The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/9/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 9, 2016
Guest: Al Franken, Tavis Smiley, Blake Mccoy, Anand Giridharadas, Doris
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence
O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Rachel, it was a tough night last
night if you were a woman running for president.
But if you were a woman running for the United States Senate and you were a
Democrat, it was a very good night. We`re going to have some of that –
MADDOW: That`s true –
O`DONNELL: Coming up –
MADDOW: That`s true, thanks –
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: At this hour, we are watching protests against the election of
Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
Spontaneous protests have developed in about a dozen cities across the
country from New York City to Oakland, California.
You`re looking now at a live shot of Oakland. That is Oakland, California.
In New York, thousands of protests gathered on 5th Avenue outside Trump
Tower where Donald Trump works and lives.
The protests have been peaceful. We will have live reports from several
cities throughout this hour as we continue to monitor the reaction to the
election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
But first, President Obama is the most noble man who has ever lived in the
White House, and he proved that again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a chance to talk to
President-elect Trump last night about 3:30 in the morning I think it was,
to congratulate him on winning the election.
And I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to
talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our
The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.
And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: American history is as much mythology as it is history,
especially when it comes to the presidency. President Obama is a noble and
honorable and decent man.
But to say he is the most noble man who has ever lived in the White House
is not as great a compliment as it sounds.
It certainly sounds like a hysterical exaggeration to a Trump voter. But
the bar on presidential nobility and honor is lower than they think.
There was never anything noble about owning slaves. George Washington
became a slave owner when he was 11 years old.
Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and won
the civil war. But he also played his part in the genocidal war against
native American tribes.
That is the forgotten part of the Lincoln presidency. That`s the forgotten
part of American history. Native American blood on presidents` hands.
There is nothing noble about genocide. But our presidential mythology
insists that most of the 44 of them have been noble men, despite the fact
that most of them tried to exterminate native American tribes.
Most of them were racists. Many, if not most of them were anti-Semites.
Donald Trump will take his place now among the racists who have lived in
the White House.
Our political culture has a method of normalizing everything and anything
that happens in our democracy – respect for the office.
You will be hearing that a lot now – respect for the office. You will be
told that you should have respect for the office of the presidency.
But respect should never be given automatically. The office of the
presidency has committed crimes.
That`s why Richard Nixon, the most recent recorded racist and anti-Semite
in the Oval Office was forced to resign the presidency after an impeachment
The office of the presidency has supported slavery. The office of the
presidency has supported racist policies. The office of the presidency
masterminded the genocide of native American tribes.
There is nothing to respect in that office other than the man who occupies
it. And no man should automatically be given respect.
Respect must be earned. It must be earned or it is meaningless. Respect
for the office is a phrase invented by politicians.
It doesn`t appear in the constitution. Respect for the office is
Washington`s empty meaningless phrase designed to turn us all into
To make us all compromisers of our principles. Respect for the man, and
unfortunately, it has only been men. Respect for the man who occupies the
Oval Office must be earned.
And I have never once in any of the public record of President Barack
Obama`s life and his time as president seen anything about him as a person
that is not fully deserving of respect.
And I have never once in the public record of Donald Trump`s life seen
anything that is worthy of respect.
Our presidents have not been the giants that our mythology has turned them
into. But they have all been bigger and better men in most ways than
In order for Donald Trump to avoid being the lowest point in presidential
history, he will have to show us a version of himself that we`ve never
seen. Last night was a start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve just received a
call from Secretary Clinton.
She congratulated us, it`s about us on our victory, and I congratulated her
and her family on a very hard fought campaign. I mean, she fought very
Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and
we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I
mean that very sincerely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`ve never seen that before. No lock her up, no insults.
That`s a start.
As of tonight, about half of the country is already feeling that we`ve
elected the worst president in our history.
You know that feeling on a Ferris wheel when you`re slowly moving upward,
higher and higher? And the view gets better and better.
And then when you`re finally at the highest point in an instant, without
warning, you`re suddenly going down.
It`s a shocking sensation, that sudden drop. You were just going up and
now you`re going down and it feels like you`re going down faster than you
were going up.
