BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…
KEESHA GASKINS: What we see when we look at these highly restrictive voter ID laws is they actually end up cherry picking voters.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: The right to vote is at the heart of who we are as Americans, but we've always had to fight for it.
BILL MOYERS: And...
DONALD TRUMP: I'm going to build for the people of Scotland the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Donald Trump is the ultimate one percenter if you like. And the 99 percent of people in the world are tired and fed up of having money and power riding roughshod over their lives and our planet.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Later in this broadcast we’ll take a look at the face of global capitalism, red in tooth and claw. Yes, I’m talking about America’s number one self-promoter, Donald Trump, who, when he hasn’t been firing fading TV stars on “The Celebrity Apprentice” or speaking for the anti-Obama birther cult, or providing red meat for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, has been digging up the ancient beaches of Scotland to build a luxury golf course for his pals, the idle rich. More on that coming up.
But first, a threat to democracy even more dangerous than the Donald. Across the country one state legislature after another has been making it harder for certain people to vote, especially by requiring them to show a government-issued photo id before they can cast their ballot. Ask what’s going on, and they solemnly respond, “We’re just trying to prevent voter fraud.” Ask them for evidence of that fraud, and they shamelessly shrug the shoulders and excuse themselves to go answer the door bell that’s not ringing because there’s no one there.
Last week, for example, in Pennsylvania’s state capital, Harrisburg, a thousand people gathered to protest a new photo ID law that could disenfranchise one in ten voters, including as much as 18 percent of the voters in Philadelphia -- even though state officials have said they have no reason to believe that fraud has occurred in the past or will in the future.
No one’s following the issue more keenly than the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. Its new report, "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification," finds that new voter ID rules already are in place in nine states, some of them swing states, with more than 57 million eligible voters who could determine which candidates get 127 electoral votes, nearly half the 270 needed to win the White House.
Keesha Gaskins is the co-author of that report. She’s a long-time organizer, lobbyist, trial attorney, and Senior Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.
Michael Waldman has been the president of the Brennan Center for Justice since 2005. During the Clinton administration, he was a Special Assistant to the President and a top White House policy aide on campaign finance reform.
Welcome to you both.
KEESHA GASKINS: Thank you.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: Nice to be here.
BILL MOYERS: So, Michael, if there is so little fraud in federal elections, why is there such a fuss over voter ID?
MICHAEL WALDMAN: It’s a great question. In a way, this debate over who can vote and how we vote, it goes to the heart of American history. We've been fighting over this question of how we run our democracy since the beginning. And the country was premised on this vision in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. And we’ve been trying to live up to that notion of political equality ever since. But all of a sudden, starting in January of 2011, you saw states across the country, about 20 states now passed a variety of laws making it harder for people to vote.
You saw them repeal election day registration in Maine, which people love. They can show up and vote. You saw in Florida the legislature and the governor signed a law making it very hard for nonprofit groups to register voters.
BILL MOYERS: Nonprofit groups such as…
MICHAEL WALDMAN: Well, the League of Women Voters of Florida, who the Brennan Center represented in court -- a well-known, radical sect, you know, the League of Women Voters. They were suddenly having to shut down their voter registration operation in Florida. Also, they ended early voting on one day, which was the Sunday before Election Day, which happened to be the day that African American churches voted in large numbers.
You saw laws like this all across the country. And it was sudden. There was no wave of voter fraud. There was no crisis being dealt with. It was just, unfortunately, a shift in who controlled these state legislatures. That's what happened starting in 2011.
BILL MOYERS: So, this was the big shift in the midterm elections of 2010. And you're saying this started soon after the Republicans gained the ascendancy in those state legislatures?
MICHAEL WALDMAN: Minutes after they gained ascendancy. It wouldn’t be the first time in American history for politicians to manipulate the system for their own benefit.
BILL MOYERS: Earlier this summer, the Republican majority leader of the state House of Representatives in Pennsylvania, Mike Turzai, when he was boasting about the accomplishments of the legislature under Republican control, listed as one of their major accomplishments, quote, voter ID.
MIKE TURZAI: Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win: done!
BILL MOYERS: That seems to be confirming that voter ID is all about politics.
KEESHA GASKINS: Of course it's about politics. This is all about politics. I think our point is there's inappropriate partisan gamesmanship here, that when we talk about access to the polls, and we talk about the ability of individual Americans to cast their vote, in light of all the changes that we've seen since Citizens United and really seeing the real push of dollars into the election, and understanding that the only ability to put a thumb on the other side of the scale is that someone might be able to write a big check, but they still only have one vote.
And every citizen has that vote. And so, when these votes come under attack by this level of partisan gamesmanship, it's completely inappropriate and antithetical to our history. So, certainly, when we look at Pennsylvania, I mean, the statistics bear it out, certainly, right? We saw what happened, 750,000 people that appeared on the voter registration list that do not have a state issued photo ID in Pennsylvania.
We know Obama's margin of victory in that state, 600,000. So, I mean, obviously, this is a very real political issue, but beyond that, this is a real issue of real Americans, and really being able to access and be self-determinative in how we're governed.
BILL MOYERS: When I left the building this morning, one of the workers asked me what we were doing, and I told him and he said to me, "But listen, I have to show a photo ID when I get on an airplane and fly, why shouldn't I be asked to provide a voter ID when I go to vote?"
