Baltimore Workers on Elections and Independent Politics
A group of Baltimore workers discuss the Sanders and Clinton campaigns and the need for an independent workers movement
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.
On Tuesday the 26th, Americans in about five states are going to vote in the Democratic primary and the Republican Party, in most of those states. We’re mostly going to focus, right now, on the Democratic Party primary, because I don’t think any of our guests are voting for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, though perhaps we’ll find out they are. The states people are voting in, as most people know, are Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. We’re in Baltimore, so we’re mostly going to focus on Maryland, and even more particularly, the people of Baltimore.
This is not a scientific group I’m going to introduce you to. This is a group of mostly working people, or all working people, but, as I say, not scientific, because just about everybody here is not going to support Secretary Clinton. We did not try to find a group that didn’t support Secretary Clinton, but these are friends of the Real News, and they happen, none of them, to support Secretary Clinton. I think it needs to be said that probably the majority of people in Baltimore City are going to vote for Secretary Clinton, and they’re not represented here, so I’m just pointing that out.
So, without further ado, welcome to our enlarged panel, and first of all I’m going to raise a question. We’re going to have a discussion about it. Each of our guests are going to say their name, what kind of work they do, and then engage in the conversation about, essentially, the issue and whether any of the candidates at all the various levels are engaging in the issue, are speaking to the issue in a way they would like or support.
There is many campaigns going on here many elections. There is the Clinton-Sanders campaign for president. There is a Senate campaign between Van Hollen and Edwards. There is a campaign, a fight for mayor, for city council. In Baltimore the Republican party almost doesn’t exist. It’s not an exaggeration, I think, that at the municipal level you can’t elect a dog catcher, a Republican as a dog catcher, so this is really, so far, a one-party town, and the Democratic party decides things. Not quite the same story at the state level.
So, here’s my question. First of all, thank you all for joining us. When we talk to people in Baltimore, and we talk about anything from police abuse to crime to the extraordinarily high murder rate in this city. I’ve mentioned before on the Real News, last year 348 murders, I believe, almost the same murder rate as New York City, that has 13 times the population, but it all really usually comes down to one fundamental question, which is unemployment, low wages and chronic poverty, and that all the other things are kind of symptoms of that. So, my question to all of you, and we’ll start with Gary on the side here, whether any of the candidates at any of the levels, presidential, at the Senate race, municipal, at the civic level are addressing this problem as it should be.
GARY NELSON: [inaud.]–You said presidential first. I’ll speak to Bernie Sanders. And I agree with Bernie on, he’s been forced to assume more progressive issue, the progressive side of issues, and the only thing that I would disagree with him on is the use of drones. And then, to come down to the senatorial race, there is no question that I’m going to support Donna Edwards. I’ve already early voted, and one of the very basic things that we have to fight against is patriarchy. You know, we’ve only had, I think, only one Black, female senator in the history of this nation, and also Donna Edwards’ views on the issues are more in line with mine.
JAY: For example?
NELSON: For example, she used to work in the space program, and I am definitely for expanding the base of knowledge of humanity, in terms of women’s issues, domestic violence, in terms of gun issues, even though I’m a gun owner I’d love to come to a point where I melted my guns down and used them for plowshares. And then when it comes down to the mayoral race, Sheila Dixon has had many of the same experiences that I’ve had, and in terms of what she’s going to do, I can’t tell you exactly what she’s going to do, but I will definitely, from my small bully pulpit as a citizen I would ask her to decrease the funding of the police state that we have now and focus more on education and recreation, and there’s just a [crosstalk] basic–
JAY: [interceding]–But did she do it last time? She’s been mayor before.
NELSON: I think she didn’t find herself until having gone through this baptism of fire that she’s gone through these last years.
JAY: For viewers not from Baltimore, Sheila Dixon was convicted, I believe, of what some people consider a somewhat minor corruption case in the city of Baltimore. It seemed relatively minor, but at any rate she had to step down and she’s now running again. It was something about a gift card, or something, she used?
NELSON: A six or eight hundred dollar gift card, and I think somebody was making six figures, I don’t think six hundred or eight hundred dollars is going to make or break you.
JAY: And, as a I say, for Baltimore that is small fry stuff. Courtney, so, I’m sorry, go back. We didn’t find out, you’re a firefighter, Gary. We should have said.
