Spain’s elections on July 23 yielded a surprise result that’s left the country without a government for more than 10 weeks now. While the conservative Partido Popular (PP) won the most votes, no clear majority was established. The far-right party Vox also made significant gains, and has established ruling coalitions with PP at the local level. Yet nationally, left and center-left forces have managed to impede a conservative-led government from forming. Now, Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party has been tapped by Spain’s king to lead a new effort to form a coalition government. The left might just snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat—but it depends on whether they can rally nationalist Catalan and Basque parties to their side. Professor Bécquer Seguin of John Hopkins University and Professor Sebastiaan Faber of Oberlin College join The Marc Steiner Show to follow up on an explainer they wrote for The Nation about just what on earth is going on in Spain, and what it portends for European politics at large.

Bécquer Seguín is Assistant Professor of Iberian Studies and the Senior Editor of the MLN Hispanic Issue. His research focuses on the literary, cultural, and political history of modern Spain, with secondary interests in political theory, intellectual history, and cultural sociology.

Studio Production: David Hebden
Post-Production: David Hebden


Marc Steiner:  Welcome to The Marc Steiner Show here on The Real News. I’m Marc Steiner. It’s great to have you all with us once again.

What you just heard was “No Pasarán.” “They shall not pass” is what it means in English. It became the unofficial anthem of the forces fighting the fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. It was written following the great revolutionary leader, Dolores Ibarruri Gomez’s speech, “No Pasarán,” that she made on July 18, 1936.

While the fascists won under Franco, the support of Hitler and Mussolini in 1939 that led to 36 years of brutal right-wing dictatorship in Spain, we find Spain now gripped in a struggle between the right and the left again, between the forces of right authoritarianism and those on the left and others wanting a freer society.

In Spain’s election last month, the fascist party, Partido Popular, won the most votes – Not a majority, but the most votes. But the nation and the electoral count show a country deeply, deeply divided. The King of Spain even tried to anoint the right wing, and they didn’t have the votes to get it done.

So we’re taping this together on Sept. the 26th. Let me introduce our guests. These two gentlemen wrote an article in The Nation about the Spanish election, and they join me here today. In the studio is Bécquer Seguín, who is assistant professor of Iberian Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His new book is The Op-Ed Novel: A Literary History of Post-Franco Spain. And Sebastiaan Faber, who is professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College. An updated version of his book, Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Second Transition, will be published in November.

Gentlemen, welcome. Good to have you with us.

Bécquer Seguín:  Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Marc Steiner:  So in my best Spanish [inaudible], what’s happening in Spain [laughs]? It seems, when we’re taping this today, that the Spanish election took place, and that it’s still undecided who’s going to form this government. So take us back a couple of steps to this election and its significance, how it happened, and what is playing out here.

Bécquer Seguín:  So essentially, the recent prehistory of this election takes us back to May. In late May, there was a local and municipal election. So Spain essentially has two cycles of elections. There are other elections that are interspersed throughout, but the two cycles are, you have local, regional elections every four years, and then you have the national elections. The local and regional elections took place in late May, and the left lost pretty considerably. Both the center left, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, the PSOE as it’s often referred to.

Marc Steiner:  P-S-O-E?

Bécquer Seguín:  P-S-O-E, exactly.

Marc Steiner:  Just for those who don’t speak Spanish [laughs].

Bécquer Seguín:  Exactly. And also Podemos, which was the left-wing party that came on the scene in 2015 and almost had… Let’s say, lots of electoral success early on, but that has been tapering off since 2019. And so the left lost pretty dramatically. And some of those losses were less in terms of the amount of votes that they received and more in terms of the fracturing of the left. There were internal left divisions that led left –

Marc Steiner:  How odd [laughs].

Bécquer Seguín:  Exactly, right. That led different left-wing parties in different communities to split the vote share and not reach the threshold in order to be able to enter the regional Parliaments.

Then the day after those local municipal elections in May, Pedro Sánchez, the president of the government, called snap general elections. And those elections took place weeks later, not even two months later.

I think it took most of us by surprise because the left was kind of wounded. It didn’t really have a clear message. There were parts of the left that wanted to focus more on labor, people like Yolanda Díaz, the Minister of Labor under Pedro Sánchez, who is of the Podemos group. She’s also of Izquierda Unida, the left-wing party, where the Spanish Communist Party forms part of that coalition.

