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Can Joe Manchin's Compromise Sway Republicans?; How Will New Ranked Voting System Impact NYC's Pick for Mayor?; Portland Police Rapid Response Team Quits After Officer Indictment; Does Your Next- Door Neighbor's Race Affect Your Politics?; "How To Survive America". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 19, 2021 - 09:00   ET





MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Welcome to the first official Juneteenth federal holiday in our nation's history. It was 156 years ago today that Union Army Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, told slaves of their emancipation. That day came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. In that moment, they realized they were finally free.

And as we celebrate the end of this battle for equality, another one looms over Congress' doorstep. It is crunch time for the Democrats and their For The People Act, the sweeping voting bill that would make many changes to rules regarding voting and campaign finance. It passed without Republican support in the House and next week, it faces a showdown in the Senate. Voting restrictions passed in key battleground states this year lit a fire under the bill's proponents and, if passed, some measures of the bill would curb those state laws.

Here's a look at some of the bill's main features. It expands voter registration, including requiring automatic and same-day registration, it expands voting access through vote-by-mail and mandates 15 days of early voting, it would remove states' strict voter ID requirements by allowing voters to submit a sworn affidavit.

It puts limits on removing voters from voter rolls, requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out Congressional redistricting, includes provisions related to election security, requires the president, vice president and certain candidates for those offices to disclose 10 years of tax returns and also increases transparency in campaign finance.

It all looked to be a lost cause as Republicans have called the push a partisan takeover of elections but enter the Senate compromise leader. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat, has now signaled that he's open to negotiation and here are some of the big issues in his party's bill that he says he'll support: Declaring Election Day a public holiday, mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections, banning partisan gerrymandering, making voter registration automatic for anybody with a driver's license with an option to opt out.

But in return for that support here's what Manchin is asking for: Requiring identification to vote, including a utility bill as an alternative and rejecting a Democratic push for no-excuse absentee voting which made possible the widespread mail-in voting that was a feature of the 2020 presidential election during last year's coronavirus pandemic.

There's no guarantee that Democrats will go along with his compromise. Even if they do, the plan requires some Republican buy-in. Manchin's counter is, however, gaining traction on the left with voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, among others. She's even signaling possible openness to his call for a voter ID requirement. Abrams' voice matters of course, but she's not in the Congress.

Manchin's efforts at compromise alone won't be enough. That's because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once again seems to be more intent on acting like a blockade. On Thursday, he put it bluntly. He said, "States, not the federal government, should decide how to run their elections." And even if Manchin can get his entire party on board with his proposal, that only gets Democrats to 50 votes, 10 shy, where this is not a matter of reconciliation.

So, what's it really all about? To put up a good showing and still lose so that the public sees the GOP obstruction on yet another major issue like the January 6th commission or is it deeper? That this time, it'll be Joe Manchin's initiative that fails, so he'll experience the result firsthand, perhaps softening him on the filibuster. After all, this week, audio was leaked to "The Intercept" wherein Manchin said he's open to the idea of reducing the number of votes necessary to end a filibuster.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I looked back in '19. I think it was '73 when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change. So, I'm open to looking at it, I'm just not open to getting rid of the -- of the filibuster, that's all. And right now, 60 is where I'm planting my flag, but as long as they know that I'm going to protect this filibuster, we're looking at good solutions.


SMERCONISH: I want to know what you think. Go to my website at this hour. Answer this week's survey question.


If the For The People Act fails in the Senate, will Joe Manchin vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?

Here now to discuss what's at stake for U.S. elections is Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel and public policy head of government affairs at Common Cause. He also recently served as the senior elections council to the Committee on House Administration. Stephen, what do you make of my theory, that we are watching an exercise intended to soften Joe Manchin on the filibuster?

STEPHEN SPAULDING, SR. COUNSEL FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVT. AFFAIRS, COMMON CAUSE: Well, let's consider what's at stake. Voters showed up in record numbers in 2020. In the midst of a pandemic, we had the highest voter turnout in a century and what's the reaction of so many Republican state legislators? They want to make it harder to vote. They are introducing, you know, at this point, more than 380 pieces of legislation at the state level, especially targeting black and brown voters and voters of color to make it harder to vote after that record turnout.

Congress has a responsibility to uphold its constitutional authority to set the rules and regulations around how we vote. We need uniform, national, fair standards so that our elections work for us.