NELSON: I’m sorry. I’m a firefighter, yes.
JAY: Yeah. I’m just curious. I visited your fire station once. How are the other guys generally voting, do you think, if they’re voting?
NELSON: Most of Baltimore City’s firefighters don’t live in the city, and yet they support, for instance, my union supports Pugh.
JAY: What about the Clinton-Sanders level? Or Trump?
NELSON: They don’t say it, but I suspect that they, in large part, support, I call him Rump, but, you know, Trump.
JAY: So in the station you’re in, you think many of them support Trump?
NELSON: That’s my suspicion, yes.
JAY: Okay. Courtney, so, Courtney Jenkins, tell us what you do and what you think.
COURTNEY JENKINS: I’m a mail processing clerk with the United States Postal Service and a proud member of the american Postal Workers union. What I believe is that there’s no one candidate that can address my issues, personally, as a young, African-American and a millennial. It’s one of those arguments of the lesser of the two evils. Who do I think could at least give me space to project my issues?
I support issues, but I do have issues with Bernie Sanders on a federal level, and this universalist approach to poverty that he takes. I don’t believe that’s an approach that, one size fits all or one pill fixes all symptoms type of thing. I think that he’s speaking from a populist position and, you know, when we talk about populism, that’s predominantly white, middle aged men, and that doesn’t really address my issues.
JAY: Like, for example, what isn’t getting addressed?
JENKINS: Well, I mean poverty in general. There are so many intersections when it comes to poverty, and we know that the unemployment rate for white Americans is one percentage but the unemployment rate for African Americans is double that, and it’s been consistent for the last 50 or so odd years, so there is not that one pill fits all approach that I believe can fix these issues, because there are layers of racial bias that go into issues like poverty, where being poor and white is a lot different from being poor and Black, and we know that, and we’ve seen that, you know, over the course of the history of this nation.
But I believe he will, what he professes and what his platform is can address it in a very small way, or at least it opens a door, as opposed to the other candidate. We see her supporting lesser minimum wages.
JAY: Secretary Clinton.
JENKINS: Secretary Clinton, yes sir, supporting a lesser minimum wage. I think it’s 11, maybe 12 [crosstalk] dollars an hour–
JAY: [interceding]–I think she said 12 and a quarter or something like that, and Sanders is supporting 15.
JENKINS: Fifteen. And, I mean, if you would listen to the people, the people aren’t calling for a 12 dollar minimum wage. They’re calling for a 15 dollar minimum wage. So, on that level, I’d say state, of course, Representative Donna Edwards. She has a son who’s one year younger than me so I know that when she’s in the halls of Congress, as a senator or as a, you know, a representative in the House, she is speaking to issues that I know, in the back of her mind, will this help young men of color, young women of color, young people of all races, you know, with the decision that I make?
JAY: Who else agrees with this idea that Sanders isn’t targeting Black poverty specifically enough? Okay, you guys agree. I want to get to you guys, but is there anyone that disagrees, that thinks Sanders is addressing this? No? You do.
NELSON: Can I answer?
NELSON: I was at the rally on Saturday and, like I said, he’s been pushed. He’s been forced by Black Lives Matter, by folks who have been pushing him, and I actually know somebody that knows Bernie from Vermont as my freshman roommate, so I had some word about his views even back then, but at that rally on Saturday he very emphatically was talking about 15 dollars an hour, and any time you get some folks like Danny Glover and Ben Jealous and Rosario Dawson and Angela Davis, folks like that, to endorse Bernie Sanders, that just speaks volumes for me, because I agree with most of the views of those people that I named.
JAY: Okay. Kevin, you put your hand up and said that you agree. Now, start from the beginning. What work do you do?
KEVIN WHEELER: Kevin Wheeler. I’m a bartender at Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, member of Unite Here Local 7, been a member for about six, five years.
JAY: All right. So on this, first of all, between Sanders and Clinton, are you supporting one or the other? I should say voting for one or the other.
WHEELER: I will vote for Sanders. I remember when Bill Clinton first campaigned for president. The reason that I voted for him, it’s the first time I could vote, is because he was playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall, and I feel like that’s the Clinton, that’s the way that they get the Black vote. They come in, they pretend as if they have this real connection with the people there by using our culture.
