After a tension-filled opening day of the Democratic National Convention that saw Senator Bernie Sanders endorse his former rival Hillary Clinton, we host a debate between Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and CEO and a Bernie Sanders surrogate.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are “Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency.” I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we turn back to the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.
BEN JEALOUS: Today is our day to begin to unify so we can defeat Donald Trump. And I am looking forward to joining him, along with all of us, to take back the Senate, elect great local and state change makers, defeat Trump and make Hillary Clinton president of these United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, addressing the DNC last night. Ben Jealous is a Bernie Sanders surrogate who spoke at the convention on Monday night. We’re also joined by Dr. Jill Stein, who is running for president on the Green Party ticket. She was the Green Party’s 2012 presidential nominee.
AMY GOODMAN: That was quite a night last night. Ben Jealous, you gave one of the major addresses. People are used to hearing you explain why Hillary Clinton should not be the nominee—
BEN JEALOUS: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: —why it should be Bernie Sanders.
BEN JEALOUS: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: But you had a very different message last night.
BEN JEALOUS: Well, you know, we came through a primary, and now we have 105 days to keep a madman out of the White House. And we went—you know, we know what happened in 2000. And the reality is that we cannot afford to end up with having an Iraq War because we narrowly lose the White House to somebody who should not be in there, as we did with Bush. So, the reality is, you go through a primary, you come into a convention, and you come out one campaign, in this case to hold onto the White House and keep a neofascist from becoming president.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what do you say to those Sanders supporters who feel that, in many respects, Hillary Clinton is more hawkish when it comes to issues of foreign policy and war even than Donald Trump, in some respects?
BEN JEALOUS: If you look at the utter racism that Trump has directed towards people in this country, there is no reason to think that he will not do the same thing when he actually, you know, has his finger on the button. He clearly seems to, you know, have some sort of love affair going on with Putin. I don’t know who that gives comfort to. And he has all the personality characteristics of some of the worst dictators and tyrants we’ve seen around the world. But the reality is here that he will also destroy voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights. He will put in a Supreme Court that will take us back very quickly. We used to think that the Voting Rights Act pretty much was sacrosanct in this country. It’s been—you know, great damage has been done to it. This is the first presidential—and quite frankly, you know, my roots, as you know, my family, so much of it is in West Baltimore, and communities like that suffer greatly when we sort of pretend like who’s in president—who is the president does not matter. And we cannot afford to go through, you know, George W. Bush on steroids.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, what’s your response to that, that we cannot afford to see a repetition of Bush or, as Ben Jealous called Donald Trump, a madman?
DR. JILL STEIN: I agree. Donald Trump is a very dangerous person. He says extremely despicable, reprehensible things. But at the same time, Hillary Clinton has a track record for doing absolutely horrific things, for expanding wars, in the likes of Libya, for example. There could hardly be an example of a more catastrophic war, which has been more problematic for increasing the terrorist threats. Finger on the nuclear button? I worry very much about the air war that Hillary Clinton would like to start over Syria with this no-fly zone against a nuclear-armed power in the form of Russia.
And in terms of racism, the immigrant deportations that Hillary has approved of and has supported are equally horrific. Whether it’s against black people or Muslim people or Latinos, it’s not acceptable for anyone. And, in fact, Hillary played a major role in creating the refugees, the waves of refugees, particularly coming out of Honduras, into this country, where she’s supported the deportation of women and children, and, in fact, the night raids that are going on, and, under the Obama White House, the greatest number of immigrants who have actually been deported.