It`s a confusing sensation, it`s disorienting. That sudden drop, that
decline, that`s where we are right now.
That`s what you`re feeling, that decline. For 240 years, American
government and American civilization has been steadily moving up slowly but
surely improving, rising higher and higher and higher.
And then last night, we turned down. That`s what you`re feeling. That`s
what the decline of a civilization feels like.
The question tonight is how long will we decline? When will the Ferris
wheel go back up? Will Senator Elizabeth Warren crush President Donald
Trump in his re-election campaign four years from now?
Will California`s new Senator Kamala Harris do that? How long is this ride?
Four years? Eight years? Millions of people, men, women, and children who
are feeling this decline of the civilization have been crying over these
last 24 hours.
That`s how the big watch party at Wellesley College ended last night in
tears. Wellesley is the women`s college that Hillary Clinton graduated
from in 1969.
Students and alumni from around the world gathered at Wellesley last night
to watch a distinguished Wellesley graduate give her first speech as
president-elect, the first woman to deliver such a speech.
Imagine the enormity of that disappointment. And that wasn`t the only
college campus where tears were shed. It was happening on campuses all
across the country.
And little boys and little girls around the country watching their first
election night with high hopes for Hillary Clinton were wiping away tears
when they were put to bed last night.
The kids whose parents don`t have legal documentation to be in this country
worried about what would happen to them and what would happen to their
Millions of families in this country are living with that fear tonight.
Will they be arrested? Will they be deported? Will their children lose
And then there is the stench of the Trumpian vulgarity in the air of this
country now. Half the country is reeling under the hard to accept
realization that they`re going to be hearing that voice every day for four
That voice that so often fails in attempts to speak simple English. That
voice we`ve all heard lying. That voice we`ve all heard bragging about his
favorite methods of sexual assault.
In what kind of society, in what kind of civilization can that be the voice
of the president? But millions of people love that voice.
Millions of American women love that voice, voted for that voice. Millions
of Americans are thrilled about this election.
Millions think it`s funny, and even more think it doesn`t matter. Forty
six-point-nine percent of eligible voters did not vote.
Twenty five-point-six percent of eligible voters voted for Hillary Clinton.
Twenty five-point-five percent of eligible voters voted for Donald Trump.
So, the biggest category of voters were the ones who didn`t care whether
Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump became the next president.
That`s the way it is in the decline of a civilization. Some people don`t
care. Some people can feel what`s happening and others can`t.
Others feel the opposite. They celebrate what`s happening. Every
declining civilization has had their cheerleaders on the way down.
Some of those cheerleaders went to Wellesley College today. Two young men
in a pickup truck with a Donald Trump flag drove through the Wellesley
College campus today while Wellesley students were still crying about what
happened last night.
Wellesley police asked them to leave. That`s what happens with
civilizations in decline. People laugh at other people`s pain.
Decency evaporates under the shadow of a leader who has no decency.
Civilizations cannot survive without human decency, without sympathy,
Not decency and sympathy and kindness for your friends and family. That`s
the easy version. Without decency and sympathy and kindness for people we
don`t know, we are a dysfunctional society, a declining civilization.
This Ferris wheel will go back up, thanks to the constitution. No other
civilization in decline has ever had the United States constitution to save
it, to turn it around, to send it back up.
The constitution gives the president a fixed four-year term. The
constitution gives all of the real governing powers not to the president,
but to the Congress.
The only absolute power the president has is the power to grant pardons.
That`s it. The Congress can control everything else. Everything else.
The Senate controls all of the president`s important appointments to the
cabinet and the courts, to the Senate confirmation process.
And the Democrats in the Senate will have two more senators next year than
they have this year. New York Senator Chuck Schumer will take over from
Harry Reid as Senate Minority Leader.
Senator Schumer is already well schooled in all of the obstructionist
parliamentary tools that have been very deliberately granted to the
minority in the Senate to slow things down, to stop the ruling party from
getting carried away.
