Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 2/6/2016

Julian Zelizer, Cristina Beltran, Nina Turner, Khalil Muhammad, Krissah Thompson, Nancy Cohen, Susan Del Percio, Brittney Cooper, Cristina Beltran, Alexander Van Tulleken, Paula Avila-Guillen, Sweet Honey in the Rock

Date: February 6, 2016
Guest: Julian Zelizer, Cristina Beltran, Nina Turner, Khalil Muhammad,
Krissah Thompson, Nancy Cohen, Susan Del Percio, Brittney Cooper, Cristina
Beltran, Alexander Van Tulleken, Paula Avila-Guillen, Sweet Honey in the

my question. does it matter if a woman wins the White House? Plus, the
Flint water crisis sparks a national political debate. And “Sweet Honey in
the Rock” performs live in Nerdland. But first, policing progressive

Good morning. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry and that music makes it sound like
we`re running for President! Thursday night in their first one-on-one
debate of the 2016, Bernie Sanders - campaign – Bernie Sanders and Hillary
Clinton exchanged jabs over foreign policy, healthcare and campaign
tactics. But the biggest fireworks were sparked by one word, an ideology
that has become the focal point of the race for the Democratic nomination,


HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a progressive who gets
things done. And the root of that word, progressive, is progress.

there`s nothing wrong with being a moderate. But you can`t be a moderate,
you can`t be a progressive.

CLINTON: In your definition, as you being the self-proclaimed gatekeeper
for progressivism, I don`t know anyone else who fits that definition.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Have you established a list of what it means to be a
progressive that is unrealistic?

SANDERS: No, not at all.


HARRIS-PERRY: But the candidates` fight over the meaning of progressivism
did not end or begin on Thursday night. Clinton and Sanders have been in a
full-fledged war over the term since Sanders made this claim while
campaigning in New
Hampshire on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton has called herself a progressive with
a plan. Do you think Hillary Clinton is a progressive?

SANDERS: Some days, yes. Except when she announces that she is a proud
moderate. And then i guess she is not a progressive.


HARRIS-PERRY: The Clinton campaign`s response?


E-mail after e-mail to supporters, all outlining her career achieving
progressive change, complete with bullet points to set her progressive
record straight. The Sanders` campaign fired back, with fact-check e-mails
of its own, each doubling down on Sanders` initial critique of Clinton`s


And this war of, well, word has just picked up steam since Thursday`s
debate. But how did we even get to this point? Well, this is Nerdland, so
to get to that answer, we`re going to go back to the historical root of the
word “progressivism.” During the progressive era between the 1890s and the
1920s, people who considered themselves progressive were part of a movement
that sought to fix the economic and social problems that industrialization


The era was known for muckraking journalists like Jacob Riis, who brought
the people the gritty details about local and national political machines,
corporate greed, and industrial corruption that contributed to poverty.


You see, then being progressive, making social and political progress,
meant that you shared the primary goal of ending plutocracy, removing
barriers between the people, rich or poor, and the political process.
These progressives believe that the people, all people, should be partners
in governing, and the government should have a direct hand in social


But in order to help the people to affectively govern, progressives also
wanted Americans to be as morally and ethically pure as possible or, as
progressive-era President Teddy Roosevelt put it, the prime problem of our
nation is to get the right type of good citizenship. So while seeking the
right kind of good citizenship, progressives ushered in reforms like
prohibition, hoping that government-mandated sobriety would enhance
political morality. Now they also championed women`s suffrage, arguing
that women could provide a kind of moral political compass.


Progressive-era reformers were also concerned with efficiency, efficiency
in society and government in the workplace, and they supported scientific
exploration to identify a problem, training and expertise to solve it. But
progressivism in America also has a troubling history. That same emphasis
on scientific discovery was also used as a basis to support racism and


While believing in the need to include the ordinary citizen in government,
progressives also tended to believe in the inferiority of black people and
of immigrants. Progressives` focus on expert citizenry meant, for example,
literacy tests for the would-be black voter. In fact, the progressive era
coincided with a period we call the nadir of African-American history,
marked by Jim Crow laws, rampant disenfranchisement and lynch mob
terrorism. The progressive era meant anything but progress for black


Given this history, maybe it is better to be a progressive, only some of
the time. Joining me now, Julian Zelizer, Professor of History and Public
Affairs at Princeton University, and author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now:
Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society;” Cristina
Beltran, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Anaylsis at N.Y.U.;
Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator and National Surrogate for Bernie
Sanders; and Khalil Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research
in Black Culture. He`s also author of “The Condemnation of Blackness:
Race, Crime and the Making of Modern [Urban] America.” So Julian, what do
you make of this kind of contemporary invocation of progressivism? What is
the claim being made here?

UNIVERSITY: I think it`s actually two claims. One is to the period you`re
talking about, early America in the 1900s, when there were reformers who
are looking to Europe, who are looking all over the world for ways in which
the government could play a bigger role in diminishing social inequality
and creating a political process that didn`t just serve the wealthy. But
it had that underside that you were talking about. That`s not what Bernie
Sanders is trying to invoke. But the other is a different, it`s a post-
1970s tradition, where many liberals who felt, as Howard Dean said, that
the Democratic wing of the Democratic party was going, and wanted to defend
the Democratic traditions from Ted Kennedy right through Bernie Sanders.
And it`s a battle in the Democratic party about how far to the center to


And progressive really means New Deal, Great Society kind of liberal. So i
think there`s really two periods this comes out of.


HARRIS-PERRY: And the defense of the Democratic party over and against a
kind of centrist move is very much a defense of the democratic party over
and against, in its most recent era, the Clinton move, right? So there is
this triangulation move, it`s a Clinton move that is, that is very clearly
the DCCC. And I mean, not Hillary Clinton, but Bill Clinton who basically
shows up on the stage and is like, look, you can have progressivism or you
can have a Democratic President, somebody who can actually win. I`m here
to win. I`m going to move hard to the center, I`m going to do it in some
very particular ways but you`re going to also end up with a two-term
Democratic President. Annd he made those choices quite explicitly.

ZELIZER: Well, he`s – in many ways, Hillary Clinton is running against
Bill Clinton`s record of moderation. So.


ZELIZER: So the language of progressivism is itself a recovery of some of
the content that was lost during Clinton`s eight years of a presidency.


And also, a way of transcending the kind of baggage that liberalism has,
even in the context of President Obama`s election. So we get this very
squishy notion of progressivism that was articulated by Hillary Clinton in
very nonsensical terms, which is a progressivism is someone who can make
progress like – that means nothing. Because progress can move in any


HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

ZELIZER: Even in the context of the historical notions of progressivism,
we saw progress moving towards greater liberalization of wages and
workplace safety and even housing conditions for many white Americans at
the same time that we saw, as you have just aptly described, the
elimination of equality and substance for black people.

HARRIS-PERRY: And so, and hat said, I`ve got to say, I am irritated by the
like you`re not a real progressive. Because I`ve got to say, it sounds to
me, not unlike the – you`re not a real conservative discourse that occurs
on the right. I`m very nervous about ideological litmus tests as the basis
of which we will make the value of an argument, right? So i don`t think
that we should exclusively make pragmatic arguments in our politics. I
think that`s a kind of deadening of our politics. On the other hand, I
also don`t think we should have some sort of – like here`s the list of the
10 things you have to believe in order to be kind of in my, in my club.

N.Y.U.: Right, exactly. We should be having a conversation about what
constitutes the content of progressivism and really having a debate over
what`s internally going on there. And I think what you`re doing in trying
to historicize this is really important because I would argue that there
are elements of that earlier progressivism that have echoed through Hillary
Clinton. You know, her – you know, her and Bernie to some extent.
There`s a certain dynamic I think that does exist here between protecting
and policing populations, that a desire to both – sometimes the Clinton
era was an era that conjured up both pity and fear for communities they
were trying to serve.


And so I think the idea that there is a kind of proper citizenship and a
proper progressive, I think that haunts progressive politics, which is in
an effort to, you know, kind of animate state power. There is also a
concern that perhaps we need to have a certain kind of proper citizen.


And a proper citizen behaves a certain way and prioritizes identity in a
particular way. And so there is a kind of policing logic in what
constitutes good civic behavior. And I think that still haunts Democratic
politics from its far left versions to its more conservative version.

