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Empowering the Extremes; Interview with Professor of Ethical Leadership, NYU Stern School of Business and Author of "The Righteous Mind" and Co-Author of "The Coddling of The American Mind" Jonathan Haidt; The Deal with Putin; Troubled Teens; Life Or Death: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens; Do Charges Of Carpetbagging Still Matter. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 30, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Stick figures to the left and right. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. Twitter has been on fire these past couple of days largely because its future owner has caused conniptions among political observers on the left and the right.
On Thursday, Elon Musk tweeted a drawing from Colin Wright, a contributing editor at an online magazine and Quillette. And depicted are stick figures on an ideological spectrum in three different years. One is labeled me, with whom Musk apparently identifies. While me is seemingly stuck in place, the ground around he, him, or her shifts. What was a slightly left-of-center position in 2008 is by 2021 the turf of a right-leaning conservative.
Take a look. The diagram is worthy of scrutiny. To my eye, it suggests that Elon Musk believes the political climate of the last decade-plus has caused a reassessment of where he sees himself on the political spectrum. To me, it screams, my feet haven't moved. The ground around me has. And who among us is most responsible for the shifting landscape, he says woke progressives. In reply to a commenter, Musk elaborated, saying, "I strongly supported Obama for president, but today's Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists." As you can imagine that didn't go over so well with the extremists. And Musk wasn't done, the richest man on the planet then said the far-left hates everyone, themselves included.
About 15 minutes later another missive from Musk, "But I'm no fan of the far-right either. Let's have less hate. And more love." Later on, Friday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rebuffed the idea that the extreme left had taken over and added this, I'm tired of having to collectively stress about what explosion of hate crimes is happening because some billionaire with an ego problem unilaterally controls a massive communication platform and skews it because Tucker Carlson or Peter Thiel took him to dinner and made him feel special. Musk then responded, AOC, stop hitting on me. I'm really shy. With a blushing face. She wrote back she had been talking about Zuckerberg and then deleted that tweet. Look, I'm the most pleased and least surprised by Musk's declarations. As I said here two weeks ago in a commentary, Musk is no servant to ideology. He's an independent, a critical thinker who feels no sense of loyalty to other -- either end of the ideological scale. His political record is consistent for its inconsistency, in a good way. And I find his self-reflection to be inspiring and I hope infectious.
How about we all declare where we stand and where we've been before? You pick your milestone years and get started. I'll go first. For me, it would be 1980, 2010, and 2022. Back in 1980, I registered as a Republican, cast my ballot for Reagan/Bush, I was still a Republican in 2008 when for the first time I voted for a Democrat for president. By 2010 I had shifted my affiliation to independent. And today, stuck in the middle with many of you.
By the way, don't take my word for it, earlier this year a Colorado- based media watchdog called Ad Fontes released results of their latest media bias survey of 1,426 sources. There's a centerline at zero for what they see as neutral based on assessments of content. You can either be to the left of that center, which they express as a minus, or you can be to the right. Some examples of what they found to be far left. OK. MSNBC's Joy Reid is a minus 19.53. Rachel Maddow, her colleague, is a minus 16.90, CNN a minus 8.65. Over on the right side, here is what you find. Fox News host Sean Hannity is at plus 26.17. Tucker Carlson is a plus 23. News Max 15 and change. Fox News 14, New York Post 12, Wall Street Journal five. Where did I come in? Very proud of my score, a minus 1.33. Pretty darn close to my personal goal known as a Blutarsky, remember?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Blue -- Mr. Blutarsky, 0.0.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: So, where do you stand? When I asked that question of my SiriusXM Radio listeners this week, many were inspired to make a sketch and tagged me online.
Here's a couple. It's interesting most people, it seems, change over time. I think that's healthy. It's a reflection of life experiences. Beware of those who think they had all the answers back in the day and still think they had it figured out from the get-go, I say.
Of course, today we don't reward evolution of thought and openness to new ideas, either from politicians or their handlers in the media. Instead, we call that flip-flopping. We cling to media mouthpieces who project a confidence in rigidity of viewpoint. Look, if Elon Musk really is somewhere in the center, he's got a lot of company.
