tv Washington Journal Sheryll Cashin Discusses President Obamas Legacy on... CSPAN January 16, 2017 9:05am-9:35am EST
just started. one of the many activities that will take place if relation to the civil rights leader, his legacy looking at that and other aspects of his life, as well. we've been taking a look at president obama and his history his legacy on race and race relations and continuing our conversation is sheryll cashin of georgetown university. author of "loving, interracial intimacy in america," good morning. guest: good morning. host: how would you classify the president's legacy? many say it is too early to tell. talk about what you think the president has been as far as race relations over the last eight years guest: i think it is better than it has been cast. first of all, i think we should pause to recognize this was the first president in american history to mobilize an amazing multi-racial coalition that
included a plurality of working class whites based on an optimistic optimistic, empathetic, caring politics where everyone felt included and everyone had voice. and he won the popular vote and the electoral college twice, something neither his predecessor or successor was able to do. what he was not able to overcome, though, was a gerrymandered congress and a toxic polarity, 50 years in the making of congress that has lost the habit of working across the aisle. that said, he was able to have some remarkable accomplishments. seven presidents before him tried to do comprehensive healthcare reform. he did get it done. you know, and even if it is
undone, which republicans are trying to do, it is still part of his legacy. insurance rates have gone down -- uninsured rates down to 9%. uninsured rates among african americans dropped by a third. you know people will remember that legacy and the other thing that on matters of race that were remarkable accomplishments with criminal justice reform, this president, with leadership of eric holder and loretta lynch, two fine attorney generals completely reinvigorated the civil rights division and made the department of justice, you know, they filled that department had been decimated and they have reinvigorated a department with
fine civil servants, not political appointees who everyday get up and enforce civil rights laws, laws that people like john lewis you know took beatings in the head for. they are enforcing a quint essentially american idea. host: so it is policy that is going to be the legacy more -- guest: absolutely. among those things, it's no small thing. this justice department has investigated at least 20 police departments with police brutality, which has been in the news for the past couple of years. there are unsparing reports about practices in police departments across this country and those facts are there. a lot of police departments are reforming because of those investigations, those consent decrees and the other legacy and
this is huge incarceration rates have gone down by 5% under this president. after, you know, quadrupling basically this justice want it and this president reversed a failed war on drugs and has come through with a more common sense humane approach to criminal justice in which we look at offenders of human beings, help them pay their debt to society, but also rehabilitate themselves and leave and hopefully not return and they have been focusing on comments and things that republicans and democrats across this country and the state have begun to realize, you know, let's prosecute people who are -- have long sentences for people who do really bad things and approach drug use more as a public health problem. host: let me stop quickly to let the people know, if you want to talk to the guest about the
issues, give us a call. democrats 202-748-8000. republicans 202-748-8001. and independents 202-748-8002. aside from the policy, the president spoke about race and issues in police shootings and other shootings over the years and we heard several times the reference to henry gates. has he said enough? more than the policy issue, did he use rhetorical skills enough as far as traeszing this issue over eight years? guest: i think he said a lot. in his first term, whenever he said -- even mild things, there was a blowback, right? in his second term, he got more and more vigorous in talking about race, in part, because he was able to as the people seeing videos for themselves, you know, began to understand there are
serious problems in this country around policing. and so, the president, you know, i can think about different speeches here and there where he talked to us, but i don't think it is the president's job to solve all problems and race relations. race relations have a 300 year history in this country. i think given the constraint he faced, he did speak well and as much as he could within those constraints. what is more important to me than talks is actually policies and some of the things that he was able to get done i think are commendable. host: let's take a call for you from bill, north brook, illinois, independent line.
you are on with our guest, sheryll cashin. go ahead. caller: thanks for taking my call. i just would like to make a brief statement and like you to follow-up. i did not vote for president obama, but i have great respect for him. but president obama is basically, he's biracial, but he lived his life as a black. i always thought that he never utilized the fact that he was a biracial individual to bridge the gap, to try to show that we can come together and listen. to me, he's been a big disappointment in that and he would -- he should have allowed himself to be identified as black when he is who he is.
>> what was the caller's name? host: bill. guest: bill, i disagree with you in one sense. i actually think that barack obama's life as a biracial person in which he had to get to know well the people of his mother and the people of his wife is part of the miracle of his politics, right? barack obama because he was raised by white grandparents and experienced white people who loved him dearly, had faith in white people that a lot of black people did not have. he believed that the white people of iowa would vote for him in the winter of 2008, when a lot of black people said, oh, they won't vote for him. he knew what was in people's hearts. i believe that experience of
being biracial, he's talked about this, is part of the reason he was successful. he knew the goodness in the heart of lots of white people. that said, his personal identity, he identified as african american in part because that is the way people saw him, you know. he experienced being a brown skinned man in the united states of america. it's very hard not to identify as african american, but he didn't disavow his mother. he didn't disavow his white ancestry, i think he bridged it well and given how divided this country is, i think he did a miraculous job in bringing together a coalition, it got him elected twice and won the electoral college twice.
