On Super Tuesday, March 3, Democracy Now! teamed up with The Intercept to broadcast a live Super Tuesday 2020 Election Special on the biggest voting day of the presidential primary race.
Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh were joined by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and guests across the country, reporting real-time results and analysis as polls closed in 14 states and American Samoa.
AMY GOODMAN: From New York, it’s Super Tuesday.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I think people should vote for me, and I’m in it to win it.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: My campaign is built for the long haul, and we are looking forward to these big contests.
JOE BIDEN: This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party. This is the moment, and it’s arrived, maybe sooner than anyone guessed it would. But it’s here. And the decisions Democrats make all across America in the next few days will determine what this party stands for.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, in November, we are going to remind Donald Trump what democracy is about, because we’re going to throw him out of office.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s the biggest primary day of the 2020 election— 14 states and American Samoa. A third of delegates are at stake. This is a live broadcast of Democracy Now! and The Intercept. For the next five hours, we’ll bring you live results and analysis from across the country. All that and more, coming up. Welcome to Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, and The Intercept's five-hour Super Tuesday special. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González and The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, voters in 14 states and American Samoa are casting ballots today in the single biggest day of the presidential primary season. In all, 1,357 delegates will be apportioned based on the results of today’s Super Tuesday election, more than a third of the total number of delegates up for grabs. At this moment, polls have closed in Vermont and Virginia, and already we have the first result of the evening: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will carry his home state by an overwhelming margin. Results are only beginning to trickle in Virginia, where it was expected to be a close contest between front-runner Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. CNN is now calling Virginia for Joe Biden. In North Carolina, polls close at 7:30 p.m. They close at 8 p.m. in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and across most of Texas. Arkansas polls remain open until 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, 9 p.m. in Colorado and Minnesota, 10 p.m. in Utah, and 11 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Pacific time in California, where only partial results are expected tonight due to a large number of mail-in ballots.
AMY GOODMAN: In Tennessee, polls have just closed in the eastern part of the state, while to the west polls were scheduled to remain open until 8 p.m. Eastern. Much of Tennessee was left reeling overnight as deadly storms spawned tornadoes around Nashville, destroying homes, felling trees and leaving at least 22 people dead. Because of disruptions from the extreme weather, some polling sites will remain open until 11 p.m. Eastern tonight.
Former Vice President Joe Biden spent the day campaigning in California, the nation’s most populous state and Super Tuesday’s biggest prize, with 494 delegates apportioned. Biden is hoping a wave of endorsements over the past 72 hours, including from former presidential contenders Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, will help him gain ground on front-runner Bernie Sanders. This is Joe Biden speaking at a rally in Dallas, Texas, last night.
JOE BIDEN: Folks, you know, just a few days ago, the press and the pundits declared this campaign dead. But South Carolina had something to say about it! And tomorrow, Texas and Minnesota and the rest of Super Tuesday states, they’re going to have a lot to say about it!
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Ahead of today’s vote, front-runner Bernie Sanders was positioned to win California by double digits. Boosted by a surge in Latinx voters, he’s in a tight race for the largest share of votes in Texas, today’s second-largest prize with 228 pledged delegates. Senator Sanders spoke to reporters after casting a vote this morning in his home town of Burlington, Vermont.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We are putting together a multigenerational, multiracial movement of people who are standing up for justice. And to beat Donald Trump, we are going to need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country. We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren hoped to revive her flagging campaign after winning just eight delegates in the primary season’s first four contests. Warren was greeted by supporters after casting her vote in her home city of Cambridge.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: I believe in an America where we choose hope over fear, where we choose courage over cynicism, an America where we dream big and fight hard.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Forecasters predict an uphill fight for Senator Warren in her home state, where Bernie Sanders rallied over 13,000 people on the Boston Common over the weekend and appears to be the narrow front-runner across Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, campaigned in Florida this morning, a state that is not voting this Super Tuesday. Bloomberg is the richest person ever to run for president, and with an estimated $64 billion, he’s the ninth-richest person on Earth. He’s spent more than a half-billion dollars of his personal fortune on ads so far this election cycle. This is Michael Bloomberg speaking to reporters in Miami this morning.
REPORTER: What states do you expect to win? And what’s considered —
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I don’t know whether you’re going to win any. You don’t have to win states; you have to win delegates. And I think what happens here is nobody gets a majority. At best, somebody will have a plurality. By definition, somebody will have a plurality. And then you go to a convention, and then we’ll see what happens in the convention. This last question. Last question.
REPORTER: Do you want a contested convention?
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Well, I don’t think that I can win any other ways.
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans are also voting today, with President Trump facing token opposition from a handful of challengers.
Down the ballot, there are a number of notable primary challengers to incumbent lawmakers. In Texas’s 28th Congressional District, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, 26-year-old immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros is hoping to unseat Congressmember Henry Cuellar, who’s got the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Cisneros has branded Cuellar “Trump’s favorite Democrat,” because he voted with Donald Trump nearly 70% of the time. Cisneros is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist who supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. She has the support of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Also in Texas, labor organizer Cristina Ramirez is hoping to win the Democratic Party’s Senate primary today to take on Republican Senator John Cornyn in November.
And in California, progressive Georgette Gómez is vying to become the first queer Latina in Congress as she bids for the 53rd Congressional District in San Diego.
Well, for more, we kick off our five-hour joint special with The Intercept with a roundtable of guests. We begin here with our co-host in New York, Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept.
Jeremy, it’s great to have you with us for this, dare I say, five hours. And, of course, all results will not be in even then. But at this point, we do know something. We know that Senator Sanders has taken his own state of Vermont, and at least CNN has called Virginia for Joe Biden.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, if you look at some of the exit poll data that’s coming out, it does seem like Joe Biden got a very solid percentage of the African-American vote, if exit polls are to be believed at this point. But if we back up or sort of go up to 30,000 feet, what we’re witnessing now is sort of the impact of the empire consolidates and strikes back, you know, Joe Biden now getting not just bigwigs from the Democratic Party, but also from the national security establishment. You had people like James Comey, although Biden’s people said they didn’t want that endorsement from Comey, saying that he had voted for him; former CIA director, who was the drone kingpin of the Obama administration, John Brennan, saying he was supporting Joe Biden; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser; Samantha Power, also a big cruise missile liberal, throwing her support behind Joe Biden. So, you know, this is to be expected in a way. You know, there are reports that the Sanders campaign was taken aback by how quickly the party consolidated.
But what is shaping up here, I think, Amy and Juan, is this is going to be a very bloody war. I think we’re going to see an intensification of the redbaiting of Bernie Sanders, the portrayal of him as a communist and completely discarding any nuance about the discussion of what democratic socialism is. I also think that there’s going to be this consistent, intense campaign to smear Bernie Sanders as just the candidate of angry white men online — Bernie bros — when, in reality, if you look at what happened in Nevada, if you look at what is happening on the ground in California, Bernie Sanders is building a coalition that Jesse Jackson recently told me is akin to the Rainbow Coalition in terms of the diversity. So I think what we’re seeing here is the one-two punch of the empire within the Democratic Party establishment striking back, and, on the other hand, a major smear campaign that has been abetted and enabled by corporate media outlets in this country and very powerful economic interests.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jeremy, I wanted to ask you — in terms of the coalescing of the forces, very few people are talking about Barack Obama and where he stands, although there have been reports that Biden has been claiming he’s had conversations recently with former President Obama. The degree to which he himself is perhaps helping to propel the African-American leadership establishment across the country to consolidate forces behind Biden?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Obviously, I don’t have any personal insight into the thinking of Barack Obama. But, you know, I think the way that Obama has largely stayed out of this, and entirely stayed out of it in public, is due to the fact that, look, Joe Biden is not a well man. I don’t know how we talk about this. He can barely complete a sentence without either blatantly lying, saying that — running around telling people multiple times that he was arrested in apartheid South Africa while trying to go and visit Nelson Mandela. This was not a slip of the tongue. This has nothing to do with someone having an issue with stuttering. That’s a lie. Joe Biden systematically and methodically lied about his record on civil rights. Joe Biden said the other day that he looks forward to naming the first African-American woman to the Senate. He has said multiple times that he is Joe Biden, and he’s running for the Senate.
So, you know, I think that Obama, if he was sharp about all this from the beginning, was hoping that someone else was going to emerge that would save the day for the establishment Democratic Party. And that didn’t happen. All of these campaigns sort of fizzled out, and Biden was there standing. And look, the fact of the matter is that Joe Biden ran largely on the record and the popularity of Barack Obama. And South Carolina, look, Biden won that overwhelmingly. And there are complexities to that story. But we’re also seeing the same pattern in Virginia. And I think that that’s a big strength.
Bernie Sanders has really been reticent, or reluctant, rather, to go negative on Joe Biden, outside of Social Security, Medicare stuff and the Iraq War. The fact is that Joe Biden is someone who publicly stated that the notorious, vile racist Strom Thurmond was one of his closest friends, who is telling fallacious stories about his showdown with Corn Pop the gangster at the swimming pool and just blatantly lying. And Joe Biden has a record of not only supporting and voting for, but authoring policies that pummeled black communities across this country and poor communities across this country. If Bernie Sanders is going to take on Joe Biden, he’s going to have to take the gloves off and really go after the right-wing record of Joe Biden and his absolutely systematically insulting lies, where he is using the experience, pain, trauma of not only African Americans, but literally Africans in South Africa, to promote himself as some sort of a rainbow candidate, when, in reality, he’s been on the wrong side of history on race for much of his life.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to introduce our roundtable.
Jeremy Scahill, co-host, who is the co-founder of The Intercept.
Katrina vanden Heuvel is also with us. She’s editorial director and publisher of The Nation magazine, America’s oldest weekly magazine, also a columnist for TheWashingtonPost.com. The Nation has just endorsed Bernie Sanders.
Rashad Robinson is with us also, president of Color of Change.
Linda Sarsour is a Palestinian-American Muslim organizer. Her new book has just come out. It’s called We Are Not Her to Be Bystanders. She’s a national surrogate for Bernie Sanders.
And in Burbank, California, we’re joined by Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which is supporting Bernie Sanders. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. Of course, California is the largest of the Super Tuesday states today. The results should be coming in, beginning to come in, around 11:00. That’s 8:00 California time. But the results won’t actually be in today, you know, what actually are the final results in California.
Rashad Robinson, we wanted to turn to you right now. Ahead of the South Carolina primary, which just took place on Saturday — I mean, it’s hard to believe what’s happened between Saturday and today, Super Tuesday. Very few people predicted this. But you tweeted, “Make no mistake, Democratic primaries aren’t immune to the forces of voter suppression. One of the most important conversations around this primary should be around voting rights and voter suppression.” Talk about this issue.
RASHAD ROBINSON: Well, you know, we’re seeing — we’re talking about sort of the role of African-American voters, not just sort of in this moment around the primary, but in terms of what African-American surge can do in terms of electing the next president. And the question is not simply a question of what the next president will do in terms of policy, but actually what the candidate will do to overcome all the barriers that are going to be put in the way of black people, of immigrants, of seniors, of young people to actually get to the polls. This is not just a question of policy; this is a question of momentum. This is a question of strategy. And I have actually not, from any of the candidates, heard sort of a kind of — beyond we’re going to sort of have a surge of voters, how are we going to deal with the fact that we just saw what happened in Georgia in '18 with Stacey Abrams. We have continued to see this around the country. And if we are going to win states like North Carolina, if we are going to sort of overcome some of the barriers in places like Arizona, we are going to actually, as a left, going to have to have a strategy to overcome the fact that we are not in a fair fight, that we are in a fight where there are those on the other side that are putting their hands on the scale. And I'm looking for both the party and for the candidates to talk us through what are we going to do about that. And at this point, that has not been something that I’ve heard. I’ve heard conversations about policy once they’re elected, but we actually have to get elected first.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to ask Katrina vanden Heuvel, since The Nation has just endorsed Bernie Sanders — I want to throw some skepticism into the —
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Please.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — building of the Sanders movement, being an old-timer who comes out of the ’60s and has covered Democratic and Republican conventions now since ’84, when Jesse Jackson first spoke —
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: — at the Democratic convention in San Francisco. Sanders keep saying that he’s leading a political revolution. I have a lot of trouble understanding how, in the greatest imperial power in the world, an electoral movement is going to force the enormous mechanism of control in this country to cede power. And is it really a revolution that he’s seeking to build, or is it an attempt to further reform the inequities that exist in the system as it is today?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, I’m an outlier at The Nation, even though I’m editorial director. And we endorsed Bernie Sanders for being a democratic socialist whose ideas and plans are radical and realistic enough for these times. I see him as a New Deal Democrat. I mean, I did an interview with Bernie last September, and I pushed him, because at that moment he and Elizabeth Warren were in a kind of parity. And she was modeling herself as — she is a Rooseveltian Democrat. And I said, “Bernie, you know, aren’t you channeling Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights? Essentially, everyone has a right to healthcare, a job, housing? And, you know, freedom, we’ve got to take it back from the Republicans, from Reagan. Freedom is economic dignity and security.” He said, “That’s right. I am in that tradition, New Deal to Great Society.”
On the other hand, he has a right to speak in the American lexicon context of a revolution, because that means something very different. When I heard “revolution,” having spent 35 years as a reporter traveling to the former Soviet Union and Russia, for many of my friends that are independent journalists and others, revolution is a bloody revolution. But there are other kinds of revolution. You know that. I mean, we’ve — and in the American idiom and lexicon and experience, it can be a kind of New Deal moment. And there is an inherently reformist element to it. But with a movement behind you, which is what our editorial or endorsement really is about, it’s about Bernie Sanders and the movement that he has built. And more needs to be built. It’s a process. But it is exciting to see this majority coalition of working people across class, race and regional lines. And that has to be propelled, because I think you need movements to make real change in this country, social movements. And if you confuse it with an electoral politics and a candidate, I think it could be very powerful. But I am aware that Bernie Sanders, in the European context, is a social democrat. He’s like, you know, center-left. So America has a lot of catching up to do.
I do think, on foreign policy — and we don’t talk enough about it, because a president, stymied by a Mitch McConnell — let’s hope he’s gone — in the Senate, may not be able to do enough in those first days. But this president, Bernie Sanders, who may be president, has spoken for Palestinian human rights. He’s defied the Israel lobby. He has denounced endless wars. He has stood for trade agreements that do not harm workers. He has worked with those like Representative Ro Khanna to bring back war and peace powers to the body politic. We’ve had nine more — Jeremy probably knows this — unauthorized illegal wars. We shouldn’t be going to war. Bernie Sanders has work to do even there, because he, you know, is still talking a little bit about America’s empire. And I think — but on climate and other things, he will restore America into a world partnership. But, you know, I think, on foreign policy, he is the one who stands apart from the blob, the orthodoxy.
But there is a reformist element. And that’s sort of heretical to say in this country, because he’s been painted by a media, corporate media, as this wild-eyed radical, ready to nationalize all of us tomorrow. This is not the case. I mean, he is in a tradition, which we need to retrieve in our own radical history.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Katrina, I wanted to ask you about the — I read the criticism of the endorsement of Bernie Sanders coming from supporters of Elizabeth Warren. And this is something I think a lot of us have been paying attention to. And Warren put out this memo over the weekend, her campaign put out this memo over the weekend, saying that she has the infrastructure and intends to carry on to Milwaukee, that they believe she is going to have a strong showing and pick up enough delegates to be a player in ultimately determining who the nominee is going to be. If you look at — if these are to be believed — poll numbers, 60% of Elizabeth Warren’s supporters, Bernie Sanders is not their second choice. And the criticism that I was reading of The Nation was basically that the endorsement of Sanders was telling her essentially to drop out and stop, or to stop criticizing Bernie Sanders. And I’m wondering what your thinking is on the attacks, because Warren has definitely increased her attacks on Bernie Sanders, at times going out of her way to criticize him right now. But I’m wondering what your assessment is of her strategy right now and why she’s staying in the race? She may not even win her own state.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: So, I think — first of all, I have great respect for Elizabeth Warren, and I think she’s not been that tough on Bernie Sanders. She’e essentially come out and said she could be more effective, though they’re playing in the same left progressive lane. Our endorsement was very much Elizabeth Warren has every right to stay in and she should speak, but speak in a way that is in solidarity with the left progressive lane and moving forward. And I think — Larry Cohen, who heads Our Revolution, was in our office last week, and he very much believes that she should stay in the race, because there was a lot — I was very bad at math, but delegate math is exciting. And it’s important she stay in the race, to some extent, because she may bring delegates, enough delegates, to the convention, and Bernie Sanders may well need those, because he may well have a plurality. We’ve seen him expand the electorate and turn up, but not at the margins we need to see for him to come in with a majority. So I think Elizabeth Warren — and I was just reading Ryan Grim’s good article with Rachel Cohen in The Intercept, coming here.
JEREMY SCAHILL: About Working Families Party, yeah.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: About Working Families Party. They want her — obviously, they want her to stay in. But there’s a strategy to that. And Larry Cohen, who’s no Working Families Party — he’s Our Revolution — makes the case that she should stay in and that we deepen and widen the left progressive lane of our politics.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, this is an important question, when you raise the issue of the convention and what will happen there, which brings us to someone who was at — one of the delegates that negotiated the change in the superdelegate structure, following the intense criticism of the Democratic National Committee back in 2016. And that is Norm Solomon. Norm, you’re there in the Super Tuesday state of California. Talk about what happened in 2016. And talk about what we will see. You know, who knows, with the coronavirus, if these conventions will take place in Milwaukee? But what the whole idea of the brokered convention looks like? In fact, Michael Bloomberg was just talking about, saying he only thinks he could win out of a brokered convention.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, first, I would say that I agitated, along with many other people, rather than negotiating for a change in the superdelegate policy. In 2016, there was so much justifiable outrage at the manipulation and the undemocratic character of the whole superdelegate setup, that a process was set up, was put in play, and Our Revolution and Bernie Sanders’ forces had a majority on what was called the Unity Reform Commission. So, long story short, a lot of push-pull, a lot of organizing. Our Revolution was in the forefront. The group that I’m part of , RootsAction.org, set up a picket line, saying, “Democratic Party or Undemocratic Party, which is it going to be?” Personally, I was almost dragged out of one of those meetings of the Unity Reform Commission, holding that sign. And at the end of the day, at the 11th hour, really, there was decision made by that committee, and then the full DNC, that, hey, we can’t do 2016 all over again. Us progressives, we got half a loaf. There should be no superdelegate votes at all. But what happened is that the first ballot will have no superdelegate votes for the nominee. But if we don’t get a majority of 50% plus one, then, in the second ballot, superdelegates can jump in and vote. I think if it goes to a second ballot, it’s going to be a catastrophe.
And so, what is so essential for progressives around the country is to make sure that not only — and now the votes have been cast, but starting next week and onward, when 60% of the delegates will yet be selected, we’ve got to fight for every vote and every delegate. And the Bloombergs, the Bidens, the Wall Street forces they represent, the war makers who they represent, those are the forces that have to be opposed. And when you get right down to it, it is Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who stand in the way.
I should say that last night I was at an Elizabeth Warren rally in East Los Angeles, before she got on the plane to go back to Massachusetts to vote. And that was 24 hours after being at a huge Bernie Sanders rally in downtown Los Angeles. And the overlap and the difference was just striking. I mean, we know from the exit polls and polling and so forth how they have similarities in support and how they have differences. But I completely agree that it’s important for Elizabeth Warren to stay in this race 'til Milwaukee, at the same time that I believe that her attacks on Bernie Sanders have been gratuitous. I think she should get the message from progressives to keep the eyes on the prize and recognize who the enemy, so to speak, is in the lead-up to the nomination. It's not Bernie Sanders. On the contrary, what’s needed is solidarity, because if Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren together can get to Milwaukee between them with a majority of delegates, then we’re cooking. Then we have something going. Then we can beat back the forces represented most of all now at this juncture by Joe Biden. This is a fight that has to be won in every community around the country.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Linda Sarsour, I wanted you to step in. You’ve been a very vocal Sanders supporter. And your sense of where, beyond Super Tuesday, the campaigns go?
LINDA SARSOUR: I think Senator Bernie Sanders is the front-runner. I was not shocked that Biden would win a state like Virginia, and I think that the media making it a shock is actually just ludicrous, in my opinion. I think he’s going to come and crush it in places like California. Right now I saw on Twitter, there are lines around in particular parts of Texas, where we know those are going to be places that are going to turn out big. And those are the states with a lot of delegates. I’m just really disappointed and I’m sad that people continue to be in this mindset that we’ve got to settle for some status quo. You know, we’ve done this in 2016, and it’s like: How do you not learn from your mistakes? We did this in 2016, and we lost. And people want to lose again.