Earlier this year, Gallup made headlines with a poll of Americans' political preferences that seemed to indicate a move toward the Republican Party. I think that misrepresented the result. See, when Gallup initially asked with which political party do you identify, in the fourth quarter the initial numbers were as follows, Democrats 28 percent, Republicans 28 percent, independents 42 percent. Only after that did Gallup push these people and say, well, yes, but which way do you lean? And then they got more leaning Republican. Which I think only reinforces Musk's point.
So today, ladies and gentlemen, a test, an art assignment actually. Right now, draw your stick figure. Show me your political progression. Tag me @smerconish. And instead of the conventional tweets, I'm going to show the drawings during the course of the program. This could be fun, or not. Also, when you answer this week's survey question at smerconish.com, which party has been more hijacked, Musk's word, by extremists? Democrat Party or Republican Party?
Now, we can all see America is a country divided but how exactly has it happened? And is it beyond repair? In a compelling piece in "The Atlantic", that was their most popular story on the website for several days running, it's called "Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid". NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt writes this, it's been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory with two different versions of the constitution, economics, and American history. And where I have personally laid a lot of the blame on the dominance of talk radio and cable television hosts, Haidt finds a different kind of media to be the culprit. Social media.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at NYU Stern School of Business and he's also the co-author with Greg Lukianoff of, "The Coddling of the American Mind". Professor, thanks for being here. I want to start by drilling down on a key paragraph in your piece. We'll put it up on the screen. You said this, social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies. Social capital, which is extensive social networks with high levels of trust, strong institutions, and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three. How did that happen?
JONATHAN HAIDT, PROFESSOR OF ETHICAL LEADERSHIP, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND AUTHOR, "THE RIGHTEOUS MIND"; CO-AUTHOR, "THE CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND": So, when social media came out, when the major platforms around 2003, 2004 come out, they're just ways that people can put up stuff about them, photos of their kids, connect with other people. Communication is good. What changed is around 2009 when Facebook introduces the like button. Twitter introduces the retweet button. It gets much more engaging. Things can go viral. Later on, in 2013, we get threaded comments which encourage everybody to fight with everybody in the comments section under posts from famous people.
And so gradually -- or actually fairly suddenly, social media became something not just about spreading misinformation but about getting people to fight with other people, to attack them, to shame them, to call for them to be fired. And that's when it turned everybody against everybody. And that's why I used the metaphor, the Tower of Babel. It's not red against blue. It's a fragmentation of everything. That's the way it's felt since about 2014.
SMERCONISH: Was this the intention of the platforms that you've referenced? HAIDT: No, it certainly wasn't their intention to destroy society. But it was their very clearly stated intention, worked into their bonus plans that, hey, engineers f you can think of a way to increase engagement, you get a bigger bonus. And so, I think that's especially what threaded comments were, that's what the retweet button was. And it -- I don't know if they knew, originally, that anger is the best way to increase engagement. I don't attribute bad intent. They were just following a business imperative to increase engagement, keep people on the platform, keep the platform growing. So, I don't think they intended to do it. But we do know that Facebook did know that its platform was increasing polarization. They had a unit studying it and they shut it down. Reporting from "The Wall Street Journal" shows they knew about this problem, they can improve it, and they don't.
SMERCONISH: Professor Haidt, what is to be done?
HAIDT: Well, there's a -- there are many systemic changes we need.
And I actually think Elon Musk is right to focus on cleaning up bots. Everyone's focusing on content moderation as though that's the major battle, and I think that's wrong. Whether we get a little more content moderation or a little less isn't going to make much difference. It's really about the architecture of the platforms. The fact that, you know, a Russian agent or a jerk with a personality problem can create 100 fake accounts in a day and harass people with them, that's a much bigger problem.
So, there are a lot of structural reforms we need to social media. The other thing is that we all have a lot of agency. The whole system works only because we all contribute thousands of clicks. We all post content. So, just stop it. Stop posting content. It does have some uses. You can advertise events. You can praise people. But to opine publicly on things, all you're doing is showing off. And I'm hopeful we'll get to the point where we see people who opine a lot as losers. They're causing problems. Ignore them. Everyone should cut their social media posting by 50 percent, 70 percent and just be nicer to each other. If we could all do that, it would be a lot less destructive.
