tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 8, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
forward and have the final deal. i think the repercussions in iran would be tremendous if there were a collapse at the end of this. i think president -- the president could probably not finish. he would certainly not be able to i think you would see a major up evil if this doesn't go to completion -- upheaval if this doesn't go to completion at this point. >> i agree that the technical details are so difficult, i would fully expect when june 30 comes, some extending up the talks. that would suit a number of the gulf states because they would like to see a tighter agreement negotiated.
they don't want sanctions lifted yet until the agreement is better. because they have recently realized that they needed to lead in dealing with geopolitical threats rather than wait for the united states to lead them -- not only that, but they are also seeing that united states is responding to their lead and the united states is gradually getting more involved, helping in yemen, helping more in syria than before. it would suit a number of those estates for the negotiations to continue until a better deal was agreed upon. >> i believe already the negotiations have reached --
they have already decided to strike a deal. the u.s. also cannot lead the negotiation table. they cannot leave the negotiation table because of two reasons. three reasons. one, from the beginning, the agreed criteria would be an pt -- npt. there is nothing left or disputed within npt. everything is agreed, even in details. second, iran is the only country with measures -- non-divergent towards an organization far beyond npt. third is the realities in the region.
this dictates to them to finish the job by july 1. if it fails, you would have upheaval in tehran or washington. the implication, even if we do not agree with the war powers why iran and the regional powers like saudi arabia, egypt cannot sit together and agree on the same measures -- beyond npt for a nuclear weapon free zone come in the region, why? this is already achievement for the regional countries, regional powers to sit together to agree
for a regional mechanism -- iran, saudi arabia, iraq are the main powers. finally, regardless of the nuclear issue, the problems in the region definitely is far by beyond the iranian nuclear issue. as long as we don't have cooperation between the powers you are not going to get anywhere, even if the deal is done. >> it is 12:00, time to move on and close the proceedings here. on behalf of the national council on u.s.-arab relations come i want to thank are distinguished analysts -- panelists for coming today to
share their projections for the future. let's hope the next three months are eventful. i want to point out in closing that the president's legacy is on the line on this. there is serious discussion and debate -- if we can protect the nuclear issue and bring regional stability to the middle east these are noble objectives which i think in the days ahead will give us a better understanding of whether these are goals that can be pursued with success. thank you again for coming. you've been a great audience with wonderful questions. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its
>> the iranian nuclear framework announced last thursday in switzerland -- john kerry is meeting with the president and vice president. we will air it later in our program schedule. you can watch it online at www.c-span.org. one week until tax day. a look at long waiting lines for tax help. the best irs could offer, five years of budget cuts has left the agency so cash strapped -- "it's abysmal" he says. we will hear more from the irs commissioner this weekend at the brookings institution.
he will talk about how his agency has dealt with these budget cuts. all this week, we've been bringing new encore presentations of our q&a program. andrew keen talks about the overuse of technology in u.s. society at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span [applause] -- c-span2. >> the winning entries in this year's student can document re-competition. the annual competition that encourages middle and high school students to think critically about issues that affect the nation. students were asked to create their documentary based on "the three branches and you." joshua hamilton, s tyler and connor are the second prize winners.
they focused on japanese internment during world war ii. ♪ >> we interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin. the japanese have attacked pearl harbor, hawaii by air. >> the japanese have attacked pearl harbor, hawaii from the air. >> hostilities of this kind will mean the president will ask congress for a declaration of war. ♪ >> what this news reporter didn't know is the u.s. would not just declare war on the axis powers, but their own citizens. pearl harbor was bombed two months ago and the u.s. government -- japanese americans have already been feeling the immediate effects of the attacks in hawaii and a must be towards
japanese-americans is steadily increasing and franklin d. roosevelt issued an executive order. one that authorized the deportation of 10,000 americans to internment across the united states. >> that was the most difficult part. four people raised in the united states to be told we cannot trust you. you've done nothing wrong but just in case, they will put you in concentration camps. >> the government was too nice. their thought was if we don't run them all off, they will send messages back to japan and will be in trouble. most of the civilian population except on the east coast come were ambivalent about the whole
thing. >> my friends, my usual friends were weren't talking to me. i went down this long hallway wondering, what's wrong with me? students who walked with me they were called japanese. >> two of the thousands of families being uprooted and shipped to various internment camps. conditions are indecent, to say the least. living spaces are cramped, unventilated and exposed to the elements. >> i was five years old when my family was sent away from our homes and put into concentration camps. >> this is where japanese-americans were essentially incarcerated for the
remainder of world war ii. >> we had 14 barracks. they passed out bags, found out they were body bags for our mattress. they dumped straw in the middle of each camp, each block and we filled our own mattress. >> mostly young people and old people got very sick. the death rate in those camps were very high. these were military style accommodations. about half the size was what they called the latrine or the bathroom. they were 16 toilets and there
were eight back-to-back. 27 inches apart. if you sat like this, you would touch the person next to you. no doors, no stalls. >> i happen to be roger's wife, mary. i had a personal experience three brothers and service, but a brother that was a -- he was shot down in okinawa. my mother always blamed all the japanese. she despised them because they took her son. about 30 years later, we were down at the beach and i felt her uncomfortable -- i said, what's
wrong? do you need to go back and she said, yes, please, right now. it hit her a different way than it had a lot of people. >> i remember my mother saying she cannot understand why we were americans and sent away from our homes. there was never any indication that a japanese-americans or even a japanese immigrant like my grandparents had participated in any espionage. my father and mother had to be careful with where they stopped to get gas or grocery stores and in some cases they were not allowed in. >> when i was in high school, a
small high school, you turn right or left and there is a wall -- on each of those walls was a japanese with a bayonet and a baby at the end of the bayonet. that was the kind of propaganda. the caricature of the japanese was so they appeared more like simians than humans. culturally, they were pretty much the same. they came here at small children. for all intents and purposes they were americans. >> they still felt the resonating effects of the executive order even after they returned home. >> that prejudice is there. deep down.
how do we change things? >> to watch all the winning videos and learn more about our competition, go to c-span.org and click on "student cam." talk about the issues on facebook and twitter. >> each night this week at 9:00, conversations with a few new members of congress. >> i try to stay between the hashmarks. i understand that i represent everyone in montana. i represent not only the republican side, but i represent the democrat side come independent site, tea party side, union side, everyone in montana. if we take that value set forward, congress represents america. we articulate the values and needs and desires.
the purpose is to make america better. >> the five newest members of congress talked about their careers and personal lives and share insight about how things work on capitol hill. join us for all their conversations come each night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. >> one of those congressional freshman profiles is with ruben gallego. the son of immigrants from one america company earned a scholarship to harvard but later dropped out to join the marines and fight in iraq. he talks about his experiences his family and his new life in washington. >> it is fascinating. every day brings a new challenge. every day i get to do something very interesting, and every day i miss home.
but i am glad i am here -- i feel like i am doing good work. i hope to be here for a long time. >> how is it that somebody who was born in chicago ends up in arizona? >> i followed a woman out there who was not my wife. what happened was i was in new mexico with my wife, working in the 2004 election. while there, i got activated and sent to iraq. when i returned, my wife have established yourself in arizona with a good job in-house. i had just left the military. once you are done you are done so i didn't have a job, and arizona was a good option. >> let's take a step back. your family is originally from mexico and central america. they came to the u.s. when? >> my mom came to the 1970's.
