The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/1/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: September 1, 2016
Guest: Tony Suarez
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Joy Reid, thank you for that.
As you have figured out by now, Rachel Maddow, she has the night off. She
will be back tomorrow. And guess what? She will be part of the show
tonight. We are going hear from her and her thoughts on Donald Trump`s big
immigration speech. You are not going to want to miss that.
But, first, a lot has happened in 24 hours since Trump gave that speech
last night. There were two things he needed to accomplish yesterday with
that last minute trip to Mexico in the afternoon, and then the big speech
in Phoenix at night.
Number one, Trump said he was going to clarify his position on immigration.
Remember, he said two weeks ago, he might be softening his view. He was
going to tell everyone what he meant.
And last night, in the speech, he presented a list of ten principles, ten
key principles on immigration. It is fair to say they were ten hard lying
principles on the subject. This was the most hardlined speech on
immigration that we have heard a major party nominee for president ever
deliver in the modern era.
Now, the more specific challenge for Trump last night was this. He`s
losing right now. He`s losing in this race. He is behind Hillary Clinton
nationally. He is behind her in the battleground states.
And there`s a very specific reason why he`s behind her. When you break
down all the numbers, there`s one group of voters who have always been
there for Republican presidential candidates going back generations now.
Those voters have been seriously turned off by Donald Trump in this
campaign. He has been running at fatally low levels of support with them.
He needs to turn that around if he`s going to have a chance in November.
And the group I`m talking about is actually white voters. More
specifically, talking about white college educated voters, suburbanite,
upscale economically, white collar professionals. Reps have never, never
lost this group in a presidential election, but Donald Trump just might.
So, the challenge last night, in part, was for him to say something,
somehow, in some way that might win some of them back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Today, on a very complicated and
very difficult subject, you will get the truth. The fundamental problem
with the immigration system in our country is that it serves the needs of
wealthy donors, political activists and powerful, powerful politicians.
Let me tell you who it does not serve. It does not serve you, the American
people. Doesn`t serve you.
We have to listen to the concerns that working people, our forgotten
working people have over the record pace of immigration and its impact on
their jobs, wages, housing, schools, tax bills and general living
conditions. These are valid concerns expressed by decent and patriotic
citizens from all backgrounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Trump`s message last night.
If you look back the last election in 2012, Mitt Romney won the white vote
by 20 points, that`s what a Republican is supposed to get, at least 20
points there. But Trump, well, a new poll out today has him winning white
voters by just eight points, that would be a disaster for a Republican
presidential candidate. And again, it is even more dramatic when you
compare whites who don`t have college degrees, blue collar white voters.
Trump would then – he is doing pretty well. Compare it to whites who do
have college degrees. Romney won white college educated men by 21 points
in 2012. A FOX News poll has Trump ahead of that group by 11. That would
be a disaster for a Republican.
Here`s the killer, though, when it comes to college educated white women,
Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump by 20 points. That would be
absolutely unprecedented in our political history. This is why Donald
Trump is losing.
These are voters Republicans have always relied on and they are turned off
by Donald Trump. They are telling pollsters they are profoundly
uncomfortable with his rhetoric, his nativist appeals, with his racially
charged messages. They do not want to be associated with a white
supremacist like David Duke who`d been out there praising Donald Trump.
That is what Donald Trump was up against last night and the home stretch of
this campaign. If you want to know whether Donald Trump can come back, win
this election and become president of the United States, this is where to
look when you look inside the numbers. This is where he needs to move the
needle and needs to move it in a big way.
Did he make progress last night? That is the bottom line question. Did it
reassure voters seeing Trump alongside the Mexican president – did it make
him look more presidential or is it possible his hard lined message will
actually drive up blue collar support so high that it makes up for the
beating he is taking with upscale white voters?
