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Pope Francis Endorses Same-Sex Civil Unions; Interview with James Martin, Author, "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything;" Black Women Forms Backbone of the Democratic Party; Interview with Xernona Clayton, Civil Rights Activist, and Martha S. Jones, Author, "Vanguard"; Latinx Largest Minority in U.S. Presidential Election; Voting During a Pandemic; Interview With Author Paola Ramos. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 21, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Making history, Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions. Jesuit priest and LBGT ally, Father James Martin joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY CALDWELL-LIDDELL, FOUNDER, MOBILIZE DETROIT: I think that the apathy has just grown and has just become so pervasive in our communities because
people are just trying to survive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: African-American women, the backbone of the Democratic Party. I asked civil rights leader, Xernona Clayton, and historian, Martha S. Jones,
about why what they did for equal rights is so often ignored.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reality is that we have two very distinct candidates in front of us and that's what we have to choose from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Latinx voters could be this election's king-makers. Vice correspondent, Paola Ramos, warns us not to mistake them for a monolithic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA HUSEMAN, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: I certainly do not believe that fraud is as prevalent as voter suppression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: ProPublica reporter, Jessica Huseman, tells our Michel Martin about the challenge for voters in this norm-busting election.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
In a truly momentous move for the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has publicly endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time. The pontiff
made the comment in an interview for a new documentary, saying homosexual people have the right to be in a family. He added, what we have to create
is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.
Let's talk about the impact of this and ask how will the wider church react. Father James Martin is editor of the Jesuit magazine, America, he
met with Pope Francis last year to discuss pastoral care for LBGT Catholics. And he's joining me now from New York.
Father Martin, welcome back to the program.
Obviously, this is a good day for you. You've been lobbying the pope for this, and you've been wanting to see something like this. Tell me exactly
what the pope has done. Has he broken from official doctrine? Has he created something new? Is he just clarifying views? What's going on?
JAMES MARTIN, AUTHOR, "THE JESUIT GUIDE TO (ALMOST) EVERYTHING": I think he's creating a new space for LBGT people. There is a 2003 document from
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith against same-sex unions, and the pope is obviously saying he sees things a little differently. It is --
it's momentous because he's saying it as pope. He said it before as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He's saying it on the record, and he's being
very clear. It's not simple he's tolerating it, he's supporting.
AMANPOUR: So, what does it mean in practice, do you think, because I'm going to go back to what you mentioned about 2003 and then, of course, his
predecessor, Pope Benedict, had some very different things to say about this issue, and we know that there is a struggle within the church
hierarchy over how far to go with reform versus traditionalism?
MARTIN: Well, I think one thing it says is that the bishops, who are many in different countries, who are sort of violently against civil unions are
going to have to rethink their positions. You know, you often have bishops in the United States and especially places like Poland who says that they
are a threat to traditional marriage. Now, you have the pope saying he supports them. And so, they're going to have to rethink what they are
talking about. And I think on a broader level, it basically is more of a welcome mat for LBGT Catholics to make them feel more welcome in their
AMANPOUR: There's quite a lot to unpack because, obviously, the pope has been saying that. His very first comment on this when asked about gay
rights was, who am I to judge, and that went all over the world. It became a slogan. It went viral. So, he's sort of been moving in that direction
But certainly, here in the U.K., the Catholic Church, the cardinal has, I believe, also endorsed the idea of same-sex unions. Same happened in
Argentina, which is the homeland of the pope. When he was cardinal though, he had a different view on all of this, and he then basically said, OK,
well, same-sex unions stave off the idea of same-sex marriage. Can you unpick all of this for us?
MARTIN: Well, I think it seems like the church is understanding LBGT people and perhaps reflecting on their experience of being in civil unions,
of being in partnerships like that and he may have changed his thinking and he may just have had more experience of talking with LBGT people.
He has, I know, you know, for a fact, he has friends who are LBGT. He speaks to them. You know, I spent half an hour with him last year speaking
about LBGT issues. So, he's well informed and he may have, in a sense, as we say in the church, developed his own doctrine, right. He sorts of come
to an understanding of things in a different way which enabled him to speak more positively in this documentary.
AMANPOUR: As you know, the official doctrine in the church still considers and states in black and white that homosexuality is a disordered state. I
believe Pope Benedict went further and, you know, aligned it had with the work of the devil and such. There is a very strong conservative group in
the Vatican, and they have been pushing back on many other of the pope's efforts at reform in other areas. You've talked to him about this, I said,
and we have a picture of you with him. How has he talked to you about how he's going to manage this?
MARTIN: Well, I can't reveal what he said to me in the meeting. He asked me to keep it private. But I would say that, you know, he was very open and
very warm and you don't though what he said to me, just look what he's saying today. He has been speaking very warmly about gay people. He's the
first pope to ever to use the word gay. And I think what he's trying to do is take a more pastoral approach.
I mean, we have to reckon with the fact that the head of the church has now said that he feels that civil unions are OK and we can't dismiss that, and
I know you're not trying to, but I think bishops and other people can't dismiss that as easily as they might want to. This is, in a sense, a kind
of teaching that he is giving us.
