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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/11/21

Guests: John Brennan, Olivia Troye, Xochitl Hinojosa, Rachel Bitecofer, Meribah Knight

Summary

Trump`s big lie endangers our democracy; GOP continues to stand by Trump`s big lie; Senator Grassley stands by Trump as he repeats big lie; Former Cybersecurity Director Chris Krebs, our democracy is in a death spiral; Enforcement of January 6th committee subpoenas could be integral to our democracy; Representative Scalise refuses to admit Trump lost 2020 election; Fiona Hill say 1/6 a dress rehearsal from future violence; Book say Trump asked for a probe into whether Chinese thermostats hacked election.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts right now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari. You`re headed to NYC, one of my favorite cities, to talk to one of the most interesting columnists. Cannot wait to see that interview.

MELBER: Amen. Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much. Have a great evening. All right, cheers.

Good evening, everybody. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the gathering storm in this country. Anti small the D democratic forces fueled by the big lie and enabled by today`s Republican Party are gaining ground and at an alarming pace. From the lowest level state offices to the halls of the United States Senate, Republicans have abandoned whatever principles they once claimed to have and have entirely capitulated to Donald Trump and his delusions of a stolen election. That`s it. That`s the party now. And Trump is marshalling those forces to try and seize power in 2024, whether you, the voters, elect him or not.

It is clear that this is a five-alarm fire. It has been for months. And those who choose to ignore it are putting this country in jeopardy. There just is no nicer way to put it. Just yesterday, the second highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives refused three times to acknowledge the simple and undeniable fact that Joe Biden won the election. Here is House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you think the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump?

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Well, Chris, I`ve been clear from the beginning. If you look at a number of states, they didn`t follow the state passed laws the govern the election for president --

WALLACE: So you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: What I said is there are states that didn`t follow their legislatively set rules.

WALLACE: The last time, I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not?

SCALISE: It`s not just irregularities. It`s states that did not follow the laws set, which the Constitution says they`re supposed to follow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, I should remind you that that guy is in leadership in the first place despite having once compared himself favorably to David Duke, quote, without the baggage. So, Republicanism has been going in a wrong direction, the Trumpy direction for a minute.

But Scalise is in leadership. Meaning it`s not just a Looney Tunes of the House sedition caucus who were drinking Trump`s Kool-Aid. Whatever you think of Scalise, he ostensibly should know better. And yet there he is gulp, gulp, gulping that Kool-Aid down.

Even old timey Republicans have fallen in line, like Senator Chuck Grassley, who campaigned with Trump this weekend in Iowa at a rally where attendees repeatedly chanted the big lie that Trump supposedly won.

As Steve Bannon writes for MSNBC, the line between the GOP fringe on Capitol Hill and the GOP leadership has been blurred to the point where it hardly exists at all. The big lie has become so deeply entrenched in Republican orthodoxy, they are now poised to steal elections that they don`t win. And that has prompted a host warnings from figures across the spectrum, from neo-conservative scholar Robert Kagan to libertarian comedian Bill Maher to Chris Krebs, the former director of cybersecurity, at the Department of Homeland Security. He warned yesterday that our democracy is in a death spiral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS KREBS, FORMER CISA DIRECTOR: What we`re seeing is, as Congressmen Schiff mentioned, is this constant erosion of confidence in the electoral system and it is ultimately anti-democratic. And we`re frankly in a death spiral, as I see it, and two years, four years at the ballot box isn`t good enough and there have to be other accountability measures for those that will continue to proliferate these lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That`s what makes the committee investigating January 6th so critical. And it`s why the question of whether Attorney General Merrick Garland will actually enforce the subpoenas against Trump`s former aides and allies who are trying to defy that committee is a life or death question for our democracy.

Joining me is John Brennan, former CIA director, and Olivia Troye, former Senior Aide of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Director of the Republican Accountability Project.

Director Brennan, I suffer from insomnia. And one of the things that has made it worse is that I cannot stop thinking about this. You know, I feel like, you know, the people are sort of going about their lives and not facing the fact that our democracy really is falling into a deep sink hole. And I don`t know if you, having professionally had to look at countries that were spiraling out of democracy into autocracy, if you see us lining up the way that those countries lined up on their way down.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well I do, Joy. And over the last several years, I think we have exhausted all the words and phrases in the English language to describe the moral bankruptcy of the leading members of the Republican Party, including, of course, Donald Trump, and I think each day we have more evidence of that bankruptcy.

And it`s not just their rhetoric that we should be concerned about. I think they really are laying the groundwork for the elections in 2022 and 2024. Their whole party platform these days is based on dishonesty.

[19:05:00]

They continue to try to exploit those fears and concerns of a lot of American citizens. And they`re hoping that with dishonest way, they going to be able to sway them with this big lie.

