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The Van Jones Show
Recently, Georgia Passed Exact Match, Which Requires Every Letter and Every Digit on Voter Registration to be Identical to What's on the ID; Michelle Obama Last Week Said, We Are Role Models and That Children Are Watching What We Do; Record Number of Military Veterans Are Running for Public Office and Many Are Running as Democrats in Very Competitive Districts. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 20, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:15] VAN JONES, HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: Good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to The Van Jones Show. Look, tonight, I got a serious message folks, do not get distracted. Don't get distracted. We're less than three weeks away from the midterm elections of 2018.
But what is this election really? It's really the first national referendum on President Trump. November 6th is the first time since Trump won that every voter gets a chance to see if we approve of how stuff is going.
Now, listen, protest is powerful, social media is powerful, writing letters to the editor is powerful, all that stuff is powerful. Nothing is as powerful as millions of voters marching into voting booths to collectively reward or punish, hire or fire the very leaders of a nation. And that's what you get to do in a couple of weeks.
It's up to you who you vote for. But please remember this, retweets, Facebook shares, Instagram likes do not count as votes, OK? Only votes count as votes, and in this election, everybody needs to vote.
Now to help us understand that better, we've got a real political heavy weight, President Obama's former senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is here tonight. I'm pumped about that. She is spearheading a bipartisan initiative called When We All Vote, to try to get people to go to the ballot box and either party.
I'm super glad that she's here. Now, the good news about voting, the early voting numbers are up big time in states like Georgia, Tennessee and Indiana, that's great. Bad news voter suppression -- got to be honest, mostly Republicans, using all kinds of cheap tricks to keep eligible citizens from voting, that's also up. We've got increased reports about that.
Now what can we do about it? I don't know. But I bet Valerie Jarrett's got some ideas. She's going to be here. Plus, we're going to talk to four first-time candidates who are running for Congress. These are not ordinary candidates, OK.
It takes a lot of courage to run for office. It takes even more courage to put on a uniform and serve overseas. Our guests have done both. We've got veterans from both parties who are now running for Congress, and I am proud to have some veterans here tonight that we get to hear more from our veterans who want to run for office and others.
So serious time, serious topics, but we got a President who too often wants to distract you from the serious stuff, and that's why he's out there doing all these rallies and TV interviews, calling his pornstar former mistress, Horseface, attacking Elizabeth Warren, trying to get everybody scared of immigrants again.
Saying that there are good scientists on both sides of the climate debate, making fun of reporters, getting beaten up by American politicians, invoking Brett Kavanaugh as an excuse for not condemning the Saudis who allegedly murdered and dismembered a journalist. OK. So he wants to fight about Kavanaugh and the caravan and do these cultural wars.
Don't get distracted. Focus on the real issues. For instance poll numbers show, number one issued midterm elections, health care. The one thing he's not talking much about. The Republicans spent years promising to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better. Well, they have repealed it and made it worse for a whole lot of people.
Now suddenly, you hear Republicans going around trying to sound like Barack Obama, saying they want to protect people with pre-existing conditions which is what Obamacare did. Even Trump is out there tweeting, all Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions and if they don't they will, after I speak to them, I am in total support.
Translation, Republicans feel vulnerable on health care, how funny, that's exactly the kind of serious life or death issue that voters like you should be focused on. So don't get distracted.
And next up we got somebody who knows a lot about all these issues and why voting matters now more than ever. Please welcome to The Van Jones Show, the former advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett in the house.
VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you, Van. Thank you. Hello everybody.
JONES: Thank you for being here.
JARRETT: Congratulations to you. I love that you have this show.
JONES: I am so glad to have you here and I'm so glad that you're actually trying to get people focused on voting. But why are you taking so much time to focus on getting to people?
JARRETT: It's the foundation of our democracy. Our country is it's at its strongest when it really reflects the will of the American people.
[00:05:15] And I've been so disenchanted over the last several cycles to see the number of people who participate in that important exercise of voting not voting.
And look, there are lots of reasons why. People are busy, after eight years in Washington I understand why the toxic nature of two sides fighting together is not appealing. But the only way we can hold our elected officials accountable is that if we vote.
JARRETT: Because if we don't, believe me, special interests they'll come in and they'll pursue their agenda.
JONES: Your thing is called "When We All Vote".
JONES: How come is not when Democrats vote or when women vote or went black folks vote. I mean, why are you -- why do you want--
JARRETT: It's a good question.
JONES: Why are -- why do you want everybody to vote?
JARRETT: It's a really good question. Because the whole underpinning is, let's change the culture in our country and help people appreciate why every vote matters. So it is intentionally nonpartisan. Mrs. Obama is obviously a big part of this effort. She really spearheaded it.
