Danny Glover: Democratic Party Leadership in Damage Control
Danny Glover talks to Paul Jay about his impression of the Democratic National Convention so far
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Okay we’re live on the Real News Network in downtown Philadelphia. This is Paul Jay and I’m in the car with Danny Glover. Activist and actor. This is Danny. Are we seeing Danny?
So we’re on our way to the media pavilion at the Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic Convention is taking place there dealing with Nina Turner who’s going to speak, Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, and others. Nina’s going to explain what happened to her at the Democratic National Convention. She was–as far as we know right now, as best we know, Nina was supposed to nominate Bernie Sanders and at the last minute was told—Bernie Sanders had to say, that she couldn’t. We’re going to get the whole story when we get to the press conference. What the press conference is about is in support of Nina Turner. Nina Turner of course is a surrogate, is an actor but was also campaigning for Bernie Sanders throughout the whole primary campaign. As a former senator from Ohio and some people are even talking about her as a possible presidential nominee or candidate in 2020.
So Danny thanks for joining us.
DANNY GLOVER: Thank you. Thank you Paul.
JAY: So I know you can’t say much yet about Nina Turner. You’re going to say more when we get to the press conference. But what’s your overall impression on the convention so far, what’s been happening with the Sanders movement and how the DNC’s been responding to all this?
GLOVER: Well, first of all the convention begins with a great deal of damage control. It starts there. With the removal of Debbie Wasserman and all the other kind of machinations that were taking place to in some ways control this voice from the outside. And that voice from the outside was inside because of Bernie Sanders and his campaign. Activists were here. People were upset. People wanted some answers and as we see now with the WikiLeaks tapes and even with the findings of the primary results/election results in New York and California, we saw the irregularities in there.
So those are questions that people had already. And so there’s certainly one of the most outspoken and most dynamic supporters during the primaries was Nina Turner. [And it sense that’s there’s] an attempt to even quiet her. This has been a convention in which the Democratic Party has tried to keep a lid on whatever the reactions are to all the things. Throwing up and thrusting into our face the fact that it is the most progressive platform that the Democratic Party has ever had. And we know that there were things that were in there that were no brainers. And things that we needed to talk about whether the $15 an hour, end to the death penalty, those are things that we were certainly were–if we’re considering ourself progressive and if we say to ourself, oh the Democratic Party would say the people’s party, the things they would have to say in that. They have to in some sense create a sense of unity.
That’s the first thing. This is a very contentious primary and certainly people came out here frazzled. People came out the primary very solid and stanch in their own support of their respective candidates. So that’s the first thing that had to happen. You see that in various venues etc. etc. All of a sudden you see Mayor De Blasio talking about unions, supporting unions, and saying that it’s connected to the middle class. They’re always defining everything by the middle class. Not the working class. They use the middle classes as their reference point. But nobody talks about the working class. Those people who have given up on work and those people who have are out of work and those people who are homeless. They’re all over this place.
JAY: The Clinton camp seems to be more concerned with recruiting people like Bloomberg, getting the advocation of the Washington Post, denouncing Trump, winning over Republicans than in fact caring about the so called unification of the party. Because when they do this–Wasserman Shultz even though she was “removed as head of DNC” she was kind of given this big title in the Clinton campaign. But more importantly right up until the last second she was going to do the opening gavel. And only at the absolutely last second did they finally intervene and say this is going to be chorus of boos so we better not do it. But it’s kind of another expression the Clinton camp doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about unity or appeasing the Sanders camp.
GLOVER: Or even appeasing those who’s people are speaking for those who are on the outside, the homeless people I see out here in Philadelphia itself. And all those who are in need of the Democratic Party who relied on the Sanders campaign as a voice for their them who are without a voice. So I think the point is, is that what Bernie’s campaign has done, what the Citizen’s Campaign has done is expanded the body of politics. Expanded the involvement of young people etc.