But the fact that Steve Scalise continues to refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the president of the United States, I think, really show just how much the Republican Party has devolved at this point, the leadership, and with rare exceptions, Liz Cheney and Kinzinger and a few others, all the Republicans seem to be lining up behind Donald Trump.

And the fact that Senator Grassley continues to rubble grovel at the feet of Donald Trump because he believes that he needs the endorsement in order to win reelection, I think, again, it just shows the length to which these individuals are going to go. They don`t care about integrity anymore.

REID: Right. I mean, Olivia Troye, Tom Nichols has described this is late stage bolshevism, right, where the people who actually do know better and understand things just realize that the loonies are taking over. So, you have two choices. When you see, you know, the fascists take over, you either fight them or you join them. And most Republicans have decided to join.

You know, I feel like the neoconservative sort of wing of the party that spent its entire kind of adult life like looking at fixating on spreading democracy, they`re like, oh, crap, we have got to spread democracy here, right? So they are kind of in the camp of saying, oh, I see this and they can recognize it. But the rest are just joining up.

I mean Steve Scalise, back when he was in Louisiana, the quote about him being David Duke without the baggage, it came because he said, wait, David Duke appeals to white voters. I would like to appeal to these same white voters. So, I think I`m going to adopt all the things about him I think are acceptable. That`s what he was trying to say. But, you know, instead of saying no, David Duke is just absolutely wrong, we don`t want anything to do with those politics, he said this will work for me. I`ll just take out the parts that are explicitly dead.

Let me play former -- this is Fiona Hill, who was a Trump NSC Official. Here`s how she described it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIONA HILL, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SR. DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE AND RUSSIA: This is exactly the thing that you think of, historic and revolution, storming the Bastille and during the French revolution, storming the winter palace during the Russian revolution that General Milley was alluding to.

And as he was saying, we`ve seen many historical episodes where there is violence, people discount it. They think that this is just a passing occurrence. You know, Vice President Pence has been down playing it, even though he would have been targeted. He was targeted. They wanted to lynch him.

And then people sweeping this away and saying nothing happened here, and the next time around, you get the real thing.

This was, in effect, a dress rehearsal for something that could be happening near term in 2022, 2024.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I mean, do you agree with that, Olivia, because that is what Bill Maher described, that that is the future?

OLIVIA TROYE, FMR. SENIOR AID TO VP MIKE PENCE: Yes. I`m incredibly concerned at all of these people who instead of taking a stand and instead of telling the truth, which they need to, to their own supporters because that is how we are going survive as a democracy and as country in terms of coming together and actually just being honest with one another and getting back to true, I would say, governance and policy and politics on the Republican side. That is how we need to come together moving forward.

And so I think they`re all correct in saying this and they`re concerned for it. Because we`ve got all these people who instead of taking a stand for the truth are standing by and they`re enabling what`s happening here because it`s a narrative of convenience for them. That`s where we are.

The big lie is the Republican Party`s platform. There are no policies here, really, that they`re governing for. They`re not really pushing anything. They`re lying, and repeatedly. And it`s a platform for the past. It was the big lie for 2020 but it`s certainly not in the past anymore. It`s the big lie in the midterm elections of what`s going to happen. It`s going to be the big lie going forward and that big lie is going to be moving on.

And just like he said, it`s the ongoing lane of the groundwork to put forth efforts in an attempt to overturn elections in the future that aren`t convenient for them. And all of these people have decided that they`re okay with it because it keeps them in power in their eyes.

REID: You know, John Brennan, you know, the elephant in the room -- I mean, Donald Trump at this point, Jonathan Karl has a book out, saying that he was intrigued by the idea that something called nest thermostats -- I mean, they`re willing to engage absurdity, just really wild fears, anything to say anything except Donald Trump lost the election.

And the elephant in the room is that the cause of the discontent on the right is that people who look like me chose Biden and got their way, that people who are brown and black are a rising majority and they, because of the numbers, you know the 80/20 rule, that all you need is 80 percent of people of color and you can actually get by with you know 40 percent of white voters and you can win elections that way, that way Democrats win. That`s a fact. And they cannot stand that reality.

So, what they`re saying to their voters who are mainly white working class voters is, don`t worry. We`ll make sure those people can`t vote. We`ll believe any theory -- aliens came down and made Donald Trump lose, anything but you lost because they don`t want to face those voters and say to them, you all can`t always win elections.

[19:10:04]

That`s what this comes down to, no?

BRENNAN: And well, they know that the demographic and political trends are against them. And so they continue to try to exploit the fears of a lot of individuals in this country by overstating the concerns that a lot of people have about what is happening in this country in terms of migration, other types of economic issues and other things.

But I must say that we`re no longer the world`s role model for democracy, I think. Given the authoritarian tendency to the Republican Party, it is quite clear that the Republicans, I think, are trying to resort to any tactic possible. And I am concerned that what we saw on January 6th, could that be replicated in the future? Are there individuals who are going to try to stoke those fears to such an extent that some people are going to try to take action into their own hands?

