Special Broadcast Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Election Night 2012 Coverage with Democracy Now!
Amy Goodman and Juan González, along with investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, offer real-time results from presidential and congressional races, ballot measures, and reports of voter suppression. Correspondents and guests will join us from Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., New York City and more.
Join the discussion by using the hashtag #DNvote on Twitter to submit comments, photos and videos, sharing your voting day experiences and reflections on our Facebook page or sending email updates from your polling place and to email@example.com with "election" in the subject line.
Watch the program here or tune in LIVE nationwide on Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 & DirecTV Ch. 348), Link TV (Dish Network 9410 & DirecTV Ch. 375) & MNN in Manhattan (Time Warner Cable 34, RCN 32, Verizon FiOS 33).
As Democracy Now! has previously reported, one of every four dollars spent on the campaign ads, direct mail and robocalls that target voters now comes from so-called "dark money" organizations. The IRS lets these groups keep their donors secret because they are considered "social welfare non-profits." But that changed this past Friday when a Montana judge ordered the release of one such group’s bank records. An investigation...Nov 06, 2012 | Story
Tonight’s debate between Republican presidential candidates marks the first national debate appearance of Mitt Romney, former MA governor. Meanwhile, fellow Mormon and former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, has yet to announce and will skip the debate. Democracy Now! spoke with former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson about the political record of Hunstman and Romney. The two became "great friends" when they worked together on the...Jun 13, 2011 | News
ABC News is reporting Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has "millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven." The link between Romney and offshore tax havens is not new. Check out our 2008 report 'Romney’s Bain Capital Profited Through Offshore Tax Havens, Closing U.S. Factories, Laying Off Workers.'Jan 18, 2012 | Web Exclusive
During the GOP primary, Mitt Romney has come under fierce attack for parking millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven. We speak with Tax Justice Network USA chair Jack Blum, a former top congressional investigator of financial crimes, who says tax evasion could seriously cripple the already struggling economy. Blum appears in "We’re Not Broke,"...Jan 24, 2012 | Story
In the wake of the successful pushback against the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration should listen to the majority of Americans: The United States, including Catholics, is strongly pro-choice.Feb 09, 2012 | Columns & Articles
By Amy Goodman with Denis MoynihanMay 03, 2012 | Columns & Articles
May Day, Murdoch and the murder of Milly Dowler. What do they have to do with the 2012 U.S. general election?
During this year’s election, political analysts estimate as much as $5 billion will be spent on TV campaign advertising. Now, a new ruling by the Federal Communication Commission requires broadcasters to post political advertisement data online, making it easier for the public to see exactly who is buying those ads. We speak with Robert McChesney, co-founder of the national media reform organization Free Press, and Justin Elliott, a reporter...May 03, 2012 | Story
Part two of our conversation with Monika Bauerlein and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones magazine. The new cover story in the magazine is called "Follow the Dark Money." We discuss at how Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and others are bankrolling Mitt Romney’s campaign, why President Obama has opted to accepted unlimited super PAC donations, as well, and Stephen Colbert’s role in the debate over campaign finance. [includes rush transcript]Jun 22, 2012 | Web Exclusive
Tune in Wednesday as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston discusses what could be the biggest political firestorm facing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to date. Click to read Chapter 1 of Johnston’s new book, "The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use Plain English to Rob You Blind."Sep 18, 2012 | Web Exclusive
As Romney tries to contain the fallout from the recently released secret video of his conversation with high-end donors, we’ll speak with David Corn of the magazine Mother Jones, which broke the news and posted the video online. Corn is also the author of the new book, "Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party."Sep 19, 2012 | Web Exclusive
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman speaks with three workers at the Bain-owned Sensata Technologies factory in Freeport, Illinois, all of whom are camping in a tent city called "Bainport" across the street from the factory. Dot Turner has worked there for 43 years, Cheryl Randecker for 33 years, and Bonnie Borman for 23 years. All three will lose their jobs in November. [includes rush transcript]Sep 20, 2012 | Web Exclusive
With less than 40 days to go before the 2012 presidential election, poet and activist Alice Walker reads her new poem, "Democratic Womanism," and discusses her thoughts on President Obama’s legacy, including his use of drone strikes. "You ask me why I smile when you tell me you intend in the coming national elections to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils," reads Walker. "There are more than two evils...Sep 28, 2012 | Story
As President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney square off in their first debate tonight, Democracy Now! will broadcast live from Denver with a special expanded presidential debate from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. ET. We will air the Obama/Romney debate, pausing after questions to include equal time responses from two presidential contenders who were shut out of the official debate: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the...Sep 28, 2012 | Web Exclusive
As we broadcast from St. Louis, we turn to one of this election cycle’s most closely watched U.S. Senate races. Republican Rep. Todd Akin is challenging Missouri’s Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in one of a handful of contests nationwide that could potentially help Republicans regain control of the Senate. Akin’s campaign has been mired in controversy since his infamous claims in August that women rarely become pregnant from what...Nov 01, 2012 | Story
Election Day 2012 has arrived, and the battle over voter suppression has reached a fever pitch in battleground states. We go to Virginia, where volunteers with the tea party-linked group True the Vote are challenging voters at the polls. We speak with Brentin Mock, the lead reporter for Voting Rights Watch 2012, a collaboration between The Nation magazine and Colorlines.com. Mock also describes voter suppression efforts in Florida, where True...Nov 06, 2012 | Story
It has been a long time coming, but Americans across the country head to the polls today to cast their ballots. As they do so, voting rights advocates will be watching closely to monitor confusion over whether they are required to show a photo identification and fulfill other requirements that could lead to disenfranchisement. To discuss what is happening at the polls, what voters can expect, and what to do if they encounter problems, we are joined...Nov 06, 2012 | Story
As in all recent elections, Ohio again is a crucial state to win for either presidential candidate. And once again, Ohio is at the center of charges of systematic suppression of the African-American vote. In a report for Democracy Now!, investigative reporter Greg Palast discovers that some early voters in the Buckeye State have received the wrong ballots. Palast is the author of "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election...Nov 06, 2012 | Story
As President Obama accepts the Democratic nomination to seek four more years in the White House, we host a debate on his presidency with Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report and Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University and author of numerous books. Ford calls Obama the "more effective evil" for embracing right-wing policies and neutralizing effective opposition, while Dyson argues Obama provides the best and obvious choice...Sep 07, 2012 | Story
AMY GOODMAN: From New York, this is Democracy Now!’s six-hour election night special.
MITT ROMNEY: Paul Ryan and I are going to do that. We’re going to get America back on track. I’m so optimistic, not just about the results of the election, but optimistic about what’s ahead for America. We have glorious, great days ahead. And we’re going to accomplish that together. So, thank you. You guys are fabulous.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win. But it’s going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out, and so I would encourage everybody, on all sides, just to make sure that you exercise this precious right that we have and that people fought so hard for us to have.
AMY GOODMAN: The polls have begun closing across the country, including in the key swing state of Virginia. As President Obama and Mitt Romney both claim they have enough votes to win the presidency, we look at the race for the White House, as well as key Senate and House races. We’ll get reports from across the country. All that and more, coming up.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Welcome to Democracy Now!'s special election coverage. Here in New York and over the next six hours, we'll go live around the country to get on-the-ground reports and analysis from reporters, from activists, from political leaders.
After the most expensive presidential campaign in history, one which has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in special interest and corporate money flooding the electorate process, it’s come down to tonight. This is the first presidential election since the Citizens United ruling dictated that corporations are, in essence, people entitled to free speech, and its impact has been felt in races across the country. While much of the focus tonight will be on the showdown between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, there are several hotly contested Senate and House races that could impact the balance of Congress. There are also a number of gubernatorial races we’ll be watching.
Polls are just closing here on the East Coast in what many analysts believe will be a very close race that could boil down to just a handful of swing states. We’ll be paying close attention to Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania.
There are already reports of problems at polling stations and extremely long lines to vote. In some cases, people have had to stand for hours in frigid temperatures. There are allegations of voter intimidation, including attempts in Florida, Arizona and elsewhere to deceive voters as to the date of the election, location of their voting place and what type of ID, if any, people need to vote. We’ll be checking in with voter protection activists throughout the night.
The presidential election puts many social movements at a crossroads. Four years ago, President Obama campaigned on a promise to bring sweeping change. Some believe an Obama victory would open the space for social movements to begin a serious push for change on a wide range of issues—women’s rights, economic issues, healthcare, climate change, prison issues. At the same time, many progressives have been very critical of President Obama for his policies on civil liberties at home and his wars abroad. The U.S. remains engaged in several wars, declared and undeclared. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. The U.S. is regularly bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and President Obama has dramatically escalated U.S. drone strikes. If there was one quality that marked Mitt Romney’s foreign policy vision more than any other in the last presidential debate, it was that he largely agreed with President Obama’s policies. We’ll be diving into all of these issues and more tonight, bringing you voices you don’t usually hear anywhere else.
We are joined now by Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, as well as Kai Wright, the editorial director of Colorlines.com and a contributor to The Nation magazine. We’re joined also by Myrna Pérez, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. She’s part of the Election Protection Coalition’s voter support hotline, where she has just come from. And Chris Hedges is with us, also joining us, senior fellow at the Nation Institute, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, part of a team of reporters that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. Chris Hedges is the author, most recently, of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt_, with Joe Sacco. His most recent 20121105/">piece for Truthdig is called "The S&M Election."
Before we begin, this just in: NBC News projects Mitt Romney will win Indiana and Kentucky, and Obama will take Vermont; NBC News declaring Bernie Sanders the projected winner in the Vermont Senate race, as well.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! In a moment, we’ll also be joined by Ralph Nader. We’ll be going to North Carolina. We’ll be going to Virginia. We’ll be going to Colorado. We’ll be going around the country for this discussion.
Jeremy, let’s begin with you. Very quickly, as we go around the table, your analysis of what this election means in 2012?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, I think—I think we’re at an interesting crossroads, as you laid out. On the one hand, on a number of social issues, I think that many people view it as a life-or-death election. When it comes to issues surrounding women’s healthcare, when it comes to issues around economic rights for poor and working-class people, when it comes to issues that have to do with civil liberties, people believe that a Mitt Romney victory would be a real throwback to the Bush era.
At the same time, though, if you actually honestly analyze the Obama record on a number of core issues that are important to progressives and social justice people, you’ve seen a real continuation of the Bush era—certainly not when it comes to protecting rights of women and some of the other social issues that I was talking about. But on foreign policy, on civil liberties, on some of the core issues that define the excesses and abuses of the Bush era, we’ve seen a real continuation of many of those policies.
I mean, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, where Obama is waging these covert wars using drones and special ops forces. And yet, the issues that I focus on the most are minuscule when people talk about what’s important to them. So, when I say we’re at a crossroads, it’s interesting because I get told all the time, "Why don’t you shut up until after the election?" But as a journalist, I don’t believe that that’s our job. Our job is to hold those in power accountable, regardless of who they’re running against or what time of year it is.
But I certainly have a lot of sympathy for people who are frightened of a Romney victory, because if you look at who Romney has around him, it’s the same discredited neocons that brought us eight years of the Iraq War under President Bush, the extraordinary—expansion of the extraordinary rendition program, the torture regime that was implemented there. So I think that this is going to boil down to not the issues of civil liberties and wars in this election, but really it’s going to boil down to the social issues that so many people view as life-or-death. And I think it’s—the threat is very real for a lot of people, so you can understand that.
The last I’ll say is, I have never seen an election with less corporate media coverage of third-party candidates. It is incredible how people like Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, have been almost entirely ignored. And I think that’s a real commentary on how utterly corporatized the electoral process has become, and utterly bankrupt, the idea that people of a diversity of views can actually have their positions or politics represented on the national stage. I mean, it’s just like gone from the political scene.
AMY GOODMAN: In this six-hour special, we will be speaking later tonight with the Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, and the Justice Party candidate, Rocky Anderson.
Kai Wright, you usually work downtown Manhattan, but you were flooded out, and your whole office is now, with your staff, in your own apartment.
KAI WRIGHT: Yeah, we’ll be reporting from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, all night, regardless of the Sandy chaos, but—
AMY GOODMAN: Colorlines, what are you focusing on?
KAI WRIGHT: We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on voting rights over the course of this electoral cycle. And, you know, I’m going to have some questions for my colleague here about what you’re seeing. We’re seeing enormous volume of reports today of problems and challenges that folks have had. And there’s an overarching sense of chaos, really, is what I get, as—you know, hour after hour, as I get these emails and calls about what’s going on. It feels like chaos out there. And I think that is troubling. And we’ll—I assume we’ll be pursuing that throughout the night.
But, you know, I want to go back to some points Jeremy was making, is that, you know, I think—you know, what does this election mean? We are—it’s very much a crossroads, but I fear it’s a crossroads we’re going to remain stuck at, regardless of what happens tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Why stuck?
KAI WRIGHT: Well, I think there’s a few things. One, we have to remember what has happened in the last two years at the state and local level. And the Republican victories of 2010 are fairly well locked in, certainly in state legislatures. And there have been, on some of these social and economic issues, pitched battles over the last couple of years, from immigration to reproductive rights, to what we are going to face—a heated battle over the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which is deeply important to a whole lot of folks, particularly from a racial justice perspective. And with—if the president should stay in office, it is unlikely that those things are going to change at the state level. And so, it may feel a bit like Groundhog Day for the next couple of years in terms of those fights, which is a problem, because we’re really at a breaking point, particularly on economic stuff.
AMY GOODMAN: Myrna Pérez, you just came from Election Protection hotline. Explain what it is and what you have been seeing in these key states.
MYRNA PÉREZ: Sure. Election Protection is the country’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition. It has both a field component, where we have monitors and assisters on the ground in various states that can be deployed to assist voters, to assess what’s going on, to report to folks in command centers across the country. We also have a hot line; it’s 866-OUR-VOTE. It is still operating. We’re getting, you know, enormous volumes of calls. When voters call 866-OUR-VOTE, we have trained legal volunteers who answer questions ranging from, "What’s my polling location?" —
AMY GOODMAN: And what have you heard all day today?
MYRNA PÉREZ: I think there’s one giant, big takeaway, and that is, we need to stop the war on voting. Last—in the last couple years, we saw a wave of restrictive voter laws being passed from country to—from coast to coast in our country, and we ended up 25 restrictive laws, two executive actions, in 19 states.
And while many of them were blocked or blunted, we saw their aftermath today in two big ways. One is the remnants of those laws had some consequences. The things that come to mind the most are the long lines we saw in Ohio and Florida. Part of the restrictions that they saw compressed the early voting period. If you have less time for people to vote and still people like trying to participate, you’re going to have longer lines.
The second way this war on voting, notwithstanding our victories, has impacted the election is that it caused a lot of confusion. We had a lot of laws, you know, being on the books, then getting challenged by a court, and then, in the ground, you have poll workers, you have election officials, you have voters, not knowing exactly what the state of play is. So we had what seemed to be a lot of disputes in the polling station, where a poll worker would ask somebody for an identification that wasn’t lawfully required, and the voter would say, "But you’re not allowed to ask me for that." And then there would be a dialogue back and forth, and then everybody behind them has to wait ’til that conversation is done, etc., etc.
So, we did see a lot of confusion at the polls. We’ve seen a lot of—a lot of long lines. We’ve seen very clear evidence that, as a nation, we need to do better in terms of contingency planning for emergencies. The efforts in New Jersey and New York to try and accommodate voters that had displaced were very laudable, but on the ground, we saw a lot of things go very, very wrong. And I’m sure you’re going to want to talk about some of those more specifically.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader is joining us now—speaking of third-party presidential candidates, he was one three times—from Washington, D.C., from the nation’s capital. Ralph, what the networks are calling is Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont, though zero percent of the precincts are reporting, for President Obama. Also, Bernie Sanders, the independent senator, has just won his first re-election. Ralph Nader, what are you looking at in this election?
RALPH NADER: Well, I’m looking at a stagnation, because it looks clear that the Republicans are going to keep the House. If Obama wins, he may win in the Electoral College, which raises the absurdity of someone coming in second in the population vote and then still winning the election, if that turns out to be the case. But look at all the attention on the Electoral College. That has to be abolished. There are now state compacts, led by Maryland, that are moving toward 270, which in effect commit the states to say, "Whoever wins the popular vote nationwide, we will give all our state electoral votes to." So maybe by 2016 that will be over with.
Look at all the trouble these good people are going to to try to deal with the myriad of obstructions in state laws and intimidations and software and voting machines. Why don’t we take Canada as an example? They still use a paper ballot. By 11:00 p.m., over that great country’s expanse, they know who won and who didn’t win. Why don’t we move to the Australian model of making universal voting a legal duty like jury duty? And the civil liberties problems can be taken care of by putting a binding "none of the above" and a write-in vote along with the candidates on every line. Then you don’t have to worry about precinct this and wrong address that and registration shenanigan here and voter suppression there. We’ve got to come down to fundamentals here.
And my reading, Amy, is that after the election, there are a lot of conservative libertarians, progressives and liberals who could band together for electoral reform, electoral reform after the elections are over. And that’s what we’ve got to move to. No country in the Western world comes close to obstructing voters from voting and obstructing third-party candidates from getting on the ballot. It’s a two-party dictatorship. That’s got to become a principal issue.
AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of the House right now, you’re looking at who will control the House.
RALPH NADER: Well, top veteran Democrats have been telling me, when I go down there, for eight months, that they may get 10, 12, 14 seats, but they’re not going to win the House back. Now, the Democrats are full of defeatism on Capitol Hill when it comes to recovering the House. They’re wringing their hands, even though they’re up against what is demonstrably, in terms of the bills passed by the Republican majority, the cruelest and most ignorant and most anti-people and most corporate-indentured and most military-bloated Republican Party in history, since 1958.
And why they’re not landsliding them is illustrated by one single event. And that is, their greatest nemesis, Speaker John Boehner, has no Democratic opponent in southwest Ohio district. In other words, he’s running unopposed. Newt Gingrich, when he was a junior member, took on Jim Wright, toppled Jim Wright, the speaker of the House. A few years later, he took on a sitting speaker of the House, Tom Foley, in eastern Washington state, toppled him. There is no energy, other than just re-electing themselves, in the House Democrats. They have a very pessimistic attitude, and they’re going to pay the price, because what is Obama going to do if he gets re-elected, if he’s up against Boehner and Eric Cantor and the intransigent, unanimous Republican majority in the House of Representatives?
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph, I wanted to bring in Democracy Now!, well, usually co-host, Juan González. And Juan, I wish you were sitting next to me right here in Democracy Now!'s studios for this six-hour election special, but that's impossible right now. Juan is just recovering from a back operation, so he’s speaking to us from his home in Washington Heights. But Juan, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to see you, if only on Democracy Now! video stream.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, thank you, Amy. And I haven’t been out of the house really in several weeks, even before my operation now. But I’m glad that it’s over, and hopefully I’ll be back, I assume by next week, working both with Democracy Now! and at the Daily News.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about your observations right now, where we stand in 2012, and on this evening, what you think is most important to raise.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think one of the key questions, as we’ve seen this election campaign unfold, is the reality that when—that foreign policy really was an afterthought in the presidential debates, to some degree, and in the minds of the voters. And unfortunately, we have a—the choice before the electorate is between a outright naked, chauvinist foreign policy that would be represented by Mitt Romney or a more velvet-glove, covert imperialism that is represented by Barack Obama. And the reality is that [inaudible] is that the two major-party candidates offer to the voters. And given the increasingly important role of the United States in world affairs and the changing nature of what’s going on all around the world, from China to the European crisis, to the democratic movements in Latin America, that you would hope that there would have been a much more robust discussion and debate and involvement by the American public in what is our role as an imperialist power in the world today. So, really, the question of empire was never really broached or discussed in any real way, and I think the American people once again have focused only on what is in it for us: what do these candidates represent for our livelihood, our economy, and not for the situation around the world?
And I think one—perhaps maybe the most important thing that did happen was really this storm that occurred in the last week before the election, which really brought to the forefront the continuing problems of climate change, even so that now we get some of the key Democratic and even Republican candidates beginning to first, for the first time, talk about global climate change and the impact on our society and the failure of this country to really adopt a forward-looking policy. So I think that really—Mother Nature burst onto the electoral scene in this election and probably will have a significant impact in terms of the—what appears to have been a motion back toward Obama by some of the electorate in the last few days, because, obviously, in times of natural calamity and crisis like this, the role of government really comes to the forefront, and people understand the importance of having a government that is really proactive in terms of doing things that local governments cannot handle.
So—and, of course, the unusual situation in those last few days after Hurricane Sandy of seeing the keynote speaker of the Republican Party, Chris Christie, talking so warmly, day after day, about his relationship with President Obama and how they were able to work together, I think must have turned a quite a few heads around the country, as Christie kept saying, "We’ve been able to work together. I’m grateful to the president. He came through when we needed him most." And I think that that really showed that it is possible sometimes for politicians to work across party lines, when faced with key crises in the society. And I think that that, to some degree, has really helped to boost President Obama.
But really, we’re dealing, on an international level, with a choice of two ways to—for the empire to govern the world. And we’re dealing, at the domestic level—we really haven’t hit. On the domestic level, what happened, it appears that Romney ran from the right and then faked to the center, and Obama ran from the center and then faked to the left to a populist candidacy in the last few months of his campaign to really bring back the coalition that brought him into office again.
And it seems that from the early results or the exit polls that CNN is reporting, one of the key indicators that it may be a good night for President Obama is that there was a substantial decrease in the overall percentage of white Americans who were voting, because clearly Obama has his base among largely African Americans, young people, women and Latinos. And there was a noticeable and significant increase in the Latino vote in several of the key battleground states. Of course, that has to be seen how that breaks down by state by state, but that does seem to be a—the continuing demographic change of the American electorate is having a major impact on how parties form coalitions.
AMY GOODMAN: And the percentage of immigrants in this country who are voting, Juan—Juan, your groundbreaking book, Harvest of Empire, has just been made into a film by the same title, Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America. The Latino vote that we’re seeing right now, what has been developing over the day—I mean, over the years, but what we’re going to see tonight?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, the CNN exit polls are showing that it has increased to 10 percent of the total electorate from 9 percent last year. But you’re talking—that’s about another extra million votes that weren’t there last year in terms of a percentage share of the electorate. The African-American vote has stayed pretty much at the same share of the overall electorate, although we don’t know—we don’t know their total turnout yet, but if the share stays the same, then that means that they—or there’s a change in the share, that means you’re seeing a change in how people will vote.
And I think that you’re talking really about—immigration reform really becomes now the issue that will determine the—really the political development of the country over the next generation or two, because if 11 to 12 million undocumented are legalized by some kind of comprehensive immigration reform next year, you will see those people within five years, six years, all becoming citizens. And I think that is going to have an enormous impact on the composition of the American electorate for decades to come. If you suddenly bring into the electorate 11 to 12 million people that were here but never [inaudible] to vote, that will significantly impact how the vote occurs in—across the country. So I think that’s the long-term—
AMY GOODMAN: CNN—Juan, CNN—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —reality. And that’s why there’s been so much resistance—
AMY GOODMAN: Juan, CNN—CNN is reporting—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —on the part of some sectors of the Republican Party for comprehensive immigration reform, because they see the numbers, and they see the reality that they have not really addressed any of the concerns of the Latino community in any significant way, that President Obama really had about 67 percent of the Latino vote the last time around and looks to be about the same. It was going up to in the 70s in some of the polls, but it looks to have come back down to around 67 percent. We’ll know for sure by the time the night is out. But again, that’s 67 percent of an extra one million or so voters that will be—who will have cast votes today, as well. So the country is changing, and the demographics of the country is changing. And although both parties are having a monopoly and are trying to strike—to push out other third parties from having any kind of voice, the reality is that they have to address the people who do vote.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Ralph Nader before you leave, Ralph, and then we’re going to Chris Hedges. But, Ralph Nader, if you could address what Juan is saying and also this issue of third-party candidates, what they offer, what you offered, what Jill Stein, who is the Green Party presidential candidate today. She’s been arrested several times on her campaign, when she tried to get into the debate at Hofstra—you almost were arrested in Boston when you attempted the same thing—then she was arrested in Winnsboro, Texas, as she tried to bring food and aid to young people sitting in trees, trying to protest the destruction of those trees for the Keystone XL pipeline’s southern leg there in Texas.
RALPH NADER: Well, it’s remarkable how the two parties, Republican and Democrat, have taken off the table major issues, major concerns on people’s minds, major redirections for the country, here and abroad. For example, military budget, not really discussed. The empire, not really debated by the two; they seem to be on all fronts there. Minimum wage, 30 million Americans are making less than workers made in 1968, 44 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The federal minimum wage is now seven-and-a-quarter. If it was adjusted for inflation, it would be 10 dollars and a half. Obama didn’t touch it. The member so the Democratic Party on the Hill didn’t touch it. And of course Romney, who was for an inflation-adjusted minimum wage until earlier this year, switched on it.
Look at all the other things that aren’t. Wall Street speculation tax, big support for that, never discussed by the two parties. But the third parties are discussing all of these issues. They’re discussing law enforcement on corporate crime, fraud and abuse. They’re discussing full Medicare for all. The two parties are ignoring it; it’s off the table. Now, what happens when minority parties, in terms of votes, third parties, are espousing majoritarian redirections for our country, but the big two parties, in terms of votes, are opposing these majoritarian parties—these majoritarian agendas? The answer, basically, is a two-party oligarchy that, in its dictatorial approach, has frozen out all competition from other third parties, independent candidates, and it goes down to the local level.
So what we have to really focus on here is, are we going to wait so multi-billionaires in 2016, maybe a Bloomberg or someone else, to throw their hat in the ring for a third-party or an independent to get a three-way vote? Or are people going to begin to organize in every congressional district—10 now, 20, 40, 60—and connect across the country to begin turning the one branch of government that has the most power—and it can turn around the others—that is, the U.S. Congress, with 535 men and women? That’s the key. Otherwise, we’re all into speculation and pontification and wish fulfillment.
The key is this. The institutions in our country, corporate and government, have failed. The unions are not only in decline, they are not using the power that they have. Take the minimum-wage issue and the AFL-CIO and all their ads that ignored it. The institutions have failed. And the history of our country is, when you get that level of decay, you’ve got to, in Jefferson’s words, go back to the people and re-organize the unorganized power and give it the focus to become sovereign and take over the Congress and then the other branches of government, down to the state level. But that isn’t even discussed. Shift of power from the few to the many is off the table by the two parties—for obvious reasons, because they are servants of the few.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, the key Senate races right now, highly contested, in Boston, Massachusetts, of course, you have Elizabeth Warren versus Scott Brown, who won Ted Kennedy’s seat. You have Sherrod Brown, who is under major assault, the amount of money that is being spent against him in Ohio, the incumbent Democratic senator. The significance of these races, hotly contested right now? The Democratic Party, do you think—what do you think of what they represent in the Democratic Party?
RALPH NADER: Well, it’s new energy, obviously. Elizabeth Warren, if she gets in the Senate, they’ll start talking about higher office for her, I’m sure. Sherrod Brown, his first term, he’s a wonderful man. I have known him for years. But he pulled in his wings, maybe for a second try, being elected tonight. Bernie Sanders, very good voting record. But these are largely lone rangers; they’re not networkers. I mean, Teddy Kennedy was a networker. These are lone rangers in the Senate. And it’s nice to make nice speeches, but they don’t go out and organize beyond their own state. They don’t network each other. They’re not a hard core, the way the Southern Democrats in the anti-civil-rights movement were back in the ’40s and the ’50s.
So, the heat has got to come from the people. Occupy Wall Street made a valiant effort. Their ranks were not swelled. They never were more than a couple hundred thousand people in their marches and rallies and their encampments in total. At least they aroused the country on inequality. But the public has low expectation levels. It’s not giving itself a chance to rise up and use their constitutional powers and their numbers to take back the government, and then hurl this Democratic government against the corporate supremacists who have basically ground this country into the ground as they ship jobs and industries to fascist and communist regimes overseas.
And, of course, Mr. Romney spent 25 years in his career with Bain Capital doing just that—acquiring companies, strip-mining them, grabbing off the fees, unemploying workers or shipping them overseas. How he ever got to be the nominee is a commentary on the lassitude and the low expectation levels even of Republicans, never mind anybody else.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, who did you vote for?
RALPH NADER: I never say who I vote for.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it’s 7:30, actually 7:31 Eastern time, just about 7:32. Polls have just closed in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia, as well. And before you go, Ralph, talk about your home state. Talk about Connecticut, the race between the Democratic Congressmember Chris Murphy in an unexpectedly tight race with the wrestling magnate Linda McMahon. What—she spent $40 million of her own money to recast her image in the race she lost a few years ago.
RALPH NADER: Well, I don’t think she’s going to win, because Connecticut is a heavy Democratic state, and Obama is going to do well. But the fact that it’s even close between her and Chris Murphy, a sitting congressman, illustrates—
AMY GOODMAN: Replacing Senator Lieberman.
RALPH NADER: Yeah. It illustrates the lack of dynamism among the Republican Party. I appealed to Mr. Murphy as well as Linda McMahon to make the minimum wage an issue. There’s about 300,000 workers in Connecticut who make less than workers made in 1968. They wouldn’t touch it. Gary—Rocky Anderson is on the ballot in Connecticut on the independent line. Jill Stone—Jill Stein, I think, is a write-in. She didn’t quite make it on the ballot. So, there wasn’t as much of a choice for progressives in Connecticut.
AMY GOODMAN: Linda McMahon had door hangers made, and sample ballots that told voters to vote for her and President Obama.
RALPH NADER: Well, yeah. She was trying to distance herself from Mitt Romney and the Republicans. I mean, if she ever won that seat—if she ever won that seat, can you imagine what that message would be all over the country? That someone who is a commercial wrestling magnate who abused the workers, who behaved in very offensive ways in terms of women, suddenly tries to make over herself and becomes the senator from Connecticut? Can you imagine the encouragement to similar magnates around the country? But I don’t think that’s going to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Ralph, for joining us. I know that you have to go on to other interviews. Ralph Nader, three times ran for president, third-party ticket. We’re going to continue with our panel around the table here and around the country. We’ll also be going to Vermont to find out exactly what the networks are reporting. They say that Vermont is voting for President Obama, has cast their vote, as well, for Senator Bernie Sanders.
You’re listening to and watching Democracy Now!'s six-hour election special. Tell your friends to tune in. This is an update on what we know now. It's still very early in the election, but multiple sources are now projecting Kentucky with its eight electoral votes for Mitt Romney and saying Obama will take Vermont with its three electoral votes. The Associated Press is reporting Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has won re-election in Vermont. Multiple networks calling Indiana and West Virginia for Romney. Polls closed at 7:00 p.m. in Virginia. And some polls in Florida and New Hampshire have already closed. At 7:30, polls are closing in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. They just did. Those Ohioans still standing in line at 7:30 Eastern time will reportedly be given provisional ballots and allowed to vote.
Chris Hedges is also with us. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, part of the team of reporters who won in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. His latest book is Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt_. His most recent 20121105/">piece is called "The S&M Election." He’s been arrested in front of Goldman Sachs. "The S&M Election," Chris Hedges?
CHRIS HEDGES: Yeah, I think the issue doesn’t revolve around the political or the personal narratives of the political candidates, but the paralysis that’s gripped the system, that is hostage to corporate interests. The fact is, we have no time left on the issue of climate change. And it is very clear that the formal mechanisms of power, under Mitt Romney or under Barack Obama, are not going to respond. Obama’s drilling policy replicates that of Sarah Palin. I don’t think there’s any question that after the election, he has given numerous signs that he will approve the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline. We’re talking about turning the United States into one of the largest hydrocarbon producers in the world. This is like lighting a fuse, coupled with the fact that a speculative criminal class on Wall Street has essentially not only hijacked the political process, but hijacked the economy. So, we are headed both for an environmental and a fiscal cliff, and the centers of power, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, have proved utterly incapable of responding.
What I see happening in the United States reminds me of what happened in Yugoslavia, which I covered. I was the Balkan bureau chief for the New York Times. There you had essentially a center that could not respond to an economic crisis. And what happens is, the longer that that paralysis continues, the more you empower very frightening extremes. We’ve already seen the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party come very close to grabbing power. Much of their distrust for Mitt Romney comes from the fact that he does not come out of that lunatic fringe. But it’s this paralysis that creates these deformities on the edges of our political spectrum and empowers them.
The fact that 40 percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and the response of the fossil fuel industry is to mine the last vestiges of fish, oil and natural gas, it’s insane. You know, we’re all on the Pequod now, Melville’s ship in Moby Dick. Ahab is fully in charge. And as Ahab said, my means and my methods are sane; my object is mad. So while gender equality, a woman’s right to choose, these are important issues, I wish we had the luxury of having an election where those were the primary issues. In fact, we’re talking about the survival of the human species. We cannot stop catastrophic climate change, but—and we’re not only stopping it, we are embracing policies by both parties that are accelerating it. And all we need is, you know, a few more Celsius degree rises before large sections of the planet become utterly uninhabitable. We saw this hurricane hit New York. We saw what it did. This is not a freak storm. This is what climate science has been speaking about for a few decades. Wait 'til that's a category 2, a category 3. Wait 'til that's the third or fourth time we get—
AMY GOODMAN: You were—you live in New Jersey.
CHRIS HEDGES: Of course.
AMY GOODMAN: How hard hit were you?
CHRIS HEDGES: I lost power for a week, but I can’t complain, I mean, compared to what happened, the devastation along the coast, and what happened in Lower Manhattan. And the infrastructure, which has been, of course, neglected under both administrations, you know, wait 'til it begins to crumble. Wait ’til we—I don't think we grasp how fragile it is. I don’t think we understand that essentially the criminal class on Wall Street has been let loose to, in essence, harvest the country. That’s a business term. They are grabbing as much as fast as they can on the way out the door.
And neither Mitt Romney or Barack Obama has any intention of impeding that process, which is why, you know, I find it shocking, surprising, disturbing, that Barack Obama, who really did promise to the kind of change I think a majority of Americans wanted in 2008, was able to betray almost every single campaign promise he made, you know, to utterly sort of wipe his feet all over us and then turn around and ask for our vote. I think we have to begin new movements, new parties, because when this crisis hits, if we don’t have built some kind of a parallel structure to respond, what we’re going to get is the iron fist of the security and surveillance state, which Obama has cemented into place. His assault on civil liberties has been far worse than those under Bush, including of course the National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1021. I sued him and was joined by Noam Chomsky—
AMY GOODMAN: You sued President Obama.
CHRIS HEDGES: Yes, and we won, in Southern District Court of New York. And what was the response of the Obama administration? This was a section that permits the U.S. military, overturning 200 years of domestic law, to seize American citizens, hold them in military facilities, strip them of due process indefinitely. When Judge Katherine Forrest issued her 112-page opinion in our favor in September, she brought up the internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. And that’s what we have essentially permitted this president to do.
What was the response of the Obama administration? They asked for an emergency stay, which meant put the law back into effect, which Judge Forrest refused. They went—then went to the appellate court, asked for an emergency stay, which they got. Now, why? We knew they’d appeal. That’s because I think there can only be one conclusion, and that’s—that’s that they’re using the law, because if they were holding U.S. citizens, probably dual U.S.-Pakistani nationals in places like Bagram, without due process, then they would be in contempt of court.
The elites know very, very, very well what’s coming down, and they are preparing mechanisms to criminalize all forms of dissent. And the Obama administration has actually been more egregious, whether it’s the radical interpretation of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving the executive branch the right to assassinate American citizens, the kill list, the FISA Amendment Act. You know, in the sort of inner sanctum in the National Security Council, they know what climate change and fiscal meltdown will bring. All we have to do is look across to Greece and Portugal and Spain to see what’s coming. And they’re preparing for it. And if we don’t begin to build movements and begin to carry out acts of civil disobedience that defy the formal structures of power, whether Republican or Democrat, we have absolutely no hope, and certainly we have, in essence, signed the death warrant for future generations.
KAI WRIGHT: Let me put in a word for the people, you know? I feel—and I agree with a lot of the sentiment that Chris and Ralph, before him, said. But, you know, I think also I continue to be moved—set aside who folks are voting for. The fact—the enormous effort that has been spent in the last two years to keep particularly black people and Latinos from showing up at the polls today is striking—I mean, from legislative efforts to dark money, just massive efforts. And yet, and yet, people are standing in line for six and seven hours to exercise their right to democracy—elderly people, disabled people, students, folks who are unemployed and have been unemployed for months at a time or for years at a time.