If Paul Ryan`s House of Representatives gets carried away with any of
Donald Trump`s crazier ideas, Senate Democrats will be able to make most of
those things disappear using the filibuster rules of the Senate, sanity in
And to some extent the world is now up to the United States Senate. The
Democratic minority in the United States Senate.
They now have the most difficult job to do that any senators have ever had
to do. They are the only people who can save the country from rampant out-
The Trump presidency will have its victories, but all, all of its defeats
will be at the hands of the Democrats in the United States Senate.
One of the senators the country is now counting on more than it has ever
counted on its senators before will be our first guest tonight, Senator Al
Franken will join us.
O`DONNELL: Thousands of people in cities across the country are protesting
the election of Donald Trump tonight.
Here is the scene in Portland, Oregon. We also have a shot of Seattle,
Washington. Nbc`s Vaughn Hillyard is in the middle of the protests here in
New York City. Vaughn Hillyard, can you hear us?
VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS: Yes, I can, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Vaughn.
HILLYARD: We`re at 57th Street in 5th Avenue. Fifth Avenue is still
essentially shut down from at least 58 to 56. Remember, this is your
shopping district, the Louis Vuitton, the Macy`s.
This is where pretty much your shopping district hub is. Your Trump Tower
is right here on 5th Avenue.
They`ve since opened up 57th, the police have moved the barricades back
here. But 5th Avenue, there`s still more than a thousand people at least
here which has dwindled down.
We`re going bring in Maria. Maria is – actually works down at J.Crew.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
HILLYARD: And she`s about three miles away from here, you walked out.
Tell me kind of how your morning started and how you got to this point –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I went to work this morning, everybody was so
upset and so sad about what was happening.
And they`re like, there`s going to be a protest, and we should go. And I
was like yes, we should go. So, when we closed, we went and we came here.
HILLYARD: You walked?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We walked.
HILLYARD: How many people started off in Union Square? This is Union
Square about three miles south of here, and you –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
HILLYARD: Guys walked up, how big –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We walked here –
HILLYARD: Was the crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It started at 6:00, and there was like not that big,
but then it started getting huge by like 6:30 and 7:00.
HILLYARD: Sure –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then the police were going crazy, so they were like,
well, we have to walk to the towers.
HILLYARD: Sure –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we all walked over there.
HILLYARD: You made it to the tower. We`ve heard several different chants
that have been going on from Hillary Clinton won the popular vote to we do
not accept the president-elect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
HILLYARD: Your reason, though, for being here. And what do you hope that
you actually get from this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not OK to be racist, it`s not OK to have a
president like that, that we don`t respect. We need to –
HILLYARD: Sure –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Respect our president. We look up to our president.
We need to –
HILLYARD: Thank you, Maria –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
HILLYARD: This is good –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK –
HILLYARD: We`re here at 57th Street in 5th Avenue, Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Vaughn Hillyard, thank you for that report, really appreciate
it. Up next, Senator Al Franken will join us and tell us what he thinks
the Democrats will be able to accomplish in the next Congress.
O`DONNELL: This was all Donald Trump had to say last night about his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways,
bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals.
We`re going to rebuild our infrastructure which will become, by the way,
second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now for an exclusive interview is Democratic Senator
from Minnesota Al Franken. Senator, thank you for joining us tonight, I
really appreciate it.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You bet, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So, Donald Trump last night, all he said was he`s going to
rebuild our infrastructure. What he didn`t mention is he also wants the
biggest tax cut we`ve ever had.
And he`s expecting a Republican Congress that opposes infrastructure
spending and has consistently opposed infrastructure spending to cut the
revenue dramatically, and then spend dramatically on infrastructure.
What do you see happening there?
FRANKEN: Well, it`s going to be interesting to see him try to now
accomplish everything he promised to accomplish.
And that`s one thing I favor. I favor rebuilding our infrastructure and
putting people to work and having a 21st century infrastructure.
It not only puts people to work, but it makes us more competitive in the
global economy. That makes a lot of sense.
Everything else pretty much that he`s talked about are things that I am –
you know, I feel the way you talked about on that Ferris wheel.
