>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Production support for New Edition comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at smithville.com. And from Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at bloomhf.org.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: This is Noon Edition on WFIU. I'm your host Bob Zaltsberg. Today we're going to be talking about the riot that ensued this week on Capitol Hill. I have a co-host today - a new co-host, Brock Turner. Brock is a WFIU reporter who has been covering a lot of this and getting a lot of local reactions, so we're going to hear from Brock and he's also going to be asking questions as well. And he'll be asking questions and I will of our four guests today. Paul Helmke is with the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He's a professor of practice and the head of the Civic Leaders Center - and the director of the Civic Leaders Center. Seana Murphy is president and CEO of SMS Consulting. James Toole as an associate professor of political science at Indiana University - at Purdue University, Fort Wayne. And Betsi Grabe is an IU Media School professor who researches democracy and media and informed citizenship. You can send us your questions on Twitter at @noonedition, and you can also send us questions to email@example.com. Really glad to have all of you with us. I think we have lots of different areas of this historic week covered, and I want to start with Paul Helmke. And Paul, if you could talk - now, I should say, Paul is a former - the former mayor of Fort Wayne - Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, and he also is a former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and he's been involved in Indiana and U.S. politics for quite some time. Paul, can you put us in some sort of historical and political context for us?
>>PAUL HELMKE: I mean, I'm still in shock. I've never seen or heard about anything close to what happened on Wednesday. You know, in so many contexts. One is sort of an attack on the capital. Obviously, on 9/11, they were very concerned that that might have been where Flight 93 was heading. And, you know, we never know because of the heroic people on Flight 93. During the War of 1812, the British did burn the Capitol building, but except for that and perhaps some of the threats during the Civil War when the troops were close by, there's been - there's never been this kind of a direct attack on the Capitol. There have been some - you know, there - some Puerto Rican nationalists did shoot some people in 1954, I think it was, and there's been a few other incidents, but never this large scale of an attack on the Capitol since the British burned it. But I look at it in terms of three things that still amaze me. One is that there was this focused protest - coordinated plan to protest set for January 6th, the day that the Congress was supposed to meet and follow its constitutional obligation to open the electoral votes. You know, we've had people protest electoral counts before, but we've never had a coordinated protest set for that date. We've never had a losing candidate focus on that date. We've never brought people to the nation's capitol to try to deal with that protest and - I mean deal with that event and interfere with that event. I've been in protests in DC before. I've been there - you know, over the last 50 years I've seen protests in DC. Usually they're not scheduled when something crucial is happening in Congress. We've seen protests the day before the inauguration. We've seen protests - like, four years ago, the day after the inauguration. But we've never seen protests tied to a specific constitutional function like this before. So, you know, that's one thing. Plus the fact that it really was too late at this stage to protest the election. That ended on December 14th when the Electoral College met. So all of this is something that really had gone beyond the constitutional cannon in future protests. Second thing that was unique was the president's role. The speech - you know, he encouraged people to come to DC on the 6th. He said that this was their chance to "stop this steal." And I've read a transcript of his speech from Wednesday morning, and it's amazing. It's - you know, he basically - you know, if we allow this group of people to illegally take over the country, it's illegal - when the votes are illegal, when the way they got there is illegal, when the state that - are given false and fraudulent information, we fight. We fight like hell. If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. We are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. We are going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country. And there's numerous other places where it just is basically saying, this is fraudulent, this is wrong, and we need to get in the face of these weak Republicans, he calls them and Mike Pence to the change things. And, you know, that's - if that were any other person, that would clearly be considered incitement to violence I think. I also looked at Eugene V. Debs' speech from June 1918 - four-time - five-time presidential candidate. In June 1918, he gave a speech against World War One. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for saying less incendiary things than President Trump said the other day. So that's unique. Then the last thing is the storming the Capitol and the lack of preparation for that. Again, I've been in the Capitol building many times. You go through all sorts of security. I've seen protests there where there's all sorts of security. To have people breaking in there, you know, killing a Capitol Police officer, invading the speaker's office, sitting in the speaker's chair - you know, this was a dangerous day for American democracy, and it's going to take some time and in some effort, really, to clean up the mess that we saw the other day.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I revised the order I said I was going to go in when I talked to you before the show. Betsi Grabe, I want to ask you about social media and just the media's influence on all this and how the media contributed in some way.
