More than 3,000 Americans died today due to COVID-19. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed about the pandemic in the U.S. Texas files a suit challenging the election results in four swing states. State officials across the U.S. face death threats and mobs at their private homes. Adding states, adding senators is believed to fix America's unbalanced minority rule.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I love you. Amen. I love you and there's nothing you could do about it. I adore you. Thank you so much for being here. You have literally made our night. You might have made my year. I'm retiring now though. I'm retiring now because you came on my show.
Thank you very much. "Supermarket Sweep," Leslie's show airs Sunday nights on ABC. Do not miss it. I also want to thank you. Thank you. And she'll be on with Nicolle tomorrow. I also want to thank my pal Jonathan Capehart for filling in for me this week. Be sure to catch his show. It starts this weekend on Sunday, "THE SUNDAY SHOW." Chris Hayes is on now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The post-Thanksgiving surge is here and desperation grows in a country abandoned by its president. Tonight, America's leadership vacuum and the unrest it's breeding across the states.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now, and there are protesters banging outside the door.
HAYES: Then, Donald Trump's strong arms Republicans to join his last desperate push to overturn his election loss. Tonight, Michigan's Attorney General is fighting back and she joins me live. And the case to start fixing America's broken democracy by adding states to our union when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. I'm going to start tonight with a confession which is this. As the Coronavirus continues to devastate this country, I am just finding it hard to hold my rage and my anguish together. We are watching a lack of action by the Federal leadership of this country that feels almost criminal. It is depraved indifference at a level I cannot quite articulate.
Do you remember where you were on 9/11? I do. I think we all do. Well, I would say take a moment now to commit to memory where you are at this moment. We lost more Americans today than we lost in 9/11, an event that transformed our country and our government in the world.
Today was just a Wednesday. We are now at a point where the nation's COVID response has descended into chaos. Just chaos, catastrophe and calamity and everyone is mad at everyone else. People are mad at each other. People are texting each other about the jerk at the store who wasn't wearing the mask properly, and the person on Instagram with a big party and big group on Thanksgiving, or the people mobilizing in this town or that to protest the restrictions meant to save lives, and the hypocritical local leaders and the governors who won't act, who are closing schools and playgrounds but not bars and gyms.
All the while, a record number of people in the US remain hospitalized with COVID. More than 3,000 deaths were recorded today for the first time ever. That's a record here and a record for the world. We have, without question, the worst response of any rich country in the world and you can really make the case it is just the worst in the world period.
There are many points of failure but do not lose sight of the fact that it starts from the top and it has from the beginning. There is no country on earth that is successfully suppressed the Coronavirus in a distributed, privatized federalized way. Nowhere on Earth where the government just told localities and individuals to make choices for themselves. That didn't work for anyone. In fact, it's the opposite that's been successful.
Look at Australia. Yes, it doesn't share land border with another country. Yes, they have a lot going for them. And they also adopted really strict measures. Australia even stopped people traveling between provinces completely. Imagine if you couldn't travel between states here. You know, a few times, teenagers in Australia broke quarantine and travel between provinces. And it was, no joke, it was national news there.
The country undertook a fully nationalized effort to suppress the virus. And it was strict and it was hard. And you know what, it worked. They have almost no cases. And this is what it looks like in Australia now. Doesn't that look nice? People greeting each other at the end of the travel ban which just was announced. They're having outdoor concerts, people are eating in Sydney and Melbourne.
This is what success looks like. If the U.S. had Australia's per capita death rate, more than 270,000 Americans would be alive today. More than 90 percent of all the Americans who have died of COVID would still be here. OK, you say Australia is a weird case. It's an island. It's got a relatively small population. It's a part of the world that dealt with SARS and had some practice. Let's look at Germany.
Germany had one of the best performers -- performances in the E.U. And then, because the virus is implacable, as we know, it doesn't stop, it doesn't go away, the numbers started spiking again in the fall. And so, like other E.U. countries, they had to take fairly drastic measures to shut back down to suppress the virus and get it under control.
Now, Germany is actually quite a federalized system. There is a lot of regional autonomy in their government. But this was a national effort led by a national leader who spoke to her nation like a grown-up. Just today, Chancellor Angela Merkel was explaining why the country's traditional Christmas markets couldn't stay open, saying that the current death rate in Germany is just too high.
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TEXT: As hard as it is, and I know how much love has gone into setting up the mulled wine stands and waffle stands, this is not compatible with the agreement we made ton only take food away to eat at home.
