At Progressive Summit Nina Turner says Don’t Worry About Trump, Worry About People

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Progressive candidates at the Ohio gathering strategized with the new president of Our Revolution as she told them progressive values are universal and transcend party lines

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Story Transcript

Taya Graham: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Deer Creek, Ohio. On the second day of our coverage of the Ohio ADA, the discussion turned practical. How to successfully run on a progressive platform. To help start the conversation, former Ohio State Senator, and leader of Our Revolution, Nina Turner, leads a session to help potential candidates prepare to win. We spoke with Turner, who also has a show on The Real News, on how the progressive movement she now leads can translate ideas into victory at the polls in states like Ohio and beyond.

Nina Turner: We need people of consciousness to run for office, and do what they say once they get to that office and mean it and not worry about the big money interests.

Our Revolution is designed to empower the grassroots and we want to do this all over the country. Our Revolution was born from the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, who constantly was out there even as he was running for president talking about people power and how he wanted the people to feel empowered. Our revolution was born from that.

But we do rise and fall together and it’s absolutely not okay to separate us that way.

Taya Graham: Can the progressive message reach Trump voters and change their minds?

Nina Turner: I think that it can. We’re seeing in this country, and to use single payer as an example, that when that issue polls it’s not just polling for progressives or liberals as Democrats. You have the majority of Americans who understand that having a healthcare system that works for all people is vitally important. So, it’s more about connecting on the things that we have in common instead of separating people, “That’s a Trump voter,” “That’s a Clinton voter,” “That’s a Sanders voter.” We don’t want any of the above, but really just reaching people deep down in their soul to think about, and to talk about, the issues that they care about the most, and trying to connect them to those issues that will bring you together.

For us to be able to see that we have more in common than not, and to not let people pull us apart for their own political gain. Even people who are supposed to be in our corners will manipulate urban rural challenges, will manipulate identity politics to pull us apart.

Taya Graham: Should progressives primary conservative Democrats and should they take the same strategy that the Tea Party used to target moderate Republicans?

Nina Turner: There was some power to that. But, again, the people should decide whether or not the people who are leading them, who are the elected leaders in their various communities, whether or not that person should earn the right to stay or whether somebody should run against them. I’m not gonna sit up here and a say primary people just for the sake of primarying them, but if you care about certain issues, and that person is no longer standing up for those issues, then a decision has to be made by that community or by that state about whether or not that person should continue to hold that office. We should be pushing for people who are ready and willing beyond the politics to understand that, in this country it’s not working for the working poor, or the barely middle class. That something has gone wrong in this country and we have to restore it for the majority of the people. That people are really suffering and people are really hurting. If an elected official that’s running for office doesn’t understand that, doesn’t get that, doesn’t want to put something on the line for that, then maybe it is time for them to go.

Paula Jean: And we are fighting back. We are strong and we are West Virginia Proud. One of my mentors always told everybody he met in West Virginia that you are somebody, and it takes people like us joining together and making you feel like you’re part of something. You are somebody and you are not alone.

Taya Graham: There’s a growing sentiment that the Democratic party takes the black vote for granted. Some critics even say Democrats have failed black voters in cities like Baltimore. What’s your response to these critics?

Nina Turner: Well, they do. The flat out truth is the Democratic party has taken the black vote for granted. But, I would say to the black community, or to any community, people only do to you what you allow them to do. But, there’s a wake-up call, there’s a synergy going on in this country that we gotta do better. Most of our cities are headed by Democrats. A lot of the funding that comes into these cities, I must say, a lot of our legislatures are controlled by the Republican party, or people who believe that they should choke funding from government and not really make the requisite investment. So, it’s a combination of things. But, for me, from my vantage point … and I’ve traveled all over this country, so it’s not just me Nina Turner saying this. Lots of people in the African American community feel taken for granted that people only come to them every four years when they want to run for office. Yet, there are more African American people in prison, particularly African American men, disproportionately.

Our schools and our urban centers are failing black and brown and poor children. There’s a moral proposition here that, anybody that’s running for office … What are you going to do to lift the most vulnerable populations in this country? And it’s not just enough to be a Democrat anymore, you have to be a Democrat with a purpose, a Democrat that stands up for the values, and then once you get to office you’re gonna push those policies that will make the change. The African American community, and any other community have to make those demands, and there has to be a consequence for people who are not serving. And that’s any community, I want to be clear about that. That’s any community. But because the African American community overwhelmingly votes Democrat … I mean Mickey Mouse could run as long as Mickey Mouse is a Democrat. We have to educate ourselves as a community and demand more. Brother Frederick Douglass one said that power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will.

So, as a community we have to demand more, expect more, and if people don’t deliver we need to make a different type of decision.

Speaker 5: The atrocities that have been committed on us are so it is normal for people to accept our politicians putting lead and arsenic in our water. And for miners to die for coal when we had renewable energy.

Taya Graham: Should the Democrats push for a single-payer system now that Obamacare repeal has failed?

Nina Turner: We should have been pushing for that all along. Absolutely. Single payer Medicare for all is the way to go. Not only is it the morally right thing to do, economically it is the right thing to do in this country. We pay more for healthcare than any other industrialized nation and we get less medical benefit or medical outcomes, in terms of healthy outcomes for the individuals. We can’t collapse under the weight of this, we have to make a change. I think it was Einstein who defined insanity, which he said, “Doing the same thing over and over again.” We need a different approach. Certainly the Affordable Care Act was a start, but it is not where we should end in this country, and we are pushing for Medicare for all.

If you don’t have a core, a central reason, I’m talking about a real reason that’s greater that you as to why you’re running, you’re gonna be disappointed. Some people are power hungry and they’re attracted to the camera, and the lights, and especially social media. Now you don’t have to wait for somebody to come interview you, you can do it yourself. You can Periscope or Facebook Live, and all that. Don’t be seduced by what looks like glamor. Trust me, it is not glamorous, it is hard work.

Speaker 6: But, a lot of people been talking about a Sanders/Turner ticket in 2020. Is that a possibility?

Taya Graham: Is it possible for us to see a Sanders/Turner ticket?

Speaker 6: [crosstalk 00:07:44] that particular order …

Taya Graham: Or a Turner/Sanders, either way?

Nina Turner: You know I’m really humbled and flattered that people … I’ve been hearing that for quite some time. I’m not really sure about that but what can be guaranteed is that the senator, from where he is right now, is gonna continue to push and serve. As you know he’s traveling all over this country right now to talk about this healthcare crisis and why it is important. He has never stopped serving or running, so to speak, in terms of running around this country to let people know that they deserve better. For me, not just in my capacity as president of Our Revolution, I serve on that board, but I have constantly been that kind of public servant. That’s never gonna change, whether I hold another elected office officially or not. I do hope, and I want the Real News viewers to know, I’m hoping that Senator Bernie Sanders will run in 2020.

A lot of people want to see that happen because he galvanized so many people in this country. People who were not even in the process officially, felt a certain type of way about their voice and they came out from all over this country saying, “You know what? This senator, this man, this servant is talking to me,” and we need that same thing to happen in 2017, in 2018, in 2019, and in 2020, and beyond. But, I do hope that the senator runs again. I don’t know about the Sanders/Turner ticket, but I do very much hope that the senator will run again.