KEESHA GASKINS: What we see when we look at these highly restrictive voter ID laws is they actually end up cherry picking voters, allowing politicians to choose who votes rather than letting the voters choose their politicians. That the laws are overly restrictive.
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean when you say these laws are overly restrictive?
KEESHA GASKINS: They're the types of IDs that we know that one in ten Americans don't have, that our studies have shown us that there are-- that 18 percent of senior citizens over 65, that 25 percent of African Americans, that a high percentage of young people all lack these strict kinds of government issued photo IDs.
For example, there's Dorothy Cooper, right, she's 96 years old. She tried to get photo ID recently in Tennessee and was unable to do so. She had her birth certificate. She had her voter registration card. She had her rent statement. She had her lease. And she appeared on the polls and had the ability to match her signature. When these laws are barring someone like that -- an American citizen who has plenty of identification, the ability to show who they are, that anyone with any common sense would say this is Dorothy Cooper, and she should be allowed to get photo ID.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: It’s really hard for so many people to understand how many people are affected by these restrictions. I have a driver's license. I suspect we all have driver's licenses. Probably most of the viewers watching say, "Well, of course, everybody's got a government photo ID like that." But it turns out that one in ten eligible voters in this country just don't. They're old or they don't have a car, or they're poor. There are a lot of reasons why not, but they just don't.
BILL MOYERS: So describe for us the real world challenges that face somebody who doesn't have a photo ID and needs to get one. What's the real world for them?
KEESHA GASKINS: What we've found in our most recent study was that there are very serious transportation problems in terms of access. We have ten million American voters live more than ten miles away from any ID issuing office. A half a million of those voters do not have access to a vehicle in their households.
BILL MOYERS: No car? What about bus, public transportation?
KEESHA GASKINS: Well, public transportation's also a problem, particularly in rural communities. We see decreased investment in public transportation, and simply, there's no access and limited times of day. And even when you can get there, there are challenges, of course, with whether or not the offices are open.
And if you're working a nine to five job, a low-income job, you can't afford to take time off. You cannot decide, “I'm going to not pay rent this month so I can spend two days obtaining an ID.” Like, these are real barriers, these are real obstacles for real people.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: When a state passes one of these voting laws, a voter ID law, there's a Constitutional requirement that says you have to make free ID available to voters.
And so, those folks who pass these laws say hey, no problem, you know, you can go get your free ID. What Keesha's excellent report just showed is that in the real world, that promise of a free ID is basically a mirage.
The underlying documents that you need to get your free ID cost money. And they actually cost more in current dollars than the poll tax did when it was declared unconstitutional in the 1960s.
KEESHA GASKINS: Again, our research shows us that African American voters, Latino voters, voters over 65, young people 18 to 24 are all in populations that lack this type of ID at rates well beyond the 11 percent of the general population.
BILL MOYERS: You have some startling statistics on your website. Of the states with the highest Hispanic population growth, seven have passed restrictive voting laws. Of the ten states with the highest black turnout, five have passed restrictive voting laws. Of the nine states covered by the Voting Rights Act, six passed restrictive voting laws.
You call it in your report the first rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era.
KEESHA GASKINS: Yes, and it is. I mean, when you look at the laws that were passed between 1865 and 1967, the laws that could be ascribed to, sort of, voting and voting rights, depending on how you count, were about 29 laws. In the last 18 months, 23 laws have passed in this country, in comparison between 18 months and that entire period. There has been a concerted effort to limit access to the polls during this period. And this is unprecedented since that time.
BILL MOYERS: Do you think that these efforts to select out certain voters, to discriminate against certain voters that one party or another might not like anything to do with race?
KEESHA GASKINS: It has to do with race because it's clearly affecting voters of color in this country. The Department of Justice identified that, and pursuant to the Voting Rights Act said the laws in Texas, the laws in South Carolina were unfairly discriminatory. And so, whether or not it was the intention of those legislators to do so, the fact is these laws disproportionately impact voters based on race.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: These laws are so partisan and so particular in slicing away certain segments of the electorate. You know, in Texas, the new law signed by the governor there says that you cannot– you have to have a government-issued photo ID. You cannot use your University of Texas student ID but you can use your concealed carry gun permit. And so in Texas, they've got their voter ID law. The Justice Department looked at it and said, you know, this affects the voting rights of minorities. This is making it harder for minorities to vote. And not only that, it's disproportionately harder for Latinos and African Americans to vote.
So, the Justice Department is able to block that under the Voting Rights Act. Texas's response is to say, well, the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. And we can expect that these cases may very well make it all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some of these southern states, especially, which are covered under the Voting Rights Act, and their actions on voting have to be cleared in advance by the Justice Department's Civil Rights division. They say that it's wrong to single them out this many years later. My answer is, well, you know, it's harder for them to make that argument when they keep passing these laws that disproportionately affect minority voters.
BILL MOYERS: How can it be that almost 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, we're still fighting that battle in Texas and elsewhere.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: You know the right to vote is at the heart of who we are as Americans, but we've always had to fight for it. It's never been easy. There's always been people who want to block it or make it harder. And so, this is the next round in that long, long fight.