AMANPOUR: Certainly, we're not dismissing it. We're all for progress and human rights obviously, but I'm asking you in the context of the very real
opposition, for instance, in the wider church, in Africa where you know whether it's in the Catholic or the wider Christian community, it's very
heavily condemned, even governments there condemn homosexuality on pain of death and torture and imprisonment. How do you think it's going to, you
know, filter down into those communities?
MARTIN: I think that's a great question. I mean, places in Sub-Saharan Africa, even places like Poland where bishops are violently anti-LBGT, I
think it's going to be a challenge for them and, you know, we can't mince words. I think it's going to be really shocking for a lot of these bishops
to hear this.
You've already had a bishop in the United States come out against it, you know, within the last hour or so. So, it's a real challenge. But, you know,
Pope Francis is encouraging us to see LBGTQ people as our brothers and sisters, and he's always reaching out in a pastoral way and this is what
got Jesus in trouble, too. So, he's -- you know, he has -- he's in good company.
AMANPOUR: What about the idea that the pope is also -- I mean, he's talking more and more about these human rights issues and these
humanitarian and pastoral issues and compassion. His new encyclical, you know, condemns I think what he calls a myopic vision and I think he uses
the word cruelty. He's spoken out against what he calls cruelty against children who are being separated at the U.S. border and now, we have news
that more than 500 of these kids separated from their parents and have no way of the system trying to know where the parents are, where the kids are
and how to get them back together.
He's really making some quite clear -- well, obviously moral comments but also political, particularly on the eve of a major election in the U.S.
What is his message, do you think?
MARTIN: Well, you know, in a sense, his message is the gospel which sometimes has political overtones, and the major of (INAUDIBLE) encyclical
you were talking about is really that everyone is connected. And so, we have to look at our brothers and sisters who are migrants and children
especially. He's bringing those people to the fore. But I also think in terms of this move today, he's asking us to see our LBGTQ brothers and
sisters not as the other, which is their -- the way they are often seen in the church, but as our brothers and sisters and he's trying to create a
space for them and trying to reach out to them. So, it's all of the peace. It's all of these things are of the peace.
AMANPOUR: You've seen a film. Of course, this is part of a documentary, they got the pope on the record. They said these things himself. You've
seen the film. What did you think -- and I think you saw it before it was released, what did you think when you heard and watched that, and what else
should we expect and anticipate that's in storage in that film?
MARTIN: I was shocked frankly because, you know, I had heard that he said things in Buenos Aires. I read interviews where he averts to it, where he
sorts of tolerates it. But it's quite something to hear him say it. And in fact, I wrote down the comments and sent it to our national correspondent
at America magazine because I know it would be a big story.
The rest of the film is just as interesting. The rest of the film does speak about people in the margins, migrants, refugees, the poor. So, it's
really looking at him in terms of his teachings on social justice. It's a very effective and very good film, and this is, in a sense, a very small
part of it, but I sort of figured that this would be the most newsworthy part.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, you have a good nose then for what makes news and what really shifts the ball down the field on this issue for sure. Father
Martin, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
Now, of course, religion plays a huge part in American politics. Christians form President Trump's base. And with less than two weeks to go before the
election, more than 27 million people have already voted. Former president, Barack Obama, hits the campaign trail in earnest now, and he's tweeted a
video aimed at young people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I know there's plenty out there to make people feel cynical, and plenty of people are going to seize on that
to convince you that your vote doesn't matter. It's not new. It's one of the oldest voter suppression tactics there is. What is new is a growing
movement for justice, equality and progress on so many issues. This is really a tipping point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A tipping point indeed, and black women form the backbone of the Democratic Party, and their vote matters. In 2008 and 2012, they turned out
in historic numbers to make Obama president. But in 2016, fewer voted for Hillary Clinton. A warning to Candidate Joe Biden that their vote cannot be
taken for granted.
Here to discuss their Democratic journeys and the hurdles they still face are civil rights activist and businesswoman and journalist, Xernona
Clayton, the first black woman to have a primetime T.V. show in the south. She's joining us from Atlanta, Georgia. And Johns Hopkins University
professor, Martha S. Jones, who is new book "Vanguard" traces this crucial history. And she's joining us from Baltimore, Maryland.
Let me start with you, Xernona Clayton, because you are also part or you have been of the Turner Family, our company, and I just want to ask you
what your thoughts are right now about what President Obama said in terms of trying to mobilize people just to vote. He's not saying who to vote for
but to get out and vote. And you spoke about that issue at John Lewis' funeral a few months ago.
Xernona Clayton, Civil Rights Activist: Well, I remember when I was working for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we really put forth so much effort
to try to go out to people's homes, knock on the doors trying to get them out to vote. We had so many excuses given to us. It would just shatter your
thoughts and your heart and pierce your heart that people would not go out and vote. And I had to remind them all the time about how many people have
lost their lives, have been beaten severely trying to get black Americans the right to vote. It was an awful, awful feeling for us.
But can you imagine now how proud I felt the last few days when I saw people standing in line who were going to be there for hours just to vote.
