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October 11, 2018
Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party
Progressive Populism

As Democratic leaders and strategists gear up for the 2018 and 2020 elections, the party stands at a crossroads. For progressive populists, the path forward is clear: Democrats must get back in touch with the party’s working-class roots by championing a specific set of policies, including Medicare for all, free public college tuition, a guaranteed federal jobs program, and housing as a human right. They say this strategy is key to winning back disillusioned working-class voters and to regaining power in Washington and beyond. But others view this as a dangerous path. They argue that a handful of high-profile progressive wins have been overhyped by the media and, rather than make promises that may be impossible to execute in this political climate, Democrats should champion centrist, economically viable policies that will win elections and solidify the base. How can the Democratic Party, out of power and outnumbered in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the nation, bring itself out of the political wilderness?


  • 00:00:00
    What is going to work for the Democratic party? "Work" in the sense of getting more voters to choose the color blue and then stay there, beyond the 2018 midterms, all the way into 2020. Well, some say that the Democrats need to swing more to the left, to the kinds of ideas and promises that under the rubric of progressive populism set the party up as standing for game-changing policies like Medicare for all, or tuition-free public education, or a guaranteed federal jobs program.

    But hold on, others say, including a lot of Democrats. Those are promises that cannot possibly or reasonably be kept. And they may sound So, radical to So, many that they will push more voters away than they will pull in. Better, they say, to let the Dems stay close to the center and let the Republicans look like the outliers. Who is right? Well, let's find out because we think this has the makings of a debate. Yes or no to this statement: Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party.
  • 00:01:03
    I'm John Donvan, and I stand between two teams of two, thinkers on this topic who will argue for and against that resolution. As always, our debate will go in three rounds, and then our live audience here at the Kaye Play House at Hunter College in New York City will vote to choose the winner. And if all goes well, civil discourse will also win.

    Our resolution is Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party. We have one team arguing for that resolution. Let's meet them, starting with, first, ladies and gentlemen, welcome again, Karine Jean-Pierre.

    [applause]

    Karine, welcome to Intelligence Squared U.S. You are, right now, senior adviser and national spokesperson for Moveon.org. You are also a lecturer at Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Before that, you were in the White House under President Obama. You worked on both of his presidential campaigns. You are a campaign manager for the ACLU's initiative on reproductive freedom and most recently the deputy campaign manager for Martin O'Malley for president. That is a lot of political experience. You have credited your career and your success to your parents.
  • 00:02:11
    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Absolutely.

    John Donvan:
    Why? Why is that?

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Absolutely. First of all, thank you all for coming in this weather. Really good to see everybody. And thank you, Hunter College, for having us. Yeah, I accredit everything to my parents.

    My parents are from Haiti. They are immigrants. They came here decades ago. At the time, Haiti was a dictatorship. And they -- they wanted the American dream. They had heard about the American dream. And So, through that -- through their travel, they ended up here in New York City. Grew up in New York. And they've worked So, hard, and their heart and determination, their love for this country and the country where they were born really gave me kind of the fuel to do everything that I've done as John was listing in my career. And without them, I don't think I would have ever ended up in the White House. And because of them, I still continue the work that I do through Moveon.
  • 00:03:06
    And So, it's my parents and my daughter that really fuels me today. And my hope is that not only will she go for the American dream, but that she will realize the American dream because So, many people in this country are trying to realize the American Dream themselves.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Karine Jean-Pierre.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Thanks.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    And your partner is Jeff Weaver. Jeff, welcome to Intelligence Squared.

    You are a long-time adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders. When he ran for president in 2016, you were his campaign manager.

    [applause]

    You also managed his Senate election campaign in 2006. You are the author of a book, new book, called "How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution that's Taking Back Our Country and Where We Go from Here." It came out in May. Jeff, Bernie didn't win, So, what do you mean when you say he won?

    Jeff Weaver:
    Well, Bernie did win. If you look, Medicare for all is now supported by 80 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. The minimum wage is being raised to $15 all over this country.
  • 00:04:02
    People are talking about free college -- free tuition in public colleges and universities. And we're having a debate like this tonight, and this is a testament to how Bernie won.
  • 00:05:04
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, John Cowan, very short and sweet.

    [applause]

    And you also have a partner in this debate, Steven Rattner. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Steven Rattner.

    [applause]

    Steven, welcome back to Intelligence Squared. You've debated with us before. It's wonderful to have you back. You are chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors and an economic analyst for MSNBC. You also have a lot of experience in politics. You were counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury. You were most notably President Obama's car czar. You've defended the motion last time you were with us, "Obama's economic policies are working effectively." That was back in 2009, nine years. So, curious, under President Trump, are we still feeling the effects of Obama's policies?

    Steven Rattner:
    You know, it's So, interesting to think back to 2009 and the idea that that was actually a debatable subject because I think the last nine years would eliminate any debate as to whether his policies were effective. And if you need any proof of that, Donald Trump is trying to take credit for it pretty much every day.
  • 00:06:06
    John Donvan:
    Thank you very much, Jeff Weaver.

    [applause]

    Again, our resolution is Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party. We have two debaters arguing against it. First, please welcome Jonathan Cowan.

    [applause]

    John, welcome to IQ2. You have over 25 years of experience at senior levels of politics and government. You're a Democratic press secretary in Congress. You're a chief of staff at the Department of housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration. You're here tonight most specifically, though, because you're the cofounder and president of a moderate Democratic think tank called Third Way. Tell the moderator what "moderate" means to you.

    [laughter]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    "Moderate" Democrat to me means a commitment to bold, modern ideas and a willingness and a conviction to think outside the blue bubble.
  • 00:06:10
    John Donvan:
    All right. Again, short and sweet and to the point. Ladies and gentlemen, Steven Rattner and the team arguing against the motion.

    [applause]

    So, let's move on to debate. Debate begins with round one. Those are opening statements by each debater in turn. Speaking first for the motion, Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party, here is Jeff Weaver, senior political adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeff Weaver.

    [applause]

    Jeff Weaver:
    I want thank you all for coming out. This is a very important question at this very difficult time in our nation's political history. Every day we are reminded that in many ways our country is on the edge of a knife. And we can slide either way. I think all of us recognize the great harm that Trump is doing in this country, the type of hateful rhetoric he's injecting into our country and the way he is changing the mindset of So, many people in this country toward a more divisive and destructive mentality.
  • 00:07:07
    And it is our job -- but I -- you'll hear some allusions from me later, like comments about the 1930s in America. But in many ways, we are confronting something that our allies confronted in western Europe in 1930s in Europe. And they failed in their attempts to strike down sort of ultra-nationalism and xenophobia and racism, and we cannot afford to fail. There's no one to come. There's no greater -- greatest generation somewhere else to come here and protect us.

    What does that mean? That means we have got to galvanize the American people, the grassroots of the American people. We've got to unify the American people and create a country that, as Bernie says, that in a government and an economy that works for everyone.

    And I think as we go through this tonight and we talk a little bit about the history of the Democratic party and where we are today, I think you will see that not only is the sort of neoliberal corporatist view incapable of confronting and defeating Trump, but in many ways, it is responsible for its rise in this country.
  • 00:08:02
    Our great party, the Democratic Party, the modern Democratic Party, was born in the crucible of the New Deal. FDR came into power at a time of great economic calamity, as all of you know. It was a worldwide depression. And against great opposition from Republicans, from business interests, and frankly, from many inside the Democratic Party, put together a coalition -- created Social Security, created workers' rights, created a lot of investments in this country that we still see today -- the TVA and other things -- that created dominance by democratic politics in this country for decades, this coalition, this grand New Deal coalition. And our job in this country is to rebuild that grand New Deal coalition. This cannot be a party of only upper-middle income people, of only well-to-do suburbanites. This has got to be a party that represents also working-class people and marginalized communities. And what those people understand is that we have big problems in this country and we need bold solutions.
  • 00:09:03
    And the solutions that are being offered by people in the sort of progressive, populist camp are not unrealistic or undoable if we have the political will in this country. We live in the richest country in the history of the world. All of our western democratic allies have universal healthcare. We do not. We used to have free tuition at public colleges and universities in this country. That's not a new thing. That's kind of an old thing. We used to have that. And we have lost it. The value of the minimum wage has degraded over time. The working people need to have a decent standard of living in this country, whether that's through legislation or putting pressure on companies, as we've seen recently -- Senator Sanders got a third of a million people a raise at Amazon.com. So, we have got to energize and excite people. And what has happened is, after this period of dominance, we had the Reagan Revolution. Although we did not lose the House during that time period; we should remember that. We had the Reagan Revolution. And then a group of folks came along and said, "The problem with the Democratic Party is we're not really enough in the pocket of Wall Street and financial interests. And if we do that, we can really win." And they did win.
  • 00:10:10
    In 1992, Bill Clinton won with 43 percent vote. It was a three-way race, as people may remember. And [unintelligible] going down a path of neo-liberal economics. We had NAFTA. We had Most Favored Nation status with China. And we destroyed the relationship between the Democratic Party and its historic working-class base in this country. In 1994, we lost the House of Representatives for the first time since 1952. Seeing that kind of loss and the disconnection between working-class people in and the party, they turned to a very ugly set of policies. DOMA, who attacked the LGBT community. Welfare reform, which was a pared-down version of Reagan's "welfare queen" program. The crime bill, which created mass incarceration in this country. We forget that Bill Clinton and Joe Biden are the fathers of mass incarceration in America.
  • 00:11:03
    And since then, we have been trying to find our way. And in 2016, the grassroots of this party said, "No more. We want to stand up. We want to reclaim our New Deal heritage. We want to be the dominant party in this country again for decades to come. We want to bring people together and not divide them up. We have got to serve the interests of working people, marginalized communities, and not the rich and the powerful." And I hope you vote for us at the end of this process.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jeff Weaver. The resolution, again, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party. And here to make his opening statement against the motion: please welcome Jonathan Cowan, co-founder and president of the Third Way. Ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan Cowan.