You know, they say, you know, I accept where you’re coming from, and Hillary Clinton, she’s just, she’s a lot worse at it than Bill Clinton is. Because the thing is that she’s using her connection with her husband as a way to gain some type of credibility with Black people, but she’s not really talking about the real issues about what has kept Black people from getting their fair due in this country. It’s not even just about the super predators thing. I mean, I think most people here on the panel know about, you know, the three strike rules, and that in and of itself is one of the main reasons for so many Black men being in prison, and this wasn’t something that was just done because we wanted to get people off the streets, or we wanted to stop crime.
It’s done to keep a certain influx of people in prison, because that’s money. You know, every time someone comes into prison it’s not just the money that you spend to house them. They also are working for free. You know, they’re building things without any type of labor costs. And she knows this. It’s worked very well for a long time, so I can’t support a slave owner. I never have and I never will. I did before, but that’s because I was pretty dumb when [crosstalk] I was younger.
JAY: [interceding] Before meaning you supported Bill Clinton previously?
WHEELER: Yes. Yes, and I was young. I didn’t know anything about the issues, but I know now, and to just blind myself for it simply–
JAY: –And what about the issue that Courtney raises, that he’s also, if I understand correctly, going to vote for Sanders, but he doesn’t think Sanders has addressed the specificity of Black poverty. When I asked who agreed with that you put your hand up.
WHEELER: Well, I definitely agree that Bernie Sanders tries to find the one solution for a very complex problem, and I think the reason he does that is because he has typically been involved with poor whites, and he knows that problem very well, and he also has his very universal approach towards injustice. He’s like, you know we’re all people. That’s what his platform is. We’re all people. We all deserve the same things, which is very true. I don’t think he completely [grasps] the complexities of racism.
JAY: But, to be fair, when he spoke in Baltimore he certainly went, talked about how conditions in Baltimore worse than, for example, in some metrics, I believe it might have been, I’m not sure if it was life expectancy or infant mortality, comparing it to some towns in Nigeria and North Korea. And when I interviewed him I asked him specifically whether they would do a direct federal jobs program and target places like Baltimore, which he said he would. On the other and, he hasn’t been messaging that.
WHEELER: Yeah. But when he was pressed before, when he talked about reparations, and that’s a real big thing for a lot of people. A lot of people get very tense when you bring that up, but really that’s a real, for me anyway, that’s a real, for someone to say that they’re a socialist, that should be just something that you agree with right off the top, because just basically for him to say, well, you know, we want to break up the huge banks, and banks pretty much control finance in this country, which controls everything, but you’re not willing to give some type of recompense for the people who had helped to build this country, to say, oh, that’s too difficult. That just lets me know that you don’t understand the real problem there, or you do understand it and you don’t want to alienate your voters, so you’re just another politician.
JAY: You’re both members of unions that have endorsed Sanders, is that right?
JAY: Courtney and–which is a very small group. Most of the big unions have endorsed Clinton. [inaud.] you had your hand up.
ELIZABETH WOODSON: Yeah, I would like, I also wanted to respond–
JAY: –Also, tell us who you are.
WOODSON: Oh, so my name is Elizabeth Woodson. I’m a full time student and also a producer here at the Real News Network. I’m supporting Bernie Sanders, but I do want to address the way that he handles poverty within Baltimore and across the board. He’s been pushing, at least on Saturday he was talking about education, and through education uplifting the community, and I think that’s a great platform to stand on but it does dismiss, within Baltimore itself we have schools that have tennis courts and then, on the other hand, schools that don’t have bathroom stalls, so to put the pressure on students and young people, to say, okay, take advantage of your education, work hard in school and, like, I can give you free college, or.
I think that’s very dismissive to their environment. A lot of these kids are qualifying for assisted food. A lot of these kids don’t have access to activities, like extracurricular activities that would also help shape them, like, their educational journey. I think that you talked about the federal, him pushing for–
JAY: –I asked him if he would support a direct, federal hiring program without going through states and cities, because the experience in Baltimore with public, with infrastructure money is like the Inner Harbor, and most of it winds up in the pockets of developers and not that much actually winds up in employment or in the community, so the alternative to that is a 1930s-style, direct jobs program. He said he would support it. He has not been messaging that, but he said he would.
