and but Ronald ray
ban Tip O’Neill, George Bush these people came together and compromised and figured
out how to fix the tax code it happened since the late ’80s.
>>Question over here.>>(inaudible) proud Maine native. My question
is: How do government institutions like The National Archives the Smithsonian Library
of Congress, et cetera, play a role in maybe filling the void of education and also kind
of as almost arbiters of truth in sort of the alternative fact era?
>>Since I am on the board of the National Archives I should answer a tiny pit of that.
I would love to invite David to answer that. I think that ‑‑ I know surprise. Come
to the podium because I ‑‑>>(inaudible)
>>An excellent question about the role of the National Archives. And I think at a time
when people are talking about what is truth we are debating facts the National Archives
has a huge role to play. So, sorry to put you on the spot David.
>>No, it’s my favorite topic. (LAUGHTER)
>>We do consider ourselves the temple of truthyness here. Because we have the documents.
And our role has been from the very beginning when Franklin Roosevelt created the National
Archives it was with the intention that the American public have access to the records,
all of the records the good stuff and the bad stuff so they can hold the government
accountable. And we have fulfilled that mission throughout our history. We ‑‑ one of
the great reasons that we have had these rear democracies of ‑‑ series of conversation
we recognize the problem in American education today especially K through 12 in terms of
lack of focus on American history and especially with a lack of focus on civics kids don’t
know how the government works. We feel a tremendous responsibility to compensation for that with
our public programs everything we are doing online, with our Docs Teach where we have
teachers and our own staff creating curriculum that teachers are using in the classroom with
our primary sources. So, it’s a huge sense of our responsibility here.
>>David can you ‑‑ thank you David. Our final question tonight for our panel.
>>I am Colin, I am ‑‑ also grew up in Maine. And I just ‑‑
>>It’s half the audience ‑‑ you packed the audience huh? That’s an interesting coincidence.
How many Mainers in the audience? Oh, my goodness a lot.
>> I also wanted to briefly know I am 20 years old. A couple of people my age, there
are a few millennials interested in politics. (APPLAUSE)
>>So you have all been talking a lot about the intersection between education participation
democracy under the current Department of Education, it looks like there are going to
be cuts towards education funding how do you reconcile that and if you have a solution
there or an idea for a solution?>>I don’t think any of us on the panel can
do much about that. We don’t have a vote anymore.>> No, I (inaudible)
>> The answer to your question is that you are 20 years old, and you are very involved
and concerned about education, and what you have to do is become involved in the political
process. I have number of interns every summer as many as 12 and 14 they frankly are the
people who give me hope because I could become jaded and cynical and see the machinations
that take place on daily basis I see the young people coming in they are idealistic they
are committed they know their future is at stake they want to participate. I walk away
I bring in headlines that speak to them, I walk away and say, boy there is something
to be optimistic about. There was one subject we haven’t talked about tonight it’s too late
I promise I was going to say this at the beginning. I think until we deal with the racial divide
in this country, we are not going to be able to move ahead as we need to do. It is deep.
It is troubling. And I see it getting worse than getting better. Because we are dividing
up into red state blue state and each ‑‑ each group now is increasing the rhetoric
and the folly is getting more chance changing poetic into gun fire. And so it’s dangerous.
And I think we have got to come to grips with the racial divide plaguing this country 3
or 400 years now. That comes through education as well. That means understanding each other
and embracing each other for our humanity not our differences that’s the subject for
another time. Now but it’s something that occupies me because I happened to be married
to a (inaudible) woman it means every day is exciting to me.
>> In ‑‑ you raise in the last one minute? (LAUGHTER)
>>Thank you for your question. That was an excellent question. Thank you for all of your
questions. Thank the panelists. Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate it.
(APPLAUSE)>>Thank you for coming. Thank you.

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