>>BETSI GRABE: I think this is a very slow and long boil and that, you know, erupted in a very visible rolling boil this week. And so if you'll allow me, I think I want to start by trying to explain this with a social - psychological principle, and it's called the confirmation bias. This is something that social psychologists have identified many, many decades ago. And what it basically means is that we as human beings attain to information in a way where we look for things that confirm what we believe. And we all have this to some degree. And so you combine that human tendency with a social media environment where algorithms really put us in contact with like-minded people, right? So we create, through social media or curriculums, these clusters of people who think alike and work each other up into a froth. Also, of course, helped along by politicians, as we've already pointed out here. And then you add with that the prolific dissemination of disinformation during this election season. And it wasn't just election information, it was COVID, like, related information as well. And the the rise of conspiracy communities that flourish on social media because of everything I've described so far. And these conspiracy communities that exist very clearly online give people a sense of belonging - a sense of identity in a time when most of us are relatively socially isolated during COVID. And that exacerbates this whole, yeah, slow boil that started. And you introduce into that the idea that, yes, you know, government officials try and tell us that we should wear masks and try and stay home and stay safe, and now we have something to be mad about. What strikes me is when I look at the interviews with people who were at the Capitol who protested and assaulted the Capitol, what they say is that they - the reason why they're doing this is their freedoms are being taken away. I mean, that is stunning to me because of its absolute break with reality. Anyway. So I've given you a long descriptive angle here on the media. If I wrap it up very briefly, it - clearly, social media is highly conducive to the formation and maintenance of conspiracy theory, and it locks people into highly polarized echo chambers where they hear the same thing and they start to really believe what they hear in these conspiracy networks. So that is, in a broad way, how I would add to what is already been said.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Betsi, we'll get back to you and to Paul. I want to bring Seana Murphy in here for another aspect of this, and that is how the protesters - the so-called protesters or the rioters were treated in comparison to, say, the Black Lives Matter protesters who were on the streets just months ago.
>>SEANA MURPHY: I first want to just put some context in, because I think is - there's a danger in pointing - being able to point to what happened at the state - at the national capitol as being some - as an anomaly. When you look at some of the things that happened across the country earlier in the summer just around the request for people to wear masks, you saw similar things to occur. And contextually, I think it's important before answering the question to remember that 74 million-plus people voted for the president. And we cannot pretend that some of those people are not members of the very force that is charged with protecting and serving. I mean, in addition to that, he was endorsed by the FOP and the International Union of Police Associations. And so we have baked in the racial bias - the racism that allowed for the militarized presence of police during the Black Lives Matter movement compared to the decorative policing that was happening over at the nation's capitol. The only other thing that I want to point out around this is that, from a - from my perspective as a Black person in this country, the language just being used in terms of this being an assault on American democracy is really interesting to me because, from the history of Black people in this country, what we witnessed was an assault on white American democracy, because mob rule has been historically active and remains active and, in some ways, endorsed and perpetrated by the very police officers who are allegedly positioned in our communities to protect and serve. And I will qualify that last statement by just simply pointing out, here in our state, in the city of Indianapolis, in fact, we have had more than 13 African American members of our community killed by our local police officers, and several of those who were fleeing but were still killed. So I think it's important that as we have the conversation and we look at the visuals, that we pay attention to the fact that, for some reason, white America needs a visual representation of what African Americans have been saying all along in terms of how we have been overpoliced and mistreated by a state apparatus. And then to see that that same level of effort is not deployed really is more indicative of the racism that undergirds the way in which Black and brown communities are policed.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, thank you very much. And I want to go to James Toole next, and James Toole's associate professor of political science at Purdue University, Fort Wayne. And James Toole, the international views of what people are seeing - you know, what do you make of the - of what people from various countries are saying when they see what happened here on this - earlier this week?
