- RoseAnn DeMoro
executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed supporters in a live webcast Thursday night and vowed to continue what he called his political revolution. He did not endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but said he will work with her to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. As thousands plan to attend a People’s Summit in Chicago to discuss the next steps of Sanders’ revolution, we speak with a key participant, RoseAnn DeMoro, head of National Nurses United, the first national union to back Sanders last year. Sanders recently tried to place her on the Democratic platform committee, but said he was blocked by the Democratic National Committee.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the presidential race. On Thursday night, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed supporters in a live webcast, vowing the continuation of what he called his political revolution. The speech came two days after Hillary Clinton won the last primary in Washington, D.C. While Clinton has claimed victory in the Democratic race, Sanders announced he would stay in until next month’s convention. He did not endorse the former secretary of state, but vowed to work with her to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: The major political task that together we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated, and defeated badly. And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time. But defeating Donald Trump cannot be our only goal. We must continue our grassroots effort to create the America that we know we can become. And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25th in Philadelphia, where we will have more than 1,900 delegates.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bernie Sanders went on to say he plans to push the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party to adopt a more progressive agenda.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I look forward in the coming weeks to continue discussion between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history, and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda. I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party, so that it becomes a party of working people and young people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors, a party that has the guts to take on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry and the other powerful special interests that dominate so much of our political and economic life.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the Sanders campaign, we’re joined by RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of nurses, the first national union to back Senator Sanders last year for president. Sanders recently attempted to place DeMoro on the Democratic platform committee, but according to Sanders, the move was blocked by the Democratic National Committee. This weekend, National Nurses United is helping organize a major conference in Chicago called The People’s Summit. RoseAnn DeMoro will be speaking there, but is speaking here first.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, RoseAnn. Why don’t you start off by responding to Bernie Sanders’ announcement last night that he’s staying in the race into the convention and what he wants to see happen, and then what you want to see happen?
ROSEANN DEMORO: Thank you. It was a—I listened to the announcement in a room with 1,400 registered nurses, and I have to say it was music to everyone’s ears. Prior to Bernie speaking on the teleprompter, we played his commercial, “America.” And it just—it just so much symbolized—that beautiful commercial that he did with the Simon and Garfunkel song. And everyone was—just fell silent. And then, when Bernie spoke, there was a massive relief in the room that there was an advocate that would be fighting for them, for the nurses, for their patients. It was just—it was the—the passion was palpable. And it was beautiful. And I think that’s probably how it resonated with people across the country. What we know about Bernie is that he will be there. He’s always been there as a fighter in the Senate, but that he will continue to be there for us. But most importantly, his message was, we have to be there, we have to build a movement, we have to fight.
Now, following—I just have to say this, because it was just so sweet. Following his presentation, the nurses, because they always dance—we ascribe to Emma Goldman’s philosophy: If we can’t dance, we don’t want to have the revolution. So they were—you know, started up karaoke. They chose their songs. The Veterans Administration nurses who were in the room chose “My Guy,” and they got up and they sang it for Bernie. And it was just—I mean, it made everybody tear up. And then, the next group did a song for Bernie called “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. So that, actually, I think, is emblematic of where things stand.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: RoseAnn DeMoro, I wanted to ask you about this issue of the DNC nixing you for being on the platform committee, and also the reasons that they felt that they didn’t want labor union representation, the ostensible reasons, what that signifies?
ROSEANN DEMORO: You know, Juan, I think, exactly, ostensible. Well, the fact that the DNC could use not having a labor leader on the platform committee as a reason says everything that you need to know about how far the Democratic Party has drifted from the working people of America. But actually, the real reason is that I am—I fight. You know, we are one of the only organizations, I’d say, that has systematically fought in its history for a single-payer healthcare system, because the nurses see the human suffering of people, and it’s not negotiable. And that’s the thing. You know, we’ve seen with the neoliberal agenda and the austerity programs, we’re all supposed to get on board and just accept cuts. Well, when it comes to health, the nurses see the consequences of that. They see the fallout. They see people who can’t afford their prescriptions. They see people who get to the hospital so late, and their lives are compromised because of it. And so, when it comes to single payer, we don’t compromise. We are going to fight. Every other country can achieve a single-payer system. People shouldn’t suffer. And that’s basically the bottom line and one of the reasons that the nurses are so heartfelt in the Sanders campaign and remain so.
And so, excluding me from—I was not surprised whatsoever. I mean, it was ironic, because, you know, they chose Cornel West, who we like very, very much, but they excluded me. And what that says is—to me, is the role of finance in healthcare and what they don’t want to see in the platform. There isn’t a commitment to taking care of America’s people by the Democratic Party any longer. A single-payer healthcare system is more cost-effective, it’s the most efficient, and it guarantees access for everyone. And that’s off the agenda. That’s what that says.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you like to see Bernie Sanders run as a third-party candidate?