There`s also a cynical interpretation of something else that Trump is doing
now. Cynical, but maybe accurate. It has to do with the outreach he is
doing to minority voters. Again, that`s something he tried to do last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is going to do nothing for the African-American
worker, the Latino worker. She is going to do nothing. She`s done
And I say, what do you have to lose? Excuse me, watch how good we are
going to do together. Watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But, was he even talking to minority voters there, or is he
trying to send a message to white voters who have been so uncomfortable
with his campaign to date, was he trying to make them feel he is putting in
the effort trying to win black and Latino votes so that those white voters
might feel more comfortable supporting him. Maybe that`s his real goal
because if it`s not, if he`s just making a straight-up pitch to minority
voters, then there are new signs that it is failing more than ever.
Trump, today, losing high profile support from several conservative
Hispanics who were not happy with the speech last night. A number of
Hispanic business leaders and even Hispanic Trump advisers have said they
can no longer support him.
One former Trump endorser tweeting after the speech, quote, “This is how I
feel, disappointed and misled.”
And Trump was probably never going to do that well with the Hispanic vote
to begin with. A recent poll of Hispanic voters shows him with just 20
percent of the Hispanic vote, getting clobbered by Hillary Clinton there.
There is one Hispanic adviser to Donald Trump who, even after last night
speech says he is not yet ready to drop Donald Trump.
And joining me now is the Reverend Tony Suarez, executive . He is a member
of the Trump campaign`s evangelical advisory committee.
Reverend Suarez, thanks for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
I wanted to talk to you in particular because you`ve sort of been very
public about grappling with whether to support Donald Trump, how
comfortable you are with Donald Trump. I know at the beginning of this
campaign, he was putting on a clinic of how not to win Latino votes. You
are now supporting him.
We`ve heard other leaders come out today who`ve been supporting Trump and
say, they didn`t like the speech last night. What was your impression of
REV. TONY SUAREZ, NATL. HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONF. EXEC. VP:
Well, I want to be clear. It`s not that I`m supporting Donald Trump. I
have a pastor`s heart. I was invited to an advisory board of Donald Trump.
If Hillary Clinton made a similar invitation, I would join her board as
well. But to date, Hillary has not invited the evangelicals to come and
talk with her.
Last night was disappointing. Yet, it`s disappointing and confusing. It
gives you more questions than it does answers.
You would think that after an hour and 20 minutes or an hour and 30 minutes
of hearing point by point, these ten points of what he`s going to do with
immigration reform, you would think we`d have a clear cut answer. Yet, at
one moment, he says all illegals are going to have to leave the country,
and then come in the same way. You`re all going to have to reenter the
Yet, a few minutes later, he says after we have implemented the ten points
of my plan, then and only then can we talk about those remaining. Well, if
everyone is left, or everyone has been deported, who are the people that
There`s I think he needs to make clarifying remarks. I think he still
needs to explain to us what he`s going to do or what the plan is for the 11
million documented immigrants that are in the country.
KORNACKI: So, you are on the advisory committee. Did you advise him? Did
you talk to his campaign? Do you feel you were listened to?
SUAREZ: Well, yes, absolutely. My boss, the Reverend Sam Rodriguez, the
president NHLC, and there was others. We met with Donald Trump at Trump
Tower a few months ago, and Pastor Sam – Reverend Rodriguez said to him,
said, Mr. Trump, if you are going to build a wall, you must build bridges
into the Latino community.
I was on MSNBC on Saturday and I said, you know, I`m the first evangelical
to come on and say I believe in evolution. Donald Trump is evolving in
front of our eyes. We were celebrating the change that we saw. And then,
last night happened.
It was confusing. It was disappointing. But I hope he is listening and I
hope there`s an opportunity to continue speaking to him.
Reverend Rodriguez has told us for months. Our job as Christians,
evangelicals, believers, is to be light, you have to be light in a dark
place. So, I have battled, do I leave, walk away, do I wash my hands or do
I stay? How can I be light if I walk away? How can I influence if I walk
away from the table of reason?
And at the end of the day, I`m not a politician. I`m a pastor. I have a
pastor`s heart. What if I had a church member who I didn`t agree with it
and they just – I said, well, then I`m done with you. I won`t talk to you
anymore. That`s not what my calling is.
