Michael Eric Dyson vs. Eddie Glaude on Race, Hillary Clinton and the Legacy of Obama's Presidency

July 28, 2016


Michael Eric Dyson

Georgetown University professor and author of many books, including The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Last November, he wrote a cover article for the New Republic titled "Yes She Can: Why Hillary Clinton Will Do More for Black People Than Obama."

Eddie Glaude

chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. His most recent book is Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. He recently wrote an article for Time magazine headlined "My Democratic Problem with Voting for Hillary Clinton."

On Wednesday night, President Obama addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and implored the nation to vote for Hillary Clinton. As Obama seeks to pass the torch to his secretary of state, we host a debate on Hillary Clinton, her rival Donald Trump and President Obama’s legacy between Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson. Glaude’s most recent book is "Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul," and he recently wrote an article for Time magazine headlined "My Democratic Problem with Voting for Hillary Clinton." Dyson is the author of "The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America" and wrote a cover article for the New Republic titled, "Yes She Can: Why Hillary Clinton Will Do More for Black People Than Obama."


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

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, our two weeks of two-hour specials daily, "Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency." I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting this week from the Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia. To talk more about the convention, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and President Obama’s legacy, we’re joined by two guests.

Eddie Glaude is chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. His most recent book is Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. He recently wrote an article for Time magazine headlined "My Democratic Problem with Voting for Hillary Clinton."

Also with us, Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University professor, author of many books, including The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Last November, he wrote a cover article for the New Republic titled "Yes She Can: Why Hillary Clinton Will Do More for Black People Than Obama."

Professors Michael Eric Dyson and Eddie Glaude, thanks so much for joining us.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Thanks for having us.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Thanks for having us.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s start with you, Professor Dyson, on this issue of why Hillary Clinton, you say, will do more for African Americans than President Obama.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, I was making that argument in the context of a host of things, the least—not the least of which is that President Obama, for a variety of reasons, has been hamstrung, has been disinclined to deal with race, has been hesitant and procrastinating about engaging race. And I think that Hillary Clinton, for many of those reasons, will be more forthcoming. She’s spoken, I think, very intelligently about implicit bias. She has asked white people to hold themselves accountable vis-à-vis white privilege. She’s been talking about systemic racism, as well as individual acts of bigotry and violence. So, I think, in the aggregate, when we look at the degree to which she is capable, because of that very white privilege, to speak about race, in a way that Obama, even if he chose to be more forthcoming, would be categorized and put in a black box, in a certain way, that she has both the drive, the intelligence, the ability and the privilege to speak about it in a way that he is perhaps not only disinclined to do so, but maybe restricted, in his own mind.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Eddie Glaude?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, you know, I understand the claim around the limits or the constraints faced—Obama faced, but I think the claims around Hillary Clinton are basically aspirational, because there’s no real—there are no real—there’s no real evidence in her immediate past of any kind of genuine and deep concern about the material conditions of black life. And so, in other words, what I’m suggesting is that part of what—the problem is that we can’t infer from anything that she’s done that when she gets in office, that she’s going to change and address the circumstances of black folk in any substantive way, or the most vulnerable in any substantive way, because at the end of the day, I think, Hillary Clinton is a corporate Democrat, that she is committed to a neoliberal economic philosophy.

AMY GOODMAN: What does "neoliberal philosophy" mean?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, a neoliberal economic philosophy involves a kind of understanding that the notion of the public good is kind of undermined by a basic market logic that turns us all into entrepreneurs, where competition and rivalry define who we are, where the state’s principal function—right?—is to secure the efficient functioning of the economy and the defense, and creating the market conditions whereby you and I can pursue our own self-interest. And part of what that does, if we only read it as an economic philosophy and not understand it as a kind of political rationale producing particular kinds of subjects, who are selfish, who are self-interested, who are always in competition with one another, then we lose sight of how neoliberalism attacks the political imagination. So the interesting question that I ask of Hillary Clinton is that, will she fundamentally change the circumstances that are at the heart of the problem facing this country? In fact, I think she’s illustrative of the problem confronting the country.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, I mean, that’s interesting.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dyson?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I mean, obviously, I agree with your analysis of neoliberalism. But in terms of dissecting the constitutive elements that make up what neoliberal vision is, we’d have to—given what you were talking about in terms of self-interest and competition, we’d have to say Bernie Sanders exhibits, in a profound way, some of the same elements, if that becomes the litmus test.