ROSEANN DEMORO: You know, there is a massive amount of discussion about that. I don’t think Bernie is going to consider that. You know, we’re having a People’s Summit this weekend in Chicago, and, by the way, we will be live-streaming it. And it’s still open, so, folks in Chicago, feel free to come and join us. There will be approximately 3,000 people so far registered for that. And it’s grassroots activists, and it’s people who have been doing movement building for many, many years. It’s—Juan is there tonight with us. You know, we have performers. We have really new films out, progressive films. But most importantly why we’re there is to network. And I’m sure that there will be a variety of discussions, from supporting Clinton and just basically conceding the fact that we’re not going to achieve anything at this round in the electoral process at that level. And, you know, I’m sure people will talk about building third parties. There will be a variety of discussions. Everyone’s voice is going to be welcome here, because it’s a time for debate and it’s a time for deep considerations.
We saw the manipulation in the DNC of this election. We saw the horrendous campaign obstacles that we had to confront. It was a real eye-opener for the nurses, in particular, because they were across the country on the Sanders campaign, and they were, at first, quite stunned by the level of corruption, but eventually understood that you have to change things at a systemic level. So when Senator Sanders says that we have to transform the Democratic Party, we all kind of turn and look at each other and wonder, “With Wall Street’s money so invested in that party, is that possible any longer?” So, it just raises all the questions.
The nurses had a really good discussion at their executive board yesterday. And we’re staying to fight. We’re staying with Bernie. We’re going to fight for our issues through the convention, and we’re going to continue to fight for our issues. What I’m the most worried about is the disaffection by Sanders not achieving the nomination. Well, that’s still open. I mean, that’s still an open question. I know there’s a presumptive nominee, but that’s still an open question. A lot can happen between here and the end of July. Regardless of that, the Sanders campaign is about changing America. And it’s changing America from being a market to a society. And I think, at a visceral level, that’s what people really see and they want. They want their country back. And that’s what our campaign has been about.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, RoseAnn, your organization obviously was very pivotal in organizing support for Bernie Sanders. But among the other things that he said last night in terms of not just transforming the Democratic Party, but he said that it was an immediate political task of the next five months to make sure Donald Trump does not become president. Do you agree with that aspect of what he said?
ROSEANN DEMORO: Absolutely. Well, I mean, we’re really not very interested in having, you know, some neofascism in our country, and that’s where this goes. My assumption is that Donald Trump will defeat himself, that the Republicans will wake up. I think, though, Juan, there’s something deeper and that can’t be ignored. And that is, you know—and the people who support Trump give voice to that. And that’s the deep frustration of where our country is going. And it seems to be continuing on that path by our electoral choices here in the presumptive nominees. Regardless of which side they were on, people want change. What—you know, I think we’ll all be unified in fighting Donald Trump. I also believe that many of the Clinton supporters basically walked—you know, just fell lockstep into the normal Democratic Party nomination process. But I believe, on the issues, they’ll be with us, they’ll be with Bernie. They want a better America. They want education for their children. They want healthcare for their families. They want a society that doesn’t pollute the air. They want immigrant rights. I mean, all of the things that this campaign is about, we continue on.
And, in fact, I think, you know, tonight and tomorrow and the next day at The People’s Summit, we’ll be talking a lot about that. There’s a lot of surrogates from the Sanders campaign who will be here—Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbard. There’s really incredible speakers on the environment—Naomi Klein tonight, with you, Juan. And there’s—you know, the young generation of talent in the film industry and in the rock scene, actually, will be here. So we’ve got all of this young incredible talent. What I’m really—I guess the thing that I’m the—I’ve been an activist all my life. And what I’m the most happy about in this campaign is how intelligent the young people are. And look at this—and this cross-section of actors and actresses here tonight, for example, who are going to be doing readings—you know, Rosario Dawson, for example, who’s on the panel tonight with us, as well. They are just so—they’re so smart, and they’ve got a long future ahead. And they want this country to be returned to the people. And so, I am—I am just feeling so good about the moment. I mean, obviously, we would have loved to see Bernie as the—and we still do. We’d love to see Bernie as the leader of this country. He deserves that role. He fights for us.
AMY GOODMAN: RoseAnn DeMoro, we want to thank you for being with us, executive director of the National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Of course, we’ll cover the summit that’s happening this weekend, the people’s conference that you’re holding in Chicago, and we’ll be covering it on Monday. But right now we’re turning to another issue. Juan?