"An Earthshaking Moment": Sanders Win Reveals Deep Divide Between Voters & Democratic Party Leaders

February 10, 2016
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Guests

Arnie Arnesen

longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire. She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1992.

For response to Tuesday’s primary, we go to Manchester, New Hampshire, to speak with Arnie Arnesen, longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire. She was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1992. Arnesen has known both Sanders and Clinton for about 25 years.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now by Arnie Arnesen, longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire, Democratic nominee for governor in 1992. She ran for Congress in 1996. Before we talk about the Republican race, let’s talk about this historic New Hampshire Democratic primary. You have Senator Bernie Sanders trouncing Hillary Clinton 60 to 38. He swept in every category—young people, independents, women. The only two categories he didn’t sweep in were senior citizens and families that made more than $200,000 per year. Arnie Arnesen, the significance of this Sanders victory?

ARNIE ARNESEN: First of all, let’s also remember that every newspaper in the state, basically, major newspaper, endorsed Hillary Clinton. Every major elected official endorsed Hillary Clinton. This is an earthshaking moment. It basically sends the message that the establishment is out of touch, that the leaders are out of touch, that there is a sense of frustration, that people feel not only that they’re not being heard, Amy, but that the idea of incremental change doesn’t fix it anymore.

And Bernie’s message of campaign finance reform is not actually the term "campaign finance reform." You know what it is? It’s code for Wall Street. That is the most important thing you need to know. That’s what that’s about. Since the economic meltdown of 2008, Americans are angry. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders tap into that anger. And not only do they tap into that anger, but they realize: Who got bailed out? They did. Who is still running in place? They are. What’s happening with trade deals? Our jobs are going overseas.

It was an amazing turnout, especially in places like the North Country of New Hampshire, which are white, unemployed, for the most part, or underemployed workers, that Hillary Clinton used to get. That was a place that was a very safe place, in fact, for Republicans and conservatives. You saw enormous voter turnout in those places, with working people saying, "No, establishment, you haven’t heard us. No, party structures, you haven’t heard us. We are ready for the change that Bernie was talking about." And I just think, not only did it resonate, but it had to terrify the Democratic National Committee. They are out of touch, as well as their chosen leaders.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Arnie Arnesen, you know both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Not only did she have all the establishment—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Very well.

AMY GOODMAN: —figures in New Hampshire, but she had the endorsement of all the establishment figures in Vermont, as well—I mean, both the governor, Peter Shumlin—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —as well as senior Senator Patrick Leahy—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —of the former governor, Madeleine Kunin. And yet—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, even in his home state—how long—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Let me just say something. Let me just say, Amy, those people endorsed at a very early stage in the campaign. If you look at when Shumlin made the decision, Pat Leahy—by the way, Congressman Peter Welch did not endorse anyone. I just want to make a point of reference here. But they endorsed very early, when they felt both comfortable and that Bernie would not gain the traction that they did. They’re probably having a "come to Jesus" moment right now—

AMY GOODMAN: The former governor.

ARNIE ARNESEN: —when they’re seeing what happened—the former governor. Go on.

AMY GOODMAN: I was just saying, of course, Howard Dean, as well, the former head of the DNC and former Vermont governor.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is not surprising. This is about establishment politics. What Bernie Sanders showed—and, to some extent, even Donald Trump has shown—is that this is no longer a time for establishment politics, that there is a problem. There is a disconnect between what they do and what they think and what the American people are feeling. Bernie tapped into that, not just in New Hampshire, but around the country. And I think it really is not only a message of change, but it’s a message of incrementalism that actually not only is not working, but—here’s the most important thing: Do you know why we’re doing this incremental change? Because when you see so much money in politics, what the money interests are doing are not only buying interest, but they are making sure they retard the change. They are holding back the change. That’s what they want. They want to make sure it’s little tiny steps that they direct. And Bernie says, "You know what? Those little tiny steps are not moving us in the right direction in a timely fashion. We must be nimble. We must move forward." You saw that with Bernie Sanders, and in an interesting way, kind of like Donald Trump, as well. They tap into that same vein and desire for something more important and moving us forward.

AMY GOODMAN: Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton used their speeches last night to draw ideological distinctions between their two campaigns, including differences around the issue of campaign finance reform.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What the American people are saying—and, by the way, I hear this not just from progressives, but from conservatives and from moderates—is that we can no longer continue to have a campaign finance system in which Wall Street and the billionaire class are able to buy elections. Americans—Americans, no matter what their political view may be, understand that that is not what democracy is about. That is what oligarchy is about. And we will not allow that to continue. I do not have a super PAC, and I do not want a super PAC.