Further, let me say, I think it’s so important for us to have unity to stop Donald Trump. And it’s important to point out that the most powerful way to stop Donald Trump was, in fact, sabotaged by the Democratic Party and by Hillary Clinton by way of stopping Bernie Sanders’ campaign, as he himself and many others have pointed out. It’s so true historically—we know this from Nazi Germany—that it’s really important to have a unified front and a strong progressive coalition in order to stop neofascism. It’s not just Donald Trump. We are seeing this in Europe, as well, as well as in other countries, and particularly throughout the U.S. The problem is not Donald Trump alone. The problem is the policies of neoliberalism, of austerity, of the Wall Street deregulation and the NAFTA, which Hillary Clinton herself represents, has promoted. Putting another Clinton in the White House, unfortunately, is not the answer. It will only fan the flames of the right-wing extremism that Donald Trump represents. If we want to defeat Donald Trump, it’s very important that we really rally and unify, in my view, around a truly progressive campaign. Hillary Clinton represents the opposite of that. My campaign represents the continuing agenda of the Bernie Sanders campaign.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Jill Stein, I wanted to ask you, when we had you on the show last, you were offering—this was after it was clear that Hillary Clinton had prevailed. You were offering the possibility for Bernie Sanders to move over to the Green Party. Did any—were there any kinds of discussion that occurred between that time and now? And also, what do you make of—there are some Sanders supporters—we had Norman Solomon on the program yesterday, who said he’s not going to vote for Hillary Clinton in California. In the safe Democratic states, they’re going to vote for you, but in the battleground states, he understands the necessity to vote for Hillary Clinton. What’s your response to that kind of a tactic or approach from some Sanders supporters?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, let me say, I think there’s more reason than ever for Bernie Sanders to move over. After the email revelations and the media—the corporate media’s characterizing this as, “Oh, they said bad things about Bernie”—they didn’t just say bad things about Bernie, they sabotaged his campaign. They created public relations smear campaigns, in addition to all the other evidence we have of stripping voter rolls, not counting votes, the superdelegates and the Super Tuesdays. But it’s clear there’s collusion that was going on between the big media and between the DNC and between Hillary’s campaign. So, these were knives stuck in the back. These were absolutely outrageous and underhanded techniques that were used against Bernie’s campaign. I think he has more reason than ever. We’re encouraging him to actually repudiate, to rescind his endorsement of Hillary Clinton and consider coming over and exploring with the Green Party how we can build this strong, unstoppable, unified movement.
In terms of the safe state strategy, in my view, no state is safe in an age where the climate is in meltdown. We’ve heard from the NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recently. They just got an “oh, my god” report from the—from the Antarctic, which they will be rolling out written reports about soon, but this was a verbal report saying that we can expect as much as nine feet of sea level rise by 2050, unless we have a dramatic turnaround. And under the Democrats, we saw a massive increase in fossil fuel extraction and a massive increase in the rate at which carbon dioxide and methane are actually going up. Hillary Clinton was the major—one of the major proponents to increase fracking around the world. We should not rest easy with Donald Trump. We should not rest easy with Hillary Clinton. And we should not rest easy with a voting system that tells us we only have two lethal choices. We could, in fact, enact ranked choice voting right now in any legislature across the state, that would take the fear out of voting. But the Democrats won’t pass it, because they rely on fear to intimidate your vote, which tells you they are not your friend. They do not deserve your vote on that basis alone.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein, you remind me of someone. You remind me of Ben Jealous before yesterday. He wasn’t saying that’s the problem with the Democrats; he was saying that’s the problem with Hillary Clinton. And that’s why you supported Bernie Sanders.
BEN JEALOUS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the pivot you’re making now. Is it just about Donald Trump? And how hard is it, just honestly, as you start to—
BEN JEALOUS: Well, I mean, let’s be honest.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I just want to say, last night, there was a period in the convention, on the convention floor, where every time one of the speakers said “Hillary Clinton,” people chanted “Bernie Sanders! Bernie Sanders!”
BEN JEALOUS: Sure, sure, sure.
AMY GOODMAN: But what about that?
BEN JEALOUS: Yeah, look, what you saw yesterday was the beginning of a convention. People come in, having fought each other; they go out fighting together. And you look at the beginning, and people, you know, show up as they show up. But, you know, let’s be honest. You know, if Jill was running for mayor or Congress or Senate, I might be supporting her. There’s a lot of issues that we absolutely agree on. And if you’re going to build a party, build it from the bottom up—win some seats in Congress, win some seats in the Senate. You start at the presidency. Why? Because you can get more money for your party. If you can get 5 percent, then you can get some more money for your party. And what was the cost of that in 2000? The Iraq War. And how much did that cost us, and how much did that cost our children and the future?
