Watch six hours of Democracy Now!’s inauguration day special, featuring reports from the streets and interviews with Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader, Angela Davis, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Alicia Garza, Lee Fang, Allan Nairn, Sen. Cory Booker, Sonia Sanchez and others.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. This is our special, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” an Inauguration Day special. We are broadcasting live from PBS station WHUT at Howard University. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. We’re broadcasting today for another six hours, including covering the entire inauguration. And we’re going to the streets, where protests are breaking out. In our last hour, we went to a Black Lives Matter protest, and we’ll be going to another protest in just a moment. It is today that the Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will swear in Donald Trump before hundreds of thousands of people, both supporters and protesters.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin this hour with Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. So, welcome to this special broadcast of Democracy Now!, Naomi Klein. I’d like to ask you about some of your concerns with Trump’s nominees in his Cabinet. Speaking yesterday, Trump said that his Cabinet consisted of by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled, that there’s so many smart people in his Cabinet. So, tell us some of your concerns, especially with respect to climate issues.
NAOMI KLEIN: So when it comes to climate, I don’t think—I don’t think the appointments could be any worse—right?—whether we’re talking about the EPA or State. And it’s not just that—we often hear this phrase that they’re climate deniers, and people take heart when there’s some sort of admission that, OK, climate change might exist, as we heard from Scott Pruitt. This is a distraction. Right? The issue—the issue is that, you know, even if they know that climate change is happening—and, believe me, Rex Tillerson knows, because his company is really excited about drilling for oil under the melting Arctic ice—right?—and has been for a really long time. They know better than anyone, because they’re having to figure out how to change their oil rigs, raise them to accommodate rising sea level. I mean, they’re on the front lines of climate change even as they cause it, right? The issue is that they’re not worried about it. The issue is that they see opportunities to profit. And the issue is that they’ve made decisions to put corporate profits ahead of the need for climate action. So, whether they, you know, on some days admit it’s happening, on other days deny that it’s happening, is a complete distraction. What unifies them is the fact that they’re not worried about it. I think a lot of the people around Trump—and I would put Trump in this category—believe that their tremendous wealth will insulate them from the impacts of climate change. And their concern about future generations is pretty much restricted to making sure that their kids inherit as much tax-free wealth as possible to protect them from the impacts of these types of actions and the chaos to come. So, you know, it could scarcely be worse. And the sort of wait-and-see approach—I saw Al Gore saying, “Well, I hope he keeps an open mind about climate change”—I mean, judge him by his actions and who he has appointed. We have enough information now to be extremely concerned.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, one of the things that Rex Tillerson said during his Senate confirmation hearing, he conceded that there is something like climate change happening, but he said that he doesn’t view it as an imminent national security threat the way others do. So, what does that mean? And—
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, yeah. I mean, he’s also said people can adapt to climate change, which is interesting, because one of the ways that people adapt to climate change is by migrating, by moving. And, you know, this is a government that on the other side is saying they, you know, want to build a wall to keep people from coming to the country. So, you know, either people will adapt, or they won’t adapt. But the main way that people adapt to their countries becoming uninhabitable is by moving to places that are safer.
So, Rex Tillerson isn’t the—he has admitted that climate change is happening well before he was nominated for secretary of state. He has to do it, frankly, because he’s under investigation. Exxon is under investigation because of failing to disclose their climate liabilities, right? But, you know, when it comes to Exxon, you really have to—you know, they have so much on the line here, because if we are going to take climate change seriously, then they have all of these assets that are stranded. This is true of all the oil majors. But Exxon is particularly exposed because they went so big for the dirtiest fossil fuels. A third of their reserves are in the Alberta tar sands, right? This is the most unburnable of the unburnable carbon, because it is so dirty. It takes so much carbon just to extract this oil from the earth, right? So if we’re going to take climate change seriously, these are the first assets that will get stranded. And because Exxon went so big for heavy oil, they’re particularly vulnerable and particularly invested in stalling action.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And it’s also extraordinary—right?—that Donald Trump would choose not only someone who knows nothing about foreign affairs from a state perspective, but the head of an oil company, who, as you say, went for the dirtiest fossil fuels, I mean, as the secretary of state.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, what’s extraordinary is watching people rationalize it and say, “Well, you know, he’s basically run a country—a country called Exxon,” right?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yes.
NAOMI KLEIN: And it’s just this sort of happy acceptance of the fact that, indeed, companies like Exxon have more power than most governments in the world. And this apparently is a qualification to run the government. I mean, I do think that we should see what is happening here as kind of the final stage of the neoliberal project, which has always been about devouring the state and privatizing it in bits and pieces, right? And we’ve seen this, you know, giving companies like Blackwater big pieces of the military and privatizing essential services like water. And, you know, this is a common thread of so many of the appointees—right?—including in education, this fervent belief in privatizing education. But they want to privatize the whole government. Right? I mean, they’re going for the brass ring. And this is, I think—also explains in part why, you know, they’re so sanguine about conflicts of interest—right?—where Trump is just sort of laughing at this idea that he would untangle the web of conflicts of interest or sell his company. And the whole thing is a conflict of interest.
And in some ways, you know, it makes the kind of journalism that we, a lot of us, have been doing for decades, you know, look a little bit quaint. Like, you know, we’re listening to Lee, and it’s fantastic work, you know, finding the companies that are sponsoring the parties. But it’s like, you know, zoom out: Exxon is running the government, right? So, it’s like, yeah, the parties are important, but they’re inside the gates. But on the other hand, Dick Cheney going straight from Halliburton—right?—to vice president, and then Halliburton getting the biggest contract for the Iraq War and profiting most directly from the Iraq War, it’s almost—almost the only difference is the profile, right? Because before Iraq, most people hadn’t heard of Halliburton, so almost didn’t understand how outrageous it was that Dick Cheney did that. But with Exxon, you know, or Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., like it’s a little bit more populist, I suppose, what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi, we’re going to go right now live to the streets, back to the Black Lives Matter protest, where police are moving in. Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills is there. Explain where you are, Carla. What is happening right now?
CARLA WILLS: OK, OK, I’ll explain what’s happening. Hold on. Sam—let me give Sam the phone. … We’re still here at the checkpoint at 300 Indiana Avenue. It is officially shut down. The Secret Service has closed this checkpoint. There are a greater number of activists here. And police officers have just moved in, moving up the steps. We are still standing by to find out what’s going to happen now, but about 30, or 30 to 50 officers just moved into the area. About 10 minutes ago, Alex Jones was just here in the area and just had a woman with him who had a small cut on her hand. And he was trying to explain that she was—had been attacked by activists. But she didn’t—you know, didn’t say anything. She didn’t tell us what was going on. But this is the scene still here at 300 to 400 Indiana Avenue, waiting to find out what’s going to happen as the police have moved in. Back to you in the studio, Nermeen and Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you very much, Carla, speaking to us from the streets, from the Black Lives Matter protest. We’re going to go right now to yet another protest that’s happening right now in Washington, D.C., actually before the inauguration takes place. This is at Freedom Plaza. The ANSWER Coalition organized a rally of thousands of people. Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder is there and brings us this report.
DEENA GUZDER: This is Deena for Democracy Now! We’re on Pennsylvania Avenue, where people are gathering at the Navy Memorial. We’re going to go now and speak to some of the protesters. Can you tell me your name and why you’re here today?
BETHANY DAVIS: I’m Bethany Davis, and I’m here because my family and I wanted to come and do something positive on what we feel like is a pretty dark day.
DEENA GUZDER: What concerns you most about Donald Trump?
BETHANY DAVIS: Mostly his inexperience and his ignorance and his commitment to staying ignorant and just promoting hatred and fear and rolling back a lot of the progress we’ve made the past few years.
DEENA GUZDER: Your message to those who say give him a chance?
BETHANY DAVIS: He already had a chance. I mean, we’ve been having to deal with his rhetoric for more than a year now, and he—his actions and his words have been abominable. You know, he promotes and incites violence against everyone—minorities, children, disabled people—that you don’t get any chances after that. Like, you can prove to me that you’re a good person, but…
DEENA GUZDER: And can you tell me your name and why you’re here today?
KRIS WEBER: I’m Kris Weber. I’m here because I believe that no human being is illegal. Women have rights to their own bodies. Sexual assault is never acceptable under any circumstance whatsoever. And we have a duty to future generations to save our planet, to stop climate change. We owe it to them. I just think that Trump’s rhetoric is just hateful and will never help anyone or anything.
DEENA GUZDER: And what concerns you most about the people Donald Trump has chosen for his Cabinet so far?
KRIS WEBER: Well, the EPA. I’m really scared about the possibility of it being eliminated, or at least, you know, its ability to regulate reduced. We’re already so behind other countries in terms of climate regulation that I just—I feel like if, you know, Scott Pruitt is able to go with—go through with what he wants to, that we’re never, ever going to get out of this downward spiral.
DEENA GUZDER: Great. Thank you so much. For Democracy Now!, I’m Deena Guzder. We go back to the studio now.
AMY GOODMAN: OK. That was Deena Guzder, speaking to us from Pennsylvania Avenue, where thousands of protesters have gathered. This about, oh, two-and-a-half hours before the inaugural activities begin.
This is Democracy Now!'s live Inauguration Day special. It's a seven-hour broadcast throughout the day. Tell your friends they can go to democracynow.org. Or if you’re listening on radio or television, stay right where you are. We’re broadcasting from what’s called the Mecca, from Howard University, from their PBS station WHUT, just a couple miles from the inauguration site.
Our guests at this hour are Naomi Klein, still with us, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn has just joined us. And we’re joined at the table by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. She’s assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. Keeanga, let’s begin with you.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re here in Washington, D.C. You don’t usually live here.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: No, no.
AMY GOODMAN: But you’re here for a reason. The 45th president is going to be sworn in within the next two hours. Your thoughts?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think—I have a mixture of thoughts. I think one is the fear and trepidation that I think many people are experiencing right now. But I think moving beyond that is a sense of defiance and anger that has been fueled by the clown show, really, of the Cabinet hearings over the last week, that really show the extent to which the government is literally being handed over to plutocrats, to just a range of people who I think are committed to making the conditions of people in this country and people around the world really as miserable as possible. And so, there’s that.
But I also think that when we see the reports of demonstrations, of people gathering, that it shows the—also how the people are going from despair to defiance, which I think is very important. And I think that the willingness to organize, to be in the streets and to really begin to confront this Trump menace begins today. And so, it’s very inspiring that people have begun that process. And so, I think that we’ll go through a range of those kinds of emotions today. But in the coming days, Trump has laid out what he aims to do in the first hundred days of his administration, and so I think for those of us who are committed to social justice and to defending civil liberties and the quality of life and fighting against racism and all of those things in this country, we have our work cut out for us. But I think that the demonstrations today showed that people are up to the task.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Keeanga, you arrived in D.C. yesterday.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Correct.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, one of the things that’s been—and so did we—very remarkable about being in D.C. is seeing a very, very large number of pro-Trump protesters.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: True.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: He has these biker rallies and so on. So, what do you make of that, as against the defiance that, of course, is also visible on the streets?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think that we’ve seen, since the election, that some of the forces that Trump has unleashed—the alt-right, white supremacists—the, really, forces of reaction that have been emboldened by his candidacy and campaign. But I think, you know, it’s not surprising that they see their person has been elected, that they see an opportunity to take advantage of that to embolden their side. But I think that it’s reflective of the kind of polarization, the political polarization that exists in this country right now.
But I think that our side, the side for social justice, greatly outweighs their side. And I think that we’ll see that in the demonstrations today. But I think that we’ll see that in a very dramatic way Saturday, where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to show up to the Women’s March. And even more than that, I think it’s probably unprecedented that there will be—there are, I think, scheduled 600 solidarity demonstrations with the Women’s March across the country. I’ve heard from organizers in Chicago that they are expecting 50,000 people, in Seattle that they’re expecting 50,000 people. I think in New York City we can expect over 100,000 people. This is unprecedented in the history of the modern presidency, this level of contempt, of anger, of combativity. And so, you know, Trump has some protesters or people who are in favor of his administration on the streets today. Good for them. But I think that the forces against that will greatly outweigh it.
AMY GOODMAN: Keeanga, I wanted to go to Cory Booker last week. This was the second day of the Sessions hearing. Now, when senators and congressmembers want to testify at a hearing, they generally go first. Well, that’s the custom. And we’re learning there aren’t rules and laws a lot of times that people think.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s just a custom. So when John Lewis, who Donald Trump attacked on Martin Luther King weekend, calling him “All talk, talk, talk–no action,” and, as well, Cedric Wilson, the congressmember from Louisiana, and Cory Booker, first time a sitting senator was attacking another sitting senator and saying no to his confirmation before a committee hearing—they were brought on the second day, last. Congressman Richmond said, “We feel like we’re at the back of the bus.” There were—was only one Republican on the committee left when they spoke. This is what Cory Booker had to say, just an excerpt of why he was testifying against his colleague, Senator Sessions.
SEN. CORY BOOKER: If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, that is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. He had a lot more to say that day. He made history as he said no to a sitting senator in a confirmation hearing, and that was Jeff Sessions to be the attorney general of the United States. Keeanga, your response to what took place there and what took place over Martin Luther King weekend with Donald Trump attacking John Lewis, saying he was a man of all talk and no action?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, with the comments that Trump made in response to John Lewis’s announcement that he wouldn’t attend Trump’s inauguration, you could almost smell the N-word on Donald Trump’s breath when he described Lewis’s district as crime-infested. I believe he used that phrase a couple of times, and, you know, describes John Lewis as all talk and no action—on Martin Luther King weekend. And so, I think that it demonstrated a continuation of Trump’s hostility to African Americans.
But I think what I found to be more interesting about it was the reaction of Trump’s inner circle. I think that the attempt to drag in Martin Luther King III very quickly on the King holiday, his outreach, continued outreach, to conservative black celebrities, it did signal to me for the first time some kind of reaction to a potential that perhaps he had stepped a bit too far this time, which I think is important in some ways, because I think that there’s been this perception that Trump is impervious to public opinion, that he’s impervious to any type of critique. And I think that even those small, insignificant and somewhat hollow gestures showed that he’s not. And I do think that our side should recognize that and use that as motivation to continue to press forward on some of these issues.
I think that, in terms of Cory Booker, in some ways, this is low-hanging fruit. It’s very easy to go after Jeff Sessions who was rejected in the 1980s in a much more, one might say, conservative period for being racist, rejected for a judgeship. In some ways, it’s easy to—for Booker, who, many have speculated, is positioning himself for a presidential run in 2020, to use that as a platform to tout his own credentials. The proof will be in what happens afterwards. It’s easy to speak out against Jeff Sessions in a—in the context of a hearing. We want to know what Cory Booker and others who have spoken out against Sessions and other members of the Trump Cabinet say once the rubber hits the road, once they are actually in power and begin making decisions that impact millions of people in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor, we’re going to break, and then we’re going to come back to this discussion. Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. She’s assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University in New Jersey, which Cory Booker represents. And later in today’s seven-hour broadcast, we’re going to be playing an interview I did with Senator Booker just last night. He spoke at the Peace Ball at the Smithsonian Institution’s new African American museum. Interestingly, over the weekend, the Trump transition staff put out, in the midst of the John Lewis kerfuffle, that Donald Trump was actually going to the museum on Monday, on Martin Luther King Day. But when the museum was called and asked what the plans were, they said they didn’t know anything about those plans, and then the Trump transition team said that his plans were canceled to go to the museum.
We’re having a roundtable discussion this hour. We’ll be bringing you the inauguration live of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, and we’re going to the streets. Right now there’s a major protest on Pennsylvania Avenue. And, as well, there is a protest that is taking place on the part of Black Lives Matter.
Actually, I’ve just been told we do not have to break at this moment. And so we’re going to move right into our next guest, who is Allan Nairn, investigative journalist, activist. Allan, we’ve had you on the show a number of times leading up to the election, and you were very consistent from the beginning. You always said you thought Donald Trump would win. I mean, you didn’t have that board of flashing lights of all the networks showing us all the polls that were indicating the exact opposite almost all of the time. But each team we spoke, you said, “I believe Donald Trump will win.”
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, because the U.S. working class had collapsed, started collapsing in the ’70s, and this cycle, for the first time that the shock waves from that reached the shores of politics, the only two candidates who addressed that reality were Sanders and Trump. Sanders fell short. If he had gotten the nomination, I think Sanders would have won, pretty easily, although there would have been a fierce corporate onslaught against him. But Sanders lost. So it was Sanders—so it was Trump against Clinton.
Clinton was denying the reality of what had happened, the fact that the working middle class had collapsed. It so happens even that her own husband’s administration had been a key player in helping to cause that collapse, with the trade deals and the giveaways, the accommodations to Wall Street. So she was up against Trump, who was running as a candidate of change, of revolution. Trump was denouncing corruption, money corruption, saying, “Hey, I’m a corrupter. I give money to the politicians. It’s all dirty.” And Hillary’s response to that was to say, “No, it’s not dirty when you take—the money I get doesn’t affect me. In fact, Obama takes even more money from Wall Street than I do.” My god, who’s going to win that argument?
So you had that, and then you combine that with the racism, which Trump is able to touch at the core. He’s able to unleash the beast within white America, a deep white, that very few other political figures have been able to. Class collapse plus racism, that’s a very powerful brew. I mean, it was just kind of obvious to me from the start that Trump was the front-runner.
Now, I thought, you know, Clinton could have made a comeback at some point if she’d been able to mobilize Democratic voters, but she—Democratic base, but she didn’t even try. I mean, it was amazing to see, throughout the campaign, the Clinton people, who proved themselves to be tactically totally incompetent. You know, the main argument for the establishment corporate Democrats against the left has always been “Oh, you idealists, you’re idealists, and your ideals are great. We all love them. But you don’t understand tactics. You don’t understand the hard mechanics of politics and how you win elections.” They completely discredited themselves in this one, because their basic calculation was: “We don’t have to worry about the traditional base of the Democratic Party. You know, if the turnout among African-American voters isn’t as vigorous as it could be, if some white working-class Democrats defect to Trump, no problem. We’re going to replace them and more with upper-crust Republicans who don’t like Trump’s personality.” That was the calculation. And the media was constantly celebrating that. And they didn’t even realize, the Clinton people, in the final stages, that they were vulnerable in Michigan and Wisconsin. They did realize Pennsylvania, but Michigan and Wisconsin, they had no clue, apparently. So, they weren’t able to mobilize. He mobilized in a deep way.
And so, what we have is people who could never win an election on their own, people like a Sessions, who clearly—a national election—who clearly regrets the outcome of the civil rights movement, I think also regrets the outcome of the Civil War, people like the corporate types now populating Trump’s Cabinet, who want to dismantle a hundred years of progress in protecting the rights of workers and the environment and general civil rights, those people save the Paul Ryan types. Paul Ryan is never going to get elected president on his own. Jeff Sessions could never get elected president. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, running on their own platform, could never win. But in Trump, they found a vehicle.
Trump—at the same time, though, Trump was not liked by the corporate elites, the Republican Party elite, because what he was doing was very uncomfortable. He was using a very complex, ancient political strategy that elites have used sometimes, and that is, you increase your powers by attacking yourself. Elites—it’s elites running against elites. It’s what Mao did and Mao and his people did in the Cultural Revolution. They mobilized people to attack the party and thereby strengthen Mao and his element of the party. It’s what Wall Street did with the tea party movement, organize people to attack Wall Street and bring in representatives who will strengthen Wall Street. Trump went on the attack against the corporate elites, who have destroyed American jobs, and now has empowered those same corporate elites more than they ever have been. And while doing that, he blew their cover. He exposed them as a bunch of racists, as he exposed himself as a racist. And in order to sell his big lie, he told some uncomfortable truths. He said the system is rigged. Americans, we’re killers.
You know, at one point there was this very revealing exchange on Morning Joe, where the Morning Joe people were going after Trump on the Russia issue.
AMY GOODMAN: On MSNBC.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. And they said to Trump, “Well, Putin has killed a lot of journalists,” which is true, Putin is a murderer. And Trump, who at least at that moment, and still at this moment, is Putin’s buddy, said, “Yeah, but we kill a lot of people, too. We, the Americans, kill a lot of people, too.” And he would often blurt things out like that in the campaign, which is also true. So, in pursuit of the big lie, which is that he and his rich buddies were going to address this class collapse in a constructive way, he, on the way, told a lot of these truths, which really bothered others in the elite, so they never were thrilled on him—about him. But he basically dragged them into the White House kicking and screaming. They would not have chosen him as their nominee in the first place, but he won it. And now here they are. They’re sitting inside the seat of power.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Sessions was unusual in that he did choose him as his nominee.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, that’s right, because Sessions is different. Sessions didn’t worry about having his cover blown as a racist. I mean, he was already out. But the rest of the Republican Party, including the corporations, the corporations never want to be thought of in that way. In fact, they go to great lengths to be perceived as the opposite. You know, the Jeb Bush-type Republicans, they never want to be thought of as racists. That’s anathema to them, partly because of the big political flip that happened in the 1960s.
You know, for decades up until then, white racism had been a tremendous source of energy, kind of a molten core of politics, that was largely harnessed by left-leaning elements in American politics, by the Democrats. I mean, FDR came to power and held power with the support of Southern Democrats, who at the same time they were supporting him were also supporting lynching. You know, that was the political lineup. And the Republicans were more liberal, generally speaking, to the extent anyone in the power structure was on race. But then, in the '60s, that all flipped during the LBJ years. And that same white racism became the energy source for the right and for the Republican Party in the—in the U.S. But as the years went by, you know, they went to greater and greater lengths to—while using that, pretending that they weren't using it. So they’d have Lee Atwater out there, but they’d have others putting makeup on the whole thing.
And here Trump comes in and explodes all that and blows it. But the result is they’re now in power. And so, you have people at the Labor Department, at the EPA, in every agency, whose mission—well, they have a series of missions, which they’ve been working on for decades, pretty much since the Powell Memorandum, which said, you know, we have to fight back against the environmental movement, against the labor movement, against the consumer movement, against the various justice movements, in order to recoup our losses and build new institutions. And now they’re in there, and they have a whole agenda. They want to privatize public assets. They want to lift regulations on corporate excesses and start imposing regulations on public protest, even more than they’re currently regulated. They want to do a series of things that will result in another radical transfer of wealth, probably even bigger than the one that happened after the Reagan years. And, you know, they could never sell that to the public, but they’ve ridden in on Trump’s coattails, and they’re ready to go to work, starting this afternoon.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Naomi, you said, in the first hour of our conversation, that what we’re witnessing with Trump’s victory, and especially as we’re seeing his Cabinet appointments, is the final throes of neoliberalism. Now, why would you say it’s the final throes rather than, as some would see it, its pinnacle?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, it’s one or the other, you know? But I think, you know, after you’ve taken over the government, there isn’t much left to do, right? I mean, when Exxon is running the State Department and Hardee’s is running the Department of Labor, like, you know, what’s left? Right? They’re going to privatize PBS apparently. Yeah, and I think that, you know, it’s worth underlining that these—you know, it’s not just that these are corporate chieftains. It’s really that they’re the worst of the worst, right? I mean, true predators, paying workers an unlivable wage and then stealing those wages.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Right.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right? And this is what has been happening at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., you know, systematic wage theft, not paying workers for the work that they’re doing, and what Exxon has done in being a major funder of lies about climate change, bankrolling garbage science, taking full-page ads out in The New York Times saying the science isn’t in, when they themselves were doing the science back in the ’70s.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it was very interesting, to—
NAOMI KLEIN: And Mnuchin, right? I mean, like kicking people out of their homes. So, I mean, we’re really talking about bottom feeders here, who are very threatened by progress, very threatened by social movements. So, you know, it’s a combination of forces. It is that—it is that takeover. It is that sort of—the final frontier of neoliberalism, but is in response to these very real forces. And what worries me about this moment is kind of what I worry about, sort of Bush redux, in that, you know, you’re up against a foe that is so bad that there’s a kind of lowest common denominator unity that can come in, right? And the risk of that is that we don’t learn the lessons, that I think Allan has just laid out so clearly in terms of the fact that Clinton didn’t have anything to offer people. Right? You know, so-called progressive neoliberalism has nothing to offer in the face of this weird mixture of racism and anti-elite populism. It’s got nothing, right? I mean, it was this Trump going, “All is hell,” and Hillary Clinton saying, “All is well.” And I’m hearing too many people going, “Well, we should have had Biden.” You know?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Right, right.
NAOMI KLEIN: As if that would have fixed everything. So we have to learn the lessons. There has to be a counterpower, counterforce, and candidates who have something genuinely redistributive to offer. It’s not going to win over everyone, but it can peel away some of his base, and it can energize, more importantly.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn?
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, well, I think one thing to remember is, both in the Democratic primary and in the general, this was really a very close election process.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
ALLAN NAIRN: It could easily have gone otherwise. Sanders could easily be president.
NAOMI KLEIN: That’s the tragedy.
ALLAN NAIRN: Clinton could easily—Clinton could easily be president. She won the popular vote by almost 3 million.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it is amazing to think, before the election, that all of the prognosticators, you know, almost uniformly in the media, they were saying that not only was Clinton going to win, but that the Republican Party was—
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Was over.
AMY GOODMAN: —in a complete shambles—
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —that the Republican Party might not exist anymore, would divide into little other parties.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. That was this endless refrain on MSNBC.
AMY GOODMAN: And now it is the exact opposite.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Opposite.
