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tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  May 21, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. >> remember that republican party? how did the party of lincoln turn into this? >> get out. >> like to punch him in the face. i tell you. >> a radical transformation. decades in the making. but the roots are old and deep. then there were the rabid fears of the john burch society. >> they are infecting the youth of america. >> now the crazy conspiracies of
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qanon. >> joe biden is the biggest pedophile -- >> father, i pray for him. >> exploiting god for votes. >> again a long time ago. >> this is for the soul of american. >> 2 corinthians 3:17. that's the whole ball game. >> voter suppression. cheating democracy. >> massive voter roll purges. millions upon millions removed from the voter role. >> the ugly history of racism. >> if you were a black republican, would you feel this party didn't want you there anymore. >> a party in deep trouble. >> the so-called trump base is a shrinking base. this isn't working. not working for america. not working for republicans. >> it can't even govern. >> what the hell happened to republicans?
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good evening. i'm fareed zakaria. america may never have lived through a political era as troubling as this one. a sitting president, donald trump, tried to hold on to his office even after he lost the election. an american president incited an angry mob to attack the u.s. capitol. donald trump is gone but the simple truth is, it may just be for now. much of the gop believes that big lie and is busy trying to make it harder for americans to vote. what on earth happened to the republican party? the only way to find the answers is to go back to the beginning of this story. a hot july night.
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1964. san francisco's cow palace. an arena built to show case the capitol. it is packed with republicans. thousands of rowdy delegates here to choose the gop candidate for president. >> i have never seen a convention like i'm seeing at this time. >> at the podium stands a strong dream but one on the road to extinction. >> well, i don't believe there really is such a thing as a liberal republican. >> actually, there were many liberals in the gop. like governor nelson rockefeller of new york. tonight he's demanding that his party denounce segregation and extremism. >> these extremists feed on fear, hate, and terror. they encourage disunity.
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>> the crowd quickly turns hostile. >> he starts being booed in a remarkably vicious way. it's frightening. >> the governor is entitled to be heard for five minutes. he can't be heard for five minutes if we're going to have these constant interruptions. >> conservative republicans despise the wealthy, liberal eastern elites like rockefeller who have long dominated the party. >> these are people who have nothing in common with americans. >> the republican convention of 1964 turned into this rancorous fight. >> now, look. the governor hasn't had a chance to talk. he's been up here ten minutes and he hasn't had a chance to talk but about four minutes.
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>> barry is senator barry goldwater of arizona. the almost certain nominee. one of the most right wing politicians in the whole country. but there is one delegate determined to stop the goldwater juggernaut. >> i think that the negro delegation says they could not, would not, will not support the nominee if it is goldwater. >> that's not just any republican. >> one out pitches to jackie robinson. >> jackie robinson is an american hero. the first black player in major league baseball.
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>> there seems to be some concern among some quarters that the great player jackie robinson may lead a negro walkout of this convention. >> jackie, could you explain the walkout over the goldwater candidacy? >> that's what it is. but not out of the party. this must be emphasized. nobody is walking out of the republican party. >> robinson deplores the far right goldwater but he remains loyal to the party of lincoln, the party that had historically been pro civil rights. >> if you were a black republican, you would suddenly feel this party which has been your home since the civil war, this party didn't want you there anymore. >> those people demonstrated against goldwater. >> those who felt unwanted took to the streets outside the cow palace, including jackie robinson. at the heart of their anger, the
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1964 civil rights, signed into law just days before the convention began. barry goldwater was one of only 27 senators to vote against it. >> we are being asked to destroy the rights of some under the false banner of the civil rights of others. >> historians say goldwater was not a racist but most degree, he did not do enough to denounce segregation. at the convention, the racial climate is growing uglier. >> the negro race -- >> you see me first as a negro. i'm first a human being. >> they got a demonstrator up the center aisle. >> a black man protesting goldwater is dragged out by security.
