Poverty in America
Cornel West and Tavis Smiley tell Alan why they believe poverty is a threat to our democracy.
- Duration 8:40
- Date Apr 24, 2012
Cornel West and Tavis Smiley tell Alan why they believe poverty is a threat to our democracy.
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And -- want to welcome our microphones have a -- Along with -- doctor Cornell west they have co written.
The rich and the rest of us -- poverty manifesto.
Smiley books I welcome you both.
Doctor -- let me start with -- -- -- you know when you have a we have a narrative in this presidential campaign.
When the president says I was aboard the silver spoon in his mouth but its attack on that the Mitt Romney.
And we the rest of us as you -- -- -- book the rest of us that we watched this in amazement.
-- -- you know Mitt Romney so for right which is to say he's so for Rome.
That it's easy to make Barack Obama look highly progressive pieces of the there.
Deeply deeply conservative views of Mitt Romney have I think Barack Obama is much more neo liberal centrist and is progressive -- terms are really focusing on this apartment what.
Travis and I have really about what by the -- I had a violent in second place is -- to -- will this be a part of got to make sure that for people.
Have a high visibility and that's that's intelligible -- Are you happy to have us with what the president is doing about poverty.
Happy would be a stretch.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- Do not try to advance the -- do not advance -- -- he has done nothing.
For poor people just he -- not done enough our framework pretty simple straightforward.
Great presidents aren't -- they are made they have to be pushed into their greatness and for those of -- who really care.
About the future of our democracy you must understand poverty Allen is threatening that democracy for those -- -- I -- care about our national security poverty is not a matter our national security.
That we don't believe he hasn't done any case but we do believe that there -- got the ball went at least.
A bipartisan consensus in Washington bipartisan.
That the -- just -- You put it up right up there -- abolition of slavery women's suffrage labor and civil rights movements yet we had during the Johnson administration doctor west we had.
Of course the war on poverty and head start all those great programs Johnson started that they not do the job.
Well they had tremendous and today we had fellow citizens who cared enough to organize and mobile put pressure on president Johnson.
And when he was able to.
And it less.
Then twelve years it was magnificent war on poverty but of course of the war in Vietnam pulled the global war -- But.
But would we note that we do have that kind of capacity to make a difference if we actually put on my system.
He say now it's about one in two to have us that are really in this category in this country.
Why don't fit the Census Bureau says it one out of two Americans -- not in or near properties and what you have these.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You have the new poor in this book we argue -- that the new -- are if there -- more middle class.
And in thirty do you have the near poor folk who gets a paycheck or two away.
From big into poverty you put all -- -- to get he got about a 150 million Americans got half of us we're renting the property.
In your book that the rich and the rest of us I look -- of the title but -- look like he went through these myths.
The people is we keep hearing these talking points yeah on the right for example poverty as -- character flaw that somehow their fall.
Which we you know this idea for example of drug testing welfare recipients which they found in Florida actually cost them more money than I thought there were gonna say.
Yeah I've got to -- -- that they're gonna save money and and they maybe it doesn't work and they found you -- -- they found very few people.
Who actually were in fact abusers the reality is.
-- you know most Americans bound by themselves and probably not there -- -- a bad choice and -- -- -- -- -- character flaw.
But because of -- the system is not liked to they had done -- We also hear.
Doctor -- minorities get the majority government entitlements we hear any historically -- people -- politicians have used the phrase welfare queen of course code language to try to paint this as a problem.
Of a particular ethnic group.
That trend we've seen as a both parties and so with Clinton -- and that's very -- welfare bill in August of 1996 with the with the next system they -- right behind him signifying symbolizing the face.
Of welfare but the vast majority of -- people war well so what white fellow citizens same is true in terms of poverty but what is happening now.
With the new developments.
In terms of the expansion of poverty and so very sad.
It -- getting more more white buttons sources so more more white not just white.
