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Former Bernie Sanders Supporter Shaun King Now Backs Hillary Clinton, Says She Has “Evolved”

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With the election just 18 days away and three presidential debates behind them, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are campaigning across the country. Clinton is scheduled to spend Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she will be joined by the Mothers of the Movement—women who lost their children to police-involved incidents and gun violence. We discuss the election with former Bernie Sanders supporter Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News. “We learned a lot of tough lessons” from the Sanders campaign, King says. But, he adds, “I think [Clinton] has evolved, and we’ll have to see, if she is elected, what that evolution means in terms of policy and practices.”

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StoryNov 17, 2016Sanders & Clinton Supporters Debate the Path Forward for the Democratic Party Under Trump Presidency
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And speaking of the moment that we have, we’re obviously in the final days of the presidential race, and you’ve also written extensively about the campaign. And the—you were initially a big supporter of Bernie Sanders, and now you’re faced with—or all of us are faced with this choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and then the other independent-party figures. What’s your take now as we’re heading into the final days of the election?

SHAUN KING: Well, it’s been a frustrating experience. I’m still brokenhearted that Bernie didn’t win. I didn’t—I didn’t think it would sting as much as it did, not just because I loved Bernie, but I respected his ideas and values. I don’t really see those ideas and values so much in either major-party candidate. I joined Bernie in this idea that it was essential for us to stop Donald Trump. And I believe that. I believe, as many others do, that he was as grave a danger as we say he is. I don’t believe he’ll win, but I believe all of us will have to go out and vote and do what we have to do to stop him, for sure, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: I’ve always wondered, if Donald Trump—if Bernie Sanders had gotten anything like the television attention, the media attention of Donald Trump—


AMY GOODMAN: I mean, the studies that show back in 2015, what, Trump got like 28 times. And then you still had Bernie Sanders getting these massive crowds—


AMY GOODMAN: —with no amplifying of his view, very little in the corporate media, until the very end—what that would have meant, as now the media decries whoever created Donald Trump, which, of course, was them.

SHAUN KING: Absolutely. I think there are a lot of lessons we learned there. One, you know, Bernie still won 21 states without that. And I think what a lot of us are taking is that there is a progressive movement in this country that came very close to having Bernie Sanders elected, without the media machine behind him. We learned a lot of tough lessons. We learned a lot of things that we’ll have to adjust if we go back to the table again.

But none of us are really pleased, at least no true progressives are pleased, with Hillary Clinton’s platform or commitment—even on issues of police brutality. I have grown to believe that she does care, in part because she has spent a lot of time with families affected by police brutality. And so, even those of us who are deeply skeptical of her commitment—I think she has evolved. And we’ll have to wait and see, if she’s elected, what that evolution means in terms of policies and practices.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, isn’t there a major difference between President Obama getting elected and if Hillary Clinton were to get elected? President Obama, the movements elect him. There’s a racist backlash—the birther movement. One of those that led it is Trump.


AMY GOODMAN: And people step back. And on so many of the issues people cared about in the movements, from peace to Guantánamo to racial justice, all of these issues, people felt that the movements weren’t carried forward, because they stepped back. But now there’s such skepticism about Hillary Clinton that they are ready to go at the gate, that November 9th might be a massive point of mobilization as opposed to of stepping back.

SHAUN KING: I think it should be. And I think we would all be making a huge mistake if we—if we did step back. I think now is the time for all of us to push forward, to hold whoever is elected—I believe she’ll be elected—to hold her accountable. I think we put so much faith in the election of President Obama, that we—when we stepped back, we missed an opportunity. And I’m disappointed with a lot of the things that he’s been hands-off on. Again, those are the hard lessons that we’ve learned about what it means to hold elected leaders that we respect, and maybe even admire, to hold them accountable on the things that matter to us.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And speaking of President Obama, in the last debate, I think one of the most telling moments was toward the end of the debate when Trump says, “And if you want four more years of Obama, elect her.”

SHAUN KING: Right, right.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: It was almost as if his people are still fighting—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —to delegitimize or remove Obama from the American conscience.

SHAUN KING: Which is—which is a weird strategy, though, because President Obama, for what any of us think about him, is at his most popular right now. And so, there are a lot of times where it seems as if Trump does not have a strategy to win. And he continues to just double down to appeal to his base, which is dangerous. And Trump’s base is fueled by white supremacy and bigotry. So he continues to do everything he can to appeal to them, and do nothing to broaden that base.

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