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, we’re all in it, though.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right? So, if we’re all in it, that means then the distinction makes no difference, because, ultimately, if you’re talking about affecting material conditions of black people, I think that not only does she vote 93 percent of the same way that Bernie Sanders voted, say, as one, if you will, lodestar for what a progressive politics might look like, it’s not simply about inference. It’s about the fact that she’s spent her time working with Marian Wright Edelman. It’s about the way in which, as a first lady, she championed causes that black people could not only be concerned about, but were involved with. It’s not only the fact that, as a senator and then as a secretary of state, her awareness of what ethnicity and race and, of course, gender, those differences, might make at least provide the platform for her to articulate that vision. And more especially, in the aftermath of racial crisis in America, she has responded in a way to mobilize the public understanding of those interests.

So, for me, if material interests are the predicate for us determining the legitimacy or efficacy of a particular policy, yeah, it’s aspirational, but I want that aspiration to be about taking black life seriously. I want that aspiration to be about what we can do to transform the fundamental condition of our people. And I know, given the fact that Cory Booker has a prominent blurb on your book that’s supporting you—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Oh, but we disagree.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right, I know you disagree, but I’m saying you disagree with him, but you’re still in league with him in terms of your analysis of what happens, even though—and I’m a fan of Cory Booker, but the devastating analysis of the consequences of neoliberalism in Newark.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Absolutely, absolutely.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: So, I’m saying, so all of us are going to be associated with people who are not perfect—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Nobody—but let’s be—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: —but we’ve got to figure out a way to transform the context.

EDDIE GLAUDE: But let’s be very clear. Nobody’s trying to occupy—

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Glaude.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Nobody’s trying to occupy a pure, pristine space. We all have dirty hands.


EDDIE GLAUDE: But let’s be honest, right? In terms of—we can all do—people have been talking about her work with Marian Wright Edelman. You know, we know about the brother Peter, left the Clinton White House for a reason, right? What did he leave it for? He left because—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right. Her husband. Her husband.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Not only her—no, see, this is what we want to—we want to attribute CHIP to her—right?—when we know Senator Edward Kennedy was leading that charge.


EDDIE GLAUDE: She had to convince the White House in order to support CHIP, right? But we know what welfare reform did. What did it do? It moved all these folk off the rolls, right?


EDDIE GLAUDE: As poverty increased. And it increased extreme, deep, extreme, deep poverty, right?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But I have no—I agree with you.

EDDIE GLAUDE: I know. I know you do. So, part of that, we need to understand, right? What do we talk—how do we talk about her response to those babies, those children—right?—who were leaving the violence, who were fleeing the violence of Honduras and Central America? We’ve got to send them back.


EDDIE GLAUDE: Right? How do we respond to an economic philosophy—right?—that holds Wall Street in high regard and Main Street in particular sorts of ways—right?—as secondary, in certain sorts of ways? So, part of what I’m suggesting here—right?—is not that I’m trying to defend Bernie Sanders.


EDDIE GLAUDE: As you say, that’s just one bloom—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —of the blossom of democratic awakening taking place in this country.


EDDIE GLAUDE: What I’m saying is, we need to understand who Hillary Clinton is, just as we need to understand who Barack Obama is.


EDDIE GLAUDE: And part of—and what I take it to be is that part of what these folks are, they’re representatives of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. These folk—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —it’s been on their watch.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Let me say this—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Crime bill, the welfare bill, dismantling Glass-Steagall—it’s been on their watch.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: You ain’t no doubt—ain’t no doubt about that. But here’s the bottom line, and here’s the context.

EDDIE GLAUDE: All right.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: As they say in basketball, you’ve got to deal with what the defense gives you. We are talking about Donald Trump. We’re talking about Hillary Clinton in the context. Let’s bring it back to reality. We’re talking about within the—

