On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Democracy Now! will air a 3-hour election night special from 9 p.m. to midnight ET.
Democracy Now! will cover results from the presidential election to congressional and state races, as well as ballot initiatives.
Democracy Now!'s election night special will feature interviews and perspectives that you won't hear anywhere else. We’ll include the voices of activists, analysts and grassroots leaders discussing how the movements on the ground will go forward following this historic election.
Where to watch
Across the U.S.:
- Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 & DirecTV Ch. 348)
- Link TV (Dish Network 9410 & DirecTV Ch. 375)
- Maui, HI: Akaku TV, Ch. 55
- New York City, NY: Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Time Warner Cable Ch. 34 & 1993/1995 & Verizon FiOS 33
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- San Juan, PR: WIPR-TV, Ch. 6
- San Mateo, CA: KPJK Northern California Public Media, Ch. 60.4
- Syracuse, NY: WCNY Global Connect, Ch. 24.3; Ch. 1276 Spectrum & Ch. 467
- Tyngsborough, MA: Tyngsborough TV, Comcast Ch. 8 & Verizon Ch. 30
- Vermont: Vermont PBS Plus (statewide)
- Washington D.C.: WHUT-TV Ch. 32.1 & 32.2 and DCTV Ch. 95 Comcast/Ch. 10 RCN & Verizon FIOS
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- Washington, DC: WPFW, 89.3 FM
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- Oslo, Norway: radiOrakel 99.3 FM
- Toronto, ON: CUIT-FM, 89.5 FM
Check your local Democracy Now! station for listings.
AMY GOODMAN: From New York, this is Democracy Now!
JOE BIDEN: The president’s got a lot of things backwards, one of which is he thinks that he can decide who gets to vote. Well, guess what? The people are going to decide who gets to be president.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, I’m not thinking about concession speech or acceptance speech yet. Hopefully, we’ll be only doing one of those two. And, you know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not.
AMY GOODMAN: Polls have closed in 40 states across the country in the historic race between President Trump and Joe Biden. We’ll be live for the next three hours in this election night special, looking at the presidential race, as well as the fight to control the Senate and the House and more.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh, in this election special.
Polls have closed in 40 states in a presidential election season unlike any other, with Donald Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and the coronavirus pandemic making the act of casting a ballot a potentially life-threatening activity. A record-shattering 102 million U.S. voters cast early ballots ahead of today, either by mail or in person, and turnout on this Election Day indicates 2020’s election will break previous records. One University of Florida study predicts a voter turnout rate of 67% this year.
Polls have been closed for over an hour in several key battleground states, including Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas, but the races are still too close to call.
In Florida, The New York Times reports it looks likely Trump will win, after Joe Biden underperformed in some key areas, like Miami-Dade County.
In Georgia, the Times points to a probable Trump victory, and North Carolina is tilting toward Trump, but it’s still very early.
In Ohio, Joe Biden is leading by about 12 points in early returns, with about half of precincts reporting. Biden is so far outperforming Hillary Clinton’s Ohio numbers in 2016, when Trump won by about eight points.
In Pennsylvania, Joe Biden jumped to an early lead, but the state only began counting a record number of mail-in ballots today, meaning it could be a few days before a victor is declared.
In Texas, a historically deep red state, Joe Biden has jumped out to an early lead, outperforming Hillary Clinton’s numbers in Houston and Dallas in 2016, but there are signs Biden could still lose Texas once more rural areas of the state are counted.
The Associated Press has already projected Trump to be the winner in a number of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Biden is projected to have won Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Polls have just closed in the battleground states of Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Control of the Senate is also up for grabs tonight. Republicans currently hold a 53-to-47 advantage. If Biden wins the presidency, Democrats need to pick up three seats to take control of the Senate. They’ll need four new seats if Trump is reelected. Republicans are defending 23 seats compared to just 12 for Democrats.
In Kentucky, the Associated Press is reporting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has defeated Amy McGrath.
In Georgia, both Senate seats are up for grabs. The races are too close to call, and both could end up going to runoffs in January if no candidate gets over 50%.
In South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham has an early lead over Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
All 435 seats in the House are also on the ballot. Nearly all polls show Democrats will maintain control of the House.
In other election news, the U.S. Postal Service has refused to comply with a federal court order to sweep mail processing centers and deliver mail-in ballots that may have been unaccounted for. The order came after USPS announced over 300,000 mail-in ballots nationwide could not be traced for delivery. The U.S. Postal Service had until 3:30 p.m. Eastern time today to conduct the checks and make sure all ballots could be delivered before polls closed. Instead, USPS said it would maintain its own inspection schedule. The order affected facilities in 12 postal districts across 15 states, including battleground states like Arizona and Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots must be delivered by the end of Election Day in order to be counted.
In Illinois, The New York Times reports several polls in Chicago and Cook County opened late or relocated at the last minute. A court has ordered at least 17 precincts to remain open an extra hour.
In Georgia, the voting rights group Fair Fight is reporting they received complaints from voters in multiple counties who were wrongfully told they must have their absentee ballots with them in order to cancel them and vote in person. The group urged voters to remain at the polls and not leave until they’re able to vote.
This comes amidst a wave of millions of suspicious robocalls and texts sent to voters around the country telling them to stay home on Election Day. One robocall campaign targeted Flint, Michigan, urging people to vote tomorrow — that’s Wednesday — in order to avoid long lines on Election Day. The origin of the robocalls and texts remains unknown. The FBI has launched an investigation. Flint is a largely African American city.
In related news, the Arizona-based Latinx grassroots organization Mi Familia Vota said several Spanish-speaking voters around the country reported receiving threatening phone calls and misinformation aimed at discouraging them from voting.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, 220 National Guard members have been deployed to fill in as poll workers, and another 200 are on standby.
More than 5,000 state legislative seats are up for grabs today, with state legislatures set to rewrite the state and national electoral maps that will help determine the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives and beyond. In Texas, Democrats are hoping for a blue wave to sweep into the Texas state House, which could lead to the redrawing heavily gerrymandered districts that have entrenched Republicans in power.
In Delaware, Sarah McBride is poised to become the first transgender woman ever elected to a state senate seat in U.S. history. Preliminary results show her in a comfortable lead over Republican Steve Washington.
Today’s election came a day after the United States recorded over 93,000 new coronavirus cases, nearly reaching the record level of infections reached by the U.S. last week. Among swing states voting today, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania set daily records for new coronavirus cases. On Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to suggest people who are sick with the coronavirus could still vote in person on Election Day.
This comes as Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, warned in a new report, quote, “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic.” Birx slammed the government’s response to the pandemic thus far, writing, quote, “This is not about lockdowns … It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”
We’re joined right now by Chuck Rocha. He is a preeminent Latino vote expert, the president of Solidarity Strategies and the founder of Nuestro PAC, the largest Latino-focused partisan super PAC in the country. He is author of Tío Bernie: The Inside Story of How Bernie Sanders Brought Latinos into the Political Revolution. He was a senior adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
I’m Amy Goodman. My co-hosts are Nermeen Shaikh and Juan González for this three-hour special.
So, Chuck, we’re going to begin with you, because we have the numbers in in Florida — not all of them, by any means, but it looks like President Trump is ahead in Florida. If you can talk about Florida and what looks like, for some, a surprise in Ohio, where at this point — and again, it’s too early to say — it looks like Joe Biden is ahead? The Latino vote is considered a key vote in this national election. Talk about what you’re seeing.
CHUCK ROCHA: Thank you, Amy. And thanks to all your team for all of the help.
I’m just astounded by everybody’s surprise tonight, because there’s two things that we knew going into tonight. There’s one, is that Joe Biden had been underperforming with Latinos. As we say in the business, his numbers were just soft. It wasn’t as good as Hillary or as good as Barack Obama. And you’re seeing that highlighted in a very big way in Miami-Dade.
The other thing we knew is that Joe Biden overperformed with white working-class — think of it as union workers. Well, guess where he’s doing really good at tonight. In Ohio. This bodes really well for states that are coming up that we’re going to get the results from that he must win, which are Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. So, those are the two competing factors tonight.
As I’ve also watched Texas come in, Joe Biden is also underperforming there with Latinos in the valley and in Bexar County, which is San Antonio, while you’ve seen this robust turnout, like we talked about this morning, in Houston. It’s not quite as good as at the historic levels everybody else thought it would be. And so, that’s what I’m watching all at the same time right now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Chuck, I wanted to ask you — we talked this morning about two of the most pivotal battleground states: Arizona and Pennsylvania. We don’t have numbers in yet from Arizona; we do from Pennsylvania. The early returns show Biden with a substantial lead. But, of course, because of all the mail-in ballots, it’s going to take a while to count. Your sense of how the Latino community has turned out in these two states? And we talked about, early this morning also, that it’s not just Philadelphia when it comes to Pennsylvania, but it’s the whole Lehigh Valley area and all these other small cities, that all have substantial Latino populations.
CHUCK ROCHA: Tonight, when we talk about the Latino vote, we’ve got to separate Florida out from everything else. Yes, Biden is underperforming in Florida because of Cubans and Venezuelans. But in the other states, Biden — outside of Texas, where there really was no advertising done on either side. In Arizona, I would draw your attention to, Juan, like you said, Pennsylvania, but I would also add in North Carolina, that looks surprising tonight and good for Joe Biden. And that is, Latinos there are supporting Joe Biden at the Hillary Clinton and the Barack Obama number percentages.
And in Pennsylvania, that you were talking about, you have this huge population of Puerto Ricans who have moved there in the last 10 years, that are going to probably be the single most important factor in Joe Biden winning that election, because we know that working-class whites are going to be with him, the steelworkers in Pittsburgh. You know that African American community, this huge population in the city of Philadelphia, is going to be with him. And you know the rednecks and the white folks in the middle — they call it the T — is going to be with Trump. So, the factor that’s outside of that is that Latino vote on that eastern side from Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem and Scranton. All of those areas have a growing Latino population. I would keep my eyes on that tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk more about Ohio, the significance of what we’re seeing in Ohio right now, with — again, the votes certainly are not all in. And we should say, in these cases, across the states where we have some information, it begins with the early vote in most cases. And that early vote was considered to be more heavily Democratic.
CHUCK ROCHA: You know, I was tipped off to something 48 hours before the election, and that was that Sherrod Brown had reached out to the Biden folks and had them add Cleveland as a stop before they went to Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on one morning. So, while he was in western PA, you had Sherrod Brown, who knew something somebody else didn’t know, that said, “You need to get over here to Ohio. You’re going to be less than an hour-away drive. You need to make an appearance n the most Democratic stronghold in the state, which is Cleveland.”
Now, does that one little rally make a difference? No. But that meant that a very savvy Sherrod Brown, who we all love, working-class hero, been standing up for all of us for a long time, knew his state and knew what he was feeling on the ground was something that was special and much different than what he had seen from Hillary Clinton. I’m one of the few people in America who’s run a race against Hillary Clinton and a race against Joe Biden. They perform very differently with working-class folks. Whether it was sexism or because she was a woman or for whatever reason, they just did not like Hillary Clinton the way that they do like Joe Biden. And that’s the biggest difference you’re seeing in Ohio tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us more about North Carolina, Chuck.
CHUCK ROCHA: North Carolina is such a unique time and space. I would remind everybody that Barack Obama won North Carolina. But North Carolina, as we spoke about just a little bit this morning, is really changing around the demography of that state. You have all these different little regions. You have a big city like Charlotte. You have all of these colleges around Duke and North Carolina. But what you have is this emerging, multicultural group of folks, whether they’re Asian Americans, whether they’re Latinos or these young African Americans, who act much differently and they’re much more progressive than their older mothers and grandmothers.
And so, this young Latino population, that I really want to draw your attention to — I’ve been working with a group on the ground there called Poder North Carolina, that’s been taking local Latina artists and using their art on the front of the mail pieces and the door hangers and really doing unique things, culturally competent, that I’ve never seen done, really going in and focusing on those new voters who have never registered or had never had a voting history. And as we talked about earlier this morning, 57,000 Latinos who had never participated before had already early voted. In a state that’s going to be as close as North Carolina tonight, I think the Latino vote may be the difference. And that’s what you’re seeing.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of Arizona, my sense is that there has been such a tremendous change in the demographics of Arizona, in the enthusiasm of the growing Latino community there, that it would — it’s really not going to be a big shock at all if Biden takes Arizona. Could you talk about those grassroots organizations there?
CHUCK ROCHA: Yes. And it starts with one of my favorite grassroots organizations in the state, called LUCHA. And it’s run by a Latina and a Latino who are both co-founders of the org, and they do work year in and year out, Juan. And what me and you have always talked about, Juan, is, don’t just show up in the last two months and start asking for our votes. Be in the community early and often. LUCHA doesn’t go away. They help people with driver’s license applications, immigration forms, signing up for healthcare. So they’re always in the community.
Well, you’ve seen a lot of money flow to that group, who’s been doing the on-the-ground work while — and this is the key — at the same time you’ve had national orgs, like Nuestro PAC, my PAC, that spent almost $3 million in the state in Spanish-language TV and radio. I remember the horrible story of Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of COVID, who spoke at the DNC convention. I went and met with her. And we put her in our TV commercials, where she blamed Donald Trump for her father passing away, because he believed Donald Trump when Donald Trump said it was cool to go back outside. And she’s Latina. It’s lifting up these local stories, putting money behind it on TV, but then making sure that you have ground operations like LUCHA doing the same time, at the same pace. Then, in 10 years’ time, Juan, like you’re talking about, you’ve seen an evolution of these young activists, who started under Arpaio or the show-me-your-paper law, a time and space, come of age, where now their votes are really happening at a big enough rate to have a huge impact.
AMY GOODMAN: Chuck, we want to thank you for being with us. And we might get back to you later in this broadcast as we learn more. Chuck Rocha, preeminent Latino vote expert, president of Solidarity Strategies, founder of Nuestro PAC, the largest Latino-focused partisan super PAC in the country, author of Tío Bernie: The Inside Story of How Bernie Sanders Brought Latinos into the Political Revolution. He was a senior adviser to Senator Sanders’ presidential campaign.