Such a heartwarming feeling for me that now we're getting the message that your voice does count, your vote is important and that we absolutely must
vote. I know John Lewis is smiling from heaven just seeing the people standing in line waiting for their moment to cast their ballots.
AMANPOUR: And yet, Xernona, and also, Martha S. Jones, we know that nobody's vote can be taken for granted. And particularly, as we said at the
beginning, you know, Black women do form the backbone of the Democratic Party and we've seen, certainly, with reports that we have from, let's say,
in Michigan which went very narrowly for President Trump in 2016 that there are a lot of, you know, activists on the ground trying to get out vote.
Here's a little clip that I want you both to discuss when we finish. Here's a little clip of an activist there expressing somewhat her frustrations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY CALDWELL-LIDDELL, FOUNDER, MOBILIZE DETROIT: Absolutely they take us for granted, because they know that black women are going to help them get
the big wins they need where it matters, but they also know that they can give us the bare minimum knowing that we aren't going to choose other side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that say about the country?
CALDWELL-LIDDELL: It says we still got a long way to go when the backbone of the country is the most neglected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the backbone of the Democratic Party. Martha S. Jones, you have written, obviously, this great book "Vanguard" about
essentially how black women's contribution to not just equal voting rights but equality in general is too often overlooked and how this young woman,
activist, you know, is saying, don't take us for granted. Don't just count on us. How do you react to what she said?
MARTHA S. JONES, AUTHOR, "VANGUARD": I think she's speaking a refrain that black women have been speaking for generations. It is a lonely place to
occupy in an American democracy when you are, as she so eloquently put it, the backbone of a party, when you are, as I have put it, the vanguard of
American politics speaking this country's best ideals, holding this country up to its best ideals and yet, yes, too often overlooked when it comes to
setting policy, to sharing power and to really driving the course of American politics. It's an old frustration.
AMANPOUR: Let's just point out the obvious that Joe Biden has chosen, you know, a black American woman, black Indian-American woman, Kamala Harris,
to be his running mate, and we have some 122 black or multi-racial black women filed to run for congressional seats in this year's election. That
really does seem to be progress.
Xernona, what do you make of that, the numbers that are increasing, the representation on the vice-presidential ticket and yet, still some
frustration at the grass roots?
CLAYTON: Well, one thing we realize is that we can overlook when it comes to qualifications, talent, ability. We have to reach a point where we've
got to overlook this thing called race, the color of a person's skin. None of us chose to be who we are and what we look like. And so, to hide behind
it, to ignore it or to make it an issue, all of these are mistakes we make as citizens that there's talent, ability, energy and skill that comes in
And I'm just so happy that we have come to a point now where we're kind of confusing what were the original decisions and the issues of the
Declaration of Independence, that we're all created equal. And now, we're coming closer to equality, and the choices that we are making now with
getting women in the right places, doing the right things I think is progress, and I'm happy to see it.
AMANPOUR: Let me just run down a little bit of the history. You know, the U.S. gave white women -- sorry, white men with property first the right to
vote in the late 1700s. In the mid-1800s, black men were initially allowed to vote, then Jim Crow cracked down on that. Then in 1920, the 19th
Amendment gave women the right to vote, but it was all the way until 1965 in the Voting Rights Act when black men and black women really were allowed
So, Martha, I want to ask you, because there's such an entangled and close history between the party and black women. And in your book, you write --
I'm just going to get the quote. In your book you write, for black women ratification of the 19th Amendment was not a guarantee of the vote but it
was a clarifying moment. More than anything, it marked a turn. Black women were the new keepers of voting rights in the United States. They were the
fore of a new movement, one that linked women's rights and civil rights in one great push for dignity and power.
Expand on that because you do point out in your book that it's not just about suffrage, it's about everyday rights like transportation and the
like, that black women were, you know, active for.
JONES: There's nothing in the 19th Amendment in 1920 that prohibits individual states from now imposing on African-American women the same Jim
Crow strictures that have kept black men from the polls since the 1890s. There's nothing in the 19th Amendment that curbs intimidation and violence
that will also keep black women from the polls. And so, it's necessary out of the ashes, if you will, of the 19th Amendment for black Americans, men
and women together, to build a new movement for voting rights, one that white American women will not join them in frankly.
Black Americans look in 1920 to win federal legislation that would give teeth to the 15th and 19th Amendments, and that will be a project that
takes 45 years until after the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of a modern civil rights movement finally black Americans force the hand of
Congress, force the hand of President Lyndon Johnson, and we have in 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act.
AMANPOUR: Xernona, you grew up in the Jim Crow south, and you went on to have an amazing career as a black woman. I mean, you're not just, as you
say, with your amazing work with Dr. Martin Luther King, as an activist, but then, you know, as a business person in Atlanta, as a person who had, I
think, the first T.V. show, first black woman to have a T.V. show. You worked for Ted Turner. You became a vice president of the company. What was
it like trying to get there for you? What were the steps like? How hard was it?
