Steve Kornacki on the Birth of Political Tribalism
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Steve Kornacki, MSNBC and NBC News National Political Correspondent and Author of “The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism” to discuss how the political climate of the 1990s had an effect on the current political discourse in the U.S.
"Welcome to One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. This is the Tisch WNET Studio in the heart of Lincoln Center. We're pleased to welcome a good friend, Steve Kornacki. You recognize him from MSNBC and NBC. He's a national political correspondent and author of a compelling book called The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism. How're you doing Steve? I'm good. Thanks for having me here. People don't realize this... who see you nationally... is that you cut your teeth covering politics in Jersey? Yeah. I had three years in New Jersey. I tell people it was my master's degree in practical political science. There is no more fun, interesting, lively, educational place to follow politics, to learn politics than New Jersey. I loved it. It is the funnest three years of my career. Well said. The premise of this book, the political polarization, the division, the quote-unquote, "tribalism"... Steve, many say, "Oh my God, jeez... this has been going on since Trump became president." You say? No, no go back to the 1990s. Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich... What year? What happened? Yeah. Well, I think it's two things that happened, really. It was that Bill Clinton became the first Democratic president in a dozen years, in 1992, and then he was met by this Republican Party that in that period of time had been changed. And Newt Gingrich was now sort of strategically, in Washington, the leader of the Republican Party. And the Gingrich strategy was a break from what Congress had known before. It was about confrontation, about partisan difference, partisan... you know... conflict, warfare really. And so it was Gingrich in this new Republican Party going after this new Democratic president and it was just a series of never-ending battles throughout the 90s that I think left the country kind of divided into the two camps that today we recognize as red and blue America. But Steve, the personalization, the demonizing, the name-calling, the attacks... also in the 90s? Or is that a newer phenomenon? Yeah, no. I mean, it was there, and it was... that was part of the... To the same... to this degree? No, but I think... Talking about women in a certain way that... Trump... Yeah. Listen, I don't care what your views are, he has said what he has said. Yeah. And name-calling is what... a big part of who he is. That was going on between Gingrich and Clinton and others in the 90s? Not to the same degree, but to a degree that in the time... Right. ...would have shocked..."