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others are spat on. called racist names. >> it does represent to a lot of people watching on tv, a nuremberg rally. >> jackie robinson said he thought he felt like what it was like to be a jew in hitler's germany. >> america's most famous black republican had finally seen enough. >> president johnson -- >> yes. very strongly. voted for johnson over goldwater. >> he walked out of convention and the party for good. >> for any major party, nominating a man who in my opinion is a bigot and a man who will prevent us from holding power. >> i would remind you that
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extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. >> he called his supporters to be extremists, to be radicals. was it a watershed moment in america? yes, it was. >> reporter: goldwater's defensive extremism would lose him the election. >> the land slide. >> reporter: he received just 5% of the black vote. down from 32% for richard nixon just four years earlier. but goldwater had changed history for the republicans. he created what we now know as the right wing base. >> what goldwater does in '64, he brings together the post world war ii, the cold war republican who's were fervently opposed to regulation. he brings those together with the southern democrats, the
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southern white supremacists who were against the idea of desegregation, and he marries them in a new coalition that is going to take over the party. >> the passions that barry goldwater inspired were explained perfectly by william f. buckley jr. the father of modern conservatism. he wrote a conservative is someone who stands atlafrt history yelling, stop. indeed the right would shout stop over and over again in the coming decades. those shouts echoed through the 1960s as america exploded. cities were racked by rioting over civil rights and police shootings. >> don't bow down anymore. hold your heads up.
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>> thousands were dying in the jungles of vietnam. anti-war protests filled the streets. enter presidential candidate richard nixon. he knew exactly how terrifying 1968 was to the right wing base. >> the wave of crime is not going to be the wave of the future in america. >> fear, fear, fear. >> nixon used what was called the southern strategy. build the base by attracting more white support in the south with subtle appeals to racism. >> these code words, these dog whistles, law and order.
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>> law and order is something everybody wants. >> the right loved nixon until he began to run the country. to their horror, he wanted to make government bigger. >> he proposed a universal health insurance program and no president left behind a more ambitious environmental legacy than nixon. >> nixon actually founded the environmental protection agency. >> big government was there to stay. it was disappointing for a lot of conservatives. >> there's the president waving goodbye. >> then the watergate scandal consumed the nixon presidency. it would be 1980 before conservatives found a new hero. ronald reagan was goldwater reincarnated. only better looking and smoother talking. >> i think george will put it
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well. that barry gold water actually won. it just took them 16 years to count the votes. >> ronald reagan took goldwater message, but he put a sunnier face on it. >> some lights seem eternal. america's is. >> he had a sense of real triumph, a breakthrough, that america would change in some very fundamental ways. he was and is a republican icon for defeating the soviet union. but once again, a conservative darling shocked the base with his domestic policy. >> he didn't cut spending and he ended up exploding the debt and the deficit. >> the reagan revolution turned out to be more rhetoric than reality. the great society state, reagan even expanded medicaid. >> when reagan left office, not
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having radically transformed america, conservatives became more ready for a story of betrayal. >> the right longed for a fighter. and reagan's successor, the elite yale educated george h.w. bush, did not fit the bill. conservatives felt betrayed one more time. now they found a new hero in the man who helped wreck bush's presidency. the fiery congressman, newt gingrich. >> he wins control of congress with a message of rage and resentment and culture war and betrayal. >> we'll change their world. they will do anything to stop us. >> gingrich pioneered the fight club mentality that would eventually consume the gop. >> gingrich understood his voters didn't care about
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winning. they didn't care about winning policy fights. what they cared about was fighting. >> he will whisper into your right ear. >> he kept talking about winning deals with clinton. >> fair and balanced fox news channel. >> the rise of the fox news channel in the 1990s really fed the sense of conservative grievance. >> few broadcasts take any chances these days and most are very politically correct. we're going to try to be different. >> the way we report. >> the way we cover it. >> if we couldn't make the voters believe any more that we could limit the size of government, then we had to fight the culture wars. >> i do george w. bush do solemnly swear. >> by the time george w. bush became president, a new wave of conservative lawmakers were ready for politics as war.
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but once again, another bush disappointed them. >> the president of the united states! >> i remember actually sitting in the state of the union address, the first one with george w. bush, where he was talking about no child left behind and some of these big government programs that mike pence and i were kind of aghast at. we felt like minutemen who finally got to the battle and the war was over. >> that disappointment would turn to rage. during bush's failed war in iraq, and the financial crisis, and the bailouts that bush supported. >> he just destroyed and discredited everything he was trying to do and left a way open for different kinds of radicals to struggle for power. >> it was, of course, race.
