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Molly Crabapple: Bloomberg Is a Billionaire Republican Who Terrorized Black & Brown Youth

StoryFebruary 11, 2020
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Polls open Tuesday in New Hampshire for the first primary of the 2020 presidential cycle. The Democratic candidates have been criss-crossing the state in the days leading up to the vote, which has even more significance this year following the muddled results of the Iowa caucuses. We continue our conversation with Arnie Arnesen, a longtime radio and TV host in New Hampshire and a former New Hampshire legislator; Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of, which is supporting Bernie Sanders; and we are joined in New York by Molly Crabapple, an artist, writer and activist who recently published a series of sketches from her time on the campaign trail with Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire.

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

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. The polls are open right now in New Hampshire, the nation’s first primary. Some are asking why both New Hampshire and Iowa are the first primary and caucus, given that they are two of the whitest states in the country. But we’re joined right now by Molly Crabapple, award-winning artist and writer. Her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress. Her recent piece in The Nation magazine is headlined “A Sanders Campaign Sketchbook.” She’s also illustrator and co-author, with Marwan Hisham, of Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War.

During the break on the TV aspect of our show, we were playing some of your amazing illustrations. Molly, you’ve just returned from being out on the road with Bernie Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Talk about the illustrations. I mean, this is a perfect example of art and resistance that you have been drawing.

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: It’s such an honor to be here, Amy and Juan. I was on the road with the Bernie Sanders campaign in Iowa a few months ago and then in New Hampshire a few weeks ago. I was doing these illustrations from life, packed into these high school gyms, these breweries full of working people, like with my sketchbook on my knees, trying to not just capture Bernie, but also capture the massive movement behind him. It’s so exciting to be there. It’s hard to explain. But when you’re there and when Bernie or when AOC walks into the room, the energy in those rooms is like nothing that I have ever seen. And I have drawn a lot of political rallies for a lot of people. It’s a superdiverse group of people. It’s everything from like maybe older people in wheelchairs sitting up front to young people involved with Sunrise Movement. And they are so excited, and they have so much fight in them.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Can you respond? One particular moment, I think you were in New Hampshire, when Mayor Pete Buttigieg was called out for his role in overpolicing in the black community in South Bend. Your take and your sense of that moment in the rally?

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: Oh my god! Well, Mayor Pete is someone who, during the last Democratic debate, defended the fact that he was locking up, putting black people in cages for marijuana possession, by saying that he needed to do this to prevent gang slaughter. I can’t think of a more racist, ridiculous statement in the world. It was like a Reefer Madness fantasy. So, that’s Mayor Pete for you.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talking about police, let’s go to the audio that has just resurfaced of controversial remarks made by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who’s now running for Democrat on the — on the Democrat — he’s now running for Democrat, president on the Democratic line. Of course, I’m getting a little mixed up here, because I’m in New York, and he was a Republican mayor of New York. During a 2015 interview at the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg defended stop-and-frisk, saying, quote, “Ninety-five percent of murders, murdered victims fit one MO. You can just take the description, xerox it and pass it out to all the cops.”

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Ninety-five percent of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one MO. You can just take the description, xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 15 to 25. That’s true in New York. It’s true in virtually every city.

AMY GOODMAN: Bloomberg went on to defend the overpolicing of communities of color, saying, quote, “The way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” I mean, Mayor Bloomberg was sued for this. Hundreds of thousands, something like three-quarters of a million, black and brown young people were thrown up against the wall. Molly, can you talk about the significance of this? And I want to then ask that of Norm Stockwell [sic] — I want to ask that also of our guest in New Hampshire, Norm Solomon.

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: Mike Bloomberg is a billionaire Republican who purged the city of the working class, who sold it out to foreign oligarchs and who terrorized black and Latino youth. He terrorized them. It is not innocent to stop and frisk people. This is putting people in cages, where people were assaulted, where people were raped, where Kalief Browder was so tortured that he was driven to suicide. That’s Mike Bloomberg’s legacy in New York. And that is not someone who should be anywhere near the presidency.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon, how much is this being raised in New Hampshire? Though Mike Bloomberg is not on the ballot, he is obviously a write-in candidate, as you described, swamping the country’s airwaves with ads.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, Bloomberg is really, I think, a subtext. He is the oligarch-in-waiting to try to grab control of the White House. And a lot of facts just aren’t getting out there. I mean, it is just a classic of, and it is a dystopian classic of, “Can the White House be bought?” Just the onslaught of advertising, particularly on TV around the country, and he’s rising in the polls. Has he hit the ceiling? We don’t know.

One of the bits of video that I think must be circulated to millions is on YouTube. And that is with Michael Bloomberg speaking at the 2004 Republican National Convention, vehemently expressing his support and endorsement for the re-election of George W. Bush. So, how do you go from 2004 with that kind of speech to saying in 2020 you want to be the Democratic presidential nominee? Well, that would require tremendous amnesia among people who vote in Democratic primaries. It would require forgetting about or discounting the human lives that George W. Bush destroyed and that Bloomberg helped him destroy in Iraq and, for that matter, the war at home, the class war, the racism that George W. Bush embodied through his policies. So, it comes down to: Are we going to live in this fantasy world driven by a $55 billion man, or are we going to get real about humanity and what is at stake?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask Molly, in terms of the work that you did of getting out Latino voters in Iowa, because most people identify Iowa as a largely white state, but there’s a significant percentage of Latinos in many of the cities of Iowa as a result of people being recruited in to work in the meatpacking industry in the ’90s and the early 2000s.