And she said, "I want to change the culture -- particularly, starting with young people, so that they grow up appreciating, regardless of their party, regardless of their position on any one matter, that they recognize that our democracy is stronger when we vote.
JARRETT: And so it's by design nonpartisan.
JONES: Well, I think that's really, really beautiful. Because I think there's a tendency, especially in election time, everybody goes to their corners and they just want their site to win no matter what.
I'm concerned about the whole voter suppression idea. Recently, a Georgia passed what's called "exact match". That means every letter and every digit on your voter registration must be identical to what's on your ID.
Any misspelling or other little small error could mean you can't vote. And they got 50,000 Georgians who have had their voter registration frozen, most of them are black, pending lawsuit there.
And then North Dakota is now requiring residents to show voter ID with a current street address, you think no big deal. That could hurt Native Americans who live on tribal lands, who often don't have street addresses. So this is an issue all across the country. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It's so important to register right now and vote this November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: There's always the big public push around election time to mobilize voters, but states across the country are actually passing new laws to restrict access to the ballot box. They're limiting early voting, they're closing polling places, they are passing voter ID laws, purging the names from voter registration rolls.
All of this disproportionately hurts racial minorities and the poor. In 2016, three times as many black and Hispanic voters and white voters across the country we're told they lacked the proper ID to vote in the 2016 election, according to a news survey. And twice as many black voters and white voters were told incorrectly that their names have been purged from the voting rolls.
Now, these laws are often pushed by Republican state legislators. Why? Well, according to some of them, it helps them win elections. Here's Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General after the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD SCHIMEL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Senator Johnson was going to win reelection or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin, if we didn't have voter ID to keep Wisconsin's elections clean and honest?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And now listen to Georgia's Secretary of State, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, Brian Kemp expressing concern about get-out- the-vote efforts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KEMP, SECRETARY OF STATE OF GEORGIA: The Democrats are working hard. All these stories about them, registering all these, the minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win this election in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Another connected issue, in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. That ended the Justice Department's oversight of voting laws in 15 states that had histories of trying to suppress a minority vote.
The majority opinion concluded that institutional racism is no longer a problem when it comes to voting. But the Supreme Court and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights have both urged Congress to take action to protect voting rights for all Americans. So far, no legislation from the House or the Senate. It's like that, that sucks.
JARRETT: You nailed it.
JARRETT: I mean, Van, you absolutely nailed it. That's the problem. And my thing is this. Our country should celebrate and make it easier for people to vote, that's what a democracy is all about.
And how insecure and heinous is it for you to try to repress a vote, particularly when you target one particular group.
JONES: Yes. I think it's terrible. I don't want to talk about voter suppression and create voter depression where people are too depressed to go and vote. You still think people should get out there and fight to get their voices heard?
JARRETT: Oh, absolutely. And they're tools that are available on our When We All Vote website. You can go on the website and it will link you. If you're having trouble registering, if you've been blocked, go on it will take you where you need to go to ensure that you can still show up and vote.
[00:10:15] You can cast a provisional ballot, you can bring in an additional ID, so you have to investigate what's available in your particular state.
JONES: That is still possible.
JARRETT: But don't let anybody tell you that you can't vote. And that's part of the diabolical strategy. And the way to combat that strategy is to show up in larger forces and vote.
JONES: I love that. I just want to get real for a minute.
JARRETT: Let's do this.
JONES: I see the Trump rallies, they got 20,000 people, 30,000 people. Don't you wish we had Obama or somebody out there with our 20,000, 30,000 person rally? Can you please get us some big rallies?
JARRETT: You know what, rallies do not affect elections. Voters affect elections.
JONES: So the reality is--
JARRETT: And I think that the President always has the ability to go around the country and try to galvanize and excite her -- his or her crowd. But we also have that ability too. We had 2,500 events across the country when we were focusing during election week, registration week back in September.
We had thousands of volunteers right now in all 50 states who are registering people and getting them excited and encouraging their family members and their neighbors to get involved. I think that grassroots effort is far more powerful than a rally or two.
JONES: You always been wiser than me, because I like the hope and the change and the goosebumps and stuff.
JARRETT: We all carry that inside of us.
JARRETT: That's not one person, that's each of us.
JONES: Yes. Well, Trump is saying that it's all -- the caravan, which is the immigrants and Kavanaugh. I was surprised that he thought that Kavanaugh was cutting in his favor. I think a lot of liberals thought it would cut the other way.
Do you think that Democrats overshot or misunderstood what was going on with Kavanaugh and Me Too and that concept? Is there a backlash there? What do you think?