BILL MOYERS: The Pew Center recently issued a report saying our election system is in a mess. It's, inaccurate, costly and inefficient. Those are not my words, those are Pew's words. Some 24 million voter registrations are no longer valid or have significant inaccuracies. Almost two million deceased people are listed as voters, not all of them in Texas. Almost three million have registered in more than one state. About 12 million records have incorrect addresses. How do we clean this up?
KEESHA GASKINS: I mean, there’s one way we clean this up and that's modernization of our voter registration systems.
BILL MOYERS: Modernization, meaning computerizing.
KEESHA GASKINS: Certainly. And looking at the lists that already exist, looking at who has Social Security cards, and making sure that all these various databases are talking to each other so then it's much simpler to administer our elections. And everyone then has greater and freer access, you know. And to clarify, when Pew was speaking about inaccuracies, Pew was talking inaccuracies in the voter rolls, not in the outcomes of elections, that what we're really-- what the real concern is, is are we using, you know, our 21st century capabilities to create a 21st century election system. And we contend we're not. We agree with Pew. And there are some proposals out there.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: We’ve got a voter registration system that relies on paper, and where local counties and local officials are trying to make it all work and it's a mess. And it was a system that hasn't changed a whole lot since a hundred years ago when we created voter registration, when we had a wave of immigrants and former slaves who were suddenly voting, and suddenly, we put in a voter registration system.
If you moved in this country toward a system of modernized voter registration, where the government, the state governments, said we have a computerized list, and if you're eligible to vote, you're 18, you're a citizen, you're eligible, you're on that roll permanently. That's how they do it in Canada and Britain and other countries. Would add up to 65 million people to the rolls. It would cost less. And for people who are really worried about fraud, it addresses that potential as well. Mickey Mouse does not have a Social Security number.
BILL MOYERS: We're not there yet, Michael Waldman.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: No, we're not.
BILL MOYERS: We’re still in this real world of partisan politics. So, Keesha, why do you keep at this? I mean, it does seem to be very frustrating.
KEESHA GASKINS: I keep at this because of my core belief that it can get better, and that we as Americans have these rights, and we've got to keep striving for that. When I was a little girl, my father used to take me to community meetings. And he'd be out and active and making sure that the stop signs got up where they were supposed to be, and that nobody was being unfairly treated.
And I would be in there playing with my dolls, and it stuck. And I can't stop fighting. It is what is important and I'm proud to be working with the Brennan Center to be able to do this work. But at the end of the day, you know, this is about people. I'm thrilled to have co-authored the report with my colleague so people can really see the magnitude of the problem.
But to be fair, no one ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart. This is about people. This is about people. This is about individuals who are struggling to be heard in our democracy, and fighting against great odds and even greater with some of the recent Supreme Court decisions. And so, we have to keep struggling.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: And you know, that’s the silver lining in a sense in all of this, which is there’s a rising level of public understanding of these issues, of public unhappiness, and a hope of public engagement on voting, on Citizens United. People are understanding, once again, that the rules of democracy are pretty important. And that if we don’t fix the systems in this country, we’re not going to solve the problems. And whatever issues people care about, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s the economy, whatever they may be, they’re realizing that unless we fix the systems and make it so their voices, the voices of ordinary citizens, can be heard, whoever they vote for, whatever causes they succeed in, we’re not going to actually achieve those goals. And that’s the first step toward actually making some of these changes.
BILL MOYERS: This is a very key point for people listening because they write me on our email, they stop me on the street and they say, you know, I really appreciate the forthrightness with which the guests who come to this table discuss these big issues, but it's depressing because I don't know what to do about it. What can I do as one individual?
KEESHA GASKINS: What you can do-- individuals can engage. There are organizations out there, and we'll use the name League of Women Voters one more time. The NAACP, Rock the Vote, all these organizations, State Voices, they're all out there working to help identify voters who need ID. Again, our report will help identify people who are in these areas that need more help than others. There are ways to fight back, as we saw citizens in Maine, citizens in Ohio really, really push back--
BILL MOYERS: What happened in Ohio?
KEESHA GASKINS: In Ohio, it was a citizen petition. They gathered enough signatures to actually block the implementation of a massive suppressive voter bill, which then got thrown to the ballot, and then, the legislature withdrew the bill.
BILL MOYERS: Who led that effort?
KEESHA GASKINS: It was a citizen-led effort, right. I mean, this was--
BILL MOYERS: Regular citizens, folks at the grass roots level?
KEESHA GASKINS: Folks at the grass roots level led that effort, went out, got the signatures and got it to the point where it had to be on the ballot where the legislature had to push back and actually withdraw the legislation. That-- it can be done. And the fact is, look at the mechanisms in the individual states. Look at how people can help, and there are real and meaningful ways to help people overcome these issues as the laws are implemented, and to also fight the laws in places where you can.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: In Maine, the state legislature had ended same day registration, and the voters went to the polls and actually repealed the repeal and put back same-day registration.
BILL MOYERS: They vetoed the state legislature.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: The people vetoed the politicians. But what’s heartening, which is that the wave began in 2011, but this year, especially those same laws have hit a wall of resistance from the courts, from the public, and from the Justice Department enforcing the civil rights laws that actually have blocked a lot of the worst laws. And that means a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to vote otherwise this election will be able to vote.