AMY GOODMAN: That the Republican Party is in the ascendancy, and the Democrats in this tremendous minority, both not only at the federal legislature, the Congress, but in statehouses and governorships across the country, the Democrats are in complete disarray.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: And they—no, I was just going to say, and they don’t get it. The Democratic Party is still talking about the FBI, the Russians, messaging. And they’re—even within this power struggle within the DNC, it’s what is the affirmative message that the Democratic Party is putting forward, not just the reactive “we’re not the Republicans,” but what is it that they are actually putting forward? And I think that that was ultimately the problem with Clinton, was that it was very difficult—it wasn’t just a question of messaging. It was very difficult to actually be able to put forth a different strategy, when your party has been in power for the last eight years, overseeing the status quo. And there’s still a failure to reckon with that within the party. So, there’s the obsession with “Was there Russian influence? Was it the FBI letter?” And no one is actually talking about the central issue of the complete disconnect between this party and what is happening in the lives of ordinary people in this country.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, when you have an election that’s this close, every factor is—ends up being truly decisive.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Right.
ALLAN NAIRN: So, you know, you have to get over, say, this point, and you stack up bricks, and finally you clear the point by an inch. Well, every brick contributed to having cleared that, so, yes, Russian intervention arguably pushed Clinton—pushed Trump over. He won by only 80,000 votes. Likewise, the Comey intervention and so on. But at the root of that is the fact that the Democratic corporate elite was—as you said, had nothing to offer and was completely tactically incompetent. And this means that the party is ripe for takeover by its base in a way that it hasn’t been, realistically speaking, for many, many decades. And that’s one of many huge opportunities that now exists.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But who are the base of the Democratic Party? How would you define that?
ALLAN NAIRN: Working people, nonwhite people, people who have been discriminated against. You know, in the American system, it’s basically a two-party system. The Republicans are the most corporate of the parties. It’s to the great—but it’s also to the great advantage of people like Wall Street to have the second party, which ostensibly is the stand-in for poor people, for working people, for oppressed people, to have them also be dominated by corporate interests, although to a lesser extent. So if you have a Republican Party which is totally in their control and a Democratic Party which is, say, in the control of the Clintons and Robert Rubin and people like that, it’s—
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Cory Booker.
ALLAN NAIRN: —yeah, it’s tremendously to your advantage. But now that arrangement is vulnerable. It is possible at this moment—
AMY GOODMAN: So we’re seeing this playing out at the battle over the DNC?
ALLAN NAIRN: —for the Democrats to be—oh, absolutely. The Ellison versus the others race is tremendously important.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about that. Talk about Keith Ellison, the Minneapolis congressmember, first Muslim elected to Congress, African-American, to say the least, extremely—forget the tactics, but the symbolism of a president, Donald Trump, who says he’s going to initiate this Muslim registry, and the spokesperson for the Democratic Party being the first Muslim elected to Congress.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, and he was a lead supporter of Sanders, and he had that famous exchange on, I think it was, ABC, George Stephanopoulos’ show, very early on in the process, where he said, “Well, you know, Trump might win.” And Stephanopoulos and one of the other panelists, I believe was from the Times, they said, “You can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.” And they just burst out laughing. I mean, he saw it, clearly.
AMY GOODMAN: He’s up against Tom Perez. Explain who he is, the labor secretary.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, the labor secretary for Obama, who had a very progressive record on civil rights when he was in the Justice Department, but who, as labor secretary, helped Obama push through the TPP, the trans-Pacific trade deal. And he apparently did so—just from his body language, it looked reluctant, but that has been his position, and he was apparently specifically advanced by the Obama White House as a means of stopping Ellison and the progressive elements in the Democratic Party. But it’s a huge race. It’s a huge choice. But it’s only the beginning.
If the party can be taken over by its own base, then you have the possibility of going out and challenging, for example, Republican congressional officeholders in their districts. I mean, one of the reasons that the right dominates the U.S. House is gerrymandering. They were smart enough to plan in advance, and they had control at the time of the last census, and they drew the districts specifically to get their members in, their ultra-right members in. But one consequence of that is that these politicians are soft. They’re not used to facing any opposition except from their right. If a challenge can be mounted to them in their districts from another direction, from a locally based—locally based progressive candidates, they could be caught off guard. They wouldn’t know what hit them, because they have not had any real opposition for years upon years upon years. I mean, there are all sorts of things that could be done.
NAOMI KLEIN: And are being done. I mean, there’s some organizing that’s—
ALLAN NAIRN: And not even—not even at the level of street—not even talking yet about the level of street protest. I mean, there are enormous possibilities now—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, on that question, we’d like to go—
ALLAN NAIRN: —because of the enormous dangers.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: —to a street protest that’s going on right now, the Black Lives Matter protest, where police are moving in. Carla Wills, one of our producers in the field, just sent us this update.
CARLA WILLS: We’re here at the checkpoint next to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. It has been successfully closed, shut down by Black Lives Matter activists. I’m standing here with someone from SURJ. Tell me your name, where you’re from.
MIKAYLA LYTTON: Yeah, I’m Mikayla Lytton. I’m from D.C. I organize with Showing Up for Racial Justice D.C.
CARLA WILLS: And you were at another checkpoint before you came here. Explain to me what happened at the other checkpoint, where that was and what happened there.
MIKAYLA LYTTON: Yeah, so we were at a checkpoint a couple blocks from here. That was this checkpoint organized largely by SURJ. And we were pretty quickly moved out of there by the Secret Service. As soon as we moved out of there, we came over to join the Movement for Black Lives checkpoint here at the police department headquarters, and we’ve successfully shut down this checkpoint in partnership with them. So it really makes me feel like we’re stronger together, and we’re building a multiracial coalition to resist Trump’s agenda for the next four years.
CARLA WILLS: And describe that scene of how it got actually shut down and what happened. How did the Secret Service announce that it was actually officially closed?
MIKAYLA LYTTON: Yeah, so, we had folks come in and just move to the front and sit down. The gates behind me were still open at that point, and the Secret Service moved to shut the gates so that the Trump supporters who were trying to get into inauguration would no longer try stepping and kicking our members. We showed up with love, and we think they showed up with some frustration. But we’re trying to build a coalition that invites everyone to build a more just future. We share the same values of free speech and nonviolence, we hope.
CARLA WILLS: And Alex Jones was just through here, talking about assault. He was saying that there was a woman who was assaulted. Explain what happened and your response.
MIKAYLA LYTTON: Yeah, I’m happy to say that Alex Jones left pretty quickly. He took his hate home. But he immediately started spreading a false rumor that a woman, a white woman, was assaulted. That’s not true. And it is, I hate to say, part of a long history of white supremacists using white women’s bodies as tools of white supremacy. He, as many have before him, tried throwing a white woman into the issue to say that black men in particular were violating her body. It’s part of this long history. And we know, factually, that for centuries the primary perpetrators of interracial violence have been white men, and they’ve been attacking and sexually attacking white women, be it slave owners or cops today.
CARLA WILLS: Thank you. Again, we’re standing here at the checkpoint that is next to the Metropolitan Police Department. Earlier here, there were several Black Lives Matter protesters who chained their bodies to the barricades in two places here at this checkpoint. It is now officially shut down. The Secret Service has closed it. So, now back to you, Amy and Nermeen, in studio.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Carla Wills, Democracy Now! producer, out in the field, on the street, at the inauguration checkpoint at 300 Indiana, where Black Lives Matter protesters are locked down and trying to block off the entrance to the inauguration.
And as we broadcast here from the historically black university Howard University, known as the Mecca, from the PBS station WHUT, the Trumps, Melania and Donald Trump, have just met Barack and Michelle Obama on the steps of the White House, where they’ll have tea or coffee together, and then they’ll get into a car, and they’ll go to the Capitol for the inauguration. I was watching the—and now President Bush—that’s George W. Bush—his parents both, H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, have been hospitalized for flu-related symptoms. I was watching the head of the inaugural committee being asked by one of the networks, “What does he say about the fact that he couldn’t get A-list performers, that he had so much trouble getting that kind of talent to the inauguration?” And the head of President-elect Trump’s inaugural committee said, “What do you mean? He has one of the most famous people in the world. He will be coming to the Capitol with Barack Obama, the president of the United States.”
So let’s turn now to Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. We spoke to her last night at the Peace Ball, that was held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture here in Washington, D.C., the newest Smithsonian Institution.
ALICIA GARZA: Alicia Garza, National Domestic Workers Alliance and Black Lives Matter. And my feelings on this moment are bittersweet, but I also feel really defiant. Every morning when I wake up, I just think about how is it that we can turn the tide and keep ourselves from going backwards. There’s so many people who fought so hard to make sure that this is the country that we live in. I think about people like my mother. I think about people like Angela Davis. And I think we owe it to them, the people who put their lives on the line to make sure that we could have what we have now, to ensure that the next four years doesn’t roll us back another 20 years. So, I feel committed, I feel defiant, and I also feel hopeful. I know that in the last year there have been—actually, in the last five years, there’s been a wave of emerging social movements, whether it be Occupy Wall Street, whether it be the DREAMers movement or Black Lives Matter, and that gives me home. And there’s a particular hope that I have that all of those movements will join together to become the powerful force that we can be, that will actually govern this country. So that’s what I’m focused on, and I hope that everybody else is thinking about that, too.
AMY GOODMAN: On Martin Luther King weekend, when you read Donald Trump’s tweet to John Lewis, the civil rights legend, that he is “All talk, talk, talk–no action,” what were your thoughts?
ALICIA GARZA: Well, I think Trump was actually describing himself, quite frankly. He and his current administration are folks who want a separate set of rules for themselves and a set of rules for other people. And we are way past separate and unequal. And so, what I thought to myself was, “Wow! You’re really not clued in. You don’t know history, and you also don’t know the present. And we’re all paying attention to what it is that you’re doing. We’re paying attention to the gap between what you say and what you actually do.” And I think, ultimately, that will be his downfall.
AMY GOODMAN: His Cabinet?
ALICIA GARZA: His Cabinet is really disappointing. I mean, I saw on CNN this morning it’s mostly white, one black person, one Asian person, no Latinos. I saw a selfie that they did of the transition team, and I could not believe what I was seeing. It was completely white. There were very few women, no people of color. And, you know, that’s just not what makes this country great. And I think a lot of us know it. So, they just keep proving to us what we already know, and, I think, inspiring us to fight. At least I know I’m inspired.
AMY GOODMAN: Where does Black Lives Matter go from here? What are people saying around the country?
ALICIA GARZA: Well, I think people are really digging in to making sure that they’re making change in their local community. With all this mess happening at the federal level, it’s going to become even more important for people to build power at the municipal level and at the state level, and then to also build regional power. And, you know, I really do think that what we’re talking about is how is it that we build political power in this moment, where the right is now controlling all three branches of government and all but two statehouses throughout the country. If there was ever a time when we could say that elections actually do matter, it’s now.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, speaking last night at the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African American History and Culture that just recently opened here in Washington, D.C. And speaking of Meccas, we’re broadcasting from Howard University, from Howard’s PBS station WHUT, our colleagues here in Washington, D.C., on this day of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Again, Donald Trump, Melania Trump, as well as the Obamas and the Bushes—that’s the George W. Bush president as well as Laura Bush—and Trump’s family is arriving right now. So we’ll be broadcasting all of this through the day, the inauguration, what takes place at the Capitol and what’s happening in the streets.
Our guests right now are Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, also wrote The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; Allan Nairn, investigative journalist and activist, who consistently from the beginning of this election continually said that he did think that Donald Trump would win; and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University.
Keeanga, on the issue of the Cabinet, I think there is a Cabinet nominated now—no one has been confirmed yet—that clearly is the whitest, by far the wealthiest of any in U.S. history, one African American and no Latino representation for the first time in almost 30 years.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Thirty years. Well, I think that it reflects what Donald Trump, his campaign, sort of embodied, was this antipathy towards women, towards African Americans and certainly towards Latinos. And so, in that sense, it’s quite consistent. Sean Spicer, I believe Trump’s press secretary, said yesterday in an interview, when he was asked about the composition of the Cabinet and the lack of ethnic and racial representation, literally said that they had picked the best and the brightest to fill these Cabinet positions and that there would be a diversity of opinion within the administration, if not a diversity of ethnicity and racial composition. And, in fact, he went so far as to say that those things—those things did not actually matter. And so, I do think that that is very consistent with the campaign that Trump has run. It’s consistent with what he has said that he has in store for the country. And so, I think that it certainly communicates to people that, you know, this is—it’s not just about the question of physical representation. You know, it’s really about what this says about the direction that Trump wants to take things in. And, you know, it is in line with everything that he has said thus far.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, and people say that it’s particularly troubling in the case of Trump’s Cabinet, because Trump himself, in fact, has no experience in policymaking. So not only will vice president—soon-to-be Vice President Pence possibly be the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, but it’s also possible that the Cabinet members will have more powers than previous Cabinet members.
AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to have to go to that issue at the top of our next hour, because we have to break for the moment. Our guests are Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University; Allan Nairn, investigative journalist and activist; and Naomi Klein, her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. We’re broadcasting from Washington, D.C., from Howard University’s PBS station WHUT. We are going to be hearing from all sorts of people coming up. Among them, we will be hearing from Ralph Nader. We will be talking to Alicia Garza and Angela Davis. We urge you to stay with us.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” an Inauguration Day special. We’re broadcasting live from the PBS station WHUT on the campus of the historically black university Howard University, live on the air until 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard. At noon today, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will swear in Donald Trump before hundred of thousands of people, both supporters and protesters. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with Angela Davis, but I want to go—legendary author, professor and activist Angela Davis, but I want to play a bit of what she said last night at the Peace Ball at the National Museum of African American History and Culture here in Washington, D.C.
ANGELA DAVIS: And, you know, an inauguration is happening tomorrow, so they say. But this is a peoples’ inauguration. This is an inauguration of the resistance to come, the resistance—the resistance to those who proliferate Islamophobia and racism, the resistance to the billionaires and those who are mortgage profiteers and healthcare privateers. And let us say that the next 1,460 days—and he will not be in office any longer, and hopefully not that long—that those days will constitute a rising tide of resistance, resistance to this last gasp of a dying white male supremacy.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Angela Davis speaking last night at the Peace Ball. She was actually also introducing Solange, the major headliner last night at the Peace Ball, which made Solange the—really, the most famous celebrity of the entire—all of the events, either at the Peace Ball or at the inaugural.
We are joined by three guests. This is Democracy Now!, as we bring you live inauguration coverage. Later today, we’ll be speaking with, oh, Ralph Nader. We’ll be speaking with Angela Davis live in our studio. Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, will also be joining us. And we’ll be going live to the inauguration. But Naomi Klein is still with us, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Allan Nairn has joined us, journalist and activist, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, an assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University.
Allan, you just posted at your blog, News and Comment, at AllanNairn.org, “The US Upheaval Begins.” What do you mean?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, that the working-class collapse has reached politics, and that the country—for the first time in decades, the country is poised for radical change. And it can happen in either direction. And right now it looks like it will happen in both, I think first right, then the possibility of left. Sanders could have won. We could be talking about a revolutionary situation now in Washington of deep institutional change, where he tries to go left, but instead it was the right. And they’re going to try to not only dismantle programs that help the poor and increase subsidies for the rich, they’re going to try to skew the system even further so it makes it almost impossible to vote them out of office, with further voter suppression operations and gerrymandering. And, you know, there’s a long list of—there’s a long list of tactics. But the underlying reality of the class collapse is still there. And they’re not going to be able to deal with it in a way that will be satisfying to the public.
Trump has this very clever approach to corporations and the rich. You know, most of what’s said about—or a lot of what’s said about Trump and Russia is just nonsense. I mean, a lot of the things the Democrats are saying is just ridiculous. And I think it’s also a loser for them politically. But there are some things that are true. One thing that’s true is that Trump and the Republicans are adopting a lot of basic Russian approaches. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, you had a massive privatization of public assets going into the hands of oligarchs. That’s exactly what this Trump Cabinet is about. Also, Putin has used this particular tactic in Russia where he goes after individual oligarchs who he sees as potential opponents, while at the same time strengthening them as a class and weakening democratic institutions in the country. And that’s basically exactly what Trump is about, when he goes after individual corporations, while strengthening corporations as a class.
But over time, this is not going to change the situation of working-class Americans. The question is how quickly this comes home to roost for the Republicans. With Obamacare, it’s an interesting situation. It seems to be coming home to roost very quickly. Obamacare first got the Democrats in a lot of political trouble, and I think that was predictable from the beginning. But now it’s getting the Republicans in trouble. It was trouble for the Democrats because the Democrats wouldn’t reconcile the basic contradiction, which was you can’t have public health for everyone and a private insurance industry at the same time. The two just don’t mesh. And the Democrats promised health treatment for everyone, without being brave enough to eliminate the private health insurance industry, which is basically just a parasitic force. The Republicans, though, completely deny that there is a problem, and they say leave everything in public hands. And now when they’re on their spot and have to provide a solution, they’re realizing that even though, yes, Obamacare, as currently constructed, is not viable, because it tries to do the impossible, which is to try to have public health with private insurance, at least it’s an effort by the Democrats, at least it’s delivered some benefits to lots and lots of people. And the Republicans are essentially proposing to take that all away. And that is one of many things that could come back to sting them, if there’s adequate organizing. And this is a rightist revolution now, but it can be toppled, and we could have a deeper, more constructive revolution, if people are brave and consistent and work hard enough.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Keeanga, you were raising, at the end of our second hour, the concerns about not only, of course, racial diversity in the proposed Trump Cabinet, but also, of course, ideological diversity. And I was asking you whether you’re concerned that, you know, people say that Vice President Pence—given Trump’s lack of experience in policymaking, Vice President Pence may be the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, and that that may well also be true for these Cabinet members, which, as you’ve said, as well as Naomi Klein and Allan Nairn, you know, have positions that are problematic for—and that’s an understatement—for all the reasons that you’ve outlined. So, could you talk about that, what the effect is of Trump’s lack of experience on the likely power that these individuals are likely to have in the departments of which they’re in charge?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think there are two things to be concerned about, and one, I think, is the lack of experience in the executive, overall, then raises questions about, well, who is actually in charge, and who is leading things. And so, I think—you know, I think that that represents a host of potential problems, especially with a Cabinet full of people with not much experience governing, many of whom have great interests and stakes, personally and economically, in cutting all sorts of kind of deals. I think that’s one of the things that we saw over the last week throughout the confirmation hearings, are these, what people continue to refer to as, conflicts of interest, that raise questions about whether or not people will be governing with the—in the interest of the public’s welfare or in their own interest.
But I do want to say, and I think it’s important not to overstate these things, because I think that there’s a way in which—Naomi alluded to earlier, there’s a way in which the shock and awe of a Trump administration can blind us to what passes, in some ways, for the norm in Washington politics over successive administrations, which is that they all tend to be controlled by wealthy millionaires who are disconnected from the everyday questions that ordinary people are confronted with. So, we have a Congress, both—a bipartisan Congress that is filled with millionaires, who have absolutely no clue what it’s like to have to make decisions about whether you pay your rent or whether you pay for your prescriptions. They have no idea about the daily travails that most ordinary people are going through. And that’s a bipartisan effort.
And so, the issue about diversity in the Trump Cabinet is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake, because Bill Clinton liked to brag about the diversity in his Cabinet. Barack Obama had a very diverse Cabinet, if we’re talking about the representation of different kinds of people in the United States. And in both of those cases, that didn’t actually result in an improved quality of life for ordinary people in this country, because there’s a basic disconnect between Washington, Congress, the people who are charged with governing the country, and what happens to the vast majority of people in this country. And that is the political issue that we have to begin to grapple with.
And that is why I actually do have deep questions about whether or not the Democratic Party is able to be captured by its base and turned from evil to good, because at the heart of U.S. politics is money. In the last election, in 2012, each party spent over a billion dollars to win the presidency. Similar numbers in this campaign. And so, when we’re talking about presidencies for sale, when we’re talking about the tens—hundreds of millions of dollars, a billion dollars to win the presidency, that is money that is not coming from the coffers of regular people. That is money that invites corporate interests to remain at the center of politics, whatever party is in charge.
And so, those are the deeper questions that get beyond who is actually in charge. And that’s not to diminish the threat that Donald Trump poses, but it is to say that if our conclusion out of this is that we need to get back to the good old days of when Barack Obama was president, then it really is ignoring the systemic reasons why people—why Hillary Clinton thought that she could run on a third term for Obama, without failing to—without realizing that for millions of people, two terms was enough. And we have to be able to understand that issue to really move politics beyond the narrow constraints of the bipartisan duopoly in Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The Trumps and the Obamas have met at the White House. The Bushes—that's George W. Bush—is at the Capitol now. Both his parents, Barbara and George H.W. Bush, are in the hospital in Houston, Texas. Just to give you an update on what’s happening, there are also various protests that are going on around the Capitol, and the Capitol inaugural activities are set to begin around 11:30. We’ll bring it all to you live. Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, no, I agree completely with what Keeanga was saying, that we can’t proceed based on this assumption that the Democratic Party is going to be reformable in that way. And I think that what’s really key is what Alicia Garza mentioned earlier in that clip, which is the vision piece, the intersectional vision between all of these ascendant social movements, really solidifying that vision. And I think there certainly are going to be people who are going to try to push that within the Democratic Party, but it can’t be dependent on that, by any means.
But this—you know, the mask falling off—I mean, I think that this is—this is the unifying factor. Whether it’s just like “Screw it, let’s put Exxon in charge,” or, “Let’s just have almost an entirely white male Cabinet,” it’s just like no pretense, like “We’re just doing it.” You know? But I think the worrying piece of it is that clearly what’s going to become clear first is the absurd pretense that Donald Trump was ever going to be this man of the people that was going to protect, you know, the working stiff against the corporations. They threw that out, right? I mean, look, there’s Steve Mnuchin, who lost track of $100 million because a form was complicated. It’s insane.
AMY GOODMAN: Wait. Explain. You mean of his own money.
NAOMI KLEIN: Of his own money.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Yes.
NAOMI KLEIN: He misplaced $100 million. I mean, this is who we’re dealing with, right? The frightening thing is that as that falls away and the base gets mad, they further weaponize race. That is a given, right? Because they will fall back on that as—I mean, it’s always been there, but it will become more important. OK, so we’re not actually going to—
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Absolutely.
NAOMI KLEIN: —change the economy in any way except for the worse, but the racism and the misogyny, that we can deliver on.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Yes.
NAOMI KLEIN: Right? So, you know, I was thinking about Mike Pence and the power of Mike Pence. One of the things I remembered is that Mike Pence was chairman of the Republican Study Committee when Hurricane Katrina hit. And as chairman, he convened a meeting at the Heritage Foundation where they came up with 35 free market so-called solutions to Hurricane Katrina. And it was privatize the school system. It was—you know, it was shut down the hospitals. It was—I mean, we talked about this, Amy, at the time. It was open up ANWR to Arctic drilling. It was build more refineries. It was worsen the very factors that created the crisis, whether it was climate change or this weak public infrastructure. Just sell it all off. These are hardcore ideologues. But they’re also disaster capitalists extraordinaire. So I think it’s incredibly important to be ready for the first crisis. It’s important to have that vision. And it’s important to understand that as bad as they’re going to be in the first stage, that won’t be anything compared to what they will try to do when they are dealing with the first disasters.
Allan mentioned that we’re going to be dealing with a radical future of one kind or another, but the actors in that radicalism are not just political. Right? The future is radical because climate change is real, no matter what these jerks say, right? And so there are going to be interventions. There are going to be extreme weather events. And when you deregulate the economy, there are going to be more and more economic shocks, right? So, how do the—and there are also going to be terrorist attacks of one kind or another, right? So, how do they respond to those moments of shock? More importantly, how do we respond? How do we do our own political and intellectual disaster preparedness, so that we don’t face another Katrina?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, one of those moments of shock was last night on the eve of the inauguration, and tens of thousands of people gathered outside Trump International Tower in New York. I wanted to turn to one of them. That was where Michael Moore spoke, the filmmaker, and Mark Ruffalo, the actor. It was where Robert De Niro spoke, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the rally of resistance on this eve of the inauguration. He spoke in the shadow of the Trump International Hotel and Tower near Central Park. He was introduced by fellow New Yorker, the famous filmmaker and actor Robert De Niro.
ROBERT DE NIRO: Thank you. I’m very happy to be here tonight with all of you and all of my overrated friends. Before I introduce our special guest, I want to read a few tweets to you. I know you haven’t heard them, because they won’t be sent until later, in the middle of the night. First, “De Niro’s career is a disaster. He was passed over for Godfather 4 and Magnificent 7. Pathetic!” Another tweet: “De Niro should give back his Oscars. Voting was rigged. There’s only one true raging bull, and that is Vladimir Putin.” One more: “An extremely credible source told me that Nobu uses raw fish in their sushi, and the portions are so small. Sad!” That one really hurt.
Just like our Founding Fathers, you can love our country and not love everything about it. That’s understandable. You can love your city, as I do, and not love everything about it either. That may have been what I was thinking about when I said I wish you-know-who would leave this city. I don’t care where he goes. I just never thought he’d go to Washington. He’s a bad example of this country, this city, this city, this city.
