MMITM Ep 37 - It Is What It Is: A Debate About The Elections, Checks And Balance, and China with Don Schmitz

 

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Speaker 1: From  CurtCo  Media.

 

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Speaker 7: ( singing)

 

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Bill Curtis: This  is  Politics:  Meet  Me  In  The  Middle.  I'm  Bill  Curtis.  Our  job  here  is  to  provide  a  neutral  zone  where  we  can  express  alternative  viewpoints  without  fear  of  being  called  out  or  canceled.  We  support  the  view  of  our  past  guest,  Berkeley  Law  Professor,  Erwin  Chemerinsky,  when  he  said, " There  is  no  such  thing  as  a  false  opinion.  The  remedy  for  speech  that  we  don't  like  is  more  speech."

 

 Our  last  show  was  focused  on  the  most  difficult  job  here  in  the  middle,  listening.  Appreciating  that  alternative  viewpoint  may  even  hold  some  water,  even  if,  at  first,  the  point  causes  a  gag  reflex.  After  that  passes,  we  consistently  find  ourselves  surprised  and  even  learn  something  in  the  process.
 Let's  introduce  our  panel.  Firstly,  our  co- host,  a  Pulitzer  prize- winning  historian,  bestselling  author,  worldwide  lecturer,  and  the  widely  quoted  socially  distance  and  zoomed  in  authority  of  everything  historical  and  constitutional,  Professor  Ed  Larson.  How  are  you,  Ed?

 

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Ed Larson: Doing  just  fine.  Nice  to  see  you  again.

 

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Bill Curtis: Also  zooming  in,  co- host  Jane  Albrecht.  She's  an  international  trade  attorney,  who's  represented  U. S.  interests  to  high- level  government  officials  all  over  the  world.  And  she's  been  involved  with  several  U. S.  presidential  campaigns.  In  full  disclosure,  she's  also  the  President  of  the  Malibu  Democratic  Club.  Hi,  Jane.  Nice  to  remotely  see  you,  too.

 

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Jane Albrecht: Nice  to  see  you  all,  too.  And  you,  too,  Don.

 

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Bill Curtis: And  our  special  guest  joining  us  today,  Don  Schmitz.  He  refers  to  himself  as  a  constitutional  conservative.  He  brings  a  somewhat  contrasting  perspective  to  the  political  issues  that  face  us  these  days.  He  is  President  of  Schmitz  and  Associates,  a  land  use  consulting  firm,  specializing  in  land  development  entitlements,  strategic  planning,  project  management,  and  government  affairs  and  advocacy.  Long  committed  to  public  service,  Mr.  Schmitz  is  the  founder  and  President  of  the  Coalition  for  Fire  Safe  Communities  and  the  Fifth  Amendment  Rights  Alliance.  Don  is  also  a  fellow  wine  lover.  He  owns  the  Malibu  Solstice  Vineyard.  The  grapes  have  a  view  of  Malibu  and  the  Pacific  ocean,  by  the  way.  Don  produces  award- winning  private  reserve  Cabernet.
 So  at  the  time  we  recorded  this,  our  Postmaster  General  Louis  DeJoy,  just  said, " As  we  head  into  the  election  season,  I  want  to  assure  this  committee  and  the  American  public  that  the  postal  service  is  fully  capable  and  committed  to  delivering  the  nation's  election  mail  securely  and  on  time."  So,  Don,  how  do  you  feel  about  our  President  injecting  doubt  into  our  most  valued  institution?

 

00:02:58
Don Schmitz: Well,  the  post  office,  very  often  much  maligned  federal  agency,  which  is  reflected  in  our  constitution,  actually.  However,  the  reason  that  the  founders  considered  having  a  federal  postal  service  to  be  critical  to  our  free  Republic,  was that  so  no  one  entity  could  control  the  free  communication  between  citizens.  And  it's  interesting  to  me  that  we  find  ourselves  here  in  2020  encountering  this  issue  whereupon  the  postal  service  and  its  ability  to  deliver  the  mail  is  once  again,  given  the  age  of  the  internet  and  social  media  platforms  and  Zoom  meetings,  is  such  a  critical  thing  that  we  are  dealing  with.  And  the  reason  why  it's  critical  goes  to  the  fundamental  issue  of  is  it  appropriate,  is  it  safe  for  us  to  have,  on  a  mass  scale,  voting  by  mail?  As  opposed  to  absentee  ballots,  which  has  been  much  more  focused  and  limited  historically.

 

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Bill Curtis: Something  tells  me  you  have  an  opinion  on  the  subject.