The reality is that we have a responsibility, when our Earth is in such peril, to not be kind of flying kites and investing in fantasies, but to actually do the hard work of organizing. And the real hard work, we all know, is actually in the streets once you get somebody in office. We don’t elect presidents to make change happen for us. We elect politicians to make it easier for our movements to make change happen. But you’ve got to be willing to build a movement.
Frankly, I only hear about the Green Party when somebody’s running for president, in most places. I never hear about it winning in Congress. I never hear about winning in the Senate. I wish—I wish I did. But the reality is that the Green Party in Europe oftentimes joins with people who are center-leftists or even, you know, folks that we don’t typically agree with, because they have a different system, and, quite frankly, they’re much more strategic and much more effective at actually pulling their country to the left. That’s what Bernie Sanders and our progressive movement inside of the Democratic Party is doing. I agree, we can have a much better system. But you know what? We have the system that we have.
And it’s different, I think, when the community that you are most connected to can afford for, you know, this to be lost or that to be lost, but I’m rooted in a black community that’s been devastated by attacks on its rights, that’s been devastated by mass incarceration, and my responsibility is to deliver real results for real people that transforms real families’ lives. I don’t have time to kind of play games with fantasies.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jill Stein, you were shaking your head as Ben was speaking.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yeah, can I respond to that?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But I wanted to add my question on this, which is, the Green Party has been around for decades now, and—
BEN JEALOUS: And how many senators do we have? And how many congresspeople do we have?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —yes, it has—it has won some local elections—
DR. JILL STEIN: Well—
BEN JEALOUS: How many governors do we have?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —some local elections and some—
BEN JEALOUS: How many major cities—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, let me finish the question.
BEN JEALOUS: Come on.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: They’ve been able to win some local elections, but at the national level, the percentage support for the party has barely grown at all. And I’m just wondering, as you’re putting forth your perspective, why you feel that has not caught the kind of support here in this country that Greens have in Europe?
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, you know, there is no doubt we have a voting system, as well as a system of press and debates and so on, which essentially removes any knowledge that there—and, you know, the reason people don’t hear about what the Green Party is doing is because there’s a complete corporate media blackout on what we’re doing. You can look at Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Richmond, California, who did incredibly innovative things as an eight-year mayor, using—turning eminent domain on its head and actually using it against the banks in order to seize underwater mortgages and preserve the homes of families who were threatened with eviction and foreclosure; or with suing the—Chevron, which was extremely dangerous, blew up, sent 5,000 people to the hospital; massively reduced police violence and deaths at the hands of police—an exemplary mayor. You don’t hear about that. You didn’t hear about Mayor Jason West in New Paltz, New York, who actually went to jail as the first official, as a mayor, to actually officiate over gay marriages, went to jail in order to perform those marriages. So, we see Greens actually breaking through. We have hundreds of people in office. We run hundreds of candidates. And, in fact, ballot access rules require us to run a presidential candidate in order to get on the ballot for lesser offices, as well.
But I would think back to the campaign of Eugene V. Debs. He never won. But what did he do? Because he was in a high-visibility position, he helped raise up the fight at the community level, got hundreds of people. And he ran over and over and over again, and built a movement, because he had—
AMY GOODMAN: He ran for president from jail.
DR. JILL STEIN: As well, that’s right, and many times before he went to jail, too, and helped initiate a movement from the grassroots up, that took office—excuse me—at many levels of government, including eventually at the top. But we live in a uniquely oppressive time politically right now. The Green Party—
BEN JEALOUS: Uniquely?
DR. JILL STEIN: —is the only—well, in—
BEN JEALOUS: Like segregation wasn’t worse?
DR. JILL STEIN: No, what I mean—well, and, in fact, who was called a spoiler during segregation? It was the parties of—actually, during the time of slavery, it was that parties of abolition—
BEN JEALOUS: But how is this—how is this time uniquely oppressive?
DR. JILL STEIN: Let me just finish my thought, if I could. It’s the parties of abolition that were called spoilers for standing up to challenge, and they came out of nowhere over the course of a few years. All other independent parties in this country have been wiped off the political map. You could look at the Labor Party, you could look at Peace and Freedom, you could look at socialist parties. None of them have been able to survive even as a national party. And that’s why we are all collaborating underneath the umbrella of the Green Party, because we are the one opposition party that has managed to survive the smear campaigns and the fear campaigns that have taken place as politics has become more oppressive and more regressive.