My calling is to say, I don`t agree with you and this is what I think you
need to do, and I hope we can still entertain dialogue and be able to speak
to one another. But if today I say, Trump, I`m done with you, no more, I
won`t talk to you anymore, then how can I continue to be a voice for the
voiceless, how can I be light in the midst of darkness? So, that`s why I
have grappled with the decision. And this moment, I`ve decided that I`m
still going to remain on the evangelical advisory committee.
KORNACKI: You are still on the committee. Are you support like – if the
election were today, would you vote for him?
SUAREZ: I haven`t endorsed Donald Trump. I`ll be honest with you today.
If the election were today, I don`t know how I`m going to vote.
But Mrs. Clinton hasn`t helped me make my decision any easier. Her
position on later term abortion, the vagueness on religious liberty make it
almost impossible for an evangelical, a conservative, to say, you know
what, I`m going to give my vote to Mrs. Clinton. She could really help the
decision by coming to a table of reason with evangelicals as well, and
discussing this issue.
But as of right now, Mr. Trump, with all the bad you can see in him, is the
only one that`s been willing to sit down with evangelicals.
KORNACKI: All right. Reverend Tony Suarez, executive vice president of
the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a member of Donald
Trump`s evangelical advisory committee – appreciate the time. Thanks for
SUAREZ: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. There is a lot more ahead, including another side to
the speech that he took further today.
And, later, Rachel is going to be here with choice things to say about the
Trump speech last night.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Tonight, the people of Florida are hunkered down as Hurricane
Hermine is set to make lands fall. Hermine is a category one storm with
winds of 75 miles an hour. People on Florida`s Gulf Coast are dealing with
flooding and heavy rains are expected to continue into tomorrow.
There is also a tornado watch in place for central Florida through late
tonight. Hermine is supposed to diminish in power through the weekend.
But effects of this storm may be felt along the Virginia coast, even as far
north as Delaware and New Jersey.
We`ll keep you posted on the latest. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who
seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate.
Sometimes, it`s just not going to work out. It`s our right, as a sovereign
nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and
flourish and love us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Donald Trump making the case that assimilation, the idea of
merging culturally with other Americans, ought to be key in considering
which immigrants to admit to this country. Among immigration hard liners,
that part of the speech last night was a very big hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRIS KOBACH (R), KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: I haven`t heard a presidential
candidate or a president talk about assimilation in our immigration system
in a long time. You know, it`s so important that we welcome immigrants
here. But that`s just the first half. You have to make people become
American. And that`s something we should not be ashamed of, adopting our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach there back in 2010.
He wrote what was then nation`s strictest piece of anti-immigration
legislation, Arizona`s “papers please” law, he says he helped also to come
up with Trump`s border wall plan this year.
In a speech to the American Legion today, Trump suggested that under his
administration, the concern over assimilation wouldn`t just be about new
arrivals to the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Promoting American pride and patriotism in America`s schools. Very
In a Trump administration, I plan to work directly with the American Legion
to uphold our common values and to help ensure they are taught to America`s
We will stop apologizing for America and we will start celebrating America.
We will be united by our common culture, values and principles, becoming
one American nation. One country, under one Constitution, saluting one
American flag and always saluting it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: United by our common culture, becoming one American nation,
always saluting the flag. It`s not just his hard line stance on
immigration. That`s something we haven`t seen a major party nominee
embrace like Trump has in the modern era.
But that immigration message is also tied in with a bigger and broader
appeal to nationalism. That is something else we haven`t seen a major
party presidential nominee express like this in a very long time.
It really is an untested thing in the modern era, in terms of the appeal of
this kind of message. There`s clearly some market for it. There was
enough to carry Donald Trump to the Republican nomination, at least. But
does it have enough appeal to carry him farther?
Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist and author of
“Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party and
Beyond.” That`s coming out in paperback this month.
E.J., thanks for joining us tonight.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you.
KORNACKI: So, listening to the clip from Kris Kobach saying he can`t
remember the last time a presidential nominee talked about assimilation. I
think I can. I think it was Pat Buchanan. I think it was Pat Buchanan
about 20 years ago and that really is more than we`ve seen with anybody
else since then, a key part of Trump`s message.