JARRETT: No. You know what I think, Van? I think our moral compass should always be appealing to the Better Angels. Figuring out how we can bring ourselves together, focusing on what we have in common, not what differentiates us.
We've been the beacon of hope for the world. Our democracy has been -- because of the core values that we stand for, and those are character and integrity and true North. And you know what, it's not appropriate to just focus on those character traits, those qualities when times are good. You have to do it when times are hard. That's when true integrity shines through, that's when character shines through.
So you said in your opening, let's not get distracted. I think we have to stay focused on the core issues that have always been the pillars of our party, the pillars of our country and just focus on that.
JONES: Focus on that. I love it. Listen, we got a lot more to talk about with Valerie Jarrett when we get back. Coming up, The Conners are back on TV. They killed off Roseanne. We're going to get Valerie Jarrett's reflections on that controversy and a bunch of other stuff when we get back. See you when we get back.
[00:15:15] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to The Van Jones Show. I'm here with former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. So did you watched The Conners?
JARRETT: I missed that. I have been traveling--
JONES: You missed that show?
JARRETT: I've been traveling all over the country, so I did miss that.
JONES: You did miss it. They killed off Roseanne on that show.
JARRETT: I heard. JONES: And obviously that had to do with that terrible tweet that she put out against you. How do you look back on that those months ago? How do you reflect on that moment where she crossed the line, America said, you went too far. She lost her position. How do you think about all that stuff?
JARRETT: Well, as I said then, Van, this really isn't about me. I'm fine. I have a lot of folks who love me and look after me. But I'm far more worried about those who don't. Those who are vulnerable, those who suffer from the daily, kind of, seemingly benign, but actually quite hostile examples of racism.
Whether it's a teenager who's shopping in a store and is followed around by the security or teenage boys who have people cross the other side of the street when they walk by or run the risk of not holding their hands exactly where they should when they're driving their car.
So I think we have to be prepared to have an uncomfortable conversation in this country and I'd like to see more of that. I'd like to see people really sit down and try to understand what it's like to walk around in someone else's shoes. And that out of that greater understanding, that's how we perfect our union.
JONES: Yes. It's good. Part of the reason that they have The Conners Show in the first place is trying to show the other side of that whole thing in terms of working class white folks or whatever. She died on the show, of like, a pill addiction.
JARRETT: An opioid, which is a huge crisis in our country.
JARRETT: And I congratulate ABC for keeping the spotlight on all of these issues. And I wish the show well. I was happy to see that people didn't lose their jobs over this incident, and that they're back to work, and we should tell stories. And that's why the media is so powerful.
You have the ability to tell stories that educate and inspire and hopefully give people a sense of empathy for what the lives of others are like.
JONES: OK. I appreciate your heart on that. You're writing a book.
JARRETT: I am.
JONES: And the title is called "Finding My Voice".
JONES: That title comes out of a conversation you had with your amazing daughter.
JARRETT: It does.
JONES: Tell me about the title.
JARRETT: My daughter, who's now a reporter right here on CNN--
JONES: One of our best.
JARRETT: --interviewed me. The first question she said to me is, "What would you tell a 30-year-old Valerie Jarrett? And she was 30 at the time. And I thought what an interesting question that is. And I started answering that question for the interview.
And then it took me on this journey to say, well, what I would tell a 30-year-old depends on what I learned when I was five and six and seven and it reflects on what I learned in my adult life. So it ended up being a tale of my entire story.
JONES: Yes. What are you now learning about yourself and about this country that we live in?
JARRETT: Well, it gave me a chance to reflect back. And I think because I've always had one demanding job after another, I've focused on looking forward and I never really have taken a chance to take stock and see, well, what was the cumulative effect, and how did each building block build on the one before.
And I think there were times earlier in my career, particularly, where I didn't have a sense of direction and even I didn't understand what the ultimate path would be, and I had a rigid path that I thought I should follow.
JONES: What was that path?
JARRETT: Well, I'll tell you that path was law school, practice law, fall madly in love, have a baby by 30, live happily ever after.
JONES: Check, check, check.
JARRETT: Check, check, check. And the only one that I really successfully checked was Laura. The rest of it kind of fell apart. And when it crumbled around me, I felt like a failure. And it took me a while to appreciate -- just because my marriage had failed and just because I didn't thrive in a law firm, didn't mean I couldn't thrive.
And when I began listening to that quiet voice inside of me and I started following what my passion was and it led me to public service and it led me to being a single mom and focusing on how to do that the very best I could.
[00:20:15] It led me on a journey to really reflect about the lessons I've over the course of my life. And how -- and in the end, it all made sense. But in the beginning it was a chaos.