WOODSON: But even with that I find issue with students not being able to–I think students have been extremely dehumanized, and aren’t given the type of resources needed in order to, like, sit down and reflect on what they really want to do and how they’re going to impact this environment. Baltimore is a place where we can, there’s room for a a lot of growth. And when you have students that you say, okay, well we’re going to build a Shake Shack and you can work there. Have fun. I think that limits their capabilities. And so, yes, education is extremely beneficial, and I think it’s good to stick to it, but also building a community in a way where education is more than just pass these tests and get good grades in third grade [crosstalk] and fourth grade–
JAY: [interceding]–Right. Well, I don’t think he got into any of that kind of detail.
WOODSON: Well, he spoke a little bit about the tests at the Carter Memorial Church of God and Christ, but still it seemed very general, and I think it’s important to get to the specifics of reform.
JAY: Okay, Djuana.
DJUANA TURNER: Yes.
JAY: When I asked who else agreed with what Courtney was saying, you put your hand up.
TURNER: basically, he said everything that I agree with it, yeah.
JAY: Well, what’s your take on the Sanders-Clinton thing?
TURNER: I wouldn’t vote for Clinton because of the three strikes, you’re out. And it’s just, everybody, mass incarceration–
JAY: –Now she’s, as I said, there’s nobody here to defend Clinton. She has said that she acknowledges there were things wrong with the crime bill and that, you know, I think she used the word, it’s had unfortunate consequences for many people. But she has acknowledged that crime bill had some serious problems with it. I’m saying that because there’s no one else here to say that.
TURNER: Well, yeah.
JAY: But, so, because you’re kind of saying you’re not going to vote for her because of something passed under Bill Clinton. What about what she’s saying now?
TURNER: And what she’s saying now. I don’t believe her. I think she’s just using Black votes for her own agenda. I don’t believe anything she says.
JAY: Then why are so many Black people, if you think, being used, but why are they agreeing to be used? She’s getting the majority of the Black vote all over.
TURNER: Because they’ve been brainwashed by the media.
JAY: Who else wants to weigh in on that? Go ahead. Ken. None of you are supporting Hillary but most of the city is. Why is that?
KENNETH MORGAN: Ken Morgan, friend of labor, former labor union organizer and a former member of the steelworkers’ union, and presently I teach at Coppin State University, working class, primarily, university. Number one, Bernie Sanders is playing more of a populist role.
SPEAKER: I’m sorry, sir, can you [inaud.]?
MORGAN: Sure–playing more of a populist role, so–
JAY: –Do we need the whole thing again?
SPEAKER: Yeah, start over.
JAY: You’d better start again.
MORGAN: [audible laughter] Okay. Got you, got you, got you. Okay.
Ken Morgan, friend of labor, former organizer with AFSCME and a former member of the steelworkers’ union local 2610, and presently I teach at Coppin State University, a primarily working class HBCU.
In reference to Sanders, Sanders is running a populist campaign, and so some of those issues do speak to working people and some of the issues do speak to Black people or people of color. Now, Huey Long also was a populist. I mean, there are many folks who have been populists in reference to the issues. So he probably expresses or closest to the issues the question, the larger question in the consistency with which he does that, and also the fact that it’s not one person who deals with all of this.
It is, for example, and the Real News has covered this extensively, it is the big businesses and the corporations which influence the politicians more times than not, and I pretty much subscribe to Courtney’s perspective, and that is, bottom line, the lesser of two evils. And I’m ready, willing and able, and have worked before and after the day of the vote, because some of the same issues will still prevail no matter who’s the president, no matter who’s the mayor, no matter who’s the city council person. It’s not engrained in a person.
you mentioned developing. Well, the biggest news right now is Kevin Plank and Under Armour and Port Covington. 35 million dollars in TIFs and infrastructure, and here we go with–
JAY: –Just two words to explain to the audience what TIFs are, but really fast.
MORGAN: Well, TIFs, bottom line, are subsidies–
JAY: –Tax breaks for [crosstalk] development–
MORGAN: [interceding]–Subsidies. So the bottom line is that here we have the first year anniversary of the Freddie Gray death and the uprising, and what’s in the headlines now is Kevin Plank, Under Armour and Port Covington. So I think that pretty much speaks to things.
But the bottom line, I think, is Sanders is running a populist campaign, and at least in rhetoric is trying to address issues of working people.
JAY: And Nnamdi, why isn’t, if his language is more populist, more connected with the concerns of ordinary, working people, and in Baltimore that means Black people, why are the majority of Black people, in all likelihood, on Tuesday going to vote for Clinton?