And yes, there is—we have a crisis of leadership. There is no question, right? And that’s what this election is about, is a crisis of leadership. And what the previous election was about is a crisis. We’ve had a crisis of leadership. You can go down the list, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s the economy, whether it’s foreign policy, everything is at the breaking point, because we haven’t had effective leadership in now 12 years.
But that said, folks who, themselves, their lives are at the breaking point, are still ready to fight. You look at the young people in the DREAM Act movement. It’s nothing short of remarkable what these young people have been doing over the last couple of years, people who have literally put their lives on the line and dared the government to deport them—Obama is deporting more people than ever—but dared, the people, the government to deport them by outing themselves, in an effort to force change. So I think there’s—I just—you know, I want to put in a word for what I see. Against large odds, there are a lot of people out there that are fighting, and I think we need to keep them in our lens, as well, and figure out how we can support them.
AMY GOODMAN: Myrna Pérez?
MYRNA PÉREZ: And also, you know, in terms of movements, as I mentioned earlier, we had a incredibly significant wave of voter restrictions, and yet the civil rights community came together and said, "We’re going to put a stop to it." And in most of the instances in which these laws were challenged, we prevailed. The laws were either blocked or blunted, and I think that that signifies an enormous, you know, coming together and recognition of the fact that we are not going to let politicians decide who’s going to be participating and who’s not. And the voters have come together. The civil rights community has come together. Courts have backed all of this. The Department of Justice has stepped in. And I think we can be really proud of the accomplishment and where we are now versus where we were a year ago, in terms of the kinds of regimes that voters would be voting under.
AMY GOODMAN: Myrna Pérez is a senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. And Kai Wright is the editor-in-chief of Colorlines.com.
Latest news, NBC News projects Romney wins in West Virginia and that Joe Manchin has won his Senate seat. That’s significant. Senator Joe Manchin facing a rematch with the Republican, John Raese, the man he beat in 2010 to complete the term of the late Senator Robert Byrd. This will be his first full six-year term.
But we are heading south. Mitt Romney also won South Carolina, at least so the networks are declaring, at least NBC News. Let’s go to North Carolina, to Chris Kromm. Chris Kromm is the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and publisher of Facing South and Southern Exposure magazine. North Carolina has not been called, neither has Virginia, though the polls have closed in both places. Chris, talk about what’s happening there.
CHRIS KROMM: Well, these two states are a great example of this battle that’s really happening in the South between kind of a new emerging South that we got a glimpse of in 2008, a younger, more diverse, more urban South, that helped propel Obama to victory in Virginia and North Carolina—and narrowly, in North Carolina’s case—up against kind of a backlash against that emergent South. And it’s really at war. And I think these two states are really great examples of a trend that’s happening throughout the region.
But these two states are going to be incredibly close. The election director in North Carolina just put out an announcement saying, "I think we’re going to have recounts, and it’s going to be a long night." But what I think will be interesting to find out is this kind of new coalition that came together for Obama in 2008, what’s it going to look like in these states? We know it’s still there. We know that those demographic changes have happened. But is it going to have the same power at the ballot box at the end of the night?
AMY GOODMAN: And the key issues in North Carolina and Virginia, Chris?
CHRIS KROMM: Well, like everywhere, the economy ranked at the top of every poll. I think what’s going to be interesting—so, for example, in North Carolina, here you had a blue-trending state, that in 2008 you had a U.S. senator Democrat elected, or a Democratic governor, Obama won by 14,000 votes. Well, then the tide turned, and you saw a lot of money. The Republican side was put in. And redistricting ended up becoming a huge issue, where Republicans could take control of the state Legislature. That has also added on to now the Republicans are probably going to win the governor in North Carolina.
And that’s going to open up a host of issues for a state that had held the line on a number of issues, around funding of schools, that—charter school, privatization schools. These issues, which had been somewhat contained because of this back and forth, with total Republican control, I think you’re going to see the lid go off. And a lot of these things that have been on the agenda for the right wing in a state like North Carolina, now they’re going to have open reign. And it’s going to be very interesting to see how activists and community organizers and policy advocates respond to this very new political environment.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Kromm is the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, publisher of Facing South and Southern Exposure magazine.
I want to encourage people to tell your friends we’re doing this six-hour special here at democracynow.org. And if you’re watching on a public radio or television station, tell your friends to tune in there. We’re also on both TV satellite networks, DISH Network channel 9415, Free Speech TV 9410, Link TV, and on DirecTV channel 348, Free Speech TV, and channel 375, Link TV. We’re also on PBS stations. And for the first time, just to let people know, if you want to hear us on your phone—this is very important. For the first time, you can listen to Democracy Now! live on your mobile device through the Stitcher app. Visit the Stitcher Election Center or search Democracy Now!
And, Jeremy Scahill, your response to what you’ve been listening to?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, I was thinking about several things that were said earlier, and then the sort of debates that I think a lot of us have been having over the past four years about the moment that we’re in. You know, one thing has been very clear to me in the past four years, that there—that President Obama is so despised by this sort of racist class of people in this country. I mean, the racism has just come to the fore in such an incredible way. We certainly saw it around the Trayvon Martin killing. The crackdown on collective bargaining rights in the state of Wisconsin has really, I think, fired up the labor movement, and the prospect of what could happen, or what people perceive will happen if Mitt Romney takes the White House, I think, has people feeling like they’re fighting for their lives in this election. And I—you know, I understand people, and I sympathize with some of what Kai is saying, because I think that—I think a lot of people do feel that their most fundamental rights are under assault from the Republicans on Capitol Hill, are under assault from the Koch brothers and ALEC, you know, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is working at the state level, as you were talking about before, to write legislation on behalf of these lawmakers that’s going to have a dramatic impact on the lives of working-class people and poor people.
But then on the flip side of things, you know, I think it’s important to sometimes step out of the realm of electoral politics. And that’s where I agree with a lot of what Chris is saying, that if we don’t sort of take seriously the business of fundamentally changing the way that the system operates, then the reality is that corporations are going to continue to dominate every aspect of our lives. And it’s sort of—you know, you can win short-term battles until you’re blue in the face, but until you take on the giant, nothing is ever fundamentally going to change. I mean, what has happened over the past four years to the civil liberties movement and with drone warfare and the ability of the president to—I mean, it’s Tuesday night. This is Terror Tuesday. This is when President Obama usually, when he’s not in Chicago waiting to see if he’s going to be president again, is sitting with his advisers deciding who around the world is going to live and die, as part of a secret process that has no effective oversight whatsoever, that Congress has been totally boxed out of, that can include minors—that has included minors that are U.S. citizens, in the case of Abdulrahman Awlaki that’s been killed. And what this administration has done is to normalize policies that a lot of liberals would inherently oppose if it was a Republican doing them. The damage is going to be far-reaching.
So, I mean, I know I said some of this at the beginning, but I really do think this is where a lot of progressives are right now, where they feel like they don’t want to talk about any of those issues for fear that it’s going to help Mitt Romney to become president. And I sympathize with that argument. But I think we sometimes get so afraid of ourselves, that we shelve our conscience, and we cede a large chunk of our moral compass to political leaders that are backed by huge capital, by corporations. So, I mean, I’m very sympathetic to the kinds of struggles that have been talked about here, while at the same time being just utterly disgusted with the doubling down on Bush-era policies.
And I really think it also matters where you’re at in life. I’m from Wisconsin. Both of my parents are nurses. Scott Walker lives down the block from them. Scott Walker actually lives in a working-class neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood that’s lined with signs calling for him to be recalled and all of that. That state just got massacred under the Republicans, I mean massacred. And I think it’s why you’ve seen Obama spending so much time there. He really believes they have a chance to win. Tammy Baldwin, who’s running for Senate, would be the first openly gay woman to serve in the Senate. There are probably a number of closeted gay Republican senators. I think that, you know, there’s a proportionality to how much they hate gay people, where, you know, I mean, it’s—but so she’s running against Tommy Thompson, who was the former governor of Wisconsin, was one of Bill Clinton’s top Republican allies in the omnibus crime bill and the welfare reform business of the 1990s, was Bush’s Health and Human Services secretary. That’s a very serious race.
Russ Feingold is no longer in the Senate. He used to be from Wisconsin, the one senator to oppose the PATRIOT Act. These are—these actually can be important issues. It was why someone like Dennis Kucinich was so important in Washington, one of the few people that was part of the Democratic Party that actually had the audacity to stand up, you know, against his own party every single week on Capitol Hill, and was a very serious lawmaker. So those are the two worlds that I think a lot of people of conscience operate in in this country. And part of it is represented by the passion of Chris and the lawsuit and fighting the NDAA, and part of it is represented by the rank-and-file workers in the state of Wisconsin who in many ways are fighting a battle that has massive, massive national implications in this country. It’s a very serious debate that we have to have and take it seriously.
CHRIS HEDGES: Let me respond—
AMY GOODMAN: Kai Wright—
CHRIS HEDGES: —quickly.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges.
CHRIS HEDGES: I mean, all of the issues you raise are important. The problem is, what is it that empowers these proto-fascist, Christian-right, militia, nativist movements? And I can tell you, having lived through the war in Yugoslavia, it is the inability of the traditional liberal institutions to respond, because the longer that paralysis continues, not only are those institutions discredited, but the values that they claim to espouse are discredited. You saw the same thing in Weimar. And that’s the game we’re playing.
If Obama had come—he had a mandate in 2008 to bring about significant change across the political spectrum, across the economic spectrum. And, you know, he brought in Geithner and Summers, and kept the same defense secretary, and, as you just pointed out, has carried out far more egregious assaults both against civil liberties and the expansion of proxy wars and everything else.
And it’s the paralysis that frightens me, because I’ve seen what it vomits up. It vomits up very distorted and disturbing characters. And, you know, Dostoevsky writes about this. That’s what Demons is about. That’s what Notes from Underground is about. It was an obsession of Dostoevsky’s. The inability to respond, he called it "an age of moral nihilism." And he was nothing if not prescient. And we are a deeply violent culture about the consequences of that. And so, I think that those of us who care about those traditional liberal values, who care about justice, who care about gender equality and a fair distribution of wealth and all of that, by tying ourselves to an impotent Democratic machine, are discrediting those values—and I watched the same thing in Yugoslavia—and playing an extremely dangerous game.
AMY GOODMAN: Kai Wright.
KAI WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, I just—I would absolutely agree at the 30,000-foot level, right? You know, but I think these things don’t have to be either-or, first off, right? Like this—that critique can be true, and there is very little debating, I think, the president’s record on many of these issues. He has not been a force for change, certainly. I can speak to the economy. I can speak to what he did on Wall Street, and not as well on some of the foreign policy stuff. Certainly he has not been a force for change.
That said, you know, if you lost your house—in the last four years, if you lost your house, lost your job, and watched your kid be in a school that was declared failing and turned into a charter school, and now they’re being tracked towards—towards special ed, that’s where you’re at, right? You’re not at Dostoevsky, and you’re not at Terror Tuesday. You’re at those kinds of issues. And I think that we do people a disservice if we don’t recognize that. And if we don’t engage them at that level, I think we do them a disservice.
CHRIS HEDGES: But Obama has accelerated that process.
KAI WRIGHT: Absolutely, absolutely.
CHRIS HEDGES: And so—and that’s the problem. And I think that—
KAI WRIGHT: This is not an argument for Obama.
CHRIS HEDGES: Right.
KAI WRIGHT: But I think it’s important to talk about, when we’re talking about change and talking about the people and what the people need to do and what the people are going to do, I think it’s important to acknowledge who they are and what they’re doing.
CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but the longer the formal mechanisms of power don’t respond, the more you empower the extremes. And there is no left in this country; it’s been destroyed. And so, the backlash begins to come, funded by the Koch brothers and others, movements that unequivocally can be called fascist. That’s what the tea party is. That’s what the Christian right is.
KAI WRIGHT: Absolutely.
CHRIS HEDGES: The celebrate the gun culture. They speak in the language of violence. They channel a legitimate rage and a legitimate sense of betrayal.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re an ordained minister, Chris?
CHRIS HEDGES: I’m not ordained. I didn’t get to go that far, but I did finish seminary. It channels it towards the vulnerable. That’s what fascist movements do. It’s what happened in Yugoslavia. Homosexuals, undocumented workers, Muslims, feminists—I mean, they have a very long list of people they hate. And that’s the game we’re playing. And by refusing to stand up, by essentially surrendering our voice and our passion to a Democratic Party and establishment that has sold us out, we are—we are inadvertently empowering the very forces that we have to fight.
KAI WRIGHT: I wouldn’t disagree with that. You know, again, I’m not in any way saying that we should be beholden to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. I’m saying that if we want to step back from electoral politics, if we want to step back from that, which is a part of what we’re talking about here, right? is like that we don’t have legitimate options at the voting booth. But if we want to step back from that, we need to step back from it in a way that recognizes the issues that people are facing, and that doesn’t—and that, first off, that doesn’t divide it up into categories, that it’s this over here that’s more important than this over here, that recognizes that people live these things all at one time, and recognizes the crisis that people are living in. And in doing that, that means addressing some of the small-bore stuff, too. And I think North Carolina is a great example. That’s a state where some of the stuff that the finance sector has done to people’s lives, it’s been a place where there’s been a real block against that for many years. Payday lending and subprime lending and a lot of the just thievery that took place over the last decade was blocked in North Carolina—won’t be, if it flips tonight.
CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but we’re all going to go over the fiscal cliff, whether it’s Romney or Obama. All those cuts are coming in. It doesn’t matter who’s president.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank this panel for being with us. Myrna Pérez, thank you for joining us from the Brennan Center, and Kai Wright from Colorlines.com. Jeremy Scahill, you’ll be staying with us, Democracy Now! correspondent and Nation national security correspondent. And Chris Hedges, also here.
[end of hour one]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, our six-hour election special. And welcome PBS stations to this broadcast.
The polls are closing around the country, including in the king—key swing states of Virginia. President Obama and Mitt Romney are both claiming they have enough votes to win the presidency. We’re looking at the race for the White House, as well as key Senate and House races and ballot initiatives around the country. Polls have just closed in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Missouri, in Illinois, in Massachusetts, in Maine and North Dakota. The latest projections by the networks show President Obama winning Vermont, while Mitt Romney has won Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina, they say. ABC News is reporting West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is projected to win re-election against Republican businessman John Raese. That’s what we know so far.
And, yes, the networks have also called Vermont for President Obama. In a moment, we’re going to go to Vermont. They have also called the race for governor. The current governor, Peter Shumlin, will retain his governorship. And also, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has won re-election.
Bill Fletcher is with us right now, longtime labor, racial justice and international activist, editorial board member and columnist for BlackCommentator.com, founder of the Black Radical Congress.
This is going to be a long evening, Bill. What are you looking for tonight? And what have you observed so far?
BILL FLETCHER: Well, Amy, what I’ve observed and what worries me are the electoral manipulations that have been taking place. I mean, I was listening to the tail end of your last guest, and part of what I’ve been thinking about is that what—that one of the big dangers that we face is that the continuous erosion of democracy that we’ve been seeing for 30-plus years now seems to be heightening. So we have a combination of the Citizens United decision plus the desperate moves by the Republicans to thwart the will of the people.
And I find that actually quite frightening, because I think one of the—one of the challenges is that at a certain point, regular people will be completely demobilized and discouraged from participation in what they see to be politics. And one of your guests was talking about backing away from electoral politics. That would not necessarily be particularly progressive. That could lead to a situation of massive apathy, and apathy never helps progressives.
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of prison policy in this country, Bill, if you could address this?
BILL FLETCHER: Prison policy?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
BILL FLETCHER: You mean the increase—
AMY GOODMAN: The criminal justice system.
BILL FLETCHER: Well, you know, one of the things that we have to look at, Amy, in the current situation, is we have to put all of this in a historical context. In general, democracy in the United States has been a good idea. It’s not exactly—that’s borrowing from Gandhi. It’s not exactly been much in the way of a reality. And part of that is—also plays itself out in the system of incarceration, which has been used as a way, most recently, of dealing with a large, redundant population, a large, redundant workforce, that the system no longer needs and instead warehouses them. So, the expansion of the prison system, certainly there’s an element of greed in privatization that we’ve seen through the growth of what has been described as a prison-industrial complex.
But I think that the other part that we have to understand is that it’s a way of dealing with huge numbers of people that the system can’t figure out what to do with, that the jobs that once existed that many of the people that are currently incarcerated would be going to, those jobs aren’t there, or at least they’re not in the major cities. They’ve either moved to rural areas, they may have closed down, or they may have moved overseas, or they may have downsized. So what do you do in some of these dead cities, like Camden, New Jersey, or East St. Louis? What do you do in some of the major cities that have in fact been deindustrialized? And thus we have the—this massive, unprecedented growth of incarceration.
AMY GOODMAN: This just in. CNN is reporting that President Obama will win Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine—three out of four electoral votes, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode, Island. Romney will win Oklahoma, in addition to what we have announced so far.
We’re going to turn right now, go to Vermont, where we’re joined by David Goodman, independent journalist, also happens to be my brother. But it is the first state in the country, Vermont, that has been announced as going into the Obama column.
David, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of this? Didn’t this happen in 2008, as well?
DAVID GOODMAN: Yes. Hi, Amy. Yeah, so Vermont was called within minutes of the polls closing, leaving a bunch of us to sort of laugh and wonder what the methodology was. But in any case, we did just get the first numbers, and that’s with just 2 percent of the precincts reporting, that it’s 70 percent Obama and 28 percent Romney. CBS has also called the races here for Senate for Senator Bernie Sanders—this is his re-election to his second term—and for Governor Peter Shumlin and for Congressman Peter Welch. So, all four of those have been called by CBS, although we don’t have numbers on those races.
I do know that the secretary of state here—this has been an exceptionally heavy turnout. He’s just announced that he thinks it will be over 70 percent of registered voters voting. So that’s really quite extraordinary. We’re also hearing pretty steady reports out of our neighboring state of New Hampshire, which is a swing state, very heavy turnout, long lines that have gone beyond the—where polls have closed, but there were still people waiting, and they were saying that they were not going to extend—they were allowing people to vote after 7:00, but they were not going to extend; they were sort of cutting it off once people, you know, the—inside the building. So, all round, definitely indications that, at least throughout the Northeast here, where people can vote, where they haven’t been—their polling places haven’t been washed away by hurricanes, they are coming out in big numbers.
AMY GOODMAN: For people who aren’t familiar, perhaps people watching or listening around the world, with Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent of Vermont, who ended a marathon filibuster of the proposed tax compromise, ceding control of the Senate floor after more than eight-and-a-half hours, can you talk about the only now-independent senator in the Senate? Joe Lieberman is retiring.
DAVID GOODMAN: Yes. Well, I was—attended Bernie Sanders—on Sunday night, his last rally in the state. And at that rally, Bernie, as he is universally known in Vermont—I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody in the state refer to him as "Senator Sanders," so I’m speaking of—referring to him in the colloquial sense here. His key issues have been the economy and the impact of the economy on working-class people and on the tremendous division. And he has been relentless in his criticisms and attacks on what he calls Wall Street greed and the fact that there has been virtually no penalty for the people who were responsible for the collapse of the economy and the collapse of the middle class. This has been his issue everywhere he has spoken in Vermont, and it has resonated very widely in the state. He is expected to win with an overwhelming majority. The national and state Republicans did not even participate or support his opponent’s race, as an indication of, you know, the kind of support that Sanders has here.
He has also been—a big issue of his is also on healthcare, and that has also been a focus of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who [inaudible]. Vermont is one of two states, the other being New Hampshire, that holds an election for governor every two years. Shumlin has instituted the first single-payer healthcare system in the country. He ran on that two years ago, and this race has been considered to be a referendum on that. It’s also something that Bernie Sanders has been—you know, spoken of at great length. And at that rally on Sunday, Sanders made clear that he expects and hopes that Vermont will be a national model, that this will be a laboratory for what single-payer healthcare will look like and how it can work. So those—
AMY GOODMAN: And as we—as we deal with Superstorm Sandy here, with the response in New Jersey and New York, in Vermont it was Hurricane Irene. The significance and the contrast of how Governor Shumlin in Vermont dealt with this catastrophe in your state versus what we are seeing continue to unfold here, with many hundreds of thousands of people, if not more than a million, still without power, oh, more than a—moving into the second week now.
DAVID GOODMAN: Some of the—I mean, the scale has been different in terms of the numbers of people, obviously, impacted. I would say I’ve been very surprised at how flatfooted some of the initial response in the first days were, where in Vermont there were National Guard troops from eight states. Vermont took probably the hardest hit from Hurricane Irene; it’s still dealing with the fallout. But, you know, we had National Guard troops from eight states within the state, you know, within 24 to 36 hours. A dozen communities that were severed on all sides were reconnected within 24 hours. So, when we saw that four days had gone by where people were still cut off in New York, it was shocking, really, to think that.
But then some of the similarities that I see are the grassroots relief efforts have been some of the most successful ones. The Occupy Wall Street efforts in Red Hook that Democracy Now! has covered are very similar to what has happened in Vermont, where really the initial response and the critical lifelines that were thrown to people were not from FEMA and from, you know, perhaps organized governing authorities, but really were from the immediate neighborhoods and how important that has been to, you know, provide that kind of immediate-term relief. And that continues to be important even a year later. This kind of grassroots relief is essential.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to say, I mentioned that Bernie Sanders will now be, with the retirement of Senator Lieberman, the only independent in the Senate, but that isn’t true, because it’s just been announced that the former Maine governor, Angus King, has won the three-way race for retiring Republican Senator Olympia Snowe’s seat. Now, it’s true that Bernie Sanders came from the socialist side. Angus King, though, will take that seat in Maine.
I also want to bring in Bob Herbert, distinguished senior fellow with Demos, contributing editor at The American Prospect magazine, from 1993 to 2011 op-ed columnist for the New York Times, also a former colleague of our own co-host, Juan González, who is back with us this hour. Again, Juan is joining us from home. He’s recovering from a back operation. Juan, I wish you could be with us for the six hours here, but it’s great to see you again.
Bob, tell us what you are most focusing on now, as the numbers trickle in right now. Just to mention that the Maine—the new Maine senator, Angus King, is expected, like Bernie Sanders, to caucus with the Democrats, and Vermont announcing—it looks like it’s the first state that’s being called by the networks for President Obama.
BOB HERBERT: Well, one of the things that I think is encouraging—we don’t know ultimate results tonight, but one of the things that’s really encouraging is the fact that it appears that an awful lot of people are voting and were not turned away or intimidated by the voter suppression tactics, which I think have just been horrible. And even with all the attention that voter suppression has gotten, I don’t think it’s gotten the kind of outraged attention that it deserves.
But what I’ve been really thinking about mostly is how do people who are concerned about the interests of ordinary people in this country, how do you move forward after this election, whoever wins the election. We know pretty much what we have with President Obama. I hope he wins, because I think the alternative is flat-out terrible for working people and for poor people who are—for people who are low-income. So I think that even if Obama wins—you talked earlier about a movement this evening—a movement that is focused on the interests of ordinary people in this country needs to go forward. A powerful movement on the scale of the civil rights movement, I think, is what’s necessary. Otherwise, we are going to continue to have our democracy almost overwhelmed by the corporate interests and the financial interests, and the people forgotten about. So, that’s my focus of attention: what strategies need to be followed, and how do we begin to organize a movement, no matter who wins the election?
AMY GOODMAN: And do you see that happening? Did you see Occupy the beginning of that?
BOB HERBERT: I think that the importance of Occupy was that it put on the national agenda issues that a lot of progressives have been trying to get on the agenda for a long time and with varying degrees of success—and largely unsuccessfully.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, if—
BOB HERBERT: Occupy got those issues on the agenda. What I thought was that it was a mistake to think that Occupy was the movement that was going to carry us forward. What I—we needed others to come in and organize and pick up, build on the momentum that Occupy established. And I thought that it was really a shame that that really didn’t happen, but I don’t think it is too late for that to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it’s inevitable that something is going to happen, because the assault is not going to be halted under Obama or under Romney.
BOB HERBERT: I agree with that.
CHRIS HEDGES: We just saw hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their extension of their unemployment benefits. That means tens of thousands of these people will lose their homes. The chronic underemployment and unemployment—they play with the figures—has hardly been dented. Half of the country, virtually, is living in poverty or a category called "near poverty." And it’s always the ruling elite that determines the configurations of [inaudible] — declared a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions, forgiven student debt, instituted a serious jobs program, especially targeted people under the age of 25, pushed through a rational healthcare system. "Obamacare" costs, if you are not working for a company that provides care—and I speak as someone who pays $2,300 a month for health insurance, although no one in my family is sick—I mean, this is just insane. And these premiums are just being jacked up and up and up and up, and then when you get sick, you’re priced out of the market because there’s no cap, there’s no control. And so, because the awful logic of the corporate state is to exploit until exhaustion or collapse, to commodify everything—human beings are commodities, the natural world is a commodity—there is going to be a response.
What frightens me—and I think Obama has not gotten the blame that he should have for shutting down the encampments—this was a nationally directed effort to erase, to physically remove these encampments—it told us that the state would only speak to these movements in the language of force. We just saw anti-austerity marches in places like Portland, Oregon, met—these were peaceful demonstrators, met with very brutal police tactics. You can go on the web. These are militarized police units in Kevlar, dressed in black. That means something’s coming. What frightens me is that we have a potential for that backlash to be a very disturbing right-wing backlash. And as—the longer the paralysis continues, and history has certainly borne this out in other situations, the more you find the most retrograde elements—the Koch brothers and others—will align themselves with the radical right as a way to safeguard their position. We’ve already seen them pump money into the tea party, pump money into the Christian right, pump money into people like Newt Gingrich. And so, something’s coming. My fear is that those of us who come out of a kind of left-wing populism have been so utterly disempowered now that it’s going to be easier to channel that response through these kind of proto-fascist movements.
BOB HERBERT: If I could just add one point to—I agree with everything that he just said, but if I can just add a point there. In addition to all the things that the right wing and that the corporate and financial elite have been doing, they’ve been doing two fundamental things that are designed to permanently disempower the folks that you were talking about.
One is the voter suppression. And can you imagine if a Democratic Party with a black president was making a deliberate effort to prevent white people from voting? Can you imagine what the outcry would be in this country? And that outcry would be warranted, but we need something like that kind of outcry now, based on what’s going on. So they’re trying to take away your democratic rights through voter suppression.
But they’re also, of course, trying—and to a great extent, succeeding—in destroying the labor movement in this country and destroying labor unions. And that is where your economic rights are protected. So these are efforts that are designed to permanently disempower everyone who would dare to object to the corporate financial elite.
CHRIS HEDGES: Although [inaudible] the nemesis of the Chicago Teachers Union was the Democratic establishment, embodied in Rahm Emanuel.
BOB HERBERT: I do agree with that. I also think that it’s a mistake to think—and I think that you’re saying this—it’s obviously a mistake to think that this is only something coming from the right—
CHRIS HEDGES: Right.
BOB HERBERT: —or from the Republican Party.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Juan González into this conversation. Juan, as you convalesce at home and are a keen observer of politics and participant of politics in this country, as you chronicle movements, can you talk about what’s happening right now? We have a number of polls closed, among them, Florida, which is a state of keen interest to you.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think—well, just a word or two about Florida, and then some of the stuff that Chris and Bob have been talking about. On Florida, I think the important thing to—clearly that’s a swing state that Romney had to win. And even though the numbers now, it’s getting an increasing share, about 50 percent of the whole—close to it—show Romney with a slight lead, CNN has said that its exit polls from the voters show Obama winning Florida, not—they haven’t declared for Obama yet, but their exit polls do indicate that those who were coming out of the polls, 52 to 48, I think, were for Obama. That would be really disastrous for Romney, in terms of—his end then would have to really roll whatever’s left, including Ohio. So I think that that might mean, if it’s true, that Obama is going to squeak out a victory in Florida, that—that would really possibly mean an early night.
But I think in terms of the [inaudible] issue here of what Chris and Bob Herbert have been talking about, I think that the Occupy movement, to some extent, really gave the backbone to the Democratic Party, to the—Obama’s campaign handlers, to make the fight for taxing the rich and for the 1 percent—against the 1 percent, made it—gave the Obama campaign the realization that, yes, that they could possibly cobble together, once again, a winning combination by a populist campaign.
My fear now is that if Obama does win, the country is going to head right away to the really big battle, which is what they are calling obviously the "fiscal cliff," where there’s going to be immense pressures on Obama and on the Democratic Party to make all kinds of concessions in effort to build together a budget, a financial budget, that both parties can live by. And I think that’s where the issues of attacks on Social Security and on Medicare are really going to come right away. And one of the problems is that all the—all Americans are facing really on December 31st a tax increase, because for the last two years part of the deal that President Obama worked out with the Republicans was a cut in the payroll tax of 2 percent. So everyone is paying 2 percent less in Social Security than they [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Juan.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, and I think that the reality is that—that the issue of what happens to bringing back that 2 percent payroll tax to all Americans or sacrificing it in some kind of adjustment or reform of Social Security, I think is going to become a big issue. And so, right away, as soon as this election is over, even if Obama is victorious, there’s going to be a major battle that American workers and the American people are going to have over this fiscal cliff.
And I Chris mentioned, and Bob, the attacks on labor. Well, there’s a lot to look—a lot of positives that are occurring in terms of the labor movement waking up like never before to come—to go out there in terms of candidates that will defend their interests. I think, for instance, of Larry Hanley, the president of the International Transit Union, right out of Staten Island. And Larry Hanley took over 125 of his union officers over the last several weeks into Ohio. They came from New York, they came from Washington, they came from all over the country, into Ohio to really work and organize bus passengers throughout all of the municipal areas of Ohio to turn that vote out for the Democrats in this election. And—but Hanley is a progressive labor leader, but he understood that there was such an attack in the Midwest—in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in all of these states—against labor that the labor movement had to unite. And really, the fact of having six, eight, nine swing states makes it possible for political efforts on both sides to concentrate their energy in particular areas of the country to achieve an overall victory nationwide.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, you know, just to respond to some of what Juan said and also what Bob said, you know, there are sort of like two—there’s two universes in the world of cable news. You know, there’s the liberal MSNBC, which is basically like an Obama for America rally, campaign rally, every day. And then—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, is it—I just want to make one point. Isn’t this interesting—
JEREMY SCAHILL: With the exception of Chris Hayes’s show.
AMY GOODMAN: MSNBC’s slogan is "lean forward." President Obama’s slogan, they took off the "lean," and it’s just "forward."
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, I know. I mean, I actually think that Chris Matthews might jump off a bridge tonight, if like Obama—like, take the guy’s shoelaces and belt away from him if Obama loses.
But then over—I punished myself to make up—you know, I come from a Catholic family; to make up for all of my sins, I punish myself by watching a full hour, uninterrupted, of Fox News. The top three stories on Fox News today were the new Black Panther—it’s not the new Black Panther Party; it’s the new Black Panther, who is single-handedly intimidating voters. Then there was this mural of Obama in a school. And Neil Cavuto, the host—
AMY GOODMAN: In what school?
JEREMY SCAHILL: It was in a school in Pennsylvania. There was a mural in a predominantly African-American school. There was a mural of Oprah there, and it had a quote from Oprah. And there was a mural of Obama, and it had a quote from Obama. And there were pictures of other figures that line this cafeteria. Well, this was like the number one—it was like, you know, voter suppression, you know, on steroids to Fox News. And they’re talking about how, you know, this huge Obama mural, you know, is like basically voter—it’s the new Black Panther, an Obama mural, and then analysis from Don Imus.
And what you—so the sense that you get there is that like Huey P. Newton has risen from the dead and is trying to scare away people from voting for Romney; you’ve got a mural of Obama that’s going to somehow convince an undecided voter who is walking in there, like, "Hi, just—I’m leaning toward Romney. Oh, but there’s this mural. I’m going to vote for Obama." And then it’s like—but it’s like this thing where sharia law is coming down the pipe, Benghazi may have been an inside job, it’s the second coming of 9/11. And Benghazi was horrible, and there are serious questions that need to be asked; it’s just that the Republicans asking them are partisan clowns, like Darrell Issa, who, you know, is a completely morally bankrupt character who has done nothing to effectively oversee anything as chairman of the Oversight Committee.
But the point I’m making here, Amy, is that you have this alternative reality where all of these conservatives on Twitter now are semi-suicidal. I’ve been watching them all night. I mean, they sort of see the writing on the wall. It definitely seems like it’s leaning toward Obama. But imagine now the climate tomorrow that’s going to exist tomorrow, when the Kenyan, socialist, Maoist, Mau Mau, Indonesian Barry Soetoro is—you know, has now once again committed a coup in this country. For four years, that’s what’s going to be existing in this country in much of the sort of mainstream discourse. And most of the—Romney as a candidate is semi-viable only because of the hatred that these people have for Barack Obama. This man could not win an election, you know, for—to be a Boy Scout leader, you know, in Massachusetts right now, but he—everyone who—they’re voting against Obama. So, that’s how polarized the country is.
And the issues that Chris is talking about—you know, the Occupy Wall Street, the NDAA, civil liberties, drone—that stuff is like nonexistent in this world. But you can understand why, because look at all the craziness coming from the most popular cable news network on television. It’s like the second—it’s like Osama bin Laden is going to be president of the United States and implement sharia law. I mean, that’s what you get from watching their network. And this is a very powerful media outlet. So you can understand the mentality that Bob is reflecting in some of his reporting here, where people actually feel like, "Oh, my god, this is serious business we’re fighting here."
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill is author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and he is a Nation magazine national security correspondent, Democracy Now! correspondent, as well. Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. We are also joined by Juan González, who is joining us from his home, co-host of Democracy Now!. And Bob Herbert with Demos and American Prospect.
Just to update people, AP has called Democrat Chris Murphy the winner over Republican Linda McMahon for the U.S. Senate seat for Connecticut, even as she made the hangers and ballots to show that you could vote for President Obama and the wrestling magnate, Linda McMahon.
We are going, though, to Tampa, where Judith Browne Dianis is standing by, co-director of the Advancement Project, civil rights litigator, racial justice advocate. She’s joining us from Tampa, where she’s been monitoring the polling stations. Florida has just closed—has just closed their polls.
Judith Browne Dianis, what did you find?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS: Hi. Thanks for having me, Amy.
So, it’s been an interesting day. The, you know, steady flow of people throughout the day, not the long lines that we saw in early voting. But, you know, a number of concerns. I think the number one concern that we saw across the state was what we would probably call an abuse of provisional ballots. We have, you know, here in Hillsborough County a lot of voters, you know, coming out of the polling places saying that they did not get to vote by regular ballot. We have concern about that, because we know Florida in 2008, you know, threw out about half of those ballots, and so we have real concerns. We know that that was a problem in Hillsborough. We heard that in Broward, Miami-Dade. And so, we have concerns about whether or not those votes will be counted, you know.
And so, as our staff at Advancement Project [inaudible] fanned out across—you know, across the country, Ohio, the same issue, provisional ballots. It seems like, you know, poll workers are just trained to just use it as the default. You know, in Ohio, in particular, where Advancement Project sued the state because of, you know, if it’s poll worker error, your ballot gets thrown out. We—you know, same thing in Franklin, Summit and Hamilton counties. We saw a lot of people coming away, saying they had to vote provisionally. We had one person, a witness, who told us that a place in Columbus, [King Arts] Complex, there were 50 people standing in line; 40 of those 50 came out having voted provisionally. You know, people not being on the rolls when they should have been on the rolls, when they’ve registered. And so, we’re really concerned about that.
And, of course, Pennsylvania, the continuous, you know, ID issue. I mean, this campaign of confusion around ID in Pennsylvania, when Advancement Project and ACLU won that lawsuit. You know, early this morning, I got a text from someone who went to college with me, saying, you know, "This is the sign that’s on the door, saying, you know, we’re required to ask for ID." And so, you know, she told them, "I’m not showing it to you, because I know I don’t have to." But that kind of confusion leads to a real question for voters, you know, and, I mean, at the end of the day, after this election is closed, we’re going to be really having to clean up this mess and to make sure that we have free, fair and accessible elections and that we’re pushing back on all of these voter suppression efforts that were passed by politicians who [inaudible] trying to manipulate the laws for their own gain.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you surprised by what you have seen? And do you think this is going to determine the outcome of the elections? And this issue of voter suppression, how is this going to play out in the coming weeks right now, with the crackdown—
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: —on the hours in Ohio and the time that people could vote, to what you’re seeing in Florida, to what we have seen, really, in a number of states throughout the country, Pennsylvania, as well?
JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS: Well, you know, I think at the end of the day, the big effort to suppress the vote, mainly through these, you know, laws that were meant to make it harder to vote—harder to register and harder to vote, I think, overall, you know, the big plan of a systemic attempt to restrict the vote backfired, that we beat back those laws. You know, I know from my own experience in Maryland, I waited in line for early voting for seven hours. And while all of my friends in the civil rights community said, "Why didn’t you get that absentee ballot?" there I was in line. And I will tell you that the conversation in line in an African-American community was about voter suppression and people feeling like they were not going to have their vote taken away and understanding that. And that was unprompted by the civil rights lawyer that was standing there next to them. And so, I think that people—you know, I think the early voting in Florida, with people waiting seven and eight hours in Florida, really showed that people know that this is important, that there’s a lot at stake, and that that was their message of defiance, that they weren’t going to allow people to take their right to vote. And so I think that part backfired. But we’re concerned again about these kind of, you know, efforts after the fact, which we think, you know, to some extent, were systemic failures, especially for the training of poll workers. We’ve been working on this issue for a long time, and so that’s quite disappointing that here we are having this problem with provisional ballots again.
AMY GOODMAN: The networks are projecting that President Obama has won New Jersey, and I wanted to ask our resident New Jerseyan or our New Jersey resident, Chris Hedges, about the significance of this.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, he didn’t get my vote.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Chris, do people often ask you what you—where you stand? Like, what you really think?
CHRIS HEDGES: No. No, I don’t get that too much. I voted for Jill Stein and, every other election since 2000, voted for Ralph Nader. I mean, it’s interesting that people are standing—you find, it seems to me, these campaigns of voter suppression in those four to five crucial states where—which are up for grabs. Most of the rest of the states are predetermined, like the state of New Jersey or Massachusetts or others. And there, you know, the Republicans clearly intend to cheat. You know, to stand seven hours in line in Florida, took me five minutes to vote in Princeton, New Jersey. And I think that that battle is worth fighting. I’ve never called on people not to vote; I think we should vote. I think they don’t want us to vote, and that’s part of what voter suppression is about.
And yet, at the same time, you know, I’ve been a strong supporter since Ralph ran in 2000 of third parties. I think we have to begin to build them as a kind of counterweight. Look, the Labor Party in Germany never polls more than 5 percent. And yet, it is a significant factor in the politics of Germany in protecting the rights of workers and unions. You had a three-party run in Canada, where the Liberal Party was upset, because it was playing the same kind of game the Democratic Party is playing. So, I think it’s really incumbent upon those of us, and it’s not easy to step out first, as Ralph did. I have tremendous admiration for him and for Rocky Anderson and for Jill Stein doing what they did, you know, really in the political wilderness. But I think, you know, because time’s running out and because we have to build parallel systems of power, I think it’s important that we do stand with them.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Fletcher, I want to bring you back into the conversation, with BlackCommentator.com. Where do you see—if there is an Obama victory, as many are predicting right now, just looking at the numbers, what do you see is the most critical issues for people to organize around? And how open do you see President Obama? I mean, on a number of issues, said he would close Guantánamo; it didn’t close. Environmentalists certainly voted for him. He flew to Copenhagen and scuttled a meaningful climate change agreement, and in the debates neither he nor Mitt Romney raised the issue of climate change in any of the three debates; of course, the TV moderators didn’t either, the debate moderators. On the issue of human rights, on the issue of immigrant rights, has presided over more deportations of immigrants than any president in history, and has gone after whistleblowers, his administration, more than all presidents combined, charging some with espionage. Bill Fletcher?
BILL FLETCHER: Well, two things, Amy. First, I just want to back up one quick second, and I’ll get right to this. With all due respect to Chris, what I think that is really important for people to understand—when we hear that voters are standing in line for two, three, four, five, seven hours, and particularly from the African-American community, what you have to understand is that the nature of the attacks on Obama have not only been deeply irrational, they’ve been so deeply racist that virtually every black person that I know that self-identifies as black sees those attacks as personal, deeply personal. And I don’t know whether everyone gets that. When Trump gets on television and says that—challenges the president on his school record, I feel like he’s talking to me. When Sarah Palin mocks the president and the language, I feel like she’s talking to me. And I know that there’s countless other African Americans that feel that deeply, which in part explains the ambiguous relationship of the African-American community to this presidency, even when people have disagreed with the president on a number of policy issues. This deep-seated, racist, intensely racist attack on Obama is something that has led many of us to say, "There is no way we are going to tolerate this."
And I think that that’s something that has to be factored in, because it has very profound strategic and tactical implications, which goes to your—your point. It seems to me that part of what we have to look at is that many of the progressive social movements simply gave Obama a pass. Now, I’m not in the kind of "plague on all houses" that some people are. I think that there was a situation—the situation with Obama was actually very similar to the situation that faced this country when Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932, in that Roosevelt came in as an anemic Democrat. He did not come in as a champion of working people or anyone else. He was there to preserve the system. Obama—and we knew this in 2008; most of us knew it, that he was there—he came in to preserve the system. That’s his job. He’s the head of the empire.
Now, the question is, what kind of alliances was he going to be forced to make, and particularly in the face of the kind of resistance from other segments of the ruling elite? Because that’s part of what Roosevelt faced in the early ’30s. Upon coming in, he was attempting to save capitalism. He ran almost immediately into an intense attack from other segments of the elite, who said he was making too many concessions. And the difference in the ’30s was that there were social movements at the base—the unemployed workers, etc.—that rose up and forced Roosevelt to be more than he intended to be. The same thing happened in 1941, when A. Philip Randolph forced Roosevelt to desegregate the war industry.
The challenge we face right now, assuming and if Obama is re-elected, is that there simply can’t be this notion of a honeymoon. There simply can’t be this notion of giving space. There can’t be this notion of who is going to get the job, and this job or that job in the administration. We need to be marching on Washington almost immediately around issues of jobs and war. We have to be doing this. I mean, you know, hopefully, we learned lessons from eight years of Clinton and the way that movement after movement just simply deferred to Clinton because he could play the saxophone, or they deferred to Obama for the last four years and were afraid to attack him, largely because of who was attacking him from the right. So it seems to me that, OK, we’ve learned those lessons. We’ve got to go forward, particularly on the issue—these issues of employment, the environment, and on the issue of war and peace.
AMY GOODMAN: Bob Herbert?
BOB HERBERT: First, I just wanted to say hello to my friend Bill Fletcher and also to Juan González, feel better, man.
I just want to pick up on some of what Bill was talking about, about how so many African Americans feel about Obama. Early this year—and I was paying close attention to this and writing a little bit about it—early this year, there was fairly widespread disappointment in the black community with President Obama. They felt that—a lot of people felt that he had not fought hard enough on employment issues. It was perceived—I think rightly—that he went out of his way to avoid any reference or connection to racial issues, that there was a task force on the middle class in the White House, but very little, if any, mention of poor people, etc. And a lot of people would say to me, "You know, we wish he was stronger," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So they were disappointed. And I thought that in terms of the presidential election, that might result in a depressed turnout among African Americans. He was always going to get 90 percent plus of the vote, but I thought maybe fewer people would go to the polls.
But to go to the point Bill made, as these racist attacks on Obama went forward, and as the voter suppression intensified, there was this feeling of anger and, in some cases, even rage among African Americans. And absolutely it was perceived as a personal attack. And I watched, talking to people, as the support for Obama grew and grew and intensified. And what was funny was, even though the policies of Obama had not changed, the way these same folks that I was talking to were assessing him had changed. So where someone might have said in January or February, "Well, you know, I wish he was stronger. He seems kind of weak, you know," by the summer, they were saying, "You know, I think he’s doing a hell of a job. The reason he hasn’t gotten more accomplished is because the Republicans are standing in his way," etc., etc. And it just built and built and built. And what it really was was, you know what? Whatever our complaints are about this guy, you know, we’re going to rally around and protect this brother, because we are not going to tolerate this racism that is out there. And I think that that is being reflected in the turnout numbers tonight, however this election goes.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, has been re-elected, defeating Congressman Connie Mack, the Republican of Florida. This is according to the Washington Post. Romney has taken Tennessee and Georgia, according to AP. Massachusetts is going for President Obama. If Romney wins, he would be the first president to lose—he’d be the first president to lose his home state since Wilson in 1916. Officials are predicting a record turnout in Massachusetts of 73 percent. Linda McMahon, again, as we’ve said, the wrestling magnate of Connecticut, has just been projected to lose to Congressmember Chris Murphy in Connecticut’s Senate race. He’s a Democrat. CNN is reporting voting in Virginia will continue until 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We’re going to turn right now to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who represents the 25th District in the Greater Cleveland area. Of course, Ohio a battleground state. Can you tell us what’s happening, State Senator Nina Turner?
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER: Hi, good evening to you and to your listeners. Well, the president is winning the state of Ohio. Mostly are absentee ballots are in right now. Our polls just closed at 7:30. And the results are still coming in. But I am confident that the president is going to win. But he’s winning in absentees, two to one.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the issues that are playing big in Ohio right now and the significance of the issue of voter suppression.
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER: Oh, my god. We had such huge hurdles to surmount in Ohio, and it just doesn’t make any sense in the 21st century. But we had a secretary of state who decided to appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court the ability of the voters in the state of Ohio to have the last three days of early voting. I am so happy that court after court, judge after judge, ruled against him and in favor of the voters, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his bid. And last—this past Sunday, we had Souls to the Polls, and there were thousands of people standing outside in the cold, in the rain, with their children, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers, of all ethnicities and genders, to exercise their right to vote. And but for Democrats standing strong, but for a president who stood strong, we would not have had the last three days of early voting in the state of Ohio.
AMY GOODMAN: The significance of Ohio, Bob Herbert?
BOB HERBERT: I think, you know, one of the big—obviously, the auto industry bailout has been huge in Ohio. But what’s really the way I look at it is, this is proof that the Democratic Party, and even a Democratic Party with an African American as president, can address these working-class issues in a way that is politically successful. I think the party has made a mistake for many years now on—one, I think they made a mistake on not addressing these bread-and-butter issues of employment, jobs, labor organizing, and that sort of thing, and fighting for working people.
And then the other thing I think they’ve made a mistake on is not organizing and actually registering even more people to vote. I think that there should have been much more organizing on the left, both in labor and in the Democratic Party. Ohio shows [inaudible] allegedly middle American-type state. It’s a state that’s always been crucial to Republicans in terms of winning the White House. But if you really get to the issues that are important to the voters—and the issues that are important to the voters are jobs and opportunity—then you can make hay.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I also think that Romney’s—
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Romney’s, you know, attack ad that was proven to be completely fraudulent about, you know, Jeep jobs being shipped to Italy and ultimately to China, I mean, it spectacularly backfired, and the Obama campaign was really able to capitalize on that. And I think, you know, prior to that ad, you know, the Republicans were trying to run on this idea that Ohio was this sort of, you know, light on the top of the hill for Republicans, where everything—it was state—you know, state’s power, and they were succeeding against all odds. And the Obama campaign, you know, it just was like Romney lobbed them a softball that they could hit out of the park. I mean, if you watched what Obama was saying and his surrogates were saying in Ohio, they hammered them on that auto stuff, because the auto bailout was popular with a lot of auto workers, obviously, and there were jobs that actually were created as a result of it. And so, I mean, in the world of conventional politics, of attack ads and big corporate money coming in, I mean, just to look at it purely from a conventional analytical point, I mean, the Romney people just shot themselves in the foot. And I think their only hope in Ohio would have been mass voter fraud or tampering with ballots.
BOB HERBERT: Right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, it was—they really self-destructed at the end there.
BOB HERBERT: [inaudible] all the voters all the time. Whether Lincoln actually ever said that or not, it happens to be true.
CHRIS HEDGES: And yet, built into that bailout was a destruction of the United Auto Workers union.
BOB HERBERT: I completely agree with that.
CHRIS HEDGES: So, unionized workers who were making $76 an hour were reduced to $50, and the auto companies were allowed to hire new workers at $14 an hour. In essence—
BOB HERBERT: And that’s where the movement has to come in now, going forward.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s right, but that’s a—I mean, this was another Democratic assault against labor. And built into that bailout was a provision that said if the UAW strikes, that money has to be repaid. And so, so, you know, there’s at once a bailout of big corporate interests coupled with a destruction of working men and women who work for those corporate interests. And I think that, you know, one can justify the bailout, but one cannot justify what the Obama administration did to the UAW.
BOB HERBERT: And what they did to the UAW, though, is part and parcel of the administration’s approach to labor issues, in general.
CHRIS HEDGES: Right.
BOB HERBERT: I mean, you know—
CHRIS HEDGES: That’s right.
BOB HERBERT: You could start with card early in the administration.
CHRIS HEDGES: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: The Jeep ad—can you explain the Jeep ad, what exactly Romney put out? Talking about Chrysler would end all production of Jeeps in the United States, send it to China, and then Chrysler said, "We’re not ending—we’re not closing our factories here. We’re making jeeps in China for China." [inaudible]
BOB HERBERT: [inaudible] you know, give the truth to the lie that’s being spread. There’s then no place for a fellow like Romney—for a fellow like Romney to hide.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And Romney said—the Obama people played it in a million ads. Romney said, "Let it go bankrupt." I mean, that was a devastating sound clip to be playing in the past week.
BOB HERBERT: And what was important for folks to understand was that it would not have just been bankruptcy and reorganization, you know. They were on the verge of liquidation. I mean, those jobs were going to vanish, and then all the jobs that depend on the auto industry—
AMY GOODMAN: And speaking of the jobs that depend, I want to go back to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who is speaking to us from the Greater Cleveland area. The effect that these ads had of Mitt Romney not supporting the bailout? Of course, Ohio has not been called yet for President Obama, but certainly President Obama and Mitt Romney have spent a great deal [inaudible]—
STATE SEN. NINA TURNER: Absolutely. I mean, the state of Ohio is the swing state of swing states, and we have commercial bruises to prove it. But certainly, you know, Governor Romney caused a lot of fear—I call it fear mongering—among the workers of Jeep, particularly in Toledo, when that false ad went up. And I do agree with the statements that it did cause a backlash in the state of Ohio. And, you know, to lie, to flat-out lie—I mean, it wasn’t just the fear that he invoked in the employees there, but he flat-out lied. And he has proven himself to be the type of politician who will say and do anything to become the president of the United States. And at some point, the voters in the state clearly understood that.
And no matter how we feel or interpret the auto bailout or the lifeline that the president threw to the auto industry, I will tell you that it has had a tremendously positive impact on Ohioans. One of every eight jobs, 850,000 jobs, linked to that industry, so it has been very good in the state of Ohio, and I believe that the citizens of this state are going to remember who stood by them.
And to the point that you made about, you know, standing up for the middle-class and working-class people and understanding that, you know, we went through that exercise last year with Issue—Senate Bill 5, Issue 2, which tried to take away collective bargaining rights. And we stood up as a state collectively for that, and the voters showed the GOP what they felt about that overwhelmingly in the majority of the counties, 88 counties. We had the majority of those 88 counties reject Senate Bill 5. So I think the Democrats certainly have some great building to do beyond this presidential election in terms of speaking up, speaking out, and creating policies that truly lift poor people and that help the middle class stay in the middle class. We really need to focus in on that after this election.
AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to interrupt for a second to see if we could bring in Bernie Sanders on the phone, because he’s giving his acceptance speech right now in Vermont. It’ll be a rough, scratchy phone, but this is history.
BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
AMY GOODMAN: They’re chanting right now, "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" This is Vermont, the independent Senator Bernie Sanders has just been re-elected to the Senate.
DAVID GOODMAN: Hi, Amy. Are you still there?
AMY GOODMAN: We are. We’re broadcasting this right now, David.
DAVID GOODMAN: OK. Well, Bernie Sanders has just finished his acceptance speech. The current polls here are showing him winning with over 70 percent of the vote. In his speech, he talked about taking back the country from billionaires and millionaires he said were receiving tax cuts at the expense of working people. And he said that Vermont, with its three electoral votes, would lead the country on social issues and economic issues and returning democracy to the community. So that was Bernie Sanders’ speech.
The other interesting development here in Vermont that we’re seeing now in the returns is that a race here that has involved a super PAC is the super PAC candidate, who is a tea party-backed candidate, this is, oddly enough, a down-ticket race for state treasurer. And while that may not seem like much, the previous governor of Vermont was elected from being a state treasurer. Anyway, this is a super PAC where a single woman, the heiress to the Montgomery Ward fortune, Lenore Broughton, who is a funder of tea-party-backed issues and candidates around the country, she happens to live in Burlington, Vermont, and decided this year, with the advent of Citizens United, to essentially buy an election. And the election that she focused on was to try and install a tea party candidate in one of Vermont’s five statewide offices, that being state treasurer. And there—it has been extraordinary what—in a small state, what her spending can do, this virtual carpet bombing of the print and broadcast media. And interestingly, the results now, and so a number of state leaders—Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean—have been going around the state railing against this effort to buy an election. But this really has been a test case for—we’re a small state—what can a super PAC do? What can unlimited resources do? And I know that Congressman Peter Welch here, who’s also leading with 70 percent of the vote, had said to me some time ago, you know, never underestimate what somebody coming in with a million dollars to a place like Vermont or New Hampshire, a small state, can do. Well, the result we’ve just seen is that the super PAC candidate here is being decisively routed. The last numbers I saw were that she was losing by a spread of about 10 points, about 50 to 40 percent. So that’s a very interesting development here.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, David, I want to thank you for being with us. David Goodman, speaking to us from Vermont from the big victory rally of the governor being re-elected, Peter Shumlin, independent Senator Bernie Sanders, and it looks like Peter Welch, as well, the one congressmember from Vermont.
Nina Turner, if you are still on the line in just these last seconds, if you could talk about—ah, she’s no longer there.
[end of hour two]
AMY GOODMAN: But we have an update right now, as we move to the top of the hour. Yes, polls are closing at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in more than a dozen states, including Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota. Polls—I’ve said a few of them already—polls—and Wisconsin. Polls have already closed in a number of other places, including the battleground states of Pennsylvania, in Ohio and Virginia. But those states are so far too close to call.
The latest from the networks: they’re now projecting wins for Romney in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee. President Obama is projected to take Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and Rhode Island. CBS, ABC and FOX News are calling New Jersey for President Obama.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressmember Chris Murphy appears to have beaten Republican wrestling magnate Linda McMahon in Connecticut’s Senate race. The Washington Post reports Senator Bill Nelson has defeated Republican Congressmember Connie Mack in Florida. In one of the most closely watched Senate races, NBC News is calling the Massachusetts Senate race for Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown, who won election for the seat of Ted Kennedy after he died. Now again, I’m just going to go back to that point: this is a network calling the race for Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown.
And although the—let’s turn right now, Jeremy Scahill, to Massachusetts, to our next guest.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, Amy. The—first of all, this was a very, very interesting race, because Scott Brown, like some of these other candidates, was very much trying to sort of run away from Mitt Romney and the extremism of a lot of the Republican platform. But I wanted to bring on a guest who’s on the ground in Massachusetts right now who works with the American Civil Liberties Union, has done a tremendous amount of work on privacy issues, on Fourth Amendment rights issues, and has been monitoring how some of these issues have played out. Kade Crockford joins us now from Massachusetts.
Kade, tell us the situation in Massachusetts right now and how it impacts, if it is indeed true that Elizabeth Warren has won, these issues that the ACLU has been working on in the state of Massachusetts?
AMY GOODMAN: We’re just going to get her back on the phone, but I wanted to quote for a moment Van Jones, who just sent out a tweet about how difficult it’s been to vote for people in Virginia, as well as Florida. And let’s see if I can find it right here. He talks about—he talks about—he says, "In VA & FL, people still [are] waiting HOURS to vote." They have kept the polls open in Virginia. And he says, "It should not take this kind of heroism to vote in America in 2012. #StayInLine," he writes.
Kade Crockford is now joining us, director for the Technology for Liberty Project at the ACLU in Massachusetts. So we’ve just gotten this news of a network calling the race in Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren over Senator Scott Brown. The significance of this, Kade Crockford, if in fact it is true?
KADE CROCKFORD: Well, you know, it remains to be seen, honestly. On the issues that I work on, Amy—privacy and surveillance, civil liberties issues relating to the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and the militarization of our local police departments here in Massachusetts and nationwide—on all of these issues, you know, not just the presidential campaign, as you’ve noted on your program, but also the Senate race here in Massachusetts was largely silent on all of these issues. You know, the candidates were not asked to debate questions related to civil liberties or privacy. They largely didn’t bring them up themselves. And the few occasions in which the candidates were asked questions about these issues, they largely ducked them.
You know, I think Scott Brown wasn’t very proud of his record in terms of voting to reauthorize roving wiretaps authorized in the PATRIOT Act. But really, you know, Elizabeth Warren is sort of a blank slate on a lot of these issues. We really don’t know how she’s going to come down on, as Jeremy was saying earlier in the program, some of the—really the most important issues that are facing our nation right now, which fundamentally is about restoring the rule of law. We’ve seen a real erosion of fundamental American principles of justice over the past 10 years.
And, you know, Elizabeth Warren, as her colleagues in the next Senate will head, she’ll have a number of opportunities to actually change some of that. So, you know, the FISA Amendments Act, which is up for reauthorization, which Ron Wyden has said he’s going to continue to put a hold on, she’s going to have an opportunity to vote on that bill. She’s—you know, she’s going to be faced with proactive privacy legislation, such as the GPS Act, which would require that law enforcement simply get a warrant before it tracks our physical location using either the GPS devices that are in our cellphones or putting one on the back of your car. You know, there’s going to be drones privacy legislation coming up to regulate the way that law enforcement and federal law enforcement are going to be spying on us from the sky. There are a whole host of issues that are really very crucial that unfortunately have been completely kept out of this entire election cycle both here and in Massachusetts and nationwide.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And Kade, also, you’ve been working on issues surrounding the scandal of the Boston Police Department in spying on dissidents and activists, as well as these plans for federalization or militarization of local law enforcement. Maybe you—we only have a brief amount of time, but maybe you could just talk about those issues and how they relate to the bigger picture of what has been debated or actually not debated in this country about paramilitarization of law enforcement, spying on dissidents, and surveillance in general.
KADE CROCKFORD: Right. You know, we, not very long ago at the ACLU of Massachusetts, published a report called "Policing Dissent," which essentially blew the lid off of what is a scandal. The Boston Police Department has been for at least five years spying on the entirely peaceful, protected First Amendment activity of, you know, antiwar groups and peace groups here in the city of Boston. This is a—this is a major story here in Boston. And unfortunately it didn’t make it up to the level of the statewide political race, as far as the Warren-and-Brown contest was concerned.
That’s really unfortunate, and that has to change because, you know, issues like this—we saw with the Occupy movement—I like to sort of refer to it as, you know, democracy movements like that are sort of like lifting rocks that show sort of the unseemly side of what’s been going on over the past 10 years. You really saw, not just in New York City, but all over the country, police departments with incredibly advanced surveillance equipment and weapons deployed at largely peaceful protest groups. You know, this problem is actually getting worse. The Department of Homeland Security, no matter who wins the presidential election tonight, will continue to fund local police departments toward their militarization and also toward their federalization, as they sort of seek to become local police—you know, police agencies that respond to crime and increasingly are like small intelligence agencies.
So, you know, Elizabeth Warren, if it’s true that she’s actually our next senator, she’s going to be faced with a lot of these questions. And certainly whoever the president is in the next four years is going to be faced with dealing with those questions, too.
But, you know, just to say to everybody out there who’s probably thinking to themselves, well, you know, whether it’s Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, it doesn’t look good on these issues—and I think they’re right—we can actually take action at the local level. So I would encourage people to go to my website at privacysos.org. Actually, the latest blog that I wrote today is about precisely that, about how you can take action in your local community, no matter where you are throughout the country, to push back against some of this really dangerous radicalization.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to Charles Pierce, contributing writer for Esquire, who’s joining us now from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but he is from Boston. Can you give us your perspective on the Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown race? Now, NBC is calling it for Elizabeth Warren right now. We cannot confirm that. But your take on this, Charles Pierce?
CHARLES PIERCE: Well, I mean, I don’t even pretend to be objective on this one. I think Elizabeth Warren has the potential to be a great United States senator. She ran—you know, she learned to be—literally learned to be an electoral politician on the fly, and got much, much better and got better and better and better. And she was aided by the fact that Scott Brown ran probably the dumbest campaign I think I’ve ever seen anybody run. And, you know, her message has been completely about, you know, the crushing of the middle class and the power of the financial institutions. That’s where she made her bones in national politics.
AMY GOODMAN: And the major issues that she focused on?
CHARLES PIERCE: Well, she focused—she focused primarily on, you know, what she calls the tricks and the traps on the back of your credit card bill, the—you know, the not entirely toothless, but semi-toothless Dodd-Frank. But she, you know, pushed it more. But more to the point, she did something in a debate that I don’t think a Democrat can—
AMY GOODMAN: Charles Pierce, I’m going to interrupt for a second, because we are now joined by the, well, newly re-elected senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who’s at his victory rally right now in Vermont. Bernie Sanders, congratulations on your first re-election as the independent senator from Vermont.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: We were just hearing that NBC News has predicted that your neighbor in Massachusetts may be—Elizabeth Warren—they are predicting a win for Democrat Elizabeth Warren over the current senator, your colleague now, Scott Brown. Your comment on this?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I have known Elizabeth for many, many years, and Elizabeth is certainly one of the smartest people I know. I believe she’s not just going to be another senator. I think she’s going to be a great senator. I think she’s going to be a progressive voice not only for the folks in Massachusetts, but for all over America. And I was just last Sunday down in Massachusetts campaigning for her. A lot of excitement there for her. And I am just overjoyed if she’s going to make it to the Senate, because we really need her.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Bernie Sanders, what do you see as your mission right now in the second term as senator from Vermont?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Amy, I will tell you what the very immediate mission is, and that is within the next couple of months. When Congress reconvenes, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about the fiscal cliff and deficit reduction. You have virtually every Republican and some conservative Democrats who want to go forward by lowering tax rates for the wealthiest people in the country and cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other important programs. I think that is insane. I think that that is unacceptable.
And we’ve got to rally the American people to say, yeah, we have to do deficit reduction, but you don’t do it on the backs of the middle class and working families. You ask the wealthiest people in this country, who are doing phenomenally well, to start paying their fair share of taxes. You end the massive loopholes that corporations are enjoying. You take a hard look at excessive and wasteful military spending. There are ways to balance the budget without attacking people who are already hurting in the middle class.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sanders, we have Bob Herbert here with Demos and The American Prospect, formerly with the New York Times. He has a question for you.
BOB HERBERT: Senator, congratulations.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, Bob.
BOB HERBERT: I’m often asked, when I go around the country speaking, what ordinary people can do. So we have this—the politics of austerity perhaps coming with this fiscal cliff. What can ordinary individuals and families do to make their feelings known and perhaps have some influence on members of Congress?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Bob, that’s a great question. It’s an issue we’re working night and day on. I just told Amy, I fear very much that Republicans and some Democrats are prepared to go forward and try to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other important programs. I think the American people have said in polls—and they need to get up and say it now, they need to get on the phone and calling their senators and their members of the House and saying, "Sorry, Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, hasn’t added a nickel to the deficit. We’re not going to cut Medicare and Medicaid and other important programs." The wealthiest large corporations are going to have to help us deal with deficit reduction. It can’t be austerity on working families. So we’re going to work very hard with senior groups, with the unions, with low-income groups, to make sure that this fiscal austerity does not attack working families.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sanders, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation magazine and Democracy Now! has a question for you, as well.
JEREMY SCHAILL: Congrats, Senator Sanders. You were just laying out some of the major battles that you’re going to have on Capitol Hill with the Republicans on some of these core issues. What about, though, the battle that many progressives have been waging against the Obama administration for this president’s extension of some of the worst excesses of the Bush era—the targeted assassination program; the killing of U.S. citizens without trial; the drone bombings in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia; and, you know, basically the entire Bush so-called counterterrorism apparatus—not only kept in place, but sort of expanded, when you look at the expansion of the drone bombing and the use of special operations forces in these covert operations? What’s your response to this administration essentially continuing this?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, my response to that, as somebody who is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, I have probably been more critical of the president than anybody else in the caucus. And I think you’ve raised absolutely legitimate issues. And I think what the American people have got to do—I don’t know what the results of tonight are going to be. But if the president wins, and I certainly hope that he wins, what the American people and those people who have voted for him have got to tell him is that he’s got to stand for policies that we can be proud of, domestically and in foreign affairs. But that requires a massive, grassroots, progressive movement to say to this president, "We elected you. Stand with us, not with Wall Street, not with the Pentagon."
I’m going to have to get off right now, but thank you very much, Amy. Take care.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much. Congratulations, Bernie Sanders. He has just won re-election for his Senate seat. The former mayor of Burlington became senator and now has just been re-elected. We spoke to him at his victory party.
This is Democracy Now!, our six-hour special election coverage, and we are joined by a number of people. Bob Herbert is with us of Demos, as well as The American Prospect. We are also joined by Laura Flanders of GRITtv. A columnist with _The Nation magazine, Jeremy Scahill, still with us, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Chris Hedges also with us, former New York Times reporter, as Bob Herbert was, and is a national—works with The Nation magazine, as well. And we’re joined back again by Juan González, Juan who is convalescing at home in Washington Heights in Manhattan after a back operation. And we’re glad you could join us again.
Juan, it’s interesting. We just heard that NBC is predicting that Elizabeth Warren has beaten Scott Brown, the Republican. Elizabeth Warren would now be the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. And NBC News is calling Pennsylvania for President Obama. Also, Democrat Bob Casey is projected to win Senate re-election in Pennsylvania. And AP has just called the Wisconsin race for Tammy Baldwin. CNN projects Republicans will maintain control of the House. First Juan, then we’ll go to a Wisconsinite at the table, Jeremy Scahill. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, yes, I think—well, the Republican control of the House was expected. They may actually even gain some seats, which will mean that the same kind of gridlock that had been in existence prior to this election will continue in the new administration. Even if Obama wins, there will be considerable gridlock in Congress and, again, enormous pressure on the president and on the Democrats to make key concessions in order to to get things done in the government.
So I think the key thing to remember, whatever happens tonight, even if President Obama does get re-elected, is that the progressive movement in the country cannot waste one day of thinking that there will be major changes that occur through what happens in Washington, and there has to be an immediate commitment, not allowing folks to get co-opted by the idea of change through the—from the top, but once again, pressure on the government and in various—not only the federal—not only the federal government, but all the state governments and local governments, to effect changes, fundamental changes in the way that our society functions.
And unfortunately, I think too many people in those first months and year or two of the Obama administration really thought that a significant amount could be accomplished just by electing a president. And I think that’s always happened, whether it’s been in local races, in mayoral races or gubernatorial races, that the progressive movement gets disarmed and co-opted for a period of time. I think this can’t this time around. It won’t happen, because the very people who went through 2008 have now gone through 2012 and hopefully will be able to exert that kind of pressure in the months and years to come.
And it’s going to come right away, because, as I mentioned in an earlier segment, this whole battle over the fiscal cliff at the end of December and the need for all sides to agree on a long-term budget for the country is going to face all of us immediately.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, it could be that these battleground states are going to go one by one to President Obama. Again, we’ve just heard that Pennsylvania is in the—has just voted for—for President Obama, and that was also announced by Fox News, as well. Florida—Virginia was supposed to close their polls, but they will apparently, according to the networks, keep them open ’til 11:00, which means there is a flood of people, lines of people, who are simply trying to vote at this point.
And I wanted to turn to Jeremy Scahill on this news that has just been announced, breaking news on Wisconsin, the Tammy versus Tommy race. This was Tammy Baldwin, the Congressmember, taking on the, what, four-time governor, Tommy Thompson.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. And, you know, I’ve known Tammy Baldwin since the early 1990s. And, in fact, around the time when I met Tammy Baldwin, when she was serving as a state representative in Wisconsin representing Madison, which was a heavily student district—she was a very, very progressive local politician—I also was thrown out of the governor’s mansion as a student journalist by Tommy Thompson for pressing him on racial issues and on issues that had to do with his welfare reform and the so-called "omnibus crime bill." You know, let’s remember about Tommy Thompson, he was like a machine politician in Wisconsin, who also was Bush’s, George W. Bush’s, Health and Human Services secretary and was one of the people pushing the sort of anthrax threat fraud. But Tommy Thompson is known as a kind of gross political machine in the state of Wisconsin. And the idea that he came back to run this campaign was sort of mystifying to some people.
But, you know, Tammy Baldwin, what’s—among a sea of things that are significant about this, Tammy Baldwin is going to be the first openly gay woman elected to the Senate and, generally speaking, on a lot of core issues that progressives care about, is a pretty darn progressive politician. I mean, I have had debates with her on some of these issues over the years. We’ve aired them on Democracy Now! But generally speaking, Tammy Baldwin is from the Russ Feingold school of politics, which, you know, coming off of Ron Johnson’s win, the tea party candidate who’s now the other senator from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin is replacing basically an old fogey politician in Herb Kohl, who was, you know, kind of a do-nothing senator. His slogan was, you know, "nobody’s senator but yours." But he did very—you know, he did very little, you know, of import on a national scale whatsoever.
AMY GOODMAN: She’s the colleague of Congressman Paul Ryan.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And Paul Ryan is on the ballot in two races in the state of Wisconsin because, you know, he wasn’t—he wasn’t willing to put all of his skin in the game as a vice-presidential candidate. And, you know, we don’t know yet what’s happened with his—with his local seat. You know, he’s trying to retain his congressional seat.
But finally what I would say about this, let’s remember the bigger political context of what’s going on in Wisconsin. We saw an unreal crackdown on the rights of workers to collective bargaining, to organize in the state of Wisconsin. You’ve had people that have suffered tremendously in that state. As I said earlier on the program, you know, both of my parents are nurses. I grew up in the city of Milwaukee. My parents live just down the block from Scott Walker. His block was lined with "Recall Walker" signs. But the war on organized labor in the state of Wisconsin had massive ricochet impact on the rest of the nation. And so, you know, I think the idea that Tammy Baldwin won this race instead of Tommy Thompson really represents a pushback, I think, I think largely from organized labor and working people that really took it in the chin, have taken it in the chin under Scott Walker—and also, quite frankly, under the broader policies of the Obama administration. It’s really been a kind of one-two punch at this time. But this is a real pushback on some of these attacks on organized labor. And, you know, Wisconsin has areas that are kind of like Alabama. And so, for Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay woman who has been very, very outspoken on very progressive social issues and some national security issues, I think, is a pretty big step forward, than it—I mean, Tommy Thompson would have been like going back to the Stone Ages in a lot of ways.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Laura Flanders, author, activist, journalist. Laura, it’s great to have you with us.
LAURA FLANDERS: Oh, it’s great to be here. Feel like I’m at the sort of, you know, former New York Times reporter recovery home. And, you know, it’s so interesting, these two races that have just been announced, that—
AMY GOODMAN: And let me say something real quick on the other one.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Just to just be clear, because, you know, this stuff trickles out, and we don’t actually have the ability to determine these races ourselves to figure out what the polls are. Chris Hayes tweeted out: I don’t see anywhere on NBC that we have predicted that Elizabeth Warren will win. But the Boston Globe says Elizabeth Warren 52 percent; Scott Brown, Republican, 48 percent. This is with 17 percent reporting. Right before the polls closed, what did I see? Something like Scott Brown maybe 1 percent ahead, it was predicted. Atlantic Wire is also saying that NBC is reporting that Elizabeth Warren is the winner.
Oh, and one more thing. Let me put it out here. NBC News is projecting a "yes" to the California question number three, which is on medical marijuana. But Laura, I interrupted you.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I mean, there are so many things to talk about in what you’ve just said. But—
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, and Washington Post apologized for prematurely saying that Elizabeth Warren would win.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, let’s start with the Tammy Baldwin victory, because that really is, as Jeremy said, hugely significant. I mean, all of us who were in Wisconsin remember her role at the center of support for the community uprising against Scott Walker. And when you combine that kind of pushback, that Jeremy just talked about, that so many of us witnessed, and her courageous position in that, in the sense of aligning herself very much with not just the trade unions, who have shown up in tremendous strength on her behalf—the SEIU, just to name one—but also grassroots groups—young, gay and lesbian-led organizations, that got sort of under-covered in their role in that but played a big part.