 

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Don Schmitz: It  seems  to  me  that  what  we  have,  that  we're  grappling  with  here  at  America  right  now,  is on  the  left  and  the  right  a  tremendous  amount  of  distrust.  And  this  is  what  is  so  very  dangerous.  Not  just  distrust  of  each  other,  but  distrust  in  regards  to  the  integrity  of  the  system.  We  hear  this  to  varying  degrees  in  every  electoral  cycle,  right?  Accusations  of  fraud  and there'll  be  more  registered  voters  in  a  particular  district  than  actually  live  there.  We  all  have  anecdotal  experiences.  I'm  still  receiving  ballots  at  my  house  in  Malibu  for  family  members  that  moved  out  five,  six  years  ago.
 And  so  the  concern  is,  is  that  as  opposed  to  an  absentee  ballot,  where  a  citizen  would  write  the  government  with  their  signature  and  say, " Send  me  an  absentee  ballot."  What  they're  talking  about  doing  on  a  mass  scale  is  just  sending  ballots  to  everybody  that's  on  the  voter  rolls.

 

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Bill Curtis: Ed,  can  you  talk  to  us  a  little  about  the  absentee  ballots?  What's  the  history  of  that  and  was  that  met  with  a  lot  of  objections  from  one  side  or  the  other  when  we  first  tried  an  absentee  ballot  through  the  mail?

 

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Ed Larson: No,  a  lot  of  states  use  mail- in  voting  for  everything,  and  they  have  proved  just  as  successful  as  voting  in- person.  During  wars,  we've  had  to  use  that  process.  So  mail- in  voting  has  a  long  and  successful  history.  Think  of  states  like  Utah,  that  just  use  them  regularly.

 

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Bill Curtis: When  you  say  during  wars  we  had  to  use  that  process,  you  mean  for  the  military  or  in  general?

 

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Ed Larson: Well,  we've  used  them  for  the  military  during  wars,  but  many  states  rely  on  mail- in  voting  and  it  seems  to  work  fine.  You  have  the  same  problem  with  live  voting.

 

00:05:49
Bill Curtis: Is  this  a  situation  where  some  states  are  getting  it  right  and  some  just  can't  seem  to  get  it  in  a  row?

 

00:05:55
Ed Larson: We  have  plenty  of  stories  about  dead  people  voting  in  Illinois  at  voting  booths.  It's  just  the  way  it  is.  It  depends  on  the  checking  process.  And  you  have  states  with  a  history  of  voter  fraud  and  it's  bipartisan.

 

00:06:12
Bill Curtis: But  the  reason  why  this  is  an  issue  is  really  more  of  our  President's  bluster  and  tweet  than  it  is  what  DeJoy  is  trying  to  do  to  make  the  post  office  a  reasonable  institution.

 

00:06:26
Don Schmitz: The  problem  isn't  necessarily  voting  by  mail  or  mail  in  ballots,  the  problem  is,  is  do  the  American  people  trust  the  process  and  the  system  that  we  have?  There's  a  lot  of  precedent  for  it,  it  can  be  shown  to  work,  but  what  we're  talking  about  doing  is  a  very  global  approach,  entire  states, and  if  there  is  questions  as  it  pertains  to  the  integrity  of  voter  rolls,  then  that's  going  to  cause  a  lot  of  angst  for  the  voters.

 

00:06:54
Bill Curtis: How  do  you  think it's going  to  turn  out  in  the  event  that  it's  a  close  election?

 

00:06:59
Don Schmitz: One  of  the  things that's  been  the  beauty  of  our  Republic  for  so  long  is  that, at  the  end  of  the  day,  when  the  people  speak,  that's  it,  we  have  a  peaceful  transition  of  power.  We  got  a  little  rocky  with  Bush  and  Gore,  but  there  weren't  tanks  around  the  White  House.  And  after  it  all  went  through  the  process,  there  was  a  smooth  transition  of  power.  We  are  at  a  almost  unseen  level  of  vitriol  going  on  in  our  country  right  now  between  different  political  opposing  sides,  and  a  tremendous  amount  of  distrust  on  both  sides.  And  I  think  it's  absolutely  imperative  that  the  institutions  here  that  we're entrusting  to  do  this  can  assure  the  American  people  that,  at  the  end  of  the  day,  the  tallied  votes  are  correct.

 

00:07:48
Bill Curtis: When  was  another  time  where  the  winner  of  the  election  was  not  called  on  election  day?

 

00:07:54
Ed Larson: Oh,  all  the  early  ones  because  the  communications  took  so  long.  So  none  of  the  early  ones.  I  mean,  even  George  Washington  didn't  know  he'd  won  for  months.  But  of  course  we  weren't  sure  about  Bush  versus  Gore  because  of  the  problems  counting  votes  in  several  states.  But  in  the  end  it  was  Florida  and  that  speaks  to  the  point  Don's  raising.  Under  the  American  Federal  System,  the  federal  government  doesn't  control  the  election.  The  election  for  President  is  entirely,  entirely  controlled  by  the  states.  So  if  there's  a  problem  this  year,  it  won't  be  a  national  problem,  it  will  be  a  state  by  state  problems.  Most  states  are  going  to  handle  this  election  beautifully.  My  prediction  is  45  states  or  more  there  won't  be  a  one  iota  of  problem  because  states  are  really  good,  some  states  are  really  good  with  mail- in  votes,  other  states  are  really  good  with  absentee  ballots,  and  other  states  are  really  good  with  drop- in  ballots.  And  I  don't  think  we're  going  to  have  any  problem  here  in  California.  The  question  is,  will  there  be  states  that  there's  a  problem?