The president-elect said our country was a dumping ground for the world. Really? These huddled masses yearning to breathe free built our country and our lifeblood of our strong, diverse, beautiful New York City. They gave us the strength to prosper in the mid-'70s, when the government sent us the message to drop dead. They gave us the strength to recover after the tragedy of 9/11. Now they're giving us the strength to persevere in the face of the promises of the incoming government. We’re all rooting for the new administration, of course, to abandon the divisive, racist, misogynist, ignorant plans it’s trumpeting, and lead us with intelligence and compassion. Whatever happens, we Americans, we New Yorkers, we patriots will stand united for our rights and the rights of our fellow citizens.
And now it’s my honor to introduce you to a leader of that campaign, our mayor, Bill de Blasio.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: Beautiful. Beautiful job. Beautiful.
My friends, let’s salute one of the greatest New Yorkers, Robert De Niro.
We gather together thousands-strong tonight, the last night of a great administration. Let’s all thank Barack Obama for all he has done for this nation. Tomorrow, there will be a peaceful transfer of power. Tomorrow, Donald Trump will have power. But tomorrow, you will have power, as well. Donald Trump may control the agenda in Washington, but we control our destiny as Americans. And tonight is an example of people coming together to make clear what we believe is the future of our country and how we will fight for it. Remember, the country doesn’t reside in Washington, D.C. It’s every city, it’s every town in America where change is made. And we are resolute that we will keep making our cities and our towns better, regardless of who’s in Washington, D.C.
Now, my friends, we are here tonight, and we should not let anyone define us just by what we are against. We want to be defined by what we are for, what we believe in. We believe in healthcare for all. We believe there should be opportunity for people regardless of what they look like or where they come from. We believe in a society for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent. We believe in healing the wounds between our police and our community and making us all safe together. And we believe in protecting our precious Earth from the scourge of climate change.
And we can do something about it in every city and town in America while we fight the fights in Washington, D.C. Right now, here in New York and all over the country, people are getting together to sign up their fellow Americans for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, because it is still the law of the land in this country. And you can help to get more and more people insured, to help protect their families and to make it harder to ever take away the right to healthcare in this country. Here in New York City, join our Get Covered NYC! campaign to make sure that more and more New Yorkers have the healthcare they deserve. Join our efforts to sign up New Yorkers for IDNYC. Regardless of who you are, where you come from, you’re a New Yorker, and we honor and respect you. And we stand together in making sure there is no discrimination, there is no hatred in our city or any city. If you a hatred—an act of hatred, if you see a bias crime, report it immediately. Stand up against hatred.
Today, we recognize that we are building something. You know, Donald Trump always liked to say he built a movement. Well, now it’s time for us to build our movement. And that starts tonight, and it’s all over the country, tonight, tomorrow, in the days to come, a movement building to protect all the gains we’ve made, and protect the rights of our people. My friends, mayors are gathering from all over the country in a common cause. They’ve signed a pledge to defend the progress we’ve made, to make sure our cities and towns represent the best of America, from one part of this nation to the other. From the Liberty Bell to the Gateway Arch, from the Great Salt Lake to the banks of the Rio Grande river, mayors all over the country are signing this pledge for common action, that the next hundred days will be days of action together. And we are standing up for our cities, and we are standing up for our towns, because our cities and our towns are the authentic America, are the open and compassionate America, are the hopeful America.
Some people think tomorrow—some people think we’re going to be dejected. Some people think we’re going to be in a state of mourning, we’re just going to shirk away from playing any role in our nation. Well, no. Tomorrow we begin to organize. Tomorrow we gather together. Look at the thousands here tonight, and this is only a beginning. We don’t fear the future. We think the future is bright, if the people’s voices are heard. And, my friends, we’re going to fight together. We are going to fight together, from Seattle to Santa Fe, from Boston to Birmingham, Alabama. People are joining together right now for a country that respects all its people, values all its people, provides opportunities for all, protects the healthcare of all, protects the environment for all. That is what we are fighting for. And tomorrow, my friends, tomorrow is not an end. Tomorrow is a beginning. Get ready to build the nation we always believed in together.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, participating in the rally of resistance, where it’s believed upwards of—what?—up to 25,000 people protested on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration outside his international hotel. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting live on this day of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, in Washington, D.C., down the road from the Capitol. We’re actually at Howard University at their PBS studio WHUT.
Before we go to our guests, including Ralph Nader, former presidential candidate, we will turn now to Wayne Barrett, the legendary investigative journalist, who died yesterday at the age of 71 of complications of interstitial lung disease. News of Wayne’s death broke as thousands protested against the inauguration of Donald Trump, a man he began covering in the 1970s. Wayne Barrett’s 1991 unauthorized biography of Donald Trump was republished last year in paperback with the title Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. Wayne Barrett continued to cover Trump during the [ 2016 ] presidential campaign, even though he was largely homebound due to lung cancer. So Juan González and I went to Wayne’s house to talk to him about Donald Trump and to talk to him why had spent so many decades looking at a man who, well, now is becoming president of the United States.
WAYNE BARRETT: When I started, in the '70s, he was this golden boy, you know, and he had not had much press, but it had all been very supportive, because he was doing the Grand Hyatt, which was his first big project in Manhattan. And the city was down in the dumps, you know, near broke during the ’70s, and he looked like the embodiment of a rising city. And he was getting that kind of press, though not much of it. And I was at The Village Voice, and so I took on—I was a rookie, he was a rookie. We're about the same age; I’m a little older. And so, I took on this whole notion of, well, let’s take a look at this guy who appears to be the answer to the city’s very grave financial problems at the time. And I started working on him in the maybe '77 period. I worked on him intensely in ’78 while the Hyatt was under construction, had not completed yet. And that's when I first got to know him. And I did about 10 hours of taped interviews with him as a young guy and wrote a two-part series that led to the impaneling of a federal grand jury, actually, because he was engaged in all kinds of machinations, even as a rookie. I mean, he started out playing games. So, there was a federal grand jury here in the Eastern District in Brooklyn, that did not lead to an indictment, but may have been the toughest ride he’s ever had, really, with a prosecutor.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the points that you made in the original book was the amount of—he has always projected himself as a self-made millionaire and then billionaire, but the amount of support he got from his father, also a real estate developer, and that his father was really crucial to his rise.
WAYNE BARRETT: Unbelievably crucial. When he opened his first office in Manhattan, the rent was paid by his father’s company out here on Avenue Z in Brooklyn. And everything that he did, whether it be the Grand Hyatt—the Grand Hyatt, for example, to get the financing, he got the financing from two banks that his father had used, used his father’s relationship banker. And the father had to sign the financing agreements. I mean, they’re not going to give a 30-year-old kid $35 million in 1978 to build a hotel. It has to be done with Fred’s resources. And Fred Trump was a great outer borough builder and really built good housing, 20,000 units totally, all over Queens, all over Brooklyn, some of them towers, like Trump Village, many of them single-family homes, that he had a great reputation as a builder. He was politically wired, as his son was. I mean, they played the political game, both of them, expertly, but Fred Trump was indispensable. I mean, even Trump Tower, which comes along later in Donald’s career, could not have been done without Fred coming in and supporting the financing of it. When he opened his first casino in Atlantic City, when he bought the first properties, the lease holds for the first properties for Trump Plaza, his casino in Atlantic City, Fred rode down in the limo with him and signed all the lease hold documents. Nobody was going to be financing this kid developer, kid casino operator. It was Fred who was the key to all of it.
It’s so ridiculous for him to call himself a self-made guy, when Fred was critical at the political end, too. I mean, everything that came to Donald came through political connections. And they were political connections forged by his father over decades with Brooklyn politicians. He came from the same political club as the then-mayor of New York, Abe Beame. And when they—he had to get an option for the Grand Hyatt and for the West Side Yards from a bankrupt railroad in Philadelphia, Penn Central, and the people who were selling the assets of the bankrupt railroad wanted to make sure that the option that they gave, they were giving it to a developer who would actually develop, because that’s when the real payment comes to the railroad. And so, they came up from Philadelphia, and Fred Trump greets them. And Fred and Donald get them in a limo and take them down to City Hall, and there’s Abe Beame standing on the steps of City Hall. “Anything you want, we’ll give you.” So this totally a byproduct of Fred’s relationship.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you know of Fred Trump’s involvement with the Ku Klux Klan?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, I didn’t know about that at the time of the book. It’s not in the book. I’ve read about it since. I can’t understand how Donald Trump denies that this is true. There’s, I think, Washington Post clips—
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times.
WAYNE BARRETT: —you know, which clearly say he was involved with the Ku Klux Klan. What I did write about in the book and what I actually wrote about at the Voice in the '70s was the race discrimination case that Richard Nixon's Justice Department brought against Fred and Donald Trump for racially excluding blacks and Latinos in a systematic way, with a color-coded system where if a black came in seeking an apartment, they got a certain color folder, where if a Latino came in, they got a different color folder, of where the application was put—the easiest way to exclude people. And, you know, the federal government established that during the course of protracted hearings. And ultimately, Fred and Donald settled the case.
And Donald does an affidavit in the case in which he claimed that he didn’t have anything to do with the actual rentals personally, actual rentals of the apartment. But I found, and wrote it in the Voice and then examined it a little bit more in the book, that he was simultaneously seeking a real estate broker’s license in New York state and that he had to file sworn statements. And then, in his sworn statements, he claimed he was in charge of all the rentals of the apartments. So, there was a sworn statement saying, from him, “I don’t have anything to do with it,” and almost simultaneously a sworn statement saying, “I run it.” You know, so the racial discrimination pattern at Fred Trump developments was really quite extraordinary.
AMY GOODMAN: He was found guilty?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, it was—he signed a consent decree. This was a civil lawsuit, and he signed a consent decree. And he and Donald signed the consent decree. And then they violated it. They were not in compliance with it. And they had to go back, the feds did, in ’78 and do it again a second time.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Wayne, you’ve been doing this work for decades. And here you are, after following Donald Trump for almost half a century, publishing a book again, a revised and updated book, on Donald Trump. What keeps you going?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, Donald does, these days. I’ve been very sick. And so, I decided, when he started emerging, which was a total surprise to me, really, that he would be this big—so I’ve opened my door here. I’ve had 50, 60 reporters come through here. I kept all my old Trump files. Most of them are in this basement. Some of them are down in the house in Ocean City. And reporters have come through here. One team of two spent three days in my basement. And so, I’ve been an open door to every reporter. I haven’t written much myself—one little piece, but I intend to write some. And, you know, I think it’s a civic duty.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, he’s not—it’s more than that he’s something unlike anything—I mean, you know, I’m a Democrat. I’m a liberal Democrat. I have voted in my life for candidates on the Republican line—not often, but sometimes. But I think that this is a man who is—he’s really not qualified to run the Trump Organization. He’s not fit to run the Trump Organization. So he’s certainly not fit to run America. The Trump Organization is a fairly substantial real estate company—certainly not one of the biggest in Manhattan, as the Times demonstrated. But it’s—you know, it has some impact on some lives. And he’s so unconcerned about the impact that he has on some lives, whether there’s any positive element to it, that I don’t even think he’s fit for that. But I think he represents not just a danger to America, but because we are such an influence in the world, it’s really a shocking threat to the world. And so, you know, I’m in a sickbed a lot, but he gets me up out of it.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Wayne Barrett, Wayne Barrett, the legendary journalist, who wrote the biography of Donald Trump. Wayne Barrett died on the eve of the inauguration of Donald Trump, in Manhattan. His book is called Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. Wayne Barrett continued to cover Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, even though he was largely homebound due to lung cancer. Juan González and I went to his house to speak with him.
This is Democracy Now!, and we’re bringing you live coverage of the inauguration throughout the day today, a seven-hour special. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. There are protests throughout the streets of Washington, D.C., and around the world. Right now, police are pepper-spraying protesters who have tried to lock off an inauguration entrance point. Another group, Trade Justice, has begun to shut down another entrance just a few blocks west of Black Lives Matter’s shutdown, which is at 300 Indiana Avenue Northwest. More than 150 Trump protest banners are being dropped over bridges across the world. These banners are being dropped over bridges on this day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. The majority of the banners will appear in Britain, while others are said to be unveiled in Ethiopia, Australia, the United States and Norway. Among the banners are ones that say, in one place, “Migrants Welcome Here.” But right now, as we said, in the streets of Washington, D.C., police pepper-spraying protesters as different groups are trying to block off inauguration checkpoints.
As for what is happening right now at the Capitol, well, President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump and their wives just met at the White House. The Bushes—that’s George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush—have come to the Capitol. The Trump family has come to the Capitol. The Clintons are now at the Capitol, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. It’s expected that the Carters will also be at the Capitol. The oldest living president, George H.W. Bush, the father of George W. Bush, is in the hospital now. He has been hospitalized along with his wife Barbara Bush in Houston, Texas.
So that’s the latest. And we’re going to bring you those voices from the streets, as well as the live inauguration coverage. But we have just been joined by a four-time presidential candidate, two times for the Green Party, twice as an independent. Ralph Nader is with us, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, former presidential candidate. His new book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.
Do you think so on this Inauguration Day of Donald J. Trump, Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: Yeah, obviously the hurdles are greater. This is a billionaire—the worst of the billionaires’ takeover of the U.S. government, along with ideological militarists, corporatists and not a few racists. And so, the—however, the Congress is still the most accessible institution, if people reorganize in congressional districts, to counteract him or to block him. And that’s the first entry. I think we’ve got to be very careful that resistance does not mean sustained organization, and knowing what to do doesn’t mean that you’re going to do it. And so, once all these protests are over, the government gets entrenched, the plutocracy entrenched, what’s going to happen in the congressional district? That’s where the action has got to be every congressional district. Congress Watch locals is what I call them. That’s what’s in the book, Breaking Through Power. Why? Because it’s 535 people. We know their names. They have enormous power—the tax power, appropriations power, war declaration power, confirmation power. Unlike the giant bureaucracy in the insulated judiciary, that’s the entry point to start blocking him.
Unfortunately, we have the Democrats in a high level of decadence, and they can’t beat the worst Republican Party, the most ruthless Republican Party in its history. And that’s going to be an obstacle. The Democrats are up in 2018. Far more senators are up Democrat than Republican, so they’re going to be in trouble in terms of taking it over. But I consider the possibilities in Congress between elections. It’s not just beating bad people in Congress; it’s overwhelmingly pressuring the ones that are there. And, you know, for greater details, they’re in this little book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think, and I give a lot of examples demonstrating, historically and now, how much easier it is when we think.
But I must say, I was shocked myself by the nominations. These are the worst conceivable Cabinet secretaries and agency heads that he could have picked. They want to dismantle the Labor Department. They want to corporatize Medicare, Medicaid. They want to reduce enforcement in the civil rights area. They want to depress more votes. They want a bigger military budget. They want more surveillance. They want more empire abroad. And there’s just no end. They want to dismantle the public school system. And so, with all the horrors, this could be an opportunity for the majority of the people who disagree to basically turn it into a boomerang opportunity. That is, they may come in so drunk with their power that they fall into pitfalls of corruption, pitfalls of self-enrichment, pitfalls of illegality, pitfalls of overreach. And at every one of those points, there got to be lawyers, there got to be demonstrations, there got to be full-time monitors in every congressional district to take advantage of it.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Ralph, you mentioned earlier how important Congress is in this new administration and also more generally. But aren’t there a number of changes that Trump can implement without congressional approval? And does that include his avowed purpose—I mean, what he said he will do—which is to cancel as many Obama regulations as possible, including consumer protection rules, which, of course, you know?
RALPH NADER: Yeah, well, he’s already aligned himself with a trillion-dollar 10-year cut—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Right.
RALPH NADER: —in all these safety and health programs, abolishing the Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and so forth. But you should remember: You know how hard it is to get regulations in place; well, it’s hard to get rid of them, as well. There’s something called the Administrative Procedure Act. There are going to be a lot of public interest law firms. There are going to be ACLU, Public Citizen, Common Cause and others regionally, who can continue to delay and block. However, he can issue a lot of executive orders—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mm-hmm, right.
RALPH NADER: —as President Obama and others have done. And that can do a lot of damage on certain things. For example, he could repeal the overtime rule, which is in the courts now. He could repeal executive orders that oppose discrimination in terms of government purchasing. But remember, he’s very low in the polls. He’s lower in the polls than any other presidential candidate coming into office. And he watches—
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, apparently as low as 32 percent.
RALPH NADER: Yeah, and he watches polls. He brags about polls. So, he’s going to have that weighing him down. People don’t like him. They don’t trust him. He lost the popular vote big time. And he’s got a tweeting media of 20 million, which he’ll use as his personal public relations ploys, but that’s not going to be enough.
He’s not used to working hard. He’s not used to having to make dozens of decisions every day. As head of the Trump Organization, that’s chicken feed compared to what’s coming in on him. He’s not releasing his income taxes. That’s going to be a continuing controversy, especially with all kinds of enrichment potentials with his far-flung assets, which he has not sold. He’s just given the management of all these assets here and abroad to his family. So he’s in violation of the Emoluments Clause. And as Professor Larry Tribe of Harvard Law School said, as of noon today, he will be a walking impeachment candidate. So he’s got all these problems. At the same time, he won’t release his medical records. And he has a cardiac diet. I mean, he eats fat, meat, french fries. So, he’s going to have his hands full personally in trying to avoid these conflicts of interest, these impeachment accusations, and change his temperament so he can start making these decisions. Is that going to happen? I don’t think it is. I think it’s going to be hugely chaotic. He’s got Cabinet secretaries and agencies that are going to be disagreeing with each other, jockeying for power. It’ll be a lot of intrigue. Stay tuned.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go to the people who are already protesting against him, back to the streets of Washington, D.C., right off Pennsylvania Avenue, at the Navy Memorial, where Democracy Now!'s Deena Guzder is still with thousands of people at a rally organized by the ANSWER Coalition. Deena, can you tell us what's going on there?
DEENA GUZDER: This is Deena Guzder of Democracy Now! on Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re at the only officially permitted protest on the presidential parade route. I’m here on a rainy, cold day in Washington, D.C. I’m here with one of the protest organizers. Can you tell us your name and what brought you out here today?
EUGENE PURYEAR: My name is Eugene Puryear, and I’m out here today because I wanted to stand against Trump’s agenda. It’s anti-worker. It’s bigoted. It’s racist. It’s really a bait-and-switch agenda that’s all about the corporations in this country. It’s all about supercharging the changes we’ve seen over the past 30 years that have stagnated wages, created mass incarceration, created an unbelievable deportation machine in this country. We need to start to recognize that across borders we’re all human, that in the 21st century, in the richest country that’s ever existed in the history of countries, we can have things like healthcare and education as a right—they shouldn’t be commodities—and that to have that type of movement, we need to be out here inaugurating the resistance and pushing back.
DEENA GUZDER: And, Eugene, how easy or difficult is it for protesters to gather here today on the day of the inauguration? How difficult was it to get a permit? How difficult was it to be out here today here in D.C.?
EUGENE PURYEAR: Very difficult. The National Park Service, which really acts as an agent for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is just a corporation, where big corporations try to corrupt the president by currying favor by paying for the inauguration, by trying to restrict as much space as absolutely possible here for them to sell tickets and to have big money donors, they do everything possible to hold the permits to the latest possible time, so that you can’t tell people where to gather. They do everything—they wouldn’t even let us have a podium or a mic stand up here for allegedly some sort of security reason. So you can see how absurd the process is, and the whole thing is designed to prevent people from exercising their First Amendment rights on the presidential inaugural route.
DEENA GUZDER: Very close to us, Trump supporters are gathered for when the presidential motorcade comes down on the official parade route. What is your message to the Trump supporters who say give Trump a chance?
EUGENE PURYEAR: Our message is to them is that he’s lying to you, and that if you think that he’s someone who’s going to help struggling working people in the Rust Belt, if you think he’s someone who can bring back jobs and build infrastructure, that’s not true. He says workers don’t need higher wages, that unions are terrible. His infrastructure plan is a massive giveaway to big corporations who are then going to own our roads, own our water, own our bridges—things that should be public and controlled by us, which we have the money to pay for ourselves. His entire agenda is the dictionary definition of “bait and switch.” He’s using a lot of rhetoric to divide people, but he’s not going to deliver the goods.
DEENA GUZDER: And, Eugene, what else is planned here today in Washington, D.C.? We’re at just one of the many protests held, this one hosted by the ANSWER Coalition. What are people planning on doing this weekend?
EUGENE PURYEAR: Well, I think there’s going to be many, many marches that are going to be happening all over the city. There are going to be teach-ins, for example. I was at a teach-in last night at a local coffee shop named Potter’s House, where people are talking about what’s next and how to continue to build this resistance. Obviously, we’re going to see the Women’s March tomorrow, where, you know, who knows, maybe even a million people could show up to protest. So I think what we’re going to see is really almost like a resistance takeover of Washington, D.C. There are certainly more of us here than there really are of Trump supporters. We’re making a big impact. Read any of your mainstream news, you’ll see that the protests are the main story today.
DEENA GUZDER: Eugene, thank you so much. I’m sure we’ll see you on the streets, as we continue to cover the protests. I’m Deena Guzder, with Hany Massoud, for Democracy Now! Back to you, Amy and Nermeen.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve just been listening to Deena Guzder just off of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., where the inauguration—well, where the inauguration activities are set to begin at 11:30 Eastern time. At 12:00, Chief Justice Roberts will be swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
We’re talking to Ralph Nader right now, four-time presidential candidate. We’re also talking to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. She is author of a book about movements, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, as well as a professor at Princeton University. And, Keeanga, I want to ask you about what’s happening this weekend. I mean, a lot of these protests are leading up to tomorrow. In Washington, it’s women—the Women’s March on Washington. Two hundred thousand people are expected. It may well be more. You’re one of the people who’s going to be there. It’s going to be women and men. And as we speak right now, in San Francisco, activists have shut down the headquarters of Uber. As well, police in Washington, D.C., have tear-gassed people who are trying to shut down an inauguration checkpoint. And again, the Clintons have arrived at the Capitol. That’s former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who lost to Donald Trump, at least in the Electoral College. You have the Obamas and the Trumps who have met at the White House, will make their way to the Capitol. The Trump family is at the Capitol. George W. Bush, president, and his wife Laura are at the Capitol. Their parents, George W. Bush’s parents, the oldest living president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, is in the hospital, as is his wife hospitalized, Barbara Bush, in Houston. And Jimmy Carter, President Jimmy Carter, is at the Capitol, as well. All of the living presidents there, except for President George H.W. Bush, who is hospitalized. But, Keeanga, tomorrow, January 21st, Democracy Now! is going to be broadcasting 10:00 to 3:00 tomorrow Eastern Standard Time from right next to the main stage of this protest. What is expected? How is it organized? What are the plans?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think that first thing is that this is a very important step in what I think will be a million steps necessary to build the kind of resistance and movements that will be needed to confront the Trump regime. I mean, this demonstration started out, I believe, the day after the election by a handful of women who didn’t consider themselves activists, who didn’t describe the march tomorrow as a protest, and it’s grown from something as small as that into, really, the most important demonstration for the weekend itself. And I think that says a couple of things. One, I think it says something about the kind of state of shell shock that many of the traditional, larger liberal organizations, who one would think would be at the forefront with resources and people, at the forefront of the Trump resistance—they’re still trying to figure out what to do, so that a demonstration like this could be organized by people who don’t call themselves activists, is the largest action, is indicative of that. But I also think that it’s a very important marker. I think that for people who are there, I think that it will be an affront to Trump. I think that for people there who have been feeling, as many of us have, a sense of despair, that it will be a break with that.
AMY GOODMAN: And we’re going to continue this discussion in our next hour. That’s Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, professor at Princeton University. The Trumps and Obamas are in a motorcade now from the White House to the Capitol. We will be covering the inauguration live. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. This is Democracy Now!’s live Inauguration Day coverage.
[End of Hour 3]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” an Inauguration Day special. We’re broadcasting live from PBS station WHUT on the campus of Howard University, the historically black college, the black university in the heart of Washington, D.C. We are live on the air until 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. In just an hour, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will swear in Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States, before hundreds of thousands of people, both supporters and protesters. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. President Obama has left the White House for the last time. Just a short while ago, Barack and Michelle Obama greeted Donald and Melania Trump at the White House.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: As the clock counts down to the Trump presidency, we go back to the streets, where thousands have gathered. Police have already fired tear gas at some protesters. Demonstrators with Black Lives Matter chained themselves to barricades at a checkpoint to the inauguration. Democracy Now! producer Carla Wills was on site there with our video producer Sam Alcoff. Carla interviewed two people locked down and sent us this update.
CARLA WILLS: We’re here at the checkpoint near the Metropolitan Police Department here on Indiana Avenue. Just behind us, the checkpoint is officially shut down, in part mostly because of the activists who came here and put their bodies on the line and actually chained themselves. I’m here with one of those activists. Please tell me your name and where you’re from.
ROB FERRELL: Rob Ferrell from Baltimore.
CARLA WILLS: And you are literally chained to several other organizers here and to the barricades. Explain exactly what this process is and why you did it.
ROB FERRELL: So, we’re locked down with chains, connected to each other and connected to the barricade, blocking the entrance to the checkpoint. We’re here symbolically to represent the way that the institutions affect black bodies in this country. We’re still in bondage in many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, insert adverb here. And so, we’re just here to stand in that struggle and let people know that we’re not going to let Trump come here and let—we’re not going to fight back, basically. I mean, we’re going to be here. We’re going to be in these streets. We stay in these streets, so…
CARLA WILLS: What about Trump’s presidency, or what have you seen already in his run-up to his administration, that gives you most concern?