She’s been somebody who’s been baited during this race. The Republican opponent Tommy Thompson’s campaign and his friends in the propaganda groups tried to pick up on a video that she had recorded on Gay Pride Day, and say, "Oh, look what a, you know, endorser of transgender behavior she is," or something. I mean, they tried everything they could to say she’s some kind of pervert. She stood up and said, "No, I am an American. I am somebody who is for defending the rights of the vulnerable to fight back, whether it is maintaining a floor under poor women, such as Tommy Thompson tried to destroy with welfare reform, maintaining a floor and some means to negotiate under public employees, as was at stake in the Wisconsin uprising, or whether indeed it is your right to be a gay and lesbian person in this world." She’s been a fighter. She’s a member of the Progressive Caucus. It’s a big win.
On the Elizabeth Warren fight, it’s just so fascinating, because here you have a woman who came to most of our attention as one of those speaking out against the big banks. And people remember her role with the TARP bailout and her role, much touted, that she would head up the Consumer Financial Protection Board, and Barack Obama failed to—
AMY GOODMAN: And again, I just want to say, for people who are just tuning in, AP is retracting. Oh, that’s interesting.
LAURA FLANDERS: They’ve retracted their retraction?
JEREMY SCAHILL: There seems to—well, there seems to be a, you know, confusion. AP reporters started calling it for Baldwin, and it got picked up. And, you know, AP is saying that they haven’t officially called it for Tammy Baldwin and that it’s still too close to call. But, I mean, this often happens on—
LAURA FLANDERS: Mm-hmm.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —election night, as we know from—you know, from other races. But—
AMY GOODMAN: But it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what these races mean, so go back to Elizabeth Warren.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I mean, let’s talk about the significance again for just a second, because, again, her popularity is largely that she was one of the people that, you know, agreed to take on the banks. And yet, look at this race. It has been the most—most money spent on any Senate race in the history of America, you know, in favor of her winning opposed to Scott Brown. But it is an extraordinary indictment of how little has actually changed in these last four years when it comes to imbalance of power and money. This is an economy today where, you know, one out of two jobs pays less than $34,000 a year. You have 42 percent of the country’s wealth in the hands of 1 percent of people. You have that 1 percent with the voice of millions of the rest of us. And in this particular case, there’s going to be a lot of celebrating, I hope, that Elizabeth Warren wins. But in terms of our status quo, if she was the—you know, the trailblazing voice for reform of our financial system, we don’t just have a financial system that’s in crisis, but we have a financial imbalance that is, I would say, at the heart of what is rotten in our democracy, even if some wins sort of eke themselves out with a lot of public and popular support.
CHRIS HEDGES: And let’s be clear that this got worse—
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges.
CHRIS HEDGES: —worse under Obama than it did under Bush.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
CHRIS HEDGES: —under Bush, who had 65 cents of every profit went to the 1 percent; under Obama and the Democrats—and this was largely with reforms while the Democrats had control of Congress—it’s now 93 cents of every dollar on profit. So this is—again, it speaks to this kind of gross inequality, the rise of an oligarchic state, the formation of a neo-feudalistic society that Obama has not only not done anything to halt, but has in fact accelerated.
AMY GOODMAN: What would you say to the issue that, for so long, people felt that they hit their heads against a brick wall under Bush, and that when Barack Obama became president, the wall became a door. The door opened a crack. The question is, would it be kicked open or slammed shut? And even though he’s the most powerful person on earth—the president of the United States is—there’s a force more powerful, and that is people. And it’s not up to him; it’s up to those people to kick open that door. And maybe they didn’t do it this time. This is the second term, if in fact he does win. We will see. Bob Herbert?
BOB HERBERT: And this is another opportunity. I mean, you were talking earlier about the Occupy movement. And I thought, you know, that was a time to build on their momentum. Well, you know, the way this election seems to be going, in the early going, I mean, if you have Elizabeth Warren winning, if in fact Tammy Baldwin wins, I mean, these are—if you look at what happened in Wisconsin, if you look at what happened in Ohio, this is an indication that an awful lot of Americans are out ahead, in terms of progressivism—out ahead of President Obama and the mainstream Democrats. When this election is over, this is the time to have a second opportunity to get that movement going. That’s why it’s so important for progressives to organize and to begin to develop strategies and leaders to build on this moment. We’re going to have—you know, Juan was talking about the fiscal cliff that’s coming up. And the thing that’s important—and one of the reasons I think that it’s important—
AMY GOODMAN: One more thing: NBC News has projected President Obama as the winner in Wisconsin.
BOB HERBERT: Really important, obviously, state. But one of the things that—reasons I think it’s important to try and keep Barack Obama president is, even though I’ve disagreed—and sometimes vehemently—with many of his policies, is that the alternative would result in so many people being hurt, so much additional suffering. There’s already enough suffering going on. So you sort of like to like maintain what we’ve got and then begin to build on that. I do think that if we took a lurch to the right in this election, we’d go backwards, and you’d have even more ground—more ground to make up. So, you know, I still think that even with Obama as president, there are going to—he’s going to try and make a grand bargain with the Republicans, which will result in harm to, you know, Medicare, possibly Social Security, certainly to Medicaid, and prevent us from making the kind of investments in infrastructure and education that are necessary. But I believe that if Romney was president, the situation would be even worse. The thing to do is to develop that movement and move forward now.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders?
LAURA FLANDERS: I’m torn. You know, I think that a lot of what has been said here already this evening ring—will continue to echo over the next few years. For sure, there’s no question that there is a difference between the two parties and the two candidates running tonight—no question—for president. At the same time, I’m very sympathetic to the argument that in putting all of our efforts, at the end of the day, as progressive people, into the electoral races that back one of these two candidates, year after year after year, we have watched the Democratic Party move to the right, you know, for decades.
And what have we actually done? When we say—I mean, you and I both, Amy, I’m sure, after the election of Barack Obama, had tables full of people telling us they were going to be holding his feet to the fire in the months after the election, come January, come February. You know, who was the first to mobilize holding Barack Obama’s feet to the fire? Well, it was the tea party, backed by an awful lot of monified, very rich people like the Koch brothers. The Occupy movement has become a mutual aid movement, which is invaluable. There’s no question, in what you’ve seen, in what I’ve seen, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy here in New York, speaks to the lack of death—the premature declaration of the death of—
AMY GOODMAN: And you come right from, you know, the zone—
LAURA FLANDERS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —where you haven’t had electricity for—
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I’m so glad to have heat and light. I can only imagine how people are managing tonight. But just one thing. I think there are—there’s a meeting of narratives here, in the sense that the Wisconsin results already show that a bottom-up movement, helped by some institutional heft of the unions, helped by some institutional heft of grassroots organizations, managed to create movement that supported and worked with a progressive Democrat, Tammy Baldwin, to bring out Democratic voters in this election in a way that has, no question, benefited Barack Obama. And in that, you can say there may be the roots of future progressive activism, in a state that has a long history of actually third-party activity, the Progressive Party and so on. You had, you know, a populist heritage and history in that state that played into the rebellion against Scott Walker. And I think that, you know, we hold both of these realities constantly in our—in our minds as we look at these elections.
BOB HERBERT: I want to be clear: I am deeply dissatisfied with what has come out of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. I think it’s important to keep Obama president, but when I talk about a movement, I’m talking about a movement that is going to move beyond what Obama and the Democrats have been doing, and that would apply tremendous pressure to the politicians and office holders now. And I couldn’t agree with you more that the idea of putting all of your efforts into electing and re-electing these same folks is a fool’s errand. That is absolutely not what I want. But I just don’t want to go back to the Bush era for another four or eight years. I’d like the movement to start from the Obama era.
AMY GOODMAN: I should say multiple outlets are now saying that Sherrod Brown is winning his Ohio Senate seat—
BOB HERBERT: Great.
AMY GOODMAN: —which was a serious challenge, NBC News predicting Sherrod Brown will head back to the Senate. He has certainly faced a flood of money.
Let me just give an update right now. Folks, all polls have just closed in Arkansas. They remain open in nearly a dozen states, including California, Nevada and Iowa. Michigan, the state where Mitt Romney was born, is now being called for President Obama. Networks are calling the battleground state of Pennsylvania for President Obama, and FOX News and NBC are now calling Wisconsin for President Obama. Some of the states now being called for Romney include Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.
Associated Press saying Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has won re-election in Ohio. They’re also reporting Republican Roger Wicker has won the Senate race in Mississippi, while Democrat Bob Menendez has won the Senate contest in New Jersey. Democrat Maggie Hassan has reportedly won the governor’s race in New Hampshire. And CNN is reporting that Democrat Elizabeth Warren is leading over Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, but they’re not yet calling the race.
We’ve also seen reports of chaos at the polls in Pennsylvania, with massive lines, voting machine malfunctions and what voting rights advocates are claiming is a possible, quote, "unreported purge" of voters. Mother Jones is saying they’ve received multiple reports of voters being asked for ID at the polls, but the state still appears to have gone to President Obama.
Florida voters also enduring long lines today, with reports of broken voting machines, ballot shortages, polling places being overwhelmed by voters. The race there is very tight and has not been called. MSNBC host Chris Hayes just tweeted, quote, "Seriously, Florida is freakishly close."
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Florida, Virginia and Ohio, if Romney—if Romney doesn’t win all three of those, then it becomes mathematically very difficult for him to win. If he loses one of them, then it basically is going to go down the—go down for him. And it’s interesting that Ryan and Romney both appear to have lost their home states tonight.
BOB HERBERT: I also think that it’s a bad sign for Romney that Florida and Virginia appear to be so close now, even if they eventually go to Romney. That’s not a particularly good sign.
CHRIS HEDGES: I just want to address the issue. I mean, the fact is that, you know, we’ve gone through this since Clinton, voting for the least worst, and it’s just not worked.
BOB HERBERT: I agree with that.
CHRIS HEDGES: And we have to face the fact that it’s not working. At what point do we draw the line? And it seems the problem with those of us who care about all sorts of issues of—from racial to economic justice, to—I mean, let’s face it, these—pre-emptive war, under post-Nuremberg laws, is criminal. It’s a war of aggression. It’s illegal. We have no right under international law to be in Afghanistan or to be in Iraq. You know, at what point do we say, "Enough"? And I think the problem is that there is no line, that we keep retreating, retreating, retreating, retreating, and they keep taking more and more and more. I’m talking about those—the sort of corporate, you know, military, security and surveillance state. And so, this argument that somehow we re-elect Obama and then we—it seems—we’ve heard it before. It doesn’t—it’s not played out in our interests.
BOB HERBERT: I don’t think—I certainly don’t disagree with you about the factual situation. I think the time when we should have said, "Enough," was a long time ago. We should have said, "Enough," during the Clinton administration. However, if we’re going to start a movement now, which is what I would like to see happen, I would rather see that movement start with an Obama in the White House and the Senate in Democratic hands rather than starting that movement with Romney in the White House and the Senate in Republican hands.
CHRIS HEDGES: But this—
BOB HERBERT: That’s the only—that’s the only point that I’m making.
CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but it fundamentally plays to what the point of pressure is and whether that’s collaboration or fear. The last liberal president we had was Richard Nixon.
BOB HERBERT: But if you were going to fight against Obama’s re-election, the time to fighting it, I would think, would be in a primary and to mount a primary challenge.
CHRIS HEDGES: Nobody would mount a primary—nobody mounted a primary challenge.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me—let me bring Bill Fletcher into the conversation.
BOB HERBERT: Yeah, I would—I would have no objection to a primary challenge, among any Democrats.
CHRIS HEDGES: That shows how ossified the whole political system is.
BOB HERBERT: And I don’t—I don’t even have an objection to your call for a third party. I used to be opposed to a third party. I think now a third party might even be essential.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me bring Bill Fletcher back into this conversation who’s with us in Washington, D.C. But I just want to let people know you are watching, listening to, and soon you’ll be reading Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are bringing you a six-hour election night special that will probably end tonight about 1:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. You can also join us online, join the discussion about the election results on our Facebook and Google+ pages, and join in on—and you can also join in on Twitter at #dnvote. Also, for the first time, you can listen to our show live on your iPhone, your Android, your iPad tonight via the Stitcher radio app.
Now, a couple new results have come in. Alan Grayson, remember, who was defeated last time—Alan Grayson has been projected the winner of his Florida House race by the AP. And Jesse Jackson Jr. is the projected winner of his Illinois House race by CNN. With all of this latest news—and CBS is calling New Hampshire for President Obama. Bill Fletcher, your reflections at this moment, with BlackCommentator.com?
BILL FLETCHER: Well, you know, Amy, I don’t think this is a—the question is about drawing a line, with all due respect to Chris. I think it’s about strategy. See, we on the left, we talk a lot about drawing lines, and we talk about our levels of disagreements with different mainstream politicians. That’s not—that’s not what politics is about. Politics is about strategy. And so, it’s not a question of if Obama has not done X, Y and Z, that therefore we draw the line. The question is, what level of organization do we have? What’s our base look like? What are we capable of doing? Otherwise, this becomes a complete abstraction.
And going back to something that Laura said, I don’t know many people that put all of their time into electoral politics. I actually know very few people that put all of their time and sink all of their energy into it. What I do know, however, are a lot of people that, for reasons that mystify me, stay away from the discussion of a long-term electoral strategy, or what they do is that they jump into the presidential elections thinking that that’s the time to wave the flag and express our moral outrage with all kinds of capitalist politicians, rather than thinking about, all right, what are the steps that we have to take to actually win power. How do we build a movement that has an electoral arm that really advances the interests of working people? And I think part of the answer is what Laura said earlier, though, about Wisconsin.
So that’s why I’m not into this thing about drawing the line. I’m into the issue of strategy. I mean, when you, you know, think, Amy, about what the Republicans did in '64, when they got their rear ends kicked, they had a very long-term strategy to get back into things. Now, we're never going to have the money that the Republicans have, so we should just forget it and stop crying over that. But what we can do is start thinking about what are the various steps that we have to take. And one of those steps involves a transformation in organized labor, a transformation in labor unions, so that the labor unions are not sitting back passively and supporting this or that Democratic candidate, but actually are starting to advance, on their own, more political leaders who represent the interests of working people. So I think it’s a different direction than—than what Chris is suggesting.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, let me just say, building a third party is a strategy, number one. And number two, only 12 percent of the American workforce is unionized, most of those in the public-sector unions. On top of that, you have the labor heads, the people who run these unions, pulling down five or 10 times what the rank and file pull down, making very lavish salaries and, in essence, being bought off. And I think one of the problems with Wisconsin is that you saw traditional labor walk in there when there was that debate about a recall or debate about calling a general strike. What they should have done is called a general strike. Instead, they redirected that energy back into the political process, which was gamed against them, and they lost. But I don’t think you can say—
BILL FLETCHER: Chris—
CHRIS HEDGES: Building a third-party movement is a strategy.
BILL FLETCHER: Yeah, but, Chris—
AMY GOODMAN: We have Arnie Arnesen on now, longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire, Democratic nominee for governor in 1992.
Just let me give you a few more results. CBS has just called New Hampshire for President Obama. And Fox is calling Indiana for the Democrat Joe Donnelly over the Republican State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. This is for Senate. This is extremely significant. Republican State Treasurer Richard Murdock upset six-term Senator Richard Lugar in a primary and was expected to succeed him, but Lugar has given Mourdock the cold shoulder since then, and Democrats have cast Mourdock as an extreme conservative, an image he reinforced when he suggested pregnancies from rape are "part of God’s plan." Congressmember Joe Donnelly, the Democrat, has a strong chance to win the race, and it looks like, at least so far, that Fox has called the race for the Democrat, Joe Donnelly. And Fox News has officially called the race in Wisconsin between Tommy and Tammy, Tommy Thompson, four-term governor, and Tammy Baldwin, the congressmember, for Tammy Baldwin to take the Senate seat of the retired Senator Herb Kohl.
Arnie Arnesen, this news on Obama taking New Hampshire and all the rest that you’ve just heard?
ARNIE ARNESEN: Well, I just heard you mention what God’s plan was, so I want to reframe it: God’s plan is for women to get respect. That’s what God’s plan is. And what you’re seeing around the country, you are now seeing in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, what we have found is, is that we may have an entire major team of women, Amy. Our governor, Maggie Hassan, will be the only woman Democratic governor in the state. Annie McLane Kuster is beating an incumbent, Congressman Charlie Bass. Right now it’s a very, very close race between former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and current Congressman Frank Guinta, a tea party darling. We have Jeanne Shaheen in the United States Senate. And we happen to have the only Republican, Kelly Ayotte, who’s also a woman.
And the message coming out of New Hampshire is such a message to Republicans in 2016: If you come to New Hampshire and you’re running for president in the first of the nation primary, you better not piss off women, because what you’re seeing here—and I think that’s what this message is about. It’s not as much about Barack Obama as, I think, people, especially—you know, the majority of voters are women, and they are looking at this country, and they are looking at their children, and they’re looking at the environment, and they’re looking at their lives, and they’re looking at their healthcare, and they’re saying, "You know what? It’s not good unless we really invest in people who not only show us respect, but understand the nature of our lives, our economies and our families." And in New Hampshire, you are seeing this.
The other thing that is quite remarkable is that there is a possibility that our very extreme speaker of the House, Bill O’Brien, may have lost his seat—his seat. Now [inaudible], Amy, they aren’t [inaudible]. Their districts are the size of peanuts, you know, and he’s in a very Republican district. I’ve heard that the possibility is that he may have lost his own race, and that is such a repudiation of the last two years. When your producer called to say come on the air with you, I begged him to have you listen to This American Life on National Public Radio, aired this weekend called "Red State Blue State." The first half was about the acrid politics in America. But the second half of the show was all about the state of New Hampshire and what has happened in the last two years. We have seen an abuse of democracy. We have seen an abuse of power. We have seen a 3-to-1 Republican majority that has trampled everything my conservative libertarian state actually values. They are that extreme, that in a conservative libertarian state like New Hampshire, they actually blew people’s minds at how they behave and what they expected of government, which was a government that was going to be a tool of them and be damned to the public. The message coming out of New Hampshire is incredibly powerful, but it’s also a message, given our important role in presidential politics, that the Republican Party better rethink what they want as their leadership.
AMY GOODMAN: And because you broke up a bit, you said that it’s conceivable that the Republican House Speaker William O’Brien would lose his seat?
ARNIE ARNESEN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And—
ARNIE ARNESEN: That—he’s in a district that is larger than the one community of New Boston, but New Boston is where he hangs out. He just lost New Boston. I have to see what the rest of the numbers are. But if that happens, it is truly—that, to me, is more amazing than Obama winning, it’s more amazing than Maggie Hassan winning, because it is such an incredible message to the tea party, to the extremists, to people who think that they can trample the people’s rights and that the public be damned. The message of the last two years in New Hampshire has not been about conservative government. It is about a government that takes one man’s agenda, and the public was not part of the conversation. That doesn’t fly in New Hampshire. It can’t fly anywhere in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Laura Flanders back into this conversation. EMILY’s List just sent out an email regarding New Hampshire, saying Maggie Hassan will be the next governor of the Granite State and the only pro-choice Democratic woman governor in the country. Comment on this as well as this latest news in Indiana—
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I was—
AMY GOODMAN: —that Mourdock is going down.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I was feeling good—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Republican state treasurer.
LAURA FLANDERS: I was feeling good until you got to the "only" word, when I felt sort of downcast. Really? The only woman pro-choice governor in the country? It’s 2012. No, but let’s be cheery, and great to hear from Arnie. And it sounds like amazing news in New Hampshire.
You know, this is such an interesting question, this question of the role of women, in particular, pro-choice women in this election. We’ve seen it, you know, in race after race, that Democrats, around about August, start remembering that their most reliable base is pro-choice women, and they start then talking about the threat to women’s rights at the Supreme Court and around the country. In this case, we did see some of that, no question. We saw a Democratic convention that suddenly was all about women, in part because of the insane comments coming from the Republican side about "legitimate rape" and so forth. There’s a—one of my favorite tags this election has been: "Republicans: Life begins at rape." You know, it’s sort of the feeling you began to get.
But it is also true that this administration has done some significant things for women’s rights, not just reproductive justice, although that’s been important, but also women’s pay equity, from the Lilly Ledbetter Act right through to the question of contraceptive coverage under healthcare reform. You know, there have been some real advances for women under Barack Obama—not enough. There have been some setbacks, too. We saw, right out of the gate, around healthcare, that the positions that most pro-choice women wanted around single payer and around, well, reproductive choices of variety sorts, were not—
AMY GOODMAN: And that includes Catholic women.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah, I mean, that includes Catholic women. But you have a racial component here, too. I mean, the Democrats have lost white women since 1992. They’ve gained—they’ve always had, since the late '80s, a gender gap benefiting them, but that gap, that advantage that Democrats have enjoyed amongst women voters, has been made up largely by women of color. This race, you might see some difference. We're seeing in Ohio that one of the things that is helping Barack Obama is that, while he may be losing white male voters, he’s gained women voters.
There’s so much at stake here, and I hope that we can get to some of the macro questions later. But really, I think, if anything, this election is about the question of personhood, who counts as a legitimate person in America. Is it a fetus? Is it a corporation? Is it a woman? Is it a young person? Is it a person of color trying to vote? Who has standing in this democracy of ours? And this takes us right back to the Gilded Age, which was the last time that we had these discussions in this country about personhood: personhood for former slaves, personhood for corporations. It was during that period of the 1880s that you saw the Southern Pacific Railroad decision that is cited often when it comes to corporate personhood in the context of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United. It was during that period that we saw the first real criminalization of abortion in America, that had been more or less legal in every state until ’round about the 1880s, where there was suddenly this drive.
What other things, you know, do we have in common with the Gilded Age? Well, a tremendous race fear, a fear that white women weren’t breeding enough and that women were going to be—you know, that people of color were going to take over in this country. You had Teddy Roosevelt talking about race suicide in 1902. We’re again at a demographic tipping point in this country, so these issues are up again. And I think the question of women’s rights is often kind of siloed off as if of only concern to women, when it’s really an indicator, it’s the tip of an iceberg, that a much bigger conversation is happening in this country. And with the questions of personhood and reproductive rights, of course, are economics. And we’ve seen nobody’s wages drop further than women in the last decade, and no group lose its standing more in the workforce since 2008 than women, who have simply disappeared in massive numbers.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we lose Chris and Bill, I wanted to give you each a final comment. I know Chris has a long journey back to New Jersey. Bill Fletcher, we—this race certainly has not been called, but two of the battleground states, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both hotly contested, have gone to President Obama so far. And it does look like it is—that CBS as well as CNN are projecting Democrat Elizabeth Warren to win the U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts over the first-termer Scott Brown, the Republican who won the seat after Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer. If you want to share your final thoughts, reflect on what Laura said, and where you see us going now. Someone just joked that Mitt Romney will win 47 percent, a number he’s very familiar with.
BILL FLETCHER: Are you asking me or Chris first?
AMY GOODMAN: You, Bill.
BILL FLETCHER: OK. Taking off from what—from what Laura said, I have felt for a while that this election is really a referendum on two things. One is the changing demographics of the United States, and the second is whether government has any role in the redistribution of wealth at all. And I think those are the issues that really are at stake here, and I think that a part of what Laura was raising really does speak to the changing demographics and the issues of power that are contained in that—in that entire discussion. So, for those reasons, I think that an Obama victory is—has the potential of providing the foundation or the space that many of us need to operate in.
But I don’t think that anyone should have any illusions about this, because I think we have to keep in mind, again, that Obama was elected in 2008 and running again to basically preserve, to shore up the system. He was not elected as the hero of the working class. Given that we are not currently in a position to advance a hero of the working class, the question is: What do we do? I mean, it’s a very practical question. And that’s one of the places that I disagree with Chris. I think that we progressives need to have a longer-term strategy that does not just show up every four years at the time of a presidential election when we wave the flag. I think it’s really about building locally and building slowly. But here’s the punch line, that any third-party movement or any other kind of electoral realignment will go nowhere if it doesn’t have a sizeable base within Black America. It’s just not going to happen. And that’s one of the things that many of my progressive friends actually don’t want to grapple with.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, Obama function—
AMY GOODMAN: Let me just say one more thing. Let’s see. We have just heard that, one, CBS and CNN are calling the Massachusetts race for—for Elizabeth Warren, and ABC is projecting Minnesota for President Obama.
CHRIS HEDGES: Look, the system collapsed, and the system is ultimately not sustainable—limitless, ceaseless expansion, and we’re seeing it as we mine dirtier and more difficult sources of energy. It is headed downhill. The election of 2008 was, I think, in many ways, a referendum, and the pollsters around Obama understood it, that there was a significant amount of the population that wanted serious change. The last four years, Obama didn’t deliver it. I don’t know what his intentions are, and I think it’s almost irrelevant. We’ve undergone a kind of corporate coup d’état in slow motion, and it’s over. They’ve won. Obama, unlike Bush, which was—who was pretty clueless, serves those centers of power. He knows where those centers of power are.
On the issue of the rise of racism and nativist, native—which Bob and others have spoken about, which is very true—I just came from Alabama and was down in Montgomery, and you go into Montgomery, there’s a gigantic Confederate flag put up by the Sons of the Confederacy. There’s one Confederate memorial after another. And this is new. This is a new phenomenon. As you disenfranchise these people, as we saw in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, or you can go back to Weimar, people retreat into these kind of very frightening ethnic enclaves, and they create a mythic narrative about themselves. A year ago, there was a Confederate—a reenactment of the swearing in of Jefferson Davis, and, by the way, Jefferson Davis’s inauguration is a holiday along, slash, Martin Luther King Day in Alabama, along with the founding of the Confederacy, and it’s Robert E. Lee Day and Martin Luther King Day. It’s insane. And all of this is new. And it had echoes of Yugoslavia, that that kind of despair fuels that kind of chauvinism, that kind of virulence, and that kind of intolerance.
And the question is, if we continue to support a system that doesn’t function, that is in essence paralyzed, yet purports to espouse values of a liberal democracy, are we in fact furthering those values? And I would argue that we’re not. By never drawing a line, by never holding the Democratic Party accountable, we have in discredited the value system that every one at this table cares very deeply about. So it is a matter of strategy, and it’s a matter of what works. And what’s not working is essentially the strategy of silence and capitulation, which the progressive class has engaged in every four years since Ronald Reagan.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Chris Hedges and Bill Fletcher, for being with us in this six-hour election special.
[end of hour three]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 10:00 Eastern Standard Time. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. In a major victory, networks are calling the battleground states of Pennsylvania for President Obama, and Fox News and NBC are now calling Wisconsin for Obama.
CBS, NBC and CNN are all now projecting that Elizabeth Warren has won the Massachusetts Senate seat now held by Republican Scott Brown. Republican tea party favorite Ted Cruz has won a Senate seat in Texas. In a closely watched race in Indiana, CNN is projecting Democrat Joe Donnelly will beat Republican Richard Mourdock, who’s notorious for saying he opposes abortion in cases of rape because pregnancies from rape are, quote, "something God intended to happen." In Massachusetts, Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy III won a decisive victory tonight over Republican Sean Bielat. Meanwhile, voters in Massachusetts approved a law allowing people to use marijuana for medical purposes. Jesse Jackson Jr. is the projected winner of his Illinois House race, according to CNN.
Polls closed at 10:00 p.m. in Iowa, in Montana, in Nevada and in Utah. They remain open in about half-a-dozen states. CBS is calling New Hampshire for President Obama. And NBC is saying he will win New Mexico. In a battleground state, President Obama has one—has a 1 percent lead in Florida, according to CNN.
Join us on line tonight. Join the discussion about these election results on our Facebook and Google+ pages. And join in on Twitter at #dnvote. Also, for the first time, you can listen to our show live on your iPhone or your Android or your iPad tonight via the Stitcher radio app.
Now, Marcy Kaptur is the projected winner in Ohio by CNN, beating Joe the Plumber.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Whose name is neither Joe, nor is he a plumber, right.
AMY GOODMAN: Beating Samuel Wurzelbacher.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Allen West is in a very tight race down in Florida. I don’t know if it’s been projected yet, but, you know, he is—he is the—you know, he is not playing with a full deck, you know, and—
AMY GOODMAN: And explain who Allen West is.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Allen West is a congressman who, you know, some allege is basically a war criminal for his role in the Iraq War and alleged abuse of people in Iraq. And he’s been one of the most just sort of completely out in moonbat territory in some of his statements. I mean, truly. I generally don’t like to speak in sort of, you know, slang terms about members of Congress, but he truly is kind of a nut. And, you know, he’s to the right of everyone else in the Congress. I mean, it really is sort of remarkable that that guy is there. But, I mean, he’s sort of—you know, you have Alan Grayson winning his seat back in Florida. You have Allen West fighting for his political life.
Also, I was looking at the Ryan race. It looks like Ryan has a healthy lead—Paul Ryan—in his—to keep his House seat in Wisconsin, if he does in fact lose in his bid to become the vice president of the United States. There’s a—I mean, a number of very close states.
The other thing is, you know, Virginia, Ohio, Florida. Romney, as we’ve said before, has to win all three of those. He can’t lose a single one of them. Ohio and Florida right now, it appears Obama is ahead. I mean, these things can change very, very quickly, so we don’t want to be going too far. But Virginia is still too close to call. I mean, this is—you know, it really—I’ve heard from friends that MSNBC is doing a lot of celebrating right now, so that—you know, and they have access to other polls that we don’t.
AMY GOODMAN: In Ross County, Ohio, home to the town of Chillicothe, President Obama trails Mitt Romney by only 1 percentage point, with about 80 percent of the vote counted. President Obama lost the county by 8 percentage points to John McCain in 2008. That’s Chillicothe, I think. Also, the latest news out of—let’s see, the latest news: NBC News is reporting that Mitt Romney has won Montana, and in Utah, Romney wins. Orrin Hatch wins his Senate race, and Gary Herbert has won the governor’s race, also that Tomblin wins the West Virginia governorship. Who is Tomblin? Well, it was a rematch of 2011, when then-acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the Democrat, defeated businessman Bill Maloney by less than three points in a special election. "Tomblin, who is running for a full term, needs to avoid being linked to the president in a very anti-Obama state," so says the Washington Post. So it looks like Mr. Tomblin has just won. So that’s the latest news we have.
Lee Rowland is counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. She has worked on community-based voter registration, voter registration modernization, and restoring the right to vote to individuals with past criminal convictions. And she has been staffing the—what should we call it?—the voter intimidation hotline. And we won’t need IFB or anything like that, but we are going to go to Lee Rowland right now.
So, Lee, talk about what you’ve had—what you’ve seen today.
LEE ROWLAND: It’s been a very interesting day. As you mentioned, we’ve been in kind of the nerve center of the Election Protection hotline, which is a national, nonpartisan call center that accepts calls from voters in all 50 states. We were in headquarters here in Manhattan, but there are call centers throughout the country. And, you know, the bottom line, unfortunately, is that it wasn’t a pretty picture today. While we absolutely had some successes, and the triumph of the individual voter, I’d love to talk about, here in New York. We think folks are going to be standing on line until 3:00, 4:00 in the morning to cast a ballot today, and they seem determined to do it.
AMY GOODMAN: Here.
LEE ROWLAND: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: In New York.
LEE ROWLAND: That’s correct. And that’s because, as viewers may know, Governor Cuomo signed a fairly last-minute order, executive order, that allows voters to cast provisional ballots in any county, if they were displaced by Hurricane Sandy. And as a result of that, we basically ran out of the paper ballots that enable that system. So there are at least 65, to my knowledge, if not more, polling places that have been out of paper ballots for hours now, that are standing in line in the cold, determined to vote. They have every legal right to do so, if they’re there by the time the polls shut down, if they’re there in line. And when I left the call center, we had folks in lines, hundreds deep, that said they were not going to leave until they cast a ballot.
AMY GOODMAN: I just have this late, breaking news: NBC News is projecting Jay Nixon the winner in the Missouri governor’s race and Claire McCaskill the winner in the Missouri Senate race. Very briefly, before we go back to Lee, Laura Flanders, if you could just talk about the significance of Claire McCaskill for one minute.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, I mean, of course it goes back to this discussion we were having about the war on women. You know, her opponent, Akin, was the man who talked about "legitimate rape." He was the guy who refused to back down when every single visible means of support within the Republican Party was running the other way. They, most of them, went back, let’s be sure. The Senate committee went back to supporting him. But this is the sort of fight that I think this—
AMY GOODMAN: Didn’t Jon Kyl say they would never give him another penny, and then they gave—the head of the Senate Campaign Committee—
LAURA FLANDERS: Yes, and then they gave him more than—they didn’t give him pennies; they gave him thousands of dollars. But, you know, this is the kind of fight that we’re seeing tonight, that I think, you know, we need to temper the conversation we began about the tipping point and the demographic debates that are happening and very harsh divides in this country with the reality that it looks as if the worst of the worst have been beaten back tonight, at least in the races that have been called so far.
Some really great fighters have been rewarded for their courageous stands. Marcy Kaptur was the one who was the person out there fighting the mortgage foreclosures, encouraging people to demand from their banks that they produce the mortgage documents before they allow anyone to foreclose on them. Tammy Baldwin, we’ve talked about, a tremendous fighter for LGBT rights, and not just LGBT rights, but indeed the vulnerable all across her state and the nation. Elizabeth Warren, who won a place in people’s hearts for taking on the banks. I think that we’re going to see a lot of that tonight. There’s a big picture, and then there’s a small picture. And I think it’ll take us a while to figure out what’s the sort of enduring legacy of this evening. But the defeat of Ron Akin is huge.
AMY GOODMAN: Todd Akin.
LAURA FLANDERS: Todd Akin, is huge. And it’ll be interesting to see how people—you know, what happens next at the right-wing edge of the Republican Party that backed him—Mike Huckabee backing him to the very end. "Todd Akin was wronged by his party," Huckabee said. And to be fair, Huckabee had a point, because at the very same time that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney were calling shock, horror, about Todd Akin, their own party was endorsing a very similar position on a women’s right to choose at their convention that very day. The convention endorsed a position of no exceptions for rape or incest and an endorsement of the so-called "Human Life Amendment" at the very same time that they were all running a mile, at least in the—you know, in the television studios, from Todd Akin. And so, it’ll be interesting to see whether anything changes at the level of the party or whether this is actually going to be cast as a sort of rotten apple, when in fact he’s not so—he’s not such an outlier.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier, we spoke with Ohio State Senator Nina Turner from the Greater Cleveland area. We’re going back to Ohio, which hasn’t been called yet, to Democratic Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, also from Cleveland, joining us right now.
Congressmember Kucinich, welcome to Democracy Now! We’ve just heard that Marcy Kaptur has beat Joe the Plumber—Joe the Plumber, neither Joe nor a plumber—for the seat that you—you contested. You ran against Marcy Kaptur. And I’m wondering your thoughts on that and where you think Ohio is going, and then where you’re headed.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it’s a Democratic district, so, I mean, that—you know, I think that outcome was pretty much expected from the primary on.
As far as Ohio tonight, it still could be close. President Obama’s margin in Cuyahoga County needs to approach his margin of 258,000 votes over Mitt Romney—the margin that he had in 2008, rather, against McCain. His margin tonight needs to approach that. It was 258,000 votes. If he has that, he’ll win Ohio easily. If his margin starts to shrink in Cuyahoga County, it’s going to be a battle. If it goes below 220,000, it’s going to be—anything could happen. So, you know, I think he has the edge. It looks like he’ll win. But you can’t count it yet, and I don’t think many people have counted it just yet.
AMY GOODMAN: And what are your plans? You know, we’ve been having a very extended discussion tonight on: Where is the Democratic Party, and what would an Obama victory mean? You have certainly straddled the inside and the outside, perhaps most of your life. You’re going to move outside of Congress right now, and where do you see yourself fitting in after Congress?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, first of all, one does not need a certificate of election to stay relevant. I mean, in my—while I won’t have a vote in the next Congress, I intend for my voice to continue to be active in matters relating to our country and to maintain a presence in Washington to communicate to members of Congress and the administration the concerns of people around the country. I think that our politics in the country have changed to where people recognize that you need a place to stand. After 16 years in Congress, I have that place in this country. So I intend to continue to stay active politically, through kucinichaction.com, which is a political action group. And on policy, I’m putting together a policy group, which I hope will contain—will compose—be composed of many of the people who have worked with me over the years, and that will be heard from, as well. So, I’m still going to be around, and I’m always grateful for a chance to be on Democracy Now! And if people want to go to kucinichaction.com, they can be in the next evolution of our efforts.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Congressman Kucinich, this is—this is Jeremy Scahill. I just wanted to ask you—I was talking about you earlier and saying that with the loss of you, or with you not being in the House anymore, there basically isn’t another Democrat who filled the space that you did, particularly on civil liberties issues, on foreign policy issues. And I was—I was just remembering the last time that I visited you in Washington.