And not just that, but another key pillar of the bill, as important as the voting pillar is, the first 300 pages, all of those solutions you talked about were authored by our late American hero John Lewis, the other key pillar is breaking the grip of big money in the political process where big donors are really setting the agenda in Washington, ending gerrymandering. So, this is a sweeping proposal. Every time it's been declared dead, it has advanced. It's passed the House twice. It's been marked and now it's (ph) ready for a Senate floor debate ...

SMERCONISH: But Stephen -- but Stephen ...

SPAULDING: Yes, Michael.

SMERCONISH: I understand everything that you've said, but to my point, the votes just aren't there. Mitch McConnell said nobody is going to break ranks and so I see something bigger going on here. I see Democrats saying, hey, let Manchin run with the ball, get beat up and then let's see what he says about the filibuster.

SPAULDING: We're at the very start of the process in the Senate. There will be a key vote this week to advance the bill and the vote will be on should we debate this legislation. That's called the motion to proceed. It's a filibusterable motion. We know Mitch McConnell has said he wants to spend 100 percent of his time blocking legislation. We know that he has routinely called himself the Champion of Gridlock and so he's going to try to stop that debate, but the American people are watching.

This bill, the For The People Act, is broadly bipartisan, it enjoys support well north of 80 percent of the American public, 79 percent of voters in Senator Manchin's home state of West Virginia. So this debate needs to happen. The filibuster, this rule that apparently allows a minority to block the majority from even having a debate on the bill, that theory that the majority can't even debate was rejected by the founders. They said a super majority requirement in the constitution is necessary to override a veto, to ...

SMERCONISH: You are not -- you are not -- you are not ruling out my thesis. Duly noted. Quick final point. Mitch McConnell says, hey, we don't want to federalize elections. I imagine that will rally his base and they will feel likewise. Take my final 30 seconds and respond to that.

SPAULDING: This is about setting fair national standards and breaking the grip of big money in politics. It is not about a federal takeover of elections. What it's about is setting fair national standards so that no matter what you look like, no matter your ZIP code, no matter where you live, you have fair and free access to the ballot, the key in a democracy to make your voice heard so that you can have a say in the direction of your life, your family's life, your community's life and the future of our country.

And I hope that debate happens this week on the floor, and we are going to continue this fight until it happens and gets across the finish line. No major piece of legislation is easy and this one, we're going to -- we're going to get it through. I have that confidence.

SMERCONISH: Stephen Spaulding, thank you for your expertise. Appreciate it.

SPAULDING: Thanks, Michael.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I'll read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have, Catherine? From the world of Twitter, "For The People Act should be renamed For the Democratic Party Act."

Well, Kyle, that's the way in which it's been cast, but is it -- is it necessarily an advantage for one party or the other if you increase ballot access? This gets to the age-old question of is it a measure of ballot suppression or ballot security, all those initiatives that the Republicans have put forth? Call me naive. What I want to do is make it easier for people to vote and maintain the integrity of the ballot and I do believe we can do both.

I love this week's survey question. A little bit nerdish, but you're up for it. Go to my website at and answer the question.


If the For The People Act fails in the Senate, right? Especially now that Joe Manchin is the guy who's put forth a compromise, does it cause him to vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster? That's what I think is really going on here.

Up ahead, right now, New York city voters are ranking their choices for mayor as early voting is underway. How could this first time use of ranked choice voting change the balance of the election?

And nearly 50 Portland police officers have called it quits, resigning from a special team that responds to protests. This follows the indictment of their colleague who's accused of beating a protester last summer. How the city responds will speak volumes as tensions continue to grow over police reform. Plus, calling all genealogy enthusiasts. A fascinating new study claims that 1940 federal census data could hold the key to how the people around us shape our world view. I'll speak to the author of the study who's here to explain how having a black neighbor might impact your political view.




SMERCONISH: Early voting already underway in New York City for Tuesday's primary election for mayor. The election will garner a lot of attention nationally not only because it'll show where the progressive wing of the Democratic party is headed, but because it will also be a big test for ranked choice voting. Check out the sample ballot for the New York City Democratic primary where 13 candidates are vying for the top spot.