>>JAMES TOOLE: Yeah. Well, thanks, Bob. Thanks for having me on. And I think what we can - I think I'd begin by just saying that, you know, there are basically two broad categories of reactions from world leaders. One from our adversaries and strategic competitors is - are statements that show how much they seem to be enjoying what's happened and taking advantage of what's happened. And the other group, of course, is from our friends and allies around the world. And let me just give a brief selection of some of these comments. First, from adversaries and/or strategic competitors. We have a quote from Iran - from President Hassan Rouhani who notes how fragile and vulnerable Western democracy, this coming from a leader of a highly authoritarian political system? The chair of the lower house of Russia's - the chair of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of Russia's parliament said "the United States certainly cannot now impose electoral standards on other countries and claim to be the world's beacon of democracy." So taking a really direct shot there at our sense that we are a preeminent democracy that stands as a model for the rest of the world. So, too, from Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro said the United States suffers from the same that it has generated in other countries with its politics - or policies, rather, of aggression. From Turkey - we have the parliamentary speaker of Turkey saying we follow the events in the USA with concern and invite the parties to calmness. As Turkey, he says, we have always been in favor of the law and democracy and recommend it to everyone. And that's pretty rich, given Turkey's recent slide toward authoritarianism under President Erdogan. And finally, from China, among adversaries and strategic competitors, we have - there are a number of different things here, but the Global Times, which some of our listeners may know as an English language and quite stridently nationalistic government publication - Global Times commented that Speaker Nancy Pelosi once referred to the Hong Kong riots as a beautiful sight to behold. It remains to be seen whether she will say the same about the recent developments on Capitol Hill - and there were various apparently comparisons in the Chinese - in Chinese media and social media of the attacks on the capital to the demonstrations in Hong Kong, which I think are offensive to anyone who cares about democracy and human rights to compare this to the Hong Kong protests. I was in Hong Kong for part of those protests last year, and I think we all appreciate that those are highly Democratic protests on behalf of a vibrant civil society against what is a clearly authoritarian regime in China and an increasingly authoritarian regime within Hong Kong. And I'll just say a few brief things about comments from our allies, which naturally we're quite supportive, but also very concerned. To me, the two most moving were from France and Germany. President Macron of France said the following. He underscored the long friendship that our countries have had dating back to our war of independence and the fact that we fought together on the side of democracy in two world wars. And he said, and I quote, today, France stands strongly, fervently and resolutely with the American people and with all people who want to choose their leaders, determine their own destinies and their lives through free and democratic elections. And we will not yield to the violence of a few individuals who want to challenge that. And from Germany, we have a really interesting quote from the German ambassador to the United Kingdom, Andreas Mickolus. And he said, and I quote, after our catastrophic failure in the 20th century, that is Germany's failure, we Germans were taught by the US to develop strong democratic institutions. We also learned that democracy is not just about institutions, it's about political culture to all Democrats. All Democratic nations need to constantly defend it. And, you know, I could go on and on. As you might expect, these reactions from allies express a lot of concern, but also, you know, pretty consistent support and in U.S. democratic political institutions. But they clearly also indicate that people are shaken by this. Again, pointing to that quote from, Germany and I'll finish up with that is that, again, the ambassador says that democracy is not just about institutions, it's about political culture, too. And we might talk about this later. It depends how our conversation goes. But I think that one of the most deeply troubling things about this is how these attacks have emanated from deep within American political culture. And I think that's really the fundamental thing that needs to be addressed probably even more than the recent damage to our political institutions.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Thank you to all four of you for sort of setting a lot of different ways that we can look at these issues, these really horrifying issues that occurred earlier this week. If you out there have any questions or any comments, you can send them to us on Twitter at noon addition, or you can send them to us at news at Indiana Public Media.org. Brock Turner, thanks for being patient. I want to bring you on now talking about the political tone and just the politics of the situation and what's happened in our our sort of political arena. You've talked to and gotten statements from several Indiana representatives, senators, senators, representatives, people who have opinions on this. You sort of set that up for us. I know Mike Braun and Trey Hollingsworth that said they were going to basically protest the vote. So what ultimately happened? What did they what have you heard?