We were talking about how you put forward this bill after it became clear that President Obama had authorized the killing of a U.S. citizen, Anwar Awlaki, who had not been charged with any crime, had not been indicted with any crime. And this was well before Awlaki was killed. Of course, he was killed in a drone strike in September of 2011, along with another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, who had also not been indicted and whose family had been told by the FBI that he had not committed any crimes. Then two weeks later, Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed while he was having dinner with his teenage cousins and friends. And there’s been no explanation as to why that young American citizen was killed in this drone strike. So you had Obama killing—or authorizing operations that killed three U.S. citizens in a two-week period.
And when you, a year before this happened, put forward legislation in the Congress, that didn’t mention Awlaki by name but just said that the president does not have the right to unilaterally authorize the assassination of a U.S. citizen without due process, only six of your colleagues signed on to that legislation. I mean, to me, that’s one of the sort of enduring symbols of your legacy in Congress, the fact that you were one of only half-a-dozen members of Congress—not a single senator—to simply state on the record that American citizens have the right not to be assassinated by their own government without due process.
What—what is your—I mean, what is your sense of how much damage this administration has done to those core causes that you fought for for so long?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: First of all, thank you.
Secondly, it’s amazing that we’re in an America where we have to defend the rights of Americans to be free from assassination by their own country, to be free from extrajudicial killing by their own government.
I expect that the Obama administration will continue their policies of drone strikes, which have killed hundreds of innocent people and have put to death, through drone strikes, thousands of individuals who were just determined to be combatants, often because they happened to be the wrong age. This is repugnant to morality. It’s morally depraved, this drone strikes. And whether you’re a Democrat or Republican doesn’t matter. This is about what kind of human beings we are.
When partisan politics trumps morality, we are in big trouble. So I had no problem whatsoever in challenging this administration, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, or any other administration, whenever I felt the—the honor of our country, the heart of our country was at risk.
The drone situation is abominable. By the way, I’m going to have a briefing in Washington on November 16th on the drone policies. We’re going to be bringing some of the top people in the world who have something to say about this and could be considered experts, on civil liberties and other matters.
But our country is changing, you know, and think about this: drones are now being offered and used domestically. How long is it before some local police department uses a drone to intercept and kill a suspect, and when that becomes commonplace? People say, "Oh, well, that can’t happen." Well, it’s happening now overseas, and we’re committing acts of war in other countries without Congress’s knowledge or without Congress’s assent. We’ve got a problem here. And no matter who wins tonight, we still have a problem.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. And finally, Dennis, you know—Congressman Kucinich, I spoke to you at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and I asked you why you stuck with the Democrats, because you’re so outside of—certainly of the mainstream of the sort of establishment Democrats. But also, everywhere I go, when I speak around the country, people wonder why Dennis Kucinich doesn’t run as a third-party candidate for president. Is that something that you would consider down the line in 2016, considering taking on a third-party run with the Green Party or with some kind of a configuration of you, perhaps some Libertarians and others? Would you ever consider a third-party presidential run?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, without regard to what I might do, let me say—
JEREMY SCAHILL: But that’s the question. I think a lot of people want to know what you would do, Congressman Kucinich.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: [inaudible] to give you my answer, not the answer that you want. My answer is this: There needs to be a third force in American politics. Right now, there is not much of a difference between the two parties. This whole election was fought—if you’re a football fan, it was fought between the 40-yard lines. There wasn’t much difference between the two candidates. And, you know, I am a Democrat, but that doesn’t mean that I drink the Kool-Aid. I’m aware of what’s going on, and I don’t hesitate to provide a challenge and bring it right inside the party when it need be. And there—you know, whether the time comes for me to step outside the party system and to challenge it, we’ll see.
But does that need to happen by somebody? Of course it does, no question about it. And I’ll tell you, when—we may be at the pivot point in American history, where people will be more broadly open to the idea of a third force in American politics. And I’m certainly going to do everything I can to let people know that the Democratic Party needs to be broader in its addressing the practical aspirations of people for peace, jobs and social and economic welfare.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, speaking of third-party candidates—and I just want to say NBC News is projecting Mike Pence will win the Indiana governorship. Romney also has won the fifth electoral vote in Nebraska. Fischer has won—has won in Nebraska. And Senator Jesse Jackson, as we’ve said earlier, is retaining his Illinois Congress seat. But speaking of third parties, Congressmember Kucinich, we are joined by Jill Stein, who is the Green Party presidential candidate. And she’s just entered the studios in Washington. And I’m wondering, Dr. Stein, a doctor from Massachusetts who was arrested twice in her presidential race this time around—I think it’s your first time being arrested, right, one in Winnsboro and one attempting to get into the Hofstra debate, the second presidential debate—your thoughts, and what would you recommend to Congressmember Kucinich, who will be leaving the House in a few months?
DR. JILL STEIN: And I would just add to that, Amy, also, the first arrest was actually adjacent to Fannie Mae in Philadelphia, standing with two families that were being unjustly evicted. The victims of predatory lending were being unjustly evicted by Fannie Mae. And that was actually the first arrest for me.
AMY GOODMAN: So you were arrested three times in your presidential race.
DR. JILL STEIN: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
DR. JILL STEIN: That’s right, never having—
AMY GOODMAN: Your words of wisdom to Congressmember Kucinich?
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, and it’s wonderful to be here. Thank you again for your—for your very expansive and informative coverage on election night. And yes, it’s wonderful to hear Representative Kucinich, you know, acknowledging what a unfortunate state we’re in, that there really is not substantial difference between the two candidates—we haven’t seen it in this election—and, in fact, that we very much are at a pivot point, at a tipping point, politically. And I’m delighted to hear him saying that. His—you know, his—I think his insights and his vision have so outstripped his party for a long time. It’s wonderful to hear that you have kind of a similar perspective on this that we do and that you acknowledge that we are in a real transitional moment.
And I would love to continue this conversation about how we can build that independent political force, because it’s clear that the American people are being thrown under the bus, that there is no exit strategy being provided, not by Mitt Romney certainly, and not by Barack Obama, who’s essentially saying, "Let’s stay the course. Things are getting better." It’s true if you’re a CEO, if you’re in the top 1 or 2 percent, things are getting better. But for average Americans, they continue to spiral out of control here on every front—the continued offshoring of our jobs, the undermining of wages, the skyrocketing of healthcare and higher education costs, an entire generation of young people that are basically indentured servants now facing 50 percent unemployment and underemployment rates, you know, and it’s no secret. And the congressman himself has been such a—you know, an outstanding proponent of the real solutions that we have.
Our campaign has actually brought those solutions into this election. And I have to say, it’s wonderful being supported by a party that shares this agenda, a party that doesn’t want to silence these solutions, but actually wants to advance them, that will create the jobs we need right now to end unemployment, to create 25 million jobs, put a halt to the climate crisis, jump-start that green economy that spells—that makes wars for oil obsolete, a party that wants to end student debt and bail out the students, not the banks, as we undertake yet another quantitative easing for the banks, $40 billion a month. We should be spending that ending student debt, rather than bailing out the banks again, and bringing Medicare for all to everyone. That will take the place of austerity. We can accomplish the same savings of trillions of dollars over the coming decade through Medicare for all, instead of having to shred the basic safety net programs.
And it’s going to be a wake-up moment, you know, a big wake-up moment. I think it already is a big wake-up moment. But going forward, when the president gives the thumbs up to the Keystone pipeline, as he’s quite certain to do because he’s already built the southern half of it, when the president accomplishes that grand bargain and actually cuts Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, as he told the Des Moines Register just last week that he intends to do within the first year, you know, we are going to continue to see people fleeing from the Democratic Party and coming into the Green Party, which is the new force.
And I’ll make one last comment here, which is that Common Dreams released a poll today of their readership—you know, so it’s certainly not a statistical poll by any means, but it really says something when the relatively progressive Democrats, for the most part, that are part of that readership go on record, where the support for our campaign increases going down the age spectrum. So, overall, Obama has 77 percent support. Our campaign has 18 percent support, which is remarkable considering, you know, how we’ve come out of the woodwork here very quickly. But as you go down the age spectrum, the support for my campaign increases. And in fact, once you are at the 35-year-old and lower level, 35 years and younger, we actually become the most supported, the number one favored campaign among that younger age group. So I think it’s fair to say that that politics of fear that has kept us locked into this dreadful political situation now, this lose-lose proposition, that politics of fear that delivered everything we were afraid of, it’s beginning to age out. And we’re going to see young people, who really are the victims of—you know, of this predatory student loan situation, the biggest victims of the unemployment crisis, the real victims of the climate negligence, the climate criminality practiced by both corporate parties—young people are really taking that on the chin. They are standing up with the politics of courage for the solutions that we need. And part of the solutions that we need is the politics that we need. We need green solutions. We need a green politics.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Dr. Jill Stein, for being with us, and get a quick final comment from Congressmember Kucinich, as you listen to this Green Party presidential candidate, your views not very far from her. We have less than a minute for you, Congressmember Kucinich, but would you consider the Green Party?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I want to thank Dr. Jill Stein for her courage in running for president. Having been on a campaign trail, I understand the demands of it and want to wish you well in all of your efforts. And those who cast their vote for you were casting a vote for an America which is yet to be born, but which will some day be here. And I also want to thank you, Amy, for always staying on top of these things and providing me with an opportunity to be heard. So, have fun this evening. I’m going to keep an eye on what’s going on in Ohio. And we’ll talk soon, OK?
AMY GOODMAN: And we will certainly do that, as well, though we have to wish some of our stations goodbye. Our PBS satellite is going down, though the rest of our network is continuing. Again, I want to say that all eyes are on Florida and Ohio. It looks like President Obama has won the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Virginia—people in Virginia are continuing to vote. And as we just heard Lee Rowland say from NYU School of Law, it looks like people here in New York are continuing on very long lines. The latest news we have is that—this news from Nebraska, that State Senator—Republican State Senator Deb Fischer has beaten Democrat Bob Kerrey, the retired Navy SEAL, war hero, U.S. senator, Nebraska governor, who spent the last decade here in New York as president of the New School. Looks like he has lost. We are out of time for the PBS stations, and thanks so much for broadcasting with us. Go to our website at democracynow.org, where you continue to see the broadcast.
Yes, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re doing a six-hour election night special. Our guests are Bob Herbert of Demos and The American Prospect; Laura Flanders, author, journalist; Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Nation national security correspondent and correspondent for Democracy Now!; and Lee Rowland is also with us, Lee Rowland who is with the Brennan Center, which has been closely monitoring voting, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. She’s worked on community-based voter registration, voter registration modernization, and restoring the right to vote to individuals with past criminal convictions. And in a moment, we’ll be joined by Greg Palast, who’s in Toledo, also Ohio. Again, this has not been called, the battleground state of Ohio, though Pennsylvania and Wisconsin states have. Also, Elizabeth Warren beating Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tammy Baldwin, the congressmember from Wisconsin, has beat Tommy Thompson, the four-time Wisconsin governor, for the Senate seat. And we’ll continue to bring you updates around the country.
Lee Rowland, continue with what you’re saying about what people have been facing today around voting restrictions.
LEE ROWLAND: Well, absolutely. One thing we haven’t talked about yet is the other result of this hyper-partisan atmosphere that we [inaudible] which is the war on voting that has occurred over the last two years. There has been a blatant partisan manipulation of the voting rules. And if there’s anything we saw today from Election Protection headquarters manning calls from voters nationwide, it’s that the reality is these laws do have impacts, and it’s clear that they keep eligible voters from voting.
To give a few examples in some key states we’re watching tonight, in Florida and Ohio, where the Legislature dramatically cut back early voting hours, we are seeing obscenely long lines, folks standing in line in some counties an eight- to nine-hour average to wait to vote in Florida. Folks are sticking that out. We’re hearing the same in Ohio.
AMY GOODMAN: What was the explanation given for shortening the amount of time that people could vote?
LEE ROWLAND: You know, that is an excellent question. The answer that was given was that election supervisors had expressed concern about the amount of early voting hours, which, under oath, election supervisors directly said was an outright fabrication. There was not a single election official that held that view. In fact, the Florida Association of Supervisors of Election opposed the reduction to early voting. So, to really answer your question, absolutely no credible excuse was given.
What really went on in Ohio and Florida, unfortunately, is that early voting was predominantly used by African-American and Latino voters, voters who are widely considered to break Democratic. And unfortunately, in both of those states, we saw newly minted Republican legislatures, or rather emboldened Republican legislatures pass laws that were clearly targeted to manipulate this electorate and give them an edge, not because they reflected the will of the people, but because they tried to tinker with the rules that get folks elected in their own interest.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the rules?
LEE ROWLAND: Well, that would be early voting. In Ohio and Florida, that was perceived that—early voting was perceived to help voters who leaned Democratic, and they cut that down. In Florida, a case that we at the Brennan Center litigated and won on behalf of the League of Women Voters, they imposed draconian new restrictions on community-based voter registration drives, which, again, no surprise, are more than twice as likely to register a black or Latino voter, as opposed to a white voter. And as if that wasn’t enough, Florida cracked down on voters moving from one county to another, many of these voters of course victims of foreclosure, which Florida leads in our nation. So when you put that kind of awful trifecta together, there’s really no question about what voters were harmed by these laws. We saw those effects in the call center tonight.
What’s really miraculous is that voters seem to be resolved to vote. They are absolutely intent not to have their voting rights taken away from them. That’s the right response. And fortunately we’re seeing the courts agree with us and strike down these laws in the last several months, changing the lay of the land in states like Pennsylvania and Florida to make the voting rules more fair and ensure we have a free election.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go for a moment to Toledo, where investigative journalist Greg Palast is standing by. On Democracy Now! yesterday, we ran your piece. Actually, it was today. We ran your piece standing on a very long line interviewing people. What have you found in Toledo on this Election Day, Greg?
GREG PALAST: ...polling booths in space available when there were voters, you got real ballots.
AMY GOODMAN: Greg, are you there? I think Greg waited so long on the telephone, he’s probably doing another interview. But while he comes to the phone, let me just say that NBC News projects Paul Ryan has won his Wisconsin District 1 congressional seat. So, no matter what happens, it looks like Paul Ryan will remain in office in Janesville. Greg, are you there? Can you talk about what you have found in Toledo?
GREG PALAST: Sorry, I was doing a TV report for a moment. Yeah, I’m in Toledo. And just to follow up from the report we did with you this morning on Democracy Now!, where, as you know, we followed Souls to the Polls, a line of over 1,000 people at the single polling place in Dayton on Sunday, the main polling day for African Americans. After hours of wait, we confirmed a tip-off we had that voters were not—I repeat: not—being given the—an actual ballot. They were being given applications for absentee ballots, which they could hang around and convert into an absentee ballot. It’s not a ballot. It then gets sealed and opened up and maybe counted today. The average in Ohio, you’re going to lose about one-fourth of those votes. So, the African-American vote is seriously, seriously at risk, because most African Americans vote on—you know, vote on Souls to the Polls Day, Sunday before the election, and in early voting. But today, you know, the suburban voters, where I was at, no lines whatsoever. You just walked in, voted, regular ballots, no applications of anything.
AMY GOODMAN: NBC News has just projected that Mitt Romney will win in Arizona. But let me ask—as you listen to Greg Palast talking about what he’s seeing in Ohio, Lee Rowland, talk more about what you’re seeing here. Now, Ohio doesn’t exactly have an excuse. They didn’t face Superstorm Sandy. But you have New Jersey and New York. New Jersey had an interesting situation. And Jeremy, you’ve been following this, as well, where the governor, in trying to deal with so many people not being able to have access to the polls, Governor Chris Christie, said people could email in their votes. But what happened? What address were they given to email?
LEE ROWLAND: Well, first of all, that wasn’t communicated clearly to voters. And unfortunately, there were lots of folks who attempted to request those email ballots, but the infrastructure of the servers of the state just couldn’t handle it. If there’s anything we learned from this—
AMY GOODMAN: It was a Hotmail account?
LEE ROWLAND: That’s right, yeah. If there’s anything we learned—although there was an official account added later; it just was not publicized adequately to the voters. And what we really saw today was the fact that we really fail as a nation to have contingency plans for disasters or emergencies of any kind, whether it’s lines that are going to keep people on line 'til 3:00 a.m., poll workers who wanted to go home, right? Whether it's a hurricane, where we’re trying to triage. And look, I think the governors of both New York and New Jersey put in Herculean efforts to try and fix this system to get people to vote, but the reality is, we need to do long-term contingency planning. We just don’t have it. In New Jersey—
AMY GOODMAN: You mean we have to deal with climate change?
LEE ROWLAND: That wouldn’t be a bad idea, either, given that Sandy is clearly impacting the vote and how it comes out, how people are thinking about it. But the reality is, the email ballot system went down in New Jersey, because the servers crashed. They just couldn’t handle the volume. In New York, the attempts to allow folks to vote on an affidavit ballot led us to run out of paper in at least 65 polling places, where people are still standing out there on this cold night waiting to get a chance to cast a ballot. I mean—
AMY GOODMAN: Bob Herbert, you’ve written a lot about voter suppression.
BOB HERBERT: We’ve been doing it for—they’ve been suppressing the vote for years. It’s the same targeted voters that they are preventing from—they’re barring access to the polls. It’s outlandish. I think that the folks who are putting up with so much hardship in this election in order to vote are real American heroes.
LAURA FLANDERS: Amen.
BOB HERBERT: I mean, we toss the word "hero" around too frequently, I think. I think these are really heroes, because they are upholding the democratic process, which is the foundation of our American way of life. I don’t think—I think—we still don’t know how this election is ultimately going to turn out, but I think the early results that we’ve heard have been really heartening. It doesn’t mean, by any chance, that things are going to be fine. We talked earlier in the program about some of the hardships that we’re going to confront immediately after the election. But this is—this election, I think, gives people hope, and it is a wonderful election to begin building a movement upon. I don’t think that we’ll get our act together in this country if we don’t have a real citizens’ action movement to force change. But I think now you give people hope, and then I think it’s easier to build a movement in that kind of an atmosphere.
LAURA FLANDERS: I had a question—
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: I had a question for Lee—and maybe, Bob, you want to weigh in on this, too—is you could look at the history of American democracy as a history of movements having to push incredibly hard to widen that franchise at every turn.
LEE ROWLAND: Absolutely.
LAURA FLANDERS: And the status quo very committed to restricting the franchise throughout the history of this country—and restricting it in certain specific ways, for sure. But broadening the franchise has always been a challenge. With respect to what you would like to see movements pressure an administration to do in January, what would that be? How can we get out of this kind of a crisis? I mean, I grew up in a country where you turn 18, you get your voting card.
LEE ROWLAND: Right.
LAURA FLANDERS: Everybody gets the same when they become 18 years old. It seems outlandish to even imagine we could have such a radical change as that, that is seen as so normal in most Western countries and most of the world at this point.
LEE ROWLAND: I could not agree more.
LAURA FLANDERS: What could we fight for, concretely?
LEE ROWLAND: You know, we can fight for really commonsense, concrete reforms that basically harness existing technology to start modernizing our voter system, number one; and number two, to have safeguards in our electronic voting machines to make sure we have an election that is really reflecting the will of the people on a fair and free set of rules, where everyone gets to participate, not because they jump through the right number of hoops, but because they actually had a say in this election and wanted their voice heard. If there’s anything we’ve heard tonight, it’s that it’s hard for voters to actually go and make sure that they are casting a ballot that counts, for who they intend to. That’s unacceptable in today’s day and age that the entire burden of registering to vote by a deadline, getting the right documents—they’re different in every state. Some states are requiring ID that 11 percent of Americans don’t have, 25 percent of African Americans don’t have. In one state, just to take one, Wisconsin, 78 percent of black males between the age of 18 and 24 lack the photo ID that would have been required if the court hadn’t struck down that law. Those numbers are abysmal. They’re un-American. And we need to fix that by making a simple system, where the government takes on a little more responsibility to help Americans get registered and cast a ballot that counts. It’s easy to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Lee Rowland, we were just reporting what happened in Maine, where Angus King is going to be the new independent senator, and Vermont. We went to Vermont. Bernie Sanders has been re-elected. So has the governor, Peter Shumlin. So has Peter Welch, the—that’s the triumvirate there, the one congressmember from Vermont. Vermont and Maine, people who are in prison can vote.
LEE ROWLAND: That’s correct. They’re the only two states.
AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, if you can explain, because so many people in this country don’t understand. Especially if someone who has served time in jail, they might think they never can vote again.
LEE ROWLAND: Unfortunately, in some states, that may be true—
AMY GOODMAN: And that—where is that?
LEE ROWLAND: —including Florida, Ohio. There are—Virginia. Those are states where people may be permanently disenfranchised for life after felony convictions—
AMY GOODMAN: The battleground states.
LEE ROWLAND: —without asking specific permission from the government to restore their rights. What’s, I think, a little nauseating, if I may use the term, is that in both Iowa and Florida, governors came in at the beginning of their terms in 2011 and immediately reversed existing reforms passed in a bipartisan fashion by governors of both sides of the aisle to make sure to streamline that process to restore people’s voting rights after they’d paid their debt to society. They’re in our communities. They’re living and working in our communities. And we are punitively holding on to that right to vote, which sends such a powerful message that we have written folks off as a society. That’s unacceptable.
We’ve generally seen an arc towards broader enfranchisement through the states. Unfortunately, last year was a notable hit in the other direction. So, the reality for folks with criminal convictions is that we have a patchwork mess in this country. Every state has different rules, whether you can vote on parole, on probation, if you’ve paid your debt.
AMY GOODMAN: New York? New Jersey?
LEE ROWLAND: In New York, everyone can vote, unless they are currently incarcerated for a felony and they’re not on parole. In—
AMY GOODMAN: They can be on probation.
LEE ROWLAND: That’s correct.
AMY GOODMAN: But not parole.
LEE ROWLAND: That’s right. And in New Jersey, it’s the opposite. Now, the problem with these rules is, election officials are not criminal justice experts. The "P" words sound a lot alike: "parole," "probation," restitution—
AMY GOODMAN: Prison.
LEE ROWLAND: Prison. When these folks get to an interaction with a registrar where their history is being questioned, and a felony conviction for falsely registering to vote is on the line, that leads to de facto disenfranchisement of folks who are eligible to vote but so intimidated by the possible consequences of getting this wrong—a puzzle, by the way, election lawyers have a hard time figuring out—is really wrong. It’s wrong to put our election officials in that position. It’s obviously wrong to put people with prior criminal convictions in that position.
So we fight for a national standard. There is a bill currently in Congress called the Democracy Restoration Act that would restore voting rights in federal elections to folks after they are back in their communities. We’re really hoping to see that get some momentum next session, because it’s really a moral issue. It’s also a commonsense issue, by the way. We know that facts show that folks who have their voting rights restored are less likely to recidivate, to re-offend. So how anyone can still stand for the idea of criminal restoration is just tough to even understand.
AMY GOODMAN: Lee Rowland of the Brennan Center, we want to go for a moment to Scott Brown, who is the current Massachusetts senator, who is giving his concession speech, because Elizabeth Warren has won the Senate seat for Massachusetts.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN: More—most, most, most importantly, I want to thank my wife Gail. Thank you. And just for the record, I am absolutely not going to say anything about my daughters tonight. As you know—as you know, Gail stood with me, for the first time in her life, with me in this campaign and worked as hard as anyone to carry us across the finish line. Her love and support and advice kept me going, and at times when I just thought it was—the odds were insurmountable. And Gail and I have never, ever felt so much pride when we introduced and have worked with our daughters, Ayla and Arianna. So thank you, ladies. Thank you. Thank you, sweetheart.
And as you know, many of my family and friends are here. I want to thank my mom. I want to thank my mom, Judy. Mom, raise your hand. My sister—my sister Leeann, my sister Robyn, my brother Bruce are here, as well, and all my extended family and friends. I want to thank them all. One thing that’s a little bit different, though, is my dad is not here. He has been in very bad health, and he’s been struggling. And I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but, you know, he’s right here with me, and I just want to obviously say that I love him and thank him for his support.
Listen, first of all, I’m kind of psyched that you guys hung around, so... You know when—you know when you—
BROWN SUPPORTERS: Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go! Go, Scott, go!
SEN. SCOTT BROWN: Now, many of you know in your lives—many of you know in your lives, there’s a point in your life when you take on a challenge, and you do something that no one ever thought you could achieve, and you do the very best you possibly could, and you leave everything on the table—whether you’re in a sporting event, you leave everything on the court; whether you’re on a football field and leave everything on the field; whether you’re in battle, and you leave everything in the battle. Well, let me tell you something. I have left everything in this battle, and I’ll tell you what. I just want to thank you for the opportunity. And whatever—whatever the future holds, I am a fortunate man to be where I’ve been, and I am very fortunate, very fortunate.
UNIDENTIFIED: Senator Scott Brown in Boston. We’re going to go to Richmond, Virginia, George Allen, a tight Senate—
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve just been listening to Scott Brown giving his concession speech, the current senator from Massachusetts, who will be replaced by Elizabeth Warren, who’s been called as the next senator of Massachusetts. And we’ll go to her victory speech when we can.
I just want to bring out a few points. The Guardian reports that for Mitt Romney to win the presidential election from this point, he has to win Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado. Polls have close in all those states, but so far none have been called. In a major victory, networks are calling the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for President Obama. CBS News is reporting Obama is leading 59 to 40 in Iowa. In the crucial swing state of Florida, Mother Jones is reporting voters were waiting up to seven hours to cast their ballots. The networks are calling Montana and Utah for Romney, with Obama expected to take New Hampshire—he did take New Hampshire and New Mexico.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill is the projected winner in the Missouri Senate race against Republican Congressmember Todd Akin, who of course made the infamous comments about how women rarely become pregnant in cases of what he termed "legitimate rape." Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the congressmember, has reportedly beaten former Governor Tommy Thompson in the Wisconsin Senate race. And Elizabeth Warren has the Massachusetts Senate seat now held by Republican Scott Brown, who we were just listening to.
And this is an interesting point. Talking about voting, this is a Bloomberg report about New Jersey, a very interesting report. "When voters in Essex County, New Jersey, found their ballots bouncing back from the official government e-mail addresses in recent days," — you see, it’s important to point out that Governor Chris Christie, in order to deal with Superstorm Sandy and every—and polling places not being able to be set up, said they will use email as a way for people to vote. So let me just see if I can bring you this report that explains this. "When voters in Essex County, New Jersey, found their ballots bouncing back from the official government e-mail addresses in recent days, Christopher Durkin, the county clerk, offered up his own Hotmail account as an alternative, according to the BuzzFeed account," now, "which cited this post on the official Facebook page for the township of West Orange. It didn’t take long for security experts to squash that as a good idea.
"Ashkan Soltani, a security and privacy consultant, checked out the Hotmail account and found that the password-retrieval function used a question that’s likely easy to answer with a little public-records research: Durkin’s mother’s maiden name. Password retrievals are a very common way that e-mail accounts get hacked." That report from Bloomberg News.
And this news from Nate Silver, writes for the New York Times now. "Early bellwethers in Colorado bode well for Barack Obama.
"[He] leads by about three percentage points so far in Jefferson County, west of Denver, which typically tracks the statewide margins closely. He also leads in Arapahoe County, east of Denver, where he leads by six points with two-thirds of the vote counted." Again, that is Nate Silver talking about Colorado. Colorado and Ohio have not been called.
I am not sure if Greg Palast is still on the line with us, but what I do know is, in a minute, we are going to be joined by Helen Caldicott, the well-known anti-nuclear activist, world-renowned author, pediatrician, co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. And she’ll be joining us in a moment.
But as all this news comes in, Laura Flanders and Bob Herbert, it looks like President Obama may well sweep the battleground states. He’s taken Pennsylvania. He’s taken Wisconsin. People are still standing in line to vote in Virginia. The polls were supposed to be closed a while ago. Did you expect this tonight? And then, what exactly does this mean? We do know that Paul Ryan will remain in office, but it looks like—well, it hasn’t been called yet, but at least he knows he has his congressional seat from Janesville, Wisconsin.
BOB HERBERT: I think it’s too early to talk about sweeping the battleground states, because I think Romney still has a perfectly good chance of winning Florida and/or Virginia.
AMY GOODMAN: So far, what’s being reported, Obama 49.7 percent—with 91.5 percent of polls reporting in Florida, Obama’s at 49.7 percent, Romney at 49.5 percent.
BOB HERBERT: Yeah. Why, that’s—see, that’s too close for comfort.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s very close.
BOB HERBERT: But, obviously, if Romney loses Florida, it’s—
AMY GOODMAN: And Timothy Kaine is leading in the Virginia Senate race, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent, with 87 percent reporting—
BOB HERBERT: That’s a really—that’s a really important race.
AMY GOODMAN: —against George Allen.
BOB HERBERT: A really important race. But obviously, if Romney loses—well, if he loses Florida or Virginia, it’s game over. But now it’s really hard to imagine Romney running the table at this point. He’s got to—you ran down that list of states that he has—he’s got to win all of them. Very hard to imagine that he could—he could do that. So, I just think that for—you know, I’m just focused on this idea of liberals and progressives moving forward. And it just seems to me that the public is—I mentioned this earlier—out in front of Obama and the Democrats. I’m not sure I thought, looking at the polls coming into this election, that that would be the case. These Senate races that have been won by very progressive individuals are really important. The way—the states that have been called for Obama already are important. And this is just something that really needs to be built upon.
I think the idea that people have been so committed to going to the polls and putting up with extraordinary hardship means that what they want in this country is they want change. They don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things. I don’t think the public—I don’t see voters as idiots. We have a lot of yahoos out there, but I don’t think, in general, that they’re idiots. People remember the George W. Bush years. They understand what Romney is presenting. And I don’t think that that’s what the United States of America has wanted.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, looking at the numbers and looking at the map of Florida, it doesn’t look—I cannot see how Mitt Romney is going to carry the state. It’s possible that there is a recount—
AMY GOODMAN: AP has just said that Romney has won North Carolina.
LAURA FLANDERS: That’s important.
BOB HERBERT: That was—that was—I think that was expected.
LAURA FLANDERS: That was anticipated.
BOB HERBERT: Yeah.
LAURA FLANDERS: You know, when we talk about the heroicism of voters who are standing out, even in New York, to cast those ballots, many of them displaced—New York, New Jersey—after Hurricane Sandy, you know, we need to remember that they are standing out in the cold, and many of them are returning back to the cold to places where they’re staying that have yet to have light and heat after the storm. And I guess, in a way, that’s where we all stand at the end of this evening, no matter how this turns out. We’re in an election mode. It’s exciting to watch the returns. But we are returning back to an economy where the waters are rising. There are large and growing numbers of people without heat and without light, without a place to go home that is better tomorrow than it was today. That’s the big fight.
And while there are some clear lessons from today, having, I would say, to do with the state of play in the state, how engaged are the communities? How well organized? How effective has been the fight-back against the war on voting, as Lee called it? And there have been some demographic shifts that I think are pretty interesting. The Republicans, at least in Florida, are not picking up as much as the male vote as I thought they might, 52 percent to 45 percent of men, according to the AP breakdown that I’m looking at. There’s no question that every last woman voter that came out this election so far has been critical for Barack Obama. And next on the agenda needs to be: How do we raise some of these economic issues, put them back at the center? Because while everybody has said the economy—I mean, every poll I’ve seen, exit poll I’ve seen, has put the economy as the number one most important issue—that combined with climate change, combined with our international agenda, you know, we come out with a—we come out tomorrow with the need for very powerful social movements, if we’re going to see any major change.
AMY GOODMAN: There’s already been discussion of Obama making a grand bargain—
BOB HERBERT: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —over the deficit with Republicans.
LAURA FLANDERS: That’s what he said. He’s going—
BOB HERBERT: I think Laura makes a really important point, because, while I think that this is a heartening election so far, almost immediately they’re going to be talking about this grand bargain, and the Democrats and Obama are going to try and make that grand bargain. And that grand bargain is going to hurt working people. That grand bargain is going to hurt people who are low-income, in general. It’s going to harm the interests of folks who depend on Medicare, who depend on Social Security, who depend on Medicaid. And so, this movement that we all seem to feel is essential, is going to have to try and make a stand against that sort of thing. It’s going to be very difficult, but there’s a lot of energy coming out of this election to build upon. That energy needs to be harnessed.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, the first thing Barack Obama has pledged to do is to fight the deficit. I mean, in the last debate, that was the clarion call. We’re clearly going to have to see tremendous pressure applied to put forward some other alternatives.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura, you have written a book about women in politics. Let’s talk about who we are going to see in the Senate. Well, Claire McCaskill was already there; we’re going to see her again. Tammy Baldwin will be the new U.S. senator from Wisconsin. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. And Marcy Kaptur has retained her seat in the House of Representatives.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, I think these are all strong fighters. I think that they’re all people who faced challenges from the right of the Republican Party. I think these are people who straddle both reproductive justice issues, labor issues.
AMY GOODMAN: By the way, the Denver Post is projecting Colorado for President Obama. He was just there yesterday. He almost lived there.
BOB HERBERT: Was that one of the states that you listed in your—that Romney had to—had to win?
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is definitely a battleground state, yes.
LAURA FLANDERS: One of the battleground states.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, this is very interesting.
LAURA FLANDERS: I think it’s—
JEREMY SCAHILL: And they were all projecting Romney to win.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah, as of this morning, that was projected for Romney.
JEREMY SCAHILL: They said it was going to be tight, but Romney would win.
LAURA FLANDERS: We’re getting to that point of the evening, I think, where it’s going to be very hard for Mitt Romney—
BOB HERBERT: I agree.
LAURA FLANDERS: —to cobble together an Electoral College majority.
BOB HERBERT: I mean, I’m the one who’s a skeptic, so if you’ve got me thinking that, you know, Obama may be able to pull this out—
[end of hour four]
AMY GOODMAN: Now—
LAURA FLANDERS: To go back to the Senate again for a second, I mean, I think we’ve got some strong leaders there. But again, in our political system, we’re inclined to look at the top of the—of the power pyramid. What we also have, with respect to all of those people that you just mentioned, are real movements that have kept them in place, defended them from brutal attack. The attacks on Tammy Baldwin were bruising, nasty, hate-filled, bigoted attacks. It was the movements that she has kept in place to support her that have made the difference tonight. I would say the same of Marcy Kaptur, who really won hearts with her defense of those who were facing illegal foreclosure and redlining. The same with Elizabeth Warren. She won hearts by talking honestly about the need for financial reform—wasn’t big enough, but nonetheless she called it out.
AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t she the one—
LAURA FLANDERS: And she was baited also around race, if you remember, where she talked about having Native American ancestry. That became—
AMY GOODMAN: That her mother told her she was Native American.
LAURA FLANDERS: More than that. In her own personal history, she remembered having a grandmother who was essentially not spoken to by the rest of her family, because she wasn’t seen as having, you know, assimilated sufficiently. She could speak from firsthand experience about discrimination in America against Native Americans, and yet that was shriveled and dried out into a really nasty talking point in this election—
BOB HERBERT: It was really—
LAURA FLANDERS: —because there was no space to talk about it in a helpful way.
BOB HERBERT: It was so disgusting, and it was another thing that I related to. I grew up in New Jersey. Part of the family was up from Barbados; the other part came up from the South in Virginia. But there were always—it was almost the same thing. There was always this talk about Indian heritage, that there was a part of the heritage going back not too far that was Native American. And there was no documentation of this. There was no—there were no records or anything like that, but that was the family lore, and it was discussed seriously.
Well, it turns out that Skip Gates went around taking DNA from a bunch of people.
LAURA FLANDERS: That’s right.
BOB HERBERT: And I was one of the people. And he actually made a public announcement. He says, "Well, you know, Bob Herbert, he actually has a great deal of Indian blood in him. We did this analysis," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I actually found out that I had, if this is reliable, less African-American blood than I actually wanted. I was a little disappointed there. I wanted a little bit more. But there’s enough.