And for those who would say “silence political opposition,” that actually is tyranny. The U.S. goes to war. We bomb countries that eliminate political opposition. Instead of trying to silence the voice of political opposition, on which real democracy depends, we should be embracing ranked choice voting. It would take our—
BEN JEALOUS: I’m all for ranked choice voting.
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, then, pressure your legislature to pass it right now. It would take them 36 hours, in fact, to do it.
BEN JEALOUS: So let’s have that national campaign.
DR. JILL STEIN: Let’s avoid any splitting of the vote. We don’t have to—and the other point here is that the American public is leading the charge. They are the ones who are rejecting these candidates and these political parties, saying that the two candidates we have now are the most untrustworthy, the most disliked. And who are the pundits to tell them, to tell the American people, who are being thrown under the bus, “Be good little boys and girls. Just support these candidates of the political establishment to do more of their damage”? Remember, you do not defeat neofascism through neoliberalism. Neoliberalism will create more neofascism. We have the potential not to split the vote, but to flip the vote, because there are 42 million young people who have no way forward, who are trapped in predatory student loan debt, about which Democrats happen to have nothing to offer, any more than Republicans. By simply getting the word out that they can come out—that is a plurality of the vote—they can come out and actually win this election, and not only win it, to cancel student debt, like we did for the friggin’ bankers, the crooks on Wall Street. We can cancel that debt, make higher education free, end police violence. These are all eminently solvable problems.
The Democrats, even when they had two Democratic houses of Congress, what did they do? They bailed out Wall Street. You know, they enacted all of the above, which has been basically “drill, baby, drill” on steroids. Hillary Clinton’s finger on the button is as dangerous as—certainly as dangerous as Donald Trump. And it’s Barack Obama himself who initiated the new nuclear arms race, spending a trillion dollars. We should not rest easy with either candidate.
This is a time for us to stand up. In the words of Alice Walker, biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with. My campaign has been supported, actively supported, by many of the leaders in the African-American community, like Marc Lamont Hill and like Cornel West, who say that their community cannot afford to sit back and let themselves be thrown under the bus. We must establish our own power. If you have to lose an election in order to establish your power, you have to do that. But simply by allowing Hillary Clinton and the Democrats—
BEN JEALOUS: May I speak?
DR. JILL STEIN: —to pretend to be saving us is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous?
BEN JEALOUS: Look, you know, fool me once, shame on me. Fool us twice, shame on you. And the reality is—
DR. JILL STEIN: I would say exactly the same.
BEN JEALOUS: Excuse me—oh, yeah, look, there’s a lot of things we agree on. What we—but what is not—we can talk about sort of fantasies, visions for the future, but we can’t deny the facts of the past. George W. Bush got into the White House because Al Gore lost by about 900 votes in Florida. Ralph Nader got 90,000. The reports, the studies that went back and looked at those voters said 60 percent of them would have gone for Gore if Nader wasn’t on the ballot there. I’m all for a viable third party—
AMY GOODMAN: Ben, could you make the argument in that case that with Al Gore’s choice of Joe Lieberman as his running mate—
BEN JEALOUS: Oh, there’s all sort of things. There’s all sorts of things, absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: —that he lost the election?
BEN JEALOUS: This is the part that kills me—right?—is that we’ll acknowledge that, you know, Joe Lieberman was not a great choice for vice president, and we’ll acknowledge that there were Democrats who voted for Republicans, but then, when it gets to this factor, we pretend like it had no effect. And it did.
And the reality is that, yes, we need third parties. And you know what? I would defend the rights—I mean, I’ve gone to jail, frankly, in multiple states defending people’s rights to participate. I believe there should be third parties. I’ve fought for ranked choice voting. I would love to see you guys get somebody to be mayor of Oakland, and not just Richmond. But the reality is that what you do is you start with the presidency, and you don’t think about the consequences. For you to sit here and suggest that people should vote for you in swing states is irresponsible.