>> why chicago? >> a lot of industrial, good paying jobs, cheap housing. that was a good draw. chicago has the second and third largest latino populations. >> raised by a single mom -- when did your dad leave? >> around 11. >> any memories? >> many, and that is what made it more painful. he was a construction worker. i worked on the farm and looked up to him as a father figure. but when everything went south it went bad. i don't think he reacted well to
it and it caused a lot of problems. that is why it hurts so much to see someone i looked up to abandon us. >> can i ask you what happened? >> a lot of things happened, that essentially he had a construction company that was employing a lot of people. he also didn't pay his taxes and everything fell apart, and he started selling drugs. for somebody who i thought was a good moral compass ended up not being that. >> how did your mom keep everything together? >> i couldn't tell you. she has done an amazing job. there were some tough times -- i remember some hard times and she is an amazing woman. today is her birthday. >> happy birthday to your mother. >> i won't say how old she is. she would get mad. >> that you could talk to your dad, what would you tell him? >> nothing.
i have moved on. i took his spot. i had to become a father figure for my sister. i have closed that chapter in my life and i am here to move on and be a good husband and maybe a good father. >> you went on to harvard -- how did that come about? it is not a cheap school. >> i realized, once things have settled down, we were pretty poor. in order for me to go to college, i was going to have to get scholarships. i realized that i had to make sure i had the best rates possible, score the best on my tests. by freshman year of high school, i committed myself that i was going to apply to harvard. if i got myself ready for that no matter where i went, i would get a scholarship. i started taking exams in my freshman year, started reading
as much as i could. i applied to harvard -- i did a lot of research about how i could prepare myself to make myself qualified. i ended up doing very well on my tests. passed a lot of ap exams. they gave me nearly a full ride and i got into a lot of the schools for the same thing. my goal was accomplished, to get there and not be a burden on the family. >> what advice did your mom give you? >> the advice my mom gave me was more emotional support than anything else. my mother is a hard-working person, but she had it not -- had not applied to college out of high school, but it was very difficult for her to understand
the paperwork. now she got it down pat. but she really supported me and gave me a lot of emotional support. also just making me stay focused. while i am working and studying, she made me realize that there is also the important focus, family making sure i had still had time for my sisters and realizing that is what is important. >> you are in high school, you get the letter accepted a harvard, what was your reaction? >> i was really shocked. i was working that day, at a hot dog stand. i knew what time the mail came and my boss let me go. he let me go home to look at the mail. i went and i saw the letter, the big packet, which is a good sign. i called my mom and she was still at work.
she started crying. i told my sister's and then went back to work. my boss was very proud of me. i went back to work. [laughter] flipping those burgers was one more step on the path. >> how did your mom support you? over the years. you said she had many jobs. >> no, she was a secretary for most of her life, a legal secretary. she supported the emotionally, but she worked some very hard jobs. legal secretary and administered -- administrative secretary. those were great experiences for me, going to work with her and seeing professional people walking around, wearing suits. for me it was a good example because growing up, the idea of
work was about whether -- everyone had a goal, and for some reason i thought it was i was supposed to do. it is honorable work and it pays well but i didn't know that there were these other options and being exposed to other professionals was important. my mom really taught me about the dignity of work. we didn't make much, but she did teach me that we should be proud that we are working. she brought home enough pay, we were never wanting for food. our clothing wasn't fancy but we always left the house looking like a million bucks. what mattered was how we carried ourselves, not how much we had in the bank account.
>> do you remember the name of the hot dog stand? >> suzy's. 95th street, still there. >> when did that teach you about customer service and do you apply it today? >> a lot of what i was doing was in the back. i was flipping the burgers and making the hot dogs. what it did teach me was because of the interactions you have every day -- people were coming in from all walks of life. a lot of them are having bad days, coming from work are going to work. what it taught me is that i needed to treat everyone the same, even if you are being mean, even if you didn't have a great day, i am going to treat you professionally, make you the best hotdog or sandwich or hamburger. a lot of the other jobs have always taught me -- if you treat people professionally, you will
be treated the same. even if you are not, you are still better off being professional. >> how were the burgers and what was the most popular item? >> the hot dogs were more popular than the burgers. the hot dogs were chicago style. and our area, a lot of people bought those hotdogs. most people -- it was pretty good. >> you are at harvard, and then you withdraw to join the marine corps -- why? >> i wasn't getting along well at harvard. it wasn't harvard's fault -- the culture was very drastically different from where i came from. it is a very rich school. some great students there, and they got along well, but i had a very tough adjustment. a lot of things i look back on i think i had always imagined myself going to harvard, because i felt it was what i was
supposed to do. in the back of my mind, i was going to join the marine corps first and then go to college. but i got onto this track and it was taking me somewhere, putting me off my goal of joining the marines. i wasn't getting good grades and so i went off and joined the marines reserves. you do boot camp and training and then returned to school. i haven't regretted it. >> once a marine, always a marine. what do you remember about your time in the military? >> just the friends i made, the friends i lost. i got to serve with some of the -- sorry. i served with some great men.
i don't think i would be surrounded by people that great again. >> what did they teach you? >> they taught me about humility. my friends taught me about being there for each other. the marines taught me about discipline. the marines i served with taught me about what it truly means to care about another human being you are not related to. what you are willing to do to keep them alive. >> let me follow up on that point. it wasn't without loss or sacrifice. can you explain? about the losses you witnessed? >> i lost my best friend, and i lost a lot of platoon members.
my company overall, we lost a lot of good men in combat. for reasons i think were incorrect. we didn't have the proper armor in our vehicles. i think we were also in an area that should have had more manpower than what we had. but to this day, the fact that i lost such close friends still haunts me. >> how do you apply your experiences to the debate? >> i look at the budget or may -- from a perspective of the ground pounder. every operation, whether it ends or begins, is going to involve the platoon. -- the infantry. when it comes to the budget, i always look at how it is going to affect infantryman.
when it comes to what types of airplanes they should be buying, i'm going to look at what does the infantry guy need? at the end of the day that is where the ordinance will be dropped. lastly, i think -- i think it is also important to our military personnel that are retired and we are trying to change how we do our benefits, and i know for a fact that as a member, a veteran, there is nothing worse to join the military where you were guaranteed something and then finding out that is not the case. we have to change it because up budget priorities. they are serving it as a budget priority -- how fast can we get in a war zone?