But the point is that this family lore is—and the heritage of Americans, which very much is a melting pot, in many cases, it is very disgusting to challenge that, to attack it, to claim that people are using it for whatever purposes. Just pipe down, keep quiet, leave people alone.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of a racial issue—
LAURA FLANDERS: Or let’s open up space where we can have some useful conversation about some of these things. I mean, I think what was so frustrating in Massachusetts was how shutdown the discussion became so quickly, when I think there are a lot of Americans in this country who can relate to having—
BOB HERBERT: Of course.
LAURA FLANDERS: —these kinds of family relations where one part doesn’t relate to or doesn’t talk to another because of some racial bias.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of racial issues, Tim Kaine has won in Virginia, as George Allen concedes. Yes, Democrat Tim Kaine—this is according to Talking Points Memo, defeated Republican George Allen in Virginia Tuesday night, as the Republican candidate conceded the race after CBS called it. Allen said, "I’ve called Tim and congratulated him. We still remain friends personally. That’s an important thing. I’ve congratulated him, pledged my support, as he takes on the task of representing the people of Virginia. We must prevail as a nation as a whole." And, of course, George Allen is famous for having called a person in the audience—
BOB HERBERT: Macaca.
LAURA FLANDERS: Macaca moment.
BOB HERBERT: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —macaca, who was filming him, and saying it was a kind of a term of endearment. Hardly consider that. And—
LAURA FLANDERS: But think of the—
AMY GOODMAN: AP is reporting that Tammy Duckworth has defeated Joe Walsh in Illinois in the congressional race. Tammy Duckworth, oh, I interviewed her at the Democratic convention. She lost both of her legs in Iraq. She is a war veteran, and she came home. She had run before; she had not prevailed. This time, she has. She has defeated Joe Walsh in Illinois for the congressional race.
JEREMY SCAHILL: He’s another one who just lives on planet Looney. I mean, he went after her in that campaign. You know, this is—in a merciless way about the fact that she had the audacity to mention that she was a veteran.
BOB HERBERT: Right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, this is someone who has lost—I mean, he went after her. I mean, these—seriously, they’re out of some central casting of like—of like a fantasy of what liberals think Republicans are like. Are these people—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jeremy Scahill, we’re going to try to see if we can bring you Claire McCaskill right now, who has retained her Senate seat against Todd Akin. We thought we would have sound. We’re hoping we will, hoping for the best.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, one note on McCaskill—
AMY GOODMAN: Again, this is Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Are we getting it?
AMY GOODMAN: No, you can go ahead and speak. Ah, here, we’ve just brought up sound.
SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL: There is one person missing off this stage tonight, and I just got to tell you, Mom, this one’s for you. And the reason I know that this one is for my mom is because I actually believe, when all the votes are counted, something extraordinary will have happened, because you need to understand this race was called before any of the votes from St. Louis city, St. Louis County or Kansas City was counted. Guess what, Mom? I think we finally won rural Missouri! Woohoo!
I also have to thank this amazing staff I work with on this campaign. We’ve been at it for two years. Yes, we have. We have been going full bore for two years, and this is such a team. Every single part of this campaign—intellect, great strategy, or work ethic that I’m in awe of, a sense of togetherness and that we’re all—there were no egos in our team, just a focus on what we had to get done. I can’t name them all. They are truly special. But I’ve got to tell you, I got to give a shout-out to Corey and Adrianne, the campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, who did a great job.
OK, then, let’s get to the meat in the bone, and that would be you. That would be all of you. And what you did, thousands of volunteers across this state, you decided that you wanted nothing more complicated than your government to reflect your values. I stand in awe of your passion and your commitment and your patriotism and your determination that you are going to have a voice in the United States Senate that makes you proud.
I also stand here in acknowledgment of the fact that I did not get every vote today. There were hundreds and thousands of votes that were cast for Congressman Akin. He graciously called me. He graciously congratulated me. I recognize his years of public service and his patriotism.
But all the people that I—the votes I didn’t get today, here’s my message to them: I go to Washington first as a Missourian. I go first as a Missourian. And I will continue to be a senator that works across the aisle in a bipartisan way to find the compromises to solve problems for every Missouri family, not just the families of those that voted for me.
Along the way, I had the incredible honor of meeting people that were perfect strangers to me but greeted me like long-lost friends. There is nothing that makes me prouder than complete strangers walking up to me, grabbing my hands and giving me a word of encouragement. Whether it was the elderly woman at the airport that grabbed my hands and said, "Ms. Claire, I’m going to fight hard for you," or the maintenance man at the office building a few weeks ago who shouted me as I walked through the lobby, "Claire, we got your back!" It is those people, it is those salt-of-the-earth, wonderful people that live in the state I love, it is those people that I will go to Washington and fight for with everything I’ve got.
This was an extraordinary campaign for so many reasons. The results are astounding. Now, I want all of you to own it. You deserve it. You did it! God bless you! And thank you! Six more years! Thank you!
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve just been listening to, watching Claire McCaskill, who has retained her Senate seat in Missouri, beating Todd Akin, the congressmember who was ahead, until he did a local interview in Missouri where he talked about "legitimate rape" and said that women’s bodies shut down, according to doctors, and they don’t get raped if they were—and they don’t get pregnant if they were legitimately raped.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. The Denver Post has projected Obama will win the battleground state of Colorado. And according to CNN, President Obama has a narrow lead in the crucial battleground state of Florida. The networks have already called Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire for Obama. Meanwhile, the Associated Press has called Arizona and Nebraska for Romney. Early West Coast results are in, and Obama is projected to take California, Hawaii and Washington state.
In Virginia, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine defeated Republican George Allen, who conceded the race.
To recap, in a series of major victories for Democratic women, Elizabeth Warren has defeated Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts; Senator Claire McCaskill, yes, beat Republican challenger Todd Akin in Missouri; and openly gay Wisconsin Democrat, Tammy Baldwin, the congressmember, has beaten Republican Tommy Thompson for the Senate seat in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Democratic Congressmember Marcy Kaptur also—Ohio Congressmember Marcy Kaptur also defeated Republican challenger Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. And Associated Press is reporting that Democrat Tammy Duckworth has defeated Joe Walsh in a congressional race in Illinois. Tommy Duckworth lost both her legs in Iraq. She is a war veteran.
And the latest news that we have is, several networks are calling—both NBC and CNN are calling Iowa for President Obama. That’s where he gave his last—his last campaign speech and actually broke down and cried, because some say it would be the last presidential campaign that—you know, address that he would be giving. CNN is projecting—CNN projections show that Obama won Iowa, putting him at 250 electoral votes over Romney’s 203. Jeremy Scahill.
JEREMY SCAHILL: The math now is—it basically means—what we’ve been looking at for most of the evening is, Romney would have to pull off Florida, Virginia and Ohio, with a couple of these last-minute surprises, where it seems Obama is going to win Iowa, as you’re saying. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post was just saying the only way now for Romney—or the only thing that needs to happen is Obama needs to be officially declared the winner in Colorado, and it’s just mathematically impossible—
AMY GOODMAN: And MSNBC is calling the election for Obama.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, that makes sense.
AMY GOODMAN: NBC says Ohio—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yes!
AMY GOODMAN: —has voted for Obama. NBC News—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yes!
AMY GOODMAN: —projects President Obama will win re-election.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Thank God.
BOB HERBERT: There you go.
LAURA FLANDERS: How loudly are they screaming? Can you tell us?
BOB HERBERT: I never doubted it for a moment.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Thank God. You did so.
LAURA FLANDERS: I think what a lot of people will be joking is not—I mean, one of the jokes I’ve seen so far is, you know, in terms of progressive women, this big victory, progressive, pro-choice, pro-women voters shut it all down to give Todd Akin—throw it back in his face. Yeah, they shut it down. They shut it all down, the attack on women’s reproductive—
AMY GOODMAN: "Legitimately" shut it down?
LAURA FLANDERS: Yes, legitimately shut down—
BOB HERBERT: "Legitimately."
LAURA FLANDERS: —of Todd Akin.
AMY GOODMAN: We should also say that Helen Caldicott is joining us. Helen Caldicott; in addition to Laura Flanders, the broadcaster and author; and Bob Herbert with Demos and American Prospect, formerly with the New York Times; Jeremy Scahill, Nation national security correspondent and Democracy Now! correspondent.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And the only one not screaming at that moment about—when you were announcing—I wasn’t screaming; that was Helen Caldicott who was screaming, not me.
AMY GOODMAN: Adam Serwer for Mother Jones is in the studio in Washington, D.C., and Adam, we thank you for your patience. And Helen Caldicott is here, just joining us in New York City, the well-known anti-nuclear physician, environmentalist, who usually lives in Australia. Why do you care about the U.S. elections, Helen?
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Amy, it’s determining the fate of the earth. If Romney was elected, he would probably bomb Iran. He could start a nuclear war in the Middle East. He’s going to set up a new cold war with Russia. He wants to build a whole lot of new ships and arm the Pentagon more than it is now.
America isn’t just America, Amy. We look at America as determining our future, the rest of the earth. I live in Australia. Well, I live here, too. There are three things determining our future: global warming, which Obama did not mention—Hurricane Sandy came in. I mean, things are really grim. It could be six degrees hotter, six degrees centigrade hotter by the end of the century, which is antithetical to life. No one is talking about it. The oil companies and coal companies run this country. They’re going to mine the oil in the Arctic, where the ice is melting, and pour petrol on the fire. Things are really grim. Our children have no future, Amy.
Two, nuclear power. All reactors should be shut down in America. You’ve got a hundred and—I don’t know, 40 of them, I can’t remember. But half of Japan is contaminated. I’m going there next week. There’s a huge—there’s a very big press censorship on what’s happening in Japan with Fukushima. All your reactors must be shut down. No more radioactive waste must be made because, over generations, it will produce epidemics of cancer, leukemia and genetic disease, and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
And three, of the weapons in the world now, America and Russia own 97 percent, and they still target each other as they did in the Cold War, with thousands of hydrogen bombs ready to go with a press of the button by Putin or Obama and a three-minute decision time. Nobody talks about that. Why? The fate of the earth rests upon this. We can abolish nuclear weapons. Obama wants to. The Russians want to. But the Pentagon does not. Does he have the guts to take on the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, et al.? Will he close down the reactors because he’s taking money from Exelon, who builds reactors? And will he have the guts to take on the oil companies and the coal companies, and save the planet from global warming?
AMY GOODMAN: Helen Caldicott, I just want to say that all the networks or most of the networks are calling this race now for Obama, and he has just tweeted out, or his people have, "This happened because of you." Yes, CBS News reporting that President Obama has been re-elected. Fox News is calling the race for Obama. Just want to let you know you can join the discussion at Twitter at #dnvote and on our Facebook and Google+ pages. This is—this is the moment, folks, that this 2012 election has been determined. President Obama will be the next president of the United States.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Thank God.
AMY GOODMAN: He has been re-elected.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Thank God.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to just listen to what it sounds like right now in Chicago.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Thank God.
SENATOR-ELECT TIM KAINE: Let me—let me just take a moment to recognize my opponent, George Allen. I want to thank him for his years, more than 20-plus years of elected service to Virginia.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s get some comment from Bob Herbert. Your thoughts right now as people begin to celebrate in Chicago?
BOB HERBERT: I think that it is—
AMY GOODMAN: He won’t be in Grant Park, by the way. He’ll be at McCormick Place inside.
BOB HERBERT: I think it’s an incredibly important moment. This was a crucial election for a lot of reasons. But one of the reasons that hasn’t been talked about a lot is that the Republicans are in this terrible position politically, in the sense that the demographics are against them, it’s an older party, it’s an almost all-white party, and it is an extremist party. So, they were doomed in the—not just the long run, but in the medium run. But the problem was that if Romney were to win this election and the Republicans had another shot at four years or eight years, they could have done tremendous damage in that short period of time, even though ultimately, you know, history is against them. And we saw the kind of damage that can be done during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration. So, that danger has been mitigated, and now you can move forward. There are still all kinds of extraordinarily serious problems facing us. Helen mentioned a number of them just a few minutes ago. But you’re starting from what I think of as a safer and a better place to move forward.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, we’ll have now—I mean, this is the moment where we have at least, I don’t know, what, 24 hours, 48 hours, before 2016’s race begins, where we can really talk about some of the issues that you’ve raised, Helen.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah, most important.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, with respect to nuclear weapons, hydraulic fracturing, natural gas. This is not a candidate—I mean, Barack Obama has not got a position that should lead anyone to feel relaxed. We’ve got huge fights on our hands.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yes.
LAURA FLANDERS: But it is true that this is a moment now where those sorts of fights can grow.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yep.
LAURA FLANDERS: Some demands need to be made on this administration.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yes.
LAURA FLANDERS: And when Barack Obama says this is thanks to you, well, yeah. It was also thanks to $6 billion being spent this election by all sources.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: But maybe he’ll have the courage now and the guts to do what is necessary, because he’s got his next four years.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Adam Serwer into this conversation, reporter for Mother Jones magazine, is in Washington, D.C. You have been following this race very closely. Adam Serwer, your response right now? Again, the latest news, President Obama has been re-elected president of the United States. Adam?
ADAM SERWER: Well, look, you know, this is what the polls said would happen, and it looks like, as far as the Electoral College is concerned, Obama might be headed for a pretty—a pretty solid victory. But look, you know, some of the other guests have mentioned war with Iran as one of the potential problems that could come up—could have come up if Mitt Romney was elected, but the reality is that on foreign policy the candidates really weren’t that far apart, to begin with, and it’s not as though President Obama has—has rejected a military option for Iran. You know, for the first four years of the Obama administration, I think, with some exceptions—the immigration rights movement, the gay rights movement, the—Obama’s liberal base really held their fire and held their criticism of him because they knew he was facing an economic headwind, an obstructionist Congress, and really didn’t hold him as accountable as maybe they should have. And now going into their second term, the president doesn’t have to worry about re-election, and I think, you know, those groups that weren’t as successful in holding the president to his promises as a candidate really sort of have their work cut out for them now in order to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: Adam Serwer, you—your beat has been civil liberties, has been war. Talk about—when you say Mitt Romney and President Obama weren’t that different on these points, what is President Obama’s position right now?
ADAM SERWER: Well, President—I mean, President Obama and Mitt Romney both hold—held a fairly hawkish set of positions on foreign policy. They both want to halt uranium enrichment in Iran, and they are both—were both willing to use force to do it. As far as civil liberties and national security are concerned, you know, the Obama administration, despite his promises as a candidate, has largely adhered to the Bush administration’s post-2006 policies in the war on terror, and that would have likely continued even if Romney had been elected president, despite some of his advisers supporting a return to waterboarding. But, you know, the reality is that as far as foreign policy is concerned, Mitt Romney had a really hard time drawing a contrast with President Obama because they’re so close. And I think now that Obama has been re-elected, I think it’s really time to reconsider the administration’s foreign policy, particularly with regards to the Arab Spring, with regards to the Israel-Palestine situation, and with regards to Iran.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: And Russia. And Russia.
BOB HERBERT: I think the—I think—
AMY GOODMAN: Occupy Wall Street has just tweeted, "Ohio called. It’s over. Can we get on and build a democracy now?"
BOB HERBERT: Well, I do think—
AMY GOODMAN: Bob Herbert.
BOB HERBERT: I think the administration has been not good at all on civil liberty—terrible, in fact, in many ways, on civil liberties and national security issues. But I have to say, in all honesty, I don’t see much change going forward in terms of foreign policy matters in this country. I think that it’s important to work on that. I think it’s important for movement people to work on that. But to believe that Barack Obama would change significantly in his approach to foreign policy, I don’t think that that’s going to happen. What I do think can happen, though, is that tremendous amounts of pressure can be put on an Obama administration and on Democrats in Congress on—
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, he was a community organizer before—
BOB HERBERT: —on domestic—on domestic issues—
AMY GOODMAN: —a community-organizer-in-chief before he became commander-in-chief.
BOB HERBERT: Yeah, and I think headway can be—can be made there, yeah.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: But will he have the courage now to take on the Pentagon—
AMY GOODMAN: Helen Caldicott.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: —which spends about a trillion dollars a year of American tax money?
BOB HERBERT: It’s—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: And they’re militarizing space right now to fight war from space down to earth and circling China with bases and anti-missile systems. Will he have the courage to take on the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, etc., and transfer the money that American people own to their healthcare, their education, and etc., from killing people?
BOB HERBERT: I don’t think it’s a matter—I don’t think it’s a matter of having courage. I don’t think that’s his belief.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: What is it? What is it?
BOB HERBERT: That—
JEREMY SCAHILL: But he’s—wait, wait, wait, wait. This is fantasy stuff. The courage—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: What do you mean, "fantasy"?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Look, I cover this every day.
BOB HERBERT: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: By the way, CNN—CNN has projected the Democrats will retain majority of the Senate. Jeremy Scahill.
JEREMY SCAHILL: The courage—he is—he is a candidate of the military-industrial complex.
BOB HERBERT: Exactly.
JEREMY SCAHILL: They have poured tremendous amounts of money—
BOB HERBERT: That’s who he is.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —record-setting money into the coffers of the Democratic campaign. President Obama has continued the use of mercenaries. The defense industry loves President Obama. He’s the drone president. He’s the Tomahawk cruise missile president. The idea that—the courage to do it—he supports that agenda.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Right.
JEREMY SCAHILL: This plays into the fallacy that he somehow was actually this transformative character and he’s playing fifth-dimensional chess, and in the second administration the real Obama is going to pop up and be this progressive savior. The man is—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Well, maybe we have to force him.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —a centrist Republican from the ’90s on domestic policy—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: We have to force him to do that.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —and is a hawkish Republican on his foreign policy.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: We’ve got to force him to do that.
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, you—that’s like—
LAURA FLANDERS: [inaudible] it’s not his courage, it’s ours.
JEREMY SCAHILL: That’s like saying we’ve got to force George Bush to do it.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean—
JEREMY SCAHILL: These are—these are bipartisan policies that have been solidified permanently now by this administration.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: So are we doomed? Are we doomed?
LAURA FLANDERS: The question, though—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Are we?
JEREMY SCAHILL: I think on foreign policy, we have—we have one party in this country.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Will we have a nuclear war with Russia?
BOB HERBERT: I agree with that. Foreign policy is not going to change in the next four years. I think you’re absolutely right, yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, I agree with everything you were saying, but I’m just saying, the idea that it’s—
LAURA FLANDERS: Let’s—let’s—
JEREMY SCAHILL: I’ve been listening to this stuff for four years of people telling me, "Shut your mouth until after, you know, November 6." And—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah, yeah.
BOB HERBERT: I’ve been hearing the same thing.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, exactly. And it’s—but I don’t believe that’s how—I think that you have to hold those in power accountable regardless of what day of the year it is, including Election Day or a week before the election. To me, that’s part of the bankruptcy of our movement politics.
LAURA FLANDERS: But we’re falling into—we’re falling into the trap of our electoral policy—politics and the structure of it, that—I mean, I was glib before about Barack Obama’s comment, "This is thanks to you." I think the focus at this moment and tomorrow and for the next—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Four years.
LAURA FLANDERS: —you know, as long as we care about our democracy, has to be on we, the people.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah.
LAURA FLANDERS: And there was some heroic actions to bring this result about today. You’ve talked about heroism. We need to really, you know, celebrate and applaud those who fought back against extraordinary odds to retain their right to vote, to get to a polling station, to care, when there didn’t seem to be anybody to vote for—I’d like to see what the youth vote, how they turned out—to actually have some belief that it was worth them voting. I think—and in face of enormous amounts of money thrown against them, you have seen some defeats of some highly moneyed candidates. I just think, again, the focus needs to come back to us. It’s not about Barack Obama’s position of courage. It never has been, with respect to presidential change in this country. The only thing that has ever brought about change in this country is social movements—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: We need a—
LAURA FLANDERS: —forcing politicians.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: We need a revolution, Laura. We need a revolution.
BOB HERBERT: I agree—I agree with you on that, Laura, but—
LAURA FLANDERS: And we’ve got 40,000 people without homes right now in New York, more people than we had before Sandy. I would like to see, you know, a benefit army tent encampment outside the White House for as long as we have the economic crisis that we have.
BOB HERBERT: I completely agree with that. What I’m saying is that this movement of citizens, a citizens’ action movement—
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah, needs to take—
BOB HERBERT: —that they can make headway, I think, significantly, on domestic issues. I do not think that that kind of a movement is going to make any kind of headway significantly over the next four years on foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Well, it has to. It has to—
BOB HERBERT: Because I—because I—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: —or we’re doomed. We’re doomed.
BOB HERBERT: Because of—because of the idea that it is essentially a one-party foreign policy agreement that we have in this country.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: So, Bob, what about—what about global warming?
ADAM SERWER: I disagree with Bob’s assessment—
BOB HERBERT: I don’t think this country is going to make a lot of headway on global warming.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Well, then we’re doomed. We’re doomed. This country is determining the fate of the earth, Bob.
BOB HERBERT: I’m talking about in the next four years, we may—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah, I am, too.
ADAM SERWER: I think—
BOB HERBERT: You know, it’s going to be important to see what president we have after Obama.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah.
BOB HERBERT: But if you want to look at the real world in terms of what can be accomplished over the next four years, much more can be accomplished domestically than in areas of foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: Adam Serwer of Mother Jones magazine, could you weigh in?
ADAM SERWER: Yeah, I would disagree—I want to—I want to partially agree with Bob and partially disagree with him. I think there is something to his assessment that we have a kind of one party on foreign policy. But I think if you say that, it sort of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah.
ADAM SERWER: —rather than something that—you know, something that people think ought to be changed, because it sort of suggests that it can’t be changed. And the truth is, is that the president, Barack Obama, has far more like individual autonomy on foreign policy than he does on domestic policy, because on domestic policy he has to deal with the Congress. The president has wide latitude to conduct foreign policy. It’s one of the reasons presidents really enjoy foreign policy more than domestic policy, because with domestic policy they have to deal with, you know, 500 people who may not want to listen to him. But if you say—you know, it’s one thing to diagnose the problem as we have one party on foreign policy; it’s another thing to say, therefore, we can’t do anything about it. And I think that liberals, particularly, who were unhappy with the president’s foreign policy, but, you know, went out and worked really hard to elect the president, shouldn’t really settle for that.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: I don’t think Americans understand what power they have in the world and how the rest of the world sees them. And you are, in fact, determining the fate of the earth. This is not—this is about the future of the earth. And the earth is in the intensive care unit now, critically ill. We are all physicians to a dying planet. And if we don’t step up to the plate and do what has to be done, Bob, I’m telling you, as a physician and a pediatrician, our children have no future. From global warming, from the threat of nuclear war, from nuclear power plant meltdowns, we have no future.
BOB HERBERT: I don’t disagree with that at all. But we’re sitting here in an area where, you know, over a hundred homes burned down in the borough of Queens—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: I know, but look at it from a global perspective.
BOB HERBERT: —where we have to find housing—where we have to find emergency housing for people, and we have to get the lights back on.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: But you will.
BOB HERBERT: And we have kids coming out of college who can’t get a job. We have to put them to work. And so, all of this stuff has to be done. You know, these things are linked. And if you—you cannot make progress on something like global warming, for example, if you—if you’re in a case of an economic depression here in the United States of America. You have to put people to work and then move on on these larger problems.
LAURA FLANDERS: And I don’t think we can get out of our economic depression without shifting our resources away—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah.
LAURA FLANDERS: —from the military-industrial complex.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: Exactly, exactly.
AMY GOODMAN: I just want to go for a moment to Elizabeth Warren’s speech in Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren has just won the Senate seat there, beating Senator Scott Brown.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: That’s wonderful.
SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN: Alright, alright, alright, alright, no, no. Thank you. Thank you. This—no, no. This victory belongs to you. You did this. You did this. You did this.
For every family that has been chipped at, squeezed and hammered, we’re going to fight for a level playing field, and we’re going to put people back to work. You bet. That’s what we’re going to do, yes. Yes. To all the small-business owners who are tired of a system rigged against them, we’re going to hold the big guys accountable. Yeah. To all the seniors who deserve to retire with the security they earned, we’re going to make sure your Medicare and Social Security benefits are protected and that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. That’s right. And to all the young people, all the young people who did everything right—who did everything right and are drowning in debt, we’re going to invest in you. We are. To all—to all of the servicemembers and your families, who have fought so hard for us, we’re going to fight for you. You bet we will. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.
WARREN SUPPORTER: We love you!
SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN: I love you. And to all the women across Massachusetts—to all the women across Massachusetts who are working your tails off, you better believe we’re going to fight for equal pay for equal work. To all of you, this is your night. This is your victory. Yes, all of us.
WARREN SUPPORTERS: Warren! Warren! Warren!
SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN: This—this was—
WARREN SUPPORTERS: Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren! Warren!
SENATOR-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN: This was a campaign that broke records, raising more money from small donors than any Senate campaign in the history of this country—that’s right—and knocking on more doors than any Senate race in Massachusetts. An amazing campaign. And let me be clear: I didn’t build that; you built that. And you did what everyone thought was impossible. You taught a scrappy, first-time candidate how to get in the ring and win.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Elizabeth Warren, who has just been elected the next senator from Massachusetts. She will replace Scott Brown, who she defeated. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’ll be broadcasting for another, oh, hour and 20 minutes, and yes, the election has been called for President Obama, who tweeted that "You made this happen." That was the tweet that the Democratic Party put out. We’re going to go right now, though, to the Republican Party, to the RNC party in Washington, D.C., where Andy Kroll, another reporter for Mother Jones magazine is. Andy, can you tell us, at this RNC party, what’s happening?
ANDY KROLL: The mood is morose, to say the least, Amy. People are streaming out of the exits. The food is sitting uneaten on the plates. And the band is still playing. But you’ve got to dart off to one of the corners to follow the results on Fox News or CNN. The staffers are packing up the lanyards. It’s—you know, the realization has set in here that this was a bad, bad night for Senate Republicans and for Mitt Romney and pretty much for the party as a whole.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined on the phone by Reverend Jesse Jackson, who—we believe he is joining us from Chicago. Our guests in the studio are Bob Herbert, who works with Demos now and with The American Prospect; he was with the New York Times, an op-ed writer for a decade. We’re also joined by Laura Flanders, who is a broadcaster and an author. Jeremy Scahill is with us, author of Blackwater: The [Rise of the] World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army; and Helen Caldicott, the anti-nuclear physician and campaigner. The Reverend Jesse Jackson joining us, I believe, from Chicago, as—oh, no, he is in Ohio—
REV. JESSE JACKSON: No, from Columbus, Ohio.
AMY GOODMAN: —as President Obama will soon be, I assume, making his acceptance speech at McCormick Place. Last time it was in Grant Park. But I think they’re going to do it inside tonight. Your feelings tonight, also on the re-election of your own son, of Jesse Jackson Jr., to be the congressmember from Illinois?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Amy, there’s a certain measure of joy. I think the last time around, there was the excitement of the novelty of the first time around and the crusade. This time there was a steely resolve by people who felt threatened by insults. I think that the attempt to suppress the vote backfired. It became a stimulus to vote, that people, I think, voted this time who did not have voting on their minds two months ago. And yet, they saw that their right to vote was being suppressed and threatened, or voting made more difficult, voting made more expensive, and furthermore, the Romney plan has [inaudible] campaign. He pushed off students. They voted with passion today [inaudible]. He pushed off women and their stress for rights and dignity. He pushed off blacks and labor. And by that margin, he was defeated.
AMY GOODMAN: Bob Herbert is with us, Reverend Jackson.
BOB HERBERT: Reverend Jackson, thank you for joining us. This is a question I asked Senator Bernie Sanders earlier this evening. I go around, and ordinary people want to know, once you get past an election, what they can do to help shape the outcome of our policies in this country. So, we’re still in a very tough economic environment. We’re facing a fiscal cliff. There are a series of crucial problems facing the country. Now that the election is just about over, what is it that individuals can do to help put pressure on their elected officials to do, in their view, the right thing?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Protest and make their needs public. You know, Brother King supported Kennedy over Nixon, but we still had the march to Washington for a public accomodations bill. He supported Johnson over Goldwater; we still had the march for the right to vote. Our silence betrays our needs as well as the president. Our activism right now, the unfinished business is protecting the right of—the right to vote. It is a focus, a renewed focus on poverty, racial disparity and violence. We’ll get those issues on the table if we, the people, put them on the table. We have a president who will respond to them, but the issues must come from the people.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, he’s—Reverend Jackson, it’s wonderful to hear from you. Talk a little bit about the initiatives to protect the vote that you and your son have been both such a strong part of. We asked earlier what is it exactly that could be demanded, come January, come February, come March of next year, to change the horrific situation that we’ve seen around this country today with such extraordinary obstacles facing people who want to do nothing more than to cast their vote.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, one thing about here in Ohio, here in the early vote, 35 percent of the people voted before today. President Barack was up by 200,000, but they had these weeks to do it. Pennsylvania only had one day to vote. Now, that means voting remains a state’s right. It should be a constitutional right that’s guaranteed. This should be a federal right protected, and if it requires a constitutional amendment, so be it—first thing people can do. And secondly, keep expanding opportunity. You know, a classic case today is that those who are in jail—well, not in prison, who are—still have the right to vote should have precincts in jail, for example. They did it [inaudible] in Chicago some years ago. We should have—that’s the next big area. We should have precincts, because these young men and women who are there are there to be disciplined, not punished, and they should be given every chance to regain their political citizenship.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Apparently—
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, apparently, Amy, there has been a complete meltdown that’s occurred on Fox News. And, I mean, I’ve been bombarded with text messages, and now I’m reading about it online. Apparently, when Fox News’s bosses called the election for Obama, their numbers crunchers, Megan Kelly, the anchor, got up and stormed down the hallway to interrogate them about why they had made this decision. And then they went to Karl Rove, who contradicted Fox and said it’s too early to call. I mean, people are tweeting about it nonstop, saying it’s the most epic meltdown that’s ever happened on Fox News. I mean, it’s—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: How wonderful!
JEREMY SCAHILL: It’s very interesting. But I just—not to be a wet towel here, but, you know, I think we—what we’ve sort of passed is a moment of triage with a number of issues. I think a lot of people felt that they were holding the line and trying to fend off this attack from Romney and all of the Bush-era people. There are deadly serious issues that need to be confronted going forward in the next four years. I seldom feel the need to do jumping jacks or celebrations on elections, because—I mean, maybe it’s because I was just in Yemen visiting with the family of a 16-year-old U.S. citizen who was killed in a drone strike, or because I stood in a morgue in Somalia and saw the decapitated heads of university students who were blown up in a U.S.-fueled dirty war, and maybe it’s because I’ve been in Afghanistan in the home of pregnant women who have been killed in night raids by U.S. forces, and all they—their families received in return were sheep and an apology from Admiral McRaven, that I don’t find this as some cause to be jumping up and down and dancing in the streets.
I think on a domestic policy level, I understand and sympathize with everything that Reverend Jackson is saying and much of what everyone else has said here tonight. On a foreign policy level, this is a life-and-death moment, where we have a very popular Democrat, who is a constitutional law expert, who has normalized assassination as a central part of U.S. policy, who has made possible an extension of some of the most egregious aspects of domestic spying, of crackdowns on civil liberties. The NDAA that was signed under President Obama, we are going to look back in 10 years and say, "How did we let this happen? How were we asleep at the wheel when we let these pieces of legislation happen?" So, I have all the sympathy in the world for people celebrating that Mitt Romney is not going to be president and that people like John Bolton are not going to be secretary of state and that the Dick Cheney mentality—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: And Wolfowitz.
JEREMY SCAHILL: —is not going to be there. But the bottom line is, until we have the courage to stand up when people we like are in power and to not be afraid of what day of the week it is or whether it’s election season or not, then nothing is going to fundamentally change in this country, and things are going to continue.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: But, you know, I think that on tomorrow there will be a very different response—
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: —to the president in these next four years. I think there was always a passivity. A part of what I think gave us this kind of blind Barack loyalty was all these attacks. "You’re not a Christian. You’re not an American. You’re not legitimate. You’re a lawyer. You’re a retard." All those attacks had the impact of driving people further in his corner, no matter what else was happening in substance. I think the victory tonight is over the Romney states’ rights forces. But tomorrow, the third rail kicks in. The [inaudible] of our foreign policy, our trade policy. You know, up at the plant in Sensata where I was arrested two weeks ago, [inaudible]. They were legal. They were greedy, but the trade policy made it legal. So we’ve got to deal with trade policy. And we’ve got to deal with foreign policy. [inaudible]
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson, we’re having trouble understanding you. Your cellphone—you might be moving, but your cellphone is getting very bad. I don’t know if you—
REV. JESSE JACKSON: I’m saying—I’m saying the points he is raising are legitimate points. Tonight’s issue was Barack versus Romney. Tomorrow is Barack versus what I’m going to call the third rail. The issue about the drone attacks, that’s a real issue. The issue about semi-automatic weapons, a real issue. A renewed focus on poverty and racial disparity and violence, these issues are now—that’s for tomorrow.
BOB HERBERT: I also think that it’s very important, because I absolutely agree with what’s being said about these—these are important issues and, in many cases, moral issues. But it’s also important when you have an Election Day in the United States like this, that these folks who stood in line for four, five, six hours or more in the cold to cast their ballot, you have to let them know that that’s meaningful, that that means something, that they have in fact achieved something, and they have to be allowed to enjoy that moment. And during the civil rights movement, when things were really tough in the early days, the leaders used to say, "You have to give the people a victory. They have to see some victories, you know, here and there." And this is a way. They have a victory here tonight. And then, when the crunch comes—and it will come pretty soon, I completely agree with that—you want to be able to rally those forces to your side—
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think—
BOB HERBERT: —and it’s easier to do, if you have—if they have enjoyed a victory. They think that new things are possible.
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: And I want to stress again as an outsider—
AMY GOODMAN: Helen Caldicott.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: [inaudible] the Supreme Court that’s coming next—
DR. HELEN CALDICOTT: —yeah, that Americans who have done the right thing, I think, today and have been brave and courageous, that they understand their responsibility not just to America, but to the planet. And it’s America, I have to tell you, that’s deciding the fate of the earth, in terms of global warming, which is so serious, in terms of nuclear power everywhere and exporting uranium and the like and meltdowns, in terms of a possible nuclear war between Russia and America. People don’t understand that 97 percent of the weapons owned in the world are owned by Russia and America—hydrogen bombs—and they’re on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched. On 9/11, we got to the second highest stage of nuclear alert, from DEFCON 6 to DEFCON 2. Americans have to understand that the rest of the world looks at them and prays that they will take the lead to do the right thing morally. And their responsibility is not just to themselves and their country, but to the planet. I really beg people to understand that.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Amy, I want to say that one of the geniuses of tonight is that, Dr. King would often say, we have in America the right to fight for the right. We’ve done that today. Each victory aids another victory to win. There are more battles to be fought, but I’m glad that these confederates, these states’ rights forces, lost tonight. Now, tomorrow there is unfinished business, but I think tonight is a night worthy of celebration.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we are looking at images of people gathered in Chicago, and we understand soon President Obama will be giving his acceptance speech once again. Again, President Obama has won re-election as president of the United States. And our guest on the phone, Reverend Jesse Jackson, I want to thank you for having been with us, civil rights leader, president-founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He was joining us from Columbus, Ohio, where there’s been so much trouble around voting. And in the studio with us, Bob Herbert of Demos and Laura Flanders, broadcaster and journalist. Jeremy Scahill has to leave now, take his 12-year-old daughter home. Jeremy, reporter at The Nation and Democracy Now! He is the author of the best-selling book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. And Helen Caldicott, the anti-nuclear physician.