But we’re going to turn right now to Kristen Clarke. Kristen Clarke is president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Kristen, if you could start off by talking about what are the issues you are learning about? You’ve been doing a lot of Election Protection. And also, if you can go to the issue of the U.S. Postal Service, which clearly disregarded a federal judge’s Election Day order to conduct processing facility sweeps in 12 postal districts, after the agency disclosed — the U.S. Postal Service disclosed — more than 300,000 ballots could not be traced, Kristen Clarke?
KRISTEN CLARKE: Well, thanks so much for having me.
It’s been a busy day. We have been leading our Election Protection program nationwide. We’ve had legions of lawyers, 42,000 trained legal volunteers vetting calls and complaints throughout the day. We’ve heard from tens of thousands of voters across the country. And we will be here all night, until the polls close and until that final ballot is cast.
And here’s what we observed. We had a lot of traffic to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from voters in states like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, and many, many questions about where to vote. There were so many last-minute polling place changes, changes made amid the pandemic, and so lots of voters who were very confused about where to go today.
We also had many voters who didn’t appear on the registration rolls. And in a federal election, you have the right to, at minimum, cast a provisional ballot if you believe you are an eligible voter.
But the second-highest category of complaints that we received today were complaints about voter intimidation and aggressive electioneering activity. And I think that that kind of speaks to the moment that we are in in 2020. We are at a moment in which we are a nation divided and very polarized. And we, you know, received reports about individual lone-wolf people trying to hold themselves out as law enforcement, questioning people and badgering people as they were entering polling sites. We received reports of people in law enforcement-type clothing with their weapons out in — or, brandishing weapons in open-carry states.
And what was most remarkable, though, is that these incidents were not systematic or nationwide. And in most instances, voters were able to persist and move forward to the ballot box and make sure that their voice was heard, and so a lot of these intimidation efforts didn’t bear fruit. But we most certainly noticed that at this moment we did see an uptick in intimidation reports.
The polls are still opening, and we want people to know that they should stand in line no matter how long that line is. We encourage people to be patient and to stand firm. And if you are in line, it doesn’t matter how long that line is: You have a right to vote tonight. And you should call the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline if somebody tries to prematurely cut you off from that line.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Kristen, what about these reports of massive robocalls all around in different states urging voters to stay safe and stay home and not come out to vote?
KRISTEN CLARKE: Robocalls have been an unfortunate feature of the 2020 election season, these calls that went out to people in Flint and to other communities home to large numbers of Black people, telling them to stay home and be safe. You know, sadly, we didn’t just learn about those calls today; we saw them throughout the early voting season.
My organization, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, filed a federal lawsuit against two operatives who issued robocalls imparting false information to Black voters in Detroit, Cleveland and other cities home to large numbers of Black people, telling them if you applied for vote-by-mail, your information will be turned over to authorities and may be used against you. These were clearly naked schemes intended to discourage and deter people from voting. We actually secured a temporary restraining order in our lawsuit, which was brought under the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Voting Rights Act, which prohibit voter intimidation.
And we want people to know that those people behind these schemes, these robocalls that went out on Election Day, we’re going to work to find you. We’re going to work to pull back the veil and figure out who you are. And if we do, we will sue you. It’s unfortunate that in 2020 we continue to see these kinds of intimidation schemes today.
If I can, I just want to also note another grotesque form of intimidation that we saw this season, and that was in Graham, North Carolina, this past Saturday, where a group of peaceful demonstrators were marching to the polls. There were children among this group, that was largely majority Black. My organization worked with this group and with law enforcement in advance to ensure that law enforcement would do their job and ensure the safety and security of those who were exercising their First Amendment rights to demonstrate and march. And sadly, law enforcement violated that cardinal rule of trust and at some point unleashed force to disperse the crowd. They fired pepper spray on that crowd — again, which included children. And some of those people were arrested and missed the opportunity to early vote. Some of them missed the opportunity to register on what was the last day of voter registration in North Carolina.
And yesterday, my organization filed a federal lawsuit against the Alamance County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office. You know, the scene harkened back to the 1960s, you know, the days of Bull Connors and George Wallaces using force on innocent and peaceful Black people. So this is where we are in 2020, but we know that our job as civil rights lawyers is to stand up for voters today, who are making their voice heard, who are using the ballot box as a place to demand change and reform and transformation. And so, we worked tooth and nail today to make sure that we could tear down the barriers that those voters faced. And we know that the work will continue tomorrow, because already we are seeing some indications of nefarious attempts to try and disqualify absentee ballots that had been cast this season. So, while today was a busy day, we know that tomorrow the work will continue.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Kristen Clarke, I want to thank you so much for being with us, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. And we hope you’ll get back with us even tonight, if you hear any other issues that — of voter suppression or other such issues. And I want to let people know that they can go to our segment at democracynow.org on Graham, North Carolina, as we reported on that the day after it happened.
I want to bring in right now to this Democracy Now! three-hour special Cliff Albright. He is co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter. He is in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been covering the polls and what is happening there.
Cliff, when I went to vote in New York, I actually was going to just hand in my absentee ballot. I was going to early vote. But then I saw there was no line. It was a thundering, stormy day the other day. And so I just put my ballot in my pocket, and I did the regular vote. And, of course, I didn’t then send in the absentee ballot. But this seems to be a serious issue in Georgia, where people who showed up, who might have had an absentee ballot but decided they were concerned that it might not get there in time, they showed up to vote, and they were told they had to have their absentee ballot with them. Is that right?
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Yes, Amy, that’s exactly right. Thank you for having me. And you’re exactly right. We got word of voters in several counties that were having this problem of being told — and sometimes being told different information depending on what county that they were in, sometimes being told that they had to have that ballot, that they had to turn in that ballot that was mailed to them or else they wouldn’t be allowed to vote, sometimes being told that they would only be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. And both of those sets of information are incorrect, that any voter — just like you did, any voter who requested a vote by mail but did not use it, or even if they did use it, even if they sent it in, but, for whatever reason, it got lost in the mail, the board of elections never registered that it had been received — if at the time that they go to vote in person on Election Day it has not been received, then they’re supposed to be able to vote just a regular ballot just like anybody else. And that was not happening here in Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: I also want to just update people on some latest news: I believe that in Colorado, the first flipping of a Senate seat has taken place. John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, has beaten Senator Cory Gardner, the Republican. Now, Cliff Albright, talk about what else you have found in Georgia. This is a key state right now. We are watching it very closely.
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: So, there’s good news and bad news. So, on the good news side, we had a strategy — our organization and many like us had a strategy that involved trying to get as many people to vote by mail as possible, to then get as many people who didn’t vote by mail to do early vote, and then whoever was left over, for whatever reason, to let them come to the polls, be able to vote safely, hopefully with relatively short lines. That appears to have worked. The lines today were not long. It was nothing at all like what we saw during the primary, the June 9th primary that we had here in Georgia, where people routinely were waiting five hours, six hours. And so, that’s the good news.
The bad news is that you still see some strange goings-on. In Fulton County, like as we speak, evidently, there’s been a pipeline break in the processing center, which has led them to say that they will not be providing the vote totals for — will not be providing those totals tonight. I think that the latest — the latest I heard is that it won’t be until Friday that they will be able to deliver those totals. And so, you know, again, we’re concerned. It seems like a very coincidental kind of an accident to take place at the vote processing center. We’ve not heard that there were any votes that were actually damaged by this leak. But, you know, again, in Georgia, given the history that we’ve seen here when Brian Kemp was secretary of state and continuing under the new secretary of state, the voter purges, the moving of polling places, you know, anything is possible. Another situation that we saw was in one county where the machines were down for two hours, in Spalding County. They eventually had to extend those voting hours for an extra two hours past the 7:00 regular polling closing. And so, you know, we have seen some irregularities here in the state of Georgia. And again, given the history, the recent history, in particular, of the current and previous secretary of state, we just have to remain constantly vigilant.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Cliff Albright, what about the situation — you’ve got a very tight Senate race there, as well, Reverend Raphael Warnock running against Kelly Loeffler. What’s the situation there, from what you can tell?
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Yeah, the last numbers I heard, just before joining you all, was it’s mainly a three-way race. It’s Reverend Warnock, Senator Loeffler and then the congressman who’s very much a Trumpite. And it looks to be a pretty even split three ways. But, you know, as has been consistent with the polling that we’ve seen this entire month, Reverend Warnock is in the lead, is almost assured to make it to the runoff that is going to take place between him and one of the other two Republicans. So, it just remains to be seen which one that will be. Most people think it will be the current senator. And it’ll be a two-person race, which will then be decided in January. And so, literally, after tonight or after this week, all eyes could be on Georgia to see this last remaining Senate seat and how it gets decided in a runoff.
AMY GOODMAN: And you’ve got the other Senate race, as well — in fact, Georgia, the only state in the country that has both seats up for grabs. You have Senator Perdue versus Jon Ossoff. What’s happening there?
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Also another very close race. You know, it’s been close. It’s pretty much been a dead heat for weeks now. We probably — again, because of what we just heard about Fulton County, we probably won’t know the results until those Fulton County numbers. And so, it’s very likely that at the end of tonight, absent those Fulton County numbers — and for those who don’t know, Fulton County is where most of Atlanta lies. It’s one of the most populous counties, heavily Democratic. And so, at the end of tonight, it’s likely that the Republican will have a — that Perdue will have a lead. But again, until those Fulton County numbers come in, we just don’t know what the situation is. But it’s a tight race.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Cliff Albright, what else are you looking at? While you’re in Atlanta and you’ve been out at the polls, you — the last time we caught you, you were — I can’t even remember what state you were going to, but as you followed one primary after another. What’s on your radar right now as we look at these very close races?
CLIFF ALBRIGHT: Right, yeah. I mean, we were just talking about the Georgia Senate races, but there are some other Senate races we’re looking very closely at. North Carolina is one of our core states where we do our work. And so, that’s also got a very tight race. Last I looked, the Democrat, Cunningham, was in the lead. Of course, there’s the South Carolina race with Jaime Harrison, who’s been in a dead heat with Lindsey Graham. We’re looking at that very closely. That’s another one of our core states.
We’re even looking at, you know, some other states in places like Tennessee — right? — which hasn’t got any attention. But, you know, right now the only Black woman who’s running for the U.S. Senate is in the state of Tennessee, in Marquita Bradshaw, who came out of nowhere to even beat — in the primary, to beat a Democratic candidate who was very much an establishment candidate, who had the support of the party structure. And nobody’s really been talking about that race. And so, you know, we’ve been supporting voter mobilization in Tennessee, because we believe that there’s the potential there, whether it’s this cycle or in a couple years, that if we can really tap into building that electorate, expanding that electorate, supporting local groups, that even Tennessee could one day soon be in the same situation that right now Georgia is in or right now Texas is in, right? Just a few years ago, nobody was taking these states seriously. They were thought of as being just red states. But with some investment, you see where we can turn up. And so, that’s core to our belief system of Black Voters Matter. That’s why we do the work we do in some states that a lot of people often take for granted.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, North Carolina is very close right now. I think Biden is just ahead of Trump, but it’s really too close to call. You have Pennsylvania, as well. And we’re going to be talking about that in a little bit. Cliff Albright, we want to thank you so much for being with us, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, speaking to us from Atlanta, Georgia, as we turn right now in this Democracy Now! election night special to Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation magazine, the oldest weekly magazine in the United States, also columnist for The Washington Post.
Katrina, talk about what you’re watching right now. As the polls close in over 40 states at this point, what has most surprised you?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I’m very interested in Ohio. I was on a Zoom call with Senator Sherrod Brown about 10 days ago and asked him if he thought Biden could win. And he said he could. You know, we know Ohio has been trending red. But I think it’s a combination of — I think we have “misunderestimated,” if I could badly use a George W. word, that Biden, with all of his issues — and I voted without illusion for Biden — is someone who has not done a “basket of deplorables” on the eve of the election, who has spoken with dignity about dignity for working people, has to be moved, if he is elected president, to pass labor reform. But Sherrod Brown has been a fixture in that state and has stood for labor dignity. So I think he knew what he was talking about. And North Carolina, it’s a different map. So I think that’s really interesting. It’s early in the night.
And I’m watching some of the initiatives. I mean, I think Prop 15, which was 13 in California, which started the tax kind of Reaganite vise on our politics in the public and what is possible with spending on the public, on government as a good, could be overturned. I think minimum wage in Florida may bring a lot of people out, moving it to 15, which is just basic living wage. I think tax increases on the wealthy in Illinois, which were sponsored by the governor — those interest me.
And, of course, what really interests me, Amy, is that we’re seeing an independent, progressive ecosystem arise. The Democratic Party, you know, is still here. But there’s an ascendant grassroots movement, which is very exciting, whether it’s who you were just talking to, Cliff Albright, Color of Change, Justice Democrats, Working Families Party, People’s Action, across this country, Lancaster Stands Up. These are the people who are doing the serious, in-the-trenches work, that the Democratic Party has in many ways stepped back from, because of the corporate money and the big money fundraising.
So, I think if Biden is elected — I know many progressives are tonight having, you know, PTSD and other things. But it’s going to be moment where it’s different than 2008, when so many people — when Obama was elected, even though he ran a campaign, “Yes, we can,” really worked to demobilize people. And I don’t think that’s possible now. And I think you have more — I’m excited also, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman and Marie Newman going to the Congress, because Cori Bush is going to be her own person, but she will be part of The Squad, in the sense of coming from an activist background and someone who knows movements and is inside as an ally of movements. And I think that’s the future.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Katrina, I wanted to ask you — in terms of the changing electorate, I was quite surprised just before we went on the air. I was listening to Fox News, and their polling of voters had a strange, actually a quite different perspective or view of the voters. They said 72% of the voters believe that climate change was a major problem, 72% were in favor of a path to citizenship for the undocumented, 78% believed racism was a major problem in American society, and 78% felt that it should be mandatory to wear masks. Now, this is not CNN.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: This is Fox News? This is Fox?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: This is not some other Democratic pollster. This is actually Fox News’s analysis of the voters who went to the polls.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: So, Juan, I mean, I’ve been watching Fox News every night. I think it’s imperative to watch, just to, you know. But what I saw earlier was that Fox News showed that the economy was most important to Trump voters. And on CNN, they showed that racial justice was most important to Biden voters. I haven’t seen what you’re talking about. It doesn’t ring, you know, straight to me in light of what we’ve heard about climate change as kind of a conspiracy or job killing. But that’s interesting. But I do think the economy — I don’t think Biden, in the last months, did enough with how Trump has betrayed his voters. You know, you can see it in Ohio. You can see it in the Upper Midwest. You can see it everywhere. And I do think taxes and the economy and regulations have been the big issues. But that’s very interesting. I do think climate change has been very big for progressive Democrats. I don’t know what to make of it. I will study it, if there’s time.