In interviews over the weekend, I heard individuals say that they see a civil war coming. The cost of this palpable fear that they have, that they`re going to again resort to any tactic, whatsoever, in order to hold on to what I think is their failing ability to hold on to power.

REID: And then it`s a push, right? I mean, they`re saying that they`re going to reinstall Donald Trump. This is what the right, Olivia, is saying, is that they will reinstall Donald Trump in power by any means necessary. You had people on that mall attacking our Capitol who had military training, who were active police officers or former police officers. So it wasn`t all just, you know, real estate, you know, agents with nothing better to do. Some of these people had tactical training.

And I think what is terrifying to me is that they have now wrapped into this wild orthodoxy, anti-maskism and anti-vaccirism, which, again, also there are some people with that same training that are part of that.

And so I wonder if you worry that just as a matter of homeland security trying to deal with 2022 and 2024 whether we have any preparation, whatsoever, for what we`re facing because it could be what we saw on January 6th on steroids?

TROYE: That is absolutely correct. And I think that this is continuing to gain traction. These threats continue to increase. They`re on the rise. These grievances continue to be on the rise. And these elected leaders that are actually supporting these types of endeavors are creating this prime opportunity for violence, for political violence, and they`re encouraging the use of violence to take a stand when things don`t go their way. I mean, they`re encouraging -- they encourage it on January 6th and they continue to encourage it today.

And so I think we`re in a very dangerous moment for our country right now that we`ll continue going forward. And I think we should absolutely be looking at the homeland security enterprise, which is why the January 6th committee`s work is so critically important so that we don`t repeat the same mistakes that we did in the past, so that we understand what failed that day, what led to that failure, so that, going forward, we`re more vigilant and that the homeland community is more prepared at the state and local level to prepare to deal with this and also to deal with it within their own ranks because we know that it`s there, right?

These are our neighbors. These are our people that we know who have fallen for this whole sham and charade. And it`s so dangerous because it`s really hard when you have this scenario to really counter it with truth and facts. You and I, the three of us are living in the real world, right, the reality. We`re looking at it from rational perspectives. Because the messages that I get from all the people who love to hate me, they`re looking at it from a different reality and they`re watching echo chambers. They`re watching leaders who are telling them these things. And they`re watching the narratives on right-wing pundits and these social media networks and all of these coming together and it`s just a recipe for dangerous disaster.

REID: And, John Brennan, very quickly, have you ever observed a society in this state of breakdown that fixing itself without some pretty serious action? And if so, what is that action? What can be done to reverse it?

BRENNAN: Well, I think in the past, sometimes there could be galvanizing events where it`s going to unite individuals against the common threat. Unfortunately, the threats we see right now are within our borders or it`s among us. And I think it`s really going to be difficult over the next several years. I think we`re in for several years of real difficult political waters here that really are going to really test the medal of our democracy.

And this is the time, I think, for Americans to try to push past all the disinformation that is out there and try to return to the principles of this great democracy in this republic of ours?

REID: Your mouth to God`s ear. John Brennan and Olivia Troye, scary is caring, we like to say on this show, thank you guys for coming. It`s scary but we got to deal with it.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the right wing madness in Texas, Allen West, the Trump candidate for governor of that state, goes on full on anti-vaxxer even as he lies in a hospital bed with COVID pneumonia.

[19:15:00]

Plus, the blockbuster reporting on young black children in Tennessee locked up for crimes that don`t even exist.

And tonight`s absolute worst, one of the biggest rock stars of the `70s is now tone deaf, off key in singing a very dangerous tune.

And before we go to break, I want to wish everybody a happy Indigenous People`s Day and a Happy National Coming Out Day. Joe Biden is the first person to officially recognize Indigenous People Day. He wrote, today, we recognize their resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society. And the first openly LGBT senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, tweeted Happy National Coming Out Day. Come out, speak out and engage as if it was your right to do so because it is. Do you.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: If you want a taste of what the GOP has dreamt up for America, just take a look at Texas. On average, more than 270 people in Texas died from COVID every day in the last month.

[19:20:03]

Women have fewer rights than men because of a draconian ban on most abortions. And it`s back in effect after a federal appeals court reversed a temporary pause. And certain counties are banning books in schools because they touch on race, and that makes some white parents uncomfortable.

You might be familiar with the practice. It`s called censorship.

And, moments ago, the state`s governor issued an executive order telling private businesses that they, these private businesses, may not issue vaccine mandates. Whatever happened to government staying out of the way?

It should come as no surprise that most of this is brought to you by Governor Greg Abbott, a guy who`s up for reelection and wants to outdo the hard-right wing nuts in his party, including Allen West, former Florida congressman and permanent Tea Party troll, who is currently in a hospital with COVID pneumonia and live-tweeting his disdain for vaccine mandates.