ROB FERRELL: I mean, you can look at just every member of his Cabinet, especially, you know, Ben Carson with HUD and Jeff Sessions as the next prospective attorney general. Like every single person—Betsy DeVos, who knows [bleep] about education and restructuring public education. Every single nomination that he’s had has—is set up to negatively impact marginalized people, especially people of color and black people, undocumented people, Native people. So, I mean, I’m just not down for continuing this white supremacist bull [bleep].
CARLA WILLS: And so, how long—how dedicated—how long are you planning to be here locked down?
ROB FERRELL: I don’t know.
RALIKH HAYES: As long as we’ve got to be here. This is our checkpoint now.
ROB FERRELL: Yeah, I mean, yeah. Who shuts stuff down? We shut stuff down. So, we’re going to be here.
CARLA WILLS: And you’re—tell me your name and why you’re here.
RALIKH HAYES: My name is Ralikh Hayes. I’m the coordinator of the Baltimore Bloc, one of the member organizations of the Movement for Black Lives, who has decided that—reclaim and shut down this checkpoint. We’re resisting the idea of a Trump presidency, a Trump administration, and what it represents. It represents a return to the overt and blatant racism of the civil rights movement and before. And we refuse to allow that. We will resist. We will be ungovernable. We will turn up. We will shut it all down.
CARLA WILLS: Tell me why do you think this effective—this shutdown was so effective at this particular checkpoint.
RALIKH HAYES: Well, I think, one, people don’t like Trump, so they didn’t come. Two, I think we’re just more organized than folks expected us to be, because they didn’t expect us to come. They thought we were going to be scared when like folks like the Bikers for Trump and other Trump supporters threatened us with violence. We are willing to always put our bodies on the line for freedom, and so we will do so.
CARLA WILLS: Did you see other skirmishes happening here while you were out here?
RALIKH HAYES: I’ve seen folks try to get up riled, but our allies have definitely protected us.
CARLA WILLS: And what most concerns you about Trump’s presidency, him coming into office?
RALIKH HAYES: The apparatus of a surveillance for my fellow activists and organizers. COINTELPRO was a real thing, and I don’t want to see it return in any overt fashion, more so than it already is. D.C. organizer April Goggans and Aaron Goggans are constantly surveilled. Bloc members are surveilled in Baltimore. It’s a thing. We don’t want to see it get worse. Like, we like our lives.
CARLA WILLS: You said they are being surveilled. How do you—talk about that, what that’s like.
RALIKH HAYES: Folks come home. There’s a police car in front of their house. They walk outside of their house and walk down the street, and the police car follows them. Police spotlights are being shone into people’s windows all night every night. Those are the kind of things that happen to us.
ROB FERRELL: Aerial surveillance.
RALIKH HAYES: Aerial surveillance.
ROB FERRELL: I mean, we’ve got planes flying over Baltimore taking basically a live stream of every movement of every citizen in the city. Collecting that kind of mass surveillance is only going to have negative repercussions for black and brown organizers, especially.
CARLA WILLS: Well, thank you so much. We’re, again, at the checkpoint next to Metropolitan Police Department with some of the folks who have locked themselves down here. This checkpoint is officially closed. And it looks like for the foreseeable, you know, next few hours, this checkpoint will not reopen. This is Carla Wills here at the checkpoint at 300 Indiana Avenue. Back to you in the studio.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Democracy Now!'s Carla Wills. Protests are also spreading across the United States today. In downtown San Francisco, activists have locked themselves to each other to shut down Uber's headquarters with signs reading “Uber collaborates with Trump.” Uber is that special transportation partner to Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., today. Meanwhile, students are also walking out of classes at Indiana University at Bloomington, while activists are also gathering in Baltimore. And the group Bridges Not Walls is dropping over 150 protest banners across the world today. Among those banners are signs that read “Immigrants Welcome Here.”
Still with us, former presidential candidate, longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader, journalist Allan Nairn and Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation and assistant professor of African American studies at Princeton University. As we talk about what’s happening in the streets, Keeanga, The Huffington Post just had a very interesting report about what Donald Trump wanted in his inauguration parade that the military would not approve.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Yeah, my wife sent me an article basically saying that the Trump team wanted to actually have tanks and missile launchers, North Korean style, as a part of the presidential parade. But the military actually shot that idea down, because of the potential damage it could do to the streets of Washington, D.C. But it says—it just shows, as Ralph was saying during the break, that—the extent to which these people are drunk on their own power, and the way in which they see the—not an inauguration, a coronation of a king. But I do think that the protests that are happening today, that the protests that are scheduled—the march that’s scheduled for tomorrow and protests that are happening around the country show that our side is gearing up, too. And the political polarization that has been on display throughout the campaign season is now taking shape in the form of protests and demonstrations across the country. And it’s a beautiful thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Journalist Allan Nairn?
ALLAN NAIRN: This is their moment of triumph, the radical-right oligarchs. But it’s exactly at their moment of triumph that they’re most vulnerable, because, first, they haven’t consolidated power yet. They’re taking it, after having won a minority of votes, but they haven’t consolidated the power yet. And secondly, they’re now on stage and in the spotlight. They’re exposed in a way they never have been before, because they control all branches of government, and it’s more possible to hold them accountable. As to tactics, you have to attack on every front at once, because you never know what’s going to break through, in the streets and also in the halls. It is, I think, possible to take out—take over the Democratic Party. Sanders was almost the nominee. Ellison has a chance, conceivably, to be the Democratic chair.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about Congressman Ellison of Indianapolis.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. Of course, he’ll be surrounded by a sea of corporate money, and it’ll be very difficult, and only certain things can be achieved. But it’s a very different story if Sanders is the nominee instead of Clinton. For one thing, I think he would have won. And secondly, a Sanders government would be very different from a Clinton government.
AMY GOODMAN: But he didn’t win. He didn’t win the primary.
ALLAN NAIRN: No, he didn’t, but he came close. And in the streets, you never know what will work. In Egypt, the Arab Spring actually kicked off from something that’s very familiar to American activists: a demonstration of the usual suspects. You know, it was one of those demonstrations where the same 200 people turn out every time, and at one point after when it had started in Tunisia, things just exploded. The Russian revolution started—not many people remember this—with a demonstration on International Women’s Day, that got out of hand and completely caught not just the tsar, but also the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, off guard. Things can come out of nowhere, and you never know what will work, especially when you’re in a very unstable situation like we’re in now, like we’re in now politically.
On a different note, you know, earlier, we were talking about the two parties both being corporate. Tillerson and Exxon is an interesting example. The main thing with Tillerson is climate change. Exxon has been the main force funding the denial of climate change and the main force actually pouring carbons into the environment.
But beyond that, to show how these corporations, in general, operate, for years in Aceh, in the western—on the western tip of Indonesia, Exxon had a huge natural gas facility. In order to be there, they paid off the Indonesian Army, specifically Kopassus, the Red Berets, the most intensively U.S.-trained unit of the Indonesian Army. On Exxon’s own grounds, Kopassus and the Indonesian Army set up a torture and execution facility, where they would drag in Acehnese dissidents for torture, gang rape and execution. Exxon actually supplied the bulldozers which the Indonesian troops used to dig the mass graves that they would throw their victims into.
Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a friend of mine, was among those who organized a lawsuit by the survivors and victim families against Exxon, brought in the U.S. courts using a statute called the Alien Tort Claims Act, which was originally designed to be used against pirates and which can be used to hold criminals and corporations accountable. Exxon, under Tillerson, of course, fought the suit in the courts. It’s still ongoing. Exxon hired as their lawyer, as one of their key corporate lawyers, a lawyer named Sri Srinivasan, who is a favorite of the Democrats and who was one of the two final contenders for Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. He was edged out by Garland in the end. Had Clinton won, she had him—clearly had him high on her list for the Supreme Court. Srinivasan went into court and argued, first, that corporations could not be held accountable for crimes against humanity, even if they were aiding and abetting those crimes against humanity. And second, he tried to gut the very Alien Tort Claim Statute which made it possible for victims to try to hold these corporations accountable.
So it’s kind of an interesting illustration of the corporate stances of the two parties. The lawyer representing the corporation, which is trying to defend itself from the charge, the true charge, of mass murder itself—they never contested the facts, by the way—that’s the Democrat, the darling of the Democrats. But who did the Republicans put in? The man himself, the head of the corporation that commits and then defends these atrocities. So, that’s what you’re up against in this American two-party system.
Yet, it is vulnerable. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, oh, everything is preprogrammed, everything is preordained, power is everywhere, structure is everything. No. This election was just another illustration of that. Nobody expected Sanders to come to the brink of victory, and not many expected Trump to actually go through and win, because he came from the fringes of the Republican Party. He represents the crudest criminal element of the Republican Party. And for reasons we discussed yesterday, the Republican establishment, you know, did not pick him as their favorite, yet he has now dragged them into power.
AMY GOODMAN: But look what he is doing as a populist, Donald Trump. He calls the heads of corporations. He says, “You don’t go overseas.” He calls the heads of corporations to say, “You make Air Force One cheaper. We don’t want the American people to have to pay as much as you, as at Boeing was going to make it for.” Allan Nairn, this strategy that he has that is extremely appealing to people, saying, “Finally, corruption will be dealt with and routed out, and jobs will be saved”?
ALLAN NAIRN: Because the Democrats failed to address the collapse of the working class that they had helped create with NAFTA and the WTO and now TPP, because they failed to address that, they left the door open for fakes and charlatans like Trump to walk in. And people see what Trump is doing, and they say, “Hey, at least he’s dealing with it. At least he’s, first acknowledging the problem, second, trying to do something about it, even if his solution is a bit fake and a bit phony.” When he calls these corporations and demands they cut their prices, it has tremendous public—it has tremendous public appeal. In the case of the military spending, where he tells the weapons companies, “No, you’re charging 30 percent too much,” what effect that has is, for a given dollar, the U.S. is able to kill even more people than it would have been able to kill before. It’s the problem when you have an oligarchic government that is addressing popular problems. It inevitably produces a result that is damaging, even when they’re dealing with a real popular problem.
Infrastructure is an example. There’s broad agreement that it’s a great idea to do massive infrastructure investment in the United States. And that could easily be done by borrowing at the current low interest rates to finance it. But that’s not what the Republicans and Trump are proposing. What they’re proposing is to finance it through tax credits, which will mean a massive drop in revenue coming into the U.S. government. And how are you going to deal with the massive drop? Under their scheme, you’re going to have to make cuts. They’re planning to keep the sequester cap on domestic spending. And so, the massive infrastructure plan under the Trump Republican scheme would, in effect, be paid for by massive further cuts in domestic—in domestic spending. But people will see, oh, at least he’s trying to do something about infrastructure.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, Dr. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama have come onto the Capitol steps, as well, as they wave to people there. The Clintons are there, as we said. Hillary Clinton tweeted, “I’m here today to honor our democracy and its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country and its future.” Yes, the Trumps and Obamas have arrived at the Capitol, Paul Ryan walking in right behind them, President Obama patting Donald Trump on the back. Also in the entourage, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the congressional minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.
ALLAN NAIRN: One thing I forgot to note before. My friend Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, who organized—helped to organize that lawsuit against ExxonMobil for their atrocities in Aceh, in 2000 Jafar was abducted and tortured to death. He had been a longtime activist against the Indonesian Army. When we saw his body, it was unrecognizable. They had—his abductors had used knives to slice off his face. This is the world that the current regime of corporate power and American military presence sustains. This is the reality that has existed for decades. And now, Trump and his administration, by every indication, is going to make it worse, going to make it more intensive.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, investigative journalist who has spent many years in Indonesia, as well as the United States. As the Capitol events are taking place, the inaugural activities beginning, I wanted to turn to the streets along the inauguration route. Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder interviewed sports editor for The Nation magazine, Dave Zirin.
DEENA GUZDER: This is Deena for Democracy Now! We’re on Pennsylvania Avenue here in Washington, D.C., on a rainy, cold day. We’re going to be covering the protests all day long. I’m here with one of the journalists here in D.C. Can you tell me your name?
DAVE ZIRIN: Oh, you know my name, Deena. This is Dave Zirin. I’m sports editor at The Nation magazine. Out here in the rain, I’m looking for frogs and locusts, but we’re just starting with the rain here for day one of the Trump era. Very interesting, I got to tell you. Just as someone who’s been to a lot of these inauguration protests over the years—I’ve lived in D.C. a long time—I can’t help but compare and contrast it to the 2000 Bush inauguration, another election that was stolen, Electoral College, all of that. And at the Bush election, there were Bush supporters everywhere, and they were from a certain class, as in very wealthy—a lot of mink coats, a lot of cowboy hats, a lot of boots, and a lot of people, honestly, who were looking to fight and start trouble. Like they did not like seeing any protesters out. They did not like seeing journalists out. And it was thuggish in 2000.
This is kind of interesting, because one would think, given the Trump rallies, that this would also have that kind of feel to it, but it doesn’t to me at all. And I’ve been around a lot. And I don’t know whether it’s the fact that Trump’s approval ratings are in the 30s right now. I don’t know if it’s because he made all these promises to his supporters, and he’s bringing in the same crew of Goldman Sachs billionaires, I don’t know if it’s all the corruption and the scandals that are coming in. But you don’t feel that enthusiasm among the Trumpites. I mean, we were chanting on the line coming in, and Trump people just had their heads down. It’s also worth saying that the Trump people I’ve seen are not the wealthy Bush types. I mean, these are folks who have made their trek. They definitely come from a different class element who are coming out here. And they’re not energized. And frankly, that’s a really, really positive point to take from today.
DEENA GUZDER: And, Dave, right behind us, there’s protesters gathered. What are some of the messages you’re hearing from them? What are the concerns you’re hearing from people on the street?
DAVE ZIRIN: Yeah, first and foremost, so people know, this is just one of many protests today. This is the ANSWER permitted protest. There’s also a group called DisruptJ20 that has both a legal, permitted march over at Union Station, that is going to march to McPherson Square in D.C., and there are people doing civil disobedience at all the checkpoints along the way. So a lot is happening here that’s very intense.
The messages that are coming out here are ones you might expect. It’s standing up for the people that Trump has spent the last year and a half stepping on. It’s people speaking out for immigrant rights, for LGBTQ rights, for the rights of Muslims, for the rights of people of color, Black Lives Matter, people in prisons—I mean, the very people who Trump has trotted out as a way to divide and conquer, speaker after speaker after speaker. Also, actually, interestingly, several speakers on student debt, which I expect to be a very important and serious issue in the years ahead.
DEENA GUZDER: And, Dave, you’re, of course, a longtime sportswriter, covering the intersection of sports and politics. What’s the likelihood of sports teams visiting the White House in Trump’s America?
DAVE ZIRIN: Well, this is a very fascinating and interesting question, because Richard Jefferson, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, made the comment when the Cavaliers visited the White House; he said sort of cheekily, “It’s an honor to be the last NBA team to ever visit the White House.” And there is that sentiment among NBA players—the NBA, of course, is an overwhelmingly African-American league—that teams will not visit the White House, or you’ll have these kind of visits where owners show up with like three people on the team and everybody else boycotts, like not—frankly, not unlike what it looked like last night at the concert, where you had Trump, Donald and Melania, watching, you know, Q-list celebrities and country singers, while they looked miserable watching acts that they clearly have no interest in. And when you are a celebrity stalker like Donald Trump is, I think few things upset him more than the fact that people who have a measure of fame are giving him the high hat. So we’ll see what happens in the NFL. It’s very interesting that in a poll taken by a sports reporter named Mike Freeman, black—99 percent of black players he spoke to in the NFL were devastated by the election results, and 100 percent of white players he spoke to—it was like 30 out of 30—all said that they were thrilled by Trump’s election. So, that’ll be very interesting, too, especially this weekend and the Super Bowl. In the AFC, Tom Brady’s Patriots are playing Ben Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger and Brady are both open and proud Trump supporters. And interestingly, Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger, has a long history of sexual assault allegations. Not a problem for Donald Trump, at all.
DEENA GUZDER: Dave Zirin, thank you so much. For Democracy Now!, I’m with Hany Massoud in the streets in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day. Back to the studio.
AMY GOODMAN: And thank you so much for that report, Deena Guzder and Hany Massoud, on the streets of Washington, D.C., as the inauguration is getting underway. We have seen the first lady to be, Melania Trump, just walked in. And now Barack Obama as well as Vice President Biden have just come onto the Capitol Rotunda, as they walk down to take their seats. And in a moment, the inaugural activities will begin. Our guests are—our guests for this hour are Ralph Nader, a former presidential candidate four times over, and Keeanga, as well, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. Before these events begin, as Barack Obama is shaking hands with people, as is Joseph Biden, at this moment, your thoughts, Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: My thoughts are that there are two arenas of formidable opposition to the Trump regime that could be emerging. One is the civil service itself. Honorable civil servants who believe in the rule of law are going to be confronted with lawless activity, with dismantling of their statutory-based missions of health, safety, civil rights, etc. They’re not going to go away easy. Some will quit in disgust. But he’s going to have to deal with millions of civil servants who know what should be done for this country and who know what the rule of law is about.
The second formidable area is a left-right coalition among the American people in the areas where they agree on. Sure, they disagree, left-right, on reproductive rights, gun control, etc. But in the economic issue, when Trump starts to freeze again the minimum wage and 30 million workers are making less today than they made in 1968 adjusted for inflation, that includes a lot of conservative workers, that includes a lot of liberal workers. That’s a potential for an alliance. He’s going to be betraying, on the installment plan, his base, his blue-collar base. In the healthcare area, as he brings a wrecking crew to the healthcare industry and there are more denials of healthcare and there are more gouging by the drug companies, which, contrary to his protestations, are going to persist in doing that, because they have Congress protecting them, that’s going to be a left-right area. In the area of housing and tenants and the need for public transit. Once you get a left-right alliance bubbling up in each congressional district, that sends a completely different signal to the Republicans in Congress, because they want to keep their jobs. And they know how to game a left movement, and they know how to pander to a right movement. But when both come on the same side and they say, “We want law and order on these corporate crooks. We want a living wage,” it’s a different kind of opposition.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, right now, Donald Trump is walking in, just about to walk out onto the Capitol Rotunda. In front of him is the House speaker, Paul Ryan. Your thoughts, Keeanga, as this moment unfolds?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: You know, I mean, there’s a lot that can be said about the ways in which we can resist this. But on another level, it’s like witnessing a hijacking. There’s a certain level of disgust with this smug group of racist rogues and reactionaries that are celebrating their coronation and their rise to victory. And I hope that they enjoy themselves today, because I think that what we’ve seen thus far in the streets of Washington, D.C., is only a taste of what is to come. There is deep bitterness in this country, and I think that we’re all sort of feeling it right in this moment.
AMY GOODMAN: But he did win, not the popular vote, Donald J. Trump, but he did win the Electoral College vote. Now we’re seeing Vice President-elect Mike Pence waving to the crowd. In a moment, these inaugural activities are going to begin. They did win the system that has been set in place in this country to elect a president.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: And it’s a broken system. And when 60 million people out of the 240 million eligible voters are able to put this man into office, then that is a symptom of a system that is actually very—not very reflective of democracy, is a reflection of the deep discord that exists in this country. And so, this is not representative of what people actually think, feel, and what most people actually want. And that’s why his poll numbers tanking. And that is really where the hope lies, is that those people who remain disaffected will actually come together to oppose the agenda of this monster.
AMY GOODMAN: Donald Trump is about to be announced. You’re listening to Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the inauguration. Mike Pence has taken his place next to Melania Trump. Right behind them, President-elect Trump's daughters Ivanka and his son Barron. We see Barack Obama and Joseph Biden. Let’s take a listen to what’s happening.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, escorting the president-elect, the staff director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Stacy McHatton McBride; the Senate sergeant at arms, Frank Larkin; the House sergeant at arms, Paul Irving; the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Roy Blunt; Rules Committee ranking member and Senate Democratic leader, Charles E. Schumer; the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul D. Ryan; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Ladies and gentlemen, the president-elect of the United States, Donald John Trump.
Ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Inaugural Ceremonies, the Honorable Roy Blunt.
SEN. ROY BLUNT: Thank you all. If you have a seat, you can sit down. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mr. President-elect, Mr. Vice President-elect, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States of America.
Today, the legislative, the executive, the judicial branches of our constitutional government come together for the 58th inauguration of the president of the United States. Millions of people all over the world will watch and will listen to this event. Thirty-six years ago at his first inauguration—it was also the first inauguration on this side of the Capitol—President Ronald Reagan said that what we do here is both commonplace and miraculous: commonplace every four years since 1789, when President George Washington took this exact same oath; miraculous because we’ve done it every four years since 1789 and the example it sets for democracies everywhere. Washington believed the inauguration of the second president would be more important than the inauguration of the first. Many people had taken control of a government up until then, but few people had ever turned that control willingly over to anyone else. And as important as the transfer of the—the first transfer of power was, many historians believe that the next election was even more important, when in 1801 one group of people—arguably, for the first time ever in history—willingly, if not enthusiastically, gave control of the government to people they believed had a dramatically different view of what the government would, should and could do. After that election, that actually discovered a flaw in the Constitution itself, which was—which was remedied by the 12th Amendment, Thomas Jefferson, at that inauguration, beyond the chaos of the election that had just passed, said, “We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists.” After four years of Civil War, Lincoln’s second inaugural speech tried to find reason for the continued war when he pointed out that both sides “prayed to the same God.” He had earlier written about those fervent prayers that “one side must be and both sides may be wrong,” but in 1865 he looked to the future—and the memorable moment in that speech was—”with malice toward none and charity for all.” In the middle of the Depression, the country was told that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. And President Kennedy talked about the obligation in democracy to country. The great question that day was “Ask what you can do for your country.”
So we come to this place again, commonplace and miraculous, a national moment of celebration, but not a celebration of victory, a celebration of democracy. And as we begin that celebration, I call on His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez and Pastor Paula White-Cain to provide readings and the invocation.
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: The prayer of King Solomon from the Book of Wisdom. Let us pray. God of our ancestors and lord of mercy, you have made all things and in your providence have charged us to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and righteousness and to render judgment with integrity of heart. Give us wisdom, for we are your servants, weak and short-lived, lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. Indeed, though one might be perfect among mortals, if wisdom which comes from you be lacking, we count for nothing. Now with you is wisdom who knows your will and was there when you made the world, who understands what is pleasing in your eyes, what is conformable with your commands. Send her forth from your holy heavens. From your glorious throne, dispatch her, that she may be with us and work with us, that we may grasp what is pleasing to you, for she knows and understands all things and will guide us prudently in our affairs and safeguard us by her glory. Amen.
REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: From the Gospel of Matthew, the fifth chapter: God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the Earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. He blesses those who are pure in heart, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. And God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you, because you are my followers, for you are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on its stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, that everyone will praise your heavenly father. Respectfully in Jesus’ name.
PASTOR PAULA WHITE-CAIN: We come to you, heavenly father, in the name of Jesus, with grateful hearts, thanking you for this great country that you have decreed to your people. We acknowledge we are a blessed nation with a rich history of faith and fortitude, with a future that is filled with promise and purpose. We recognize that every good and every perfect gift comes from you, and the United States of America is your gift, for which we proclaim our gratitude. As a nation, we now pray for our president, Donald John Trump, Vice President Michael Richard Pence and their families. We ask that you would bestow upon our president the wisdom necessary to lead this great nation, the grace to unify us and the strength to stand for what is honorable and right in your sight. In Proverbs 21:1, you instruct us that our leader’s heart is in your hands. Gracious God, reveal into our president the ability to know the will, your will, the confidence to lead us in justice and righteousness, and the compassion to yield to our better angels. While we know there are many challenges before us, in every generation you have provided the strength and power to become that blessed nation. Guide us in discernment, Lord, and give us that strength to persevere and thrive. Now bind and heal our wounds and divisions, and join our nation to your purpose. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” the Psalmist declared. Let your favor be upon this one nation under God. Let these United States of America be that beacon of hope to all people and nations under your dominion, a true hope for humankind. Glory to the father, the son and the holy spirit. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Missouri State University Chorale.
[performance by the Missouri State University Chorale]
SEN. ROY BLUNT: Well, the Missouri State University Chorale practices and performs about two blocks from my home in Springfield, Missouri, so it was easy to find them. And we’re pleased they’re here. It’s also a great opportunity for me to introduce my colleague, the senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: My fellow Americans, we live in a challenging and tumultuous time—a quickly evolving, evermore interconnected world; a rapidly changing economy that benefits too few, while leaving too many behind; a fractured media; a politics frequently consumed by rancor. We face threats foreign and domestic. In such times, faith in our government, our institutions and even our country can erode. Despite these challenges, I stand here today confident in this great country for one reason: you, the American people. We Americans have always been a forward-looking, problem-solving, optimistic, patriotic and decent people. Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we are immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held yet fierce devotion to our country and in our willingness to sacrifice our time, energy and even our lives to making it a more perfect union.
Today, we celebrate one of democracy’s core attributes: the peaceful transfer of power. And every day, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution: the rule of law; equal protection for all under law; the freedom of speech, press, religion—the things that make America America. And we can gain strength from reading our history and listening to the voices of average Americans. They always save us in times of strife.