DIONNE: Well, you know, we have don through periods like this before,
where there was heavy emphasis on teaching Americanism and assimilating
immigrants. And there`s one important fact that helps us understand why
all this is happening now. That is that we do, at this moment, have an
unusually high number of foreign born Americans.
In 1970, only 4.7 percent of us were foreign born. As of 2013, 13.1
percent of us were foreign born. We haven`t seen numbers like that since
the turn of the last century, during that great wave of immigration back
then. And there was a backlash back then. There was the rise of the Ku
Klux Klan in the 1920s.
So, I think this is a normal American thing, even though it seems very
strange, but usually, and in the past, we have always overcome it. And
your point about nationalism is really well-taken because in many ways, the
Trump message is much more like the European far right, which is very
explicitly nationalist than it is like traditional American conservatism.
Yes, sometimes American conservatives and liberals engage in some
nationalism. But this is a peculiar campaign in our tradition, compared to
the Europeans where they are a accustomed to this from the far right.
KORNACKI: And how widespread do you think the feeling is? You are talking
the change circumstances with the pace of immigration over the last decade,
couple of decades, really. How widespread do you think is the feeling, the
apprehension you are describing?
DIONNE: Well, you know, the polling suggests when you ask people do they
want comprehensive immigration reform that would allow people who came here
illegally to get on a path to citizenship, that has a majority support in
the country. If you ask people what`s the most important issue facing the
country, immigration is not very high on that list.
So, I think you are talking about a significant minority, but still a
minority of Americans. It`s a bigger part of the Republican Party, which
is why this message went down better in the Republican Party than it is in
the general election.
I was trying to think of what the heck was Trump doing last night? You
know, he talked a lot about softening his position. There was talk out of
the campaign saying that, you know, he wanted to appeal to middle of the
road people and Latinos, then comes this big, hostile bang.
All I can think of is he`s trying to raise the immigration issue saying
this links to everything else, crime, the fact somebody might lack a job.
So, I think he`s trying to change the issue structure of the campaign by
screaming so loudly about immigration. And I don`t think it will work.
But that`s the only rational thing I can think of that he was up to last
KORNACKI: I`m going through similar thinking in my head, some of the
groups, when you reduce this to crude demographic terms, the groups Donald
Trump is struggling with that Republicans don`t normally struggle with.
The question I`m asking myself last night, and I really find myself asking
every time I see him speak now is, is this doing anything for him to move
the needle with people who aren`t already with him, with people who had
reservations about him. Did you see anything in the speech that might?
DIONNE: I saw nothing in the speech to help him with the groups mentioned
in the beginning of the show. I was talking to a Clinton supporter today
who said, you know, I was a little worried when the press started saying
how presidential he looked when the media on TV started saying how
presidential he looked in Mexico. Then I heard that speech and I went to
bed totally unworried. He didn`t move those voters.
There has been a theory if only the Republican Party could increase its
share with white voters and particularly white men, you know, maybe they
could overcome the deficit with minorities. That`s not happening. It`s
not happening because even if he does gain some votes in the white, working
class, he`s losing them at the upper end, just as you said at the beginning
of the show. I really don`t think last night helped him with them.
KORNACKI: All right. E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post” columnist, author of
“Why the Right Went Wrong” – thanks for the time.
DIONNE: Great to be with you. Thanks.
KORNACKI: All right. And still ahead, we are going to take a trip over to
the big board to look at why the Trump campaign is so worried about the
electoral map. And also, Rachel is going to be here with thoughts on
Donald Trump`s immigration speech.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Sixteen years, ever since the Hess case,
you have had a lot of fun. A lot of fun that you have had on opportunity
to attack me and I think I have given as good as I have taken. As I leave
you, I want you to know, just think how much you are going to be missing.
You won`t have Nixon to kick around anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: There`s a famous clip. Richard Nixon just after the 1962
California gubernatorial election. He lost that race, the lowest moment of
his career before he came back to win the presidency on his second try.