 

00:09:13
Bill Curtis: So  how  can  it  be  that  there's  no  federal  oversight  in  any  fashion?  How  can  it  be  up  to  each  state?  And there's  still  five  of  them  it  sounds  like  that  are  basically  crashing  and  burning  in  the  process.

 

00:09:26
Jane Albrecht: Because  it  is  the  province  of  the  states.  What  surprises  me  and  concerns  me  is  that  there  have  been  bills  in  recent  years  to  provide  funding  to  the  states,  to  update  their  machinery,  increase  security,  and  it's  been  held  up  largely  by  the  Republicans,  and  I  don't  say  that  partisan  way,  but  that  is  in  fact  what's  happened.
 So  one  thing  the  federal  government  can  do  is  provide  funds,  but  as  that  explained,  it's  the  province  of  the  states  and  if  we  remember,  all  powers  of  a  federal  government  are  delegated  to  them  by  the  states  and  that  which  is  not  delegated  is  kept to  the  states.

 

00:10:04
Don Schmitz Frankly,  I'd  be  a  lot  more  worried  if  the  federal  government  was  running  our  elections.  I  trust  the  states  to  do  this  a  lot  better.  It  doesn't  mean  every  state's  perfect.  And  there's  probably  reasons  that  state  operates  the  way  it  does.  So  overall,  we're  a  federal  Republic  and  I  trust  the  states  with  this  issue and  I  don't  want  the  federal  government  giving  us  a  one- answer- fits- all  sort  of  imposition  on  us.

 

00:10:32
Bill Curtis: Ed,  take  us  to  Constitutional  101  for  a  minute  and  explain  how  in  many  of  the  states,  if  there  were  no  election,  the  states  could  actually  appoint  their  own  electors.  Isn't  that  how  that  works?

 

00:10:44
Ed Larson: Yes.  The  constitution  does  not  require  the  states  to  choose  their  electors  in  any  particular  manner.  A  President  is  not  elected  by  popular  vote,  the  President  is  elected  under  the  constitution  by  electors  and  electors  are  chosen  by  each  state.  And  originally,  if  you  go  back  to  the  founding  period,  some  states  chose  their  electors  by  a  popular  vote.  In  those  cases,  mostly  get  it  as  Maine  and  Nebraska  still  do  by  congressional  district  rather  than  winner- take- all,  up  until  the  civil  war  the  states  would  pick  their  electors  by  a  vote  of  the  legislature.  Remember  that's  how  all  the  states  picked  their  senators  up  until  1920.
 So  there  are  lots  of  ways  to  do  it,  it's  just  the  most  popular  way  is  the  states  choose  to  have  the  people  vote  and  winner  take  all  in  that  state  and  therefore  all  of  California's  huge  number  of  electoral  votes  go  to  whoever  wins  50.1% of  the  vote.  And  it's  when  you  get  that  close  of  vote  that  you  get  questions  about  the  validity  of  electoral  process.  Because  frankly,  the  electoral  system  in  America  isn't  that  perfect.

 

00:12:05
Jane Albrecht: The  battles  after  the  election  are  likely  to  be  in  states  where  it's  close.  It  may or may  not  involve  vote  by  mail  ballots.

 

00:12:12
Bill Curtis: Don,  do you think there's  any  reason  for  us  to  delay  the  election?

 

00:12:15
Don Schmitz: Absolutely  not.

 

00:12:17
Bill Curtis: How  do  you  feel  about  the  idea  that that  was  brought  up?

 

00:12:20
Don Schmitz: Everybody  needs  to  calm  down.  There's  no  doubt  that  we've  got  a  lot  on  our  minds,  but  we're  supposed  to  be  adults,  we're  supposed  to  be  taking  the  God  given  right  to  vote  and  choose  our  leadership  seriously.  I  don't  see  any  reason  why  we  cannot  move  forward  with  the  election.  We've done  them  during  horrible  wars.  Let's  keep  things  moving  forward.

 

00:12:45
Ed Larson: We've  also  done  them  during  pandemics  far  worse  than  this pandemic.

 

00:12:48
Don Schmitz: Far worse.

 

00:12:48
Ed Larson: And  the  simple  issue  is  the  constitution  says  the  President's  term  ends  on  January  20th.  There's  no  way  around  it,  it's  right  in  the  constitution.

 

00:12:59
Don Schmitz Right.

 

00:12:59
Ed Larson: Donald  Trump's  first  term  will  end  January  20th  so  they've  got  to  choose  a  President  before  then  or  there  is  no  President  or  Vice  President,  which  means  Nancy  Pelosi's  President.

 

00:13:12
Bill Curtis: We're going  to  take  a  quick  break.  We'll  be  right  back.