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the issue that republicans had happily exploited, that would finally push the party to the edge. a black president in the white house. triggered a dramatic response. >> coming to you on a silver platter. barack obama. >> the rise of the tea party movement was supposed to be a response to obamacare. but in reality, it was mostly a response to obama's race. >> obama's election was a trigger. >> this president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep seated hatred for white people. >> the base began not only to hate obama -- >> what is wrong with this president? >> but to despise gop leaders for being unable to stop him.
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they soured on the bushes, on john mccain, on mitt romney. searching instead for someone who would embody their rage, and finally, give them their revolution. >> we're going to win. we're going to win so big. thank you very much.
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and makes it a crime to give water to voters standing in line. >> how inhumane can these legislators be? >> these are all efforts by republicans to make it harder for americans to vote. >> we will stop the steal. >> and they have all been triggered by a lie. >> we won in a land slide. this was a land slide. this is the most corrupt election in the history, maybe of the world. i just received a call from secretary clinton. >> trump won the electoral college and thus the white house in 2016. but in 2020 -- >> cnn projects joseph r. biden jr. is elected. >> he lost both the electoral college and the popular vote. that highlighted a big problem for republicans. these days, they face a daunting challenge in winning real
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majorities. in the last eight presidential elections, the republican candidate for president has won the popular vote only once. in 2004. >> the republicans have found a way to lose and yet still win. this has made elements in the party sour on democracy itself. >> absentee ballot verification laws. >> how else to explain the dozens of efforts across the country -- >> trust and confidence in our elections. >> introduced in at least 45 state legislatures, according to the brandon center for justice. >> all to make it harder for americans to vote. >> how many of our christians, they want everybody to vote. i don't want everybody to vote. >> it's a reflex on the right that has been building for decades. preached by one of the founders
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of modern conservatism. >> as a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down. >> even the right's great hero, ronald reagan. during barry goldwater's 1964 campaign -- >> i've known barry goldwater for a long time. >> reagan was part of operation eagle eye. a nationwide gop effort that monitored voters of color in the name of preventing voter fraud. william rehnquist, the future chief justice of the supreme court, led part of the effort in arizona where hispanic people were forced to read the constitution before they could vote. >> its purpose was to challenge people who were trying to cast a ballot, and not just people, but intimidating and challenging minority voters. >> every american citizen must
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have an equal right to vote. >> after the voting rights act finally allowed millions of black people to vote -- >> here's something that can really help our country. >> president jimmy carter wanted to expand voting even more. >> it's time for universal voter registration. >> proposing same day voter registration nationwide among other reforms. >> law which would allow voters in federal elections to register on election day. >> it would have increased the nation's abysmal voter turnout rate by an estimated 20%. but ronald reagan was dead set against the measures. warning that election workers would sweep through metropolitan areas, scooping up apathetic voters to keep the benefit dispensers in power. >> that is vintage reagan. vintage southern strategy. >> the law would make the gop as
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dead as the dodo bird, reagan said. >> emwe should use reverse psychology and make it more difficult to vote. >> we will take action if we find evidence of voting or election fraud. >> the election day boogie man republicans have pointed to for years -- >> fraud lenlly cast votes. to justify voting. >> it will be fraud all over the place. >> has been voter fraud. but study after study, by democrats and republicans, have found that voter fraud is less common than getting struck by line. >> from 2000 to 2014, there were 1 billion votes cast. out of those 1 billion, that's with a b, there were 31 cases of voter impersonation fraud.