I do think, though, there was the issue of foreign policy and the question of why no foreign policy in this election. You know, climate change is a foreign policy issue, deeply, engaging the world and how we are viewed in the world in what we do. You can’t deal with climate change crisis — you can have all the movements in this country, Sunrise, etc., but you need to have relations with other countries. I also think Biden, if he’s elected, is going to do a passel of executive actions, returning to the Iran nuclear deal. And that’s been part of this campaign. It’s very much — what does he say? Make America — take America back again. It’s very much returning to the Obama era.
What I think is important is: How do we move forward? How do we build a new agenda? And I think there are people in Congress and others who are thinking, for example, we need to untie from the autocratic regime in Saudi Arabia. We need to think anew about Israel-Palestine. We need to understand that the START treaty, which is the last remaining pillar of arms control in an even more perilous world, will expire two weeks after the inauguration, whoever it is. These are really important. And I think COVID demands a return to WHO, World Health Organization. These are foreign policy issues. And if we cannot think anew about what security means after the crisis we’ve lived through in these last months, if not now, when? I mean, this is a moment to rethink the militarization of security. We need something else to make us and our families and the world and the most vulnerable, the most poor, who have been blighted and ravaged in these last months, more secure.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Katrina vanden Heuvel, about QAnon, you know, just the whole phenomenon, the conspiracy theory. We were just talking to Cliff Albright from Georgia. But we have just learned that Marjorie Taylor Greene has won Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Greene ran on a pro-gun, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion platform, embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, among other things, that President Trump is secretly at war with a deep state cabal of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex trafficking operation. In videos posted to social media, Greene voices support for Confederate monuments, calls Black people slaves to the Democratic Party, and goes on and on from there. The doctor who was running against her on the Democratic line, his name was still on the ticket, but he had pulled out, so she essentially was running unopposed. The significance of that win?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Amy, I think in this country’s history we’ve seen these kinds of people. I think this is a resilient country. I think it demands the kind of independent journalism you do to expose these people. There will always be people who believe this kind of stuff, because they’re in pain, they’re grievance, racist bigots, they’re deplorables — I mean, this, really, the QAnon.
But I think we need to focus more on those who are countering them. And I don’t have much more to say except that I think there are many forces in this country which are strong and counter to those. And we’ve seen them. And we have different media distribution now. We have the social media. It moves more quickly. It seems more ugly. It is more dangerous, most likely. But there are many people who are being elected tonight who are the best of America.
I do think this election has been a stress test for our democracy. I’m not someone who believes it’s all Trump. I think sometimes with the United States of Amnesia, the structural problems of this country — and I’m not talking now about this woman, but, you know, we’ve seen the tyranny of the minority. We’ve seen the power of minority structures which need to be just reformed. I mean, that’s a mild word, but abolish the Electoral College. The Supreme Court needs rethinking. If there is a slight Democratic majority in the Senate, which is so important, we need to get rid of the arcane filibuster. These are structural. You talk deep state. I want to say, let’s counter the deep state with deep democracy, because that’s what we need at this time if we’re going to achieve the America or fulfill this union which we talk about all the time.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Katrina, we want to thank you so much for being with us.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation magazine. I also want to share all of our condolences —
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: — on the death of your husband, of Stephen Cohen, the well-known Russian scholar, who was a guest on Democracy Now! a number of times. All our best to you and your family, Katrina.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you very much, Amy. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. Katrina is also a columnist for The Washington Post and publisher of The Nation magazine.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Nermeen Shaikh will be joining us at the top of the hour. We’re turning right now to Mondaire Jones. To some of you, he may be a new name, but he has just won a landmark victory in the suit to save the United States Postal Service. But he is also the Democratic front-runner, and I believe — I’m not sure at this point if you’ve been declared the winner, Mondaire — for the congressional seat in the 17th District. Can you tell us the status of the race? Has it been called?
MONDAIRE JONES: Duly, it has not been called by the Associated Press. I’ve noticed that some organizations have done that. However, we are being patient. And we’re going to wait for the numbers to actually come in before we declare victory.
And I’m so grateful that you mentioned that lawsuit. It is something that we worked very hard on, had the best legal team that you might imagine. And we were able to get a nationwide injunction in that case. Who would have thought that we would need to sue the president and the postmaster general to protect the right to vote in this country? But here we are.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you, it looks like you’re clearly going to win. You will be the first openly gay Black congressmember. Can you talk about the significance of this?
MONDAIRE JONES: You know, growing up, I never imagined that someone like me could run for Congress, let alone win, not just because I grew up in Section 8 housing and on food stamps, but because I knew that I was different, right? I knew that I was very likely gay. And so, for most of my life, I did not think that running as an openly gay candidate was in the cards, and which meant that running for office was not in the cards for me. And had I been able, as a young person, to see someone like myself in the halls of Congress, it would have been direct evidence of the fact that things really do get better. And I know the transformational power of representation, because in addition to my own experiences in coming out, I get messages every single day from young queer people, including young queer people of color all throughout my district in Westchester and Rockland counties, and indeed all throughout this country, saying that my candidacy is helping them to accept who they are and giving them the confidence that they need to run — excuse me, to live authentic lives.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mondaire, how were you able to cobble together the coalition of folks that brought you to this point? What were the main planks of your program?
MONDAIRE JONES: It helps to be someone who is rooted in community. You know, I didn’t just plop out of thin air. I have been doing the work. I was born and raised in my district and indeed have spent most of my life here. And I have been a progressive activist to my core. I believe that the greatest challenges that we face, if we are to meet them, require big structural changes, as the senator from Massachusetts says, Elizabeth Warren, who endorsed my campaign in January of this year.
I’m so thrilled to be running on a platform of Medicare for All, for example, the only healthcare proposal that would literally ensure everyone in the richest nation of the world has healthcare in the midst of a global pandemic, where people have been losing their health insurance as they have lost their jobs. I am a strong supporter of the Green New Deal. I think it’s the only thing that comes close to saving the world from climate catastrophe and ensuring a livable future for not just my generation but generations to come. I’m a big proponent of forgiving student debt in this country. It has crippled thousands of people in my district, who have to live at home with their parents despite having college degrees, or their grandparents, because they can’t afford to live out on their own renting or owning a home. Wages have been stagnant for decades, even as the cost of living has skyrocketed. And a big part of that is the student debt, now to the tune of $1.7 trillion nationally. These are just some of the things that I’ve been running on. And in my primary, in particular, I centered healthcare.
And, of course, since January, I’ve been talking about expanding the Supreme Court to unrig our democracy. And I’ve been really grateful to be given even more opportunities to lead on that issue. I’ve been doing a lot of writing about it. I’ve been speaking about it at length in public appearances. And I’m really grateful that more people are paying attention to this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And as you see the results unfolding across the country now, as CNN is reporting now that President Trump has opened a pretty big lead in Michigan — but, of course, it’s still not — a lot of votes still need to be counted — your sense of where the country is heading, in terms of its attempt to build a progressive future, of those progressives around the country to build a better world here in the United States?
MONDAIRE JONES: Well, let’s be clear: Joe Biden is going to win this election. And I’m really excited to work in partnership with him as a member of what will be the most progressive Congress in American history, the 117th Congress. And I’ll be joined by incredible allies, people like Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush and Kara Eastman, I think, in Nebraska, and Dana Balter in Syracuse, and so many others. And, of course, I’m looking forward to working with anyone who understands that we’ve got really big challenges and that the era of small ideas is over, as I like to say.
AMY GOODMAN: And on this issue of USPS, I mean, this is a massive issue right now in Pennsylvania and the United States Postal Service defying a judge’s order. Can you explain how your case relates to this?
MONDAIRE JONES: You know, I was blessed to be part of a group of approximately 15 plaintiffs, all from different backgrounds. I myself had standing as a candidate for United States Congress whose own election would be impacted if I weren’t able to compete in a free and fair election, which is my constitutional right. And you had folks who were just trying to have their ballots counted, who wouldn’t be physically present in their jurisdiction but deserve to be able to cast their ballot by mail absentee.
And so, what we got was unlike what had ever been granted by litigants in other cases, and that was a nationwide injunction against the president and the postmaster general, requiring not just the suspension of these so-called operational changes that Postmaster DeJoy had proposed, but the treatment of all mail, all election mail, for example, as either priority or first-class; the preapproval of overtime. You know, they tried to cut — they tried to freeze overtime, you know, around the time that the volume would be particularly high in terms of absentee ballots by mail. And so — and one of the other features, of course, is a weekly report to the United States district court judge in the Southern District of New York, to allow him to ensure that the postmaster general was actually complying with his nationwide injunction.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mondaire Jones, we want to congratulate you in advance, although it hasn’t been declared. You’re in a heavily Democratic district. You will most likely be taking the seat, replacing New York Congressmember Nita Lowey, who retired. You got the endorsement of AOC, of Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as you said, Sanders and Warren. And you, together with Democrat Ritchie Torres in New York, are likely to become the first two openly gay Black members of Congress. Congratulations in advance.
MONDAIRE JONES: Truly, thank you so much. That means the world to me. I can’t wait to get to work.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mondaire Jones, Democratic nominee for Congress, New York’s 17th District, expected to win in the next hours.
Yes, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, as we turn right now to Rashad Robinson, spokesperson for Color of Change PAC. And we have some news to announce. It looks like former Vice President Joe Biden has won Colorado, as has John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado. He has flipped the seat, has beaten the Republican Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado. So, both Joe Biden has won Colorado, and Governor Hickenlooper will be taking that Senate seat. Yes, this is Democracy Now!
Rashad Robinson, tell us what you’re following right now, so many of these races too close to call. Florida looks like Trump is taking it. Trump is way ahead right now in Michigan, though the numbers are not — we can’t call that. North Carolina, we don’t know yet. Georgia, we don’t know yet. Pennsylvania, at this point, Joe Biden is way ahead. Ohio, it looks like he has taken the lead. Your thoughts?
RASHAD ROBINSON: You know, we don’t even have Detroit, in Wayne County and in Michigan, so it’s all really early. I’m also looking at the district attorney races all around the country, that Color of Change PAC really engaged in, and the work to continue to drive racial justice efforts to transform our criminal justice system at the local level. Of course, we’re looking at Congress and the Senate.
And following Mondaire, I just have to say, is an openly gay Black man myself, who is about 10 years older than Mondaire and Ritchie, and who grew up outside of New York City like both of them, at least Mondaire. You know, I never imagined that I could run for Congress. And so, seeing Mondaire and Ritchie take these steps forward, just 10 years behind, I think representation does have some level of power and is important.
And we have to actually get to changing the rules. And so, in so many ways, I also want us to hammer home this idea — I’m not going to be with you when this election finally gets called. And I want everyone to recognize that if Joe Biden wins, I don’t want us saying that this is a win for democracy, because people standing on long lines, the deep level of voter suppression, all the attacks on the vote, the un-sort-of-trackable, in some ways, amount of money and corporate money that went into this election, all the ways in which the hands were put on the scale against the people. If the people prevail tonight, particularly racial justice and gender justice and youth movements prevail tonight with getting the candidate in office that we can best hold accountable — not our messiah, but the candidate we can best hold accountable — we’re all going to have to get to work to doing the structural reform work. And if Donald Trump wins, we’re still going to have to get to work on the building around our democracy, whether it is the work of money in politics or ending the Electoral College or all the things that relevel the — that actually change the levels of the playing field. And I believe that racial justice is the clearest driver for us to get there.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rashad, what would you say in terms of the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement of the past several years has been on how — on this election and on the actual consciousness of the American people when it comes to the persistence of structural racism in our society?
RASHAD ROBINSON: You know, we were talked about and we were a part of the conversation at every step of the way, from the Democratic debates even to Donald Trump’s campaign. Our movement has actually changed the dialogue in this country, where you have exit polls talking about double-digit percentages of people saying that racial inequality is an issue, where you have a movement taking out prosecutors that have stood in the way of racial justice. We don’t have the racial justice candidate at the top of the ticket this election cycle. But racial justice is being talked about across the country. And our movement is only growing. Just think about where we were six or seven years ago as a movement and how our issues were being talked about, to where they’re being talked about now, where folks start the conversation off with talking about police reform. Whether they get there to the place we need them to be or not, people are talking about the issue differently. People are engaging the issue differently. Now we have to take that presence and that visibility and that awareness, and translate it to power.
AMY GOODMAN: Rashad, we’re going to have to have a pause here —
RASHAD ROBINSON: And I think what really — yes.
AMY GOODMAN: — for the top of the hour. We’re talking to Rashad Robinson.
[End of Hour 1]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow org, the Democracy Now! three-hour election night special. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We’re also going to be joined by co-host Nermeen Shaikh, as we bring you this roundup of the latest news at this moment.
Polls have been closed for over two hours in several key battleground states, including Florida, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas. But the races are still too close to call. In Florida, The New York Times reports it looks likely Trump will win, after Joe Biden underperformed in some key areas, like Miami-Dade County. In Ohio, Biden and Trump are running nearly neck and neck, with a little over half the precincts reporting. Last hour, the Associated Press called Colorado for Joe Biden with its nine Electoral College votes. In Pennsylvania, Joe Biden is out to an early lead, but the state only began counting a record number of mail-in ballots today, and it could be a few days before a winner is declared. In Texas, a historically deep red state, Trump is leading Biden, but Biden is outperforming Hillary Clinton’s numbers in Houston and Dallas from 2016. The Associated Press has already projected Trump to be the winner in a number of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming. Joe Biden is projected to have won Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Also, in terms of senator races, it looks like Senator Cory Gardner has lost to former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who will take Cory Gardner’s seat in the U.S. Senate. And it also looks like Lindsey Graham is significantly ahead of his competitor, his opponent, Jaime Harrison, who headed the South Carolina Democratic Party. It looks like Lindsey Graham will retain his seat.