JONES: Yes. You just have this quality about you that is just so beautiful and there's I think there's this debate in our party, and you touched on a little bit, go low versus go high.
Michelle Obama says, "We may go low, we go high". Eric Holder, joked and said, "No when they go low, we should kick them". How -- what is the Valerie Jarrett doctrine when it comes to this whole around going low versus going high.
JARRETT: I think we are at our strongest as a nation when our leaders appeal to our Better Angels, when we focus on important character issues core values, when we are inclusive and welcoming.
And as I said earlier, but it's very easy to have character and integrity and say the right things when times are easy. It's when times are tough that we have to remember as Michelle Obama said last week, in front of an audience of young women and girls. She said, "We are role models. That children are watching what we do. What do we want them to emulate when they grow up?"
And I think it should be positivity, I think it should be optimism about our country. I think it should be about inclusion and creating more opportunity, growing the pie not fighting over crumbs of the pie, holding the ladder in your hand out, not pulling up the rungs of the ladder after you've achieved. That's what I believe our party stands for.
JONES: Well, there's one person who I think has past character test after character test, and I wonder what you think about Joe Biden. People have said that he might get a chance to run. You got chance to serve with him for long time. I served with him for a very brief period of time. Joe Biden, is he somebody who needs to get out in this race and raise these issues?
JARRETT: Well, first of all I think Joe Biden is an extraordinary public servant and a wonderful human being. And I had the privilege of working with him, as you said, for eight years. It is a deeply personal decision.
I wouldn't tell anybody what they should do. You have to really do your own gut check and say do you have what it takes to get out there and put yourself on the line?
JONES: If he says I've got it and comes to you for counselling, how would you -- just how do you see...?
JARRETT: Well, I would wish him well. I think he'd be very effective. He'd be an extraordinary campaigner and he'd be a terrific President.
JONES: That's great. Hey listen, give her a round of applause, we've got Valerie Jarrett.
JARRETT: Thank you. Thank you all.
JONES: I love it. I love it. I love it.
JARRETT: What a good audience.
JONES: Good audience. But I want to thank you for being here. And coming up President Trump says that he is on the ballot in November. I don't know if that's accurate. But he says -- well, I'm going to get a chance to talk to an actual congressional hopeful who hopes that by embracing Trump and getting Trump's endorsement, he's going to get a big victory. Now could that strategy backfire? I don't know. But we're going to ask him when we get back. See you in minute.
[00:25:15] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to The Van Jones Show. If our next guest wins his congressional race, he's going to be the first African American ever to represent the great State of New Hampshire in Congress.
He's running as a Republican in The Granite State's first district. He's a former Police Chief. He's a Navy veteran and he has earned the backing of Donald Trump, President of United States. He is a proud conservative. And he says he's tired of all the division in this country, please welcome to The Van Jones Show, Eddie Edwards in the house.
Ed, welcome to the studio.
EDDIE EDWARDS, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE'S 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Thank you, Van. Thank you for having me.
JONES: I'm glad that you are here. Tell me why, as somebody who's already given so much. You're Police Chief, a veteran, why are you choosing to run?
EDWARDS: Continued service. When I look at where our country is, I want to make sure that we start to unite our country again. And I believe the best way to do that is start to electing people of characters, start to elect people who've actually served this nation, not from a political standpoint, but from a place of commitment, sacrifice. And I think that's what it's going to take to really heal our country and bring us together.
JONES: Well, the times feel divisive that--
EDWARDS: Oh, yes.
JONES: What you just said is a good description of you. It doesn't always feel like a good description of the President in terms of somebody who served, somebody who sacrificed, all those kind of things.
How do you square that in your own mind? Because--
EDWARDS: See that's what people were thinking and I get that. This is one of the things that I think we have to really think about the country, right. So we start off on a negative. So we don't want to pay attention to the fact that 63 million fellow Americans voted for the President.
They heard his message, they believed in his message, and I was one of those folks and we vote refer him. So to dismiss the President, to attack the President is in a sense attacking the other 63 million fellow Americans. And if we were ever to bring our country together, we have to start relationships. We have to start talking to one another. And we can't start off on a negative tone,
JONES: Yes. Well right now the President's closing argument is Kavanaugh and the caravan. As you're trying to figure out how to bring people together, is that your closing argument? And if your closing argument isn't Kavanaugh and the caravan, what is your closing?
EDWARDS: Well my closing argument is this. We're all Americans, we all want the same thing. We're a constitutional republic. We believe in sacrifice, we believe in family, we believe in unity, we believe in giving back to our communities. That's what this is all about. That's what makes us different as Americans. We believe in giving back to our communities, and our families.