And the thing about Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign is that it is disrupting a system in this country. It may not be the most revolutionary or radical in comparison to other countries outside the United States, but in here, in this country, it is radical, when you are a campaign fully funded by the people, when you have the most donors in presidential history, when you are a campaign that is full of young people, when you are galvanizing Latinos at amazing rates, when Muslim communities, including the caucuses in places like Iowa, where I bet you people didn’t even think there were Muslims there, building those satellite caucuses.
So, I still feel hopeful, and I feel proud. And I hope the Democratic Party starts catching up to us, because if we do go to a brokered convention, and what will happen is that if Joe Biden gets the nomination and we lose to Donald Trump, they will blame immigrants. They’re going to blame young people for it. They’re going to tell us that we were naive. Instead of following our lead and the lead of young people who have the most at stake when it comes to issues like climate justice, we’re putting up a candidate who’s not a champion for climate justice. He championed the crime bill. I mean, he’s a guy who voted for the War in Iraq. I mean, I can sit here for days and list why Joe Biden — other than his actual lack of enthusiasm. I want you just to imagine a general election where I have to figure out how to get young people in the streets running around for Joe Biden. I don’t see it. We’ll see what we could do, but I don’t think it’s going to be able to happen.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I just wanted to pick up on the last thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Katrina vanden Heuvel.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: People walk around and say, “Oh my god, it’s going to be ’68 or ’72 again,” 1972. 1972 was a time when the middle class was expanding. The middle class hasn’t seen — you know, they’ve had stagnant wages for 40 years. And also this idea that down ballot Bernie Sanders would destroy the Democratic Party. Well, you just described the enthusiasm, the building of a movement, the turnout. That’s going to be vital. And in fact, in, I think, five districts in 2018 where the GOP incumbent was ousted, it was — you know, that switching Democrats — or, Republicans to vote Democrat is not the strategy. We should be going for the base, for enthusiasm, for the coalition you describe.
LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. Can I just add one quick thing?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sure, yeah.
LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, even in 2018, when you look at the kind of winning back of the House, and you look at the races of people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and you look at Rashida Tlaib in Southwest Detroit, people don’t realize how that happened. That was because there was a movement behind it. That was us. That was the impetus of the pivoting of the Women’s March immediately after the inauguration of Donald Trump. It was the women across the country who got up and said, “We are the change we want to see. We want to run for office.” Black women, Latina women, all kinds of women got up and ran for office. And a lot of them won across the country. We made history multiple times. And it wasn’t because the Democratic Party made history by itself. It wasn’t because the Democratic establishment on its own created the enthusiasm. That was the grassroots. That was us. That was our movements. That was progressive organizations. And the fact that we — that is not enough proof to know what kind of movement we need to go into beating a Donald Trump is just the Democratic Party failing us one more time. And when they do do that, and everybody purges from the party, then we’re the ones that are going to be blamed for that. And we’re often in the blame for when the Democratic Party is the one that’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.
AMY GOODMAN: I just want to bring in some news. It’s 7:31 Eastern time. The polls in North Carolina closed at 7:30. And CNN is calling North Carolina for Joe Biden. Rashad Robinson, your response?
RASHAD ROBINSON: Well, I mean, I think that a lot of what you’re going to see across the South is Joe Biden doing quite well. I mean, he has the benefit of having served with Barack Obama for eight years. He has the benefit of also, in a lot of Southern states, where the Democratic representatives actually do control a lot of the infrastructure, and the Democratic representatives in the South, because of gerrymandering, because of redistricting, are largely African-American, and they have long-term relationships. And so he’s racked up a set of endorsements. He’s benefited from the party infrastructure. Establishment forces, regardless of race, are going to do what establishment forces do. This is why it was no surprise that you see a state so close to Washington, D.C., where people’s economic future relies on not big sweeping changes to like the federal government, that they recognize the revolving door, that a new president should mean new jobs for them, and if the person who becomes president isn’t an establishment force, what their economic future could look like, the lobbying — the lobbyist forces, the people who are going to serve, you know, not in just the Cabinet posts, but the other Cabinet posts. And so you have a lot of folks, both in Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina, who are voting.
This is not to also discount the fact that a lot of people are scared — right? — and that they are watching corporate media. And they are also dealing with the fact that they are being sent a really clear message about what could happen if we don’t win this next election. And they are taking a lot of signals. This is not about black folks being naive. This is about black folks in a lot of places having to constantly be harm reduction voters, not always having the option to vote your aspiration. And we have praised black people for that. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is the Alabama Senate race, where we defeated Roy Moore, you know, with a candidate who was not a huge progressive — right? — we praise black women for having to turn out and having to lean in. And so I do think that all of this is complicated.
And I do think that it’s going to be really important that as we come out of all this, we figure out how to weave together a coalition that either can govern with a kind of progressive focus on systemic change, or a coalition that can hold an establishment force accountable and push them to do things that we don’t want them to do. But in both cases, I think that what I continue to hear and what I hear from the listening of our membership — and we didn’t make an endorsement, partially because our membership was all over the place in terms of where they were, and we would have never reached a majority to actually say, “This is where we stand,” is that people don’t just want the what, they want the how. They want to know how we are going to get there. And particularly black folks in the South want to know how we’re going to get there, because the fact of the matter is, is that we had eight years of Obama, where we were told a set of things would happen, and we saw all the forces that stood in the way of that. And so, whoever comes out of this is going to have that type of work to do.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Speaking of the forces —
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, the other —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, Jeremy. Speaking of the forces standing in the way of this, Michael Bloomberg, his entry into the race, the enormous amounts of money that he’s spending, and the real possibility that if he doesn’t do well today or in the next few primaries, that he could throw his enormous amount of money behind a Joe Biden to continue to further consolidate the opposition to Bernie Sanders.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, we just saw small glimmers of the kind of dirty pool that Michael Bloomberg is going to engage in about Bernie Sanders, you know, going back and digging up essays from 1969 and implying that Bernie Sanders has absolutely insane views on children. And if you read about it, it was in the mainstream of like Dr. Benjamin Spock and other people, but really weaponizing writings from the '60s of Bernie Sanders. It's going to get very dirty when Bloomberg does that.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m interrupting because right now Senator Elizabeth Warren is speaking in Detroit.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: You, you are the ones who get to pick the person who will be the next president, and it is an awesome thing. You are going to do it right here in Michigan next week. People are doing it in California right now. And that’s what it means to have a democracy.
I’m in this race because I believe I will make the best president of the United States. And I want to tell you why. I was not born a politician, but I was born a fighter. And I want you to know this. Is this on? Good. I want you to know this. I’ve got to have a loud voice here. I come by this honest. I think that maybe the reason I fought all my life is because I learned this from my mother. I want to tell you a story about me.
I grew up in Oklahoma. OK, we’ve got a few Okies here. I grew up in Oklahoma. I am the baby. I have three much older brothers. They all went off and joined the military. I am what used to be called a late-in-life baby. My mother always just called me “the surprise.” Yep. My three brothers are all retired. They’re back in Oklahoma now. To this day, they are referred to as “the boys.” That’s to distinguish them from “the surprise.”
Now, when I was in middle school, all three of the boys were gone by then, and it was just my mom and daddy and me. And my daddy had a heart attack. He pulled through, but he couldn’t work for a long, long time. And I still remember the day when we lost the family station wagon. I remember how my mother used to tuck me in at night, and she would always kiss me and give me this big smile, and I knew what was coming next. She’d leave my room, close the door, and then I’d hear her start to cry. She never wanted to cry in front of me. And I knew that. This is when I learned words like “mortgage” and “foreclosure.”
And one day, I walked into my folks’ bedroom, and laid out on the bed was the dress. Now, some of you in this room will know the dress. It’s the one that only comes out for weddings, funerals and graduations. And there, down by the foot of the bed, was my mother. And she had on her slip. And she was in her stocking feet, and she was pacing back and forth. And she was saying, “We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house.” She was 50 years old. She had never worked outside the home. And she was terrified.
So, she looks up, and she sees me standing in the doorway. I’m just a kid. And she looks at me, and she looks at that dress, and she looks back at me, and she walks over, and she pulls that dress on. She puts on her high heels, and she walks to the Sears, where she gets a full-time minimum-wage job answering phones. And that minimum-wage job saved our house, and it also saved our family. And that is the first lesson my mother taught me. And that is, no matter how scared you are, no matter how hard it looks, you get out there, and you fight for the people you love.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Senator Elizabeth Warren. We’re not sure if she is going to be giving another speech tonight, what she understands about what’s happening this Super Tuesday with her own polling data. She’s actually speaking in a non-Super Tuesday state, which isn’t unusual. In fact, Michael Bloomberg is in Florida right now. And she’s in Detroit, Michigan, which is going to be voting next week, although in all of these cases, millions of people have already voted. People in California were voting during the Iowa caucuses. Again, that’s Elizabeth Warren in Detroit, Michigan, where another presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, also is tonight. Jeremy Scahill?
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, for younger people who — or young people for whom this might be their first election or the first time they’ve worked on a campaign or really gotten involved, it’s important to remember, right now what we’re seeing, these early states were definitely not the Bernie Sanders strong areas. I mean, it’s going to be interesting to see some of the numbers as they come out. The real test for the viability of Sanders as a front-runner is going to be how big of a victory he’s able to pull off in California, assuming that the polls hold up. You know, if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win a large victory in California, and he doesn’t pull off a victory in Texas, then I think you are going to start to see some cracks and some questions from within. But on the other hand, if Bernie Sanders wins overwhelmingly in California, one in 10 people in this country live in the state of California. You know, Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus overwhelmingly, and it was a victory fueled in large part by working-class people and the Latinx community. California and Texas also, we’re going to see some of the communities that have really shown a lot of support for Bernie Sanders.
But, you know, let’s be blunt here. What the Democratic Party establishment is doing is a very effective blitz aimed at trying to kneecap Bernie Sanders before the game even starts. And I’m not sure that the Sanders people handled this well, you know, just to be perfectly blunt about it. I’m not sure that they fully grasped what they were up against. And maybe in books in the future, we’re going to learn about who called whom during this process and the role of Barack Obama. I thought it was interesting also both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar said they weren’t going to speak at AIPAC, then they delivered these — you know, the videotaped addresses. There are reports that Obama was making phone calls. I mean, these are serious people. And Bernie Sanders, I think, tries to rise above it, and he tries to set a different tone, which I think is admirable. This is going to be an extremely dirty fight. But Sanders’ strength tonight is in the West, and we probably won’t see his major victories, if it all pans out, until very, very late and when we’re off the air.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jeremy, you also — you mentioned this whole issue of the Latinx support, the Latino community’s support for Sanders. One of the points I’ve made several times on this show is that people still have not grasped the enormous growth of the Latino vote. Just since President Trump was elected in 2016, 3 million Latinos have turned the age of 18, U.S. citizen Latinos, 3 million additional potential voters since Trump was elected in 2016. And all you’ve got to do is do the math in terms of how many get registered and how many turn out to vote, and look at the numbers of the last election and the differences in the last election, and that’s a considerable effect. So I think the fact that the Sanders campaign has so deeply enmeshed itself among young Latinos is really a sense of where the potential for the movement is in the future.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, just briefly to respond to that, Juan, also I think it’s really deeply offensive, the way that voters from the Latinx community in this country have been erased, particularly by corporate media figures, Democratic pundits, where they skip over the fact of what happened in Nevada. And, you know, it’s all in the service of this narrative, the Bernie bro narrative, about Bernie Sanders. But if you look at who is representing Bernie Sanders around the country, the diversity, the fact that Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate that is consistently talking about Palestine, who is consistently not just talking about the issue of immigration and the border, but talking about issues that matter in these communities that you’re talking about, where we’ve seen this explosion in the number of voters — healthcare, housing, education. You know, a lot of times, the Democratic Party talks down to people, and they certainly have done this throughout history with African-American voters. You know, it’s like, “Oh, Latinx, well, let’s talk about our border policy.” No, most people, their main issue is their economic well-being, their safety and the future for their kids. And that’s a big part of why Sanders won Nevada. And it gets erased systematically in the discourse. It’s, “Oh, the white states have voted.” Well, yeah, that’s true in the case of Iowa and New Hampshire. That was not the story in Nevada, and yet it persists to this moment in the discussion about that victory in Nevada.
RASHAD ROBINSON: But I think one of — I think, actually, in some ways, this is why Bernie Sanders is doing so well. Right? Because, yes, there is like — there is a tremendously bad polling among institutions in general. Right?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Right.
RASHAD ROBINSON: And so it’s not just the Democratic Party or the Republican Party as an institution, and we saw how that played out for them in '16, but also corporate media and how — and people not trusting corporate media. So, I do think that part of Bernie Sanders' appeal, and particularly his appeal among young black folks, is that he is telling a full story. So, we did focus groups back in '18, and we did them with young — with black millennials, and we did them in like St. Louis and Milwaukee and Detroit. And so, sitting behind the screen sort of with young black folks who were like working in the Verizon store, maybe in a beauty shop, babysitting, were stringing together different jobs, were working minimum wage under Obama, right? And we have to remember, during the Obama administration, we had Occupy. We had Black Lives Matter. We had sort of these uprisings that had sort of captured the imagination of young people to push back and fight back. And so, we saw very clearly in those focus groups that young people were like not clear on any story that did not talk about the system was broken, if you talked about you were going to get in and you were going to fix healthcare, not overhaul it, that you were going to fix criminal justice, not overhaul it, if you were going to bring community and police together, not sort of dismantle the way in which police treat our communities like enemy combatants. And so, I do think that, yes, yes, he's facing this onslaught from the establishment, and that could be the Democrats’ Achille heel, in that they are not listening to their people. But I do think that that is the reason why we are having this moment right now. And the question will be, is: How can the Sanders campaign, as you put it, respond to what we know is coming? Which will be an onslaught of the establishment to protect the establishment, to protect capitalism, to protect all of the sort of ways in which the system has benefited them, from their beach homes and their parents in senior citizens’ homes, their kids in college. People are going to fight like hell to keep these systems in place. And so we have to have the right strategy to overcome it.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Linda Sarsour a question. This letter put out by the Bernie campaign, to interested parties, from Faiz Shakir and Jeff Weaver, “Re: The Establishment Bets On Joe Biden — It Won’t Work.” And they write, “In the last 24 hours, the Biden campaign has worked to coalesce the Washington establishment and its big donors around his campaign to protect the status quo. Heading into Super Tuesday, the choice in the Democratic primary is now crystal clear: voters face a decision between Bernie’s working-class movement and his message of change, and Biden’s effort to — in his own words — make sure that 'nothing will fundamentally change' for the billionaire class that buys elections.” So, I’d like you to take it from there. But also, following up on Rashad talking about the police, it is well known at this point around the country what Michael Bloomberg did as mayor of New York, 5 million stops-and-frisks — 5 million stops-and-frisks. In one year, I think it was 2011, nearly 700,000 people, mainly black and brown young people, mainly young men, were stopped. We now know a lot about that. We don’t know as much about the surveillance of the Muslim community. And I was wondering if you can respond to both.
LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. I’ll start with Michael Bloomberg. Vote for whoever you want to, just don’t vote for Michael Bloomberg, is kind of where I’m at right now. Michael Bloomberg engaged in absolute unwarranted and blanket surveillance of Muslim community. The Associated Press, who exposed that, literally won a Pulitzer Prize. I actually wrote about it in my book. I spoke about Bernie Sanders, and I wrote about Michael Bloomberg and the juxtaposition of one candidate who can inspire us and bring the Muslim community into the political sphere, and another candidate who literally criminalized our entire community and has been unapologetic about it and also, 'til a few days ago, justified it on PBS. And he said — when they said, “Why the mosques? Why did you surveil on the mosques?” he literally said, “Well, where would we go? That's the natural place to go to spy on people, in their religious institutions.” So, Michael Bloomberg has never apologized to our community, and it is probably one of the reasons also why we continue to see a galvanization and excitement from Muslim Americans about Bernie Sanders. He pretty much, across the board, in many of the grassroots communities that I go to, Senator Sanders holds a lot of support amongst the Muslim community, which is why I’m so interested in the state of Michigan to see if they will give him the same political upset that they gave Bernie back in 2016.
What Faiz is saying, it’s really important. And I’m just sitting here really sad. And I am listening also to Rashad, who’s my brother, and looking at this kind of — it’s more to me like an — there’s an intergenerational divide for me. It’s not just an ideological one. It’s not just Democratic establishment versus the working class. There is — and it’s justifiable, and it’s validated, why a lot of older folks, particularly folks who were still around around the civil rights movement, and people who are even younger, were the children of those people, who continue to see electoral politics as harm reduction. And I think the generational divide is that this new generation sees it as a potential to transformation. And we’re ready to take the risk for it. And when someone tells me, “Let’s just go with Joe Biden. He’s the safest, and can beat Trump,” what it tells me is that you don’t think I’m worthy of healthcare, you don’t think I’m worthy of having my student debt canceled so I can literally be unshackled from this debt that continues to hold down predominantly black people and women of color, who hold the most student debt in this country.
And so, for me, yes, the Democratic Party right now is absolutely coalescing against the progressives. They’re basically telling us — and we’re not the one saying it; they say that we’re divisive, but they’re engaging in divisiveness by making this an us-versus-them scenario. And it’s going to backfire. Joe Biden cannot — may go to the convention and may get the delegates, but he can absolutely not defeat Donald Trump. And we’re going to be in the same situation. And you know what? It is going to be my community that’s going to beat the top of the chopping block for a man like Donald Trump for another four years. And that is why I have the most at stake here, not Harry Reid, not the people making the phone calls in the Democratic Party. It is us and the people that are on this Bernie Sanders campaign.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think what Linda —
JEREMY SCAHILL: Can I just add one factual thing about the —
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think what Linda is saying is really important, the fusion of electoral politics and movement politics, because we haven’t seen that and in the force we need to. I think what Bernie Sanders has shown with his ability to raise small money is extraordinary. He raised $46.5 million from 2.2 million people in the last — in February. I think that allows a more level playing field to bring people into politics who can’t afford to. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set up Courage to Change PAC, which is about leveling the barriers to entry. We need a huge cohort of people who want to run and can run from — you know, excuse the expression — from the bottom up. And we need to take back this desiccated Democratic Party. I think of Nebraska and Jane Kleeb. We need to fight for the soul of what’s left of the soul of the Democratic Party. And this has gone on for decades. But one thing I will say with hope: I think we are in a better position now, coming off of the financial crisis, coming off of Occupy, coming off of the movements that have coalesced with power in this country, a new generation. And into this period post-Iraq, people are sick of endless war. People are sick of living at the end of a stick of a failed neoliberal economy. So I think the ability to run has to — Bernie Sanders needs to share his lists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should take back power from the DCCC, which, as your listeners, viewers know, have really played it for the establishment in these last years. So —
RASHAD ROBINSON: As a person —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to, if we can, bring in Norm Solomon. We haven’t heard from him in a while. And, Norm, if you could talk also about the fact that back in 2016, as Donald Trump was running against all of these other Republican candidates, the commercial media essentially fixated on Trump? They would just broadcast him constantly, sometimes when he wasn’t even making any sense, and they would still keep him on the air. Now that you’ve seen this rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party, rarely do these commercial media spend a significant amount of time actually letting Sanders talk during their broadcasts so that the rest of the American people can get the message. And it’s still Trump all the time, to the point that now we’re getting — we’re seeing a rise in his poll numbers as a result of all the constant Trump coverage that we see in the commercial media.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, for the most part, if it isn’t invisibility that the news media inflict on Bernie Sanders, just rendering him not visible, it’s attacking him, it’s trashing him, it’s often smearing him. And this underscores, I think, the need for us to confront mainstream corporate media and also build capacities from independent progressive media, such as the outlets that are making this discussion now possible, reaching people around the country and beyond. Ultimately, I believe we need a united front. And that front has to involve progressives at all extents and communities in this country to recognize the huge threat that is presented by and ratified by and amplified by corporate media. And it’s represented now most clearly by Bloomberg, and especially Biden. But it continues to be an assault on people’s rights.
And I want to say very briefly, I was at the Bernie Sanders rally the night before last. And it was stunning. The vision that was actualized by half the people in the room being Latinx, who were part of movement sensibilities, that the entire structure and messaging of the evening was about: We are going to take power for everybody. And even though there are some significant differences between the Sanders and Warren campaign, I believe we’re not going to be able to defeat Biden and Bloomberg unless there is united front with the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and going all the way to the convention, realizing that this is a fight for every delegate.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, one other just factual thing, I wanted to follow up on something that Linda was talking about, because I think this needs to be emphasized. When we talk about the reign of terror of Michael Bloomberg in New York, a lot of the focus rightly is on stop-and-frisk, and Michael Bloomberg has lied about it. He implied, “Oh, I inherited this, and then I realized something was wrong, so I reduced it.” He radically escalated it.
