Former Sanders delegate Norman Solomon says while there’s a tactical need to align with Clinton to avoid a Trump presidency, many voters remain unenthused by Clinton’s record and merely rhetorical appeals to progressivism
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GREGORY WILPERT, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Gregory Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador. A newly released poll of hundreds of former delegates for Bernie Sanders has some troubling revelations for Hillary Clinton. The poll found that just 37% of the 461 Sanders delegates plan to vote for Hillary Clinton while 33% plan to vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. The lower support for Clinton was not limited to safe states though, the survey found. So now joining us to discuss this is Norman Solomon. He’s a Bernie Sanders delegate. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the national convention and is coordinator of the independent Bernie Sanders delegate network, the group that carried out the survey. He’s also cofounder of the online activism group, RootsAction.org which now has 730,000 members. Welcome to the Real News Norman. NORMAN SOLOMON: Thanks Greg. Glad to be here. WILPERT: Hillary Clinton along with Donald Trump have some of the highest un-favorability ratings ever for presidential candidates. But even though Sanders delegates waged a bitter fight to win within the DNC in a losing effort to give him the nomination, many polls showed the vast majority of Sanders supporters backing Clinton. So did the results of the poll that you conducted surprise you? SOLOMON: I was a bit surprised that such a low proportion of the Bernie Sanders delegates at this stage of the campaign say that they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. I think it’s a reflection of the political discontent that many of the intensive workers for Bernie Sanders during the primary campaign still feel. WILPERT: Many have argued that the first presidential debate and Tuesday’s vice presidential debate highlighted Donald Trump’s and Mike Pence’s extremism. For example, they vowed to shred the Iran nuclear deal and are opposed to women’s rights to choose. What’s your response? Wouldn’t such positions perhaps frighten some of those Sanders delegates into voting for Clinton-Kaine instead of for Stein? SOLOMON: Well 17% of the surveyed Bernie Sanders delegates said that they’d not decided who to vote for in November. That’s an extraordinarily high number. These are people who to say the least are well informed about politics. My hunch is that many of them want to see how close the election appears to be right before they cast their ballot. Particularly in swing states. So we may see a bit of a surge towards Hillary Clinton if it appears that she does not have the election locked up. WILPERT: So do you think that the poll is an indicator that the Bernie movement, so to speak, will continue regardless of who wins in the White House in 2016? I mean considering that they have a relatively independent way of thinking about this election still and therefore will continue–in other words, does this poll show that there’s a real movement that might continue beyond the election? SOLOMON: Well I see this straw poll of the Bernie Sanders delegates at this stage as another straw in the wind and there are many, many straws pointing in the direction that whether Hillary Clinton is elected president or not, there are large proportions of the democratic party base, especially young people, including so called millinials under 35 years old, who simply do not accept this sort of corporate militarism of the Hillary Clinton wing of the party which is unfortunately still the dominant wing. It’s notable that the millennials according to national polls are quite enthusiastic about Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate who is anti-war but also is very pro Wall Street. Couched in Libertarian rhetoric but he doesn’t believe in regulating the so called free market system. Which is to say he just believes that people with a lot of money and corporate power should run [rush shot] over society. So in that situation you have I think sort of a notable huge difference between the national polls generally for under 35 people who after all went very strongly for Bernie Sanders and the polling that we did with the reports that just come in around Bernie Sanders delegates. In the case of the delegates, almost none of them say they’re going to vote for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. I think that that reflects the fact that highly politicized and active, well informed Bernie Sanders delegates understand that they were carrying party positions and Gary Johnson, our empathetical to the basic precepts against corporate power and oligarchy that Bernie Sanders campaigned on the basis of, so hey, the Libertarian Gary Johnson total nonstarter in terms of Bernie Sanders delegates. That’s not the case among what you might call a sort of a lose amorphous base for the Sanders campaign as it emerged in the last year where the polling tells us anyway that Johnson is doing very well. Way up and through double digits among young people in that cohort. So I would say in part for the population as a whole there’s a shortage of understanding of the pernicious aspects of corporate power that are being expressed through the Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson. People get it quite often that Hillary Clinton is a corporate flack and has been very tight with Wall Street. But I think there’s a lack of information or analysis of understand generally among the broad population of under 35 voters apparently judging from the poll about the so called free market politics of Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party which are just for corporate rule and oligarchy in effect. WILPERT: What about Hillary Clinton? I mean you’re saying that many of these millennials prefer to vote for Gary Johnson. What’s the reason that you would say they reject Hillary Clinton? She’s been taking up a discourse that’s very similar to Bernie Sanders and clearly people don’t trust that and this is something that obviously Trump was trying to play on by calling here a liar. But usually it has to do with Benghazi or the email scandal. I kind of doubt that that’s the real reason why they don’t trust here. What do you, think? Why is it that these millennials don’t trust Hillary Clinton? SOLOMON: Well, Hillary Clinton has taken up the discourse belatedly and it sound quite hollow because it doesn’t match the record. I mean one of the most energizing and authenticating aspects of the entire Bernie Sanders campaign for president was that his rhetoric, his oratory, his economic populism totally connects with his record of the last decade. Whereas under pressure from the Sander campaign and progressives, Hillary Clinton has taken up a lot of these buzzwords and catchphrases and proposals such as free tuition for people and families that make no more than $125,000 dollars a year. But Hillary Clinton has a record, as does Bill Clinton of talking progressive when it’s advantageous but behaving quite the opposite in terms of politics. You can go back 40 years in Little Rock where Hillary Clinton joined the Rose law firm representing banks and other power brokers of the oligarchy of all Arkansas and beyond. You can go back 20 years when the Clinton administration implemented the so called welfare reform which was really an attack on poor families including women in economic and social terms, notwithstanding all the progressive rhetoric lorded in between what [inaud.]. That pattern has really continued in terms of Hillary Clinton’s activities and taking big money from corporate contributors and so forth as Bernie Sanders highlighted during the campaign in the last year. So people who are at the base for progressive change generally are not fooled by rhetoric when it doesn’t connect up with the reality of record. It just doesn’t resonate with Hillary Clinton. That said, there’s a clear and present danger that Donald Trump could become president of the United States and I think that has to be prevented. It’s absurd when anybody claims that it doesn’t matter. It matters a great deal. If Donald Trump were elected president, that would empower some of the most vicious, racist, misogynist, nativist elements of the United States and give tremendous momentum to racist and other authoritarian bigoted aspects of US society. So that’s where when we come back to the question of the votes coming up in the presidential race, I believe, speaking for myself, that in swing states the only way clearly to stop Donald Trump is to hold your nose and vote for Hillary Clinton. I agree with Noam Chomsky on that. If you live in Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, etc. swing states, then the only way that you’re going to help prevent a Trump presidency is to cast your ballot upcoming for Hillary Clinton. At the same time, it’s a mistake to pretend that Hillary Clinton is anything other than she is. There’s a need for a tactical alliance in this election with the Clinton Kaine ticket. But that doesn’t mean we have to pretend that she’s anything other than the presidential candidate who at this point is the only tool available to prevent a Trump presidency that would be truly catastrophic for this country and the world. WILPERT: Well it was great talking to you. Norm we’ve run out of time now but of course we’re obviously going to get back to you on this issue and if there’s any other developments in these kinds of polls and developments that are also in terms of what the millennials are thinking, we’ll get back to you. Thanks again for joining us at the Real News. SOLOMON: Thank you Greg. WILPERT: And thank you for watching the Real News Network.
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