BILL MOYERS: Michael Waldman, Keesha Gaskins, thank you very much for being with us.
KEESHA GASKINS: Thank you.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: Thank you.
BILL MOYERS: Everyone knows that journalism is in crisis. So as newspapers fade and broadcast news is more and more recycled sound bites, high decibel shouting, and celebrity trivia, the responsibility for telling the truth about power increasingly falls on the shoulders of inquisitive and courageous filmmakers-- independent filmmakers who answer only to their craft and conscience. Which is why I wanted to tell you about a documentary that’s starting to appear in American movie theaters.
REPORTER #1: Donald Trump has arrived in Scotland to talk about his plans for what he claims will be the world’s greatest golf course.
REPORTER #2: While Donald Trump swept into the northeast on his usual wave of publicity. His private jet touched down at Aberdeen…
BILL MOYERS: It’s the work of a journalist who has traveled all over the world reporting the news but found the story of a lifetime in his own backyard, the ancient beaches of northeast Scotland.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Bullying ordinary people…
BILL MOYERS: Anthony Baxter is his name, and by my lights, he’s a hero. Against the odds, he stood up to a bully who was bulldozing the land and livelihoods of other people. If you want to get a look at what London’s Sunday Times called “the unacceptable face of capitalism,” see this film.
It’s entitled “You’ve Been Trumped.” As in Donald Trump. Self-styled real estate tycoon, TV host and on-again, off-again presidential candidate.
We Americans are used to his inflated ego, his bombast and bravado, but when Trump swept into Scotland and announced his intention to build the most lavish, greatest golf course and resort in the world, many politicians and business leaders began dancing a highland fling in greedy anticipation of Trump’s promises and his fabled Midas touch—his past bankruptcy filings to the contrary.
Environmental scientists warned that the sandy dunes across which Trump intended to extend his empire are a vital, but delicate ecosystem as unique as the Amazon rainforest. Once the 4,000 year-old dunes are violated, chances are they’re gone forever.
REPORTER #3: Multi-million pound golf resort in Aberdeenshire is rejected.
BILL MOYERS: Local authorities turned down Trump’s grandiose proposal but were overruled by the national Scottish government, which bought Trump’s propaganda hook, line, and sinker.
REPORTER #4: The Scottish government have called in the controversial planning application…Donald Trump’s plans for a one billion pound golf development in Aberdeenshire will go ahead.
BILL MOYERS: Officials took him at his word when Trump said the project would result in an estimated 6,000 new jobs. So far, fewer than 200 have been created. And as The Donald began digging, some of the locals refused to sell him their land, much to his annoyance. They failed to take his customary “You’re fired!” as an order. And that’s how the filmmaker and journalist Anthony Baxter became part of this story.
Anthony Baxter, welcome.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Thank you.
BILL MOYERS: How did you come upon this story?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well I live very near to it. I live in a town called Montrose which is about 40 miles south. And when I heard about this story, I was very struck by the fact that the local newspapers were just reporting that this was going to be a fantastic economic benefit for the area. But nobody seemed to be investigating the very real environmental impact this development was going to have. And that struck me as really worrying because the real questions were primarily about the environmental impact, but also about the local people, you know, ordinary people whose homes were threatened where, as you call it here, eminent domain. They were threatened with compulsory purchase as we call it in Britain.
BILL MOYERS: In other words, they could be forced to leave their homes if the council agrees to the developer's plans.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Exactly. He wanted to buy their property so that you didn't see their houses. He wanted to build over them. And he made a great thing about saying, "I'm going to build the greatest golf course in the world." But, of course, you know, if you have houses in the footprint of the golf course it's difficult to see how it can be the greatest golf course in the world. So he wanted to get rid of those houses. Those people didn't want to sell to him. They lived there all their lives. They had no intention of moving. They had become, in a way, guardians of that environment. They're people who care very deeply about those natural dunes, those unique sand dunes and that wild open space.
BILL MOYERS: Tell me about Michael Forbes. He's one of them, and he becomes a true character in your film. Who is he?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well Michael Forbes is a fisherman/farmer who has a farm in the footprint of the golf course, if you like. So really what Donald Trump wanted to do was buy that property.
BILL MOYERS: Trump actually tells the press in your film that Michael Forbes is not a respected man, I'm quoting directly. "Not someone Scotland can be proud of."
DONALD TRUMP: His property is terribly maintained. It's slum-like, it's disgusting. He's got stuff thrown all over the place. He lives like a pig. And I did say that. And I'm an honest guy. And I speak honestly, and I think that's why some people like me and some people probably don't like me. But I think he'd do himself a great service if he fixed up his property. And I'm not talking money. It's not a question of money, it’s a question of a little manual labor.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, when I heard that I, like everybody else in Scotland, assumed Michael Forbes lived in this shack on the beach and was being, just not allowing development to progress. And so I thought that. Because that was the picture that was painted in the media. So I drove up and I couldn't believe it. When I got to Michael Forbes' farm and I spoke to him and his wife Sheila and Molly, his mother, and they were the most lovely people. The farm is like any other working farm in Scotland. There was no-- Mr. Trump had said, "I can't build my hotel because people looking out of the hotel will look into this pigsty and they'll see this slum." But the fact is, is that the farm was nothing different from any other working farm.