how much they will spend on a war. that has to happen when it comes to military benefits. what you promised somebody is what they should be getting, and they should be taking shortcuts. -- should not be taking any shortcuts. >> you are dealing with a lot of information and constituents -- how do you filter through all the data, the letters, the e-mails, the reports, the bills? >> i don't really sleep much. just my nature. i like being motivated. i enjoy getting a lot of information. most of the time, when i need to go deeper, i will start asking questions. for me, i enjoy it. it is enjoyable to hear from my constituents. i like the challenge. a lot of it is more about the
speed -- i love my staff, but sometimes they can keep up with -- cannot keep up with me. i just do it. i don't really think about it because for me it is part of the job and it is enjoyable. >> is this job what you expected so far? >> to some degree, yes. as a state legislature you understand what it means to be a minority. but there are other aspects of it that i have enjoyed. right now, we are working on the peace process to be helpful to the u.s. government. that has been a good opportunity for us to get involved. being on the the armed services committee has been very helpful, listening in and trying to figure out what to do with the aumf. getting to the weeds on that has been enjoyable but very difficult. just being involved in all the
other small projects -- it is a lot of fun. even while we have the structure that is led by the republicans we have found ourselves to do different ways. >> how did you meet your wife? collects sheet -- >> she got me at a date auction. >> you have to explain. [laughter] >> she was walking back from some late-night class, and she saw her girlfriend on the street walking to some event. they hadn't seen each other in forever so her friend invited her to come to this event and it was a date auction done by fraternities and sororities at harvard to benefit the 9/11 fund. i happened to be auctioned off that night.
coincidently, this woman was a mutual friend of ours that we had never met. i started getting auctioned off, and her good friend and my good friend -- she urged her to bet on me. it was going well and i wondered who this beautiful woman was. other friends were in the room. as the bidding was going up she stopped bidding and a friend was about to win me, and i asked the auctioneer to ask kate one more time. i wanted to see who this lovely woman was. he did. kate said she had run out of money. i said if she bids for me one more time i will pay half. that is how we met and we ended up going out on our first date a week later.
>> how much did they raise? >> $44, the second-most for that day. >> was your mom here when you took the oath of office? >> absolutely. >> what was that like for her? >> i think for her it was a great feeling. i don't think there is anything else we can do to reiterate how great she has done. her proudest moment was seeing all four of her kids graduate from college. that is very hard to do nowadays. the fact that she did it, she did it being by herself, really shows her strength and what a great mother she is. but obviously, these things make her happy because she knows i am fulfilling -- i have another sister who was in medical school.
i am sure -- as soon as one of my sisters becomes a doctor she will be the favorite. i think my mom was very proud, mostly for me. i think she knows she did a great job. >> when you took the oath of office, what was going through your mind? >> i had three members from my platoon hold the bible. what was going through my mind was that i am here and it is my charge to do my best for my country and for my district. i was thinking about the weight, that pressure, that i needed to fulfill what people wanted me to do, to come here and be a strong advocate for everyday people for veterans, and not shy away. >> how do you know if you have achieved that? what is your benchmark?
>> for me it is -- if i feel that i have put it all on the table, that i have pushed where i can push, and even if i fail i know that i did my best -- that is an internal check i have all the time. sometimes it is just looking at the mirror and saying, did i do what other people would be proud of? i have to answer yes or no to that, and hopefully i can answer honestly. >> you said being a husband and father and son someday -- what would you tell your kids about your career? >> i would tell them i was
blessed to be born in this country. opportunity will give you 50% of the way and you have to go the other 50%. just because i made it doesn't mean i can forget what got me here, the people that got me here, how i can be of service to them, to their families. i think especially, someone like me, i especially over it to a -- owe it to a lot of our veterans to stay here and do my job and help them and their families. >> thank you very much for your time. >> thank you so much. >> each night this week at 9:00 p.m. eastern, conversations with a few new members of congress. >> i try to stay disciplined in
my message -- i try to stay between the hashmarks. i understand that i represent everyone in montana. i represent not only the republican side, i represent the democrat side come independent side, tea party site, union side. i represent everyone in montana. if we take that value set forward, congress represents america. to articulate the values and needs and desires of your district. the purpose is to make america better. >> five newest members of congress talk about their careers and personal lives and share insight about how things work on capitol hill. join us for all their conversations each night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. >> one week until the tax
deadline. the irs commissioner is at the brookings institution, talking about how his agency is dealing with budget cuts. you can watch that life on c-span at 2:00 p.m. eastern. until then, a discussion on the american political system possibility to solve problems likes poverty, health care and lobe rotor turnout -- low voter turnout. jackie salit: hello everyone. >> hi, jackie. jackie salit: let's get to it here. we took on a very big topic for this discussion. the title of this discussion is, can democracy transform the social crisis?
this is obviously a very big and important question. for the country, and for us. what i wanted to do, i wanted to see if i could ask each of you to share thoughts on the following question. in a time of social crisis that we are living through, poverty is on the rise, joblessness, hopelessness is on the rise, young people are having a terrible time finding their way into careers and into the mainstream. there is a huge housing problem and education crisis police-community relation violence, we saw a few examples of what we are dealing with here. sometimes, when that goes on when those kinds of conditions go on, it can make people more conservative. by conservative, i mean more
frightened, and more, feeling they have to hold on to what already exists, because it is too risky to consider certain kinds of change, even though they also want change and they feel that change is critical and needed. they are torn, in some ways, because the conditions of life can be so difficult. i wanted to start by asking each of you to talk about that from your vantage point and your experience. are the difficulties that our communities and people are facing, is that acting as a break on certain kinds of political changes? if so, how do we break through that? are there also new ways of looking at the political scene that people are beginning to
experience, in your view, from where you sit at geoeye will throw that to you. >> you pointed to me. i think, if you look at what is happening not just in society today but what is also happening politically as well as in business, there is a dramatic shift taking place regardless of what we do as leaders. we see it in terms of a number of people who were registering as independents, that is having an effect. in business, we see change taking place, as well. there is now new technology and information, new systems that people can operate organizations are becoming flatter. we are watching the rise of what is called the exponential organization, that are being pushed and promoted, often times through crowdsourcing efforts. the reason they win is because they put ideas over hierarchy.
that seems to me to be exactly what has to happen in politics today. it's the idea that what we need is a system is it -- promoting ideas rather than squelching ideas. the existing system is built on a hierarchy. it is built around power, and interest groups have a disproportionate voice in side the system than people do. those changes i think, they are happening organically, our system is way behind the political curve. tio hardiman: when the elephants fight, the grass suffers. we need independents to step in the middle and say, we have to get the job done. when i ran for governor, a lot of my friends said, this guy has got to be crazy. but i took care of business. i traveled the state, i visited people, and the majority of
voters i spoke to were independent voters. they said, it is time for change. i spent only $50,000 of my own money. the people were tired, and they latched onto my campaign. this is the key. in illinois right now, 88% of african-american males are unemployed. i put that on top of my platform. another statistic, 85% of homelessness in chicago takes place in african-american communities. nobody wants to talk about police brutality. i put that on my platform. what happens is, some politicians take on those issues, say they are going to do something about it, and then they drop it all of a sudden once they are in office. it is an enormous issue to take
on. as an independent, i like what you said, make it happen. i only needed 5000 signatures to make the ballot. since i knew a lot of people, i went out and got 50,000 signatures myself. [applause] that is what it has come down to for me. lenora fulani: i have been thinking about this a lot. the first time i voted, i was, nancy and i were running for governor. i was running for lieutenant governor. i had never been in a voting booth in my life. where i had been in the world was in the midst of poverty.
