7 min read
Interview with Mr. Eric Bauman: American Politics

This month Platform got the chance to sit with Mr. Eric Bauman, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee in California and current host of a radio show called The Uncommon Sense Democrat. We discussed his views on the midterm elections, his views on different hot button political issues and President Biden's job performance so far. We hope you enjoy reading!

Platform: First question is about the midterms. Do you believe the Biden Administration can keep the Republican Party from gaining control of both houses of Congress given the issues of Biden’s poor showing in the approval polls and the historic reality that the sitting Party loses seats in a midterm?

Eric Bauman: His approval ratings are higher than Trump's ever were. The media likes a horse race. So the media chooses the worst approval rating poll available. They won't talk about the Fox News approval poll where he'll be at 45%. They’ll use a poll at 35%. Let me be clear. Those are NOT good numbers. If you did a true reasonable evaluation of the polls, throw out the outliers (too big, too small) you will get a true average of 45 - 46% for his approval rating. At the equivalent point in Trump’s career, he was at 41%. The Democrats are going to lose the House, unless God intervenes. The Senate is the one that is in play. The polls have been so bad for the last election cycle. They miss young people, Conservative people, a whole category of women who will not answer these questions honestly in a poll. They are planning, in groups, to vote Democratic because of abortion. So I think the Democrats will probably hold the Senate. I don’t think we will wind up with more than a 51 person majority on either side. It is possible Democrats could have a really bad night and the Republicans wind up with 52 or 53 seats. Certainly possible, but not likely. Most likely it will end up 50 - 50 or 51 on either side.
It is very difficult to put your finger on it [predicting the outcome of the midterms], with the polls that exist. I looked at 4 polls that came out in Georgia over the last several days. That race pits Rafael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent Senator against Hershel Walker, a former NFL star and Georgia University. The guy [Walker] is a moron; he can’t talk in a conversation, when he doesn’t have talking points in front of him, he can’t carry on a logical flow and he’s a liar. He’s a liar, because he has had two women come forward who claim he paid for them to have abortions, even though he has claims he's pro-life without exceptions.

Platform: My grandmother told me that the Republicans put him there to give a middle finger to the Democrats. She doesn’t think he is electable.

Eric Bauman: That’s tough to figure out. Of the 4 polls I looked at, 3 of them had Warnock ahead by a couple of points. The margin of error suggests we can’t tell if he's leading for sure, in one poll Walker led by 1 or 2 points. For someone who is a true partisan, like I am, who tries to be an old fashioned traditional liberal. Biden started out strong, he had a lot of ideas, he was ready to go and then two things happened that had a strong negative impact on his administration. One was a resurgence in COVID and the other, that horrible exit from Afghanistan. The military didn’t plan for that.

Platform: There was also the borderline treasonous mistake of the military leaving behind around $83 billion in US Military equipment.

Eric Bauman: I agree with you, that’s how he started his term. But look at his accomplishments. As far as legislative achievements he is the most accomplished first term president since George Bush, certainly more than Obama, certainly more than Trump.

Platform: Let me ask you a question, as a Democrat. What about the large amounts of money that the government has printed, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package? You don't believe this may have led to inflation?
Eric Bauman: Let’s be clear. No, that’s not true. In fact, the deficit will be down 1 billion dollars this year. They’ve done this by freeing up taxes. I don't think they're getting this money by printing, they're getting it by finding the money elsewhere.

 What you have right now in the US, is two very different world views. You have a country that is truly divided 50/50. And yes, there are people who cross over in one way or the other. Republicans have picked their issues which work very well with voters– the economy and crime and they are trying not to talk about anything else, they're trying not to talk about Trump. He’s a total negative for them. Democrats have zeroed in on abortion and democracy. When you look after poll after poll, after poll on the key issues, the economy and inflation is the number one issue on the minds of voters. Inflation isn't high in America, relative to some developed economies. In Europe, Israel, the United Kingdom, it’s higher all across the world than it is here in the US.