BILL MOYERS: It looks like a farm in Oklahoma where I was born.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Absolutely.
DONALD TRUMP: Get it done, and don't spend a lot.
ANNOUNCER: It's all on “Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf.”
DONALD TRUMP: Sarah, I want to get rid of that house.
SARAH MALONE: It's going to create a bit of a stir.
DONALD TRUMP: Who cares? Who cares? You know what? Who cares? It's our property. We can do whatever we want. We're trying to build the greatest course in the world, this house is ugly.
There are some houses, quite far away from the course, but nevertheless they are in view. But we are berming some of the area so that you don't see the houses. I don't want to see the houses. And nobody has a problem with it. I guess maybe the people who live in the houses have…
ANTHONY BAXTER: He wanted to buy the other property as David Milne and Susan Monro who are featured in the film.
BILL MOYERS: And later on in the film you show how the Trump Organization piles the sand up into barriers the golfers would not be able to see her house.
SUSAN MUNRO: I got out of my bed this morning, the whole house shaking. Things falling off Findlay's shelf. But this is getting bigger by the day. It's incredibly high now.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Did you ask the builders what they were doing with it?
SUSAN MUNRO: Findlay did.
ANTHONY BAXTER: What did they say?
SUSAN MUNRO: Mr Trump's instructions.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Mr. Trump's instructions?
SUSAN MUNRO: Yeah.
ANTHONY BAXTER: To put all this earth here?
SUSAN MUNRO: Yeah, to block our view, to harass us. Obviously. There's no bank on the plans. Anything like that. Oh, I don't know what to do.
WALTER FORBES: I don't know what it's for. I don't even know what the mound of earth is for. It's harassment for David Milne up here. They pushed the earth off the field to block off his view or whatever. Why did they do it there? They had a whole field they could have put the earth in.
DAVID MILNE: It’s rather meaningless. Took them maybe a week, 10 days to actually construct. So there's quite a lot of work involved. There's a lot of time involved. There's a lot of effort involved. For no real purpose.
BILL MOYERS: You've got several scenes in here of Donald Trump opposing a wind farm that could be built right off the coast where his golf course is going. What's that all about?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, Donald Trump has already made it clear in an interview with the BBC that he doesn't believe in manmade climate change. So it seems extraordinary in one sense that, you know, he's protesting about this wind farm purely because of the view and he's worried it's going to dent the profits of his golf course.
REPORTER #5: Mr. Trump also reiterated his concern about a proposal to build an offshore wind farm close to his site.
DONALD TRUMP: When I look out on the 18th hole of Trump International Golf Links to be honest with you, I want to see the ocean. I don't want to see windmills.
ANTHONY BAXTER: He was recently in Edinburgh at the Scottish parliament. He was called to speak about the Scottish government's green energy policy because of his opposition to this wind farm which is proposed off the coast which you'll hardly see anyway, because it's so far off the coast. And he was there in Scottish parliament and he was asked, "What evidence do you have against this?" And he said, "I am the evidence.”
MALE VOICE #1: Where is the clinical evidence?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, I am the evidence. I think I'm more of an expert, I-- you know what, I think I'm a lot more of an expert than the people that you'd like me to hire. When you say, "Where is the expert and where is the evidence," I'm the evidence.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Anthony Baxter, Director of “You’ve Been Trumped.” Mr. Trump, you say wind farms are destroying Scotland's environment. Yet, according to every credible environmental organization in Scotland, that is what you have done. Are we not seeing here an example of the one percent bullying ordinary people and destroying our planet?
DONALD TRUMP: I haven't seen your documentary, but I hear it failed miserably.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Mr. Trump, the film has actually won ten awards. And one of the international—
DONALD TRUMP: Who gave the awards?
ANTHONY BAXTER: All over the world, and in the United States and one of the juries that gave us an award said that, "We hope this film holds the Scottish government and Mr. Trump to account for one of the worst environmental crimes in recent UK history." Your golf course.
DONALD TRUMP: What’s the next question?
MALE VOICE #2: Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out! Trump out!
MALE VOICE #3: He's a fine example of one percent of the population controlling 99 percent of the, the power and influence.
BILL MOYERS: Is it your custom to become a protagonist in your films?
ANTHONY BAXTER: No, it's not. I had never—I didn't set out to be in this film in the first place. I wanted to record more of what was happening to the environment and to local people. To document it. Because nobody seemed to be trying to get to the truth. And, to me, that's the whole point of being a documentarian. Trying to get to the truth of the story. And so I didn't intend to be in the film. It was only, you know, when I was arrested and put in jail whilst making the film that I became part of the story.
The clip you've just seen isn't in the film itself. It was recorded recently at the Scottish parliament where Mr. Trump, was, as you said, giving evidence, as if no other evidence is required. He also said in that clip that 93 percent of people are in favor of his golf course project. Now, the BBC did an investigation into that supposed survey. It had never been done. And as an example of the kind of thing Mr. Trump does with the media, he says something and states it as if it is fact. But it is not.