But we are continuing with Rashad Robinson. Rashad Robinson is a spokesperson for Color of Change PAC. Rashad, continue with what you were saying and the significance of these races. Georgia is too close to call right now. North Carolina is very close. Talk about what you’ve most been watching. And this issue of the post office, what we’re looking at now in Pennsylvania, refusing to comply with a judge’s order to find these — not 300, but 300,000 missing ballots?
RASHAD ROBINSON: You know, this is the only way the Republicans know how to win. Their goal is to shrink the number of votes at every turn, and particularly to attack Black votes and Black voters. If they can steal enough Black votes, then they can potentially win elections. And that is absolutely part of this strategy. And so, it’s not just what’s happening right now, but it was the Pennsylvania state Legislature actually putting in place the way in which the counting would be done, and so it wouldn’t be done the night of, and so we end up having these sort of long, drawn-out aspects of the counting. In each of these places, they have sort of narrowly tailored the ways to engage the counting of the votes, the rules of the voting. And this is part to have legacy of the right wing. You know, Paul Weyrich, the legendary founder of the Heritage Foundation and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, part — two of the biggest pieces of right-wing infrastructure, famously said, “We don’t want all people to vote. That’s not how we win elections.” You know, this has always been part of their strategy.
And as the country becomes more diverse, as you see movements like the racial justice movement powering people to the polls in ways — and not just Black folks, right? What happened this summer in terms of the uprisings, the swelling of everyday people. You know, at Color of Change, we had over 25,000 volunteers engage with our political action committee. We endorsed 45 candidates this election cycle, and we contacted over 25,000 — I mean, we contacted over 6 million voters this election cycle, engaging 6 million voters in key states, in key races, focusing primarily on those hard-to-reach voters. And so, as you’re seeing this sort of rise of turnout among Black folks, which is powering what you’re seeing in place like North Carolina and Georgia, which is places that the Color of Change PAC engaged deeply — we had drive-ins, called Black Joy Drive-In, because we couldn’t knock on doors or have the same type of events, so we had drive-in movies that we set up, with Black Panther and with Love & Basketball. And we engaged folks. We did peer-to-peer text messaging. We did phone calls. But what we have done, I believe the numbers will show, is expanded the Black electorate in this election cycle.
And the only thing Donald Trump could do, and the right wing, was try to shrink the Black electorate by attacking our votes, by stealing our votes, by stealing our ability to express our will for a better future. And that — right? — is going to be their ongoing mission.
And I think, for all of us on the left, if we want to win elections, we’re going to have to invest deeply in protecting the Black vote, because if we don’t, we do not get to the place where we can advance the type of policies that lift all boats. Racial justice is going to be the clearest driver, I believe, to saving our planet, to getting healthcare, to ensuring that we have a safety net that advances all of us, that we have things like UBI, that we get through COVID. It will be driven by young people and Black folks and folks of color. And we actually have to invest in the infrastructure to make sure our votes are not stolen.
We saw some of this play out in '18 with Stacey Abrams' race in Georgia. And we’re seeing some of it play out now. We hope that we have an overwhelming enough vote to get there, but we shouldn’t end the night, if we win enough of these races, to say it’s a win for democracy. Democracy has failed. If we win tonight, it’s because people, in spite of the failures of this democracy, turned out and showed up and made it possible. And we owe it to the communities to do everything we can to ensure that we change the structures and change the rules.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rashad, I’m wondering. We hear a lot in some of the reports about how African American and Latino men are perhaps voting for Trump more than they did back in 2016, or how the Latino community turnout is not as great as people were expecting. But very few people talk about the reality that still there is this enormous percentage of the white population of the country that continues to back a person like Trump. And no one says, “Well, the white community is underperforming” in the way that — in its choices or how it comes out. I’m wondering how you see this issue of who’s underperforming and who’s overperforming?
RASHAD ROBINSON: You know, every election cycle, we end up with this thing of, like, “What’s happening with the Black vote?” Right? The Black vote either gets blamed for Democrat wins, or it gets blamed for the wrong Democrat winning. And all of this kind of continues to happen, sort of time in and time out, each election cycle.
I think if we really understand the numbers and we look at the numbers in clear ways, we’ll know a couple of things. First and foremost, Black men have always voted more progressive than all other groups of men. And so, if you’re going to talk about groups of men in any racial group, men always vote less progressive than the women in their race groups, as well, but Black men by and large. And so, yes, Donald Trump has managed to shave off a group of Black men.
But I think that we also have to recognize, is: What were the failures on the left? What were the failures for years around criminal justice? What were the failures on the left around some economic policies, around small businesses, around other things that the community was speaking to?
And then we also have to invest in Black infrastructure, in the infrastructure that communicates with folks, engages folks, beyond the election cycle. And I think groups like mine and Black Voters Matter and the Black Futures Lab and Black Lives Matter and the NAACP and so many of the organizations that have been on the ground, engaging in a deep level, motivating people and connecting these to issues, are the folks that have really saved what could have been a lot worse.
I think some of the demographics that we’re seeing around Latinos are just more complicated, right? I think we have to look at nationality. I think that what we’re seeing is some of the sort of appeals that Donald Trump made around socialism, and you just can’t say, “No, we’re not socialists,” and think that that is going to be enough. We actually have to talk about socialism. We have to talk about Donald Trump going to Walter Reed Hospital and walking out without a bill. We have to talk about what it means to have healthcare, what it means to have protections, what Social Security actually looks like, and having a government that actually provides for its people in the richest country in the world.
And so, to the extent that I think a lot of the challenges that we also have is that — right? — if President Obama was a change candidate and Donald Trump was a change-the-rules candidate, where the conventions of change the rules is so much different — right? — we may have disagreed with a previous housing and urban development secretary, but under Donald Trump, we have a housing and urban development secretary that knows nothing about housing and urban development. But Joe Biden ran as a restoration candidate. And we have to recognize what that means, is that he is looking to sort of restore some order, some good old days, that actually were not good old days for so many of us.
And if he does win this election, we are going to have to do work to deliver real-world victories and changes, not bipartisan commissions on criminal justice reform, not bipartisan commissions to look at the Supreme Court. Those are places where ideas go to fail and no changes actually happen. And take it from a person who actually testified in front of President Obama’s policing commission, only to be back out in the street protesting around the same issues we were dealing with before.
Part of what we’re going to have to fight for is structural change, but part of what I hope everyone is ready for, regardless of who wins, is the work to build the new things that we need, because we’re going to have to work on the work to reform the Electoral College. We’re going to have to do the type of work we’ve been doing at Color of Change. We’re building a movement around prosecutor reform. We’re going to have to do the work to advance new narratives about how we talk about race, how we talk about gender, how we move people to understand the issues of structural reform in powerful ways where they can see themselves as part of the story.
And so, regardless of what happens tonight, we have building to do, just like we have more fighting to do, and just like we have more accountability work to do. But we’ve got to think about our work continually as outside of the electoral cycle. Biden is what we get when we play just inside the electoral cycle. I hope he wins. We have fought hard to make him win tonight. We have been inside and outside of communities and fighting for someone that wasn’t our choice, right? But at the end of the day, elections are about picking your opponent, who you’re going to go up against, who you’re going to battle, who you’re going to push to do the things you need them to do. And Biden was our best pick. But that is part of what has to happen here.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Rashad, you have been a leader in the movement to hold Big Tech accountable, and I’m wondering if you can talk about the role it’s played in this election. Most recently, we had word that — you know, questions about so many different issues, including President Trump talking about violence in the streets if people continue to count the vote in Pennsylvania beyond today, beyond Election Day.
RASHAD ROBINSON: You know, this has been some of the hardest, deepest work we have ever done — right? — because these tech platforms should have rules. They should have — they should have oversight. Our small nonprofit civil rights group shouldn’t have to be the ones holding and battling at every turn these billionaire companies. But because of the failures of our government, because of the failures of our government to actually have rules of today to actually hold them accountable, that’s where we’re at, because these platforms care about growth and profit over safety, integrity and security.
And so, we did get Facebook and Twitter and Google to put in place a whole set of policies leading up to this election. This was very hard work that Color of Change, along with groups like the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights and NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP and many other groups, really fought and battled to put in place. But what ends up happening is that when Donald Trump violates one of those rules, we end up not seeing them enforced, and particularly when it comes to Facebook, which is the biggest and most challenging of all the actors, with 2.6 billion users.
Right before that debate, where Donald Trump told the Proud Boys to stand by, I was in an exchange with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, where I had sent an email about the Donald Trump Jr. post on Facebook and on Twitter that called on an army of Trump supporters to go to the polls. It was kind of reminiscent of those calls from days gone by that you read about in history books and some of my elders have talked about around the vigilantes going to the polls. But we’re seeing it more and more every day, calling on these folks to go to the polls and to monitor and watch. And I sent this to them. And about two hours before Donald Trump tells the Proud Boys to stand by, an organization that we’ve had to get Google to cut them from the cloud, an organization that we’ve had to get PayPal to cut off their processing fees — and we’ve been working tirelessly — I get an email back from them parsing the words “army,” parsing the words “enlist,” trying to sort of push back, because they don’t actually want to enforce these things, because in some ways, in actually so many ways, despite the sort of liberal feeling when you go to the campuses of these places, they actually know that they will do better under a Donald Trump administration, where Donald Trump will not hold them accountable around antitrust, as long as they sort of do what he wants them to do. It’s actually — there’s like no moral rudder. At least with some Republicans, you’re like, they just care about big business, they just care about capitalism. Donald Trump just cares about himself. So, in some ways, it’s almost harder to deal with because these platforms can just cater to him and not actually have a moral rudder. So they put in policies, and then they don’t enforce them.
This election cycle, these platforms have said they’ve done a better job. We have gotten new policies in place. We will see how all of it plays itself out. But what we know right now is that the technology that has so much potential to bring us into the future is dragging us into the past. And if we do not do something to rein in these platforms in all of the ways in which they have radicalized some of the ugliest aspects of our society, all the ways in which they’ve allowed folks to avoid the civil rights laws that we have fought for for so many years and people before us have for, if we do not do more to rein these platforms in, they will continue to serve as the vehicle to divide, to harm, to create an unequal economy, and so much more. And so, this work is among some of the most important, because it’s not just about antitrust and communications and all those things, but it’s at the very heart of how do we ensure that our democracy is not overrun by capitalism.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much, Rashad Robinson, for joining us. We’re going to give you an update right now on the Senate races and the House races. Rashad Robinson is with the Color of Change PAC.
Let us give you some of the latest news. Control of the Senate is up for grabs tonight. Republicans currently hold a 53-to-47 advantage. In what’s the first flipped seat of the night, as we talked about earlier, Democrat John Hickenlooper has defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado’s Senate race.
In Alabama, Trump-backed Republican Tommy Tuberville, the former head coach of the Auburn football team, has defeated the incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones. Jones was the Senate’s most endangered Democrat in today’s election, only narrowly won a 2017 special election after nine women accused his opponent, Roy Moore, of harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers.
The Associated Press has called South Carolina’s Senate race for Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham, who fought off a strong challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison, an African American who raised a record $57 million during the final full quarter of the 2020 campaign. He was the head of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
And in Georgia, the two Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock is poised to go to a runoff special election in January against Republicans Kelly Loeffler, the current sitting senator, or Doug Collins, if no candidate gets over 50% of the vote.
In Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly has an early significant lead against Republican Martha McSally in the contested U.S. Senate race. And at this point, with about 60% of the vote in in Arizona, it looks like Biden is ahead, but we’ll see what happens with that.
And in Texas, Republican Senator John Cornyn has won reelection.
All 435 seats in the House are also on the ballot. Nearly all polls show Democrats will maintain control of the House. Here in New York, Democrat Jamaal Bowman is poised to win a House seat with a landslide lead over his opponent, Patrick McManus. Bowman is running on a progressive platform that includes Medicare for All. Also in New York, Democrat Ritchie Torres is likely to become the first Afro-Latino gay man to be elected to Congress. He has a massive lead against Republican Patrick Delices in a House seat representing the South Bronx. Also, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has handily won her seat here in New York, as has Ilhan Omar in Minneapolis.
We go now to Wisconsin, where President Trump is leading by about four percentage points over Joe Biden, with 45% of precincts reporting. We’re joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the policy research group True North. I’m Amy Goodman, co-hosting with Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh.
Welcome, Lisa, back to Democracy Now! Talk about the latest.
LISA GRAVES: Thank you so much, Amy and Juan. I think that we’re obviously seeing a historic turnout tonight. I hear from the Wisconsin election commissioners that they expect to be counting ballots here in Wisconsin until possibly at least 4:00 in the morning. The ballots here in Wisconsin can’t be counted — absentee ballots can’t be counted until after the polls close. And so I think it’s still too soon to call the race in Wisconsin and many other places. And, unfortunately, as you and I spoke about last — I think about a month ago, we’re seeing also this intervention, or this lack of action, by Louis DeJoy, who is a major fundraiser — has been a major fundraiser for Donald Trump and is the postal — the head of the Postal Service. And he’s refused to comply with a judge’s order today to ensure that those more than 300,000 ballots, that have been entered into the Postal Service’s records, are sent forward to the polling locations. And so, that’s a huge issue for that many ballots so far, it appears, not to have been delivered in states across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I want to welcome Nermeen Shaikh, co-host —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Lisa, what’s been the main surprise that you’ve seen today as the results have come in, in terms of what you expected? My sense is, Virginia, for instance, was a state that was seen in many polls as leaning Democratic, and that apparently has turned out not to be so. But are there any other things that you’re looking at especially?