>>BROCK TURNER: Yeah, absolutely. Bob, and thanks for having me and thanks, everyone, for for joining us. I think what was said and what's not said are two - is an important distinction to make. So, you know, yes, initially, Senator Mike Braun, Indiana's junior senator, came out and said that he would protest the vote to accept electors from multiple states, primarily Arizona and Pennsylvania. That vote did not end up happening. He signed on to the initial legislation and to to the initial bill, but but did not end up following through with that vote. It was a quick reversal after the after the insurrection at the Capitol and everything that happened in D.C. Senator Todd Young, though, was a little more was sort of on the other camp of the Republican Party, which was that he was going to, quote unquote, follow the Constitution and an attempt to, you know, and accept all results. So I think there's a there's a core distinction there between Indiana's Republican representatives and Gregg Pence being another great example of that, where he voted to accept electors from Arizona but then voted to reject electors from Pennsylvania. So I think there's really sort of two camps within the Republican Party. And then all Democrats probably, unsurprisingly, voted to accept the results of the election as as presented. But I think this kind of sets the stage for something that is perhaps really problematic, where, you know, one's own political ideology is, you know. Questioning the integrity of the voting system, which is by all accounts, very secure, and I'm interested to hear kind of what our panelists think about, you know, about this sort of recent development. This this, to me seems like a pretty recent phenomenon where, you know, a political ideology can throw into question, by all accounts, a reasonable and well-run election.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Paul Helmke, I know you have some thoughts on that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: The - you know, it's - people always say that there's - oftentimes people say there's broader mistakes than elections. And that's been something particularly Republicans have been raising for the last 20 years or so. But every time someone does the research, they find that it's very minimal.
>>PAUL HELMKE: There are mistakes that are made in every election. There may be an incident of fraud or two. I think the Georgia situation is really the best example here. You know, the Georgia secretary of state and the Georgia Election Commission went through every one of Trump's charges and pointed it out. No, there were only two dead people that they think voted. No, there was no funny business going on underneath the tables that the video that was publicized was doctored, you know, and they went through this time after time after time. But apparently people aren't aren't out there listening to it. So I think we have free and fair elections. One of the reasons is that our election system is so decentralized. It's very difficult to change the results anywhere. But, you know, in the past, maybe, you know, hundred years ago, one hundred and fifty years ago, we had elections that, you know, were world more corrupt. Even in Indiana, you know, rumors about Lake County in the 50s and 60s were always, you know, around. But I think clearly in the more modern era, in the last 50 years, our elections have been secure and have been safe. And we need to accept that. I've been involved with working a precinct, appointing the election officials and watching them count the votes. These are people that do this year in and year out. They're just trying to do a good job and they're trying to be honest about it. And, you know, that's a crucial thing. The last point I just want to make is that when there have been charges of fraud in the past, we've had candidates who realize that the constitution, the constitutional process and the future of the country is more important than than trying to fight back. Famously in 1960, a lot of people encouraged Richard Nixon to contest the loss to the John F. Kennedy. They said that Mayor Daley of Chicago had helped steal the Illinois votes and that if that had been reversed, you know, perhaps that Nixon would win in the Electoral College. And Nixon basically said he didn't want to put the country in jeopardy, that it wasn't worth doing that sort of thing. And he presided over the joint meeting of the House and the Senate that declared John Kennedy the winner in that race. That's what we've always had in this country before. Now we seem to get politicians like President Trump who say those are people that were part of the surrender caucus, that the Republicans give up too easily. Al Gore lost by five hundred and thirty seven votes. The Supreme Court stopped the recount because they said it had to be done by the time the Electoral College was done. But I think our elections are run fairly. There have been questions raised, but people need to learn how this really works. You can't easily hijack an election night.