BILL MOYERS: How did you come to get arrested?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, we had discovered that the water had been cut off by the Trump contractors to several of the residents, including an 86 year-old woman, the mother of Michael Forbes, the farmer. They'd been without water for nearly a week. And the reason that they were without water is because the contractors had stopped the flow of water from the well that served their homes. And we were flabbergasted by this. And so we went to try and interview one of the Trump officials, a man who was looking after the whole development. And we interviewed him and he told us that they were going to be trying to repair this water. There didn't seem to be any kind of urgency in the way the Trump organization was dealing with this. We then went to the homes of one of the other residents, Susan Monroe, and it was on her property that the police then swooped down and arrested us both, me and my producer Richard.
POLICE OFFICER: Who's in charge between the two of you gentlemen?
RICHARD PHINNEY: We're just here as individuals. What are you here for?
POLICE OFFICER: That's no problem. Could I take a note of your name please.
RICHARD PHINNEY: Why?
POLICE OFFICER: Because there's been an alleged Breach of the Peace up at the Menie Estate this morning. And as such, we are making inquiries. So, could I have your name please?
RICHARD PHINNEY: My name is Richard Phinney
POLICE OFFICER: And yourself sir, could I have your name please?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah, I'm Anthony Baxter.
SUSAN MUNRO: And then he just became more hostile and more hostile and lunged at you, gave you no explanation.
POLICE OFFICER: What we need to do now--
ANTHONY BAXTER: No, you do not.
POLICE OFFICER: You are being detained under Section 14 of the Criminal Procedures Scotland Act, 1995, do not …
SUSAN MUNRO: What’s he done?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Richard, can you grab that?
POLICE OFFICER #2: Let go of the camera. Let go of the camera before it gets damaged sir.
SUSAN MUNRO: And the next thing I know you're wrestling over the bonnet of Findlay's van, this policeman attacking you, trying to pull the camera off you, still not giving you any reason why, what you've done. I think it was totally out of order.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Don't do that to me!
SUSAN MUNRO: Then slammed the handcuffs on, and I saw your wrist was grazed and everything. And that was totally out of order. That's disgraceful.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Will you loosen those cuffs please. Will you loosen those cuffs please!
SUSAN MUNRO: This is a very sad state of affairs.
ANTHONY BAXTER: They are hurting my arms.
POLICE OFFICER #2
SUSAN MUNRO: Sir, if you'd stop shouting.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Look, will you stop doing that to me!
BILL MOYERS: Who is that?
ANTHONY BAXTER That was me.
BILL MOYERS: You'd been traveling the world for 15, 20 years. Have you ever been arrested in your work before?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, you know, when we went to film in Afghanistan with my colleague Richard, who made this film with me, you know, one of the things you have to do as a journalist going to Afghanistan is what's called a hostile environments course where you learn to know how to react if you're arrested or thrown into jail in Afghanistan. And I had never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be on the Scottish soil covering a story, you know, about Donald Trump where we're arrested and thrown into separate cells in an Aberdeen police station. We're stripped of all our possessions. We have our photos taken. We have our DNA taken. We're then led from the cells to be charged with a criminal offense. But to suddenly find ourselves in an Aberdeen police prison cell was a very shocking thing. I think it just felt to me as the National Union of Journalists said afterwards in Britain, that this was, set a very, very dangerous precedent for freedom of press and freedom of information in the media in the UK. And I agree that that was the case. And, that to me is the whole point of journalism. Trying to hold people in power to account and giving ordinary people a voice. And you know, the Trump Organization recently put out a statement calling all those people featured in the film “a national embarrassment for Scotland.” But I’ve been really struck by the fact that people who have seen the film see these people as inspirational. People who have a great deal of dedication to the cause here. They become natural, unlikely environmentalists to a certain extent. They’re caring for the environment. They’re people we should be incredibly proud of, people who stand up against intimidation, against bullying, and say, “Look, we’re not prepared to allow you to tell us how to live our lives.”
BILL MOYERS: Well, he does get away with it. Not only does he take on the local people but he becomes a hero to the elites there. He even receives an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen University.
REPORTER #6: American billionaire Donald Trump defied his critics to pick up an honorary degree from Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University. He's pledged to build the world's greatest golf course on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.
REPORTER #7: Today Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University recognized US tycoon Donald Trump's ability to make money. Now a doctorate of business administration…
BILL MOYERS: How did that come about that he got an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen University when he's become such a fount of controversy with the people out there who are opposing him violating their space?
ANTHONY BAXTER: It's baffling. It's absolutely baffling. I don't understand it. It was Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen who decided to give Mr. Trump an honorary degree, a doctorate, honoring his ability to make money. Whereas what we have here is one of our wilderness areas being destroyed by Mr. Trump. And that fact seems to be lost on the business people in Aberdeen who have welcomed him with open arms. And I just do not understand it.
BILL MOYERS: After the ceremony at Aberdeen. There's a press conference and you ask Donald Trump a question.
DONALD TRUMP: Hello everybody.
REPORTER #8: Is the course in schedule?
DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, the course is in perfect schedule. In fact, if anything, it's ahead of schedule. And I am very happy to report that everything we've done, I think it's even coming out better than we had anticipated in our wildest dreams. It's going to be really spectacular. There doesn't seem to be people against the job. The only one I see is this gentleman right here who I've never seen before until yesterday when he started screaming. Question. Real journalists. I want real journalists.
