Jeff Cohen of RootsAction.org says against the mainstream media’s dismissal of Sanders, millions of people now reject democratic party establishment and the movement behind him will continue to grow
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Several polls this weekend indicated that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both viewed unfavorably by more than half of the Us voters. One survey, done by the Washington Post, ABC News, indicated that both candidates registered net negatives in the double digits, with 57 percent of the electorate saying they had unfavorable impressions of the respective candidates. In another poll, done by NBC News and Wall Street Journal, 54 percent of respondents took a dim view on Clinton, while 58 percent looked unfavorably on Trump. Well, what are we to do with all of this information, and where is Bernie Sanders? How is he doing against Donald Trump? Some say, or Bernie Sanders himself says, that he’s polling 13 percent ahead against Donald Trump. Joining me now to discuss all of this is Jeff Cohen. He is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and he is the founder of the Media Watchdog, FAIR and cofounder of the organization activist group RootsAction.org. Thank you so much for joining me, Jeff. COHEN: Nice to be with you. PERIES: So Jeff, give us a sense of where Bernie Sanders fair in all of these pollings, because last we checked Bernie Sanders still has a better chance of defeating Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton but that doesn’t seem to show up in some of these polls. COHEN: No, and from watching the mainstream media you’d think that the race was already over. There’s no doubt that Bernie Sanders fares very well in the polls. If he was the Democratic nominee, the Republicans would savage him as they savage any opponent, so the poll numbers might go down for Bernie. But the exciting thing, and we can’t lose sight of it Sharmini, is that this Bernie movement, this Bernie campaign is largely a youth campaign, and that millions of people now reject the Democratic Party establishment and hopefully reject the Republicans out of hand. And you have, because of this Bernie campaign, I know rootsaction.org has grown, I know the media watch group FAIR has grown, I’m sure independent media are growing because of the Bernie campaign. I suspect the Real News is growing. The Bernie campaign has really been a boon to progressive organizations, progressive media, and I would dare say it’s been perhaps since the 1930s, where so many US residents, US citizens, believed that we need a transformation in our political and economic system, and that’s in many ways thanks to the Bernie campaign. Obviously that started with Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter. There’s been other movements, but this Bernie campaign has been truly galvanizing and historic. PERIES: It has been transformative for many people. As you said, especially young people who’re all looking for some way to resolve this at this moment, and I know you would argue that we are building a long-term movement, but some people want some resolutions, particularly when it comes to how the Democratic Party leadership is suppressing their opinion and their vote at the primaries. COHEN: Well, the hostility is warranted. The Democratic Party elite has earned it. I believe that we need to keep it in mind that a political revolution does not happen in a year. You know, and as that hashtag says, not me, us. This movement is going to continue no matter what happens at the Philadelphia Democratic Convention, no matter what happens in November, and it’s important for us to keep our independent movements, our independent groups, truly independent of the Democratic Party leadership. And so it’s my sense that the best case scenario is, of course, Bernie Sanders becomes the next president. It’s looking unlikely but I hold out hope. The worst case scenario, and I think people who are progressive, whether they’re young or old have got to admit, that there is nothing more disastrous than a President Trump. So a middle case scenario is this: That Hillary soundly defeats Trump in November. That the progressive movement stays independent, and the right wing is rejected in November and there is a Democrat in the White House with a powerful left breathing down the necks of the Democratic Party establishment. That’s a scenario not unlike 1932. You know, when Franklin Roosevelt became the president, he ran on a very middle of the road platform, balance the budget, but there were these independent working class movements that made demands on that new Democratic president. So as long as the left stays independent, I’m not one that these who say, oh Hillary is as bad or worse than Trump. That makes no sense to me. I’m in the camp of Noam Chomsky, who says that if you live in one of the safe states, 35, 40 states where the Democrats are going to win big, or the Republicans are going to win big, vote for a protest candidate. vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, vote for whoever, But if you live in the ten or twelve states which determine whether Trump, who in many ways has a fascist tendency, and certainly his base has got strong fascist tendencies, if you live in one of those ten or twelve close states, so-called swing states, you should, as Chomsky says, hold your nose and vote against Trump by voting for Clinton in those states. PERIES: And Jeff, if you’re still holding out hope for Bernie, as you should, as he is a very viable candidate, and if those polls are cited as any indicator where most of the voting public has no, I guess the desirability factor is rather low, and what can people be doing between now and the Democratic Party Convention to make sure their voices are heard? COHEN: Well, I’m still donating to Bernie. I’m one of these people who keeps giving the 28 dollars. Obviously we have big primaries coming up, the biggest one being California, and I know that Bernie delegates are organizing nationwide, to make sure there is a strong, win or lose, that there is a strong presence in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, that the rules are changed so this crap never happens again. Hopefully Debbie Wasserman Schultz is soon out of that job. Again, a scenario where president, where the next president is Trump, is awful. The best scenario is Bernie is the president. But there is a middle-case scenario that ain’t bad. And I know we’ve all worked our hearts out for Bernie, which is Trump and right-wing racism, and immigrant bashing, and xenophobia, that that gets rejected in November, and that the left organization remain independent of the Democratic Party establishment, ready to go in the streets to protest in January if Hillary Clinton makes, you know, expands the war or starts a new war, or goes after social security. What’s happened in recent years, beginning with Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, and now the Bernie campaign, is that there is independent activism that I don’t believe is ever going away, and it’s stronger now than it was. You know, a lot of people went to sleep eight years ago when Obama was elected. I think it’s strong, it’s organized, it’s networked, so I’m sort of excited that the Bernie campaign, it’s just the beginning of a political revolution. It’s more a beginning than the end. That’s what I would say to young activists. That you fought your heart out, we fight ’til the end, we fight ’til the bitter end, but the political revolution continues in January no matter what. PERIES: All right, Jeff, as always, thank you so much for joining us on the Real News Network, and I hope to have you back real soon. COHEN: And thank you> PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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