MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: October 20, 2020

Historian, journalist, and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb discusses his new Frontline documentary “Whose Vote Counts” as he investigates how the pandemic is being used to sway voter turnout, and how communities of color are bearing the brunt of both the virus and voting laws. Sidney Blumenthal, advisor to former President Bill Clinton gives us a history lesson on Abraham Lincoln.

AIRED: October 20, 2020 | 0:28:16
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JANET

PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN

ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP

MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH

WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA

SOHN FOUNDATION.

>>> WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SEE

WHAT HAPPENS.

YOU KNOW THAT.

I'VE BEEN COMPLAINING VERY

STRONGLY ABOUT THE BALLOTS.

>> IS AMERICA HEADED FOR A

CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS.

>> INVESTIGATING THE EARLY

WARNINGS.

>> THERE IS A DISPUTE OVER WHICH

VOTES MIGHT COUNT.

REPUBLICANS CONTROL SOME REALLY

KEY LEVERS OF POWER.

>> AND ALLEGATIONS OF VOTER

SUPPRESSION.

>> WE'RE SETTING THE GROUND

RULES FOR HOW VOTES WILL BE CAST

AND COUNTED IN NOVEMBER.

>> NOW STREAMING ON PBS.

WELCOME TO "METRO FOCUS."

I AM JACK FORD.

AS WE NEAR THE END OF WHAT HAS

SURELY BEEN THE MOST CONTENTIOUS

AND DIVISIVE PRESIDENTIAL

CAMPAIGN IN RECENT MEMORY, WE'RE

LEFT WITH SEVERAL TROUBLING

QUESTIONS.

WHAT IMPACT WILL A RECENT SURGE

IN CORONAVIRUS CASES HAVE ON THE

VOTING PROCESS?

AND HOW ABOUT THE DOZENS OF

LAWSUITS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE

ALREADY BEEN RESOLVED, OTHERS

STILL PENDING IN WHICH ONE SIDE

ARLGS THAT RULES, STATUTES

SERVED TO SUPPRESS VOTER

TURN-OUT, WHILE OTHERS ARGUE

THOSE ARE NECESSARY TO PROTECT

THE INTEGRITY OF THE VOTING

PROCESS.

AND THEN WHAT EFFECT WILL ALL OF

THIS HAVE ON COMMUNITIES OF

COLOR?

FRONT LINE HAS TAKEN A HARD LINE

ON THESE ISSUES IN THEIR NEW

DOCUMENT TITLED "WHO'S COUNT

COU

CO

COUNTS?" WE'RE JOINED ED BY JEI

COBBS.

YOU BEGIN BY TAKING A LOOK BACK

AT THE APRIL 2020 PRIMARY THAT

TOOK PLACE IN THE STATE OF

WISCONSIN.

WHY START THERE AND THEN?

>> WELL, I THINK YOU MAY

REMEMBER THOSE IMAGES FROM APRIL

OF THIS YEAR, WHICH WERE

ASTOUNDING.

WE HAD -- I THINK ONE OF THE

DOMINANT THEMES OF THIS YEAR WAS

SEEING SO MANY PUBLIC PLACES

THAT ARE USUALLY CROWDED BEING

ABSOLUTELY DIVERTED BECAUSE OF

THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWNS.

BUT WHAT WE SAW IN WISCONSIN WAS

THE OPPOSITE.

YOU KNOW, PARTICULARLY IN

MILWAUKEE.

ON APRIL 7th AS THEY HAD THAT

PRIMARY WHERE THEY WERE PACKED,

TRYING TO GET INTO POLLING

PLACES AND LINES THAT WENT

BLOCKS AFTER BLOCK AFTER BLOCK

AND THEY JUST REINFORCED THE

ABSOLUTE ABSURDITY OF SEEING

PEOPLE OUT AND ABOUT IN PUBLIC

ATTEMPTING TO VOTE IN PERSON

DURING A PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

ELECTION AND ALSO A LOT OF

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS ON THE STATE

AS WELL.

AND THIS WAS DONE AT THE BEHEST

OF THE STATE'S REPUBLICAN PARTY

WHICH HAD FILED SUIT TO PREVENT

THE STATE FROM -- THE GOVERNOR

FROM BEING ABLE TO POSTPONE THE

ELECTION, AS MANY OTHER STATES

HAD DONE AT THE TIME.