And the reality is that if a Trump is in the White House, yes, we will blame a lot of things, and we will talk about all the dumb mistakes, and, yes, we should have had Bernie Sanders, who absolutely was polling much higher and is strong—we can go through all of that. We will do all that Monday morning quarterbacking. We will also talk about the role of the Green Party. If you guys are going to actually go in there and—you know, people have a choice between, yes, a neoliberal, a neofascist and the Green Party; let’s be honest, voting for the Green Party in a swing state helps the neofascist.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, wait—
BEN JEALOUS: There’s no other way to put it.
AMY GOODMAN: —let’s look at the poll for one minute. You have the polls indicating right now—NBC poll—Clinton 39 percent, Trump 40 percent, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson 10 percent and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein at 5 percent. CNN saying—you’ve got this latest poll—Trump at 44, Clinton at 39, Gary Johnson at 9 percent and Jill Stein at 3 percent.
BEN JEALOUS: Fine. And so we will look, and we will go through the votes. I’m an organizer. I deal with specific numbers by precinct, by state. And quite frankly, when I come somebody and say, “You know, we can abolish the death penalty in your state,” we go out there with a strategy, and we usually get it done. When I was head of the NAACP, we did it in six states in six years. Tough issue. But the reality is, you don’t—
AMY GOODMAN: Now it’s in the Democratic platform.
BEN JEALOUS: Absolutely. And you don’t—you don’t come to the people with a pipe dream. You come to the people with a plan. It’s great to have big, bold dreams. I push them all the time. But I’m not going to waste your time unless I know that we have a good chance of winning. I mean, you know, let’s play sides on the Green Party having the next president of these United States. It’s not going to happen. So then, let’s talk about, for our families, how we actually get things better. I would love to get—you know, to make progress yard by yard, but inches add up to yards. And the reality is that winning in the Congress, winning in the Senate, we could talk about—I would love to strategize about how to actually get Greens into federal office. But starting with the presidency? Again, in a swing state, a vote for the Green Party is going to help the neofascist right now. And we have 105 days, and we can’t mess with this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask both of you to maybe talk about the narrative that has developed in terms of the Sanders movement, that the willingness of African Americans and Latinos in such large numbers to vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary was a reflection of backwardness, of a lack of understanding of the—of so many African-American and Latino voters about their actual interests, and your sense of how Bernie Sanders tried to explain in his speech last night the unities that he has with Hillary Clinton, as opposed—at the same time recognizing that he has stark policy differences with her, but urging his supporters to back her. Jill?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, let me just say, first, you know, briefly, Ben mentioned, you know, it’s important to think of the past, we can’t disappear the past. Hillary Clinton cannot disappear her record of the past. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Hillary Clinton has a very clear, lifelong—practically lifelong track record for locking up African Americans, for deporting immigrants, for serving the interests of Wall Street, being funded by Wall Street and the war profiteers. So, let’s not pretend for a minute that Hillary Clinton’s track record offers us any hope. And—
BEN JEALOUS: So let’s put progressive people in Congress, in the Senate.
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, can I finish? It’s my turn now. Well, yes, absolutely, but look at where opposition parties are. We are in a political context that has been extremely hostile to opposition parties. The Libertarian Party has some advantages, because they are a corporate-sponsored party. But I regard the Green Party as a true opposition party, because we do not take money from corporations, from lobbyists and from super PACs. That’s what we had in common with Bernie Sanders. So we have the unique ability to uphold that agenda. Whatever label you put on us, I don’t think that matters to the American people. The American people don’t like the label of Democrats and Republicans. They’ve become minority parties. So I wouldn’t inflict a framework of the past. The Greens are the only ones that have survived. The Labor Party was established with far more infrastructure and funding, support from labor and so on, and has been wiped off the political map. The Greens are it for opposition politics right now. And should we give them a pass at the national level? Absolutely not. The answer to the threat of Trump and neofascism around the world is not another neoliberal in the White House.