EDDIE GLAUDE: We haven’t been in reality, though, Mike?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: We’ve been in a serious reality that is abstract in considering the philosophical consequences of particular ideologies. What I’m saying, in light of the real-life circumstances we face now, we’re talking about the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—and, of course, Jill Stein and the Libertarian candidate, but I’m talking about those who’ve got a real chance to win. And when we’re talking about those who’ve got a real chance to win, if we’re concerned about the very people you’re speaking about—you and I are going to be fine whether Donald Trump is president or whether Hillary Clinton is president, in terms of our material conditions, but the people that we claim ostensibly to represent, those whose voices we want to amplify by our visions, by our own reflections upon the conditions they confront, ain’t no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton represents the only possibility to at least address the undeniable lethargy of a political system—neoliberalism, in particular; more broadly, the kind of epic sweep and tide of capital and its impact on the conditions of working-class and poor black people. But I’m saying, ain’t nobody got a possibility of doing none of that in a context where Donald Trump is the president. It may mobilize and galvanize grassroots movements that will articulate their resistance against him. What it will not be able to do is leverage the political authority of the state in defense of those vulnerable bodies. It’s not been perfect, but it certainly represents a huge advantage over a possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

EDDIE GLAUDE: So, let me make this point really quickly, right? So it is the case that we have to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. But it’s also the case that, under current conditions, 38 percent, close to 40 percent, of children in the United States are growing up in poverty. In my home state of Mississippi, 50 percent of black children are living in poverty, right?


EDDIE GLAUDE: It is the case under these current conditions, with Barack Obama in office.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’ve documented—

EDDIE GLAUDE: It is the case that Freddie Gray’s mother is still grieving, right?


EDDIE GLAUDE: Rekia Boyd’s mom is still grieving.


EDDIE GLAUDE: Right? We can just—we can call the roll.


EDDIE GLAUDE: Call the roll. So, part of what we’re saying is that one of the things we have to do—we have to do two things simultaneously. One is keep Donald Trump out of office. And two—right?—announce that business as usual is unacceptable.


EDDIE GLAUDE: So, what does that mean?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Are they competing?

EDDIE GLAUDE: If you’re going—so, no, no. Of course. If it’s going to mean that if the—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: It’s a priority.

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, if it’s going to mean—hold on, let me make the claim.


EDDIE GLAUDE: It’s going to mean that the fear of electing Donald Trump cannot be the principal motivation of how we engage politically. So, part—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Absolutely, right now, it must be the principal motive—

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, no, no. No, no.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, no. Let me tell you why.

EDDIE GLAUDE: That’s a very limited conception of what democratic—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, no, no, because—because your—

EDDIE GLAUDE: —democratic action—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: —your ideals will be subverted, undermined, marginalized and totally put to the periphery, if Donald Trump—

EDDIE GLAUDE: You have a—you have an anemic conception of demos, brother.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, no, no. I’m saying it ain’t the demos, it’s the demon I’m talking about. And the demon right now, in my mind, is Donald Trump. I’m saying, if we don’t make that the priority of preventing the flourishing of an ethic, of a politic and of a conception of the state, much less of the global theaters within which America operates, if we don’t prevent Donald Trump from ascending, so to speak, to that throne, all the legitimate stuff that you and I agree on, any analysis you make—if you read my book on President Obama, I lay all that stuff out there. I lay out the way in which black lives have been decentered in terms of their economic and social stability. And, furthermore, when you talk about the degree to which black life matters, if that is—do you think—in a Donald Trump presidency, not only can we not acknowledge that black lives matter, we can’t even see if black lives can exist on a particular kind of plane that represents anything like democracy. So, I’m saying that’s the priority. And if that is addressed—I don’t want to reduce all of the complicated political energy in America to electoral politics, but electoral politics is a crucial wedge that can be inserted into the contemporary political scene to at least be able to make a change.

EDDIE GLAUDE: So we’ve already agreed on a basic claim, right? The basic claim is that we need to keep Donald Trump out of office.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No doubt, as a priority.

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, but—as a priority, right?


EDDIE GLAUDE: And as an additional priority, not a secondary priority—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right, right, right.

EDDIE GLAUDE: —we need to announce that business as usual is unacceptable.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m down with that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: But you seem to be supporting business as usual, because Hillary Clinton, no matter what they—how they try to rebrand her over these next few days, over these—over this last few days—right?—no matter how they try to brand her as a change maker, she is the poster child—right?—of the corporate takeover of the Democratic Party.


EDDIE GLAUDE: She’s the poster child of Blue Dog Democrats, I would even say, of a certain kind of conservative tendency in the Democratic—so, what does it mean—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, I would disagree with that. But go on.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, I mean, of course, we can—we can debate that. I might have overstated the case there. But what does it mean for us to be committed to a radical conception of democracy?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m down with the radical conception of democracy.

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, I don’t—I don’t want to—I know, but you seem to be putting forward a kind of Niebuhrian realism here.