AND SO IT BECAME CLEAR THAT THIS

WASN'T SIMPLY A MATTER OF

CONVENIENCE, BUT THIS WAS ALSO

PART OF THE NARRATIVE OF VOTER

ACCESS AND VOTER SUPPRESSION.

>> WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS NOW AS WE

HAVE HIT THIS STAGE OF THIS

DRAMATIC INCREASE IN CORONAVIRUS

CASES, ESPECIALLY IN WISCONSIN

GOING BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE IN

SOME OF THE OTHER STATES THAT

PEOPLE HAVE POINTED TO AS BEING

SO SIGNIFICANT IN THE PAST AND

THE RESULT OF THE PAST ELECTION

AND THE IMPACT IT MIGHT HAVE ON

THE CURRENT ELECTION?

>> YEAH.

I REMAIN WORRIED THAT THERE WILL

BE PEOPLE THAT CONTRACT THE

VIRUS IN THE COURSE OF VOTING.

I THINK THAT IT IS REALLY WISE

TO EXPLORE THE OTHER ALTERNATIVE

OPTIONS FOR CASTING A BALLOT TO

MAKE SURE THAT THEY MINIMIZE THE

POSSIBILITY OF THAT.

I'M ALSO VERY CONCERNED ABOUT,

YOU KNOW, THE PRESIDENT'S CALLS

FOR POLL WATCHERS, WHICH, YOU

KNOW, COULD VERY EASILY SLIP

OVER INTO VOTER INTIMIDATION.

AS YOU LIKELY KNOW, THE GOP WAS

UNDER A FEDERAL CONSENT DECREE

TO PREVENT THEM FROM ENGAGING IN

SUCH ACTIVITIES, POLL WATCHING,

WHICH HAD BEEN A 30 YEAR BAN ON

THEM ENGAGING IN THESE KINDS OF

ACTIVITIES PRECISELY BECAUSE

THEY WERE INTIMIDATING MINORITY

VOTERS, AND THAT CONSENT DEGREE

HAS EXPIRED.

SO WE MAY SEE RETURNS OF THAT.

SO THAT MAY BE ANOTHER OPTION.

THERE ARE QUITE A LOT OF ON

ST

OBSTACLES IN CASTING A BALLOT.

ALL THESE THINGS I THINK ARE

WORTHY OF CONCERN.

>> YOU HAVE SEEN SOME STATES

WHERE THEY HAVE LIMITED THE

POLLING PLACES THEMSELVES.

WE HAVE SEEN STATES THAT -- THE

STATE OF TEXAS WHERE AN APPEALS

COURT RECENTLY SAID IT IS OKAY

TO HAVE ONE ESSENTIALLY DROP-OFF

POINT FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTY,

WHICH IF I'M NOT WRONG, IS ABOUT

THE SIZE OF RHODE ISLAND.

>> YEAH.

IT'S GIGANTIC.

>> TALK ABOUT THOSE HURDLES AND

THE IMPACT IT MAY HAVE.

>> SURE.

AND SO WHAT YOU ARE SEEING IS

THIS IS ALL DONE, I THINK, UNDER

THE RUBRIC OF ELECTION

INTEGRITY.

SO IN THE NAME OF PROTECTING THE

INTEGRITY OF THE ELECTIONS,

THESE MEASURES ARE BEING TAKEN,

BUT THEY ULTIMATELY HAVE AN

OBVIOUSLY COMPLICATING IMPACT ON

PEOPLE'S ABILITY TO CAST THEIR

BALLOTS.

WE HAVE ONE PLACE WHERE YOU CAN

HAVE A DROP BOX FOR AN ENTIRE

COUNTY THAT IS GIGANTIC, A VERY

TEXAS-SIZE COUNTY.

IT IS ESSENTIALLY MAKING SURE

THAT PEOPLE WON'T BE ABLE TO GET

MANY MILES AWAY TO CAST THEIR

BALLOT.

AND SO THAT'S NOT SIMPLY A

PROBLEM THERE.

WE HAVE SEEN THE SAME THING

HAPPEN NATIONWIDE.

AND IN WISCONSIN, AS WE ARE

GOING BACK TO WISCONSIN, WHEN WE

SAW NORMALLY 180 POLLING PLACES

THAT WERE SHRUNK DOWN TO JUST

FIVE FOR THE PANDEMIC ELECTION,

IT WAS THE SAME DYNAMIC.