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31 in 15 years out of 1 billion votes. >> it is a scene played out in states across the country. >> but republicans used the myth of widespread voter fraud -- >> civil rights groups pushing back -- >> to pass dozens of laws, making it disproportionately difficult for black people to vote. >> pushing more voters out of the ballot box. >> hundred of thousands of voters may not have necessary i.d. >> it was a shameful echo of the jim crow south. one of the most troubling measures -- >> if we ever needed to vote, we sure need to vote now. >> was in north carolina. >> thank you, north carolina! after obama flipped the state in '08 thanks to a massive black
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turnout, republican state legislators gathered meticulous data to see how black people voted. which i.d.s they used to vote. >> ladies, ladies, ladies. we're here to take your early voting. >> which days they went to the polls. ♪ this is the day we vote for obama ♪ >> including sunday after church. then they wrote a new election law that would have made jim crow proud. >> this 57-page -- >> severely restricting the very ways that black voters cast their ballots. >> if the united states awarded medals for voter suppression, this bill would be a candidate for the gold. >> a federal court wrote that republicans targeted african-americans with almost surgical precision. >> one of the thing the fourth circuit said, this is as close to a smoking gun as we will ever see. >> by the 2016 election, there
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were more smoking guns. fuelled by a controversy supreme court decision that gutted the voting rights act. >> this was the first presidential election in 50 years when black voters face the full assault on their voting rights. the full implementation of voting i.d. laws. almost 1,200 polling places closed, millions upon millions removed from the voter rolls. >> a voter i.d. law in wisconsin may have helped swing the state to trump. tens of thousands of people did not have the right i.d. to vote and black voter turnout plummeted. >> cnn now projects that donald trump will carry the state of wisconsin. >> trump won the state by less than 23,000 ballots. >> election officials could face felony charges -- >> and today, in 2021,
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republicans are not merely suppressing the vote, they are trying to pry away power from election officials. as gop state legislatures attempt to seize control over how the votes are counted. can help you build a complete financial plan. visit to find your cfp® professional. ♪ bottom line is, mom's love that land o' frost premium sliced meats have no by-products. (his voice) “baloney!” (automated voice) has joined the call. (voice from phone) hey, baloney here. i thought this was a no by-products call? land o' frost premium. fresh look. same great taste.
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electorate today. >> stop watching the media and start getting the facts. >> in a cnn poll conducted after january 6th, 70% of republicans
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said they did not believe that joe biden won the election legitimately. >> there is too much evidence of fraud. over 40% that bill gates is planning to use the covid-19 as a pretext to implant microchips in people's brains in order to track them. and roughly one in four republicans agreed with the key tenet of the qanon conspiracy that a group of satan believing are trying to control our media politics. >> joe biden is the biggest pedophile on the face of the planet. >> it's not conspiracy. it's fact. it becomes impossible to deny. the republican party today has been infected by a series of crazy conspiracy theories. why? >> the paranoid strain in
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america politics runs deep through the country's history. and this kind of fear and suspicion of power has roots on the right, going back more than half a century. but there is a big difference between then and now. in the past, paranoia never went main stream. but today the republican party's leaders have action wested and even encouraged many of the worst fears and fantasies. this is the story of how conspiracy theories and theorists moved from the fringe of the republican party smack dab to its center. it begins in the 1950s. material years of the cold war.
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the soviet union got the bomb. china went communist. americans felt the enemy was winning. >> the u.s. troops took their losses. >> america was so strong, so powerful, so rich. yet many things in the world didn't go america's way. >> joseph mccarthy electrified the country by explaining that this was happening because of treason at home. >> even if there is only one communist in the state department, it is still one communist too many. >> now a candy manufacturer picked up the baton. >> first stop the communists. >> in 1958, he founded the john birch society. a conspiracy driven movement that would have a profound impact on the gop for decades to come. >> for a lot of people in that confusing post-war period, they wanted the easy answers and people like the john birch society gave them the easy
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answers. >> everywhere they look, the birchers as they were known saw a looming internal communist menace. >> they looked like suburban moms and dads. they looked like june cleaver. >> within a few years they had built a powerful grassroots organization. >> we, too, are involved in a contest between freedom loving human beings everywhere and the forces of communism. >> they stopped at no one, welch even accused the hero of d-day, president dwight david eisenhower, of being a dedicated, conscious agent of the communist conspiracy. they demanded the impeachment of the chief justice of the supreme court, earl warren for supporting desegregation. and they fought tooth and nail against the civil rights movement, using anti-communism as a cover for racism. >> the communists are fomenting civil rights education. >> those views reached millions of americans through widely
