In an exclusive interview with TRNN, Bernie Sanders says Clinton will have to defy the oligarchs if she is to earn active campaigners from his supporters
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. And now joining us in Baltimore is Senator Bernie Sanders. Thanks for joining us. SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: My pleasure. JAY: And actor activist Danny Glover. Thank you for joining us. Danny is here as a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Sen. Sanders, if you talk to people in Baltimore, either about the extraordinary murder rate which was last year around 348, the same murder rate more or less as New York, which has 13 times the population, or you talk about mass incarceration or you talk about systemic racism, it usually boils really down to one question, which is lack of employment and low wages. It really comes down to that. Now, I know you’ve proposed a trillion-dollar infrastructure spending plan that would create jobs, but Baltimore has a pretty bad history when it comes to private-public partnerships, where investment money, for example in the Inner Harbor, in the name of creating jobs, makes a lot of money for developers and the billionaire class, and not really does much about employment and poverty. How would your plan be different? SANDERS: First of all, thank you for recognizing what too few people do recognize, and that is when you have unemployment rates of 30, 40, 50 percent, when kids have no opportunity to stand on their own two feet, go out in the adult world, become independent, bad things happen. That’s a crisis that has got to be dealt with. So in addition to proposing a trillion-dollar jobs program, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, what we also have proposed is a program along with Congressman John Conyers, which focuses on youth unemployment, specifically putting young people to work, putting them in school, getting them the job training that they need. Because at the end of the day if kids have some income, and they’re doing some constructive activity, the likelihood that they get mixed up in illegal activity is much, much less. So focusing on young people especially, providing jobs and education rather than jails and incarceration would be a major priority of a Sanders administration. JAY: And the delivery of that, would you consider a Roosevelt-style direct federal jobs program, perhaps targeting the inner cities like Baltimore? SANDERS: Absolutely. I mean, you–. JAY: Because when it’s come through the cities and the states a lot of times ordinary people don’t get the money. SANDERS: That is exactly right. There are two elements. Number one, we have to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. That is, our roads and our bridges, our water systems, our waste water plants, airports, rail, et cetera, et cetera. But second of all, when we talk about job creation the federal money has got to go into those areas that need it the most. And what is happening in inner cities all over this country is a story that is not being effectively told. But we have crisis after crisis after crisis. Crumbling public school systems, high unemployment, mass incarceration rates. We’ve got to start focusing on rebuilding inner cities in America. JAY: So a direct federally-funded jobs program is on the table with you. SANDERS: Absolutely. JAY: Okay. Number two. I know you’re running to win. And whether you win or don’t win, you need as many votes as you can get to make this political revolution you’re talking about possible. You’ve said you’re going to endorse Senator Clinton, but you said something in addition to that to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. You said you will endorse her, but if you campaign for her will really depend on what her stand is and what she adopts. [Interview clip] SANDERS: I want to see the Democratic Party have the courage to stand up to big money interests in a way that they have not in the past. Take on the drug companies, take on Wall Street, take on the fossil fuel industry. And I want to see them come up with ideas that really do excite working families and young people in this country. [End of clip] JAY: So that’s a condition for you going out and really campaigning. SANDERS: Well, let me just say two things. Number one, a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster in this country. And I will do everything that I can to prevent that from happening. But I think the issue of how the kind of support that Secretary Clinton gets from the American people, people who have voted for me, is totally dependent upon her. And that is she is going to have to excite people, convince people that she is, in fact, prepared to go outside of establishment politics and establishment economics. She is going to have to tell people that yes, the United States will join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right sooner than later, that we want paid family and medical leave like virtually every other country on earth does, and that yes, she is going to stand up to the oligarchy which today controls our economic life, our political life, and our media life. And if she does that I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement for her. If she continues to be a proponent of establishment politics and establishment economics, I think she’s going to get a lot of support from people who definitely want to defeat Donald Trump, and see her as much, much more preferable, but she’s not going to generate the excitement that I think we need. JAY: And as you said in the quote I just read, the Democratic Party, also meaning Secretary Clinton, has no record of doing any of this in the past. SANDERS: Not much. Not much. Look, we have a very low voter turnout in this country. A lot of working people, poor people do not vote because they don’t really believe that either party stands up for their interest. They have the sense instinctually, which is a correct sense, that big money dominates what goes on politically. And if we’re going to make the real changes, it’s one thing to elect the president, that’s fine. It’s another thing to really change America. What does that mean? Should we have more income and wealth inequality than any other country? Should we be addressing the crisis of climate change in a much more aggressive way? Should we be dealing