One such American was Major Sullivan Ballou. On July 14th, 1861, when the North and South were lining up for their first battle, a time when our country was bitterly divided and faith in the future of our country was at a nadir, Major Ballou of the 2nd Rhode Island volunteers penned a letter to his wife Sarah. It is one of the greatest letters in American history. It shows the strength and courage of the average American. Allow me to read some of his words, which echo through the ages.
“My very dear Sarah,” he wrote. “The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. … If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government and to pay that debt. … Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.”
Sullivan Ballou gave his life on the battlefield a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run. It is because Sullivan Ballou and countless others believed in something bigger than themselves and were willing to sacrifice for it that we stand today in the full blessings of liberty in the greatest country on Earth. And that spirit lives on in each of us, Americans whose families have been here for generations and those who have just arrived. And I know our best days are yet to come. I urge all Americans to read Ballou’s full letter. His words give me solace, strength. I hope they will give you the same.
Now, please stand while the associate justice of the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, administers the oath of office to the vice president of the United States.
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: Place your hand on the Bible. Raise your right hand. Mr. Vice President-elect, would you raise your right hand and repeat after me? I, Michael Richard Pence, do solemnly swear…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: I, Michael Richard Pence, do solemnly swear…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …against all enemies foreign and domestic…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …against all enemies foreign and domestic…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …that I take this obligation freely…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …that I take this obligation freely…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …and that I will well and faithfully discharge…
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …and that I will well and faithfully discharge…
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: …the duties of the office on which I’m about to enter.
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: …the duties of the office on which I’m about to enter.
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: So help me God.
VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: So help me God.
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: Congratulations, Mr. Vice President. God bless you. God bless you.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by the president’s own United States Marine Band.
[Mormon Tabernacle Choir and United States Marine Band perform “America the Beautiful”]
SEN. ROY BLUNT: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s an honor to introduce the chief justice of the United States, John G. Roberts Jr., who will administer the presidential oath of office. Everyone, please stand.
[End of Hour 4]
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear…
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …that I will faithfully execute…
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: …that I will faithfully execute…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …the office of president of the United States…
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: …the office of president of the United States…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …and will, to the best of my ability…
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: ..and will, to the best of my ability…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …preserve, protect and defend…
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: …preserve, protect and defend…
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: …the Constitution of the United States.
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: …the Constitution of the United States.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: So help me God.
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: So help me God.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump has just been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. He was surrounded by his family. He’s waving to the crowd. He’s about to give his address.
SEN. ROY BLUNT: What a great honor to be able to introduce for the first time ever, anywhere, the 45th president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you. Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public. But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.
But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision—on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs—will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation. We will get our people off of welfare and back to work rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor. We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
So, to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way. Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you. God bless America.
AMY GOODMAN: President Donald J. Trump’s inaugural address, after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, sworn in by Chief Justice Roberts; before him, Vice President Mike Pence sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas.
While Donald Trump was being sworn in, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets of Washington. Hundreds of thousands are planning to take part in Saturday’s massive Women’s March on Washington. Protests against Donald Trump are taking place worldwide today. In Mexico, activists burned effigies of Trump during a march and protest at the Zócalo in Mexico City. Demonstrators are gathering in Berlin, Germany, holding signs reading “Mr. President, Walls Divide. Build Bridges.” Hundreds more gathered early Friday in Tokyo, Japan, and outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippine capital of Manila. Telesur reports more protests are planned today in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Prague and Buenos Aires.
This is Democracy Now!’s live coverage of the inauguration and its aftermath. There were about 40,000 people who packed the area around the Capitol for the inauguration. That was, well, about 10 percent of who packed it years ago. And when it came to the number of people who came out for this inauguration, Donald Trump had said his would be the largest. When President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, there were 1.8 million people, nearly 2 million people. Today, about half of the area was full.
We’re joined now by three guests, as we continue our coverage. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. We will be with you until 3:00 Eastern Standard Time. Naomi Klein is back with us, the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Princeton Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, and four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is with us. Twice he ran on the Green Party ticket, twice he ran as an independent, well known as a consumer activist in this country.
Ralph Nader, if you can talk about your thoughts, listening to this address, just around, well, under 18 minutes, around 15 minutes, Donald Trump’s first address, as he talked about issuing a decree, a new vision that is going across the land? From this time on, he said, it’s going to be America first.
RALPH NADER: Well, we’ve heard it all before. The rhetoric is completely now contradicted by his nominations of billionaires, corporatists, racists, militarists to run his Cabinet and other agencies. So, how long he can continue this fantasy between what he says verbally and what he’s doing in the government remains to be seen.
But he signaled two weaknesses of the Democratic Party. One is on trade. The Democratic Party bought into this economics 101 free trade, allowed whole industries and jobs to be exported to communist and fascist regimes, hollowing out communities, and he took full advantage of that. Had they not done that, he would have had a very hard time finding traction in the Midwest of the United States, where a lot of the factories are empty. And the second thing that he took advantage of was a sense of subordinating our own missions to foreign expenditures and foreign involvements, although he is going to be a heralder of the empire with his nominees, for sure. But when he talks about spending trillions abroad while our public works decay and our jobs are not built here, that’s another huge gap by the Democratic Party. They should not have allowed those kinds of vacuums to occur.
The last thing that he signaled—and this is going to be troubling for everybody—is that he’s going to do a lot of things at once in the first hundred days, unlike Barack Obama, who figured that he could only handle the Democratic Congress with healthcare. He’s going to try to go on all fronts. And that’s perilous for him, obviously, but it’s also very perilous for the Democratic Party, which now is a minority in the Congress. That means he’s going to get the nominee to the Supreme Court up fast. He’s going to start changing the tax system up fast. He’s going to start rolling back health and safety and other regulations fast by all kinds of executive action and in Congress.
And so, what we’re going to see here is a challenge to the stamina of the citizenry, especially the majority of the people who voted against him, and whether they organize in every congressional district or they just engage in important but short-lived resistance is a real question now. We have to build sustained power in every congressional district to use that huge leverage over Congress—535 people whose names we know—as an opposition to what the Trump administration plans to do.
He is now way in over his neck. He doesn’t know how to run the government. He doesn’t like to work hard. He doesn’t like details. He doesn’t like to read briefing memos. He doesn’t like to be briefed. So we’re going to see a huge delegation of authority to his nominees, to his Cabinet secretaries, etc. And we will see a new media emerge, which is his tweeting media and which is basically his public relations arm to 20, 30 million people that tap into that account.
Finally, I think what we—we’re going to have to do something to get over the yuck factor. The liberals have to get over the yuck factor. They disagree with conservatives back home on certain issues, as we know—reproductive rights, etc., gun control. But there’s a huge left-right worker alliance that can be dealt here, because, as he alluded to, they all bleed the same way, and, as I would expand, they all get ripped off the same way by the healthcare industry, by the utilities, by the employers, by the low wages. That’s the alliance for the future against Donald Trump and his billionaires.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: You mentioned, Ralph, that Trump, of course, he’s become famous for this now, or infamous, using Twitter to convey his policies and proposed policies and all forms of communication. I mean, one of the things that was striking about the speech is that, in a way, it read or sounded much like his Twitter messages, like a series of declarative statements, that—you know, one not necessarily following from the other. Keeanga, your response? What did—what struck you particularly about what he said?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: I think that there are a couple of things. One is the kind of bellicose, bullyish nature of it. Not only did he declare a new decree of America first, but in the first couple of sentences, you know, he talked about how this election, his ascendance to the presidency, would not only chart a new course for America, but would chart a new course for the world. And I think, you know, that is consistent with a kind of thuggish, bullying posture that Trump and his supporters have taken since the campaign, and certainly since the election. And so, I think that that is worrying, and it’s concerning.
I think also the sort of—the language about America first and hiring Americans first and—what kind of threat that that poses in combination with the continued discussion about the wall and attacks on immigrants, and what that will mean, and also his strange call for unity through the kind of disappearance of important differences that exist. And so, this whole discussion that we all bleed the same is a way of really avoiding the issues of race and ethnicity in the United States in dangerous ways, I think, in ways that really ignore the extent to which this country has been embroiled in racial strife and discord over the last several years, evidenced by the struggles around immigration, struggles around the DAPL pipeline struggle or the DAPL pipeline protests, and, probably most well known, struggles around Black Lives Matter and the movement against police abuse and violence.
And so, I think that in ways that those of us who have been critical have talked about, that the breadth of the Trump attack was put on full display. And so, if there was any surprise, it was the way that there was no attempt to temper that message, which is also consistent with the Cabinet appointees, that—as Naomi said earlier, that there is no pretense that this is anything but what it actually is, which is a power grab by the rich and influential, a smash-and-grab operation to get away with as much as they possibly can to—as they have said, to reset government. And so, I think that the parameters of what the resistance has to do, and what it will look like, have been set forth clearly. And it really is time to move from the despair and anger—not necessarily anger, but despair and disbelief—into defiance and anger and organizing against this.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go back to part of President Trump’s speech.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s President Donald Trump speaking at his inauguration speech just a few moments ago. So, Naomi Klein, could you comment on this, his emphasis on America first? And another thing that he lamented in his speech was the fact that the U.S. has so subsidized other countries that its own military has been depleted, which, of course, he naturally categorized as very sad, of course, not mentioning at all that the U.S. spends more on its military than all the other countries of the world combined. So, give us your reflections on his speech.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, and, of course, one of the remarkable things about his appointments is the number of not so recently retired generals, all of whom have ties to military contractors who are going to benefit directly from this arms race that he’s been tweeting about, including a nuclear arms race, right? “Bring it on!” But, you know, I have to say, listening to this America—this defiant America firstism, and, you know, picking up on what Ralph said about how this is tapping into the failures and the weaknesses of the Democratic Party, you know, he’s speaking directly to people’s feeling of being disappeared and neglected and so on. And I think until there is a very clear alternative, that will continue to resonate, despite all of the obvious hypocrisies that we’ve been delineating all day.
It does make me think about something else, though. You know, I’ve been involved in the free trade battles for a couple of decades now, you know, taking on—going back to the original free trade agreement with Canada and the NAFTA and the creation of the WTO and all of that. But I was never comfortable with the way in which particularly the U.S. labor movement used America firstism—right?—and did not use enough the language of internationalism—right?—and including employing easy, xenophobic language about the Chinese and opposing these deals on the basis of this easy nationalism. And unfortunately, that, I think, moral failure, that moral failure to stand up for principles of international workers’ rights, interventional environmental standards, instead of just this easy hypernationalism, is now something that Trump can and is picking up. We’re seeing it right now. Some of these messages aren’t that different than the message we heard from unions. I know I’m not going to make some people happy saying that, but it’s too familiar. And we can’t move forward making those same mistakes. It’s wonderful to see the internationalism in the response to Trump, and we’re going to need to be an international movement, because this is not just something that’s happening in the United States, right? This is happening in the midst of austerity programs around the world. It’s—
AMY GOODMAN: And Donald Trump—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —acknowledged that he was speaking to the world, not just the United States.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Right.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, one thing I did like in his speech was the “Now arrives the hour of action.” And seeing as he’s appropriated a lot of, you know, pseudo-populist slogans, I say we take that one and apply it to our movements.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Donald J. Trump, now President Trump, his first inaugural address.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: So, there you have—there you have President Trump talking about eradicating radical Islamic terrorism, something he hit President Obama hard on, saying he refused to use those words. He also, for years, led the birther movement, which said very clearly that President Obama was an illegitimate president because he was not born in the United States, was a secret Kenyan. He would say he has investigators on it, he’s got the documents to prove it. But let’s start with you, Naomi, on that issue.
NAOMI KLEIN: I mean, I think a lot of what he’s signaling here is—you know, and this is—I think we have to recognize people in this country and around the world are very frightened right now, are frightened about being rounded up in this country, because he’s absolutely signaling that it’s immigrants, and particularly Muslims, who are going to be targeted first. I think that’s very clear in this rhetoric. There’s this sort of pseudo, weird embrace of people in inner cities, but this is—this is what he’s signaling. He’s signaling who’s first in line as the enemies. And I think if we are to have any hope in this moment, there has to be an absolute clear resolve to have each other’s backs. This has to be a unified movement. As Ralph said, they are going to be doing it all at once, right? They’re going to be—they’re going to be trying to do everything at once. And our only hope is that not putting us into that state of shock and scrambling in all directions, but really building a unified movement that gets out of our silos, that doesn’t just sort of say, “Well, OK, well, we’re safe because he’s going after Muslims, and we’ll just keep our heads down—right?—and hope he doesn’t come after us.” I think that was basically what was tried during the Bush years, and there has to be a lot more courage than that.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: You notice he never used the word “peace.” He doesn’t know how to wage peace. And if he’s just going to pursue more and more military action overseas, he’s just going to spread the opposition, just the way Bush and Obama did—started out with a gang in Northeast Afghanistan and 9/11, and it metastasized into 20, 30 countries, and will always be there as long as the argument of the fighters against us over there is “get rid of the invader.” As long as we’re there, as long as it’s imperialism and colonialism and militarism and big oil, etc., they will have the argument that will enlist a lot of people on their side in all these countries. So, he just gave us a prescription for more war, more boomerang, more reach into this country. And, of course, he can turn into a monster if that happens. If we have another major attack in this country, or two, he’d turn into a complete monster in civil liberties and priorities and lashing back overseas, massive destruction. And we end up with a militarized society and a police state. We are very, very vulnerable to that. Our defenses as a democratic society were shown to be very weak after 9/11. And he has got that kind of demagogic capability to exacerbate that kind of a rush to a fury that he can feed, and he can do it directly with his Twitter masses, as well as with the mass media. So, that’s a very frightening thing.
You always ask in an inaugural address, “What words are never used?” And, for example, Reagan almost never used the word “justice.” He always used the word “freedom” and “liberty.” Well, there’s no freedom or liberty without justice. And he doesn’t use the word “peace.” And he’s got all these Cabinet secretaries and generals basically aching for a fight, except with Russia. That’s the one bright light, whether it’s due to his economic entanglements with the Putin regime. Hillary Clinton was waiting to pick a fight with Putin, and that has enormous ramifications. So, we’ll see what he does. But, you know, the idea of blaming China and Mexico—it was U.S. multinationals that emptied out these factories and unemployed these workers, often with tax advantages by Washington, D.C., to go to China and to Mexico. So, he’s—I think the best word to describe Trump is the “twistifier-in-chief.”
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Let me—can I just say that I do—I think that there are a couple of things. One is that with Trump, you can see the move from the kind of dog whistle to the foghorn around racism, but I think that he’s also trying to do something interesting, which is to try to include African Americans into this “America first” by talking about how, you know, we’ve got the crime-infested inner cities, but we’re going to save them, and they’re Americans like the rest of them, and we need to include them in our efforts to put down radical Islamic terrorists, in our efforts to build the wall and to keep the Mexicans out. And I think that there is a basic incoherence at the heart of that, which is that the policies that Trump is pursuing domestically will have a disproportionate impact in their harm on African Americans. So, for people who are in disproportionate need of state protections, of a public sector, that the efforts to subvert that, to get rid of those types of regulatory protections, but also those types of social welfare programs, will have a devastating impact on black people in particular. And so, the effort to sort of unite people around this false idea of America first by attacking immigrants, by attacking Muslims, is built on—is built on sand, in some ways, and it’s built on incoherence, when you actually begin to unpack that.
AMY GOODMAN: As you tell this story, and just before, Naomi, you weigh in, the Obamas’ helicopter has just arrived. Donald Trump and Melania Trump are bidding farewell to Michelle Obama and Barack Obama. Donald Trump just kissed Michelle Obama on both cheeks.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Where’s his hand?
NAOMI KLEIN: “Where’s his hand?”
AMY GOODMAN: And one of the things that was caught on microphone when Donald Trump and Barack Obama were walking in the Capitol—the camera catches a snippet of the conversation. Obama is heard to say to Trump, “Well, as I said, we’ll be right around the corner.” President Obama is now waving to people who see him and Michelle getting into the plane. They will now head off to Palm Springs, California, where they will take a brief respite and then return to Washington, D.C., where their youngest daughter will finish high school. Right now, Donald Trump, hand in hand with his wife, Melania Trump, are leaving the helicopter. There will be a congressional lunch, and then there will be the inaugural parade. And as you pointed out earlier, Keeanga, the attempts by Donald Trump to have more military presence at the inaugural parade, to actually have tanks rolling down the streets, apparently was vetoed by the military, shot down by the military. They didn’t want these extremely heavy tanks wrecking the streets of Washington, D.C. Right now, Mr. and Mrs. Trump, Mr. and Mrs. Pence are waving goodbye to the Obamas. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” as we broadcast from Washington, D.C., from the PBS studios of WHUT at the Mecca, at Howard University, here in Washington, D.C. Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, just picking up on what Keeanga was saying earlier about this sort of—building this kind of false racial unity united against Muslims, it’s interesting that his chosen model for this was the military, right? I mean, we all—I think he said, you know—
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Yes.
NAOMI KLEIN: —”As the soldiers know, we all bleed the same.” Right? And so, that’s what he’s holding up—right?—as the model of going to war, and, you know, overwhelmingly against Muslim countries, and this sort of heavily armed, united America against all enemies. And I think that that’s the plan. That’s the game plan. And it’s certainly worrying.
RALPH NADER: I think—I think Jim Hightower once said, “It’s not left-right, it’s top-down.” And I think there’s a real argument to be made. If you really want to unify the American people against the Trump billionaires and plutocracy that have just acquired the U.S. government—they’re no longer buying and renting politicians; they have literally acquired the U.S. government with this minority vote that he got, and then won by the Electoral College, which I hope is on the way out. You know, there’s an interstate compact with many states now pledging—California, Illinois, New York—to throw the electoral vote to whoever wins the national popular vote. The website is NationalPopularVote.com. So, he comes in. He’s really not a majority president by any means. He’s low in the polls, and so he’s looking to make some really daring, spectacular moves.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, that’s very important, 32 to 34 percent in the polls—
RALPH NADER: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —compared to when Barack Obama first came in. He was at what? Fifty percent higher, at like 84 percent. In fact, that popularity rating of 32, 33 percent is 10 points lower than Obamacare—
RALPH NADER: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —than health insurance, which is at around 44 percent right now. And it looks like people, like we’ve never seen before, are flocking to get this insurance that the Republicans are pledging to repeal.
RALPH NADER: Yeah, I think we should have a betrayal index, because he’s going to start betraying people from day one. I mean, imagine the expectation levels he’s done in this little speech. “As of now, you know, street crime and bad schools stop. You know, gangs stop. And everything is going to start as of now.” So he’s holding himself up.
NAOMI KLEIN: But the tricky thing—
RALPH NADER: So he’s holding himself up, too.
NAOMI KLEIN: He is. He is. But, you know, we talked about Twitter, but it’s not just about Twitter, right? I mean, there’s a whole news infrastructure that is going to be amplifying his message. You can call it fake news or whatever. But I don’t think we should underestimate Trump’s brilliance as a marketer. Right? So he is going to be marketing, constantly, everything that he’s doing.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: And—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: I also think the problem that folks were talking about earlier is that when he inevitably fails with the content of the programs—
RALPH NADER: Yeah.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: —bringing jobs back, refurbishing the cities, transforming America—when that inevitably fails, he and his administration will double down on racism. They will double down on the wall. They will double down on radical Islamic terrorists in our midst. And they will double down on racism in the blacks in the inner city. That is the political formula. It’s been a bipartisan formula. And we’re about to see that formula amplified in ways that we probably haven’t seen in more than a generation.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re seeing some new things on websites right now—what just went up on the WhiteHouse.gov website.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Executive orders?
AMY GOODMAN: It is a plan to get rid of the Climate Action Plan. You know, for months now, climate scientists have been trying to copy the documents and the science on government websites around climate change, making backup, as you coming from Canada—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, in Canada.
AMY GOODMAN: —data in Canada, you know, a kind of data refuge project. So, what this plan now says—it is called the—let’s see, “An America First Energy Plan.” It says, on the WhiteHouse.gov website, “For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.” What does that say to you, Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: Well, he means what he says. And, you know, he’s like a bull in a china shop. And he’s—they’re coming into Washington, the billionaires and the militarists and the corporatists, drunk with their own power, and they’re going to—they’re going to fall into a lot of traps. First of all, they’re disregarding the ability of the civil service to resist. There are a lot of law-abiding civil servants who don’t cater to having their lawful missions unlawfully disregarded. And there are going to be a lot of whistleblowers, and he’s going to get in trouble. The press is—the mass media is turning against him, because he turned against the mass media, which created him in the Republican primary. So, I think we’re underestimating the trouble he’s getting into.
I mean, there’s a certain level where the passivity of the American people and notorious apathy of the citizenry reaches its limit. As Tony Mazzocchi, a labor leader, once said, you can push around the American workers, and push them and push them and push them. Once you go past a certain point, watch out. And the rhetoric cannot mask the low-wage economy that he’s going to try to preserve. It cannot mask the rampant corporate crime waves against consumers, tenants, homeowners, debtors, students that he’s going to preserve. So, I don’t think he’s going to be able to paper this over. And we have to assume the Democrats are going to start getting a little smarter and showing how many Achilles’ heels he has, starting with his own personality and his easily bruisable ego, which makes him also a very risky politician from his own standards.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to go to the whole issue of the border wall and of cracking down on immigration. The WhiteHouse.gov website also says, in the section “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community,” “Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing. … President Trump is committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities. He is dedicated to enforcing our border laws, ending sanctuary cities, and stemming the tide of lawlessness associated with illegal immigration.” It also reads—and I’m reading from the WhiteHouse.gov website that went up minutes ago—
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: His contract, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: “The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.” At the Republican National Convention, one of the speakers immediately said that the first movement that they would go after, criminalize, investigate, was the Black Lives Matter movement. Keeanga, you have written a book about the Black Lives Matter movement. What about this? Where will these movements stand, or is this now being taken to a whole new level?
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: Well, I think that Trump said on the campaign trail that Black Lives Matter was a terrorist movement and that organizations connected to the movement were terrorists, as well. And so, I think that the movement against police violence and abuse has been in the crosshairs of not just Trump, but of the Republican Party, since its inception. And so, this presents a significant challenge to the Black Lives Matter movement that I think should not be underestimated. I think that that’s very important. But I think also—what we have said earlier today is that the issues of solidarity and the ability to connect with other social movements organizing is critical right now. And so—and I write about this in my book, the need for the movement against police abuse and violence to ally and connect itself with all of the groups of people who are threatened by this—and that, most pronouncedly right now, concerns the immigrant community, it concerns Arabs and Muslims in this country—and that we really have to actively develop those links.
AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us to Ai-jen Poo. Last night at the Peace Ball at the African American museum of the Smithsonian, the brand-new museum, Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, spoke, and I had a chance to speak with her just before she addressed the thousands of people who came out for that ball.
AI-JEN POO: My name is Ai-jen Poo, and I’m the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And we work with nannies, house cleaners and caregivers around the country, many of whom are immigrant women, undocumented, and women of color, who will be on the front lines of some of the attacks of this administration. And I’ll say that I have in my mind one of our members, Ana, who was on our tele-town hall the day after the elections. And she said to me, she said, “Ai-jen, I risked my life crossing the border through the desert to give my children a better life here in this country, and I want to fight. I want to fight for them. I want to fight for this country. And I’m ready.” And so, I have her very much in my heart as we enter this next period in American political life. We’re all marching on Saturday as part of the Women’s March on Washington. We’re extremely excited about it. We’re expecting a million people to come to D.C., and there are 600 marches around the country. And it’s just a small indication of how much energy there is to take action, to stand up and to build the most powerful opposition movement the world’s ever seen.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the news reports around Wilbur Ross, who would be perhaps the wealthiest Cabinet member, if in fact he is confirmed, was that he employed an undocumented immigrant in his home for years. So, he assured people he fired her. Your thoughts?
AI-JEN POO: It’s just a clear indication of the hypocrisy of this administration and of this notion that we could somehow uproot and just dispose of immigrants. Immigrants are already so deeply embedded in our homes, in our communities, in the fabric of this country. And people who are taking the stance of that we can somehow dispose of and deport immigrants in this country are just—it’s the most un-American kind of attitude and action that he took that I can imagine. It’s completely hypocritical.
AMY GOODMAN: How will you be organizing from here on in? And the people that you work with, what else are they telling you right now? Are people afraid?
AI-JEN POO: People—it’s interesting. Like the member that I described earlier, Ana, who is without a doubt going to be on the top of the list when the immigration raids start happening—she has multiple family members who have deportation orders—she’s incredibly courageous. She is ready to fight and to organize. And she’s part of building community defense committees around the country. We are preparing to defend communities, but also to fight for what we deserve. We believe that the best defense is offensive and that we should not—we should not give up the space around the solutions that we need and deserve in this country. And we should continue building movement and building the power to win them.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who will be out in force with domestic workers tomorrow at the Women’s March on D.C. Democracy Now! will be covering that march from 10:00 Eastern Standard Time in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. Check out democracynow.org. Naomi Klein, you also addressed the Peace Ball. And the issues you want to raise now in these first minutes of a Donald J. Trump administration?
