Being anti-Trump is not good enough for defeating Trump. The Democratic Party needs a clearer and more progressive platform if it hopes to halt the country’s rightward movement, says Empire Files’ Abby Martin on the TRNN midterm election panel
MARC STEINER: Let me just say about a couple of races that just popped up on our screen here. In Iowa Steven King and Scholten are neck and neck. There’s no way- they can’t tell who’s going to win that race at this point. It’s that close; 49.2 percent to 48.3, just let you know. And in Virginia in the 7th District, it’s one of those bellwether districts, you have Abigail Spanberger who won, the former CIA person beating Brat in that district.
Now I want to introduce to our viewers here Abby Martin, who is the creator and host of Empire files. She also helped found Media Roots News. And Abby, welcome. Good to have you with us back here on The Real News.
ABBY MARTIN: Thank you so much for having me.
MARC STEINER: So you’ve heard some of this conversation, I take it.
ABBY MARTIN: Yes.
MARC STEINER: So let me let you pick up on some of this. I mean, one of the- it’s a little too early to see what the results are in California, the referendums. It’s probably going to take a while to know. And we hope we can cover some of that tomorrow, in our program tomorrow here at Real News. But I’m curious were you, again, we’re really contemplating where this election takes us. I’m thinking about what Paul just said earlier and other people said. There were some- not disagreements, but some interesting kind of contradictions here to really explore around class and race and where we are in America.
You’ve got this- we heard so much during this election from many people saying we’ve got to stop this racist, right-wing onslaught from taking over the country. And then we saw the results of this election. So the question is, given what just happened, where does that struggle take us at this moment? What does it say to you?
ABBY MARTIN: Sure. Sure. I think it was a trickle. It wasn’t a tsunami, and it wasn’t a wave. I mean, it was a trickle, and we’re lucky to have just that. I think it was not a repudiation of the clear and growing threat of fascism that we’re seeing that the Trump administration- I mean, given the tactics and rhetoric and actions on the ground that we’ve seen in the last two years I’m actually stunned at the lack of turnout.
But actually, when you’re looking at just the complete abysmal failure when it comes to what is the Democratic Party’s platform? I mean, I ask people all the time, what do they actually stand for instead of just saying we’re not Trump, or against him? I mean, their rhetoric is all about identity politics and kind of empty platitudes. That isn’t really tangible things. I mean, it should be a no-brainer, righ? The overwhelming majority of Americans support affordable healthcare. They support net neutrality. They support affordable housing. But when it comes down to the actual policies here, the Democrats can’t pull in voters. And then you’re talking about the voter suppression. I mean, the disenfranchisement of tens of millions of people around the country. Where are the Democrats on this? Why is that we have journalist Greg Palast raising money to try to sue the state governors to try to get these voter purge lists? I mean, where the hell is the Democratic Party helping out on this? I mean, why is it that this passivity is institutionalized, and just given, and acquiesce to the Republican Party?
I mean, we are facing a unique Trump brand of fascism. Yeah, he might not have done and said the things that Hitler has done or said, but he’s our Hitler. He could be our Hitler. And the fact that the Democrats are tiptoeing around the word fascism about context and analysis about what’s going on- you turn on CNN and MSNBC right now, they’re cheering and celebrating as if this is some huge victory. This is not a victory. I mean, they are not capable of actually challenging the growing threat here. And it’s very, very disturbing. I mean, the GOP is dismantling democracy as we know it, because of course they know that they don’t have the voters behind these policies when you go across the country and see what people really support.
But we see fascism is on trend now, and they’re just pulling to their base. Trump has never been more powerful. I don’t care that they lost by a fringe margin tonight. Trump is emboldened and has never been more powerful, and it scares me that Democrats are not assessing the reality of where we’re at. And it scares me that Republicans have taken the majority of the governorships. We’re going to see dramatic gerrymandering. And also the greenlighting of these federal judges by Chuck Schumer. I mean, he’s already greenlit 30 federal district court judges.
So I don’t think the Democrats are capable of resisting here, which means the elections are just a small part, of course, of what’s going on in this country, and I don’t want to disempower, disenfranchise people even more, because of course we know that change will only happen with the masses in the street pushing this policy. In fact, that’s how it’s always been.