Here`s just a sample of what this potential governor has to say -- quote -- "I can attest that after this experience, I`m even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates. Instead of enriching the pockets of big pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy. As governor of Texas, I will vehemently crush, crush anyone forcing vaccine mandates on the Lone Star State. Our bodies are last sanctuary of liberty and freedom. I will defend that for everyone."

Just not for women, of course.

Joining me now, under his eye, is Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University and host of the Slate podcast "A Word With Jason Johnson," and Xochitl Hinojosa, former communications director for the DNC and former spokesperson handling voting rights for the DOJ.

And, Xochitl, I want to start with you, because, last I checked, monoclonal antibodies are even more expensive than all the other treatments for COVID- 19, meaning that Allen West is actually enriching big pharma by choosing those, and also lots of big donors to the Republican Party.

Your thoughts on his tweets from his COVID bedside or COVID bed?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, this isn`t a race to the right. This is a race to the bottom.

And that`s exactly what`s happening with the gubernatorial primary in Texas right now. You have not only Allen West, who is literally hospitalized as we speak because he`s not vaccinated and he had low oxygen levels.

You also have another person in the primary that put out a press release today claiming victory for moving Abbott to the right and having a ban on vaccine mandate. That`s what we`re talking about.

This race just shows how important governor`s races are, and especially in the state of Texas, whether it is ensuring that people don`t get vaccinated, because that`s what they seem that they want to do, or whether it`s women`s rights, or whether it`s even keeping your electricity on, for that matter, in Texas.

This is a race to the bottom. And that`s exactly what this primary is.

REID: I mean, Jason, basically, in Texas, the grid is private, but private businesses can`t have mask -- vaccine mandates if they want to.

And the guy who wants to replace Governor Abbott, who is already so far to the right, he`s basically to the right of Attila the Hun, is the guy who -- I remember him from Florida. He`s the guy who mock-executed an Iraqi policemen and got in trouble in the army.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

REID: Here`s a couple of his quotes on Barack Obama -- on the Barack Obama White House.

"If you`re here to stand up, get your musket, fix your bayonet, and charge into the ranks, you`re my brother and sister in this fight."

He said that black people were better off during segregation because they had better educational opportunities and called Islam not a religion.

Your thoughts?

JOHNSON: You know, look, speaking of educational opportunities, one of the other crimes that we have seen lately in the state of Texas is this new book banning that they have gotten, where they`re chasing after books, and they don`t want kids to learn about Critical Race Theory.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: That`s why I have Jerry Craft right behind me. He writes great books for kids. And these are the kinds of things they don`t want.

But this is the thing. Allen West, he is the zeitgeist of the Republican Party right now. They want that same kind of -- they want that sort of natural, all-natural flavor racism, but they want it in blackface with a 1990s flattop haircut.

That`s what they want. And that`s what they can get out of Allen West, if he can actually get out of bed and hopefully realize that he could actually catch COVID again, because the magical antibodies that he thinks he has now will not keep him any safer if he continues to run around and grab-hand the way that he is.

He will be the kind of person that many Republicans in that state want. But here`s the problem. The state of Texas is not nearly as Republican as the idiots that they seem to want to have running; 95 percent of the growth in that state has been coming from minorities and people from other, more liberal, progressive places moving into the state.

And at some point, the dam is going to break, and you will start seeing politicians that reflect the people who live there and not just the moneyed interests who are paying their way.

REID: And, Xochitl, Jason has a really good point, is that one of the things Republicans are doing is, they`re trying to find as many black and brown and Asian American people who spout those same ideologies as possible and running them, right?

They have done that in Georgia. Allen West is sort of the idea of that in Texas, and just saying, we will just dress this up in sort of a black person, and then say, see, we`re not racist. Look at us. We got Allen West.

But Allen West is the guy who says segregation was a better time for black people, right? So it`s like ironic black people.

[19:25:04]

But that is their strategy. And I wonder if, in a party that is sort of showing itself to be terrified of learning about Dr. King because it might make white students feel uncomfortable to talk about racism, whether or not he might actually be a threat to Abbott, that maybe far right Democrats are saying, you know what, I prefer my racist ideas in the form of an Allen West.

HINOJOSA: Well, Abbott is feeling the threat right now.

I think that you`re having him take some pretty hard right stances. You actually have him looking into the last election, because he knows that he can`t afford Donald Trump out there opposing him, right? And so he is scared about the right.

hat the same time, he`s also scared about black and brown people voting. Yes, they`re -- they -- the party in Texas might lift up a black candidate where they can. But if they weren`t scared about black and brown people voting in Texas, then they wouldn`t have passed the voter suppression law to make it harder.

So, yes, that`s -- and, actually, in the legislature right now, they`re passing redistricting maps to figure out, how do we silence black and brown people? That`s exactly what`s happening right now.

So if you want to talk about a party that is -- tries to prop up their black candidate, I`d also point you to a party that is trying to silence them.