CLAYTON: Well, I think it would start with my mother and father who taught me and my sister and our family members not to ever feel inadequate. Don't
feel insecure. We didn't choose to be black. We're here now. Let's make the most of the individual progress that can be made if you'll just be
fearless, work hard and just things that parents will tell you.
I grew up feeling secure. So, I never felt that just because I knew what the laws were that I had to be governed by that. I was a very strong person
in pursuing what I wanted, going to the right places to get it, and feeling like I had to bring people with me. And so, my security, I think, has
carried me a long way. I don't want to feel pompous about this, but I've made the marks I've made because I felt as an adequate person, not an
inadequate person, that I knew what I knew and I could act on what I knew and felt were the right things to do.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's just so amazing to hear you say that and it's so empowering to hear you say that, and I'm just going to point out that you
clearly knew who you were. You always felt more than adequate to the extent that you were once called the dragon slayer. You actually, and I want you
to tell me about this because reading on one of your programs you actually, I think, convinced the Ku Klux Klan grand dragon away from the movement. I
mean, that must have taken some persuasion.
CLAYTON: Well, it was a great moment when it happened. I didn't know it was going to happen. We saw each other often, and he always treated me with
respect, but always had silly ideas about colored people living in the north didn't do as well with homeownership as colored people in the south,
and his point was, they do better in servitude because you had more homeowners in the south, and I used to say to him after I found out that he
was a Christian, I found out he was a deacon in his church, and I knew he was a parent, I used to say to him, I would ask him this question. I said,
let me ask you to do something for me. Go into your bathroom, close the door which is a very private place and ask yourself these questions. What
kind of Christian am I? What kind of parent am I? What kind of deacon am I sending these kinds of ideas, planting these ugly seeds in people's minds
not only for now but for the next generation? Does that make you feel good? Tell me about it.
He didn't give me an answer, but when I found out that he had called a press conference shortly after this and denounced the Klan and announced he
was coming out and credited a black woman with changing his whole attitude about life and named me as that black woman, that was a great moment.
AMANPOUR: Right. It was --
CLAYTON: But Dr. King said -- let me say this. Dr. King said, if you change a man's heart, you can regulate his behavior.
AMANPOUR: That's brilliant.
CLAYTON: That's what he said to me.
AMANPOUR: That's pretty amazing, and it's really good to be reminded a of that. And lastly, again to you, Martha. You know, that's a phenomenal story
but we've heard the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI warning that one of the greatest terror threats in the United States is the rise of
white supremacy today. And frank, the enabling of that permission from the highest occupant in the land of public office.
We're hearing already, you know, intimidation tactics at some of the polling stations. We're hearing people saying, you know, sending messages
to voters saying, vote Trump or else. We actually hear that is coming from foreign countries, Saudi Arabia and other countries. But put that into
context in terms of trying to get the black vote out today and the history that you've been charting.
JONES: The history of terroristic violence, voter suppression by those means is one that is thoroughly interwoven into the story of voting rights
in this country. Black Americans know this story going back to the earliest decades of the 19th century when those black American men who could vote
were met indeed with wanton violence at the polls in many American cities in the north.
By the time African-American women come to the polls in 1920, those that do like Florida's remarkable Mary McLeod Bethune face direct Klan intimidation
and violence so much so that too many African-American women will retreat from the polls in the 1920s because that violence is not only wanton but it
is unchecked by the state, and that, I think, is the eerie parallel with 2020, not only the fact of the violence but the fact that state, local and
federal officials do not appear to be prepared to act to counter that violence leaving black Americans, yet again, in another generation to take
safety in numbers, to gather their courage and to risk bodily harm in order to exercise a fundamental democratic right like the right to vote.
AMANPOUR: It's so important. Thank you both so much. Martha Jones, Xernona Clayton, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Now, another major constituency both parties want on their side, Latinx voters, some 32 million are eligible to vote, and for the first time, they
are predicted to be the largest minority in a U.S. presidential election, and both candidates have taken note.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: More than any other time, the Hispanic community, Latino community holds in their palm of their hand the
destiny of this country.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to win a record share of the Hispanic vote this November. Get out and vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Paola Ramos is a correspondent for Vice and she has worked for both Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration in the past and her
new book "Finding Latinx" is a reflection on identity and why fewer than half in her community voted in 2016. She's joining us now from New York
So, fewer than half voted in 2016, and they are talking about the Hispanic vote. Your premise is basically is there's no such thing as the Hispanic
vote. It's not had a monolith, right? What do you want politicians and us to know?
PAOLA RAMOS, AUTHOR, "FINDING LATINX": What I want them to know or I guess what I want us to know is that we don't know Latinos, right. I think the
idea that politicians have of Latinos is that of my father's generation, right? Is that we speak Spanish, that when you talk to us, you talk to us
about immigration. No. Is that our story -- the heart of our story is the immigrant narrative and the reality is that I think we haven't taken enough
time to really dig deep in understanding what did the younger generation, right, what did folks like myself do with those rights that my parents
fought for? You know, how did I become free enough to call myself a Latina and a queer person and a woman and how do all of these different identities
And so, what I try and do in the book is to paint a picture of who we are, right. And when you look at us, right, when you allow everyone to sort of
step out of the shadows, you start to understand that Latinos, yes, look like me, but you also see that there's 3 million (INAUDIBLE) Latinos,
right? You see that there's over 1 million Latinos that identify as indigenous. You see that suddenly there's more than 250,000 Latinos that
are Muslim. You see that millennials like myself, among the entire millennial generation, Latinos are more likely than black folks and white
folks to tell you that they're queer, right. We care about immigration but we're also navigating the criminal justice system.