MARC STEINER: You said a great deal here, Abby. Let me kind of parse this out and think about what other people have said here on this panel, and think about, Paul, what you were saying earlier in the conversation about the nature of the billionaire class, as you call it, who runs both parties. Though there is, I think, an ideological split among them, as there is everybody in America. I mean, the people in the ruling class who love the Democratic Party are also people who support abortion rights and where most of the communities of color are aligned with in this country, for all kinds of complex reasons. And we’ve been talking for months and months and months about what we’re facing, this onslaught that’s built around Trump, and what they could do to the future of our country.
You just talked a minute ago, Jacqueline, about your fear about your grandchildren and what they’re going to face; these young black children growing up in a society that could be worse than better. We could be facing a combination, as I’ve been saying a lot, of 1877 when Reconstruction was killed and 1932 when a minority party took over Germany, and marrying these two historical moments and thinking about what that could mean for 2018 and 2020 and 2022.
So I’m curious what you all think, in the time we have together, where does that take us, then? What- it’s not, I think it’s great that the Democrats probably have taken the House, and they can- if they actually push some issues and bring issues to the table, and actually go after some of the things Trump did and kind of raise the level, heighten the contradictions- though I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that- where does this take us?
PAUL JAY: I spent some time in Pennsylvania District 11, where Jess King was running. Very progressive candidate. Did not try to run against Trump; ran against Smucker, and mostly ran for progressive values. She didn’t win. And she actually lost by a fair amount. But what I saw there, to me, is the beginnings- or maybe it’s more than beginnings- the kind of on-the-ground organizing that’s going on there, and especially organizing amongst poor and working class whites who vote for Trump, and really trying to reach out and talk to them. And I think so much of the left has abandoned that sector of the population and just left it to Fox, and left it to the Republicans.
But there in fact is a lot of that kind of organizing going on. And maybe it didn’t break through and win this time, but this is the beginning of a ramp up for 2020, and the kind of organizing going on in that District 11 and some other parts of Pennsylvania, it’s really all a step for the next two years. So as much as I’ve been talking about how the billionaire class controls the parties and such, I don’t think they’re in total control of the situation. I think people are waking up. I think there is organizing going on.
And I agree with what you were saying earlier. But we need to do both. There needs to be the fights over the immediate issues of reform that engage people. But we should not talk to people like they’re children. You know, we are facing a existential moment in history, and people need to know it. And when I was in District 11 talking to Trump voters after one of these debates, and I started talking about the threat of climate change, and I was talking about AI, and robotized- I can’t even say it now. Robotics, and so on. They were very engaged in that, because it’s not a partisan conversation, and it really does affect us all. So this next two years is decisive.
EUGENE PURYEAR: I think that’s a very good point. I think to sort of maybe marry two threads here, one race that kind of indicates a lot of this, sort of, one, the inability to learn the lessons of 2016, and two, the inability to embrace mass movements, is the Ohio governor’s race, which has now been called for the Republican Mike DeWine. Richard Cordray parachuted in there, defeated Dennis Kucinich at really the behest of the establishment in the state of Ohio. But you look at Ohio, that did go for Trump. It had a lot of sort of Obama 2012/Trump 2016 voters, strong labor movement, different pieces like that. What are some of the main trends there? Trade issues, obviously; something that Kucinich had been out there for years talking about. The issues of the wars, which there’s at least one study that looked at Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and found that many of the most pro-Trump districts had outsized proportions of people who had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other things that had gone on out there. To a second degree was the issue that the Kucinich was trying to raise in a major way, which was the gun control issue. Which not only was a major movement, but he was trying to really sort of, especially with his lieutenant governor candidate Tara Samples, really not just have the traditional conversation about gun control but talk about community violence and black communities, and what that really would have meant.
And so not only talking about sort of playing into some of the major trends around working-class people, but also talking about how do you start to create these alliances between different sectors of working-class people on issues that matter to them. And I think at the end of the race you can really see the problem that you have with that when you have the steel workers vote for the first time, 96 percent of them, to potentially go on strike nationally- don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it’s a major issue here- that to have someone who is a longtime union supporter, known by union members, who could have turned their campaign into a movement campaign, I mean, think about talking about having a card check right-to-work type of piece, empowering workers with the bully pulpit of the governor’s mansion there in Columbus at a time like this when workers are hurting, when workers are fighting. Embracing the mass movements that are existing. Talking about how to marry them and put together- that’s the opposite of what the Democrats had.