But then there were other people, others on the left that wanted to focus more on cultural politics. I think that divided the left in a sense. And then you have the center left, which doesn’t really often decide, or can’t really decide whether it’s with labor or whether it’s with capital.

Then we had the elections in July, and Pedro Sánchez, despite, let’s say, calling these elections and everyone thinking that it was also going to be a catastrophe just like the May elections and these national elections, Pedro Sánchez actually stood firm and got enough votes together with the pro-independence parties in Catalonia and the Basque Country, and the left-wing party got enough representatives so that people think today, or in a couple of months, the socialist party will be able to form a government after this whole debate with the conservative party is happening right now in Congress.

Marc Steiner:  So Sebastiaan, one of the things I want to lay out here, and maybe you can help us with this, is that, A, I do this series here at The Real News on The Rise of the Right, and clearly this is a battle that is at the heart of that, and the heart of that in Europe. So why is this election so important, A, for both the European Union and Europe, what it could portend? Especially given the right-wing government in Italy and other places around Europe and the surge of the right in Europe, and why the universal “we” should even care about it?

Sebastiaan Faber:  That’s a great question. As Bécquer was saying, the big question in the elections in July was, will the combined right win enough votes to form a government? And the “combined right” is the party that likes to see itself as center right, the Partido Popular, the PP, and the far right, which is a young party called Vox, which is of a kind really of the… It’s very much roughly like the far right in France, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in other European countries. At a European level, the big moral and political question faced by center-right parties in Germany, in Holland, in France, is, are we willing to ally ourselves with the far right in order to form a government? So that’s the whole debate about what they call “the quarantining of the far right,” or letting them into spaces of government.

The Spanish Partido Popular has long been… Well, since Vox has appeared on the scene – Vox which, by the way, was a breakaway party from the PP itself. It’s founded by members of the PP. Indicating that, for a long time, the center at PP was a welcome home for people with far-right ideas. At one point they broke away, they formed their own party. Some people say that that happened in part to re-engage the far-right vote. They thought it makes more sense to have a separate far-right party to get those people out to the polls and increase the share of the right-wing vote in total.

But the PP has been wishy-washy. Sometimes they say, we will never ally ourselves with the far right. Sometimes they say, we do. The key thing that happened between the two elections that Bécquer referenced, between the elections in May which were at the city level and at the regional level, and the national elections, was at the regional and city level, the PP turned out to have no qualms whatsoever to ally themselves with the far-right Vox, so that currently a bunch of Spain’s regional governments and hundreds of municipal governments are governed by the far right in combination with the center right, in which the far right has almost an open field in terms of its most radical policies. And that scared voters enough, apparently, to shore up the vote on the left and make it just impossible for the far right and the center right to form a government.

Marc Steiner:  So this is very complex, but let me ask one quick thing first, because people don’t know, nor would they know what all these names mean. When you say “PP,” what’s the name of the party?

Sebastiaan Faber:  The Popular Party, the Partido Popular.

Marc Steiner:  So just for folks to know. And that’s the larger, right-wing, conservative party, Vox being the far-right party? V-O-X?

Sebastiaan Faber:  Exactly. Exactly.

Marc Steiner:  I’m very curious as to your perspective on… You’re probably coming back to why this is so important to the European Union and why it’s so important to the world. The roots of the depth of the divide in Spain between right and left, because it’s also wrapped up in the independence movements and among Basques and among the Catalan, in Catalan where people feel that they really aren’t Spanish and they need to be free and independent, which is a piece of this pie. So it’s a very complex situation.

Let’s talk a bit about them. Why would the right wing [win] so powerfully in these local elections, but now be set up where they might lose the national election very closely to the left? So it’s a really complex thing. Which one of you wants to go first?

Bécquer Seguín:  Sebastiaan, you can go ahead.

Marc Steiner:  Sebastiaan? Okay.

Sebastiaan Faber:  I’ll take a stab, and I’ll let you take over, Bécquer.

Marc Steiner:  Okay, good. Go ahead. Stab away [laughs].

Sebastiaan Faber:  The division between left and right in Spain has been very important throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Spanish Civil War, which looms large in American imagination of Spain –

Marc Steiner:  In the 1930s.

Sebastiaan Faber:  …Also [inaudible] in the left and the right.