NNAMDI SCOTT: That’s a good question. First of all, my name is Nnamdi Scott. I’m a computer technician and also running as an independent in Baltimore’s seventh district. I think the question is really important because, and this is the position that I’ve had as an independent, if African Americans had independent organization around their political, economic and social questions, organized themselves and had movement, raised their own resources to produce that movement, produce their own leaders for that movement, we would be able to approach any candidate with our constituency issues and say, this is what it takes to get our vote.
Because we don’t have that, we have these relationships to the Democratic Party and other kind of entities that really don’t take our issues into consideration, but they know how to mobilize us, especially because our leadership is a middle class leadership that is financially tied to it and has influence over everyday, working class people. So working class people will go vote for a Clinton but have no idea what those real questions are. What does it, is it a real difference between a 12 dollar and something minimum wage and a 15 dollar minimum wage? Why wouldn’t you vote for the person who is saying they would give you more [crosstalk] for a living wage?
JAY: [interceding]–So what’s the answer to that?
SCOTT: The truth is, I don’t think people have the analytical skills to come to that point. As a community we’ve been underdeveloped. We trust leadership. Mostly out of the ministerial class, out of the business class, that don’t necessarily share the same kind of struggles that we have, without the kind of grassroots organization from the bottom up, then you’re not going to have that. We talk about unions, and I’m great to see union members here. Unions got to get back out in the streets. They have to reconnect to families and to people. I mean, you’re talking about, in Baltimore City with such a high employment rate, between 18 and 25 there’s what, almost a 45 to 50 percent unemployment rate?
Well, unions can’t sustain themselves if they can’t get workers to join. So where is the organization of working class people saying, this is an issue. We want you to join our union, but we have to fight at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level to make sure that you are heard. So–
JAY: –I just want to interject in agreement with you. In the 1930s the unions got very involved in creating organizations for the unemployed. There seems to be almost no organizing of the unemployed going on.
SCOTT: Right. And so, my view is that you can’t ask a question about a group of people, you know, how they’re going to vote, without looking at the pieces. Where are their organizational institutions? Where are their organizational ideas coming from? How are they articulating their needs? Are those things bottom-up driven or top-down driven? That’s where we’re stuck at, and that’s why we’re voting, you know, overwhelmingly for people like the Clintons who don’t necessarily represent our real agendas, but we;ll do those things and think we’ve done our part.
JAY: Right. Who hasn’t spoken yet? Let’s just go to somebody who hasn’t spoken. How about, I’m sorry, Nicole?
NICOLE SCOTT: Hi, my name is Nicole and I’m a childcare owner. I own two small daycare centers in East Baltimore but I live in Baltimore County. [audible laughter]
JAY: So, on the Clinton-Sanders race?
SCOTT: I still am undecisive about everything. All of this politician stuff really makes me feel overwhelmed, so I haven’t sat down and buckled down, but that minimum wage thing does scare me, because I employ people and none of them make nowhere near 12, 15, and sometimes I play with my numbers like, how can I give more raises? But I only can have this many kids to even pay out, so it gets scary sometimes for me, but.
And I don’t want to unemploy people. People need that pocket change. Our workers [struggle] and people every day. Everybody in my center, they get food stamps. So it gets crazy, so I don’t know.
JAY: The people working or the people that bring in their kids are getting food stamps?
JAY: How many run out of food stamps and food [inaud.] before the month is over?
SCOTT: Oh, [audible laughter] a whole lot, because guess who’s going to the market buying it and helping out? Myself. So, it’s definitely a struggle, and it’s a struggle for me being the owner of that business, but life goes on.
DUVON WINBORNE: My name is Duvon Winborne. I’m a research psychologist. I’m learning as much as having my own ideas, because we’re talking about some generational differences here, but I try to keep things simple. And I think that, for Bernie Sanders, who I cannot vote for in the primaries because I’m an independent, but who I will support in the general election, I feel that he keeps it really simple as a socialist. He thinks about the important things, and I would say the most important thing that we all seem to be rallying around is economics. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
If we had that opportunity in Baltimore we would see a different city. Some of us here grew up in a different Baltimore, and everybody came home to parents. The fathers were there. Everybody had a job, for the most part. If they chose not to have a job, they didn’t, and something has changed rather dramatically, so that change has been mostly economics, and we can get into some of the more oblique issues about, you know, they’re not really unimportant but they’re more oblique to the concept of economics. If we had more jobs and more opportunities for jobs I think you would see a different Baltimore. You would even see a different America, and I think Bernie Sanders taps into that, because his whole notion is, it’s about people. And I think that’s missing, certainly, in the Clintons, and I think–
JAY: –What do you make of the argument that Clinton gives, that his ideas are not doable, they’re too big?