i am from a small town. my family is poor, my city is poor. more and more poor people exist and are coming to be poor in this country. and so, i think it is critical for people, poor people, and people who are not for who care about poverty, to come together around the issue of strengthening democracy. to me, what that means, it has nothing to do with who gets elected, because the people get elected in formation that have created the poverty. they don't care about it. they don't want anything, basically, to do with it. they don't talk about poverty in this country. so, i think that we have two continually deepen people's understanding about the relationship between these two. i think the african-american community has a particular role to play in this.
we have been taught the reason why we are poor is because we are shiftless. not because we weren't let in. [applause] there is no way to engage these issues unless we come together and not just go to the voting booth, do what we are doing today and what people are doing, which is create an environment where voting means something. [applause] joan blades: i will take off from that. the more i have been exposed to the political system, the more dysfunction has become clear. coming from the background i come from, grassroots participation is what makes the
difference in my mind, the most toxic environment i can think of for politics is washington dc, where there is very little flexibility. this system is structurally rewarding the wrong things right now. i always remember the fdr quote, you have convinced me, now make me do it. it is about giving the leaders that want to be good leaders because most people want to be good leaders. they do not go into this because they want to undermine people, and -- prosperity is something that everyone will say they want. and i believe them. but we have different visions of what that is.
talking about the feeling at risk, your ability to be creative, for me to care about what i care about here, and you care about me, and we are having a conversation about problem solving. we will come up with a superior solution to when i don't trust you or like you. or i think your ideas are really stupid. all of a sudden, you get these adversarial solutions that frankly, are terrible. i think we have the most expensive health care system in the world per capita. we are not in the top 10 in outcome, not in the top 20. how can we achieve that? first, we have to do it ourselves. we model what we want to see and we have that -- i want to meet your needs, you want to meet my needs.
the outcomes will then be dramatically better and we will, up with something better. [applause] paul johnson: i think that also speaks to the existing architecture in the system which is designed to keep people out. it is designed to be exclusive. if you go to arizona independents make up 35%, they are the largest unorganized group, they outnumber republicans and democrats. yet, if you run for governor in arizona as an independent, you need 6000 signatures as a democrat, 7000 if you are a republican, 39,000 if you are an independent.
if you are on the ballot, you are last. you have to have a voter list because you have to know how to communicate with voters. it is free viewer a democrat or republican. it is $100,000 if you want to run as an independent. and last, this is the one that is crazy to me. in 1994, we passed an effort to allow independents, and i was involved in this, that allowed independents to vote in the primaries. one of the things they have done is, they have said we have an automatic early voting list. you end up on the list if you voted on an early ballot the year before unless you are an independent. if so, you have to re-register every time in the primaries. meaning, the rules are rigged. they are rigged to keep that group of people out. amongst hispanics, a large percentage of hispanics is independent. this is the largest voter suppression effort we have seen the country. if this happened in the south,
it would -- we would have seen it as such in the 1960's. instead, today, we ignore it. we are not paying attention to the fact that there are a large number of voices who today are being silenced because of the architecture of the system. [applause] jackie salit: let me see if i can pick up on this. in the first round here, part of what i hear everyone describing in different ways is, there is a set of things that have become intractable in this country, intractable poverty, intractable conditions that produce violence, intractable systems in the political sphere that do not allow people to participate.
it is almost as if things are frozen in place. and everything is allowed to be only that it already is. how do we break through that? tio hardiman: i think we have to organize the independents. i think we have to present -- you know, the solutions to the powers that be. when i ran for governor, i ran is a democrat. at the same time, i made a lot of enemies. i did so well, and what happens is, even some radio stations and tv shows, it appears they were on the payoffs of the politicians. they would not let me get on some of their shows. it is difficult, because as you
said, the system is rigged. it will take the multitudes are the people to continue organizing and standing faith with the issues. we have enough independents in the country to make major changes in a lot of states. but it will take a real leader from the independents to push the agenda. the same way people are organizing in ferguson, we need independents to organize an effort that is second to none to push the agenda of the independents. independents' voices need to be heard. that is what i would like to have. [applause] lenora fulani: one of the things that -- to me, one of the ways democracy can impact social crises is, to me, what democracy
is is powered to the people. we have to take ourselves seriously as the people who have to produce that. so many things, like the way in which poverty is understood and organized in america, keeps us apart. i have been speaking to a lot more white poor people over the past few years, and i say to them, you are poor. the things you have going for you is that the government says to you, at least you are not black. but that does not feed your children. that does not yield with the crisis in your homes as you work to come to terms with that. we have to do something about that, and what that means is that people have to come together and work in ways to transform this. we have to have honest conversations about what is happening in this country and in our world.
i spent hours teaching the black and latino community individually and overall, that it is poor, and poverty is not a personal position, it has come about as a result of the history of our nation and the abandonment by so many different institutions. everything is a mess. to the degree that we accept that and we can cross those lines that exist between us and white people and other people, which is what the independent movement i think has done so well, but it has to grow at the bottom, around these issues come also. i think we can transform america. and that is what we should be working on. [applause]
jackie salit: did you want to speak on this? joan blades: i'm thinking systemically. when you are talking about the different communities, when conversations are specifically designed because we live in a self-segregated communities. when i asked my progressive friends to have conversations with someone with a different view, they say, i don't think i know any conservatives. [laughter] i live in berkeley. [laughter] jackie salit: so does my daughter. [laughter] joan blades: that is a terrible thing to say, that we have that much division.
and we know that, when people with like minds talk together about an issue, they get more radicalized on that view. that is part of what has been happening to us. when i talk about an issue with some of my conservative friends, sometimes our backs are different. and that makes it very hard for us to have a good discussion and solution. living room conversations are this conversation to start connecting and at the core of this initiative, this one, small simple tool is about making that human connection because most people think it is our intellect that guides us when actually it is our emotions that guide us.
when i like you, i hear what you say and i am more likely to remember it and to believe you. and i am more likely to be sitting there trying to figure things out with you in a way that would make you happy. if we can just start having relationships, then our potential for solving all of these issues -- to have conversations about the arizona structure because i bet you people across the border would say, hey, that is not there. i would like to change that. but we are sending out flags all the time. this is the time i'm in and if you are not in that tribe, then you have to be careful about what you say and then you don't really get real and this is a
self fulfilling prophecy if we find ourselves drifting apart. my hope is that with the independents, you have the desire to be part of the democracy and help heal it. you guys are in a wonderful position to succumb yes, we are going to be a part of this and we are going to be a human part of this conversation and democracy. [laughter] -- [applause] >> in 2016, we hope -- we would love to have you out in 90 but it's having those conversations. just to give you a second on how structure affects the minds of officials, let me give you an example of what i was involved with. the minds of elected officials. at the end of the day -- [laughter] at the end of the day, that is what we are talking about. [laughter] i became mayor but before, i was
elected in growth in the second highest poverty pocket in the state. i did have the great fortune of having terrific parents and nine brothers and sisters. nonetheless, i came from a poor area and i ran in a district that was pretty much an affluent area. well, i want by knocking on doors, meeting people one at a time. i knocked on about 80,000 doors enough period of eight months and i met with people. iran in a nonpartisan election so i spoke to democrats, republicans, and independence. they had an effect on how i thought. there was no doubt that i met many good republicans during that race that had ideas and talked about issues that were important to them and their businesses. it had an influence on me. there was a governor named bruce banner. we passed martin luther king day
in phoenix and our governor bruce plastic fine executive order at the state level. there was a republican primary when bruce lost and it was very heated. many people thought the moderate fellow by the name of burton bala was going to win, but instead, there was an extreme individual by -- who pulled up the primary race. once he won the primary, he was pretty much set to win the general election. now, when he got into office the very first he did and he said the very first thing i'm going to do is get rid of that martin luther king day. and then he began to make comments. you can look them up and they are real comments and i was there at the time and i had to deal with them across the country. but he said things like, i don't know what their problem is. when i was young guy, black people like being called taken enemies. -- pickaninnies.