I nauseated – and two days before the election, he came to Minnesota,
first time he made a public appearance in Minnesota, and he was so
You know, you can compile the 271 most offensive things he said and I`ve
been offended by every one of them.
Two days before the election, he came here and he slandered the Somali
Minnesota community in a way that was so ignorant and appealed to such
ignorance and hatred that I really, today, you know, the last day has been
O`DONNELL: Senator, you`re going to meet President Trump or President-
elect Trump at some point.
How do you anticipate that moment? That I suppose will be a real test of
your Washington professionalism.
FRANKEN: Well, you started with about respect for the office, the
president is elected by the American people, I have respect for the
I have respect for the office. And so I`m not going to do anything weird.
You know, I – you know, I have thought, you know, I have to stand for him
at the State of the Union, of course.
And – but I had thought of maybe writing him and saying that I think it`s
a shame that his son Donald Jr. has to be in the – you know, in the
balcony so he can maybe have my seat.
O`DONNELL: Well, there are senators who have –
Not attended State of the Union addresses, there is certainly precedent for
FRANKEN: Well, no, I`m going to – I am going to do that. And look, he
said today he wants to be president for everybody. I am – you know, I –
you talked about the power of the Senate.
So, we`re going to be – he`s promised to do a lot of things that don`t –
in my belief don`t represent everybody, and including things that are just
antithetical to American values like torturing, like killing the families
Those kinds of things, these mass deportations that he has hinted at. I
will – or talked about. I will oppose that.
If he`s talked about repealing and replacing the ACA, I`d like to see what
he`s going to replace it with before he repeals it.
And we will stop that because we want people to be able to get insurance if
they have a pre-existing condition.
And we want them not to have annual or yearly caps so that if they go
through them, they go bankrupt or die.
I want to see what he`s talking about. This is 20 million people who have
health insurance now who didn`t have it because of Obamacare.
O`DONNELL: Do you see the repeal of Obamacare as the biggest fight that
you will have in the Senate?
FRANKEN: I think it will be one of – yes, probably the biggest. He`s
promised to do that on day one. But he said repeal and replace it on day
I haven`t heard anything from him on – you know, he is someone who if he
is going to get my support or trust, he is going to have to demonstrate
some things like that he is interested in public policy.
He has shown no interest at all in understanding anything about healthcare.
The only thing he`s ever said is allow insurance across state lines.
The thing about that is, there is no federal law against it. Six states
allow it. Not one insurance company has done it.
Because one of the main things an insurance company does is set up a
provider network. How are you going to set up a provider network for Idaho
if you`re in Alabama?
He doesn`t know what he is talking about. And he`s got to demonstrate –
he`s got to start appointing people that, you know, one of the things we do
is confirm executive appointments.
Now, that`s a majority now, and so we`re in the minority. But we will be
having confirmation hearings.
But the people he had during his campaign, there were 17 Republicans, I
don`t think he got the cream of the crop.
And he had some very disturbing figures with him including the head of
“Breitbart”. We want to see who we`re confirming and we`re going to be
And we`re going to be – hopefully, we don`t want to see this Iran deal go
away. We – I don`t want to see these deportations.
I don`t want to see – we have signed on to a climate deal with 190 other
nations. This is a real problem. This is not a hoax invented by the
Chinese as Donald Trump has said.
So, if he`s going to get – if he is reaching out for everybody`s support,
I`d like him to start talking about things in a way that doesn`t represent
an alternate reality.
O`DONNELL: Senator, quickly before we go, you`ve been campaigning with
Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton before that.
Long before you were a senator, you campaigned with Hillary Clinton
strongly this season. Have you had a chance to speak to Secretary Clinton
since last night?
FRANKEN: No, I haven`t. I thought her statement today was great. She
said this is going to hurt, it`s going to hurt for a long time.
But I thought it was a very gracious and graceful thing. And I – and I
think the main thing she said is that all this stuff that we`re fighting
for is worth continuing to fight for.
So, I want all your viewers to understand that. This is – we`re in this
for the long haul. We`ve got a very severe challenge right now, but we`re
in this for the long haul.