HARRIS-PERRY: You know, this is not a small point, that idea of animating,
animating the state. On the one hand, you know, you want the state to get
animated around assisting in reducing economic inequality, which I hear Mr.
Sanders talk about in this really powerful way. You don`t necessarily want
the state to get animated on the ground in Ferguson, right? In these other
kinds of ways. Nina, so help me out a little bit because it does seem to
me that, that part of what Mr. Sanders is doing here is this kind of battle
for the soul of the Democratic Party language. But is that what he`s
really doing? Or is this just straight up politics, right? Like is this
like, okay, okay, I actually now see a pathway to winning, and I`m just
going to hammer the thing that will allow me to win?

NINA TURNER, FMR. OHIO STATE SENATOR: Well, let`s go back to the fact that
he didn`t necessarily start this debate. Right, so.

HARRIS-PERRY: No. but he`s in it now.

TURNER: But he`s in it now, but this is really about the mission of the
thing Not just – so I agree, this is about the mission of the thing.


When he stands up and says that people – we should go for a $15 an hour
minimum wage in this country, people who work 40 hours a week should not
still be poor, that`s progress in the right direction. Because I agree
with the Professor, we can progress the other way. And you`re absolutely
right, for us in terms of what pure progressivism means in the earlier days
of American history, black folks didn`t make out so well in that.


But we see a sea change in what Senator Sanders is talking about when he
talks about the five violences against black and brown folks. And he
called them violences – legal, political, physical, economic, and
environmental. All of those things speak to whether or not we as a
country, not only will dream big, but use the full power and weight of the
federal government to get those kinds of things done. So for me, I want a
leader who does dream big, who does think big. You know, somebody once
said that man`s grasp, you know, his reach should exceed his grasp. That
is really what Senator Sanders is talking about.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right. So this is in interesting question about whether
– just how, how far that grasp is. When we come back, we`re going to talk
about that other big question, electability.



SANDER: So I believe, if you want to retain the White House, if you want
to see Democrats do well across the board, I think our campaign is the one
that creates the large voter turnout and helps us win.

CLINTON: I think it`s fair to say that whoever is in that position,
Senator Sanders or anyone else who might have run, will face the most
withering onslaught. So i think that I am the person who can do all
aspects of the job. I think I`m the person that`s prepared to take the
case to the Republicans.

HARRIS-PERRY: That was Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Thursday`s
debate arguing about who would be the most electable candidate in the
general election. According to a national Quinnipiac poll released
yesterday, Clinton leads Sanders by only two points. And the poll also
shows that Sanders is the strongest candidate in a hypothetical, in a set
of hypothetical general election match-ups. The Senator Donald Trump, the
national GOP favorite 49 to 39 percent, according to Quinnipiac, while
Clinton only leads Trump 46 to 41 percent.


That, of course, is also all gobbledy gook at this point in the election
cycle. But that said, what I thought was really interesting about the
argument that Bernie Sanders made there, he has made an argument that he
has longer coat tails than Hillary Clinton. Which I think is maybe the
first time I`ve heard anyone make that argument. I`m wondering what you
think of it, then I`ll come back around.

ZELIZER: Yeh, look, I mean the premise of his argument is that he`s
mobilizing a bottom-up campaign, not unlike in 2008, and in the end,


that combined with his being firmly rooted in where congressional Democrats
are – they`re not all as far from him as you might think –


ZELIZER: .that he in the end could generate the excitement, the votes to,
not just have a Democratic President, but a Democratic government. I don`t
think that`s true, but you can see where the argument comes from.


HARRIS-PERRY: I just really (inaudible) (need) the Sanders` campaign to
stop saying that it is 2008. It`s just okay for it to be 2016. Like it`s
just really OK to be like, Senator, it`s 2016. And just you`re not, you`re
not Barack Obama 2008. It`s just, Barack Obama 2012 wasn`t even Barack
Obama 2008. It`s just different, it`s okay for it to be different.

TURNER: I don`t think the campaign is saying that.

HARRIS-PERRY: (inaudible)

TURNER: People want to draw those, those parallels to it is, right, is not
exactly saying – you`re right, it is okay to be 2016. We are.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeh. Be your own self. But, professor, this is the thing
here in terms of the coat tails. OK, we got slaughtered, we being the
Democratic Party. in 2014. I was part of that slaughter when I ran for
statewide office in the great state of Ohio.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh. And in every midterm. Every time President Obama was
not at the top, actually, yes.

TURNER: So we do need leaders, starting with the President. But then, in
with the President, who will say every single freakin` election is
important, that you can`t nation build every four years.

HARRIS-PERRY: OK, OK. So I, I have never been. OK, so I want to pause on
this for a second because I`m not sure that this can happen at the
presidential [level]. In fact, I would argue that, for me, Thursday night,
watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders, already this early.


We are in New Hampshire, and our party is so anemic, that we are down to
two candidates, right? Say what you want to say about the mad house going
on on the Republican side.


TURNER: I`m with you on that. They`ve got diversity, and they`ve got

HARRIS-PERRY: They got all kinds of folks, still want, still wanting the
Republican nomination.

TURNER: I`m with you.

HARRIS-PERRY: We have two folks who are, who are advanced in age, who have
been in government for a long time.

TURNER: are they both in the same generation? Professor, please say that
so the folks can hear you at home.

HARRIS-PERRY: They, they are in the same generation. All of that is true,
happening on the stage. Is there a Democratic [Party]? Like can you have
a coat tail at a party that`s anemic at this point?

TURNER: In terms of what is happening now and the energy that is
galvanized, I agree with you, Professor. It cannot solely happen at the
presidential level, but you need that large cache to say that electing a
school board member is just as important as electing the President of the
United States of America.

HARRIS-PETTY: It is, absolutely.

TURNER: Now, but your point too, `cause I am very critical about my party
when it comes to where the heck is the diversity? Where is the diversity?
And, you`re right, we can say whatever we want to say about our Republican
brothers and sisters.


TURNER: .but they got something for everybody on that stage.

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s whiter than the Oscars up in here!

TURNER: So, so.

ZELIZER: Now, see, that`s a low (inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You went there, you went there.

ZELIZER: The Republican Party as a whole has moved to the right,
electorally, politically. And they might have more people on the stage,
but I`m not sure it`s so politically diverse in terms of.


HARRIS-PERRY: No, but I just mean, I mean I literally just mean the
robustness of the party.


TURNER: Yes, yes.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, right. And I, and I, and I don`t even mean
that. I just mean a robustness of the party. I just mean the idea that
when there was an open seat race, after two years of an incumbent
President, that a bunch of people threw their hat in and said I`m ready to
run. I am, I`m ready to go and go for this.


Because I think, I think you could argue about 50, you have to run in all
50 states. That actually is critical.

TURNER: Yeh, yeh, it is.

BELTRAN: And you can argue, actually, one of the issues with Hillary
Clinton, she has taken up so much oxygen of the party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right. Which is (inaudible) juggernaut.


BELTARN: I think the question of what kind of bench we`re going to have
post-Hillary, and even post-Biden, because there`s a sense there are these
people, that we have to kind of wait.


And then so I don`t think we have a sense of how deep the Democratic bench
is yet until, until, until Hillary, until the thing runs out, either she
doesn`t win or does win this cycle. So I think that`s one of the issues.
But I think the other is, elections are simultaneously places that can
create spaces for movement the, but not social movements.


HARRIS-PERRY: Mm-hmm. That`s right, that`s right.

BELTRAN: Like we can`t have – we need, we need a revitalized democracy
that isn`t just about electing people because at the point at which you`re
done electing them, you become a spectator again.


BELTRAN: You need a movement (inaudible).


TURNER: Right, but that`s what his political revolution is about.

BELTRAN: Black Live Matter is a movement. You need a movement that has a
larger commitment (inaudible).

ZELIZER: That`s the same as (inaudible).

TURNER: But, but that`s the political revolution. And, (inaudible) let me
say `cause I know Professor wants to get in here.

HARRIS-PERRY: All right, OK. But actually what`s going (inaudible).
You`re apparently going to get up in here and there is a commercial, and
we`re going to do that. And the reason there are going to be commercials
is because we got to pay for the TV show, just like you have to pay for
college. Because free college is not a thing and we`re going to talk about
that when we come back.



CLINTON: I also believe in affordable college. But I don`t believe in
free college. Because every expert that I have talked to says, look, how
will you ever control the costs? What i want to do is make sure middle
class kids, not Donald Trump`s kids, get to be able to afford college. I
want to get the economy going again. It`s not just enough about what we`re
against, as important as that is. Let`s go down a path where we can
actually tell people what we will do, a progressive is someone who makes
That`s what i intend to do.


HARRIS-PERRY: That was Hillary Clinton saying Khalil`s favorite line. So
tell me why that line irritates you so much.