In most countries, the left and the right differ on economic policies, the role they give to the working class, how they think about taxes and social rights and minority rights, all those things.

In Spain, on top of that, there’s a big clash between two competing visions of what Spain really is. So some people see Spain as a collection of different national identities that form one state together. And some people see that collection of national identities as a threat to the future and identity of Spain.

The current left/right divide is, in large part, that same division, where the center right and the far right have a very hard time with the idea that Spain is a multinational state with different populations speaking different languages or thinking themselves in terms of different identities. Versus the left, which has been much more welcoming to that idea. There’s plenty of people on the left who are iffy about it too, but overall, the left has been willing to do that.

In the past five years, as the progressive coalition has governed Spain, that openness to that idea has manifested in the fact that nationalist parties from Catalonia and the Basque Country have given parliamentary support to the coalition government.

If the left-wing coalition government manages to renew itself in the coming weeks, manages to form a new government again, it will have to be, again, with the support of the Basques and the Catalans. That, to the right, in and of itself is a mark of illegitimacy, to say, if the Spanish national government becomes a national government with the support of people who want to “break up Spain,” then that is an illegitimate government.

So the debate has, in part, been so intense because it’s not only who gets to govern. The arguments being wielded go to the heart of the legitimacy of Spanish democracy, and the legitimacy of a government that may govern with the majority of votes in Parliament. But those votes are being called into question themselves, because the right says, well, if a Basque nationalist party supports the national government of Spain, that’s not proper support. That’s undermining Spain, that’s breaking Spain apart. Here we have terrorists on the side of the prime minister. That’s the end of the world, basically. So the whole idea of what Spain represents is key.

For the right, on the other hand, their inability to acknowledge the multinational nature of Spain means that it’s very hard for them to get votes in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which are two very rich and populated regions. It’s also a glass ceiling to the right’s ability to grow, as long as they cannot come to terms with the reality that many Basques feel as Basque as Spanish, or more Basque than Spanish. Many Catalans feel the same way.

Marc Steiner:  Also, if you take it back to the Spanish Civil War, the people in Catalan and the Basque Country fought against the fascists in the Civil War in the 1930s. They gave the right wing its power with Franco, which is another complex thing. We won’t get too deep into the 1930s, but it’s important.

So what do you think this portends? If Spain cannot form a government, or if it does form a government and you have the Basque and Catalan parties in it, some of whom want independence, especially in Catalan, who want independence but are going to support the left. So what do you think A, that… Again, I’m going to go back to the original question. I said, where does that take Spain, but what does it say about Europe and what we are facing in the future?

Bécquer Seguín:  I think in terms of Spain, this is nothing new, is what I would say.

Marc Steiner:  Right [laughs].

Bécquer Seguín:  Spain has been dealing with this essentially since 1978, since the most recent Spanish Constitution was codified –

Marc Steiner:  Three years after the fascist Franco died.

Bécquer Seguín:  Exactly.

Marc Steiner:  Right.

Bécquer Seguín:  And so during the transition to democracy, during which the constitution was codified, there was this hodgepodge attempt to create a federal system like we have in the United States. Now, I say “hodgepodge” because Spain’s system is quasi-federal. It’s not exactly federal, and it’s quasi-federal because it’s still a very centralized state in certain respects, but it has a senate that, as we saw in 2017, has the power to vote in favor of the Spanish national government taking over the powers that have been given to the Catalan regional government or the Basque regional government, et cetera.

What I would say is that, historically, Spain has been able to deal with this, even despite having an incomplete federal system where not all of the regions have equal power. You have some regions that have more competencies in terms of their finances, in terms of what they’re able to build, in terms of what they’re able to import, export, et cetera. And you have some regions that have less competencies.

But in terms of the Spanish right, what’s interesting to me is that, of course, the Spanish right has also relied historically on the support of nationalist parties in Catalonia and the Basque Country. José María Aznar, in 1996, was voted into power, and Felipe González, the then prime minister of Spain, was voted out of power precisely on the support of the right-wing Catalans and the right-wing Basque national parties.

Marc Steiner:  Because this can get into the weeds and people go, “What?” [Laughs]

Bécquer Seguín:  Yes.