On the issue of Muslim surveillance, Michael Bloomberg ran something that they called the Demographics Unit, where they were going and targeting people based on what they called “ancestries of interest.” They were spying on restaurants, cafes, places of worship, individuals of interest based on their ethnicity. The idea that this man, who refuses to apologize at all, and continues to defend it with the typical Rudy Giuliani “9/11, 9/11, 9/11” — they were spying on American citizens based on their religion and, in some cases, their ethnic roots and where their grandparents were born or their great-grandparents were born. That’s not a person you want in charge of so-called homeland security in this country.
And, you know, Juan, you mentioned the money earlier on. It’s going to be very interesting to see, for all of Trump’s talk about “Mini Mike,” he doesn’t have a mini ego. And it’s going to be very interesting. I understand that there are — there’s a lot of pressure right now on Mike Bloomberg to drop out of this race. Let’s see what happens with the ego. Let’s see where the money goes. Bloomberg has shown that he wants to play dirty going after Bernie Sanders. And it could be that Bloomberg becomes a very major dark money force in this race. We always quote what Bloomberg spends on — you know, half a billion dollars on ads. Bloomberg has a whole spending infrastructure that’s not subjected to any oversight.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: That’s right. No oversight.
JEREMY SCAHILL: We have no clue how much he has spent.
AMY GOODMAN: Just one bit of news coming out of American Samoa, which apparently has six delegates. Michael Bloomberg has almost swept American Samoa with five of the delegates. And it looks like Tulsi Gabbard has won, as far as we can tell. Does that mean, Norm Solomon, that —
JEREMY SCAHILL: So that’s a hundred million per delegate now for Michael Bloomberg, just if you take his ads.
AMY GOODMAN: Does that mean, Norm Solomon, that she will be in the next debate, because she got a delegate? You have 30 seconds.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, that’s really — that’s really unclear. And I would just say that Tulsi Gabbard, whether her virtues, is not going to be a helpful force in rolling back the corporate war makers that are trying to crush Bernie Sanders. We’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize. And that means, in my opinion, doing everything we can to elect Bernie Sanders.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there, and I want to thank you, Norm Solomon, for being with us. I also want to thank our New York guests, Linda Sarsour, and congratulations on your new book, We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love and Resistance, and thank you so much, as well, to Rashad Robinson, who is president of Color of Change. We’re doing a five-hour Super Tuesday special. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 1]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s Super Tuesday. This is a live broadcast of Democracy Now! and The Intercept. For the next four hours we continue to bring you live results from around the country and analysis, as well. I’m Amy Goodman, joined by The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and Democracy Now!'s Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, voters in 14 states and American Samoa are casting ballots this Super Tuesday in the single biggest day of the presidential primary season, with more than a third of the race’s pledged delegates at stake. With the numbers still coming in, the Associated Press projects Joe Biden will win the largest number of votes in Virginia, taking about 50% of the vote. Bernie Sanders is a distant second with about 20%. Elizabeth Warren is just below the 15% viability threshold she will need to win delegates there. In North Carolina, where polls closed 30 minutes ago, CNN is projecting Joe Biden will be the winner. In Vermont, Senator Sanders is set to win his home state in a landslide. Early returns showed Sanders with more than 50% and Joe Biden a distant second with about 20%.
AMY GOODMAN: Moments ago, polls closed across Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts and Oklahoma. CNN is calling Alabama for Joe Biden. Massachusetts is too close to call. Polls have closed across most of Texas, though voting will continue to the top of this hour in the extreme west of the state around El Paso. Voting has been extended until 11 p.m. Eastern in parts of Tennessee affected by tornadoes, which swept through Nashville area last night, leaving 22 people dead. Arkansas polls remain open until 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. in Colorado and Minnesota, 10 p.m. in Utah and 11:00 Eastern, that’s 8 p.m. Pacific, in California, where only partial results are expected tonight, due to a large number of mail-in ballots. And, of course, California is the largest of the Super Tuesday states, followed by Texas.
We continue our roundtable right now with some new guests joining us. Here in New York, Naomi Klein is with us, senior correspondent at The Intercept and inaugural Gloria Steinem chair of media, culture and feminist studies at Rutgers University. Her new book is titled On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a New Green Deal. Raquel Willis is a journalist and activist who’s endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren. In Washington, D.C., we’ll be joined in a minute by Ryan Grim, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Intercept, his recent book titled, We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement. Joining us from San Antonio, Texas, is Akela Lacy, politics reporter for The Intercept. And in Toronto, Canada, Branko Marcetic is with us, staff writer at Jacobin magazine and a 2019-2020 Leonard C. Goodman Institute for Investigative Reporting fellow at In These Times. He’s the author of the new book Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Naomi Klein, let’s begin with you. Again, the results are in for some states. Vermont, Bernie Sanders has taken his own state. That was to be expected. CNN has called Virginia for Joe Biden and has also called Alabama for Joe Biden. And then, American Samoa, it looks like Michael Bloomberg almost swept the six delegates, but Tulsi Gabbard may have gotten one, and that may qualify her to be in the next debate. North Carolina has also been called by CNN for Joe Biden. So, Naomi, what are the issues that you’re looking at right now across the country in this most important day of the primary season, the largest one, that will mean a third of the delegates going into the convention?
NAOMI KLEIN: I guess the main thing we’re looking for is whether or not the polling, which showed us that Senator Sanders had a very strong lead, is going to hold or whether this show of extreme force/unity that we’ve seen over the last few days is going to undermine it. And, I mean, I think we need to be very clear about what he is up against, right? It is not just the establishment of the Democratic Party and also sort of outside smear campaigns that are funded by dark money, but we also have this unprecedented Bloomberg campaign, as well.
I think that Joe Biden is benefiting, frankly, from the fact that it looked like he — for a while, that he was pretty much out of the race. You know, you mentioned you have a guest who wrote a book about Joe Biden. I remember seeing that title, thinking, “That’s unfortunate for you. I think you probably thought that that book was going to be relevant. Too bad, it turns out it’s all about Mike Bloomberg.” And it did look that way. And so, now the truth is, when we turn the spotlight on Joe Biden, it doesn’t go well for Joe Biden. But there’s only so many directions one campaign can go when they’re under fire in so many directions, right? So the Sanders campaign hasn’t been that focused on Joe Biden recently, and Joe Biden benefits when we don’t focus on him, when we don’t remember what his track record is, the issues that Jeremy raised about his mental soundness. And so, I think that that’s what’s going on.
But, you know, as somebody who’s been — I’ve been traveling with the Sanders campaign. I’ve gone to four states. I have endorsed Bernie Sanders. And I must say that, obviously, we knew that he was going to win Vermont, but it still is worth pausing to appreciate that this state has supported him for decades. And the fact is, there is this huge gap between Bernie Sanders the man, the people who actually know him, the people who are represented by him, the fact that they continue to want to be represented by him because they feel well represented by him, and this caricature of Bernie Sanders that exists out there. When Bernie Sanders is able to get face to face with people, when he’s able to get in rooms with people, when he’s able to communicate directly, whether it’s on CNN or whether it’s on Fox, he connects with people. Right? He just hasn’t had many of those opportunities.
And something happened tonight that I think is really — on another network, Amy, where, on BBC, about an hour ago, David Frum said Joe Biden represents people who pay their cable bills on time, and Bernie Sanders represents people who forget to pay their cable bills or don’t pay their cable bills. And I think it was such a revealing comment, because the truth is that it really is a class war that we’re up against. And having traveled with the Sanders campaign, I can tell you that despite this stereotype of the extremely online Bernie bro — and, you know, there are folks out there and they’re canvassing, frankly, right? — the vast majority of this campaign are working-class people who are daring to hope for the barest decent things in life, right? It is this amazing process of raising people’s expectations. And, you know, what we’re seeing with this establishment pushback — you know, I just keep thinking about the people I’ve met on the trail and the fact that this is not — this is not against Bernie Sanders, it’s against them. It’s against people saying, “I have the right to healthcare. I have a right to be paid a living wage.” And it’s really sad to see this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy, I wanted to ask you. There was an article — I think it was in The New York Times business section either today or yesterday — focusing on Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley executives, who are scared to death about the possibility of a Sanders being the Democratic nominee and possible president, and even Elizabeth Warren, over the issue of the breakup of Big Tech and of the criticism of Big Tech that both of these have repeatedly mentioned in their campaigning, and so that you have a situation where these Big Tech companies are in direct contradiction with many of their employees, but are also willing to spend money, even though they’re considered liberal, for the most part.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, we cannot overstate the battle that this represents. You know, I appreciated the nuance, Juan, of your discussion on the notion of the kind of revolutionary politics of this. But just talking within the confines and corruption of the U.S. electoral system, what Bernie Sanders’ candidacy represents, because it is largely fueled by movements and activists and communities that have been doing the work far longer than Sanders has been running for president — Sanders has doing the work for a long time, but he learned a lot of lessons from 2016. It’s very much a people-powered campaign. And in the crosshairs are the big sacred cows of American empire and the grand lie of American exceptionalism. And Bloomberg sort of personifies the Wall Street elite class panic, so much so that he’s willing to just be literally just burning cash left and right. You know, he’s won some delegates now. I mean, I would love to see the calculation of how many hundreds of millions of dollars each one of those delegates in American Samoa cost him?
Naomi mentions David Frum. Let’s be clear here: These charlatans who call themselves Never Trumpers are people who got us into the Iraq War with their lies. In the case of David Frum, he wrote the speech, the “axis of evil” speech, that George Bush launched this global, borderless war with. Bill Kristol, Jennifer Ruben, who’s having a meltdown between martinis every day on Twitter about how we have to stop Bernie Sanders — this is battle. And for young kids, for young people, this is the first time you’ve been involved with it. This is going to be bloody. Bernie Sanders, if that’s your guy, he’s going to lose some battles. He may not go into that convention with a clear majority. And this isn’t — you are living in history right now. And what we are seeing is not just Barack Obama behind the scenes trying to shore up support for Joe Biden. What you’re also seeing is Silicon Valley, is Wall Street, international financial institutions from outside of this country have a lot to lose from Bernie Sanders winning the presidency, because of the movements that are empowering that and the discussion not just on foreign policy, on U.S. financial policy. When Bernie Sanders looks into the camera and says, “These banks and big financial institutions are afraid of us because they think we’re going to break them up,” and Bernie Sanders has been saying on the campaign trail, “because we are going to break you up,” this is war. This is war in this country.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. I mean, Warren Buffett famously said — right? — “There’s a class war, and my side is winning.” Right? And I think even to say that and feel free enough to say, “Hey, my side’s winning the class war,” it was because they didn’t feel that there was really a pushback from the other side. And so, I think this sort of unprecedented coalescing of forces that we are seeing against Bernie Sanders represents — like I said, it’s not about Bernie Sanders. It is about the beginning of a pushback and the possibility that their side won’t win forever. And so, I don’t think this is a done deal.
I do believe — I do believe, as Linda said, that California is going to be a great state for Bernie Sanders. I think that, you know, I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in Massachusetts. And the truth is, this kind of messaging can backfire, right? I think we remember that moment on MSNBC live where Ari Melber was talking to a voter, I think, in New Hampshire, and she said, “Oh, I was thinking about voting.” I forget who she said. I think it was Biden or Klobuchar. “But I decided to vote for Sanders because I was so sick and tired of people on MSNBC telling me like all these lies about him and so clearly wanting me not to.” And I think that this is the gamble of this sort of unprecedented show of force to try to stop Sanders. It could backfire, because people are — we are in an anti-establishment moment.
One thing I want to say about what Jeremy was raising about the track record of these hawks and the fact that Bernie Sanders might not have a perfect record on foreign policy, but it’s a damn sight better than pretty much anybody else we could name in office — you know, something Katrina said earlier about the fact that Elizabeth Warren has been saying that she thinks she’d be a more effective president. Fair enough. She has every right to say that. But when she talks about Bernie Sanders just wanting to scream at people and not having got anything done and failed to stop things, you know, she’s criticizing the fact that he has been a voice of moral conscience for decades. That is that coded language. Like yeah, he failed to stop the Iraq War, right? He failed to stop many illegal wars, right? But should we criticize him for trying? Is that his fault? Is this really what we’re doing? And I think it’s that kind of language that is really rubbing people the wrong way, because definitely what I’ve seen on the campaign trail is what is really resonating. Particularly I saw this in Nevada with Latino voters, is that they say, again and again, “He was on the right side of history in the past, so maybe we can trust him about the future.” It is that track record. It’s not about whether or not he was listened to at the time. We know he was a voice in the wilderness. But why should we trust the people who were wrong about so much, about whether or not Bernie Sanders can get us a Green New Deal and can get all these other things done?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to bring in Ryan Grim from The Intercept in D.C. Your sense of what’s happening in Washington, as the people that you cover on a day-to-day basis are watching now as the nation chimes in through these various Super Tuesday primaries?
RYAN GRIM: I mean, he party establishment is pleased with themselves, no doubt, for actually pulling off an effective consolidation, in a way that the Republican establishment couldn’t. But, you know, they’re also aware that the East Coast and the South is going to go a lot better for Joe Biden than the West. You’re going to have a lot of Bernie victories probably everywhere from Minnesota to Utah to California and beyond.
But even more important is to not get terribly caught up in the moment, because Joe Biden had a year in front of the American people, and the American people looked at him very closely and decided that they did not want to — the Democratic voters decided they did not want to nominate him for president. And he collapsed in December, January and into February, revived by this expected victory in South Carolina and then the way it was portrayed and then the establishment getting behind him. And so, we’re in the midst of that so it feels like he’s got some inevitable momentum. But as the public has to examine him again closely, it is unlikely to go terribly well for him. Now, there might be enough muscle power in the establishment to push past those doubts that people have, but a one-on-one contest between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden could very well go decently for Bernie Sanders.
Now, you also have the wild card of Michael Bloomberg. If after this he decides to drop out and start spending all of his money on attack ads against Bernie Sanders, going up on air in states where Bernie Sanders doesn’t have the capacity to compete with him on a resource level, then that’s extraordinarily difficult to compete against, because that — Bloomberg showed that those ads can’t buy you victory, but they’re worth 10 to 15 points here and there. And so, you know, you shave 10 to 15 points off of somebody who’s at 30 or 35, and that’s the difference between winning and losing. So, I think the establishment is feeling pretty good, except for the fact that they’re facing not just apocalyptic climate change, but a global pandemic that requires an equitable public health solution that they have no plan to provide nor any plan to even attempt to provide.
AMY GOODMAN: So, just to summarize what has happened so far, Ryan, we were talking earlier about American Samoa, where it looks like Michael Bloomberg, who maybe had seven —
RYAN GRIM: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: — staff on American Samoa, got five delegates, and Tulsi Gabbard got one, which means that she gets to be on the next debate stage. Is that right, or is DNC changing the rules right now? She hasn’t been on for many debates.
RYAN GRIM: Oh, what’s their rule? That if you have a delegate, you get to be on the stage?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, I believe so.
RYAN GRIM: Maybe, but, you know, they could certainly change the rules, if they feel like it. You know, they make the rules.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Didn’t Tulsi choose to not participate in a debate that she had already qualified for also at some point?
RYAN GRIM: Well, she threatened to, but then she went — then she showed up.
AMY GOODMAN: So, was what we know at this point, in terms of states won by Biden, was this all expected? The information we have now on Virginia, with 82% of precincts reporting, Biden gets 59 delegates, Sanders gets 12. Warren came in third, Bloomberg fourth, but under the 15% threshold, so no delegates. That’s Virginia. And also, Biden took Alabama, North Carolina. And Sanders, of course, took his own state of Vermont.
RYAN GRIM: Right, and Biden is looking pretty good in Tennessee, but the networks are holding that one back. I mean, none of this was exactly expected when Biden was on the ropes coming out of Nevada. But once the narrative turned around on him, then these are the states that were more likely to go for him. The question was going to be the margin, and the margins seem to be a lot bigger than people were expecting. Like the consolidation actually did consolidate. And Bloomberg’s attempt to cut into that failed. So, you know, both things kind of bounced Biden’s way there.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Branko Marcetic. He is a staff writer at Jacobin. He also writes for In These Times. And he has a new book out. It’s called Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. So, Branko, talk about why you chose to write an entire book about Joe Biden.
BRANKO MARCETIC: Well, I wrote a series of articles about Joe Biden’s career. I had sort of done a bunch of articles examining people’s records leading up to the contest — you know, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and some other people. Biden had a 40- to nearly 50-year career in politics, and I figured this would be a pretty ripe subject to examine. So I did that. It got a pretty good response. And then, as he was gearing up to run, actually a friend of mine suggested, “You should write a book about him. He’s probably going to be the nominee.” And I sort of dismissed it at the time, but I thought about it a little more and decided that did make sense. And, you know, Naomi, I think, mentioned before that when the book came out, Biden had kind of collapsed electorally, and it didn’t really look great for him. So, his bounce back, I mean, it’s good for my book sales, certainly. It’s not great for —
NAOMI KLEIN: You’re like the only person who’s happy about this.
BRANKO MARCETIC: — I would say, the United States or the world.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about Joe Biden, his original political stance. You write in the book that he actually started off a little, interestingly enough, like Bernie Sanders.
BRANKO MARCETIC: Yeah. Biden, I think, is a guy who does not really have a particular ideological commitment to anything. That’s actually what a former state Democratic Party chair said when he first met him. He wasn’t a Democrat until 1969, which was three years before he ran for Senate. So I think his career is one of just kind of going the way the political winds blow.
In the 1970s, the New Deal consensus, the kind of liberal consensus that came out of the '30s and Roosevelt's tenure, was still — it was on its way out, but it was still the prevailing political tendency in the U.S. And yeah, in 1972, he ran against a very powerful Republican, a very popular Republican, who actually had a good record on civil rights, was respected by the civil rights community. And Biden actually beat him not just among African-American voters in the state, but he actually managed to lose less Republicans than most Democrats did. And he ran this campaign that was very similar to the kind of things you’re hearing Bernie Sanders say now. So, you know, he was saying that the parties are controlled by big money, that the Democrats and the Republicans are both enthralled to donors. He was hitting the millionaires who don’t pay taxes and billion-dollar corporations who avoid them. He was calling for Social Security increases. He was calling for price controls and interest rate controls and all this kind of thing, a consumer protection agency. But how committed he was to this was always unclear. Biden always ran away from the word “liberal.” He didn’t want to be classified as a liberal. He insisted actually he was more conservative than people thought he was.
And by 1978, where you really have the political spectrum in the United States shifting to the right, in '78, that was the taxpayers' rebellion that happened. Two years before — or, three years before Reagan would be inaugurated, there’s this massive revolt, particularly among suburban — conservative suburbanites, white conservative suburbanites, who kind of felt that, along with all the inflation crises and the recessions in the '70s, they just felt like the taxes that they were paying were further eroding their pocketbooks, and they got tired of it. And they passed Proposition 13 in California, which people in California are now trying to somewhat roll back. And that sort of starts this flurry of anti-tax movements across the United States. And Biden, in that ’78 reelection, his first reelection, shifts markedly to the right. He runs as a fiscal conservative suddenly. He advertises the fact that he's against government spending. He wants a massive tax cut. He wants a limit to the bureaucracy, the employment in the bureaucracy. He wants — he even puts out a sunset legislation that basically says, unless you reapprove every government program, it will automatically just cease to be.
When Reagan wins, Biden, like a lot of Democrats of that generation, looks at Reagan’s huge landslide win against Carter, again against Mondale in '84, and he says, “Well, Democrats, we can't be what we were. We have to change. We have to shift more to where Reagan is.” And funnily enough, I mean, interestingly, now that he’s winning in the South, and particularly among African Americans, one of the ironies there is that, well, Biden did tour through the South through the '80s basically saying, “We have to be more like the South.” And he was meaning specifically that kind of conservative South that Reagan had won and the Republican had started to dominate among. And the other part of his message is that basically the Democrats were catering too much to what he called “special interests,” which wasn't big business and lobbyists. What he meant was African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ people, poor whites and basically every sort of marginalized community that had come under the big tent umbrella of the Democrats. And he was saying, “No, no, we can’t cater to these people anymore. We have to look at white suburbanites.”