WINBORNE: Well, a functional definition of conservatism is keeping things as they are, and incremental change is basically keeping things as they are. I think Bernie Sanders is radical, and if one thinks in terms of revolution, change, real change, it has to be implemented right away, and it has to be something that is going to make the status quo uncomfortable, and that’s what he’s talking about. I think it’s doable. Anything is doable.
JAY: Okay, Howard. Sorry, did I cut you off?
WINBORNE: That’s all right.
HOWARD THOMAS: Yes, my name is Howard Thomas. I’m a longshoreman at the Port of Baltimore, member of ILA Local 333, and I’m in support with Bernie Sanders and what he’s talking about, and I [approach] him to do an upcoming, if he’s to be elected as the president of the United States.
JAY: Who has your union endorsed?
THOMAS: We don’t have an endorsement. Like, right now our union is kind of, like, in disarray. WE’re waiting to pretty much get our union back. There was some things that happened where the main chapter in New York came down and disbanded our, took out all of our elected officials out and put is in receivership, and this coming June we’ll probably have another election and have another president and then vice president, delegate and so forth.
JAY: Right. And that’s actually a story we’re going to do, what happened to the longshoremen’s local here–
JAY: –We can’t get into it now.
JAY: What do you make of what Courtney was saying? He supports Bernie, but at least either in policy or in his language doesn’t seem to get the specificity of chronic, Black poverty and Black unemployment and low wages in places like Baltimore, Detroit or something.
THOMAS: Right. I just think that it’s just a big job to be president, and there’s so many issues that you have to address, but I think that he is addressing some issues, and he has pretty much had the same views. Like, I watched a video of him speaking from, like, the 1980s, the 1990s. Like, over the past 30, 40 years he’s pretty much had the same message about trying to stop poverty and help people get jobs that haven’t been able to get jobs and help families, you know, be able to support themselves. He just, I think he just wants the people to be in a much better position than we have been, and I think that he could probably focus on specifics, but I think you have to get to a certain point.
Like, he definitely won’t be able to fix everything that he wants to fix, but if he can help get some of the things that he’s been talking about getting done, I think the country in a whole will be in a much better position.
JAY: And if he doesn’t win the primary, and Hillary Clinton does, and if it, as it looks like now, is a Clinton-Trump race, what do you do? Now, it’s not just Clinton-Trump. It’s Clinton-Trump, Green Party and some other independent parties.
THOMAS: I would almost have to vote for Clinton. I mean, there’s no way I could vote for Trump. There’s no way in the world I could vote for Trump, and even though I don’t support what Hillary Clinton, some of her views and some of the things she’s said in the past, I would even just vote for Clinton to hopefully kind of sway, make sure that he doesn’t get in.
JAY: Now, who hasn’t talked? Jonathan, before I get to my next question. So, where are you at on this?
JONATHAN BROWN: Well, I think some–
JAY: –First of all, introduce yourself.
BROWN: I’m Jonathan Brown. I’m a retired person that worked at the Key Highway shipbuilding yard and many other places over the years, and I’m a revolutionary, Revolutionary Communist. And one of the things that has been brought up very sharply here is, you know, people are drawn to Sanders, for example, because they have a sense of the urgency and the need for radical revolution. The question is, is this going to be actually achievable this way? And just the last couple questions that were just asked, people end up being put in this thing of ending up supporting, and I would describe Hillary Clinton as, a serial war criminal, you know, along with being a super predator.
And people end up getting drawn into supporting things they’ve sworn they would never support, once you get sucked into this thing. And I think it’s going to take a revolution and nothing less, an actually revolution, to deal with these deep, systemic problems that people have been mentioning here today, and many that aren’t. And I also think we have to think as citizens of the world. These jobs that were taken by these major capitalist, imperialist firms and moved overseas, they have driven people in other countries to terrible, terrible conditions, too. This country has. And we don’t want somebody who’s going to be a more aggressive perpetuator of what the US does around the world. We need a revolution, and we need to support people all over the world to get free.