They had this random guy Richard Cordray. No one’s ever heard of him. He’s a wonk. He’s a terrible speaker. He doesn’t even really know that much of the issues. He barely even spoke to workers’ issues in a state like Ohio, which is shocking to me, I think except for maybe the one or two times he showed up at a steelworkers hall. And this is what you get in a situation like this, where Sherrod Brown easily cruises to re-election with that kind of agenda that I’m talking about; one that really is speaking to so many of the concerns of working-class people of all races in Ohio. And then you have the governorship go to the Republicans because you do the exact opposite. So I think it’s an interesting race to sort of look at some of these larger trends.
MARC STEINER: Lester, go ahead.
LESTER SPENCE: Yeah. One of the points she brought up was the idea of what’s going on with the states, with the governors. It’s important to note that the Republicans actually lost four governorships. It’s also important to note that if you look at other states, New York, for the first time in a generation, the Democratic Party actually controls both the governor and both seats in the legislature. Right?
So sgain, we can actually articulate Trump as being this larger-than-life figure, and Trumpism as a thing, and he is. But again, I go back to 2016. Did any of us sitting here actually imagined that that would happen? Did any of us would imagine that New York would actually take all of- it’s the first time in a generation that that’s ever happened. Right? You know, what’s going to happen in Michigan? So, Michigan has a Democratic governor for the first time. As a result of them passing the anti-gerrymandering ballot it’s likely that that, that their legislature, which has been dominated by Republicans- not just by Republicans, by conservative Republicans- that they’ll actually flip.
So I think we have an opportunity- what we should be doing, again, going back to that populist example, is thinking about what are these individual institutions at the state level that are working, in some cases, with the Democratic Party- in a lot of cases, to be fair, either against the Democratic Party, or at least in a context where the Democratic Party ignores them- what are the institutions?
So if we think about an institution like Florida, we can’t think about Gillium’s victory- I’m sorry.
MARC STEINER: Loss.
LESTER SPENCE: There we go. Well, I think about him getting all those votes is a victory. Although he didn’t win.
No, yeah, I hear that. Right.
LESTER SPENCE: But you can’t- I mean, how does FAMU play a role? Like, what are these black colleges, how do these black colleges actually play a role in how Gillum was able to do in Florida, how Abrams was able to do in Georgia? Right? How are the churches- I’m a heathen, but how are these churches [laughter] able to mobilize folk?
It’s funny. I was at a grocery store, and I was like, oh my God, oh hell, honey’s on sale. And the sister who gave me the honey, she was like, you’re not supposed to say hell. I was like, damn. I felt all chastised.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I’m a Christian, I say hell all the time. [Crosstalk]
MARC STEINER: Abby, let me let you jump in here.
ABBY MARTIN: I mean, I don’t want to discount, obviously, the very important win, right, to stave off, kind of, this impending fascist threat from the GOP and these anti-science evangelicals. That is obviously very, very important. But I am worried that the duopoly is going to crush us, because I’m worried, for instance, the fact that Nancy Pelosi 15 years ago was saying impeachment was off the table for George W. Bush, here she is again saying impeachment’s off the table for not only Kavanaugh, but Trump. And her main priority if they take back the House is actually going after his tax returns.
So I’m just extremely worried about the consultant and big donor class that is controlling the Democratic Party and preventing the ouster, undermining this kind of corporate seizure and capturing from insurgent candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m worried about that. And I’m worried about the fact that there’s candidate suppression here, because again, I just don’t think the Democrats are capable of really dealing with this. They’re talking about returning to civility. They’re not really addressing what the threat really is.
And you look at California- we actually do know the results right now. I mean, California was another state that implemented some bizarre jungle primary system, where actually Green Party candidates, Peace and Freedom candidates, were expelled, were purged from the ballot entirely. There was only three third party candidates that even had an option to be on the general election ballot.
So I think that when we’re looking at California, the results that have come in are, you know, I am shocked and disappointed. But at the same time, when you look at kind of the nature of the state, we have a huge defense contractor industry, we have giant oil money pouring in. And we have the Silicon Valley, of course. So it’s hard to penetrate that kind of corporate capture of the state. And that’s why you see Feinstein winning, even if the Democrats even abandoned her. I mean, it’s just stunning that Feinstein won another term here. We had Prop 10, which was the ability to have affordable housing, get knocked down overwhelmingly. It was a very confusing ballot measure that was funded tens of millions of dollars by Trump’s friends, corporate landlords and real estate firms. The manager of- the biggest donor against Prop 10 was actually a vigilante anti-homeless crusader, and that overwhelmingly got rejected. The public bank option, which could have divested L.A. from Wall Street, got overwhelmingly rejected.