    [applause]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    The question before us is this. If Democrats run on the ideas of the progressive populists, will that save the Democratic Party?
  • 00:12:01
    Will these ideas win elections everywhere So, that we can defeat Trump in 2020? The answer is no. Let's start with what we -- all of us on this stage -- have in common. We are all excited about the new generation of candidates hailing from all ideological wings. Young people, women, and people of color are adding dynamism and diversity to the Democratic Party. But where we disagree is over the ideas these candidates should be carrying. The evidence is overwhelming that populist ideas will not help Democrats regain the White House or majorities. They might look good on a bumper sticker. But when voters hear about the details, support crumbles. Take their centerpiece idea: Medicare for All. It has been tested and it has failed.
  • 00:13:01
    In 2016, the purple state of Colorado had a Medicare for all style initiative on the ballot. It was decimated. Seventy-nine percent voted no. It lost in liberal Boulder. In deep blue Vermont the state passed single-payer in 2011 and gave up on it just three years later because the costs and tax increases were simply too high. Now, I admit that during these mid-term general elections there have been lots of Medicare for all ads on the air, but here's the rub. They're not being aired by Democrats. They're being aired by Republicans as attack ads on Democrats. The GOP knows that if they can label every Democrat as a backer of Medicare for all, as well as other far-left ideas like abolishing ICE, they can retain the House. So, yes, their signature ideas are politically potent for Republicans.
  • 00:14:06
    Progressive populist ideas are not going to elect Democrats and save us from Trump and democratic voters agree. Bernie Sanders and his allies proclaimed that this would be their year and to prove it they backed a lot of democratic primary candidates carrying his agenda. Well, the primaries are over and how did they do? Twenty-three million people just voted in the democratic primaries. They were our most energized and committed voters turning out in historic numbers to put a check on Trump and they represented a bit tent democratic party, young and old, urban, suburban, and rural, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. And most of them voted for the more mainstream Democrat and against the democratic socialist. Yes, there were notable exceptions.
  • 00:15:01
    Alexandria Ocasio Cortez [spelled phonetically] and Rashida Talib [spelled phonetically] won by running inspired races in cobalt blue districts, but mainstream democrats won almost everywhere else. In the house non-incumbent candidates aligned with the moderate new Democrats won 32 of their 37 primaries, a stunning 86 percent win rate. Meanwhile, our revolution, the group formed by supporters of Bernie Sanders had a dismal 39 percent win rate. So, if running on a Sanders style platform is the way for Democrats to regain power someone had better tell the 23 million democratic primary voters who felt otherwise. And if candidates carrying these ideas can't win primaries, that agenda clearly has no chance of delivering victories in a general election. In June of 2017 Bernie Sanders published an op ed titled, "How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections."
  • 00:16:07
    In it he proclaimed that his ideas were the key to victory, but on the very day it was published democratic primary voters in Virginia had to choose between Ralph Northam [spelled phonetically] and Tom Periello [spelled phonetically] as their gubernatorial nominee. Periello, a talented former congressman, proudly embraced a populist agenda and even featured Bernie in his ads. Northam ran as a proud moderate. So, it was a great field experiment for tonight's debate motion. If progressive populist ideas are the way to win, then especially in a democratic primary it must be that the populist Periello won handily. The reality? Northam crushed him by 12 points and went on to easily win the general election. That Virginia win by a moderate kicked off the primary season.
  • 00:17:05
    Andrew Cuomo's resounding victory over Cynthia Nixon marked the last. With a handful of exceptions primaries in the 48 states in between delivered similar results. Democrats chose moderate nominees who fit their districts in states and were best positioned to win in a general election. So, remember, if you vote for this motion, you're not saying the democratic socialist ideas and the candidates carrying them can win in Queens. You're saying that these populist ideas can win and save the democratic party everywhere. Twenty-three million democratic primary voters just weighed in on this question. And if they were here tonight, most of them would once again vote no on this proposition. I hope you'll do the same.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jonathan Cowan.
  • 00:18:02
    You've heard the first two opening statements and now onto the third. Debating for the resolution, Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party, here is Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser and national spokesperson for MoveOn.org. Ladies and gentlemen, Karine Jean-Pierre.

    [applause]

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    So, let's step back for a second and actually define what we're here to debate. First, populism. Populism is defined in the dictionary as "support for the concerns of ordinary people." But I would say everybody here on stage probably agrees with that. Now let's go down a little deeper and really get into the discussion. Populism is not about right versus left, but it's about top versus bottom. Populism actually offers up solutions.

    How? Well, one of the solutions that's it offers up is how do we fight against a society that benefits the privileged, the elites?
  • 00:19:08
    Now, there are many forms of populism. Donald Trump has his form of populism rhetoric, but his populism is right wing, white nationalist populism. He chooses to divide the country using race, religion, immigration status, and gender.

    Progressive populism unifies and brings us all together. The late Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, "When we all do better -- we all do better when we all do better."

    Now, economics is key. It's the key tenet of progressive populism, but it's not the only thing. We also have to talk about the systems, the power of systems that are created to help to benefit the privileged and the elites. And I'm talking about white supremacy. I'm talking about patriarchy, Islamophobia and also heterosexism, which is what -- which -- what progressive populism does, it fights against that. It says, "No," to that. So, we also need -- we need inclusive populism and also multiracial populism.
  • 00:20:16
    Now, many of our opponents would say what we're talking about is identity politics. And identity politics divides people. But then I would say, how are we supposed to get justice if we don't know the reality of our identities? How do we not define who's at the top and who's at the bottom? How do we move forward?

    As I mentioned earlier in my opening, my parents were immigrants. My dad was a New York City cab driver, my mom, a home health care aide. And I would argue, and I think I would be right to say, that what they -- the issues that they -- that matter to them also matter to their white working-class counterparts.
  • 00:21:00
    But, look, I'm not here to define, really. That's not the role that I'm supposed to do. But I wanted to give you a sense of populism and progressive populism, what that means. I'm supposed to give you an argument as to why progressive populism is the future of the Democratic party. Jeff did a good job giving the history of populism. I'm going to give you some data points.

    Progressive populism, as I mentioned, has solutions. Our solutions are actually incredibly popular. For example, Medicare for all. Blake Research did a survey back in April and asked voters in -- in the -- in battleground congressional districts how they felt about Medicare for all. Fifty-four percent strongly support Medicare for all. But I think the most interesting thing about that survey was that Democrat who are infrequent voters, it was more popular with them.
  • 00:22:00
    So, progressive politics favors debt-free college, which is popular. It favors universal childcare, which is popular. Affordable homeownership, which is important. And we also believe in the auto bailout, which was incredibly successful, thank you, Steve Rattner. And it was a great example of how activism -- how government, when they step into activism can really help the markets and intervene in the markets. That's what it did.

    But now I want to talk about the successful candidates who are progressive populists that are currently happening right now, and not in blue states. I'm talking about deep red states. The first one is Beta O'Roark. He's running in Texas. Donald Trump won Texas by nine points.

    Mitt Romney won Texas 16 points. Beta O'Roark is authentic. He's fighting for the people. He's progressive. He's not taking PAC money, he's not taking corporation money, and he's doing really well in that race.
  • 00:23:05
    Wendy Davis, who lost that -- who lost the governor's race a couple years ago by 20 points, said that she would won -- would run a more progressive campaign, a more authentic campaign if she were to do it again. Andrew Gillam, incredibly progressive, making history.

    And in the naysayers, in the primary had said, "Oh, he's too progressive. He's too liberal. There's no way." He came out in the general election, has been leading in all of the polls in Florida. Trump won that by one or two points. All the past Democratic candidates who were -- who were in the middle have never done as well as he's doing right now. And the irony of that is he's probably going to, on his coattails, help Bill Nelson win, who is a centrist.

    Look, it's not going to be up to us who are on stage that's going to decide what the -- what the Democratic party is going to do. It's going to be up to activists and voters out in the country, across the country.
  • 00:24:03
    And they're making it loud and clear. They want the Democratic party to be -- to challenge, I should say, status quo, and to fight for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent.

    So, progressive populism is the future of the Democratic party. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Karine Jean-Pierre. And that is the resolution, Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party. And here to make his statement against the motion, please welcome Steven Rattner, chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors and former counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury. Ladies and gentlemen, Steven Rattner.

    Steven Rattner:
    Thanks. Let me start by echoing what John said. I am a Democrat, and I consider myself a progressive, and I consider myself as a fighter for the 99 percent as I think it should be defined. I believe that our tax system excessively favors the rich.

    I believe that income inequality in our country is at reprehensible levels and must be addressed.
  • 00:25:00
    I believe that the federal government should lean in and try to solve the pressing problems of those who have been left behind. I believe that America has an important role to play in the world, including by imparting our values of democracy and human rights.

    But I don't believe that endorsing policy ideas that are either unaffordable or make little economic sense or will do more harm than good, or all three, would somehow be good politics for the Democratic party. Let me do my historical review. There has not been a single Democratic president-elected in our history espousing the kinds of policies that the proponents of this motion advocate, not FDR, Jeff, who ran in 1932 on a platform of balancing the budget; not John F. Kennedy, who, by the way, cut taxes for the rich; not Jimmy Carter, who ran as a self-styled New Democrat; certainly not Bill Clinton, and not even Barack Obama who Senator Sanders attacked as weak for not pushing more robust, i.e., progressive policies.
  • 00:26:01
    Then there are the losers. George McGovern, who carried just one state and the District of Columbia in 1972. In 1984, Walter Mondale suffered exactly the same fate. Just four years after that, Michael Dukakis was trounced, 426 electoral votes to 111.

    All of us up here agree that the election of Donald Trump was one of the saddest days of our lifetime.

    [applause]

    And with an approval rating hovering around 43 percent, there's no way he should be re-elected. But if we want to make the unimaginable imaginable, just nominate someone out of touch with the mainstream of this country. We can talk about all we want about energizing the base. But remember that only 33 percent of Americans are even Democrats at all. It's also worth noting that the share of Independents at 37 percent is the highest in 27 years.
  • 00:27:00
    Last I looked, you needed around 50 percent to win.