JAY: Just, quickly, somewhat picking up on Jonathan’s point, but, how many people here, which is, everyone here has said they’re not going to vote for Clinton in the primary. How many will vote for Clinton if it’s Clinton-Trump race? About, maybe, half.
Let’s, well, Gary, you didn’t put your hand up. So, what will you do if it’s a Clinton-Trump race?
NELSON: At the age of 62 I’m reluctant to vote for the lesser of two evils. I am with my brother over there that calls for revolution. I remember very well Nelson Mandela and the ANC talking about peacefully if we can, violently if we must, and nobody, we got a taste of revolution last April 27 and the days before and the days after.
JAY: This is around Freddie Gray.
NELSON: Around Freddie Gray, right, right, right. But I’m wondering if I’m going to do a protest vote for Jill Stein, because, you know, when we incorporate things that are going on around the world, you know, that half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day and stuff like that, we really get a picture of the evil of the military-industrial-prison-pharmaceutical-congressional complex.
JAY: Courtney, you said you would vote for Clinton? Did I catch your hand?
JENKINS: Yes, sir.
JENKINS: Just because of the other option. I think the other option is extremely dangerous. I think what we’ve seen in the past year or so is that Bernie has forced Hillary to move more left. So, Bernie can force her to move more left, why can’t millions of Americans? I think it’s very dangerous if we say, if the left’s vote, and when I say left I mean progressives, liberals, Democrats, even moderate Democrats, if we, after the primary, we find that Hillary gets the nomination it could become dangerous if we decide, well, we’re upset that Bernie didn’t the nom, So we’re either not going to vote or we’re going to vote independent.
JAY: When I interviewed Bernie Sanders on Saturday I asked him about this question of his support, and essentially he said, he’s already said he will endorse whoever wins, but he says that Hillary’s going to have to actually take on the oligarchy, she’s actually going to have to look like she’s willing to really fight for the kinds of ideas and issues Sanders supporters have been fighting for. I mean, does she have to do something to do this, or just stopping Trump is enough?
JENKINS: No, she absolutely has to, and I think it starts with stopping Trump. He is the oligarchy, let’s not forget, and I think he’s playing on that populist message too, but his supporters don’t realize that he is that one percent that they despise so much. It’s just like they’ve got the wool pulled over their eyes, but it has to be more than just looking like she’s addressing it. She will actually have to address it if she wants a second term, if she gets the nomination to begin with.
I think we are talking about accountability in this sense, and I think what has happened over the past few years is that a lot of young people of color, especially, have become activists. It’s the trendy thing to do. And so with that activism, with that organizing they’ve learned about accountability. So if she goes into office it has to be more than just to look. It has to be, you know, actual productive policy that goes towards addressing income inequality because, as we can see, that’s what resonates across both parties no matter if you’re independent, Republican, Democrat or anything in between. That’s what’s been resonating.
So, I mean, she doesn’t want to be a one-termer, and I know that for sure, and so she would have to, it has to be more than just a look because we’ve gotten looks. I mean, African Americans have gotten what looks right, and I think that’s when you went back to the question of why they’re so loyal to Clinton, African American voters. I mean, people in general but especially African Americans are loyal to a brand, a name. I travel across the country, I won’t eat anything but Utz potato chips, right? That’s just how it goes, but just to go back, quickly, to what you said when you were playing devil’s advocate to Ms. Clinton, or Secretary Clinton, she apologized for signing the, well, endorsing the crime bill. She couldn’t sign it, of course.
Well, think about what that bill did to many young people of color that are still feeling the effects of that. Now they can’t just go into an office and say I apologize for that crime I committed in ’95, can you please hire me? She has the luxury to do that. She has the luxury to say, well, I’m sorry for endorsing the ’94 crime bill, but I still want you to vote.
JAY: Well, go ahead, ask your question.
TURNER: I said, how do you think she will become accountable if she do become the president? How would the people make her become accountability?
JAY: I think he’s saying she wouldn’t get a second term if she doesn’t fulfill these promises.
TURNER: Okay, so in the meantime, what’s going to happen?