For the Clintons, their idea of this whole thing–and the Clinton campaign and everything else, their idea is to get over it. You young people get over it. We won basically and we’re going to control this situation. And no matter what the compromises have been–Bernie Sanders has made a number of compromises. Bernie Sanders has made a number of compromises. No matter what compromises have had, had they been made. The fact is that still there is no consistency or no placing the framework of whatever the platform committee came up with none of these in the action right here. The action has to be one of opening up and creating a space for all these voices and that is not happening on this floor. That is not happening in this convention.
JAY: So how did you feel when Bernie called for unanimous support for Clinton? That he did it himself?
GLOVER: Well I’m sorry I didn’t look at it. I didn’t watch it. But I was torn by the fact that he did it. He didn’t have to do it. And I’m always thinking about what are the forces that now say that he has to do this?
He’s taken many steps back. I was there in the audience when he told all those people who fought and who marched, who went from state to state to state with him, who traveled, who took their vacations and everything else. I was with them to campaign with him, grassroots. Organic grassroots campaign with him. What about those people? Where are they now? Are they just thrown away? Discarded at this particular point in time under some guise of a platform? A progressive platform. And we know what a platform plan or whatever it looks like. The idea is that most of that is never acted upon.
Jay: Well Bernie seems to be saying the danger of the Trump presidency is so strong or so great that you have to make this sort of temporary truce with Clinton then fight it out with her afterwards. He’s not saying it in so many words because he has to endorse her now but what do you make of that logic?
GLOVER: I don’t know if–obviously one thing is that the campaign, beyond just trying to convince Republicans who are on the fence or independents who are on the fence or whatever about who whether it’s Trump or her, whatever. I don’t think that as always in American electoral politics that they think they’ve expanded the base itself and brought more people to the table. And say to them, this is the battle that we are waging. Right at this moment, what is the plan, what is the organic plan? What is the magic of the plan that we have to win our objective? To fight for our objectives? Where it is? It’s a great deal of talk right now and that’s where it is.
But what you don’t see is represented in some form within the convention except those courageous people that walked out and except those people who are convinced that there’s another day to fight, where do you see it? Where do you see it? You see there’s political performance theater and basically you know the most honest people that have been here at this convention and those people who have been on the outside. Those people who demonstrated in front of City Hall on Monday. Those people who–those women who got together and said, the voices of women at a small church here right on Broad Street. Those are the authentic voices out there and those people who should’ve been right outside, homeless people, unemployed people, people who been connected or who’ve been effected by the police violence and everything. Those people should’ve been in the forefront.
JAY: So the Sanders campaign if I understand the logic correctly is–the danger of a Trump presidency or a kind of neofascism is so strong that the fight now is elect they’re saying at least 100 progressives, create a real progressive block in caucus and such and strength the progressive wing of the party and then fight it out. What do you make of that logic?
GLOVER: Well I think it–the logic, the rational, there’s always a rational for this. I don’t know if the capacity or the will to fight it out–capacity on the outside and the will to fight it on the outside will be there. But I’m not so sure the will to fight this on the inside. Those people who I know who want to go back to business as usual. If the climate, if the political culture is set in motion to have the fear[mongering] and the representation of this to be the clear point of what is happening here.
And this is what this is a campaign based upon fear. And essentially that’s it. What Trump represents. So it is the ideal recipe for all the other things that I don’t think we would want at the end. And whether we, of course, we could talk as much as we can about the resources that were gathered within the campaign, within the primary to make this happen. You know and that if people would’ve felt that we need something else and I don’t think we’re getting it right now at this moment.
JAY: Well what would you like to hear Bernie say at this moment that he’s not?
GLOVER: Well, I don’t know right now. You know this is what–what we’ve gone on in this whole primary is what Bernie had said. What we’d believe he believes and I have no reason to doubt he believes that. But at some point in what has happened over the last–ever since the end of California and really the end was California, more than a month ago. I don’t believe that the strength that was necessary how we strengthen this movement, I don’t believe those steps were taken in ways–and Paul I don’t know the answers to this.