And I think what you start to see in this country is a great division and that division is caused by people intentionally trying to divide us -- intentionally trying to divide us. I'll give you best example was this young man recently who was in this store. His backpack grazed a backside of a woman.
EDWARDS: And she said he sexually assaulted her.
EDWARDS: But what happens to that young man who's crying outside with his little sister and his mother, if there's no cameras around. So I think we have to be very deliberate in trying to bring our country, not further divide it.
JONES: Yes. Well I talked about a couple of issues, because again the way that you sounded like, you talk is not really the way that Trump sounds when he talks. And so I do feel like there's -- so I'm trying to figure you out.
EDWARDS: I'm not being attacked every day.
JONES: That's right.
EDWARDS: I'm not being attacked every day -- not yet.
EDWARDS: But I think if we look at the President and I want to go back to this, because I think it's important. If the President is successful, we're successful as a nation.
EDWARDS: So we have to respect the institution.
[00:30:15] JONES: If he's successful at doing positive things, we're successful as a nation.
EDWARDS: Well, that's exactly.
JONES: Well, let me -- let us walk through some of these issues. They're the tougher issues. Look, I think it's good for you to underscore. I think it's healthy to underscore the desire to respect everybody and for unity.
JONES: And that's a good place to start and good place to stop. There are some of these issues that are just tough. You mentioned that a young guy with the backpack. Do you feel like anti-black racism is still a problem in America today?
EDWARDS: Well, I can tell you that there is no question that there are racial conflict issues around the country. If you look at state like New Hampshire, this is why I love our state, right? It's Live Free or Die. It's a Granite State. And it's what our founders believed in. It's what our entire country was set upon, it's freedom.
And so when I look at our state, 93 percent white conservatives, moderate leaning folks in that state, lot of independent voters in that state, I was selected to be the Republican nominee.
JONES: I think--
EDWARDS: --and in a state that has one percent black population. So in our state, we don't practice that.
JONES: So are you saying that anti-black racism is not a problem in New Hampshire.
EDWARDS: I'm saying there are individual people maybe in New Hampshire and perhaps across this country. But the notion that America is a racist nation, I think defies statistics and logic.
JONES: But you don't see systemic issues when it comes to racists?
EDWARDS: I don't think -- I think we're closer than we realize. Right? So when I look at a -- my mother and my grandmother, women in my life who have influenced me. I raise two daughters. I have a wonderful wife. And so when I look at and so when I look at what they think.
My mother has three boys one girl. I know she's proud of all of us, different courses of life. But when I started to think about this and I think what do we say to a white mother who has white sons. What do we say to a black mother who has black sons? What do we say to a Hispanic mother who has well Hispanic son?
JONES: What do we say?
EDWARDS: I think we want to treat them all the same. I'm a father of two daughters. I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as everyone else, regardless of their skin color, regardless of their sexual orientation, their gender.
JONES: Yes, let me walk through a couple of other issues that they tend to divide. Let's talk about--
EDWARDS: OK. Let's talk about these--
JONES: So would you repeal the Brady Act? Would you get the federal government completely out of the gun business? Yes or no. Should the federal government play a role in making sure that that guns are regulated.
EDWARDS: That's two separate questions that you just asked me about. First the background checks -- people support background checks right before you purchase the weapon. That's fine. When people start talking about universal background checks, I think that stems into an area people don't really understand.
JONES: Help me understand some. I think a lot of progressives don't understand.
JONES: There is a concern and you're afraid that I don't understand it, and I don't. That somehow that if you do background checks that you may wind up with a "gun registry". And for when you say gun registry, Republicans get real upset and in my mind I don't understand what is the fear?
What is the fear that conservatives have that the federal government might have a list of who's got guns? Why is that such a terrifying idea?
EDWARDS: What let's put it this way. What's important to you? Like, give me what things important to you, we keep your name on a registry. Let's say--
JONES: Coming to work is so important to me. I'm serious.
EDWARDS: Well, we're not going to put you on the registry for that. But when you have constitutionally protected rights -- what does it feel like?
JONES: What you think--
EDWARDS: Because we restrain our government, we don't restrain citizens. This is what this is all about. We don't restrain citizens. We hold citizens accountable. We restrain our government, because we can't hold our government accountable. Name one time government's been held accountable for someone it's done towards citizens.
JONES: I mean, it gets sued all the time. You have to be out there.
EDWARDS: That's not accountability. We incarcerate citizens when we hold them accountable. So we restrain government.