honestly, if he like roosevelt had a third term i believe there is a decent chance he would have won a third time fhe could have won. host: democrats line from swanny, georgia, go ahead, you're next. caller: hi, good morning. i'd just like to make a comment. i'm so glad to hear someone speak on the behalf of president obama and race relations. i think there is too much emphasis put on what he could have done, what he should have said. i think that given the coldness he received from a lot of people, from congress, and the senate, made it very hard for him to be able to say a lot of things. i think we should focus more on policy. i would like to see going
forward, people out here getting the attention put on the congress and the senate. it is good to have someone on t.v. that is not complaining about president obama. guest: thank you. i appreciate that call. i agree with everything he said. i mean, this gerrymandered congress is not serving any of us, right? temperature the average republican serves in a district that looks like america did in 1972. the average democrat serves in a district that looks like america will in 2030, right? this extreme gerrymandering, where people don't have to deal
with constituencies of the future is -- and looks at people from other districts as, you know alien frankly, it's not good. and, you know my hope after 2020, when we have a new census by 2022 weville redistricting that is done not by politicians trying it hold on to their own offices, but by citizens' commissions that draws districts in a common sense way, not crazy, ridiculous jurisdictions but just in the common-sense way that forces people to run for office and connect with all kinds of people. host: sheryll cashin, our guest, and al is next, morton, virginia, republican line.
al, go ahead, you're on. caller: yes. my grandparents, my parents were from german ancestry. guest: uh-huh. so were mine by the way. caller: i'm sorry. guest: so are mine i have german ancestors, too. caller: i have white skin and there were missionaries in the philippines and so english was absolutely my third language. my first language was licano my second languages was ecolohan. i have white skin, but raised in the philippines. so what kind of hyphenated american am i? am i a german-american? am i asian-american? am i filipino-american?
host: caller, what point you trying to make as far as this conversation is concerned? caller: well, you know my wife is from the philippines, she's a from philippines. our daughter is brown skinned. guest: well, it was al, i believe. host: uh-huh. guest: al, you beautifully represent america, right? you get to define your identity however you want to. but america is a mash-up of a lot of hyphenated people. philippine-american. what i say i thought barack obama, more than any other modern politician in my
lifetime was able to unify enough people, not everybody, but enough people around optimistic vision of an exceptional place. you know, i was so proud this summer during the olympics, right? despite all the ranker of the 2016 election. during the olympics, america was winning, winning against the world. gold medals everyday. if you look at the athletes, you know, they were all colors, n.b.a. players cheering on heavily white swimmers, you know. i mean, i think that represented closer to where the country is and i think obama's coalition, he only gets two terms in office, is closer to where the country is. there is an election that happened in north carolina, it was very interesting that i think debunks some of the
standard line about how divided we are. in north carolina, where trump won by 180,000 votes, a democrat won the gubernatorial election by about 10,000 votes. right? something happened in that state. a lot of trump supporters pulled the lever for trump and then turned and voted for a democrat. why? because there had been a multi-racial movement, moral monday movement that intentionally built alliances between people of color and struggling whites in that state and they framed the issues in terms -- not of politics, but morality. poverty was a moral issue. the fact the minimum wage hasn't been raised in that state for a while was a moral issue. voter suppression was a moral issue. not letting people go to the bathroom where they wanted, was
a moral issue. so when people tried -- did something different than divide and conquer standard script we've seen for so long, you got a different result. host: denver colorado, independent line. dave you are next up. caller: hello, pedro this is dave in denver. i'm calling, i remember salma, alabama, i was a kid, but i go back that far. are you still there? host: go ahead, you are on. caller: yes, yes. as far as barack obama i voted for him twice, but i've seen more people of color, black people, locked up during his term than any other president, it hasn't changed. back in the day, what was the reason? it was police brutality. what is the reason today? it is police brutality, nothing has really changed. as far as martin luther king, he gets all the credit. he was a great man, i love him, he's one of my heroes, but the secular people started the civil
rights movement. hooked up with the auto workers it wasn't the religious movement movement when they take credit for. host: that is denver, colorado. guest: dave, i have to disagree with you on the lock-up claim. it is not true. barack obama is the first president in a generation in which incarceration rates have gone down by 5%. he reversed the war on trugs through -- drugs. they wanted to emphasize lighter sentences for low-level drug a offenders and heavy sentences for the serious bad guys. that data is there. host: burlington, new jersey, democrats line. catherine, go ahead. caller: good morning. happy martin luther king day.
people stole my thunder and said what i wanted to say, but what i want to say, president obama legacy on race relation has revealed we have a lot of work to do. it seems like we are going backwards and it has revealed that racism is systemic and it needs to be uprooted. guest: what was her name? host: catherine. guest: catherine, i agree with you on that. now i championed coalition that obama was able to put together. and i'll say what he achieved reminds me of reconstruction. reconstruction was the first example of successful biracial coalition in this country. 700 men of color, former slaves, served in legislatures across
the country. there was immediate backlash, the most dangerous thing to economic elites in this country is when people of color and struggling white folks get together in politics. what do people, white supremacy democrats threatened by reconstruction do? they retook control of government through violence and through disenfranchisement. after barack obama created this awesome coalition, i have to say the republican party in states across this country, more than 20 states, responded with obstruction of him, but also constraints on voting, right? more than half the states where people live, more than half the country's population is live nothing states that have had restrictions on voting.