EDDIE GLAUDE: Reinhold Niebuhr.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, no, what I’m putting forth is—

EDDIE GLAUDE: But part of what—but hold up. Let me make this point, though.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: —an existential anxiety in the face of—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I know. But it seems to me—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: —creeping demagoguery that renders—that renders our philosophical differences abstract.

EDDIE GLAUDE: It’s not abstract. It’s not abstract.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Because in the real world that you claim to be concerned about, what we are concerned about is how black people and poor people and people of color and people across the board who are vulnerable—

EDDIE GLAUDE: What I’m concerned—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: —get represented in a politics of representation in our democracy.

EDDIE GLAUDE: What I’m concerned about, Mike, is what you know as well as I do, is that political scientists have said that black folk are a captured electorate. That is to say, the Republican Party doesn’t have to care about what we do, and the Democratic Party, every four, two, four, six years, come into our communities—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m with you on that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: —and try to herd us to the polls like we’re cattle chewing cud.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m with you on that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: And then they have no obligation—no obligation—to deliver on policy.


EDDIE GLAUDE: So, she shows up—she shows up—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Wait a minute.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Hold up, hold up. She shows up in a church.


EDDIE GLAUDE: They come to churches.


EDDIE GLAUDE: They come into our communities. And when we talk about policy, how are you addressing the legacy of doing—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But I’m with you on that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: So, point on point on point on point—so, then, if you’re with me on that—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —how is it then that a Democratic candidate can come into our community, come into this moment, where all of this suffering—where you and I have been laid it out in both of our books—all this suffering is engulfing our communities, when we look at the back of Barack Obama’s head, what’s going to be behind it are the ruins of black communities, the ruins of the most vulnerable in this country.


EDDIE GLAUDE: And then we get business as usual, rebranded—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But what I’m saying, look—

EDDIE GLAUDE: —and only because we’re afraid of Donald Trump and not understanding our power as the demos.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: You know what? But it’s both-and, isn’t it?

AMY GOODMAN: Let me let President Obama weigh in on this.


AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday night, he said no one is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Even in the midst of crisis, she listens to people, and she keeps her cool, and she treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits. That is the Hillary I know. That’s the Hillary I’ve come to admire. And that’s why I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman—not me, not Bill, nobody—more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama on Wednesday night addressing, oh, 17,000, 18,000 people who packed into the Wells Fargo convention center. Professor Dyson?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, first of all, the importance of that statement was to mitigate the vicious, lethal legacy of sexism that has become so normalized that we don’t even pay attention to it.

But let me get back to the point we were making before the break of Obama’s rhetoric. The point is that—why is it that we reduce the complicated legacy of our freedom struggle to present moments? Howard Thurman, the great prophetic mystic, said, refuse the temptation to reduce the level—to reduce your dreams to the level of the event, which is your immediate experience. And what I’m arguing for, Brother Eddie, is that we pull upon the very romantic, in the best sense of that word, conceptions of self-determination and the flourishing of black agency—all those technical terms. In other words, for black people to get stuff done under impossible circumstances.

The reason I can maintain the hopefulness—and Niebuhr, since you brought him up, talked about the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is a shallow virtue; hope is a deep virtue. Even in the face of impossibility, I happen to believe in a religious and spiritual reality that has been manifest politically, that has motivated black people from the get-go. And what that says is, I don’t care what you put before me, I don’t care what’s going on, I’m not going to give in to what’s happening. If you’re talking about it’s tough now, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Ella Baker were operating under conditions where black people didn’t even have the franchise.


MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: If black people were able to leverage their political authority, and especially their moral compelling arguments, their narratives and their stories in defense of their vulnerable bodies, who are we now, with enormous access to the vote, to lament the impossibility of the situation? As if this choice between maintaining a conception of the flourishing of black people under impossible circumstances versus putting Donald Trump in office—let’s do both. Let’s both acknowledge that Donald Trump is the most immediate priority to be prevented, and then, at the same time, as you say, speak about these other interests. But it doesn’t mean it has to be either-or. Why can’t we do both? Why can’t we put Hillary Clinton in office, the way you have conversation with Cory Booker, the way you have engagements in an elite white institution? You ain’t teaching at Howard, and neither am I.


MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: All of our hands are dirty.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Morehouse.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right, but you ain’t—I’m saying—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I know. I got you.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I got you. My son graduated from there. Marc Hill, what’s up? Professor there. But my point is that it’s not an either-or situation. And I think that what you say, I agree with. But what I don’t agree is deferring the legitimacy of the priority of Donald Trump being stopped from occupying space that will bring—if it’s bad now, it’s going to be—it’s a Bobby Womack ethic. If you think you’re lonely now, wait until the night, until Donald Trump becomes president.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Eddie Glaude, who do you want to see as president?

EDDIE GLAUDE: With these two choices?

AMY GOODMAN: In this election.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: That’s no choice for you, those three, four.

EDDIE GLAUDE: I have—I have no interest. I have—neither one.

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t think it matters whether—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I don’t want Donald Trump to be in office. I can only put it in the negative.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, that’s good enough. That’s good enough.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Right. Yeah, so I’m only going to put it in the negative.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’ll run with that.

AMY GOODMAN: And if you don’t want Donald Trump to be in office, how would you prevent that from happening?

EDDIE GLAUDE: So, part of what I’ve been arguing—and I wrote a piece with Fred Harris, a political scientist at Columbia—that we should vote strategically. And that is to say, if you’re an African American or if you’re a person of color or you’re a progressive of conscience, who’s—where the word actually means something, right?—in a swing state, it makes all the sense in the world to me, in a battleground state, that you vote for Hillary Clinton, because one of the objectives is to keep Donald Trump out of office. But if you’re in a red state, like my mom and dad—my mom and daddy are in Mississippi. Right? They’re Democrats, but we know Mississippi is going Trump. Right? What do you do? You can actually blank out. You can leave the presidential ballot blank. You can vote for a third-party interest. Right? Because what will happen? In that moment—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —you will actually, 2020, given the turnout of how many people vote for the presidential—the Democratic candidate, will actually impact the number of delegates that come from that state to the convention in 2020. I’m in a blue state.


EDDIE GLAUDE: I’m talking straight, because part of what we have to do is shift the center of gravity of how African Americans engage the political process, because this is what—1924, James Weldon Johnson says it’s almost as if the "Negro vote"—quote—has already been prepackaged and sealed to be delivered before they vote.


EDDIE GLAUDE: In 1956, "Why I Won’t Vote," W. E. B. Du Bois writes this piece and says, "I reject the lesser of two evils."

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: We got all that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: In 1965, Malcolm X said we should treat the ballot like a bullet, and, until we get our targets set, keep our ballot in our pockets. Right? So, part of what I’m saying—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: And all I’m saying—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Hold up, hold up, hold up, Mike. You—no, hold up. You invoked the grandness of the tradition. I’m giving you examples—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But we ain’t got enough time to give—

EDDIE GLAUDE: —of what does it mean—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —to think strategically about the vote and what does it mean to actually embrace a radical Democratic vision. If you are a centrist liberal, own that.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Right. Here’s my point.

EDDIE GLAUDE: If you’re not, then embrace a different kind of politic.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Michael Eric Dyson?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But I’m saying you’re not a centrist liberal, but you’ve got a centrist liberal on your book. You engage with him.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Oh, it’s published by Crown.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, let me—let me finish. Let me finish. But what I’m saying to you—making my point even more.

EDDIE GLAUDE: I’m not trying to claim a pure space, Mike.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But what I’m saying to you—no, no, but if you ain’t claiming a pure space, don’t claim a space that sounds to most black people out there listening—this is the problem with these Negro intellectuals. You’re talking about an abstract articulation—

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, I’m not.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Let me finish—of grand principles and possibilities. When the woman asked you—or, as in our tradition, aksed you—who you’re going to vote for, you’re stumbling and stammering and—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I didn’t stumble.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Hold on. What I’m saying, you had a pregnant pause. It delivered and birthed in us a—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I’m leaving it blank.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: What I’m saying to you—and that is not neutral. As you know more than anybody else, that’s not a neutral thing. And I wish that black people were political scientists who could adjudicate competing claims about rationality, on the one hand, and demagoguery, on the other. I’m telling you, at the end of the day, the black people you’re concerned about, the vulnerable people you’re concerned about, can’t make distinctions—if you’re in a blue state or in a red state—they can’t color-book like that.