Platform: My friend wrote an article on inflation. He talked about short term and long term inflation.  

Eric Bauman: That’s B.S. It all came from the same place. It starts with COVID and the amount of money countries had to pay to combat COVID. Israel is always in a place of inflation because they are supported by billions of dollars of foreign aid. As productive as Israel is, if the United States ever withdrew its financial support, both domestic and military Israel would be broke.

Platform: That’s a great point I wanted to get to. You brought up something dear to my heart. You are a pro-Israel Democrat. But recently Brad Sherman has come out and warned Netanyahu from forming a government with Ben Gvir. In the situation now there is no way that Netanyahu will form a government coalition without those parties. Do you think that this attempt to control the Israeli government will go anywhere? How many Democrats are in on this?

Eric Bauman: First of all, I don’t know how an Israeli government deals with a Kahanist as a key part of the government leadership.  I knew Meir Kahane and he was hanging out with Rabbi Block and they blew up the shul. I don’t know if you remember that. You may be too young to remember that. Rabbi Block was very close to Kahane. They came and firebombed the place when Kahane was there. I am not an Israeli, I don’t live in Israel, I am not an expert in Israeli politics.  I think this complicates it especially for a guy like Bibi, who is very controlling and has an agenda. He wants to change the statutes so that he doesn’t get prosecuted.  From what I can see here Netanyahu will have enough votes to lead the government.  I had the honor last Friday morning of being on a call with President Herzog and the US Ambassador to the United States. It was an extraordinary call. I assume that Herzog is independently elected. He’s still in office. We talked about a lot of things, including the Israeli elections. Herzog said he was non-partisan.  One of the differences between Israel and the US is that the US is a republic with quasi-democratic elections. One person. One vote. You vote for a person. As opposed to a parliamentary election, where you vote for a party. Then that party chooses who their representative is. In this case, the next Prime Minister. I’ve never lived in that world. We’ll see how that plays out. The US is going into a very chaotic situation. If Kevin McCarthy is the new Speaker (assuming the Republicans win the House) he’s got a big problem. Half of his house doesn’t want him. They are uncontrollable.  They are demanding. They are out there. Guys like Jim Jordan. The days of moderate Republicans, there are very few of them left.  Adam Kinzinger, who was one of two Republicans on the January 6 committee is a very conservative guy. A military guy. A true patriot. He truly believes in democracy. In order for McCarthy to keep people in line he’s going to have to get along with the real outliers in his own party.  Remember that Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell are two of the best strategists that the Congress has ever seen. Pelosi is brilliant, whether you like her policies or not. 9 or 10 of the far Lefties in the Democratic party are not the majority. There are more in the Progressive caucus but only those few are making all the noise.

Platform: You obviously think that the people on the Far Left are crazy. I probably think that even more than you do. Vice versa you are talking about Republicans on the Right wing, that won’t listen to anything bad about Trump.

Eric Bauman: And the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis. Two things they have that unite them. They like Trump. And they hate Jews.

Platform: The Antifa doesn’t like Trump.

Eric Bauman: Don’t give me Antifa. There is no Antifa.

Platform: I mean Ilhan Omer, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Those are the radicals.

Eric Bauman: Let’s be clear. They are not Antifa.  They are a whole other thing. Antifa does not believe in democratic government. They are anarchists.  Much of the same thing is true of the hard Right. They don’t really believe in the government either. One good thing Trump did in his Presidency was to move the Embassy to Jerusalem.  

Platform: So we are agreeing that both extremes are nuts. The core question I have is how are we able to bring together the people in both parties who are in the center? Do you think that the situation is so polarized that there is no hope?  

Eric Bauman: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, my friend. The polarization is only going to get worse after this election. This will leave no chance except for the people in the center to band together and work together. In the Congress of the United States there is a body of people from both sides who agree to do non-partisan work.

