Columnists and thinkers from both sides of the political aisle went back and forth on Bill Moyers on Nov. 9 regarding the reelection of Barack Obama and how best to help working families in America.
Former New York Times columnist and senior fellow at think tank Demos, Bob Herbert, said that more than anything, “I’ll remember is the way people turned out to vote in this election in the face of tremendous voter suppression efforts.”
Blogger for the National Review Online and Reuters columnist Reihan Salam said that this election would be a wake up call for Republicans. “I think that for a lot of conservatives and a lot of Republicans this was a very disappointing election that opened a lot of folks’ eyes to some of the deeper changes that have happened in the country, much more so in some respects than the 2008 election which I think a lot of folks wrote off as a one off, as a fluke, something that reflected very unique historical circumstances.”
Herbert bluntly stated his view of the relationship between the Republican party and minorities. “We need to be clear that this is a party that has been hostile to the interests of African Americans and hostile to the interests of Latinos in this country and hostile to the interests of working people in this country,” he said.
Salam disagreed, arguing that Republicans had real solutions to the problems of middle class Americans. But “the problem is that when you don’t have a more diverse group of people who are part of the conversation, then I think that it makes it very hard to translate that message to folks who are inclined to distrust.”
Although Herbert had few kinds words for Republicans, he didn’t necessarily believe the solution for working people in America would come from Democrats. “I don’t think the parties are actually going to ever take the lead in turning this situation around. What I think is very important is for people outside of the political process, for people who are not elected officials to organize working people and organize those who are working on behalf of working people and then to mobilize to bring pressure on public officials and the political parties to actually bring about meaningful change.”
Salam claimed that a large problem for the middle class — the costs of education and health care — actually grew as a result of subsidies and regulations intended to help those families. “They prevented us from having a lot of the innovation that we need that would drive down costs,” he said.
Despite warnings of a “taxmageddon” if the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, Herbert said, “I do not think that austerity and more tax cuts are going to do anything to help working people. I think it’s actually going to harm working people. I think it’ll end up throwing more people out of work. We should just let the Bush tax cuts expire and we should end the war in Afghanistan and bring those troops home.”
Watch the video, from Billmoyers.com published on Nov. 9, below.