Well, well it irritates me, but ultimately, Bernie Sanders, to come back to
the political revolutionary issue, the longer coat tails is he is
channeling the Occupy movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. He is
uncomfortable wrestling with the explicitness of a blackness in racism. I,
I concede that.

But ultimately, the Occupy movement and Black Lives movement, come as a
reaction to both the Democratic Party and the unwillingness to wrestle with
poverty and economic immobility in this country, of which Hillary Clinton
in that line just there is talking yet again, like the President Obama has
done, about the middle class. So there`s an unwillingness fundamentally to
wrestle with entrenched generational poverty and lack of economics.


So she can talk about it in big terms but, at the end of the day, what she
is speaking to is the same middle of the road, middle class. The issue
here is not Donald Trump`s kids versus some amorphous notion of the middle

?TURNER: Come on, come on, come one.

MUHAMMAD: The issue is we won`t have a middle class.

HARRIS-PERRY: Sure, OK, all right. So, so let`s go on that `cause I like
this idea of channeling Occupy, right? And I particularly like it in the
language of, of free college. Because for me, occupy is on the one hand
this beautiful discourse. It gives us the 99.1 percent, it gives us clear
ways of thinking about what inequality looks like. It also occupies land
in Manhattan that, you know, is occupied land, right? Like it also fails
to do a really important understanding of the intersectionality of the ways
in which race and American history and imperialism and colonialism connect
together in language like occupation, OK?

TURNER: Mm-hmm.

HARRIS-PERRY: And the reason I want to say that is because, for me, what I
need Mr. Sanders to do when he talks about accessible college is to stop
saying free college.


Because I think, I think it actually dumbs down a very important debate
about accessibility to college. Free college sounds like we`re throwing
open the doors to all of america`s colleges and universities, everybody.


And that actually is not a thing. That is not going to happen, that`s not
going to happen with this President or any other. If it did, what it would
do to the thing that is the American college and university system is
deeply troubling in a way nobody wants. So have the actual debate. Allow
people to be complicated as citizens. If we`re going to have a revolution,
let`s have a good

TURNER: But he is talking about affordability. I mean (inaudible).

HARRIS-PERRY: But he doesn`t say that. He stands up and screams free

TURNER: He is talking about affordability. Look, I, I`ve been traveling
the country and i have met young folks who flat out – one young man when I
was in Des Moines, he said, I am not in college right now because I cannot
afford it.


HARRIS-PERRY: That`s real.

TURNER: I can`t afford it. And so for so many young – it`s not just the
college affordability, it is also senator Sanders is saying that, as a
federal government, we should be able to allow young people to change
interest rates.


HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, that`s right. We shouldn`t - they shouldn`t be, we
should not, students should not be borrowing at an interest rate to go to
school. We should invest in young people.

TURNER: That`s right. That`s right.

BELTRAN: Of course. Really what this debate is I think fundamentally
about, I think when he talks about free college, what he`s trying to do is
bring back a language of publicness of education.

TURNER: That`s it, right.

BELTRAN: He wants to say that public education matters. That education
should be a public right.


So the discourse of publicness. But, but as you`re pointing out, we have
an issue of like private and public schools. I come from California, where
I`m a U.C. graduate.

TURNER: There you go.

BELTRAN: So U.C. and the whole kind of Cal State and U.C. and community
college system there. You have that in Texas. Yu have a public language
that I think he`s trying to revitalize, which we have really lost in the
language of student debt.


TURNER: That`s right.

ZELIZER: He`s trying to balance the need for specificity, and I agree with
your point, with the need to inspire, and the need to make a strong
argument that many Democrats feel has been lost.


ZELIZER: And it`s the two arguments. It`s not just inequality for him,
this is my read. One is that government is a good, and that`s an argument
that Clintons have shied away from.




ZELIZER: And he says it with vigor. And the second is a big point, but is
kind of relevant, the political process is broken. It`s a lot of big


ZELIZER: And he says that`s not pie in the sky.


TURNER: That`s right.

ZELIZER: That`s actually at the heart of what`s going on here.

TURNER: That`s it.

ZELIZER: But I do think he needs to address that kind of concern or he`ll
be seen as a.

TURNER: And, and we can continue (inaudible) deep (inaudible). And I want
to also say this. Mr. Trump`s children, and anybody in that bracket, they
will not go to public colleges and universities. This is not about making
that free for those young folks.

HARRIS-PERRY: Oh. Oh, no, they might. Oh, no. No, no, they might. I`m
going to make an argument on that.

TURNER: OK, we`ll make an argument, okay.

HARRIS-PERRY: `Cause I don`t know if you have seen what has happened with
the public charter school situation in the magnet schools, with the rich
people thing. When we come back. Stay with us. (If) it will. Oh, the
rich people will.



CLINTON: I may not have done the job that I should in explaining my
record. You know, I did, when I left the Secretary of State`s office, like
so many former officials, military leaders, journalists, others. I did go
on the speaking circuit.

MODERATOR: Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid
speeches? We do know through reporting that there were transcription
services for those paid speeches. And in full disclosure, would you
release all of them?

CLINTON: I will look into it. I don`t know the status, but I will
certainly look into it.


HARRIS-PERRY: So that was Hillary Clinton during Thursday night`s
Democratic debate. And I`ve made just kind of a straight political science
argument for a lot of years about a challenge that Hillary Clinton faces
around of electability that doesn`t have anything to do with the quality of
governance, ideology or anything else. It`s just that typically what you
want in a campaign when you`re going into to run for President, is you want
some portion, some substantial portion of the American people to not have
an opinion about you, right? It`s one of the things that is benefitting
Bernie Sanders right now, right? So high likables are fine, but you just
literally want a group of people who are like, I`ve never even heard of
that person.


HARRIS-PERRY: Because you want your campaign to teach them something. And
that one of the challenges is just people believe that they know everything
there is – whether or not they actually do – they believe that they, that
they know Hillary Clinton, good, bad or otherwise. And i wonder if that
lack of space for people to feel like they can learn something about her is
the challenge. So you constantly get, will you
release this? Will you get like. So everything feels like an
investigation rather than a
campaign of learning.

TURNER: Right, right.

BELTRAN: That`s a great way to put it, that it`s a constant investigation
of Hillary. We are - I mean she has been on the public mind since 1991.

HARRIS-PERRY: Which it turns out is a long time ago. It doesn`t feel like
a long time ago to me. I sort of feel.

BELTRAN: That`s the point when Jeb Bush was still – not a total disaster.
I was thinking my life has made no progress. It`s been like a Bush and a
Clinton, a Bush and a Clinton.

HARRIS-PERRY: A Bush and a Clinton.


BELTRAN: I have made no progress. So that feeling, no progress. So this
feeling of knowability I think for her is a huge, is a huge dynamic. And I
do think that, on the other hand, I do think coming after Barack Obama,
there could be something that she can parlay here in terms of the fact that
one thing we didn`t know is how Barack Obama would be as a political
fighter. We didn`t know what kind of – we knew what his vision was. And
I think Bernie has the same thing, we know what his vision is, and that`s
really exciting. But that language of getting things done, that language
of tenacity, that language of I`ve been beaten up and i keep coming back
and I`m the, I`m the terminator when it comes to the political things I
committed to. I think she might be able to, I think she, she can never do
like this reintroduction of Hillary. That will not work.


HARRIS-PERRY: Yeh, I would like the campaign to stop that.

BELTRAN: Everybody knows Hillary. It`s a question of if you know what i
am, good, bad and ugly, here`s how i can win battles politically for you.
I think she can`t because that`s why these numbers of the Quinnipiac poll
mean nothing. Because people are like, I don`t know, Bernie seems nice.
Her, they know everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or at least they believe they know everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or they think they know everything.

ZELIZER: I mean a lot of her campaign is about undoing what people think
about her.


ZELIZER: That`s a hard way to run a campaign.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeh, right.

ZELIZER: You`re supposed to put forward ideas that sound exciting. You`re
supposed to introduce Americans to this potential leader. But every
debate, every speech, a lot of it comes back to I`m not that person.


ZELIZER: And she does it.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, yeh. She – right, right.

ZELIZER: She buys into this way of campaigning, and it, it`s hard to think
of a precedent where someone does well that way.


MUHAMMAD: Well, there`s this interesting contradiction here, and this is
the line where she says that I`m not the establishment, I`m the first woman
running for President. So that dissonance is exactly the opposite of what
you just said, which is she is the establishment.


