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Bill Moyers: What Election 2012 Reveals About America and Its Shifting Racial Faultlines

Moyers speaks with two leading political observers about race and economic inequality in America.

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But I don't think that we can get any kind of real healing in this country until we start acknowledging these deep divides. And we keep trying to paper over it. There's the ethnic, racial and ethnic divide and then there's the class divide and we're in trouble if we don't do something about them.

We need to be clear that this is a party that has been hostile to the interests of African Americans and hostile to the interests of Latinos in this country and hostile to the interests of working people in this country.

So you have to begin to address their concerns. And the Republican Party is hostile to their concerns.

REIHAN SALAM: Well, I respectfully disagree with that take. I think that Republicans aren't hostile to the interests of minority voters. But what I do think is fair is that when you look at the folks who voted for Mitt Romney, 88 percent of them were non Hispanic whites.

BILL MOYERS: Non-Hispanic whites.

REIHAN SALAM: Exactly, non-Hispanic whites, and what that implies is that when you're in these conversations among conservatives sometimes when you don't have people from these other groups who can engage in these conversations you miss a great deal.

And that's one reason why there are a lot of conservatives, myself included, who believe that we do have messages, ideas and strategies that would be relevant for achieving economic uplift and much else. But the problem is that when you don't have a more diverse group of people who are part of the conversation, then I think that it makes it very hard to translate that message to folks who are inclined to distrust.

BOB HERBERT: I would say that if you are going to target voters on the basis of the fact that they are African American or the fact that they are Latino and try to prevent them from voting on that basis, voter suppression, that is being hostile to the interests of those groups. And if you start talking about self deportation, that is being hostile to the interests of Latino Americans. So I think that, you know, I think that we really need to be clear about this because unless we understand it we can't begin to heal that wound. And that's a grievous wound in this society.

REIHAN SALAM: Yeah, I mean, I don't see it the same way. I don't see a lot of the efforts to reform voter ID laws and what have you the same way that you do, but I absolutely believe that your perspective is widely shared, and it's an important one. But I think--

BOB HERBERT: But didn't the governor of Pennsylvania say, when they were talking about the voter restrictions in Pennsylvania saying, "This is how we're going to win Pennsylvania for Mitt Romney"?

REIHAN SALAM: Well, no, there was a state senator who said that--

BOB HERBERT: Excuse me, a State Senator.

REIHAN SALAM: --this will allow Mitt Romney to win the election. Now, the implication of that is that the suggestion was that there's such pervasive fraud that he wouldn't be able to win without it. I do not think that is correct. But I think that actually when you parse what he was saying I think that's what he meant. And I think that you're actually illustrating my point in a wonderful way.

There's so much distrust that-- and of course people aren't inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's interpret what he said in the most favorable possible light because there is legitimate distrust that is rooted in the fact that these are communities that don't generally talk to each other.

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