REID: Well, and so the thing is, Jason, right, that the gerrymandering won`t really do anything about a statewide race, right?

They`re going to try to match and squash all the votes from Harris County, where Houston is...

JOHNSON: Right.

REID: ... because that`s where a lot of the black and brown vote -- they`re going to do everything they can to try to squash the non-white vote.

But I wonder if, in the end, this game between turning the state into "The Handmaid`s Tale" state, going after black and brown voters with such aggression, the lieutenant governor blaming black people for the COVID, for COVID outbreaks, just all that they have done, if the accumulation of it winds up biting them in the butt, especially if they wind up with Allen West on the ticket, instead of the current governor.

JOHNSON: Well, here`s also the irony of this, Joy.

For all of the sort of lack of election integrity and concerns that Texas politicians have, if I was Allen West, I wouldn`t trust that the current system is actually going to be a fair primary. Why isn`t he worried about that? Why isn`t he worried that Abbott will cheat and somehow manipulate the vote?

That`s what -- see, if there was any integrity to this nonsense, if it wasn`t just this sort of Scooby-Doo chase to find some way to suppress black voters, they would be questioning that system of their own primaries, but they`re not trying to do that.

I don`t know Joy, honestly, if I think this is going to end up biting the Republican Party in the butt, because, ultimately, all of this is going to depend on what happens in Washington, D.C., the place that all the Democrats in that state had to flee to.

REID: That`s right.

JOHNSON: If Washington, D.C., and Joe Biden and the Democratic Party doesn`t do anything about voting rights, they won`t get -- nobody in Texas will face any consequences for their voter suppression.

REID: You know, and that is a very good point.

Let me just look at the past here, because -- so, the Castro brothers said to me, like, in 2012, that, eventually, this state is going to be a purple state. It`s moving in that direction demographically.

But to the point Jason just made, Xochitl, Democrats in D.C. have a lot to do with whether or not that vote can be galvanized. Maria Teresa Kumar about this all the time. There needs to be issues that are palatable. Immigration, they haven`t been able to get through. Voting rights, they haven`t been able to get through. Police reform, they haven`t been able to get through.

Democrats are stalled pretty much in D.C. And yet look at this state. Ted Cruz only beat Beto O`Rourke by, like, less than two points last time when he ran. The current Governor Abbott did a lot better against Lupe Valdez, but he will not be running against a woman this time.

So I wonder if Texas Democrats are frustrated that the D.C. situation is not helping them to motivate more voters to try to overcome these voter suppressive tactics.

HINOJOSA: Yes, I think that Texas Democrats are frustrated. And they`re not just frustrated because of the motivation, because there are a lot of things that motivate voters, and one of them is getting over this pandemic, the economy and health care.

All the issues that we know are front and center nationally are also front and center in Texas. But I think they`re frustrated more because they`re just asking for basic protection and voting rights. If Republicans try to game the system time and time again, it will be harder for a Democrat to win in Texas.

And they know. They`re worried about the numbers between Beto O`Rourke and Ted Cruz. And guess what? They`re even more worried about Beto O`Rourke potentially running against Greg Abbott right now. So they will do everything they can in order to silence voters in the midterm election and in the presidential election, because they`re worried that it`s slipping out of their hands.

And, yes, Democrats are frustrated, but I think they`re frustrated with a lack of progress on voting rights, which are basic protections for people in Nevada.

REID: Yes, that and women`s rights.

I mean, Texas is basically now the sort of microcosm for all bad things that Republicans are trying to do. Let`s see how it goes next year.

Xochitl Hinojosa, Jason Johnson, thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: The fate of the Democratic Party, as we were just discussing, and the country is at stake. Many voters are worried that the Democrats they elected into office or not following through on what they campaigned on. And it could cost them in 2022.

[19:30:04]

We have two experts to break it all down next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so we`re just sick of it. And we`re not going to -- we`re not going to take it anymore. I see a civil war coming. I do. I see civil war coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: A glimpse of the kakistocracy in waiting at a rally for the disgraced, twice-impeached former president over the weekend.

Now, if that`s not the dimly lit future that you want for your country, and you don`t want to put that ladies advocates in charge for the foreseeable future, the question becomes, is the imperfect, but sole pro-democracy party left, the Democratic Party, built to stop it?

Because, with little more than a year until the midterms, there`s one thing most observers agree: The Democrats are in trouble.

But is it, as former Obama data guru David Shor argues, because of the way our politics are structured to favor white rural communities in the Senate, and Democrats are just not connecting with the voters who they need in those communities?

[19:35:15]

Or is it as "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow suggests, that the Democrats are just not getting enough done with the power they currently hold in the White House in both chambers of Congress?

Because the reality is, we don`t have another party that`s built to save our democracy. The Republicans are gone. And if Democrats don`t have it in them to do it, that woman calling for civil war, she could be our future.