New York voters can make up to five choices and rank them. A candidate needs a majority of the vote to win outright in the first round. That won't happen. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, which is unlikely since 13 are running, then tabulation will continue to be conducted in subsequent rounds.

The candidate with the fewest votes after the initial count is eliminated and all ballots for that candidate will be reallocated to the next highest ranked candidates selected and the process will continue until two candidates are left with the winner determined by who has the most votes in the final round.

Ranked choice isn't exactly unheard of and it's becoming more and more common. According to FairVote, 21 jurisdictions used it in the most recent elections and 52 jurisdictions will do so in upcoming elections. That means jurisdictions within 29 states will employ ranked choice voting in some form, if only at the local level or in military and overseas voting.

Maine has gone a step further, using it statewide in federal elections since 2018. Alaska will follow suit next year, but its new role in New York City's big election, a bit of a curveball. With no one yet blazing a clear path to victory, could it change the New York City mayoral race in an unpredictable way?

Joining me now to discuss is Democratic campaign strategist Doug Schoen. His political client list includes former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Doug, why is this form of voting, ranked choice voting, in vogue or having a moment of sorts now?

DOUG SCHOEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Couple of reasons, Michael. First, there's a sense that by redistributing the ballots, as you suggested, we'll get a fairer or more representative outcome than we would get with what's called first past-the-post and given a system that encourages second, third and fourth and fifth choices, the theory is that it will somehow reduce negative campaigning. SMERCONISH: Do I want to be the selection of a handful of people as their number one choice or a more widespread group who see me as a second or third alternative?

SCHOEN: I think you probably want to be both, Michael. It's possible you can win by being second or hypothetically third on first choice, but if you have a lot of support second, third and fourth choice from other candidates, you have a real choice when those ballots are redistributed, as you described, to actually emerge.

SMERCONISH: I mean, it sounds complicated and yet you're really asking me to rank my favorite flavor of ice cream. How cumbersome will it be to determine a winner?

SCHOEN: You know, that is the real unanswered question. The Board of Elections in New York is saying it could take up to a week to 10 days to determine the winner and some of the simulations that have been ranked and offered show that they'll go 10, 11 rounds with the final outcome very, very close. So, we're in uncharted waters, uncharted territory. We just don't know.

SMERCONISH: The nationally recognized name on that list is Andrew Yang. He of course ran for president. Initially seemed to be doing better in the surveys in New York City and now, if you believe the numbers, his star has faded. What's going on with Yang?

SCHOEN: Well, Yang ran on an initial boost of enthusiasm, name recognition and attention from the presidential race. He's run-on optimism and as other candidates, more local candidates with experience have emerged, his star has fallen, but just today, he'll be campaigning with another candidate, "New York Times" endorsed sanitation commissioner under Bill de Blasio, Kathryn Garcia. So we're seeing something we've never seen before, two candidates two days before the vote campaigning together because of ranked choice.


SMERCONISH: Right. And I'm so glad you raised that because I just took note of that headline this morning in "The Times." So ...


SMERCONISH: ... why would two candidates -- this is going to sound so foreign to our audience ...


SMERCONISH: ... unfamiliar with ranked choice voting. Why would two candidates join forces in the final couple of days of the campaign?

SCHOEN: Well, two reasons. Yang is in contention, but fading, as you say. Garcia is moving up. Yang is looking to get second choice votes from Garcia and Garcia, who is running anywhere from second or third in some polls, occasionally first, believes that she won't have enough votes in rank choice voting on round one and will need the second and third choice votes of Andrew Yang. So they both see their self- interest enhanced by campaigning together, something that's never happened in New York City and I've been at it, Andrew, over 50 years.

SMERCONISH: Final question, if I live far from New York City, why should I care about the means by which they're electing their next mayor?

SCHOEN: Because I think we all have seen that there are problems and troubles with our first-past-the-post system in a two-party system. The advocates of ranked choice voting are saying that this is a way to fix our democracy, reduce negative campaigning, take some of the big money out of politics and encourage a more representative system. We'll see in New York City, Michael, whether that in fact happens.

SCHOEN: Only in a New York City mayoral race would you have the media traipsing through one of the candidate's apartments and literally looking through the refrigerator and that happened within the last week.