It is every politician`s dream to exist in the world without the media
challenging, following, questioning their every move and one controversial
political leader now doing everything he can try to make that dream come
true. That story is ahead and so is Rachel.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Maybe hard to believe, but voting for the November election
starts a week from tomorrow. It`s when absentee voting starts in the state
of North Carolina. This as concerns are mounting within Republican circles
about Donald Trump`s shrinking electoral map.
“The New York Times” reporting that on Monday, Mr. Trump`s son, Eric, met
with senior officials at the RNC where he was warned his father`s already
narrow path to the presidency could vanish entirely. From the article
here, “Going through the swing states one by one, party officials showed
Eric Trump his father was drastically underperforming other Republicans in
So, we saw the article. We thought about it. And we said, maybe this is a
good way to use our old friend, the big board.
So, here`s what we`re going to do. We`re going to assume – I`m going to
assume the role of an RNC staffer and I`m going to show you what the
briefing might have looked like. Donald Trump`s – his son was there,
maybe other folks. What was the RNC telling him? What would the
presentation look like? What would the message be? It might be something
So, Mr. Trump, here is what the board was supposed to look like. We
thought at the start of the campaign, in the home stretch, it`d be a pretty
race, and in the gray states in here would be the swing states. We`d have
basically a 50/50 shot of getting there. A couple of these states could
put us over 270. That was the plan.
A couple problems happened along the way, though. Number one, a couple
states that were used to being swing states, that are always swing states,
suddenly, they are not looking swing states. Look at this – Virginia,
Hillary Clinton is up double digits in Virginia. Colorado, Hillary Clinton
is up 14 points in Colorado.
These are always supposed to be swing states. I have to be honest with
you, Mr. Trump, they look like Hillary Clinton states. That`s your first
Here is another problem. Some of these red states on here, we always think
they are Republican. We never think we have to worry about them. Well,
suddenly, we have to worry about a couple of them.
Let me show you what I mean. How about North Carolina? In 2012, Mitt
Romney won the state. Hillary Clinton is actually ahead in the latest poll
in North Carolina.
How about Georgia? Last time it went for a Democrat, 1992. Hillary
Clinton within striking distance. We have to worry about Georgia, Mr.
How about Missouri? Look at this, a double digit win for Romney in 2012.
Trump by a single point in the latest poll.
Go out to Arizona. Donald Trump up three points in a new poll. Again,
that was a double digit state for Mitt Romney four years ago.
We got a bunch of red states here. I`m not saying Hillary Clinton is going
to win them, but Trump is not guaranteed to win them, either. We`ve got to
say right now, these are states we cannot count on Mr. Trump. We`ve got to
worry about them.
And then, there are the other battleground states. Let`s show you how
you`re doing, how your campaign is doing in those states. New Hampshire,
it was a six-point win for Obama four years ago, Hillary Clinton is
outperforming that, she`s up nine in the most recent poll.
How about Pennsylvania? It was five in 2012. Again, Hillary Clinton is
outperforming. Bad news for Mr. Trump in those states.
How about Florida? OK, very close race in 2012. Still a very close race.
You have to improve there a little bit. At least that`s within striking
Ohio, again, down four points. Probably going to be a must win state.
Look at Wisconsin. This might be good news for the Trump campaign. A poll
yesterday had the lead at only three points for Hillary Clinton.
Again, if you are Donald Trump, you`ve got to be winning. That`s a couple
point win. Iowa, there`s a tie. That`s the best Trump is doing in any
swing state right now. There is a tie in the most recent poll in Iowa.
That`s a state Obama won by six points.
You can look at Nevada. Again, closer than it was in 2012, but Hillary
Clinton still in the lead in Nevada.
So, if you go back to that map from those swing states we just showed you -
- look, Hillary Clinton is outperforming Obama in New Hampshire. She`s
outperforming him in Pennsylvania. That`s a stretch for Republicans.
So, that`s pretty much what the map is looking like now. The bottom line
for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is very close to 270. Donald Trump is
very far away.