SMERCONISH: I know you heard the opening commentary. If you were showing us your stick figure and Jonathan Haidt's progression, what would we see?
HAIDT: Well -- so, as a social psychologist who studies morality, what I can most do here is to say, you have to look at it from each person's perspective. And if you are in a left-leaning institution, as I am, in a university, then the figure -- it's from Colin Wright -- the figure that Elon posted is right.
What happened in left-leaning institutions is the conservative professors didn't suddenly get radical. They haven't changed. But the progressives have. So, that figure is correct for those who work in journalism, in media, in the arts. But, you know, if you look at the two parties, the Republican Party I think has gotten much more radical. The party of Mitt -- the party that nominated Mitt Romney in 2012, you know, a very decent gentleman, a Burkean and social conservative. Then they nominate, not just Donald Trump, but now Donald Trump, even when he's gone, is the kingmaker in the party. This is insane.
So, from the left's point of view, you know, the left is coming back to Elon's cart and saying, you're crazy. It's just the opposite. It's the right that went crazy. So, if you look at the parties, I think it is the Republican Party that's radicalized more. The Democrats still have moderates, and the moderates usually or often win. So, in other words, both sides are right if you take a moment to look at it from their point of view and say, what is it that they're concerned about on the other side?
SMERCONISH: I now know how you're voting on today's survey question. By the way, hat tip to you for color coordinating your setting. Did you paint that wall just to come on my program today? Because I really -- I offer you kudos if that's the case.
HAIDT: I have no taste. I can't even tell colors apart practically. I went away on vacation. NYU painted -- NYU painted my office NYU purple or sort of off NYU purple and here we are.
SMERCONISH: Love it. Love it. All right. Jonathan Haidt, thank you. Appreciate it very much.
HAIDT: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Please go to my website, smerconish.com. Answer this week's survey question. Catherine, let us request that of all the guests who come on the program. We want the walls painted purple before they come on.
Which party has been more hijacked by extremists, Democratic or Republican? You know how Elon Musk is voting on that. And continue to send me your sketches. I want to see your political progression and I will show some during the course of the program. Tag me @smerconish on Twitter.
What do we have? What has come in so far? All right. This is interesting. There's Donald Elliott, he starts off left of center in the '70s. Blow that up -- there you go. And then has a libertarian bent by the mid-'80s, slides back toward the center, and if I'm understanding now things that the far-left is going whacky. And on the far-right, there are a bunch of nuts. He's just set a high bar. Keep sending me your sketches.
Up ahead, this week Vladimir Putin unleashed missiles at Kyiv during a visit by the U.N. Secretary-General and made more veiled threats about using nukes. Is there any way to negotiate with him?
Also, "The New York Times" has launched a multi-part investigation into why anxiety, depression, suicide so rampant among American teens. I'll talk to the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter about his findings.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:15:00]
Is there any way to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine with Vladimir Putin? This week the Russian President bombed Kyiv during a visit by the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This, as President Biden asked Congress for another $33 billion to fund humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine through September. And Putin did some more nuclear sable rattling, telling lawmakers in St. Petersburg, "If someone intends to intervene into the ongoing events in Ukraine from the outside and creates unacceptable strategic threats for us, then they should know that our response to those strikes will be swift, lightning-fast. We have all the tools for this. Ones that no one can brag about. And we won't brag. We will use them if needed and I want everyone to know this." How real are his threats? Is he just making a play for a negotiated settlement? It's impossible to tell. NSC Spokesman Matt Miller told this to CNN's Ana Cabrera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: They have made what we consider to be dangerous and unacceptable statements about the possibility of nuclear war. One of the things we've tried not to do from the beginning is to put ourself in Vladimir Putin's head. All we can do is make clear that if he pursues dangerous and reckless choices that there will be consequences for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Dr. Kenneth Dekleva joins me now. He's a psychologist, Former State Department Regional Medical Officer, and Senior Fellow at the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations. He previously worked at the American Embassy in Moscow and specializes in psychological profiling.
He also recently wrote this opinion piece for the national security site, "The Cipher", it's called -- it says, Putin's health and state of mind are very hard targets. Dr. Dekleva, thanks so much for being here. Is this guy a rational actor?
