SHARMINI PERIES, JOURNALIST, TRNN: The people you’re working with in the movement have a far more progressive agenda than the DNC here?
LAURA FLANDERS, HOST OF GRITTV: No question about it, and you heard it tonight, while people are here at Live from Main Street, you know, and at the DNC, putting a positive spin on how much change has happened in the Democratic Party. There’s no question, and Donna Edwards admitted it, that this is a very strong, and probably long, uphill fight. I mean, let’s face it. In 1968, when people came to the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the demands were radical stuff: end the war today; open the prisons; free the media; free love, free sex for all and comprehensive sex ed. That’s just a start.
PERIES: And what are they today?
FLANDERS: Today they’re: Can we have a little less war a little more quickly? Can we have a slightly kindlier, gentler private health care system? Can we make some progress towards not heating up our environment as fast? Now, you know, I’m torn. I’m one who believes in stating the truth when it’s obvious, and the truth is we are in a much huger fix than any one single president can handle, or any one single administration, and a party that has bought into the system in so many ways. There’s plenty of bad stuff in store for us still. But I will say that there has been a failure in this country yet to change our electoral system in a way that makes third parties possible. And the type of change I’ve seen over the last two years inside the Democratic Party is the most change we’ve seen in years. What happens in this administration, I think, will decide where those people go after this election. Do they stay with the party? Or do they do other work outside it? I think it’s our job to listen and watch, not to try to dictate.
PERIES: Let’s listen, in terms of what we’re hearing from these movements. Are you hearing a more independent grassroots emerging that will continue even if Senator Obama gets elected, hold him accountable, hold his administration accountable, and continue this momentum that you’re trying to build?
FLANDERS: I think I am hearing that. I met a man the other day from progressives for Obama, long-time organizer from Pennsylvania, who says, look, it’s important to him that Pennsylvania goes into the Democratic column, but it’s more important to him that there be a whole network of progressives who will keep this next administration, if it is a Barack Obama administration, honest. He’s here soliciting campaign coordinators to work not just through November but after that, in every one of the states. And there’s a lot of work like that going on, organizing people to be leaders in their community, not just to vote, but to do a whole lot more than that. So I think we’ve seen a model with Democrats for America, which was what the Howard Dean became after the primary campaign, of lasting beyond that primary. DFA is still effective in the US in many states at this moment, a model of a movement continuing after the campaign. And if Donna Edwards is listened to, she’ll say, "Come and fight with me on day one—it’s in that fight that you’ll keep me honest and we’ll continue doing the work." So I’m hopeful on that front for sure. More people are more engaged, more excited, and more empowered with their own technology, with their own means of communication, with their own means to support candidates the leadership won’t, with their own ways to put out their message than ever before. And we’re all part of that.
PERIES: And what do you say to people who are growingly discontent with Senator Obama’s most centrist position? And what do you say to people who might get disillusioned as he moves into the presidency?
FLANDERS: Well, they are going to get disillusioned. The guy’s a politician. What do you want? We didn’t have a revolution yet. They’re going to get disillusioned. Folks, you’re going to be disillusioned with Barack Obama. Get used to it. What we’re hearing here at Live from Main Street and we’re hearing all over this country is this is not about a one-stop shop, this is not about, you know, flipping the country on January 20 or whatever date it’ll be of next year that a new administration takes over—with any luck it’ll be a Democratic one; it’s about a whole lot of work. And I think those of us who say they’re disappointed are focusing on that other person: is he doing everything we would like him to be doing? Of course not. Well, we need to focus on us: are we doing everything locally that we know it takes to make a difference? Are we doing that work? And I think that’s what this is about.
PERIES: Thank you, Laura.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.