he went to a jewish convention and told them they ought to be happy that they live in a nation that is a christian nation and doesn't do thanks to them that other people have done to them in the world. the guy was radical. when you get rid of martin luther king day, we went to voters and put it on the ballot. he came back and put on an item that was exactly the same but the different date with the vote. that's ok, because we went back and did it again. here is how we did it. i organized is the leaders. i spoke to people on the other side. i listened to people who did not take exactly how i thought and because of that, we could build a coalition. arizona is still the only state in the nation that has passed martin luther king day by the majority of citizens. i'm very proud of that. [applause] >> same electorate that voted in
and make them, i think about that. -- that voted in evan mikum, i think about that. there is a legislature that says you can go to kill if you don't have your papers, and we had another issue that said that you could legally discriminate against gays. the list goes on and on on what comes out of our legislator that is far right wing. here is the secret. they do not represent the arizona voters. a represent the 4% of the people who show up in a republican primary in our state. the key is for arizona, for us to be able to break out of that and to give a voice to the majority of those voters and to make certain you change that architecture. here is what is more important. you cannot get paid -- you cannot get people to understand poverty unless you are going to understand commerce. you cannot get people to understand how to fix problems
until you understand the importance of working together. a nonpartisan system, in my opinion, is meant to facilitate communication between all sides so that we can do those things that are important to move our society forward. [applause] >> let me see if i can take a little deeper on what you are saying here. let's talk about democracy and poverty. let's go right to the question and talk about it. in your views, how does expanding democracy, at this point in america, put us in a better position to engage the issue of poverty? how do you see that at a political level, moral level and also at a practical level? how do we bring those two issues
together. -- two issues together? >> in 2005 when michael bloomberg ran for mayor in new york city, we worked on his campaign. he was on the independent party line and the republican line. bloomberg got 50% of the black vote. nobody has ever gotten 50% of the black vote in new york city in the last 20 or 30 years. i must -- unless they were democrats. it was phenomenal. we went to bed that night, i went to bed that night, silly me, thinking that i was going to wake up and this was going to be front-page news. i was like, i cannot believe that one media outlet, including the black papers in that city, nobody it knowledge that 50% of the black community had gone out and voted for an independent. we got the boat primarily on the independent party line. i think the reason for that is
because that announcement comes hand-in-hand with the fact that you can step outside of your box you can step out of the box and reorganize yourself in such a way in the political arena so that you have power. the people who run this city were determined that they were not going to convey that. and then you do the things that you need to do to impact. people in the city currently for the whole cold season, had been living in housing and there was no heat. that's a political issue. that has to do with people know you can stand up and say, you better turn on this heat or whoever you are in the arena or area that we are in, we are not going to vote for you. if in fact, we continue to build peoples sensibilities, involvement, emergence, and the
growth and importance of democracy and the relationship between democracy and voting and changing our lives. we have to work on that because in fact, there is that relationship because of the same people get elected and they do nothing. they let the people freeze in these apartments because they're trying to freeze them out. [applause] >> just want to add, and we talk about the political structure we need independent candidate to have the opportunity to participate in debates with the candidates and put those issues on the table. the governor seems to give me a debate that commenced 20% of the state book. he would not want to talk to a guy like me because i'm different and i'm not worried about being politically correct. when i put those issues on the table, they are going to stick in the minds of the people. bruce cannot survive a debate with me either because his world
experience is difference from my world expense. i was born and raised on the projects on the west side of chicago, like everybody is, we had to come adversities in our lives and we make good of our lives. we can present issues to the grassroot people are experience and solutions based on our expertise. i think one of the solutions is making sure we have open primaries, like you said, and where we can have independence in the debating process because a lot of independents are being overlooked. quickly, i want to say this, chicago politics right now. i am speaking on behalf of what is going on with african-american leadership in chicago right now because believe it or not, what happened with my election, i want 30 counties in downstate. i had more problems with my own people than i had with everybody else. i want to make that clear. in chicago african-american leaders came together to knock an african-american lady off the ballot. she stood a chance to really
make a big difference in chicago, so now what they are doing is supporting -- which is ok. the thing is, then we represent 47% of the voting and votes in chicago, but we can never come together to support -- look at me wrong, this is not about the race. when you have a voting bloc like that, use it to your advantage. instead, they came together to knock an african-american phenyl off the ballot. we have so many issues in chicago. i'm talking about poverty, not just for african-americans poverty, integration, issues with violence, disease is on the rise in african-american community. there are some great things happening, so we need someone who will represent the people sincerely. and that is what independent -- and that is her independence coming up. [applause] >> i think that we can't rely on
the two-party system's debate to have our debates, we need to take the debate to the streets. [applause] >> we have to organize people to participate because they are never going to let us in. the only way -- the only way we will be in is if we change where in is. it is on the streets. [applause] >> voter turnout is not good. the number of people that are not participating are particularly -- they of the less likely to participate. i read some california date of the other day that had 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds and someone was quoted as saying more 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds got arrested and voted last year. that is just horrified.
and why we are trying to change the issues of poverty. as a codefendant -- one of the top causes of poverty spelt in this country is the birth of a child. and people that are incredibly overwhelmed already with their lives. it is hard to ask them to vote and vote when they don't see anything happening. when you are voting, you have to convince people that voting as other forms of participation with voices. >> can i speak? >> yes. [laughter] >> i care you. i think that young people don't vote because they are not stupid -- [applause] >> i think -- what i really think they are saying to us is you have not put something in
place where my voice can be expressed and heard. i think that is why -- you don't even have to be on. there are lots of people who don't vote because nothing transforms. i think we have to focus on finding ways for people to make voting something that you do because it will transform the world. i think we have to teach people how to be political in ways that allows for them to stand up and speak on behalf of themselves and participate in what they are trying to do which is change with this political system looks like. i must say there is this notion that latino people and black people are poor because we have a beast. -- because we have babies. we are not poor because we have babies, we are poor because we have not been led into a system to function. even if you don't have a baby, if you can't read, if you can't
go to school, if you're not a part of it, it does not work. if you are poor and live in the community and you stand on the streetcorner long enough because there isn't that much to do, which is why we built this project program, you will get pregnant. [laughter] [applause] >> i just missed it. >> i agree with everything you said. the basic story -- a huge number of people that fallout of the middle class when they have a b's. -- when they have babies. i am saying that we have people entering it where our growing population is not middle-class. poverty is a huge problem. we want to have everybody become middle class. there is a huge bias against
mothers in the workplace. and against single mothers, in particular. >> i love you, i just don't want to blame our social crisis on babies. [applause] >> absolutely, it is part of the system. if you have a bias against mothers, then you have a biased against babies. single moms can make about $.60 to the equally qualified man's dollar. we have assistance problems because we are making things hard on women that have babies and children. back is up to 18. -- that goes up to 18 and that is one of the things we have to correct. that is one of the things i'm active about. we don't hate mothers yet, -- at least, most of us don't. >> many people don't. >> yeah, i mean we got how many mothers here? [applause] >> how many people have mothers? [applause] [laughter] >> that's kind of it.
