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Chris Hedges vs. Eddie Glaude: Should Progressives Vote for Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein?

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, debate the issue of strategic voting and the role of third-party candidates.

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

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Chris Hedges began by talking about his new piece, “Donald Trump: The Dress Rehearsal for Fascism.”

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s what we’re watching. Trump, for all his shallowness and narcissism and imbecility and self-destructiveness, nevertheless has been able to run a fairly close race with Hillary Clinton. We saw from the leaked Podesta emails that the Clinton machine promoted, consciously promoted, especially through the press, what they call these “Pied Piper” candidates, listing Trump, Cruz and—I forget the third—Trump and Carson. And the idea was that they wanted to give them legitimacy. They wanted to push the more mainstream candidates, like Jeb Bush, closer to the lunatic fringe. And that’s because, fundamentally, there is no difference between Hillary Clinton and a figure like Mitt Romney. You know, what they’re battling about is what Freud called the narcissism of minor difference.

And the danger with this election is that the longer the policies of neoliberalism, austerity, the security and surveillance state—in essence, the paralysis on the part of our corporate state to deal with the suffering, grievances and mounting rage of now over half the country who live in poverty—the more these lunatic fringe candidates like Trump, these figures of ridicule—reminds me very much of what happened in Yugoslavia. The economic meltdown of Yugoslavia vomited up figures like Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudman, who were buffoonish figures before they achieved political power, much like much of the Nazi Party in Weimar. And I think that’s what we’re watching. And if we don’t reverse the structural mechanisms by which we are disenfranchising and refusing to deal with the most fundamental rights and issues affecting now a majority of the American population, then we will get a fascist or a kind of quasi-protofascist, Christianized fascism, embodied in a figure with a little more intelligence and political savvy than Trump. And that’s why I find this election so frightening and so dangerous.

I think it’s the fact that the power elites, embodied by figures like the Clintons and Barack Obama, have been utterly, utterly tone deaf to what’s happening, and are playing a very, very dangerous game by, on the one hand, promoting a figure like Trump, because, of course, his outrageousness gives her a kind of credibility, without understanding that another four years of what’s been happening—and it won’t be an effective political strategy anymore, and it won’t be funny.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Professor Eddie Glaude, let’s get your perspective on this. Earlier in the summer, you wrote a piece called “My Democratic Problem with Voting for Hillary Clinton.” Now, some say that Clinton’s victory is now more or less a foregone conclusion. You also talked about the necessity of strategic voting. Can you talk about both the arguments that you’ve made in light of where we stand today in the campaign and with the election less than a month away?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Sure. You know, I think that it is—it is reasonable to conclude that Hillary Clinton is going to win. I think the internal polling for the Republican—on the Republican side suggests that Donald Trump is going to go down pretty badly, that it’s going to be a pretty decisive victory. Some, like Steve Schmidt, are predicting that she’s going to win upward to 400—get to 400 in the Electoral College, some at 380. People are declaring that this is going to be the destruction of the Republican Party.

And a lot of this has to do with, right, the fact that Donald Trump moves between being, as I’ve said before, a lunatic and an adolescent. And we can talk about him, but in kind of orienting us to this campaign, to this election cycle, by emphasizing the ridiculousness of and the bombasity of Donald Trump, we have turned our attention away from, I think, Hillary Clinton and the policies that have defined the Democratic Party up to this point. And I think Donald Trump is just an exaggerated indication of the rot that’s at the heart of the country, and that Hillary Clinton is the poster child for, I think, a failed economic policy that has left so many fellow Americans behind, and particularly the most vulnerable.

So what I’ve said is that we needed to suggest to Hillary Clinton that—and suggest to the Democratic Party that business as usual was no longer acceptable and that I couldn’t vote for and I couldn’t do that—I can do that because I’m in a blue state, and that there are some who are in a red state who can vote their conscience, but if you’re in a battleground state, it makes all the sense in the world, given who Trump is, to not vote for her—to vote for—to not to vote for Hillary Clinton—I mean, to not vote for Trump and to vote for Hillary Clinton.