    You've heard the suggestion that Bernie Sanders could have beaten Donald Trump. We'll never know. But we do know a few things. For starters, it has historically always been very difficult and rare for someone of the same party as a two-term incumbent to win the presidency. After -- after eight years, voters generally want to change, as they did in 2008 and again in 2016.

    We won't have that impediment in 2020, but we will have a more important problem that hurt Mrs. Clinton, the fact that Democratic voters are increasingly concentrated geographically, particularly in big blue states like New York and California. That's a large part of why Mrs. Clinton lost, even though she got 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. So, to win, we must reach out to more moderate voters in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, and in Wisconsin, three states that we never should have lost.

    Lastly, you've heard turnout blamed for Secretary Clinton's loss, but at 60.1 percent, turnout was higher in 2016 than it was for Barack Obama's re-election in 2012.
  • 00:28:07
    Now, let's turn to policy. John made a compelling case for why Medicare for All is bad politics. The same would inevitably be true of some of the other ideas that Senator Sanders and his sympathizers have put forth once the electorate understood the implications. Guarantee a $15 an hour income to all. That would cost in the order of $680 million annually. How about providing a $12,000-a-year basic income to every American? The bill for that, a whopping $3.8 trillion per year. And given that our tax revenue runs about 3.5 trillion annually, paying for that would require doubling taxes. Expand Social Security? That sounds pretty good, until Americans understand that the trust fund is on track to go broke in 2034 and jeopardize the benefits that we've already promised.
  • 00:29:03
    Just wait until the voters go to Sanders's website, as I did, and find him absurdly claiming that Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus. Make public colleges and universities' tuition free, as Jeff suggested. It's a great goal for the underprivileged. But if any of my kids were to go to a public institution, I have no idea why they should get a free ride. Break up the big banks? That sounds appealing, although apparently not to Mr. Sanders's Senate colleagues, none of whom have signed on as co-sponsors of his bill. Abolish ICE? Only 32 percent of voters of that, while 53 percent understand that Immigration and Customs Service, albeit with reforms, is something that we need to have. Even among Democrats, only 44 percent want to abolish ICE. As I close, I want to re-emphasize the extent to which I share the goals of the populists. I share everything that has been said before me as a goal. But we should address the critical issues facing our nation by putting forward responsible, prudent policies that will attract the coalition of voters that we need to keep Donald Trump from another four years of destroying America. Thank you.
  • 00:30:07
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Steven Rattner.

    [applause]

    And that concludes Round 1 of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, where our resolution is Progressive Populism will Save the Democratic Party.

    Now we move on to Round 2. And in Round 2, the debaters address one another directly, and they take questions from me and from you, our live audience here in New York City. Our resolution is this: Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party. What we seem to be hearing about, basically, is a dispute over how most voters or many voters will respond to the set of policies that are identified with progressive populism. The team arguing for the resolution -- Karine Jean-Pierre and Jeff Weaver -- are arguing that, in fact, these ideas would be very popular. They would be vote-getters. They describe in this country a sense of emergency in the light of things like xenophobia, and ultra-nationalism, and racism that requires the Democratic Party to go back, they say, to its New Deal roots, to the kind of emergency that preceded the New Deal, a time when bold solutions were required and bold solutions were put into place.
  • 00:31:09
    They also describe a tension between top and bottom. And in that framework, they say these are solutions that appeal to the bottom -- ideas like Medicaid for All, free college -- free public college tuition, abolishing ICE, housing as a human right. Their bottom line is that these things are needed. These things will be popular. These things are what the party should and would -- will stand for and will also get votes. The team arguing against the resolution -- Jonathan Cowan and Steven Rattner -- they identify themselves as progressives, but they say the problem with their opponents' ideas is a thing that I think I could describe as political reality.

    They say that these ideas just are unsustainable. They can't be carried through -- that the public sniffs that out; that these ideas will scare the public. They look great on a bumper sticker, but in reality, voters will not go for them. That -- they cite instance after instance, where given the opportunity to either vote for these things -- they voted against, or when put in place, they ultimately failed.
  • 00:32:06
    They say these ideas will, in fact, help the Republicans the more that they can be identified with the Democratic Party. So, I think that that gives us an overall sense of what the issues are here. And I want to take a question to you, Jeff Weaver, from something that your opponents said, in that the Democrats need to have moderates come into the tent. And the -- what occurred to me is it almost sounded as though they were saying that you and Karine are arguing for appealing to the Democratic base, and the moderates -- not that they don't matter, but that they're -- that you just can't get them.

    I want to see if I understand that correctly.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah, well, that is not what we're saying. It's interesting if you want to talk about elections because we just had a presidential election and So, we have a lot of experience. We had a hard-fought democratic primary between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the evidence is pretty clear. I've seen a zillion polls in a zillion states as you can probably imagine, and Bernie Sanders was winning rural Democrats, conservative Democrats, moderate Democrats, and Secretary Clinton was doing much better with suburban Democrats who on paper look liberal because they are -- you know, they're pro-choice and they support that and global warming and so on and so forth.
  • 00:33:16
    So, the modeling that was done clearly showed that Bernie was winning the very voters that you were talking about in red places. They were coming out overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders, which is why he won in Oklahoma. He won in Kansas. He won in Nebraska. He won in Utah. He won in Idaho and on and on it goes and in fact, it is these voters that we need -- that I'm arguing we need to bring back into the town. Working class voters in red states, this question about geographic concentration of democratic supporters and very, very serious problem that we have in an electoral college system and we need to broaden our support geographically and the way you do that is by being unapologetically on the side of working people in these states. We all forget that the Midwest of this country used to be the center of progressive politics in this country.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jeff Weaver:
    The plain states was where progressivism rose in this country and we have lost touch with those people because the truth of the matter is that there are many people in that wing of the party who really don't like those people very much.
  • 00:34:09
    John Donvan:
    Okay, Jeff. Let me break in to let your opponents respond to some of what you said because you said a lot.

    [applause]

    Jon Cowen, basically Jeff is saying that those voters in the red states that you say would be driven away by these ideas would not be driven away.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Okay. Well, let me address that, but first let me address the last comment you made and maybe I misunderstood it. But if you're saying that I do not like a bunch of working-class voters, that's beyond offensive and ridiculous.

    Jeff Weaver:
    As long as you don't have to –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Excuse me, Jeff. Let me finish. That's offensive and ridiculous. Okay?

    Jeff Weaver:
    I'm sorry you're offended.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    I've devoted 25 years of my life to democratic policy and policymaking.

    I was the chief of staff of the Department of Housing and Development and visited hundreds of public housing developments all over America. So, that's offensive. The debate is not whether we feel or you feel more passionately about helping the struggling and working middle class of this country. The question is, and you keep trying to reframe the question, the question is this, not whether people in the audience like your ideas, it's whether those ideas will win elections.
  • 00:35:12
    [applause]

    And they don't win elections.

    Jeff Weaver:
    That's just not true.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    I'm sorry. A different debate on another night is the policy merits of them or, in fact, whether people love them more or less, but that's not the question. The question is if Democrats run on your ideas will they win. We just had not a poll. We just had an actual election of 23 million democratic primary voters and however you feel about Sanders and his ideas, whatever you feel about them, the result is unequivocal.

    Democratic primary voters of all different kinds in all different places in the country chose candidates who are not the passionate supporters of your ideas.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Let me bring in Karine.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Just to be fair, John, you said liven it up and leap in. So, --

    [laughter]

    I don't want it to look like I'm obnoxious. I'm just saying.

    Male Speaker:
    Let's not forget the election we had in 2016 where your ideas clearly lost.

    John Donvan:
    Let me -- let me -- Karine, before you speak, before you speak, we like to keep this –

    [laughter]

    Male Speaker:
    Friendly.
  • 00:36:11
    John Donvan:
    I'm trying to think of the words. Not happy is not the word. Friendly is the word and I -- the fact that your opponent took such direct offense at what you said, do you want to say anything about that?

    Jeff Weaver:
    I do want to say something about it, because if you were going to win elections –

    John Donvan:
    No, no, no. I mean, the fact that he took personal offense.

    Jeff Weaver:
    I'm sorry you took personal offense. How's that? That's kind of an off-handed –

    John Donvan:
    All right. That's a non-apology apology. I'll go to Karine.

    [laughter]
    Karine, you're up.

    Karine Jean-Pierre
    You know, there are currently in this election cycle -- we do have some history makers and those history makers are running on progressive issues.

    Those history makers are diverse and they're running on issues that are actually popular and I don't think they would've ended up in a general election in these competitive races if that wasn't the case.
  • 00:37:03
    I mention Andrew Gillam [spelled phonetically]. That's amazing because it's Florida that we're talking about.

    [applause]

    Andrew Gillam. And the naysayers as I was saying in my presentation said he couldn't do it, he was too progressive, he was too liberal, and he beat out was it four or five centrists?

    Male Speaker:
    Millionaires.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Millionaires, Democrats. So, this argument -- and he's not from a blue state, you know? He's from a red state and let's not forget Stacy Abrams [spelled phonetically] who could potentially make history in 20-some-odd days.

    [applause]

    -- who has a history also working across the aisle –

    Male Speaker:
    Yes.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    -- which is great, but –

    Male Speaker:
    She's literally running an --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    -- ultra progressive.

    Male Speaker:
    -- ad right now labeling herself a pragmatic leader, and she was attacked from the left from being too centrist during her primary.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Who's attacking her from the left?

    Male Speaker:
    Primary, she was attacked from the left.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    From whom?

    Male Speaker:
    So, Stacy –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    The person show was running against was from the left, So, who are you talking about?
  • 00:38:00
    Male Speaker:
    Again –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    So, attacked by whom, though?