Rocky Anderson is joining us now, I believe from Salt Lake City, Utah, where his campaign headquarters is. Rocky Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, is presidential candidate of the newly formed Justice Party and has been traveling the country campaigning. As Mitt Romney is about to give his concession speech. What is your concession speech tonight, Rocky Anderson? And what are your thoughts, you who were a Democrat?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, as you know, Amy, I don’t concede a whole lot. I think that the point of this whole campaign, as with other third parties, is that we all need to keep up the movement and, across the political spectrum, fight against the shredding of our Constitution like we’ve seen under the Bush and the Obama administrations, end this imperial presidency, end the sellout of our government to Wall Street, and get rid of the corrupting influence of money in our government, because the public interest has absolutely been shafted while the very wealthiest had their way with Washington. These are issues that people agree with across the political spectrum, and we can create a people’s movement, just like we saw with the civil rights movement and the labor movement and the women’s suffrage movement, and we can prevail. And it doesn’t take winning an election; it takes waking everybody up and inspiring them to action. And I think that’s what we’re going to see in the coming years.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think about movements right now? Jeremy Scahill saying it is difficult to celebrate when he’s just returned from Yemen, where he has been investigating drone attacks there and in Somalia and in Afghanistan, as well. What do you say to those who are deeply concerned about what’s happening now, even with President Obama having been president for the last four years?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, having a Democrat in office has basically neutered the Democratic Party, it seems to me, and most of its members, who, if these things were being done by a Republican president, would be out in the streets. There would be calls for impeachment. There would be congressional investigations and congressional subpoenas being issued. But since it’s a Democrat—here we have a president who’s targeting even U.S. citizens for assassination, sending drones over to at least four sovereign nations and, in the process, killing hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians, in the process ratcheting up the hatred and hostility toward our country, and putting into operation the amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that now allows the government to dragnet, on a wholesale basis, Americans’ communications. They’re picking up billions of communications every day. This kind of wholesale spying on Americans is unprecedented. No particularized showing needs be made anymore. And this is because of an act that President Obama voted for when he was in the United States Senate.
The spying on our own people, the killing of innocents abroad, the killing of United States citizens, and then the assumption of federal power to round up and imprison people up to the rest of their lives without any semblance of due process—no charges, no trial, no legal representation, and no right of habeas corpus — all of this taken combined is, without any exaggeration, a sign that we are on the road toward totalitarianism. And we all need to stand up in this country. You know, in Europe, so many people found reasons not to stand up to the rise of fascism. And so, they had their way, because everybody said, "Oh, it’s not my job," or, "It’s going to threaten me," or, "I’ve got other things to do, I am too busy." And as everybody found a reason not to stand up and create a movement against it, look what happened. We’re seeing the same thing going on in this country. And then it’s happening in the financial sector with the takeover of our government by Wall Street, and still no call by either the Republicans or the Democrats for breaking up the big banks, which—the failure of which helped lead, of course, to the meltdown in 2008, no call for more regulations that would protect the American people, and no criminal accountability for those who engaged in massive financial fraud. We know that Wall Street, when they make campaign contributions, get a very good return on their investment. And we, the American people, need to stand up and say, "No more."
And it’s got to be by a movement. It’s not going to be during the course of any one election, because these two parties have a stranglehold over our electoral system. We worked so hard, Amy, during this past year to get on state ballots, and we only got on 15 state ballots. This is so anti-democratic and deprives the voters of a real choice.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you, Rocky Anderson—Fox is reporting that the Romney camp is disputing the Ohio call. Chris Wallace said on Fox News the Romney camp has real doubts about the call that has been made in Ohio, but CBS is saying that Obama, at 290 electoral votes, even if he loses Ohio, he still has it. Now, you’re in an unusual position. You were the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City. You worked with Governor Romney when he was head of the Olympics in Salt Lake City. You cross-endorsed each other. You became friends with Mitt and Ann Romney. So when you hear that they are questioning—he hasn’t given a concession speech, can you give us a little insight into who Governor Mitt Romney is?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know anymore. I thought I knew him very well, and Ann. We had a very cordial and close working relationship through the Olympics. And, Amy, he came off as such a moderate, reasonable, good person. And if he hadn’t, he never would have won the race for governor of Massachusetts. We all know he has absolutely flip-flopped on a dozen or more major issues. This is a man that you really don’t know if he has any core, because all of his positions changed on these issues, I think the day that he decided to run for president. So I’m—I am thrilled that he lost this race. We would have been a—we would have been so much worse off as a nation. This man not only doesn’t want to end the budget-busting Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but wants to give an additional 20 percent tax cut and then do away with the inheritance tax and just hand out more and more for the wealthy, and yet depriving some 45,000 people of insurance coverage that they now have. It’s bad enough under "Obamacare," where we’ll have 30 million people without healthcare coverage by the year 2022. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but in exactly the opposite direction from what Mitt Romney would have brought to this country. And we’ve got a little celebrating to do, but we’ve also all got to stand up and push President Obama to help restore the rule of law and our fundamental constitutional rights and human rights around the world, because he has as dismal a record as President Bush had, and the two of them combined have taken this country in very much the wrong direction.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us, Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, presidential candidate of the Justice Party, has been campaigning for the last months. Yes, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We have one more hour to this six-hour election broadcast, and it is midnight Eastern time, which means it’s 9:00 on the West Coast, and the polls are closing there.
[end of hour five]
AMY GOODMAN: This is the latest news. Most of the networks are now saying President Obama has been re-elected to a second term, with projected wins in a number of crucial battleground states, including Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has refused to concede the race. CNN is also projecting the Democrats will retain the majority in the Senate after a series of Democratic victories in key Senate races.
The Denver Post, meanwhile, is reporting Colorado has legalized marijuana for recreational use, passing an historic amendment that would make it legal for individuals to possess and for businesses to sell marijuana.
This election night has also seen major victories for Democratic women. Elizabeth Warren has defeated Republican incumbent, Senator Scott Brown, in Massachusetts. Senator Claire McCaskill beat Republican challenger Todd Akin in Missouri. And openly gay Democratic Congressmember Tammy Baldwin beat Republican Tommy Thompson in the Wisconsin Senate race. He is the four-term governor, former governor, of Wisconsin. Also, Tammy Duckworth has won in Illinois. She is the Iraq war veteran who lost both her legs in Iraq.
And we will continue to bring you the latest news also on ballot initiatives, as well. And we will bring you President Obama’s acceptance address, if in fact he makes it tonight. I don’t know if he would have to wait until Mitt Romney concedes, if Mitt Romney will concede.
Bob Herbert is still with us, of Demos; Laura Flanders, broadcaster and journalist. And we’re also on the phone with Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, because of this issue of legalization of marijuana, for starters, in Colorado. Your response, Ethan?
ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, it’s absolutely fantastic. I mean, Colorado, and it looks like Washington state, as well, are making history tonight. They are not just the first states in the country to legalize marijuana, but the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world to do so. So I think this shows that this is the beginning of the end of national alcohol prohibition, that other states are sure to follow, that the momentum is with us now.
And I think, Amy, it’s also important to say this is most definitely not a pro-pot vote. This is very much a vote against a failed marijuana prohibitionist policy. It’s a vote that says we have to stop giving hundreds of thousands of young Americans a criminal record for nothing more than a joint. It’s a vote that says, instead of wasting billions of dollars each year on a failed prohibitionist policy, instead we should be taxing and regulating this stuff. It’s a vote to say, let’s take the money out of the hands of organized criminals in this country and elsewhere, and put it in more responsible hands and regulate this stuff like mature adults.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain how the organizing happened, how this Prop 64 in Colorado, and how the Washington state initiative got started?
ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, in both cases, they were started by people locally, who then reached out to me and my organization and other national organizations for assistance. So we were able to assist them with the drafting and the fundraising. But these things were very much home-grown sorts of initiatives.
In the case of Washington state, what was really remarkable was, for the first time ever, [inaudible] every member of the city council in Seattle, the mayor, the city attorney, two former U.S. attorneys, the former head of the FBI, the guys running for sheriff, all came out in favor. Most of the editorial boards around the state, including conservative parts of the state, editorialized in favor. The Children’s Alliance came out in favor. The leading expert in the country on marijuana addiction came out in favor. So you had a high-level establishment support unlike anything we’ve seen before.
In Colorado, by contrast, you saw less of that. But what Colorado had going for it is that it is the state with the most well-developed system of statewide regulation of medical marijuana, so people in Colorado already know that state and local government are able to responsibly regulate and tax the stuff, that the sky has not fallen, that it has not led to remarkable increases in marijuana use. So I think that really gave a level of familiarity to people to say, "Let’s go the next step. Let’s just be sensible. Let’s regulate it for adults, period."
AMY GOODMAN: What is your next step, Ethan Nadelmann?
ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, you know, we have to see what the federal government is going to do, because, you know, there is a conflict between state law and federal law here. Now I have to say, I was very reassured by the fact that the Obama administration, and in particular the attorney general, Holder, did not weigh in. Two years ago, when California was weighing on a similar initiative, Holder basically threatened Californians if they passed this, and that may have impacted the vote there. This time, the Obama administration, the attorney general, said nothing, notwithstanding the fact that former heads of the DEA and former drug czars all appealed to them to do so. I think what they saw was that young voters, independent voters, Democratic voters care a lot about this issue and that there was no reason to alienate them.
So my hope is that the federal government is going to adopt a policy of wait and see. The fact of the matter is, is that as of tomorrow, I believe, it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. In Colorado, it will be legal to grow a few plants. And the feds aren’t going to be concerned about that. But come the middle of next year in Colorado and the end of next year in Washington, the states are supposed to set up a statewide regulatory system. My hope is that the federal government and the Obama administration will say, "Let’s wait. Let’s see what’s going to happen," because in the interests of public safety and public health, a responsible system of legal regulation of marijuana makes a lot more sense than a failed prohibitionist policy.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk all—overall about the war on drugs and how this fits into this—
ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, I mean, what we see is that when—
AMY GOODMAN: —talking about U.S. policy in Latin America and other places?
ETHAN NADELMANN: Sure, I mean, I have to say, you know, having been down to Latin America extensively this year, having met with presidents in various countries and cabinet ministers and business leaders and social justice leaders, the one question that people down there keep asking me is, "What’s going to happen with those ballot initiatives?" And they keep thinking it’s in California; they can’t get it out of their mind that it’s California. And I explain to them it’s Colorado and Washington. But they take inspiration from this sort of thing, because they see that even as the federal government is championing, continuing to champion a failed drug war strategy throughout the region that’s wreaking havoc and violence in Mexico and other parts of the region, at the level of civil society, public opinion and state government, the United States of America has now emerged as the global leader in marijuana policy reform. What they see is that the U.S. federal policy internationally, at least with respect to marijuana, and to some extent with respect to the broader drug war, is no longer supported by the majority of the American population. Simultaneously, just a few months ago, you know, we had President Obama and Vice President Biden down in the region and for the first time acknowledging that the subjects of legalization and decriminalization and alternative drug policy were now a legitimate subject to debate and that the U.S. government was now willing to look at where U.S. drug policy might be doing more harm than good in the region.
So there’s some modest measures of progress down there. But I have to say, Amy, in all the years I’ve been involved with this, the two most exciting things happening right now are this incredible sentiment for a truly open debate, for breaking the taboo on the drug war discussions that we’ve had for so many decades that’s coming out of Latin America, and not just from, you know, the low levels of society or former presidents, but from current presidents. And dovetailing with them in the United States is this movement coming up, not from the elite level, but coming up from the people, from the grassroots, basically saying marijuana prohibition, it’s a bust. It’s time to end it.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ethan Nadelmann, we want to thank you very much for being with us, founder and president of the Drug Policy Alliance. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. And the New York Times has just declared that—is now projecting that President Obama has won a second term. In Chicago, we are seeing the crowds gathering. Our guests, one is just about to leave, Bob Herbert, who’s been with us for the evening, of Demos, American Prospect. Laura Flanders, staying with us a bit more, a journalist and broadcaster. Final comments, Bob?
BOB HERBERT: I think that it’s a very heartening evening. There are—there is tremendous work to do, going forward, immediate economic issues, almost the day after the election, to tell the truth. But it is a good time to pause and for progressives and liberals to say, "You know what? It’s a significant win, and we have a right to enjoy it, if it’s only for 24 or 48 hours.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Bob, thanks so much for being with us. Our next guest has just tweeted, "Not only will Barack Obama be inaugurated on MLK Day, but 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington." Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, is with us now.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Thank you. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts? You sound hoarse.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, you know, look, I’ve toured four states in the last four days. And we’ve seen turnout at huge levels in the face of real attempts at vote suppression and intimidation. This is a real victory for our democracy. One, the headline tomorrow needs to be that the tea party has failed. You know, they really tried to steal this thing in so many ways. They tried to bully voters. And it is—it is just a real victory for inclusion in our country. Think how children of color are going to be able to grow up in this country knowing that they can be a credible candidate for president. If Obama had won once and then been defeated, there would have been a lot of people saying to our kids, "Look, that was just a fluke. It can’t really happen again." But this is a trend. And that’s a great victory for inclusion. It’s a great victory for the dream of this country being a place where any kid can aspire to be president.
LAURA FLANDERS: It’s interesting that you would say—
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: It’s interesting that you would say "dream," Ben, because I’m looking at the demographic breakdown, and it’s quite interesting that, in fact, you know, among white voters, Romney gained some among white men, but not enormously. Barack Obama gained some around—from women, but not enormously. Where the gains were made—obviously, he retained his hold among African Americans—it was around—it was the Latino vote that came out enormously for Barack Obama. He was getting about nine out of 10 black voters. And he was being favored by Latinos 70 to 30 percent for Romney.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Sure.
LAURA FLANDERS: Again, what Ethan Nadelmann just said about medical marijuana reform being something that was led from below, not above, has been the story of this election, it seems to me.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: We have movements, whether it was the DREAMers, whether it was the LGBT community pushing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and then defending Tammy Baldwin, whether it was labor and those who came out for collective bargaining rights, some of the most vulnerable workers in our country—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And let’s be real clear—
LAURA FLANDERS: —or women’s rights, women saying, "It’s not enough to be sort of quietly, quietly around abortion. We actually have to fight back against some of the most brutal attacks that have come forward, because we haven’t been speaking loudly enough about justice." Or voting rights. On each of these fronts—and financial regulation, part of that movement is what brought Elizabeth Warren to victory this evening. These are all movements that if they had waited around for elite leadership, they would still be waiting.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: No, that’s exactly right.
LAURA FLANDERS: But they’re movements that have built to the victory today for Barack Obama.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: But let’s be real clear: But we’ve been subjected for months to people saying that the black vote lacks enthusiasm or the black vote won’t turn out. Well, the black vote may not swing between Democrats and Republicans these days. It does swing between voting and not voting. And black voters voted in huge numbers today and, quite frankly, secured this for the president again. When you look at the states where things have been nail biting and he is—it will come down to the black vote turning out.
A lot of it has to do—and this is why I say that the tea party has failed. A lot of it has to do with the fact that people’s right to vote was attacked head-on.
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And for months, they have been reminded by the far-right wing in this country just how valuable their vote is, because the far-right wing keeps trying to steal it. And, you know, if somebody keeps trying to steal that bicycle you have, even though it’s old and rusty, then all of a sudden you realize, well, you know, that’s—that’s probably a pretty good bike. Maybe I should lock it up. Maybe I should take some action on my end. And that’s what we saw today. We saw the black vote really come through.
Now, you know, this is going to cause both parties to have to stretch. The Republican Party is going to go into this moment of crisis trying to figure out who they are and how they reconnect to people of color in this country. But the Democrat Party is looking at a day when this man is not at the top of the ticket, when black voters will not be as enthusiastic, unless they really come out with an agenda to deal with mass incarceration, to deal with making sure that all our kids have access to education, and to deal with job creation.
LAURA FLANDERS: How critical do you think Barack Obama’s, you know, pretty ninth inning shift on the DREAM Act was to this result tonight?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, I think it was important for the Latino community. I think that coming out on marriage equality was important for the LGBT community. I think standing up, you know, to the face of these crazy attacks on women’s rights were critical. And I think that, you know, this president is really—kind of a different experience with the black community this time than he had four years ago. You know, four years ago, people stayed in a moment of euphoria for months. We’re not going to do that this time. We’ve learned our—we have to stay in movement mode. We have to be focused on this budget battle. But we also have to be focused on January. We need real leadership from this president in job creation for our community. The black middle class has been falling through the floor. And, you know, this time around, we will not let ourselves be taken for granted one more time.
LAURA FLANDERS: One other question, and, Amy, I’d love your input on this, too, is this question of Citizens United and the amount of money spent this election. Will we see the continuing drive for reform when so many victories are being claimed under this system? Certainly, I’m looking—I’d be interested to see the breakdown of how many well-funded candidates were defeated and how many sort of Karl Rove funders are disappointed with what they got back for their money. Will change come perhaps from unexpected places, the push for change? But I’m particularly concerned to find out, in this moment of sort of victory, whether we will see a cooling of jets around reform of financing of elections.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, wasn’t President Obama actually the first to pull out—
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —of any kind of, you know, federal election campaign finance, the first time he ran?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, sure. I mean, that’s—look, that’s right, but, you know what? That’s just bringing a gun to a gun fight. I mean, truly, what you’re dealing with now is massive amounts of capital, and you’d better be prepared to go up to the billion-dollar mark or the $2 billion mark. We’ve got to change the rules of the game. And I think what you’re going to see is you’ll see a lot of pressure to change the rules of the Senate, to get beyond this coward’s filibuster, to say to these senators, "If you want to filibuster, then you’ve got to put on your Depends and go down there on the floor and do it yourself," because, look, President Johnson, with all of the tension in those days, I think there was like one bill—no, sorry, yeah, there was one bill filibustered. We had like 381 during the last Congress—381. So you’re going to see that push. And that will break the lock for kind of the richest interests in a pretty profound way.
Then you’re going to see folks really push for, I think, with reforming money in politics across this country. Look, Citizens United is still with us. People are very much concerned. And you’re absolutely going to see people on fire going up against ALEC and their forces, saying, "We’ve got to get our" —
AMY GOODMAN: The American Legislative Exchange Council.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. "We’ve got to get our voting rights back." And, you now, we’ve been working for months now with the Sierra Club; with CWA, the communications workers; with Greenpeace; with a whole range of good government groups; with our allies in the civil rights community, to put together a strategy for actually strengthening our democracy next year through changing the laws at the federal and the state level. You know, we’ve learned our lesson. You know, the progressives in this country can’t just kind of gear up in the odd years and then go to—gear up in the even years and then go to sleep in the odd years. We’ve got to stay awake every year.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask a question. AP has just reported that Maine residents have approved same-sex marriage, giving the gay rights movement a breakthrough victory. Maine—this is a very significant because it would make their state the first to legalize marriage equality by ballot measure. Voters in Washington, Referendum 74, and Maryland, Question 6, have the opportunity to uphold marriage equality laws passed by their state legislatures. And we’re following all this closely. Minnesotans can defeat a ban on same-sex marriage. The final word is not in on Minnesota; 47 percent of the votes have been tallied. But it looks like that it has gone down, which means there would not be a ban on same-sex marriage.
LAURA FLANDERS: I mean, this is—again, if movements had been waiting for leadership at the top on gay—on marriage equality, they would have been waiting their entire lives.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: Their relationships would never have lasted long enough if it had lasted right into the grave. These are movements that have pushed for radical change in this country when the leaders of our parties, both of them, but including the Democrats, thought this was an unwinnable issue. The Maine victory is huge. It’s the first voted-in victory of its kind, and it’s exactly the kind of victory that the opponents of marriage equality have said wasn’t possible. I mean, this is really an up-from-below campaign.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: It’s huge.
LAURA FLANDERS: Is it all we want? No. I mean, we don’t want our rights tied to our marital status, thank you. But in terms of a victory to be claimed, for sure, it’s one that shows if you had waited around, you never would have gotten it.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous, talk about your stance with the NAACP on the issue of same-sex marriage, because you changed your organization.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. And in the process, we actually changed the game in Maryland. After we came out, that the—it surged about 15 percent in the black community. And in that state, with us being about 22 percent of the voters, that’s an important shift for something that’s going to come down to two or three points. Look, we responded to—
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you do?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, we responded to the same moment that the president did, which is what happened down in North Carolina, where they actually encoded discrimination against the LGBT community into their state constitution and, in doing so, did two things. One, they actually took this issue of marriage equality off the table for a very long time in that state, at least until we are successful in the U.S. Supreme Court, which actually could happen. Two—
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt for a second, because Tammy Baldwin is now speaking.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: She is the Wisconsin congressmember, first—she will be the first openly lesbian senator of the United States. She beat the former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.
SENATOR-ELECT TAMMY BALDWIN: ... a senator who will stand on the side of the middle class, a senator who will wake up every morning and fight for the middle class. They’ve told me that they want an economy in which everyone plays by the same rules and everyone does their fair share. They’ve told me that they want a level playing field, one where China can’t cheat our workers and millionaires can’t dodge taxes and Wall Street can’t crash our economy with risky gambling. They’ve told me that they want to pay down our debt without shortchanging our future. They’ve told me that they want to be able to rely on the guarantees of Medicare and Social Security, not just today, but for future generations. Most of all, they’ve told me that the special interests have too much power in Washington, and it’s time for the people’s voice to be heard. Well, the people’s voice was heard tonight, Wisconsin. And come—and come January, your voice will be heard in the United States Senate.
BALDWIN SUPPORTERS: Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy!
SENATOR-ELECT TAMMY BALDWIN: I am honored and humbled and grateful, and I’m ready to get to work, ready—ready to stand with President Barack Obama, and ready to fight for Wisconsin’s middle class.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Tammy Baldwin making her acceptance address in Wisconsin. She will be the next senator from Wisconsin and the first openly gay senator in the United States Senate.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. NPR has just called Virginia for President Obama, bringing him to a projected 303 electoral votes versus 203 for Mitt Romney. But apparently, according to reports from Fox, Mitt Romney camp is seriously questioning the Ohio results. But even without Ohio, President Obama would still win. We’re joined by Laura Flanders and by Ben Jealous, who is the head of the—the president and CEO of the NAACP. So, Mitt Romney has not given his concession speech, not clear whether President Obama would have to wait to give his acceptance speech. Ben Jealous?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, and it’s not clear why Romney is surprised about Ohio, because the reports were that his own poll had him down by five points in that state. So, you know, I think, you know, this is a moment. I mean, if you go back, you know, to Kerry, you go back to Bush versus Gore, you know, this is a moment when people are looking at the man who’s been defeated to be magnanimous, to be—to really stand up and to be graceful and gracious, and to also, you know, be a steward of our democracy. You know, let us hope that he finds a way to give that speech that he says that he has not written.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, speaking of being a steward, we’re joined by Bill McKibben right now, co-founder and director of 350.org, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. He is speaking to us on the phone from Seattle, Washington. Bill, your response to the news, the networks all calling it for President Obama, accepting, at least through his tweet, that he has been re-elected as president of the United States?
BILL McKIBBEN: Well, it’s—I think what it does is give us something to work with. And that doesn’t mean that we stop politics; it means we start politics. We just sent out a email from 350.org about 10 minutes ago saying that since the president won re-election, we’re all gathering in Washington again on November 18th to demand an end once and for all to the Keystone pipeline. It also means we go to work against the fossil fuel industry big time. We launch a 21-city road show around the country tomorrow night here in Seattle, because we have to give people in Washington some room to work. We’ve got to get the fossil fuel industry off their backs. And, you know, that’s what this night means. It doesn’t mean our problems are solved; it means that our problems might be soluble if we build the movements to make things happen. But we have to do that work.
And I just want to say, as long as he’s there with you, enormous kudos tonight to Ben Jealous, because he really has been demonstrating how those movements get built and what to do, and there’s really been no one who’s figured out more how to build the big, broad coalitions that we need. Watching the results come in from Ohio and knowing that he put together a drive to register a million new voters there, you know, that’s what made the difference tonight.
Now we’ve got to do the work to make the difference in the years ahead. You know, President Obama was re-elected during the warmest year in American history. His legacy 50 years from now will be largely dependent, maybe entirely dependent, on how well he dealt with the biggest crisis that the planet’s ever faced: climate change. And that’s why we’ve got to go to work to make sure that he lives up to his promise.
AMY GOODMAN: In the middle of Hurricane Sandy, [inaudible] major-party presidential [inaudible] change in their presidential debates, nor did the moderators raise the issue. But nature raised the issue in this week before the election. Around a hundred people died. Still many people are without power. Your thoughts on what this means? Because we are now just in the wake of more arrests down in Winnsboro, Texas. In fact, one of the third-party presidential candidates, Dr. Jill Stein, was arrested there giving food to the tree sitters who are trying to prevent the trees from being cut down to make room for the southern leg of the pipeline that President Obama has approved, though he said he would make his final decision after this election.
BILL McKIBBEN: His final decision on the kind of the border crossing with Canada, yeah, absolutely. Look, it’s going to take just that kind of coalition to have a hope of winning these things. You know, Ben came and helped us a lot when we were doing the sit-ins in Washington last—summer before last, the biggest civil disobedience action in 30 years. That’s why we won a year’s delay. And now, hopefully, we’ll—in a position to win more than that. But we can’t expect the president or anybody else to do it by themselves. The power of the fossil fuel industry is so great that we’ve got to trim it some. That’s why we’re launching this divestment campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, President Obama has raised the issue of them getting the kind of tax breaks they do and has repeatedly said that they shouldn’t. On the other hand, he and Mitt Romney couldn’t outdrill each other enough in those debates, talking about how he spoke about—President Obama spoke about how he—how important oil production is and going on about increasing drilling in the United States.
BILL McKIBBEN: No, I know. There was—the debates were not good on this. I mean, there were moments when it looked like they were going to dare each other to eat a piece of coal, you know, to prove who liked it better. But, you know, that’s a demonstration of the power of that industry, which spent more money on this election than anybody else. You know, I mean, watch TV tonight. Every network you turn on, all the ads are still for clean coal or, you know, fracking or whatever else. We’re never going to outspend these guys. We’re going to have to find other currencies to work in, the currencies of movement, passion, spirit, creativity. Sometimes we’ll have to spend our bodies. If Mitt Romney had been elected, it would have been more or less useless to do that. He announced that, for instance, he would build the Keystone pipeline with—by himself, if necessary, which frankly was a slightly charming notion, thinking about Mitt Romney with a shovel out there. But, you know, now we have a chance. That’s all we have, and that’s all we ever have. We don’t go away now and wait for our elected leaders to miraculously solve our problems for us; we take the opportunity we’re presented to build movements. At least, that’s what we think at 350.org.
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to bring updates on races around the country and also ballot initiatives, the latest news out of Minnesota is that Michele Bachmann’s race is tied with 57 percent of returns in. She might be ahead by something like 400 votes, the former Republican presidential candidate. But I wanted to ask you, Ben Jealous, on the—right now, yeah, she’s about 400 votes ahead over Jim Graves. The ballot initiative in California—you are closely tied with the anti-death-penalty movement—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —a major force in it. Talk about the ballot initiative in California, 36.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, this is—Prop 34 is huge.
AMY GOODMAN: Prop 34.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Prop 34 is huge. It’s huge for a few reasons. First of all, this was put on the ballot coming right out of the movement to save Troy Davis’s life and people saying, "Look, we’re going to do something constructive, and we’re going to force this question here." And now we see it—it’s been peaking over the last two weeks. The last poll, we were up by nine points. And it—
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what this is, this particular initiative.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: So, Prop 34, the SAFE campaign, says, "Look, we’re going to get rid of the death penalty. We’re going to replace it with life without the possibility of parole. We’re going to take the $185 million that we spend on maintaining death row every year in California, that we won’t have to spend if we shift everybody over to serving life in the general population, and invest that money in making our state safer," because right now in California, you have a one-out-of-two chance of getting away with murder. Only 56 percent of homicides are solved. And saying, "Look, we will all be safer if we get the uncaught killers off the street." And for our communities, it’s a very serious proposition. And so, you know, I mean, put in a different perspective, California, since the death penalty was reinstated, has spent $4 billion maintaining death row and only done 13 executions.
And so, we could see one of the largest death rows in the country shut down by popular ballot, you know, before the end of the day tomorrow. They say this is likely to go into, you know, mail-in votes. This is why absentee voting matters. This is why provisional ballots matter. It’s that close. But it will be absolutely revolutionary if we do this on the ballot, because in the past we’ve only done this by going through the state Senate and the state Assembly and going up to the governor. And we did that in Connecticut a few months ago. But this is a game changer. Just the fact we’ve gotten this far means that, you know, if it doesn’t succeed now, we will make sure it succeeds later.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking about initiatives and the state of California, Gustavo Arellano is with us, editor of OC Weekly. He writes a nationally syndicated column called "Think Like a Mexican." Can you talk about what is happening right now in California? The polls closed, what, 33 minutes ago, so I know you don’t have many final results in right now, Gustavo.
GUSTAVO ARELLANO: It’s really a rejection of almost everything on the ballot in terms of propositions, so not only are people rejecting Props 30 and 38, which would have funded more—more funds for schools, for public education, but there’s also a rejection of Proposition 32, which was Orwellianly named "paycheck protection" initiative, that would have severely limited the power of public employee unions here in California. And one of the few things that have—and one of the few things that has been approved so far, at least, was, you know, to repeal the death penalty and to have life imprisonment.
AMY GOODMAN: Right, which is what you’re talking about, Ben Jealous.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, you know, that’s right. And actually, listening to Gustavo reminds me that in—you know, tonight in—tonight back home in Maryland, we actually passed the DREAM Act. And we did a battleground states poll, the NAACP, over the last day that shows that actually black support for the DREAM Act is extremely high, in some areas actually higher than it is in the Latino community. And this is someplace where we’ve had real common cause, black folks and brown folks coming together and saying, "This is important. This is the right thing to do. Let’s get it done." I think Laura is absolutely right. You’re seeing bottom-up movements across this country, and you’re seeing very engaged voters who are willing to go all the way down the ballots with their principles, with their values, and keep the faith and actually do the right thing. You know, this is a very exciting—very exciting time.
AMY GOODMAN: The Maryland law that you’re referring to granting in-state tuition discount to undocumented college students winning approval in a referendum.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. That’s right, Question 4.
LAURA FLANDERS: You know, when Bill McKibben—
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: When Bill McKibben talks about the seemingly insurmountable challenges that we face when it comes to shifting our economy’s reliance on carbon fuels and shifting our trajectory vis-à-vis climate change, you know, I would love to hear from you, Ben, about the insurmountable challenges some people faced casting ballots this election, because last time I saw you, I think we all were at the Green Fest in Washington, and I heard just a little bit of what you said about what your organization was facing in different states.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah.
LAURA FLANDERS: And I don’t know. I mean, I just would love to spend a little bit of time putting some flesh on the bones of some of the stories that we’ve heard about people voting against the odds this election, because at the end of the day, that is what this election night is about.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: No, that’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: And you’ve met some amazing people on your travels.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah. Well, you know, look, we heard from—just yesterday I was in Raleigh and Greensboro and Charlotte, throughout the state of North Carolina. We heard from a 20-year vet of the U.S. military, a young woman who’s very active in the NAACP, active in her church. She had been delivering van loads of folks from her church to the early voting location in her area. And an official poll worker came out to her and started yelling at her and saying, "What are you doing? Who are you? Who are these people? I don’t like what you’re doing. You know, you shouldn’t be doing this," delivering your neighbors to vote, right? in the world’s greatest democracy. And then, the sheriff’s deputy tailed this van for eight miles. And this woman was crying, but crying out—you know, when she called her branch president, she called the state conference president, crying out of determination, saying, "Look, I’m going to go right back there, but we need to make sure that you’re there." And so we sent people out there. And that’s the power of the NAACP. We are active in 1,200 places across this country. And virtually every place that something bad goes down at the polling place, we have volunteers there who can help.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Gustavo Arellano back into this conversation. Joe Arpaio, the sheriff, has just been re-elected in Arizona. Your thoughts?
GUSTAVO ARELLANO: It’s not surprising. I mean, it’s depressing as heck, but it’s not surprising. In Arizona, and specifically in Maricopa County, it’s a bunch of suburban voters, a lot of people actually originally from Orange County, California, who migrated out of there. But that—for me, that just shows that there’s still work to be done. So I’m so happy that Maryland is so far passing a version of the DREAM Act there. It really makes me feel optimistic that eventually the tide will turn for the rights of the undocumented in the United States. But still, with Joe Arpaio winning his re-election yet again, despite so much evidence of him being so corrupt, for me, that shows that there’s still work to be done. So, for those folks out in Arizona, you know, we’re with you. Across the United States, we’re with you. And for those of you in Maryland who voted for the DREAM Act, God bless you folks. I’m glad you guys are realizing what needs to be done in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the number of Latinos who are coming out to vote?
GUSTAVO ARELLANO: That is something that—of course, here in California, the Latino electorate has been powerful for now, I would say, a good generation. But now it’s starting to pop up in the rest of the United States. It’s starting to pop up in Maryland, in Virginia. Even in Ohio, I’ve been seeing so far. And, you know, in Texas, you had Julian Castro being elected to Congress. It’s starting to—and so, what you’re seeing now is Latinos starting to—I hate to use this cliché. Actually, on Twitter, I told reporters, "Please don’t use these clichés of Latinos flexing their political muscle and the sleeping giant awakening." But it’s happening. It’s finally happening. And it’s been happening in the Southwest for a while, but now it’s starting to happen around the rest of the United States. And I think with Romney losing, and losing decisively, one of the reasons he lost was because he couldn’t get that Latino electorate. If you can’t get Latinos to vote for you, then, frankly, you really have no chance of winning on a national level anymore. And I think that’s a wonderful thing.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to asked Ben Jealous—oh, AP has just called Virginia, and President Obama has won Virginia. Why is this so significant, this key battleground state?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Story there—
AMY GOODMAN: Also, Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia for the Senate seat.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right. You know, George Allen came to our dinner the other night, our state conference dinner, about 300 people, and stayed for the entire dinner. It was really a testament to how important the black vote is. It’s important in a state like that. You know, look, the insurgent Latino votes are growing—rapidly growing Latino vote in Virginia is very important. The kind of white Northerners moving into northern Virginia have really changed the politics of the state. But no Democrat wins Virginia without the black vote turning out in force. And this is a real testament to the strength of the black vote. It’s a real testament to people like Ray Boone at the Richmond Free Press, a great black, fierce black newspaper publisher who, you know, going back to Doug Wilder’s campaign, has been organizing people and really telling them to kind of recognize their power. And, you know, that’s going to be a big story coming out of Virginia.
And, you know, what—you know, to go back to what Bill McKibben was talking about just most generally, we have to stay in movement mode. We have to get focused on what we really want. We’ve got to really push this administration, we’ve got to push Congress, to deliver. You know, Congress has been saying that their job is to make sure that this president doesn’t get re-elected. Well, guess what? He will never be on the ballot again. So now you need to find a new job, like maybe making job creation job one, you know, rather than job elimination of one man.
And it’s time also, you know, for this president to really sit down with black leadership in this country and have a really frank conversation about how we get the black middle class back on track. We were severely betrayed by the banking industry. We have been—you know, we’ve seen the public sector employment, which has really been the number one employer of black men, furiously attacked across this country. But here’s the silver bullet. For us, ending discrimination is as important as job creation. And there’s a whole lot that this president can do to have a full-frontal assault on the sort of discrimination that can only explain why it is just as unlikely for a black college graduate to find a job relative a white college graduate as it is for a black person who has no high school degree relative a white person with no high school degree. You have this differential for every level of education, and discrimination is the only way to explain most of that difference.
AMY GOODMAN: We are jumping around, but we’re getting lots of news in from all over the country. Again, President Obama has won re-election to a second term as president of the United States. Also, there are ballot initiatives around this country, and one we have mentioned but not gone directly to is in Colorado. Colorado and Washington have not just become the first U.S. states but the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world to approve regulating, taxing and controlling marijuana similar to alcohol. Brian Vicente joins us, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. He is joining us from Denver, Colorado. Brian, can you talk about the significance of this vote, Prop 64, passing today in Colorado?
BRIAN VICENTE: Sure. This is a monumental night in drug policy reform. Colorado has taken a massive step forward in ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. We’re going to tax marijuana, we’re going to move it behind the counter, and we’re going to generate jobs for our state.
AMY GOODMAN: But what exactly does it mean, considering you’re not only the first states in the country but the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world? Explain how you organized this and what exactly will happen once this—what has to happen? Governor Hickenlooper just has to sign off on it?
BRIAN VICENTE: Sure. So this was a many year project that myself and some other folks were working on. To get to this point was a long road, but we had a robust conversation in Colorado about medical marijuana, about marijuana reform generally. And at the end of the day, Colorado voters said, you know, marijuana prohibition has not worked. I think, in doing so, they’re sending a warning shot that the drug war in fact is a failure, that’s going to be heard around the world and around our country. The implementation process from here is that within 30 days our governor must sign this amendment into law. That means adults 21 and older will be able to possess small amounts of marijuana privately. And within about a year, we will have storefronts that are regulated by the state and local government, and where marijuana is taxed and sold to adults 21 and over.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you organize this?