JONES: I understand. Listen--
EDWARDS: --and we protect citizens. JONES: That's good language. But I'm still confused. I'm not being adversarial. I'm desperately trying to understand. My show is about understanding, not about--
EDWARDS: No, I appreciate that.
JONES: And so I'm desperately trying to -- is the fear that if they know who has the guns, and they'll come and shoot people or arrest people and take their guns?
EDWARDS: No, no, no.
JONES: What is fear? Because that's in the way of a whole lot of progress, brother.
EDWARDS: It's no more complicated than this. We live in the United States of America. We have a constitution. Your rights are protected. We restrain the government. There's no more complicated than that. And when you say to a citizen, we need to keep you on a list, we need to monitor you, our country is not set up that way.
JONES: So it's almost like a principle -- a philosophical, almost. Thing is that now you're scared that the government is going to come and grab all the guns on Wednesday if they have a list.
EDWARDS: See, this is what I mean by why we don't have a common understanding, right?
EDWARDS: Because we have to have a common understanding of the constitution. The constitution is designed to ensure that citizens and rights are protected. And once we start separating that, and start believing that, well, if you don't have anything to -- you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about. That's not America.
JONES: I got one last question--
EDWARDS: Yes, sir.
JONES: --which, I think, is a question that we probably have a lot in common on, which is the question of opioids.
JONES: One of my very close friends died of an opioid overdose and it's killing people all over the place.
[00:35:15] I know it's a big problem in your state, and we just had a big bipartisan vote to do something about it. What more needs to be done and stop this epidemic of people, and not just opioids, all these things like meth and everything else is killing people.
EDWARDS: Absolutely. I think one of the things that we miss in this conversation is we're drugging our young people in this country. So we have children growing up in this country never experiencing life without the benefit of medication in their systems. So it becomes very easy to pop a pill -- take a pill.
And 75 to 80 percent of people who started with a -- first-time heroin users to sign, started with a prescription drug. So we have to make sure that we're doing right by our young people. Make sure that they're people held accountable.
Make sure we go back to the pharmaceutical companies, ask them to pay, because once you're addicted to these opioids it's a lifelong struggle. That means taxpayers of footing the bill for that. I think we should go back to the pharmaceutical companies and ask them to start paying some of these costs.
JONES: Well that's one thing we agree on and I got to have you back--
EDWARDS: Common ground.
JONES: Common ground. It should always be about ground common. This show was really about understanding, not about me trying to win the fight. I want to understand you more and I want to understand better. I want to wish you good luck in your race.
And when we come back, could a whole wave of military veterans running for Congress as Democrats, be a secret weapon for the other party. We're going to see if that's true. I'm going to talk with three candidates about what's driving them to serve their country again. And how they think President Trump is doing as Commander in Chief when we get back.
[00:40:15] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: All right, look, this November we've got a record -- welcome to The Van Jones Show. This November, we've got a record number of military veterans who are answering the call to service once again.
This time they're deciding to run for public office and many of them are running as Democrats in very competitive districts.
I want you to welcome to The Van Jones show, Max Rose, who was a U.S. Army veteran. He is running in New York's 11th District. We've got, Mikie Sherrill, she is a U.S. Navy veteran. She is running in New Jersey's 11th District and Josh Welle, a U.S. Navy veteran, running in New Jersey's fourth district. Welcome to The Van Jones Show.
We want to just thank. You can to see we want to thank you for your service. It's just so proud to have you here. Why are you serving again? You've already done one of the hardest jobs you can do for the country? Why put on these kind of uniforms and go back in?
JOSH WELLE, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR NEW JERSEY'S 4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Yes, for myself, serving after 9/11, everything my friends and I sacrificed for is in jeopardy, the values, the institution's civil liberties and civil rights are being challenged. And I think veterans and we here are running towards the fire to preserve those.
JONES: Is that why are you running?
MIKIE SHERRILL, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR NEW JERSEY'S 11TH DISTRICT: Yes. After a lifetime of service, it really felt like the best way I continue service to my country and to New Jersey was to run for office. And I have four kids, so not only am I fighting for what's going on right now, but I want to make sure that this is the country that I grew up in. That our values -- our democratic values are protected across the world and that we're really working hard for people across this country.
JONES: Why are you doing it?
MAX ROSE, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK'S 11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Well, certainly, I see this as really a continuation of service. But I'm also doing this, because six years ago when my vehicle hit a bomb in Afghanistan, the only reason why I lived is because the armor underneath my vehicle. Congress allocated the money for that in a bipartisan manner. Very quietly they got something done.
It'd be nice if they could do that for much bigger problems in this country. So I'm filled with optimism, because I'm alive today because Congress got something done. Now let's get something done for roads and bridges and for opioid epidemic.