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distributed pamphlets, magazines, and books. >> treason on the campuses. these horrible communists infecting the youth of america. >> the birchers finally found someone they liked. barry goldwater. >> i charge that this administration is soft on communism and you know it. >> it is very hard to imagine barry goldwater getting the nomination in 1964 without something like the john birch society. >> his anti-communist fervor thrilled the birchers. >> the only enemy of peace in the world is communism. >> but he had been urged by establishment republicans to denounce robert welch and the conspiracies promulgated by the society. unlike today, republican leaders back then felt morally obligated to call out what they knew were lies. goldwater called out welch
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himself, but was careful in his criticism of the society. >> we've never been attacked as the birch society has been attacked. i'm far more fearful about the radical members of the left than the birch society. >> this was the beginning of a calculated two-faced dance by republican politicians. not voicing the conspiracies themselves but embracing the conspiracy theorists. but now ever since donald trump's election, republican officials have mostly dispensed with the denials and condemnations of the crazies. >> you have donald trump's main animating vision in his campaign, the birtherism thing that barack obama was not a citizen. that was coming from the candidate. >> they have come to see that openly feeding anger, resentment and paranoia is good politics on the right. sf it was a land slide election. >> we won't let this election be stolen by joe biden and the
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democrats. >> the republican base has been misled by party leaders who for years fed their fears and have now created a frankenstein's monster. >> they don't get to steal it from us. s was brutal. well you can try using the buick's massaging seat. oohh yeah, that's nice. can i use apple carplay to put some music on? sure, it's wireless. pick something we all like. ok. hold on. what's your buick's wi-fi password? “buickenvision2021.” oh, you should pick something stronger. that's really predictable. that's a really tight spot. don't worry. i used to hate parallel parking. [all together] me too. - hey. - you really outdid yourself. yes, we did. the all-new buick envision. an suv built around you... all of you. you could take your ulcerative colitis treatment in a different direction. talk to your doctor about xeljanz, a pill, not an injection or infusion, for adults with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis when a certain medicine did not help enough. xeljanz is the first and only fda-approved pill
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it was mystifying the courtship between christians and donald trump that began during his 2016 campaign. >> father, i just thank you for this man. >> it was hard not to laugh at the absurdity of this political marriage. >> his history is not the
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history of a good christian man. >> even trump appeared to be asking himself, how did i get here? >> this is somebody who cannot even really fake religious literacy. >> 2 corinthians 3:17. that's the whole ball game. is that the one you like? i think that's the one like. i loved it. >> driving this unlikely union between trump and evangelicals was desperation. >> by 2016, white christian americans, the core of the republican base, were a minority in america. >> the united states is becoming a very secular society very fast. the percentage of americans affiliated with the christian church has collapsed. >> this is the story of how the republican party weaponized christianity to hold on to political power. >> what you saw there is the pimping of jesus.
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>> good morning. i'm jerry falwell, pastor here. >> southern baptist preacher jerry falwell made his name in the late 1960s through his sermons broadcast on sunday mornings across the country. >> isn't it grand to be a christian? >> this is miraculous indeed. >> falwell was a fundamentalist who believed the bible should be interpreted literally. he delivered apock limitic warnings through the years about america's moral decay. >> if the nation doesn't come back to god, it is all gone. >> like most white evangelicals at the time, he believed that politics and religion didn't mix. >> why even register to vote. politics was satan's helm. >> that changed in the 1970s, especially after the federal government gave private schools an ultimatum. >> the internal revenue service
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proposed to make private schools prove they are not practicing racial discrimination. >> some evangelicals had built their own schools as a response to federal desegregation. for many evangelicals, there was another important driver to provide their children with a bible-based education after the supreme court banned school prayer in 1962. evangelicals were furious. >> at last count, the irs had received 115,000 protest letters. >> we've got to raise up an army of men and women in america who call this nation back to moral sanity and sensibility. i call that the moral majority. >> the moral majority. the mission of falwell's new political army was to restore america's christian identity. >> a sleeping giant is standing up. >> falwell's movement became a
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political force. protesting abortion, h homosexuality. >> it's adam and eve. not adam and steve. >> the moral majority claimed to have registered millions of christians to vote in the 1980 election, helping ronald reagan win the white house in a land slide. >> reserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. >> so help you god. >> so help me god. >> the former hollywood actor became the perfect spokesman for christian values. >> opinion faith and religion play a critical role in the political life of our nation and always have. >> but over time, the religious right grew frustrated because abortion remained the law of the land, gay rights were advancing.
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christian conservatives finally heard a fiery rallying cry from pat buchanan at the 1992 republican convention. >> there is a religious war going on in this country. it is a culture war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the cold war itself. this war is for the soul of america. >> by the beginning of the 21st century, the religious right had become most powerful interest group in the gop. but at the same time, they could see that they were losing the country. america was becoming less religious, less socially conservative, and less white. in 2008, barack obama's election was to white christian conservatives a kind of death knell. >> christian conservatives have lost. they lost the fight over their ability to define what it means
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to be an american. >> this desperation on the right was an opportunity for donald trump. >> i brought my bible. see? >> trump understood how to tap into the deep anger and sense of grievance that had been building among white christian conservatives for decades. >> christianity is under siege, folks. under siege. >> the founders were quite clear about the fact this would not be a nation that was founded on religion because they had recognized just how dangerous those sorts of governments could be. >> radicalized christian conservatives believing their country was on the verge of spiritual collapse, adopted an apock limitic politics in which anything is permitted in the struggle for survival, including insurrection.
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the republican rage that now consumes the party is built on betrayal. it, all, began with the intellectual godfather of modern conservatism, william f. buckley jr., defined that movement as standing athwart history yelling stop. what buckley was trying to stop was the new deal. the expansion of government, under franklin roosevelt. he was, also, referring to the growing secularization of society. his first book published in 1951 was a diatribe against what he believed were the anti-christian and anticapitalist forces at the nation's best universities.
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buckley yelled stop, again, during the civil-rights movement. writing, in 1957, that the south must prevail, because the more-advanced, white race, had an obligation and right to rule over others. he changed his mind during the mid-1960s. but many conservatives remain staunchly opposed to the landmark civil-rights bills of 1964 and '65. in other words, the modern-republican party has its roots in rebellion. rebellion, against the main currents of change in modern-american society. the growth of the welfare state, the secularization of life. and the increasing diversity of american society. the trouble is most americans don't agree with that protest. they may express discomfort with the welfare state, in theory. but in practice, they love social security, medicare, and the rest. secularization is a force that is sweeping almost-all
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advanced-industrial societies. and one government can do little to stop and america's growing diversity is inevitable in a country built on immigration and has proved, mostly, to be a strength, not a weakness. but republican politicians are now riding the back of a tiger, and they can't get off. reagan, gingrich, trump. all the icons, on the right. whip their followers up into a froth of hysteria and promise that they will repeal and reverse most of these terrible trends. but, of course, it never happens. which makes the republican base get more and more angry. and as their sense of betrayal grows, so does their sense of desperation. that american civilization is in imminent danger of collapse. there is a great-and-honorable space in america, for a party of limited-and-efficient government. that values traditionalism. and that believes that social change should take place, slowly and organically. but that's different, from a
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band of ideological warriors with apocalyptic visions that fear the end of days. see opponents, as traitors and devils. and believes that all methods are sanctioned in its battle to save civilization, and itself. in short, the republican party needs to have a political exorcism. drive out its demons. and come to terms with the modern world. i'm fareed zakaria. thanks for watching this special. will there be an ev for me? what about me? one for me? you mean us? what about me? and me?
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how about us? yeah, how about us? great question. wait, can i get one in green? got one for me?! hey, what about me? what about us? is there an ev for me? ev for me? us? what about me? me? for me? ♪ ♪ (dog whimpers) finding new routes to reach your customers, and new ways for them to reach you... is what business is all about. it's what the united states postal service
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and good evening. a busy night, including breaking news, the number of people willing to give criminal evidence against florida congr congressman matt gaetz has grown from just his former wing man to now include the congressman's ex-girlfriend. we begin with major developments in the death of ronald greene. a black man who was punched, repeatedly tasered, kicked, dragged by his feet, while handcuffed, by louisiana state troopers two years ago. cnn has now obtained video from the incident. here is a portion of that video we had yesterday. and we do want to just point out, it is terribly difficult to watch, especially in light of all the cruelty that transpires on video throughout the fatal encounter. >> let me see your [ bleep ] hands, [ bleep ]. come here, [ bleep ]. >> okay. okay. okay


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