BILL MOYERS: He says he wants a real journalist. Now, just briefly, tell me about your experience.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah, well I started in radio as a news reader and reporter and then an editor at ITN in London and then worked as a producer for the BBC and a reporter for the BBC and then made documentaries for BBC Radio Four, one of the networks in the UK.
BILL MOYERS: So how did you feel when in the presence of all those celebrities and your peers he says, "I want to talk to a real journalist"?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, it was bizarre because I think at the end of the day what he was really saying was, "I want to have questions from journalists that allow me to say just how wonderful this is. What I really want is to be asked a question such as, 'Is this turning out better than you'd hoped, Mr. Trump?'" And he says, "It's turned out better than we could have possibly dreamt of." And that's the kind of question that Mr. Trump likes. He doesn't like questions from journalists which are difficult to answer.
BILL MOYERS: He did get his golf course. He drove the first ball early this summer when it opened.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, it seems to me there's one rule for the superrich and one rule for everybody else. It seems to me that the Donald Trump is the ultimate one percenter if you like. And the 99 percent of people in the world are tired and fed up of having money and power riding roughshod over their lives and our planet. And our planet, I don't think, can afford these kinds of decisions being made. I think that seeing the golf balls roll for the first time the other day and the golfers on the course, my feeling is, is that it may be too late to save these particular dunes but we should be saying in Scotland, and elsewhere in to world where we've shown the film where people have said, "We've got our own Donald Trump-style development happening here. We've got our own David and Goliath situation where local people are battling money and power trying to stop influence from that dominating our community." We've got to say never again do we allow this to happen. I think we've got to stand up, just as the local people did in the film, stood up against Donald Trump, stood up against a tycoon and stood up against money and power.
BILL MOYERS: And lost.
ANTHONY BAXTER: And they lost. In a sense, in this case, they lost the dunes that they valued so greatly. But they've also won in some ways. I think they've won a battle to say, "We're staying where we are. We're not moving. We're going to stay here and you can't bully us out of our homes."
BILL MOYERS: There is a sadness running through your film. A sense of disconsolation, even melancholy, that something is slipping away. Something is being taken away that you can't bring back. Am I reading that wrongly?
ANTHONY BAXTER: No, I think that's true. And I think there is-- all over the world people are so concerned about this. Whether it's banks, money laundering, for drugs cartels or fixing interest rates or Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers and the way they've been behaving in Britain. And I think that, in a sense, the sadness I have felt in doing this film is the loss of something so precious, you know. Something that money can't buy. The Amazon rain forest of Scotland was these dunes we're told by the scientists. And I prefer to believe them. And they were very, very valuable. Not in a monetary sense. And I think when we lose those kind of non-money things, the things that are so valuable to our children or to future generations to enjoy, we can't turn back the clock and it's a real sense of loss.
BILL MOYERS: And your film is resonating in many countries around the world.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Yeah. I mean, I think the fact that we've been asked to screen the film in countries around the world shows just how much people are concerned about these things that the film focuses on. In Croatia, for example, we did a screening in the UNESCO protected town of Dubrovnik where a developer is trying to build a golf course resort overlooking the town. And the story was such a carbon copy, if you like, of what's happened in Scotland. And we were asked to show the film to show the local people what the future could hold in store for them if they allow this development to go ahead. So, you know, whether it's in Michigan, whether it's in Croatia, whether it's, you know, in Romania where we've shown the film, people have said, "We know how this feels. We identify with the fears and the views put forward by those local people so eloquently in the film." And I think that, you know, that is why the film resonates because, you know, coming so closely as well after the Occupy movement here in New York only a short time ago where the, you know, this message of the one percent, you know, bulldozing through the lives of the 99 percent in a way the film is the film of the Occupy generation to a degree because it resonates in that way. It is an example of ordinary people being bullied and harassed and having their lives overridden by a tycoon.
BILL MOYERS: How did you finance this film?
ANTHONY BAXTER: Well, I remortgaged the house to make it after finding doors closed all over the place to try to get funding to do it. And everybody told me if it was-- if they were interested in the story they said, "Oh you’d better have a good lawyer if you're going to take on Donald Trump." It was almost as if the bullying has reached through into the media where people don't want the hassle of dealing with somebody like Donald Trump. They fear that they're going to be sued. And I think that, as journalists, if we stop making films or following stories just because of the threat of somebody like Donald Trump not being very happy by what we do, then we may as well give up.
BILL MOYERS: Is your house still mortgaged?
ANTHONY BAXTER: It is, yeah.
BILL MOYERS: Anthony Baxter, it's a remarkable, revealing and very moving and important film and I hope many, many people see it. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us.
ANTHONY BAXTER: Oh, thank you very much, Bill.
BILL MOYERS: I read a news story this week that sent me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. This past Monday, July 30th was the 47th anniversary of Medicare, and to celebrate it, the “Raging Grannies,” as they’re known, gathered outside the county office building in Rochester, New York to protest rumored cuts to their Medicare coverage.
RAGING GRANNIES: This old grey granny now needs a test or two --
BILL MOYERS: They praised Medicare in song as “the best deal we have in the country,” and even called for expanding it Medicare into universal health care for everyone.
It seems the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was coming up from Washington to raise funds for Republican congressional candidate Maggie Brooks. The “Raging Grannies” wanted to make certain Ms. Brooks didn’t sign on to the GOP budget which includes cuts to Medicare.
For myself, the “Raging Grannies” channeled a familiar voice, the Texas twang of my boss back in 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was a White House assistant at the time and had been working with the President and others on the team trying to get Medicare through Congress. Even with overwhelming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, it was one tough fight. Others had tried before us.
In his 1948 State of the Union message, President Harry Truman said:
HARRY TRUMAN: This great Nation cannot afford to allow its citizens to suffer needlessly from the lack of proper medical care. Our ultimate aim must be a comprehensive insurance system to protect all our people equally against insecurity and ill health.
BILL MOYERS: But every time Harry Truman proposed legislation to do just that, Congress refused to budge. In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy took up the cause:
JOHN F. KENNEDY: Our working men and women, instead of being forced to ask for help from public charity, once they are old and ill, should start contributing now to their own retirement health program through the Social Security System…
BILL MOYERS: But his proposal failed in the Senate by just two votes.
On the other side, actor Ronald Reagan, still in private life, had signed on as the American Medical Association’s hired spokesman in their campaign against Medicare. Doctors’ wives organized thousands of small meetings in homes around the country, where guests listened to a phonograph record of Reagan deploring the evils of “socialized medicine”:
RONALD REAGAN: Behind it will come other Federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country […] until one day, as Norman Thomas said […] you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.
BILL MOYERS: But now, it was Lyndon Johnson’s turn. Tragically thrust into the White House by Kennedy’s assassination, LBJ, the son of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, vowed to finish what they had started. He pushed us relentlessly to get it done. Here he is talking to his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, in early March of 1965:
LYNDON JOHNSON: They are bogged down. The House had nothing this week, all ---damn week. Now that’s where you and Moyers and Larry O’Brien have got to find something for them. And the Senate had nothing […] so we just wasted three weeks […] Now we are here in the first week in March, and we have just got to get these things passed […] I want that program carried. And I’ll put every Cabinet officer behind you. I’ll put every banker behind you. I’ll put every organization we got behind you […] I’ll put the labor unions behind you.”
BILL MOYERS: About all he had left was the White House kitchen sink, and pretty soon he threw that behind us, too.
Later that March he called me to talk about a retroactive increase in Social Security payments that we were supporting. I had argued for it as a stimulus to the economy. LBJ said okay, but reminded me that social security and Medicare were about a lot more than economics:
LYNDON JOHNSON: My inclination would be […] that it ought to be retroactive as far back as you can get it […] because none of them ever get enough. That they are entitled to it. That that's an obligation of ours. It's just like your mother writing you and saying she wants $20, and I'd always sent mine a $100 when she did. I never did it because I thought it was going to be good for the economy of Austin. I always did it because I thought she was entitled to it. And I think that's a much better reason and a much better cause and I think it can be defended on a hell of a lot better basis […] We do know that it affects the economy […] But that's not the basis to go to the Hill, or the justification. We've just got to say that by God you can't treat grandma this way. She's entitled to it and we promised it to her.
BILL MOYERS: LBJ kept that promise. He pushed and drove and cajoled and traded, until Congress finally said yes. And so it was that 47 years ago, we traveled to Independence, Missouri, the hometown of Harry Truman, and there with the former president at his side, LBJ signed Medicare into law. Turning to Truman, whom he called “the real daddy of Medicare, ” Johnson signed him up as its first beneficiary. Harry Truman was 81.
All this was high drama, touched with history, sentimentality, politics, and compromise. A whole lot of compromise. The bill wasn’t all LBJ wanted. It was, in fact, deeply flawed. There were too few cost controls, as some principled conservatives warned, who were then rudely ignored. Co-pays and deductibles remain a problem. And we didn’t anticipate the impact of new technology, or the impact of a burgeoning population.
In fact, even as he signed the bill we still weren’t sure what all was in it. As LBJ himself once told me, never watch hogs slaughtered before breakfast and never, never, never show young children how legislation gets enacted.
But Lyndon Johnson had warned: “We will face a new challenge and that will be what to do within our economy to adjust ourselves to a life span and a work span for the average man or woman of 100 years.”
That longevity, and the cost, are what we must now reckon with. As the historian Robert Dallek has written, Medicare and Medicaid, the similar program for the very poor, “…did not solve the problem of care at reasonable cost for all Americans”, but “the benefits to the elderly and the indigent…are indisputable.” And there’s no going back, current efforts notwithstanding. A new study in the journal Health Affairs finds that Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older are more satisfied with their health insurance, have better access to care, and are less likely to have problems paying medical bills than working-age adults who get insurance through employers or purchase coverage on their own.
So sing on, Raging Grannies, sing on. The surest way to save so popular and efficient a health care system is to make it available to everyone.
RAGING GRANNIES: Everybody in and nobody out, single-payer Medicare for all.
BILL MOYERS: That's it for this week. At our website, BillMoyers.com, you'll meet two women who may lose their right to vote because of the Pennsylvania photo ID law. And you'll find news and analysis of voter suppression issues. That's all at BillMoyers.com.
I'll see you there, and see you here next time.