JONES: You were passionate. You said you felt like values are being challenged, like what, by Trump, by what? What values are you concerned about being challenged?
WELLE: So I think it's leadership and accountability in Washington. This checks and balance system. We have a President who takes us backwards on the judiciary, freedom of speech, freedom of the press.
9/11 happened when I was a senior at the Naval Academy. We deployed for a decade. It wasn't that republicanism or Democrat. It was country over party, mission first and this constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. And some of those enemy forces are here at home.
JONES: It's unusual for you guys to all be Democrats. I'm looking at the numbers. You got 61 Republican veterans in Congress right now, only 19 Democratic veterans.
ROSE: That's going to change pretty soon.
JONES: Well, to think of it. But why?
SHERRILL: Well, I think that's a relatively recent thing to have the -- or the veterans being coming from the Republican Party. Because we see after World War II, it's really a broad group of veterans in our Congress from both sides, and I think that's one of the reasons we're running.
Because the three of us feel very deeply that we need to pass good bipartisan legislation in Congress and we think that some of those bridges can be built by veterans on both sides of the aisle.
JONES: Well, one of the things that's going to be hard to build bridges over is this foreign policy. You now have Trump -- you guys went overseas, trying to stick up for democracy and freedom and all this stuff.
Trump doctrine is more, we like Putin, dictator. We like Kim Jong-Un, dictator. We like this Saudi family, dictators. How -- if you had the opportunity, having been elected to go sit in the Oval Office and talk to President Trump about this tendency to cozy up to dictators, as people who went out there and fought, what would you say?
ROSE: Well, I think right now, it looks like whether you interfere in our elections or whether your kill journalists, if you tell the President privately you didn't do it, you're good to go. I think, though, that if I had a moment with this President, I wouldn't attack him like that.
I would try to have a sensible conversation about how we can counter 21st Century threats, not just fight the last wars, how we can get ready for cyberwar, how we can reinforce NATO, how we can address nuclear proliferation.
But most importantly, what I think is a great national security threat that we face today is this hyper vitriol, this hyperpartisanship in Washington, D.C. And I'd ask him to tone it down, I'd ask him to tweet a less and work with Democrats and Republicans a bit more.
JONES: Do you agree?
[00:45:15] SHERRILL: Yes. Well, I think, I would talk to him a little bit about my own personal experience, because I was at the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Navy, European Headquarters, when we invaded Iraq.
And trying to get overflight rights and trying to get the ability to get our ships through territory waters of other countries, was very difficult. And we had to move a lot of logistics into theater very rapidly.
And so it's really important for us to keep those ties to our allies. To make sure that we have people at our back to ensure that we can fight for democracy across the world at all times. And maybe express to him that also as a Russian policy officer, I worked closely with Russians. And they don't have the same agenda we do for freedom and democracy.
JONES: We've been at war since 2001, 17 years. Should we get out of Afghanistan? Should we get out of Iraq? What is your view about this endless war?
WELLE: Well, look, it was never about service to one Commander in Chief or one policy. We would serve President Obama, President Bush, and now President Trump. I'm a reservist and you're the National Guard.
But what we do need is to define what success means, and we need to fund and resource that success. And in Afghanistan and the Middle East, if other countries aren't partnering with us, and there were same measurements or milestones, we need to have the courage to say, put an end to it.
My commitment right now is that Afghanistan, we've invested a lot in. This is a country where women had acid poured -- young girls, nine years old, acid on their faces to go to school. We can lift that country up if we have strong partners. But we have to be fair in whether or not it justifies the means.
SHERRILL: We have to define the mission and we have to define success and then we have to get out of these wars. All of us are aware of mission creep and I think we see this day after day, year after year.
ROSE: Yes. This is such a tough question, because it can't be -- it's a false choice, stay or go. We see in Iraq, I think, that we certainly left too quickly and then we had to go back in, because it's clear that there's definitely entities that are seeking out power vacuums across the globe.
The question really is that, how can we achieve some type of political reconciliation, some type of stabilization to allow us to leave without creating that power vacuum. And that's why I think that veterans on both sides of the aisle -- people who have actually been on the ground, where this is not just semantics for them.
And we shouldn't just look at this as vets. I'm so proud to see all these diplomats running, these CIA, former CIA operatives running. Truth is, in the 21st Century, we all go to war together and we all try to stabilize countries together and it's going to be really powerful to have everyone's voice at the table to actually start to solve these problems.
JONES: Sounds great. Look, I am super excited about what you're doing. And I'm also -- this is the year of the women. And you're in a really cool video that I want to take a quick look at.