Marc Steiner:  The complexity of this for a moment, I just want to wrestle with, before we move into what is about to happen, is that the Catalans and the Basque, both who see themselves as not necessarily Spanish, but as their own national identity. Not to mention their delusions and the rest, but we won’t get into that today [laughs]. So their own identities are also divided politically, between right and left.

Bécquer Seguín:  Yes.

Marc Steiner:  Right?

Bécquer Seguín:  Yes, exactly. They are both divided between right and left. And this often falls along class lines, just with the Partido Popular, where you have many supporters of the Partido Popular, especially in cities like Madrid, that come from the bourgeoisie, that come from the established elites. The same is true in the Basque Country and in Catalonia. You have the [foreign language], the Partido Nacionalista Vasco, right? The Nationalist Basque party. And you have an old party in Catalonia that was called the Convergència i Unió, which was the center-right nationalist Catalan party. And both of those parties have supported, off and on, the right-wing party, the Partido Popular, the PP.

Of course, the support can go both ways. I think what has shifted in the past 15 years or so is that there has been, especially in Catalonia, a more concerted effort to assert that national identity through a referendum. The referendum is really the symbol, for the right, of everything that is wrong with Spain.

Again, this happened before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. But the Catalan right essentially became much more pro-referendum, whereas before, let’s say around 2011, the Catalan right was far more pro-negotiation. They wanted to negotiate. The Basque Nationalist Party, I would say even to this day, is still pro-negotiation. They haven’t really asked for a referendum in the same way that the Catalan right has.

That referendum is really the wedge issue for many in Spain, where people on the right, people who have more conservative beliefs about Spain and Spanish nationalism, absolutely reject that idea. Then people on the left maybe are more open to the idea of having a referendum similar to the way that Scotland had their referendum.

Marc Steiner:  Sebastiaan, you look like you’re about to jump in and say something. Are you [laughs]?

Sebastiaan Faber:  Oh, no. You’re right that it’s very complicated. Like Bécquer just explained, one question that could arise is, why have the right-wing parties in these two regions, in the Basque Country and in Catalonia, jumped onto the referendum bandwagon? What motivated these conservative parties to become pro-independence or pro self-determination?

One answer to that question is that, basically, it was good for them electorally. There was a real rise of indignation in the Basque Country and in Catalonia in the face of what they saw as contempt from Madrid for their aspirations and their identity. The government of the conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who was also from the Popular Party, really did a lot of work there to turn Catalonia and the Basque Country against Madrid. For example, when Catalonia successfully negotiated a redefinition of its statute of autonomy for its region, in which it gained the right to call itself a nation, not just a nationality, Rajoy then responded with a boycott of Catalan products and cultural figures.

So the right wing in Madrid was saying, let’s all stop buying Catalan champagne, Cava, and let’s all stop watching Barcelona play soccer. So that really increased the feeling in Catalan. It was like, wait a second. We don’t want to be part of this kind of Spain. And the Catalan right party, which was having a tough time because these were times of austerity, and the Catalan right had been cutting hospitals and social services and education. They’re like, wait a second, we can jump on this referendum bandwagon and reconstitute our electoral base. And they did.

So that’s really how the right/left-wing coalition around the notion of self definition really ballooned and led to the 2017 referendum and this massive violent clash between Madrid, which sent in police forces to prevent citizens from voting, and then, as Bécquer explained, the Spanish Senate, which said, we’re going to take away your regional self-government as a punishment for you having this illegal referendum for independence.

Bécquer Seguín:  So the crux of the situation right now is that, essentially, as Sebastiaan was saying, both sides, both, let’s say, right-wing or center-right Catalan nationalists – And Basque nationalists, to a lesser extent, as well as right-wing Spanish nationalists, the Partido Popular, both of these sides gain electorally from stoking the flames of nationalism, Spanish nationalism on the conservative Spanish side, and Catalan and Basque nationalism on the conservative, let’s say internal nations side, in Catalonia and the Basque Country.

So that’s the crux of the matter now. In fact, that is seeping into the current debate over whether Pedro Sánchez’s government is going to give amnesty to the political prisoners, the people who were exiled, but also the people who were jailed, whether Pedro Sánchez is going to continue to give political amnesty to the Catalan politicians who attempted to carry out this referendum and establish independence.

