Sanders and His Supporters Should Now Call for a Real Political Revolution
Jeff Cohen says the challenge for Sanders supporters is to continue the campaign for the nomination and take the movement beyond the man, finding ways to fight Trump without giving up their independence from the Democratic Party
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network, I’m Paul Jay. Tuesday night, the elections, Donald Trump won just about everything he was expected to win. He did not win Ohio, which would’ve been the knockout punch; John Kasich won Ohio. As we speak he’s still competitive in Missouri we’re not entirely settled whether he’s going to win it or Cruz will. But he’s certainly much further on the way to obtaining the republican nomination.
In the democratic party primary, Hilary Clinton won Florida with 64.4% of the vote, Sanders 33%. She won North Carolina with 54% of the vote. She won Ohio with 56% of the vote, Sanders got 42. In Illinois it’s still too close to call. As we speak 50% for Clinton, 48.2% for Sanders. In Missouri Sanders is ahead by a little bit; 50% to Clinton’s 48% but she won a lot of delegates tonight.
Now joining us from in fact, California is Jeff Cohen. Jeff is the director of the Parks Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and he was the founder of the independent media watch dog FAIR. He’s also the co-founder of RootsAction.org. Thanks for joining us Jeff.
JEFF COHEN: Great to be with you.
PAUL JAY: So it’s a little bit disappointing for the Sanders campaign. They were hoping for what I heard someone call, the Michigan miracle, would happen in Ohio. To defy the polling. Well this time the pollsters more or less got it right, just about everywhere. As we speak, it’s pretty late Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders hasn’t spoken yet. We’re speculating, he’s waiting to find out if perhaps he might win Illinois as I said he’s ahead in Missouri so he’s waiting for that. So we don’t really know what exactly he’s going to say. But if you were writing his speech and you have written speeches and such for people who have run for office in the past; what would you have Bernie Sanders say tonight?
COHEN: I’d be upbeat. I would say no one expected the Sanders movement, the political revolution, to get off the ground. We’re taking on the biggest political machine one of the most powerful political machines in the country. We’re taking on the corporate wing of the democratic party. We’ve won state after state; we didn’t do so well tonight but we’ve won state after state and this movement’s going to go to the convention. We’re going to go beyond the convention. Because a political revolution is more than just one person. Democratic socialism isn’t about one person. This has been, the number of young people that have expressed themselves and worked hard and campaigned for revolution. They’re not going to stop after the convention. They’re not going to stop after November, and that’s something that we need to celebrate tonight.
JAY: Yea, it seems to me that is the speech that he has to give. That this political revolution is not just about the nomination. If he’s really serious about that political revolution, he needs to start inspiring people about that now. Not just talk about still having a strategy towards the nomination. Perhaps he does, I don’t think it’s over yet, especially if he can win Illinois and Missouri. But even if he doesn’t, there’s still some big states left and he maybe can stop this, for the very least, from being a coronation at the convention. But that shouldn’t be the major issue, if you’re serious about the political revolution.
COHEN: There’s no doubt about it. Look, this has always been bigger than Bernie. He said that before he threw his hat in the ring. He should be saying it especially on a bad night, on a night when Hilary wins most of the states. There’s all these, there’s millions of young people that have come toward progressive politics, a progressive domestic agenda, a democratic socialism. That’s, you know, democratic socialism is now a catchphrase and people are studying it. Young people are turning toward it; that’s quite an achievement. Now in terms of whether Bernie could beat Hilary and get the nomination. The problem with Hilary Clinton is, she’s not that honest. She’s a scandal a month and something could happen. Some outside event, some new lie. Perhaps those transcripts will come out and show that when she goes and talks to Goldman Sachs all she tells them is how great they are and how they shouldn’t be bothered by all the Wall Street bashing from other politicians, other than me; who knows. But outside of an external impact, yes it looks like she will get the nomination.