So I think that again we’re talking about the problem with corporate capture of our entire country, from politicians down to the media, where these messages, messaging from these ballot propositions are so confusing that people are really consistently voting against their own interests because they’re not getting accurate information, which really a real democracy thrives on.
MARC STEINER: So there’s a couple of results- you were just talking, Abby, and I just want to share this with our viewers here, because you were talking about California. Dianne Feinstein- looks like she won, obviously, but with 53 percent of the vote to 46 for Kevin de Leon. Which says a lot. I mean, that’s a major kind of push from the left against Dianne Feinstein. And Prop 6, which was a gas tax repeal, yes was only 44 percent- 55 percent. Killed it, which is significant, as well. And the affordable housing it was 40 percent yes and 60 percent no. But these are kind of interesting kind of pieces when you also look at the closeness, the level of difference in the races where people lost. Whether it was Gillum’s loss in Florida, or the other losses that were very tight. And also-
PAUL JAY: The Texas one’s interesting, because while Cruz won by a small amount, apparently there’s like 10 new seats the Republicans lost in the state legislature in Texas.
MARC STEINER: Correct. Exactly. So the point I’m getting to with this is that what this says to me is that there’s an interest, there’s a very powerful divide in this country right now. So where progressives may not have the influence inside the party they would have had they won- or maybe they will. I mean, we can discuss that. What does that set up for a progressive movement vis a vis this kind of very right-wing movement that’s very powerful in this country, and the push against the establishment in the Democratic Party? I mean, this is- it’s a really fascinating battle America’s having politically now. I’m curious where you all think this takes us strategically, and where you think next steps might be. Jacqueline, go ahead.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: I think that we’re still going to have a problem with the establishment Democrats, the corporate-focused Democrats, supporting the insurgent progressive- I mean, because they’re the insurgent, progressive wing. The Feinsteinss and the Pelosis, they don’t want to cede power. So they’re not going to be very welcoming of these young upstarts coming into their party telling them that they have to focus on antiwar. I mean, they really don’t want to talk about war, because they make too much money from defense contractors. Let’s- let’s be honest. So they’re not going to want to hear that they have to talk about war. They’re not going to want to hear that they have to talk about- that they really have to put forth an effort and a plan on climate change. Even though they’ll all say that they’re concerned about it, but they’re not really going to do much about it because they’re still very invested in the fossil fuel industry. They don’t want to hear from these young upstarts that they have to really start focusing seriously on healthcare, on Medicare for All, because after all these are the same people who did not want to push a public option.
So that they’re not going to change on that. So we’re still going to see at the national level this pushback from the corporate Democrats on the people-focused, more progressive, insurgent wing of the Democratic Party. But that does not mean that inroads will not be made in more local races, school boards. I look back at the Tea Party- and I’ve always used this example- after the Tea Party won that first wave of offices after Obama won. Now, there were a lot of horrible reasons that they won. But their strategy was absolutely perfect. And this was an argument that you couldn’t make to Democrats because they felt like I was saying that I liked what the Tea Party did.
No, I didn’t like what they did as far as policy is concerned. But you could not argue that their strategy worked. They went out and they did exactly what Beto O’Rourke did. Even even though he didn’t win. But he wasn’t even supposed to place. O’Rourke wasn’t even supposed to matter. And he almost won, because he campaigned in every single county. Every single district in Texas. Two hundred something-odd districts.
MARC STEINER: And raised a ridiculous amount of money, mostly from [crosstalk].
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Raised a ridiculous amount of money from people. Abrams wasn’t even supposed to place, and she became a national phenomenon. Why? Because people went to Georgia, in Georgia, on the ground knocking on doors; 15,000 doors a day over the past few weeks. Gillum wasn’t even supposed to be a factor. But he became one because of black colleges, because of high school students who were able to vote, because people got engaged.
So yes, the corporate Democratic Party, we’re still going to see a problem with them. And I actually agree with with half of what you say, Eugene. I think-
MARC STEINER: Just half?
