February 04 2008 show notes

  • Show live from AM 1600 WWRL, NYC.
  • Guest: Gordon Fischer, attorney, former chair of the Iowa Democrats.
  • Why Thom hasn't endorsed anybody.
  • Guest: Al Franken, running for Senate in Minnesota.
  • Guest: Senator John Kerry, for Obama.
  • Guest: Senator Evan Bayh, for Hillary Clinton.
  • Guest: Jeff Cohen. Stepford Republicans.
  • Guest: Ambassador John Bolton, Syria, Iran, nuclear weapons.
  • Welcome to new affiliate KBAI - Bellingham, WA.

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Monday 04 February '08 National show

  • Show live from AM 1600 WWRL, NYC.
  • Bush's budget is mind-boggling. There's a new book out tomorrow saying that 9/11 happened because Condoleezza Rice, Ashcroft, and the Attorney General were not interested.
  • Article: Clinton, Obama, Insurance.
  • Guest: Gordon Fischer, attorney, former chair of the Iowa Democrats. Maria Shriver endorsed Obama, it was off the cuff, her husband Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not know; he endorsed McCain. She is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of the former President John F. Kennedy. MoveOn endorsed Obama. California is an open on the Democratic side, closed on the Republican. There is an Obama hotline. Paul Krugman today said there is a big difference between the two health care plans. Electability. It is hard to say we are going to mandate. Her idea of garnishing wages won't go down well.
  • Bumper Music: Say What You Need To Say, John Mayer (video).
  • Visit the live chat room and blogs; go to thomhartmann.com.
  • People in the chat room, on blogs, by email are asking Thom why he doesn't endorse anybody. Thom:
    "Well, I'm trying to give as much credit as possible to my listeners, (a). In other words, you guys can make up your own mind. And (b), right now I'd have to flip a coin. I mean, I can see, I could argue strongly the reasons for or against either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. And I frankly think that they are both very very strong candidates and I'm going to be perfectly content with whatever the will of the voters is.

    And we will have a little later on in the program, we're going to have Senator John Kerry on, he's going to be talking about Barack Obama. We're also going to have Senator Evan Bayh on, talking about Hillary Clinton. And so, I want to just allow these candidates, largely through their surrogates, to get their message out and you can decide. I mean, you can make up your mind. Anything, keep in mind, the next president of the United States is going to be appointing a couple of Supreme Court justices; I mean, this is a big deal. This election is a big deal.

    Then I have also seen a number of people who are saying, 'hey, wait a minute, wait a minute, you're a progressive'. And I am. And in fact, you know, one person pointed out, 'hey, you used to be in SDS. I mean, you're about as radical as they come and yet you're talking about a couple of centrist candidates and speaking well of the, How can that be? I thought that you were progressive'. Well, let's consider. It's time, I think, for history lesson, you know, history 101. Here's the problem that we have in the United States. And it is a problem and we need to do something about it. And many places have; the city of San Francisco, for example, over 300 communities across the United States in fact have with instant runoff voting.

    But here's the problem. When the founders of this country came up with this radical notion, and keep in mind in 1776 it was a radical notion, it was such a radical notion that about 50 years later in 1836, or 1834, when Alexis De Tocqueville came over here, a young French aristocrat to travel around the United States and two years later his book Democracy in America was published, it was like, you know, just totally 'this is an experiment; what, people governing themselves? his is just a huge experiment'. And when the Civil War happened, all over the world, but particularly in Europe, they were saying, 'See? Told you it wouldn't last'. And everybody was waiting for the United States to collapse.

    So anyway, when the founders put this thing together, this radical experiment of having representative democracy in a constitutionally limited republic, the only fly in the ointment, the one problem, and James Madison was the guy who saw it. Arguably the father of the constitution, the guy who worked the hardest on the constitution, took all the constitutional notes. He and Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist Papers to sell the constitution and ultimately he became, I believe, the fourth president of the United States, if I'm remembering my numbers right.

    James Madison in, as I recall, The Federalist No. 10

    ", it's been a while since I read the Federalist Papers, but I'm pretty sure it's Federalist No. 10, he addressed this problem built into our system. And that is that if political parties emerged, and keep in mind, when the constitution was passed there were no political parties. If political parties emerged, and you had two political parties, then it was conceivable that you could have the will of the majority of the people decide something. In other words, you could have a 51% majority. 49% would not get their way, but the majority would get their way, and that would be small d democratic. But if you had 3 political parties emerge, and 2 candidates got 33% of the vote each and the third candidate got 34%, then you would have a minority making decisions in the United States. If you had 4 political parties, you could have somebody with 26% making decisions. If you had 5 political parties you could have somebody with 21% of the vote. If you had 6 political parties I think it goes down like 17, or whatever it is. I can't do math in my head that fast. But you get the point.

    And so Madison was like, 'what are we going to do about this? If political parties emerge and there's more than two of them, we will not have a democratic outcome'. And the best solution he could come up with in Federalist No. 10 was to beg Americans never to form what he called factions in Federalist 10, and I encourage you to go read it online, which was the word back then for political parties. 'Please don't form political parties'. Well, you know, within 10 years Madison himself, or within 15 years, was the head of, or one of the two leaders of, the Democratic Republican Party which is today known as the Democratic Party.

    So, because we have winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post elections, and the Republicans still do in their primary, although the Democrats at least have gone for proportional representation, we have this problem. And until we solve that, and we can either solve it by amending our constitution to go to proportional representation, which I think would be a bad idea, or by Instant Runoff Voting which doesn't require a constitutional amendment, and can be done, and has already been done in over 300 communities around the United States, we and Greece and Canada and Australia and New Zealand are basically that's it. We're the countries where that problem exists. Although in Australia and New Zealand they've fixed it with instant runoff voting, and we need to do the same here.".

  • Bumper Music: A Day In The Life Of America, Ronnie Milsap.
  • There's so much promise in this country.
  • Bush budget slashing programs.
  • Guest: Al Franken, running for Senate in Minnesota. A recent poll says he is doing well. Caucus tomorrow. We need to stand up for working families. It's about changing the political culture. McCain wrote "courage matters".
  • Mandates.
  • Bumper Music: Blow Smoke In Your Eyes, Dave, The Power Hour.
  • Third Parties. Ralph Nader. David Cobb. Thom supports third parties at local level, they can be major engines for progressives.
  • Thom has not endorsed a candidate on the air in any primary.
  • Bumper Music: Democracy, Dan Fogelberg.
  • Thom was blogging at

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