I think this pertains very much to your question, which is: Are we going to have a real debate? I think it’s not just people of color, it’s not just Latinos. It’s the American people who deserve a real discussion, not only a right to vote, but a right to know who they can vote for. My campaign has come up in the polls virtually without any corporate media coverage. We tripled our numbers, from 2 percent about two months ago to as high as 5, 6 and even 7 percent in the most recent CNN poll. So we’ve tripled without any help from the corporate media. Can we double that again in order to get into the debates? I think there’s a very good chance that we can. And I would urge people to support our campaign, if only for the purpose of opening up the debates. If you would wipe out third parties, then you also wipe out Gary Johnson, and you then massively boost—
BEN JEALOUS: No one wants to wipe out third parties.
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, if you tell us to basically go away, because we are an inconvenient truth—
BEN JEALOUS: No, I’m telling you to win at the local level, win in Congress—
DR. JILL STEIN: —then you are enhancing the vote of Donald Trump.
BEN JEALOUS: —win in Senate, win a governorship.
DR. JILL STEIN: And this is how you do it, is by actually breaking into the political dialogue; otherwise, we are essentially wiped out, we are eliminated from that political dialogue—
BEN JEALOUS: No.
DR. JILL STEIN: —even while we are leading the charge. And it’s not only electorally. Greens are intensively involved in the social movements, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion, a very interesting one, and I think it’s one that’s happening all over, certainly one that was happening on the floor of the Democratic convention. Interestingly, I spoke to a number of delegates who said they were weighing what to do. They were weighing whether to support Hillary Clinton or to support a third-party candidate. But the delegates would not say that to me on camera, supporting Jill Stein, for example, saying that they feared, if they did express support for a third-party candidate, that they would have their credentials stripped as a delegate.
BEN JEALOUS: That would never happen. That would never happen.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s interesting.
BEN JEALOUS: No doubt. And I would go to jail to stop that. That would never happen.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re going to continue this discussion after break. Ben Jealous, former NAACP president, he is a Bernie Sanders surrogate, was, and now is saying support Hillary Clinton in the major presidential election. Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “I Read You” by THEESatisfaction. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, and our special two-week coverage, “Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency.” I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. In our second hour of our expanded two hours of daily coverage during the Republican convention last week in Cleveland and this week the Democrats in Philadelphia, we’re going to have a debate between the former labor secretary, Robert Reich, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. But right now, we are spending this hour with former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who was a Bernie Sanders surrogate, but spoke on the convention Monday night saying at this point he would throw his support to Hillary Clinton, with, well, Bernie Sanders saying the same. Dr. Jill Stein is also with us, running for president on the Green Party ticket. She was the Green Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Ben, I had asked a question earlier; I was hoping, at least a part of it, you might be able to respond to, the—when Bernie Sanders spoke last night, he—it was a long presentation, but he went into the details of why he felt that there had been enough—that his movement has been able to achieve significant changes in the Democratic Party platform, what he felt were the unities now between him and Hillary Clinton, versus what Trump represented. And I’m wondering your response to that speech.
BEN JEALOUS: Look, absolutely, and I stand right where Bernie does. Let me be really clear: I’m still Bernie Sanders’ surrogate. I’m still very much building this revolution we’re building together. We are progressives who understand how to build power. Bernie is an organizer, I’m an organizer. And the reality is, part of being an organizer and being a leader is making tough strategic decisions, so you can actually deliver the best results for the families of this country.
What you saw Bernie do last night was to really get people to take stock of how we’ve transformed this party. So, our folks who are in the room realize that that tent, they have made bigger; that tent, they have transformed. The platform of the party, we saw what the first draft was. It was milquetoast. Now it’s one of the most progressive in history. And it’s one of the most progressive in history because of the influence and the fight, quite frankly, that we brought to that process. Now, a week ago, we thought superdelegates may have the same unwavering influence for decades as they’ve had with decades. I sat with Reverend Jackson on Sunday; we were in church together. He was clear: The progress we’ve made against superdelegates will add up to more change than what he was able to do when he had them abolished for a minute, and then reimposed by the DNC.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain what happened. Explain on the superdelegates.
BEN JEALOUS: So what we’ve actually have is an agreement that, you know, we’ll go through our process, but it literally says “shall,” so, you know, it’s a process with an obligated outcome, which is to reduce the number of superdelegates by about two-thirds. Those two-thirds—
AMY GOODMAN: From 750 to 200, something like that?