LISA GRAVES: Well, I never really expected Florida to change from 2016, but I know that there are also a number of ballots there that have yet to be counted, and so we’ll see what happens. I think that, you know, it’s obviously worrisome to see some of the calls that have been made about races when all the ballots in fact haven’t been counted, since we have so many ballots that were cast absentee. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but I do think that the fact that the Postal Service issued its response to the judge’s order earlier today and said it was not going to follow the additional sweeps to ensure those ballots get to polling places is a huge problem. And it’s one of the reasons why I’ve called on Louis DeJoy to resign or be fired. I don’t think we should have such a partisan person in charge of our Postal Service in an election year or in general.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to make another just announcement. AP has just called Virginia for Joe Biden. The significance of this, Lisa?
LISA GRAVES: Well, I think Virginia is one of those states that has been trending bluer, although I haven’t seen the results sort of on a precinct-by-precinct basis. It also sounds like Arizona has been trending bluer and Colorado has been trending bluer. It’s a bit of a surprise to me to see states where the virus is running so rampant go red, like the Dakotas, although we always expected them to go red despite the chaos that’s been caused by this president’s mishandling of the virus. But Virginia and the Virginia suburbs appear to be increasingly blue and more progressive each year after year.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you explain something? I think a lot of our viewers and listeners right now are trying to figure out: Where does the early vote and the absentee ballot come in here, especially if states are actually being called, like AP calling Virginia for Biden? Explain how the system really is dependent on particular states, like a number of counties in Pennsylvania will not even open the absentee ballots until tomorrow — that’s what they have decided — while others started counting a while ago and included them in the vote that they’re announcing tonight.
LISA GRAVES: That’s right. It really varies state by state. There isn’t a uniform rule in every state about when those absentee ballots could be counted. In Wisconsin, for example, they can’t be counted until after the polls close. They can’t be tallied beforehand. In some states they can be opened beforehand. If anyone has ever done a wedding or big party, you know, it takes perhaps a minute to open any item to get it ready for being scanned in an election. So, if you think about the fact that there have been literally millions of ballots cast, that’s just, in human time, you know, maybe a minute a ballot, maybe more in some cases, to run it through the machine, make sure that it’s marked off. And so, that’s just human time. It’s going to take time for those ballots to be counted.
And I know that each news service is making a determination based on the rules of those states, but it’s certainly disorienting for listeners and viewers because of that disparity between the states. And we also have the case in Pennsylvania where some of those ballots have been segregated, separated off because of some of the rulings that have come down from the Supreme Court and other courts. And so, there’s a lot of machinations that could be underway by the bad guys, who want to make it harder for the remote vote and harder to get those votes counted. But I’m certainly hoping, as I think most Americans are, that every single ballot will be counted.
AMY GOODMAN: Lisa, we want to thank you so much for being with us. But before you go, if you can talk more about the U.S. Postal Service and Louis DeJoy and his partnership with President Trump and the hearings that were held? That is when we had you last on.
LISA GRAVES: Yes, it’s really a travesty for the United States Postal Service to be helmed by a man who has given President Trump or the campaign or the RNC more than a million dollars in this past election cycle, from 2019 to 2020. It’s a huge sum. He’s obviously an extreme partisan, and he also has a very checkered track record in his business dealings in the past. We’ve written about that at True North. He’s someone who is unfit to be the head of the Postal Service. And I think you can see his response to the court’s ruling today as another sign that this is not a man who should be trusted with our ballots. In fact, he’s a man whose own brother accused him of stealing his mail, opening bank accounts in his brother’s name and hiding the mail from him for five years. Louis DeJoy should be vanquished from the Postal Service if there’s any justice left in America. And I hope there’s genuine Postal Service reform at the end of all this, because he is someone who should not be in charge of an independent and important function of our government.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, Lisa, thanks so much. And we’re going to follow up on what’s happening in Wisconsin as news of what’s happening there comes out. Lisa Graves, executive director of the policy research group True North. This is Democracy Now!’s special on this election night, this historic election night. Noam Chomsky called it the most significant election in U.S. history.
We’re going to turn right now to Pennsylvania. Joe Biden is out to an early lead, but the state only began counting a record number of mail-in ballots today. In some places, they haven’t started. It could be a few days before a victor is declared. Joining us from Philadelphia is Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, writer for The New Yorker magazine, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. There have been major protests in the streets, Keeanga, because of the killing of yet around young African American man by police, this in the midst of this election. If you can talk about what’s happening in Pennsylvania right now?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think that it adds a kind of surreal quality to this already surreal election season. The National Guard is still in Philadelphia as people were gathering to vote earlier today. And, you know, I think that there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the turnout across the state, but I think one of the things that stands out to me, at least, is that the rancor about counting the votes, all of the votes, over the next few days in Pennsylvania really points to what I think is an important aspect of this election. We’re often told that, you know, our vote is our voice in this country. And to see the extent to which the Republican Party has mobilized itself to suppress the votes of people has been astounding. It’s an astounding feature of this election.
And I think that the way that protests earlier and the protests in the mini uprising in Philadelphia over the last couple of weeks in response to the killing of Walter Wallace, in many ways, demonstrates the extent to which, for millions of people, aspects of our system, the institutions that govern our system, the institutions that kind of run society, are not only broken, but, in the eyes of many people, are increasingly seen as illegitimate. And I think there’s a deep sense of disillusionment that these protests were symbolic of. And so, in many ways — and I think if you extend it beyond the protests, the attacks on people’s right to vote, the efforts of the Republican Party to steal a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, that, in many ways, the outpouring, especially from Black voters — in the early voting, we don’t have the exact numbers about how many people have actually voted, how many Black voters have actually voted, but I think that Rashad Robinson gives some idea of the effort that has gone into expanding the Black electorate, that, in many ways, I see that as a continuation of the protests, so not necessarily a vindication of our electoral system, but when Republicans tell you that you should not vote, or try to get in the way of people voting, that the big outpouring that we have seen in some ways is a rebuke of that, which I think is important, because it means that this is not a coronation.
If Joe Biden is able to pull this off and actually win this election, this is not a coronation for him or for Kamala Harris. But it is to say that, you know, not only do we reject efforts to restrict our access to vote, but here are the things that we want, that people want, are voting for healthcare, are voting to stop the eviction crisis, are voting for an actual stimulus that focuses on the needs of ordinary people. And so I think that that is important to keep in mind, that if Biden is able to pull this off, that this isn’t about a honeymoon in the immediate aftermath. This is about very quickly pivoting to pressuring this administration, this what would be a new administration, to do something that would be completely out of the character of Joe Biden, who has spent his entire political career as a deficit hawk, but to spend like these people have never spent before, because the pandemic, which, you know, can get lost in some of this, is really what is driving the multiple and multiplying crises in American society. And the response, obviously, that has been bungled from the Trump administration, if he fails, will be the underpinning of that. It will be the explanation for why that happens. And if Biden wins, it will be the enormous pressure on his administration to do things that he has never done before.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Nermeen Shaikh into this conversation. We can — you just mentioned, Keeanga, the coronavirus pandemic, and I just want to congratulate everyone who’s working on this broadcast all over and also isolating in different places, as we work through this pandemic election. I am here in New York City in the studio. Nermeen Shaikh is at her home here in New York City. And Juan González is co-hosting from his home in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hi, Nermeen. Why don’t you pick up the baton from here to talk about this absolutely critical election?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Thank you so much, Amy. And, Keeanga, to just follow up on what you were saying earlier about the extent to which people in the U.S. have been prevented from voting, and what Amy said right now — we’re voting now. These elections are taking place in the midst of this massive, lethal pandemic, which has been especially harmful for certain populations here. Given the pandemic, there have been an unprecedented number of early votes, 100 million, and people are predicting that the voter turnout in the election will be higher than it’s been. Just over 65 or 67%, I think, is the calculation. But that is still much, much less than other countries around the world. I mean, not just wealthy countries like the U.S., but, you know, Turkey and South Korea, etc., where there’s a much larger percentage of the voting population that comes out to vote. So, could you say a little about what the various ways are in which here people are prevented from casting their vote, and not just African American or working-class, but across the board, why it’s so difficult to vote?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think when we’re talking about voting, I think there are two issues. One is objective and the objective difficulties that people have voting. And then the other one is subjective. I think that part of what we’re witnessing now is the incredible objective obstacles to voting, which, you know, are plenty.
So, in Philadelphia, one of the good things that exists here, at least, is that there are hundreds — I think there are over 700 polling places across the city, which essentially make it easy for people to both locate, and it usually means that there aren’t these huge snaking lines around the corner that take hours for people to actually be able to utilize. But we’ve seen, especially during the primary season, where people were waiting four or five hours to be able to vote. We’ve seen an effort to shrink the number of polling places. In Texas, there were the efforts of the governor to limit the number of ballot drop boxes down to one, in huge metropolitan areas. And so, there has been a concerted effort to throw obstacles in front of people to try to prevent them from voting. And even, you know, they may be concentrated on the Black vote, on African American voters in particular, but it ends up having a cascading vote — or, cascading effect throughout the electorate. So, that’s one aspect of it.
I think the fact that — you know, in France, I think, Election Day is a holiday. People have the day off, making it as easy as possible. And so, in this country, the idea that voting should be as easy as possible is really an affront. And, in fact, it is made increasingly as difficult as possible, in terms of being able to easily get to some place to actually vote and not have it take up hours of your day, in addition to, in this particular election, the issues with the virus, the issues with COVID, that have been mapped onto the existing difficulties.
And then the subjective issue always has to do with the limits that are imposed when you have a two-party system. And that has to do with the political limits of the candidates on offer. And I think that has been made abundantly clear in this particular election. I think there’s a motivation because of the disastrous aspect of the Trump administration. But Biden, you know, has really been a poor alternative. I hope Biden wins, but, to be honest, he has not been an inspiring candidate to rally around, because he has such a long history of being a cog in the Democratic Party machine and really being an architect of much of the world that young Black people, young people across this country, spent the summer rebelling against. And so, when that is put up as the political alternative, or some version of it in every single election, that, too, has a depressive aspect on the vote, the turnout in the election.
I think that was what some of the excitement around Bernie Sanders’ campaign — that was some of the electricity around Bernie Sanders’ campaign, was the newness of the ideas, ideas that seemed big enough to meet the moment that we are living through right now. And I think, outside of that, and returning to kind of small-minded approach to huge, enormous, existential crises that we face, also dampens the vote. I think Biden has benefited from the atrociousness of Donald Trump, but I do think that it means that there will be next to no honeymoon if he is able to win, and there will be an immediate pivot from the organizations, the activists, the organizers on the ground who have been driving a lot of the get out the vote, the voter turnout, the organizing of the protests and demonstrations that have persisted, to immediately begin the campaigns that are necessary to force this, what would be a new administration, again, to do things that they have never done before.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, writer from The New Yorker magazine, assistant professor of African American history — rather, studies at Princeton University. She’s speaking to us from Philadelphia. We’re getting all sorts of reports. Joe Biden is way ahead in Minnesota, but still not enough votes are there to have it called. In Iowa, Joe Biden looks like he’s ahead, but there are still not enough votes there to actually call it. And Donald Trump has won Missouri at this point. He’s also ahead in Georgia. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, as we begin to wrap up, if you can talk about what you feel the movements have meant? And if there wasn’t a pandemic — I mean, we are looking at this somewhat close race, it looks like at this point, or at least at this point in this hour of Election Day, which had absolutely record turnout. It’s hard to believe that 65 or 67% of the American electorate turning out is a large number, but it’s larger than it’s been since 1960 —
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: That’s huge, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: — since the election of Kennedy, which is truly astounding. Other industrialized countries in the world have far higher turnouts. And if you could comment on this, that we consider this such a tremendous victory? Even President Obama, his first victory in 2008, I think he was at like 61%, and that was considered very high.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Look, this is an unprecedented situation that we’re in. And it’s hard to understand what exactly — is this a close race? It seems closer than it should be. But the turnout has been driven by, I think, the disastrous response, on the one hand, of this administration in handing this generational public health crisis, that has then spawned this tragic economic crisis, which then helped to underpin a crisis of racial injustice, or helped to unleash a crisis of racial injustice, that we are still living with the repercussions of.
I think the insanity of the Trump administration, in some ways, can cause us to lose sight of the multiplying crises that are roiling this society, the fact that the National Guard was deployed to Philadelphia 10 days ago or a week ago because there was yet another uprising in response to police abuse and racism and violence and murder in the city. Right outside of Chicago, in Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago, the police killed a Black man. In Washington state this past week, the police killed a Black man. So, the long, hot summer has turned into the hot fall, as well.