    Male Speaker:
    I passionately support Stacy Abraham.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, but you can't put that -- that statement -- [laughs] -- and say she was attacked by -- no one was -- we were supporting her.

    Male Speaker:
    No, no, no.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    [unintelligible] was one of the first –

    Male Speaker:
    Her opponent -- her opponent –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Her opponent was to her right. Carol [unintelligible] was a moderate.

    Male Speaker:
    No. Her only opponent was not right.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yes, she was. The other Stacy –

    John Donvan:
    Okay, we have -- we have to pass –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yes, she was.

    John Donvan:
    -- on that. Karine, I want -- I want to give you another 30 seconds because I want to bring in Steve Rattner. But to finish your point.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, I'm just saying that we have candidates in red states, not blue states, who are doing incredibly well, who are making these races competitive, and they're running on progressive issues So, –

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Steve Rattner, to respond to -- in other words, your opponents are saying, look, here's this case, here's this case, here's this case, not just in cobalt blue areas.

    Steven Rattner:
    Well, you kind of made my point for me. Karine uses the word, there are some history makers, some. I agree, there are some history makers. Unfortunately, they are a small number of history makers against a much larger group of examples –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    That's what –

    Steven Rattner:
    Can I -- let me finish. Against a much larger group of examples that John just ran through of many cases, case after case after case during this primary season, 23 million votes in which -- in which the -- in which the Democratic party, before you even get to the rest of the electorate, but the registered Democrats chose the moderates.
  • 00:39:13
    With respect to 2016, yes, I would absolutely concede that Senator Sanders has an appeal to a certain group of working-class Democrats who find his -- some of his populist ideas appealing. However, that was not enough to get him to win. He lost the primaries to Hillary Clinton by 4 million votes if I remember correctly. So, that -- So, we've had that test. We've had a centrist, moderate, whatever you want to call Mrs. Clinton.

    I think she's a liberal. And you've had someone who is very, very progressive within the Democratic party, before he even get to the electorate. And the Democrats, the registered Democrats said, "We want to go this way." And that is the preponderance of the outcomes, not that there aren't examples that support your thesis, but they are a small number of examples amidst a large number –

    Jeff Weaver:
    But your candidate couldn't beat Trump.

    Steven Rattner:
    Excuse me?
  • 00:40:04
    Jeff Weaver:
    Your candidate could not beat Trump. And another candidate like that [unintelligible] –

    [talking simultaneously]

    Steven Rattner:
    No, no. No. Our –

    [applause]

    And first of all, you're -- first of all, you have no way of knowing that, number one. Number two --
    Jeff Weaver:
    He didn't win. We –

    [talking simultaneously]

    Male Speaker:
    But your candidate couldn't beat our candidate.

    Male Speaker:
    Yeah, So, yeah. Your candidate doesn't beat our candidate [unintelligible].

    [applause]

    Jeff Weaver:
    He was a –

    Male Speaker:
    I think that seems like a rabbit hole to go down.

    Steven Rattner:
    No, the question's what's the future for the party? If the party continues to go with you guys, they will continue to lose to Trump.

    Jeff Weaver:
    But then when you say if the party continues to go with us guys, the -- the -- the last two Democrats to win the White House back to back were us guys.

    I mean, your guys said our guy, Obama, was not progressive. And I know what he thinks of Bill Clinton. So, our guys are the last two Democrats to win the White House twice back to back.

    Steven Rattner:
    No, not just –

    Jeff Weaver:
    Isn't that the objective?

    Steven Rattner:
    Not just the last two. I mean, give me an example of one Democrat who's won the White House going down your road. Nobody. Mondale, Dukakis, McGovern got massacred. Massacred.

    [talking simultaneously]

    John Donvan:
    Karine.

    Male Speaker:
    -- all the categories [unintelligible] –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    So, I have to push back on Steve Rattner. MoveOn has endorsed more than 200 candidates across the country.
  • 00:41:08
    John Donvan:
    But play to the folks –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Sorry. I keep talking to you.

    John Donvan:
    Yeah, I know.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    I'm so sorry.

    John Donvan:
    I know. You're the voters [unintelligible].

    [talking simultaneously]

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    -- endorsed more than 200 candidates across the country who are progressive candidates, who are diverse, who are in states like Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida. And they're running on a progressive message. And So, to say that, yeah, I said some are making history because the ones that I named were making really big history. We're talking about Florida and Georgia and Senate -- gubernatorial races. But we have, we searched for them, they came out, and they're running really important races.

    I do want to go back because you guys keep wanting to go back to 2016. Let's go back to 2016 for a second. So, 2016, there were 46.9 percent of registered voters who did not come out to vote. Six -- Hillary Clinton got 6.8 million less voters than Obama did in 2012. And the reason why -- there are many reasons why. I think they were not excited enough. You had young people who stayed home. I think that the -- the 46.9 million, many of them were from our side, the Democratic side than the Republican side.
  • 00:42:09
    And also, you had a system that was rigged. And what I mean by that is, in 2013, the Voting Rights Act was gutted. And So, what did you see? You see voter -- voter ID laws, these awful voter ID laws come up, pop up all across the country. In Wisconsin, there were more than 200,000 voters who were not able to vote who were disenfranchised in North Carolina.

    So, there's -- So, there's a couple of things here. There's a system that needs to be fixed, that is for the 1 percent, not the 99 percent. And also, we need to energize. We need to really give issues to voters, our base that –
  • 00:43:01
    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    So, your facts are right, and my facts are wrong? Is that what you're saying?

    Male Speaker:
    Well, you may have alternate facts, but I –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    I may not have alternative facts.

    [laughter]

    Male Speaker:
    But I have facts that I actually looked up.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    No, I –

    John Donvan:
    I have to keep reminding myself, you guys all belong to the same party.

    [laughter]

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    I don't think so.

    Male Speaker:
    The Democratic party.

    John Donvan:
    No. Well, let me -- let me take to John Cowan what I think I heard Karine just saying, is that these ideas could be So, energizing that they will bring people out of the voting woodwork who have -- who have -- who've chosen to sit it out before

    And I think their whole message was this need to reconnect with the bottom -- I'm uncomfortable using the term "bottom," but I'm using it because this side did. But to the bottom socioeconomic sector of society, the working person, that they're disengaged and that there was a coalition, there could be a coalition that could be excited into voting for these ideas and therefore changing the game. Of course, it's all speculative, but that's –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Well, but this is actually -- the point is, it's just speculative. Let's go to political reality.
  • 00:44:03
    So, I'll give you two examples of political reality around this. Let's just pick Medicare for all. So, if the thesis is that these ideas, of which the single centerpiece is Medicare for all, will energy all kinds of voters and win elections, if that's the thesis, which it clearly is, if that's the thesis, then let's look at the general election advertising of the Democrats in the 84 competitive races.

    Well, it turns out I asked my staff to do that. And a bunch of them sat around and watched 286 Democratic ads on health care to see what Democrats were saying since their putting all their money into winning their races and turning out voters.

    Not one, not one Democrat in the 84 competitive races is running an ad that said, "Medicare for all."

    So, unless we think that all 84 of those Democrats are idiots and have no idea how to win their races -- which would be horrific news for the country -- but if that -- unless we think that, it means they took a hard look at it and they said, "You know what? These ideas aren't going to win me elections. That's not how I'm going to win this fall."
  • 00:45:05
    I'll give you one other –

    John Donvan:
    Well, let me -- you gave an example. I want to let your partners -- opponents respond to something.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah, but, you know, I've sign the polling that informs the DCCC's messaging on this. And let's be clear, I mean, you're -- you understand this that these candidates, by and large, get messaging from the DCCC about how to message on health care and a whole bunch of other things. So, they can obviously disagree with that. But many candidates do message often what the DCCC sends them. The DCCC is very hesitant about Medicare –

    John Donvan:
    Just for listeners who don't know what the –

    Jeff Weaver:
    It's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    John Donvan:
    And they're –

    Jeff Weaver:
    They're the arm of the Democratic party which supports House candidates, House of Representatives.

    John Donvan:
    Great, thanks.

    Jeff Weaver:
    You know, I just think advice is wrong, and it's -- it's borne out 80 percent of Democrats in polls support Medicare for all. 52 percent of Republicans. How can you say that that is a losing issue?

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Because –

    Jeff Weaver:
    Andrew Gillam just won a primary in Florida that is a bunch of millionaires –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    You're citing a –

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- [unintelligible] Medicare for all.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    You're citing a poll. I'm citing an actual ballot initiative.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Well, this is –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    In Colorado, they ran a ballot initiative for a "Medicare for all" system. It lost 79 to 21. It lost in Boulder, Colorado.
  • 00:45:21
    John Donvan:
    So, –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    -- gets them out there.

    John Donvan:
    So, let me –

    Male Speaker:
    Could I just do a factual correction? Hillary Clinton got almost exactly the same number of votes in 2016 as Barack Obama got in 2012.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    That's not what I read today.

    Male Speaker:
    Well, that's a fact.
  • 00:46:04
    Jeff Weaver:
    Andrew Gillam is –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Forget polls that questions can be asked any way. And by the way, Kaiser Foundation, who is the gold standard on health care research and polling in the United States, Kaiser can produce numbers for you that show, yes, a majority of people support it. And then the moment you start telling them anything about it, the support completely collapses. So, instead of a theory, Bernie would have won -- would -- beaten Trump, Medicare would work if you did this, let's look at the reality. The reality is they're not winning.

    I'll give you -- one other thing on the midterms, because this is really important. We can't redefine who won these -- who is in the general election candidates. Of the 84 competitive races, 76 percent, right, three quarters of those folks, have been endorsed either by the new Democrats in the House or the blue dogs, the conservative Democrats in the House. Just 4 percent have been -- been endorsed by justice Democrats and our revolution.
  • 00:47:00
    So, look at who's actually running. The people who won these races are moderate, mainstream Democrats. And they're the people who, God willing, are going to put a check on Trump and hand us back the House.