SCHOEN: Yes. They were deciding whether the frontrunner, Eric Adams, really lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant condo he said he did and they were looking at his refrigerator and, not to make a bad pun, were looking to rank order what was in his refrigerator to see if it was food a vegan like him would be eating or food that his 22- or 23-year- old son would be eating, which would be profoundly more greasy and profoundly less vegan.

So you got everything in New York, you always have it and even with ranked choice, we have it. What cuisine is in the refrigerator and what does that say about who lives in the apartment?

SMERCONISH: Doug, thank you. That was great. Really appreciate it.

SCHOEN: Michael, always my pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Up ahead, a police officer in Portland, Oregon charged with assault for hitting a protester with a baton last summer. In response, around 50 fellow officers have resigned from the department's rapid response team. So how will this resolve?

And based on new details from the 1940 census, a study was done to determine if the political affiliation of white Americans still alive today might have been influenced by growing up next door to a neighbor of color. The results are fascinating.

Plus, I want to remind you, go to the website at and answer this week's survey question. If the For The People Act fails in the Senate, will Joe Manchin vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?




SMERCONISH: Almost 50 Portland police officers resigned from the department's rapid response team this week after an officer was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly beating a protester. The officers still remain on the force. The rapid response team was formed and specially trained to respond to the protests last summer, protests that lasted for months.

Officer Corey Budworth was charged with fourth degree assault for his alleged unlawful conduct from this incident you're watching. He's accused of shoving photographer and protester Teri Jacobs to the ground from behind with his baton and then hitting her again in the face with the baton while she's sitting on the ground, conduct that Jacobs said left her with back and neck pain and conduct that the Multnomah County DA said crossed a line.


MIKE SCHMIDT, MULTNOMAH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth's deployment of force and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances.


SMERCONISH: CNN has reached out to Budworth's attorneys for comment. Jacobs settled with the city for $50,000 in April and also called on the mayor to condemn police violence more forcefully. The Portland Police Association denounced the indictment in a lengthy statement, calling the charge, quote, "politically driven."

The statement went on to say, "The location of Officer Budworth's last baton push was accidental, not criminal. Ignoring the reality of the violent nature of the crowd and Ms. Jacobs' criminal activity, the Multnomah County DA's office has now charged Officer Budworth with a crime for his permissible use of force. Officer Budworth did exactly as he was trained."

Here to discuss is law enforcement expert Charles Ramsey. He was the former D.C. police chief and former Philadelphia police commissioner. Chief Ramsey, great to see you. I know you've watched the video multiple times.


SMERCONISH: What does your trained eye see in it?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, again, the decision to prosecute was made by the District Attorney, but it's hard to believe that that's part of his training. I mean, you know, the initial push could have resulted in her stumbling and falling. That second push, strike to the face was totally unacceptable in my opinion.

SMERCONISH: So the union response to this, the police officer's response, as articulated through the union, I find interesting.


In October Daryl Turner, the head, sent a letter and said the following, "Our RRT members do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them." I interviewed them last night in Chris Cuomo's program and I asked him what does he see in the tape and here is what he told me.


DARYL TURNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORTLAND POLICE ASSOCIATION: What you see is a short segment of happened. You don't see the young lady trying to help unarrest somebody that's being arrested, involved in criminal activity. You don't see the chaos, the violence -- the sustained violence not just that night, but over 150 days of sustained violence.

The officer articulated in his report that he thought she was going to move in a different direction and it was an accident.


SMERCONISH: I have no doubt, Chief, that these police officers were in a bad spot. I think it was 100 continues nights.

RAMSEY: Right.

SMERCONISH: I'm sure they have been treated with degrading behavior on the part of the protesters. But I guess when you analyze the conduct, you've got to go frame-by-frame-by-frame and look at just that incident.

RAMSEY: Well, you do. And, you know, I watched that interview last night and there were a couple of things the union president said that I agree with. I believe they were deployed 150 straight days. That's very difficult for people.

The stress is enormous when you have to deal with that sort of thing for that length of time. They do need body cameras. In my opinion, there is no excuse for the city of Portland not to provide body cameras for the officers. That would capture the event from beginning- to-end, so you get a complete picture of what actually took place.

But having said that, for me, there is no excuse for walking away. That is not how you handle this. You just don't do that.

I mean, you have an obligation. You have a responsibility. You took an oath when you were appointed as a police officer and you have to live up to that.