 

00:13:16
Speaker 7: ( singing)

 

00:13:25
Speaker 8: On  medicine,  we're  still  practicing.  Join  Dr.  Steven  Taback  and  Bill  Curtis  for  real  conversations  with  the  medical  professionals  who  have  their  finger  on  the  pulse  of  healthcare  in  the  modern  world.  Available  on  all  your  favorite  podcasting  platforms.  Produced  by  CurtCo  Media.

 

00:13:39
Speaker 7: ( singing)

 

00:13:47
Bill Curtis: We're  back  with  Jane  Albrecht,  Ed  Larson  and  our  special  guest,  Don  Schmitz.  Does  anybody  feel  that  the  country  in  its  current  configuration  is  best  off  if  one  party  or  the  other  is  controlling  all of  the  Houses?

 

00:14:05
Don Schmitz: I would say that Americans typically  have  been  very  fond  of  divided  government  and  it's  atypical  to  where  you  have  one  party that has  the  White  House,  the  Senate,  and  the  House  of  Representatives,  and  when  that  happens  it  typically  doesn't  last  for  more  than  two  years  before  we  switch  it  around.  I  think  Americans  typically  like  there  to  be  checks  and  balances  politically  within  our  system  and  so  I  think  that's  probably  a  good  thing  for  us.

 

00:14:35
Bill Curtis: Ed,  give  us  a  history  lesson.  When  was  the  longest  term  where  one  party controlled  the  whole  shebang?

 

00:14:43
Ed Larson: To  answer  that  question,  you've  got  to  consider  what  the  whole  shebang  is.  And  I  think  the  Supreme  Court  is  an  equal  check  and  balance.  In  1800  after  the  election  came  in.  And it  was  clear  that  the  Jeffersonian  Party  was  going  to  control  the  House,  Senate,  and  presidency,  which  they  ended  up  doing  for  the  longest  period  ever  in  American  history,  24  years,  they  controlled  all  branches.  What  the  Federalists,  the  outgoing  Federalists  who  controlled  the  Senate  and  the  presidency  did  is  they  got  all  the  judges,  their  Federalist  judges,  to  step  down  and  put  young  people  in,  people  like  John  Marshall,  and  they  voted  him  through.  And  as  one  of  the  great  Federalist  leaders,  Senator  Governor  Morris  of  New  York  said, "Well  you  can't  blame  us,  we're  throwing  out  anchors  to  stop  the  drift  toward  Jeffersonian  Rule."  And  so  I  think  that  you  have  to  include  that.
 Even  when  Johnson  and  the  Democrats  controlled  Congress  in  the  60s  you  had  basically,  for  a  while  of  that  period,  you  had  a  Republican  Supreme  Court.  So  even  if  the  Democrats  took  over  everything  this  time,  you'd  have  a  Republican  Supreme  Court and that's going  to  offer  is  a  check  and  balance  because  we  got  three  branches.

 

00:16:00
Jane Albrecht: I  was  going  to  say  my  answer  to  that is  it  depends  upon  how  long  a  time  they're  in  power.  We've  had  periods  where  both  houses  of  legislature  and  the  presidency  are  controlled  by  the  Republicans.  We've  had  periods  where  they've  been  controlled  by  the  Democrats.  But  not  for  that  long,  not  in  recent  history,  at  least  in  my  recollection.

 

00:16:22
Bill Curtis: So when  that  was  the  case,  how  healthy  was  that  for  us?

 

00:16:26
Jane Albrecht: Sometimes  it's  okay.  Sometimes  it's  not  okay.

 

00:16:29
Don Schmitz: I  think  both  parties  like  it.  They  want  to  hold  all  the  reigns  of  power  so  they  can  get  something  done.  One  of  the  things  that  is  a  changing  dynamic,  however,  is  the  increasing  drift  towards  doing  away  with  things  such  as  the  filibuster,  when  they  did  away  with  the  requirements  for  the  higher- levels  of  majorities,  for  the  appointing  of  federal  judges  and  things  of  that  nature.  When  a  party  gets  in  power  and  they  do  things  like  that,  they  should  heed  the  cautionary  notes  from  folks  on  the  other  side of  the  aisle, " Be  careful  because  we  will  be  in  power  again  someday  and  we're  going  to  do  the  same  thing."  But  increasingly,  folks  seem  tone  deaf  in  Washington  DC  about  that.

 

00:17:11
Ed Larson: I  agree  with  Don  that  people  in  America  really  don't  like  all  power  to  be  in  the  hands  of  one  party.  The  norm  for  midterm  elections  is  whoever  was  elected  President  loses  seats  in  the  midterm.  You  saw  that  with  Donald  Trump,  losing  the  House  of  Representatives.  People  wanted  a  check.  You  saw  that  with  Obama.  You  saw  that  with  Bill  Clinton.  You  tend  to  very  rarely  have  a  party  control  the  White  House  more  than  two  terms.  It's  usually  two  terms  flipped  to  the  other  or  or  if  you  have  an  exceptionally  popular  President  like  Ronald  Reagan  or  Andrew  Jackson,  one  more  term  for  their  Vice  President,  but  not  two.  In  both  of  those  cases,  Jackson  got  his  Vice  President  elected  once,  but  that  was  it.  He  was  out  after  one  term,  same  way  with  Reagan  getting  George  Herbert  Walker  Bush  one  term  and  out.  So  it's  very  rare  to  go  more  than  two  terms  before  you  flip  to  the  other  party.