And so if she`s going to be the establishment, she needs to own it. The
Kennedy family could never say that we`re not the establishment.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yeh, just be like, yeh, I run it. And what? I know where
the machines are, I know where the bodies are buried. I put some of them
there, and I`ll do it.

BETRAN: Right.

HARRIS-PERRY: You know is an awful lot of the accomplishments of the Obama
era was undoing the first Clinton (inaudible whisper) you know. (EHC) and.


ZELIZER: That gets to the heart of the first argument we talked about.
That`s exactly the debate.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to Julian Zelizer and to Cristina and Nina, who
are - and Khalik, we`re all going to be back later in the program. But up
next, we going to talk to a mother whose family has been suffering the real
life consequences of the Flint water crisis. When we come back.


HARRIS-PERRY: This week national political leaders turn their focus to the
water crisis in Flint. Later today a a congressional delegation will
travel to the city to visit neighborhoods and meet with families who have
been affected.


Tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will be taking a break from primary campaigning
in New Hampshire to fly to Flint at the invitation of the Mayor. She`ll be
using her visit to push the U.S. Senate to approve $600 million in federal
funding for Flint`s recovery and to ask questions about the progress of the
emergency response.


Meanwhile, the House of Representatives had a few questions of their own.


Wednesday, members of a House committee put the Environmental Protection
Agency in the hot seat during a hearing about the Agency`s response to the
crisis. Tempers flared as members of the bipartisan House committee
grilled both Federal and State environmental officials about the disaster
that exposed Flint residents to lead-tainted water for months.

REP. JOHN MICA, (R) FLORIDA: For lack of 80 to $100 a day, that`s what you
said, which is about – let me do the math – it`s about $30,000 a year.
For that much money, we poisoned the kids in, in Flint, didn`t we?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: Our children are the living messages
we sent to a future we will never see. The question is, is what will they
leave us, and how will we send them into that future? Will we rob them of
their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No! We will not do

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: This Governor of Michigan and his
emergency manager, hand-picked to save money, he got caught red-handed,
poisoning children in Flint. And the residents of Flint. There`s no two
ways about it. That`s the headline here.


HARRIS-PERRY: One of the most impassioned moments of the hearing came from
Leanne Walters, a Flint mother, who was one of the first to raise the alarm
about the tainted water, and whose son has tested positive for lead


LEANNE WALTERS, FLINT RESIDENT: Now my home is known as ground zero. The
people in Flint now stand with the people in D.C., who suffered their own
lead crisis a decade ago, because we know the horror of poison running
through other our taps and the negligence of the agencies paid to protect

HARRIS-PERRY: Notably absent from the hearing, Michigan Governor Rick
Snyder, who was not invited by the Republicans who run the committee.
Congressman Elijah Cummings accused the Republicans of letting the Governor
off the hook, and he and his fellow democrats demanded that the committee`s
Chair bring Snyder in to testify.

CUMMINGS: The problem is today we are missing the most critical witness of
all, the Governor of the State of Michigan, Rick Snyder. He is not here.
Governor Snyder should have to answer for his decisions.



HARRIS-PERRY: Also missing from the proceedings was former Flint emergency
manager, Darnell Earley, who oversaw the switch from corrosive water from
the Flint River. The night before the hearing, Earley was subpoenaed to
appear before the committee.


His attorney refused on the grounds he needed more time to prepare, but
later said Earley will appear if he is subpoenaed again. Meanwhile, a
group of Flint residents in the audience at the hearing didn`t wait for an
invitation. They traveled overnight by bus to Washington to show Congress
the faces of this disaster. A member of that group joins me now from Ann
Arbor. Melissa Mays is the founder of Clean Water Advocacy Group, Water
You Fighting For? Mrs. Mays. You were there.


HARRIS-PERRY: What did you hear in those testimonies?


MAYS: It was great to hear Congress just tear into the MDEQ and EPA
because they, they were supposed to protect us. In fact, what they did was
lie. They covered it up, covered it up. They ignored us, they tried to
shut us up we are out on the streets, we were in legislation,
we were testifying over and over and over again what was going on with our
health, what was going on with the color and quality of our water, what we
found out through our testing, and, of course, we worked with Virginia Tech
to get the truth out. And they still called us liars and put us down, even
when the Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha came out, she was a liar, she was an
unfortunate researcher. So to hear the Congressmen, especially Congressman
Cummings, just tear into it, I smiled. Unfortunately, without Earley or
Snyder being there, there are a lot of unanswered questions. But I look
forward to future hearings for that.


I`d like to have a little box of popcorn with me and just hear what they
have to say because everything so far has been lies, cover-ups, I didn`t
know, and just ridiculous answers, or no answers at all.

HARRIS-PERRY: As we were talking about this story, this morning, before,
as our team meets, and we were talking about the story of your family, the
only thing that I can describe that was happening among my producers and me
is rage, absolute rage about what has happened to you and your children.
Will you please share that story with my viewers?

MAYS: Well, the worst part is what`s happening to my sons. I will take
the hit. I have seizures, I`ve got diverticulosis, I have to go in for a
liver biopsy now to see what all toxins are in my system. I have
osteoarthritis, I`m in pain.


But I would take that any day over what my sons are suffering through. My,
my, my 12-year-old can`t sleep at night, because his bones hurt so bad. My
11-year-old, his white blood cell count is four. He is so anemic, he looks
exhausted all of the time. He gets sick any time he goes anywhere. My
kids want to play sports and I`m too scared to let them because their bones
are brittle. My 12-year-old fell off his bike and his wrist just
splintered, it just collapsed, and the doctor couldn`t figure it out. But
we didn`t know about the lead problems, we didn`t know to have him tested.
The worst part is watching my 17-year-old, who has worked his rear end off
for years so he could test into a high school where he could take college
classes at the same time and graduate with a diploma and associates degree.


And the fact that now he has a C+ average, has to see a tutor, he`s mixing
up simple things like pluses and minuses in Advanced Algebra. We talk to
his teacher every week, and she loves him and supports him, but he is
struggling so hard now, and that is completely unfair. They didn`t ask for
this. They didn`t do anything to deserve this, but now their futures are
derailed. And they have to work twice as hard, if not more, for something
that was coming rather easy to them. So watching them fight me in the
morning because they don`t want to go to school because it`s too hard now
and they don`t understand why - there`s just no excuse. This I didn`t
know, it`s, it`s inexcusable and, honestly, there`s 100,000 residents going
through what I`m going through, what my family is going through right now,
and it`s not OK.

HARRIS-PERRY: And at the same time, it is my understanding that you are
both getting municipal water bills and paying for bottled water?

MAYS: Yes. Yes, because going to the, the – we don`t give out enough
water. They give you, unless you have a child under six, they give you one
case of water. We go through that a day, at least that. We have two dogs
and a cat that we won`t give tap water to, because they became ill.


We, we watch our vegetables and our meats in bottled water. Everything we
can possibly do, wash our face, brush our teeth, everything in the bottled
water, and so the one case isn`t enough. So we just continue to buy it at
the store. And my newest water bill came a couple days ago and it`s
And i don`t want to pay that, I shouldn`t have to, because it`s poison.
It`s been prepaid, the water was prepaid by the State and Mott Foundation.
Why we`re getting bills is beyond me. The City Administrator, the State-
appointed City Administrator says we need to pay for it because we`re still
using water. Well, of course, we have to.


HARRIS-PERRY: What? If you are using that much bottled water, what in the
world are you doing with all the bottles?

MAYS: That`s another thing, too. We haven`t gotten our recycling bins
yet. they`re supposed to deliver recycling bins. But we get, we fill up a
garbage, a small kitchen garbage bag a day of these bags.


So my husband has to drive them to work to recycle them there, otherwise
they`re covering the whole house. And it`s - and them I`m looking at this
and going, well, now I`m destroying the environment. I was against bottled
water to begin with, now I`m forced to use it and, and forced to pay for
it, forced to pay my water bills, and I`m just sitting here going, wow.


What kind of world do we live in? And my kids are sick, the environmental
physician that we need isn`t covered by insurance. So we need $200 to talk
to her, and we pay for the over the counter detox meds, which we don`t know
if they`re working or not, but it`s the best thing that we can do. We`re
left with no options, when what we need is whole home filtration and pipes
replaced. And we`re getting anything but that.

HARRIS-PERRY: Melissa Mays in Ann Arbor, Michigan, what you just did was
to make it absolutely plain. Thank you for joining us this morning.

MAYS: Thank you.

HARRIS-PERRY: Coming up, flint is not the only place where residents are
suffering from the consequences of lead exposure, and that`s next.