Things aren't going to always go your way. But to walk away -- 50 people at the same time, you're not only putting the public in jeopardy should there be another protest, but also your fellow officers that now have to be brought in to backfill that perhaps don't have the same level of training that you once had.

If you want out, wait until the department can replace you with adequately trained individuals. If it were me, I would give them a direct order. As far as I'm concerned, they are still part of that unit. They don't show up, that's neglect of duty. And if they want to walk away, they walk away from the entire job and not just that assignment.

SMERCONISH: Right. In other words there was a way to handle this within the system and I brought that up with him lastly night as opposed to just this resignation en masse.

RAMSEY: Exactly. Exactly --

SMERCONISH: Chief Ramsey --

RAMSEY: -- I mean, it just doesn't make any -- yes. I'm sorry.

SMERCONISH: No worries. Good to see you. I appreciate it very much.

RAMSEY: OK. Take care.

SMERCONISH: Checking in on your tweets and Facebook comments. This comes from the world of Twitter, I think.

Why anyone would want to be a police officer in Portland is beyond me. By electing far left leaders, the people of Portland are saying they don't want police protection.

Dodge Forthrast, OK. Look, I'm sympathetic to the cops. If it's 100 nights, 150 continuous nights, I have no doubt that what the union leader said in that letter in terms of the behavior to which those police officers have been subject I'll bet that it did take place. I see enough of the footage from 3,000 miles away.

Having said all of that, you still can't excuse the conduct that we just showed on film. Frankly, no matter what came before or after it so I agree with Chief Ramsey.

Please make sure this hour you are going to my Web site at and answering this week's survey question. If the "For the People Act" fails in the Senate, will this finally cause Joe Manchin to vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?

Still to come, according to a new study of where people were living in the 1940 census there's a correlation between the political affiliation of white Americans who are still alive today and whether they grew up living next door to someone who was black. I'm about to dig into the data. You'll find it amazing.

And last June, comedian D.L. Hughley collapsed on stage in Nashville, had to be carried off, turned out he had COVID. And when he came to he decided to write a book about how black Americans are somehow being blamed for their higher vulnerability to the disease. He is here to tell us more.



SMERCONISH: It's the age-old question, do those around you affect your world view including your politics? It's been hard to analyze because of small samples covering short time periods. But now a provocative new study published in "Science Advances" magazine based on 80-year- old census data may contain the answer.

Researchers attempted to connect people alive today from long ago using big data to look at their current political affiliation. The conclusion, if a white male who was recorded in the 1940 census as having lived next door to someone who was black there's an increased chance that they are registered as a Democrat today.

Here to explain is Dr. Ryan Enos, one of the study's authors from Harvard's Institute of Quantitative Social Science and the Department of Government. So, Dr. Enos, walk us through this. You took the 1940 census data, had it digitized and searched, and then found out who was still alive today. Then what?

RYAN ENOS, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY/INSTITUTE FOR QUANTITATIVE SOCIAL SCIENCE: Yes. We found out who was alive today and we connected them to their voter files. So, we looked at how people were registered to vote and we saw that among these people who are registered to vote today where they lived in 1940, whether or not they had a black neighbor, predicted whether or not they're Democrats today.

SMERCONISH: What if I lived in the neighborhood with black families but not -- I as a white guy, but not directly next door?


ENOS: Yes, that's a really key question. So, what we're able to do was connect people who lived in the same neighborhood. So, we took two individuals, one who had a black neighbor and one who didn't. And you said something very key here, these are all white men, and we looked and compared those two white men when they were white boys and found out that one who that lived in the same neighborhood that had a black neighbor compared to the one that didn't is more likely to be a Democrat today.

SMERCONISH: How big of a bump did you see based on the factors you've described?

ENOS: So, it's about three percentage points. And I know somebody is going to say that doesn't sound big but you have to realize this is over millions of people. So, if you take three percentage of points of millions of people and ask if we would have had a more integrated society then or more integrated society now we'd be looking at a different place in many ways. It's going to affect people for the long-term and affect society for the long term.

SMERCONISH: So, how do you know that if -- if I'm the white guy subject from the 1940 census, how do you know I wasn't progressive in my politics then? And, frankly, I wanted to live in a multiracial neighborhood and including next to a black family. How can you control for that?