NAOMI KLEIN: Look, I think it’s tremendously inspiring and a real source of hope that there are a lot of these intersectional spaces that are emerging, and movements coming together, recognizing that the only way you can confront an onslaught like this is with unity—but not by collapsing everything into itself, right? I mean, not pretending that everything is the same, but by developing—first of all, identifying how all of these issues are interconnected. And certainly, they’re connected within the Trump administration. The same people who are denying climate change are some of the most openly racist of his appointees. So, and the solutions must be connected, too, right? What worries me is this idea that because there are so many obvious contradictions, we can kind of wait for it to collapse. I think that would be disastrous. It can’t just be a resistance strategy. It has to be resisting, on the one hand, and proposing, on the other, because people do feel so neglected, that if there is not a real alternative that speaks to—
AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.
NAOMI KLEIN: —that feeling of neglect, I think that this strategy can be successful.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank Ralph Nader for joining us, four-time presidential candidate, well-known, world-renowned consumer activist. Naomi Klein, you are listening to, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. And Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. We’re cointinuing our discussion for several hours today, in these first minutes of the new administration of Donald J. Trump. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 5]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” an Inauguration Day special. We’re broadcasting live from the PBS station WHUT on the campus of the historically black university, Howard University. We’re live on the air until 3:00 p.m. Eastern time in this Inauguration Day special. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Donald Trump has just been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Trump was sworn in by the Supreme Court chief justice, John Roberts. Vice President Mike Pence was sworn in by Clarence Thomas. While Trump was being sworn in, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets of Washington. Hundreds of thousands are planning to take part in tomorrow’s massive Women’s March on Washington. Protests against Donald Trump are also taking place worldwide today.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to go to the author of a The Black History of the White House. And in a few minutes, we will be going to Clarence Lusane, because I think it’s interesting, as we look at this transition of power, to look at the new home that Donald Trump will be living in, not only the White House, but his new city, Washington, D.C., and who was responsible for building it. We’re going to go to Clarence Lusane, an alum of Howard University, in just a moment. But as we broadcast here from Howard University, just a mile or two from the Capitol, where Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have just flown away, it’s important to note the house they lived in. And this is an issue that the first lady, the former first lady, Michelle Obama, used to raise, talking about making her own daughters, who are the descendants of slaves, aware of who helped to build the White House. Let’s go right now to Howard University alum Clarence Lusane.
CLARENCE LUSANE: I’m glad that you pointed out that President Obama, when he went to Jefferson’s home, pointed out the slave history there. But it’s also important to note that the most iconic building in the U.S., the one that represents the country to the world, the White House, also was a place where slavery existed. Not only that, it was built by slaves. And none of that has been publicly acknowledged. There is over a million people who visit the White House every year, who go on tours, who come for meetings, and you can go through that building and never have a sense of that important history.
And that’s critical because I think Presidents’ Day should be a period of critical reflection, not some kind of blind celebration, but it should be one where we really try to get a better sense of the country’s history. And part of that history, part of what I think resonates even to this day, is that, significantly, before the Civil War, nearly every U.S. president was a slave owner, which meant that they were compromised on the issue of slavery, and that had repercussions that, you know, redounded through history. So it’s really critical, I think, that we have that acknowledgment, because we grow up, we go to school, we have history classes, and none of that history is told to us.
AMY GOODMAN: So, give us a black history of U.S. presidents, as you call it.
CLARENCE LUSANE: Well, in looking at the White House—and I use that as the prism to try to look at this longer history that basically led up to President Obama—one of the things that we find that’s missing in that history is the voices of people, particularly African Americans, who were enslaved during that long, long, long history. And that was critical because when you think about George Washington, Madison, Monroe, all of the early presidents, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, they wrote the Constitution, they wrote the Articles of Confederation, all of these documents, these founding documents that extol the principles of democracy, liberty, equality, they were living a contradiction. And that contradiction is that every single day of their life, every moment in their life, they were surrounded by people who were enslaved.
Now, fortunately, because of some of the historic records that have been kept, we now know who some of those people were. George Washington, for example, when he was president and his presidency was in Philadelphia, had at least nine individuals with him who were enslaved—Oney Maria Judge, for example, who was a young woman of about 22 who escaped from George Washington. She escaped—this was in 1796, when she found out that Martha Washington was planning to give her away as a wedding gift. And she made contact with the free black population in Philadelphia, was able to escape. Now, this is remarkable because we’re talking about a young woman who basically traveled nowhere by herself, who escapes from the most powerful person on the planet, pretty much, certainly most powerful person in the United States. Her story is important because she lived—she outlived Washington. She lived to be, I believe, in her eighties and lived a life where she learned to read, became active in her community. You also had Hercules, who was Washington’s cook, who also escaped from Washington.
So there are people who we were in and around the White House who had stories to tell that are part of that history that we literally were never taught about for all of the years that, you know, we took schooling and we took classes in history. And so, I thought it was important, and there are others who have written to re-enter into the historic narrative the stories of these individuals, because they really are critical if you really want to understand the politics of George Washington or the politics of Thomas Jefferson or any of the other presidents who held slaves.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about Paul Jennings.
CLARENCE LUSANE: Paul Jennings, again, is another fascinating character. He was enslaved to the Madisons, to James and Dolly Madison. He was, in fact, the first individual to actually write about working in the White House. He published a memoir—this was in the late 1860s—that talked about the time when he was in the White House. And he was there in 1814. He was there when the British literally were burning down the city, and was part of the contingent of folks who were attempting to get materials out of the White House and preserve them before the British came. So he really had a fascinating history.
He was supposed to be free when James Madison died, but Dolly Madison basically reneged on the deal. So he—it took him a few years to buy his freedom, which he eventually did. And then he actually came to help Dolly Madison. She fell on hard times. She wasn’t wealthy. She wasn’t a wealthy person, and she wasn’t part of the social elite of Washington. And so, when she fell on hard times and her family and friends abandoned her, Jennings would often bring her food and bring her money and basically would look after her. But what was also important about James Jennings is that he also was—
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Jennings.
CLARENCE LUSANE: Paul Jennings, I’m sorry, is that he was also central to the largest attempt at escaping from slavery that happened in Washington, D.C. This happened in 1848. For a number of reasons, the escape attempt failed, but Jennings was never brought in. He was never seen as being part of it. And it was only literally after his death that it was revealed that he had played a very critical role in that. So, my point is that you had these individuals who were enslaved to presidents, who really had fascinating kinds of stories and fascinating kinds of lives that we should know about, because they really are also a part of the history of the White House and the history of the presidency.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to play a clip from the trailer of the film Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, released last year, about President Abraham Lincoln and the fight to end slavery in the United States. In this clip, you first hear Abraham Lincoln, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, followed by the voices of Thaddeus Stevens, the congressmember from Pennsylvania, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the first lady. Let’s go to that clip.
PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN: [played by Daniel Day-Lewis] We’re stepped out upon the world stage now, the fate of human dignity in our hands! Blood’s been spilt to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now!
THADDEUS STEVENS: [played by Tommy Lee Jones] Abraham Lincoln has asked us to work with him to accomplish the death of slavery.
MARY TODD LINCOLN: [played by Sally Field] No one’s ever been loved so much by the people. Don’t waste that power.
AMY GOODMAN: That was an excerpt of Lincoln. Clarence Lusane, talk about Abraham Lincoln and slavery.
CLARENCE LUSANE: Lincoln was—the Lincoln administration was a turning point in terms of the history of the relationship between African Americans and the White House. It was during Lincoln’s tenure that the first meeting took place between a U.S. president and leaders of the black community. This happened in 1862, I believe. Now, this was critical because up until that point, although African Americans, particularly free African Americans in the North, had been organized and had been raising issues, policy issues, issues around slavery, they simply had no access to the White House or to policymakers. Lincoln, however, opened up some of that space.
And part of what I think moved Lincoln from being not just simply anti-slavery, but ultimately to recognizing that you had to eliminate slavery, that abolition was the only path forward, in part, came because of his discussions with black leaders, not only church leaders, but people like Frederick Douglass, but also—and this is in the film—discussions with Elizabeth Keckley. In the film, she’s the woman who’s often seen with Mary Lincoln. She’s played by Reuben, Gloria Reuben, in the film. And the film is a little bit disingenuous in that you could think that maybe she was a servant, but in fact she was an independent businesswoman who had become basically best friends with Mary Lincoln, but also she spent a great deal of time at the White House having discussions with Abraham Lincoln about race, about slavery, about the future of the country. And again, her story is important to be told because she, again, was part of a contingent of African Americans who thought to influence the presidency and to address issues that needed to be dealt with. And so, the movie Lincoln doesn’t quite take you there to show you that side of the people who influenced Lincoln, but it’s an important part of understanding what happened in the Civil War and how Lincoln actually got to the point where he said the only way out of this situation is that slavery has to end.
AMY GOODMAN: Then that moment, that meeting, August 14th, 1862, Abraham Lincoln does something unprecedented: He meets with a small delegation of black leaders, clergy.
CLARENCE LUSANE: Right. And at that point, Lincoln had already decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. There was some debate about which date to issue it on, but he was already moving in a position where he saw the country’s future as a future without slavery. And these leaders that he met with were people who mostly were tied to the black church community, but people who also had ties to abolitionists, to people who were active in the other kinds of issues around the country. So that really was kind of a turning point. And since that point, there has been a considerable amount of effort on the part of African Americans to negotiate and to meet with and to lobby not only in Congress, but the president themself.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the buildings, these iconic structures that kids, adults go to in Washington, D.C., to honor this country—the White House, the Capitol. Who built it?
CLARENCE LUSANE: This is really important, because I think there may be some sense, more generally, that Washington owned slaves and Jefferson owned slaves, but I think there’s a general ignorance about the role of people who were enslaved in actually building the nation’s capital. In 1790, after the country was founded, the Congress passed legislation to build a capital. Washington, D.C., did not exist. And so, there was a decision that land that was ceded from Maryland and from Virginia would become the nation’s capital, and it had to be built, and it would take 10 years. This is why Washington spent all of his presidency either in New York or in Pennsylvania. But to build Washington, D.C., you needed labor. And George Washington, who was more or less in charge of the project—
AMY GOODMAN: Clarence Lusane is the historian of how—the historian of who built the buildings, the White House and other buildings, in Washington, D.C. Clarence Lusane, a Howard University alum and author, author of The Black History of the White House. We spoke to him a few years ago when his book came out. Yes, we’re broadcasting from Howard University, from WHUT. And right now President Obama, or former President Obama, is speaking.
BARACK OBAMA: So to all of you that have put your heart and soul not just into our campaigns, but into making schools better, making sure our veterans got the care they needed, making sure that we left behind a planet that is safe and secure for our kids, making sure that hardworking people had a ladder of opportunity and could support families—for all of you who have just done amazing, remarkable work, most of it unheralded, most of it without fanfare, most of it without you getting any word of thanks, we could not be prouder of you. I could not be prouder of you. This has been the privilege of my life, and I know I speak for Michelle, as well. And we look forward to continuing this journey with all of you, and I can’t wait to see what you do next. And I promise you I’ll be right there with you. All right? God bless you. Thank you, everybody. Yes, we did! Yes, we can! God bless America!
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, there you hear former President Barack Obama, with his wife, Michelle Obama, applauding at his side. When he spoke, he’s at Andrews Air Force Base, where he will take the plane that they will take to Palm Springs, California, for a vacation before returning back to Washington, D.C., where we heard Barack Obama saying to Donald Trump just before he was inaugurated as the 45th president, as they were walking through the Capitol with an open mic, he said, “I’ll be just around the corner, ” because he will be living just around the corner from the White House. When he ascended the podium at Andrews, people were chanting, “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”
This is Democracy Now!'s special broadcast, live broadcast of Inauguration Day of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Donald Trump was sworn in by the chief justice of the United States, Justice Roberts, and the vice president, Mike Pence, was sworn in by Clarence Thomas. I'm Amy Goodman, here with Nermeen Shaikh. And we’re joined by two guests. Alicia Garza joins us. She is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, director for special projects of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And still with us, journalist Allan Nairn.
Allan, to get a comment on that speech—President Trump just gave his 15-minute inaugural address—your thoughts?
ALLAN NAIRN: It’s the most substantive inaugural address I can remember hearing. Usually they’re full of platitudes. This was packed with political program. And it shows how serious this guy is and how serious this movement is. We’re really facing a national emergency now. It’s not a joke. He’s not incompetent. Trump has a team of the most—consisting of the most radical political party in American history, arguably, since 1860, the current Republicans. He has a Cabinet who believe in oligarchy unbound, without limits, a lot of whom—and a lot of the individuals in there look to be very competent at their assigned task of dismantling those aspects of their respective departments that serve the poor, working people as opposed to the rich. And in that speech, which was a collection of the most severe moments from his sub-speeches, you really felt again some of the fascist undertones that ran through his campaign. I mean, this was a real signal. People better organize now, because up to now, in the course of this campaign, you know, American progressives have not done very well. It was remarkable that Sanders got as far as he did, but he didn’t make it over the line, which is all that—in a sense, is all that counts in the end. And Trump could not be stopped.
It’s an interesting parallel with what happened in Peru last year, in the Peruvian elections. There you had three main candidates—a progressive, a neoliberal and a neofascist. Mendoza, the progressive, narrowly was edged out of getting into the second round by Kuczynski, the neoliberal. He then faced, in the runoff, Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the former president, Alberto Fujimori, who had sponsored death squads and ruled in a proto-fascist manner, and she was promising to bring that back. Although they were heartbroken by the narrow defeat of Verónika Mendoza, the progressive candidate, who really had promised to bring Peru in a very constructive direction, the Peruvian left rallied to stop the return of neofascism and the Fujimori family by backing Kuczynski, the neoliberal, figuring he would do less damage, and pushing him narrowly over the line.
That didn’t happen here, and now we’ve got Trump and the radical oligarchs. And they’re prepared to devastate the last hundred years of social progress. And one thing that I think has been interesting to see is Trump has been working through his transition. He’s got the preparation to wreck government as a force for working people and poor people—he’s got that part down. But one part he hasn’t addressed yet is mass mobilization, mass mobilization of his people. And I’ve been wondering if—at some point, is he going to do that? Because that’s always a key element of any fascist-type movement. Is he going to set up Trump leagues at the grassroots level, that can go and gather outside progressive gatherings and intimidate them, start roughing people up? The tone of that speech suggests that may be the next step.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt for a minute, because we have to go live to the streets right now for an update. Not far from the inauguration route, there’s going to be a parade that Donald Trump will leave. We’re going to turn right now to Democracy Now!'s Carla Wills. Carla, talk about what's happening there.
CARLA WILLS: And it’s along the route, the parade—folks with tickets are trying to enter a checkpoint to go see the inaugural parade. The inauguration itself, the swearing-in ceremony, is over, but the protests continue. I am here with one of the organizers. Your name?
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: [inaudible].
CARLA WILLS: And you’re with what group?
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: I am with the DisruptJ20 collective, based here in D.C.
CARLA WILLS: And tell us what is going on behind us.
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: What’s going on behind us is a security checkpoint. [inaudible]
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to try to make it easier for you to be able to hear that report. Somehow the microphone doesn’t seem to be working properly. But we’ll get there. Earlier today, Carla was reporting from the Black Lives Matter rally. But I think we have that microphone right now. So, Carla, if you can repeat what you were saying. Talk about what’s happening now. If there are protesters around you, if you could let us hear what someone has to say?
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: And thousands of folks all across the country coming for that, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, we’ve been facing extreme kind of like repression from Trump supporters. I got punched in the stomach earlier here at this Future is Feminist checkpoint by a large man. So, you know, it’s definitely a mixed bag of emotions today.
CARLA WILLS: And how long are you going to be out here today?
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: I’m here to support The Future is Feminist checkpoint. We have four women that are locked down with chains inside the security checkpoint right now, and they’ve requested that we stay here and shut it down and support them until they get arrested.
CARLA WILLS: What are your greatest concerns about this Trump presidency, particularly in terms of, you know, what his policies may be for women, his record?
DISRUPTJ20 ORGANIZER: Absolutely. I mean, my biggest concern is normalizing—normalizing a hateful agenda. Donald Trump threatens every community in our country, except for rich, white, cis men. So I am—I think the biggest threat is our fellow Americans and folks around the world normalizing this type of outrageous, dangerous behavior.
CARLA WILLS: And again, we are here on the—at the intersection of 10th Street and E. And a checkpoint is now in the process of being shut down. This is a route along 10th Street to get inside the checkpoint to see the inaugural parade. And again, hundreds of protesters here shutting it down right now, a continuation of what we’ve seen all day. There are Trump supporters who are confronting all of the activists along the route around the city. Again, more confrontations going on right around us as we speak. And we’ll continue to give you live updates of what’s going on here from 10th and E. This is Carla Wills, along with Sam Alcoff. Back to the studio, Amy and Nermeen.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Carla Wills on the streets in Washington, D.C. And Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder is also there. By the way, also special thanks to our videographer, Sam Alcoff, and Hany Massoud. Deena Guzder, can you introduce us to activists where you are right now?
DEENA GUZDER: …and Pennsylvania Avenue, where protesters are gathering, waiting for president—no, I can’t say that.
HANY MASSOUD: No, it’s that we’re—
DEENA GUZDER: Waiting for the presidential motorcade.
HANY MASSOUD: No, no, we’re after—no, no, we’re after the inauguration. So, I mean, it’s after the—
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to—you’re listening to Deena Guzder, but we are going to go to that report in just a minute. Continue, Allan Nairn, in studio, journalist and activist, spends a good deal of time in Asia and Indonesia, in particular, also in Guatemala and in Latin America, as you look at what has taken place with Donald Trump. As I was saying earlier today, when you joined us, you are one of the only journalists who, from the beginning, said that Donald Trump would win, even when all of the other pollsters and journalists and all the networks, with their high-tech million-dollar gadgets, were showing that the polls all indicated a Clinton sweep. You, from the beginning to the end, even in the times of the greatest controversy, like when that videotape came out of Donald Trump, you know, saying that he sexually assaulted women, you still said, “No, I think he’s going to eke out a victory.”
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, because polls are very accurate at measuring the old electorate, the electorate that turned out last time. They give you a very good picture of where that old electorate stands now. But they can’t know who’s going to turn out this time. And what Trump did was mobilize. He mobilized his people. He mobilized various kinds of white Americans. He got, I believe, 58 percent of the white vote. He turned them out. Clinton did not mobilize the Democratic base, so the electoral models, as reflected in the polls, were a bit off. Now, Clinton still won the popular vote, remember. She won by a couple points, so the polls weren’t that far off. But Trump did the mobilization strategically, in Michigan and Wisconsin, etc., and the Clinton people didn’t. So, he won.
And now, we have the prospect of a president who came to office on a campaign that was proto-fascist in many respects and was described that way across the political spectrum, from, you know, Old Right Republicans to centrists to left-wing people. He’s got his Cabinet in place. And now, I think, from that speech, the next phase could be mobilizing his public, getting his Trump people out on the streets to go after progressive people, public officials who step out of line, to intimidate, to change the atmosphere.
He’s got that capacity. It’s a capacity that the political right and the corporations never had before. It’s something that hasn’t been seen for a while in American politics. But, you know, if people think there’s repression now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I mean, among those internationally who Trump admires are figures like Duterte of the Philippines, who has talked about the need to murder millions of Filipinos and who has already, through police death squads and the encouragement of vigilante killings, killed several thousand, ostensibly in a war against drugs, but really targeting many just ordinary poor people on the streets. In country after country—
AMY GOODMAN: By the way, I want to say, just talking about international news, we just got word, this latest tweet from Adama Barrow of Gambia, that—it says the third president of the Republic of the Gambia, Banjul, Gambia—he said that “I would like to inform you Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today.” A very interesting development. Gambia, a little sliver of land in Senegal, where the previous president, Jammeh, said he would step down. He went on television, had a phone call with Barrow and said, “I concede the presidency to you,” but then said that God had spoken to him. He said he would rule for a billion years, whereupon ECOWAS, the West African army of Senegalese soldiers and other countries, moved into Gambia to remove the defeated president. And the current incoming president, Adama Barrow, was sworn in as president in the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. But it looks like this conflict has been resolved.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. When it comes to authoritarianism, Gambia and the U.S. are moving in opposite directions. And it’s the U.S. that is moving toward authoritarianism and Gambia that is moving away from it.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the streets right now. Let’s go to Democracy Now!'s Deena Guzder, who is joined by teacher activist Brian Jones in the streets of Washington, D.C., just before the inaugural parade. Hi, Deena. Tell us what's happening there.
DEENA GUZDER: …where protesters are continuing their opposition to Donald Trump. They’re awaiting the presidential motorcade to drive by. It’s a very mournful yet defiant scene here. Protesters have vowed to continue to stay out here despite the long lines. We’re joined now by a longtime education activist, Brian Jones. Brian, tell us where you’ve come from and what we’ve seen here at the protests.
BRIAN JONES: I’m coming from New York City. We drove early in the morning to get here through the Secret Service checkpoint, which was quite an ordeal. But I got in pretty quickly, only about an hour waiting on line, because we got here at 6:00 in the morning. People who got here at 7:00 in the morning waited three hours on line, who also came from New York, and then friends of mine who just arrived from Boston told me they waited five hours on line.
So, the Secret Service really played a role in disrupting this protest. And as we were discussing earlier, this is the only permitted site for protesting during today’s events. So this is a permitted protest, people are allowed to be here, but the Secret Service effectively disrupted the protest by making people wait half a day just to get inside.
DEENA GUZDER: And, Brian, you heard the speech that Donald Trump gave recently, right now. What was your reaction to what he said?
BRIAN JONES: Well, I understand why some people think Donald Trump is going to deliver for them, because he really swung for the fences and made big promises. But I think when you look at the messages underlying his speech, there’s something that should frighten us, which is that he’s promising that he is going to deliver for some people and not for others, that it’s going to be “your” country again, and who is the “you” that he’s talking to? Who are these people who are going to get their country back?
And there’s some people who we know, from his earlier rhetoric, are going to be left out of that. So, for people who were included, he made big promises. They’re going to have great jobs. They’re going to have great lives. They’re not going to have problems with addiction. They’re not going to have problems with crime. But I fear for the people who are left out of his vision—immigrants, people of color. You know, he went out of his way to praise the police. And here we’re having, year after year, an epidemic of police violence and murder. So, there are some people who are left out of these big promises. But he’s, you know, God and country. He’s promising people a kind of collectivity that he’s saying will deliver a great life.
DEENA GUZDER: You’re a longtime education activist. Your reaction to his pick of Betsy DeVos as education secretary?
BRIAN JONES: Yeah, I think that’s—seems like she’s similar to other picks that he’s made, in that she knows very little about the department that she’s supposed to be overseeing. It was clear from her prepared statement, and it was clear from her confirmation hearing, that she really doesn’t have much to say about what teaching and learning should look like. She’s not an educator. She doesn’t have any idea what a classroom should look like or what schools should look like.
Her entire proposition is that we can fix what’s wrong with schools by changing how we shuffle students around via, in her proposals, choice mechanisms. Like, in other words, if we introduce more competition between schools and shuffle around students between the schools, we’ll end up with great schools. And we’ve seen this kind of neoliberal, privatized vision of choice. We’ve seen it realized in Detroit, in Louisiana, and it really ends up resulting in reaffirming and reinstating the same kind of divisions and hierarchy and inequalities that have plagued American education all along. It’s not really a solution. So, I think we need an educator in that position, not somebody who really is just pushing privatization.
And one last thing is that it’s quite frightening—you know, she lied in her Senate testimony. She said she has nothing to do with, you know, this so-called conversion therapy for gay people and that she doesn’t participate in her mother’s foundation, but she’s on record, for several years back, being on the board of directors. I mean, that’s a clerical error every year for the last many years? Doesn’t make any sense. The reality is we have an anti-gay bigot who’s going to be in charge of the nation’s schools and schoolchildren. So, that is a frightening proposition.
And I think that people who care about schools—children, parents, teachers, community members—now is the time to speak up, fight back, exercise your right to have civil disobedience, refuse to take standardized tests. Exercise your right as parents to opt your children out of the standardized tests and, in that way, throw a wrench in the gears of the whole privatization mechanism. There’s a lot that we can do to fight back, I think, against Betsy DeVos, against Donald Trump. And we’d better get started doing it.
DEENA GUZDER: Brian Jones, thank you so much. For Democracy Now!, I’m Deena Guzder, with Hany Massoud, on Pennsylvania Avenue, right next to Capitol Hill and the White House and also the Trump Hotel, the former post office, here in Washington, D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Democracy Now!'s Deena Guzder on the street. Thanks so much, Deena. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, and we’re in the studios at the PBS station WHUT at Howard University with our guests, Allan Nairn, journalist and activist, as well as the Black Lives Matter co-founder, Alicia Garza, joining us right now. Alicia, we wanted to get your comment. This is very interesting. At 11:59, the website of WhiteHouse.gov was wiped clean, and a new website went up. And that is the Trump administration website.
It said, first and foremost, it was going to wipe out, under the climate section, the Climate Action Plan and work towards deregulation. And then, in its section on standing up for our law enforcement community, it reads, “Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing.” And it goes on to say, “The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it.” Black Lives Matter, your organization, decentralized throughout the country, really rose up in response to police killings of young African Americans. Can you comment on this new site, this new position, this new administration?
ALICIA GARZA: Well, the first thing I can say is that this is obviously a moment where everyone is trying to get our bearings. Quite frankly, this has been an impending threat that folks have felt is coming for a while. And during the campaign we saw a lot of this kind of rhetoric from Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who essentially said that Black Lives Matter itself was racist, and that he had done more for black people than Black Lives Matter had. You have Sheriff David Clarke, who was essentially saying that Black Lives Matter is an urban warfare organization that should be compared to ISIS.