HARRIS-PERRY: The Flint water crisis has renewed attention to the broader
threat of lead exposure to communities, and in particular to children
throughout the country.


This week the “Detroit News” reported that metal continues to turn up
annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state in
percentages well above numbers that raised red flags in Flint. A recent
Vox analysis of Centers for Disease Control data found thousands of
Pennsylvania children in a lead exposure study had unsafe levels of metal
in their blood. And on Monday, New Jersey launched a plan to address more
than 200,000 children in the state who over the last 15 years were
diagnosed with elevated levels of lead. According to the CDC, in 2014
among 27 states that reported blood lead levels in children under the age
of six, children in 12 of those states had even higher rates of lead
poisoning than Flint.


So one of the reasons I wanted you at the table to talk about this, Khalil,
is the work you do in the (text) around the condemnation of blackness and
this construction of race in our notions of crime. And in part what we
know about the physiological effects of lead, and its connection to
behavioral, cognitive, academic, intellectual challenges. Even what we
heard there from Melissa Mays and sort of what it`s done to her children in
a matter of a couple of years, who are over that age six. And what we know
is these are communities that tend to have high concentrations of poverty,
and that are often communities that are black and brown. And I`m
wondering, the ways in which these realities might be connected.

MUHAMMAD: Well, one of the lessons of the progressive era, to come back to
where we started the show, is that throwing black people under the bus for
liberals, particularly in northern cities, the very sites that were having
a conversation today about inequality, by and large, was itself a
progressive solution to the limits of economic, unlimited economic
resources. So given the choice between who we should invest in, what kinds
of communities should benefit from our expertise and our capacity to make
the right decision on behalf of the public, meant that black people`s roads
weren`t paved in the early 20th century, meant that their sewer systems
were still privies and outhouses, long after the modern sanitation regime
existed in America. In other words, we are seeing the same racial gap in
terms of the infrastructure that we know works in many communities, mostly
white, almost always well off or wealthy as compared to poor, black and
brown communities. And that itself is part of the progressive era legacy.
At the same time, we have a failure of ideology in this moment. This is
not just about those institutions, those individuals in Michigan, or in New
Jersey, or in Pennsylvania. This is about an ideology that says, we can`t
afford our public good.


MUHAMMAD: And therefore, we are making choices at the margins everywhere.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s right.

MUHAMMAD: And therefore, the communities that have the least political
currency and least ability to move the political needle are the ones who
are going to be sacrificed first. It is not an accident that the same
emergency manager, Darnel Earley, who`s responsible for what happened in
Flint under Snyder`s watch,.


.is the same emergency manager that just resigned in Detroit, where their
school system is completely falling apart.

TURNER: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. I totally agree with Khalil.


And this is about immoral incompetence right here. In terms of
government`s power and sway to create spaces where all folks are equal, and
the system is rigged, and so that begs back into this whole notion about is
there a need for a political revolution that says that poor folks, poor
folks matter too. This is what this is about.

HARRIS-PERRY: Maybe even, maybe even first.

TURNER: Even first.

HARRIS-PERRY: Like, yeh. But you have to invest double to even get -

TURNER: That`s it. And the mothers` pain. I mean, Professor, mother to
mother, Jesus Christ! You know her [son], her life! This is for life.


And that governor needs to be locked up, along with anybody else that was
complicit, because there is flesh and blood behind the kind of cavalier,
nothing to see here.


When General Motors says that that water was corroding cars, yet it took
local, State, and Federal officials – did not do their dag gone jobs.

HARRIS-PERRY: Speaking of locked up, I just want to - I had forgotten,
because of course we always forget the people who are locked up -


HARRIS-PERRY: .people in the Flint jails were still drinking the water,
including imprisoned pregnant women, were drinking that water up until
about a month and a half ago.

TURNER: (Oh, God.)

HARRIS-PERRY: So, and again, corroding car parts.

TURNER: Right, right. And our Hispanic brothers and sisters.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, yes, that`s right, that`s right. And that`s right, and
in undocumented communities, because in part of the raids that were coming
out of the Department of Homeland Security, which creates a culture of
fear, people were not opening the door when Federal officials were coming
and local officials were coming to bring water, that is correct. Thank you
to Nina Turner and Khalil Muhammad.

Mayor Karen Weaver, who has been doing all the work to address this, has
invited Hillary Clinton to Flint, and the candidate is heading there. And
guess what? We`re going to have Mayor Weaver live on our show tomorrow,
`cause Mayor Weaver ain`t waiting for nobody. She is working to save her
people now. She will be on our show tomorrow.

Coming up next, does it matter to have a woman as President. Also “Sweet
Honey in the Rock” is going to perform live because we`ve got to do
something to make ourselves feel better. There`s more Nerdland at the top
of the hour.


MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.

And this year, American voters have an opportunity to make history,
presidential gender history.

It`s not the first time. I mean, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro served as the
vice presidential pick for Democrat Walter Mondale. And had they defeated
the incumbent that year, Ferraro would have been the woman with the
highest-ranking elected position in U.S. history.

In 2008, that precise opportunity presented itself again, when Sarah Palin
campaigned alongside John McCain, offering the possibility of securing the
VP role for the ladies once more.

2008 was also the year Hillary Clinton, then a senator, stood on the same
historical precipice she now occupies. Just months from securing the
Democratic nomination, and potentially claiming the top spot, the
presidency itself. But each time that there has been a real chance of
sending a woman to the White House, either as the QB or the VP, American
voters have passed in favor of a bro show.

Here`s my question. Should we care? More specifically, should feminists
care? Should those who believe that gender equity is critical to a fair
and functioning democracy care whether or not we elect a woman to the U.S.

Now, on the one hand, as the mom of young daughters, the answer for me is
an emphatic yes. I mean, I have read “Grace for President” to my daughters
so often, the pages are worn.

As Mrs. Barrington introduces her elementary class to the U.S. president,
where are the girls? And she decides to be the first girl president by
running against tom in a class election.

I invite you to read it and see how it turns out. But thanks, Wyoming.

Now, I shared this story with my girls repeatedly, because feminism does
assert the importance of women occupying positions of power. But feminism
is not just picture book girl power, or even wicked displays of sexy, self
identification. No matter how satisfying those may be.

A new survey from “The Washington Post” and Kaiser Family Foundation set
out to understand just how Americans think about feminism. They found that
60 percent of women now identify as feminists. So do about a third of men.

It turns out that those much sought after consumers and voters millennial
women are more likely to identify as feminists and the generation
immediately preceding them. In fact, millennials look more like the other
generation that dominated American politics and consumption for decade, the
baby boomers. So, maybe that`s why Barbie got a sweeping makeover.
Remember, when she was first introduced, it was to help boomer girls
realize that they could be single ladies with cars and homes of their own.
Ken was just an accessory.

And now, Barbie is as intersectional as millennials themselves – tall and
petite, curvy, brown and multicultural. Yes!

So, with Kaiser finding that big majorities of women support ensuring equal
pay for equal work, reducing domestic violence and sexual assault,
providing affordable child care, it`s clear that feminism matters to
American women. But with only 38 percent of women reporting that electing
more women to public offices is a top priority when it comes to improving
their lives, the question remains, does having a woman as president matter,
even to feminists?

Joining me now is my all star feminist panel: Nancy Cohen, author of
“Breakthrough: The Making of America`s First Woman First”, Brittney Cooper,
assistant professor at Rutgers University and contributor at,
Cristina Beltran, associate professor at New York University and author of
“The Trouble with Unity”, and Republican strategist, Susan del Percio, also
live from Washington, D.C., is Krissah Thompson, a feature writer of “The
Washington Post”, and one of the partners in the new feminism poll that I
just mentioned.

Krissah, nice to have you. Can you tell me what you found to be among the
most surprising findings from the survey?

undertook this project to really explore what feminism means today, and
especially how it`s playing out in the lives of young women. And so the
data point that showed that young women really see the feminist movement as
important to their lives, I think was surprising for us. They were more
likely to say that feminism is not outdated. That it`s relevant.

And as opposed to large majorities of the general public, you know, they
don`t see it as necessarily having a bad reputation. Now, the way feminism
is playing out in their lives is radically different than a couple of
generations ago. You know, there are not charismatic leaders that they
name as being really important to them, or necessarily like national
organizations that are leading the feminist movement for them, but really
the connective tissue of the Internet sort of holding all of this together.
Nearly half of young women said they had spoken out about women`s rights on
social media, which was surprising, as well.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, so I thought this was interesting – there`s a kind of
funny gap that on the one hand, when asked to describe or identify a
feminist icon, the person who rises to the top for them is Hillary Clinton.
She gets more mentions than anybody else. Not a majority, but more than
anybody else at 22 percent. But then when asked whether or not it`s
important to, you know, elect women – more women to office, it doesn`t
seem to be particularly important. And I guess I`m wondering why you think
that gap exists.