 

00:18:11
Bill Curtis: We  do  have  a  Supreme  Court  that  is  another  check  and  balance.  I  haven't  seen  a  lot  of  check  and  balance.  I  haven't  seen  the  ability  to  have  the  Congress  keep  the  President  to  the  President's  appropriate  level  of  presidential  power.

 

00:18:28
Ed Larson: I  think  what  bothers  me  about  Trump  is  not  just  about  Trump,  I think it  was  true  with  Obama  and  George  W.  Bush,  is  they  both  used  executive  powers  way  beyond  what  I  think  the  constitution  intended.  I  think  this  has  been  a  trend  that  has  tied  to  the  presidency,  not  to  a  political  party.  And  I  think  Donald  Trump  has  simply  built  on  what  Obama  who  then  built  on  what  George  W.  Bush  did.

 

00:18:57
Jane Albrecht: But  Trump  has  taken  the  Executive  Order  to  a  whole  new  level.  One  thing  that's  a  little  different  right  now  is  that  the  current  Senate  has  been  uncharacteristically  not  protective  of  its  own  power.  And  that's  not  something  that's  Democrat  or  Republican,  both  sides  would  agree  with  that,  generally.

 

00:19:15
Bill Curtis: So  Don,  what  are  conservatives  most  concerned  could  be  the  ramifications  of  a  democratic  sweep  in  November?

 

00:19:25
Don Schmitz: I  think  that  there's  a  perception,  especially  amongst  conservatives,  that  with  what's  been  going  on  in  our  streets,  and  some  of  the  folks  that  seem  to  have  taken  over  the  traditional  liberals  within  the  Democrat  Party,  the  lurch  hard  to  the  left,  I  think  that  concerns  them  very  much.  You  have  folks  who  are  talking  about  things,  which  candidly  were  just  a  third  rail  of  politics  in  the  United  States  before,  openly  espousing  socialism,  openly  espousing  things  of  doing  away  with  electoral  college,  doing  away  with  the  Senate,  putting  all  kinds  of  draconian  things  that  my  traditional  liberal  Democrat  friends  would  never  in  a  million  years  have  supported.  And  I  think  it  frightens  the  hell  out  of  a  lot  of  people.

 

00:20:16
Bill Curtis: How  do  you  feel  about  how  Trump  has  been  handling  the  presidency  as  a  Republican  and  do  you  have  an  opinion  about  some  of  the  unique  angles  that  he's  taken?

 

00:20:31
Don Schmitz: Well  when  it  comes  to  Trump  as  the  man,  as  the  individual,  versus  Trump  as  the  President  and  his  policies,  in  my  mind,  I  see  those  as  two  very  different  things.  The  fact  of  the  matter  is,  is  that  the  American  people  elected  a  tough  New  York  gutter  fighter  and  the  guy  that  was  perceived  as  being  completely  outside  of  the  political  structure,  left  wing  or  right  wing  Republican  or  Democrat.  I  think  that  they  did  that  with  a  forethought.  I  think  that  the  American  people had  become  disenchanted  with  the  Democrats and  Republicans  and  they  felt  like  there  really  wasn't  that  much  of  a  change  between  the  two  parties  and  they  wanted  something  different.

 

 Personally,  I  do  not  appreciate  Mr.  Trump's  style,  the  way  he  says  things  about  individuals,  it's  not  my  cup  of  tea  to  put  it  mildly,  but  I  do  have  to  tell  you  at  the  same  time  that  I  think  that  the  policies  that  he  has  implemented  in  regards  to  reducing  taxes  and  regulations,  to  protecting  our  border,  to  having  a  rational  immigration  policies,  to  rebuilding  our  military,  to  demanding  more  of  our  allies  such  as  NATO,  to  meet  their  obligations  for  our  common  defense,  things  of  that  nature,  for  following  through  which  neither  Republicans  or  Democrats  ever  had  as  presidents  had  the  moral  courage  to  do  to  move  our  embassy  from  Tel  Aviv  to  Jerusalem,  love  him  or  hate  him  as  an  individual,  but  the  man  tends  to  do  what  he  says  he's  going  to  do  and  he  doesn't  seem  to  care  much  about  the  political  consequences.  So  in  regards  to  running  the  country  on  those  important  action  items,  I  have  to  be  supportive  of  that.

 

00:22:22
Bill Curtis: So  it  sounds,  Don,  that  you  are  reasonably  middle  of  the  road  in  how  you  feel  about  Trump  the  person,  as  opposed  to  the  Republican  platform.  Let's  talk  about  Trump  the  person  for  just  a  minute.  I  can't  help  but  bring  up  the  recent  condemnation  of  Goodyear,  for  example,  because  I'm  not  familiar  with  a  past  history  where  presidents  have  said, " Let's  boycott  a  company  for  saying  that  they  don't  want  my  hats  worn  by  their  employees."  Does  that  kind  of  thing  bother  you  at  all?

 

00:23:01
Don Schmitz: It's  not  my  style.  It's  like  my  Democrat  friends,  like  to  say, " It's  not  presidential."  But  we've  witnessed  a  number  of  things  over  the  Trump  presidency,  both  domestically  and  overseas  where  he's  done  and  said  things,  which  personally  I  found  cringe- worthy,  but  surprise,  surprise  it  worked.  He's  a  very  tough,  unafraid  to  step  on  toes,  jump  up  and  down  on  toes  to  get  his  way,  to  make  things  happen.  And  I  suppose  if  you  agree  with  him  and  if  you  think  that  he's  got  America's  best  interests  at  heart  and  he's  accomplishing  stuff,  you  swallow  hard  and  you  say, " Okay,  he's  getting  it  done  where  others  have  failed."
 The  quintessential  example  I  would  give  you  would  be  the  negotiations  with  NATO.  President  Obama  crashed  and  burned.  President  Bush  got  nowhere  with  them.  President  Clinton  never  got  them  to  open  up  their  checkbook.  Trump  went  over  there  and  absolutely  flipped  people  out  and  said, " You  know,  I'm  not  sure  that  we  need  to  be  part  of  NATO  anymore,"  and  somewhat  rudely  got  up  in  people's  faces  at  the  collective  dinners  and  guess  what?  Our  NATO  allied  partners  are  spending  more  towards  their  2%  commitment.
 Look,  I  didn't  win  the  presidency.  None  of  us  here  did.  He  certainly  has  a  completely  different  type  of  style.  It's  not  my  style,  but  he  certainly  has  an  effective  way  of  bare  knuckle  negotiations  that  does  seem  to  get  things done.

 

00:24:37
Bill Curtis: So  is  some  of  this  stuff  actually  working,  even  though  it  seems  somewhat  repulsive  in  the  form  of  how  it's  coming  out  and  how  it's  being  stated  and  whenever  yesterday's  tweet  was?

 

00:24:48
Jane Albrecht: Through  the  great  extent,  not  at  all.  And  I  don't  say  that  as  a  Democrat,  I  say  that  as  a  former  international  trade  attorney  who  spent  my  life  representing  U. S.  industry.  Very  few  trade  attorneys  represented  only  U. S.  industry  and  defending  U. S.  interests  abroad.  And  I  don't  know  anyone  who  knows  international  trade  and  runs  businesses,  big  businesses,  and  looks  at  this  and  thinks  that  Trump  has  been  good  for  business  other  than  the  tax  cuts  and  the  regulations,  not  good  for  business,  not  good  for  international  trade,  certainly  not  good  for  our  economy.  And  the  criticism  of  Goodyear  most  recently,  to  me,  was  absolutely  outrageous.  Goodyear  didn't  say  you  can't  wear  MAGA  hats,  they  said  no  political  statements  when  you  come  to  work  and  that's  not  unusual.

 

 And  what  are  we  doing  with  a  President  who  is  aggressively  going  after  U. S.  businesses  that  keep  U. S.  employees  employed?  I  think  the  way  he  managed  the  pandemic  has  been  miserable  and  we're  all  living  with  the  results  of  it.  The  impact  didn't  have  to  be  this  bad,  not  at  all.  If  he  intervened  earlier  than  the  economic  impact  would  not  have  been  as  bad.  And  so  I  don't  know  how  anyone  can  look  at  the  record  of  this  President  and  say  he's  been  great  for  U. S. industry  and  business.  Yeah,  they  got  a  tax  break,  but  there's  a  lot  more  going  on  in  terms  of  what  makes  a  profitable  business  than  a  tax  break.

 

00:26:14
Ed Larson: Trump  came  to  office  saying  that  he  was  going  to  do  certain  things  and  has  actually  shown  up  in  his  odd  methods,  have  in  some  cases  allowed  him  to  fulfill  his  promises  to  his  base.  We  may  not  be  happy  with  those  promises,  but  he  certainly  has  had  an  effect.

 

00:26:37
Jane Albrecht: Actually  not  so  much  when  you  really  look  at  the  facts.  Where's  the  wall?  And  where  are  all  the  jobs  that  he  was  going  to  keep  in  the  U.S.?  He  hasn't  kept  his  promises. The  one  thing  he  kept  the  promise  on  is  to  pass  tax  cuts,  which  he  did,  mostly  for  the  very  wealthy,  but  I  don't  see  our  country  better  off  than  it  was  four  years  ago.  Not  at  all.  Not  even  close.

 

00:26:59
Bill Curtis: You  see a  change  in  how  we're  handling  China?

 

00:27:02
Jane Albrecht: You  know,  I  actually  was  open- minded  and  interested  to  see  how  he  was  going  to  handle  China.  We  did  have  issues,  we  had  to  take  them  to  task.  And  I  was  curious  and  interested  and  would  have  respected  him  a  lot  if he had  really  known  what  he  was  doing  with  China.  And  I  am  serious  about  that.  I  talked  to  people  who  knew  China  trade  relations  before  he  got  in  about  the  violation  with  intellectual  property  rights  and  other  things.

 

 When  he  first  came  in  and  he  made  the  first  call,  or  they  arranged  that  the  Taiwanese  president  was  one  of  the  first  leaders  to  call  him,  I  thought, " Oh,  that  could  be  interesting."  You  know,  this  is  like  saying, " Okay,  you're  not  playing  with  us  in  the  South  China  sea,  we  don't  have  to  play  with  you.  We  don't  have  to  play  by  your  rules  either."  Well,  President  Xi Jinping  put  the  word  out  that  there  will  be  no  diplomatic  contact  from  the  high- level  to  lowest- level  of  ministry  of  foreign  affairs  until  Trump  retracts  that  and  within  two  weeks  he  had  retracted  it.  But  that  was  just  the  beginning.

 

 With  this  pandemic,  I  don't  know  that  many  people  know,  but  we  had  CDC  groups  that  really  coordinated  well  with  China  and  one  of  the  reasons  we  were  able  to  stop  the  SARS  epidemic  from  going  worldwide  and  the  MERS  epidemic  from  going real wide,  and  Ebola,  is  countries  trusted  us  to  send  in  our  medical  experts.  China  doesn't  trust  us  to  do  that  right  now.  Do  we  still  have  to  hold  China  to  task?  Yes.  Has  this  President  really  advanced  that  cause?  No.  Could  we  possibly  take  advantage  of  some  of what  he's  done  and  have  someone  else  bring  home  the  bacon?  Possibly.  But  mostly  they've  blown  things  up  without  a  plan  for  putting  them  back  together.

 

00:28:43
Bill Curtis: This  country  hired  Trump  as  the  demolition  man.  And  you  have  to  admit  this  president  really  has  succeeded  in  completely  dismantling  the  government  as  we  knew  it  four  years  ago.

 

00:28:58
Jane Albrecht: I  don't  know  that  they've  dismantled  it.  They've  done  a  lot  of  damage.  We  are  now  entering  a  phase  where  we're  no  longer  going  to  be  the  economic  800  pound  gorilla,  China's  just  too  big  and  they  work  too  hard.  So  at  a  time  when  China  is  becoming  the  economic  800  pound  gorilla,  we  need  that  international  trading  system,  a  system  based  on  the  rule  of  law  so  that  our  companies  and  investors  can  go  in  and  invest  in  another  company  without  fear  of  losing  that.  Our  challenge  was  to  bring  China  in  and  get  them  to  live  by  those  rules  so  that  when  we  are  no  longer  the  800  pound  gorilla,  and  it  will  continue  to  be  that  way  sheerly  because  of  demographics,  numbers,  our  interests  are  protected.

 

00:29:43
Don Schmitz: Jane,  there's  a  lot  of  very  important  and  good  things  that  you  said  there,  but  there's  a  couple  of  observations  that  I  really  need  to  make.  First  of  all,  me  personally,  and  most  of  the  people  in  the  Republican  Party,  for  a  very  long  period  of  time,  were  free  traders.  And  one  of  the  things  that's  very  different  about  President  Trump  is  a  completely  different  brand  where  upon  he  said, " Look,  we've  been  selling  out  our  country and  the  American  workers  by  shipping  these  jobs  overseas."  Now as  a  guy  with  strong  libertarian  tendencies, and  it  sounds  like  you've  been  representing  American  companies  and  their  interests  overseas,  and  good  on  you,  and  there's  no  doubt  that  there's  been  a  tremendous  amount  of  prosperity  globally,  which  has  been  generated  by  us  shipping  our  manufacturing  over  to  places  like  China  and  Mexico,  before  that  India,  and  that's  the  free  market  system  and  I'm  a  free  market  guy,  but  you  know  what?  You  and  I  didn't  run  for  the  election.  And  to  be  the  President  and  the  guy that's in  the  oval  office  right  now  said, " New  sheriff  in  town,  I'm  not  doing  this  anymore."  He  wasn't  necessarily  concerned  about  what's  going  to  be  best  for  the  bottom  line  for  American  multinational  corporations,  he  wanted  those  jobs  back  here.  He  started  weighing  in  on  the  China  issue.
 Now  it's  entirely  your  prerogative  to  take  him  to  task  in  regards  to  the  efficacy  or  lack  thereof  for  his  negotiations  with  China.  I  might  disagree  with  you  on  that  a  little  bit,  but I think  there's  something  that  we  can  agree  upon,  which  was  whether  or  not  it  was  President  Obama,  President  Bush,  Clinton,  Democrats,  Republicans,  none  of  us,  none  of  us  took  it  seriously.  And  although  most  of  the  Democrats  in  Washington  DC  would  eat  a  bug  before  they  would  say  something  complimentary  of  President  Trump,  the  reality  is,  is  behind  the  scenes  I  think  all  of  us  realize  that  we  did  not  take  it  seriously  enough.