>>SEANA MURPHY: And also that I don't know that we can have this conversation and not talk about racism and not talk about the places that have been and not a position at first in the efforts to suppress votes across the country. And again, to put it in a very localized context, the number of early voting sites that were made available in Marion County compared to the early voting sites that were made available and outlying counties as a way of suppressing votes of black and brown people. When we talk about fair elections, we have to also talk about the fair accessibility for those to vote and that we got to the point where charges of the election being stolen. It was a culmination of a failed effort to suppress votes all across the country. And when that effort failed, the logical conclusion for those who are of the conspiracist mind mindset is that then, of course, there had to be fraudulent activity and the election hijacked. But I really believe that we have to situate the conversation and the racism that was driving the challenges, especially when you get to the county level positioning of the arguments that were being made against certifying the vote.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: A couple of things I want to mention, a follow up there, Seana Murphy, just to address some of the things that you were saying earlier. Our producer came up with some numbers, according to The Boston Globe, as of Thursday morning, sixty one of the pro Trump mob members had been arrested, sixty one on June 1st. Three hundred and twenty six people were arrested at a Black Lives Matter demonstration. So it sort of shows the disparity of how the different groups have been. And there's not even any comparison between the Black Lives Matter protesters and the mob that stormed into the Capitol building.
>>SEANA MURPHY: I'm really glad you said that because there are so many false equivalency being drawn between what happened the other day and the movements that happened across the country and across the world regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. And I would encourage the listeners as they look at what happened at the nation's capital, to look at what's happening in their own communities, because it's much easier to point to a group of people that are at a distance than it is to look in your own backyards and look at the disparities that are ever present, just in terms of the number of people who are sitting in local and city and county jails and the race of those people in those jails reflect the overpolicing of black and brown skins that happen across this country every day.
>>PAUL HELMKE: This is Paul. And Seana makes great comments, very important comments. I think it's interesting, too, that in the past, when usually Democrats and people of color have talked about the suppression and the need to have better standards in terms of what IDs are allowed, how much early voting should be allowed, how many sites there should be, whatever that's been raised at the national level. The Republicans in the past have said, oh, we can't get involved at the national level. That's that that's a local concern. That's a state concern. States decide their own rules, but all of a sudden now they decided, apparently all the ones that that were going to vote to throw these throw the electoral council out, that, no, we don't like the way the states did, that we've got to set national standards for these people. So you see a lot of duplicity in these arguments to.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Betsi Grabe wanted to come back to you about the echo chamber, because we're already seeing some people who are trying to argue that these weren't Trump supporters, that, oh, no, they had to be people from the far left ANTIFA even though there are clear photos of people who are well known to have been Trump supporters, there was there were is a picture of Matthew Heimbach, an Indiana guy who this station has done stories on, and Indiana media has done stories on his is a white nationalist, some would say a white supremacist. And he was very much in evidence out there. And a lot of these other people were very much in evidence who are racist or homophobic or anti-Semitic with the kind of of clothing they were wearing. Yet there are people that will seem to ignore the evidence and just say, oh, no, that that couldn't have been Trump supporters. Can you just explain to me how that how that happens?
>>BETSI GRABE: Yeah, that is - you know, take it back to that confirmation bias that we have. People will seek information and turn to social media and other media outlets to confirm what they want to believe. And now that there is clearly a strong reaction against what happened at the Capitol, the conspiracy theories and the media pushing these these conspiracy theories, you're absolutely right. Are already busy pointing the finger back at the protesters and, yes, attributing their allegiance to Antifa, as I've watched last night, quite a bit of that. It is truly disturbing and and even pointing to NPR and reporting on NPR and a time stamp on important reporting units and updated ongoing report. But finding some conspiracy theory on that time stamp on the NPR site that somehow NPR orchestrated this this mob activity at the at the Capitol to put Trump supporters in a bad light. So be ready for the full cycle of conspiracy and warping of what actually occurred, twisting it into a factless alternate reality is happening already. And the problem that we see in media research is once a lie has been launched through these networks of social media, it is almost impossible to reverse. We can track misinformation through tools that have been developed at Indiana University in the School of Informatics here, and we can track also fact checking to see how fact checking is disseminated through a social media network. And it's absolutely astonishing to see how little of the fact checking dissemination happens after a lie is launched into the system. It's really hard to reverse this information. The one thing I can say is that it will be absorbed and cling to and made part of world views of people who already have those views. We are, of course, concerned about younger people being drawn into those darker corners of the social web and some of the studies we've done during the election campaign. We've seen actually and our study is one of the first to really point that out, that people between 18 and 25 seem to be more vulnerable to believing false narratives. And that's something we're digging into a little deeper. We've got a massive data set that we're really mining at the moment to understand human vulnerability to to this information. But we've seen the first sign there that young people are quite vulnerable.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: That's terrifying.
