TRNN’s Jaisal Noor questions #DraftBernie supporters Kshama Sawant and Nick Brana about why they want Sanders to ditch the Democrats
Jaisal Noor: On Friday, about a hundred supporters of Bernie Sanders rallied in Washington and delivered the Vermont senator some 50,000 signatures, requesting he form an independent political party and run on its platform in the 2020 presidential election. It kicked off a weekend aimed at building a third party, capable of taking on the Democrats and Republicans. Speakers this weekend include: Cornel West and socialist Seattle Councilwoman, Kshama Sawant. Kshama Sawant: I don’t believe that Bernie is ready to launch this kind of party that we’re talking about. But the real message of this event today and the whole weekend, including town hall, where I’ll be speaking alongside Cornel West tomorrow, is that millions of people are ready to fight back against corporate politics. Jaisal Noor: Not all supporters of Senator Sanders are onboard with the idea. The Real News recently interviewed Thomas Frank, an outspoken critic of the two-party system and corporate Democrats. He does not think the move can work. Thomas Frank: Unfortunately, I think that the way the system is set up now, the best bet for the Sanders movement is fighting within the Democratic Party. I think they’ll have a … play their cards right, they can have a lot of success. Jaisal Noor: We got a response from Nick Brana, who is the founder of the Draft Bernie movement and a former staffer in Senator Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Nick Brana: The corporate Democrats could not defeat someone who was basically tailor-made. The Clinton campaign wanted to face him. You know that’s where the pied piper emails come from because he was just so atrocious. And yet, people are so desperate for an escape hatch from establishment politics that if you close off a left escape hatch and the only one you give them is to the right, populous right, they will take that, no matter how offensive that is. That’s why the solution here is not to simply continue going with the party that isn’t changing that. You know it’s not to do the same thing. You know we have to change this equation. The way to do that is to start a party that actually represents, that is able to bring together those progressive Democrats, 80 percent of which are in favor of Bernie, of the voting base. Then also, the massive ocean of Independents that is far, far larger than that, including people who are leaving the Democratic Party, joining Independents right now, which is what’s happening. Jaisal Noor: Nina Turner and Senator Sanders and others like them have waged this war within the Democratic Party. They have taken on the oligarchy and the Democratic Party does have resources. It does have a donor base, as Senator Sanders was able to harness, as you were able to help harness during the campaign. Some people would ask, “Why give that up?” Nick Brana: That’s the thing. The Democratic Party’s resources are resources that are actually hindering us. The resource is coming from the oligarchs. They’re coming from the corporations. They’re coming from billionaires. Those are resources that are in direct conflict with our goals. During the Bernie campaign, we understood very clearly that there was no such thing as a People’s Party that takes corporate money. We chided Hillary Clinton when she did that $350,000 a plate dinner, with George Clooney and others. Same thing when she took money from Goldman Sachs, quarter of a million dollars per speech, because we understood then, with clarity, that if you are a party that takes money from corporate sources, you cannot simultaneously stand for the things that are opposed by those corporations. Jaisal Noor: Even some in attendance on Friday were skeptical that Senator Sanders would embrace a third-party candidacy. They argued the movement shouldn’t be wed to the idea of Sanders as its leader. Deanna Heisler: So my name is Deanna Heisler. I’m from Manhattan, New York. Came here because I’m very excited about the idea of no longer attempting to influence corporate Democrats, who are tied to Wall Street, and hoping and hoping and praying that they will listen to me, when I’m not their constituency, clearly. About Bernie, I did hear him speak in Detroit in a church with Representative Conyers. He was asked the question whether he would leave the Democratic Party and join forces with the People’s Party or another party, and he essentially said no. That he is hopeful that in 2018, progressive Democrats will get elected and he’ll have a base of support within the Democratic Party in order to change the dynamic, to change the formula. Of course, I think in Great Britain, we saw that Corbyn was finally able to do something similar. Jaisal Noor: He harnessed the Labour Party to make that happen. He didn’t work from outside of the system. He worked within the Labour Party and took it over. Deanna Heisler: Right. However, Great Britain still has strong unions and they still have very progressive tradition, and I think that the conditions are different. So even though the two candidates, Corbyn and Sanders, are very much the same, I don’t see at this point that it’s really possible. I think we’ve tried and tried within the Democratic Party to really have a place within it and to make ourselves heard, and I think that clearly is no longer what’s happening. So, I don’t think Bernie is going to come onboard. While I still love his integrity and everything that he stands for, I think it’s important not to have a cult of personality. I think that there are other people who will emerge, and I think we have to sort of begin to move away from this idea of a savior. I think that he was an incredible pioneer, who really showed us what was possible and showed us that it’s permissible and important to talk about what’s really going on, to talk about the issues, to not be cowed. But I think other leaders will emerge, and I’m looking forward to that. Jaisal Noor: For The Real News, this is Jaisal Noor, with Cameron Granadino in Washington.