Marc Steiner:  Well, for this part of our conversation, I’m curious just to ask you both now, A, what you think the future holds for Spain, given the coalition on the left which is very fractious, and if it can hold itself together; which way the Basque and Catalan will go, right or left, and inside whose coalition government; and the thing I asked earlier: why should we care? If you’re not in Spain, why should you care? It seems to me we don’t understand the gravity of the situation outside of there nor its importance.

So go ahead. Why don’t you begin Bécquer, and then Sebastiaan?

Bécquer Seguín:  Sure. I think we should care because there are certain interesting parallels in terms of political polarization between Spain and the United States. In the United States, maybe it’s a cartoonish way to describe it, but in the United States it seems almost more divided between right and left. But underneath the surface, you can also see regional divisions in the United States, and I think those regional divisions between north and south, between coasts and the interior, those kinds of regional divisions don’t map on exactly, but they are regional divides in ways that I don’t think that we’re understanding. But yet in the Spanish context, they almost have to be politicized explicitly because these are debates that happen in the parliament. You have parties that essentially represent not only the regional difference, but the ideological difference within that regional difference.

So I think seeing those intersections and how they’re actually functioning, either to destabilize Parliament or to form a coalition. For example, right now what’s interesting in the Spanish case is that essentially the Catalan center right, the pro-independence center right, has decided that – At least for now, we’ll see what happens over the next couple months – But that it is not going to put up a huge roadblock, an insurmountable roadblock, to Pedro Sánchez forming a government. Whereas many people before this electoral cycle might’ve thought that the Catalan right, in fact, wanted to really stoke those flames of Catalan nationalism and anti-Catalan nationalist sentiment in order to gain electorally, and would provide a huge roadblock to the Sánchez government, and maybe the Sánchez government wouldn’t be able to form all.

So what I think is, again, these regional differences mixed with these ideological differences are really the parallel that you can see, for example, between the United States and Spain. And that’s why it would be important to consider what is going on in Spain right now. Because things are just more explicit.

Marc Steiner:  Sebastiaan?

Sebastiaan Faber:  I would add two notes to the great things that Bécquer just said. One is that a shift in government in Spain, a potential right-wing government in Spain, would really impact the balance in Brussels. So for the EU, which is facing its own elections next year, it will be a big question whether the right/far-right coalition will gain power at the European Union level, and that would be a huge shift.

The other thing connecting with what Bécquer said about the connections with the United States, I think one huge thing, lesson to learn from Spain, is whether it makes sense to try to fight the right with culture wars.

Marc Steiner:  What does that mean?

Sebastiaan Faber:  What I mean by that is, in Spain, the current left-wing government that’s been governing for four years has made huge inroads in social economic policies: They raised the minimum wage, they got the country through the COVID crisis with massive furloughs as opposed to people just losing their jobs. So there’s been a huge investment in the social safety network, at the same time that it’s really tried to win battles in terms of gender rights, sexual consent law, those kinds of things that the right really likes to rally around. The right has grabbed onto those things, the sexual consent law and gender identity, to try to attack the left.

As a result, what you now see in the regions and towns where the right has just revisioned government, thanks to these regional elections in May, among the first things they do is things like take away all the bike paths. Like the previous left-wing government at city level had made bike paths and tried to reduce car traffic. And the right is going, we’re going to get rid of the bike paths and paint them over. And the left had started building a monument to commemorate the victims of the Franco regime, and the right was like, we’re going to destroy that monument or make it different.

So the right really is trying to fight, to win electoral votes through culture wars, because they know that they cannot fight the left under successful economic policies. So the question for the left is, do we let ourselves be tempted into the battlefield that the right is bound to win, or do we resist that temptation? Go, no, no, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, shoring up minority rights, and at the same time support labor, raise the minimum wage, reduce income inequality, work on inheritance tax that the right wants to abolish, and institute more progressive tax systems. Things like that.

Marc Steiner:  So very quickly here before we conclude this portion of our conversation. If I was listening to this, one of the questions I would have in my head, if I follow this at all, is if the left government in Spain under Sánchez did so many positive things for the lives of normal Spanish people that was just outlined by Sebastiaan, then why are they in trouble? Why? If they’re making life better for the mass of citizens, why is the ideological divide so deep that they’re in such trouble, losing municipal elections, and now on the verge, perhaps, of losing this national election? If they do, it’s still a very divided country. So what is that? Give us a very quick analysis on that.