You know, I know that we’re going to have to trust in a lot of ways, a lot of unknowns. A number of unknowns. I mean we’ve had movements that were more evolved in political consciousness in the country’s history than this [nation] movement. The beginning of a movement that everybody talks about. You know what I’m saying? And certainly we know that the movement itself is going to be how we connect, networks. How we connect the environmental issues and global warming and climate change. We’ll–people’s needs and reforming, not reforming, eliminating police. Policing as we know it, whatever it is. And all these kinds of question. How do we get people back to work? Those are the kinds of things that we have on our table in a sense.
So the answers and the conflict and the contradictions with all the things we’re fighting there and dealing with are there. How we present ourselves and to what extent do we get to report done. Not in a moment. This election was not a movement. But in the moment, what are the long term issues? What are the long term organizational strategies? What are the long term, ways in which we engage people, really engage people in this process? Are we in a sense–do we in a sense carry people to a certain height emotionally and discharge them at a particular moment and then mediate or meander through something else. I don’t know that? But that’s up to us too. That’s not up to Bernie. That’s up to us as well.
JAY: Some of the nurses I’ve talked to, and the Nurses’ Union has been very important to the Sanders campaign.
GLOVER: I mean essential.
JAY: Yeah. They seem to be saying whether its inside the Democratic Party or outside the Democratic Party or both, the focus should be on electing many many many progressives at various levels and then you fight it out in 2018, you fight it out again in 2020. And then you keep this thing going.
GLOVER: Well that’s a strategy too. But do we have the infrastructure right there at this particular moment? You know, can we identify a key on local levels, on regional levels, on state levels and in the federal level? Can we identify key progressives who in a sense will be able to–I mean it’s really beautiful thinking. I’m saying it is. I mean it’s beautiful thinking. But in the way in which we, I don’t know this. Because we’re entering new territory. The issues may have been framed in such a way in civil rights moments and other movements, in a way in which people can grasp it. And we watched that. We watched the issue of South African and free South Africa, etc. etc. and we saw what happened once South Africa freed itself. And you saw the raw and ugly way real politics manifest itself.
JAY: Meaning neoliberalism?
GLOVER: Neoliberalism [inaud.]. So the problem is that. Nobody’s ever said that the issue, that the crisis is not with us. It’s people and our desire to want more and to change our lives with it. The crisis is with the system itself. The crisis with our–when Bernie said it’s broken, the crisis is with capitalism itself. What is important and I could think in one way what a Trump victory does, in a sense, with foreign policy I don’t know. I don’t know how Hillary’s foreign policy’s going to be any different than Trump’s foreign policy.
JAY: Well if you look at some of the people around Trump, it seems to me it will be the same policy on steroids.
JAY: Meaning, that if he’s really going to crush ice he’s going to wind up having to carpet bomb or send in troops. He’s got money from Sheldon Adelson. He’s seem to have made Pence as the Vice President. Which is he’s made his deal with the neocons. I know a lot of neo cons are certainly supporting Hillary. Kagan recently called Hillary a neocon and said even if she doesn’t like to call herself that. But one would think that it would be more like the Obama presidency than the Bush presidency, one would think.
GLOVER: Well I mean, I would think because I was with the Obama presidency, it was about dealing with allowing foreign policy to drift in the way of what essentially was going in the direction it was going on more wars, etc. etc. And a lot of was relying on domestic policy.
One of the things that’s been talked about so often is when we talk about domestic policy. The issue we’re never connecting the issue of violence against our children and the violence against other children in the world. We’re not never ever ever connected to that. We’re not allowed to connect that. We’re not allowed to create a narrative that in a sense finds the connection between the two of those and finds some sort of way in which there’s some sort of way in which they are able to unite in that way. But I think you’re right on that. I don’t know. I don’t know what impact we have not on policy as well as the key things that have been strategic in Bernie’s campaign.