>>BROCK TURNER: I think that's a great point Betsy. And I also kind of wanted to to bring James in here as well to talk about the what to compare what we're seeing here in the United States in terms of nationalist movements, you know, like we've seen from the far-right. How does this compare to other countries? And disinformation - certainly, you know, these movements tend to latch onto that and to these false narratives that are spread throughout social media. But, James, how does this compare to what we're seeing in other countries.
>>JAMES TOOLE: You know, that's a really good question. And, you know, I so strongly agree with what everyone else has said here. And to build on what Betsi said, I mean, I think we have a fundamental problem right now in our American democratic political culture. And I think among the many problems that exist in our political culture is, I think, one overriding one, which is that a significant minority of Americans right now simply are unwilling to accept the facts of the real world in which we live, facts such as the election results of 2020. And this isn't just a matter of one person's opinion against another person's opinion; it's simply a refusal to accept the factual reality of our lives. And this is a much tougher problem to address than most other problems of political culture. And I have no solution to it. No one, I think, really has any clear solution to it, though there are things we can do. But I would very much second what Betsi said. And in reaction to your question, Brock, you know, I think we're living in a time right now, especially in the last five years or maybe 10 years in a broader sense of democratic rollback around the world and of the spread of increasing authoritarianism and national populism in countries around the world. We have very good and sad examples from places like Turkey, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Brazil. And there are many others. And so I think it's a time of real concern. And of course, the U.S. has been known as a leader of democracy around the world. Americans certainly have viewed us this way. There's been much skepticism of that around the world. That skepticism is only going to increase. And so I think we face a lot of challenges. And now we've revealed some fundamental weaknesses in our political culture but also in our institutions. And I'll wrap up here by saying that I think our institutions have shown over the last week or maybe ever since the election in November - I think our institutions have held fairly well. They've been pretty resilient in terms of pushing back against this attempt to undermine the election results of November 2020. But we still have some very clear institutional breakdown here. Seana was - you know, illustrated this very nicely. We have a lot of work to do in terms of policing, criminal justice and other things pertaining to Black and brown people and racial inequality in this country. But we also have some work to do in shoring up our institutions when it comes to elections and provisions within our legal constitutional structure when it comes to how presidents are elected.
>>SEANA MURPHY: Can I jump in?
>>BROCK TURNER: Absolutely.
>>SEANA MURPHY: As I listen to the conversation around false narratives, the believability of those narratives and confirmation biases and things of that nature, the structure of racism in this country is rooted in the false narrative of white American exceptionalism and the inadequacies of anyone else. And so when we - I just want to make sure that when we come to these conversations and are having this conversation, which is very important, that we give attention to the fact that what we saw occur over the summer was rooted in the false narrative of the dangerous Black and brown people, the unruliness and the myth of the violent Black and brown person measured against the false narrative of the calm, cool, collected white person who can go and do their protest and blah, blah, blah. And so therefore, there's no need for the level of policing that occurred during the summer. The false narrative and confirmation bias is always at play. And when we think in terms of institutions and how we strengthen those in the space of voting and free and fair elections, we also need to pay attention to the questions that we bring to what is it that we really need to rev up. And then the last thing I'll say is it goes back to policing and the overpolicing of Black and brown and poor people in this country, the training, the positioning of police officers in our communities are often rooted in the false narrative of we are more prone to do X, Y and Z. And so, again, I just - as we think in terms of false narratives, racism is a false narrative that has propagated the institutions that are now being - that are now imploding in some ways.