That would mean Donald Trump would basically have to run the table on all
of these gray states, basically all these gray states to catch Hillary
Clinton or he would have to take some of these blue states where she`s
doing very well and seems to be running away with it and somehow make them
That is a steep hill to climb with only eight weeks to go. That`s your
presentation, Mr. Trump.
We`ll be back after this.
KORNACKI: What you are looking at right now is hundreds of thousands of
protesters in the streets of Caracas earlier today, calling for the removal
of the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan economy is in
the throes of full-on meltdown and Maduro`s party has begun cracking down
on its political opponents.
Maduro is accusing the position of trying to instigate a coup. But the
coalition of parties against the president say they are merely working
toward a presidential recall than it has their political right. This
afternoon, pro-government police fired tear gas into the crowd, trying to
disperse the protest.
And meanwhile, the opposition says they are preparing the next
demonstration. Watch this space.
KORNACKI: For the last few days, this show has been covering the saga of
Maine Governor Paul LePage, who has introduced a new twist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The leaders in the Senate say they are expecting to hear some
sort of a plan for you of how you are going to –
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: I will tell you this –
REPORTER: – change yourself going forward.
LEPAGE: I will be seeking spiritual guidance with my wife and my children.
I will tell you this, though, to whomever it was, I`m not an alcoholic and
I`m not a drug addict. I don`t have mental issues. What I have is a
backbone and I want to move Maine forward.
REPORTER: Besides spiritual counseling, do you believe there`s anything
you need to do going forward to change your style, work better with the
rest of the state government?
LEPAGE: Yes, yes.
REPORTER: Talk about that.
LEPAGE: Yes, I will no longer speak to the press, ever again after today.
They got Adrian. And I`m serious, everything will be put in writing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, he says he`s done talking to the press, which may be a
challenge since Paul LePage`s term as governor doesn`t expire until January
of 2019. Now, all of this coming after the past week which has featured
LePage haranguing the press about black people who he says are coming from
out of state to inflict violence on Maine.
LePage left an obscenity-laced voice mail for a Democratic legislature and
telling them to give it to the press. LePage telling reporters he would
like to point a gun between that legislatures` eyes and also LePage
claiming to the press that black and Hispanic people are, quote, “the enemy
in a shooting war.”
Also, in the middle of all that spending, publicly mulling whether he might
resign as governor and then deciding not to and then saying that he will no
longer speak to the press ever again. Today, legislative leaders in Maine
held a special meeting about all of this, and they still couldn`t decide
what to do. It is not the first and probably not the last time that Paul
LePage has left a lot of people very confused.
KORNACKI: So, last night, late last night, Rachel did a special live
edition of her show at midnight after Trump`s immigration speech. Her
reaction to that speech is something you ever want to miss, but we have a
feeling you might have because it was so late. Maybe you were sleeping
instead. We want to make sure you get to check it out.
Here is Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Pop quiz. Pop quiz about Abraham
Abraham Lincoln, famously a Republican, I think inarguably the greatest
American president in the history of American presidents. One of the
greatest and most consequential of Americans of any stature to ever walk
Clearly, I think the greatest and most consequential Republican politician
to ever walk the earth.
So, here is the pop quiz about Abraham Lincoln. What party was Abraham
Lincoln before he became a Republican? Because he became a Republican
right at the beginning of Republicans. Their first national convention as
a party was 1856 in Philadelphia.
Lincoln was there at that convention. He almost got picked as the brand-
new Republican Party`s vice president that year at the first convention.
But that was their first convention, the Republican Party didn`t goat
founded until then.
What was Lincoln before that? If you said he was a Whig, you win the
nonexistent prize for this pop quiz. He was a Whig. He`s in the Whig
Party before the Republican Party existed, and he became a Republican.
Abraham Lincoln even ran for the party. The Whig Party has kind of a funny
name, right, but it was a major political party. At one point or another,
Presidents John Quincy Adams, and Benjamin Harrison, and Chester Arthur and
Rutherford B. Hayes and Abraham Lincoln, at some point, in all of their
careers, all of those American presidents were all members of the Whig
William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Miller Fillmore, they
were all Whig Party members while they were president. The It was a
really big deal. Then they weren`t. Then they fell apart.