    John Donvan:
    Can I put something else into the conversation? I want to be very careful about how I phrase this because I am -- I am not drawing comparison between the content of what Candidate Trump put out there to the public with the ideas that -- that the progressive side is putting out there. I am not drawing that. But I am drawing the notion of his finding a way to excite and rattle the cage that a lot of Americans felt they were living in, to the degree that they voted for him along with those ideas -- that he went out and played the populist game and made big promises that -- I think -- talking about political reality, two years ago, political reality was that he could never get elected. And yet, he pulled it off.

    So, what does that example show for your opponents' argument that big, sweeping, dangerous-sounding ideas -- in a positive way, given how they're framing it; they're framing it positively -- could actually have this impact on the electorate and pull off the unpredictable, even though no sitting Democratic president ever ran on those ideas before? Steve Rattner.
  • 00:48:09
    Steven Rattner:
    Look. First of all, I don't know that Trump had very many big ideas. He had a slogan: "Make America Great Again." And every -- and it was actually quite brilliant, even though he stole it from Ronald Reagan, in that –

    John Donvan:
    No, but he pushed buttons. He pushed all kinds of –

    Steven Rattner:
    Right.

    John Donvan:
    -- buttons that are –

    Steven Rattner:
    I'm getting –

    John Donvan:
    Sure, yeah.

    Steven Rattner:
    -- to that point. Look, the fact was and is that there were still huge numbers of Americans who have been left behind.

    When you look at median wages, adjusted for inflation, when you particularly separate them out and look at what's happened to people toward the bottom -- even during the Obama recovery, as hard as President Obama tried to make it better for everybody, the fact is that for a variety of reasons, you had a large group of Americans who felt angry, who felt left out, who felt left out by the Democratic Party because it was worrying about a lot of other interest groups -- or at least they perceived that to be the case. And they decided to vote for Donald Trump. And, as I said during my remarks, it is almost without precedent -- and I think there may be two or three examples in 200-and-some-odd years -- of someone of the same party as an eight-year president succeeding because people like change -- they want change after eight years.
  • 00:49:14
    So, Mrs. Clinton -- and she had 300 million more votes than Donald Trump anyway, but they were in not exactly the right places by 70,000 votes. And So, you had a kind of perfect storm of events that caused him to be elected. I don't think the fact that he got elected suggests that Medicare for All -- let me just say one thing about Medicare for All, and then I'll shut up.

    When you say -- if you go to any of these people, half of Americans get their healthcare from their employer. You say to them, "You're going to lose your healthcare from your employer, and you're going to become part of government healthcare" -- you think they're going to support that?

    Jeff Weaver:
    Well, apparently –

    John Donvan:
    Actually, I just want to –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    No. Go ahead.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Go ahead.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Apparently, Elizabeth Warren thinks they do. Kirsten Gillibrand [spelled phonetically] thinks that they will. Cory Booker thinks that they will. And these are all people who are going to be running for president of the United States, just in case that escaped you. Bernie Sanders thinks they will. Every senator -- U.S. senator -- who is thinking about running for president supports Medicare for All.
  • 00:50:04
    Steven Rattner:
    Not everyone. And I would say that –

    Male Speaker:
    Jeff Berkley [spelled phonetically] –

    Steven Rattner:
    I –

    Male Speaker:
    Which senator -- which person running for the –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, which –

    Male Speaker:
    -- U.S. [inaudible] –

    Male Speaker:
    [inaudible] -- we don't even know who's running yet.

    Steven Rattner:
    I would say -- and I would say to you that if one of those people gets nominated on that platform, we will lose. We will have four more years of Donald Trump, and we will be deeply, deeply regretful about that.

    [applause]

    Jeff Weaver:
    We will only lose if the people who back your ideas and fund your ideas and are major funders of the Democratic Party fold up their cards and go home like they did on McGovern and at other times. If your wing of the party stands with the progressive nominee –

    Steven Rattner:
    Forget my wing of the party –

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- we will –

    Steven Rattner:
    Forget my wing of the party. 33 percent of the country are Democrats. How do you win an election, even if you get every single one of them -- how do you win an election –

    Jeff Weaver:
    Because –

    Steven Rattner:
    -- without reaching out –

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- half of millennials are independents. This old notion that it's Democrats, moderate independents, and Republicans on the right is an old, outdated notion that has no reflection in American politics. There's a –

    [applause]

    -- there is a huge bunch of particularly young people who are independents who are over here, not in here. And when you do what you do, which is move to the right, those people don't vote for Republicans –
  • 00:51:08
    Steven Rattner:
    I haven't moved to the right.

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- they go away.

    Steven Rattner:
    I haven't moved to the right.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    I want to go to audience questions now. The gentleman in the third-row aisle.


    Male Speaker:
    Hi. My name is Will. I have a question for both sides, actually. One thing that I've noticed has been kind of ignored in this debate over progressive populism and Democratic policy writ large is foreign policy and defense spending. Like, we just passed a $720 billion bill essentially token opposition. I know Bernie was against it. But we've been engaged in two wars for 17 years, and potential conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and possibly –

    John Donvan:
    So, –

    Male Speaker:
    -- Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    John Donvan:
    So, your question is?

    Male Speaker:
    So, my question is, what do you consider -- what should the Democrats do for foreign policy and how should they for foreign policy and how should they differentiate themselves from the Republicans or if they should at all.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    And is there a progressive populist position on foreign policy? Let me take that first -- Karine, do you want to take that?

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    No.

    [laughter]
  • 00:52:08
    John Donvan:
    Jeff.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    I'm good.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Well, in fact I would refer you to a couple -- Bernie just gave a speech at Johns Hopkins yesterday -- before yesterday and he had an article in the Guardian not long about that -- concerned about the international rise of what he called an axis of ultra-right nationalism, which we're seeing around the world. Unfortunately, in this country as well Russia, Poland, Hungary, Israel, we've now seen it in Brazil and we have got to bring countries together around the world to combat that, right? I mean, we're again talking about the 1930s, but what that does not mean is that we go to war every time there's, you know, some economic interest of a billionaire class is being attacked somewhere. This is the history of foreign policy certainly in Central America and Latin America and this country and certainly in the Middle East.

    I don't think anybody here in this room can seriously say that if we weren't addicted to oil that there would be any Americans in the Middle East. [unintelligible].

    John Donvan:
    Let me stop you there because I have a feeling your opponents are going to agree with everything you just said.

    Male Speaker:
    Yes.

    [laughter]
  • 00:53:02
    John Donvan:
    Okay. All right. So, I don't think we have a point of conflict on that issue.

    Male Speaker:
    Just a little point of fact here. It is true that 2016, 2012, the voter turnout was around the same. However, in 2016 it was significantly down among people of color and among working people. Do you think that nominating somebody who gives paid speeches to Wall Street, who doesn't really have a very good record on race baiting, criminal justice reform was the right choice given those factors?

    John Donvan:
    I think that's a fair question for this debate. Karine, did you want to say something?

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    What was the -- I'm sorry. What was the question?

    John Donvan:
    He's -- well, do you want to put it -- do you want to name names in your question and make it very clear?

    Male Speaker:
    Hillary Clinton was a centrist and was from the Wall Street wing of the party and her numbers suffered among the -- overall, they were around the same as Obamas but they suffered among low-income people and people of color.
  • 00:54:02
    John Donvan:
    And what you're really saying is had there been a populist maybe Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton would we be with a President Trump today. I think that's your question.

    Male Speaker:
    Yes.

    John Donvan:
    I'll take it to Karine.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah. I think what we saw in 2016 with Hillary Clinton and people of color is that they were not inspired to vote for her. They were -- the issues weren't there. They weren't talking to them. Another thing that was happening around that time in 2015 was the Black Lives Matter movement, which really played into Hillary -- the Hillary Clinton's platform, right?

    The crime bill came up, which was a big issue that came from the moderate Democrats and it played into the elections of 2016. And So, there was a lot of feeling from in particular young black voters who didn't feel that the campaign was talking to them, who didn't feel that there was a place for them because they remembered the Clinton years because of what was happening in 2015 with black -- young black bodies being killed on the streets.
  • 00:55:05
    And there was -- they didn't feel like there was an answer to that for them. And so there were -- there wasn't -- they weren't spoken to. They weren't -- they weren't interested.

    John Donvan:
    All right, let me take you –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    They were not excited to come out and vote.

    John Donvan:
    Let me take your point to -- to John Cowan.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    I think you have to -- I think it's a great question. It's a fair question. But I think you have to disentangle problems with Hillary as a candidate from the question tonight. And the question tonight is -- was not, Was Hillary Clinton a crappy candidate or not? That's not the debate motion. The debate motion is, if a candidate in the future carries these ideas, will that candidate win?

    And so far, just to be clear, I've not heard much evidence that that's the case. And I think you really have to distinguish the difference between liking some of the ideas, whether you think they're good or bad ideas from whether they'll win. And I've not heard evidence that those ideas would win.
  • 00:56:05
    So, for example, Medicare for All, if it were such an overwhelming popular idea, how could it lose 79-21? Let me ask you this: If it were such an awesome idea, why wouldn't the 84 Democrats who don't all just listen to the Democratic Campaign Committee, they're running their own campaigns –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    That's right.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    -- if they had an idea of how to win, why wouldn't they do this? They're not doing it because whatever you think of the merits of these ideas, they're not politically popular in enough places.

    One last point on this -- this is very important -- is, Jeff cited these senators who might run for president, who support Medicare for All. He's right. That's true. They're all from safe blue places. They're all from safe blue places. Our job as a party is not to figure out how to make blue places bluer. It's how to make red places blue and purple places blue. That's our job.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Jeff, go ahead.
  • 00:57:01
    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah, I would -- I would say a couple of things. And you're right, you know, I think progressives in this party have not –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    You can stop at, "You're right." That's okay.

