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Dolores Huerta vs. Norman Solomon: A Debate on Best Path Forward for Democratic Party

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With Bernie Sanders vowing to continue fighting until the Democratic National Convention, we speak to Hillary Clinton supporter Dolores Huerta and Sanders delegate Norman Solomon on where the race goes from here.

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

AMY GOODMAN: During last night’s victory rally, Hillary Clinton addressed Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

HILLARY CLINTON: Now, I know it never feels good to put your heart into a cause or a candidate you believe in and to come up short. I know that feeling well. But as we look ahead—as we look ahead to the battle that awaits, let’s remember all that unites us. We all want an economy with more opportunity and less inequality, where Wall Street can never wreck Main Street again. We all want a government that listens to the people, not the power brokers, which means getting unaccountable money out of politics. And we all want a society that is tolerant, inclusive and fair.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Norman Solomon, you’re a Bernie Sanders delegate. Clearly, Hillary Clinton offering the olive branch to people like you, to Bernie Sanders’ supporters. Your response to what happened last night?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, I think Hillary Clinton’s speech was well crafted, and Bernie Sanders’ speech was transcendant. And that’s really symbolic of both campaigns. If we’re getting an olive branch now from Hillary Clinton, it’s a rather small one. It’s a rather brittle one. And it remains to be seen whether there’s going to be very much substance. You know, it is a glass ceiling that needs to be shattered. We need equal rights for women, as well as men, and we also need equal scrutiny. And when we think about the role that Hillary Clinton has played in terms of advocating for the so-called welfare reform of 1996 that decimated the lives of millions of women economically in this country, when you think of the women in the Middle East and North Africa whose lives have been shattered by the policies advocated and advanced by Hillary Clinton, it’s problematic to see her as some sort of advocate and champion for the rights of women or children or any human being. So, this is an ongoing challenge, and I think the most important words that we heard last night were three from Bernie: “The struggle continues.”

AMY GOODMAN: Dolores Huerta, what about that? And what about the movement that Bernie Sanders has ridden over these months, the mass rallies that he has held in your state, California, dwarfs almost anything that Hillary Clinton has seen in the campaign that she has been conducting?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, I think that that’s wonderful that we have so many people engaged in the rallies that Bernie has had. It’s wonderful to see so many young people that are engaged. But I think we’re a little shortsighted, because we need to understand that the person that we have to beat in November is Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is not the enemy. She’s a very intelligent woman. She will be able to bring to fruition many, many of the ideas and the philosophy that Bernie Sanders and his supporters have. I have a lot of faith and trust in Hillary Clinton. I’ve known her, I’ve traveled with her, I’ve seen her. I’ve talked to hundreds of people that she has been involved with and helped.

And so, when we keep thinking of the words, “We’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep the struggle going,” yes, we do have maybe a long way to go in our democracy in the United States to be able to erase the inequality, to be able to get our labor unions respected again, to get our people of color respected. Yes, and all of the things that—yes, we need to do something about college tuition. But we are going to have a nominee, and that’s Hillary Clinton. And at this point, we have to talk about unity, and we have to stop the—stop the talk about fighting. We’ve got to come together, because there is somebody that we have to defeat, and that is Donald Trump. And I do believe—

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon—

DOLORES HUERTA: —at the end of the day, many of the values that Bernie Sanders has are the same values that Hillary Clinton has. And I hope that many of the Bernie Sanders supporters will understand that, and—because if we keep this—if the talk keeps going on about we’re going to fight, we’re going to fight, then, you know, this is going to help Donald Trump. It’s not going to help anybody but him. And so, we really have to be real about what’s going on in our country right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think, Dolores Huerta, that at this point Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race?

DOLORES HUERTA: I think that some of the rhetoric that Bernie is using is also, I think—and especially when it comes to the young people that—many that he represents. I think he’s got to be a leader in this moment. This is what he has to be. Eventually, we know that Hillary is going to be the nominee. How he handles that—and I’m supposing that he’s having trouble, you know, dealing with that, that he’s not going to be the candidate of the Democratic Party. We know that he has half of the people—almost half of the people on the platform committee are Bernie Sanders supporters. And so, they will be able to craft the kind of a platform for the Democratic convention that we all want. We all want social justice. We all want reform. But, you know, let’s start working together and stop the fight talk, OK? It’s enough already. Let’s come together, because we’ve got to win in November, and we’ve got to defeat Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, your response?

NORMAN SOLOMON: We definitely need to defeat Donald Trump. No self-respecting or human-respecting progressive would ever vote for Donald Trump. At the same time, you’re not going to be able to effectively defeat the bogus, racist, xenophobic type of pseudo-populism coming from Donald Trump with a sort of Wall Street, throw-in-a-little-bit-of-populist-rhetoric campaigning that we’ve been getting from Hillary Clinton.

Of course, while we defeat Donald Trump, we also need to keep on keeping on, to speak truth to and about power. And right now, corporate power has a stranglehold over domestic policy, over international policy. It’s fueling the warfare state and perpetual war. Since when do advocates for nonviolence and peace go silent when Hillary Clinton is an advocate for perpetual war? There are people in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria, who are suffering grievously because of policies not only in the past that she’s advanced, but ones that she’s prescribing for the future. Since when do we go silent when Hillary Clinton affectionately praises and describes Henry Kissinger as her friend? Now, let’s be clear: Hillary Clinton is a pro-war candidate. If Bernie Sanders is not exactly an antiwar candidate, he’s not a pro-war candidate. He has, for instance, symbolically said he would never want Henry Kissinger—who, you know, frankly, is a warmonger and a war criminal. I just think history bears that out. Bernie Sanders went out of his way in a debate, two debates, to say, “Look, I would never consider him my friend. He is a disgraceful historic figure in terms of being a secretary of state.”

So, I think we need to get a clear grip on what our values are. And progressives are absolutely capable of holding in their minds and their hearts two fundamental precepts and goals. One, yes, we must defeat Donald Trump. The other is that we have eternal vigilance to challenge the kind of corporate power, Wall Street-friendly and militarism policies that are advocated by and now represented fully by Hillary Clinton.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a path for Bernie Sanders right now to the presidency, Norman Solomon?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, I think there’s a path to Philadelphia. And like many other Bernie Sanders delegates that I’ve spoken with in recent days, we want to hear the nominating speeches and the seconding speeches for Bernie Sanders inside the convention hall in Philadelphia. We want to hear him speak to the convention still as a candidate. And as delegates who have been elected in our congressional districts, for instance, in the state of California, we want to cast our votes for Bernie Sanders as the nominee for president of the United States of the Democratic Party. That need not be divisive at all. It’s inclusive, and it means that, as Jesse Jackson said way back in 1988, a plane and a party needs two wings to fly. And if this party tries to lop off the left wing of its vehicle and its possibilities, then we’re going to be fighting this campaign with one hand amputated behind our back.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this discussion, Norman Solomon, a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and Dolores Huerta, longtime Hillary Clinton supporter, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. I also want to ask Dolores about Helen Chavez, who just died, Cesar Chavez’s wife and longtime ally in the movement. Stay with us.

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