HILLARY CLINTON: You’ve heard a lot about Washington and about Wall Street. Now, Senator Sanders and I both want to get secret, unaccountable money out of politics. And let’s remember—let’s remember, Citizens United, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in our country’s history, was actually a case about a right-wing attack on me and my campaign. A right-wing organization took aim at me and ended up damaging our entire democracy. So, yes, you’re not going to find anybody more committed to aggressive campaign finance reform than me.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night in New Hampshire giving their—well, in Hillary Clinton’s case, her speech before she went on to South Carolina, her concession speech. And, of course, in Bernie Sanders’ case, he trounced Clinton 60 to 38 percent. Arnie Arnesen with us, who is a former gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire, longtime radio and TV host, speaking to us from Manchester. Arnie, talk about each of them personally, how you know them. You’ve known them for decades. And also address the—

ARNIE ARNESEN: I’ve known them for—

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Well, let me just say something. I’m so glad you gave that clip of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, because, in a way, contributions are about ownership. Let’s remind everyone. And what Bernie said is, "I want to be owned by the American people. I wanted these to be little contributions. I want it to be the sense that you are all engaged, because you all have a piece of the action." What did Hillary Clinton say? Listen, Amy, she wants to get rid of that dark money, that transparent money. She doesn’t want to get rid of the big contributions from Wall Street. She just wants to make sure that those big contributions, you actually have to make sure they’re done in a transparent manner. But she still likes the contributions with commas in the checks. Notice what she said. Bernie talked about all of us, little contributions. What did Hillary do? She didn’t say no to the big contributions. Just say no to the super PACs and the dark money? Well, there’s more than a problem with the dark money. There’s a problem with major people cutting big checks to basically control their access to politicians. Very different speech.

Yes, I know Bernie. Yes, I know Hillary. I used to be a radio talk show host in White River Junction, Vermont, when Bernie Sanders was the only congressman in Vermont. I have known him for 25 years. And we have been engaged on so many levels. And when I ran for governor and ran for Congress, it was the kind of agenda that a Bernie Sanders would be talking about. We’re both progressive. We’re both liberals. He might have been a democratic socialist, but you know what? We kind of walked on the same drumbeat. So we always would communicate.

Hillary Clinton, I have known since 1991. You know why? I ran for governor when Bill and Hillary were running as co-presidents, two for the price of one. I was the first woman to get the nomination for governor in New Hampshire history. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton used to follow me into the rooms, Amy, because I got a bigger crowd, because they were the third-string Democrats that nobody expected to win the nomination. So, I know them. I’ve run with Clinton in ’92. I ran with Clinton in ’96.

And I’m going to tell you that it was always an interesting conversation when I was running. When I was running in 1992, Bill Clinton was running on a middle-class tax cut. Arnie Arnesen was running on tax reform and tax equity. He was encouraged not to stand next to me. In 1996, I’m running for Congress again, Bill Clinton is running. I’m running against the Defense of Marriage Act, something he had embraced. I ran against welfare reform, something he had embraced. So it’s always been an interesting dynamic. I land when they’re—when he’s running for president. And yet, look at the difference. I end up, in an interesting way, not necessarily walking lockstep with Bill Clinton about the things that I think don’t relate to the American people. And today, what you saw with Bernie Sanders last night is that a lot of things that Arnie Arnesen was saying in ’92 and ’96 is coming out of the mouth of this senator from Vermont—Vermont, the size of a suburb, that, you know, lives next door to New Hampshire, but New Hampshire knows nothing about Vermont. The only thing we know about is that we think we live in Massachusetts. So, it is a remarkable—it is remarkable, remarkable.

AMY GOODMAN: Arnie, before we move on to the Republicans—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: —I wanted to ask you about the issue of Hillary Clinton running to be the first woman president. This is an issue that is also very close to your heart.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Very, yeah. So, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post

AMY GOODMAN: And yet, she didn’t take women—

ARNIE ARNESEN: Yeah, go on.

AMY GOODMAN: She didn’t take the women category, and women under 30 voted for—in the primary, voted for Sanders, 70 percent for Sanders.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Right, right, right. So, there are two things that I need to talk about. One, the horrific thing that happened over the weekend with Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright, where they said stuff that was just so incredibly offensive and incredibly foolish. And, Amy, I tweeted out, as soon as I heard the comments by Steinem and Albright, I said, "Oh, my god, Hillary Clinton is bringing the worst out of the women I admire." That’s what I tweeted.

And more important than that, it’s not just the statements that were made that somehow were saying to women, "You have an obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton. This is your job." But I want to remind everyone, in the state of New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton is running in the first primary, this is a state that has elected women to every single major political office in the state—governor, Congress, speaker of the House, president of the Senate, head of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of women. We now have experience with that. And that, in some ways, has been liberating. So, as we were being chastised to vote for Hillary Clinton, we now feel we can step back, we can say, "You know what? This is about the leader of the free world. This is about the leader of this country. What is wrong with the leadership we’ve elected in the past? Maybe it’s time for new leadership. And new leadership is not a function of gender."

AMY GOODMAN: Just to clarify, Gloria Steinem has apologized for suggesting that young women—she was speaking with Bill Maher on his show—only support Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders because the boys are with Bernie. She’s apologized for that.

ARNIE ARNESEN: I know. I’m grateful.

AMY GOODMAN: And former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has drawn attention for saying, "There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other."


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