What they have to understand is, the junta that is in the offing with Donald Trump coming into office has to be resisted. Go out and vote for Hillary Clinton, because a vote for Hillary Clinton preserves the possibility that the very dialogue that Professor Glaude and I are having, the very possibility of evoking a grand tradition of Du Bois and Malcolm X and James Weldon Johnson—however, none of them got you the vote. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Ella Baker, those are the linchpins in the narrative of black resistance to white supremacy, social injustice and economic inequality that have delivered. I agree that we should study this in class, but on your ass, you should go out and vote for Hillary Clinton, who makes a tremendous difference.

EDDIE GLAUDE: See, no, no, no. See, now, this is the thing. You have to have a fundamental faith in everyday, ordinary people.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’ve got a people in it.

EDDIE GLAUDE: What you’re—what you’re representing as abstract, it’s actually condescending to them.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Not at all. I preach to them every Sunday.

EDDIE GLAUDE: I can imagine BYP—I can imagine Black Youth Project 100 organizing in Chicago around this particular issue.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: They should. It’s important.

EDDIE GLAUDE: This is what you need to do. Don’t worry about who’s going to—who’s going to be elected at—selected in the Democratic primary. We’re going to get this DA out of office.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Let’s do both. I’m with that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Let’s do—Dream Defenders—no, you’re trying to say that—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Alvarez, Anita Alvarez.

EDDIE GLAUDE: What you tried to suggest is that everyday, ordinary people can’t distinguish between blue and red. What we’re talking about is organizing.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, no, no, no, I did not say that. No, no, I didn’t say that.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Yes, you did suggest that, Mike.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I said they can’t distinguish the kind of abstract political principles you’re talking about, in terms—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I wasn’t talking about abstract principles.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Wait a minute—in terms of if you’re a red state and a blue state. I’m saying the BYP youth—

EDDIE GLAUDE: I’m saying organizing, organize, organization.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But wait a minute. But it’s not either-or. It’s not either-or.

EDDIE GLAUDE: But, see, this is the thing.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: But it’s not either-or.

EDDIE GLAUDE: If it’s the case—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: It’s not either-or, Eddie.

EDDIE GLAUDE: If it’s the case, Mike—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Is it either-or?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Let me ask you this question.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, I’m asking you, is it either-or?

EDDIE GLAUDE: The strategic plan that I’m suggesting suggests that it isn’t either-or.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: OK, that’s all we’re saying.

EDDIE GLAUDE: No, but you need to give me—but, see, the thing is that you’re out here stumping for Clinton.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m out here stumping for a tradition of black liberation that happens—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Oh, no, do not—

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Hold on. Wait a minute.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Do not link our tradition to this nonsense.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: No, wait a minute. It’s not that—I didn’t have to abstractly link it to it; I am the embodiment of that. When I’m out there on the streets preaching—I don’t know about you, but I’m preaching in churches every Sunday.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Oh, am I in churches?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m out there helping—I didn’t ask you that.


MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I’m telling you what I’m doing. I’m telling you I’m in churches with black people, preaching every Sunday. I’m talking about the way in which we leverage the political, moral and spiritual authority of ordinary black people, who, when we, you and I, walk out the—when you and I walk out this place, ordinary black people are going to look at me and see me as the embodiment of their dreams. I’m sure it happens to you, as well. They stop me and tell me, "Thank you." They congratulate me for at least having the authority, the courage. I don’t take that seriously, but what I take more seriously is their identification with me as a voice piece for their aspirations and hopes.

And all I’m saying to you, sir, is that I agree with you in the full sweep of your analysis. I’m saying the everyday, ordinary black folk I know, that I’m in contact with, that I’m with at political organizations, and I’m on the front line, when I spoke yesterday for the black caucus of the Democratic National Convention, when those thousand—2,000 people said, "What you say represents that"—all I’m saying to you, Eddie, is that at the end of the day we cannot afford the luxury of engaging in abstract reflections on the conditions of black people, when what’s at stake is a demagogue, that you and I both resist, that you and I both think is problematic, getting into office. Once that happens, then we begin to leverage BYP. We begin to also articulate a countervailing narrative that says it ain’t either-or, it’s both-and. I believe in the spirit of our people to overcome and prevail against the odds.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We are joined by Princeton professor Eddie Glaude. His article in Time magazine, "My Democratic Problem with Voting for Hillary Clinton." And Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who you were just listening to, Georgetown professor and author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. He just wrote a piece in the New Republic headlined "Yes She Can: Why Hillary Clinton Will Do More for Black People Than Obama." This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.

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