OPPOSITE KIND OF WAY OF

ACHIEVING IT, BUT NOT ENOUGH

RESOURCES TO TOO MANY PEOPLE AND

YOU WIND UP WITH THE SAME

PROHIBITIVE EFFECT ON VOTING.

>> ONE OF THE OTHER ISSUES YOU

LOOK AT IS THE INCREASE,

UNDERSTANDABLE INCREASE IN THE

USE OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS GIVEN THE

CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WE HAVE BEEN

WRESTLING WITH HERE NOW FOR SO

MANY MONTHS.

IN LOOKING AT THAT, AND WE KNOW

THAT ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS -- I

DON'T WANT TO SAY AGAINST THEM,

BUT MAYBE THAT IS THE RIGHT

TERM, AS LEAST SOME ELEMENT OF

MAIL-IN BALLOTS HAS BEEN THE

SPECTOR OF VOTER FRAUD THAT

COULD ACCOMPANY IT.

AS OPPOSED TO WHAT MAY WELL BE

THE REAL PROBLEM WHICH COULD BE

VOTER CONFUSION.

>> RIGHT.

>> IN UTILIZING IT.

TALK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE.

>> SO WHAT'S HAPPENED IS, YOU

KNOW, FIRST VOTER FRAUD IS

VANISHING.

IT IS NOT A COMMON OCCURRENCE AT

ALL IN THE UNITED STATES.

>> I THINK WE HAVE EVEN HEARD

THAT FROM GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES,

THE FBI AND OTHERS.

>> RIGHT.

SO YOU HAVE SEEN THAT AGAIN AND

AGAIN.

BUT WHAT IS A CONCERN IS THAT

VOTERS MAY NOT FILL OUT THEIR

BALLOT CORRECTLY.

PEOPLE MAY NOT HAVE EXPERIENCE

WITH VOTING IN THIS WAY.

IN SOME STATES THE BALLOT HAS TO

BE PLACED IN AN INNER ENVELOPE

BEFORE THAT IS, IN TURN, PLACED

IN AN OUTER ENVELOPE.

YOU HAVE TO SIGN THE INNER

ENVELOPE.

THERE IS A WHOLE ARRAY.

SOME PLACES REQUIRE THAT YOU

UPLOAD YOUR ID IN SOME INSTANCE

TO VERIFY WHO YOU ARE OR FIND A

WITNESS.

AND BECAUSE THE RULES VARY TO

SUCH AN EXTENT, IT WILL BE

LIKELY THAT SOME PEOPLE WON'T

CONFIRM WITH EVERYTHING THAT'S

REQUIRED OF THEM IN THEIR

PARTICULAR VOTING LOCAL, AND

THOSE END UP BEING REJECTED.

THAT COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON HOW

THE ELECTION PLAYS OUT.

>> ONCE AGAIN, WE'RE TALKING

WITH JELANI COBB ABOUT THE

DOCUMENT "WHO'S VOTE COUNTS?" I

RECENTLY FILLED OUT MY BALLOT.

UNLESS THERE ARE CERTAIN

CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH CASES YOU

CAN GO TO POLLING PLACES.

OURS IS ONE OF THOSE WHERE YOU

HAVE A SIGNED ONE THAT GOES INTO

AN ENVELOPE.

IT TOOK ME A WHILE.

I WAS SO CONCERNED THAT I WAS

DOING THIS PROPERLY THAT I WILL

TELL YOU IT WAS NOT A SIMPLE

PROCESS.

>> NO, NO.

>> AND YOU WORRY ABOUT THE

IMPACT THAT THE ABSENCE OF

SIMPLICITY.

WE DON'T WANT TO TRADE OFF

SIMPLICITY FOR ACCURACY AND

INTEGRITY.

OBVIOUSLY THEY'RE BOTH

IMPORTANT, BUT HAVING GONE

THROUGH THIS, I CAN SEE WHERE

THERE IS SOME GENUINE CONCERN

ABOUT THE NOTION OF CONFUSING

ATTACHING TO THIS.

WHAT CAN WE DO IN THE SHORT TIME

BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, DO YOU

THINK, TO HOPEFULLY ASSUAGE SOME

OF THAT CONFUSION?