>>BROCK TURNER: I think you make a great point where you're talking about, you know, these issues that are really baked into the institutions that we've come to rely on. And I think that's such an important point. Paul, I want to bring you in here just to kind of talk about - you know? In terms of these issues, you know, that we're maybe seeing manifest themselves, it sounds like that you felt like the institutions have sort of held up. But have the actions that we've seen over the course of this past week and a number of weeks - do you think that calls into question the validity of the institutions that we've come to rely on, that - you know, something as, you know, fundamental as, you know, free and fair elections?
>>PAUL HELMKE: It's - I think it's shown how fragile our systems are. The - you know, this easily could have gotten a lot worse. I mean, there's reports that some of the folks invading the Capitol wanted to capture Mike Pence and hang him as a traitor, that there were discussions before Wednesday of groups - you know? Should we shoot ATF officers or just Capitol Police officers, you know? It - you know, there are people in the - found in the Capitol with AK-47s. If somebody had had a gun and started using their semiautomatic and - after they got into the House chambers and House members were still there, we would have really had a significant catastrophe on our hands. And I think this is what happens when you start challenging - when you have unfounded challenges to our system of elections, when you ignore the widely accepted democratic norms that have held true for - you know, for most of our history, you know? It can be scary. It was a dangerous day. This easily could have gone other ways. And again, we still have 12 days left till the inauguration. There's already discussion, you know? Do we need a 25th Amendment intervention? Do we need an impeachment, you know? What are - what will the military do if they get some sort of a strange order from the president? Will there be more protests and attacks and challenges at the inauguration? This is still a dangerous time for us. We're not through this yet. And there's a lot of issues out there. But I think we - it shows the importance of paying attention to what's happening, realizing that words have consequences, actions have consequences, these false narratives have consequences, the racism that's so embedded in so much of our system has consequences. And, you know, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, they once - Jefferson once said. And we need to be vigilant now. I might just...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We have about 10 minutes left in the show. Let me just - let me mention, Paul, really quickly, if anybody out there has a question, you can send them to @NoonEdition or you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go ahead, Paul.
>>PAUL HELMKE: Yeah, I was just going to say one quick response when I think Brock was talking about the politics. One of the things that I was impressed with the other day was Todd Young. There was video shown of him being challenged by some - presumably Hoosiers as he is going into the Senate office building, you know, pushing him to resist the electoral counts. And he basically said - and he got very heated, you know - I follow the Constitution. I took an oath to follow the Constitution, took an oath to God to follow the Constitution. And this is what the Constitution says. And I think that was one of Todd Young's finer moments, actually. And it was an interesting contrast with Senator Braun, who was at the same time being praised by President Trump in his early, you know, morning rally. The other comment I want to make is that - just to show that we've had threats to our system before. Today is the 10-year anniversary of the attack, the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, where she - six people were killed, a federal judge, a Senate - a House staffer, you know, a 9-year-old girl. We've had this strain of violence not only racially motivated violence but that politically motivated violence in our country for a long time. And, you know, after the Gabby Giffords shooting, nothing was done in Congress to try to deal with those issues. It's going to be interesting to see after Wednesday what Congress does in the future to deal with the other issues that are coming up.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Well, I want to follow up with a question for you. And anybody else can join in as well if you'd like. But it seems like we've been on a slide here, you know, toward this lack of confidence in institutions. Perhaps that's how President Trump was elected in the first place. And in the last four years, he's done a lot to discourage confidence in institutions. So I guess I'm asking you to sort of frame that for us. Were we - you know, were we rapidly moving toward this or slowly, methodically moving toward this lack of confidence in institutions, and President Trump - Donald Trump just happened to be the guy who was there, who - the anger of the voters decided to elect him? And then for the last four years, he's just added fuel to the fire, or how responsible is he for, you know, the lack of confidence in institutions?