ENOS: Yes. So that's a great question, Michael. And that's one of the key things we have to look at. And a lot of it comes down to that comparing people in the same neighborhood which controls for a lot of things. But the census data is really rich and we can control for a host of things.

We can try to look who their parents were. We can try to look at things about where they lived, who their neighbors were. And we can never be 100 percent sure because this isn't an experiment in a laboratory. But as best as we can tell we're pretty confident that it really is the influence of that neighborhood that is changing people's politics.

SMERCONISH: Do you think, Dr. Enos, this would have applicability to other demographic factors, religion, sexuality -- fill in the blank.

ENOS: Yes, sure. I mean, it's a really old question about when we live near people that are different than us, we have contact with people different than us, does it affect who we are? Does it affect our world view? And I think the answer is definitely yes.

Like -- I mean, look, our society now has a long way to go in integration when it comes to things like immigrants, religious minorities, sexual minorities. And how we decide those questions of integration now I think our study shows could have long-term consequences for our society in the future.

SMERCONISH: It seems to me that it would be -- and this is already so laborious, you know, what you've already done. But it would --

ENOS: Yes.

SMERCONISH: -- really be important if now you could speak to the people, rather than just identify them, oh, you were alive in '40 and today you're a Democrat, you were living next to somebody who's black, and then speak to them and find out what was going on in their life.

ENOS: Yes, you're 100 percent right, Michael. You make a good social scientist because this was our instincts too and we've started to do that. And we -- you can really learn a lot from it. We want to do a lot more in the future.

If you ask people that are alive now about their childhood in the 1940's they have a lot to say. You can learn a lot about what that contact was like and how it shaped their world view.

And people that were alive, then just like all of us, we talk about our childhood. And we know that in many ways that shaped who we are. And we are trying to do more of that. It's a really fascinating process.

SMERCONISH: Yes, I loved reading the study. Dr. Enos, thank you so much.

ENOS: Thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here.

SMERCONISH: Let's check in on your tweets and Facebook comments. What do we have? My older -- pardon me. Most older people grew up in ethnic neighborhoods. Ethnicity influenced politics more than friendship.

Ah, Immovable Beast. But what if you had one person of one strife living next to another person of another strife? I think commonsensically it makes sense you get to understand them you have less prejudice. And I think that's what the data bears out in Dr. Enos' case.

I hope you're answering the survey question at I'll be bummed if there's not a lot of voting on this. If the "For the People Act" fails in the Senate, will Joe Manchin vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?

I laid out my theory. I think that's what it's all about. I did that earlier in the broadcast.

Still to come, comedian D.L. Hughley is here. Last year, he caught COVID and his experience of the health care system inspired him to write a book that's funny and bracing. It's a book called "How to Survive America." He'll explain next.



SMERCONISH: 2020 was an eye opening year. Police brutality, unemployment, health concerns, threats to voting rights, all problems amplified by the pandemic. But as D.L. Hughley writes in his new book for the black community 2020 was just another year of the same old struggles.

So, what do people do when faced with a challenge? They usually read a how-to book. D.L. Hughley thought he'd write one of his own. It's titled "How to Survive America." It's a satirical but somber reminder for all of the racism black and brown people have faced in this country and how it persists today.

The one and only D.L. Hughley joins me now. He's also the author of "How Not to Get Shot: And Other Advice From White People."

D.L., I hope it was all right. I mean, I'm laughing all the way through, even though I'm exploring with you the most serious of subject matter, things like black on black crime.

D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN/AUTHOR, "HOW TO SURVIVE AMERICA/POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's interesting. Just to segue from the segment you had previously and it talked about who you lived around and, you know, kind of quantifying your experiences. I think that when I grew up in Los Angeles, I didn't know white people lived here. Like I would see them on "The Price the Right" and they would go, I live in Los Angeles. And I'd say, I never see you around here.


It wasn't until I was 19 years old and went to UCLA which is in Westwood and said, "Now I'm entering west Los Angeles." But when you look at the fact that most of us -- a lot of white people have choices as to where they live. But in Los Angeles, for example, there were only three places you could live if you are black. One was Long Beach -- I mean, one was Compton, the other one was Inglewood. And one was Carson. Those were the places you could live.

So our experiences are very much shaped by who we are around, but who we are around is predicated on -- even on color. There are places that you would just discourage from living. We had -- even where I do a TV show -- Burbank. It was a sundown town where black people had to be out by sundown.