And so, the whole thesis that it is -- we're in the middle of telling that story and we ourselves don't even know what that story looks like because
there's not enough research and attention and interest, I think, in understanding how we've developed and how we've changed.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really changed, the different of focus for your generation to your father's. You mentioned your father, so I will say that
he is Jorge Ramos, a very well-known correspondent for Univision. We've had him on this show many times. And you're right, he has talked about other
issues that were important to his generation.
What are you finding then as you travel around the United States, particularly in this moment of election? What are people saying they want
and how -- what will mobilize them to vote?
RAMOS: So, I think they are mobilized. I think we're already seeing that Latinos are mobilize. I think right now with COVID-19, that was it for many
young Latinos. I think a lot of young Latinos have seen -- you know, 36,000 Latinos die because of this virus, right. These are young people that have
seen their parents die, their abuelas die, they have seen that in the peak of the virus, almost 18 percent of Latinos were unemployed. And so, that's
an image you don't forgot about, right.
And so, I think, for many Latinas, for many young Latinas, it's become a matter of life and death. But the thread that I find in the book is that
the younger generation doesn't -- is rejecting this pain and trauma, right, and is rejecting this sort of assimilation that they saw their parents
going through, right?
They reject the criminalization. They reject the injustices. And so they are going out to vote for COVID, but they are going out to vote because
they don't want that anymore. No, they don't want the status quo in a way that perhaps our parents sort of took for granted, right, and thought that
that was the way that they were to be treated in America.
I think COVID is one thing. But I think that the deeper thing, I think there's -- it goes beyond issues, and I think there's a deeper ache of
belonging, right, of -- when people talk about it, they want to talk about the issues, and that's important, but I think the thing that's missing is
that a lot of young people feel like they do not belong in this country, right?
We saw it very clearly in the horrible massacre that happened in El Paso. We see it in the stats, where hate crime and hate violence against Latinas
reached a peak in the last 10 years under this administration.
And so I think it goes deeper than that, is that we want to be talked to. We want the candidates to show up. We want to be in the tables. We want to
see ourselves reflected. And so I think that's the bigger question.
AMANPOUR: So, you mention, of course, it's happening in the context of COVID.
And you're absolutely right. Latinx and black Americans, minorities have suffered disproportionately on every level from this terrible pandemic,
because of all the institutional racism, the socioeconomic divisions.
Let me ask you, then, which candidate -- because both are spending tens of millions, if not more. I don't know the actual figures, but they are
certainly pouring millions in terms of ads and reach-out to your community.
Right now, it seems that Biden leads Trump 60 percent to 26 percent in the so-called Latino vote. Of course, you have told us that it's not a
monolith. But does Biden have it in the bag, or do you have a word about that?
RAMOS: I think he will win the national Latino vote, right? I think that's evident.
I think the interesting part is, the gains, the slow, but stable gains that Trump is making, right? I was just in Arizona recently just last week, and
there's a stat where you find that at least 40 percent of young Latino men in Arizona might vote for Donald Trump, right?
And I think that that's -- it's kind of shocking for a lot of people, and I think many people still don't understand how Latinos would vote for someone
like Donald Trump. And the more I travel and I -- even in this book, I get it, right, because part of our story is wanting to assimilate, right, is
wanting that proximity to white power.
And I have had countless conversations with folks. And so there are some Latinos out there. The further -- the more generations you are of America,
there are some people that want to forgot that they are immigrants, right. There are some Latinos that want to forgot where they come from.
And so Donald Trump offered this illusion, right, that they are American, that they are not the other, and that is working. I mean, I have seen it
myself in Arizona. I have seen it myself in Florida. That works for a lot of people, right?
They want to forgot that they are the other, and so proximity to white power becomes a very intriguing concept for them, and that that's working
particularly among Latino men, right, where this power, no...
RAMOS: ... that symbolism that Trump represents works.
AMANPOUR: We have seen this, particularly, as you have said, men under the age of 45.
Can I ask you, because we use the word Latinx? What is the correct term now? Is there a consensus on what term to use? Is there any controversy?
AMANPOUR: Tell me about it.
RAMOS: There's a lot of controversy.
I mean, in fact I would say most people -- and that's why I wrote the book. Most people don't like the term Latinx. Most people reject the -- and most
people don't even know how to pronounce it, right?
RAMOS: And that's -- but it's good. It's good to have these conversations, because we have never had a moment in history in which we get to define
what it means to be us, right?
And so the way that I'm defining the X, right, the sort of conversation that I want to do or that I want to have is that the X is nothing but an
invitation for anyone among the 60 million of us that has ever felt left out of the community or of the narrative, right?
