- Virginia Fields
president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, or NBLCA. She is the former borough president of Manhattan.
- Mark Weisbrot
co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and president of Just Foreign Policy. Weisbrot’s new book is called Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy.
On Tuesday, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton each scored decisive victories in New York, moving both candidates closer to becoming their respective parties’ presidential nominees. In the Republican race, Trump is poised to win 89 of the 95 delegates up for grabs. In the Democratic race, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton beat Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. Sanders won the majority of counties in the state, but Clinton won big in the metropolitan New York area. We speak to former Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields and economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’re on the 100-city tour marking Democracy Now!'s 20th anniversary. I'm Amy Goodman in Denver, Colorado. Juan, you are in New York, Juan González, and you were there yesterday for the New York primary.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, I was, Amy, and welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world. Well, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton scored decisive victories in New York, moving both candidates closer to becoming their respective parties’ presidential nominees. In the Republican race, Trump crushed his rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich. He appears poised to win 89 of the 95 delegates up for grabs in New York. Trump spoke to supporters last night at Trump Tower in New York City.
DONALD TRUMP: We don’t have much of a race anymore, based on what I’m seeing on television. Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated. And we’ve won another state. As you know, we have won millions of more votes than Senator Cruz, millions and millions of more votes than Governor Kasich. We’ve won, and now, especially after tonight, close to 300 delegates more than Senator Cruz. We’re really, really rocking.
AMY GOODMAN: In the Democratic race, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. Sanders won the majority of counties in the state, but Clinton won big in the metropolitan New York area. The election results came close to mirroring the 2008 race, when Clinton beat Barack Obama by a margin of 57 to 40 percent. Hillary Clinton spoke last night in Manhattan.
HILLARY CLINTON: And to all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us. … You know, we started this race not far from here, on Roosevelt Island, pledging to build on the progressive tradition that’s done so much for America, from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. And tonight, little less than a year later, the race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bernie Sanders was in Pennsylvania Tuesday night campaigning ahead of that state’s primary next Tuesday.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: So, we lost tonight, but there are five primaries next week. We think we’re going to do well. And we have a path toward victory, which we are going to fight to maintain. While I congratulate Secretary Clinton, I must say that I am really concerned about the conduct of the voting process in New York state, and I hope that that process will change in the future. And I’m not alone about my concerns. The comptroller of the City of New York talked today about voter irregularities and about chaos at the polling places.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in New York by two guests. Virginia Fields is president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. She is the former borough president of Manhattan. And Mark Weisbrot is with us, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and president of Just Foreign Policy. Weisbrot’s new book is called Failed: What the Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy.
Virginia Fields, we’re going to start with you. Can you talk about the significance of Hillary Clinton’s victory?
VIRGINIA FIELDS: Well, I think it was very significant, because it really did kind of solidify a base, and I think that it also gave her the support that she needs now in moving forward. It continues to confirm that in metropolitan areas, certainly, Hillary Clinton—or I should say Secretary Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate—is very well known in New York. She has worked New York as our U.S. senator. So, I thought that—I expected her to win. And I think the win really kind of solidified her base, as well as touched highly upon her experience. And I think it also pointed out the difference between she and Senator Sanders as we have been moving forward. So I think it was significant on all fronts.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I’d like to ask you, following up on that, the gap between the two candidates was larger than most people had expected or, in the polls, had been predicting. Why do you think that’s so? And also, why do you think that this persistent difference in the base of support between young people for Bernie Sanders and the white male Democrats versus the African-American, Latino and larger female support among older Democrats that Hillary Clinton has?
VIRGINIA FIELDS: Can’t speak to the white males. But I’ve spoken with some of the younger-generation people who are supporting Hillary. And some of them have said things like, the only things they have known are the failure of the banks, big corporation, inequalities. And so, the message that Senator Sanders has obviously made central to his campaign, speaking about these issues day in and day out, has resonated more with them. They have not focused so much, based, again, on young people I’ve talked with, certainly those even in my family, who are supporting Senator Sanders, that they’ve not had experienced other good times that led up to a lot of these fallouts that they have experienced, and the possibilities of returning to those. So I think a lot of that resonated with them just based on life experiences. I think here in New York, again, it was—Senator Clinton, in terms of relationships with African Americans in the Latino communities, is much stronger, certainly, than that of Senator Sanders here in the state of New York. And I think we’re seeing—
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask—
VIRGINIA FIELDS: We’re seeing that play out nationally.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Mark—
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Mark, I wanted to ask you, in terms of these results, the astonishing map that you see of this New York primary is that Bernie Sanders won all of upstate, with the exception of the cities of Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester and the metropolitan area of New York, both the City of New York and the suburbs. So it’s a remarkably different sort of a base of support among Democrats that he had versus Clinton.
MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, you know, there’s a big group excluded. I mean, he wins very big among independents. And, you know, in New York, they had to—if you wanted to register as a Democrat, you had to do that back before—back in October of last year. So, you excluded a big part of the base that usually votes for him, and, of course, the biggest bloc in the general election. So I think that’s part of the story.
You know, with regard to the demographic divide, I think that’s a lot—you know, the media likes to say that it’s because young people are naïve and idealistic. But I think they actually can see things that the people—you know, Hillary is really only getting majority of people in over 45—in some polls, over 50. And I think that’s because they’re more stuck in this Cold War narrative. You know, you don’t have any polling data that really says—that asks Democrats, “Who you would vote for if you thought the Democrats were going to win in the general election for sure?” But there’s a lot of exit polling data that indicates that Sanders would win overwhelmingly on that. You see these—for example, people voting for Hillary are much more driven by fear, fear of losing—of them losing to—of the candidate losing to Donald Trump, which, of course, the polling data indicates the opposite—and it makes sense, because he wins the independent voters—and fear of terrorism, for example. And you don’t have those same fears. You don’t have that whole Cold War—Cold War ideas that he can’t win because, you know, he calls himself a democratic socialist. You don’t see that as much with young people, and I think that’s because it’s a different country, really, and they’re actually right, because they haven’t grown up in this period where these things would have determined the race.
VIRGINIA FIELDS: And just a comment on the one word, “idealism,” because we’ve all heard that, too. But I’ve never looked at the young people as just being idealistic. I mean, they’re really serious, and they’ve looked at these issues. And as you said, too, it hasn’t been their experience in terms of growing up. And they do believe the possibility is there, the hope is there, like the audacity of hope for change.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: You know, talking about movements, Mark Weisbrot, Bernie Sanders lost by, what, 16, 17 percent. Now, after break, we’re going to talk about voter irregularities. I mean, this is quite astounding, 125,000 people in Brooklyn alone purged from the voter rolls. We’ll talk about that in a minute and get both of your reaction to what has taken place in New York. But, clearly, what Bernie Sanders represents is more than himself. He has tapped into a movement. And I’m wondering where this movement goes from here.
VIRGINIA FIELDS: I think we’re going to see it continue. And even as a staunch supporter of Secretary Clinton, I do see that it certainly did bring to the forefront a lot more people and the issues. I think there’s been much less attention to the amount of dollars that go into campaigns. The whole Citizens United issue has been in the fold. People are really talking about that now. And I think that they better understand how campaigns are driven or supported. I also think he’s brought to the forefront issues, including, quite frankly, Donald Trump, the whole delegate selection process. People have not really focused on that so much. How do you become a delegate to be a part of a political process as we move to presidential nominees? So I think we’re going to see the movement continue because of the issues.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mark, your comments—
AMY GOODMAN: And Mark Weisbrot?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your comments on this, and also the fact that, certainly, Secretary Clinton has moved to the left on a lot of issues as a result of this enormous—
MARK WEISBROT: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —campaign of Bernie Sanders?
MARK WEISBROT: No, she sure has. And, you know, even The New York Times editorial board, which endorsed Hillary, had an editorial saying Bernie should stay in 'til the end, you know? And it was because of the issues and because even they appreciated—and I think they maybe were split on the endorsement, but they appreciated what he's done. But I think it is—this is a social movement. This is very real. I mean, this is—I mean, just even the $6 million donation, in small donations, driving this, you’ve never had anything like this before. And you have had other insurgent candidacies, and people hoped that social—you know, the movement would continue after the election. It didn’t happen with the Nader campaign—campaigns. It didn’t happen with the Jesse Jackson campaigns. But this one, I think, the candidate is very committed to that. He said it very many times. And I think definitely something will come out of this, because it’s a huge shift. It’s a big political shift in the base of the Democratic Party, among independents. I mean, he’s just put these issues on the—couldn’t break through these media barriers before. That’s really what’s happened. Now that they have, they’re not going to go away.
VIRGINIA FIELDS: And I would just—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and come back to this discussion. And we’re also going to talk about what took place in New York. You know, when the vast majority of people don’t vote in primaries, then, in particular, when you have people purged from the polls, it has an enormous impact. We’re talking to Mark Weisbrot, who’s with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as well as Virginia Fields, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. We’ll be back with them in a moment.