we need you on our sides. [laughter] >> want to get in on the mom issue? >> i am clearly pro-choice on the mom issue. [laughter] >> here is what i would tell you at least on the poverty issue. that seems to make sense to me. i think it is symbiotic mutualism. it is a recognition that we are not really divided into parts. i watch what is happening in our country with the tea party movement which has been mainly advised by the republican party. their message seems to be one that says the real problem is government. the government has created the problems we have and what we need to do is remove government and our problems would be fixed. on the other side, the occupy movement, which in many parts of
the democratic party seems to say that government is not the problem, but it is the private sector, the corporate sector. well, here is my answer. we've become the mightiest nation may be in the history of the planet and we did so through a process that says both of them are wrong. both of them, right? start with government. government played a key role in building infrastructure in our educational system and building of the ability for people to be able to participate. it passed regulations that were very important to commerce. civil rights roles, the ability for women and minorities to be able to participate has clearly been helpful to our economy. on the other side, the private sector, they are creating products, products we are shipping around the world. things like this that are changing our quality of life. effectively both are important. now, it seems to me -- i went to nicaragua, i want to give a
speech and they asked me how to fix poverty. they don't -- they didn't understand that you don't really fix poverty but my comment was this look, in the united states, we like weird people. go back 50 years ago, we had people like tesla, edison, einstein. we almost exultant. we talk about how great they are. their ideas that went into the private sector, we taxed them during the roosevelt administration. we begin to create a system that took money from that commerce and paid to educate a whole new group of weird people. steve jobs, bill gates, others. if we lose that symbiotic mutualism, i guarantee what will happen to poverty will get worse. it will get a lot worse. the idea is we are all sitting in the same rather narrow row boat together. the people that come from the impoverished side look at the guy on the other end of the
book, the corporate life, and they view it as they want to see them submerged without recognizing they are tied together. the business side does the same thing to leaders on the property side. recognizing that we are connected is our only way to survive this thing and are only way to continue what has become the mightiest nation in the history of the planet. [applause] >> in a couple of minutes, we are going to open it up to the plot for your questions and comments, but i wanted to ask each of you, could you say -- the issue of myths about the political system, the cause of social crisis have been touched on by a number of you in your comments. i would be interested to know,
could you each tell us -- what do you think, what is a myth you think needs to be busted up in order to break down some of these areas that we are talking about having to break their? what is a myth you would like to see crumble? >> all go for it. that you have to have so much money to win political office. [applause] >> because i would like to recommend anybody who will run for high-level office to go out and get double the signatures unit, not just to make the ballot, the signatures you need to win the entire race. to me, that is a big mess. television networks, radio networks, the media, they keep pushing the fact that you don't have money and you can't win. in the minds of the people, it is a myth, really. we have had examples of some people who can win without having a whole lot of money.
garcia doesn't even have $1 million but he is in a runoff. it can be done a matter what the critics say. look at what is happening in bc right now, the gop trying to undermine barack obama. i'm not saying barack obama is the best and in the world, but he is the president and they continue to undermine his leadership. that myth needs to be dispelled to the fact -- as a matter fact, i'm going to leave it at that because i'm a great about the way they did the president. [laughter] >> the reality of it is this. if you're not going to respect the president and lead the nation the properly, that is the bottom line because we keep going outside the boundaries of what we think is right and it is showing racism because we know it does. don't get me wrong. racism, we know it exists, but you have members of the gop that don't care how they show it. they are just played in about it. they are up front.
cobra is one thing and over is another thing. i just want them to respect the man. [applause] >> i'll give you to miss i would like to debunk. -- myths i would like to debunk. i find it fascinating that the leadership inside the gop are intent on making certain that people know they do not like the president of the united states. that to me is interesting all by itself. but i do think that part of that is driven by the myth that they really aren't that interested in the policy side of the equation as opposed -- as opposed to the power side of lake region. at the end of the day, it comes down to who has the majority and who once the majority. the political structure today -- it was set up to be the firewall in the beginning years and they wanted to make sure there was a more stable response to what might happen
politically, but when happened or what has happened is that because they really are not running for election every six years because they want to control the majority, they are running for election every two years. it creates an inability for that firewall to work. one of the myths we have to break down is, again, they are not in it for the policy. they are in it for the power. i think the public intuitively understand that. the second method that i think we need to break down is this. and this is perpetuated at least in arizona almost on a daily basis. people that register as independent because they are either apathetic or ignorant. that is their view. they do not recognize that it is an affirmative statement about what they care about and that is why people are registering as independent or nonpartisan. [applause] >> they have given up on the existing political system and they believe there has to be another way. >> one myth i would like to totally eradicate is under the
current system, if you vote, you can make a difference. [applause] >> because the issue is not simply voting. the issue has a lot to do with what you are voting for what the parties represent, what the people are present and people get beat up so much all the time on not going to the polls and voting but in some ways, i think it is important to recognize that when people keep voting and the same things happen, that turns them into politics, power, anything and they want nothing to do with it. i would think people are smart. that they don't go vote unless you give them a real an absolute alternative because otherwise the other thing you are doing is playing into the hands of the people that take our boat and do nothing. it is just not true.
and the other thing i just want to say the myth that poverty itself is perpetuating and that it is personal. even in the segregation, i don't even think that we self segregate. i think that we have been segregated. when you look at the neighborhoods, people don't even think they can live next door to each other unless you are on some of the lead the neighborhoods are organized in that way and that keeps the people from even knowing who the other is. people are not responsible in this country for being poor. the country, the nation has responsibility for doing something about poverty. i think we politically have a responsibility. i feel like i have a responsibility for doing something about poverty and the ways in which that works for everybody is that we have to fight against poverty. but we did not create it. nobody said well, do you want to
live on 5th avenue in new york or would you rather live in the poorest, most rundown, and accessible community in the city? and people say, well, i think i'll take the latter. we ended up there because of the consequences of history and the lack of political support from the people who run this city and country. [applause] joan blades: so many good myths have already been put out there. i think the one i am most focused on right now is about the other. the other being kind of dimwitted. the other being mean-spirited. the other being callous. and the good news that if you take the time for the kind of space that allows for listening, the conversations could be listening.