    [laughter]

    Jeff Weaver:
    Progressives have not gotten a fair shot in this party in terms of the funding and other things and an audience over the last 20 years. But what we do know is that your point of view has destroyed the party. And so, it cannot be worse than what you –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    But how do we know that? My –

    Jeff Weaver:
    Because your free -- your free trade deals –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Yeah, but -- but wait a –

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- destroyed the relationship with -- with working class Democrats. Your call for cutting social security is going to kill this party. You guys represent a certain group of interests. I get it. It's cool. Like this is a big tent party. But you cannot be the dominant voice in this party because you have no credibility with working people. When you go out and talk to real people –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    But, but –

    Male Speaker:
    Whoa, whoa.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Wait a minute. We have no credibility with working people. So just to be clear, because you and Bernie said this many times. My people are Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. You said that a million times. You said Barack Obama wasn't progressive. So –

    Jeff Weaver:
    No, I –

    Jonathan Cowan:
    -- the two people who are –

    [talking simultaneously]
  • 00:58:00
    Jeff Weaver:
    I've never said –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    He's never -- he didn't say that.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    -- our people were widely supported by working class people. Barack Obama built an amazing coalition. In fact, I think our challenge is to rebuild the Obama coalition, the centrist coalition, just to be clear, because that's actually what we have to do. But I don't know what you mean by –

    John Donvan:
    I want to -- I want to add something -- I want to -- you make a point that I want to add something to what was just said.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, so -- so there's -- there are a couple of things here. The Obama coalition was people of color, young people as well, which was a big part of the Obama coalition. They came out in record numbers. Obama would not have won in 2008 or 2012 without them. Trust me, I know.

    Male Speaker:
    Yeah.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    I worked on both campaigns. Wait, let me finish. Let me finish. So, you took -- you took offense when -- I can't remember what Jeff said to you. But the –

    Male Speaker:
    All [unintelligible] been taken.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, I can't -- I can't remember.

    Male Speaker:
    He said, "You don't care about working class people."

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Okay. The moment that I bring up the crime bill, right, and I say, "Hey, that's something that you guys pushed forward," now, oh, wait, we're talking about Hillary Clinton as a candidate. The crime bill hurt with black people. And the question was, why didn't black people come out, especially young black people. And it was because of that –
  • 00:59:08
    Steven Rattner:
    Hold on one second, one second. Look, let me just say one thing. Barack Obama didn't support any of your policies virtually. He didn't support Medicare for All. He didn't support free college tuition for everybody. He didn't support –

    Male Speaker:
    He supports Medicare for All now.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    He -- but he said it.

    Steven Rattner:
    Talking about 20 -- they're talking –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    That was -- that was 10 years ago. We're talking about 2008. Things have changed.

    Steven Rattner:
    Yes. But if he got elected --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    -- since 2008.

    Steven Rattner:
    -- because he --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    And he supports it now. He said it.

    Steven Rattner:
    He got a -- I don't think he supports Medicare for All.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    He -- no, he said it. He actually said it.

    Steven Rattner:
    Okay. Let's also --

    [talking simultaneously]

    Steven Rattner:
    -- go back -- let's --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Well, he's going to [unintelligible].

    John Donvan:
    All right, all right, all right. Time out. I want to throw something into this conversation that comes from an interesting direction. The other day there was an op ed attacking Medicare for All. It was written by Donald Trump.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Oh, gosh.

    Male Speaker:
    Surely.

    John Donvan:
    And he said -- he said, "The truth is that the centrist Democratic party is dead." And Joe Biden reacted to that. By the way, Biden has not confirmed whether he's running in 2020 or not. But he told a reporter for USA today in London, "Tell Trump he should hang on."
  • 01:00:08
    So, what do you make of Biden's response? Does -- does Trump's characterization of the party have any traction with voters out there? And does Biden have anything useful to say about it?

    Male Speaker:
    I'm happy to -- Trump is saying that because his greatest fear is running against someone like Clinton or Obama, Bill Clinton or Obama. That's how -- that's why he thinks he'll lose. The centrist -- if the centrist Democratic party is dead, I'm not -- you know, the centrist wing of the Democratic party is dead. I'm not sure then exactly what we're debating. If you see -- if Democrats regain the House, a third of the Democrats in the House will be self-described new Democrats.

    So far, from the centrist Democratic party wing of the party being dead, it's a lie. It's well. It's robust. It's elected the last two Democrats to the White House. And -- and I think this is really important.
  • 01:01:04
    From my point of view -- and this is not the subject of the debate tonight, but you should know it -- I don't believe that the way to win is a reprise of 1990s Democratic centrism anymore than I believe a reprise of 1960s Democratic socialism is the way to win. We're in a new era, and we need something different.

    But that's not the question tonight. The question tonight is, are the ideas like Medicare for All put up? Is there evidence those will win elections for Democrats? And there isn't.

    John Donvan:
    The other side to respond, and then I'm going to go back to questions.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    It's not just Medicare for All. There's also debt-free college, there's affordable home ownership. I think you guys are sticking on that because for -- you know, for you, you think it's -- it's a -- it's an issue that wins.

    I want to -- you talked about winning -- you talked about examples of elections recently to -- where candidates have won. I'm going to bring up a candidate right now, Conor Lamb, PA 18. Before --

    John Donvan:
    Can you explain what PA 18 is?

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, Pennsylvania 18 congressional district, very red, very red district.
  • 01:02:06
    Conor Lamb, Democrat, won the district, which was -- I think it had been held by a Republican for more than 10 years, if I get that right. And MoveOn members had endorsed Conor Lamb before it became a national race. And they endorsed him early and worked really hard for him, not because, oh, yeah, he's this -- he's this progressive. It's because of the issues that he was running on. He was running on protecting social security. He was running on protecting Medicare and Medicaid.

    And so, I guess the point that I'm making on it is that issues matter as well. Those issues that I am just talking about matter.

    Now, where do you guys stand on that? Where does Third Way stand on social security? And that -- and I think that matters because you're talking about that our issues are not going to win the day. But where are you guys on social security?
  • 01:03:00
    Jonathan Cowan:
    So, I'm delighted to answer that. Just to be clear, though, the debate tonight is not about our platform. We have a robust one, a big, robust one.

    John Donvan:
    I actually -- I don't want to spend --

    Male Speaker:
    So -- I'm just saying so I'm -- I would love to have a debate about our platform. I think it's powerful, compelling, and would build a winning coalition, and is exciting and ambitious. But that's not the conversation tonight.

    My -- just so to be clear, protecting social security isn't a Sanders position or a progressive populist position. It's a position that I can't really think of many Democrats who don't hold it.

    John Donvan:
    There's a woman with a black sweater and glasses. Yes, thank you.

    Female Speaker:
    Hi. My name is Kath. I'm wondering, you've mentioned the new deal. And I was -- just looked it up, and it said the marginal tax rate when -- in order to pay for that program went from 25 percent up to 53 -- up to 94 percent. And most other countries that have the, you know, Medicare type for all, it's 70 percent. How will you get, like, hard -- normal working people to be willing to pay 70 percent increase in taxes in order to pay for others?
  • 01:04:06
    John Donvan:
    And I assume your question is put something as a challenge to the "for" side, correct?

    Female Speaker:
    Yes.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Thanks.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Well, there's a recent study out and, again, on Medicare for All, let's also point out that over half of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives is for Medicare for elders, cosponsored legislation to support Medicare for All. So, this is not a fringe idea, by the way.

    There was just a report that came out of a very conservative school in northern Virginia which showed that, in fact, aggregate health care spending in this country would go down substantially if you had a Medicare for All system. So, will people be paying more taxes? Yes, they will be. There's no doubt about that. You can't get around that. Will they pay less in premiums? Yes, because they won't pay any premiums. They won't pay any copayments. They won't pay any deductibles. We're going to finally be able to get our hands around the pharmaceutical industry –

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yep.

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- who's ripping off this country and charging the highest prices in the world.

    [applause]

    So, in the aggregate, our country is going to save money. It's going to be good for business. And believe me, I have a small business with seven employees selling comic books like crazy in northern Virginia. I would love to have Medicare for All, frankly.
  • 01:05:02
    And so anyway... so, yes, people will have to pay more for -- in -- in taxes, but they will pay less in other ways. And in the aggregate, people as a whole will pay less.

    John Donvan:
    Steven Rattner.

    Steven Rattner:
    Look, again, this is not a debate about policy, it's a debate about politics. And I would remind -- I would just say one more time that I do not believe if you go to half of Americans and say, "You're going to give up your employer-based health insurance and come on a government plan," they would think that was a great idea.

    But to answer more specifically the question about --

    John Donvan:
    But, Steve, you -- you say it's not about policy, it's only about politics. But you made the argument in your opening that these programs can't work. So, they're saying, yes, they can. So, I think it's fair to come back to you with that point.

    Steven Rattner:
    Well, that's a policy question. You want me to answer?

    John Donvan:
    Yeah. Well, yeah.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah.

    [laughter]

    Steven Rattner:
    Look, if you want to -- if you want to completely turn our health care system inside out along the lines of what Jeff is saying, we could -- we could talk about that as a policy matter. It would end up probably looking something like the National Health Service in the U.K., which --

    Jeff Weaver:
    Oh.
  • 01:06:02
    Steven Rattner:
    -- if you go to -- no, let me finish, Jeff.

    Jeff Weaver:
    But that's not [unintelligible].

    Steven Rattner:
    Can I -- can I just finish?

    John Donvan:
    He can finish. Let him finish.

    [laughter]

    Steven Rattner:
    What you just outlined, the things you just ticked off sounds a lot to me like the way -- any national -- pick any one you want -- work. And if you go to one of those places, if you ask people in Britain, do they like their health care, they would say, no. It doesn't really work for them.

    But I want to make a slightly different point because the question was really about taxes. And you made the point that Clinton was elected in 1992, and he -- and we lost the House in 1994. Why did we lose the House in 1994? Because Bill Clinton raised taxes and the people did not want that.

    So, there is a -- a limit to what amount of -- I'm for tax increases. I said that in my opening remarks. You can raise my taxes to whatever you want. But I think it has been well proven in this country that there is a limited tolerance in America and the way people think of America for raising taxes beyond a certain point. And I don't think it works politically.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. I want to go to some more questions.