Platform: When people are stuck in a radicalized version of a party it’s hard to get to agreement. Let’s talk about some other issues, like climate change. I believe in climate change.  I believe that Republicans could do better in this area. People are seeing that some of this or much of this is due to man made factors. For centrist Democrats they will need to get to the idea that maybe introducing puberty blockers to people under 18 years old doesn’t resonate with the general electorate.

Eric Bauman: I don’t know personally when the correct time is to allow people to chemically transition or surgically transition. If an 8 year old kid wants to be the opposite gender I don’t have a problem, if their parents want to let them dress in another gender or act in another way. When it comes to chemicals I don't know what the right thing is. If you are over 12 let’s say and you take hormones and then decide later on to stop them it can be reversed.

Platform: I think you and many other people would agree that doing surgery early might be a bad idea. Why not wait until you are 18 years old like you have to do to smoke cigarettes or do some other things?

Eric Bauman:  There is a difference.  If you are 14 and you smoke it doesn’t twist your head around if you don’t smoke. If you are a man and feel like you are stuck in a woman’s body it can really be cruel and frustrating.  This is a very complex issue and complex area. I don’t see it immediately getting better.  As a gay man I  don’t know how to answer a question as to “what is non-binary?” I really don’t know.  How do you define that? Naming conventions, pronouns. I don’t put my pronouns on my social media. If you can’t look at me and tell me that I am a man I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to be disrespectful. I just really don’t know.
Before you were born we were in the Vietnam War and there was a big issue. Because you could be drafted and sent off to war at 18 and yet, you couldn’t vote until you were 21. There was an uprising. “How can I be old enough to be sent to war, but not old enough to vote on the characters who decide to send me?”
For sexual orientation, unless you are in specific conservative community, like the Chassidish or the Right wing, the social war is over. Something like 70% of the general population polls in favor of marriage equality.

Platform: Let’s move on to some other things that might have centrist value. What hopes do you have for Democrats and Republicans to work together?

Eric Bauman: How about infrastructure? Trump mentioned that we were going to have infrastructure six times, but couldn’t get legislation passed. Obama couldn’t. George W. Bush said he would pass it and he couldn’t. Joe Biden passed an infrastructure bill with good support from both sides of the House. He had by percentage better support in the Senate because McCarthy threatened his people: “We are not going to vote for anything that will make the President look good.”

Platform: Do you think Biden will run for re-election?

Eric Bauman: I don’t know. I don’t know. My gut is that he would like to. Will he be able to do it? I think there may be something else.

Platform: What was the thing that he said to you in the 27 years that stuck with you the most?

Eric Bauman: When I was the Chairman of the Democratic Party in California he looked at me and said, “Man, you have the hardest job in the whole country!”  I’ll never forget that.

Platform: What is the most important state that the Democrats are turning blue?

Eric Bauman: Interesting question. There were  a number of states that were turning blue already, Florida, Arizona, Nevada. This year, this election, some of the decisions that President Biden and his team made that allowed inflation to zoom up. Inflation is at 8.24%, by no means the top of the world but Americans are not used to that.  Since President Obama we’ve had no inflation. I am worried about how the Federal Reserve is responding. The interest rate is going up. The UK has now raised their interest rate by ¾ of a point.  If you listen to what the Chairman of the Fed says and what Larry Summers says they’re going to kill jobs. Right now we have a great jobs machine. We created over 200,000 jobs last month. And that’s after all the efforts to cool this down.

Platform: Our final question. What is the biggest area of successes and failures for the Biden Administration in their first two  years?  

Eric Bauman: In a broad sense the biggest area of success is legislation.
The Biden Administration has created the most diverse administrations in history. Whether you want to talk about Jewish people, Latino people, Black people, gay people, any way you want to think about it. Presiden Biden has selected his cabinet and his leadership throughout the entire administration with a view to inclusion. First ever Native American cabinet secretary. Jews in more high roles than ever. How many of the cabinet posts in Trump’s cabinet were Jews? None. None at all.
Biden appointed former Senator John Kerry to be his world wide climate change advisor. I don’t think that’s what it is called but he got a special post.

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