And so, when there appear to be no legitimate institutional responses that appear to be able to stop the ravages of this disease, that appear to be able to stop the police, many of whom, police organizations, are openly backing Donald Trump, who, you know, completely politicize themselves in ways that are unprecedented for sectors within the aspects of the public sector, it’s not surprising that this gets expressed electorally in terms of the enormous mobilization of voters and turnout. And so, we’ll see what that means in terms of actual votes. But I think that the huge early vote, I think all of this creates an enormous amount of pressure, because it is demonstrable proof that people are desperate for not just some vague sense of change, but are desperate for some kind of coherent response to this disease, that the Trump administration has decided, on its own, to just run rampant in our society. People want a response to the economic crisis that has been unleashed. We are looking at millions of people who are staring down the barrel of evictions. And in the Trump circus, all of this, the impact of the pandemic in the lives of ordinary people on a day-to-day basis has been lost. And so, in some ways, the election brings that back to the fore. This kind of turnout, this kind of self-mobilization, is a reaction to the multiplying crises in American society. And that is not going to just dissipate. If Joe Biden is able to pull this out, that is not just going to dissipate into a cloud of goodwill and happy feelings. People are desperate for a government to actually function. And I think, if anything, this outpouring during this election is evidence of that, is deep evidence of that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, for joining us, writer for The New Yorker magazine, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. Thanks so much for joining us.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue with this three-hour election night special, we’ll be talking with a number of people over the next hour. Juan, I wanted to just comment. At this point, it looks like the election may come down to four major states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Your thoughts on this?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think it’s too early to tell, really, on any of those states, because Arizona will probably get a good count very soon, because they were counting all of their absentee ballots right away, but these other states, we’re going to have to wait. You can’t tell until all of the mail-in ballots have been counted. And in those states, in particular, there’s going to be a delay as a result of the decisions of the local political leaders about how counting will go on. So I think that while we can get a sense of how particular areas of these states are doing compared to 2016, we have to understand that this such a huge number of ballots being cast by mail will mean that we’re not going to get a clear picture until way into the wee hours of tomorrow morning or later on in the week, and as many of us had expected. But then, you know, I think that’s the key thing to understand. People need to be a lot more patient this time around than they have been in the past.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Pennsylvania and Michigan could take days. Pennsylvania, President Trump has so interfered, overall, I think one could say, even threatening violence if ballots were counted past tonight.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes. So it’s going to be a long haul for this election. And a key thing, as has been said by many people, is it’s better to get it right than to try to rush to any judgment on how the voters have chosen in any of these states. So, we’re just going to have to wait and let the process play itself out. And also, there will undoubtedly be some court challenges that may delay the results in a couple of these states even longer.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s also very interesting that it looks like Joe Biden is ahead in Arizona, he’s also ahead in Iowa, and the significance of the Latino vote in all of these places.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I think Arizona is going to be the real bellwether. You know, I can’t — my gut feeling is that Biden is going to win Arizona, but Iowa, I’m not so sure of, although there is a growing Latino vote there. But we’re going to have to wait. Arizona will be — if Arizona goes, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for Trump, as he’s going to have to make up some states that he won previously. But again, I would counsel, above all else, patience for folks in trying to figure out what’s going on with this election.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to turn right now to a clip of Jamaal Bowman. We spoke earlier with Mondaire Jones, who, although it hasn’t been formally announced, is clearly winning his district because it’s a heavily Democratic district. He is replacing Congressmember Nita Lowey. And he, together with Ritchie Torres, also in New York, are likely to become the first two openly gay Black members of Congress. Well, Jamaal Bowman is — we’re going to hear from in a moment, and he is also going to Congress. He was a principal at a middle school and really upset the establishment. But we’re going to turn right now to Angel Ortiz, an attorney and former at-large Philadelphia city councilman. In Pennsylvania, Trump now has taken a lead over Joe Biden, but the state only began counting a record number of mail-in ballots today. It could be a number of days before the winner is declared.
Angel, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with you. Can you talk about the state of your state?
ANGEL ORTIZ: Well, I’m quite nervous right now, Amy. After the Florida numbers came out, I think every Democrat in the United States got a little bit of nervousness.
I’m quite confident that Pennsylvania is going to be on the Biden column. I spent most of the day today going through the barrio, going through North Philadelphia, going into the polling places. And we had a very, very good turnout, bigger than '16. And I believe right now that — and I've been talking to friends of mine in Reading and Allentown, and they see greater participation of the Puerto Rican community and other Latinos. So, I’m quite confident that between Bucks County, Montgomery, Philadelphia County, Delaware, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, that we’ll be able to hold on to Pennsylvania.
And what I’m seeing right now encourages me that I think Arizona still might be staying with the Democrats this time around. And I still believe that North Carolina will, at the end, be part of the Biden column. But I think Pennsylvania, I think the Puerto Ricans and African Americans who didn’t vote in '16, I think the numbers are larger than at that point. We don't have all of the numbers as of this time, but I believe the African American community in Philadelphia, the women and the Puerto Rican and other Latinos, I think, will have very high numbers, much bigger than we had in ’16.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Angel, I’m wondering if you could — I know that there was — folks that I have talked to in Pennsylvania said that there was quite a bit of difficulty in convincing the Biden campaign to focus more energy and resources on turning out the Latino vote in Pennsylvania. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share about when in the process they actually started doing that.
ANGEL ORTIZ: That was us. You know, Juan. That was me. And we held a Zoom meeting with like 15 of us and the hierarchy. And then they got somebody — Henry Gomez heard about it, and he called us, and we set up a meeting. And we said it: “Hey, look, you know, everybody keeps talking about the Puerto Rican community and how important it is, but there are no resources.” There wasn’t money in the media. There wasn’t money. There wasn’t staff. And we created a little bit of a rumble like we used to do. And they started then putting in the money, putting in some advertising, putting in some ads for media.
I still think, Juan, that both parties, and especially the Democrats, both locally, statewide and nationally, really take us for sort of a side dish, that they think of us towards the end. And then they just, hello, there’s this group of people here. And there’s 500,000 Puerto Ricans eligible to vote in Pennsylvania. And finally, you know, it had to be us going public. And the Inquirer had a story, and so on, to get some movement. And I think we did. I hope that it was early enough and not too late.
But I think the Democratic Party has to understand and learn from all of this. The agenda — yeah, I asked for AOC to come in, because AOC is the most exciting politician we have in the Democratic Party, and especially in Puerto Rican communities and young women and so on. And we were not able to get her here. And I said, “You’re going to be called communists anyway, and you’re going to be called socialists. So let’s bring in AOC.” And we were not able ever to get her here. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of — Angel, I wanted to ask you on another matter. I think we’ve only got about a minute or two, but there’s a plebiscite going on in Puerto Rico today, a statehood plebiscite, being pushed by the statehood party. The latest I heard, there was a slight majority for it, but obviously no other choice was allowed to the Puerto Rican voters. I’m wondering your quick take on the statehood referendum.
ANGEL ORTIZ: They spent millions of dollars, and the “no” people had no — really, no money and no campaign. And I think they got 51%. The gubernatorial party candidate got 32% of the vote. And the House and the Senate of Puerto Rico are in the opposition’s hands. And I think there’s a change in Puerto Rico right now. I think the end of the bipartisan — the Partido Popular and PNP, I think those days are gone. The independence party had a great resurgence this time around. And I think the plebiscite was a total failure. You don’t go — you don’t go to the —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds, Angel.
ANGEL ORTIZ: — United States Congress with 51%, and your gubernatorial candidate got 31% of the vote. Doesn’t make any sense.
AMY GOODMAN: Angel, we’re going to have to leave it there. Angel Ortiz, attorney and former at-large Philadelphia city councilman.
ANGEL ORTIZ: Thank you, Amy. Thanks, Juan.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, our election night special, on this historic evening. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as well as Nermeen Shaikh, as we first bring you a roundup of all that we know at this point around the country.
In Pennsylvania, President Trump is now leading, after Joe Biden initially showed an early lead. The state only began counting a record number of mail-in ballots today. It could be a number of days before a winner is declared.
In Arizona, a traditionally red state, Joe Biden shows an early lead over Trump. Biden has a significant lead in Maricopa County, which accounts for about 60% of the state’s voters.
The Associated Press has called New Hampshire, a historically Republican-leaning state, for Joe Biden.
In Michigan, Donald Trump has taken an early lead, but only about a third of the vote total has been counted. Michigan’s unofficial results could take until Friday, November 6th, to be counted.
Trump also has a narrow lead in Wisconsin, where a little over a third of votes have been counted. Wisconsin’s final election results are expected in the early hours of Wednesday.
Joe Biden is also off to strong early leads in Minnesota and Iowa, but it’s still far too early to call those states.
Over the last hour, the Associated Press called Kansas and Missouri for Donald Trump.
Currently, Joe Biden has clinched 131 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 108. Two hundred seventy Electoral College votes are needed to win the White House.
And now let’s go to the Senate. It’s up for grabs. Republicans currently hold a 53-to-47 advantage in the current Senate. In what is the first flipped seat of the night, Democrat John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, has defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado’s Senate race.
In Alabama, Trump-backed Republican Tommy Tuberville, the former head coach of the Auburn football team, has defeated the incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones. Jones was the Senate’s most endangered Democrat in today’s election and only narrowly won a 2017 special election after nine women accused his opponent, Roy Moore, of harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers.
The Associated Press has called South Carolina’s Senate race for Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham, who fought off a strong challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison, an African American who raised a record $57 million during the final full quarter of the 2020 campaign. He formerly was head of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
In Georgia, both Senate seats are up for grabs. Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock is poised to go to a runoff special election in January against Republicans Kelly Loeffler or Doug Collins, if no candidate gets over 50% of the votes.
And in Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head when she was a congressmember — he’s an astronaut — has an early significant lead against Republican Martha McSally in a contested U.S. Senate race.
In Texas, Republican Senator John Cornyn has won reelection.
And then to the House. All 435 seats in the House are also on the ballot. Nearly all polls show Democrats will maintain control of the House. In New York, Democrat Jamaal Bowman is poised to win a House seat with a landslide lead over opponent Patrick McManus. Bowman is running on a progressive platform that includes Medicare for All. He beat the longtime incumbent Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary.
Now to North Carolina, where the presidential race is too close to call. President Trump has a narrow lead over Biden. The North Carolina Senate race between Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham is also too close to call, with Tillis up slightly.
We’re joined now by Reverend Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach. I’m Amy Goodman, joined by my co-hosts Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh.
Reverend Barber, it’s wonderful to have you with us. I know you’ve been doing hourly prayers. Talk about where you are right now. And talk about the significance of this race in North Carolina that is still too close to call but has two very close races, Thom Tillis versus Cal Cunningham for the Senate and, of course, Biden versus Trump.
REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: I said earlier tonight, Amy, that this is showing that we’re a nation that’s sick and well at the same time. We’ve still got some people that will vote for racism and injustice, but we also are seeing significant change. There was a time it was no question that the Senate race would be Republican. There was a time there would be no question that a Republican presidential candidate would win. And now we have a 50-50 tie, 400-and-some precincts yet to report. A lot of absentee ballots haven’t yet been counted. This is showing something about the new South, but it is also is showing that the old South is still very strong, and it’s not willing to just let go easily.
You know, we had to fight here against all kinds of retrogression and voter suppression. We won those battles. If we had not won those battles, the race would be blown out. They would just have surpassed us in large numbers. But because we maintained same-day registration and early voting and we were able to get felon disenfranchisement removed, we are seeing these kind of tight races. I’m still holding out hope. I understand we have about 400 precincts that haven’t been reported yet in the state. But this is a critical test.
You know, we also see another dynamic. They don’t talk about it a lot, Amy. And that is, the Democratic governor just won. So he just announced. And in North Carolina, you’ve had this strange reality sometimes where Democrats will vote for the governor but then switch when it comes to the president and the Senate, traces all the way back to the days of Jesse Helms. And so, just because people are Democrats don’t mean they stay with the party. Republicans tend to stay. They vote for whoever the Republican is. But Democrats in the South can have a funny, funny notion as to how they choose who they decide to support.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Reverend Barber, you said earlier that the issues that are driving voters include, of course, this pandemic, but also poverty. Could you talk about what you know of the Biden-Harris team, their proposals on poverty? According to a Columbia University report, a recent report, it found that had their policies, the ones that they’ve been discussing on the campaign, been implemented in 2018, poverty in the U.S. would have been more than halved. So, if you could talk about that, their particular policies on poverty reduction?
REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: Well, sure. Biden and Harris are for a living wage, $15 an hour. That would raise 49 million people out of poverty almost immediately, put $368 billion into the economy. They are for expanding healthcare. We want full Medicaid for All, but they’re at least for expanding. And expanding healthcare is an investment and would help people raise out of poverty. Their jobs program, their investment in the communities would have an impact on the poor.
You know, I still wish, and we in the campaign, that Democrats would just go ahead and say the word “poverty” and say that they are going to address poverty. They will say it in certain settings, but most of the time they talk about middle-class and working people, as though most people — most people who are poor are working poor people, 62 million of working poor people that work every day of their lives. There’s not a county in this country where you can work a minimum-wage job for 40 hours a week, 50 hours a week, in most places, and afford a two-bedroom apartment. Most of the time it takes up to 60, 70, sometimes 80 hours a week. We’re going to have to get to a place that we’re not afraid to say “poverty” and afraid if you talk about poverty, folk are going to call you a socialist, because I will bet you that when these totals come back, the closeness of this race will have something to do with how poor and low-wealth people increased their turnout in this election, because they’re voting about life issues, like living and dying and having healthcare and not having any resources during this pandemic.
The only place to expand the vote in this country really is among the 64 million poor and low-wealth voters. Thirty-four million did not vote last time; 29 million did. I’m waiting to see how many voted this time. We called 2 million infrequent poor and low-wealth voters in 10 states. North Carolina was among them. We contacted, peer-texted a couple of hundred — about 250,000 in North Carolina. Overall, of the 2 million we called, 20% voted early, which was very pretty high. And then we went back and called them again. But we’re going to have to deal with this issue. A third of all poor people live in the South. And a third of all poor white people live in the South. We will have to develop a message in the South that’s not just about voting Democrat, but voting to bring people out of poverty. And I believe if we do that, we will be able to organize even deeper among poor and low-wealth Black and white and Indigenous people and Brown people, which could make the turn.
Look how close these races are in Florida and in North Carolina. Look at how close they are. If we expanded that vote, we know in North Carolina if just 19% of poor and low-wealth people voted this time higher than last time, they could have overcome the margin of victory Trump had last time, which is going to be lower this time, because I think it was 170,000. And we’re not sure he’s going to win this time. If Biden wins, you’re going to see it have something to do with poor and low-wealth people voting higher than they did last time. That’s the demographic we’ve got to reach in America if we’re going to fundamentally shift the American political structure.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Reverend Barber, in terms of this expansion of the electorate to historical levels, isn’t one of the unexpected side effects of the pandemic is that, finally, because of this move to mail-in ballots and to more and more early voting in so many states, that people were no longer restricted? If you had to work on Election Day, you couldn’t get to the polls, that, in essence, we’ve expanded Election Day into almost an election month, and that has allowed more people to get into the process. And I’m wondering if that’s something that should be fought for afterwards, for years to come now, as the normal way that elections should be conducted.
REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: Well, it should. You know, in North Carolina, we fought in 2007 to have same-day registration, early voting and to expand the number of days of early voting. We now have 17 days in North Carolina, and we have same-day registration and early voting, and we broke the back on felony disenfranchisement. That’s why the race is as close as it is. If it was just an Election Day race, Obama wouldn’t have won, because in 2008 Obama lost on Election Day. He won because of the early voting, same-day registration, that the movement, the Moral Monday movement, the Forward Together movement, the NAACP, we won that in 2007.
We have to open up the franchise. And so, yes, we should have more — even more early voting. We should have more opportunity to mail in the ballots, like we have during COVID. But we also should have Election Day as a holiday. Election Day as a holiday. Poor people have said that one of the three reasons they don’t vote is, number one, they can’t get off work and transportation; number two, they don’t hear politicians calling their name and hteir conditions; and, number three, voter suppression. We have to challenge those, because, again, we’re talking about 30% of the American electorate now are poor and low-wealth people, poor people and people who are $400 away from economic disaster. That’s 140 million people before COVID. That’s 64 million potential voters. You cannot have 34 million of those folks sitting on the sideline, and then think you’re going to expand the electorate in a way that’s going to be transformative. So, I’m for, we are for, expanding opportunity for the franchise, expanding opportunity.
The other thing, though, we have to do is cut down on these lines. You know, these long lines are a form of voter suppression. People see the lines, they don’t go, because they can’t take off eight hours. They can’t take off four or five, six, seven hours. And there’s no reason that we have to do this. Remember, Republicans would not give the money in the first stimulus package for states to be able to provide more opportunity. There’s no reason people should have to stand eight, nine,10 hours in line to participate in the vote. We have got to get this right, because voter suppression, as you can see in North Carolina, all you have to do is suppress a tiny bit. A half a percentage point can cost you an election. A third of a percentage point can cost you an election. That should not be the case in a place that calls itself a democracy.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Dr. William Barber, we want to thank you so much for being with us, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, president of Repairers of the Breach, speaking to us from North Carolina, where, by the way, just this past weekend people who were rallying to vote in Graham, North Carolina, were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by the local sheriff’s department.
We’re going to turn right now to Raquel Willis, a leading transgender activist, award-winning writer, former executive editor of Out magazine, former national organizer for Transgender Law Center, born and raised in Augusta, Georgia.
Raquel, it’s great to have you back with us, now communications person for Ms. magazine. If you can follow up on what Reverend Barber was saying, and this past incidents this weekend of the tear-gassing of activists, and also if you can talk about — we don’t know what’s going to happen at this point, but if there is a Biden-Harris victory here, if Joe Biden does win, what you want to see?
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yes. Well, thank you so much, Amy, for having me on.
You know, I think the biggest thing that I’m trying to hone down on for all of my people out there, but particularly Black and Brown folks and queer and trans people and, of course, progressive women, is that all of these systems of oppression that we are experiencing, you know, we’ve had a heightened kind of conversation around white supremacy, around the patriarchy, around homophobia, transphobia, police brutality, all these different things. These systems of oppression are not going to magically end under a Biden presidency. We know this. And so, we have to make sure that we are figuring out ways to stay engaged in this fight beyond just casting a ballot in this election, and also making sure that we are supporting our activists and organizers on the frontlines. Obviously we are still seeing Black and Brown folks who are being murdered by police, right? We are still seeing this ongoing epidemic of violence against particularly Black trans women. And so, that means that we have to get very much a handle on the fact that the fight continues. We can pay attention to the election, but we have to know what are we going to do to stay engaged, to make sure that these systems actually change.
You mentioned being from Georgia. You know, one of the things that’s important to me is also making sure that folks know that wherever you are around this country, there are folks who are fighting for a more progressive future. And so, I’m seeing a lot of different things. We always see this during our national elections, where people will throw a lot of shade to the South and say, “Oh, well, they’re backwards down there. Oh, well, they’re not as informed.” But I think it’s really a misstep if we ignore the blood, sweat and tears of organizers who have been trying to shift things, I mean, particularly in Georgia. This is a rehash, in a lot of ways, of what happened during the midterms, where we saw rampant voter suppression, people having their registrations essentially just torn up — right? — and thrown aside. We saw the kind of ridiculousness with a pipe bursting in a room that was holding ballots down in Atlanta. I mean, this type of ridiculousness is just all a part of this widespread issue of voter suppression and silencing the voices of people on the margins.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Raquel, we want to thank you very much for being with us. We are moving fast right now through all of the different states that we know. Mississippi was just called for Donald Trump, and it looks like California and Washington state have just been called for Biden. Raquel Willis, leading transgender activist, award-winning writer, former executive editor of Out magazine, former national organizer for Transgender Law Center, born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. The FiveThirtyEight.com just said, “As you plan your sleep schedule for the rest of the week: We should have near-complete unofficial results from Wisconsin early tomorrow morning, as Milwaukee is expected to finish counting around 6 a.m. Eastern. Michigan originally said it would take until Friday to count all of its votes, but officials have revised that estimate to say they’ll be done tomorrow as well. Finally, Pennsylvania results probably won’t be known until Friday,” just to give you a sense of where we all stand.
We’re going to California now, which has just closed its polling places and has been called for Joe Biden. No surprise there. But we’re going to turn to Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Reich tweeted, “Reminder: We will not get the results tonight. Don’t let the horse race media coverage and repeated 'Breaking News' chyrons get to you. Stay calm, drink water, and wait it out.”
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Robert Reich. Your thoughts tonight, what we know, what we don’t know? Ohio, too close to call. Michigan, it looks like Donald Trump is ahead, but, again, too close to call. Major cities have not been counted. Pennsylvania, too close to call. Your thoughts?
ROBERT REICH: Well, Amy, first of all, it’s nice to see you.
And I do hope everybody takes a very, very big, big breath and doesn’t get too wrapped up in the details tonight, because, as you just said, the key states — Pennsylvania, Ohio, the industrial states — are too close to call, or we don’t know yet. We won’t know. And although it’s dismaying to me and to many people that Joe Biden is not farther ahead, he does need Ohio. He does need Pennsylvania. Obviously, he’s going to need Minnesota and Michigan and Wisconsin. But let’s not get too riled up right now. I mean, this country is extraordinarily divided. I’m now talking to you from the bluest town in the bluest county in the bluest state of the United States, where about 40 million Americans live, one out of every eight Americans, and we just voted, and at least overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. So, I think we ought to relax, just for now.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, and, Professor Reich, if you could talk about what you just said about California, how everybody voted for Biden? But one of the key things that people have been pointing to, and what Trump’s presidency made absolutely clear, is the massive ideological, social, economic, cultural separation between the center and the periphery now in the U.S., whereby there are the coastal elites who are aligned — thought to be aligned with people like Biden and Harris, and then people in the center who have voted for Trump in the past. Where do you see this changing now, given the fact that Trump has so manifestly betrayed a number of the economic policies, promises he made to working-class Americans who voted for him?
ROBERT REICH: Well, first of all, let me just say I’d suggest that we not use the term “coastal elites,” because I’m here on the coast. There are a lot of people who live in coastal America who are anything but elites. They are poor. They are way, way behind. They’ve lost a lot. They are struggling as much as any Americans are struggling.
But back to your question. With regard to Donald Trump and the economy and how — why is it that working people and people in the bottom 60, 70% are still voting for him? I think we’ve got to give a lot of credence to the big, big lie — I mean, the ability of Donald Trump to tell people that they are doing well when they’re not, and to convince a lot of people that the Democrats are dangerous when obviously they’re not, and also his echo chambers on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and right-wing radio. I mean, this is a huge propaganda and distortion of — the likes of which we don’t know and have not experienced in this country before. I think a lot of people simply are misled. And then, let’s also not underestimate the effects of racism and xenophobia and homophobia, all of the — all of the tools that Donald Trump and his enablers have used to distract attention of the working class from what is in their actual economic interest.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what do you attribute, Professor Reich, the fact that there are still, given the — what we have all witnessed over the last four years, such a huge percentage of the American people who still, despite all their misgivings about the character and the performance of the president, still back him?
ROBERT REICH: Well, besides the two factors I just went through — that is, the power of the big lie magnified over and over again, and also racism, xenophobia, the use of these kind of demagogic techniques — the third factor is the failure of the Democratic Party over the last 12, 14 years. And I was very proud to have been part of the Clinton administration, but the Clinton administration was guilty of this, as well. The failure of the Democratic Party to embrace the working class — in fact, the abandonment by the Democratic Party of the American working class, I think that is one of the central phenomena of our age and our era. And we can’t look at any election results without understanding how many people are filled with a sense of hopelessness and despair, because for the last 40 years the typical American worker has not had a raise, if you adjust for inflation. Almost all the economic gains have gone to the top.
AMY GOODMAN: How responsible do you hold the Democratic Party, Robert Reich? I mean, when you think about welfare reform, what many called “welfare deform,” I remember you telling the story of when your president, the president you were labor secretary for, President Clinton, was signing this, you just walked the streets of Washington, D.C., because you were so opposed. Talk about the trends in what the Democratic Party has become, and what it needs to be to gain back the support of what many feel would be a true, easy majority of this country.
ROBERT REICH: Amy, I think the Democratic Party, not only did it abandon the working class, but it also focused on the suburban swing vote — that is, the upper-middle-class suburban voter. And I remember, even going back to the 1980s, 1990s, leading Democrats saying that that was going to be the future of the party. The Democratic Party should not any longer embrace the working class. I think it was a huge mistake. It was not only a tactical and strategic mistake, but it was also a mistake to abandon the working class when the working class was really sinking, when it had no other champion. That’s a setup for demagoguery. That was — you know, Donald Trump is not the reason we have these problems. Donald Trump is the culmination of 40 years of stagnant wages, widening inequality, corruption and a certain venality that has crept into American politics, as well as a kind of a — the kind of racist structural racism that we see, the systemic racism, and the dog-whistle politics, that started with Ronald Reagan but continued right through Republican and Democratic administrations.
AMY GOODMAN: And the crime bill, what, of course, Joe Biden is so known for, has apologized for parts of it, but what that meant in terms of mass incarceration in this country?
ROBERT REICH: Of course. I mean, that crime bill really was, in effect, the beginning of a huge spike in incarceration, disproportionately people — Black people and Latinx people. And the Democrats obviously are in large part responsible for that. But let’s make sure we don’t fall into the trap of a false equivalence, because as bad as the Democrats have been, the Republicans have been worse. I mean, we would not have — obviously, we wouldn’t have healthcare. We wouldn’t have the Affordable Care Act. We wouldn’t have the expansions to Medicaid. We wouldn’t have anything that we really need and the working class needs without the Democratic Party. My point only is that when you catalog why the Republicans continue to do as well as they do with the working class, it’s not just lies, it’s not just appeals to racism and xenophobia. It is also a failure of the Democrats to really fulfill what is, in many respects, their historic role of being the tribunes and voices of American workers.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Reich, we want to thank you for being with us, former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, now professor at University of California, Berkeley. We’re going to stay in California, again, which its polls just closed, and it has just been called for Joe Biden. No surprise there. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who was the San Francisco DA, then the attorney general of California and then senator of California — and if it is a Joe Biden ticket that wins, if they become president and vice president, she will be the first African American vice president, the first African American woman, the first Asian American woman, Indian American woman. She will make history as vice president of this country.
We’re joined right now by Mike Davis, writer and historian and author of several books, including Planet of Slums, City of Quartz and The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu. His new book, Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Mike. It’s great to have you with us. We’re in the last half-hour of our broadcast. It does look like this presidential race is too early to call by the end of this evening, by the end of this Election Day. It will go into the next few days. But your thoughts at this point, the fact that it is also too close to call, that President Trump, even in the midst of this pandemic, you know, is right in there in the race with Joe Biden?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, one group that is seldom talked about in American politics but plays a very large role is the self-employed building contractor or plumber, the small businessperson, the owners of franchises, and so on. And what we’ve experienced this year is the biggest disaster for small business since the Depression. And, in fact, maybe even more small businesses have been eliminated, thanks to superpredators like Amazon, proportionately, than there were in the 1930s.
Now, what these people are focused on is the fear of protracted shutdowns. And I think Trump has been very effective, both in credibility that he has in fact sustained jobs, though he himself plays almost no role in that, but right now I think a tremendous issue amongst the self-employed, also amongst even contingent workers and workers in the service industry, is this fear another shutdown will be the kind of extinction event. And I think that’s been a strength in the Trump that the Democrats really haven’t grasped or responded to adequately.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Mike, in terms of the — what’s most surprised you so far about this election, as someone who has seen many of them over the years? And is it the resilience of the Trump campaign? Is it the errors that the Democrats have made so far? Or, talk about your biggest surprise.
AMY GOODMAN: And even as you answer that, I just want to let people know that Fox has just called Arizona for Joe Biden.
MIKE DAVIS: Ah, good news. Well, I think what’s surprised me the most is that, once again, the Democrats have had an epochal opportunity to shift American politics in Texas, but the national Democrats have ignored that. You can talk about how the Democratic Party has failed to address the distress of industrial workers in the Great Lakes or service workers in the big cities, but Texas has been the scene of the continuous populist mobilization. And listening to Austin television a few minutes ago, apparently, the generation — what is it? Y? Yes, I think it’s Generation Y — turnout in Texas exceeded anywhere else in the United States. But, of course, Biden, despite being implored by Democratic leaders, failed to go to Texas, failed to energetically campaign, and, most of all, failed to make contact with Latino voters, Tejano voters, in a state where it’s been majority minority now for at least 10 years, I believe. So, if he loses Texas tonight, this is a result of the same strategic miscalculation that the Democrats made in 2016, despite the evidence that Democrats in Texas are probably more energized than a Democratic political campaign anywhere in the country right now.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Mike Davis, irrespective of how this election turns out — we don’t know yet; it’s too early to say — you know, people have pointed out that the reasons that Trump came to power — I mean, that Trump was more a symptom than the actual disease, and the policies that — that he was an effect of policies over decades that impoverished certain classes of people. What do you think would happen? Where would the people who traditionally supported Trump, the 40% or so — where would those people go? Do you see them eventually turning to more Democratic policies?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, first of all, the actual defection of white workers in the Midwest and Great Lakes state is smaller, I think, than most people realize. And I’ve been also watching television in Scranton and Erie, Toledo and Youngstown, and Dubuque, Iowa. And the evidence is that Biden is performing much better than Clinton. Whether he will match Obama’s performance is unclear at this point. So, we’re seeing a phenomenon that’s existed for decades in the so-called Reagan Democrat, who will vote for a Reagan or a Trump, but on a local level votes — continues to vote Democrats, and then eventually comes back to the Democratic vote.