    Female Speaker:
    Hi there. My name is Jen. I have a question for each side. To what extent do you think representation in the United States would be benefited from a third party? I think that –
  • 01:07:07
    John Donvan:
    I'm going to -- I'm going to pass on the question because it doesn't go to where we are tonight on -- on the question regarding politics. So, unless you want to reframe --

    Female Speaker:
    Sure.

    John Donvan:
    -- on the fly.

    Female Speaker:
    I mean, just the fact that it's constantly like your side, as if like it's a different party, there seems -- I mean, there's always in-party fighting. But it -- there seems to be a claim of who is the true Democratic party. And I guess --

    John Donvan:
    That, I like.

    Female Speaker:
    Okay. Great.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    What's the question?

    John Donvan:
    Which of you is representing the true Democratic party here tonight?

    [laughter]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    No, can I answer that seriously?

    John Donvan:
    Yes, yeah. I asked it seriously.

    [laughter]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Political parties, we don't represent the Democratic party alone, and they don't represent it alone. The definition is -- of the thing you're supposed to do is build a winning coalition that does not just include your side or other people. So, there's a wide range of views.
  • 01:08:00
    The point is, if you want to get sustained -- if you want to get the White House back and large sustained Democratic majorities to do good things for the working and middle class of this country, you have to build a winning coalition. That's the math. And you have to have ideas that will not impede you from building that coalition but will help you build that coalition.

    Our argument is simple, not that these -- we're not debating every merit of the idea. But will they build a winning coalition? And when you look at it, they don't actually do that.

    John Donvan:
    Karine, what --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Yeah, I -- ugh, man. I have such a problem with that because what we're asking for is inclusivity. What we're saying is, if you reach out, yes, the middle working -- white working class in the middle America absolutely matters. No one is saying we don't talk to them. We're saying like, hey, there are brown people, there are black people, there are young people that needs to be reached out to. It needs to be inclusive. That's what we're saying. That's how you build a winning coalition. And -- and it needs to be multiracial.
  • 01:09:04
    And so, for decades now, those folks that I just mentioned have felt left out. We have. We have felt left out. Now we're at a point in 2018 where we see candidates across the country in red states and blue states that are representing everyone. And so that's the argument here, at least that I feel, which is, you have to have inclusivity. You have to include everyone, and it needs to be multiracial. And we can't go back and just focus on one group.

    Male Speaker:
    Can I --

    John Donvan:
    Sure.

    Male Speaker:
    Quick response to that. I agree --

    Male Speaker:
    Yeah.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    -- a hundred percent, a hundred percent that you have to have a diverse coalition. And there's a lot of folks who haven't represented well and spoken for well and part of -- part of the -- the Democratic party. That isn't actually the question tonight. The question tonight is, what ideas should those diverse group of candidates carry? What should they carry? And will those ideas enable you to win?
  • 01:10:00
    Male Speaker:
    So, my question -- my name is Paul. My question is more for the populist progressive side. So for people who are skeptical about too many government programs and being dependent on government health care and government funded education and are fearing sort of losing their independence and freedom of choice, someone who is more moderate like me, who has left the Democratic party and become an Independent because I don't particularly relate with a lot of these ideas, how do you win me back?

    John Donvan:
    Bingo. What a great question.

    [applause]

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Do you want to take that one?

    John Donvan:
    I mean, that's -- that's right on the table. So [unintelligible].

    Jeff Weaver:
    That's good. And, you know, by the way, you're an Independent, but, of course, all Independents are not created equal, right? I mean, there's a whole broad range of Independents, some which are, again, to the left of the Democratic party, some are to the right of the Republican party.

    What I would say to you is, on the issue of free tuition in public colleges and universities, we already have K through 12. I think all support probably going down to pre-K. I don't know if you guys are in that camp or not.
  • 01:11:05
    So, we have an arbitrary deadline where, once you get past 12th grade, we cut you off. We didn't used to, by the way. In New York state and California and other places, you didn't used to get cut off at 12th grade. That's an arbitrary thing that's been put in.

    I know Steve doesn't want his kids getting a free ride. But if his kid shows up in first grade, he's going to get a free ride. That's just the way we work it in this country. We have universal secondary, primary, and early education. And hopefully, it's earlier.

    There's no reason why we can't have it for undergraduate school or even graduate school. There's not -- our European allies do -- in many cases do do it that way.

    And what we have in this country is a great loss of talent of young people who either choose not to go to school or come out of school greatly indebted. And there's research that shows that people have so much debt that they delay making major purchases, they delay getting married, they delay having kids and a whole host of other things.

    And we have got to -- if we're going to compete in the international environment -- and I know these guys are all into competing in the international environment, as I am, as Karine is. We have got to have the best trained work force in the country. We've got to maximize the human capital of our population. And that means having people who are educated. That has a –
  • 01:12:04
    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- great social benefit. That's not just a --

    John Donvan:
    Jeff, I have to wrap --

    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah.

    John Donvan:
    -- this section. I just want to say to the gentleman that asked the question, so Jeff made a pitch to you on one of the particular programs that would cost money, by showing you what the benefits would be. Did you find it food for thought, persuasive, any of those things? You certainly found it food for thought. Okay.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    [unintelligible]

    John Donvan:
    Interesting. I don't think the response --

    Male Speaker:
    One at a time.

    John Donvan:
    -- of the other side -- can we --

    [talking simultaneously]

    Steven Rattner:
    I'm happy to respond.

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Go ahead.

    John Donvan:
    All right, take it, Steve.

    Steven Rattner:
    I would just say that this gentleman actually epitomizes what John and I are trying to persuade everybody about, that there are a large group of people out there, some number, I don't know what, who find the policies espoused by our worthy opponents to be not what they can relate to. And therefore, they have left Democratic party and become Independents.

    And the chances of them voting -- I hope they'll vote for another Democrat. The chances of them voting for someone from the populist or progressive or whatever you want to call it -- although I think I'm a progressive -- wing of the party are very low.
  • 01:13:01
    Jeff just gave like a really great sales pitch for one program, probably one of the more popular programs in -- on their list of programs. But I would love to see him go through that whole roster of things that he and his candidates espouse and see --

    Jeff Weaver:
    I'd love to do it. Love to do it.

    Steven Rattner:
    -- if he can convince that --

    Jeff Weaver:
    Let me know when.

    Steven Rattner:
    -- gentleman -- no, not me -- that gentleman to become a Democrat.

    [laughter]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Can I also make one other -- let me make one other comment to what -- what -- when Jeff was telling his opening history story, I don't know if you noticed, but he skipped from 1994 to 2016. But something really significant happened then. In 2009, Democrats controlled everything, the White House, the House, and the Senate. So, something -- the real marker isn't 1994. The real marker is 2009, what happened since then.

    I would argue that a big piece of what's happened since 2009 is that Sanderism and progressive populism became more and more and more prominent and more identified with the Democratic party, such that it drove a lot of voters away. We have to remember, 2009 was the high water mark in recent years for Democratic majorities and Democratic control of the White House.
  • 01:14:09
    And again, Sanders said that Obama wasn't progressive. But Obama won twice and built a historic coalition. And I personally think -- and I know Steve agrees with this -- did some fantastic things as president that I'm really proud of as a Democratic.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Yeah, yeah. That's really -- look, it's really a -- you guys are really setting --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    No.

    Jeff Weaver:
    -- up a straw -- look, you guys are really setting up a straw man. I mean, it's ridiculous.

    John Donvan:
    On that note, I need to say --

    John Donvan:
    That that concludes --

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Man, come on.

    John Donvan:
    That concludes round two of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate where our resolution is, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party.

    [applause]

    So, I know all four of you have a lot more you wanted to say. I want to see if you can pack it into your closing statements. These closing statements will be two minutes each. Making his closing state in support of the motion, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party, Jeff Weaver, senior political adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders.
  • 01:15:02
    Jeff Weaver:
    We --

    Male Speaker:
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Jeff Weaver:
    Listen, we as Democrats have a challenge. We have got to build the coalition in this country that can beat back Trumpism. We cannot allow this country to go down that very dangerous road. Today, we are seeing young children locked in cages, torn from their mothers. That's only the beginning of what can happen in this country. And to do that, we have got to rally working people and marginalize people and young people, excite them and bring them into the political process.

    The challenge facing the Democratic party today is, is it even going to be relevant in 10 years? Young people are overwhelmingly registering as Independents. We have got to build the party of the future. We have to have bold vision. We have to have big plans to deal with big problems. These guys have had their shot. They have wrecked the party. They have destroyed the coalition that undergirded the Democratic party for decades. And we can't let them have it back. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jeff Weaver. The resolution again, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party. Here to make his closing statement against the motion, one more time, Jonathan Cowan, cofounder and president of Third Way.
  • 01:16:09
    [applause]

    Jonathan Cowan:
    Why was it so important for me to be here tonight? And why am I so passionate? On the morning of November 9th, 2016, my twin 10-year-old daughters woke at 7:00 a.m. And in their bright, innocent voices, they asked, "Is Hillary president now?" That look, the shock on their face when I said, "No, Donald Trump won," I don't ever want to see that again. That's why I'm here tonight.

    [applause]

    And that's why all of you are. The question is, are progressive populist ideas the way to stop Trump and his allies? The answer is no. And two House races this year tell the tale in microcosm. In Omaha, Nebraska, Kara Eastman, a Bernie-style populist, is trying to win back a swing congressional seat Democrats held as recently as 2014. That district is so even that the last three elections were decided by three points or less, perfect conditions for a blue wave environment.
  • 01:17:23
    So, with all that, Eastman must be in great shape, right? Kara Eastman, running passionately on Bernie's agenda, is getting crushed. She's down nine points. Meanwhile, in central Virginia, Abby Spanberger is running as a mainstream Democrat. Her Republican opponent won that seat by 16 points two years ago. Democrats haven't held this seat in 40 years. Her race is tied. We may actually flip a red seat because we ran a bold and modern centrist Democrat. Saving the Democratic party requires winning everywhere to regain the House now and to fire Trump in 2020.
  • 01:18:12
    As Kara Eastman's situation makes clear, we can't save the party. We can't win general elections with a set of socialist ideas and candidates that even the most -- even the most Democratic primary voters just rejected. To save the nation from Trumpism, I urge you to vote no. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Jonathan Cowan. The resolution again, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party. Making her closing statement supporting the motion, Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser and national spokesperson for MoveOn.org.