The Whigs were riven by internal divisions dealing with emerging things as
the nation grew and changed. A lot of the division had to do with the
issue of slavery and some other principled issues. But the Whig party, it
had been a huge deal, and then it fell apart.
And political parties back then weren`t exactly what they are today. But
when the Whig Party fell apart, the two-party system at the time fell apart
as well. You have two parties and one collapses. It doesn`t just mean
good news for the other party, it mean that is two-party system that counts
on tension between the two parties, that falls apart if one party ceases to
And when the two-party system fell apart because the Whigs fell apart, when
that two-party system rocked by them collapsing as a major party, what was
left behind in American politics, for a while, at least, turned incredibly
nasty – a little bit violent, but also nasty.
One of the things that happened in American politics at that time is that
we got a series of secret societies that formed, basically to try to drive
Catholics out of this country. One of them was a secret Order of the Star
Spangled Banner. There was also a Secret Order of United Americans.
So, all these different groups, they all had different names. But their
whole reason for existing, their animating cause was that they were against
Catholics. They were against these filthy immigrants who were destroying
America for native born Americans. Americans who had been born here were
having their birthright torn from them by this filthy interlopers, these
Catholics, these suspicious, these unassimilable people from other
countries who were running everything here – criminal, filthy,
When the movement embodied by the societies spread out of the cities of the
East Coast and spread out of New England and went big nationwide, it did go
big nationwide, the movement, it was interesting, it morphed a little bit
depending on where it was. It was very strikingly anti-Catholic in, say,
By the time that movement was ready to spawn its sort of offspring or
offshoots in California – well, in California, it didn`t that that much
sense to be rabidly anti-Catholic. In California, the version of it became
rabidly anti-Chinese, because those were the immigrants they had out there,
if you want to blame something on immigrants, well you`ll be an anti-
Chinese party out there.
This movement in American politics around the time that the two-party
system collapsed because the Whigs fell apart, it was nativism. They hated
immigrants. They blamed everything wrong in the country on immigrants.
And it started as disparate movements and disparate secret societies.
But eventually, they got a name. They became known as the no nothing
movement, which is also a funny name. People remember it to this day in
part because it`s a strange thing to call some sort of political movement.
But the origins are simple. If you ask them about their party, they didn`t
profess to be ignorant. Their origins were in secret societies, if you
were a member of the movement, you`re supposed to say, oh, I know nothing.
Do you go to meetings with this movement? I know nothing. Are you in the
secret society? I know nothing. That`s how they got the name, know
But for a brief period in our history, around the collapse of Whigs before
the civil war, the know-nothings got really big and fast and they did that
in the waste land of this two-party system getting rattled. The Whigs
collapsed, two major party democracy fell apart for a time because of that,
and so, we got these know-nothing politicians, this know-nothing movement
across the country. They`re very successful.
The know-nothing mayor of Chicago declared there will be no city job for
any immigrant of anywhere. The know-nothing mayor of Philadelphia said
there would be no political appointments for any immigrant. Native born
And they took over major cities. They took over the legislature in
Massachusetts. They spread nationwide and they had more than a million
members. Know-nothings were a big deal in American politics for a couple
of years, as the normal party system broke itself down and stopped to
But then they collapsed. I mean, if you think about it, it`s kind of hard
to run a national party big enough to sustain itself and grow. If the
reason you exist is to carve out a large chunk of the people in this
country, immigrants, and define them as the problem, define them as the
thing that`s causing all of the other ails in this country. The thing on
which you can blame all the dissatisfaction of every other thing in this
country that you might be satisfied about.
And if you`re blaming immigrants, you`re blaming anybody born in any other
country, then, only pure Americans, right, native-born Americans meet your
standard for who can be in your party. Problem is, we`re just not that
kind of a country, population wise, we`re basically all immigrants.