You know, breaking up the banks is one. Getting Wall Street, getting money out of politics. I don’t know how this just evaporates in 4 years at any particular time, soon. You know what I’m saying? I don’t know how that–it’s going to affect how money is raised doing those sessions in between the incoming elections. It’s going to effect that. Are people going to put together the same kind of energy on local and regional and national two year elections, 2018 and 2020. Are they going to put that and any energy onto it.
JAY: That’s why I wonder about how Bernie positioned his support of Hillary. I understand the strategy of saying–.
GLOVER: And how does he, how do we find out? How do we know?
JAY: Just the way he said it, what he said publicly at the convention. When he says Hillary believes in universal healthcare and Hillary believes in that. The logic that’s being given he’s kind of setting her up because we all kind of know what she doesn’t and when she doesn’t do these things he’ll sort of have her on the record as having nodded her head yes she believes in these things but not follow up.
But it seems to me one has to be careful about creating illusions about her at the same time. In terms of foreign policy she’s essentially a war criminal. What happened in Libya was a violation of international law.
GLOVER: Absolutely and what happened in Honduras. Is also bad.
JAY: Honduras and her role in Syria. So it seems to me that to say the whole truth about who she is even if you come to the conclusion and from a strategic point of view that it’s better to have a Clinton presidency than a Trump, it doesn’t mean you don’t tell the whole truth about who she is and what her record is. And that’s what personally I’m concerned there’s kind of illusions created about her if you go too far she believes this and she believes that because we know she doesn’t.
GLOVER: Well in the spirit of unity, I can’t figure out what’s in the spirit of unity. The spirit of building this coalition against Trump is almost sounds like its going to the Iraqi war. Building a coalition against the evil empire. You know what I’m saying. And I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know how it now frames in all the ways in which even though a progressive agenda or mandate, a progressive mandate that comes out of the platform committee, if indeed that is instituted, if indeed that we celebrate many small steps toward that. I just cant figure that out.
JAY: I mean Clinton’s greatest nightmare is going to be if the Democrats actually do control both houses and then she actually has the possibility of implementing some of this platform. Cause I’m sure they’re hoping and counting on the fact that they won’t and they can always blame the Republican side.
GLOVER: Exactly. One of the key issues is the TPP. What’s going to happen with that. I heard the mayor of New York, Diblagio say, down with the TPP. You know. Now what happens with that?
JAY: Sanders made a promise at the delegates meeting that he and other progressives in the senate are going to try to block a lame duck session passing of the TPP. I don’t know if they have the power to do that or not.
JAY: They might have to filibuster. And even that can be stopped. Alright so we’re about to get to this press conference just to situate you. We’re pulling into the parking lot at the Wells Fargo Center and we’ll be following Danny as he walks to the press conference. Just to remind you again, we’re going to a press conference which is about Nina Turner, as far as we know. Again I’ll repeat, Nina was supposed to be one of the people along with Tulsi Gabbard that nominated Bernie Sanders and at the last minute, as far as we know I can’t verify the story but what seems to be the story is the DNC, the Clinton camp didn’t want Nina Turner doing this. I guess partly because she’d been very critical of the DNC, very critical of the Clinton camp. Mind you so was Tusli Gabbard.
But I think some people are speculating and here’s my personal speculation. Nina Turner is a heck of a candidate in 2020 if there’s going to be an attempt to make the Clinton a one term presidency. And maybe they didn’t want her, Nina Turner to have so much exposure, I don’t know. This is just speculation. But at any rate apparently there was a lot of pressure put on Bernie Sanders and to avoid a big fight as far as we understand it, Bernie agreed. And now there’s going to be a press conference helped organize by the National Nurses United, the nurses’ union. Susan Sarandon is going to be there. Danny’s going to be speaking there.
GLOVER: Dawson Rosario is going to be there.
JAY: Dawson’s going to be there and of course Nina Turner’s going to be there to tell her story about what happened. We’re just pulling up.
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