Paul Jay is joined by Yvette Carnell, founder at BreakingBrown.com, and Salon columnist Bill Curry, discussing Sanders’ address Thursday encouraging people to run at every level of government
PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. This is part 2 of a discussion about Bernie Sanders speech Thursday night. He gave it on a live stream for about 25 minutes. I strongly suggest you watch part 1 of this interview because we talked about what he thought should be done at the convention, we talked about his lack of anything really positive to say about Hilary Clinton. And what this one is about, this part of the discussion, is about what he really spent most of his time saying, people who have been part of this movement to elect Bernie Sanders, what he thinks they should do. And what he said they should do was really run. They should run for Congress, they should run for State Legislatures, they should organize campaigns down-ticket. So here’s a bit of what he had to say about it: BERNIE SANDERS: Here is a cold hard fact that must be addressed. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans in state after state throughout this country. In fact, the Republican Party now controls 31 State Legislatures and controls both the governance mansions and state houses in 23 states. That is unacceptable. We need to start engaging at the local and state level in an unprecedented way. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers helped us make political history during this last year. These are people deeply concerned about the future of our country and about their own communities. Now we need many of them to start running for school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures, and governorships. State and local governments make enormously important decisions. And we cannot allow right-wing Republicans to increasingly control them. JAY: So now joining us to continue our discussion, first of all from Farmington, Connecticut, is Bill Curry. He’s a columnist for Salon.com. He was a counselor to the President in the Clinton Whitehouse. Joining us from Atlanta- Yvette Carnell is the founder of BreakingBrown.com, and editor at YourBlackWorld.net. Thanks for joining us. YVETTE CARNELL: Thank you. JAY: So Yvette, first of all that’s really where he spent most of his time, telling people to fight down-ticket for all these other races. But also thought it was rather interesting that he never said run for the Democratic Party. He left that un- kind of open. I mean given his own history as running as an Independent, it really leaves up in the air how he thinks people should run, he just thinks progressives should run. What’d you make of that? CARNELL: Well I think that’s what he thinks. I think he thinks progressives should run. And I think he’s not wedded to the Democratic Party. I don’t think he thinks we should be wedded to the Democratic Party. I think he’s going to support Hilary because he caucuses with the party. That’s what he does. But I don’t think he has any problem with people supporting Jill Stein. I don’t think he’d have any problem with another party coming into the mix, as we see in so many other countries. So I think what’s most important about what Sanders said, is what he didn’t say. He didn’t say you know, he didn’t give a feverish, let’s get out here for Hilary. He didn’t give a feverish kind of let’s get out there for the Democrats, because the Democrats are so much different than the Republicans. He didn’t say that at all. He said go out there and fight for what you believe in. He didn’t tell you how to fight. He just told you what to do. Go out and vote. Go out and organize. Go out and get involved with the state legislature. You know, we have too many Republican governorships. All of that stuff. So he’s really telling you what the problem is. He’s not telling you the Democrats are going to fix the problem. And I think he’s not saying that because he knows better. JAY: Bill, It’s such a unique presidential election. Unless there’s some radical change in all of this, even the Republican Party leadership is walking away from Trump. I mean I don’t know what kind of endorsement it is, when Ryan says I endorse him except I think he’s a racist. I mean this is not the way you get your guy elected by talking this way. They’re really worried what happens with congress. We understand the Koch brothers are going to put all their money into fighting for control of Congress. This down ticket fight looks like is actually what the election is about. BILL CURRY: To many, it is. I mean there are- I think first of all that part of what Bernie was saying tonight- part of the reason he didn’t address the Hilary question is that he isn’t ready to. They haven’t reach agreement. I would take from tonight’s speech that his hour and a half at the Washington Hilton with Senator the other night didn’t go all that well. And that the things her people have said publicly probably aren’t that much different from what she’s saying privately. Which is they’re not going to give a lot. I didn’t think this [inaud] where he wanted to bring this fight but in the end I do think he will endorse Hilary Clinton. And I think he will say in this- faced with Donald Trump, we should win this election. And he’ll have to make a strong case for it- because a lot of his people will feel that way. A lot of the unaffiliated voters [inaud]. A lot of the activist who made the campaign will not. And by the way, it’s not Bernie’s job, it’s Hilary’s job. And we’ll see what comes out of that platform committee. I think she still regards the issues that Bernie Sanders raised as the issues of a rump faction. I think she still feels offended by the challenge. I don’t hear from her people or from her supporters in the media an immediate great respect. They fundamentally misinterpret this. Almost everything that Bernie ran on, unaffiliated voters and the broad middle class, not only support but support strongly. JAY: But if you take Sanders call to really focus on the down ticket, especially Congress, you can start seeing the beginnings of a strategy which is you start now in terms of electing progressives to the house, but especially you actually start organizing now for 2018, 2020. And you can even imagine in 2020, a serious campaign to primary against Hilary and make this a one-term presidency. CURRY: Let me say that – let’s see what happens in November. But that idea that there is – I think something close to what Yvette said earlier- that if you look at his career, some of the times he’s been – most of his life he was an independent candidate. This year, he worked within the Democratic Party entirely to win this nomination. And he was very blunt about the reason for doing so because he saw no other practical path to pursue. And I think again, this idea of building an independent movement in which grassroots activist are free to seek their own paths, I think is important. But if you feel that the hierarchy, the elites