And, again, that's is you're an Afro-Latina, that is if you're a woman that -- a Latina that felt like they deserved more rights than those that were
given to them. That is if you're trans, you're queer, you're indigenous, right?
Latinx is meant for every one of us. And it's meant not just to talk about our intersection, the intersectionality of identities, but also of issues,
right? It's to force people to look beyond the story that has been told about us.
And there is a lot of rejection, a lot, in -- but I think that's good.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes.
RAMOS: I think it's forcing people to understand why they feel uncomfortable with the term itself.
AMANPOUR: On the issues, again, you've talked about health care as well.
And let me just say that you know, in 2018, which is before the pandemic, 61 percent of uninsured people in Texas were Hispanic. That is a pretty
huge number. But I do want to ask you this, because, again, we're hearing a lot about tactics that are being used against, like to suppress the vote in
various different parts of the country.
Seventeen percent of Florida voters are Latinx, and there are troubling reports that Spanish-speaking Florida voters are being inundated with
misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories.
What do you know about that, and is it -- do you think it will have an effect to suppress the vote?
RAMOS: It is having. I mean, it's very common.
If you land right now in Miami, it's extremely common to hear, "Joe Biden es un comunista." That's in the airwaves. That is in conversations. You
will find that.
So, yes, 17 percent of the electorate is Latino. Around 17 percent of the Latino vote in Florida are Cuban, right? And so one of the reasons why
Latinas are very vulnerable right now is because, since COVID, the way that we have consumed, the way that we have been online and on our phones is
higher than for black folks and for white folks, right?
Our consider digital consumption is out the roof. And so people know that. And what you hear in Florida, right, a lot of the right-wing conspiracy
theories is that they're trying to make the case that a vote for Biden is a vote for communism, right?
They're trying to sort of exploit the real trauma of Cuban exiles and Venezuelan exiles, and they're trying to create fear. A lot of people will
tell you that they don't know the source of that, right?
I also even heard on the radio someone, in Cuban anger, compared Black Lives Matter to the devil, right? And so it is fear. Far is a tactic that
they're using. Most people will tell you they don't really know the true source of that.
But what we do know is that the president of the United States himself has said, falsely, that voting for Kamala Harris and for Joe Biden is basically
voting for communism, right?
And so the spread of misinformation starts from the White House.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating.
Thank you so much for your insight, Paola Ramos. Thanks a lot.
And now, voting in a pandemic and during a serious health crisis means this is not a normal election. Ensuring everyone's voice is heard has never been
And our next guest is on that beat covering voting rights.
Jessica Huseman is lead reporter for ProPublica's Electionland project. It's a coalition of newsrooms across the U.S. which investigates problems
with ballot access, vote by mail and misinformation.
And, here, she's talking to our Michel Martin about those challenges during this pandemic.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Jessica Huseman, thanks so much for joining us.
JESSICA HUSEMAN, PROPUBLICA: Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: Let's talk about sort of the two different perspectives.
So, Republicans tend to complain about voter integrity, and Democrats tend to complain about voter suppression. But is there a truth to either of
HUSEMAN: I think that the truth exists somewhere in the middle, as all things.
I certainly do not believe that fraud is as prevalent as voter suppression. So, I think that the truth exists more towards that angle of things.
But I do think that there has become a strain of left-wing advocacy that is, in its -- at the end having the exact same impact as the right-wing
voter fraud advocacy.
So, you can only insult the system and say that your vote will not count so many times before people start to believe you, regardless of the cause of
your vote not counting.
So, whether you believe that the system is inherently flawed and not worth your vote because it's overrun by illegal immigrants who are casting
fraudulent ballots, which is not true, or whether you have decided not to cast a ballot because you believe that your vote won't count because of who
you are or because of suppressive tactics or because you think that the machines are inherently flawed, and you choose not to vote, at the end of
the day, you're still choosing not to vote.
And so I think that activists on both sides, which is a phrase that I hate to use, but is unfortunately apt here, I think that activists on both sides
need to take not only their end goals into account, but the way in which they are de-motivating and discouraging people from going to the polls
MARTIN: But if your goal is to de-motivate people from going to the polls right now, then you have succeeded, right?
HUSEMAN: That's true.
But I don't know that the left would say that that's their goal.
But I think that might be the impact of some of the things that they're doing, blowing a long line out of proportion. Or saying, for example, that
the city of Louisville is going to have four-hour wait lines because they have assigned one polling location to 600,000 residents is technically
true, but not helpful.
That's, like, not a helpful way to look at that voting situation. And there were no lines in Louisville all day. So, while election administrators did
the best they could with a gigantic facility with lots of polling sites in it, how many of those people heard there's going to be a four-hour-long
line in Louisville, and just chose not to show up?
So, I think that there is a fine line between very loudly advocating for change, and then going so far that you sort of push people over to thinking
that there's no point, and there's no point in engaging with the system at all.
MARTIN: Let's talk about some of the issues that have the -- that have surfaced very loudly, or been surfaced very loudly, during this sort of
current election cycle, which, of course, is taking place during -- in the context of a worldwide -- a worldwide health crisis, a serious disease,
which is spread by people being in close contact with each other, whether they want to be or not.