>> SURE.

THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF

EFFORTS, A LOT OF SPECIFIC

ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE REALLY

GONE ALL OUT TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE

UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY NEED TO DO

TO CAST A BALLOT IN THEIR LOCAL.

EVERY BOARD OF ELECTIONS SHOULD

HAVE DETAILS ON IT OR

INFORMATION.

THERE ARE LOCAL CIVIC

ORGANIZATIONS THAT CAN WALK YOU

THROUGH WHAT'S REQUIRED, YOU

KNOW, YOUR LOCAL BOARD OF

ELECTIONS.

AND SO IT'S JUST REALLY

IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE NAIL DOWN

THE PARTICULARS OF IT.

ALSO IMPORTANT IS THEY GIVE

THEMSELVES TIME.

I WENT THROUGH MY PROCESS

DOUBLE, TRIPLED AND QUADRUPLE

CHECKED TO MAKE EVERYTHING HAD

BEEN DONE BEFORE I CAST MY

BALLOT IN THE MAIL.

AND YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO BLOCK

OUT TIME, SO IT IS NOT SOMETHING

YOU ARE DOING WHILE YOU ARE

RUSHING, WHILE YOU ARE DOING

OTHER THINGS TO MAKE SURE YOU

ARE ABLE TO DO THIS.

IF YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF

DROPPING IT, SOME PLACES ALLOW

YOU TO DROP THE BALLOT OFF

PERSONALLY AT YOUR ELECTION

BOARD.

IF YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF DOING

THAT, THEN THAT'S A GREAT IDEA

AS WELL.

>> THAT'S INDEED WHAT WE DID, MY

WIFE AND I.

FILL THEM OUT AND WENT TO THE

LOCAL MUNICIPAL LOCATION TO DROP

THEM OFF.

I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION

THE EXISTENCE OF SO MANY COURT

CASES.

I SAID DOZENS OF THEM.

I THINK I HAVE SEEN NUMBERS THAT

SAID HUNDREDS OF THEM.

WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DID YOU FIND

IN THE REPORTING YOU DID FOR

THIS DOCUMENTARY THAT THESE

VARIOUS CASES AND THEIR

RESOLUTIONS, SOME OF THEM HAVE

BEEN ALL OVER THE PLACE, AS A

MATTER OF FACT.

WHAT SORT OF IMPACT YOU FEAR

MIGHT COME FROM THOSE?

>> SURE.

THERE IS REALLY GREAT TEAM FROM

COLUMBIA YOUR HONORISM

INVESTIGATION.

AND SO THEY REALLY DELVED INTO A

LOT OF THIS.

LAST TIME I THINK IT WAS 240 OR

241 COURT CASES THAT ARE AT

VARIOUS PLACES IN THE LEGAL

SYSTEM NOW, AND THEY COVER THE

SPECTRUM.

YOU KNOW, HOW LONG PEOPLE WILL

BE ABLE TO VOTE.

HOW LONG POLLING PLACES HAVE TO

STAY OPEN.

HOW LATE A BALLOT CAN BE AND

STILL BE COUNTED.

WHEN DOES A BALLOT HAVE TO BE

POSTMARKED BY?

EVERY TIME THERE IS A MINUTE

DETAIL THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE.

AND WHAT THEY ARE ACTUALLY DOING

IS SETTING THE PARAMETERS,

SETTING THE TERMS THAT THE

ELECTION WILL BE CARRIED OUT

UNDER.

AND OBVIOUSLY THIS HAS SOME

ADVANTAGES AND SOME

DISADVANTAGES, DEPENDING ON, YOU

KNOW, WHAT PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING

ABOUT.

IF YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT LONGER

EARLY VOTING AND LONGER POLL

HOURS, THEN PEOPLE WHO ARE

HOURLY WAGE WORKERS ARE MORE

LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO GET TO THE

POLLS.

IF YOU ARE TAKING ABOUT POLLS

THAT PEOPLE ARE BEING ALLOWED TO

HAVE THEIR VOTE COUNTED UP TO

THREE DAYS OR IN SOME INSTANCES

I THINK THEY'RE GOING FOUR AFTER

THE ELECTION FOR LATE BALLOTS,

THEN THAT WILL -- YOU WILL

IMPACT PEOPLE AS WELL BECAUSE

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE QUITE

FRANKLY STILL WAITING TO RECEIVE

THEIR BALLOTS AND SEEING THE

THINGS WE HAVE SEEN WITH THE

POST OFFICE AND THE RECALL BRAGS

OF SORTING MACHINERY IS MAKING

IT DIFFICULT TO VOTE BY MAIL.

THE ELECTION WILL BE A PRODUCT

OF HOW MANY PEOPLE COME OUT TO

VOTE AND ALSO WHAT THE LEGAL

CHALLENGES DO TO FACILITATE

THOSE PEOPLE COMING OUT TO VOTE.

>> I KNOW THAT YOU TALKED TO

VARIOUS PEOPLE AS PART OF YOUR

INVESTIGATION HERE, INCLUDING A

NUMBER OF PERHAPS.

WHEN YOU TALK TO THEM ABOUT HOW

THESE LAWS MIGHT

DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT PEOPLE

OF COLOR, WHAT SORT OF REACTION

OR RESPONSES DO YOU GET?

>> WELL, 99% OF THE TIME YOU GET

DISMISSAL OF THAT.

FOR REPUBLICANS THAT I HAVE

TALKED TO, THEY DON'T CONCEDE

THAT.

EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE LEGAL

RULINGS THAT HAVE POINTED TO

THAT AND WE HAVE SEEN OTHER

DYNAMICS OF VOTER ID INSTANCE IN

NORTH CAROLINA THEY'RE SAYING

THEY HAVE A POLICY THAT ALLOWS

YOU TO VOTE WITH A HUNTING

LICENSE BUT NOT WITH A

UNIVERSITY ID SO CURE RATING THE

ELECTORATE SO PEOPLE WHO ARE

MORE LIKELY OLDER, WHITE AND

VOTE REPUBLICAN WILL HAVE AN ID

THAT IS ACCEPTABLE.

YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO MAY VIEW THE

WORLD MORE LIBERALLY ARE LESS

LIKELY TO HAVE AN ID THAT WILL

ALLOW THEM TO CAST THE BALLOT.

AND, SO -- I'M SORRY.

I ACTUALLY LOST THE QUESTION

THERE.

>> WELL, THAT'S SORT OF THE

ANSWER AND THAT'S PERFECT

BECAUSE WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF

TIME HERE.

BUT ONCE AGAIN I WANT TO REMIND

FOLKS THAT THEY CAN FIND OUT HOW

AND WHERE TO WATCH FRONTLINE'S

DOCUMENTARY AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING SOME TIME

AND SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT

THIS.

IT IS A COMPELLING FILM, AND

IT'S CERTAINLY WORTH THE

INVESTMENT OF SOME TIME ON THE

PART OF PEOPLE TO WATCH.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

YOU BE WELL.

>> THANK YOU.

>>> DECADES OF LEGISLATIVE

COMPROMISE OVER SLAVERY HAD

BROUGHT THE COUNTRY TO THE

BREAKING POINT.

AND SAVAGE FIGHTING BETWEEN PRO

SLAVE GANGS AND FREE STATERS IN

KANSAS AND BEYOND HAD BEGUN

RIPPING AT THE VERY FABRIC OF

THE NATION.

WITH OUR COUNTRY NOW FINDING

ITSELF IN CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH

SOME ARE COMPARING TO PRE-CIVIL

WAR

WAR ERA COMES A BOOK ABOUT THE

MAN WHO WOULD EMERGE FROM THE

POLITICAL UNIVERSE TO SAVE THE

UNION.

SYDNEY BLUMENTHAL IS A FORMER

ADVISER TO FORMER PRESIDENT BILL

AND HILLARY CLINTON.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AGAIN

TO TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK.

>> THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

>> SO, SYDNEY, THE HARD OF THE

NEW VOLUME COVERS THE YEARS

BETWEEN WHEN LINCOLN RE-ENTERED

ACTIVE POLITICAL LIFE AND IS

ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED

STATES.

BUT YOU HAVE THIS FASCINATING

BASICALLY 200 PAGE INTRODUCTION

WHICH SETS UP THE CONTEXT WITHIN

WHICH LINCOLN WAS TO ACT AND

REACT.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD SUMMARIZE

THE KEY EVENTS THAT SHAPED THAT

CONTEXT.

>> THIS IS THE STORY OF THE

GREATEST CRISIS OF AMERICAN

DEMOCRACY, AND IT'S SOMETHING

THAT ILLUMINATES WHERE WE ARE

TODAY.

WE CAN ALWAYS LEARN FROM THE

PAST AND ESPECIALLY THIS CRISIS.

LINCOLN IS AN OBSCURE LAWYER.

HE SERVED ONE TERM IN CONGRESS.

HE'S RIDING ON OLD HORSES OR

BUCK BOARDS OR RAILROADS FROM

COUNTY COURTHOUSE TO COUNTY

COURTHOUSE IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS

PRESSING CASES AS A LAWYER.

HE'S UNKNOWN VIRTUALLY.

AND WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE

COUNTRY IS THAT THINGS ARE

COMPLETELY FALLING APART.

THE PARTIES ARE FALLING APART.

LINCOLN'S PARTY, THE WHIG PARTY,

IS SPLIT OVER SLAVERY.

LINCOLN'S GREAT RIVAL, SENATOR

STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS, WHAT WAS A

FORCE OF NATURE AND A MASTER

DEMAGOGUE HAS SPONSORED THE

KANSAS-NEBRASKA AD.

HE WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT.

HE WANTS SOMETHING THAT HE CAN

CLAIM AS AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT

WILL CARRY HIM TO THE

PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION OF HIS

PARTY, THEN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

AND HE WANTS TO WIN THE

SOUTHERNERS.

HE PROPOSES THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA

ACT.

HE OPENS THE TERRITORIES OF THE

GREAT PLAINS TO WHOEVER SETTLES

IT, AND THEY CAN DETERMINE

WHETHER IT'S GOING TO BE SLAVE

OR FREE.

AND THE MISSOURI RUNS INTO

CLAIMANT FOR SLAVERY AND OTHER

SETTLERS TO COME IN TO CLAIM IT

FOR FREEDOM, FOR FREE LABOR.

THEY IMMEDIATELY START KILLING

EACH OTHER.

AND ARMIES ARE OPPOSED TO EACH

OTHER ON THE PLAINS.

LINCOLN IS THRUST BACK INTO

POLITICS, AND HE BEGINS TRYING

TO FIND HIS FOOTING.

AT THE SAME TIME, SENATOR

CHARLES SUMNER STEPS ON THE

FLOOR OF THE SENATE TO DENOUNCE

THE CRIME AGAINST KANSAS BY THE

PRO SLAVERY FORCES.

THEY HAVE SACKED THE TOWN OF

LAWRENCE AND HE INSULTS THE

SOUTHERNERS.

A SOUTHERN CONGRESSMAN IS

VIRTUALLY ASSIGNED BY THE POWERS

THAT BE WHO CONTROL THE

CONGRESS, THE SOUTHERN GREAT

BEASTS OF THE CONGRESS IN

POWERS, AND HE WALKS IN TO THE

SENATE AND CANES CHARLES SUMNER

NEARLY TO DEATH WITH A CANE

DIPPED WITH A GOLD HANDLE.

SUMNER IS ALMOST KILLED.

THIS INSPIRES SOMEBODY ELSE, AT

THE SAME TIME, JOHN BROWN WHO IN

THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT GOES OFF

AND KILLS PRO SLAVERY SETTLERS

IN KANSAS.

AND WITHIN TEN DAYS OF THESE

EVENTS, LINCOLN FUNDS THE

ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN PARTY, THE

VEHICLE THAT WITHIN FOUR YEARS

WILL CARRY HIM TO THE

PRESIDENCY.

>> SO YOU TALK ABOUT STEVEN

DOUGLAS.

IN FACT, SOMEONE SAID THAT YOUR

BOOK IS ONE OF THE BEST

POLITICAL BIOGRAPHIES OF STEVEN

DOUGLAS AS WELL AS ABRAHAM

LINCOLN.

BUT STEVEN DOUGLAS CLEARLY HAS A

HUGE IMPACT, NEGATIVE IMPACT ON

THE COUNTRY BECAUSE OF HIS

AMBITION.

IN 1958 LINCOLN DECIDES TO

CHALLENGE DOUGLAS FOR THE U.S.

SENATE SEAT.

IFS DURING THIS CAMPAIGN WHERE

THE FAMOUS LINCOLN-DOUGLAS

DEBATES HAPPEN, SEVEN DEBATES.

AT THE CENTER OF THOSE DEBATES

WAS THE ISSUE OF SLAVERY.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD SPELL OUT

FOR US WHAT WAS THE CONTENDING

POSITIONS.

WHAT WAS DOUGLAS' POSITION ON

SAVORY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY,

WHAT WAS LINCOLN'S POSITION ON

SLAVERY.

>> LINCOLN WAS OPPOSED TO THE

EXTENSION OF SLAVERY IN THE

TERRITORIES, AND HE BELIEVED

THAT SLAVERY WAS, AS HE SAID

DOZENS OF TIMES IN MANY

SPEECHES, IN EACH SPEAK WRONG,

WRONG, WRONG AND WRONG.

IF SLAVERY IS NOT WRONG, NOTHING

IS WRONG SAID LINCOLN.

DOUGLAS BELIEVED THE POLICY OF

WHAT LINCOLN CALLED DON'T CARE

INDIFFERENCE.

DOUGLAS SAID HE DIDN'T CARE

WHETHER THE TERRITORIES WERE

FREE OR SLAVE.

IT WAS UP TO THE SETTLERS.

HE SAID THAT WAS DEMOCRACY OR

POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.

SO THEY FACED OFF IN THEIR

FAMOUS DEBATES.

LINCOLN ANNOUNCED HIS WORDS, A

HOUSE DIVIDED CANNOT STAND.

IT WILL EITHER BE EITHER ALL

FREE OR ALL SLAVE.

HE BELIEVED THE PEOPLE WOULD PUT

SLAVERY IN THE COURSE OF

ULTIMATE EXTINCTION.

DOUGLAS SAID THAT THE

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WAS

MADE ONLY FOR WHITE MEN AND THAT

IT EXCLUDED BLACKS WHO WERE AN

INFERIOR RACE.

LINCOLN SAID THE DECLARATION OF

INDEPENDENCE INCLUDED, AS HE

SAID, NEGROS AND THAT THEY HAD

NATURAL RIGHTS AS WELL.

THEY FACED OFF IN SEVEN DEBATES.

LINCOLN ACTUALLY WON THE POPULAR

VOTE BUT HE LOST BECAUSE STATE

LEGISLATURES PICKED THE

SENATORS, AND THE DISTRICTS HAD

BEEN JERRY MANDED BY DOUGLAS

WHOSE PARTY CONTROLLED THE

ILLINOIS STATE LEGISLATURE.

SO LINCOLN LOST EVEN THOUGH HE

WON THE POPULAR VOTE.

I DON'T KNOW IF THAT SOUNDS

FAMILIAR TO PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.

>> THERE ARE CLEAR PARALLELS

BETWEEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING THEN

OR AT LEAST AT THE VERY

BEGINNINGS OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING

THEN AND OUR TIMES TODAY.

WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR US FROM

THIS EXPERIENCE?

>> WELL, LINCOLN ALWAYS WARNED

AROUND DISUNION.

HE SPOKE ABOUT IT CONTINUALLY.

HE WARNED AGAINST A HOUSE

DIVIDED.

HE SAID IT WOULD BECOME ALL ONE

THING OR ALL THE OTHER, AND HE

SAID THAT THOSE WHO WERE SEEKING

DISUNION WERE THE SOURCE OF THE

TROUBLE.

AND THEN IN THE COOPER UNION

SPEECH, AND I REPEAT, HE SAID TO

THE SOUTHERNERS SEEKING

SECESSION, YOU WILL EITHER RULE

OR RUIN AT ALL EVENTS.

HE CONDEMNED THAT.

AND AT THE END OF THAT SPEECH,

HE SAID RIGHT MAKES MIGHT.

WE NOW HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO SAYS

THAT ANY ATTEMPT TO IMPEACH HIM

WILL CAUSE A CIVIL WAR.

NO ONE IN AMERICAN POLITICS,

EVEN IN THE 1850s AND THE 1860s,

A DECISIVE YEAR IN WHICH LINCOLN

WAS ELECTED WHO WAS A

RESPONSIBLE FIGURE THREATENED

CIVIL WAR.

SO THIS IS -- WE'RE IN AN

UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION.