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Branko, I wanted to ask you about Biden’s relationship to the financial community. Obviously, his state of Delaware is home to more Fortune 500 companies in terms of their finances being headquartered there. And his relationship to the credit card industry and the financial industry, which, remarkably, Elizabeth Warren really didn’t go after him on that very much throughout the debates, when she — it was a natural for her to distinguish herself in terms of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the fight that she waged to have that bureau created versus Biden’s relationship to the financial industry.
BRANKO MARCETIC: Yeah. I think, actually, that’s a bit of a sore point among people who are sort of supporters of Sanders and do like Elizabeth Warren, that she has kind of spent most of this year going after Sanders and not hitting Biden on the bankruptcy bill, that kind of kickstarted her career, or at least her political involvement. I mean, it’s been well covered that Biden has this deep relationship with MBNA, the credit card company in Delaware, his biggest funder throughout his career, infamously hired his son. Then, later, when he left, they hired him again and paid him a consulting fee. Biden has always worked very fiercely to protect Delaware’s place as this favored location for corporations to make a nest in. It’s sort of if you think about it as a politician protecting a local industry. That’s really what it was. But, of course, it also comes with campaign donations and relationships. I mean, another thing with MBNA is that Biden actually bought — or, sold a house to an MBNA executive for twice the price. You know, so that sort of gives you an example of how close he’s had ties to that particular part of Delaware.
The other part of it is that, interestingly, in '72, Biden had mostly small donations, small-dollar donations. He ended up winning on those, and he ended up outraising his opponent. By 1978, when he takes that right-wing turn, he really — he opens the doors up to big money donors. And that's really the way it stays for the rest of his career. And I think that that '78 election kind of taught him a lesson that he would be able to apply to every election after that, which is basically that he can turn to the right, he can take donations from business and wealthy donors, he can advertise himself as a fiscal conservative and the like, but he can still win union backing in the state, he can still win donations from unions, he can still win liberal voters, and he can still win African-American voters. And that's the kind of fundamental contradiction we see now when he’s running, because Biden of course does have union support, not as much as Sanders, but more so than the other candidates. He’s also got very strong African-American support, at least on those older generations. But at the same time, he is going around basically asking for money from every industry that is either hostile to unions and to union rights and their interests or hostile to the kind of policies that African-American voters would want to be enacted. So, that contradiction that he established very early in his career, where he’s courting corporate donors at the same time that he’s obtained this kind of liberal voting base, it’s continuing to run 'til now, and that's really what’s propelling him, I think.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn for a moment back to the speech that Senator Elizabeth Warren was giving in Detroit. Again, Michigan is not a Super Tuesday state, but it will have its primary next Tuesday, maybe Super Tuesday 2, it’s called. This is just a clip from what she had to say.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: I want you to think for a minute about this democracy. You, you are the ones who get to pick the person who will be the next president, and it is an awesome thing. You are going to do it right here in Michigan next week. People are doing it in California right now. And that’s what it means to have a democracy. I’m in this race because I believe I will make the best president of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking in Detroit, Michigan. It’s not clear why she came out so early to give her address. Maybe she has internal polls that indicate — well, she hasn’t gotten one state yet. Massachusetts polls have closed, her home state, where she is vying with Bernie Sanders. Let’s see. We’ve got Bernie Sanders going to Massachusetts, to Boston Common, this weekend, and something like 13,000 people came out for Bernie Sanders, who is in the neighboring state of Vermont but not in Massachusetts. Raquel Willis, you are a journalist, activist, former executive editor of Out magazine. You’ve endorsed Senator Warren. Where do you think she goes now? And talk about why you supported her and what you’re hoping to see.
RAQUEL WILLIS: Absolutely. You know, I will be candid. It’s been a kind of difficult last few days and definitely a week, a lot of calls for her to drop out obviously online, a lot of messages, I think, from different folks, particularly in the LGBTQ community, asking, you know, “What are you going to do? Are you still in this?” And, you know, I think the big message is we’re all fighting alongside Senator Warren. You know, we’re in this for the long haul. She has the infrastructure on the ground. I mean, there’s so much outreach that’s continuing to happen. At the end of this week I’ll be in Florida speaking with LGBTQ voters. So, the plan is there. We are here hoping, you know, vote by vote, that things will work out the way that we know that they need to be, because she’s the leader that we need.
And I support Senator Warren for a lot of reasons. I think the biggest reason is that she has been very intentional about her outreach, particularly to trans folks of color, black trans women, many of the ones that I am in community with, that I have organized with. We have had discussions about who we think the field really represents in a fabulous way, and we think that Senator Warren has really put herself out there and made our concerns heard. She, from every plan that has come out, has been intentional about having experts from the community there with her crafting this. She’s listening. We’ve been able to hold her accountable in private conversations, hold the campaign accountable in private situations. And that is so important. I think we’re in a time where we really need to be considering what kind of leadership we want moving forward. Do we want the kind of leadership that, you know, overwhelmingly has been masculine and male-dominated but that has also not been willing to be empathetic, has not been willing to be vulnerable, has not been willing to admit when they are wrong? And with Senator Warren, she’s such a shift. She is someone who is listening, someone who is not saying that she’s perfect, that she has all the answers, even though she has so many plans, right? She has so many plans, so many thoughts, such a deep expertise about how to shift our economic system. And she knows that there’s such a wealth of knowledge in community from marginalized people.
And so, I’m sticking with Senator Warren. And I’m loyal, and I know many of the folks that have come out and endorsed her have been people that I really admire and appreciate, as well. Today, a lot of us were excited to see Kimberlé Crenshaw, you know, the renowned scholar of black feminist thought, who has really led thought leadership around intersectionality, interlocking oppressions, and so that was a very big kind of statement today. I know a lot of other folks were excited to hear what Janelle Monáe thought, you know, as an openly LGBTQ person with a huge platform.
And so, there are a lot of folks running in this race alongside Senator Warren. And I think the other kind of major point that I want people to hold onto tonight, particularly on the progressive side of the tracks, is that in the end of all of this, Super Tuesday and beyond, we have to figure out how we come together, how we have these hard conversations about the society that we want to see, how we’re going to show up for marginalized folks. And that can’t happen if we’re dragging each other through the mud. That can’t happen if we are taking it personal when someone supports someone differently from us, when we are all progressives, you know? And so that’s what I want to see. I want to see that vulnerability and empathy in action as we continue this race, and try and shift away from the status quo that has left us behind for so long.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re trying to bring people analysis and also the breaking news of when candidates speak. And right now Michael Bloomberg is in the midst of his speech. We’re going to play a clip. He’s speaking from Trump’s backyard in West Palm Beach. Well, not exactly his backyard, but down the street.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Now, it’s great to be here in this beautiful state. I know you’re not used to seeing a New Yorker in southern Florida in late winter. But unlike the president, I didn’t come here to golf or to reveal classified information to Mar-a-Lago members. I came here because winning in November starts with Florida. And if I’m the nominee, let me make you this promise: We will beat Donald Trump here in Florida and in swing states around the country. Now, tonight, the polls are still open in a number of Super Tuesday states, and as the results come in, here’s what is clear: No matter how many delegates we win tonight, we have done something no one else thought was possible. In just three months, we’ve gone from 1% of the polls to being a contender for the Democratic nomination for president.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Michael Bloomberg speaking in Florida. And we’re now going to switch to Akela Lacy, a politics reporter for The Intercept who’s been following the Bloomberg campaign in Texas. She’s speaking to us from San Antonio. Tell us what you’re seeing on the ground there in Texas.
AKELA LACY: Hi. So, I have been with some of the Bloomberg staff and volunteers since Sunday night here. I went to the rally that he held at Hangar 9 in Bexar County and was at his office in San Antonio and at some events with Latino voters last night. People here are excited about Bloomberg. He spent tens of millions of dollars in the state, I think upwards of $50 million so far, but was still polling behind Sanders and Biden up until earlier today. It looks like with early votes counted, I think around 270,000 votes, Biden and Sanders are tied right now. It doesn’t look like Bloomberg is going to come out on top, despite the immense money that he spent here and despite the number of people that were at his rally. I think there were around 600 people on Sunday night. A lot of people came out to his voter outreach event last night. Everyone said that they would vote for whoever the nominee is, and there weren’t really specific things that drew them to him. They just felt like he was paying more attention than other candidates had to Texas.
AMY GOODMAN: Akela, you’ve been writing a lot about the campaign and also the whole issue of money in politics. Of course, we know that Michael Bloomberg has committed something like a half a billion dollars to his ads, also went on the air on several networks on Sunday night giving a kind of presidential address about the coronavirus. You know, the Bloomberg School of Public Health is named for him at Johns Hopkins. Talk about this level of money and what it looks like at this point. It’s not clear, of course. This night is not over. This is a five-hour special, and the results will not be in at the end of this, but how little he seems to be getting for his buck.
AKELA LACY: It’s really disconcerting when you think about how much money is going down the drain in these races. I mean, a lot of Bloomberg staffers have been pretty clear that they’re here just for the check. People are making between $6,000 and upwards of $12,000 a month. In Texas, that didn’t translate into hiring the kind of competent staff that you would expect when you have 200 staffers running a canvassing operation here. People don’t necessarily have the experience they need to cut turf. The campaign only started knocking on doors probably two weeks ago, when early voting in Texas started, around the middle of February. More than half of early voting happens in Texas. So, they could have been doing a lot more with their money. That’s what some of the staff are saying here. And as they realized that that wasn’t translating into the kind of success he expected to have here, they kind of clamped down on messaging in the last few days and stopped allowing staffers and canvassers to have interviews with media without permission from leadership. So, they are doing damage control. They didn’t schedule any watch parties here, because they were afraid of him having a humiliating loss, having low turnout at his events. And some people have made the point that, you know, 600 people in a rally in San Antonio sounds like a lot, but when you’re spending $50 million in the state, it’s not really in proportion to what you would expect.
AMY GOODMAN: You also reported that Bloomberg hired the vice chairs of the Democratic Party in Texas and California. They’re both superdelegates, and they’re on the Bloomberg payroll now?
AKELA LACY: Yes. And Bloomberg also contributed $10,000 to each of those state parties soon after he entered the race in November. And while that doesn’t necessarily break any laws, obviously it raises a lot of questions about why they’re doing that, what the parties are going to do if he drops out of the race. And basically, as we said in the story, the Campaign Legal Center said that it effectively meant that he — it proved that he was trying to purchase political support. He already has the support of a hundred mayors. People have drawn the conclusion that that makes sense, given that he’s given tens of millions of dollars over the past couple years to training and support programs for mayors. It remains to be seen what all those endorsers will do if he drops out after tonight.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We’re also joined by Glenn Greenwald, one of the founding editors — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. He’s joining us from Brazil. Glenn, tell us how you see what’s happening here on Super Tuesday, the consolidation that we’ve been talking about in the Democratic Party establishment.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I think it’s pretty stunning how rapidly, over 72 hours, virtually the entire Democratic establishment has snapped into line behind the anointed establishment candidate, Joe Biden, despite some extreme and obvious worries about his capacity even to be competitive, let alone to beat Donald Trump in November, which for three years the Democrats have said is really the only political priority they recognize as worthwhile. I mean, for one thing, the lesson of 2016 is that a moderate, centrist, establishment candidate with decades of experience in Washington doesn’t seem to fare very well against Donald Trump, particularly one who has a history of advocating the Iraq War and fair trade agreements like NAFTA in the key swing states and the industrial Midwest. Another thing is that Biden has some serious issues with his cognitive abilities, that seem to be coming increasingly worse as the campaign wears on. Just last night, he had, despite an inability to complete the most familiar passage of the Declaration of Independence, which we all can cite by memory since grade school.
And so they don’t really seem to care very much about what they claimed for three years was their overarching priority, which was removing Donald Trump from power. They seem to care a lot more about making certain that the one candidate they can’t control, that scares their corporate donor base, which is Bernie Sanders, doesn’t gain a foothold in control over the party, and that they, the party elite, maintain a stranglehold over the party, even if it means risking four more years of the Trump presidency.
And I guess the other irony that I would add is, you know, Democrats love to mock Republicans for being these kind of mindless cult members who do what they’re told, and yet, in 2016, the GOP establishment utterly failed to control their party or their voters as they desperately tried to stop Donald Trump. They did everything they could, and yet the party didn’t fall into line. And yet, in 72 hours, there’s been this incredible discipline and obedience at the party elite level as they’ve all fallen into line behind Joe Biden.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to just bring in — I just wanted to bring in Joe Biden himself. This is speaking not 10 years ago, not 20 years ago or 30 years ago. This is Joe Biden speaking last week in South Carolina. It’s quick.
JOE BIDEN: I have a simple proposition here. I’m here to ask you for your help. Where I come from, you don’t get far unless you ask. My name’s Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over. If you like what you see, help out. If not, vote for the other guy. Give me a look, though, OK?
AMY GOODMAN: “I am Joe Biden, and I am running for the U.S. Senate.” He wasn’t joking. He was speaking in South Carolina. Glenn Greenwald, your comments? And he also, of course, referred to Super Thursday. He did correct that and said Super Tuesday. He didn’t correct that he was running for the U.S. presidency.
GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, it’s happened over and over and over and over and over. I mean, I think one of the worst ones was the time when he contrasted the poor children, who are typically regarded as dumb, not to rich children, but to white children, who are regarded as smart. You know, it’s really uncomfortable for any of us, no matter how we view his ideology or his political history, to talk about this. We all have parents and grandparents. We’re all ourselves old or going to be old one day. It’s a really uncomfortable topic. Most of us aren’t, you know, medical professionals, and it’s hard to diagnose people from a distance. So, it’s —
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, someone tweeted, “I can no longer criticize Joe Biden,” after he said that, because it was so painful.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I mean, but that’s a huge problem. I mean, I find myself, you know, genuinely uncomfortable listening to him speak, watching him speak, because you feel like at any moment you’re going to watch a serious brain malfunction. And, you know, I think it’s important to remember that until three days ago he wasn’t really taken seriously as a major contender. His campaign was viewed as in decline. And so he was really ignored in these debates. What’s going to happen when, if he’s the nominee, he gets into these debates, and he suffers those full-on vicious attacks from Donald Trump, or he’s subjected to really rigorous interviews of the kinds that major party nominees for president undergo, or even the slightest gaffe? Remember, Gerald Ford basically lost the presidency to Jimmy Carter because he forgot Poland, or in a debate with Ronald Reagan. These kind of gaffes are worse from Joe Biden, are way more severe. I mean, Democrats are really gambling just on that cognitive issue alone.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Glenn, you know, I agree with that. At the same time, and I was mentioning this earlier, it’s not just the gaffes with Biden, that clearly are the result of something going on with him mental health-wise, but he’s lying all the time. He lied about his position on the Iraq War. He was running around constantly saying that he was against it after the vote and totally rewriting history. Not only did Biden vote for the Iraq War, he was the chair for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October of 2002, when the debate was being had, and he was the guy who blocked any of the former U.N. weapons inspectors or others who were saying, “Wait a minute. Iraq does not actually have weapons of mass destruction.” He has systematically lied about being involved with the civil rights movement, about being involved with sit-ins. More recently, he lied about being arrested in South Africa, you know, saying he was going there to visit Nelson Mandela and he was arrested. Andrew Young, who was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, who, by the way, endorsed Michael Bloomberg — but Andrew Young stated none of that happened. And even Biden’s campaign officials, who sought to clarify it by saying, “Oh, well, Biden was separated from the group” — Andrew Young, according to what he said, says that’s not even true.
So, we have, on the one hand, you know, the kind of Gerald Ford, Reaganesque, quote-unquote, “gaffes,” and, on the other hand, you have Biden lying about some of the major issues in this country, whether it’s war or the struggle for civil rights or the U.S. standing in the world in the face of the apartheid regime in South Africa, not to mention Biden was a key player in the initiation of the genocidal bombing campaign that Saudi Arabia continues to carry out in Yemen. You want to talk about Hunter Biden, Burisma, Ukraine? People talk about Bernie Sanders not being vetted. Donald Trump is going to filet Joe Biden, if Biden agrees to a debate with him. You know, the question is: Would Trump agree to debate some other candidates? I would love to see Elizabeth Warren debate Donald Trump. I would also love to see Elizabeth Warren debate Mike Pence, for that matter. But the notion that Joe Biden is going to get anyone excited about anything, except for cherishing their older relatives while they’re still physically alive, is — I mean, it’s just — it’s nonsense. I mean, Hillary Clinton was the establishment candidate in 2016. She won by 3 million votes, popular vote. She couldn’t win states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Bernie Sanders has a much better argument to make for those. But when you just look about lucidity, I think that 95-year-old Jimmy Carter would make a more effective establishment candidate than Joe Biden.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Look, so why is this happening, right? And I think the reasons are complicated. But from what I can tell, one of the most resonant arguments for Biden is he’s like — you know, I wrote he’s sort of like this — people are telling themselves he’s like comfortable, he’s this known quantity. And I think we can’t underestimate how beat up people feel by these years of Trump, right? And just by the nonstop crisis, right? The rolling crisis. And this is the way Biden is being pitched, like, “Sure, he’s full of gaffes, and, sure, you know, OK, he’s flawed in all of these ways. But don’t you want to go back to that sort of comfortable place?” Right? And you hear these words, like, “Well, things will just be quieter. Things just be quieter, right? Like, we’re tired of fighting.” And I think that that’s the big — that’s one of the more effective attacks against Sanders, is like people know that if somebody who actually has a transformational agenda tries to push that agenda through, that this fight that we’re in right now is going to pale in comparison to the fight that we would be fighting once in office.
But what I think people forget again and again and again is that there actually isn’t a future that is comfortable and cozy, wearing the sort of sweater by the fire. You know, like, look at voters in Tennessee having to wade through debris. I mean, I’m not saying that these storms are linked to climate change. We don’t know. But we do know that the forces that have been unleashed, ecologically and socially, are not going anywhere, right? So the future is rocky. And so, whether we’re talking about the forces of white supremacy that are unleashed globally — right? — I mean, look at babies being pushed into the Mediterranean in Greece yesterday — and if we look at the forces that have been unleashed under Trump, this is not stopping after the election. And then you have climate disruption.
And that is why I think it’s such a disingenuous message, the idea that we can turn back the clock to somebody actually more conservative than Barack Obama, right? And this is, you know, his promise. He said it very clearly at a billionaire fundraiser, right? Nothing is going to fundamentally change. It’s just going to be you’re not going to, you know, have to feel embarrassed when you go to Davos because you’re represented by Trump. That’s the promise that he is offering elites. And he’s offering working people the promise of just things quieting down after all of this chaos. We need to be honest, and we need our media to be honest, that, actually, the future is rocky. And we have some big decisions to make about whether or not we are going to confront these forces with courage. And that is why we need, in my opinion, to nominate an actual fighter with a vision for how to get us out of crisis.
Meanwhile, we have Mike Bloomberg running what I’ve described as a classic shock doctrine campaign, right? He’s saying, “Trump is the crisis, and I am the solution. And whatever standards you may have about oligarchs not buying your democracy, set those aside and let” — literally, he has a baseball hat that says “Bring in the boss.” And he’s out there right now taking advantage of people’s fears about the coronavirus, to say, you know, “I am the one who’s taken New York through 9/11 and Sandy and so on.” Never mind that he left thousands of poor New Yorkers in public housing for weeks without water and electricity. Never mind that he actually wasn’t mayor after 9/11. You know, I am struck that he doesn’t mention the financial crisis, when he was mayor, because that would remind people of the fact that he so systematically sided with the bankers against the people, and, in fact, you know, brought in the riot police on Occupy Wall Street. So, he wants us to forget actually the biggest crisis that he had to deal with as mayor. But he is abusing and abusing crisis, left, right and center. And, you know, we actually have to face these crises head-on, and we have to get at the root causes. And, you know, I think Sanders is the only one who’s got a plan for it.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to bring in Ryan Grim on this whole issue of Bloomberg having really entered the race at a time when it looked like the centrist candidates in the Democratic Party could not get it together, could not emerge as a significant force. Your assessment of where things would stand now, especially if Bloomberg doesn’t do as well as his half a billion dollars would have been expected to be able to achieve for him?
RYAN GRIM: Yeah, it looks like he’s going to come in with about 11%. That’s what The New York Times is projecting, and, you know, 150-plus delegates, which means he’s finished. You know, his entire premise was that there is nobody else in the moderate to centrist lane, and so he’s going to come in with his billions of dollars, he’s going to rescue the Democratic Party from the evil Donald Trump. And there were a lot of people who looked at him with some hope, a lot of them out in the real world, out in the wild. I would meet people who say, “You know what? I don’t necessarily love Mike Bloomberg, but he’s got the billions of dollars. He’s going to spend it. His ads are terrific.”