with the fact that 2.2 million people in this country are in jail, more than any other country on earth, in a way that we have not come close to begin to addressing? And the answer is, I think we have got to do that. But to do all of those things require a political party to say, you know what, sorry, billionaire class. You cannot have it all. We’re going to transform our economics, we’re going to transform our politics. And by the way, we’re going to transform media as well. We’re going to get the word out to people about what’s really going on in this country in a way that the corporate media does not. JAY: Assuming, whether you win or don’t win, you need as many votes as possible between now and the convention to have clout going forward. SANDERS: Absolutely. JAY: So it doesn’t really change your game plan very much. SANDERS: That’s right. JAY: That being said, in terms of keeping this political revolution going you’ve been calling for, what does that look like and what do you do about it? SANDERS: Well, it’s a little bit premature. Right now my focus is on–. JAY: Either way. SANDERS: Right now my focus is on winning. My focus is on doing well on Saturday–on Tuesday, in five states. We’ve got a very, very big primary in California on June 7 where I think we’ve got a shot to win. So right now, our immediate focus is on getting as much votes, as many votes as we can in the primaries and caucuses that remain. JAY: One of the main arguments one hears from people who really are not enthusiastic about Secretary Clinton, but are supporting her even in the primaries, is what some people have called the fear factor. You know, they just think that she has a better chance of defeating Trump. That even though you’re polling ahead of her, frankly, against Trump, they’re saying it’s untested. That in a real campaign with tons of ads thrown at you it could be different. SANDERS: That’s the Clinton line. But what is also untested is the kind of vicious attack that the Republicans would make against Clinton in a way that we have not gone anywhere near. I mean, they’re going to be raising issues that we have stayed away from. We have tried to focus on the differences between Secretary Clinton and myself on the major issues. We have not gone into other areas where the Republicans certainly would. I think we are the stronger campaign against Trump. Not just because the polling now shows us that, but more importantly the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that we are generating will result in more people coming out to vote. Democrats win when the voter turnout is high. Republicans win when the voter turnout is low. I worry very much that a Trump-Clinton race is just going to be a low voter turnout race, which gives him a shot to win. I don’t think he will, by the way. I think she goes in as the favorite. But I think I am the stronger candidate between the two of us. JAY: Danny, you supported Sen. Sanders fairly early in the campaign. Why was this important to you, to get involved in his campaign? And let me ask the second part. As you’re out campaigning, why are older African-Americans, and I say that because younger African-Americans do seem to be kind of joining youth for Sanders, but a lot of older African-Americans are not, and why not? DANNY GLOVER: Well, the first question, certainly there’s a relationship or an allure to the Clintons that has gone back for some time. It’s gone back when he ran, when he was, his first administration and through his second administration as well. So black people have had, African-Americans have had, been accustomed to seeing the Clintons and being available for them in some sort of way. In fact, I remember one politician asked me, well, I’ve never heard of Bernie Sanders. This is a state senator. And I said, well, I don’t understand why you haven’t. The question is that your support, the ideas that you support, the ideas that you support, are right there, the ideas that he supports. And certainly I came out, first of all, because I thought this was an important moment. This is an historic moment, an important moment, in this country’s history. And we’ve seen that translate through the Occupy movement, we’ve seen it through the various movements, through Dream Defenders to Black Lives Matter. We’ve seen all these things. And then most recently–I think over a period of time, somebody has to talk about climate change. Not only its impact on the rest of the world, but its impact on us, as well. Somebody has to bring up the issues around deindustrialization that’s happened, that has removed jobs, good-paying jobs, manufacturing jobs, jobs that would hire young people. Transitional jobs that would hire young people. Someone has to talk about that. That’s the reasons why we have the connection between that, the informal economy that people exist in, and the formal economy which they can’t get into. Those are the issues around mass incarceration. No one has talked about that. Yes, [easy] to pass a crime law demonizing those victims, those people who are victimized by a policy they have no control over. Here Bernie Sanders is talking about active citizenship. The most ordinary citizens being participants not only on the day of election, but continuously being consistent as citizens throughout the process. And that’s, that’s exciting. That’s exciting. When we were responding to registering the vote and voting, we thought something was going to come out of it. And we know those periods. The Voting Rights Act of 1965. The civil rights organizing of voters down there in the South during freedom summer. And all of that did happen in a period where people saw change, the possibility of change. And I think, as Sen. Sanders says, that this possibility of change, a new voice, another narrative, a way in which their issues address from childcare to healthcare, from global warming to climate change, job creation, exciting. It’s exciting. JAY: I’ve only been given ten minutes for the interview because I know you’ve got to run to a rally. This is just the beginning, I’m hoping, and I hope we get to pick this up again. SANDERS: Well, thank you very much for allowing us to engage in a substantive-type discussion. JAY: Thanks very much. Thank you for joining us. And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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