    [applause]

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    So, where I work at MoveOn, our millions of members form a big part of the Democratic base. As we listened carefully to our members, we learn about their priorities and what motivates them. And it's not centrism, and it's not incrementalism. It's a bold, progressive vision for our future.
  • 01:19:09
    Let me tell you about Chuck T. Chuck is a veteran who joined the Army to pay for college. In the army, he fell in love with being part of something bigger than himself. Now one of our MoveOn volunteer leaders, Chuck says progressive policies reflect the core Army values instilled in him through a decade of service, that he sees championing progressive policies as his second service to this country.

    Or think of Carmen V., a MoveOn member who says centrist Democrats have never inspired her to do more than vote. But she has been inspired recently to act by issues like incarceration reform and separation of immigrant families. And by progressive public officials like Beto O'Rourke and Jeff Barkley. She is now simultaneously volunteering, and not just for MoveOn, but for several progressive candidates.
  • 01:20:06
    If the Democratic party will be saved, it will be saved by volunteers and activists like Carmen and Chuck. And what they themselves tell us is that progressive ideas inspire them. Activists like Carmen and Chuck will save the Democratic party. And majority of voters who strongly agree with Carmen and Chuck will save the Democratic party.

    I think it's already evident to probably most of us in this room that progressive populism is the direction of the Democratic party, therefore I hope you vote today for progressive populism to save the Democratic party.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Karine Jean-Pierre. And that is the resolution. And here to make his statement against it, here is Steven Rattner, chairman and CEO of Willett Advisors and former counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury.

    [applause]

    Steven Rattner:
    Well, look, this has been a great discussion. We've heard lots of valid statistics, maybe some that aren't quite as valid, but lots of very good arguments.
  • 01:21:07
    [laughter]

    And I do want to genuinely commend our opponents for their passion and their commitment to the Democratic cause.

    I'd also like to close on a -- with a more subjective personal observation. It may surprise some of you, but even as a business person, I live in a world that is dominated by centrists, moderate Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans. Not all my friends are financial types. They include lawyers, academics, journalists, public servants, and so forth.

    Within that universe, I know very few people who voted for Donald Trump last time and even fewer who would vote for him next time. But I also know vast numbers of people who say they could never vote for someone like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, not because they're not good people, but because of their ideas.

    But my friends simply don't believe that the policies of the far left are fiscally responsible, nor that they would improve the functioning of our economy, which for of its challenges, which I will recognize, is still the envy of the developed world. So, to me, it comes down, in large measure, to practical realities. Nominate someone from the fringe of our party, and we could very well end up losing an election two years from now that, by all rights, we should win.
  • 01:22:16
    On the other hand, I am confident that any Democrat who can bring our party together and appeal to the tens of millions of Independents would triumph and end our national nightmare. Thank you, and please vote no on the resolution.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Steven Rattner. And that concludes closing statements in round three of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

    I want to say that, you know, Jonathan alluded in the beginning that we said, "Oh, we really like our debates to be robust." The four of you delivered really well on the "robust." And at the same time, I think that, with maybe one hiccup along the way, there was great respect shown for each other. You really -- I think, in the end, at some level, you might actually all be on the same side.

    [laughter]

    But this -- you made the disagreements among you meaningful, and fruitful, and illuminating for all of us. So, I just want to thank the four of you for bringing one of the best debates we've ever had.

    [applause]

    And now it's time to learn which side you feel has argued the best. We want to ask you a second time to go to your cell phones and vote again. While we're waiting for the results, I just want to put a question to everybody. This is not competitive at this point.
  • 01:23:24
    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    [laughs]

    John Donvan:
    Just -- and maybe you don't have a ready answer, but that would be an answer in itself. Curious to think who you should be leading the party in 2020.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Oh, man --

    Male Speaker:
    Oh.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Oh.

    John Donvan:
    Steve Rattner, you're the only one who didn't groan.

    [laughter]

    Steven Rattner:
    Look, I think some of the people that one could think about -- and I'd be happy with any of these kinds of folks -- would be Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana; Michael Bennet, senator for Colorado; Mitch Landrieu, who just stepped down as mayor of New Orleans. I think that's the zone I would be in.
  • 01:24:00
    John Donvan:
    Anybody else want to venture a name? I will give you a pass if you want to say no.

    Karine Jean-Pierre:
    Not going to touch it with a 12-foot pole.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    Everybody else the same?

    Jeff Weaver:
    The last three boards of my book, in all fairness, are "Run, Bernie, Run," so ...

    John Donvan:
    That makes it easy. All right. All right. It's all in now. I have the final results. Remember on this resolution, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party, it's the difference between the first and the second vote that determines our winner. Here's how it went: In the first vote, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party, before the debate, 33 percent of you agreed with that statement, 40 percent disagreed, and 27 percent were undecided. Those are the first results.

    In the second result, the team arguing for the motion, Progressive
    Populism Will Save the Democratic Party, their first -- their vote went from 33 percent down to 22 percent. They lost 11 percentage points. Let's see, the team against the motion, their first vote was 40 percent. Their second vote was 74 percent. They pulled up 34 percentage points.

    [applause]

    That makes them the clear winner. The team arguing against the resolution, Progressive Populism Will Save the Democratic Party, declared our winner. Our congratulations to them and everyone who took part. Thank you from me, John Donvan. Goodbye from Intelligence Squared U.S. We'll see you next time.
  • 01:25:11
    [end of transcript]

    This is a rough transcript. Please excuse any errors.
Post-Debate
Winner

Against The Motion
74 %
22 %
For The Motion
4 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
Against The Motion
40 %
33 %
For The Motion
27 %
Undecided
Breakdown
Against The Motion
37% - Remained For the Against Side
16% - Swung From the For Side
21% - Swung From Undecided
For The Motion
3% - Swung From the Against Side
16% - Remained For the For Side
3% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
1% - Swung From the For Side
3% - Remained Undecided
Post-Debate
Winner

Against the Motion
59 %
38 %
For the Motion
4 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
Against the Motion
47 %
42 %
For the Motion
11 %
Undecided
Breakdown
Against the Motion
46% - Remained For the Against Side
6% - Swung From the For Side
6% - Swung From Undecided
For the Motion
0% - Swung From the Against Side
36% - Remained For the For Side
2% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
1% - Swung From the Against Side
0% - Swung From the For Side
3% - Remained Undecided
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Bumper Sticker Politics
Will progressive-populist policies attract voters? Third Way president Jonathan Cowan argues no.
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A New, New Deal?
Jeff Weaver, a longtime adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, argues that it’s time for the Democratic Party to rebuild a grand New Deal coalition.
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Bernie vs. Hillary
Former counselor to the Security of the Treasury Steven Rattner goes head-to-head with Jeff Weaver on the 2016 election.
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Donald Trump & Medicare for All
Will Medicare-for-all messaging help beat Trump in 2020? Steven Rattner and Jeff Weaver debate.
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Audience Question: Democrats & Foreign Policy
Our panelists agree: The United States should not wage war across the world.
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History Makers
National spokesperson for MoveOn.org Karine Jean-Pierre argues that the midterms are full of history-making progressive candidates.
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Audience Question: Win Me Over
How can Democrats win over independents? Jeff Weaver responds.
About The Debaters
For The Motion
An image of Karine Jean-Pierre
Karine Jean-Pierre − National Spokesperson & Senior Adviser, MoveOn.org
Karine Jean-Pierre is the national spokesperson and senior adviser for MoveOn.org, a progressive public policy... read bio
An image of Jeff Weaver
Jeff Weaver − Campaign Manager, Bernie Sanders's 2016 Presidential Campaign & Author, “How Bernie Won”
Jeff Weaver is a senior political adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders and was the campaign manager for Sanders’s... read bio
Against The Motion
An image of Jonathan Cowan
Jonathan Cowan − Co-Founder & President, Third Way
Jonathan Cowan is the co-founder and president of Third Way, a leading public policy think tank and prominent voice... read bio
An image of Steven Rattner
Steven Rattner − Chairman & CEO, Willett Advisors LLC
Steven Rattner is the chairman and chief executive officer of Willett Advisors LLC, the investment arm for former... read bio
Main Points
For The Motion
  • Rising stars on the progressive left like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are gaining momentum among those who feel left behind in the 21st-century economy. Their economic message could win over swing-state voters – including some Trump voters – for the Democrats. 
  • As Americans adapt to a new economy, progressive populists argue that policies like Medicare for all, free public college tuition, and a federal jobs program will finally bridge the ever-widening inequality gap in our nation.  
  • Following huge Democratic losses in 2016, progressives promise to shake-up the party by replacing establishment Democrats who, they argue, are out of touch with both their constituents and the values that have long fueled Democratic movements in the past. 
Against The Motion
  • Rather than moving to the far left, centrists argue, the Democratic Party should promote experienced, center-left candidates who have the knowledge and political capital to win back working-class voters in the Midwest and beyond. 
  • Policies like Medicare for all, free public college, and a federal jobs program come with an exorbitant price tag. Rather than promising sweeping overhauls, centrists say, Democrats should create real opportunities for Americans by promoting pragmatic – and viable – economic policies.
  • Progressive populists, though dominating the headlines, have not yet proven their electoral viability. Centrists argue that rather than spark a nation-wide progressive wave, some of these candidates will win in already-blue districts, oust experienced Democrats, and fracture the party further.