And so we’ve been seeing this kind of rhetoric that is essentially trying to change the narrative from responsibility and accountability for law enforcement, that does not actually protect and serve, but instead acts as judge, jury and executioner, to this additional rhetoric of trying to make sure that what we see about law enforcement is not that they essentially need to change the way that policing is happening, but instead that we have created some kind of anti-law-enforcement climate and environment.
All I can say is that that’s absolutely not true. And what we see in places all over the country is that law enforcement is still, for better or for worse, continuing to be valorized, even in the face of questionable incidents and cases, at least a thousand last year alone, where people who are unarmed are being killed by police, and there is no accountability for those actions.
I can also say, though, that I think there’s a racial rhetoric that is underlying all of this, as well. What we’re seeing here, quite frankly, is that in the inauguration speech rhetoric and also in the rhetoric leading up to this very moment, there has been a notion that white people are being forgotten about and that black folks and people of color and women and other oppressed groups are getting all the attention, getting extra rights. And it’s just garbage.
But this is, again, I think, stuff that we can expect to see over the next two years, four years, and hopefully not eight years, which is that, essentially, there’s a way in which Trump and his administration are setting up a set of rules for some people and another set of rules for other people. And what we want to do is close the gap. If we are really concerned about how it is that we protect democracy, it means that we have to have one set of rules for everybody to adhere to. And, unfortunately, what we see in this incoming administration is that there will be one set of rules for rich and white people. There will be another set of rules for people of color, for women, for immigrants or for anyone who is considered different than the Trump—I’m not even going to say majority, because it’s not a majority, but anybody who is associated with Trump’s fiefdom.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, interestingly, as we were broadcasting just now, the Obamas took off in Air Force—what is the plane that they took off in? They flew off to Palm Springs for a vacation before returning home to Washington as private citizens. But at the same time—and, Nermeen, maybe you have the documentation, the actual scripts of the new press secretary, Sean Spicer. At that moment, President Donald J. Trump was signing a series of proclamations. And if you can share with us Sean Spicer’s first three tweets as the press secretary of the new president.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, now, apparently, they’ve multiplied. So, first he thanks Josh Earnest, his predecessor at the White House, Obama’s press secretary, and then he explains the three—because we saw that while Obama was leaving, Trump, very shortly after making his inaugural speech, had started signing documents, which, of course, weren’t visible to us. And his press secretary informs us via Twitter that he was signing three things: a Mattis waiver bill into law, formal nominations to Senate and a proclamation for a day—a National Day of Patriotism. Can you respond to that?
ALICIA GARZA: Again, what we’re seeing is the introduction of a proto-fascist administration. And I think what we can expect over the next two years—is what I’m hoping—four years, more likely, is that there will be these types of unilateral actions that are being taken that continue to narrow and put many different types of boundaries around people’s rights, people’s liberty and also people’s ability to understand what’s happening in their own government. Again, we’re seeing the gap between what the Trump administration is saying that they will be doing and the actual kind of implementation of that—two separate sets of rules: one set of rules for them, another set of rules for the rest of us.
I watched President Obama’s last press conference, and he talked a lot about the advice that he gave to incoming—to Trump coming into President Obama’s role. And essentially, he said one of the things that I warned him about was that if you find yourself taking action unilaterally, if you find yourself taking action with people who only agree with you, then you actually should stop and ask yourself, “Well, what am I doing?” Right? Because what Obama was able to do—whether you agree with everything he did or not, what he was able to do was to build really effective coalitions of people who didn’t always agree, but he found the common denominator.
The other thing I think we should be paying attention to—and just, I was watching the signing of this, and very disappointed with our own legislators, right? Nancy Pelosi is, of course, from my state. And there does seem to be this—
AMY GOODMAN: She represents the Bay Area.
ALICIA GARZA: Sure. There does seem to be this way in which folks are going on business as usual, as if they’re just participating in pomp and circumstance, and not actually grappling with the weight of this moment. I’m concerned about what the resistance will look like in the Democratic Party. And I think all of us should be concerned about that. Quite frankly, there are at least a third of our Democratic legislators who did not attend this inauguration today, and they should be commended. And then there are a majority of Senate Democrats who did participate. And I do think that this will be a contentious issue over the next year, really trying to push to make sure that there is an actual resistance plan, but also a plan to govern differently and alternatives that are being put forward to be able to govern differently.
AMY GOODMAN: There is an image that’s swirling around the internet right now that PBS, AP, everyone is also tweeting out. As AP said and PBS said, Donald Trump has vowed that his inauguration will draw unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout. USA Today says the Washington transit agency tweeted a little before noon that there were 193,000 trips taken by 11:00 a.m., down from 513,000 by the same time January 20th, 2009, and less even than George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005. And as Vox wrote, federal and local agencies have estimated that anywhere from 700,000 to 900,000 people will be in Washington, D.C., today for Trump’s inauguration. That’s roughly half the number of people who attended Obama’s inauguration in 2009. It’s also less than the turnout for Obama’s 2013 inauguration, which drew a million people. The significance of these numbers, Allan Nairn, and also just this language in his 15-minute address, using words like a “decree” across the land, you know, “make America first,” or just “America first,” using words like “allegiance,” and now, in one of Sean Spicer’s first tweets as press secretary, talking about a day of patriotism?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, in terms of the turnout, the very low turnout for Trump, I think the key fact is, in a very important sense, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all, because they’ve got the power. It doesn’t matter, in a sense, that he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million. Doesn’t matter. He’s the one who’s now sitting in the chair with the presidential pen, and not just his hand on the button, but his hand on the use of violence all over the world. U.S. special forces, just under Obama, recently have gone into 138 countries. Drone strikes, assassinating, in one country after another—all this under Obama. Now that apparatus is in Trump’s hands.
It doesn’t matter, because the Republicans have become very proficient in recent decades at political engineering, at studying, in a serious way, in a way the Democrats have not, exactly what the rules are, exactly what meetings you have to go to, what levers you have to pull and push, and through things like voter suppression, through gerrymandering, through redistricting, through the passage of laws regarding campaign finance, etc., etc., etc., they’ve been able to win political power with a minority of political support. And people in opposition to them have to get serious about learning this kind of political engineering.
Earlier, you were talking about enforcing the law, same rules for everybody, the idea of equal justice under law, which is supposed to be a credo of the American system. We don’t have that in this country. If we had equal justice under law, Donald Trump would have done time for sexual assault.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: And General Mattis, his current defense nominee, would have stood trial for the Mukaradeeb wedding massacre. This was a wedding party up in Iraq, up near the border of Syria, in 2004, when Mattis was in command, and his troops went in and bombed and slaughtered the people. He was asked about it afterward. He said, “Well, you know, we thought they were insurgents.” He was asked, “How long did you deliberate on this?” “I deliberated for about 30 seconds.” He gave it the back of his hand. In a serious system of equal justice, he would have had to stand trial for that, rather than being elevated to power in high office.
And by the way, Mattis is one of the figures around whom Democrats and Republicans have coalesced. The Democrats praise him to high heaven. He was invited to speak at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. He was the man put forward by the Bill Kristol neocon “Never Trump” movement within the Republican Party as their possible alternative presidential candidate. There is a consensus within the U.S.-Washington system in favor of the killing of foreign civilians.
So, if we really had equal justice under law, every past president would have had to stand trial for their role in the killing of civilians. And in terms of, you know, the conduct of police on the streets, my god, think of it. What are the chances that now under a Trump administration, police killings of unarmed African Americans go down as opposed to going up? What are the chances that white vigilantes with guns become less active as opposed to becoming more active? And how is the Trump Justice Department, the Sessions Justice Department, going to react the first time there is another videotaped—
ALICIA GARZA: Completely.
ALLAN NAIRN: —case of a black civilian being shot by the police, and people, the community responds with repudiation for the police? What are they going to do? Who are they going to prosecute? The cops, who almost never do time for this, or the protesters, who at least, even though there’s been some violence against protesters, at least there hasn’t been any attempt at systematic prosecution? But now, as you were saying, there’s every indication that that could be a priority of this new—this new Justice Department.
ALICIA GARZA: Absolutely. And I also just think that we should pay attention to bills that are being passed as we speak. There’s been five bills introduced in five states to criminalize any protest that happens on a transportation system.
ALLAN NAIRN: Just in Indiana, they did, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.
ALICIA GARZA: Exactly.
AMY GOODMAN: Indiana, of course, the home state of Pence.
ALICIA GARZA: Yeah, exactly. I mean, essentially, what they’re trying to prevent is what they’re calling economic terrorism. And so, when you block transportation, when you block freeways, when you block buses or train systems, essentially, they’re saying, you’re blocking commerce, and that that, under these new bills, will become a crime.
I couldn’t agree with you more that we have a big contradiction in terms of the idea of democracy that the United States projects and what we actually inhabit and what we actually kind of practice. And at the same time, I think that if a resistance is possible, we do have to start to talk about what kind of democracy we want to see, and we have to start drawing out, in very clear ways, that it’s not enough to have allegiance to the Democratic Party or to the Republican Party, that in fact we do need to be very serious about building an independent political power that has the potential to reshape this country and the way that we interact around the world, in the image—
AMY GOODMAN: The bill dubbed “block traffic and you die”?
ALICIA GARZA: Yes, exactly—in the image of our vision that we want. And I really want to make that clear, because I think that over the next few years, it’s very possible that what progressives can start to do is pick things apart so much that people actually feel like there’s nothing that can be done. It is an overwhelming situation that we’re facing right now. And so, this is a moment where we do have to start saying, “Well, what is it that we want to see? What are we seeing right now? And how do we close the gap between what we want to see and what we’re seeing right now?”
And, in fact, I think there’s an opportunity here, because, quite frankly, one of the reasons that Trump also won is because nobody was actually talking about the populism that really exists in this country, where people do want folks to pay attention to the experiences and the conditions that multiple communities are living in. People do want these political parties to pay attention to what economic security really means, without exploiting people’s labor, and certainly without taking advantage of people and having some people have and other people not have.
And then, of course, I think people want to address the contradictions in our political system, where Hillary Clinton was certainly seen as somebody who didn’t tell the truth. She was seen as somebody who, again, in similar fashion to Donald Trump, had a set of rules for herself and for the people around her, and a different set of rules for other folks. And that’s something that we have to address in a very serious way. And I appreciated your example earlier from Peru, because I couldn’t agree more that there also needs to be a very cogent strategy coming from progressives, or whoever identifies that way, that is not just about the ideal that we want and turning away from everything if it’s not the ideal that we want, but that is about making chess moves towards the vision that we want, sometimes—right?—by doing things that don’t feel good, but that actually do move us forward.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So what kinds of things, for example?
ALICIA GARZA: Well, I think the example that you used around who do we coalesce around when we have a major threat like somebody like Donald Trump, but the candidate that so many people are rallying around clearly isn’t going to win. I think that that was absolutely a missed opportunity, and it’s a disagreement that I had with many people. And, of course, when you take a step like that and you say, “Well, I don’t really care for Hillary Clinton, but I really don’t care for Donald Trump, and so I’m going to get behind her in order to eliminate this threat,” one thing that progressives can do—right?—is eat each other alive and say, “Well, you’re not really radical enough,” or, “You’re just a sellout to the Democrats,” when, in all honesty, there is a mandate that we have, if we want to be serious about governing, which is to keep our people safe and to keep our people alive so that we can continue the fight towards what it is that we actually want. So I couldn’t agree with you more.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, and I think that’s—that’s a key idea about finding and advancing ideas that lots of people can rally around.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: The idea is to expand, not contract—
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: —not to get into smaller and smaller groups, but get into big groups that can take power in many venues and make things better.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: And one notion is just that—be evenhanded.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: Enforce the law.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: You do the crime, you do the time, no matter who you are.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: Even if you happen to be a member of the police force, even if you happen to be a local prosecutor, even if you happen to be a general or president of the United States. In some ways, it’s a very American notion, because Americans pride themselves on the idea of fairness and giving everyone a fair shake. That’s one reason sports are so popular.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: Especially among men.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ALLAN NAIRN: Because the idea that in the game—
AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.
ALLAN NAIRN: —everybody has to abide by the rules, it’s clear—they love that. Guys love that. And a lot of these guys who ended up voting for Trump apply the same principle to law and order.
AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! is going for another hour in this special live inauguration broadcast. The inaugural parade will be beginning soon. We’re also going to be joined by Angela Davis, longtime activist, bringing us a historical perspective. We’ve been speaking with Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Allan Nairn. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
[End of Hour 6]
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, “War, Peace and the Presidency,” an Inauguration Day special. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. And we’re broadcasting live from the PBS station WHUT on the campus of the historically black university, Howard University, known as the Mecca. We’re live on the air for one more hour this Inauguration Day, with President Donald J. Trump sworn into office just two hours ago by the chief justice of the United States, Judge Roberts. Before that, just minutes before, Mike Pence was sworn into office as the vice president of the United States by Justice Clarence Thomas.
We’re going to turn right now to Cory Booker, who made history last week—the senator from New Jersey—when he challenged the candidacy, the nomination of a sitting senator, his colleague, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Last night at the Peace Ball, at the African American museum run by the Smithsonian Institution, the most recent museum that has just been built, I had a chance to talk with New Jersey Senator Booker.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Booker, you made history this week.
SEN. CORY BOOKER: I don’t know about making history, but I definitely spoke my mind against someone who’s coming in to be the highest law enforcement officer in the land, who has systematically spoken out against actions the Justice Department has been taking on voting rights, actions the Justice Department has been taking about police accountability, actions the Justice Department has been taking really to advocate for the more vulnerable populations in our country. So, it was a time I just could not be silent. And he’s not confirmed yet, and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to try to stop that.
AMY GOODMAN: What most—what do you most object to your colleague, Senator Sessions? And also, before you answer that, the fact that you were testifying at the end of the confirmation hearing, rather than you and your colleagues, like Congressmember John Lewis, testifying at the beginning—isn’t that customary for congressmen and senators to speak first?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Yeah, well, I will talk more about Sessions, in general, but, look, I broke custom, and they broke custom. And I’m not going to get in a tit-for-tat on those things. I was happy to have the opportunity to speak in front of a committee where even the Republicans have come along with us, or joined with us, I should say, a better way of putting it, on criminal justice reform efforts. The one senator that has been—one of the few senators that’s been an outlier—if that legislation had a vote, it would have gotten probably over 90 votes. But Jeff Sessions was one of those people who was fighting against Republican and Democratic efforts on criminal justice reform.
And so, to see him—it’s not one thing with Jeff Sessions. This is somebody that spoke out against the Matthew Shepard Act, against violence against gays and lesbians, spoke out against the Violence Against Women Act, spoke out against the Justice Department reducing sentencing. This is a person who’s consistently spoken out against things that have passed in a bipartisan manner in the Senate, spoken out against issues of protection, where the Justice Department has a role, especially since the 1957 Civil Rights Act, to protect American civil rights. But so, somebody who has been hostile to so many of these issues is now going to be running that agency. And for those of us who have been living these issues and fighting for them for our entire careers, the threat of him becoming the highest law enforcement officer in the country is real and, unfortunately, very present.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he will be confirmed?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: I’m a prisoner of hope, so I will continue to hold onto that hope. But he’s got a very good hand of cards. Not only do the Republicans have the majority, but there’s even some of my Democratic colleagues, at least one I can think of, that has come out and said that they might support Jeff Sessions.
AMY GOODMAN: Who?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: I’m not worthy of naming him, because I don’t want to put him in a box, and I’m hoping that he’ll change his view.
AMY GOODMAN: Will you be going to the inauguration tomorrow?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: You know, I will be. I respect a lot of my congressional colleagues who are not. President Obama will be there. I respect the presidency, if not what Donald Trump has been saying and doing. I think the peaceful transition of power is important. So I’ll be there. But as soon as that hand goes up on the Bible and he swears his oath, in the first seconds, I’ll be continuing what I’m doing right now, is planning and working and strategizing to stop him from doing the things he’s been telling us he’s going to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Just days after you were sitting next to Congressman Lewis, testifying against Senator Sessions, Donald Trump tweeted on Martin Luther King weekend that John Lewis is “All talk, talk, talk–no action.” Your thoughts?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: That’s hurtful, not just to me, but to all Americans who have—drink from the well of his efforts. I know—in fact, I said this in my testimony, before knowing that Donald Trump would attack him as he did, that I can literally link my family’s ability to move into the town that I grew up in, an integrated town in northern New Jersey, in 1969 to lawyers who were involved in representing us. Interviewed one of them a couple years ago, who said, “I was inspired to get involved”—this is a white lawyer in northern New Jersey—”get involved with civil rights work in New Jersey because of the people that were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.”
John Lewis is not only an actor in behalf of this country, but he stood up against dogs and billy clubs and untold violence. If there’s anybody that should set the standard for presidents, congresspeople, public servants of all types, it’s John Lewis. He is a legend. I don’t mind you disagreeing with him or questioning his specific statement, but to go attack his character is unacceptable to me and, further, makes my blood boil.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you a question, where you, one, spoke against Senator Sessions, but then voted against Senator Sanders’ bill. And I was wondering if you could talk about that whole issue of keeping drug prices low, perhaps importing them from Canada. People were somewhat surprised that you voted against that.
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Yeah, well, I’m actually glad that now a lot of progressive bloggers are coming out and saying, “Wait, time out. We got this wrong.” Daily Kos wrote an article about that. In fact, PolitiFact today called it misleading, what people are saying. That night, we were all unified as a caucus voting for—not a bill—it was really just a sense of the Senate about doing things to hold drug prices down.
Now, Senator Sanders did put something forward. It was not a bill. It was not a piece of legislation. It was an amendment that acts as a nonbinding statement of purpose. What a lot of us talked to him about was just putting some extra sentences, literally words, to say that we should make sure that they’re safe. In America, if a bottle of drugs gets you sick, we have track and trace technology. We can find out where those drugs come, the providence of those drugs. The same thing should happen for imports, especially as we’ve seen drugs coming from Canada aren’t the safe Canadian drugs. Often, they’re repackaged from people coming into town.
So there’s really no difference. I’ve talked to Senator Sanders. He and I both have the same commitment to safety. He and I are both working on a bill right now. But even more than that, that’s not going to necessarily make that big of a difference for drug prices. I support things even the pharmaceutical companies hate even more than that, like why are—why is Canada’s drugs cheaper? It’s because Canada is able to use the power of their collective buying, government’s collective buying, to drive down prices.
Somehow, the pharmaceutical companies in this nation was able to convince the federal government not to negotiate down Medicaid Part D. So, I think we should not only import drugs, which would help a little bit. We should allow negotiations over Medicare Part D, which will drive things down a lot. And then we should do a lot of other things. Like the pharmaceutical companies have allowed something called a delay and pay. In other words, they pay people who want to now—the patents have run out on their drugs, so people want to put generics out, and they allow them to just take payments not to put the cheaper drugs on the market. So there’s lots of things that we can do.
But what I saw this week—and thank God now progressive bloggers are writing about it—was a false fight, not between senators, because Senator Sanders and I talk a lot about this issue a lot now, but a false fight around progressives trying to string up a bunch of Democrats who, just because they were looking for one more sentence on a nonbinding messaging bill, a lot of people tried to run with that and said they were betrayed by—these Democrats somehow betrayed where they stood for. So, I stand for imports. I stand for things that actually are more dramatic that pharmaceutical companies oppose. And this was a frustrating infight that was not necessary.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it was fair, the criticism people had that you received money from the pharmaceutical industry, so that’s why you were voting in that direction?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Well, again, PolitiFact already challenged that, as well. That’s unfair. There are people that receive more money than I do that support that bill. Bernie Sanders receives pharmaceutical money, and the PolitiFacts brought that to light. So, to me, it had nothing to do with that.
Look, there are a hundred senators. I go home to an inner city. I love my city, love my community. We have a lot of wealth of talent, of spirit, of commitment. But I happen to go home to one of the poorest census tracts of all the—not only members of the Senate even—members of Congress. And my commitment, these are the folks that I got into politics to represent and serve, the most vulnerable people. That’s where my heart is. I would never do anything that any corporation wants to do that’s contrary to the interests of those who are struggling in this country.
And so, I feel like what the real issue we should have been talking about in the progressive community these last few days is what’s really coming around healthcare, which is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which is an immediate threat. Even the CBO has said that if we allow Republicans to go through with that, 18 million Americans are going to lose their insurance in the first year alone.
So when I look at my community that’s struggling, yeah, I’m glad to be working with Senator Sanders and a lot of other progressives. You know, Patty Murray, a significant progressive, voted against it as well, just because, again, we wanted a line on safety. But all of us are intent, not just on lowering prescription drugs, but we’re unified on fighting the Republicans, who are the real threat when it comes to healthcare in America right now.
I’m happy with my caucus, even though we have people far more conservative than me in my caucus. They’re actually real partners when it comes to the overall fight on lowering drug prices, but, more importantly, preserving healthcare for all. Most Americans don’t realize—even people that voted for Donald Trump don’t really get it yet, that the agenda that they’ve put forward on healthcare, on civil rights, even on American-made—making sure things are made in America and fighting for labor unions—so many of the things that they’re proposing or the people they put an office, like the secretary of labor, who’s against a $15 minimum wage or who’s against a minimum wage, period—they don’t understand that working-class folks, whatever race you are, whatever rural or urban, this is a Cabinet, and these are policies that are being put forth that are threatening poor and struggling people, at a time that, with Social Security, we should be expanding it.
Why do we have 5 million people in America, 5 million seniors, that are on Social Security, that are living below the poverty line? That’s unacceptable. And here are people that are threatening to cut back on Social Security? So we need to get folk woke, as they say, to what the real threats are coming on, and not let people divide Democrats at a time that we need unity and we need strength.
AMY GOODMAN: Last question: Ivanka Trump holding a fundraiser for you—
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —in 2013. Where did it happen? Your thoughts on her and her father today?
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Well, I’m not sure if it was 2013 is correct. This is far—it wasn’t a Senate fundraiser. It was back when I was being mayor of Newark and fighting for a lot of things. And the Kushner family—she’s married to a Kushner—was very involved in helping me out early on in my career, and I’m proud of that, as were people on both sides of the political aisle.
When I was running for major of Newark, remember, I was fighting against machine politics. There’s been an Oscar-nominated movie about the battles that we took to try to take that city in a different direction. Under my leadership, it’s the biggest economic development period in Newark since the 1950s or ’60s, during a recession. In that period, an African-American kid in Newark had a—now has a 300 percent greater chance of going to a high-quality school than before our efforts.
From everything from the largest parks expansion in a century to just having prisoner re-entry programs and helping people when they come home, we were getting a lot of things accomplished, and I was happy to have the support of everybody. Even Chris Christie, who I have—could write a dissertation on my disagreements about, we found common ground that actually was able to help my city. So, you know—
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel like you have an inroad in dealing with the Trumps? She is a real powerhouse behind Donald Trump.
SEN. CORY BOOKER: Look, I was happy to see Ivanka, who I do know, and I knew always as a Democrat. I never knew her as a Republican. I was happy to see that she brought Al Gore to meet with Donald Trump. I was happy to hear her during the campaign speak out against paid—speak out for paid family leave. And as much as I think Donald Trump got to the White House by demeaning and degrading people and exciting a lot of hatred in our country, the reality is, if he wants to attack things like Wall Street, like carried interest, hey, that’s something I’d love to see, us get rid of carried interest and reinvest that money in things like [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. I interviewed him last night at the Peace Ball, at the Smithsonian new African American museum here in Washington, D.C. This is Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the inauguration. But we're going to the streets of Washington, D.C. We’re getting all sorts of reports. Tear gas and flashbangs as riot police clash with activists on the streets of Washington, D.C. We’re going to turn right now to Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills. Carla, can you tell us what is happening, where you are, and describe the scene?
CARLA WILLS: …where there’s been a confrontation between police and protesters here. Police in full riot gear.
SAM ALCOFF: Restart, restart.
CARLA WILLS: We’re here at the intersection of K Street and 12th Northwest, where there’s been a confrontation between police in full riot gear and protesters. Police here holding the line here at the street crossing, K and 12th, they have been throwing pepper spray, concussion grenades, tear gas. And protesters who have thrown some rocks at the police, again, dressed in full riot gear. There are about—I’d say, about 500 protesters here holding the area. And police have been spraying pepper spray directly into protesters’ faces, into the area, tear gas, concussion grenades. Again, rocks have been thrown. Now police have pretty much held the entire intersection from 12th and K on all four corners, pushed protesters back.
We understand it began, this confrontation began, when a protester was asked by the police to step back. The police then pepper-sprayed the protester, and then it escalated from there. Again, there are police in full riot gear here across 12th Street, K and—Northwest, repeatedly throwing tear gas, concussion grenades. And now we’ve got helicopters overhead. Tell us your name, where you’re from, and what is going on right here.
ANN: My name’s Ann. I’m actually from New York. So, we were—there are a bunch of people over there who were being kettled, which is when they block you in and arrest you one by one. And then they started shooting tear gas, concussion grenades, pepper spray. And now we’ve all been separated, and now we’re here.
CARLA WILLS: So what started when you were all kettled? How did that escalate to that point?
ANN: Oh, a march met up with us. We were all just standing on this like square or whatever, and we were like, “Let them out,” you know? Because they were being arrested. And this march met up with us, and they started firing.