MARTIN: So, let's just throw that into the mix.
Mail-in ballots is something that President Trump has been harping on, his conservative or far right conservative conspiracy-minded theorists have
been and supporters have been harping on.
What's the deal with mail-in ballots. Why is this kind of the focus of their ire? The president has voted by mail for years. I think everybody
knows that. So, why is this the focus of their concern right now?
HUSEMAN: I think that they view this as a bit of a Hail Mary pass. I think that they see where the polls are.
And so their intention -- and they have been foreshadowing this since 2016, even after he won -- is to call the results of the election to question,
rather than being very concerned about going after those votes with different messaging or with an altered approach.
I think that his intention is really to cause so much confusion that people either do not exercise their right to vote by mail, or it becomes so
confused, that he can litigate then after.
And both things are not good. And I think that he has perversely had, and obviously intentionally, a really interesting impact on turnout. If you
look at the rates at which people are returning their vote-by-mail ballots, they are doing it much quicker than they have in previous years.
And so I think that all of his complaints about vote by mail and the system and the lack of credibility of the USPS has encouraged people to interact
with the system in a way that actually makes it work better.
So, we will likely know the results of Election Day way sooner than we otherwise would if we didn't have a president using his bully pulpit to
talk about vote by mail a lot.
So, I don't know if that's his intended effect, but that's what's happening.
MARTIN: Well, talk to me about vote by mail, because you say that there actually is the potential for fraud...
MARTIN: ... in vote by mail. And you're, frankly, just one of the few reporters who's been willing to say that.
Why is that, particularly given that a number of states, a minority of states, but a number of states have a long history of voting by mail?
Oregon votes entirely by mail. I mean, they have a few in-person voting locations. Mainly, what I hear is that people haven't made up their minds
until the last minute, so that's why they go to the sort of the few polling places that are available.
But their system is overwhelmingly vote by mail. But you said there is that potential. Why is that? Objectively, there is.
So, there are states that do this really well, and have done this for a long time. There are, of course, the states that vote all by mail. There
are also states like Arizona, or Georgia, for example, where a very -- or Florida, where a very high percentage of the population votes by mail,
because it's a no absentee -- no-excuse absentee state, and anyone can vote by mail.
And then there are states where almost no one votes by mail. So, for example, the state of Kentucky was in the single digits for percentage of
the population that voted by mail. And now about half of the state is going to vote by mail.
And while Oregon had a decade and Washington had six years and Hawaii had seven, the rest of the states that have gone from zero to 100 have only had
six months. And that's if they immediately went that direction, and only a minority of states have.
And so while they can certainly use the lessons that the states that have been doing this for a really long time have learned, every state's election
system works so much differently, that you still have to make incredible adjustments, issue a lot of funding, to make sure that people have the
paper goods, the sorting and letter opening equipment, the scanning equipment.
It's an entirely different way of voting. And so, while people have in states across the country have been buying new voting equipment, and really
sort of preparing themselves for a 2020 election for years, they didn't anticipate the 2020 election would look like this.
So, we're having to redo a lot of our efforts in the last few months. And that speed can lead to -- can lead to mistakes. And so I want to be very
clear that I don't think that this would lead to increased intentional voter fraud.
And I don't think that this will lead to, like, intentional election fraud either. But I do think that, as we have already seen, there are room for
errors in states that have just not done this before
MARTIN: Speaking about sort of a deep concern generally of progressives, it is a fact that the statistics have shown that African-Americans and
Latinos tend to have their ballots rejected at a higher rate.
Why -- and that leads to the obvious concern on the left that there's some sort of conspiracy or two, there's a motivated effort to disqualify these
MARTIN: Why is that, based on your reporting?
HUSEMAN: You know, I think that something that a lot of people don't take into consideration is that a lot of voters of color are brand-new voters,
or have never voted by mail before.
So, even if you have been voting in the same way for a really long time, and you are a traditional voter, you go to the polls every time they open,
you may not have ever cast about on your own by mail. And voting by mail is a very difficult thing to do.
There's a very specific list of instructions that you have to follow. Those instructions vary by state, and sometimes by county. And so it's difficult
to have a statewide or a national education campaign on going to vote, because you can have a statewide education campaign that says, Election Day
is November 3, go to your polls, because that applies to everybody.
You can't really say, hey, everybody, the ballot -- the deadline for requesting your absentee ballot is October 15. And please sign the back,
because that's not the rule in every state. So, education campaigns are a lot more limited.
States have not dedicated enough money to them. And so the people that that's going to hit hardest are people who do not vote often or whose vote
is being cast in a new way for the first time.
MARTIN: Another complaint that many people have raised is polling stations themselves.
ProPublica pointed out that non-white Georgia voters tend to be living in areas where the lines were, in fact, the longest. That is a fact...
MARTIN: ... as reported by your organization. So why is that?
I mean, people look at something like that and say, how is that not an effort to keep people from voting by making it so inconvenient that they
will get discouraged?