DR. KENNETH DEKLEVA, PSYCHIATRIST/FMR. STATE DEPT. SENIOR PHYSICIAN DIPLOMAT AND SENIOR FELLOW, GEORGE H.W. BUSH FOUNDATION FOR U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: Absolutely, Michael. Thank you for having me. He's a rational actor and if you borrow an analogy from your earlier segment on this morning's program and use the stick figure to show how much President Putin has moved in one direction or another, the stick wouldn't have moved at all. He's what he always was.
DR. DEKLEVA: A highly rational, ruthless, brutal authoritarian leader. And he's also very tactical and very strategic. And he believes that what he calls a special military operation is in Russia's best interest. That being said, I believe he's made a terrific strategic miscalculation in many ways. Let me give some quick examples. He underestimated the will of the Ukrainian people, the will of NATO to pull together, the will of President Biden to mount the ability to pull the alliance together, and most of all he underestimated, as did we all, the courage and heroism of President Zelenskyy.
SMERCONISH: I'm really amazed at your perspective. And you've been studying him for more than two decades now that his stick figure hasn't been impacted. Has age changed him at all?
DR. DEKLEVA: That's a good question. I think one of the things you see in many aging leaders, especially authoritarian leaders, is as they age, their decision-making becomes a bit more rigid and less flexible. Psychologists who study this call this integrated complexity where you see things more as black and white. And I think he also has more of an echo chamber in terms of his decision-making. And there's fairly good evidence that his intelligence services, particularly the FSB told him, in all likelihood, what he wanted to hear rather than telling him the facts about the Ukrainian people's ability and will to resist.
SMERCONISH: You know, Dr. Dekleva, that the G20 leaders are scheduled to get together in the fall, November I believe, and Putin is saying he's going yet. The White House hasn't yet really had a response as to how that will be handled by President Biden. But talk to me about the dynamic of the two of them potentially being on the same stage.
DR. DEKLEVA: I think that's a wonderful point. I think the real dynamic is Putin will go to stick his thumb in the eye of the West. And for him, it would be triumphant. And he would get to backslap and hug with other leaders who support him, such as MBS, president Xi Jinping, and others. And I think it would be a very triumphal moment for him in terms of the propaganda and the optics that he can show to the Russian people and to Xi Jinping. I think it's a real positive in his mind for authoritarian leaders who are fighting this battle against a liberal democracy of the West. So, I think -- I expect him to go and I think that would be an interesting dynamic.
SMERCONISH: Quick final question, do you think he's in jeopardy from anyone in his circle?
DR. DEKLEVA: Slightly. I think -- because he's very careful. He's a trained KGB officer. But I think because he's made this really remarkable strategic error, there's always the risk that history could end badly for him. And retirement may not be what he thinks it is. That being said, he has to watch his back both from the FSB, the F -- the SVR, and the military. The inner circle, the power circle, that's better called Siloviki. He has to be very careful. But Putin has been careful for decades. So, I think that chances of him losing power in that way are probably very, very low. He has an 83 percent --
SMERCONISH: Thank you so much.
DR. DEKLEVA: -- approval rating in the polls. Thank you, sir.
SMERCONISH: Right. Thanks for the analysis. I really appreciate it. Fascinating stuff.
DR. DEKLEVA: Thank you -- SMERCONISH: I'm reminding everybody, go to my website, smerconish.com
this hour and answer this week's survey question. Which party has been more hijacked, that's Elon Musk's word, by extremists, Democrat Party or Republican Party? And continue to send in your stick figures. We just learned that if we had Vladimir Putin as one of them, his wouldn't have shifted.
What do we have, Katherine? Wow. Look at -- people are getting fancy now. Let me dissect. OK. I get it. That's a Nittany Lion. So, this is a Penn State proud person who's a centrist in the '90s, goes to -- I'll bet that's the Temple Law School, the Beasley School of Law and is left of center.
and then in 2016, Donald -- there you go, Donald Trump is running but this is not a Trumper. This is a person who says, I'm now far left because of Trump. And now in 2022, I'm going to vote for Conor Lamb and I'm more toward the center. That is amazing. I love it. People getting very creative now. Do we have time for one more or should I move on? Not now. All right. Keep them coming.