BEN JEALOUS: Yeah, yeah, to 200-and-something. It will just be the, you know, governors, congresspeople.
AMY GOODMAN: Is this a promise, or it’s changed?
BEN JEALOUS: Yeah, yeah, no, this is a promise, because when you’re in the minority, you actually sometimes have to negotiate the outcome in advance; otherwise, all you have is a process. And then the other ones will be—will essentially turn into pledged delegates. They’ll still have an office, but they will have to vote the way of their states and will have to be apportioned as their states were apportioned. It’s a big deal.
You know, it’s the same thing we went through, quite frankly, in the movement to abolish the death penalty. We had one victory in '72. It got turned around on us in ’76. I come onto the national staff in ’96. We hadn't won anything in 20 years. We go to the board. I just want to talk about how progressives, sometimes we struggle with each other, because this is a family conversation. That’s why I didn’t dodge it this morning. Right? Because we’re all family, because we—some of us fight inside, some of us fight outside, but there’s a reason why we agree on so much, which is that we’ve been in the trenches for a long time together. And we came to the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and we said, “We are going to go to a state-by-state strategy.” And they said, “That’s incrementalist. It has to be all or nothing. It’s immoral if it’s not all or nothing.” But what have we done now? We have abolished the death penalty in about 20 states in this country—it’s 18, 19. We’ve abolished it entirely for juveniles, entirely for mentally—that’s how you get change to add up.
And that’s what Bernie Sanders and I are doing in the party, which is why he says, “Yes, Hillary Clinton and I actually agree on some things. We agree on making this country better for children. We agree on increasing the inclusion of women into our society.” She’s a fierce advocate for women and for children. You know, we now agree on the TPP, granted she didn’t start out there. But you know what? Go back and look at the history of RFK. There’s a lot of things, when he was hanging out with J. Edgar Hoover, that we didn’t agree with him on. But the movement pushed him. And the reality is that we’re pushing her, too. But we’ll also hold her accountable. There isn’t anybody in that room that feels like Bernie Sanders, if four years from now there was—you know, we had been betrayed, wouldn’t be a very different force to be reckoned with. But the reality is that we, as progressives, don’t just have a responsibility to our ideals, we have a responsibility to people, who need real change. And Bernie Sanders understands that the way to get real change in this moment is to simply push for the best of the two viable choices that we have and then hold them accountable. And that’s what we’ll do, while electing progressives at the local level.
AMY GOODMAN: I couldn’t count the number, the hundreds, of no—of “Ban TPP” signs on the floor last night.
BEN JEALOUS: And both candidates have said, “Ban TPP.”
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, the candidates may have said it, and Hillary Clinton, you know, easily moves from one camp to the other. But, you know, to have made progress in a nonbinding, voluntary platform, you know, to my mind, buyer beware here. I live in a state where we’ve had a great Democratic Party platform for a long time. With an extremely neoliberal Democratic Party, actions and legislation and so on, I would not look to the platform, you know, to be the marker of having made progress.
BEN JEALOUS: That’s all the Greens have.
DR. JILL STEIN: And it’s very clear—you know, and what’s not in the platform? You know, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The fact that the platform committee, in which Hillary Clinton’s delegates dominated, the fact that they refused to ban fracking, to go against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, when Hillary has adopted positions that are somewhat in favor of that—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 15 seconds.
DR. JILL STEIN: —yet the platform committee would not adopt it. You know, to my mind, it really—
BEN JEALOUS: I was there. I can tell you what happened.
DR. JILL STEIN: —it really casts grave doubt, as there should be, on Hillary’s positions. In terms of women, look at Aid to Families [with] Dependent Children. Welfare, as we know it, was destroyed by the Clintons. Look at the—
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
DR. JILL STEIN: —what Hillary did to living wages in Haiti. She pushed them down from a miserable 60 cents an hour to an extremely miserable 40 cents an hour. Hillary Clinton is a friend to corporations before she is a friend to women and children.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but it’s clearly a discussion that continues. Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate. Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and Bernie Sanders surrogate, is now—gave the convention speech last night saying, as Bernie Sanders did, support Hillary Clinton.