BUT IT'S A SITUATION IN WHICH

OUR DEMOCRACY FACES A THREAT TO

OUR CONSTITUTION AND OUR VERY

DEMOCRACY.

LINCOLN ROSE TO THE OCCASION.

LINCOLN UNDERSTOOD THE CRISIS,

AND LINCOLN WAS PREPARED TO LEAD

THE COUNTRY AND THE UNION

THROUGH IT.

HE WAS A SELF-DISCIPLINED,

FOCUSSED, DETERMINED PERSON WHO

HAD WORKED OUT ALL THE ARGUMENTS

OF ALL THE ISSUES THAT WERE

FACING THE COUNTRY AT THE TIME,

AND HE HAD A DEEP AND PROFOUND

UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE

CONSTITUTION WAS, WHAT THE

HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY WAS AND

WHERE THE POLITICS WERE TENDING

AS HE SAID IN HIS HOUSE DIVIDED

SPEECH.

>> ONE FINAL QUESTION, SYDNEY.

IN THE BOOK AFTER LINCOLN GIVES

HIS COOPER UNION SPEECH SOMEONE

SAYS THIS IS THE GREATEST MAN

SINCE SAINT PAUL.

AS YOUR BOOK SHOWS, THAT ISN'T

THE CASE, BUT HE WAS A GREAT

MAN, NOT JUST A GREAT LEADER.

JUST READING YOUR BOOK MAKES AND

READING ABOUT THIS HUMAN BEING

MAKES ONE WANT TO BE A BETTER

HUMAN BEING.

I WONDER WHAT EFFECT IT'S BEEN

ON YOU SPENDING ALL THESE YEARS

READING AND THINKING AND WRITING

ABOUT THIS GREAT AMERICAN.

>> WELL, LINCOLN IS GREAT

COMPANY.

I'VE SPENT YEARS WRITING THIS

SERIES OF BOOKS.

THERE ARE TWO MORE TO COME, AND

I CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE I WOULD

RATHER SPEND TIME WITH THAN

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

HE HAS A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR,

AND HE HAS A DEEPLY INCISIVE

MIND.

HE IS SOMEBODY WHO GREW UP IN

THE DEEPEST POVERTY AND WAS A

SELF-MADE MAN.

HE WORKED OUT ALL OF HIS

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEMS

FACING THE COUNTRY HIMSELF IN

ISOLATION, SLOWLY STUDYING.

AND HE OVERCAME HIS OWN

DEPRESSION AND BECAME AN

EXTRAORDINARILY SELF-DISCIPLINED

PERSON.

AT THE COOPER UNION SPEECH, WHEN

THE NEW YORKERS, THE NOTABLES OF

THE DAY SAW ABRAHAM LINCOLN,

THIS FIGURE FROM THE FAR WEST,

ILLINOIS.

HE SPOKE IN A HIGH VOICE, A THIN

VOICE, AND THEY THOUGHT, WHO IS

THIS?

WHY SHOULD WE LISTEN TO THIS

PERSON?

AND THEN THEY WERE STUNNED BY

HIS ARGUMENTS, HIS WORDS, THE

WAY HIS PHRASES, HIS OWN -- THE

WAY IN WHICH HE WROTE AND SPOKE.

AND AT THE END, AS YOU'D SAID,

ONE OF THE JOURNALISTS

PRESIDENTS SAID HE'S THE

GREATEST MAN SINCE SAINT PAUL.

HE WAS ALSO A LAWYER WHO FRAMED

EVERY ARGUMENT IN ORDER TO WIN

THE CASE.

HE KNEW WHAT JURIES WERE.

HE KNEW THE ARTS OF PERSUASION.

LINCOLN WAS A PRACTICAL

POLITICIAN HIS WHOLE LIFE.

AND TO THE MARROW OF HIS BONE.

BUT HE WAS SOMEBODY WHO SAW THAT

IN THE SERVICE OF THE NATION AND

THAT'S WHERE HE SERVED IN THE

PRESIDENCY DURING THE GREATEST

CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY IN THE

CONSTITUTION THE COUNTRY HAS

EVER FACED WITH LESSONS FOR US

ALL TODAY.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TALKING

TO US TODAY.

IT'S A WONDERFUL BOOK.

I HOPE OUR VIEWERS GO OUT AND

BUY IT AND READ IT.

>> THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL

AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY

AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.