Faces the white middle class faces have become the face of poverty and no longer just black and brown and really -- so we get to bring new possibility of talking about is essential poverty is -- -- Yeah I liked also the thank you have twelve things and actually we can do besides a summit to talk about this with key players.
What about jobs how do we go about handling the job issue.
That was -- consistently for years now that we need are jobs jobs jobs with a living wage.
I suspect ad infinitum ad nauseam would be guarding -- in this country about where the battle Barack Obama had the order right where they're not healthcare could've -- behind jobs.
Because we don't know how this turned out particularly if the Supreme Court into you know.
Rule it unconstitutional bit -- you don't they do there's no let basically got it.
So all that time all that the unity efforts spirit for -- may get turned over and I'm not suggesting they'd have to reform real reform is that a legitimate issue.
But -- immediately to believe that he should jump quicker and more aggressively on jobs for Americans and I can give -- -- -- -- -- related shutting people up next.
But the -- issue -- is -- we need jobs really living wage for every American and willing and able to work.
That is the government do that and is that the job of government and and it if they would try to create let's say another Works Progress Administration have they -- have would every get that passed a Republican House.
Well if it's always you I don't -- -- filibuster on the -- -- comedy web but it is the date.
It's because of what a remarkable for me at least -- -- -- -- all the talk now about Republican obstructionism.
Barack Obama do control both houses of congress -- he got elected.
And we got to remember damage he had an opportunity -- want to do a lot there had to be a lot more aggressive they have been deprived of books written about this -- you -- -- these people I've interviewed them.
-- bet big that the Obama administration.
Compromise capitulated think eight to -- The stimulus package everybody knew he's been -- -- -- -- the big enough.
So people ask how do we get establishment really FBI got it done this they would Johnson got it done and you gotta make it a problem.
Don't think any of so many blue dog Democrats and -- you need to have you have a filibuster rule we need at least sixty votes he didn't have sixty progressive senators.
Exactly but but -- Lyndon Johnson went to -- that the -- the greatness of Lyndon Johnson.
And his administration under the the other that the -- via the new book about a moment and we couldn't get out the red arrows will look there's our version of the -- there have been through it again.
And -- it -- the -- of -- -- -- -- that he went to work I mean all these tapes that we've heard about that have been written.
-- described it clearly he wanted to succeed on the voting rights act -- the Civil Rights Act on the web property.
And Lyndon Johnson went to work but it requires taking a risk and what -- said consistently is it to -- where Barack Obama is concerned the president -- -- take risks.
We'll ask your doctor -- does it matter who we vote for November.
Well sure it still matters that we've got and we have to have an inside and outside strategy with a bit tell the truth.
Republicans are a dangerous conservative version of -- -- -- rule.
Democrats are rare look carefully -- -- neo liberal version but the neo liberal versions still matters in terms of their plight of poor working people but it's still -- to -- would do terms of both parties.
So we have an inside strategy of trying to hold all the right wing.
But that we got to put pressure strong pressured us -- some of -- go to the streets of a book go to jail some of -- organize some of those mobilized.
Because we've got to transform the system as a hold -- in deep trouble.
And you think the president is better than somebody says -- care about the point and I think that pregnant they got programs for them and I can just fix that there's a problem there.
And if that is no doubt ridiculously -- -- look -- bit about it and I individual and collective work.
And let me be clear once again there is no choice between Barack Obama -- -- of the compression wrap this George.
Here's -- no compression but he's clearly a choice and if the choice is about publishing revenue besides the Obama no doubt about that but that doesn't mean it -- and -- a moment ago.
That we don't -- every step we have to push this -- to be more progress.
And push on the local level to in terms of electing who you do in the statehouses to marry you don't -- -- -- -- you do Monday in the house the senate as well I think -- but it's a very important book.
The rich and the rest of us doctor west -- smiling thank you so much reveal whether.
And I -- -- a -- out of state government thank you --