Joining me now is Rachel Bitecofer, political scientist and co-founder of STRIKE PAC, and Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster and strategist.

All right, you all, I`m going to read you a couple of little bits here and get -- and ask you to tell me where you fall on which of these two people are correct. Here`s what Charles Blow wrote in his "New York Times" column about 2022.

He says Democrats need to do more: "The Democrats will have no choice but to pass something, no matter the size, because the consequences of failure is suicide. Democrats must go into the midterms with something that they can call a win, with something that at least inches closer to the transformations that Biden has promised."

On the other hand, you have Ezra Klein, who wrote about David Shor`s thoughts and his data, which he explains as the: "Democrats are on the edge of an electoral abyss. To avoid it, they need to win states that lean Republican. To do that, they need to internalize that they are not like and do not understand the voters they need to win over."

I`m going to start with you, Cornell.

Oh, actually, ladies first. Ladies first.

I`m going to let Rachel go first. Rachel, I`m going to have you go first.

Which side do you fall on? Is it that Democrats need to find ways to appeal to people in a more sort of white working-class, conservative-ish world, or that they just need to get more stuff done?

RACHEL BITECOFER, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, I think what I would say if I was able to talk with David Shor and Ezra Klein about it is to say, OK, well, then, how do Democrats exactly win over white working-class voters if the main motivating factor, other than partisanship, that is motivating them is basically the Great Replacement Theory, right?

It`s white racial animus and resentment. And the political science literature on this is very, very clear. Look, it`s 2016. There`s been a lot of research since to kind of suss out in controlled models what matters to voters.

Is it these messages? Is it issues? Is it bread and butter? Is it economics? No, it is a latent fear about women and minorities taking over their -- I mean, think about it. This is a group of people who have had power in perpetuity.

And now that power is not only being challenged. It is being decreased, right? So it`s not like they`re making -- making that part up. We celebrate that. But, in certain segments of the country, especially when you have advertising and messaging and a propaganda news network that is stoking those things, making them more salient, getting these people to focus on Dr. Seuss, and not on the COVID relief money that they got, right, so, like, you can`t win back white working-class voters.

There are tons of working-class voters who are not white that we could massively improve reach -- outreach and messaging to. And we hit them. We have to understand where these voters are. They`re not us. They`re not following the news every day. They don`t follow politics.

So, if no one`s telling them that the Republican Party is bad for their personal pocketbook, then they are going to continue to be under the false assumption that voting for a Republican helps them.

REID: And so, Cornell, to that point.

And thank you. I wanted to -- that`s one of the reasons I wanted to see -- see what Rachel had to say, have her go first.

But I want to ask you this -- a similar question. Democrats are obsessed with the middle class. And when they say the middle class, they mean white middle-class voters, right? They mean white suburban voters. They are obsessed with them. And they are like, how can we make them like us, right?

But at the end of the day, isn`t Rachel correct that the base-base of the party is also unsatisfied, but it`s more because they`re not getting what Democrats promised, no?

Where do you fall on that trajectory between Shor and Charles Blow?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my head`s about to explode about this entire conversation, because to a lot -- to a certain extent, it`s politically absurd, right? It`s -- the 1990s are calling, and they want their campaigns back.

(LAUGHTER)

BELCHER: What would Barack Obama -- would we have a Barack Obama if we had listened to that sort of thinking?

And the truth of the matter is, Democrats have not won sort of the working white voters in decades. And the trend line is actually moving in the opposite direction. Like, we`re not doing better among them.

Where we are doing better is among white, better educated white voters, sort of college-educated white voters. And you saw from this past election Biden was able to do what Hillary Clinton nor even Barack Obama was able to do, in winning white college voters, particularly white college women. That`s where the new majorities are, in fact, built.

[19:40:02]

But, to your point, there is an obsession in the Democratic establishment old cabal about winning over their aunts and uncles, and not letting them go.

But they got to let them go, because the truth of the matter is, if you look at the majority that both Obama won, back-to-back majorities, and the majority that Biden won, they look very -- they don`t look that dissimilar. They look like a bunch of young people, a bunch of diverse people, and better educated Americans standing up and showing that they`re -- they`re, in fact, the majority.

That`s where the new majority is. But, at the same time, I don`t like the idea of pitting one against the other. Look, if you look at the Biden agenda, the Biden agenda overwhelmingly helps working-class white people, right, working-class Americans, that middle group -- that middle group of Americans.

But to the earlier point, tribalism is so strong right now. It is, in fact, what are they putting at their higher interests? Are they putting their pocketbook considerations or their transactional considerations above their higher interests, above the interests of sort of their tribalism?

No, when have Americans ever done that?

REID: Right. Right. Right.

BELCHER: They have never -- they have never done it.

So I kind of reject that idea. But, also, to Blow`s point, the Democrats do need to put up points. They do need to score points. But I will also remind you, Joy, that, in 2000 -- that earliest -- the early part of the Obama administration, we passed -- they passed an awful lot of legislation.