To me, the heartbreaking phenomenon, however, has been the 30- or 40-year neglect of Appalachia by the Democrats. Appalachia is the largest single concentration of white poverty in North America. And it really hasn’t been since the creation of the Appalachian Commission and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson that any Democrat has really bothered to pay attention to the continuing economic problems and distress. And, of course, it’s been the epicenter of the largest, most destructive opioid epidemic. And so, states like West Virginia, that were once solidly blue, eastern Kentucky and parts of Tennessee, Virginia, have been lost to the Democrats, not because of appeals so much to racism. It’s simply the fact that Democratic presidential candidates have had almost nothing to say about the economic conditions, the enduring poverty, and the distress in daily life.
And until they’re capable of speaking directly to the concrete conditions in specific places, whether that’s in the inner cities, whether it’s the poverty belt along the U.S.-Mexican border, whether it’s in the mountain counties of the Border South, it needs to be targeted to what people are actually experiencing. And just talking about millions of so-called jobs that will come from infrastructure investment or green energy doesn’t connect in any significant or concrete way with the way people are experiencing economic decline in America. And at least Trump pushes those buttons ritualistically. He’s a master at a kind of political theater, even while he’s doing absolutely the opposite, even while Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio is closing down and hundreds of other businesses are closing down. He still gives the impression to, I think, a lot of these people that he stands for jobs and stands up for America and a globalized economy. And the Democrats just haven’t been able or had any interest in confronting these problems on a regional and local scale. So they talk right beyond people. People want concrete answers. They want to know what’s going to happen to Trumbull County or Ashtabula, Ohio, in the next year or two. What do the Democrats just say? Bernie Sanders did very well in these areas, just like Jesse Jackson did a whole generation ago. But whether Trump succeeds in winning many of these voters back remains to be seen. I think if he does, it will only be marginal.
AMY GOODMAN: Mike Davis, we want to thank you so much for being with us, writer and historian, author of a number of books, including Planet of Sums, City of Quartz and The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu. His new book is Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties.
This is Democracy Now! In our last 20 minutes of this broadcast, it does not look like the race will be called tonight for president of the United States, though there are a number of down-ballot races that we’ve been talking about throughout the night.
Jenni Monet is now with us, joining us from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s an investigative journalist, founder of the newsletter called Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed. She’s a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna.
Jenni, we had you on a few days ago talking about the fact that Indigenous nations in this country can help determine, for example, senatorial races throughout the country. Can you talk about what you’ve been watching tonight? We’ve just seen that Arizona — and we’re going to talk about this in a minute, go to Arizona — Arizona has been called for Joe Biden, which has been a surprise for some. Also, the Democratic nominee for Senate has just won, that it looks like Kelly has just beaten Martha McSally in a special race for the Senate. But can you talk about what you’ve been watching and where — how the Indigenous vote has turned out around the country, what you know at this point?
JENNI MONET: Yeah, sure. I’ve definitely been focused on Arizona, as have you, and Kelly certainly beat McSally by quite a margin, which we started to notice a few weeks ago. And I have to say that, you know, it speaks to, I think, the division on the ground in Arizona, but particularly even Native voters had a sense of getting out the vote in ways that was extraordinary. We saw, particularly on the Navajo Nation, where their mail-in ballots were challenged in court and were stopped from actually being brought in, that what you saw in response to that was this enormous mobilization of Navajo voters themselves riding by horseback across the reservation to not only register ballots and get them in early, but to get them in today, as well. And I think it’s just that kind of display that’s emblematic of how Natives are turning out to the polls nationwide.
Certainly that’s the case in Montana tonight, another battleground state, where Senator Steve Daines is fighting for his position against Governor Steve Bullock, and we saw that there is a great support for Governor Bullock among Native voters there, which represent around 7% of the population. And so, I’m watching that race closely and also what’s happening in North Carolina.
Their polls were extended late tonight, and so they did not start tallying votes until around 8:15. But up until last night, North Carolina was one of Trump’s last campaign stops, courting voters in not only nearby Robeson County, but next door in Columbus County. And so, you know, there’s been plenty of projections that show that Trump can still win without the 15 electoral votes in North Carolina, but it certainly would make it easier. And those swing voters that we discussed on the last show, the Lumbees of North Carolina, of the Lumbee Tribe, were certainly being courted.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’m wondering, in terms of the key issues that you feel that many of the Native nations rallied around in terms of opposing President Trump. What were the key ones that you would identify?
JENNI MONET: Well, definitely, in Indian Country, this election has been a tale of two crises: the coronavirus compounded by long-standing voter suppression. And on the last show with Amy, I discussed one race in particular, a hyperlocal one, definitely a down-ballot issue, for the Pima County recorder position in southern Arizona. And tonight, we have just learned that that position has gone to the Tohono O’odham candidate Gabriella Cázares-Kelly with roughly 60% of the vote. And that just speaks volumes to, I think, the get-out-the-vote measures again by Indigenous peoples in the state, who have felt that their vote really matters at this time. And when we look at a race that is so underrepresented on the ballot, like a county recorder position, it also speaks squarely to getting at the root causes, I think, of what we’ve seen in this historic election, which is voter suppression on Black and Brown citizens, who have often been so underrepresented in the political process, but also undercounted. And that certainly is the case in Indian Country.
AMY GOODMAN: And what about the number of Indigenous candidates around the country, the cases — the races that you’ve been following, Jenni?
JENNI MONET: Well, when we came out on Friday, we published our tally of 134 candidates, but we were remiss in also including the extraordinary number of candidates with the Aloha 'Aina Party, which formed about five years ago, but this year has really boasted a wide display of candidates campaigning on traditional Hawaiian values. And they're a legitimate party. They have 14 candidates on the ballot, and one of them is running for Congress in the District 2 congressional seat in Hawaii, which voting will stop in the next half — within the next half-hour. And so, we tallied up to 146 candidates now, which is unprecedented, as many as 79 women. And 12 Native Americans running for U.S. House and Senate positions. We just understood that the one Native running for the U.S. Senate, Paulette Jordan of Idaho, has just lost that race, and so that is a disappointment here. But once those votes get tallied out of Hawaii, it could return a very historic win for Indian Country in that it would make for the first time five members in the U.S. House of Representatives, with the Democratic challenger there expected to win that seat. And so, he would be joining Deb Haaland, Sharice Davids, Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin, who have all just announced their reelection tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jenni, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Jenni Monet, investigative journalist —
JENNI MONET: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: — founder of the newsletter Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed. Jenni is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, speaking to us from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As we bring you the latest news, again, this race is clearly too close to call. We have said that Arizona was called for Joe Biden and for Mark Kelly, but FiveThirtyEight.com writes, “Fox News, which has its own decision desk and exit poll data, has called Arizona for Biden and Florida for Trump. They also called the Arizona Senate for Kelly.” That’s Mark Kelly. “We have seen no other news organization call Arizona, which may mean this call is premature. Keep an eye on other outlets to see if they wind up backing up or conflicting with Fox.”
Well, this is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. As we begin to wrap up, we’re going to turn to Juan and Nermeen for your final thoughts. Again, it’s very clear we’re not going to know the race at this point. And let’s reiterate what happened in Pennsylvania. You have 300,000 votes. A federal judge has ruled that the United — that the post office should be doing a sweep of all the facilities where these 300,000 ballots could be. The postmaster general, a major megadonor for President Trump, Louis DeJoy, has simply not complied with his order. Pennsylvania is at this point still too early to call. In some counties, they’re not even beginning to count the ballots that they do have, the mail-in ballots, 'til tomorrow. Juan, you spent years reporting on Pennsylvania. If you can summarize the significance of what's going on there?
Juan, if you could repeat what you’re saying? I’m not getting you in my ear. Sorry.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m sorry, Amy. I muted myself there.
With so many votes in question, and also with so many that have already arrived not being counted, I think it’s, again, as I said earlier in the evening — I think Robert Reich said it, as well — it behooves us all to be patient. You know, we’re a society that is used to everything instantly — instant coffee, instant replay — and usually the calling of so many of these states by the Associated Press or by the networks by this time, or certainly by 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. And this is an entirely different situation, given the pandemic, given all the people who voted by mail. It’s going to take a much longer period of time for us to even have the unofficial tallies, because then the question will become: What kind of challenges will there be, in some of these legal challenges? The Trump campaign is ready with its legal challenges in Pennsylvania over any votes that are delivered after Election Day by the post office. So there’s a long way to go. And given the fact that it’s only a few key states that are really in question, so far, of all the states called, there has been no surprise, compared to 2016. There’s been no state that’s switched from one column to another. So, it’s going to take time, and we’re going to have to stay vigilant as reporters and as the advocates of both campaigns for days and possibly weeks to come.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to wrap up with Allan Nairn, independent, award-winning journalist based here in New York. Allan, as you watch what’s happened now, you wrote a piece that appeared on Common Dreams today, “After letting COVID-19 spread, Trump tries to use it to suppress votes. It’s time for a real, equal democracy that ends state murder and mass preventable death.” Can you summarize what we know at this point, too early to call the presidential race?
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. Well, I think the first points should be the obvious ones. First, if the United States were a real democracy, there would be no suspense right now. Everyone would be bored, because both sides agree that Biden and the Democratic congressional candidates are expected to easily win the national popular vote, just as Hillary Clinton, who was a very weak candidate, won the national popular vote by 2.8 million in '16. But the U.S. isn't a democracy. There are all sorts — there’s all sorts of structural riggings, starting with the Electoral College and gerrymandering and so on, which have enabled a rightist majority — a rightist minority, a radical rightist minority, to rule. And they have ruthlessly used that office to try to rewrite the rules to further disenfranchise anyone who they think might oppose them, basing their strategy around targeting by race, but also all sorts of other things.
And then, on top of that, you get Trump with his fascistic tactics and tendencies, the most audacious and brilliant of which was to leverage his pile of COVID dead, people who were killed because of his dilettantish approach to first battling the virus and then just giving up on battling the virus. He has tried to leverage that to electoral advantage, because he saw that the Democrats were counseling people, “Hey, be careful. This virus can kill you,” and that, therefore, the Democrats and opponents of Trump overwhelmingly wanted to opt to vote by mail, and Trump then decided, “Great, I’ll just commandeer the post office” and turn what is a constitutionally mandated public service into a Republican dirty tricks op and impede the mail delivery in areas where his opponents live. And we haven’t yet seen the full impact of that play out tonight, but we may see it very dramatically in places like Pennsylvania. You can be sure that as this develops, the Republican lawyers will intervene, going to their tamed judges on various levels of court, including the Supreme Court, to try to stop the vote counts, to stop counting those ballots, which DeJoy, Trump’s postmaster general, has already derailed in the post office. So, that’s one of the things that’s going on.
Another thing I think that’s going on is the basic weakness of the Democratic establishment. The fact that Trump has gotten through his first term with a 44%, something like that, approval rating, when he has mounted an assault on really the majority of the American population, the vast majority of the American population, including many of the working people who end up voting for him, is just a testament to how disconnected the Democratic establishment is from reality. I think if a real opposition had been mounted to Trump, his approval would be in the 30s rather than at the competitive level comparable to that of many previous American presidents.
All that said, I think it’s very possible that Biden will still eke out a narrow Electoral College win, if the votes are counted. If the mail-in absentee votes are counted, that’s a real possibility. But I think we’re now going to see an epic struggle in the courts and also within the post office, where a federal judge has ordered hundreds of thousands of ballots that DeJoy is essentially withholding to be delivered to the elections boards, and the post office, DeJoy, is refusing to comply with that.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Allan, all this in the midst of COVID.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. And it’s really — the post office angle was presented to Trump by his own criminally negligent homicide of untold tens of thousands of those more than 220,000 COVID victims. It really is a very clever political gambit. If you had had a normal situation without a pandemic, and with the obvious desire among many opponents of Trump to turn out and vote this time around, I don’t think even the Electoral College would be close at this point. But since the Democrats decided to be honest and tell the obvious truth that the COVID can kill you, and many people opted for the mail-in —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
ALLAN NAIRN: — Trump decided to mess with the post office. It’s all in question. But if this were a democracy and it were a popular vote count, it wouldn’t be close.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Allan Nairn, we thank you for being with us tonight. Of course, we’ll continue to cover this race tomorrow morning on Democracy Now! live at 8 a.m. at democracynow.org. Allan Nairn, independent journalist. His piece appears at Common Dreams and AllanNairn.com.
As we wrap up tonight, the presidential race is now down to five main states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin. But it may be days before the results are fully known. In Pennsylvania, President Trump is now leading over Joe Biden. In Arizona, a traditionally red state, Joe Biden appears headed for a win. AP has not yet called the race, but Fox News declared Biden the winner in Arizona. In Michigan, Donald Trump is about 10 points ahead of Joe Biden with about half the votes counted. There’s a huge count of absentee ballots in Michigan underway after record vote by mail during the pandemic, and officials have said they expect a final result as early as tomorrow, after initially saying the count could take until Friday. Trump also has a five-point lead in Wisconsin with about 60% of the ballots reported. Wisconsin’s final election results are expected in the early hours of Wednesday. Donald Trump is ahead by about seven points in Ohio with an estimated 12% of votes not yet counted. Control of the Senate is still up for grabs tonight. Democrats picked up a seat in Colorado, likely Arizona, but lost one in Alabama. At least one of Georgia’s Senate races will go to a runoff, maybe both. In Maine, Republican Susan Collins is losing.
And that does it for our three-hour special. We’ll continue to cover this on Democracy Now! at democracynow.org. Special thanks to our whole team, especially to Julie Crosby, our general manager. Thank you so much. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh and Juan González. Be safe. Wear a mask.
[End of Hour 3]