JAY: Well I think, well that raises this question. Kevin, let me ask you this. If Sanders doesn’t win the primary he, but even more so people that are supporting him, have been talking about how the movement has to go beyond Sanders, beyond this primary. The movement has to become a political force itself.
WHEELER: Exactly right.
JAY: What’s your view on that?
WHEELER: I mean, that’s exactly right. I think that that’s the danger, I mean, Courtney made an incredible point with Clinton. The reason why I would support her, the reason why I would support any candidate is that, I am going to make you do what I want you to do. Like, it’s not the situation of where you’re going to dictate and give me a speech any longer and I’m going to follow behind what you’re saying. No. I know what’s right, and I have been able to fight for that.
And like what you were saying about unions needing to be more involved within the community, my union, Unite Here, we’ve been out here, like, walking these streets, fighting for a long time, for a long, long time to make sure people were hired when they built the new casino, to make sure people were registered to vote so that they do know what these candidates are up to, and a lot of unions have been able to do that. A lot of organizations have been able to do that in response to a lot of this oppression that has been going on by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. And he’s absolutely right.
Most of them don’t, just like most people don’t stand up. But the reason people are standing up now is because we had a president of color who pretty much was shown to be as, no matter what he did, was completely ineffectual for no reason that he was a person of color. We have, and that in and of itself has shown people that this world that we live in, this so-called colorblind world was a lie. It’s been a lie for a long time and now people are tired of it. They’re fed up and they’re saying, well, if we can get up to the highest office in the land, create this incredible movement to get this person elected, if we can become the face of change in this country but we still can’t get a fair chance, we still get murdered on the streets, then there is something wrong with the system and we’re not going to stand for it anymore.
And I think it is very true. I don’t think that the movement is going to stop if Bernie Sanders does not get elected .I think it’s just made it stronger, but we don’t need Bernie Sanders to make the changes that we want.
MORGAN: But the bottom line, I think that the thing on Trump and Clinton, I think that does have some relevancy, and hopefully, it’s almost like Trump is an incarnate devil, and that’s not, I don’t think that’s accurate in reference to Trump’s track record, in reference to who Trump is, for example. Not that I’m necessarily, I’m not going to support Trump, but I think to paint Trump and not to look at a larger picture in reference to Sanders, Clinton or Trump, is wrongheaded, and you get a real different kind of analysis.
And also, a lot of working people are supporting Trump, not because they’re ignorant. Black people aren’t supporting Clinton because they’re ignorant. Many working people are supporting Trump because he’s posed himself as an outsider. But he’s really not an outsider, in reference to the larger picture. With Clinton there are the deep roots associated with the civil rights movement, the deep roots associated with other kinds of superficial aspects. So I don’t think Black people are blind. I think they kind of are led by Black politicians to support certain people.
JAY: So, go ahead.
SCOTT: I just wanted to really talk about, and this is kind of the question I raised about, without independent organization you come to certain kind of conclusions based upon lack of analysis that fits your reality, right? So, people saying we’ll vote for Clinton, I get it, but we’re having a jaded discussion. We almost want people to believe that we don’t know that the US president is an imperialist president, right? Whose job is to facilitate capitalism, war, oppression, exploitation. We act like we almost forgot that. So the person who gets to be the president has other agendas that are much more pressing and more important than wether you can get into a little school or not.
The question isn’t whether the person elected is a Democrat or a Republican. What is the independent organization of working class people, right? We’re going to make these conclusions because we’re still not talking about, how do we organize independently? How do we come up with a real agenda, a platform to represent it? Is it anti-capitalist? Is it anti-sexist? Is it anti-imperialist? Because these are things that we can force politicians to speak to and if they ignore us there’s a consequence, because even if people say, well, we won’t vote for them again, we don’t deliver a consequence. It’s not true. We don’t deliver a consequence and politicians know it.
Until we start having a discussion about independent political organization and political action on our own terms then we won’t be able to be strong enough to say, damn who gets elected. This is the agenda that’s going to be won on the street.
JAY: All right. Well, this is just the beginning of this conversation. We’re going to pick up on some of the ideas that were expressed here. Everyone’s agreed to come back, and in a couple of weeks we’ll do this. Maybe once a month we’ll do this and we’ll keep this conversation going, and then at some point, maybe, we’ll have a town hall and invite about a hundred people to join us and keep this happening.
So, thank you all, and thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.