it is because fear of that kind of coalition. right? there was definitely a backlash to him and it feels like we're in this period after reconstruction of backlash and fear about a multi racial future. so, yes, we are in a devicive time you know. i'm a glass half full person, i try to look for, you know, something something. you have to have hope or you'll lay in bed and cry. that is why i gave the example of north carolina, silver lining to me, even in all this divisiveness, divide and conquer politics it is still possible if you do the work to build connections between struggling white folks and struggling people of color to do what is right and good for the common good. host: to the idea of building connections, what do you think about the latest announcement of
democrat not showing up for inauguration. john lewis among them, is that a good tactic? guest: i'll say this, it is not a good tactic for the president-elect, who is the president of all the people, to attack a civil rights icon, right? you know, president-elect trump said he was going to try to unite the country. tweeting in the middle of the night and attacking people, attacking the labor union, is not presidential and not bringing the country together, right? you know, there are some questions about how he came into office and john lewis, it is his right to decide whether or not he wants to go or not. but, you know, i think the onous
is on the president-elect to try to unify us. if i were his advisors or anybody's who he listens to, maybe his daughter, i would advise him to put his cell phone away for a few months, right? just focus on the policies that have the potential to bring us together. i wish this president well because i wish this country well. i would love to see him get through a major infrastructure program. he said he wanted to spend a trillion on infrastructure and put people back to work. i go over a bridge a lot with my children and actually think about whether that bridge is going to fall down into the river and that is not an america i want to live in, right? that is how i feel about that. host: from pennsylvania, republican line, harold, good morning to you. go ahead. caller: yes pedro i wonder if you could have your guest talk about the breakdown of the
family unit in the black community and i think the percentage of people, children born benefit a lot is 70 someodd percent. i think white people are catching up in the 30s or something. i think morality of the younger people today should be in question, you know. guest: what was the caller's name? host: harold. guest: harold, thank you for the question. this is a common thing that gets raised a lot. what the people often don't understand, the war on drugs had consequences in terms of taking about a million black men out of circulation, right? michelle alexander in "the new jim crow," talks about this,
right? there was a perfect storm in the '70s between the industrialization that took away blue collar jobs from black, white, brown and other colored people and a war on drugs quadrupled the incarceration, the prison population over four years and assault largely on black communities and, you know this deindustrialization and over incarceration in inner city neighborhoods and if you control for income and poverty, the marriage rates aren't quite the same. these things are all related. and it is not enough just to say, well, look at the black community, if they would just, you know, pick themselves up and be more moral -- there are
systemic structural assaults on high poverty, black communities that also need to be addressed. host: one more call elizabeth, las vegas, nevada. democrats line. caller: good morning, a pleasure to be with you this morning. guest: thank you. caller: couple things i want to say. first, barack obama, never had a chance. he probably could have been one of the best presidents in the united states of america forever. because of the hard-core onset power that the republicans played against him he never really had a chance. the one thing about barack obama is he was humble, he was kind, he was charming, he was accepting, he was gracious, he was fit and caring and all of those things are reflective of a man of grace and of great concern for the world. one of the things that is so
imperative and i don't think this country is aware of, our nation is aware of, we are now a global world because of the ability of the internet and instan tainuous news around the world and when our president in our country is elected, basically the status quo, they say, he is the world leader. now we have a world president-elect coming onboard who lacks in grace and charm and any sort of humbleness at all. host: elizabeth, we'll leave it there and let our guest respond. guest: well, barack obama was the jackie robinson of u.s. presidents, right? he responded to relentless indignity and did his wife with grace. you know i don't know many people who could have walked in their shoes but let's not talk about him as if he were a failed president. he was a successful president. you know he got a climate
accord done. he -- the unemployment rate is a fraction of what it was when he came in. he inherited a mess and a crisis and we are no longer in an economic crisis. right? this was a successful president. host: our guest, besides teaching at georgetown university the author of a book, a little about the book. guest: the book comes out in june it is about the loving word -- virginia case, richard and mildred love and he how surprisingly intimacy is rising a pace a context about other people and i think it bode list for the future in terms of culture in politics in this country. host: sheryll cashin, thank you for your time this morning. guest: thank you for having me. host: final half-hour we'll
return to the question about race relations, if you thought it improved under president obama, give your impression. 202-748-8000 202-748-8000. if you don't think they improved 202-748-8001. we'll take the call when is "washington journal" continues. >> announcer: tonight on communicators, representatives on tech issues facing congress, the trump administration and society, interviewed by ashley gold, politico technology reporter. >> so proponents of the internet of things, we know that we're asking people to consider putting hundreds or thousands of microphones, of speakers and of various diagnostic equipment into their bodys and we have to get it right whe