Now, if Donald Trump is elected president, which is not impossible, then these young people, that have come toward the political revolution are going to have to develop more strategic approaches to stopping Trump and stopping the Trump agenda. It’s got to be thought out. It can’t be just let’s go to the rallies or go to wherever Trump is and start a rebellion. The bad news is, a complete demagogue, with fascist tendencies may become the next president. The second bad news, if he doesn’t become president, a corporate democrat again will become president.
JAY: Add to corporate democrat, somebody who’s on the face of it, at the very least as militaristic as Trump. And on some issues, at least on the level of language, even more interventionist than a Trump.
COHEN: She’s more hawkish than our current president. I mean, the thing is, when the republicans are in power, our country declines at a precipitous rate. When the democrats are in power, it declines but maybe not quite as precipitously. But with the problems facing the world, in terms of militarism, wars, climate change, we’ve got to turn the country around. That’s what’s exciting about the young people joining the political revolution. So whether the next president is Bernie, Hilary, or Trump, the young people of the political revolution have got to be in for the long haul. Because one day we have to be talking about taking power and turning the country around.
JAY: There’s going to be a moment of truth at the convention. Let’s assume Hilary’s going to win. I’m not saying it’s a completely done deal but certainly it looks like she’s going to win. There’s going to be a moment of truth here, where Bernie Sanders is going to have to stand up. He’s going to make a speech at the convention. What’s he going to say? You know it is this problem and it’s a real problem. You can have this sociopathic, crazy man, Trump as president or you can have this militaristic war hawk Clinton as president. Let’s assume, take your point that Trump is more dangerous to the interests of the majority of the people. But how do the people that have been supporting Trump, I’m sorry, been supporting Sanders, fight Trump without being absorbed, assimilated into the Clinton-borg.
COHEN: Well that’s the idea of a political revolution. People have got to keep their networks going. Keep their online, I mean, Roots Action was the first group that surveyed our members. We had hundreds of thousands. And they wanted Bernie to run 9 to 1 and they wanted Bernie to run inside the democratic primaries and caucus 2 to 1. Roots Action has grown because of the Sanders political revolution. Other groups are growing. These groups have got to retain their independence. They’ve got to stand up if Hilary Clinton is the next president. They have to make sure that they’re taking on Hilary Clinton, in the streets, in elections.
There is no doubt in my mind that Bernie is going to say, as he has said since 1984, when it was Mondale verses Reagan. That the right-wing republicans are such a threat that you should vote democratic, against them. Or should vote against the republicans by voting for the democrat. Now, I think Paul you’ve had me on the Real News enough times, to know that I believe in a safe state strategy. If you’re in the 35 or 40 states that are safe, that are going to go overwhelming democratic or overwhelmingly republican in November. You can exercise your right to vote for a protest candidate. A true progressive, a Jill Stein of the green party, whoever. But if you live in a swing state, I do believe that the role that the left should play, in a state like Ohio, a state like Florida; even if its Hilary Clinton, as you say, a corporate democrat on a hawkish side. You should do your best to make sure that Trump or Cruz does not beat Hilary in your swing state.
That doesn’t mean [that that’s the end of], you know what you do in October, November of 2016 is a small part of what you do if you’re a serious political actor. If you’re a serious progressive activist. With that, I think, one thing that the Sanders movement, the political revolution has shown is that, no matter what Bernie says. No matter what Bernie does or doesn’t say at the democratic convention, we need to keep our organizations independent of the democratic leadership. And we need to keep our online networks independent of the democratic leadership. And we need to struggle.
The good news is that there’s millions of young people that a year ago were pretty inactive and today are very active. Those are the kinds of people that will be the leaders of the left; the leaders of the U.S. left, the progressive movement, in the coming years. And that’s something that we should all take pride in, no matter who gets elected president in November. And that’s what we need to build on, no matter who wins the election in November.
JAY: Alright, thanks very much for joining us Jeff.
COHEN: Thank you.
JAY: And thank you for joining us, on the Real News Network.
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