THOMPSON: It`s interesting. You know, voting and sort of those
traditionally like political ways of expressing feminism did not rise high
for young women or for any women in our survey. You know, the issues that
we see are important in terms of equal pay. That was more important than
electing a woman to high office. You know, affordable child care. Those
kinds of things.

Really, this feminism, especially for young women, is about how it`s
playing out in individual lives, in their relationships with one another,
in a view of how they see the world. And electing Hillary Clinton isn`t
necessarily playing into that in any real way.

HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, Krissah.

Nancy, let me come to you on this.

NANCY COHEN, AUTHOR, “BREAKTHROUGH”: Well, Krissah, this was such a
fascinating survey, and the article that you guys wrote about it was great.
Thank you for this. I have so much to say.

HARRIS-PERRY: I wrote a book about this! Yes, yes, yes.

COHEN: Let me back up a second about this. So right after Obama was
elected – re-elected in 2012, it was pretty clear that Hillary Clinton was
going to be the front runner, as – for the Democratic nomination. We had
also just been through an election, where women`s rights, women`s health
and women voters made the difference.

So, here`s a little factoid. If women had so much as split their votes
between Romney and Obama, Romney would have won the election by 4 million

HARRIS-PERRY: But wait a minute. OK. But – and I – because this is the
thing – right here for me is when it all goes – because I just – I have
to show – it`s my favorite chart.

Like, at all points I really just want it behind me, because it isn`t
women. That`s not what happened. It`s just not. So when you look at the
exit polls from 2012, it isn`t women. Because actually women did – white
women voted for Mr. Romney, 56 percent of white victim voted for Mitt

I want to say this again – 56 percent of white women voted for Mr. Romney.
The reason it wasn`t a split, African-American women and Latinas
overwhelmingly showed up for the president. So, it wasn`t – that`s not

COHEN: Absolutely.

HARRIS-PERRY: That`s the race! That`s the black and the browns happening.
It`s different.

COHEN: So absolutely. I think the point is critical here, that Democrats
are depending, particularly on Latinas and black women, to elect Democrats,
and Democrats should deliver to them.

But let me make a point about the white voters. I mean, whites in general
are older, they`re wealthier. So they tend more Republican. And I really
do think in 2012 – I looked at some of the state exit polls at that time.
What you see is the white numbers skewing, because white evangelical women
in the south vote Republican at like 90 percent. Whereas California, it`s
probably 60 percent of white women.

So, it doesn`t – it`s really – we`re really not as bad –

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no, no! It`s not a question of bad. It`s really not a
question of bad or good. But it does feel to me like a question of – in
part of strategy.

Krissah, I want to come to you for one second on this. I`m wondering, as
you all were doing these data, you know, as you`re looking at the
millennials and you`re seeing that the millennials are looking like the
baby boomers, part of what is interesting to me about that around the
question of both of them showing up as feminists is that – is the kind of
intersectional racial differences that are true of millennial women versus
baby boomer women. You know, that isn`t just an age difference. That`s
also a race difference, right? That is a bunch of brown women saying we`re
feminists versus a much larger proportion of white women saying we`re

THOMPSON: That`s true. So what we found in our reporting, and also the
poll is this then becomes something that is very socially diffuse, and what
does feminism mean to you. And, you know, lots of women have different
answers to that. And so, the question of whether this movement now brings
some political power to the table when it comes to something like a
presidential election is a question that, you know, we sort of have to

But we have to remember that this term is also freighted with a lot of
history that showed up in our survey, as well. You had more than half of
women – not just women. More than half of our respondents said that
feminism itself has a bad reputation, while the women`s movement had a good

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. We`re going to take a break.

I`m getting everybody back in on the rest of this.

Krissah Thompson in Washington, D.C. – my favorite little factoid, you
were nine months pregnant with a girl while working on that survey, which
is just – I can imagine also was a fun part of working on it. So thank
you for that study.

When we come back, more on gender, more on the 2016 campaign. As we go,
we`re going to listen to Hillary Clinton talking about shattering that
glass ceiling.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m going to try to break the
highest and hardest glass ceiling. I hope it splinters completely.


And – and I hope for your daughters it opens doors that might not be open
right now. Regardless of whether any of them ever do anything politically,
but in their lives, their professions, how they`re treated, I hope it does
give them more of a sense of empowerment.



HARRIS-PERRY: Here`s how the actress Susan Sarandon introduced Senator
Bernie Sanders at a recent rally.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: I`ve come here because for me, gender is not
what`s important. Issues are what`s important.



HARRIS-PERRY: OK. If Hillary Clinton (INAUDIBLE), can she possibly win
U.S. presidency? I mean, for real. I have issues with Hillary Clinton.
But why in the world would Susan Sarandon not support Hillary Clinton?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When you`re talking about looking
at millennials, special –

HARRIS-PERRY: I`m talking about millennials!

DEL PERCIO: I understand, but she was speaking to that clan.


DEL PERCIO: And we look at why millennials and some women are not
supporting Hillary Clinton. They have grown up with – under the guidance
of the fighters for the women`s movement. They have been told, women and
young girls have been told, you are equal, even the men growing up in that

So, it`s what you want. What do you want? You are not required to vote
for a woman, just because you are a woman. You have a choice. We are both
capable. Men and women are both capable.

BRITTNEY COOPER, SALON.COM: This is – that is a critical misstep. So one
of the things I see when I teach young women, they keep mistaking feminism
as a personal identity, rather than a set of political commitments, right?


COOPER: That is rooted in a movement, that is rooted in actual oppression
towards women. So then the problem becomes that the other thing that they
– that a lot of young people don`t seem to understand is that they have
associated voting with Hillary Clinton, and considering her womanhood as
part of that, as being connected to identity politics, but they`re acting
as though voting for the white guy for an office that white men have held
in all but one time is not identity politics, right?


COOPER: And all identity politics.

The last thing I want to say in this moment is, Bernie Sanders has so
effectively marshaled race and class politics that he is neutralized
Hillary`s ability to actually think about gender in a critical way. So, he
is out here – he has overcome his old white guy problem by saying – but
I`m progressive on recent class so I`m your typical white guy. So – and
reminded me when I saw him – you made in your first book how women
traditionally hear feminist messages better from men than women.

HARRIS-PERRY: Ma`am, so where were you in the first hour when the
Bernieites were – I am so neither Bernieite or Clintonite. I am so in
this space this election.

And I think maybe in part, because – I`m not sure I see a feminist running
on the Democratic side.

DEL PERCIO: It`s also because you didn`t see – it`s also because you
didn`t see someone taking it for granted. Because she is a woman, she
started off taking women for granted.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`m not sure.


CRISTINA BELTRAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: I do think it was a terrible move
when she said I`m not establishment. I`m a woman. I think that was a
terrible moment.

HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen to that. Just in case folks – I mean, who
wasn`t watching? But just in case you weren`t, let`s – I want to take a
listen to Hillary Clinton saying that. And then I want to listen to
another piece right behind it. Let`s just take a listen.


CLINTON: Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize
me a woman running to be the first woman president as exemplifying the
establishment. And I`ve got to tell you that it is – it is really quite -
- it`s really quite amusing to me.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: When folks talk about a revolution,
the revolution is electing the first woman president of the United States!


HARRIS-PERRY: But I – that doesn`t work for me.

BELTRAN: I think the other thing that we have to keep talking about is
multiplicity and heterogeneity. That`s why we didn`t talk about the gender
gap. It`s not really a gender gap as much as it`s – there`s a lot of
layers of that gender gap.

It`s not just women. It`s rich women. Are they married women, are they
white women, are older women, are they younger women, are they affluent
women, are they college-educated women? Same thing as feminism. There is
not feminism, there is feminisms.

So, there is liberal feminism. There`s neo liberal feminism. There`s
women of color feminism.

So, there are different voices of radical politics that come out of
feminist politics. And there are very conservative politics that can come
out of it. So I think one of the real issues is, you have more radical
feminists saying we want something more than parity. We want a
transformation of our social lives.

And you have other women just want a seat at the table, right? So I think
that Hillary Clinton is playing a certain kind of liberal feminism. So I
think then we have to have a debate about what kind of feminism that is.