O`DONNELL: Senator Al Franken, thank you very much for being our first
guest on this very important night, really appreciate you being here.
FRANKEN: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, some people who will help us see the bigger picture
beyond just our politics, Tavis Smiley and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This loss hurts, but
please, never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The day after we have to
remember that we`re actually all on one team. This is an intramural
scrimmage. We`re not Democrats first. We`re not Republicans first. We
are Americans first. We`re patriots first. We all want what`s best for
this country. That`s what I heard in Mr. Trump`s remarks last night. That`s
what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight we`ll hear from guests who see more than just politics
when they look at this country. People who see the larger shapes in our
society, the trends, the possibilities. People who understand where we`ve
been and can help us see where we`re going. PBS host Tavis Smiley is one
of those people. Tavis Smiley joins us now. TAVIS, thank you very much for
joining us tonight on this important night.
TAVIS SMILEY, PBS HOST: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to that phrase that we just heard President Obama
use that this was an intramural scrimmage. Now we understand his job today
is to speak to the world and show off that American peaceful transfer of
power and put the best face on all of this. How does it feel to you?
SMILEY: Honestly, it feels empty. It feels bankrupt. It feels
inauthentic. What the president said today sounded good. But what I saw
last night was an America that showed its true colors. And what I saw last
night was not red, white and blue, as he would have us believe from his
remarks earlier today.
Love and justice lost last night. Hatred and revenge won last night. There
is no doubt about the fact as the President suggested Donald Trump is our
president-elect. That is to my mind, Lawrence, his opportunity and it is
our reality. We have to accept that. But just as sure as Donald Trump won
last night, so did racism. So did sexism. So did classism. And so did
And so we have to accept the fact that these persons are protesting across
the country tonight in streets not because they don`t think he won the
election. That he is the duly elected president. Because when you flip
the script overnight and suggest that we should all unite and all get
along, but there is no apology. There is no atonement again for the racism
and the sexism and the classism. I don`t think you would expect folk to
swallow that so easily, never mind the president`s beautiful words earlier
O`DONNELL: And Tavis, we can expect as others have commented already today
that there will be a move in the media to normalize this, to normalize this
transition to Donald Trump.
SMILEY: As I`ve said many times, it`s been, quite frankly, upsetting and
sickening for me to watch how the media was complicit in creating Donald
Trump. Then they jumped on condemning him. And now they`re just
exasperated by what actually happened last night and I think I tweeted
earlier today that they flashed Donald Trump in front of us. Then they
trashed Donald Trump. And now they`re aghast at Donald Trump and so I`m
just over the media sort of now publicly flogging itself and to your point
now, rushing to sort of normalize this.
It reminds me of the effort that the media made to tell us that because
Obama was elected eight years ago, we were entering into a post racial era.
I didn`t buy it then. I don`t buy it.
Now but there are also lessons, very quickly, Lawrence, if I can, for us to
learn on the left. Let me be very clear about this. And I know this might
not be the time to say it, but I`m here so I`m going to take the risk in
staying it as try to tell the truth the best I can. Number one, this has
got to be a wake-up call for the Democratic Party.
You got to stop triangulating. You got to stop being so centrist.
Understand you can move to the left and there find the energy and the
excitement and the enthusiasm from a younger generation that might have
made the difference in this campaign. This is also a wake-up call for my
white liberal friends. That just because you have the candidate with the
best record and the best credentials and the best vita does not mean that
that person is going to win. This party and white liberals have to commit
themselves to not just equality, but to equity on the part of the persons
they say they profess to serve.
And if we don`t get serious about making a commitment to the least among
us, those who are politically, economically, socially and culturally
disenfranchised, you can`t just fiat somebody into the Whitehouse. Dr.
King put it this way, Lawrence. That change does not roll in on the wheels
of inevitability. You can`t just again fiat or magically place someone
there. You go to commit yourself to looking out for those folk at the
bottom. And when they feel that, they get that, they turn out for you.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to one other thing that President Obama said
today about trying harder the next time. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That`s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to
persuade people that we`re right. And then people vote. And then if we
lose, we learn from our mistakes. We do some reflection. We lick our
wounds. We brush ourselves off. We get back in the arena. We go at it.