even these people, how can you do that? most of the people get into whatever role they are playing. it is a good place. i'm sorry. i just don't want to go there but i think it is true of the vast majority of people throughout the spectrum. and how do we start opening things up so that we start benefiting from the richness of our views fused together and our energy put together. jackie salit: i will open the floor up to you. we will get some house lights and microphones on the other end of the aisle.
i asked my panelists here to join us in this discussion. sir? >> i have a statement that i would like to make. i am part of cic a, the community for independent community action. we must continue to organize on the grassroots level and that nonpartisan and open primaries is a must if we want to commit to true democracy. we know for a fact that the democratic party has taken our votes for granted and have sold us out. and that the republicans are only going to let us in if we are willing to come in through the back door. i want to thank dr. newman and dr. fulani. our children cannot grow unless
they are first taught to develop. i want to personally thank dr. fulani for giving me the opportunity to grow. [applause] you see, i have two degrees. and i still find it hard to find a job. and i thought that with all my education and all my knowledge that things would be a little bit easier. but i am still a person that was brought up in poverty. it's something that i had to realize and i thank dr. fulani for giving us the tools to empower us. more importantly, i want to say that i'm so great old to be here in this room this morning with a number of movers and shakers that are thinking independently. thank you so much. >> my name is bob perls and i'm a former new mexico state representative. iran for congress and for about 13 years, spent or 10 hours a
day campaigning and walking door-to-door much like the mayor discussed. and all of that activity of mine, i will change my registration to independent. [applause] and hopefully provide some leadership for this movement back in new mexico because it's so important. my question for this group because it's been a fascinating discussion, it is really difficult to talk to folks about how you make the connection between the disconnect of what they want to see in policy and actual changes in all of these process things that we talk about. whether if it's instant voter
runoff, top two, public financing. nonpartisan districting. i want to hear each of you tick off if you could pass one thing in the state legislature or one thing through referendum that would change and empower independents and the conversation, what would you like to see happen? lenora fulani: i would like to see nonpartisan elections because it is so critical. the way that you teach people is not a talking activity. put an independent on the ballot and have them work on the campaign. have them participate in the grassroots activity of trying to support an independent. send them to a debate that they can't get into. let them learn how to -- [indiscernible] it is like the best lesson in the world because they are having that experience and they
are shocked. because this, after all, is a democracy. paul johnson: mine would be nonpartisan elections, eliminating the subsidies for political parties, making sure all candidates are treated equal regardless of how they are registered. if i were to give you my second one, i don't like the existing structures in the legislature. the fact that they meet in caucuses and that those caucuses are partisan, they stymie good ideas and conversation. it will be a nonpartisan basis. tio hardiman: basically, i concur. i won't repeat what i agreed with already. joan blades: lots of changes. yes. jackie salit: thank you. ditto to everything that was
presented here. ditto to everything that was presented here. going to one of the points that dr. fulani made earlier about not voting in the judgment call so many people are making. the reason i like a lot of these proposals including the focus on primary reform is that right now, the voters are related to the things that happens last in the political process. we have to change the definition and the meaning of what choice is. rather than being a passive consumer at the end of the assembly line to being an active creator of the choices that are getting made. that is one of the reasons why i think primaries are important.
>> i am an independent leader. i live in harlem. i did grow up poor in this country. i want to say thank you for convening this conference. it's important we continue to do this work. i like the question about what myths because one of the ones i would like to bust up is that america is the greatest country in the world. america needs to deal with its history, its origins, we need to reorganize how we like to think about ourselves. when you say you are great all the time, that means you won't take any kind of reflective stock of how you got to where you got.
wiping out the native americans, enslaving african-american people, and continuously oppressing and locking up latin american people because they want to come here, those are not great things. [applause] we need to get real with ourselves and get honest and we can reorganize how we are together. [applause] what we call revolutionary conversations because they are hard conversations that we don't want to have with each other. i do appreciate this conference and all the dialogue and conversation that's going on here. i did work on dr. fulani's 1988 campaign where we had to get 1.5 million signatures to get her on the ballot. you get in the grassroots and you knock on the doors and you talk to people. you learn something about where you are, who you are, and what
we need to do. get involved. get activated. talk to open primaries. it's a solid tactic that we can organize around and create dialogue around these issues. enjoy the conference. it you all look beautiful. thank you to our leaders. >> my name is jason olson and i am part of the independent voting network. i want to say thank you very much for hosting us again. it's wonderful coming out here and seeing so many amazing faces in the auditorium. the myth that i would like to explode is that the world just is the way it is and there is nothing that ordinary people can do about it. i think that this grouping of people right here shows that no matter what the odds are, there is something we can do about it and i'm very happy to be part of
that with all of you. i was wondering, for folks that maybe this is your first time to one of our gatherings -- how has this conversation impacted you? how will you take away from meeting various folks here as you continue to approach the various reform efforts and work that you do in your lives? tio hardiman: how the conference has impacted me as i see the makings of a major independent voters movement. and i want to play a role. i see it. that's all i can say for right now because i believe in movements, ok? i think about nelson mandela's life and i think about the power of a person to make a difference.
and nelson mandela's life pretty much embodies that. a movie called "kill the messenger" on his life, they exposed the cia and the government after they introduced crack cocaine into the black communities. they say he committed suicide because he shot himself in the head twice and he never got another job once he exposed the story. i'm just saying there are a lot of things that have taken place in the history of the country that we need to bring to the table so you can get past those issues. i have been inspired. you can see that by the way i talk. paul johnson: the lesson i take from this, it's always fascinating to me. i come from a state with a very conservative legislature.
it's not even a fair word. often times people who are on the extreme, our goal is to bring them back to the center. it which is a leftward movement. in other states, you see the exact opposite where the democratic party has overwhelming support and they stifled out voices as well. it often times is not an issue between right and left. it's simply an issue of do you have a voice or do you not have a voice? what is probably the single most important thing in the movement is that is not going to be carried off by a single state doing what they want to do. it has to be a national lever. it there has to be a national group of people coming together to talk about its importance. you will always find differences, and you will begin to find that area where we have common ground and move it forward. [applause] joan blades: and what reinvigorations we can have to have people showing up in the polls and the off ears.