But I think when Sarandon says, “I don`t see gender, I see issues”, that`s
really problematic as well. The last thing that is important here is I
think descriptive representation matters in as much as seeing women in
public life tells Americans, tells citizens of the world that every
community or every population has a right to be at the seat of power. But
it has no guarantee of the quality of governing or quality of power.

So that`s why we have to distinguish between understanding that women at
the seat of power matters. But it doesn`t guarantee equality politics.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So this has been kind of one of the – as I move
through the question of releasing the Obama years, right? Which has been
about a descriptive representation, right, the embodiment of the American
state in an African-American Democratic president, right? It is meaningful
in and of itself, right?

Beyond whatever else, whatever failure successes policy wise. And that was
true for me, for example, even in Condi Rice. In – to be an African-
American woman, political science professor, who is through the world as
the secretary of state, there is a certain like, go do that, girl. Because
just aren`t very many of us in the world, right?


HARRIS-PERRY: So even when there was a sense of disagreement, like, that
embodiment matters, and I guess – you know – but I guess I keep
wondering, does it matter enough? Is that in a tie-breaker?

We`re going to talk more when we come back. I promise. More when we come


HARRIS-PERRY: This week, Jeb Bush brought his mom, former first lady,
Barbara Bush, to join him on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, part of
what the “New York Times” described as a trend of Republicans looking for a
softer tone to appeal to women in the Granite State.

Here`s what Mrs. Bush had to say about her son`s opponent, Donald Trump.


BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: I mean, unbelievable. I don`t know how
women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly. It`s
terrible. And we knew what he meant, too.


HARRIS-PERRY: Stay precious. Stay precious, Mrs. Bush.

BELTRAN: It`s horrifying. I think it`s horrifying.

HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me why.

BELTRAN: I think it`s horrifying – I think I`m my own man, and now – you
know, they`re all coming out. It`s just a – it`s just sad. The Bush –
but I also think, this is why we need to think about gender, not just in
terms are there women in the office, men in the office. Like that`s a
fascinating deployment of gender and maternal affection.

I mean, there is a bunch of issues you need a gender analysis to make any
sense of. I want to get back to the point you said earlier, I think that
in a world of which women and people of color now hold more power than they
have historically in our world, not enough, still underrepresentation but
more women in the seats of power. One of the big challenges we have is,
how do we read what we are seeing? How do we use judgment to make a
judgment over what we`re seeing?

And I think we need a more critical eye about the diversities we`re seeing,
and I think that maybe 20 or 30 years ago, there was a certain assumption
that once we had more of those bodies in office, we would have a better
politics. We`d have a feminist politics, a socially just or racially just

It`s not going to be that simple. We currently have a neoliberal
multicultural politics. And for some of us, that is not a just politics, a
diverse politics, but not a socially just politics in ways we imagine.

COOPER: I want to pick up on this earlier point you were making about
deployments of gender. I think they matter here. So one of the things
that I`ve been asking myself is, would it actually be possible for Hillary
to run farther to the left to invoke all of the things we like about Bernie
Sanders, and still win, right? Because President Obama couldn`t run as far
to the left and win.

Now, he ran left of center, but he was still a fairly centrist candidate
and we made all of these, you know, excuses for that, right? He`s got to
get there. And you know – it becomes a mark of distrust, right? So all -

HARRIS-PERRY: It`s also because there is a history, though.

COOPER: It`s true. So this is the tension I`m battling, which – on the
one hand, she is an architect of Clintonism, which many of us reject and I
think rightfully so. But there is also a way that Bernie Sanders is able
to marshal these sort of liberal claims.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because he`s got white male privilege.

COOPER: Exactly.


COHEN: And I do think that we attribute bill Clinton`s decisions a little
too much to Hillary. We know that she opposed a number of –

HARRIS-PERRY: She said super predator. Super predator. And I mean, she
did. Like, she has –

COHEN: So she is –

HARRIS-PERRY: She bears that.

COHEN: Yes. So she bears that. But she has been advocating for criminal
justice reform for the past ten years, since she was in the Senate. She`s
called mandatory minimum sentencing indefensible.

I want to go back to this point, is it just having the right people in
office, is it descriptive? And the global research is unequivocal that
when women lead, when women are in power, they make advancing gender
equality, women`s opportunity, women`s participation a true priority in a
way that it`s very, very rare for men to see. We see it with Michelle
Bachelet in Chile who opened thousands of nursing schools so women could
work, who pushed through emergency contraception in church.

Hillary has been putting equal pay, repealing the Hyde amendment,
reproductive justice at the center of her campaign. And I do think she is
a champion of women`s rights, and Bernie is a good ally. But I think he
has a long checklist of things he wants to do.

And I think that it`s – if he is elected president, and I will say as a
Democrat, I will support him as our nominee. But if he`s elected
president, I think we`re not going to – I think like always, we`re going
to see all these things fall to the back burner. And I think, you know, it
matters to women of color that we have equal pay, that we raise the minimum
wage. These things matter more to women –

COOPER: But it also matters that white women not call our men super


HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And let me actually say, for me, one of the
experiences, part of what I have sort of – at least what I`ve experienced
over the eight years of the Obama administration is, it turns out that one
of the most important things in the context of kind of partisan gridlock is
what presidents say. Often when they cannot govern, one of the main things
they have left is their rhetoric, is their discourse.

So, actually, I`m listening very carefully to what both of them say, in
part because if they`re going to govern with what we expect to be continued
partisan gridlock, that I`m going to need both of y`all to do way better.

Thank you to Nancy Cohen and Brittney Cooper and to Cristina Beltran and
Susan Del Percio, I like you all. Come back.

As the Zika virus becomes important, what does that mean for reproductive
rights around the world?


HARRIS-PERRY: The World Health Organization has officially pushed the
crisis button on Zika, the virus linked to terrible brain damage in

The U.N. agency has declared the outbreak an international public health
emergency and estimates that as many as 4 million people could be infected
by the end of the year. Most cases have been reported in South America,
but a case of sexually-transmitted Zika in Texas and the possibility of
getting the virus through blood transfusions are triggering home-grown
concerns, as well as action.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a health emergency in five
counties, where at least 12 cases of the mosquito borne disease have been
detected, all from infections contracted outside the U.S.

With no vaccine, treatment or accurate testing for Zika, the predicted
surge in brain damaged newborns has led to guidelines, directed primarily
at women. In some Latin American countries, women should avoid getting
pregnant. But it`s the message that has turned the Zika emergency into a
question over women`s reproductive rights in Latin America, where unplanned
pregnancies are widespread and where contraception options are limited for
millions of women.

Once pregnant, the options are even more restrictive. In Brazil, both the
epicenter of the outbreak and where abortion is illegal under most
circumstances, the crisis has sparked a debate over whether women should be
permitted to have an abortion if the fetus indicates symptoms linked to the

On Friday, the United Nations took its stance, urging countries hit by Zika
to grant women access to contraception and abortion.

Joining me now is Paula Avila-Guillen, who is the program specialist at the
Center for Reproductive Rights, and Dr. Alexander Van Tulleken, who is
senior fellow at the Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs at
Fordham University.

So, to both of you, this seems like – you know, I kept going back and
forth asking should we really do this, are we doing that panic thing that
happens sometimes when cable news will start talking about a disease that`s
happening and it`s not actually really that big of a problem. So, begin
with, is this a real crisis? Are we looking at something that we should
actually be concerned with?

this is definitely a real crisis and I think what`s very reassuring for
once is the WHO is reacting early. The U.N. Commission for Human Rights is
acting early. So we have the possibility of detecting this, and stopping
it spread nice and early, compared to something like Ebola, where everyone
was very, very late.

HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. So, talk to me about the connection with pregnancy.
Because part of what we were sort of having this reaction with is that then
– you get these sort of public health warnings, early ones, but the
language is, don`t get pregnant. Well, OK. But, you know, that – that
may be easier said than done if contraception is not widely available.

these warnings are really empty. They are two things that are very
important to highlight about those warnings. The first one is the warnings
are only made to women.

And as all we know, women don`t get pregnant on their own. There is an
important role of men playing, and there is no government coming up and
saying, men, use condom, try to avoid pregnancy.

So, it`s also showing how the responsibility at the end is only women,
which is very unfair.

And the second part is, if you are in Colombia last week when all of this
happened, if you are there, you ask how do you want me not to get pregnant?
Like, are you going to be given some types of free contraception? Are you
going to be giving campaigns? What are you going to do with women?
Doesn`t even know – don`t know how to use contraception?