Up ahead, several famous carpet baggers have won Senate seats despite having only recently moved to their States. Watching a Pennsylvania GOP Senate debate this week, I realized, like, three of the five candidates are really not recently from here. Does this matter to anybody other than me?
Plus, among today's teens. Alcohol use, drug use, sex, TV watching all down, it sounds like good news, right? Well, think again because anxiety, depression, and suicide are all up. I'm going to talk to a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who spent more than a year trying to figure out why.
SMERCONISH: When I was a teenager in the 1970s my parents had what were then the normal concerns, binge drinking, drunk driving, teen pregnancy and smoking both cigarettes and weed. But the main worries of today's parents about their teenagers -- they're of a different sort, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide. These troubling statistics pre-date the pandemic and have only gotten worse since.
In 2019, 13 percent of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode, up 60 percent from 2007. For people ages 10 to 24 the CDC estimates that suicide rates leapt nearly 60 percent from 2007 to 2018. And according to the mail order pharmacy Express Scripts from 2015 to 2019 prescriptions for anti-depressants rose 38 percent for teenagers compared with 15 percent for adults.
These facts and more comprise the background for the first installment of interpandemic, a "New York Times" series about adolescents titled "It's Life or Death: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens." Joining me now is its author, Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer for "The New York Times" for the series. He spent more than a year interviewing adolescents and their families. He's also written a book just out called "Inspired: Understanding Creativity: A Journey Through Art, Science, and the Soul."
Matt, as I said, my folks they were most concerned about me coming home from a kegger. What's changed?
MATT RICHTEL, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I guess my first question is, "Were they right to be concerned?"
RICHTEL: OK. So look, we've had a fundamental shift in the United States and looks like across western countries in what ails young people. Public health worried about those external harms you mentioned before, and things have flipped and they now worry about what they call these internalized risks, anxiety, depression, suicide and self- harm. That's a monster public health story.
SMERCONISH: Is it that these things were always with us but went undiagnosed? Or has there been some kind of a shift? And if so, caused by what?
RICHTEL: It's a strange answer but the answer is yes and probably both. Some of this stuff was there and some of it has been intensified. The reasons behind it are a bit complicated, but I'll try to narrow it to this.
There's been a change in the adolescent brain and a change in the environment. And the collision of those two things has amplified what we think about as teen angst and turned it in some cases into serious pathology.
SMERCONISH: Matt, here are some things -- I'm going to put them up in graph form from your piece that are down.
SMERCONISH: They include -- let's take a look at these. They include the following, whether people have smoked, ever tried vaping, alcohol, unprotected sex, cocaine, watching television. You would think that's all good that those things are down.
Next slide, please. Here are some things that are up or at least getting worse. They include persistently feeling sad or hopeless, seriously considering suicide, even making a plan, attempting suicide, et cetera, et cetera. One more slide, if I may. Smartphone usage.
SMERCONISH: What's the connection between these three slides that I've just shown?
RICHTEL: Yes. So, I mean, first of all, I'm so glad you picked those out because they show it in very plain terms what's going on. And what the smartphone represents is not the smartphone per se. And it's easy to say, "Oh, the rise of the smartphone and the internet caused this."
But here is another way to think about that, Michael. That represents a massive shift in lifestyle. The lifestyle went from outdoors, hanging out at the woods. Your parents concerned about the kegger. My parents concerned about the kegger. Maybe driving recklessly. But congregating to a lifestyle in which young people are increasingly indoors. They are getting less physical exercise, less in-person experience.
They're also sleeping less and they're interacting with their devices. It doesn't mean the smartphone is the cause. It means the smartphone is an inflection point in a changing lifestyle.
SMERCONISH: Jean Twenge has done a lot of work in this regard putting out that in 2012, that was the year when more than half of America had a cellphone from her writings. Put that up on the screen and let me share it with Matt.
She has said the following, "Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It's not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones." Is she right?
RICHTEL: The short answer is we don't know. And I want to say something very pointedly and very important, Michael, and this may be the most important thing I say here today. The science is unclear about the relationship between social media in particular and mental health. And I think that the reason -- I know the reason I was given more than a year to talk to families and scientists is to try to get at the more nuance of the science here.
I don't think we can show through the research that merely looking at social media and interacting with it causes mental health problems for all youth. I think we can show that for some youth that's a problem and that for other youth they actually thrive. There's a much bigger picture at play than that simple explanation expresses.