You know, to Elizabeth Warren’s credit, I think that she actually kind of finished him at that debate. I don’t think anybody has had 20 points taken off their favorability rating in a 24-hour period like that before without being convicted of a serious crime. So, you know, he’s finished.
And so, the question will be: Does he sit on the sidelines and see how this goes, and just continue running his anti-Trump ads and paying his people these exorbitant salaries? Or does he turn his entire operation on for Joe Biden? Because I think now that we’re moving to a Biden versus Sanders kind of one-on-one contest, that’s going to be the only way that Biden can really guarantee that he can beat Bernie Sanders. Now, I mean, there’s no guarantees in politics, but the establishment plus a couple billion dollars certainly makes it more likely that Biden can pull that off.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Bloomberg has said he only has a chance with a brokered convention. Your thoughts on this, Ryan Grim? And also your thoughts on this lack of African-American support at this point — it’s still early in the evening — for Senator Sanders?
RYAN GRIM: So, you don’t necessarily have to — he could suspend his campaign and then kind of unsuspend it at the convention if he felt like that there was some last-minute opportunity. You know, there are FEC reasons why people say that they’re suspending their campaign rather than kind of withdrawing from the race. But it doesn’t mean that he has to like continue to campaign and continue to run ads on his behalf in order to try to win a brokered convention. You know, we’re heading into a pandemic with a bunch of candidates in their seventies who are going to go around the country glad-handing thousands of people between now and the convention. So, I don’t know. Maybe he just wants to hang out and try his luck that way.
On the question of Bernie Sanders and black support —
NAOMI KLEIN: Speak with Ryan Grim, it’s not for nothing.
RYAN GRIM: — you know, polls coming into South Carolina had Bernie Sanders eclipsing Joe Biden among black voters. There were several polls that showed that going into South Carolina. And I think a lot of that was related to the idea that Bernie Sanders had taken on the aura of not necessarily inevitability, but electability, that he was the guy that was actually going to be able to beat Donald Trump. So it wasn’t as if black voters from the very beginning looked at Bernie Sanders’ platform and said that they disagreed with that. It was more like, “Well, I may or may not disagree with that, but I don’t think that he can win, and so I’m going with Joe Biden.” But once he took on that aura of a winner —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds, Ryan.
RYAN GRIM: — then you started to see him pass Biden with the black vote. But with South Carolina, that aura faded, and so I think you get today’s result.
AMY GOODMAN: Ryan Grim, we want to thank you for joining us, Washington, D.C., Intercept bureau chief. Thanks so much for being there. We also want to thank Branko Marcetic, who joined us from Toronto. His latest book is called Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. Raquel Willis will be staying with us, as will Naomi Klein. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González and Jeremy Scahill. We’re with you 'til midnight Eastern time. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, and The Intercept with our five-hour special. Coming up in our next hour, we're going to Colorado. Its polls are closing in just a few seconds. And we’ll be be speaking with a key organizer, former state legislator Joe Salazar, and many others. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 2]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 9 p.m. Eastern time on Super Tuesday. This is a live broadcast of Democracy Now! and The Intercept. I’m Amy Goodman, joined by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and Juan González. Polls are now closing in Colorado and Minnesota, as well as the two western-most counties in Texas, El Paso and Hudspeth.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So far this evening, Senator Bernie Sanders has taken his home state of Vermont, while Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina have been called for Joe Biden. Mike Bloomberg has won five out of six available delegates from American Samoa, with Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard claiming one delegate. Bloomberg also placed second in Alabama with nearly 30% of the vote. In Texas, with 20% of precincts reporting, Bernie Sanders is leading Joe Biden by a narrow margin, 28.8% to 22.3%. Mike Bloomberg so far is coming in third with 18.6%. Voters in Texas have reported extremely long lines at polling stations. The latest delegate count is 112 for Biden and 86 for Sanders. Across the Southern U.S., Biden is winning large majorities of African-American voters, including 72% in Alabama, 71% in Virginia, 63% in North Carolina and 62% in Tennessee, according to an Edison Research poll.
AMY GOODMAN: In Washington, D.C., Mehdi Hasan is joining us, senior contributor at The Intercept, host of the Deconstructed podcast. He’s also host of UpFront at Al Jazeera English. And in Denver, Colorado, Joe Salazar is with us, executive director of Colorado Rising, former state legislator who supports Bernie Sanders. Joining us via Skype from Detroit, Michigan, is Julio Ricardo Varela. He is co-host of the In the Thick political podcast and founder of Latino Rebels. We’re going to go first to Mehdi Hasan, who is joining us from Washington, D.C. Mehdi, as Super Tuesday is shaping up, what has surprised you most?
MEHDI HASAN: I think what surprised me most is that there’s now talk that Joe Biden could win Texas, which we wouldn’t have said a few days ago. Bernie Sanders had great leads in Texas and California going into Super Tuesday. But you know what? The political world, such is 2020, Amy. You know, we’re used to things changing by the day, especially in Trump world, but the Democratic Party, as well. In the last 72 hours, we’ve seen a remarkable turnaround from Joe Biden. A lot of us were writing him off just a week or two ago. And yet, after South Carolina, astonishing the way that the party elites came behind him. His former rivals, Klobuchar and Buttigieg, came behind him. And here he is in Texas with Beto O’Rourke’s endorsement last night, looking like he may even beat Bernie in Texas. That is a big — that’s a big deal, because Bernie Sanders was supposed to win California and Texas tonight to give himself a really big lead and make this case that going into the convention, whether or not he has a majority, he’ll at least have the most delegates. Let’s see what happens tonight. I think what’s happened tonight is that the Democratic Party establishment, which Bernie Sanders has railed against, has managed to get its act together, and Joe Biden is having a very good few days.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy, I’d like to ask you, given these huge percentages of the African-American vote in the South, much more than any of the polls had indicated for Biden, I’m wondering if we’re going to look back at South Carolina and the endorsement of Jim Clyburn, as the senior African American in Congress, when things were still up in the air, in the same way that AOC’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders marked a turning point in terms of support for Sanders, when it looked, after his heart attack, that many people were questioning whether he’d be able to move forward. And it seems that Clyburn’s endorsement galvanized much of the African-American leadership throughout the South to say, “Well, we’ve got to go with Biden, no matter what problems we might have with him.”
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, I think in the case of South Carolina, that’s definitely true. I also think that sometimes it’s helpful to remember that lost in the debate and what we hear talked about on corporate news and also on the campaign trail, if you’re not a straight, cis, white male in this country, if you happen to be an African-American citizen of this country, who is living in a nation where the president and the commander-in-chief is openly cavorting with white supremacists, is broadcasting constantly what amount to calls for campaigns of racial terror on the part of ordinary people, not to mention the overtly racist policies — and I think when Rashad Robinson was on earlier, I think he really hit the nail on the head. I think for a lot of people, their perception is “We don’t have the luxury to vote for some of these big ideas that we’re hearing from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. We need to get this guy out of here right now.” Now, there’s an argument to be made, and Nina Turner on the Sanders campaign makes this argument a lot as she runs around the country, that Bernie Sanders is best positioned to achieve that goal by removing Donald Trump. And they’ll point to polls that show that. But when we talk about the real politics of it, what Clyburn, I think, represented, and the reason why so many members of the Congressional Black Caucus have lined up behind Joe Biden, is this notion that we need this party to stick together in order to unseat Donald Trump. And Bernie Sanders would represent a risk and fracture in the party. I think that’s been a very effective argument. I don’t even think a lot of people are excited about Joe Biden the man as much as they feel like we need to go with a tried-and-true team of people that can take this guy out.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring in a tweet from Ibram Kendi, the award-winning author of How to Be an Antiracist. He just tweeted, “It is agonizing to hear pundits talk about Biden doing well with Black voters. Biden is doing well right now with SOUTHERN Black voters. Why is it so hard to add the word 'southern'? Why is it so hard to be precise? #SuperTuesdayResults.” And I wanted to bring Raquel Willis back into this conversation, journalist and activist, former executive editor of Out magazine. Your thoughts?
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah. Well, I’m from Georgia, so I am Southern-identified, even though I live in Brooklyn, New York, now. But I think a lot of what Professor Kendi said is so true. I think that we have to be very precise about what we mean when we talk about black voters. We’re not a monolith. And we yell that all the time, every election cycle, and it still seems to fall on ears that aren’t trying to listen to us. But I think it also speaks to kind of the problem in media, right? The problem in who gets to have the power to disseminate information and, you know, be in this practice of punditry. It’s often not a diverse group of black folks, right? And I implicate myself in that, as well, as a black person who had a certain amount of privilege, was able to live in different parts of the United States, was able to get a college education, was able to choose to be an organizer on the ground and still have a livelihood. I think that all of that has played a part in who I am. So when people say a black voter, I often don’t even think that they’re talking about me. So, I agree a lot with what was said there, and I also agree a lot with what Rashad Robinson was saying earlier.
I think that when we talk about Southern black voters — and I know this, right? That’s my family. You know, these are my loved ones — there’s a lot of feelings of being, I guess, maybe risk-averse, a lot of what has just been said, and that when we’re looking at a field that has winnowed down so many folks of color, so many women, an openly gay candidate, all these different kind of diverse folks, you’re kind of left with these white candidates, and you kind of have to look at, you know, choosing a lesser version of white supremacy every single time. And it’s true. And we don’t talk about that. But even a well-meaning white person obviously is — you know, not to be cliché and be one of those people to quote MLK, because honestly I tend to be over those types of folks, but the well-meaning white moderates don’t often understand that they are in cahoots with white supremacy. And so, when we’re voting and we’re going to the ballot boxes, it is often trying to choose what is the lesser harm to our people. And that is concerning every single time. And to hear folks who are not of our community try and figure out who we are, put us in a Petri dish, and not actually listen to what we’ve been saying throughout the Trump era, before the Trump era, and we will continue to say, is a problem.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I just want to say, it looks like the AP is saying that Bernie Sanders has won Colorado. And we’re going to go to Joe Salazar, the executive director of Colorado Rising, but before I go to him, I wanted to ask Naomi, this discussion that we’re having here about the fear of people of the rise of white supremacy and maybe that that may be affecting how some people are voting. I think that perhaps the most astonishing political rally of this year, and I think of many years in America, was the 20,000 armed folks who descended on Richmond, Virginia, most of them male and most of them white. I’ve never — I can’t recall that many armed people in a political demonstration in America, which is really you could almost say the base of the budding fascist movement in America. And I’m wondering to what degree rallies like that and the increasing sense that white supremacy is in power in the White House is affecting how people are saying that we can’t take a chance, that we’ve got to vote safely to try to do anything we can to get Trump out.
NAOMI KLEIN: Absolutely. I mean, people are terrified. And the people who are most vulnerable to these policies are the most terrified. And we heard this from Linda Sarsour, as well. The problem, and this is what is so insidious about the way the party is coalescing to prop up Joe Biden, is that it’s not safe. I mean, this is what Glenn was saying earlier, is that why on Earth should we believe that this is not going to be a redux of 2016? You know, Trump is, I hate to say it, stronger now than he was then, obviously. He is an incumbent. And things are up in the air obviously with the economy and the virus, but he is much stronger than he was in 2016. So, why are they doing the exact same thing, following the exact same formula and calling it safe? That’s not safe. That’s completely reckless.
And one of the things that I think we need to understand, and I think a lot of people do understand, and this is why it is frightening, sometimes you hear this argument that, “Well, look, you know” — and obviously this comes from privileged people — “but, look, at least we know who Trump is,” as if Trump second term is just a seamless continuation of Trump first term. And to me, that is the most harrowing thing, because I look at what is happening, you know, I look at this globally. And like I mentioned what’s happening in Greece. There are pogroms in India. We have this tight alliance between Trump and Modi. They love each other, right? You know, we had the “Howdy Modi” — talk about Texas, the “Howdy Modi” rally in Texas, huge crowds for Trump in India. Look at India. It was immediately after Modi won his reelection that he locks down Kashmir, cuts off the internet, completely blacks them out, then moves to strip citizenship of millions of Muslims. When you have these men with clear authoritarian tendencies within democracies, supremacists — Modi is a Hindu supremacist, Trump is a white supremacist. They understand that they have this in common. When they get that stamp of approval of a reelection, my god, they are unleashed. Right? So, we should be — we should all be afraid.
But this idea that having a repeat of 2016 is safe? It’s not safe as an electoral strategy, because I fear it will lose. And it will certainly lose if we end up in a brokered convention and huge numbers of voters are disenfranchised. That is a very, very bad plan. We haven’t even talk about the young people who have pinned their hopes on Sanders and Warren. It is also — and if he does win, you know, if a Biden did win, it’s not safe in office, because these incrementalist policies are not going to keep us safe as a species, and they’re not going to be the kind of leadership we need in the face of surging supremacist logics worldwide.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to go to Colorado. The Associated Press reports Bernie Sanders has won the Colorado Democratic primary, his second victory of Super Tuesday. Let’s go to Denver, where we’re joined by Joe Salazar, executive director of Colorado Rising. He’s a former state legislator who supports Bernie Sanders. Welcome to the show. Tell us what happened, Joe. And your sense now as the results have come in in Colorado?
JOE SALAZAR: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me on the show. We knew that Bernie Sanders was going to win Colorado, just like he did in 2016, when he won by 20 points over Hillary Clinton. We knew that it was going to be a harder fight here, because there were so many candidates. But the ground game here, the volunteers, literally hundreds to thousands of volunteers here for Bernie Sanders, that was going to win the day, because that’s what happens, is the ground game wins.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about that ground game, Joe Salazar. Talk about the organizing you did on the ground and what this means for Colorado. Again, this is Colorado’s first primary. You don’t have downstate elections now. They’re happening in a few weeks in a kind of caucus-like situation. But Colorado had a caucus before. Bernie Sanders won it in 2016. But you’ve switched to a primary. And talk about what you did on the ground.
JOE SALAZAR: Yeah. So, that’s the beauty of Bernie Sanders, is that since 2016, he has continued to build his movement here in the state of Colorado with Our Revolution and with a number of other groups. And those groups continued to build the ranks, and it’s those ranks that we saw in terms of volunteers hitting the ground. Every time I went to the campaign office, where Pilar Chapa is heading up the campaign here, she’s just done a fabulous job. But coordinating those volunteers and getting them out on the doors, making phone calls, text messaging, that’s literally how a campaign is won, is through ground game, also building the coalitions, too, with Latino voters, African-American voters, women, Muslim voters, LGBTQ. I mean, any time that we stepped into the campaign headquarters, we saw this huge diverse coalition of individuals fighting for Senator Sanders.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the demographics of Colorado, Joe?
JOE SALAZAR: So, the demographics of Colorado is we’re about 32% people of color. And in terms of our affiliations, we have more unaffiliated voters than what we do Democrats and Republicans, but we have more Democrats than what we do Republicans registered here in the state of Colorado. We really are a cross-section of what the country does look like. And, you know, that’s why it was important for Senator Sanders to build the coalition that he did here in Colorado in order to win the state.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, it’s also important to remind, again, and we’ve said this earlier, but to remind people that the West Coast is really where there’s a lot of expectation, and Bernie Sanders’ campaign has put a lot of — has drawn a lot of attention that way in saying that that’s where they expect Sanders to do the strongest. And California and Texas both are going to be big tests of the kind of diversity that Joe is talking about, and also Dr. Kendi’s comments. I mean, when we start to see African-American voters outside of the South, it will be interesting to note. Do we see a shift in the dynamic there?
Juan, you know, earlier, when you were — you were raising some issues that I thought it’s important to remember. The day after Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump in the Electoral College, The New York Times had a feature about the most incarcerated ZIP code in the entire country, which is 53206 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is an overwhelmingly African-American community. And the discussion in the piece was fascinating. It was talking about people who decided not to vote because they weren’t excited by the Clinton campaign. So it wasn’t that they voted against Hillary Clinton. It was that there was this legacy of what the Bill Clinton administration had done in those communities throughout the '90s in concert with the Republican governor of the state. It's going to be very interesting to see how the African-American community responds to a two-person race between Biden and Bernie Sanders. You know, organizers that I know — I’m from Milwaukee originally, and organizers I know in that exact area code, ZIP code, are actually saying that there is a lot of excitement about Bernie Sanders and not much excitement at all about this, quote-unquote, “establishment” Democrat. So, I think we have to look at each place with awareness of the history of the communities there, and not, as Raquel was pointing out, I think, so aptly, speak in monoliths, because people have had different experiences of what it’s been like to have Democrats in power in this country, depending on where you are. And depending on your race, your ethnicity, your economic class in this country, you’ve experienced Trump in a very different way. And that is a factor that any candidate ignores at their own peril.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I want to bring in Julio Ricardo Varela of Latino Rebels. He’s in Detroit. Julio, welcome to Democracy Now! Could you talk about especially the issue of the participation of young Latinos in this presidential campaign at levels unheard of in the past?
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: Yeah. First of all, I’m not surprised that Sanders won Colorado, because he won the last time and what — you know, young Latinos were involved in that. I also don’t think that it’s a giveaway for Biden. You’re going to see Texas. Texas is literally — in this country right now is literally the sort of the divider between the region of the South and into the West. And it doesn’t surprise me at all that Bernie Sanders is going to do well in Texas tonight. And it has a lot to do with young Latinos. So, when you look at the voting population in Texas, which has not — you know, the outreach has not been there by the Democratic Party. The Sanders campaign strategically went to that state. And you saw — you know, I was covering a lot of stories about young Latino voters who were registering new voters on campuses, in places that have never been approached, for example, the Rio Grande Valley, the RGV, parts of western Texas, even in the Houston area.
So I think one of the things that’s missing right now in sort of the narrative about what you’re hearing about Biden’s big night, because it is a big night for Biden in the South — I mean, you can’t deny that. You know, he took Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia. You know, he’s gotten votes. And there’s this thinking that you don’t need a ground game and you don’t need an ad, but then you look at Sanders, and you’re like, he’s probably going to get a lot of delegates from Texas. He’s definitely going to be the leader in California. He won Colorado. And then, when you start looking at a place like Arizona in a couple of weeks, when everyone’s talking about Castro in Florida, don’t knock Arizona at all, because that’s going to be another place where Bernie Sanders is competitive. A lot of his campaign people are from Arizona. There’s a lot of undocumented activists and DREAMers who have been involved in this political movement.
So, what we’re really seeing right now, and I know people are talking about regionalism, like you do — you see like, you know, Sanders has the West, very likely the Southwest. You know, Biden has the South right now. And then you’re going to start going to the Midwest. And that’s where this primary is going to be won or lost by Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. I’m not ready to say that Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee tonight, and I think the narrative is we’re going to have a two-person race.
AMY GOODMAN: I should say that Julio is speaking to us from the Senate Theater in Detroit. And it’s interesting that both Tulsi Gabbard is in Detroit — yes, still a presidential candidate, looks like she could be in the next debate — but also —
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: Elizabeth Warren.
AMY GOODMAN: — Elizabeth Warren is in Detroit. And he’s there with Maria Hinojosa for a live recording of their podcast In the Thick. Now, the latest information we have about the Texas results, Julio and Joe, are that Bernie Sanders is leading in Texas with 28.8% to Biden’s 22.5% with a quarter of the state’s precincts reporting. Bloomberg is at 19%, and Elizabeth Warren is below viability at 13.3%. Julio, if you’d like to comment?
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: Yeah. You know, this doesn’t surprise me, Amy. I mean, the Sanders campaign went after young Latino progressives, who are the new voters. It’s the fastest-growing sector in Texas. You know, I don’t think the Beto O’Rourke thing really played into Biden. I actually — I don’t know if you guys saw my Twitter feed yesterday, but when he came out, it was so predictable that Beto O’Rourke was going to come out and speak Spanish. A lot of people saw through that. A lot of young Latinos that I talked to today in Texas, who are actively engaged, who were there in the 2018 midterms, who have been getting all these new voices, they were like, “Mmm, we don’t know about that one, Beto.”
So I think it’s really important here, no matter how Texas ends up, and it’s very indication that it’s — you know, the fact that I’m saying that Bernie Sanders is competitive in Texas, in a Democratic primary where everyone’s like, “All Latinos are moderate in Texas,” that alone should be a headline for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Texas is young. Texas is progressive. Texas is Latino. Texas is more English-speaking, more bicultural, more bilingual. They went after those votes. And they will have — you know, Texas, to them, is going to be a win. You would think Biden would have won Texas, because Clinton won it pretty easily the last time around.