They actually passed legislation that pulled America back from the brink of an economic catastrophe. And then they got their tails whipped in 2010.

REID: That`s right. Yes.

BELCHER: And they got their tails whipped in 2010 partially because, quite frankly, what we`re seeing now is the base of the party is not energized.

And Republicans do a very good job of energizing their base, and while Democrats are afraid to energize their base because they`re afraid of this mythical swing voter that might be turned off if we talk to our base.

REID: Let me very quickly put up for everybody, so you guys understand.

Democrats had the majority of state legislatures as soon -- as early -- as recently as 2009. They started to lose it in that 2010 Armageddon midterm, and it never came back. Democrats are not focused on those state elections enough.

Very quick lightning round, starting with you, Cornell Belcher.

Are you concerned about Democratic turnout in 2022, yes or no?

BELCHER: If we don`t get justice in policing, and we don`t get voting rights turned around, yes, I`m very afraid that those African-Americans won`t turn out.

REID: Yes.

Bitecofer, are you concerned about turnout in 2022?

BITECOFER: Yes. And I will tell you this.

Like, the Republican Party understands how transactional the Democratic electorate is and that we`re not great at credit-claiming, right?

REID: Yes.

BITECOFER: So, like, they`re going to deprive us of those victories.

There is no way that the Republican Party will do anything to help or really just not put out every stop to...

REID: Yes.

BITECOFER: ... to keep the things that (AUDIO GAP) wants done from getting done, because, even if the Democratic consultant class doesn`t yet understand turnout...

REID: Yes.

BITECOFER: ... the Republican Party does.

(CROSSTALK)

BITECOFER: ... really want (AUDIO GAP)

REID: And like al Qaeda, they think long-term.

Rachel Bitecofer, Cornell Belcher, thank you very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: Scaring is caring, you all.

A heart-wrenching and undeniable example of systemic racism. A ProPublica report uncovers that, for years, a Tennessee county -- get this -- has been arresting and imprisoning black children as young as 7 years old for a crime that does not exist.

One of the reporters who broke that story joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:47:35]

REID: So, this next story is something everyone should hear about something that should never take place.

According to a scathing ProPublica report, a Tennessee county was profiting off the jailing of black children as young as 7 years old for a crime that doesn`t actually exist. And they have been doing it for more than a decade.

Rutherford County used what they called a filter system to give jailers discretion to hold children who are arrested and sent to the juvenile detention center. It led to a 2016 incident where 11 black children were arrested for witnessing, not participating, but witnessing a fight between other children, just seeing it happen, which, by the way, is not a crime.

At least six of the kids were handcuffed, four of them at their elementary school. One girl fell to her knees as she was arrested. Another threw up. Police handcuffed the youngest, an 8-year-old with pigtails. Four of the 11 kids actually spent time in jail.

Overseeing all of this was the county`s only juvenile court judge, Donna Davenport, who described her work as God`s mission to discipline children. Somehow, she still holds the job today.

Now, just to understand how bad it was under the judge`s control, the statewide average for locking up children referred to juvenile court was 5 percent. In Rutherford County, it was 48 percent.

With me now is one of the co-authors of the piece, Meribah Knight, reporter for Nashville PUBLIC RADIO and host of the podcast "The Promise."

I think everyone who saw this story rifle across Twitter was shocked and appalled. And so I thank you for coming and talking to us about it.

Just explain to us how on earth this could happen, where children are being routinely locked up by this judge.

MERIBAH KNIGHT, NASHVILLE PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, this is a story about one county with a staggering history of detaining children.

Like you said, it all culminated in this mass arrest of 11 kids. It happened through a couple different mechanisms. The first part was a declaration by the judge to law enforcement that every child who was arrested, even for minor violations like truancy or running away, needed to be transferred to the juvenile detention center. So that was step one.

Step two was that, once they were at the juvenile detention center, this filter system, as you described, was applied to the children. And what it meant was that any child could be kept if they were deemed a true threat. That`s direct quotes, true threat. However, in the manual, there was no definition for what a true threat was.

[19:50:01]

So, it was up to interpretation. And it was up to the officer who was seeing that child before them to decide, did they think they were a true threat?

And, obviously, that`s incredibly problematic.

REID: And it seems to me that the people who were deemed to treat that were black children, especially black boys, yes?

KNIGHT: Well, the thing about juvenile court that is so difficult to report on is that it`s all sealed, right? We don`t know the records for children.

But we do know that, yes, as this example showed, with the 11 children, they were all black, docking with lawyers who have represented children in her courtroom. Like any other aspect of the criminal justice system, overwhelmingly, these are black and brown children, yes.

REID: So, there were lawsuits attached to this. What were the adjudication of those lawsuits? What happened with these families, particularly the families of these little kids, these little girls and boys?

KNIGHT: Yes.

