Why is Sanders Holding Back on Endorsing Clinton?
The Bernie Sanders campaign “foreshadows what’s possible if millions of people from the grassroots organize to change the direction of this country,” said Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
Solomon said that Sanders’s grassroots supporters need to organize in order to put pressure on the Democratic National Convention.
“I think that it’s an open question as to what can be achieved at the Democratic National Convention. I think that it’s about mobilizing and understanding, really, that political campaigns come and go, and that especially when the candidate doesn’t win, it’s all about setting the stage for building movements down the road,” said Solomon.
The California delegation is planning to join a “massive upsurge at the convention in Philadelphia to push for a democratization of the party, democratization of the country,” said Solomon.
“If Hillary Clinton picks a corporate Democrat to be in sync with her polices, despite this enormous Bernie campaign that has transformed the grassroots of the Democratic Party, then I can tell you, I’m one of hundreds of Bernie Sanders delegates who, on the floor of the convention, will make it clear that we don’t accept any such vice presidential pick,” said Solomon.
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Well, the Democratic primaries are now over, and the presumptive presidential nominee for the party will be Hillary Clinton, and she’s headed to the Democratic Party convention to secure that nomination. But Bernie Sanders, who secured 12 million votes and 1,877 delegates, is not ready to endorse her yet. The two met on Tuesday evening to discuss moving forward, and Hillary Clinton had hoped to have his endorsement by now, but that didn’t happen.
So what are Bernie Sanders’s demands for the endorsement? Following the meeting between them, one of his aides [inaud.] said that the two discussed substantially raising the minimum wage, real campaign finance reform, and making healthcare universal and accessible, making college affordable, and reducing student debt.
On to discuss all of this is Norman Solomon. He’s the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He’s the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, and co-founder of RootsAction.org. Norman, thank you so much for joining us.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Great to be with you.
PERIES: So, Norman, Bernie Sanders, speaking with Chuck Todd on NBC on Sunday had this to say.
BERNIE SANDERS: We’ll be chatting about her campaign, and I simply want to get a sense of what kind of platform she will be supporting, whether she will be vigorous in standing up for working families and the middle class, moving aggressively on climate change, healthcare for all, making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
PERIES: So, Norman, Bernie Sanders obviously has quite a bit of leverage at this time, ahead of the convention. How should he proceed?
SOLOMON: Well, [inaud.] because from the grassroots we’ve had so many millions of people vote for Bernie, it’s been financed from the grassroots average $27 contribution, and it’s really surprising for the corporate media, but really a wish fulfillment for progressives that the leverage comes from authentic orders. That is, people around the country sure are energized, and want to challenge corporate power and all of the democratic unfunction and undemocratic function that that system entails.
So at this point, I think that it’s an open question as to what can be achieved at the Democratic National Convention. I think that it’s about mobilizing and understanding, really, that political campaigns come and go, and that especially when the candidate doesn’t win, it’s all about setting the stage for building movements down the road. Or to change metaphors, you grow a campaign, you support a candidate. Especially when the candidate doesn’t win, what you’re left with is compost. And that can be a very powerful thing. You can grow out of the compost tremendous vitality. And I think that’s what we’re, as Bernie Sanders supporters, that’s really what we’re endeavoring to do.
PERIES: Now, there’s enormous pressure on Sanders to endorse Clinton. But you know, he has always said that he will support the Democratic Party candidate for president. So is all this posturing kind of moot? What do you make of what will become between now and the Democratic Party Convention?
SOLOMON: Well, at RootsAction.org we had 20,000 people sign a petition in recent days urging Bernie Sanders to continue on to the convention. And I think one of the essential precepts of activism, whether it’s inside or outside of the electoral arena, is that we work to make things happen rather than just sort of horse racing or guessing at what might happen.
And I think the pressure from below needs to match and exceed the pressure from above. And from above we get the corporate media, which has always been negative towards Bernie’s campaign, now enormous pressure on him to just fold up into the Clinton campaign. And of course, the Democratic Party hierarchy, likewise.
So it’s really a matter of a push-pull. And as one of the Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention, I’m enthusiastic about the potential we have to continue to fight for issues in Philadelphia in late July at the convention.
PERIES: And if you had to advise Sanders directly, what would you be saying to him at this time?
SOLOMON: Well, although I’m not expecting that he would particularly be waiting for my advice, I would advise him to continue to do what he’s doing, which is to every day speak out, for working families, for working people, for people who want to work but can’t find jobs, to speak out for environmental protection and the climate, and the need to have a huge effort to roll back the fossil fuels industry so we have a future on this planet that is warming so much, to challenge Wall Street’s power, to fight for, as he has been doing, free public college tuition.
And the entire program has to be fought for, not just as something in the past of the campaign, but going on through the convention in Philadelphia. One of the key points, as well, his platform, which has some benefits but ultimately is sort of a wish list, and sometimes just a rhetorical flurry that is blown off after an election, in addition to that is the vice presidential choice. And I would certainly hope that Bernie Sanders is pressing Hillary Clinton very hard to say that we are not going to speculate about what she’s going to do after she’s president, and take her promises that seriously at all. But something tangible going to the convention is who is her vice presidential pick.
And if Hillary Clinton picks a corporate Democrat to be in sync with her polices, despite this enormous Bernie campaign that has transformed the grassroots of the Democratic Party, then I can tell you, I’m one of hundreds of Bernie Sanders delegates who, on the floor of the convention, will make it clear that we don’t accept any such vice presidential pick.
PERIES: Now, Norman, you’re on your way to a very important meeting in California. Tell us about that, and what’s on the agenda.
SOLOMON: Well, this coming weekend we have the entire California delegation to the Democratic National Convention, several hundred delegates, meeting in Southern California in Long Beach, and we’re going to be strategizing outside of the official meetings about how Bernie delegates can get behind a Bernie program, and to push even more strongly than Bernie has for a national policy that ends the warfare state, that ends perpetual war.
And there are so many delegates who are energized or going to Long Beach who want the California delegation to be part of this massive upsurge at the convention in Philadelphia, to push for a democratization of the party, democratization of the country. And I should add, Sharmini, that at RootsAction.org we just announced the launch of the National Independent Bernie Delegates Network. And anybody listening who’s a delegate, or knows somebody who is, please go to our website, which is BernieDelegatesNetwork.org.
I would just sum up by saying this is all about organizing. And Bernie Sanders can’t do it. It’s really up to us. His campaign foreshadows what’s possible if millions of people from the grassroots organize to change the direction of this country.
PERIES: All right, Norman. All the best at your meeting, and we look forward to hearing what came out of it. Thank you for joining us.
SOLOMON: Thank you, Sharmini.
PERIES: Thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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