SMERCONISH: Matt, it's an important subject. Can't wait for your next installment. Thank you.
RICHTEL: Thank you for having me, Michael. Appreciate it.
SMERCONISH: I want to remind you to answer the survey question this week at Smerconish.com. Which political party has been more hijacked by extremists: Democratic or Republican?
And keep sending in your stick figure drawings. Where do you see yourself on an ideological scale and where have you been?
Wow. This is fancy-schmancy. Look at this. All right. Let my dissect.
So this is Lorriog who seems pretty much -- here's my takeaway. He or she is sticking in the middle but notice what is happening. The right and the left are moving so far that people are falling off the edges. I love that. Yes. And I agree with it. Keep the submissions coming and keep voting at Smerconish.com and register for the newsletter when you're there.
Still to come, three of the five GOP candidates for Senate in my home state of Pennsylvania I say really aren't from here, at least not recently. Other so-called carpetbagging candidates this cycle include Herschel Walker in Georgia, congressional hopeful Sara Morgenthau in Rhode Island. Will their recent residencies impact their chances?
SMERCONISH: Political tourism, that was my thought as I watched this week's debate among the five candidates vying for the Republican nomination in my home state of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race. Three of them, David McCormick, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Carla Sands have all had questions raised about their residency. In fact, I took a picture of my television set and tweeted it out during the debate. I said, "Call me old school. I think candidates for the U.S. Senate should be longstanding residents of the state they wish to represent."
I'm bothered by the idea that there are residency questions. And I don't mean in a legal or technical sense. They all meet the requirement. But for me on an intuitive practical level I'm bothered by the fact that I don't regard the three of them as really being from Pennsylvania, at least not recently. Because until recently, McCormick lived in Connecticut. Sands spent most of her adult life in California and Oz is more aptly described as being from New Jersey.
"The Philadelphia Inquirer" pointed out on Friday -- quote -- "The celebrity known as Dr. Oz says he moved to Pennsylvania last year, but more than 20 social media posts in the last three months show him in his North Jersey mansion."
Pennsylvania isn't the only state experiencing political carpetbagging this election cycle. In Georgia, former UGA football star Herschel Walker moved back to the state to run for the Senate after living for decades in Texas. In Oregon, "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof announced he was running for governor but was disqualified because he wasn't a resident of the state for at least three years. In Rhode Island, Sara Morgenthau left her commerce department job in Washington to run for office to succeed retiring representative Jim Langevin. She grew up in Boston and New York. And in Tennessee, former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus moved to Nashville last year and announced her candidacy for a House seat before the state Republican Party voted to kick her off the ballot.
Look, this is a tale as old as time. There are many high-profile instances of carpetbagging when you go back into political history. The late Robert F. Kennedy became a senator from New York despite his famously being from Massachusetts. Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also represented New York after spending most of her life in Illinois, Arkansas and Washington, D.C. Former Senator Elizabeth Dole was a resident of the Washington, D.C. area since the mid-1960s before moving from her home at the Watergate hotel back to North Carolina to run for office. And Senator Mitt Romney ran for an open seat in Utah in 2018 despite previously serving as the governor of Massachusetts.
Guess what? All of them won. Do voters hold residency to be a problem?
With me now to help answer these questions is Christopher Galdieri. He's the author of the book on point, "Stranger in a Strange State: The Politics of Carpetbagging from Robert Kennedy to Scott Brown." He's also an associate professor of politics at St. Anselm College. Professor, where does the term come from? Why do we call this carpetbagging?
CHRISTOPHER GALDIERI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ST. ANSELM COLLEGE: The term came from southern newspaper editors in the years immediately after the Civil War during reconstruction. They were looking for some word they can use to demean northerners who were coming south looking for their fame and fortune after the Civil War and settled on carpetbagger because it described the suitcases that were literally made from heavy carpets that they carried with them.
And while it was initially used in the southern context it really quickly spread because it captured an idea that is, as you said, just so instinctual for so many voters that, you know, people should be from the place that they're representing. And so, it has become sort of this all-purpose term regardless of region for anybody who picks up sticks and moves to a new state to run for office or runs for office some place after having held office in another state like Mitt Romney did.
