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 night.
(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 nothing.
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 it?
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 country.
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 are remaining?
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 joining us.
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 values.
(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 important.
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 children.
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 night.
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 the polls."
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 like this.
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 problem.
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. Trump.
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 distance theoretically.
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 competitive.
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 Lincoln.
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 the earth.
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 Party.
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 function.
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, irretrievably alien.
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, Massachusetts.
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 nothings.
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 Americans only.
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 function.
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 curiosity.
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.
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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.
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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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