>>PAUL HELMKE: I mean, this is something that's been building for some time. And I think it goes back at least to the mid-1960s with LBJ in Vietnam. People started, you know, the anti-war protests then. But it was - you know, can we believe what the president's saying when - with the Gulf of Tonk resolution, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and the way that they're handling the protesters. And I used to collect political buttons. I've got a Nixon button that said stop the credibility gap, you know? Elect Nixon and Agnew. But of course, that just continued the credibility gap and the lack of faith in the president and in Congress. And over the last 50 years, we've got both political parties basically running against government, you know? You see every candidate almost saying, you know, they're all corrupt there. It's a swamp there. They're all rotten, you know? Elect me, and I'll make the change. And then, of course, things don't change because it's really not as bad as they say it is, and they can't make the change alone. And so people - you know, people hear more and more of how bad this system is. They hear the negative ads. Basically, we don't have anyone defending government or politics or taxes or our institutions anymore. And people bought into those arguments. And, you know, I think things really started getting a lot worse than 25 years ago with 1994 election and the Gingrich revolution, where it was - you know, we'll impeach Clinton. We'll oppose everything Clinton's doing. We'll investigate everything that's going on. And, you know, then you had the Iraq war under questionable circumstances with George W. Bush, you know? It's just been building and building. I point out the people - my grandfather was involved in politics in Indiana for his entire life. He never saw an election where the popular vote and the electoral vote split, and, already, my students have seen two of that in their lifetime. So the country's polarizing. People have less faith in institutions. They don't believe politicians anymore. And we're paying the consequences of it now.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Brock, I think you had talked to the folks in Todd Young's camp.
>>BROCK TURNER: Yeah. And I think - you know, I think what we're beginning to see is, you know, an enablement of - you know? I think something that Paul did a great job of mentioning is kind of painting a picture of the backdrop. But I think what's made the Trump administration different is that we've seen an enablement from establishment Republicans to sort of, you know, allow these, you know, false statements to go unchecked in these overall threats. And I think that's something that maybe is new that we haven't seen before. And I'm curious to bring in the others here with about two minutes left, you know? Seana, Betsi, what do you think about, you know, the new movement that we've seen? And, you know, do you think anything will change as we begin to see, you know, an enablement of these types of behaviors and maybe even norms that are accepted?
>>BETSI GRABE: I can speak to the media front of this. And, you know, there's very low confidence in government. But if you look at the credibility and trustworthiness of media, it's also at record lows. And that has been falling in a very slow way, ebb and flow really over decades. But it's really hitting a low point right now. And when you've had a president for four years telling the people that the media are their enemy, then, yeah, don't be surprised that they don't have any faith in media. And, you know, if we do believe that the lifeblood of a democracy is information with - information that has integrity, then this is a very serious problem. And if people do not believe reliable news outlets to and go to them for information, they will turn to the social web, and they will recede back into those small, polarized enclaves and believe conspiracy theories. So I don't have solutions for how to overcome the credibility of democratic institutions, but I think we are at a crisis level.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We're almost out of time. I want to give James Toole and Seana just, you know, 10 or 15 seconds if you got one final comment that you want to make.
>>SEANA MURPHY: I've got - my final comment is that time will tell. If nothing else, the hope is that people understand that what happens nationally emanates from local politics. We have one, two, three, five Indiana congresspeople vote to an objection to the certification of our Electoral College. Those people need to be voted out. If we can mobilize on a local level, we can change what happens on the national landscape.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Thank you for that. James Toole, just 10 seconds, 15 seconds?
>>JAMES TOOLE: Yeah, sure. I think the big question here is, you know - will this be a wake-up call to Americans? And I'm worried that it won't be enough of a wake-up call given the damage we've talked about to our political culture and the long-standing erosion of trust in our institutions that I think all of us have talked about today.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Thank you very much. It's been a great program. Thanks to Paul Helmke for all of his views, Seana Murphy for her positions today, James Toole and Betsi Grabe for our - my co-host Brock Turner, for producer Bente Bouthier and for engineer John Bailey. I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening.
>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Noon Edition is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at wfiu.org/noonedition. Production support comes from Smithville. Fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at smithville.com. And from Bloomington Health Foundation, partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation. Improving health and well-being takes a community. More at bloomhf.org.