Bécquer Seguín:  I think that the most recent two national elections that Pedro Sánchez won are very peculiar. He won a national election back in 2019, right before the COVID crisis. The government was formed in January. And that had a very low voter turnout. It was because Sánchez essentially ran a negative campaign: don’t vote for these people, vote for me as a vote against the conservatives. Vox was on the rise at that point. They got a huge amount of the vote, and the PP was coming on strong after the corruption scandal that led its government to fall the previous year.

He did a very similar thing in this most recent national election. This was a national election held during the summer. The voter turnout was not as low as people anticipated, but it was still relatively low, and yet he won again on this negative message. And I think that Sánchez is comfortable on that ground. He’s comfortable running a campaign saying, don’t vote for the far right, don’t vote for the central right because they’re in bed with the far right, but he’s not so comfortable, let’s say, on a more positive ground, saying, these are my accomplishments. Look at what I’ve done. Look at the social welfare state that I’m rebuilding after a decade of mismanagement and disaster at the hands of Mariano Rajoy and the conservatives.

And maybe Sánchez is a symbol of this, symbol of the broader, not only the center left, but even the left wing in general, in that the Spanish left hasn’t really found a way to articulate positively what it has done. Because as Sebastiaan mentioned, it has made really incredible strides. There’s a lot of things to be done, but they’ve made quite important inroads, but yet they can’t really articulate the impact on regular people.

I think that finding that is also a message to the American left, which the American left as we saw in 2016 and again in 2020, is it finds it very easy to run against someone like Donald Trump, but it finds it very difficult to run in favor supporting certain policies and certain ambitions and goals.

Marc Steiner:  So my last thought, Sebastiaan, very quickly, is that’s almost counterintuitive [laughs]. You build a place where it’s more equitable for the mass of people to live, and you don’t fight for those things and say, that’s why we should win.

Sebastiaan Faber:  Yeah. As Bécquer said, there’s a real discomfort in the center left, which has since the neoliberal, since the Third Way ’80s, has been just like the Democratic Party in the US, has felt quite close to corporate elites, and is quite hesitant to embrace more radical economic policies.

At the same time, just like in the US, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the media. In Spain, the media, even more than in the US, I would say, are in majority in right-wing hands, in corporate hands. That has allowed particular things to be blown out of proportion.

I’ll give one example: the squatter crisis. In the months leading up to the election, the regional election, especially in the municipal election, the right-wing media managed to create a problem out of nowhere. They said, if you leave your house for the weekend or to go shopping, likely squatters will come and take your house away from you. And because of these left-wing policies, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ll have lost your house. Statistics prove that this is a very tiny problem. It’s not a big deal, it’s really not, but it was blown out of proportion, in part by sponsorship from companies that specialize in home security systems [Steiner laughs]. So there’s things like that.

The other big thing that really did harm the left was that despite all its relative economic success, inflation was a huge deal in Spain, especially daily subsistence like olive oil, bread, potatoes. So the prices in the supermarkets rose so much that in people’s day-to-day lives, they really had a sense like, things are not going well right now, because look at how much I have to spend on all my groceries.

Marc Steiner:  This has been a fascinating conversation. I’m going to thank you both for taking your time today here on The Real News and The Marc Steiner Show. [inaudible] Sebastian Faber and Bécquer Seguín have joined us. And we’ll continue to take a look at Spain, and we really appreciate the work you do, and for being part of the conversation today.

Bécquer Seguín:  Thank you.

Sebastiaan Faber:  My pleasure.

Marc Steiner:  I thank you all for joining us today, and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I want to thank our guests: Sebastian Faber, professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin. His latest book is Exhuming Franco. And Bécquer Seguín, who’s an Assistant Professor of Iberian Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His latest book is The Op-Ed Novel.

Of course, thanks to David Hebden, Cameron Granadino, and Kayla Rivera behind the scenes, and everyone here at The Real News for making this show possible.

Let me know what you thought about what you heard today. Tell me what you’d like us to cover. Just write to me at, and I’ll get right back to you. And while you’re there, take a second, go to, become a monthly donor. So for Cameron Granadino, David Hebden, Kayla Rivara, the crew here at The Real News, I’m Marc Steiner. Stay involved, keep listening, and take care.

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Host, The Marc Steiner Show
Marc Steiner is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on TRNN. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. He walked his first picket line at age 13, and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested at a civil rights protest during the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught theater for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA.