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Our Culture Inchoate: Torres tested #30

Updated: May 4, 2020

CNF INTERVIEW WITH JOSH TANNER (continued), JUNE 11, 2019, 7:00pm EST

JOSH TANNER (JT): Wow! As was just reported, President Trump just tweeted that he has pardoned Hillary Clinton. That certainly seems an unprecedented move, even for Mr. Trump.

HONORIA TORRES (T): I’ll say, Josh. It’s unprecedented because Mrs. Clinton has not been charged or convicted of any crime.

JT: Perhaps there’s an indictment in the wind.

T: I don’t think so. This may be an answer to my statement that I would not encourage further investigations of this administration, that this congress is now dedicated to solving our nation’s critical problems.

JT: Maybe he thinks the winds are shifting against his favor, at least legally. Perhaps he’s the one being pre-emptive.

T: I don’t wish to speculate on what his motives are, Josh. I don’t have a clue as to what he is thinking.

JT: But why do you think he would do something so… unnecessary?

T: Asked and answered.

JT: Fair enough. Our time is limited now, so can I ask short questions for short answers?

T: Fire away.

JT: Where do you stand on gerrymandering?

T: Gerrymandering is almost as old as our nation. I am certain it can improve and be more economical, effective, and balanced. There is a strong argument that it is a state issue, not a federal one. The Voting Rights Act may have to be amended, though.

It correctly guarantees minority districts. Deeper study and experimentation is required. How do we guarantee minority districts and still have blind balance? And most minority districts are democratic… you know what we really need? A constitutional convention!

JT: Hate crimes?

T: All crime is hate crime. We can apply harsher penalties for what we believe is a person’s mental intent, but that presupposes other prejudices, and the law should be above that. And blind.

JT: The 24/7 news cycle? Fake news?

T: The 24/7 news cycle exacerbates political animosity, and negative commentary and commercials just send combatants to their corners. Social media, largely an unchecked forum for ideas no matter how loonie they may be, ain’t helping the narrative, folks. It’s a shame.

People prefer the information availability, and people should and will discern its value, which is reasonable and probably most people fall in that bucket. But TV, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter all day? Turn it off and read a book. Go for a walk and clear your head. But to live and die by social media and TV talking heads is dispiriting and sad.

The press wants to be treated as adults, but some act like children if there’s a legitimate difference of opinion. I believe the American people look to politicians to defend their convictions with facts and straight talk. Some of my peers are well-educated but unnecessarily parochial in opinion. Some lack real conviction, the kind that stands the test of time. Some are too rigid, beholden to big money interests in order to get re-elected. That’s wrong.

The more counter-arguments get personal, the more I will dig in. It’s a reflection of mental weakness… look at Trump.

JT: Females in a woke world?

T: I did not get here because of some guy’s gift. I earned it. Yes, I was supported and encouraged, but I worked hard, made sacrifices, was effective and will bring the potential for more effectiveness into the future.

We are all here because destiny put us here, together. We owe our constituents our very best, individually and collectively. Nothing less is acceptable. Be your best. Then let the people decide if they want you to represent them and all Americans.

JT: Income inequality?

T: There are CEOs who don’t just get a bigger share every year: they get the whole pie, friends, and then they dole out small chunks to loyalists and shareowners and managers. The system is designed that way, purportedly rewarding achievement. But there is room for a rethinking of the top in corporations… and corporations will have to make those decisions on their own, not with government pressure, if they want to remain viable and competitive organizations.

But there’s a large swath of people not in the top 1%, who work and save and do without to provide for their families: send their kids to good schools, pay for insurance, save for retirement, tithe to their church or temple or mosque, and donate to the poor… that is all part of the American dream, Josh. No one should apologize for it.

I do take issue with some of my democratic colleagues who beat the drum of inequality, like voting for a person who espouses a $15 minimum wage will make a real difference. I think that is wrong. Let me give you an example. Almost the entire democratic caucus is pounding the table for a $15 minimum wage. Well, why not make it $20? What’s so special, or magical, or scientific about $15 an hour? Makes no economic sense, unless bribing voters is the goal.

JT: You support a $20 minimum wage?

T: No, of course not. I wonder if you are listening to the entire answer, hahaha. I knew I would regret making this analogy. On another vein, if I may. There are people who think their wealth insulates them from adherence to the law… some are in political positions of great power. These people of power, if you will, should live to a higher standard, not a special or insulated one.

JT: Republicans in general?

T: I made good friends with a republican female minority from the west. She and I agreed on much more than we disagreed on. When Trump called her out after she lost her race for re-election in 2018 I was most disappointed. Trump is clueless: he didn’t realize he alienated women and black people in one throw-away line. An unforced and unnecessary comment from the stable genius in chief on a member of his own party who wouldn’t kiss his ring. And that made it more personal for me.

Trump attempts and largely succeeds at larceny of an opponent’s dignity, although he is notoriously thin-skinned and shows an astonishing immaturity. I believe in my head and heart that most of his support is not personal… it is based on issues, alone, for good or ill.

JT: Congressional leadership?

T: Committee chairs and majority/minority leaders and whips have a tough job, herding cats and dogs. As long as the leadership moves forward doing the people’s business and not just look at their own political opportunities, I will support them. I think the American people see through rank partisanship when committees meet in front of the camera. Sad and wasteful.

It is important for congress to maintain its oversight and investigative authority. But if the investigation becomes a method of political payback it does nothing to solve our nations’ problems.

JT: Speaker Torres, that is all the time we have. Would you like to make any closing comments?

T: Thank you, Josh. I appreciate this opportunity. At this juncture, I think the Hillary pardon is brinksmanship on Trump’s part… and may prove to be very effective in the long term. But I don’t know what he’s thinking, to be frank.

As I stated two weeks ago from the chamber. I will work and lead and manage and organize and cajole and strive for the right compromises and give this job my very very best. The American people deserve no less. This congress will find and hold that higher middle ground.

JT: Thank you, Speaker Torres.

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