MARC STEINER: Just half. Because I really feel like, I really feel like Trump- at least the Republican Party, I hate calling his name, the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party is not going to want to push prescription drug price reduction. I don’t think they want to, because that’s too close to agreeing with the Democrats on Medicare for All. I think they’re not going to want to do that. But I think they will get the infrastructure bill passed. I think that will happen. And that is what is going to push that person to win the White House in 2020.
I do think, though, that this left, insurgent, progressive, grassroots, radical- I think people are going to be less afraid of the word radical. I think people are finally going to figure out, like our parents did, that in order to get anything done, like Abby said, like we all know, social change happens when people get angry and they get in the streets, and they show politicians that no, we know what you’re doing, and we’re not going to let you do it. And it has to be sustained. The antiwar movement has to be rebuilt in this country. It’s going to be slow, but it is going to be done.
And this isn’t going to be done within the Democratic Party. This is going to be done in people’s neighborhoods, in organizations like Black Alliance for Peace, in organizations like Pan-African Community Action, and in churches, in progressive churches, who are now starting to push back on this conservative Christian indoctrination and stealth propaganda campaign that’s been going on in white communities and white churches for 60 years. All of this is going to coalesce. It’s not going to happen in the corporate Democratic Party. But it is going to happen in the streets, though.
MARC STEINER: And Abby, I see you’re shaking your head yes.
ABBY MARTIN: I love that you brought up the war machine continuously, because that’s, that’s what I’m thinking about. I mean, that’s the main issue on my mind all the time, of course, looking not domestic and foreign policy through the lens of obviously the U.S. being the largest military machine, and responsible for death and destruction around the globe on a daily basis. And especially being the world’s largest consumer of energy and the world’s largest polluter, fankly. I mean, we’re talking about an institution, the Pentagon, that’s exempt from all international climate treaties. I mean, it basically is immune from any responsibility from the degradation of the environment.
And so I think it’s just shocking to even see the lack of really accurately talking about the big picture. Right? I mean, just calling out the problem as it so obviously stands. I mean, where is Bernie Sanders on foreign policy? Where’s Ocasio-Cortez? I mean, I’m really happy that they, that they’ve talked about this, but I think it should be a main focal issue. I mean, why is it that here we are in 2018, and we’re still not able to address this elephant in the room that the Pentagon has the largest destructive force on earth, and it’s the largest- it’s the most responsible for climate change? And I couldn’t agree more; I mean, we’re at the precipice of cataclysmic climate catastrophe. And if we’re not addressing the actual solution of dismantling the U.S. empire along with its 900 military bases around the world, I don’t actually know what we’re talking about here.
But I really want to also mention that I couldn’t agree more, the fight is really in the streets, with millions of bodies. And if you look at California, as disheartening as some of these polls and races have become, I think what’s amazing is, you know, even in Florida, the felon disenfranchisement, overturning- weed being legalized in the past, gay marriage finally being legalized here. I mean, the fact that we went through several iterations of those laws before people really got a grasp on it. And so I think this is the beginning of a really big shift in consciousness here, and of people’s power movement. I mean, the public bank option, that was just kind of, you know, just new for people. And so hopefully we’ll see it next time. And I think that-
MARC STEINER: It lost by how much?
ABBY MARTIN: It lost pretty overwhelmingly, I think only 40 percent to 60. Pretty similar to the Prop 10.
MARC STEINER: That was a ballot measure in Los Angeles. Right.
ABBY MARTIN: That was a ballot measure in central LA. And that could have been the first public bank other than North Dakota; that could have divested from Wall Street. But I think that, again, this is the beginning of something that we’re going to see that could really, really take on a life of its own.
LESTER SPENCE: But you know, we have to-
MARC STEINER: Lester Spence.
LESTER SPENCE: You said it lost overwhelmingly. But we predicted- I mean, 40 percent of the vote? I mean, what will- again, what do you predict- I can’t, 40 percent? Like, is it Washington that had a carbon tax? Now, what- I don’t know what happened there. And maybe that lost, too. But there’s a political- and I hate to be the one- I’m not hope and change at all. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to be the person saying, OK, let’s actually look at this from a standpoint of victory. What does the long-term struggle look like? Long-term struggle is like first we get something on the ballot. People going to think we’re crazy. And then we get it on the ballot and we lose by a lot. But then we get it on our ballot, we lose a little, and then we get on the ballot and we win.