So, you take all these experiences over and over again. They just -- they just boil down to one thing, and it's that if you are black, you are other, and you are treated accordingly. And those experiences -- you know, just kind of extrapolate all over the place.

Like in health care, when I got sick with COVID, I passed out in Nashville. They started to take me to one hospital, found out I was somebody of note and took me to another one. Had that not happened, I don't know what happened.

When I -- when I -- I got kicked out of the hotel. I had to get out. The airline wouldn't fly me. I had to take a private jet. They wouldn't fly me. Some friends of mine had to get together and say, "If you don't fly him, we'll never use you again." If that doesn't happen where am I?

So I -- it's just all the things that happen to us or happened to us, because somewhere a long time ago people decided that we were inferior and it has followed us in every aspect of our life to a greater or lesser degree. Regardless of your political ideology every black -- even as conservative as Tim Scott is, he'll tell you he got stopped seven times by the police in his first year as a senator. Why?

So I think it is -- it is -- I think that people have this notion of us where whatever happens to us is our fault, even getting COVID --


SMERCONISH: Well, that's the constant -- so that's the theme. That's the theme of the book. The theme is in a conversational, very funny, and including data way, you go through the environment, you go through crime data, you go through health care information. And you say, look, there's a reason for disparities that exist today and it comes from history and here's what the history is.

HUGHLEY: Sure. Even if you look -- even the vaccine hesitancy it's not -- people oftentimes talk about the Tuskegee experiment, but that wasn't -- wasn't all people -- companies and governments participated in eugenics, in sterilization of black people. We're talking about recently.

And as recently as, you know, the border crisis in 2017 there are 800 -- a little over 800 Latin women who had their uteruses taken out. They call them the uterus snatcher (ph). Just because people feel like if you're black or if you're brown you are inherently inferior and we can do whatever we want to you.

And society has to stop pretending like it doesn't know these things, because you can only change some stuff if you know and accept that they're a reality. And what you do about that reality is where we're at now. What we're deciding to do about it.

And we asked for justice and you gave us a three-day holiday. Ribs are nice, but they don't stop the essential questions. How do we stop this unfair, biased treatment of black and brown?

SMERCONISH: Listen, at a few minutes before 7:00 local time for you, we're not making it sound very funny, but it is also a very funny book.

Thank you for coming -- thank you for coming back and -- hey, I can't see -- I cannot see the hat. Lean down.

HUGHLEY: It says, "Make America Not Racist for the First Time." So, I just think American -- and to pretend like it hasn't evolved is a misnomer. I think it has done -- it has evolved a great deal. Has it gotten where it needs to get? I think that we -- that's not even an open question.

I think everybody can tell -- even if you look at what happened just this week, people gave a holiday that was to commemorate the ending of slavery. At the same time people are fighting as to whether the descendants of slaves should have the right to vote unfettered. Like --


SMERCONISH: I talked about it. I talked about it. I laid it all out and I connected the two.

Hey, it's good to see you. I've got to roll. But thank you, D.L.

HUGHLEY: Thank you, man. I appreciate it. Bye-bye.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments. And the results of the survey question. Go vote if you haven't.

If the "For the People Act" fails in the Senate what about Joe Manchin? Will he vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?



SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question at If the "For the People Act" fails in the Senate, will Joe Manchin vote to end or reduce the threshold for the filibuster?

Here's the final result. I'm sure Senator Manchin is watching. Fifty- nine percent say -- all right. Let's call it 60/40, 60/40 say -- hey, Catherine, how many voted on this? I'm curious because I don't see it.

About 14,000, 14,369 -- 60/40 say no. I'm not so sure about that. I am not so sure about that. You heard me at the outset of the program, I hope. I think this is all by design. Democrats are letting Joe Manchin run with the ball.

Come on, Stacey Abrams is saying, OK, I'll buy into voter I.D. So that if the Manchin compromise fails then they'll say, OK, Joe, what are you going to do? Quickly, hit me with the social media.


I've got just 20 seconds. What does it say? Manchin has zero backbone and is more concerned about his re-election than getting things done.

Wireless Cowboy, I don't know. I think he's the guy with backbone. Stands up for compromise and that's not easy. See you next week.