BRIAN VICENTE: It was—you know, we just reached out to supporters. We ran local ballot initiatives to build support. We, you know, got money from small and large funders. And I think we tapped into a vein of consciousness and a passion where a lot of people realize that marijuana prohibition has been a colossal failure. It’s like alcohol prohibition. It did not work. All it did was fuel an underground market. And Coloradans believe that if you move this product behind the counter, take it off the streets, it’s tougher for kids to get, and it produces a lot of tax revenue for the state. So, the drug war has been an abysmal failure, and we’ve really taken a positive step forward to change that today.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous, talk about your position a year ago as CEO of the NAACP.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. You know, look, our folks come together every year to set policy for the organization. And about—I guess about 15, 16 months ago at our 2011 convention, our delegates voted unanimously to call for an end to the war on drugs, for this very reason, because it is a failure. Look, you know, it was the Untouchables who captured Al Capone, but it was the end of prohibition that killed his gang. We have seen spates of violence in our country like we see right now. And we know how to end it. But ending it takes more courage than most politicians have. And so, what we’re seeing in these states—and our folks in Oregon have been very involved in pushing just this sort of bill—is people saying—just kind of wising up and saying, look, you know, 75 percent of the grown-ups in this country admit that they’ve smoked pot at least once. It’s been with us since the founding of the country. And the reality is that if we want to end the violence, if we want to stop enriching drug cartels, if we actually want to put that money into our economy and stop breaking up families by, you know, persecuting people for being addicts who really should be going to rehab if they’ve got a real problem, then we’ve got to get courageous and actually confront this problem head-on and be real about what’s a solution and what’s just fantasy.
AMY GOODMAN: And going back to our guest in Colorado, to Brian Vicente, how are you planning to celebrate tonight?
BRIAN VICENTE: You know, we plan on having a robust and fun party here tonight. But tomorrow starts the important process of implementation. We need to make sure that this law works well for Coloradans. And we need to be a model for this state and this country and this world about how commonsense drug policy can be played out, and let them know that the war on drugs has failed, and we’re taking a positive step forward, and they can do the same.
AMY GOODMAN: And Gustavo Arellano in California, what about the significance of a bill like this? I mean, this is the first time in the world, through ballot initiative, that this has taken place.
GUSTAVO ARELLANO: This is validation of what we did almost a decade ago at this point, where we affirmed the creation of medicinal marijuana. Of course, this is something that both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have been fighting us ever since we implemented it. I believe it was Proposition 15 that was the name of that initiative. And so, for Colorado to not just approve medicinal marijuana, but just to approve the use of marijuana, period, again, it’s validation for what we in California have thought for a long time, that this war on drugs is a colossal failure.
As a child of Mexican immigrants myself, I welcome Colorado legalizing marijuana, because I know that the way to cut the power of these cartels that are destroying Mexico is by legalizing marijuana, by ending this war on drugs. And I just hope that the Obama administration, now that it’s in its second term, that it realizes that the war on drugs is a failure, that we need to legalize not just marijuana but almost all drugs, period. And that’s going to take away a lot of the power that creates so much [inaudible] migration, illegal or not, that comes into the United States from Mexico. So, you know, I wish that the gentleman from Colorado would say that the way they’re going to celebrate is by, you know, lighting up a big blunt, but I’m sure he can’t say that right now, so I’ll say it for him.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, the law has not gone into effect yet.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: The law has not gone into effect yet.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you have plans? Have you spoken to people in Washington state, where they also passed similar bill?
BRIAN VICENTE: We have. We have. They have been partners of ours. You know, they’ve been working on their bill for years; we’ve been working on our bill for years. Thankfully, they both passed. And I think we have a mandate here. These are two states, two commonsense states. These are—you know, Colorado is purple as they come. And I think this sends a really strong message that the federal government’s war on drugs has failed. States are ready to take the lead on this, and we need to head in a more positive new direction.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for joining us, Brian Vicente. Prop 64 has passed in Colorado. And thank you to Denis Moynihan for setting up this interview in Denver. Gustavo Arellano and Ben Jealous and Laura Flanders, Mitt Romney has just called President Obama to concede the election, so I do think we are going to hear a concession speech very soon. You tweeted, Ben Jealous, that 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. But yeah, what we’ll hear in January is it’s also the 150th anniversary of the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. And this—you know, it’s sort of hard not to tear up. I mean, you know, sit down with Vernon Jordan, who was our man in Georgia, when Medgar Evers was our man in Mississippi. He will tell you that right after Brown v. Board of Education they started talking about what barriers would have to be removed for a person of color to become president of the United States. You know, next year is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the blowing up of those four little girls in Birmingham. And you will hear, I think, a lot of people talking next year both about the pride of our community for how far that we’ve come, you know, over roads with—that with tears have been watered, but you will also hear people talking about how far we need to go, that our goal has never been sort of the freedom to be free, as Mandela talked about the end of apartheid in South Africa, but freedom itself.
And right now, with so much going backwards as far as the financial stability of our community, about—you know, with this fact that black people in this country are the most incarcerated people on the planet—and if we’re honest, quite frankly, we also have the most incarcerated white people on the planet, most incarcerated brown people on the planet. I mean, we’ve got some real issues that we have to deal with, if we’re going to get to a place here where our children can grow up being free. And the beauty, I think, of the black experience in this country is that we’re always at the vanguard. When we can improve this country for us, it improves it for everybody. And so I hope that the whole country next year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the 50th—the 150th anniversary of emancipation, and also mark the 50th anniversaries of these—of these very disturbing assassinations, actually comes together to reflect on the value and importance of freedom for us as an entire country.
LAURA FLANDERS: It’s interesting you—
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: —should go back to this word "freedom," Ben. The tea party wanted to redefine "freedom" as freedom to be free [inaudible] on your own little island, dog eat dog. This word "freedom" has been up for definition since the years of the founding of the country, but go back to the emancipation declaration, and you have President Lincoln writing a letter about how we have never yet had an adequate definition for the word "liberty," was the word he used.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right.
LAURA FLANDERS: He said, you know, the shepherd keeps the wolf from the lamb’s neck and is thanked by the lamb for the protection of his liberty, but damned by the wolf for the denial of his freedom.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right.
LAURA FLANDERS: This election is about these issues that this country has been grappling with at every crux point, and never more than in those post-Civil-War-era years, where we saw the incarceration of black men, freed after the Civil War, but rounded up in massive numbers on petty crimes. You saw the vilification of immigrants, fights around labor rights—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Chinese exclusion. I mean—
LAURA FLANDERS: —the waging of illegal wars, the
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: It was actually a moment very similar to this moment.
LAURA FLANDERS: Very similar to this one.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Very similar to this moment.
LAURA FLANDERS: And we’re right back there today. And I only hope that these anniversaries coming up next year will be a chance to revisit some of this history, to consider the gains that were made by social movements, whether it was labor, women, people of color, immigrants, peace groups, international labor organizations, saying there are different ways for countries to relate to one another, changing international policy. We made victories. We made steps in the right direction from the 1880s forward—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We also all came—
LAURA FLANDERS: And they’ve been being unraveled.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: But we also all came together. I mean, what was going on 150 years ago—
LAURA FLANDERS: Yeah.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: —is that you had suffragettes, sort of their prototypes, people like Frances Willard, who were, yes, standing up for women’s rights, but they were also standing up against slavery.
LAURA FLANDERS: That’s right.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You had white populists, you had white abolitionists, you had black abolitionists, all coming together at the same moment. And you saw that a hundred years later in the 1950s and '60s, all coming together. And that's the challenge and the opportunity of this moment. And that’s what Bill was talking about earlier. If we can actually get to the place where we understand what our foes understand, if we understand what the Koch brothers understand, right? I mean, here they are attacking everybody’s rights all the time, because they see it as being connected, going after voting rights, because they understand that’s the lynchpin. We need to reverse that understanding and understand that in this democracy the way that we protect all of our rights is to be all for one and one for all.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to ask you in just a moment, after we hear Mitt Romney concede—he has just made the call to President Obama—to think about this question. And that is, would you be doing anything differently in your organizing these next four years on the issues that you care most about? For example, around voting rights, around death penalty, around Stand Your Ground. In the background, we can hear right now people shouting, "Mitt! Mitt!" He’s at the Boston convention center. Now they’re singing "God Bless America." But as they sing—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Sure. You know, so, look, the answer to that, to that list of issues, is "no," because most of those are state issues. And we need to understand that the real battles of this century are going to be more about state-level legislation than federal litigation. That’s how the game has changed for us.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to Mitt Romney making his concession speech.
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you so very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters. This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.
I want to thank Paul Ryan for all that he has done for our campaign and [for our country. Besides my wife, Ann, Paul is the best choice I’ve ever made. And I trust that his intellect and his hard work and his commitment to principle will continue to contribute to the good of our nation.
I also want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady. She’s—she has been that and more to me and to our family and to the many people that she has touched with her compassion and her care. I thank my sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and thank their wives and children for taking up the slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.
I want to thank Matt Rhoades and the dedicated campaign team he led. They have made an extraordinary effort not just for me, but also for the country that we love.
And to you here tonight, and to the team across the country—the volunteers, the fundraisers, the donors, the surrogates—I don’t believe that there’s ever been an effort in our party that can compare with what you have done over these past years. Thank you so very much. Thanks for all the hours of work, for the calls, for the speeches and appearances, for the resources and for the prayers. You gave deeply from yourselves and performed magnificently. And you inspired us, and you humbled us. You’ve been the very best we could have imagined.
The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.
We look to our teachers and professors; we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis, everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job creators of all kinds; we’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward. And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.
I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.
Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish—I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.
Thank you, and God bless America. You guys are the best. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks, guys.]
[end of hour six]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we continue online at democracynow.org. This is Mitt Romney at the Boston convention center giving his concession address just before President Obama will take the stage in Chicago to accept the—
MITT ROMNEY: But the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.
Thank you, and God bless America. You guys are the best. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks, guys.
AMY GOODMAN: —to announce that he has—ah, he has just—right now, Mitt Romney is saying "thank you," and he is leaving the stage. His family is coming out. And our guests are Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, and broadcaster and journalist Laura Flanders. Paul Ryan and his family are there with Mitt Romney on the stage. Congressmember Ryan has retained his seat in Congress in his race in Janesville and the surrounding area in Wisconsin, so he still will remain in office. We are going to be going in just a few minutes, I expect, Ben and Laura, to President Obama. It is a late night for the Obama family. Many thousands of people, it looks like, are gathered in Chicago. This question of organizing, of how you will do things differently, Ben—your issues are movement issues.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, that’s right. And look, we have to stay focused. I mean, we will keep doing what we’ve been doing for—for years, but we will make sure that we don’t skip a beat. You know, in 2008, folks skipped a bit. You had an entire movement really change the outcome of what people just knew was going to happen that year and then act like, OK, well, then it’s his job to fix everything. And then, what you learn, day one, when you’re a young community organizer, as I was in Harlem 20 years ago, is that you never elect somebody to make change happen. You elect somebody to make it easier for you to make change happen, but you never actually give up the responsibility to make change happen. And that’s what we have to internalize tonight, is that this gives the progressive movement, gives the civil rights movement, the human rights movement, the women’s rights movement, all these movements, the environmentalist movement, the opportunity to this time have a redo, if you will, from 2008, gives the labor movement an opportunity to have a redo from 2008, and actually stay in movement mode, and seize what happens—
AMY GOODMAN: What will make the difference? I mean, why didn’t it happen in 2008?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Because people got—you know, there was euphoria. There had been eight years of Bush, you know? And people never thought they would ever see a person of color become president. And those two things came together. And, you know, I think it will go down in history as being sort of reasonable to have been euphoric that one time, but you can’t do that again.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to Laura Flanders.
LAURA FLANDERS: Just very quickly, for respect—with respect to the media’s role and what we might do differently—you excepted, Amy—but is, you know, what we’ve seen tonight are movement victories, long-shot movement victories in many cases, around marijuana, around gay marriage, you name it—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: DREAM Act.
LAURA FLANDERS: With the DREAM Act—we’ve talked about it.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Maybe even the death penalty.
LAURA FLANDERS: Maybe even the death penalty. Four years ago, the narrative was a long-shot candidate won the nomination and won the presidency, Barack Obama. The narrative this time needs to be long-shot movements moved this country against tremendous odds. Our media, our cameras need to fixed more tightly on those movement leaders, who are right now guaranteeing protecting people’s right to vote, who are getting people what they need to survive in dislocated communities all around this country—Sandy survivors and still Katrina survivors living in trailers. We have got to connect the national narrative about politics and power in this country with the local narrative about who it is that is empowering people to survive in the worst economy most of us have ever lived in, in one of the most divided political climates that we’ve lived through, and in a—
AMY GOODMAN: I just want to say—
LAURA FLANDERS: —and in a economic-employment crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: —to people, if you think you’re hearing President Obama’s voice behind Laura’s, it’s a video—
LAURA FLANDERS: It’s all wrong.
AMY GOODMAN: —that has been showing. And I think he’s about to come out. But keep speaking, Laura, until he steps up.
LAURA FLANDERS: No, it was simply, that let’s make a pledge once again not to spend four years reporting on politics as if it was only politicians that mattered. You do it differently. Many of us watching, I think, appreciate what you do, with—if I could send one message to the money media, the media that have made so much money this election, courtesy of Citizens United, to whom the vast lion’s share of that $6 billion have gone, it has been politics is not just the politicians. Politics is the people. And that’s where we need some of that media attention to go next.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, yeah. And one thing we’ve got to do as movement people is start being movement parents again and really raising our kids to be fighters, you know, to really fight for freedom and democracy in this country. When I was a kid, I benefited, because back then, you know, we thought the Tea Party was actually a very progressive thing, right? You know, 1976, the celebration of the bicentennial. And I come from a family that on one side fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, you know, that both sides fought in the Civil War—on the right side, I might add—fought in the civil rights movement, included suffragettes. And we were told history as instruction. We were told history not as nostalgia, not as a celebration of firsts, but this is how our ancestors did it. This is how your grandparents did it. This is how we did it, so you understood how to do it, too. And today, one thing, you know, that really touched my heart is I saw people out there with their kids, young kids, going door to door, really training them up in democracy in this country. And we have to be serious about that, because, quite frankly, this battle over voter suppression could easily go on for generations. The last time that we saw states do what they did this year and actually start using the law to suppress the vote was right after the Civil War. It went on for 40 years. And so, we’ve got to start training our kids now, if we’re going to win this fight in a way that’s definitive.
LAURA FLANDERS: So let’s retell that Tea Party story. They threw off the East India Company, a corporate elite in bed with the British government.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: We can throw off Wall Street and corporate elites in bed with our government.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And it was the populists that made that revolution happen, not the patricians.
AMY GOODMAN: According to AP, early exit polls released tonight show about half of voters still blame President George W. Bush more than President Obama for the country’s economic problems, and most cite the economy as their top issue in the elections. Right now at McCormick Place, President Obama is about to speak. It’s about two-and-a-half miles south of downtown Chicago. It’s a big convention center. It is named for Colonel Robert McCormick, a controversial, charismatic visionary who served as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. In fact, it’s where the NATO summit took place just a few months ago, where scores of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan who returned home took off their medals and threw them back at the NATO summit to protest war. Thousands look like they are gathered right now inside. This is different than outside before at Grant Park, where President Obama is about to take the stage. People are cheering.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: It’s a very different room.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, our special six-hour extended edition of this election special. After President Obama gives his acceptance speech, we’ll conclude for the night, and then we’ll resume Democracy Now! tomorrow morning at 8:00 for our regular daily grassroots, global, unembedded, independent, international, investigative news hour, that particularly gives voice to movements in this country and around the world. I want to say a special thank you to Ben Jealous, CEO and president of the NAACP, and to Laura Flanders, a broadcaster and journalist, as we turn right now, listening to the music in the background—many people are waving flags, waiting for President Obama to come out. Ben Jealous, did you think you’d see this moment?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, there were moments we had doubts. This fight against voter suppression this year was very real. And we had some very powerful governors. But when you started to see people like Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, actually veto a strict photo ID bill, when you saw saw Bob McDonnell in Virginia, who will go down as a hero for fighting voter suppression this year, tell his folks, "Don’t even send me that mess, because I will veto it," we knew that we were beginning to break through in a way that was definitive, that was trans—that was spanning over parties, and that showed the real possibility that we might be able to protect our democracy enough to get through 2012. And I think we’ve just done it.
AMY GOODMAN: NBC News has just reported that Allen West, the congressman from Florida, has lost his House seat. We also know that Tammy Baldwin, the congressmember from Wisconsin, has won a Senate seat against Tommy Thompson, the former governor of Wisconsin. So has Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, the Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in Iraq. Claire McCaskill has also retained her seat against Todd Akin, the Missouri congressmember, who is famous for saying if women are legitimately raped, that they won’t get pregnant, their bodies will shut down. In Virginia, Democratic former Governor Tim Kaine beat Republican George Allen for the Senate seat vacated by Democratic Senator Jim Webb. As I said, Claire McCaskill has defeated Todd Akin. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts unseated Republican Scott Brown. And we are going to continue to bring you these reports, as well. Let’s see, tea party favorite Michele Bachmann’s lead in the race for Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District against Democrat Jim Graves is reportedly down to several hundred votes, according to The Guardian.
Early results are coming in in a number of ballot initiatives. Preliminary numbers from Minnesota show voters may be rejecting two constitutional amendments: one that would ban same-sex marriage and another that would require a photo ID in order to vote. Maine residents have given their approval to same-sex marriage. Maryland voters have passed a law allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying on January 1st. Maryland voters also affirmed the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition. Colorado voters have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while Washington state has overwhelmingly approved a measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. The Maryland same-sex marriage initiative, Ben, were you involved with that?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We were extremely involved in that. We’ve had people organizing for months. Our people there went out on a limb, and they were attacked by many members of the clergy. They—you know, it took a lot of courage to go out on principle, and it is absolutely the right thing. We had, you know, an organizer come up from North Carolina who had helped organize our folks down there to fight that bill, and unfortunately we lost down there. This time, we’ve won. His name is Ryan Rowe. He did incredible work. We had a young Rhodes scholar stay back and actually delay going to school to help organize our young people. We had our state conference president, Gerald Stansbury. He’s really been out there on point, and all of his folks across the state. This is a big—this is a big moment for this kind of one-for-all, all-for-one style of organizing in our democracy, and saying, you know, "If we all stand up together for each other, there’s nobody who can beat us."
LAURA FLANDERS: I just—I have to make my usual snarky comment, which is, it’s great we’re making progress for the right to marry; now we need to also retain the right still to have healthcare and not marry.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. Well, apparently we also won gay divorce tonight.
LAURA FLANDERS: Very good, very good. We have—I mean, again, I would love to hear more, and we will hear more over the next weeks and months, about the kinds of coalitions that have come together in this year. But I want us to remember that what we’re seeing this night is the product of months, even years, that take us back to, for sure, the reaction to the tea party movement, but also the rise of the resistance in Wisconsin and Ohio, the Occupy Wall Street movement, inspired in part by the rebellions in the—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: —in the Middle East and across the Arab world. We are part of a world where the bottom and the top are in conflict, are tussling it out. And the United States has been part of that. And although our media have, for the most part, failed to cover really what was happening on the ground to build some of the coalitions that you’ve talked about, those stories are amazing stories, whether it’s—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right, you know, and one of the heroes of this moment—
LAURA FLANDERS: —labor working with the LGBT community or your coalition to get some of the black churches together to work on these LGBT equality issues. Ten years ago, people thought it was impossible. It’s done. It’s extraordinary.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: No, that’s right. But, you know, one of the heroes will be the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, who came in, and a lot of wise people told him, "Don’t invest in Maryland. It just can’t happen." And he looked closely at the numbers and how they ticked up so suddenly in the black community after Obama came out and Reid came out, and he decided to double down and take your risk. And he’s won big. And what’s important is that he’s the same guy who got Ted Olson and the group of Republicans to actually bring this case.
LAURA FLANDERS: Exactly.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And so, you know, he could emerge. If he wins this, and they win that case, he could emerge as somebody who’s said to be a real visionary who’s willing to take on kind of long shots and win.
LAURA FLANDERS: Well, there’s the example that you talked about earlier about the death penalty in California also. When movements have the guts to take a issue by the horns—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: —when they know the passion is there, when they know the attention is there to an issue, they can make progress. Movements have had that courage far more than leading politicians, and we see tonight some victories for those movements who went where the passion was—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
LAURA FLANDERS: —whether it was the war on drugs or, let’s hope, the death penalty or marriage equality or the DREAM Act or women’s reproductive justice and the right to be equal persons with their fetuses, ideally equal with corporations one of these days, these movements show that when you go where the passion is, you can make progress. When you shy away, you’re going to end up following. It’s, again, the people have led the leaders, and let’s hope the leaders follow.
AMY GOODMAN: It may be that President Obama is maybe, oh, seven to 10 minutes away from McCormick Place, according to C-SPAN.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, the folks there really don’t care. They’re having a very good time.
AMY GOODMAN: But this from the New York Times, the issue of repealing the death penalty, Prop 34, including retroactively for those on death row, 43—this is with just 20 percent reporting—43.8 percent yes, 56.2 percent no.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That could change when the other 80 percent come in.
LAURA FLANDERS: Twenty percent.
AMY GOODMAN: Right. This is only 20 percent reporting. And Florida—I talked about Allen West, the Florida congressmember who has lost his seat, the Republican congressmember, well, the Democratic congressmember who was ousted has now returned to Congress, Florida Congressmember Alan Grayson from Florida. There was also another proposition, right? Prop 36, which is reforming three strikes.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Mm-hmm, three strikes. That should do very well tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain the significance of that.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, it’s huge. I mean, this is really about attacking mass incarceration head on. This is this—one of these tough-on-crime laws which sound good, making you feel good, but actually fail us miserably, because you end up locking up people oftentimes for a nonviolent felony for the rest of their lives. And then you’re paying $40,000 a year to house them for maybe 50 years, 60 years. And so, voters came together and said, "Wait a second, what are we actually doing here? What have we done? Oh, my god, we have needlessly broken up tons of families. We’re squandering, you know, tons of dollars." California is a state that has a real budget crunch on its mass incarceration problem, because, look, when I was a kid there, we spent 3 percent of the state budget on prisons and 11 percent on public universities; now it’s 11 percent on prisons and 7.5 percent on public universities. And the difference is being made up with much higher tuition for kids. So everybody who’s sending their kid to the UC or the Cal State system or the community college system knows now that they are subsidizing prisons across that state. And so, this is about the voters in the state taking their justice system back and saying, "Enough is enough. Let’s start being smart on crime. Let’s do what worked. Let’s stop being tough on crime. It’s an abject failure."
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Prop 37 is another ballot initiative in California, which is the GMO labeling bill. We’re going to see if we can get someone on to talk about it. It looks like—I mean, we’re just reading accounts from the different networks—that it may not be winning. But I just would like to get a spokesperson on to talk about it. These different initiatives—you spent a lot of time down in Florida around Trayvon Martin’s death—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —and the Stand Your Ground bills, and there was a lot of change, a lot of movement. You took on ALEC, as a number of groups did—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —the American Legislative Exchange Council, where corporate leaders and political leaders gathered together, secretly writing legislation and templates of legislation that are then used all over the country. And Stand Your Ground, the death of Trayvon Martin, the murder of Trayvon Martin, the killing of Trayvon Martin, was the beginning of the unraveling.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about where that stands now.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, yeah, you know, and actually, Stand Your Ground and Trayvon Martin really poured gasoline on a flame that was already beginning to burn because of voter suppression. And so, you know, if the president had actually lost tonight by narrow margins in key states where these voter suppression bills had passed, if we hadn’t been successful in court, ALEC would have been in the crosshairs first thing tomorrow morning. Now they’ve won a reprieve until maybe January, when these state assemblies, state senates open across the country, and it’s our first chance to really go after Stand Your Ground. And look, you know, we have blue chip companies that have invested in an organization that has made it possible for citizens to racially profile with lethal force and kill black children and get away with it. And that’s a real problem.
And so, that will be front and center come January, just like, quite frankly, here in this city you will see us zero right back in on Mayor Bloomberg and this crazy stop-and-frisk program and make sure, quite frankly, that anybody who aspires to being mayor of the city must commit to ending that program. Again, we are—we are staying in movement mode. There are some things that may have flipped to the back burner when we’ve dealt with voter suppression and voter turnout, but now they come right back on the front burner. And the issue of ALEC has not been settled, and they are on notice that either they have to help undo the problems that they’ve created, or we will consider to treat them—we, the broader progressive movement, will continue to treat them as a problem and deal with them as such.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have Ronnie Cummins with us right now, founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association, one of the leading groups behind the Yes on 37 campaign. Right now, with 21 percent of the vote, it sounds like it’s sort of following a similar track as the anti-death-penalty initiative.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right now it’s probably small cities, small towns. When the big cities come on in California, that’s where you see the votes for those types of things.
AMY GOODMAN: Right. And Prop 37 is requiring labeling of food containing genetically modified ingredients. Yes, 42.5 percent; no, 57.5 percent, with only 21 percent of precincts reporting.
Ronnie Cummins, welcome to Democracy Now! The significance of this proposition and what your thoughts are now? What do your internal polls say? Do you think this is going up or going down?
RONNIE CUMMINS: Well, our internal polling shows that most Californians do want the right to know whether their food is genetically engineered or not, but they believe the propaganda in the $50 million campaign that Monsanto and DuPont and others launched, that if you get CMO labeling, it will raise your grocery bill, it will harm farmers, it will create a larger state bureaucracy, it will, you know, basically favor special interests like trial lawyers. So, we’ve never seen such a barrage of lies and dirty tricks and so on. But, of course, the biotech industry and the big multinational food corporations were literally fighting for their lives, because they know full well that if genetically engineered foods are labeled and if they can’t call foods natural that have GMOs in them, that, you know, these will start to be driven off the market. So, they fought for their lives. They used every dirty trick in the book. And they appear to have confused enough California voters to cause this to fail. But we’re about to put a ballot initiative, similar one, on the ballot in Washington state for November 2013. We’re going back to Vermont and Connecticut, where bills could have passed earlier this year, but Monsanto threatened to sue those states. And there’s about 24 other states where people are anxious to pass labeling laws. So I think that, you know, we may have lost this first battle, but the larger battle, the war, goes on, and we’re going to win eventually.
AMY GOODMAN: By the way, just giving people an update, CNN has given Virginia and Florida to Obama, meaning the only difference now between now and 2008 is that he lost Indiana and North Carolina this time.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right. You know, and we signed up 137,000 new voters in Florida this year. It’s more than we did in the entire country in 2008. We did that even after the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote were basically chased out of the state by these anti-voter-registration bills that said you would pay fines or do jail time. The difference between our folks in Florida, quite frankly, and most other folks is that the people who really lead the state are in their late sixties, in their early seventies. They were trained by Harry and Harriette Moore, who were blown up in their bed 60 years ago last Christmas while leading a massive voter registration drive in Florida. And when you’re a teenager and they kill your hero because they’re leading a voter registration drive, and then all of a sudden you’re a grandparent and the sheriff shows up to you and threatens you with a little bit of jail time and a fine, you say, "Give me some more forms, if that’s the best you got. We’re going to get right back to work."
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean, though. How did they drive other groups out?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, I mean literally. So we show up on Martin Luther King Day weekend, most groups, to launch our big voter registration drives in Florida. But the law had just changed. And the law said if your forms are out of the office of the clerk for more than 48 hours, we will fine you, and you may do jail time. Well, as it turns out, the office was closed Monday, and it was closed Sunday. And so, we took them out on Saturday, we brought them back on Tuesday, and the sheriffs are waiting there, saying to us, "You should have shoved them under the door last night, because you had them out for more than 48 hours, and now we’re going to fine you."
Now, we eventually defeated them, I think by July, and we actually got an injunction. But other groups really shut down. They said—they put out press releases, said, "We can’t contend with this." They filed lawsuits and were ultimately victorious. But our folks, all for the six, seven months, just kept on working. And quite frankly, they worked with more force, because they said, "Look, in the past, this was about our lives. Now this is about jail time and a fine. You know, we can deal with jail time and a fine if we have to. The difference here, quite frankly, is that if we don’t do this, it’s our community’s voice that’s on the line. It’s people’s lives that are on the line, because, you know, there’s huge budget battles looming. So things are really about people’s, you know, real life. And so, we will take those risks, and we’ll keep on pushing." And the Florida NAACP will go down as heroes, just—you know, just as the Georgia NAACP and NAACP units in Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, you know, who have resisted voter suppression this year in a way that is really heroic—North Carolina, I mean, Michigan, everywhere.
AMY GOODMAN: What is President Obama’s position on the death penalty? He says he supports it, right?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. He also said that he supported marriage equality—I mean, sorry, he also said—excuse me—that he was against marriage equality a few years ago. I mean, you now, our hope is that, you know, President Obama is somebody who can learn. Look, he’s a constitutional law professor. I really don’t know a constitutional law professor who doesn’t understand that the death penalty is deeply flawed. He also played a significant role in his home state in actually sort of challenging the death penalty there and its administration. But the bottom line is that the president of the United States can’t do much about an issue that really is a state issue.
And the most important thing is that voters really start to understand what people in California are beginning to understand, that every time a prosecutor chooses to pursue the death penalty, they take hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars out of that local community’s, you know, public safety fund, that therefore can’t be caught on actually getting killers—can’t be spent on getting killers off the street, can’t be spent on actually serving victims, but instead is spent on basically making it possible to kill somebody we’ve already caught and put in a cage for the rest of their life. And it’s such a bad proposition because, again, in California, you have a one out of two chance of getting away with murder. I mean, there are a lot more homicides to solve. And it’s also a really bad proposition because, you know what, you end up killing innocent people like Troy Davis. And it’s a bad proposition because it actually is racist. And it is a bad proposition because we only use it for poor people. And so, when people look into it, they tend to do what Bill Richardson did down in New Mexico, who had championed this his entire life running for office, and then became governor and then had to ask tough questions about the death penalty, because he had to sign the death warrants, and said, "You know what? This stinks. Let’s get rid of it."
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ben Jealous, it looks like President Obama has arrived at McCormick Place. It’s just a matter of minutes before he comes out on the stage to accept the victory that will lead to his second term as president of the United States. Last night, he teared up in Iowa because it would be the last major political presidential campaign speech he would give, because after two—after two terms, he can’t run again. Can you ever run again after taking time off?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, my wife’s a constitutional lawyer, and I’ve been basically awake for weeks, so I don’t want to answer that question. But I will tell you this. It’s that, you know, in this moment, you know, this is an incredible moment. I mean, first of all, this is one of the most incredible careers in politics we have ever seen, right? But this is also the moment that will go down in history, when again, you know, every child with a funny name, every child of color in this country, now, you know, can—you know, their future is really wide open in a way it hasn’t been in the two centuries of this country, to aspire to be president, because it’s no longer a fluke. It’s now something that’s happened, and it’s happened again. And we can get on with real inclusion and letting all of our children dream, as they put their hand over their chests and say the pledge, that this really is one nation, and they really do have the opportunity to be president, just like their kindergarten teacher says, without that sort of sick pit that we have as parents of color that at some point we’ll have to explain to our child that that really can’t happen. That’s done. And that’s been hundreds of years of parents of color in this country. And it’s very much been hundreds of years of people with funny names in this country, right? I mean, you know, think about, like, Ritchie Valens, right? I mean, you know, the rule had to be that, you know, for so many people, that you had to change your name if you wanted to succeed in politics and so many other parts of our life. This is Barack Hussein Obama becoming president, twice. People have to recognize now that all our children can compete for the presidency. It’s a beautiful thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Another update: Congressmember Raúl Grijalva on his way to a sixth term with a win over Republican challenger Gabriela Mercer. Congressmember Grijalva represents Tucson and the area around Tucson in Arizona, and he’s co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Again, people are waiting in McCormick Place for President Obama to come out. They’re now cheering. Our guest has been Ben Jealous in these last—this last hour—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And there’s no funnier name than that.
AMY GOODMAN: —of Democracy Now!'s broadcast. I want to thank everyone for putting together this broadcast, especially in light of what happened last week. I am so thrilled that Democracy Now!'s studios are no longer in blackout conditions, as they were, like so many other people’s were, and so many people’s remain today in the greater New York-New Jersey area.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And our prayers go out to them.
AMY GOODMAN: And I’m thinking about Jeff Masters, who is the meteorologist with Weather Channel, with Weather Underground, that was bought by Weather Channel, who said, you know, here you had the major-party presidential candidates not raising climate change once in the three debates, and, well, Mother Nature has spoken in these last days before the election. Ben, you’ve talked about a force more powerful than the most powerful person on earth, the president of the United States, and that is the power of organized people to make demands. I think there’s also another force, and that is the force of nature.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: And when those two forces come together, the force of people organized around this country and the force of nature, America may well be changed.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. We will be talking about climate change. And, you know, Mayor Bloomberg, quite frankly, deserves a lot of credit for being the one politician with a big national microphone to stand up and say, "Uh, climate change," and saying, "That’s why I’m endorsing this president." You know, I hope that Governor Christie will choose to defy his party and recognize the obvious. I spend every summer on the Jersey Shore. And it’s being ravaged by climate change. And so, it would be wonderful if a Republican leader like him would actually come out and have the courage to point out the obvious. I mean, it was—you know, look, it was just a few years ago that Senator Graham was saying that we had to deal with climate change, you know? And if the Republicans can, frankly, remember their own comments that they made a few years ago, that would be a good start. We have got to get back to having an honest conversation, not just about the future of our communities and the future of our nation, but also the future of our planet.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go right now to McCormick Place in Chicago. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, Democracy Now!'s special much-more-than-six-hour broadcast tonight, as we cover not only elections, but the movements, the elections not only of president, but of senators, of congressmembers, the ballot initiatives around the country. And we will cover those, as well, tomorrow morning, because not all the results are in across this country, and especially in the West Coast. So we'll look at the anti-death-penalty initiative and what happens tomorrow morning. That’s Prop 34. We’ll look at what happens with three strikes, which is believed to pass.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And I think here, it’s actually "this morning." I think we’re actually in morning already.
AMY GOODMAN: Ah, we’re in the morning. It’s 1:33.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: In California, tomorrow.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like not to be reminded. Let’s go to the floor of McCormick Place in Chicago.
People are waving their American flags. Some are dancing. We just heard Mitt Romney’s concession speech, which was actually very short. And then the Ryans came out on the stage.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, I think that this really calls into question Paul Ryan’s future. In a way, he really, I think, goes down as a very divisive character this year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the budget battle. But the—you know, there were rumors that he was saying unkind things about Mitt Romney early in their kind of partnership. It’ll be curious to see sort of if Mitt Romney continues to say the kind of things that he said about him tonight. You know, he may have united the base, but the guy couldn’t even deliver his own state. And it really is because, you know, people in Wisconsin, people in Massachusetts, which Romney has won before in his career but lost tonight, expect more moderation than they saw.
AMY GOODMAN: And there were major changes that Mitt Romney went through, I mean, in terms of his platform.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. No, that’s right. And it really makes you wonder, you know, what if he had asked Colin Powell to run with him, for instance? You know what I’m saying? Or what if he had just, you know, been the person consistently that many say he was when he was in Massachusetts? You know, what if he actually tried to be a uniter on the stump?
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama is walking out on the stage with his daughters, Sasha and Malia, and with Michelle Obama, and they are waving to the audience.
President Barack Obama has walked over to the podium. People are cheering.
CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.
I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time—by the way, we have to fix that—whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.
I just spoke with Governor Romney, and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service, and that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.
I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.
And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady.
Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes, you’re growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I am so proud of you guys. But I will say that, for now, one dog’s probably enough.
To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics, the best, the best ever—some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together, and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, to every hill, to every valley. You lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you’ve put in.
I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics, nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym or—or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.
You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.
That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that, as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers, a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.
We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this—this world has ever known, but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.
We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag; to the young boy on the South Side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner; to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president. That’s the—that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go: forward. That’s where we need to go.
Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock, resolve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.
But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.
Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together—reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.
But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth, the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbours and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I’ve seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back. I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.
And I saw it just the other day in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his eight-year-old daughter whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything, had it not been for healthcare reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president.
And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We got your back, Mr. President!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us, so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I believe we can seize this future together, because we are not as divided as our politics suggest. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America. And together, with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth.
Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.
[end of broadcast]