So I really, really urge people that are following this race to start looking at the West, start looking at the Southwest. And this is going to go to the Midwest. There’s a reason why I’m up here in Michigan this week, because we predicted that this was going to happen. The Michigan primary next Tuesday is going to be a battle. And Bernie Sanders did very well in Michigan last time around. And if it’s Sanders against Biden, there’s POC out here. There’s a multiracial coalition. I’m not here to — I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. You know, we cannot say, as a media, as journalists, to say that, you know, yeah, Joe Biden had a great night. Joe Biden is doing really well. But he is not the nominee right now. And there’s still a lot of serious states happening. And I think the contest has just begun.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I think there’s a potentially interesting dynamic emerging, depending on how Elizabeth Warren does tonight. You know, in her home state of Massachusetts — and again, you know, cautioning, there’s still single-digit percentage reporting in some of these places, but it definitely is a three-way race right now in Massachusetts. But what’s more interesting is if you look across the board, Elizabeth Warren is just on the cusp of viability in a bunch of states and probably is going to pick up an OK number of delegates tonight. There’s been a lot of focus on the perception that Elizabeth Warren has been attacking or criticizing Bernie Sanders lately. He was on CNN last night on Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper read him — or, played what Elizabeth Warren had said about his decades being on the right side, but not being able to accomplish much. And it was interesting to note, and this has been Sanders’ consistent position, he’s not attacking or responding to criticisms from Warren by then going after her record.
The point I’m getting at is that I think Team Sanders, if you can speak as a sort of monolith about it just in terms of the political race right now, seems to perceive Elizabeth Warren as harming Bernie Sanders. With Bloomberg still in the race, for now, with Biden now getting the kind of empire to support him, to strike back at the insurgency, you could have a scenario where Elizabeth Warren comes into the convention with a small number of delegates, but not insignificant number of delegates, and essentially throws down the gauntlet and says, “You know what? I’m actually — I’m on Sanders’ side in this,” and utilizes her leverage to try to stop a theft of a nomination. Now, people think, “Oh, no, she’s lobbying to be Biden’s vice president or to be — you know, to have major influence over a corporatist-led ticket. There’s a lot in Elizabeth Warren’s recent past to suggest that she is much smarter strategically than a lot of people give her credit for, on these specific issues. She’s probably the most brilliant person running right now in terms of just pure intelligence. But also politically, she’s savvy. And I do think that there’s a lot of her message that she believes in, in a hardcore way, that aligns perfectly with Bernie Sanders. So, I’m not saying I have any inside information about this, but it’s going to be interesting to see if Elizabeth Warren, at the end of all this, is in a position to play a significant role in the battle of the insurgence versus the Democratic establishment.
AMY GOODMAN: Raquel Willis, you’re nodding your head.
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah. I mean, I totally agree. I think that there is a lot of space in having leverage and that that is a major path for her. I think that what we don’t count on enough is, I still feel like there’s a lot of glue, connective tissue, between Sanders and Warren. I think that she has had to differentiate herself, obviously, in the more recent months, but I don’t feel like they’re a complete clash of even the majority of their plans. I think that what has been difficult, as someone who, for me, Warren was my first, Bernie was kind of my second, it’s been interesting to see people not kind of still see that connective tissue, because I don’t see her just simply laying down and falling in line with Biden, with the establishment. She has been very much against the establishment throughout her career, particularly in office. And so, it’s so weird to me that people don’t still see that leverage that she could have to support that wing of the party.
NAOMI KLEIN: I think it’s sort of a flaw in the system in that it’s obscure, right?
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah.
NAOMI KLEIN: So, everybody is projecting onto statements, and I think the part of it where people get most worked up is the idea of a brokered convention and just sort of losing all control and knowing that you’ve got fossil fuel lobbyists in there who actually are Republicans, and they’re making key decisions. And so, I think that — I think pretty soon there’s going to have to be some very clear principles laid down about what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of respecting people’s votes, right? Because that’s the biggest fear that I sense out there, is like — is the idea that there’s some backroom deal and the whole Sanders base gets cut out, right?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to bring in Mehdi Hasan into the conversation. We’re dealing with the primaries right now, but there’s a huge swath of the American public that doesn’t participate in primaries or caucuses.
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: There’s a huge percentage of the American people that are independents. And I’m wondering how you sense, as this battle is being played out within the Democratic Party, in terms of the role that the Democratic Party will take, how this might affect or draw in independents in November.
MEHDI HASAN: I think that’s a great question. And I think we do get obsessed, rightly so. It’s a Democratic process, so we look at Democratic Party voters. We look at supporters. You know, it’s a club with its own rules. It’s a bit obscure to outsiders. So, yes, people have to be cognizant in all races as to what happens in the general, what happens with people who are not diehards or party loyalists. And I think the debate about the African-American vote is very interesting, because when we talk about black voters in the primaries, of course, we’re talking about black Democrats. We’re talking about black Democratic Party members.
And I feel like, you know, we’ve gone back in time. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was hoovering up votes against Bernie Sanders from people of color, from African-American voters, but it didn’t really help her in the general, where actually the black vote was much down, as Jeremy already mentioned, in places like Wisconsin. So I think we — I just feel like we’ve gone back in time. And yes, Joe Biden can win 60% or whatever it is in South Carolina, but what’s he going to do in the general, when Donald Trump and the Republican Party start reminding everyone and attack him from the left over mass incarceration and some of his superpredator remarks and some of his kind of stuff about segregation and school busing. All of that is going to come back to hurt him with some of these communities. Is he going to get the turnout that Obama got? Almost certainly not. Or is he going to get more like a Hillary Clinton turnout, which hurt her in some of those narrow races? And again, with independents, there’s this great talk that Joe Biden, this guy, is going to win independents. A lot of the polling we’ve seen in recent months suggests actually Bernie Sanders is more popular with independents.
So, this whole debate about electability, which we’ve had for over a year now, which kind of does my head in, where everyone is a pundit — and I say that as a professional pundit — I don’t know what the hell is going to happen. And yet we have voters, journalists, politicians all saying, “Well, this person is electable, this person’s not.” We’re told that African-American voters are pragmatic and just want to defeat Trump. But with respect to any of those African-American voters or Latino voters or white voters, how do we know who the best person is to beat Trump? Because the polls tell us something different every week. I just find this whole electability debate really weird, really frustrating. There’s no evidence, as someone said earlier, that Biden is the safe candidate. You know, you can hate Bernie Sanders and say, “Look, a socialist who just had a heart attack isn’t going to win.” Legitimate argument. But this idea that Biden is therefore your safe refuge from Sanders, that’s mad. I mean, there’s just literally no evidence to suggest that Joe Biden is just going to be some strong candidate come November. What are independents going to do when they see six months of kind of Senate hearings about Burisma or when they hear some of the great back story of Biden’s with the pharmaceuticals, with the bankruptcy bill, with the crime bill — all the stuff that he hasn’t really been vetted on during these primaries, sadly? We’ve heard very little about the bankruptcy bill in any of the debates so far.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And remember, Michael Bloomberg spent so much money attacking Bernie Sanders, and the best he could come up with was two articles, one that Bernie Sanders wrote in 1969 and another he wrote in 1972. Hillary Clinton had a mega-dossier produced on oppo research on Bernie Sanders. He’s been vetted. We know it all. Joe Biden hasn’t even been fully publicly vetted.
MEHDI HASAN: No.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And certainly not by the dirty operatives that are going to go after him.
MEHDI HASAN: Imagine not mentioning the bankruptcy bill.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, I said it before, the Trump people are going to filet Joe Biden.
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: They are going to filet him in their ads, and Trump is going to mercilessly filet him in the debate, because a lot of stuff they’ll say about him will be true. And Biden is lying, or he doesn’t know what room he’s in. It’s really — I mean, like, this is not a drill here. Like this is the person they’re going to put out there.
MEHDI HASAN: Imagine if Trump goes after Biden — imagine if Trump goes after Biden over the Iraq War, which is what he did in 2016, where he pretends to be a dove, even though we know that Joe Biden is not a dove at all.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Oh, yeah. He’ll say, “Oh, I was right, while Joe Biden was there supporting the war.”
MEHDI HASAN: And Biden doesn’t even own it. Biden doesn’t even own it.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to this — I want to go to the latest piece in The Washington Post, the front-page piece. It says that Senator Ron Johnson, the Republican from Wisconsin, is preparing to subpoena a witness tied to Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma in an escalation of the GOP probe of the firm, that comes as former Vice President Joe Biden’s fortunes are rising in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Johnson, the chair the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, sent a letter Sunday to members of the panel informing them of his plan to force a vote on subpoenaing the witness. They are also talking about subpoenaing Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Mehdi Hasan?
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah, and Hunter Biden will be the 2020 equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s emails. And again, you could argue, “Well, look, the Republicans are going to do this to any Democratic candidate.” I’ve said that myself. Whoever the Democratic candidate is, they’re going to get demonized and smeared by the Republican Party. For example, this argument about Bernie Sanders and socialism, Mitch McConnell today was asked: What does he think about the Democrats in the race? He said, “I think they’re all leading us to a socialist state,” including Michael Bloomberg. So, that’s how ludicrous the socialist label is when it comes to the Republican Party.
But when it comes to Biden, as Jeremy pointed out, the same thing applies as applied with Hillary Clinton. With Hillary Clinton, OK, she didn’t break the law with her emails, but we knew there was a dodginess around her, with the Goldman Sachs speeches, with the behavior. Similarly with Biden, he’s broken no laws. Trump is wrong to claim that he broke some law in Ukraine or did something corrupt. But, you know, what was Hunter Biden doing on that board? All the questions that were raised about Biden’s family, his brother, his son making money off his name. Somebody tweeted earlier today — I can’t remember who it was; I want to give them credit — a great line saying, “What will be decided tonight is whether we spend the next six months talking about Medicare for All or talking about Burisma.” And I think that is going to be a real issue for the Democrats, if they pick this guy Biden, who personally hasn’t been vetted and who’s such an easy target for cynical, shameless Republicans in the Senate.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s bring Kate Aronoff into this discussion, staff writer at The New Republic, also contributing writer to The Intercept and The Guardian, a co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal. Could you weigh in on this issue?
KATE ARONOFF: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s exactly right. If we have a conversation about socialism, that forces the conversation to be about issues that the overwhelming majority of voters agree on across party lines, right? Do you want healthcare? Do you want a livable future? And I think that’s a much better train for the Democrats than to be fighting about whether your son should collect checks from a natural gas company in the Ukraine. Right? And I think what we’ve seen, too, and I don’t think it can be overstated, is just how supportive Bernie Sanders’s supporters are and how active they are. We’ve had 100,000 doors knocked in Texas tonight, a state that is well up for play, has been talked about as maybe going blue potentially in the next several years. And I think that is incredibly important. We’ve had — we have a close race right now between Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros, who — you know, the Koch brothers have endorsed their first Democrat in that race, in Henry Cuellar. And this is the heart of oil country.
AMY GOODMAN: And he supported Bush over Gore.
KATE ARONOFF: Right, and, you know, any number of —
AMY GOODMAN: But he’s the Democratic congressmember.
KATE ARONOFF: And the number one recipient of private prison money, right? He is a Big Oil’s favorite Democrat. And so, we have all these fights, which show young people are excited to be involved in politics. And I think that’s a real risk if the nominee is anyone but Bernie Sanders.
AMY GOODMAN: Isn’t it interesting that this is going to be happening, this race now playing out, during the coronavirus, that is now beginning to paralyze people all over this country? Or, I should say, terrify. And what’s interesting about that is the issue you just raised, it’s the issue of healthcare, why people will understand, if they do have healthcare, why it matters when people don’t have healthcare, why Medicare for All is a national security issue and also a healthcare issue. You’re not going to be safe if you have the best healthcare in this country, if the person sitting next to you has no healthcare and they’re dealing with the coronavirus.
KATE ARONOFF: Exactly. I mean, people dealing with this virus in other countries are appalled, looking at the United States, right? The fact that you can get tested for this virus, and if you test negative, you can be billed over $1,000, right? The fact that if you’re quarantined, you can be stuck with a bill for just protecting public health. I mean, this is appalling, right? And so, I think to have a conversation about that is actually a good one.
And the sort of socialism barb that people like Mitch McConnell, like Donald Trump, will try to play just really just doesn’t ring true with a lot of young voters, who were born after the Berlin Wall came down, who don’t have the same kind of red scare hangups that their parents have or that even their older siblings have, and are excited about the prospect of having a future in which they can live relatively comfortable lives, where they maybe don’t have student debt or can have preventative care provided to them without going broke. So these are commonsense issues to plenty of voters, and plenty of voters who Bernie Sanders has gotten involved in the work of politics, knocking doors, making phone calls.
And let’s not forget that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got part of her interest in politics from working on Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign. So, how many other AOCs could we be creating in the next couple months? And, you know, I think it’s important to pay attention not just to the White House, but to what’s happening down ballot, right? If we win, even if Bernie Sanders gets into the White House, that’s not a sure bet that we’re going to get progressive policies. We have to worry about the Senate, we have to worry about the House, and holding strong majorities for years and years to come and getting them. And I think, you know, to have an energized base of young people who are not just going out and canvassing, but running for office themselves, it’s hard to underestimate just how big an asset that will be to the Democratic Party moving forward.
AMY GOODMAN: I just want to let people know, Bernie Sanders is going to be speaking soon in Essex Junction, Vermont. But before that, Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask Julio Ricardo Varela in Detroit what you’re looking for as, after Super Tuesday, more and more of the attention focuses on the Midwest and the East. There are several big states on the East Coast that still have to have their primaries. What you’ll be looking for in the Midwest?
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: Right. What I’m looking for is the Sanders alliance, and what it’s getting very clear to me what that alliance is, that sort of coalition, is that you have Latinos in the West and the Southwest and the merging of the working class overall, and then looking at the Midwest voter. One of the biggest misperceptions, I think, that the entire narrative has missed is that you think of the Midwest and there’s no people of color here, which is just ridiculous. And you never hear that, right? So you start looking at places like Pennsylvania with a strong Puerto Rican, Dominican community. You have places here in Detroit. I mean, we’re doing — we’re in the southwest area, where there’s a strong Mexican, Mexican-American community. Of course, you look at Wisconsin, right? I mean, there are places where the Democrats lost by going down sort of the safe route last time around, where Sanders does have a message. He did do pretty well the last time in 2016 in these primaries. I don’t think people remember that even — you know, that’s the part of this sort of coverage that we forget. We sort of lose the sense of pattern and history.
And you need to step back and realize that the Sanders campaign is learning from its mistakes. I think, you know, the bigger question of the South, I think when they look at that now, when they say, “Hmm, maybe we missed that one, maybe” — you know, that one with the South is still going to be a problem for Sanders, but by bringing in the West and the Southwest, by looking at Texas, by looking at California, which he’s going to win, and he didn’t win last time, and then merging it here in Michigan or here in Pennsylvania or in Wisconsin or even in Ohio, I think that’s a winning strategy. That’s a risk that the — it’s a different type of Democratic coalition. And I think it goes and challenges sort of the conventional wisdom that we’re hearing tonight at Super Tuesday, where it’s like Joe Biden, the comeback kid, he has no ground game, he didn’t spend the ads, it’s name recognition, it’s a return to Obama. And I think that’s also a valid strategy. I am not discounting the Biden campaign for doing what they’re doing.
I do think, however, that the biggest difference between the Biden campaign and the Clinton campaign comes down to the Latinos, to the Latino population. Clinton had that vote in 2016. And right now it’s every clear indication that Bernie Sanders has the vote, and we’re going to be talking about Texas, we’re going to be talking about California, we’re going to be looking at this, at this strategy, as sort of the new Democratic strategy moving forward, for any cycle moving forward in presidential politics.
AMY GOODMAN: Joe Salazar, back in Denver, Colorado, so, the numbers we have so far, reporting on what’s happening in Colorado, where the polls have closed, is that AP called Colorado for Bernie Sanders. We’re at around 20%. New York Times says Bernie Sanders has 36% of the vote. Bloomberg has 23% of the vote, so he’s gone beyond viability. We haven’t as much addressed the environment yet. I should also say, Jill Biden is speaking in Los Angeles, about probably to lead to Joe Biden, and Jane Sanders is speaking in Vermont, about to lead to Bernie Sanders. But, Joe, if you can talk about the issue of the environment, and the issue that you have taken on front and center, and that’s fracking?
JOE SALAZAR: Yeah, exactly. Colorado Rising is an organization I head up, have a wonderful staff. And what we’re doing is we’re taking on the oil and gas industry right here in Colorado, like just a full-frontal assault on them, through litigation, through community outreach, through ballot initiatives and what have you. And this is one of the things that was missing here in the state of Colorado. We literally have a fracking site not more than 17 miles away from the heart of Denver, not more than about three miles away from my house up in Thornton, Colorado. We have children who are experiencing spontaneous nosebleeds. We have communities that are starting to rise up against this abusive industry. We literally had a county, Broomfield County, turn over its city and county elected officials, because Broomfield was catering to the oil and gas industry so much. And now that entire city council has turned over, and now they’re putting a tight squeeze on the oil and gas industry.
And so, what Colorado Rising does is, like I said, we battle in court against the oil and gas industry, and now we’re bringing these ballot initiatives. We filed six of them. And we are now going through the process, the state Supreme Court process, to get them validated for the ballot for 2020. And here’s the thing, is that the oil and gas industry is its own worst enemies. I mean, they’ll go after anybody, right? I mean, they don’t care what community it’s in, whether it’s a poor community, a rich community, unaffiliated voters, Democrats or Republicans. They just don’t care. And now those communities are rising up.
Just a little bit ago, someone talked about unaffiliated voters and the importance of the unaffiliated voter. And I don’t want to paint every single unaffiliated voter with a broad brush. But here in Colorado, unaffiliated voters, they’re tired of Democrats and Republicans. They see Democrats as having no spine and Republicans being just plain damn mean. And so, they’re unaffiliated for a reason. But they’re also very progressive, too. They don’t want fracking rigs right next to their homes. They don’t want their kids to have spontaneous nosebleeds. And they understand that our air quality has been downgraded by the EPA just recently.
And so, we are fighting. As Colorado Rising, we are fighting for these communities in a manner that has never been done before. We call it asymmetrical warfare. We’re wildly successful. We’re asking people to help us out. You know, you can go to www.CORising.org, to help us out, particularly with the ballot initiatives. We’re doing a full-frontal assault on this industry because they have just been so abusive here in the state of Colorado. And we see it happening all across the nation, too, right? And so, when Bernie Sanders talks about the fact that he wants to get rid of fracking all across the nation, this is ground zero right here, right here in the state of Colorado. And we’re showing the rest of the country that we can stand up to them and we can beat them. This is very important for us and also for our future generations.
AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned fracking, this whole issue that you have so focused on in the last months. The primary for Senate to replace Cory Gardner or to challenge Cory Gardner is between Andrew Romanoff — is this right? — and former Governor Hickenlooper, who is a big supporter of fracking. Is that fair to say?
JOE SALAZAR: Well, he actually drank fracking fluid to show how much of a supporter he was of the oil and gas industry. And while I was in the state House, I had to battle him over and over again on my legislation, because every time I brought bills to hold this industry accountable to the people, Hickenlooper would come to their aid and start talking poorly about my bills.
But here’s the thing, though, is that people here in the state of Colorado, we’re not fooled by Hickenlooper. As a former state representative and as the chief litigator for Colorado Rising, I literally am having to clean up the messes that he has left here in the state of Colorado when it comes to fracking. We, as Colorado Rising, have brought a lawsuit, now that the — we had a law passed last year called Senate Bill 191, and this really gave a lot of power to local governments to start controlling oil and gas operations within their own jurisdictions, controlling them so much that 191 — or, I’m sorry, 181 might allow them, and we’re arguing that it does allow local governments, to actually ban fracking or develop moratoria in their jurisdictions. And this is something that Hickenlooper sued one of our municipalities over back in 2012. It’s the city of Longmont. They passed a ban against fracking within their jurisdiction. Hickenlooper turned around and sued them, saying, “You can’t do that.” And so, now we’re trying to revive that ban, now that Senate Bill 181 has passed. And literally, we’re having to clean up this god-awful mess that the Hickenlooper administration caused here in the state of Colorado.
So, when it comes down to the issue of fracking here in the state, and Hickenlooper and a Gardner match-off in the general election, you know, they’re probably peas in the same pod. And that’s why we’re asking people to take a look at the other candidates, outside of Hickenlooper, to challenge Gardner. We know that Gardner is extremely vulnerable. People don’t like him here in the state. Independents don’t like him here in the state. Hell, even Republicans don’t like him here in the state. Any Democrat can beat Gardner, and we’re asking people to look at someone else other than John Hickenlooper.
