Transcript: Thom Hartmann & John Nichols - Recall election day, WI. 9 August '11

Thom Hartmann: Get out and vote! If you’re in Wisconsin. Vote early. Vote now. John Nichols, the Washington Bureau correspondent for the Nation Magazine, the Nation. We had your colleague Maria Margaronis on the program earlier from London, John, with an update from what’s going on there. So what’s going on in Wisconsin today?

John Nichols: Well it is mind blowing, Thom. But it’s also something that would warm your heart as a small d democrat. We are experiencing presidential level turn out for these recalls.

Thom Hartmann: Wow.

John Nichols: And I don’t say that casually. A friend of mine is a former surgeon general of Wisconsin, just called me from up in Fond du Lac where one of the more intense of the fights is playing out between state senator Randy Hopper, who voted with governor Walker’s anti-labor agenda, and his challenger Jeff King. And my friend who called said that not only in Fond du Lac but in the small towns all around it, they literally, by 11 this morning, were surpassing the rate of a presidential year.

Thom Hartmann: Now is that happening on both sides of the ticket?

John Nichols: Well we don’t know.

Thom Hartmann: There’s no exit polls?

John Nichols: We don’t have a party registration. People show up. But it does appear that in all of these districts, we’re just going to have this maximum turnout. There are tremendous numbers of people coming to the polls. It’s going to be a challenge Thom, later in the day, if this pattern holds we’re going to have long lines, perhaps even a case where the polling places won’t close on time because there’ll be people waiting to vote.

Thom Hartmann: John, is, are there any exit polls going on anywhere?

John Nichols: No I don’t think, A, I don’t think that there could be any kind of serious exit polls. It’s very hard to do at an accurate level in a state senate district. These are small districts. And B, you know because I think most of these races, not all of them, but most of them are close, exit polling would not get you much. We will have results, Thom, once the polls close. Because there is only one race. Those results will come pretty quick, you’ll probably have them within, you know half hour to an hour. So I just don’t think anybody, that I know of, nobody is going to do exits.

Thom Hartmann: Now the polls close at 8 o’clock local time?

John Nichols: 8 p.m. central. They close, yes.

Thom Hartmann: Right, okay. You know when I first opened my show I said 9 p.m. I was thinking eastern and you know my error and I don’t want to compound the Americans for Prosperity, right.

John Nichols: You told them to go vote Thursday, right?

Thom Hartmann: Right, no. So you’ve got to vote by 8 o’clock! Let’s make that very clear. You’ve got to show up before, and hopefully long before 8 p.m. tonight.

John Nichols: But can I tell folks this, this is an important Wisconsin law, and it’s a wonderful law. By law, if you are in line at 8 o’clock, a poll worker must come out, at the end of the line at 8 o’clock, a poll worker has to come out and stand behind the last person and everybody who is in line, it doesn’t matter if it takes two hours, three hours, ten hours, everybody gets to vote. So if you’re there by 7:59 no matter what kind of line is ahead of you, you can vote. So don’t, you know if you’re working hard today, if you’re out on a farm and you’ve got chores to do, if you’ve got a ship you’ve got to, don’t let anybody discourage you from coming at 7:30, 7:45. Although as Thom says, as you say Thom, if you can get there earlier, do it.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. John, you use the frame anti-union, anti-worker, legislation the Walker agenda. But the larger reality, correct me if I’m wrong, is that these laws were written behind closed doors in five star hotels with corporations equally represented with local republican law makers in these, by the American legislative exchange council. And to the best of my knowledge, again correct me if I’m wrong please, all of the laws that Scott Walker has passed that are the things that people find so offensive, are ALEC-written legislation. They were literally written by the tobacco companies, the oil companies, the Koch brothers, and their representatives and then handed off to the representatives, the legislators, who take money from the people who fund the ALEC organization, and introduce them as laws. Do I have that right?

John Nichols: Yes. You do, Thom, basically enough.

Thom Hartmann: So why not start calling it the ALEC agenda rather than the anti-union agenda because it goes much more, you know ALEC is pushing stuff, you know like, you know limiting the liability of tobacco companies, limiting the liability of pharmaceutical companies. Making it harder to sue, you know, oil companies and you know, on and on the list goes.

John Nichols: Yeah. Your point is well taken, Thom. Let’s not give ALEC too much of a pump up. Why don’t we just call it the anti-democracy agenda.

Thom Hartmann: Okay.

John Nichols: Let’s recognize that what is going on is an effort to make laws with only two constituencies. Right wing legislators and corporate lobbyists, corporate insiders, leaving the people, leaving the voters on the sidelines.

Thom Hartmann: Right.

John Nichols: And you know the way the circle is made complete, Thom, is in this incredible recall process where we’re seeing as much as 40 million dollars spent on these six state legislative races. One race could go as high a 10 million dollars spent in the Milwaukee area. Now that, that’s the closing of the circle. Because yes, you’ve got ALEC, you’ve got these behind closed door meetings. And that sounds bad, that sounds nefarious. But what’s really nefarious is people who fund ALEC. Folks like the Koch Brothers, folks like the DeVoss family, the Amway fortune. They are in Wisconsin now sending millions of dollars to retain the legislators who will carry their agenda forward. And so you really see the full circle of the corruption of American politics and policy making. But you also see today the masses of people turning out and the possibility, that wonderful possibility that for all that money and all that corruption, the people still get to say hey we own the system.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. Well it’s, you know, in America we have Oligarchs. You have the Koch brothers, oligarchs. You’ve got the DeVoss family, oligarchs. And in Russia they have oligarchs. But in Russia when the oligarchs try to participate in politics, Vladimir Putin puts them in prison. Here when they try to participate in politics, they end up owning the system. I’m not advocating Putin’s policies by the way, I just find it ironic.

John Nichols: Well in America we’ve got Thom Hartmann on the radio calling them out.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. There you go. John Nichols with the Nation. Thank you John.

John Nichols: Thanks, brother.

Thom Hartmann: Good talking with you.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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