Now, that’s just talking electorally. There’s a lot- you know, the politics isn’t just about electoral practices. It’s not just about elections. But damn 40 percent? That’s actually something. Right? And we have to actually articulate that and claim that. We can’t just be sitting here, because we know Trump is going to articulate this as a victory for him, and it wasn’t. He ran on the most explicit, racist ads in a generation, and we defeated him. Right? That’s something we should be claiming all day, every day. And then again, looking at individual states and saying, OK, the corporate Democrats, they don’t know how to fight. I’d be willing to bet if you went into any individual or local Democratic meeting, it’d be three people and an iPad. I mean, it can be taken. So why are we- we can’t act as if all these structures are so overpowering and dominant and we’re the ones with the power. We have to stop that.
EUGENE PURYEAR: And I think the question is are we creating a narrative that we can build on? I also want to note Idaho and Nebraska expanded Medicaid. There’s actually been- I mean, [crosstalk] Yeah. Those both of those won. Every state that’s expanded it, it’s been tremendously popular. Every state that’s been on the ballot, it’s actually passed. Minimum wage was not a huge issue this year, but you see a similar sort of trend.
So I think there’s a narrative out here, even though you aren’t winning every race, that you can say, like, obviously access to healthcare is a major issue. I mean, that’s part of the reason why I actually feel very strongly about this prescription drug piece. I mean, last week you have the Congressional Diabetes Caucus releasing, like, a hard-hitting report on the insulin industry for jacking up prices. Which surprised me, but obviously they’re setting the stage for legislation that almost certainly will pass.
I think that there’s a narrative that’s starting to build around some of these issues. I mean, you have Amendment 4, which does well and wins. You lose Question 1 and Issue 1 in Ohio, which was to turn all drug possession charges into misdemeanors from felonies. But to even have that as an issue that was championed by a major party candidate … Legalized weed in Michigan. Also worth noting that the gubernatorial Luján Grisham, who won the governorship in New Mexico, also wants to legalize marijuana in that state. Same with Phil Murphy in New Jersey. Same thing, although I don’t think this will happen, with J.B. Pritzker in Illinois.
So I think we’re starting to see that there’s a narrative that people are turning a bit. And we’ll see what happens with Harris County judges, where they may throw out a bunch of judges who are against bail reform. There’s a narrative starting to build here that people are uncomfortable with mass incarceration, uncomfortable with drug prohibition, think that we need better access to healthcare, that drug prices are too high. And I think if we can seize on some of the centerpieces of that narrative, it shows us where a movement has to start to go to turn the ship around.
LESTER SPENCE: And that narrative- and one more thing- and that narrative is created by organizations. Like the organizations you’re- regular people organizing, articulating something, and then, and then organizing folk and then taking [crosstalk].
EUGENE PURYEAR: And it deserves to be mentioned, I have to say this really quickly, Rashida Tlaib, who comes from Detroit where you are who initially had not the greatest position on Palestine. And organizations who work on this issue- you know, the Electronic Intifada, Jewish Voice for Peace, a number of Muslim organizations actually interacted with her, reached out to her, some sort of called her out, and she turned her position 180 degrees. And I think it deserves to be said that someone who’s called Israel an apartheid state and said that she’s for a one-state solution is going to be in Congress. How much that’s going to come up I don’t know, but it’s a clear example of how mobilization on the ground can really affect a candidate [inaudible].
MARC STEINER: And let me just jump in, because- Abby, I know you’ve got to run, as well. But I we just, I just saw a piece here that, in the context of what everybody just said here, that Nancy Pelosi says she’s going to now seek, as speaker, bipartisanship. [Laughter]
So Abby, before we roll, could you again start there, and you can finish up with the comments you just heard here, and how it all feeds into that.
ABBY MARTIN: I missed, I missed that comment. Can you repeat it?
MARC STEINER: Yes. Nancy Pelosi says now that she’s going to be speaker, she’s going to be pushing bipartisanship.
ABBY MARTIN: Oh my good God. Yeah, well, we know- we know that the Democrats are basically- I mean, after that, you know, she did a town hall where someone asked her, would you ever go left on economic issues? And she almost shook out of her own clothes and she said we’re capitalist, that’s the way it is. I think that as long as Democrats are running on the fumes of Russia fearmongering and essentially opening their tent to every one right of center it’s going to be a long road ahead. And so I think we need to really take the framing out of electoral politics for a second, and really put it back into the streets, into the formation of these organizations and the groundswell. That’s really the only thing- because it’s happened under Republican presidents, right? Bush, Reagan. We saw massive immigration reform.