So, all 11 children sued in federal court. They all had settlements. In many of those instances, there was money earmarked for counseling, which was very needed for these children.

One of the young girls we outline the story, E.J., had a few months of counseling. After this happened, she had terrible dreams. She was scared to go back to school. I mean, you can only imagine. You`re a child. You`re scared someone`s going to come in and arrest you at any point. You don`t know.

So that was one aspect of it. The other aspect that is really important for this story is that, because of this culmination of lawsuits and because a handful of them were taken by a group of three lawyers themselves, over the course of a year, seven lawsuits materialize around this juvenile court and the juvenile detention center.

What that does is, it cracks the door open into this secretive world of juvenile court. And that`s really the basis for this story that we told. We obviously found other aspects of oversight mechanisms that were completely, woefully inadequate and didn`t happen.

But these cluster of lawsuits allowed us to look in to this world that is usually shut off from the public in order to protect children.

REID: Yes.

And this was a moneymaking scheme in this county, my understanding is. They made quite a bit of money doing it. And what of this judge? How in the world is she still seated and what is becoming of her?

KNIGHT: Yes, the money aspect of it is interesting.

It is a little bit decoupled from the children at the top of the story. The fact of the matter is, is that they get $175 a day for every child outside of their own county that they detain. One of the positive things about the lawsuit that came before the federal court, one of these many lawsuits (AUDIO GAP) that filter system, so it really made them curtail who they could take into their detention facility from their own county.

But what that did was kind of allowed them to shift gears and market themselves to other counties around Tennessee.

REID: To lock up their kids.

KNIGHT: And that was actually -- yes, yes. So, they started making money off of other children.

So, your question about the judge, judges in Tennessee are very hard to remove. Really, it`s up to the voters. She is an elected official. And it is up to the voters to decide that they want another judge.

One of the things that`s really unique about this story, as you mentioned at the top, is that she is the only juvenile court judge that this county has ever had.

REID: Yes.

KNIGHT: So, no one else has ever held this position.

REID: Vote, vote, vote. And this is why you have to vote, to get rid of people like this judge.

Meribah Knight, thank you so much for being here and sharing this horrific story with us. Really appreciate you.

OK, tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is next, as if that the wasn`t "Absolute Worst" enough.

Yet another celebrity has been spouting anti-vax rhetoric. And, weirdly, the right is not telling him to shut up and sing. Hmm.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:26]

REID: Celebrities have the power to sway millions of people, which is why it`s so alarming when particularly the ones with huge platforms publicly spread vaccine disinformation.

Rock `n` roll icon Eric Clapton is the latest example, making news today for donating a van and 1,000 pounds to British anti-vax group Jam For Freedom. As "Rolling Stone" reported today, that`s just the tip of the iceberg for Clapton. He participated in one of singer Van Morrison`s four anti-lockdown songs last year. And he`s spoken out against the vaccine ever since he claimed he had adverse effects from it, blaming pro-vaccine propaganda.

Clapton then released an anti-vax song called "This Has Gotta Stop" and went on a tour of red America, where he took a picture with bounty hunter - - bounty hunter Texas Governor Greg Abbott, because of course he did.

Now, what really stands out about white anti-vaxxers in particular is that they act like their freedom has been taken, taken from them. And they have this weird habit of trying to do that by co-opting the history of actually oppressed people, like former "SNL" comedian Jim Breuer, who blamed the cancellation of his shows on segregation, of forcing people to show up with vaccines, and declared that -- quote -- "I`m not going to be enslaved to the system."

Yes, because getting a free vaccine is exactly like slavery and Jim Crow.

Clapton is no different. He claimed that vaccine mandates are discrimination. The lyrics of his song with Van Morrison include: "Do you want to be a free man or do you want to be a slave?"

And, as "Rolling Stone" points out, this isn`t Clapton`s first nasty brush with matters of race. He used a derogatory term to describe his friend Jimi Hendrix in 1968, though the magazine points out it was -- quote -- "hipster slang" at the time.

And at a concert in 1976, he went on a racist rant that included him saying: "Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Keep Britain white."

It was particularly shocking at the time, because Clapton`s music was heavily influenced, one might say appropriated, from black musicians. One of his biggest hits was a cover of Bob Marley`s "I Shot the Sheriff."

As musician Red Saunders wrote at the time: "Own up. Half your music is black. You`re a good musician, but where would you be without the blues and R&B?"

Clapton has apologized for his racist past, blaming it on his addictions to alcohol and drugs. But his behavior over the past year is also questionable. And, as "Rolling Stone" put it, Clapton went from setting the standard for rock guitar to making full-tilt racist rants and becoming an outspoken vaccine skeptic.

Did he change, or was he always like this? I mean, maybe he`s just a jerk.

So, Eric Clapton, for your dangerous rhetoric on COVID precautions and vaccinations, you are tonight`s "Absolute Worst." And, also, Bob Marley was better.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.