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: So, me and David Galarza Santa and Jasmin Sanchez, two amazing working-class Puerto Rican organizers, we’ve been organizing Latino phone banks, where we have been getting people together who speak Spanish to call Latino voters. We did one in Iowa where we had like 30 people. And, you know, when you use the Bernie language Spanish dialer, because I’ve used the English dialer a lot — when you use the Spanish dialer, the level of Latinos who support Bernie is off the hook.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, wait. Explain what you mean by “dialer.”

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: Oh, oh, sorry. So, the Bernie Sanders campaign, like, I think, most of the campaigns, it has an interface for phone banking, where you can call in and connect with voters. And there’s one in English, of course, but there’s also a special one for Spanish-speaking voters, right? So, what me and David and Jasmin did was we organized Latinos who speak Spanish to call other Latinos who speak Spanish in Iowa, and we did that right before the caucuses. And we saw the incredible, incredible support he was getting from Latinos. And this is a really important point I want to make. There has been this ridiculous lie that’s been advanced by cable news pundits that people of color don’t support Bernie. Bernie is the most popular candidate with Latinos in America. And there were six times as many Latinos who caucused for him in Iowa as there were to his rival, Biden.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about this issue of these two whitest states, in every sense a very profound point? And it’s a tradition that’s gone on for decades. Fascinatingly, The Boston Globe, which is right next door to New Hampshire, has just written an editorial saying this tradition must end. I mean, you’ve got two of the whitest states in the country. I mean, New Hampshire, it’s like 93, 95% white. It’s not only determining the agenda of the candidates, you know, the issues that they’re addressing, but it sets the tone. Since it’s leading two years up to these two states, people are in campaign mode and going to Iowa and New Hampshire. You get this image of who a voter is: everywhere on television, older white voter. And if you, too, are calling for, as Julián Castro, though he’s now supporting Elizabeth Warren, who ran for president, a change in this order? I mean, it looks like the — it’s not the fact that they’re white that it might change; it’s the fact that the Iowa catastrophe happened, the chaos, and that has provided the crack that has said, “Why Iowa first?”

MOLLY CRABAPPLE: I think that the entire primary system, the way it’s structured, is ridiculous. Like, call me simpleminded; I think there should be one day that every single state votes. And the person who wins the most states in the vote should get the vote. In fact, I think that probably if we didn’t have this ridiculous Electoral College system, then the primary system should also just be popular vote for the country. I don’t know. One man, one vote. You know, call me nuts.

AMY GOODMAN: Arnie Arnesen, what do you think about that? And is this a discussion that’s going on in New Hampshire?

ARNIE ARNESEN: I am going to — let me challenge you on that. All right, well, let me just challenge what she just said. The problem with that is, that guarantees a Michael Bloomberg. And the reason that is, is that the kind of money and name recognition you would need to win a primary on one day undermines what needs to happen. Look, I understand why Iowa and New Hampshire should probably not be first. I understand that we are one of the whitest states in the nation, one of the richest states in the nation and the second-oldest state in the nation. Oh my god! If you’re looking at a changing demographic, take this responsibility away from me and reflect the nation. The problem is, is that if you have a one-day primary on the same day, then what ultimately happens is that benefits name and money. And it doesn’t develop the opportunity of relationships. I would love to see candidates be able to run in smaller states to create that relationship, but we have a couple things going for us. Because of Citizens United, look at the flooding of money. All these things have benefited the wealthy. If you then have a 50-state primary, then you have guaranteed that they win. That’s not what I want. I want the opportunity to evaluate a candidate and let smaller voices rise to the top. That will never happen on a 50-day situation.

But I want to go back to a little bit of what we’ve been talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

ARNIE ARNESEN: First of all, let’s talk about Joe — sorry, Joe Biden. A friend of mine watched Joe Biden the other day. And he said, “You know what this reminded me? It reminded me of the movie The Sixth Sense.” And that’s really what’s happening with the Joe Biden campaign.

And let’s talk about Mayor Pete. Mayor Pete talks in lofty terms about turning the page. Here’s what no one in the media has asked him: What the hell is on that page? I mean, it’s a nice line, but it gives you no content. That’s how Mayor Pete is winning. He’s winning because he’s charming, but he’s not giving us anything of substance. That’s the difference between Bernie, and that’s the difference between Mayor Pete. If you want something that will appeal to working people, where they trust it and they know you will deliver when you get elected, Bernie does that.

AMY GOODMAN: Arnie Arnesen, we’re going to have to leave it there, host of The Attitude on WNHN-FM in Concord, New Hampshire. Thanks so much to Norman Solomon and to Molly Crabapple. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

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