We try even harder the next time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tavis, that sounds like an echo of Dr. King, the notion that
you can have a bad day. You can have a really big setback like this. But
you just have to try harder.
SMILEY: Well, I accept that on one level. And I`m a prisoner of hope.
I`m not an optimist. Optimism suggest there`s is a particular set of facts
or circumstances, conditions something you can see, feel, or touch that
gives you reason to be optimistic.
I`m not an optimist. But I am eternally a prisoner of hope so I believe in
hope by the same token, I believe that hope needs some help. And had the
President and others worked a little harder to provide jobs for all
citizens with a living wage and a number of other issues I could go through
if I had the time, the outcome last night again might have been a bit
different. With all due respect to the President, what I did not like was
this sort of Hail Mary pass he tried to show throw at the end suggesting to
black people in particular that if we didn`t vote for Hillary Clinton that
he could consider that a personal insult. That sort of Jedi mind trick
four years later when not a whole lot has been accomplished for your most
loyal base just didn`t sit quite frankly well with me.
O`DONNELL: Well, we can talk about this all night. I don`t think what
else he could have possibly gotten through that Republican Congress. But
that`s another time, another night.
SMILEY: We can debate, that my friend.
O`DONNELL: Tavis, thank you for joining us tonight on this important
SMILEY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I really wanted to hear your voice. I really appreciate it.
SMILEY: Thank you my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, appreciate it. Coming up, it was a very good day
for women in politics who were not running for President.
O`DONNELL: we are continuing to follow the spontaneous protests that have
developed around the country tonight, protesting Donald Trump`s election.
NBC`s Blake McCoy is in Chicago. Blake, what is the situation there?
BLAKE MCCOY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, thousands of protesters have
taken to the street for several hours here in Chicago now. You can see
police forming a line in this intersection. We just saw a huge group of
several thousand head that way. They`ve been making loops around the city
This is a sort of airing of grievances for anyone who feels like they`ve
been wronged by Donald Trump. We`ve seen gay flags. We`ve seen Mexican
flags. We`ve seen signs from all sorts of minority groups all coming out
there to express their displeasure with Donald Trump being elected. Right
here you can see this bridge being blocked off. This is Wabash here on
Wacker in Chicago. It`s being blocked off because of Trump Tower right
there. This is Chicago`s Trump Tower. Police have been working hard to
keep protesters away from that.
That way there is no property damage. Aside from keeping people away from
this, police have been letting protesters basically go wherever they want.
We`ve seen them climb on top of buses, but otherwise remain peaceful out
here. No word of any arrests at this point. Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Blake McCoy, thank you for that report, appreciate it. Coming
up, Doris Kearns Goodwin will give us a historic perspective on what
happened to America last night
O`DONNELL: At about 2:00 a.m. after the votes were counted enough to know
what the result was, the New Yorkers David Remnick posted an article saying
this. In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this
event. They will try to soothe their readers and viewers with thoughts
about the innate wisdom and essential decency of the American people.
They`ll downplay the virulence of the nationalism displayed, the cruel
decision to elevate a man who rides in a gold plated airliner but who has
staked his claim with the populist rhetoric of blood in the soil. George
Orwell, the most fearless of commentators was right to point out that
public opinion is no more innately wise than humans are innately kind.
People can behave foolishly, recklessly, self-destructively in the
aggregate just as they can individually.
Joining us now Anand Giridharadas author of The True American and an NBC
news contributor, Anand, your take on where we are in America as of
ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AMERICAN AUTHOR: The message passed around among so
many of my friends today was that this was a physical, not a cerebral
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.
GIRIDHARADAS: And that it felt perhaps more like a breakup, a very bad
breakup than anything anybody else could compare it to. So I think that`s
what a lot of us are grappling.
O`DONNELL: Deeply emotional responses.
GIRIDHARADAS: And not because of a party winning or losing.
O`DONNELL: Right. Right.