-- off years. that the leaders are really working for us. i don't have the answers to that right now. it is exploration. let's move on. there are truly viral moments. i sometimes call it a goldilocks moment where it is not too cold or not too hot. it's just right and this can take off. you can talk about the slow build. it is a punctuated equilibrium. things can slip. will the independent movement be part of helping it slipped in
the way i am dreaming? i don't know. >> i'm from new hampshire and a longtime activist. i think most people are many people don't vote because they are not inspired by the candidate. the wall street two-party crap trap. they have to bring there to the polls -- their clothespins to the polls. i think we are ready for a voters revolution. 10 years ago, people looked at me strange and now everybody says yes. we have to flush congress. they are full of -- never mind. i question is, do you think we
need to run independent candidates for local, state, and federal elections? the time is now. tio hardiman: i concur. i agree with you. i definitely agree. joan blades: right now, my experience with the political processes that throwing in another candidate is sometimes helpful. but it doesn't go to the core of our divisions. that is where my real interest is. so what going to cause the flip? i'm just putting that out there as my question. jackie salit: we will run this discussion until 12:30 p.m. until we break for lunch.
i want to ask people to keep your statements are your questions concise. >> thanks to each of you for leading this discussion. americans actually hate american democracy and i think that's part of our problem. i would like to thank mr. johnson for the image of the canoe. my name is philip. i'm from new york. i'm homeless. i take from what you've said that if i think -- if i sink you sink. i have suffered long-term homelessness because -- despite a college degree. i want you to make homelessness and issue across the nation because we are seeing increasing criminalization of homeless
people despite the fact that there is an increasing number of college-educated people and veterans among us. this is, of course, a particular question of interest to me. i am involved with advocates in new york city and would like to throw the issue out to the national party. that this issue becomes important to the party across the country. thanks very much. [applause] lenora fulani: i think homelessness is poverty. i organize homeless people all the time. it is a very important part of what it is we are doing. it is critical. what i teach homeless people is that, with all the pain and misery, they have to get out here and help to build this because that will make the difference. paul johnson: in arizona, we created the central arizona
shelter that was an organization that started while i was in office. and i was involved in putting together. we put business leaders on that group because our legislature and others completely ignored the issue. it was amazing how after we put corporate people on that board that they came up with good processes and procedures. they did a good job of keeping the organization healthy. they also became a voice to the other side. a concept that i would stress to you today is understanding the importance of symbiotic mutualism. you have to find ways to take these issues and bring people together on them. to educate and listen to one another. it is much more healthy for democracy and has a much greater sustainability. [applause] tio hardiman: homelessness is part of my platform when i ran for governor in illinois.
i will keep that up there. >> i am a third-year student at the university of north carolina at greensboro. i have a question for the panel. that social and structural change to a capitalistic society whose foundation is bound on -- built on perpetuating violence. that violence is poverty. making the rich richer. joan blades: things are brought to society by virtue of a ground of people. society will not reorganize itself. are you? our young people and rich people that care about these issues and
everybody in between? it's the activity that we need to organize people. >> i am heather dimarco and i have a question. it is something that really intrigued me and i agreed with both of you that we should not be blaming social injustices on babies. how do you think of the psychological development of the whole nation culturally? we are very passive when it comes to things. we can change the laws but culturally, we have become very sick. and to think a woman and a child is not worth change is quite sad in this nation.
how to you think we can use psychology through developing youth as a tool to change the platform for used to be more interested in political situations? [applause] joan blades: it's about getting mothers and their kids to show up. we had a great number show up in washington state for paid sick days. just two weeks ago. we can have substantial successes at local. some of the paid sick days have been happening in cities. and at the state level, start modeling good behavior. it is a big system and there's a lot to do. my hope is that doing some of this work now, it will start moving faster and faster. lenora fulani: can all the young
people in the room stand or raise her hand? -- your hand? that's my answer. [applause] >> hello, i am the president of independent voters of nevada. i just wanted to share an anecdote from my visit with jackie salit when you joke about -- spoke about changing the conversation. we lobby our legislature and we are faced with the most conservative legislature we've had in 30 years. the fact that we can't get them to the polls to vote and change what happens in the legislature. how do we change the
conversation to a more inclusive and less -- they don't like the language. how do we change that conversation? the entire room came undone. these are democratic leaders from the state. it's supposed to be a nonpartisan group. they spent 45 minutes doing that. i just wanted to share that. >> i apologize for the cell phone. i ran a campaign called sweeney 2013 on the democratic ticket. my campaign was run with just $4000. we had seven candidates. one the democratic candidate -- once the democratic candidate won the primary, it was a shoo-in.
i am thankful to be here because i snuck out of the house. four-year-old son. how does the independent party groom its candidates? i'm not looking, i'm not frustrated, i'm just a little tired of the same two-party system. when iran in that primary, they were very upset. my goal is to have an independent voice. i don't feel switching parties because i am angry at one party really does anything. i've heard a lot of things about homeless and poverty. i just wanted to put it out there that when you have candidates that previously ran somebody like myself, i came here before. last year.
my question is this. had you vet the candidates that you put there? and is there a groundswell with the minorities in the middle class, upper lower middle-class? i'm involved in sunset park. there is conversation at the table about one party doesn't do anything. you will have a lot of voters that are unhappy with a lot of things that are going on. i video'd it and wanted to make sure i did not sound like an idiot when i was debating these guys. i think your party can probably make some inroads. i just wanted to thank you. good work. it you never know.
there is room for change. [applause] >> there isn't a national conversation about poverty as dr. fulani said earlier. when we last met two years ago there has been, created, a prominent international conversation about persistent and growing inequality of wealth and income. in the u.s., interestingly, it started with grassroots organizing and protests by occupy wall street. it has gotten much bigger. republican presidential candidates having to address this issue.
the wall street journal on monday having an op-ed piece which tried to refute the idea that government and the political system can do something about these conditions. and so my question is whether you have been at all thinking about how to relate this to the problem of political dysfunction. one of the most recent books did a study of 23 or so democracies around the world. it wealthy democracies. they found there was a direct relationship between the extent of inequality in wealth and income and structure of the political system in terms of how many the toes -- vetos there were before something could become law. we have a congress, senate president, supreme court. what can be added to that from the independent movement is to
point out that we have yet another dysfunction, the partisanship of the political parties. that it should be put into the equation in this national and international conversation about what can be done about changing the growing inequality of wealth and income. my question is, do you think we can intersect this? with the issue of political partisanship? lenora fulani: yes. [laughter] [applause] >> my name is doreen. hi, my name is doreen. i'm from bcc and invited by dr. rafael mendez. this is the first time i have ever been to a program like this and i really liked it. lenora fulani: we like you.
>> thank you. i am thinking about being an independent voter. [applause] if i assert myself to be a poor person and the government or the president is never allowed to say poor person or poor people but keep seeing the middle class, how will i know that there is someone there that will recognize my condition and help me get out of it? and also, i want to be an independent voter. if i vote for any independent candidate, what is the guarantee that this president is going to recognize my condition in society and help me out of it. lenora fulani: i have two quick things. we keep talking about voting for candidates but we are trying to transform what the process is. part of what independence should
be doing as they run for office is working on that issue. whether they win or lose. that is the issue. if i run for president of the united states, and i won't, but the system is not going to change. we are trying to change things systematically. what was the first thing you said? the first question you asked? >> if the president is not -- lenora fulani: oh. you dump him. [laughter] [applause] i'm serious. that's what you do. obama did that. he went from talking about the poor when he first ran and the 92nd inauguration, he talked about middle classes. [applause] jackie salit: we are going to
jackie: we're going to take two more people from the side and two more from this site. you will get a chance to talk in the audience discussion. >> my name is evan. i'm a member of ux. my question is this. we have been infiltrated, our government, by outside forces who are actually messing the government -- the country up. how do we get rid of those people who are inside the white house with their policies and their lobby and they are actually causing wars and taking money out of the american public that we need here for education and the kids, how do we stop these maniacs? [applause] >> one way you stop it is to vote more independent candidates.