CARLA WILLS: Again, we’re here at 12th and K, Northwest, live, where police are standing off with protesters. Back to the studio, Amy and Nermeen.
AMY GOODMAN: And we want to thank Carla Wills very much, and Sam Alcoff, our videographer, at that corner. As you could hear, Carla continually clearing her throat, because they’ve been under tear gas assault for a while now. And that is very hard to be able to maintain your breath at that time. And we want to thank our reporters on the streets, Deena Guzder and Carla Wills, as well. And we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening.
I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. And we’re at WHUT at Howard University. Joining us now, Angela Davis, author, activist, professor emeritus at the University of California. Angela, you were here last night speaking at the Peace Ball. You just watched that report. And, of course, you’re here on Inauguration Day. The 45th president of the United States was sworn in, Donald J. Trump. Your thoughts?
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, this is certainly the beginning of a new era, and we are aware that the Trump administration is determined to turn the clock back on so many accomplishments of the last decades—not only of the last four years, but of the last decades. As I was saying last night, it appears as if this is a kind of last gasp of a dying white, male supremacy. The actions the Trump administration—Donald Trump and his proposed administration have taken are—seem to me to be actions of frustration, a refusal to accept the way in which history has unfolded.
But it’s not possible to turn the clock back. It’s not possible to, quote, “make America great again.” If there is to be any greatness on the agenda of the United States of America, it will come as a result of the continued struggles of masses of people. On the one hand, I am, of course, as everyone else is in the country and around the world, extremely sad that we have to witness this moment. You know, but at the same time, I sense a feeling of solidarity.
All the people I met on the way to the studio today were talking about how important it is going to be to engage in a continued fight over the next four years. So I—you know, I’m very sad, but at the same time I’m excited, because it appears as if we are witnessing, thanks to all of the work that has been done in the past—Black Lives Matter, of course—Alicia Garza is here—and, you know, all of this now, I think we will begin to see the fruits of the work that has—the organizing work that has happened over the last years and the last decades, even.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But some have expressed concern that because there are so many powers of surveillance, control, power, that Trump will now have access to, it may be harder for these same groups to mobilize, organize, communicate, without either the threats or the actual fact of state retaliation.
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, of course. Of course. Those are the conditions we face. But, you know, I—sometimes people call me an inveterate optimist, but I’m trying to be realistic, and I’m trying to ask: What are the possibilities for the future? And yes, it’s true there is pervasive surveillance, but we have to figure out how to organize despite and through that surveillance. You know, I can remember many, many years ago, when surveillance meant the FBI was listening in on our telephone calls or that there were infiltrators, and we figured out how to work despite that. The situation is far more complicated today, and the organizing strategies are simply going to have to take that into consideration.
And I think it means that we’re also going to have to rebuild our defense movements. That is to say, we can foresee the possibility of more people being arrested, more people falling under the threat of political repression. And so, that means we have to gather all progressive lawyers and people who are willing to donate their services to creating a powerful, united movement of defense, defending those activists who are willing to put themselves on the line and face those consequences.
AMY GOODMAN: What are your reflections of the fact that a presidency like Trump followed President Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, not just in one term, but in two terms? I mean, the massive difference between—which everybody is commenting on now, because it’s so obvious in every respect, the differences between these two heads of state, coming one after the other.
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, I actually did watch part of the inauguration. I know that we probably weren’t supposed to watch it, so that the ratings would be low. But I looked in vain for a black face on the podium. And what is that all about? It’s so clear that this is a reaction. And that is why I say that if we look with the gaze of history, if we think about past history and future history, this, I think, will be a moment. This will be characterized as the refusal to accept the fact that white, male supremacy no longer reigns in the United States of America. Now, we have a lot of work to do to guarantee that that happens, but certainly the frustrated expressions and actions of Donald Trump and his administration are an indication of the fact that they refuse to accept the verdict of history.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, the website of WhiteHouse.gov at 11:59 was taken down, and the new WhiteHouse.gov website was put up. The Violence Against Women Act fact sheet was taken down; now it shows a 404 error page. The list of senators who voted against the Senate version of the bill—Senator Sessions voted against it and voted against renewing it. And now, in the trillion-dollar cuts that they say they want to make that have been reported, the funding for the Violence Against Women Act removed. What does that mean?
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, of course, I’m not surprised. And I don’t think anyone would be surprised, given the actions of Donald Trump and given the way he has come, in the eyes of people all over the world, to symbolize misogyny, assaults on women. I think, you know, what it means is that we will have to accelerate our work in all of these areas, and particularly gender violence. And we have to develop more complex and nuanced analyses of what gender violence is all about, the connections with state violence and institutional violence. Oftentimes we assume that these are discrete and entirely different problems, and that gender violence has nothing to do with police violence or violence in prison. And, of course, the feminist movement has been really helpful in producing analyses that ask us to think about these issues together. So, the page has been taken down, but I think that there will be many more people—women, men, trans people—who are willing to stand up in opposition to gender violence.
AMY GOODMAN: Just speaking about that issue, you know, there was a lot made of the fact that President Trump could not get A-list celebrities to come to this inauguration. Ultimately, they very proudly announced that they would have an American institution performing today, and that was the Rockettes. As soon as that was put out there, Rockettes started writing to each other. “What do you mean? Do you have to do this?” And the union and Madison Square Garden told them they had to, but there was such tremendous outcry that they backed off and told the Rockettes you could do this voluntarily.
We interviewed one of the Rockettes, and we said, “Well, if it’s voluntary, why are you concerned?” She said, “Because they know who dances and who doesn’t. They know who is working that day and who isn’t.” And when we asked about all the private Facebook postings of the Rockettes—they were writing specifically about having to dance for a man who was a confessed sexual assaulter, having to dance half-naked for a man who himself boasted about this, and woman after woman had come forward. In fact, just before this inauguration, this week, a woman came forward announcing her lawsuit against Donald Trump. Donald Trump said he would sue these women after the election. Well, the election was in November. It’s now January, and no one has been sued.
ANGELA DAVIS: Yes, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, Would you like to comment?
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. If you look at the things about Trump that came out during the campaign regarding sexual violence by himself, it’s kind of the attitude of the old feudal lord, the idea that he was entitled to take whatever he wanted, including any woman he wanted, any woman on the street. And there’s a lot in sexual violence that is, to a certain extent, inherent in men. You see it in all sorts of cultures. You see it in cultures that are very progressive in many respects, something about men.
But in another respect, there is this real link to things like state violence, to larger phenomena. The U.S., for decades and decades, has been backing repressive militaries and paramilitaries around the world. And one of the fundamental tactics of these forces is capture and rape of women. In Guatemala, where the Reagan administration—and others, but principally the Reagan administration—backed the Guatemalan army as they systematically massacred the Mayan population in the northwest highlands, one of their tactics was sexual slavery. Just this past year, survivors of that, women who had been enslaved by the U.S.-backed and -armed and -trained and -financed Guatemalan army but had survived it, had lived to tell about it, Mayan women, succeeded in bringing a criminal legal case against some of the surviving perpetrators, some of the officers and military commissioners who they could find, and they got them sent to prison. It’s called the Sepur Zarco case.
And at one point during that case, you had a courtroom full of heroes, because on the side of the plaintiffs—in Guatemala, the law is such that individuals can initiate a criminal case done through the public prosecutor. You had the women who were the survivors who had initiated this case. And presiding as the judge was Judge Jazmín Barrios, who had presided over the genocide trial of General Ríos Montt, the U.S.-backed dictator who had been convicted in a Guatemalan court a couple years ago of genocide against the Mayan population. And she did it at tremendous personal risk. She was actually thrown out of the legal profession for a year because of it. She had to come to court in a bulletproof vest. Yet, due to figures like her and the survivors of Sepur Zarco, they were able to get a measure of justice.
And it’s just a broader reminder that people in all sorts of places live under much—even much tougher conditions than we do, yet they’re still able to stand up and fight it. And sometimes they fall. More often than not, they fall. They end up in a mass grave, or they end up crushed legally or psychologically or morally. But sometimes they win. And we have to start studying the tactics of people who were able to do that in repressed countries, because we’re about to get a small taste of our own medicine.
You know, for years, the U.S. has been saying, “Oh, fascism is OK for Chile. Fascism is OK for Guatemala. Fascism is OK for for el-Sisi’s Egypt.” But when Trump arose, all sorts—all of a sudden, the Washington establishment was saying, “Oh, my god! Fascism in America? We can’t have that here.” Well, that’s what we’ve been promoting for decades in other countries, and now, in a small way, we’re going to get a little whiff of that, and we have to learn how to respond. And there’s lots of experience overseas of activists who have been doing that very effectively.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, if today is any indication, an air banner went up, you know, a plane flying a banner, over the Statue of Liberty that said, “We outnumber him! Resist!”
ALLAN NAIRN: Hmm! That’s good.
AMY GOODMAN: And if the people in this room are any indication—look at the two women next to you, two generations of resistance. We have Angela Davis with us, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama. And we have Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. And, Angela, I was wondering if you could speak directly to Alicia. I mean, in a sense, Alicia—and if you could talk to Angela about what you feel you’ve inherited and what you—how you are inspired, Angela, by Alicia, the next generation?
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, thank you so much, Alicia. Thank you. I am so happy that I survived and am able to witness the emergence of this new movement. And I see myself as witnessing it on behalf of all of those who didn’t make it this far, who are no longer with us. And I have felt so excited over the last several years, since—it doesn’t seem as if it’s only been, what, four years now?
ALICIA GARZA: Yeah.
ANGELA DAVIS: Because the work that you and Patrisse and Opal and the entire Black Lives Matter and the entire Movement for Black Lives have accomplished over this period is phenomenal. As a matter of fact, before that period, you hardly ever saw official acknowledgments of racism. You know, even Obama didn’t talk about the problems of police violence and racism. And now it’s on the agenda. And in a sense, the fact that Trump was elected can be attributed to this upsurge, in—this radical upsurge, in the sense that so many people did not discover in the opposing candidate the person they needed to give expression to this new consciousness. And I think it’s so important, Amy, for us to remind ourselves that we are in the majority. Some 25 percent of the people voted for Donald Trump. You know, not only did Hillary Clinton get 3 million more votes, but if one considers all of the people who did not vote, were in their majority people who would not have voted for Trump.
ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.
ANGELA DAVIS: And the organizing work that you are doing, the contestation of the old paradigms of leadership, the masculinist, individualistic, charismatic forms of leadership, of the insistence on collective leadership, the insistence that finally women who have always done all of the work—always—should be able to be seen and should be able to receive the credit for this. So I think it’s because of the work that you have done that now in Washington, D.C., as the resistance takes shape, it is the Women’s March that represents the resistance of the entire country. Thank you so much.
ALICIA GARZA: Thank you. I have to say, Angela, one of the things I appreciate so much about you is that you’re not waxing poetic about things that happened. You’re still very much in relationship to all of us and still teaching us and still learning from us and pushing us to get sharper, to get stronger and to keep fighting. And that is really rare, and so I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being a constant presence for us. You are always 100 percent available and paying attention. And I just—it means a lot to all of us. I know that it hasn’t been my experience with lots of folks that people who have played such incredible roles in social movements continue to be present, front and center, but also in a relationship with the new kind of wave of activism and organizing that’s happening. That is unique and special and critical, and so I want to say thank you for that.
I also just want to say, you know, you are one of my greatest teachers. I have a bookshelf full of your writings. And, you know, there’s something very special and powerful about what you have offered to all of us. This unapologetic way of making sure that we understand how intricately connected race and class and gender is, and then pushing that up against the state and the state apparatus, and having us understand how we need to fight that, with the relationship between race and class and gender, and shaping our strategies and our movements, is unmatched. And so I want to thank you for that. And I think, you know, we all still have a lot of questions about what’s coming and what we can expect. And it’s powerful to be able to be learning with you, alongside of you, and knowing that you are right there with us ready to tear down the walls.
And the last thing I want to say—I mean, there’s so many, but we don’t have, you know—
ANGELA DAVIS: We’ll have a longer conversation.
ALICIA GARZA: We don’t have a four-day segment; we only have a couple minutes. But the work that you have done to inform not just us, but this nation and this world, about the carceral state and how it operates, to make it plain, so that we can really enter in to dismantle it, is phenomenal. You are not just a professor or a theorist. You are an organizer. And the institutions and the organizations that you have helped to create, and that still kind of flourish today and really form the bedrock to us understanding how to fight police violence, how to create a world where we can all be safe, in real time, and how to really protect each other and stand up for each other, is really, really critical. And so I just want to say thank you for that.
I want to say thank you for shaping not just our ideas, but the fights that we have on the ground. The people that are locked down in D.C. right now have been influenced by you. The people that are taking action all across this country have been influenced by you. And I hope that your heart is warmed by knowing that we all know that, and that we’re just so forever grateful to you.
AMY GOODMAN: Just to say, right now in the streets of Washington, reports from McPherson Square, police have horses, and newspaper boxes burning. I wanted to ask Angela—you were born in Alabama. Alabama has become a center now, with Senator Sessions.
ANGELA DAVIS: Oh, yeah, exactly. Well, yeah. I could not believe that Jeff Sessions was the proposed nominee for the attorney general. And, you know, once again, this is an example of the degree to which the Trump administration looks toward a repressive past, a racist past, as the paradigm for the future. And that’s just not going to happen. I mean, I know that we have to be realistic, and we have to recognize that the administration has powers that will affect the Supreme Court and, you know, all of the legislation that has been helpful. But at the same time, I think we have to remember that change happens because people struggle together on the ground. It doesn’t happen simply because of particular presidents or particular attorney generals. And I think it’s really important to have that larger perspective, so that we don’t feel so encumbered by, you know, what is happening, that we fail to recognize that we have agency, and agency not only with respect to what can happen in our country, but all over the world.
And when I was talking about what I appreciate about Alicia and the younger movement, it’s the internationalism and the recognition that we are not in this alone. You know, American exceptionalism is a myth, despite the fact that Obama tries to make it mean something else. I think we have to recognize that we are a part of a planet that is seeking to survive. So, all of these struggles against racism, against xenophobia, for the climate, against homophobia, these are global struggles. So I really appreciate the incorporation of the call for justice for Palestine, for example, into the Movement for Black Lives. This represents the way we will respond to people like Jeff Sessions over the next period.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to another pioneering woman, the legendary poet and activist Sonia Sanchez. The Democracy Now! team met up with her last night at the Peace Ball and asked her to read a poem.
SONIA SANCHEZ: Hi, everyone. My name is Sonia Sanchez, and I’m here at this great museum here for this peace festival. That’s what I like to call it. And I’m going to do a poem simply called “Peace.” And it’s a poem for a great woman by the name of Maxine Greene, who was a dear friend.
Peace. What is it?
Is it an animal? A bird? A plane?
A mineral? A color? A drumbeat?
(doowop doowop doo doo dee doo doo dee)
Is it a verb? A noun? An adjective?
A prophet with no pockets
circling our paragraphed lives?
(dwoodop bopbop dwowa doo bop bop doo bop bop bop)
DuBois said: The cause of war
is the preparation of war.
DuBois said: The cause of war
is the preparation of war.
I say the cause of peace
must be the preparation of peace.
I say the cause of peace
must be the preparation of peace.
(blaablablabaaaa blue blueeblay blueeblay)
Shall I prepare a table of peace
before you in the presence of mine enemies?
Shall I prepare a table of peace?
Will you know how to eat at this table?
(skee dee dee dah dah doo dah bop dah bop bop dah boo)
Where are the forks of peace?
Where are the knives of peace?
Where are the spoons of peace?
Where are the eyes of peace?
Where are the hands of peace?
Where are the tongues of peace?
Where are the children of peace?
(peace, peace, ting ting tee tee peeeeace ting ting tee)
Is peace an action? A way of life?
Is it a tension in our earth body?
Is peace you and I seeing beyond
bombs and babies roasting on a country road?
(bop bop bop bop bop bop bop bop bopoooooooueeeeeee)
Peace must not be still, we have to
take it on the road, marching against
pentagon doors lurking in obscenity.
Peace must not find us on our knees
while a country holds hostage
the hearts and penises of the workers.
(bleep bleep bleep blueee bleep bleep blueee doo da boom doo da boom)
Can you say peace? Can you resurrect peace?
Can you house the language of peace?
Can you write a sermon of peace?
Can you populate the chords of peace?
(dee dee dadum peace la la la la dum peace)
A long time ago someone said: I think therefore I am.
A long time ago someone said: I think therefore I am.
Now we say preemptive strikes therefore we are.
Now we say drones drones drones therefore we are.
(boom boom boom ay ay ay ay ay boom ay boom ay ayaay)
Can you rise up at the sound of peace?
Can you make peace lighter than air?
Can you make peace sing like butterflies
until peace becomes the noise of the planet
until peace becomes the noise of the planet?
I know as MLK knew that the universe
is curved ultimately toward justice and peace.
I know as MLK knew that the universe
is curved ultimately toward justice and peace.
For “war is the sanction of failure.”
For “war is the sanction of failure.”
(dobam doom-doooobam doooood doooom)
Martin said a riot is the language of the unheard
and I say a terrorist’s bomb is the language of the unheard.
How to make the unheard heard
without blowing themselves and the world up?
How to make the unheard heard
without blowing themselves and the world up?
(BOOOM BOOM BOOM BOOOMM BOOOOMMM)
Most Def said: Speech is my hammer
bang my world into shape
now let it fall.
I say peace is my hammer
bang my world into peace
and let it fall on the eyes of the children.
(Frère Jacques dooodoodoo Frère Jacques dooooo doooo dormezvous
vous vous vous ding dong ding ding dong ding)
Where are the forks of peace?
Where are the knives of peace?
Where are the spoons of peace?
Where are the eyes of peace?
Where are the hands of peace?
Where are the tongues of peace?
Where are the children of peace?
Where are you—you—youuuuuuu (click)
where are you you you you youuuu (click)
you you where are you you
where you where are youuu (click)
AMY GOODMAN Sonia Sanchez, sharing a poem last night at the Peace Ball at Smithsonian’s African American museum. This is Democracy Now!'s live coverage of this inauguration weekend, which we continue tomorrow broadcasting from the streets from the Women's March on Washington from 10:00 in the morning Eastern time until 3:00 in the afternoon.
Our guests, as we begin to wrap up this seven-hour special, Angela Davis, longtime activist and professor. Also with us, we are joined—and professor emeritus at the University of California. We are also joined, as well, by Alicia Garza, who is co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. And we’re joined by Allan Nairn, activist and journalist.
As we begin to wrap up, what you expect to happen and how, Angela, your past organizing, as you describe what happened in Alabama in the past, I mean, you describe, I mean, the—and have told the story often of the four little girls who were blown up, that you knew.
ANGELA DAVIS: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what could be a lower point in this country’s history? And yet, you had hope, and people organized to change things. And now we are here in 2017. What you hope to come from Saturday, the Women’s March, not only on Washington, but all over the country. We have reports now that hundreds of people are protesting at the University of Texas, Austin, for example. But how you see yourself moving forward?
ANGELA DAVIS: Well, you know, I’ve always imagined myself not as an individual, but as a part of a larger community of struggle. And I know Alicia was talking about what might be construed as my own individual accomplishments, and, you know, all of these things occurred as a result of people coming together and thinking together and moving together and organizing together and fighting together. And, you know, I’m remembering when Nixon, Richard Nixon, was elected in 1968 and what a blow that was. I also remember that the largest protest against the war in Vietnam took place under the Nixon administration. As a matter of fact, you know, Nixon was impeached and forced to leave office. So there are historical—
AMY GOODMAN: Won by a landslide in 1972.
ANGELA DAVIS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Out by the summer of 1974.
ANGELA DAVIS: Yes, exactly, exactly. So, well, I think, first of all, we have to guarantee that if Trump lasts the next four years, he will be only a one-term president. I think that has to be on everyone’s agenda.
AMY GOODMAN: Didn’t he already come up with his campaign slogan for 2020, “Keep America Great”?
ANGELA DAVIS: Yeah, yeah. That’s true, he did. But we have our slogans, and we have our goals, and we—you know, we have to figure out how to transform this into an era of radical activism. So it means that the activism has to happen at every level. I was saying last night that we have—now we have [ 1,460 ] more days before the next inauguration. And let us guarantee that on every single one of those days, there will be a significant act of collective resistance.
And it means that we also have to recognize the intersectionality of our struggles. We talk about intersectionality a lot, but we have to recognize the interconnectedness of our struggles. And we have to be willing—those of us who are attached to one particular movement or cause, we have to be willing to stand up for everyone who is under attack. So that means that everyone has to be mobilized to stand together with immigrants. We have to prevent deportations. We have to stand up against Islamophobia and, you know, recognize that the struggle for peace, the struggle against militarism, continues to be one of the most important points on our agenda. The struggle for justice for Palestine is even more important now, particularly considering the appointment of David Friedman to the ambassadorship to Israel. So there—so I think this should be—this is going to have to be an era of struggle, an era of collective resistance.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to ask Alicia, and Allan, too, for their final thoughts on this and just read—someone has compiled a list of words that were used for the first time in a U.S. inaugural address. I’ll just read a few of them: “bleed,” “carnage,” “depletion,” “ripped,” “rusted,” “sad,” “stealing,” “tombstones.” OK, that’s just a random list. The list is much longer of words that have not been used before. And what some of those words indicate is a—or gesture at is a more explicit violence than has ever been—I mean, one could argue that an inaugural address is always about a certain kind of nationalism, whereas—but it’s an implicit kind of violence. This—the words here are—somehow lay bare what American power—Trump would like American power to be. So, your final thoughts on that, Alicia, and then Allan?
ALICIA GARZA: Well, I think the inaugural address made it really clear what America Trump wants to, quote-unquote, “make great again.” But what feels really clear for me is that he does not have a mandate, that the words that we would use—right?—absolutely would be “resistance,” would be “ungovernable,” would be “disrupt,” would be “defiant.” But I think that there’s also very much words that are being used today, like “solidarity” and “love” and “resistance” and “care.” And I’m carrying that into the Women’s March tomorrow, quite frankly, where there will be, at minimum, a quarter of a million people who have traveled from all over the world to show their resistance, but also to show that we—our futures are connected with one another. And that’s what is carrying me through this incredibly sad day. And, you know, I think that what’s important about the list that you’ve generated is that it makes it really clear what their agenda is. They are masters at trying to mask what it is that they actually want to do. And so, we should take this as an indication of the America that they want to see, and use it as our compass to move away from and to orient all of our work around.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Allan Nairn?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, you know, as they say, every person contains multitudes. Within everyone, there’s this capacity for tremendous nobility and also the capacity to do horrible things, to commit the most atrocious crimes. And Trump has—like other demagogues, has this ability to reach inside, reach inside the soul of many people and pull out the worst. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A given person is not only their own worst instincts. You can reach inside that same person and pull out the best. And what a person does, to a large extent, depends upon the situation that’s presented to them, the conditions they’re living under, the challenges that are put to them. Trump has put a certain set of challenges, particularly to white Americans, and he’s gotten this very ugly response.
But just if some very simple things had been done by the bureaucratic, corporate Democratic Party, and they had presented a more—a constructive agenda that simply responded to people’s needs for work, for salary, we would have had an entirely different outcome in the election, and we wouldn’t now be facing the very real threat on the street of, perhaps, vigilante violence, more racist violence from cops, all these menaces. And God knows what could be unleashed overseas by General Mattis and Trump.
This could easily have swung the other way. And it can still swing the other way. You know, when the pendulum goes this far, the energy is gathered, and it’s poised to swing almost as far back in the other direction. And I think that’s where we are politically now. Four years from now, sooner, we could be talking about a revolution of a different sort, in a much more constructive direction. But we have to make that happen, because if we don’t, it could just continue to the right. In two years, the Republicans may get a veto-proof majority—a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. They may get total control of the Supreme Court in a way they don’t have now. And then they really are in position to essentially rule by decree, with no real countervailing force within the system. This has to be stopped, and we have to get serious and do some very persistent organizing that reaches out very broadly and mobilizes the majority that, as we’ve all been saying, actually exists.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there. And we thank you all so much for being with us, joining us through this seven-hour special. Angela Davis, author, activist, professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, her latest book, Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, subject of the 2013 film Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. Also with us, Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and journalist and activist Allan Nairn. We’ll link to your blog, News and Comment, at AllanNairn.org.
And that does it for our seven-hour Inauguration Day special. To see our full show, go to democracynow.org. Tune in Saturday for our live coverage from the Women’s March, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time until 3:00 p.m.
Many thanks to our crew here at WHUT, Howard University television: Jefferi Lee, Luma Haj, Sharon Drayton, Wally Ashby, De’Quan Jones, Granville Jones, Maurice Bland, Kenny White, Kendrick Lee, Tobias Mugg, Rocky Mabrey, Lou Crozier, LaTonya Winters, Alex Rukashaza and Janet Campbell.
Democracy Now! produced by Mike Burke, Carla Wills, Laura Gottesdiener, Deena Guzder, Sam Alcoff, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Charina Nadura, Andre Lewis. Miguel Nogueira and Paul Huckeby are our engineers. Special thanks to John Hamilton, Denis Moynihan, Renée Feltz, Elizabeth Press, Becca Staley, Julie Crosby, Hugh Gran, David Prude, Ariel Boone, Anthony Manzo. With Nermeen Shaikh, I’m Amy Goodman, for another edition of Democracy Now! “War, Peace and the Presidency.”
[End of Hour 7]