ABIGAIL SPANBERGER, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA'S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Come November 6th, I will continue to serve the people.
ELISSA SLOTKIN, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN 8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: The people of Michigan.
CHRISSY HOULAHAN, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR PENNSYLVANIA'S 6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Pennsylvania.
SHERRILL: New Jersey.
AMY MCGRATH, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR KENTUCKY'S 6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Kentucky.
ELAINE LURIA, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA'S 2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Virginia.
M.J. HEGAR, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR TEXAS' 31ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: The people of Texas.
GINA ORTIZ JONES, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR TEXAS'S 23RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: The people of Texas.
SLOTKIN: And we'll continue to serve the people of the United States of America.
MCGRATH: Are you ready to serve America?
JONES: Is this going to be the year of the women?
SHERRILL: I know, the Bruce Springsteen song alone is worth watching. Yes, it is. It's already the year of the women. I mean, we have seen more female candidates than ever in our nation's history. It's incredibly exciting and an incredibly important time for women.
JONES: That's good. I want to hear more about that and a bunch of other issues. Especially, how do they think about the NFL controversy? How do they think about Nancy Pelosi? How do they think about all these other issues? We're going to get to all of them when we get back.
[00:50:15] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to the Van Jones show. We're here with three military veterans who are running for Congress and changing the face of the Democratic Party.
We've got Max Rose, we've got Mikie Sherrill, and we've got Josh Welle. So another round of applause to have you guys here.
So many questions that I have, one is, you guys being this new wave. Nancy Pelosi, should we stay where she is or not? I'm going to let you know, I love Nancy Pelosi. I think she is great. But you may see it different.
ROSE: Yes. So I've been very vocal, and I believe we all have that she should not be the leader or the speaker come 2019.
JONES: Why not?
ROSE: Because this is really, an issue if you ran Democrat policies against Republican policies in my district without any party attached or any politicians attached, I believe certain democratic policies, especially when it comes to pro-infrastructure, pro-union, pro-fair taxation, equitable growth, those policies would maybe (5) percent of the vote.
But we've really lost the trust of voters. And you can't really begin that trust rebuilding process until we fully change leadership. But I think that there is a sense here that potentially we're doing some type of stuff or something like that.
And come 2019, we'll just kind of roll over and vote for whoever the party leadership wants us to. That's not what this is. I don't think any of us intend on breaking this promise to the voters.
JONES: Actually all of you guys are in this kind of same position on Pelosi. Another issue that I think is really critical is the protest. Colin Kaepernick, people say by him kneeling -- and his concern about police brutality, et cetera, he's disrespecting our veterans.
Do you see it that way? You as a veteran, when you see that, do you feel that he's kind of giving you a hard time?
SHERRILL: No, I know people are on different sides of this issue. But I feel very passionately about this, because I took numerous oaths to support and defend the Constitution of United States, and that involves Freedom of Speech.
So I fought for Colin Kaepernick and other like him to have the right to kneel during the flag salute or to go into the locker room. That is their right and that is a right that I will continue to fight for, should I need to.
JONES: Well, I appreciate that. There's a kind of wisdom and tough mindedness that you see with veterans. But as much as we love the lip service, and we give you bunch of applause, we don't do much for veterans when it comes down to it.
What are the veterans' issues that you and some of your other folks would take on? What do veterans need in America right now?
[00:55:15] WELLE: Well, I appreciate you saying that. So many of us say, so many of us say, go beyond thank you for your service. It's so much more than that. We're grateful, so it's veterans you answered the call.
We need 21st Century solutions for veterans. That is PTSD first and foremost. That leads to suicide. We have so many suicides right now with our veteran community, that so many of our friends, we personally know, who served in harm's way.
Homelessness is frustrating. It's hard to translate your experiences on the front line, and Operation Iraqi Freedom or Afghanistan to the corporate world. We need modern day leaders who can translate that sense of service.
What I'm calling for is a type of leadership that's contemporary, that's impactful, and that builds bridges. Our message has been country over party to get beyond Republican versus Democrat and move our veteran community forward and be inclusive to as many people as possible.
JONES: I give you the last word.
SHERRILL: Thanks so much. I would love to add military sexual assault to that list to things we need to help our veterans with. As far as homelessness, homes for our veterans with children, that's sometimes the hardest type of housing to find for our veterans.
JONES: Got you. We have one of the most diverse militaries in the world, so many different problems. I think your voices, if you get there, are going to be very, very welcome.
Thank you for being here for your service, and more, to the country. Good luck to all you guys in November. I am Van Jones. This is The Van Jones Show. Thank you for watching. Peace and love for one another.