In the case of Colombia, at least it`s a case where women have some access.
Abortion is legal in certain cases. I am extremely worried in the case of
Central America, and specifically in the case of El Salvador where abortion
is totally illegal (ph), in the case of Hondurans where emergency
contraception is totally banned and one of the highest rates of sexual
violence. And what do you do with unwanted, unplanned pregnancies caused
by sexual violence?

HARRIS-PERRY: And then, enter to all of this, not only the questions of
government, government policy and law, but the Catholic Church. So you`re
talking about the WHO, again responding much more swiftly than, for
example, in the case of Ebola. But the Catholic Church ends up being a
part of this narrative, because so many of these are catholic nations and
the Catholic Church has a strong stance of contraception and termination.

VAN TULLEKEN: That`s right. And we have extraordinary examples from South
America, where doctors performing abortions, cases where it is clearly
indicated, 9-year-old girls who`ve been raped, the doctor is excommunicated
and the rapist is not.

And you have things like that where you have this extreme barrier. So even
though the doctor is legally allowed to do it, the social religious
pressure adds another layer of impossibility to access this.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, then what kind of public health effect then does that
kind of social and spiritual kind of judgment then end up having?

VAN TULLEKEN: I think what we have in this disease is a perfect storm of
problems for women. It is a disease that targets poverty, particularly,
because you are more likely to be bitten by a mosquito because you`re more
likely to live in areas where mosquitoes breed. You don`t have air-
conditioning, you don`t have screens, you don`t have bed nets, you don`t
have repellant.

And then when you get pregnant and you`re more likely to get pregnant
because you don`t have access to contraception. And then if you have a
problem, you can`t afford an abortion. So, what you see is a multilayered
public health problem.

But if you just talk about the abortion issue, we`re talking about more
than 4 million illegal abortions. And I say illegal – that is – that is
in those countries illegal abortions.


VAN TULLEKEN: Which are very dangerous, and disproportionately affects
poor women.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, with just a very few seconds. The very legality of it
is another health potential problem for women.

AVILA-GUILLEN: It is. Unsafe abortion is already one of the leading
causes of maternal morality in Latin America. We are very afraid to see
those numbers run up.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, and these are women who often have existing children
and so then you`re talking about the problem of orphans and motherless
children. Thank you to Paula Avila-Guillen, and to Dr. Alexander Van

And up next, the Republicans have their debate before the New Hampshire
primary. We get a brief preview from Steve Kornacki, next.


HARRIS-PERRY: Tonight, most of the remaining GOP field will gather for the
final debate before New Hampshire`s primary on Tuesday. And the first
since the Iowa caucus pushed three more Republicans out of the race.

Joining me now from New Hampshire is MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki.

Steve, there is a lot at stake tonight.

Well, here we are, the final weekend, it`s the home stretch.

So, a couple things I`m looking for in this debate tonight. Number one is
Marco Rubio. How are the other candidates going to treat Marco Rubio? He
seems to be the guy who has momentum. There is that possibility he catches
Donald Trump, he actually wins this state.

Obviously, all eyes on Donald Trump, how will he handle Marco Rubio? We
haven`t seen him going after Rubio as much this week as we would expect.
But then, again, Donald Trump and the Trump campaign have been defying our
expectations all along.

The other wild card, though, when we talk about Marco Rubio is somebody on
the stage who is not doing that well in the polls right now, but who has a
pretty big voice up there, and that is Chris Christie. Chris Christie has
been making Marco Rubio his top target all week, really get the impression
looking at Christie that Christie is saying, look, maybe I can`t win New
Hampshire. I would like to win New Hampshire. But if I don`t win New
Hampshire, I at least want to keep Marco Rubio from winning it.

It really seems personal between Christie and Rubio. You know Christie can
be really tough in the settings. So if he`s going after Marco Rubio, I
think that`s the big thing to be looking at on that side.

The other thing, again, is Ted Cruz. We have talked about this controversy
over the Cruz campaign, and how it won Iowa with this whole issue of did
they suggest to their supporters tell their supporters, misleading that Ben
Carson is getting out of the race. Is Ben Carson – he`s not been the most
aggressive debater, but is Ben Carson going to make something of this up
there? Are the other candidates going to make something of this up there?
Is this going to haunt Ted Cruz on the debate stage tonight?

But, again, here we are, we always talk about these eight days between Iowa
and New Hampshire as the eight most volatile days in American politics.
This is the setting. This debate tonight, a couple days before the
primary. We have seen things happen in these debates in the past that have
changed races.

It was on this same night, Saturday night, eight years ago on the
Democratic side when Barack Obama said to Hillary Clinton, “you`re likeable
enough,” you remember that moment, that seemed to give Hillary that late
kick of momentum that give her up upset win the next Tuesday.

So, whatever happens tonight, there is a possibility it could shake things
up, Melissa.

HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you to MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki in Manchester, New

Up next, Sweet Honey in the Rock, live in Nerdland.


HARRIS-PERRY: The 2016 campaign has put the spotlight on a variety of
issues, from immigration to voting rights to environmental justice,
especially in light of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. But our next
guests have been performing about these issues for decades.

Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy-nominated collective of African-
American women have been singing for social justice for more than 40 years.
They performed around the globe, including for the Obamas at the White
House. And they`ll be performing at Carnegie Hall, right here in New York
next week.

But this morning, they`re here in Nerdland, and I am so pleased to
introduce Sweet Honey in the Rock, performing “IDK, But I`m LOL” from their
new their new CD, “#Loveinevolution.”


HARRIS-PERRY: This week was a tough one, and having you all here –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear you. I hear you.

HARRIS-PERRY: And having you all here means everything.

Yesterday would have been the 21st birthday of Trayvon Martin.


HARRIS-PERRY: I`ve been listening to a lot of sweet hundred where I and
the rock last night thinking about you all being here and listening to
“Ella`s Song”, listening to some of the work you`ve done.

Talk to me about how Sweet Honey in the Rock remains a kind of soundtrack
for the activism, for the work that is being done in communities right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think what`s happening that`s really a
blessing is that people have been embracing`s “Ella`s Song”, and the fact
that it`s important for people of African descent to really be taken very
seriously in terms of our lives and how we live and what`s important to us
and that everything that we are about is as important as everybody who is
on this planet, but our issues are very specific to us related to racism
and white supremacy in the United States.

HARRIS-PERRY: That language of living out loud. I was over there dancing
to the side. You cannot just listen to Sweet Honey. You have – you asked
at one point during the music, are you standing up? Are you up? Are you
out of your seat? Cannot sit and listen.

Is that what the living out loud is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s like expressing who you are and standing for
what you know to be right or standing for what you know to be the right
thing to do, do the right thing. Are you speaking on it? Are you doing
anything in your life to lift up the planet? Anything to make a change,
you know, for the better because everybody has different gifts. Are you
using yours? Out loud.

HARRIS-PERRY: The Flint water crisis.


HARRIS-PERRY: Tell me. Respond to that for me. The passion that we heard
from Melissa Maze, from the mother. Speaking into your mike, tell me from
sweet honey and the rock, any of you, what that crisis is telling us about
where we are in this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really devastating. Oil spills in the gulf and
just increasing problems with water not only here in this nation but
worldwide. Water is becoming a very serious problem. The fact that we
have people – powers that be who don`t want to recognize that we have to
really make a stand to do something to clean up our water. Water is life.
Without water, we have no life.

HARRIS-PERRY: We think of god troubling the waters as a way that black
folks talk about a central idea of who we are. I want to acknowledge that
sweet hundred where I has always had a commitment to the deaf community
through your sign language interpreter. Tell me a little bit about what
that commitment is as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back in the, I think – it was in the late 1970s,
sweet hundred where I and the rock was traveling to the west coast and
doing a lot of work with women`s movement, feminist movement, and they were
noticing that in all of the social arenas, there was accessibility for
people. There was child care. If you wanted to – a mother, you want to
come out and have a good time, there was child care for you. There was
wheel chair access. And they noticed that the deaf community was being
addressed. I think it was Bernie really she wanted Sweet Honey to be able
do to do that too.

HARRIS-PERRY: So, Shirley Childress is your American sign language –


HARRIS-PERRY: Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Bolade Casel, the
women of Sweet Honey in the Rock. More than four decades of this work.

And that is our show –


HARRIS-PERRY: For today. Thank you for watching at home.

Tomorrow join us. We`re going to have our latest reaction to tonight
Republican presidential debate and, of course, it will also be our NFL

Also, a programming note, GOP candidate Ben Carson will join Ari Melber
live in New Hampshire.

Coming up, three days to New Hampshire. Live coverage from the Granite


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