So, in this case, part of what I’m trying to suggest is that we need to be very mindful in this moment, even as we say she’s going to win. We need to understand who she’s appointing as her transition team. We need to understand that personnel is policy. We need to see what her position will really be in terms of how she will govern economically, who she’s going to pick and choose for attorney general position, who’s going to populate her government. And I think once we get a better sense or if we pay attention to what she’s doing, we will be even better mobilized and organized to bring pressure to bear on her presidency, once November 8th happens.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you think about this, Chris Hedges, this idea of strategic voting?

CHRIS HEDGES: I think it’s an utter failure. I mean, one of the things that the WikiLeaks Podesta emails showed is that they were putting in place this neoliberal policy—Froman, who was then a—he’s now a U.S. trade representative. He, at the time, was at Citibank. In October, before Obama even achieved power, he’s sending out a list of Cabinet positions, all of which—most all of which came to pass. That’s certainly happening now.

I think that we have to step outside this corporate, two-party duopoly and begin to empower right now the third party, you know, that I think represents or challenges corporate power most effectively, is the Green. It has issues. You know, it functions well in cities like Richmond, California, doesn’t function as well in other places. But if they can poll 15 percent, that gives them ballot access in 2020 in a few dozen states, and it gives them $10 million. And I think that now is the time to, as Syriza did a decade ago, to fight back, because we have very little time left.

One of the things we have to remember is that we have a large number of supporters of Donald Trump who celebrate American violence through the gun culture, open racism, neo-Confederist movements, nativist movements. And Trump, I think, has made clear now, on the campaign trail, that he will essentially attempt to discredit the system if he loses. And right now they are working within the system. But unleashing that rage, you know, or essentially legitimizing that rage and that kind of violence after the election will begin to really rend the fabric of American society.

We have no more time to play around. We haven’t even spoken about the issue of climate change. We know, from the leaked emails, that Hillary Clinton is a fan of fracking. She brags about promoting fracking in Poland and other places as secretary of state. We just—the kind of weakness of the system itself cannot, I think, sustain much more of this assault without dramatic and frightening blowback and ramifications. And I think Trump is systematic of that.

So, as I’ve said many times, I think we have to do what many—Podemos and many parties in Europe have done. We have to walk into the political wilderness. We have to build movements, and we have to build alternative third parties that challenge this system, because the inevitable result is a kind of frightening police state. Well, legally, it’s already in place, physically, in marginal communities. They’ve been turned virtually into mini police states. The system of mass incarceration will not be affected in any meaningful way. Of course, it was the Clintons that put much of it in place. We just saw this very courageous prisoner strike, where the prisoners did work stoppages because, they said, the only way to stop this system of neoslavery is to stop being a slave. And I think that is a level of political consciousness that the rest of us have to begin to attain.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Professor Glaude, your response to Chris Hedges’ rejection of strategic voting?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, I think we agree on principle. And part of what I think—where we agree is that we have to keep Trump out of office. And the question for me is that: How do we do that? And one of the ways I’m thinking we need to do it is to vote strategically. And that is, in those places where we can, for me, blank out or vote for Jill Stein, we should. And in those places where—the battleground states, where it matters, where Trump has a chance to win, I think we need to turn out in massive numbers and make sure that he doesn’t win those states. I think we have to do two things simultaneously.

And I think he’s right in this regard: I think that what we’ve seen and what we’ve witnessed in this moment is the bankruptcy of a particular economic ideological philosophy that has left so many—so many people behind. And I think we need to dare to imagine a new world. But I think it’s going to require strategic and tactical thinking. And I think, on its face, Chris and I aren’t disagreeing. I just think there are ways to get to the same—to the same end.

AMY GOODMAN: Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. We spoke to them Wednesday night during our debate night special broadcast. To watch the full special, you can go to our website at And that does it for our show.

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