GIRIDHARADAS: Because of the fear that an amazing country could lose its
O`DONNELL: In other elections, what I`ve seen people experienced is a
sadness that their candidate didn`t win, and they felt very attached to
John Kerry and now they`re sad that John Kerry didn`t win. But it wasn`t
so much – the feeling that is out there now is this feeling about the
opponent, about the person who did win. An it`s this fear-filled feelings
that I`m hearing.
GIRIDHARADAS: I will never create an equivalence between president Obama,
a man of dignity and president-elect Trump, a man of indignity. But I
think one of the things I heard among many liberals today was this kind of
dawning realization of maybe this is what the other side felt in 2008 when
a skinny black guy middle name Hussein came into their lives. Maybe they
were wrong to feel that. Maybe they were illegitimately -
O`DONNELL: And that feeling would come.
GIRIDHARADAS: Maybe this is what they`ve been living with, what we felt
O`DONNELL: But that feeling would come from a toxic place. That feeling
would come from a toxic center of racism. The feeling of opposition to
racism comes from the opposite place. It comes from a virtuous place.
GIRIDHARADAS: It does. But I think on day one that the visceral level of
the body that many were greeting it, it is a feeling that the future is
something you no longer understand. I think of the many things we can say
about this moment, Donald Trump won on a coalition of people who felt
mocked by the future. And some of why they felt mocked by the future
frankly is not worthy of our respect. They felt mocked in having to share
the stage as white guys.
GIRIDHARADAS: But that is a feeling of being mocked by the future. Some
of the ways they in which they felt mocked by the future are worthy of our
respect and greater listening and attention. Job losses, automation, a
kind of Davos, Hamptons, Aspen class that claims, it knows what`s best.
O`DONNELL: But, you know, there were other guy, white guys right beside
them living with the same job loss in that region who did not vote for
GIRIDHARADAS: And that`s what is very important. And I think this is not
just a story of grievances channeled. We`ve seen income data that shows
actually Donald Trump won among upper income people relative to Hillary
Clinton. And I think the challenge for people who do what you do and do
what I do is going to be to not as you`ve said normalize this in the coming
We`re going to need to be doing less county by county analysis, thank god.
O`DONNELL: I haven`t done any tonight. Yes.
GIRIDHARADAS: And more George Orwell.
GIRIDHARADAS: Over the next few years. And I mean that very seriously.
This is not just journalists. It`s not just reporters. This is for
writers, artist, people of that ilk, I think now have an importance in
America over these next four years that in my lifetime maybe they haven`t
This is not simply reporting what happened yesterday. I know I think of
people I`ve known who were playwrights in the Soviet Union in the `70s.
That`s a very different kind of role than art in Americas have to be in a
GIRIDHARADAS: And maybe we need to think about how we`ve become that.
O`DONNELL: Anand Giridharadas, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it. Doris Kearns Goodwin will be our next guest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I could not be prouder of her. She has lived an extraordinary life
of public service. She was a great first lady. She was an outstanding
senator for the state of New York. And she could not have been a better
secretary of state.
I`m proud of her. A lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and
nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the
country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yesterday`s senate elections also sent a message to our
daughters. Democrats added four new women to the senate. California`s
Attorney General Kamala Harris will be taking Barbara Boxer`s seat in the
senate next year. Senator boxer is retiring after four terms in the
senate. Catherine Cortez Masto will be taking Harry Reid`s Nevada seat
next year. Senator Reid is also retiring. Catherine Cortez Masto will be
the first Latina member of the United States Senate.
Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire beat republican senator
Kelly Ayotte last night. And Illinois congresswoman Tammy Duckworth
defeated republican senator Mark Kirk last night. Congresswoman Duckworth
was born in Thailand. Her mother is Thai and her father was a U.S. Army
She is an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs when a helicopter she
was copiloting was shot down in Iraq in 2004. Next year there will be a
new record high number of women in the United States Senate. 21. 16 of
them will be democrats. And surely, at least one of them will be running
for president four years from now. Doris Kearns Goodwin joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`ve said before I think of this job as being a relay runner. You
take the baton. You run your best race. And hopefully by the time you
hand it off, you`re a little further ahead.