HUSEMAN: I think that a lot of the issues that we see in these large cities are -- and this sounds quite firm, but issues of incompetence,
rather than malice.
I think that these areas have been so poorly funded, which is a remnant of the long history of racism in America, that they don't have enough
resources to be as effective as they needed to be. They cannot hire enough staff, they cannot get enough equipment.
And then you toggle that on to very political struggles between local governments and the state government, and we're kind of setting these very
populous cities up to fail.
I think that the Republican Party loves to focus on meltdowns in large inner cities, like Detroit or Atlanta, and talk about how elections in
these places are rife with fraud. That's not true. They're rife with mismanagement.
And then, also, Republican cities are not exempt from this level of mismanagement. There have been several large Republican cities and suburbs
that have had major election malfeasance.
I think we just need to take a couple of steps back. The suppression does not necessarily happen at the level of the county clerk or the elections
office. It happens at the state legislature level by choosing not to give election administrators the resources that they need and by choosing to
allow counties to apportion their own tax dollars to this county or that county, thereby allowing this county to have more polling locations and
that county to not.
So, in the same way that there have been disputes over education funding and the equity of education funding disbursement, I think there should also
be for issues of election administration.
MARTIN: Are there places that contradict the stereotype?
The Kentucky secretary of state, for example, campaigned on a platform of opposing mail-in voting, opposing absentee balloting and so forth, and in
the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has completely pivoted, who's a Republican?
HUSEMAN: Yes, and I think that this is a little bit of an undertold story.
If you focus just on the congressional and Senate debates over voting and vote by mail and the coronavirus, you get a very different picture than if
you just go one step down and look at state election administrators.
By and large, Republicans have not been nearly as opposed to vote by mail as federal level Republicans who are screaming and crying in Washington,
I mean, you saw, for example, the Republican secretary of state for Kentucky expanded early voting. His state has literally never had early
voting before. There was no vote by mail in Kentucky before this. I think that they have taken a really, interestingly, bipartisan approach.
The secretary of state is, obviously, as I said, a Republican. The governor is a Democrat, and so is the director of the state board of elections. And
so they, I think, decided to see where the political reality was and came up with a very realistic solution.
The same has happened in Iowa under Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate. And this is going to surprise voters, but one of the few states that
proactively sent not just notifications that vote by mail was expanding, but actual absentee applications to every registered voter, was the state
So there's a very different sort of outlook on this election and the severity of COVID and the importance of vote by mail for state and local
Republicans, even if there's not for federal ones.
MARTIN: I understand that there are hundreds of legal challenges already being made around the sort of election processes.
And give me some of the broad patterns.
So, I mean, I think that there are lawsuits that have taken kind of two types. So, the first type of lawsuit is over how people cast their ballots,
right, how many drop boxes there should be in the state of Texas and the state of Ohio, whether or not it's OK to have a polling location here or
There. Those impacts sort of a small number of voters who are accessing that specific type of voting.
And then there are lawsuits that I think are more concerning in the long run, which are a section of lawsuits that talk about how the votes are
counted, when they're counted, how long ballots can be accepted after Election Day, as long as they're postmarked by Election Day, when people
can start counting.
This is something that's going to affect the entire trajectory of the election. So, I'm particularly interested in decisions like the one that
came out yesterday about Pennsylvania from the Supreme Court that was 4-4 that essentially ruled that Pennsylvania could continue to count absentee
ballots as long as they were postmarked by November 3, and the ongoing litigation in Wisconsin about how long and in what way the clerks there can
process absentee ballots.
So, those lawsuits, I think, are very likely to have an impact not only on those states, but on the entire country. As you have heard President Trump
message repeatedly, he's under the impression, which is false, that if we don't have definite results on election night, then fraudulent behavior has
We have, in fact, never had the result on election night. But the litigation moving closer and closer and closer to the time where that
decision has to be made will only confuse things more and delay that decision even more.
So, his own lawsuits are really having more of an impact on this than he would if he said nothing.
MARTIN: What concerns you most about November 3, recognizing that voting has already taken place, as you have pointed out?
MARTIN: But is there something in particular that concerns you about Election Day itself?
HUSEMAN: I think that Election Day is such an emotional day, and it will be particularly emotional because we are in such a polarized place right
And I think that the thing that concerns me most is people taking very expected election setbacks -- they occur every year -- elections are run by
people -- and panicking about them and setting off quite a lot of emotion that's not necessarily justified.
We have seen that as we have watched the election in the last couple of years, in 2016 and 2018. So, certainly, that's already happened. But this
year, we seem to be at such a high emotional tenor, that I'm worried that we're going to see sort of eruptions of people screaming at each other at
the polling location, even if they didn't set out to go to that polling location to scream at people.
Like, emotions are just running so high. And so I think that people who experience solvable and expected setbacks will assume that those are either
fraud or suppression, and act accordingly, rather than just sort of calmly solving the issue as it presents itself.
MARTIN: Jessica Huseman, thank you so much for talking with us.
HUSEMAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: And we hope you have enjoyed that program on all the ins and outs of what's ahead on the voting issues.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.