of the Democratic Party have been an obstruction to progress in this country, and have been an impediment to the development of the progressive political agenda, they have to be defeated. They’re not going to give their power away. It took Chuck Schumer, the single Democrat in the US Senate closest to Wall Street, and they made him the majority leader, majority or minority leader depending on this election, without even a voice vote. Without even a challenge. And that kind of Democratic Party leadership, they’re not going to commit themselves to cracking down on Wall Street or the Big Banks or any one of these… JAY: Schumer and that group… CURRY: The question is, do you have to come after them from the inside, to ever get rid of some of them. I happen to think you do. I think he thinks so as well. But we’ll see. Build the movement and then you can make those tactical choices later JAY: Yvette, what do you think about the terms of this down ticket fight, you think this movement is going to focus on- the way Sanders is suggesting? Actually get organized. I know there’s a big, as we’re speaking now, the next day- there’s a weekend of about 3,000 people going to a conference in Chicago, and more or less to discuss what’s next. Do you think that’s what will come out of this? CARNELL: I mean I’ll be in Chicago discussing what’s next. I’ll be one of those 3,000 so I think that’s what you will see. I think part of the problem in terms of what’s happen is that, you know I mentioned this before but, we never saw us. Like we never thought it was a possibility. If you believe in Democratic Socialism, you sort of feel like a pariah. The benefit of the Sanders campaign is kind of showing us no, you’re not alone here. Everybody realizes that something is wrong and that they’re not benefiting from the system. Even the Trump supporters realize that, they just have the wrong solutions to the problem. They’re solution is more free market capitalism. We know that’s not the way to go. But everybody realizes that something is amiss here. Something is afoot. So the problem is what do you do with that? What do you do about that? And Sanders has said, go on – we’re talking about down-ticket and I think that’s a good thing. I think he has a lot of power in those down-ticket races. I think he has a lot of influence. But I have to tell you that I’m sort of pessimistic in the sense that we still have a lot of money in politics. So we live in an era where these plutocrats can just kind of buy elections. That’s what we have now. You just buy an election. You buy a candidate. You just put your hand in their pocket. So I think that’s something that we have to fix. But I don’t think you stop the fight. And I think that’s what Sanders is kind of saying. We can’t stop the fight. We have to keep fighting. And he’s shown us that we have what it takes to fight. Look what we did with this guy. Nobody expected Sanders to go anywhere. And here he is getting to a point where Hilary Clinton actually got nervous in terms of the momentum that he was building. So he’s shown us that we do have what it takes- if we want to create new party, we can do that. If we want to fight from inside we can do that too. We have the numbers. And I don’t think we knew that. We had never seen that before Sanders. We’ve seen the Tea Party do it years ago. They were on the Mall and thousands of numbers and we all kind of felt dejected. Why don’t we have that? Why can’t we have those numbers? Why can’t our people come out like that? And now, with the Sanders campaign, we’ve seen it. We do have it. We can do it. So the question for us is, what is the next step? Is it down-ticket? Is it 3rd party? Where do we go from here? I think we have that question, but we know that we can go somewhere. We’ve seen ourselves on TV in thousands of numbers at rallies and also the vote. We know that we can do it now. And I think that’s huge. JAY: Bill, just a final question. If Sanders is really going to pursue this, doesn’t he have to kind of really try to keep this fundraising muscle going? It’s unprecedented the amount of money he’s been able to raise. He kind of- there’s a lot of pessimism in progressive circles. People saying, you can’t do anything until you get money out of politics. Well he just did something without getting money out of politics in the sense of the amount of money he raised online. But doesn’t he need to now throw this and help raise money for progressive candidates including progressives that are going to primary corporate Democrats? CURRY: I think he does have to do that. I think he will do it. You know, it- one of the thing this campaign has taught us is that the power of ideas is greater than the power of money. That the Democratic Party had been truer to its values, it too may have raised those small dollar donations. And not have made the awful marriage that it did with big money. There’s a lot to be sorted out here. And I- if I just finish by saying that if you think of all the different groups that are truly progressive and grassroots, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, 350.org, Working Families Party, there is this Washington Progressive movement that has been co-opted, turned into basically a pact colonized by the Democratic Party. And then there’s growing up of all of these other movements many of which were involved in the Sanders campaign. I think Sanders first job is to stop and just take a look at this tremendous array of forces that are out there and try to think through some of the questions of how we build a political movement. Not just an electoral political movement by the way. 350.org doesn’t do elections. And progressives didn’t do many elections until 25 or 30 years ago. Almost precise to the point when we started going out of business. So there are a lot of different ways, not just running for office, there are a lot of different ways to attack this system. And number one and number two, that he has to stay-not only his campaign will be a part of that, but that he will truly make his campaign the property of his donors and volunteers who constructed it. You know the great original [inaud] of the Obama campaign, was taking the Obama for American private. And turning over millions of volunteers and donors to the control of a small group of professional political consults and big money donors. And that’s not at all where Sanders wants to go. But he’s going to have to pay attention to these specifics right now. How to make his own campaign, how to turn it into a public asset of a broader progressive movement. And how to work with all these other movement to begin a new. To really begin a new in Progressive politics in America. JAY: Ok, well this is obviously just the beginning of a discussion. Thank you both for joining us. CURRY: My pleasure as always. CARNELL: My pleasure. JAY: And we’ll pick this up again. And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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