I'm sorry, I really am sorry from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day, then that is unacceptable in my view.
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HAYES: Did you hear what she said? She said, I am really sorry from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day, then that is unacceptable in my view, and they applauded. 590 deaths a day, which is what Merkel will not abide in Germany is the equivalent population-wise to 2,300 people a day here, less than the number of people dying here every day.
Now, Donald Trump has never come out surrounded by members of his party and given a passionate public speech in which he says from the bottom of my heart to Americans, 2,300 Americans dying a day is a completely fine price to pay. It's fine if you all die at that number and get applause from the people that support him.
But just because he hasn't given that speech doesn't mean that isn't the policy. That is the policy. The policy is you guys all figure it out. Everyone is left on their own with no White House leadership on anything, not public health policy, and not a relief deal to offset the worst economic effects of the pandemic, and it is a mess.
As our own Benjy Sarlin and Stephanie Ruhle report, without a national strategy and federal aid, none of this works. Lack of rescue bill has also made it more difficult for states to follow guidance from Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts who recommend shutting down high-risk businesses like bars and indoor restaurants in order to curb outbreaks and make it safer to keep schools open.
NBC News Policy Editor Benjy Sarlin who reported on that piece and who has been on this beat joins me now. You know, Benjy, you've been doing comparative reporting here about approaches. And I want to just start on this top-line thing of a national response and how important has that been to other countries and where we stack up compared to them.
BENJY SARLIN, NBC NEWS POLICY EDITOR: Well, as I was reporting this story, Chris, I was talking to economists both here and abroad, about what distinguish their approaches from the U.S. and also why we seem to keep hitting so many roadblocks and hurdles in trying to get our own economic aid through that other countries seem to have avoided.
And one thing that somewhat surprised me that came up repeatedly is that when other countries pass new economic relief measures and continue existing ones, one of the reasons it's easier to make happen, in addition to, you know, the various political and structural differences, is that they have a national plan that they fit into.
So, for example, in Germany, you mentioned Angela Merkel there. When she said in November, we're going to have a month of new restrictions, November restrictions, to try to control this virus that's starting to get out of control. We're also going to have a new round of aid, it's going to be called November (INAUDIBLE).
And it's going to help businesses that are losing revenue when they're closed down, because we know that they're going to be closed down, because that's part of our national strategy. It's going to help independent workers who suddenly can't work because we know they're going to have less work, that's part of our national strategy, and we can plan around it. And this is our goal. This is the timetable. And if it doesn't work, which unfortunately, it's still struggling, we'll announce new steps.
This has been the case in country after country. In France, they've announced various -- they've had very strict lockdowns over the last couple of months. But they've also because they know what they're doing as a national strategy, announce over 100 billion euros in specific support to businesses to help them get through this.
In the U.S., no one knows what our national plan is. And it's one of the reason bipartisan negotiations are so difficult. Is our plan right now to do as Dr. Fauci says, quite explicitly, to close bars, maybe some indoor restaurants, maybe some other indoor businesses -- and he's even called for economic relief for them. He's kind of getting out of his lane a little bit -- and wait out until we're at either at a certain point in cases where we have a vaccine to bail it out? Or is the plan to try to force as many people back into normal life as possible and just accept the deaths which is how the President has talked about it the last couple of months? Nobody is quite sure, and it makes it much harder to craft a relief plan when we don't have that kind of basic structure.
HAYES: And one of the things that came across in your reporting and that I've been observing is that in the absence of relief, right, there's been a strategy to push these decisions down to local leaders. And what you're seeing from local leaders, you know, across the sort of partisan spectrum, and in California in New York is the sort of increasing anger and frustration, like directed to the citizenry, that you guys are screwing this up, right.
And I get that because, you know, behavior matters a lot here. But here's Cuomo sort of berating Staten Island. Now, Staten Island has really high rates, right. But take a listen to this tone and compare it to Merkel's tone, right, just in terms of the approach on this. Take a listen.
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GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Trump and Biden agree on the advice. Well, some elected officials in Staten Island said, well, we're not going to follow it. 25 percent of all the fatalities in New York City come from Staten Island. Staten Island is only five percent of the New York City population. That's what's happened on Staten Island.
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HAYES: Now, he is 100 percent right about the data, right. And it is true that there's this sort of rebellion there. But again, it's all in the absence of any national relief or national strategy.
SARLIN: Yes. And New York has already dealt with this. You know, it was very controversial when New York and also its neighbors in New Jersey started opening up indoor dining after having a very successful outdoor dining. You know, that started becoming less viable, you know, even as they were keeping the schools closed.
You know, people were saying that's not the order experts are recommending. And at the time, you know, governors, mayors, were saying pretty explicitly, we're not crazy about doing this, but there's also no aid money to keep these businesses open, and we kind of got to take the risk, because otherwise they're going to go out of business.
So, that's an example of how leaders get forced into these choices. And by the way, there's even less aid left now, you know. Loans or businesses have expired, there's no longer added unemployment benefits, and even more aid is expiring at the end of the month, so people have fewer options. It's just -- it forces people to kind of turn on each other because there are no good options because states and cities just cannot raise that kind of money. They can't print money. They can deficit spend the way the federal government can.
They don't have the ability that a France or Germany or the U.K. does to take on big debt in order to accomplish these important life-saving short term goals.
HAYES: Yes. The turning on each other part of it is the part I feel intensely right now as we watch this. disintegrate. Benjy Sarlin who is a great reporter, a great colleague, thank you.
SARLIN: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: One of the lawmakers out front in the fight for COVID relief is Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, and he joins me now. All right, here's my first question to you, Senator. There is been so much spinning and gaslighting about these relief negotiations which been going on for months now. I'm going to ask you, frankly, who is responsible for us not having relief? Name them.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, clearly, the Republican leadership has rejected what the House did. As you know, the House has passed several important pieces of legislation, which were pretty comprehensive. And Mitch McConnell has been very clear that he did not want to spend more than $500 billion.
And I think the ultimate responsibility lies on a do-nothing U.S. Senate led by McConnell, who's much more interested in protecting corporate interests in terms of liability for their irresponsible activities than representing the needs of the working people of this country.
HAYES: Here's the thing that drives me crazy about these negotiations. There's been two chant -- there's like the channel of Pelosi and Mnuchin, and then McConnell sort of checks out and sends people on recess. He brings you back once in a while to confirm some judges because that's what you do in the U.S. Senate. It's the only pressing need of the country apparently.
But then, McConnell will sort of float something. There's sort of -- there's a bipartisan group that's floated something. Then, Mnuchin comes in. It's like, can we get everyone in the same room? It is driving me insane that you have these parallel associations.
SANDERS: Well, I can understand, Chris, that it is enormously confusing. Here is the bottom line. We have had mass obstinacy from the Republican leadership. And I think the Democrats in recent weeks have given too much. You will recall, we were talking about several trillion dollars. You will recall that Mnuchin agreed to $1.8 trillion representing the Trump administration.
And now the truth is, and people have got to hear this, it's $900 billion in the bipartisan agreement is not really 900 new -- 900 billion new dollars. It is 550 old dollars from the Cares package, $350 billion. So, the Democrats have gone down by 85 or 90 percent. That, in my view, is not good negotiating.
Now, the bottom line here is we cannot and must not leave for the Christmas holidays unless we protect working people. And that means absolutely, there must be a $1,200 check for every working-class adults, $500 for their kids, and they must be in my view, $600.00 a week supplement for unemployment.
We have a horrible economic crisis on top of the horrible pandemic. We cannot turn our backs on working people. We have got to act that act aggressively.
HAYES: But here's what -- here's an example of precisely that. This is my understanding what happened today. And I follow this for a living and I'm still confused. But basically, it was, you had a package, this bipartisan consensus. As you said it was -- it was sort of using a kind of accounting fiction with the Cares Act. We don't have to get into that. Put it to the side.
There was no checks for people in that package. Mnuchin says, OK, you guys want checks? How about $600.00, but we're taking away the unemployment benefit. So, it's like Lucy with the football. Every time there's any progress made, they take with one hand what they put out with the other.
SANDERS: Look, these guys are very tough negotiators. Remember, what McConnell wants is a mere $500 billion, no direct payments to help workers minimal help for the unemployed. So, every day there is a game. But at the end of the day, after all of this gamesmanship, what must happen in my view is the Democrats must remain firm. They cannot go home and turn their backs on economic suffering facing working families.
And we have got to tell. You know, the narrative out there is, oh, Mitch McConnell does not want to give us more than $900 billion. Well, the heck with Mitch McConnell. The American people are hurting.
HAYES: Also, it's not --
SANDERS: And government means anything. Now is the time that we've got to act.
HAYES: It's not -- I mean, it's not you he's going to give the money to. You know, it's nothing -- I mean, this whole thing is -- it's going to go to people who are struggling. Again, it's going to go to people who are Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Independents, libertarians and lefties, whatever. I don't care whatever politics they be, but everybody's struggling right now.
And I honestly -- to me, the Georgia election should be a referendum on relief if they're going to block it, because I don't see any other leverage on Mitch McConnell at this point, because I don't think he cares one way or the other.
SANDERS: Well, I think both of the Democratic candidates in Georgia would be in agreement with you. And I know that they're both talking about the need for the Senate to go forward and provide this direct payment to working families all over this country.
And you know, let me just repeat what you just said and everybody in America understands. There is massive pain. We're talking about record levels of hunger in America. Tens of millions of families facing eviction, 90 million people have no health insurance. People are desperate. And a government in a civilized society means anything. We've got to act that act right now.
And as Benji mentioned earlier at the earlier segment, we are so far, so far behind European countries. It is absolutely pathetic. And this is a manifestation of the contempt that the United States government and the Republican leadership of the Senate have for the working people of this country.
HAYES: Senator Bernie Sanders who's continuing to work with his colleagues to try to get a deal and I hope we have one, thank you for making a little time with us tonight.
SANDERS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Tonight, the new lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to throw out the vote, just throw them all out in four states that didn't vote for Trump. Michigan's Attorney General, one of the states in that lawsuit, calls it a publicity stunt and she joins me next. Don't go anywhere.
HAYES: There are now 17 states supporting a lawsuit filed at the state of Texas before the Supreme Court asking the court to just straight up disenfranchise the voters of four other states because those voters didn't vote for who they wanted them to vote for. The suit is being spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a man who fired whistleblowers in his office who came forward with allegations he did favors for political donor and who has been under indictment for security fraud five years ago.
The Paxton suit is now backed by the President of the United States and 17 Republican attorneys general. Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana has also emailed every single one of his Republican colleagues with the subject heading, time sensitive requests from President Trump asking them to sign on to an amicus brief two. Trump himself has now filed in support.
And let me be clear. This suit has no chance in hell of winning. But it is as brazen an assault on the very nature of our union by elected officials as I have ever seen in my life. George Conway, an extremely prominent legal conservative, someone the Trump administration considered for Solicitor General described it as crazy.
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GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: This is the most insane thing yet. It's absurd and an embarrassment. And for a public official, let alone any lawyer, let alone any member of the Supreme Court bar, to bring this lawsuit is atrocious.
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HAYES: All four states targeted by this absurd lawsuit are swing states that narrowly went for Biden, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Those states have to file their opposition to the suit to Supreme Court by tomorrow afternoon. And the Attorney General in one of those states, the state of Michigan, Dana Nessel, joins me now.
First, I guess, Attorney General, explain to us what is this suit and how seriously we should take it?
DANA NESSEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN: I almost don't know how to describe whatever this lawsuit is because it's so insane. And it's insulting quite honestly to have the state of Texas come in to my state, Michigan, and to try to overturn the results where nearly 155,000 Michigan voters voted for president -- sorry, President-Elect Biden over President Trump.
And to now say that you want to come in and intervene in our state's elections, it's outrageous. I don't believe that it's going to be granted. But just the mere effort to do this, I think, is beneath the dignity of the Department of Attorney General in Texas. I feel bad for the taxpayers who have to finance this. And honestly, I'm ashamed of all the Republican AGs that decided to sign on to this effort.
HAYES: I couldn't help but notice -- I was going through the filing, and I couldn't help but notice that, you know, they have these -- basically, they don't like the way you ran your elections, really they don't like the outcome. But one couldn't help but notice that say, the state of North Carolina is not being sued even though they made changes to how they were dealing with voting in a pandemic. The state of Texas made changes to how they were voting in a pandemic. Like, it seems pretty clear what this is about.
NESSEL: Yes. Well, I don't really care for the way that Texas ran their elections. I thought it was outrageous that they allowed for only one Dropbox per county. Travis County, population of 1.27 million people, I mean, clearly -- I didn't have to disenfranchise minority voters, but you didn't see Michigan suing the state of Texas simply because (AUDIO GAP).
And I can't even imagine what kind of precedent it would set to allow states to sue other states when they don't like the outcome of their elections. But what's even more outrageous is that, for instance, our state house remained in Republican hands. How come -- why are they not suing about that situation? I mean, why is it only whatever happened at the top of the ticket? Because if there was fraud, at the top of the ticket, they didn't extend to the other offices that were being voted on the same ballots.
HAYES: Do you have -- you know, it was striking to me to watch the two sitting senators from Georgia who are in runoff because of the actions of the voters on the same election, endorse an effort by other states to throw their constituents votes out. That happened, OK. Perdue and Loeffler backed this. Do you have Michigan Republicans who are supporting the effort of other states to throw out your state's votes?
NESSEL: If they have, I haven't yet seen that. But you know, I would caution, of course, anybody in my state to be careful. If they want to see the results of our election overturn, why not next time, why doesn't California sue us if we happen to vote for a Republican? Why didn't New York sue us or Massachusetts? I mean, where does this end, really?
You know, our state regulates time, place, and manner for our elections. These same claims have been heard over and over and over in our state and federal courts. The Trump campaign has lost each and every time.
HAYES: I'm trying to find -- you know, I'm trying to communicate to people how wildly anomalous this is. I mean, there's original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for contest between states. And states do have disputes. I mean, there was a famous court case that went to the Supreme Court between New York and New Jersey over who owned Ellis Island, right. That's a kind of thing. Like, is there any precedent for this kind of suit that is now being undertaken by 17 states and joined by the President?
NESSEL: No, there isn't. As you indicated, sometimes there are border disputes, water rights disputes, although those are very rare. But no, I've never seen anything like this. I don't know that I've talked to anyone who has seen anything like this before. It is so incredibly outrageous.
And I will say this directly to General Paxton if he's watching. You know who voted for you in Michigan, General Paxton? No one. Literally, no one. So, stay in your lane and, you know, stick to trying to disenfranchise voters in your own state. Don't come to mine.
HAYES: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel who will be part of the team, I think, filing those responses. I don't think the court is going to take this, but we shall see. Thank you for making some time tonight.
NESSEL: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Ahead, from death threats to tracking down health officials at their homes, the new dangerous levels of the MAGA frenzy after this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are in Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's house, and we are not going away. We do not accept this fraudulent election.
You are not going to take this election from a man that has earned it completely 100 percent by a freaking landslide. Well, let me tell you. This isn't over. This isn't over.
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HAYES: That was a scene on Saturday night outside the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. She just finished hanging Christmas decorations with her family including her four year old when protesters, some of them armed, gathered outside her home to trumpet false conspiracy theories and yell obscenities in an effort to intimidate her into, I don't know, allowing Donald Trump to steal the election.
This kind of thing has been happening across the country. But just in Michigan alone, you'll remember, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping and murder plot by a far-right group upset with pandemic restrictions. A Black lawmaker who criticized Rudy Giuliani's voter fraud claims has been getting racist lynching threats. And a Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting was interrupted by a Zoom user who made expletive-filled threats of rape and violence before adding Trump 2020.
Democratic State Representative Darrin Camilleri says he and his parents have received more than 20 death threats including e-mails reading, "be prepared to take your last meal" and "we're looking forward to bringing back firing squads."
In Georgia, Republican election officials Gabriel Sterling and Brad Raffensperger have faced death threats for refusing to steal the election for Trump. And Raffensperger's wife got sexualized violent threats on her cell phone. While in Nevada, the Secretary of State's office has been getting voicemails like this. "You guys cheated and lied. You guys effing lied and cheated. You guys are effing dead."
In Arizona where police had to escort election workers past a Trump screaming mob last month, Trump supporters gathered outside the home and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and chanted we are watching you. Hobbs said, she and her family has faced "ongoing and escalating threats of violence."
In Wisconsin, the chair of the Elections Commission there, Anne Jacobs, says she alerted her neighbors and police to the constant threat she faces. She says people on Twitter have gone so far as to post photographs of her house. And then this was the scene during a virtual board meeting on masks in Idaho last night.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I interrupt you for a moment? My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now and there are protesters banging outside the door, OK. I'm going to go home and make sure he's OK. So, I will reconnect with you when I get there.
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HAYES: That story is next.
HAYES: A terrifying situation unfold in Idaho last night when public health officials gathered online to discuss a potential mask mandate, OK. Hundreds of anti-mask protesters showed up outside the Health Department building which, fair enough, an exercise to the right to peaceably assemble. But also, protesters went to the homes of at least three board members including the home of one commissioner who is attending the virtual meeting from a different location. And she had left her kids with her mom. Her mom was out walking the dog when the protester showed up.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Lachiondo here. I'm sorry, I just got a text from my neighbor that there are protesters at my house. So, I'm going to step off for just a moment to call the police because my kids are there. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've also -- I've also got protesters outside my house as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to take care of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I interrupt you for just a moment? My 12-year-old son is home by itself right now and there are protesters banging outside the door, OK. I'm going to go home and make sure he's OK. So, I will reconnect with you when I get there.
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HAYES: A short time after that, Boise's mayor and police chief requested that the meeting be ended for safety reasons before they could even vote on the mask mandate. Idaho Statesman reporter Hayley Harding covers local government in Boise, and she joins me tonight.
Hayley, thank you so much. First, I want to just set the -- set the scene of the context of what the pandemic looks like in Idaho right now. My sense is that things are fairly bad.
HAYLEY HARDING, REPORTER, IDAHO STATESMAN: Yes. It's -- the pandemic is not going anywhere, but it's been pretty rough in Idaho. Just under 100,000 people in Idaho believed to have been infected, about 1,000 people have died, and the number is rising every day. It's rough.
HAYES: I know there's been some hospital capacity issues as well. It's a -- it's a pretty rural state. We've seen this in a bunch of places where there's no kind of mismatch between hospital capacity and the pandemic. So, what was this -- who are the people in this meeting and what was the meeting?
HARDING: So, the meeting was in Idaho. We don't have necessarily like, in a lot of places, they'll have City Health Commissioners. We don't have that. What we have instead is we have district health boards; we have seven of them. And this was a meeting of representatives from the four counties in Central District Health, which is where Boise is in that district.
HARDING: These representatives were meeting to discuss, among other things, instituting a masked mandate, both indoors and outdoors for when you cannot socially distance in all four counties. Some of the counties have already had one in place, but this was just to extend that out.
HAYES: So, this was a consideration of a mitigation policy as the pandemic is very bad there. These were -- these were local health commissioners. But these are not like -- my sense is -- are these full-time health people or is it like members of a community board that's -- or a school board?
HARDING: So, the majority of these people are either local -- like nurses, or Commissioner Lachiondo is actually a county commissioner. Other commissioners, other board members are elected officials representing their county in some other way.
HAYES: Got you. This is not though -- I mean, just my sense of this, and I read your reporting and others, I mean, these are not folks -- this is not like if people show up outside the New York mayor's, you know, Gracie Mansion to protest. Like, these are not people who are super in the public eye or have expectation or anticipation they're going to be having protests outside their homes.
HARDING: Generally speaking, in Idaho, most elected officials do not have protests outside their homes. That's right.
HAYES: Who were the protesters?
HARDING: The protesters -- and I obviously can't speak for all of them, but the protesters, in general, are people who disagree with these mask mandates and disagree more broadly with the shutdowns that have come with the coronavirus pandemic, and disagree specifically with the idea that people would put a mask mandate in place infringing on people's personal freedoms.
HAYES: This has been something that has happened in a lot of places. I personally feel like there's a bit of a distinction between a protest and a protest where you have guns. Were protesters armed as far as your reporting indicates?
HARDING: I don't believe so. But I guess there's always an opportunity.
HAYES: And there was a real worry I think for personal safety that resulted in basically the meeting being called off as some -- as one of the commissioners ran home to a tender a 12-year-old. Is that right?
HARDING: That is correct. So, what happened is, as you saw shortly after Commissioner Lachiondo signed off to go make sure that her son is OK -- he is OK, and she later tweeted that -- there was another interruption from the Mayor of Boise had called one of the board members, I believe the Director of Central District 12, and asked for the safety of the police officers involved for the safety of the Central District Health officials who are just regular employees, not necessarily like elected government officials, and for the safety of everyone at the homes and the neighbors of the homes that were being protested at. The mayor and the police chief asked that they cut the meeting short and rescheduled for another time.
HAYES: This was -- I just want to read, Commissioner Lachiondo's Facebook post. In part, she said, during last night's Board of Health meeting, armed protesters -- she says they were armed -- once again assembled outside my home yelling, banging, firing air horns, amplifying sound clips from Scarface, accusing me of tyranny and counting inside. I am sad. I am tired. I fear that in my choosing to hold public office, my family has too often paid the price.
And then today, which was interesting to me, my understanding is today the police had three arrest warrants issued, and that others may follow after COVID protests at Boise home. So, clearly, in the police's view, there was some activity that wasn't just run of the mill constitutionally protected peaceable assembly.
HARDING: Yes. So, there was one person who was arrested. It was actually a citizen's arrest, and they were later taken to jail by the police department. But there were -- my understanding is there are three arrest warrants issued from four people who were disturbing the peace outside of the home of specifically Commissioner Lachiondo, but my understanding is also that there are more warrants on their way from other people who have been distributed peace in a similar way.
HAYES: Final part on this. I mean, the agenda meeting was the possibility of a mask mandate. It adjourned before they could vote on it. In that sense, the protest did their job, right. There is no mask mandate as of today.
HARDING: I mean, you could, I guess, make that argument, but protests are not unusual. Specifically, at these meetings, honestly at this point, they're not even unusual at the homes of some of these officials. Some of these officials are having these all summer long. I think the more interesting part here was that this is the first time we've seen a meeting just outright interrupted out of concerns for safety. I think that was -- that was the bigger concern.
So, I guess you could make the argument that they delayed it, but the meeting is still rescheduled. It's going to be held at another time. The mask mandate, the anticipation is it will still be heard and voted on, so it is just a temporary stop, I suppose.
HAYES: All right, Hayley Harding, I just want to say thank you for your excellent reporting and thank you for making some time to tell us your story. I really appreciate that you're there doing this work. Subscribe to the Idaho Statesman if you happen to be there. Thank you.
HARDING: Please do. Thank you so much.
HAYES: All right, coming up, fixing the system that allows minority rule in the United States Senate. How more states and more senators could restore balance to American democracy next.
HAYES: One of the longest-lasting legacies of Donald Trump will likely be his judicial appointees filling the bench with conservative judges and justices, including, of course, three lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Now, the reason he's been able to do that is the Senate where all those nominees are confirmed or not confirmed, as in the case of Merrick Garland, and where the will of the majority of the country is not really represented.
I mean, over time, as the country has grown and Americans have clustered around population centers, the Senate has drifted further and further away from the median voter. So, we're now stuck in a situation where nearly 40 million Californians have the same amount of representation in the Senate, as the less than 600,000 residents in Wyoming and the less than 800,000 North Dakotans and one million Montanans.
So, short of getting rid of the Senate, I don't think that's going to happen, what to do about this really crazy structural undemocratic imbalance? Well, we could just do what we've done in the past in this country and add some new states to our union. Nearly four million Americans live in Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. They have zero representation in the Senate right now.
If we gave that diverse group of Americans four new votes in the Senate, that would go a long way towards creating something more truly representative out of that body. I'm joined now by historian Jon Meacham Rogers Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, author of His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope. We should note he's also an unofficial adviser to President-Elect Biden. And Meagan Hatcher-Mays is Director of Democracy Policy at Indivisible, a progressive advocacy group. And she wrote about this issue for GQ Magazine, a piece titled The Senate is Broken, Washington D.C. Statehood Can Save It.
Let me start on that note, Meagan. I mean, so there's an argument for representation just from -- like the people of D.C. deserve to have representation. There's sort of broader argument you make in the piece about kind of balancing some of the structural problems of the Senate. What's the argument?
MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS, DIRECTOR OF DEMOCRACY POLICY, INDIVISIBLE: Yes. I mean, the argument is, yes, as a D.C. resident, all I want for, you know, my life is to have voting representation in Congress. That would be great. But it also starts to address some of the structural inequities that are built into our democracy itself.
I mean, the way the Senate was designed, was to give a lot of power to a little group of people, mostly, you know, land owning, white gentlemen, and to deny an enfranchisement, you know, equal representation to Black people and people of color, which was the largely the population of D.C. at the time and continues to be true to this day.
So, to give statehood to D.C. would be a huge win for D.C. residents, but it'd be a huge win for everybody who wants to, you know, solve climate change or get health care or, you know, have a better Supreme Court. Because D.C. right now doesn't have a say in any of that because the Senate is designed to give a lot of power to a very small group of people and to deny power to us. So, that starts to sort of balance out the numbers problem in the Senate.
HAYES: You know, Jon, I think that -- you know, first of all 100 is a nice round number in terms of the U.S. Senate, which I think is always ends up working on people in D.C. more than it should. But there's a sense that like that, you know, adding states, you can't do that. But of course, we've done it a ton. And every time it's been partly a political process. Like, we've added seats for frankly political reasons.
JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN: It's always been political. It's always been political and about power. In fact, this -- from the very beginning, in fact, it was the disputes over the powers of the states versus the central government in the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention.
And for what it's worth, James Madison had two ideas that would have been good. One was he wanted proportional representation in the Senate as well as the House and he lost that. He also wanted a federal veto over state laws, which was a non-starter, but an interesting nationalist view at that point.
The battles over the Civil War, the battles that led to the Civil War, obviously, were about statehood, and what would be allowed in those states. So, the various compromises that ultimately proved unsatisfactory, and led to the cataclysm of the war and blessedly to emancipation.
The last time we did this, it was kind of a Cold War experiment in the late 1950s with Alaska and Hawaii. Complicated stories, very political. Hawaii was seen as an attempt to bring as a state in that would be a different race, ethnicity, for those issues to kind of soften our image around the world because -- literally, because we were still under Jim Crow, we were still a segregated country. And part of the thinking was, hey, we're not racist. Look, we just let a state in.
MEACHAM: And so, that's an important part of that political dynamic. And Alaska is a state, not least, because of its geographic strategic importance in the Cold War. So, we've done lots of things involving -- admitting states for lots of different reasons.
HAYES: Yes, I think that's a great point about the sort of -- you know, the kind of pragmatic calculations of the time as the things out of which this sort of what we now think of as essential structures of the nation are made, right? Like, you're not going to go back, right, and laugh off Alaska, or get rid of Hawaii.
But of course, there was just some decision at some point that, you know, these people should be part of the Union. And I think part of the problem too, Meagan, is that, you know, we're seeing this kind of structural problem grow up. You know, people talk about the Electoral College where there's a 4.5 point swing between what Joe Biden won the popular vote and, you know, his Electoral College victory, which was by 40,000, 50,000 votes, that's even bigger than the Senate.
You know, calculations of the Democrats now have to win the Senate by seven points nationally. In a polarized country, that's very hard. You've got to lock in this kind of minority rule problem.
HATCHER-MAYS: Yes. I mean, it shouldn't be the case that, you know, one party wins tens of millions more votes in the presidential election or in the Senate elections overall. And like the best we can do is, at best, best-case scenario is a 50-50 split in the Senate. That speaks to a bad design.
HATCHER-MAYS: And the way that you sort of, like fix that problem is to, just like you said, bring in new states. And the fact that we're talking about bringing in states of people who are wholly disenfranchised just makes the cake a little bit sweeter. But I mean, this should not be the case. And I think, you know, Democrats really need to start thinking big about some of the various ways that we can start to address this problem, because it can't just be every two to four years that we have an election and we're scraping and, you know, tooth and nail for a majority of one in the Senate, even though we're -- you know, Democrats are very clearly, you know, the majority party.
HAYES: Well, they have -- I mean, that's the thing. There has been a durable national majority, somewhat improbably through seven of eight elections. And Jon, you know, the Hawaii experience, I think, matches probably the closest to what Puerto Rico would be, right? This is a place that was fundamentally colonized by the U.S. where the history of that colonization was quite ugly. That was the case in Hawaii. It has been the case often in Puerto Rico where there was resistance, I think, on the ground to even the giving up sort of self-determination sovereignty.
But there was just a vote in Puerto Rico. There does seem like there's some movement towards that. And it seems like that's the closest analog in terms of our history.
MEACHAM: There's a rich literature on this which goes to many of the essential questions about color and ethnicity and race that we continue to grapple with, which was -- and there are scholars who've argued that having people who were Asian immigrants, essentially not immigrants, but Asians -- of Asian descent to become part of the United States, that was a more virtuous and kind of immigrant, right, and Puerto Rico would not be.
And so, the role of race in this which fundamentally obviously is part of the current conversation, was a part of the conversation then the idea of Americanism and who were the desirable people.
MEACHAM: And it's a very uncomfortable American conversation, but it's one -- it's one we've had -- it's one we need to continue to have. And the great thing about the constitution, as hard as it is to amend, it was built to amend.
HAYES: That's also true. Great discussion from both of you. Jon Meacham, Meagan Hatcher-Mays, I really enjoy that. Thank you both for that. I really appreciate it.
HATCHER-MAYS: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END
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