And so, the know-nothings did rise all of a sudden when there was no longer
the system of two-strong parties to take up the space and define the space
where constructive and sustainable American politics could happen. They
rose for a hot minute in that environment when that two-party system
stopped working, it didn`t last, couldn`t last. I mean, they`re nativist,
blamed the immigrants party, it dried up and blew away, became historical
But since then, periodically, particularly at times of stress when the two
parties are not pulling their weight and not functioning well as national
parties, now we know from history to expect this sort of stuff to come
back. It`s does – it does come up. It`s like anthrax in our soil.
We are a nation of immigrants who turn on immigrants as scapegoats when
normal politics doesn`t work any more. And so when the wind is just right
and the host is weak, just wait, the blame the immigrants that`s always
around at some level, it comes back. It comes out of the secret societies
it comes roaring out once again out of the dark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He was murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member previously
convicted of burglary, brutally beaten and left to bleed to death in his
home, 90 years old and defenseless. The perpetrators were illegal
immigrants with criminal records a mile long.
Sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a hammer. Her killer had been
arrested on multiple occasions, but was never ever deported.
Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals, deadly, and it is deadly, non-
enforcement policies that allow thousands of criminal aliens to freely roam
our streets, walk around, do whatever they want to do, crime all over the
place. If these violent offenders cannot be sent home, our law enforcement
officers have to release them into your communities. And, by the way, the
results are horrific.
As many as 30 percent committed new offenses, including rape, attempted
murder, and child molestation.
We take `em. We take `em. We take anybody, come on in, anybody, just come
on in. Not any more. My first hour in office, those people are gone.
If you can call it deport it, if you want, the press doesn`t like that
term. You can call it whatever the hell you want, they`re gone. They`re
going to be gone. It will be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses earning to
breathe free, the refuge of your teaming shore, send these the homeless,
tempest toss to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Republican Party has been anti-immigrant for a few years now and it`s
current iteration, right? Remember John McCain proposed immigration reform
and then when he was running for president as a Republican, he said,
actually, now, he would vote against his own bill. That`s a good sign,
right? The Republican Party moved in recent years, over the last few years
they have been getting more hard line against immigrants and immigration
for a few years.
But this nativist tirade for claiming that cutting off immigration is the
most important – she said it is the only conversation we should be having
at this time, that – that is older and deeper than the recent Republican
Party drift toward harder line conservatism on this issue. That is the
kind of anti-immigrant nativism that we have had in our country before, but
when we get it, is when normal politics collapses.
We are a system that was never explicitly designed this way but we became
this way really fast. We are a system, a democratic system that is
basically designed to work with two major parties. We`re a two-party
democracy, and yes, there are minor parties, and yes, the party names have
shifted over time.
But when – we now know from centuries of existence, right, we now know –
when two parties in America cannot equally hold their weight in argument,
when they cannot take up space in the tension between them to define the
realm of decent political discourse, this happens. This has happened
before. This happens in our country.
There`s a reason that David Duke from the Ku Klux Klan praised Donald
Trump`s praised the tirade as an excellent speech. It`s not because David
Duke is a creep. It`s because in the 1920s era clan was the next
iteration, right, after the 1850s era, no-nothings. They were prove you
iterations of this kind of thing that seeps out of secret societies and
into our real politics when real politics fails.
Donald Trump humiliated the Republican Party this year, right? They ran
all of those senators, former senators, governors, former governors, all of
those mainstream figures of their party against them, and he destroyed all
of them. Donald Trump destroyed and humiliated the Republican Party this
year because the Republican Party was weak and failing.
When it fail, the weed that grew up in the space that that tree use to
occupy, is a weed that our country has seen before. It`s in our soil. It
grows when we give it space. It`s a weed we`ve uprooted before. It does
keep growing back perniciously.
It is one of the ugliest things we have ever been as a country and we are
now living it in our generation again.
KORNACKI: That was Rachel very early this morning with her reaction to
Donald Trump`s immigration speech and Rachel will be back here tomorrow
night, and I`ll see you tomorrow afternoon at 4:00.
And now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, LAST WORD: Good evening, Steve. Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: You know, I`m no good with lyrics. I don`t know all the lyrics
or even most of the lyrics to most of my favorite songs, because it`s the
music that moves me. I hear the music more than the lyrics.
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