And so I think that no matter what happens on the electoral arena, we have to keep people inspired and plugged in, instead of just plugging in a vote every two years, every four years. And that’s really not how change is going to happen. So it’s really from the ground up. And Democrats really have to open their tent to the left if they want to win, but I think really it’s going to come with grassroots insurgent candidates, and really grassroots mobilizing movements of tens of millions of people on the street pushing for these policies.
MARC STEINER: Abby Martin, it’s great to have you with us. We look forward to many more talks. And we’ll be talking together soon. Thanks for joining us.
ABBY MARTIN: Thanks so much for your great coverage.
MARC STEINER: And now we’re going to be joined by Howie Klein, who is a former music producer and record label executive, and progressive activist. He’s now an adjunct professor at McGill University in Montreal. And- oh, he’s not here. Almost here, sorry. I was going to say one of your favorite commentators, Paul Jay. But he’s not here yet. So we’ll get to him before we’re-
EUGENE PURYEAR: Got a great blog. He’s got a great blog name, Down With Tyrrany.
MARC STEINER: Exactly, exactly, exactly. So you know, this is … I’m just curious, hearing all the conversation we just had here, where you see the struggle going over the next two years, towards this next presidential election. Democrats have the House. We’re talking about people working inside the Democratic Party, working outside the Democratic Party organizing, and where we think this goes. And Paul, we haven’t heard from you, which is uncommon here, for the last few minutes. Why don’t you jump in?
PAUL JAY: Well, the model I saw in Pennsylvania I think’s a good one. A lot of the organizing that was going on was not done within the Jess King campaign. It wasn’t done within the Democratic Party. It was done with a variety of organizations they’ve established which decided to support Jess King. But their organizing is going on- Lancaster Stands Up is one of the organizations, and there’s some others that are related.
I think that’s the right model. I don’t think you can separate the electoral fight from the street fight. I don’t think you can really mobilize ordinary people without a connection to an electorial fight, because that’s where the power is. People understand that. And I think in the streets- too often thinks people marching with signs. But in the streets can also mean in the community.
MARC STEINER: Organizing.
PAUL JAY: On the streets of the community. And that can’t just go on, you know, within a few weeks or months before an election. And I think that’s the model that that’s taking place that I saw in Pennsylvania. They are going to be continuing working in the community and getting people, as I say, particularly working on people that in the poor sections of the working class, and workers that voted for Trump. And there’s some towns in this district that I saw that are, you know, exactly that model.
And I think we need to raise these conversations with people in these communities. And we can do it as The Real News, and some of the organizing that’s going on in Pennsylvania can do it, because they’re not doing it on behalf of the Democratic Party. They’re doing it on behalf of the people of the community, and taking these issues- like, climate change should not be a partisan issue, but the Republicans have succeeded in making it so. That model is the, is the relationship of community organizing in the streets and electoral struggle.
I mean, we have, like, two years where the fate of humanity, to some extent, is going to get decided here. If another climate denier gets elected, if it’s this climate denier gets re-elected, and/or a climate compromiser that has the rhetoric but actually won’t do anything effectively gets elected, we’re in serious trouble as humans. And I think that’s a nonpartisan conversation. And I’ll just say what I said before. When we go and talk to people in the community, they’re not children. They need to hear this big picture threat to our existence, to their kids, to their grandchildren.
I mean, I did an interview with Rana Foroohar, who writes for The Financial Times, and I asked her, what do the people on Wall Street think? They’ve got kids, they’ve got grandkids. They know this climate thing is for real. What are they thinking? And she said they all have their escape plans. They just had to pass a law in New Zealand to stop foreigners from buying land, because the billionaires are buying up all the land. They’re going to buy up land in northern Ontario, and Canada. Working people have to understand that the elites are getting ready to throw them into the gutter. You know, they’re going to have a society with robots doing the work. And the elites go protect themselves. I mean, I think they’re delusional to think they can really protect themselves. But to a large extent when you’ve got that much money you are delusional. We’ve got to tell people this. And I think when we tell the whole truth to people, I think people are going to respond.