 

 And  here's  why,  we  thought  that  if  we  had  a  free  market  society  in  China  when  they  decided  to  embrace  capitalism,  that  it  would  naturally  involve  that  they  would  become  a  country  that  respected  the  individual  civil  rights  of  their  citizens,  that  they  would  join  the  community  of  nations,  that  they  would  abide  by  international  law,  and  I  think  both  Republicans  and  Democrats,  the  power  structure  in  Washington  DC,  the  sophisticated  people  that  you  referred  to  before  that  have  negotiated  all  these  trade  deals  and  everything  else,  i  it  didn't  work  out  that  way.

 

 But  whether  or  not  you  agree  with  how  good  of  a  job  he  did,  you  got  to  give  credit  where  credit's  due.  He's  the  first  President  and  the  first  politician  in  our  country  of  any  sort  of  standing,  which  has  stood  up  and  said, " No,  we  have  a  big  problem  with  China."  Took  it  seriously  and  is  starting  to  negotiate  aggressively  on  that  front.

 

00:32:33
Jane Albrecht: Don,  I  would  agree  with  you  on  that,  that  he  basically  said, " We've  got  a  problem  with  China,  we're  going  to  have  to  do  some  stuff  and  maybe  some  tough  stuff  that  might  be  a  little  bit  hard  to  absorb  at  home."  I  think  Trump  had  opportunities.  I  really  do.  I  think  if  he  had  really  stuck  by  some  of  what  he  said  he  was  going  to  do,  he  had  the  opportunity  to  be  a  President,  believe  it  or  not,  that  would  have  been  very  much  loved  by  the  people.  He  said  he  was going  to  protect  their  healthcare.  He  said  he  was  going  to  do  all  this,  but  he  actually  hasn't.

 

 And  so,  yeah,  first  of  all,  yes,  I  support  that.  And  one  of  the  things  we  have  to  do  in  our  trade  agreements,  and  it's  not  as  painful  as  it  would  sound,  is  we  need  some  labor  protections.  And  by  that,  I'm  not  talking  about, " Oh  my  God,  everybody's  going  to  be  paid  a  hundred  dollars  an  hour,"  but  we  have  provisions  in  our  trade  agreements  that  say, " We  won't  trade  in  goods  made  with  slave  labor.  We  won't  trade  in  goods  made  with  prison  labor.  We  won't  trade  in  goods  paid  with  children's  labor."  We  should  have  a  provision  saying  we  won't  trade  in  goods  where  the  laborers  are  getting  paid  less  than  a  living  wage.
 The  other  complex  thing  with  China  is  it's  a  multi- dimensional  chess  game.  You've  got  the  trade  interests,  you've  got  the  financial  world  and  you've  got  the  geopolitical  with  the  South  China  Sea.

 

00:33:45
Don Schmitz: There's  been  a  lot  that's  been  going  on.  Believe  you  me,  not  everybody  is  happy  about  us  upsetting  the  status  quo  and that  the  President  did  that  as  it  pertains  to China.

 

00:33:57
Bill Curtis: We  certainly  have  covered  a  lot  of  issues  today.  The  one  major  issue  that  I've  got  is  I  would  love  to  see  Don,  you  come  back  and  have  a  whole  lot  more  conversations  with  us  because  this  was  a  wonderful,  sometimes  knock  down,  drag  out  fight,  and  I  really  appreciate  you  joining  us.

 

00:34:13
Don Schmitz: Well,  I  really  appreciate  what  you're  doing  here,  guys.  It's  been  a  pleasure.

 

00:34:16
Bill Curtis: Don  Schmitz,  Jane  Albrecht,  and  Ed  Larson.  Thank  you  very  much.  This  is  Politics:  Meet  Me  In  The  Middle.  Come  back  next  week  and  join  us  again.

 

00:34:26
Speaker 6: If  you  like,  what  you  hear,  please  tell  your  friends  and  please  leave  a  comment.  And  yes,  we'd  of  course  appreciate  it  if  you  gave  us  a  five- star  rating.  You  can  also  subscribe  to  the  show  on  Apple  podcasts,  Stitcher,  Spotify,  or  wherever  you  listen  to  your  favorite  podcast.

 

 This  episode  was  produced  and  edited  by  Mike  Thomas,  and  it  was  audio  mastered  by  Michael  Kennedy.  The  theme  music  for  Politics:  Meet  Me  In  The  Middle  was  composed  and  performed  by  Celeste  and  Eric  Glick.  Thanks  for  listening.

 

00:34:55
Speaker 7: ( singing)

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