AMY GOODMAN: We have some new news to report, and this is Minnesota, Juan and Jeremy. And that is, New York Times is reporting, with Minnesota, 19% reporting, 20% reporting, they have called it for Joe Biden at 35.6% of the vote versus Bernie Sanders at 32% of the vote. And it looks like Elizabeth Warren has hit viability, or some have called it, or at least they’re saying that this is what it stands at right now, 36% of the vote for Biden, Bernie 32%, Warren 17.6%. So that would be significant. Again, it could change a lot. This is not even half of the votes coming in at this point.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: It also seems, according to the AP, that it’s still a low turnout, 15% reporting in Oklahoma, but Biden is leading in Oklahoma substantially, 30% of the vote to 20% for Sanders and about 20% for Michael Bloomberg, as well.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, also, let’s remember, with Minnesota, I mean, clearly, if Amy Klobuchar had stayed in the race, it would have been to Bernie Sanders’ benefit. I mean, Amy Klobuchar, nationally, was — her support represented like — I don’t even know if you could call them crumbs, like minuscule particles on the table of the Democratic establishment. But in Minnesota, you know, she was polling in the 20% or so range. And I’m sure part of the calculus there was she gets out, that it’s going to help Biden. She was, particularly at the end, was taking a lot of heat at home in Minnesota over her positions on race. There were protesters greeting her when she returned home. Her record as prosecutor, some really bad prosecutions, including of very young people. Those cases are now being called into question. So, you know, this was some maneuvering.
Sanders is still performing pretty well in Minnesota, and I think that he is going to do well in the Midwest. Sanders’ campaign sent out an email just moments ago to their funders and donors, saying, you know, “Brace yourselves here. This is going to become a two-person race, and it’s going to be intense, the attacks that we come under. But hold on, because our big night is coming a little bit later.” You know, we’ve been talking about this throughout the night.
But, Juan, actually, as I was watching some of the news last night, I had a question that I was looking forward to asking you about, as I heard pundits talking about what they call “earned media,” that Joe Biden’s win in South Carolina represented earned media, and then all of these Beto O’Rourke and this cast of characters, the lesser Democrats that were on the stage then with Joe Biden, that it gives him earned media, is what they referred to, where you don’t have to pay for it. But this is what they get all the time. I mean, first of all, you know, you can say they attack Bernie Sanders nonstop, which they do. And we saw the downfall of Chris Matthews, which was a dual punch. Elizabeth Warren, you know, his interaction with her — I think Elizabeth Warren has been taking down some pretty powerful men lately. But also, you know, comparing Bernie Sanders’ victory in Nevada to the Nazis invading France. And, of course, Bernie Sanders had family members killed in the Holocaust. But, Juan, the issue of the role of corporate media and how they’ve impacted the perception of Joe Biden, the perception of Joementum, I mean, isn’t this like a — this is a huge factor in this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, yeah. Well, as I raised earlier in the show, this whole issue of the degree to which the media allow these candidates to actually speak to the audience, rather than to just get — because, basically, what you’ve had now for two or three weeks is any mention of Bernie Sanders has been about the movement to stop Bernie Sanders, not about what Bernie Sanders actually stands for or represents or how he’s inspiring his own supporters, but it’s really about the issue of how to stop him, and which is far different, in terms of Sanders’s surge, from the way the media dealt with Donald Trump, which was just to turn on the cameras and let him speak at his rallies and let him talk directly to the American people in 2016. So, the question of the earned — you know, Trump got so much free media in 2016 to be able to get his message across. And there’s a very sharp difference now with Sanders. He’s got to fight, even in his victory speeches. At least in the victory speeches, they’ve got to let you talk four, five, six or seven minutes. Other than that, it’s almost all snippets. You never hear a full Sanders presentation of his program to the public.
AMY GOODMAN: We have another state to call. AP has called Arkansas for Joe Biden.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Not a huge surprise.
AMY GOODMAN: In these last few minutes that you’re with us, Raquel Willis, your observations and your thoughts right now? I mean, it looks like at this point Elizabeth Warren, the candidate of your choice, has not won any state. We don’t know yet; it’s too close to call with Massachusetts. But your thoughts on what you feel she should be doing now?
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah. I mean, I think that Senator Warren still has so much support, right? And so we’re in this with her. And I do think, as we were talking earlier, that leverage at the convention is going to be so key. And so, she really needs to continue to hold that close and make decisions in that interest, as well. And I also think that there is space, particularly on the more progressive side of this leftist part of the electorate, for us to figure out, again, where that connective tissue is and continue to be in conversation with each other. There are plenty of folks who I know, have organized with, that I really value their opinions, who are for Warren, and then there are also plenty of them who are for Sanders. And so, we are still going to be working together moving forward, and so we have to figure out what that looks like. And I think that there’s possibly some come-to-Beyoncé moment between the Warren camp and the Sanders camp moving forward. But we’re in this fight, and we’re going to continue to talk about this big structural change that needs to happen, continue to talk about how that is very much in line, I think, with what many of us are looking for in terms of having more marginalized voices heard, having a redistribution of power and really holding these structures accountable that have forgotten us for so long.
JEREMY SCAHILL: How would you respond if Warren does endorse Joe Biden?
RAQUEL WILLIS: I would be — I would be shocked, because I just don’t see that. And I honestly don’t know how much that would sway folks who are supporting her, if she made that choice, right? Again, she has a track record of trying to hold all of these entities accountable. And yeah, I don’t know how that kind of shakes out.
JEREMY SCAHILL: It’s going to be fascinating —
RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah.
JEREMY SCAHILL: — to see what her strategy is after tomorrow and the assessment of what her delegate count looks like. It’s going to be really fascinating.
RAQUEL WILLIS: Absolutely. And I think that we — again, I don’t think that Warren supporters are a monolith, either, right?
JEREMY SCAHILL: No, it’s true.
RAQUEL WILLIS: I think that’s part of her strength, is that she has pulled in folks who may be more progressive, folks who may have been more moderate before this election. And we need to lean into that.
AMY GOODMAN: Julio Ricardo Varela, we just have less than a minute. Also, Bernie Sanders is about to speak, and we’ll be going to that speech in Vermont. But your final thoughts, reporting from the Senate Theater in Detroit, Michigan? Michigan, which will be Super Tuesday 2 next week.
JULIO RICARDO VARELA: In Detroit, yeah. Yeah, independents, you know, Latinos, one of the things when we talk about nonaffiliated, that’s also, I think, why Sanders has such appeal. I think they see him as a progressive leftist leader in the Latin American and Latino activist mode. And it’s showing. And I don’t think — you know, as much as people are talking about the black vote tonight, do not discount the Latino vote, do not erase it, because those are going to be — you know, California, Colorado, and what he’s doing in Texas right now, those are big accomplishments for a campaign that was struggling four years ago with this.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you, Julio Ricardo Varela, co-host of In the Thick political podcast and founder of Latino Rebels, and Raquel Willis, journalist and former executive editor of Out magazine. Our other guests are staying with us for more discussion, Mehdi Hasan and Kate Aronoff and Naomi Klein. Juan, it’s been great doing this broadcast with you. See you bright and early tomorrow morning —
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: See you bright and early.
AMY GOODMAN: — at 8 Eastern time as we do the aftermath of Super Tuesday. And Nermeen Shaikh will be joining us, as well, in this next two hours of our five-hour Super Tuesday special, that is brought to you by Democracy Now! and The Intercept. Stay with us.
[End of Hour 3]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 10 p.m. Eastern time now, as we continue our live broadcast of Super Tuesday with The Intercept. I’m Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, joined by Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept. Polls have just closed in Utah. California’s polls will remain open for one more hour.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: The AP has called Minnesota for Joe Biden, who has 36% of the vote with 24% of precincts reporting. Sanders so far has just under 32%. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race yesterday and endorsed Joe Biden. The AP has also called Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma for Joe Biden in the past hour, after earlier victories in Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Meanwhile, Colorado has been called for Bernie Sanders, handing him his second win of the night after taking his home state of Vermont. With just over 29% of precincts reporting, Mike Bloomberg is in second place in Colorado with over 23% of the vote. With just under 30% of precincts reporting, Joe Biden holds the lead in Massachusetts with around 34%. Sanders has just under 28%, and Elizabeth Warren is coming in third in her home state with just over 20%. With around 9% of precincts reporting, Texas is still too close to call. Bernie Sanders leads with 28.6%, and Joe Biden with just over 23%. Texas has the second-highest delegate count of the night with 228 pledged delegates up for grabs.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in this hour by Elie Mystal, The Nation's justice correspondent and author of the magazine's new monthly column “Objection!” His recent column is titled “Black Voters Didn’t Vote for Biden in South Carolina Because They 'Lack Information.'” He joins us via Democracy Now! video stream. In San Francisco, Lee Fang will be joining us, investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics. Still in D.C., Mehdi Hasan is with us, senior contributor at The Intercept and host of the Deconstructed podcast. He’s also host of UpFront at Al Jazeera English. And in our New York studio, in a few minutes we’ll be joined by Aracely Jimenez, communications director at Sunrise Movement. Also here with us in the studio, Masha Gessen will be with us, columnist at The New Yorker, award-winning author. Masha is visiting professor at Amherst College, teaching Russian and political science. Masha’s forthcoming book is titled Surviving Autocracy. It’s out in June.
So, just to tell you where we stand, Bernie Sanders is in Essex Junction, Vermont. He seems to be about to take the stage, and we will go to him when he does. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke a while ago, giving a standard stump speech of hers in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan, no, is not part of this Super Tuesday, but she’ll be part of next week’s — but Michigan will be part of next week’s Super Tuesday. Michael Bloomberg has spoken in West Palm Beach, Florida. Florida is also not part of this Super Tuesday, but coming up in the coming weeks.
We are joined by an important group of people right now. And before we go to Bernie Sanders in Vermont — also Joe Biden, I believe, is about to take the stage in Los Angeles — Jeremy Scahill, if you can talk about what’s happened so far on this Super Tuesday, which is primaries in 14 states and a caucus in American Samoa? And by the way, in American Samoa, I believe they have six delegates at stake. Five of them are going to Michael Bloomberg, one to Tulsi Gabbard. And the DNC spokesperson just said, although it was believed before today that if you get even one delegate, you’re in the next debate, that she will not be in the next debate.
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, I think, you know, just to back up again and look at the big picture, Joe Biden’s win in South Carolina, which basically revived him from the dead — a lot of people were writing off his campaign. He was running around the country doing a combination of saying things like that he was running for — “I’m Joe Biden. I’m running for Senate,” saying that he wants to appoint the first African-American woman to the Senate. You know, he means Supreme Court. You know, he had a series of gaffes. Then he also had a lot of just blatant lies, about being arrested in South Africa trying to go and visit Nelson Mandela, which he repeated at least three times. Then there was the more sustained lying about his role in the civil rights movement, which did not have that much traction. So, Biden, you know, sort of is resuscitated by South Carolina, and then you’ve seen the media, the Democratic elite try to make this happen and ram this through. And that’s what we’re seeing tonight, is this is the first big strike back of the Democratic Party consolidated forces. And it shows what Bernie Sanders is now going to be up against.
AMY GOODMAN: And Bernie Sanders has just taken the podium, standing next to his wife, Jane Sanders. He’s in Essex Junction, Vermont, greeted by a massive crowd in his home state of Vermont, which he took first tonight, because those polls closed at 7:00. Let’s hear some of what Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has to say.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, Vermont! You know, it’s a funny thing. Thirty-one years ago today, we won the mayoral race in Burlington, Vermont. And we won that race against all of the odds. Everybody said it couldn’t be done. And when we began this race for the presidency, everybody said it couldn’t be done. But tonight I tell you with absolute confidence, we are going to win the Democratic nomination, and we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country. We are going to win —
SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We are going —
SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie!
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We are going to defeat Trump, because we are putting together an unprecedented, grassroots, multigenerational, multiracial movement. It is a movement which speaks to the working families of this country who are sick and tired of working longer hours for low wages and seeing all new income and wealth going to the top 1%. It is a movement which says the United States will have healthcare for all as a human right. It is a movement that says we will bring major reforms in education, making sure that all of our kids can go to college without coming out in debt.
Now, what makes this movement unique is we are taking on the corporate establishment. We are taking on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of the drug companies who charge us the highest prices in the world, the greed of the insurance companies. And given the existential crisis of climate change, we are saying to the fossil fuel industry — we are saying to the fossil fuel industry their short-term profits are not more important than the future of our country and the world. But we are not only taking on the corporate establishment; we’re taking on the political establishment.
But we’re going to win because the people understand it is our campaign, our movement, which is best positioned to defeat Trump. You cannot beat Trump with the same old, same old kind of politics. What we need is a new politics that brings working-class people into our political movement, which brings young people into our political movement and which in November will create the highest voter turnout in American political history.
So we’re going to beat Trump, because this will become a contrast in ideas. One of us in this race led the opposition to the War in Iraq. You’re looking at him. Another candidate voted for the War in Iraq. One of us has spent his entire life fighting against cuts in Social Security and fighting to expand Social Security. Another candidate has been on the floor of the Senate calling for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ programs. One of us led the opposition to disastrous trade agreements which cost us millions of good-paying jobs. And that’s me. And another candidate voted for disastrous trade agreements. One of us stood up for consumers and said we will not support a disastrous bankruptcy bill. And another candidate represented the credit card companies and voted for that disastrous bill.
So, here we are. We have two major goals in front of us, and they are directly related. First, we must beat a president who apparently has never read the Constitution of the United States, a president who thinks we should be an autocracy, not a democracy. But second of all, we need a movement and are developing a movement of black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian-American, gay and straight, of people who are making it clear every day they will not tolerate the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing. We will not give tax breaks to billionaires when a half a million Americans sleep out on the streets. We will not allow 49% of all new income to go to the 1%, when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck.
Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen later tonight. We’re doing well in Texas right now. We won Colorado. And I’m cautiously optimistic that later in the evening we can win the largest state in this country, the state of California.
SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie!
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: But no matter what happens, if this campaign — and I don’t know what will happen, but if it comes out to be a campaign in which we have one candidate who is standing up for the working class and the middle class, we’re going to win that election. And if we have another candidate who has received contributions from at least 60 billionaires, we’re going to win that election. And if there is another candidate in the race who is spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, we’re going to tell him, “In America, you cannot buy elections.”
So I am excited about where we are. We have come a long, long way. And I want to once again thank the great state of Vermont and all of the people in this state, not only for the victory you gave our movement tonight, but for the years and years of love and support you have given me and my family. So, Vermont, Vermont, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you all very much. Let’s go on to the White House. Thank you!
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s Bernie Sanders speaking live in Essex Junction, Vermont. So, former Vice President Joseph Biden has won the Virginia, Minnesota, Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee primaries. And Senator Bernie Sanders has won primaries in his home state, Vermont, and in Colorado. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has won the caucuses in American Samoa. Polls have also closed in Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Utah.
AMY GOODMAN: But, of course, the main — right now the main primaries, with more than 200 delegates, is Texas and, with more than 400 delegates, is California. And those polls close at 11:00 Eastern time. That’s 8:00 California time. We are here until midnight Eastern time.
We’re joined right now in this hour by Elie Mystal, who is The Nation's justice correspondent, author of the magazine's new monthly column “Objection!” His recent column, “Black Voters Didn’t Vote for Biden in South Carolina Because They 'Lack Information.'” In San Francisco, Lee Fang is with us, investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics. In our New York studio, Aracely Jimenez, communications director at Sunrise Movement, also Masha Gessen has just joined us, columnist at The New Yorker, award-winning author, visiting professor at Amherst College teaching Russian and political science, her forthcoming book called Surviving Autocracy. Still with us, Kate Aronoff, staff writer at The New Republic. She’s also contributing writer at The Intercept and The Guardian, co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal.
Well, California’s polls have not closed yet, but we’re going to Lee Fang, who’s joining us from San Francisco. Lee, if you can comment on the speech you just heard? And also, of course, the theme of tonight is what’s happened in this most remarkable last few days, where you had Joe Biden winning his first primary in South Carolina, and then two of his presidential opponents, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, pulling out, endorsing him, along with a third former presidential contender, Beto O’Rourke, and a full roster of the Democratic establishment. The significance of all of this and how this fits into your investigative reporting, what you’ve been looking at for these last years?
LEE FANG: Amy, thank you so much for having me. Over the last month, we saw poll after poll that showed Bernie Sanders leading in the polls or second place in the polls in states across Super Tuesday. It was looking very likely that he would sweep some of the big states, like California and Texas, and do very well or win as much as half or almost all of the states on the East Coast and South. And clearly that hasn’t happened.
Over the last three days, since Biden’s win in South Carolina, we’ve seen an incredible coalescing around the former vice president. From The New York Times, we know that over the last year there’s been meeting after meeting among moderate Democrats and big party donors to find the anti-Bernie candidate, to try to form some kind of unified opposition to Bernie, fearing that his big ideas on taxes, on healthcare, on climate change, that this would pose an existential threat not only to the established economic order in this country, but that many of the party establishment operatives who run the think tanks and the party kind of political organizations, that they would be displaced by this Bernie Sanders movement. And what we saw in the last three days is that these efforts finally crystallized into a coherent anti-Bernie effort with Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar uniting behind Biden for a big rally on Monday, of course Beto O’Rourke.
And, you know, if you actually watched this rally in Texas yesterday calling for support and unity behind Biden, there wasn’t a lot of talk of policy. There wasn’t a lot of discussion around Biden’s political history. There was more of this argument that Democrats have become kind of centrally obsessed with, which is electability. And this is an old argument from both party establishment elites. You know, Republicans have coalesced in many elections around more moderate candidates to face Democrats, with Mitt Romney and others, believing that the more moderate, more centrist candidates are more politically viable — Walter Mondale, of course, in the '80s. The Democrats and Republicans have a long history of this. That appears to be the conventional wisdom here. Even though there isn't a lot of evidence that Biden is the most competitive against Trump, that’s what a lot of Democrats believe.
And if you look at the results that we do have, particularly from the East Coast, this is a very bitter pill for Bernie supporters. Bernie was up —
AMY GOODMAN: We’re interrupting for —
LEE FANG: —even in some Virginia polls just a few weeks ago. And now that — I’m sorry?
AMY GOODMAN: Lee Fang, we’re interrupting for a minute because it looks like Joe Biden has just walked out into his Los Angeles venue, where he also has many people who are cheering him. He’s walked out with Dr. Biden, his wife, and he is just about to speak.
JOE BIDEN: They don’t call Super Tuesday for nothing! By the way, this is my little sister, Valerie, and I’m Jill’s husband — oh, no, this is not — no, you switched on me. This is my wife. This is my sister. They switched on me. Folks, it’s still early, but things are looking awful, awful good.
For those — for those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign! Just a few days ago, the press and the pundits had declared the campaign dead. And then came South Carolina, and they had something to say about it. And we were told, well, when you got to Super Tuesday, it would be over. Well, it may be over for the other guy. Tell that to the folks in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota! And maybe even Massachusetts. It’s too close to call. And we’re still waiting for Texas and California, a few other small states to come in. But it’s looking good. So I’m here to report we are very much alive!
And make no mistake about it: This campaign will send Donald Trump packing. This campaign is taking off! Join us! For those folks listening, go to JoeBiden.com. Sign up, volunteer, contribute if you can. We need you, we want you, and there’s a place for you in this campaign.
People are talking about a revolution. We started a movement. We’ve increased turnout! And the turnout turned out for us! That can deliver us to a moment where we can do extraordinary, extraordinary things. Look, our agenda is bold. It’s progressive. It’s a vision, where healthcare is affordable and available to everybody in America, where we bring drug prices down under control with no more surprise billing, access to hospitals in rural areas, as well as urban areas, access to care. A bold vision! We’re going to invest billions of dollars to find — and I promise you — cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, standing up to and beating the NRA and the gun manufacturers, and leading the world to take on the existential threat of climate change. I’m going to start by rejoining an outfit I helped put together, the Paris climate accord, and we’re going to move it a long way. A country where the quality of education will not depend on your ZIP code. There will be triple funding for low-income school districts, providing raises for teachers, full-time school for 3, 4 and 5 years old, and increasing exponentially the prospects of their success. Free community college, providing credentials for every job of the 21st century. And significant reduction in the cost of going to college and your student debt. If you volunteer, you pay nothing.