SMERCONISH: Sometimes it seems to matter and many times it doesn't. What's the common thread? What is the takeaway?
GALDIERI: For the folks who are able to overcome that label the most -- the thing they most have in common is that they are already folks with a national profile. If you think about Bobby Kennedy, he's been attorney general. His brother had been president. Hillary Clinton had been first lady. Mitt Romney had run for president.
Those folks have a national profile. They were familiar to voters and they were able to make a case to voters in New York and in the case of Romney to voters in Utah that they were able to bring their experience to bear to represent their new state. The ones who run into trouble are the ones who don't have that stature or who don't have any familiarity with the residents of their new state and have to keep explaining over and over that, well, yes, I used to be a senator from Tennessee but now I want to represent Maryland. Or I used to be the governor of Massachusetts, now I want to represent New Hampshire. And those folks have a much harder time overcoming the label.
SMERCONISH: With regard to Dr. Oz who clearly fits into that celebrity label. Nationwide, he has a profile. There was polling released this week. I'll put it up on the screen. Pennsylvania voters were asked, does the fact that Dr. Oz only recently moved to Pennsylvania bother you a lot, a little or not at all? Twenty-six percent said a lot. Twenty-five percent said a little. Let's call that half the Republican electorate. And 48 percent -- 48 percent said not at all. By the way, interesting to me, only 1 percent said I don't know. What do you make of that?
GALDIERI: Well, I think that's getting at something that is really changing in our politics. Once upon a time the people you wanted to represent you were people who knew your area, knew your state, who knew how to pronounce the names of, you know, small towns and that sort of thing. Now politics is so nationalized that voters really, first and foremost, particularly party primaries mainly care about somebody that they think will win the election and stick it to the other side.
So, if you're a Republican voter in Pennsylvania and you think the way to go is with celebrity talk show host then the fact that Oz just moved in from New Jersey and maybe spending a lot of time in New Jersey isn't going to bother you all that much.
SMERCONISH: OK. So let me ask you this. You make me think of one of my favorite jokes from "Seinfeld." I'm going to play it and then I'll try and draw the connection. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY SEINFELD, ACTOR: Loyalty to anyone sports team is pretty hard to justify, because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city. You're actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean? You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Are politicians going to go the way of athletes? Are we going to start looking at them like commodities that can be traded?
GALDIERI: Probably not to that degree. I think you're not going to see somebody who has won an election in one state, pick up sticks and move to another state while they still hold office. However, I think because our politics are so polarized, because our politics are so nationalized, I think those local ties are going to matter less and less in a lot of cases.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Professor, thank you. It's fascinating stuff and I appreciate your time.
GALDIERI: Glad to be here. Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, more of your drawings and we'll give you the final result of this week's survey question at Smerconish.com. Go vote right now. Which party has been more hijacked by extremists: Democratic or Republican?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [09:53:19]
SMERCONISH: Time to see how you responded to the survey question this week at Smerconish.com. Which party has been more hijacked by extremists: Democratic or Republican?
Here are the results. Survey says. Wow. A 90-10er, huh? Twenty-seven thousand say it's the Rs. The correct answer, and I didn't offer this to you, would have been both.
All right. Most importantly, some more sketches. Some more of your stick figure drawings. What do we have, Catherine? Let's see how you place your -- wow, that's fancy-schmancy. Joethenerd starts out on the left. Stays on the left is what I'm seeing. I love how -- I love how he's got me with the Hill and Al Jazeera as being centrist media outlets down at the bottom.
What's next? Hit me with another one. Let's flip through a couple of these.
GuttChek says -- now, what is GuttChek saying? That GuttChek has stayed in the same place but that the center has moved to the left? I think that's how I see it.
What's next? "I didn't move. The middle did." OK. So I can't see your name, but I love the fact that you signed your drawing for authenticity purposes. So you're in the center, but again, you don't think the middle did it. Now the right is shifting far to the right.
One more if we've got time. Keep these coming. I love them. It's a funny exercise.
This is the winner. Henry Stein says, "I'm leaning" -- "I'm leaning well left, but I am feeling upside down virtually every day." Henry Stein, I know the feeling.
Keep voting at the Web site. I'll see you next week.