You made a little progress. And I can say that we`ve done that. And I
want to make sure that that handoff is well executed because ultimately,
we`re all in the same team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now an historian who has been watching that baton
passed from president to president, Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential
historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Doris, your perspective please
on this handoff of the baton.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it`s one of
the most difficult ones I`ve seen in my lifetime. And I think in part
because the character of the campaign and now the character of what it
showed about Mr. Trump affects the mood of the country. And you think
about FDR becoming president in the midst of the depression, and that
optimism and that hope made the country feel better.
You think about Lincoln at the civil war and the idea that his patience and
lack of revenge affected the country. And when I think of the course and
dialogue of this campaign and what was said and what cannot be unsaid, it`s
worrisome, except that we`ve gone through bad things before. History
provides solace. Think of Nixon.
GOODWIN: Right? I mean Almost 50 years ago we thought we`d never get
through Watergate summer. I remember being part of that. When you think
about the corruption that was going on in that man and that temperament,
and actually having a cover-up of the Watergate burglars, and then paying
them to perjure themselves and I thought the country was going do have a
constitutional crisis and we couldn`t get out of it. And we did.
So how was - I think it`s sad to find solace in Richard Nixon.
O`DONNELL: Well -
GOODWIN: Maybe we do.
O`DONNELL: There are interesting examples in that because there was a
tremendous depression like this on the democratic side of the country in
Nixon`s election and more importantly in his reelection. And then Nixon
basically starts the impeachment process after he is reelected and he
resigns before being kicked out of office. And there was no one on the
democratic side who could see that coming on that horrible night. In their
feelings when he was reelected.
GOODWIN: I mean, I think that`s right. That`s what I`m saying. If you
look back at how we felt in `72, and then how we felt in `76 when it was
gone, Nixon had gone away and Carter came in and promising a decency and he
gave us a decent presidency. So, I think we`ve been spoiled in a certain
sense by Mr. Obama because we haven`t had scandal in a while.
We have had a dignified presidency. So, we`re forgetting some of these
things we lived through in the past, we lived through Teapot Dome. We
lived through Grant`s corruption. We`ve lived through a lot and the system
endures that what history has to tell you.
O`DONNELL: Yes. We`ve certainly had no presidency that was more dignified
than the Obama presidency. There is not a public moment of that man being
anything but flawless in the public role of the presidency, including
GOODWIN: No question. I mean you think in a certain sense it became
clearer because of the nature of this campaign. We took it for granted.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I never did, I have to say.
GOODWIN: Good for you.
O`DONNELL: I was always impressed every day. I thought wow, that`s way
better than I could ever be.
GOODWIN: Well he`s measured. It`s his character. It`s his temperament to
be measured -
GOODWIN: – to be stable, to still be optimistic despite this. I mean I
think what he was saying tonight he really feels. I mean as much as he may
have to give that to us to reassure us, I think he has hope in the long run
that we`ll come through this. We`ve had bumps before. We`ve had bad
We`ve had Buchanan before Lincoln and then come Lincoln, Buchanan one of
the worst presidents of time.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump, if he goes through what he said he will try to do
is already on his way to winning the worst president contest.
GOODWIN: He can`t go through with what he said he is going to do. He is
not going to be able to deport 11 million people.
O`DONNELL: (INAUDIBLE) will stand in his way.
GOODWIN: Somebody has to stand in his way. Whether it`s congress or the
people you but you think you`re going to allow this country to do something
that is so terrible as deporting 11 million people? Or letting torture
come back in? I mean I was hearing what was said before in the program.
And you almost forget some of these things that were said.
I mean we`ve focused so much on the sexism and that sort of stuff. But
those are the really constitutional issues as well.
O`DONNELL: Doris Kearns Goodwin, thank you very much for joining us on
this important night. Really appreciate it. MSNBC`s live coverage
continues now into “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams. Brian has an
exclusive interview with Governor Chris Christie. That`s next.
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