Folks, we can do this! And let’s get something straight. Wall Street didn’t build this country; you built this country! The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class. In the neighborhoods we come from, the three —
PROTESTER: Let dairy die! Let dairy die! Let dairy die! Let dairy die! Let dairy die! Let dairy die!
BIDEN SUPPORTERS: Boo! Boo! Boo!
JOE BIDEN: Well, let’s see.
BIDEN SUPPORTERS: Let’s go, Joe! Let’s go, Joe! Let’s go, Joe! Let’s go, Joe!
AMY GOODMAN: It looks like some protesters went on the stage, animal rights protesters. “Let dairy die” is best as we could understand. They were hauled off, and now Joe Biden is continuing to speak.
JOE BIDEN: Look, the middle class is getting clobbered. The middle class is getting clobbered. Too many people in neighborhoods Jill and Val and I grew up in, everybody, they’re getting hurt. They’re badly hurt. And guess what. They’re the places we come from, many of you come from. It’s where we were raised. The people, they’re the reason why I’m running. They’re the reason why I’m a Democrat in the first place. These are people who build our bridges, repair our roads, keep our water safe, who teach our kids, look, who race into burning buildings to protect other people, who grow our food, build our cars, pick up our garbage, our streets, veterans, DREAMers, single moms. And by the way, every DREAMer, have hope, because I’m coming, and you’re not going anywhere. And we’re going to provide a pathway, a pathway for 11 million citizens. If the other guy had voted for the — I don’t know if I should get into that. I won’t get going. Look, the ironworkers, the steelworkers, the boilermakers, the plumbers, the electrical work, these are the people that have been forgotten. I agree with you, man. Look, the people Trump forgot, the people I will never forgot, I will always remember. Folks, that’s why we need an economy that rewards work, not just wealth, reestablishes the middle class and this time brings everybody along, everybody, regardless of their race, their ethnicity, whether they’re — their gender, their disability, their economic state, Democrats, Republicans, independents, every stripe.
Look, like we did in South Carolina, like we did across America today, like we’ll do on our — all the way to the White House. Look, that’s why I was so proud yesterday being embraced by Amy Klobuchar. We won Minnesota because of Amy Klobuchar, and we’re doing well in Texas because of Beto O’Rourke. And that’s why — that’s why I was so proud, so incredibly proud, to have Mayor Pete’s endorsement, as well. There’s a man of character, intellect and courage. And by the way, I was proud to be endorsed by Jim Clyburn. Man, he is something else.
Look, our campaign reflects the diversity of this party and this nation. And that’s how it should be, because we need to bring everybody along. Everybody. We want a nominee who will beat Donald Trump, but also, also keep Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House, win back the United States Senate. If that’s what you want, join us. And you want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat. Join us.
Look, this all starts with a revival of decency and honor and character. Trump has fanned the flames of hate and sought to divide us. He’s insulted, demonized. And actually, just the way he talks about people, he has not a single sense of empathy. He doesn’t have any compassion, no regard for the values that made this country who we are, not the way you were raised by your moms and dads. He looks at honesty and decency and respect, and he views it as a sign of weakness. He doesn’t believe that we’re the beacon to the world. He doesn’t believe we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s why I’ve said from the moment I announced for this candidacy, we literally are in a battle for the soul of America.
Folks, winning means uniting America, not sowing seeds of division and anger and hate. We’ve got to beat Donald Trump, and we will, but we can’t become like him. We can’t have a never-ending war between the parties. We need a president who can fight. But make no mistake about it, I can fight. But look, we need this badly, this badly, someone who can heal. Look, just look what we did when we passed Obamacare, what President Obama and I did saving the American automobile industry, or what we did to pass the Violence Against Women Act. But that’s not enough. This is just the start. We need a president who can heal the country, as well. And that is what I will do as your president, I promise you.
It’s about delivering real results for you, your family and the community. It’s not about me, Jill or Valerie. It’s about you. It’s about our families. To paraphrase the English poet Robert Brown, and he said, “Our reach should exceed our grasp.” And my reach does exceed our grasp, because there’s no doubt in my mind we can grasp whatever we reach for. Ladies and gentlemen, I quoted an English poet. Well, let me quote a real poet now, an Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, who wrote a poem called “The Cure at Troy.” And here’s what he says, and I believe this to the bottom of my being. He said, “History says, Don’t hope / On this side of the grave, / But then, once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave / Of justice rises up / And hope and history rhyme.” We can make hope and history rhyme because of what we sing. There’s nothing we can’t do. This is about the future. It’s not about the past. It’s about our children and our grandchildren. It’s about leading this country and leading the world once again.
Folks, we just have to remember who we are. My Lord, this is the United States of America, and it’s time for America to get back up, and once again fight for the proposition that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights. We say it so often in school, we don’t realize how profound it is. We’ve never lived up to those words, but until this president, we’ve never walked away from it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe with every fiber of my being, that’s who we are. So, let’s get back up. We are a decent, brave, resilient people. We can believe again. But we are better than this moment. We are better than this president. So, get back up and take back this country, the United States of America! There’s not a single thing we can’t do! God bless you, and may God protect our troops! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: That was former Vice President Joe Biden speaking in Los Angeles at the Baldwin Hills Rec Center. At this point, the Associated Press has called these states for Biden: Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Minnesota — Minnesota and Massachusetts, I should say, are still too close to call. Sanders’ wins are in Utah, Colorado and Vermont. Too close to call is Maine. And Senator Sanders is ahead in Texas. California closes at 11 Eastern Standard Time.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And we’re joined now by a roundtable of guests. Elie Mystal with The Nation is with us. Aracely Jimenez with the Sunrise Movement is here in New York, as is The New Yorker's Masha Gessen. The Intercept's Lee Fang is with us in San Francisco. And here in New York, Kate Aronoff of The New Republic.
So, Lee Fang, we were speaking to you just before Biden began his speech. And I’d like you to comment on what Biden said. And also, I mean, it was remarkable he began his remarks by saying, “We are alive,” you know, almost as though that was, you know, part of the news. In other words, he’s implicitly saying that, otherwise, maybe the campaign, his campaign, was dead. And then something happened, obviously, in the last three days, where things so massively turned around. So, if you could talk about that? Earlier today, you tweeted, “How do the 'there is no such thing as a Democratic establishment' people explain the coordinated actions of the last two days from every established interest in the Democratic Party?” So, Lee, could you talk about that?
AMY GOODMAN: And, Lee, as you respond, CNN has just called Minnesota for Joe Biden, as well.
LEE FANG: Wow. Well, I think that that goes to show — you know, just one week ago, we had a consistent string of polls that showed that Bernie Sanders was leading in Minnesota. And it looks like, I think the kind of fair inference from that result is that Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota, bowing out to endorse Biden helped push him over the edge in that crucial state.
And, you know, it’s not just the big donors. We know that Biden and his representatives have gone to these private meetings with the Democratic establishment to talk about how to figure out how to stop the momentum for Bernie Sanders. We know The New York Times reported that even Obama called Pete but Buttigieg over the weekend and told him to exercise his maximum leverage in the party. And within one day of that call, he goes out to endorse Biden. There’s been a huge effort to stop Biden [sic]. You know, for Biden to cast himself as an underdog, someone who was completely counted out, he was certainly sagging in the polls earlier this year, but this is someone who’s got a campaign staffed by political professionals. Hollywood moguls, Wall Street executives, D.C. lobbyists are funding his campaign. He’s got a massive super PAC also organized by lobbyists. This is someone who is not a traditional underdog. It’s someone who actually comes from a lot of political power and has the resources to spend in many different states. And, you know, we don’t know what’s going to happen in California, but a lot of these results seem to show that Biden has truly resuscitated his campaign.
And, you know, I think we’ve finally seen more of a focus on Biden’s gaffes. He just started his remarks from just a moment ago confusing his sister and his wife. And he was then stormed by an animal rights group, Direct Action Everywhere. It’s actually based out here in the Bay Area, based in Berkeley. They stormed the stage. But for Biden, with a long history of gaffes, that’s going to come into focus. You know, Biden, in a way, benefited from Bloomberg getting into the race, because a lot of the media criticism, the progressive criticism, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie, kind of focusing their firepower on Bloomberg; meanwhile, Biden who was able to regain strength and catapult himself back into what appears to be the lead.
AMY GOODMAN: And we should also just clarify, and if you could do this for us, Lee Fang, just on the rules of these primaries, is that when we say that one of the candidates has won a state, it does not mean they’ve won all the delegates. The delegates at stake right now are 1,991, 1,991, about a third of the delegates necessary. Rather, it’s something like around 1,400, 1,357 delegates. And when a candidate hits 1,991 delegates at the convention, then they have won. And so, in all of these states, you need 15% even to get any delegates. And 1,375, I think, is the number of delegates that are at stake tonight, about a third of the delegates. And in any of these states, to be viable, you have to hit 15%. But once you do, they will share the delegates in all these states. And, of course, the major prizes are Texas and California, Texas with more than 200 delegates and California with more than 400.
LEE FANG: No, that’s correct. I think what’s important to clarify, you know, we use this vernacular, X candidate won Y state, but it actually does not apply here, because the rules are completely different. We use that kind of terminology because that applies in the Electoral College with the general election. You know, it’s a first-past-the-post system in the general election. But it’s a proportional system, kind of like how they use in Europe, for the Democratic primary. And a little over 60% of the delegates per state are awarded on a statewide basis based on the proportional measure of support for any candidate that reaches, as you mentioned, that 15% threshold. And then that other about 35, 40% of delegates are awarded on a congressional district basis. And each congressional district — this is a little bit confusing — is weighted by past presidential performance. So, here in California, the Nancy Pelosi district, where I am, that has more delegates than Devin Nunes’s district, because that’s a Republican district. So, it’s a complicated system, but it’s designed to be more fair. And indeed it doesn’t really matter ultimately if one candidate “wins,” quote-unquote, a state over another candidate, if both candidates receive a similar share of the proportional vote, because they’re going to get a similar share of delegates. But if you look at some of these states, you know, Biden just didn’t just win Virginia. He had a blowout victory. So he’s going to win a lion’s share of those votes. But look closely as these states come in. The actual share of the vote is what matters.
AMY GOODMAN: And I just want to correct something. Tonight, it’s 1,357 delegates that are at stake, about a third of the delegates needed to win the nomination in the Democratic convention. Nermeen?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Masha, I wanted to ask you about — you know, to go on with what Lee was saying about the structure of the primaries and the electoral system here. I mean, not only is it extremely confusing certainly for people outside, but also within the U.S. I mean, it’s very difficult to keep track of. I mean, all the distinctions, the primaries, the caucuses, a delegate, a superdelegate, you know, why in fact this election is going to be, by the time it concludes on Election Day, it will be almost 1,200 days long. I mean, it’s unprecedented, I think, anywhere in the world. Now, you’ve been very critical of the primary system as a whole and how the system — could you explain what your criticism is and how you think it should change?
MASHA GESSEN: Where do I begin? You know, there’s a saying in journalism that you should cover everything like a foreign correspondent. And you mentioned that it’s hard to explain to people outside and even inside the United States. But really, if you just step away from the system for a second and try to look at it and try to see the rationale in it, it will drive you completely crazy, because — and the reason I say “Where do I begin?” is because there are so many ways in which it is a terribly wrong system.
One way, of course, is the way in which it’s protracted and the way in which it is entirely based on money. Right? The marriage of money and politics in this country is complete. And we often — you know, for shorthand, we would talk about the Citizens United decision as though that were the watershed moment, which actually it was sort of the moment when we completed the marriage of money and politics. But the American system, you know, the fact that the candidates have access to debates based on how much money they have raised — right? — is just something that if you try to explain to somebody outside this country, will get you into a lot of trouble, because there are a lot of countries where, like, election campaigns are time limited, where funding is highly regulated. It’s usually public funding. And usually it is a basic premise of putting everybody on an equal footing is that everybody has the same amount of money at the outset and spends that money to try to convince voters.
Don’t get me started on whether the elections have anything to do with democracy, which is a whole other question. But the other thing is that, you know, in a lot of parliamentary democracies, the way that a candidate is chosen is sort of the dark smoke-filled room. And I actually don’t think that that’s a terrible way of choosing a candidate, because in its own way it’s transparent. We have a party machine. The party machine has decided that this is the candidate, and you decide whether you are willing to stake your future in this party. And usually you have a choice of many different parties, right? Here, there’s a deeply hypocritical system, which has become, I think, more corrupt and more hypocritical over the last generation or so, where it is a faux democracy, right? But what we have seen over the last three days is that it’s really a dark smoke-filled room that masquerades as a kind of hybrid of opinion poll and election and God knows, you know, and a sporting competition.
Which gets me to my third point, which is that, you know, I think that when we talk — we’ve been talking a lot about electability and the problems with the electability debate. But I think that the basic problem with the electability conversation is that it turns voting into betting. Right? People are not voting for the best candidate. You know, we have completely legitimized this discourse where people are voting for the person they think is most likely to win. Right? That’s called betting. That’s not called voting. Right? And so, what we’re looking at is a race that was shifted, and, you know, a race as in a horse race, not an electoral race, that was shifted fundamentally over the last couple of days, and people have changed the way they bet. And that is a rational decision, but it has nothing to do with politics.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And can you talk a little bit more about this, this idea of both tactical voting and how you think it’s impacted what’s happening right now in this election, and also, I mean, you mentioned the role of money in American politics. I mean, this election is slated to be — of course, they can’t say until it concludes — by far the most expensive in U.S. history, and therefore in global history.
MASHA GESSEN: Like the election before it and the election before it and the election — yeah.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Right.
MASHA GESSEN: Well, tactical voting, I think, actually, should be called betting, because — and, you know, again, do let me get started on the relationship between democracy and elections. You know, it is — we hold it to be self-evident, and we shouldn’t. The Greeks certainly didn’t think that elections were a way to create democracy, to create the government of the governed. And they had a very particular issue with elections, which was that if you elect — if you have elections, then the aristocrats and the most charismatic people will win the elections, and that wouldn’t be fair, because that wouldn’t be the government of the governed, would it? Now, we think that that’s the way of making democracy. And then we allow money to come in and corrupt it further. And then we turn it into a betting system, right? And there are other ways to conduct elections, for example, through ranked choice voting, that actually create motivation for people to vote for the candidate they think would be best. Right? All the motivations that the American system, both primaries and the general election, but especially the primaries, currently creates is a motivation of placing your best bet, rather than the motivation of voting for the person who you think would make the best president.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the continuation of the whole Ukraine scandal, because here President Trump was acquitted in the Senate trial, but it looks like the Senate is about to continue the investigation and perhaps subpoena Hunter Biden. Clearly, from the beginning, President Trump has been most afraid of running against Joe Biden. Can you talk about the significance of this?
MASHA GESSEN: Well, I think that, look, here’s another problem with the Democratic primaries. And I think that we saw this in 2016, and we’re seeing this again. We’re trying to straddle two entirely separate realities. Right? One is the reality of politics as we used to do it before 2016, where the conversation that we’re having now is somehow meaningful. Right? What’s the best way to select the Democratic candidate? On the assumption that the campaign and the election are somehow intelligible to us, using sort of the instruments and the language that we have always used. And then there’s our current political reality, which dates back to the 2016 campaign, which has nothing to do with the language and the instruments that we used to use to understand politics, right? And when you — what you just did is you just shifted from the reality of sort of politics as we used to understand it to politics as it’s currently constituted, right? Which I don’t think we should even call politics. But this idea that the Senate is going to subpoena Hunter Biden in — you know, it is — it would be a spectacle —
AMY GOODMAN: And then perhaps, of course, President Trump’s political opponent, Joe Biden.
MASHA GESSEN: Right. But it would be a spectacle intended for two different audiences, right? Primarily for the audience of Donald Trump. And this is something that we didn’t use to see before 2016, which is a political performance for an audience of one. And we see it now. And this is very familiar to those of us who have lived or worked in autocratic regimes. Right? There’s the most important audience is the audience of one, the autocrat. And I think the Senate will be performing for Donald Trump, because Republican senators, many of them are also up for reelection, and a huge number of seats are actually contested, and Donald Trump’s support is supremely important. And that would be my primary interpretation of that. I think that sort of the idea that it will actually help Trump in the general election is secondary. What’s important is that Trump believes that it would help him in the general election, and the Senate is performing for Trump.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: You’ve also said that the distinction now — I mean, maybe this is also part of the transformation that you’re talking about in contemporary American politics, and not just American — that it doesn’t make sense anymore to speak of left, right, moderate, progressive, that those distinctions aren’t the ones that matter, even though now we’re constantly talking about Sanders being on the left and Biden being more centrist. Why do you think those distinctions no longer work? And what do you think would work better?
MASHA GESSEN: Well, I think that if we look at the way that people are actually responding to pollsters, if we use polls — and again, this is the problem sort of elections versus betting, right? We tend to use polls for one purpose only, which is to predict who’s going to win. Polls actually, I think, have a real political purpose. The real political purpose — and by politics, I mean actual politics, where people like figure out how to live together in a country, right? The real political purpose is to try to figure out what people think. And I think that a lot of the time, sort of in the traditional — in the traditional frameworks of political science, we look at the results of the polls, and we say, “Oh, well, that makes no sense,” right? Why would, you know, somebody say that they’re — you know, people form weird political alliances, when you look at first and second choices, for example. And I think that one way to think about it is to stop thinking in the way that the Democratic Party especially has been thinking, which is, you know, who’s left and who’s right, who’s center, who’s moderate, who’s progressive, and think about future-oriented and past-oriented and sort of present-oriented.
Donald Trump ran, and continues to run, and he has been running continuously even since he was president, he campaigns on the allure of the imaginary past. And I think that Bernie Sanders campaigns on a vision of a glorious future. And that’s the secret of his movement. Right? And to analyze it in terms of left-right politics is to miss the point a little bit. And then there’s Joe Biden, who is moderate in the sense that he campaigns on the present. And that was very much Hillary’s response to the Trump campaign’s conjuring of the imaginary past, was she basically said, you know, “We’re great because we’re good. Things are fine just the way they are.” Right? And in my own analysis of electability, I think that’s the one thing that won’t work. But of course we’ll probably have to see.
AMY GOODMAN: We wanted to bring Elie Mystal into this conversation, of The Nation. Again, the tally, as we have it so far, Senator Sanders has won Utah, Colorado and Vermont. And it looks like former Vice President Biden has won Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota. Massachusetts, he may have won. Of course, and AP has called Massachusetts for Biden. But the two biggest states are Texas and California, and they have yet to be called. The polls aren’t even closed, and they will be in the next few minutes, in California. Elie Mystal, your response to what’s happened this Super Tuesday so far?
ELIE MYSTAL: I think it’s pretty amazing, especially if you look at where Joe Biden was even a week ago. I think one of the key analyses here, and I know that certain people are going to try to say that what we’re seeing is the establishment retrenchment around Joe Biden. That’s not really what I see. What I see is an overwhelming, once again, vote on the part of African Americans to reject Bernie Sanders. I don’t fully know why. But I do know that Bernie has had five years to work on this, right? This is not a new problem for Bernie Sanders. But his message does not seem to be penetrating with African-American voters, especially older African-American voters, especially older African-American voters in the South. So, even though Texas has not been called, and Bernie might win there — I think he’s leading right now — even though California has not been called, and Bernie is expected to win there, it looks a little bit like a replay of 2016, where Bernie might win those large delegate-rich states, but Biden will be close. And Bernie will not rack up a huge margin in those delegate-rich states, whereas in the South, Biden is destroying Sanders in a lot of these states and is racking up huge leads, huge delegate counts in these Southern — in the states where Biden is winning. And that is — that is what happened to Bernie in 2016. Like we’ve seen this record before, Bernie winning close elections over Hillary Clinton in coastal states and some Northern states, Clinton blowing Bernie out in the South and blowing Bernie out in states with heavily African-American populations.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about Ibram Kendi’s tweet recently, this evening, the award-winning author of How to Be an Antiracist, who said, “It is agonizing to hear pundits talk about Biden doing well with Black voters. Biden is doing well right now with SOUTHERN Black voters. Why is it so hard to add the word 'southern'? Why is it so hard to be precise?” Your response to that, Elie?
ELIE MYSTAL: Well, I think that’s — look, the black vote is not a monolith, and I think a lot of people say that. I agree with Ibram on that. And voting is an intensely personal decision. So, you’re always kind of in a danger territory when you try to overgeneralize any demographic, any population. And black people are no different than that. However, it’s not — it does not appear, when you look at like Massachusetts, for instance, and we haven’t seen all of the exit polls out of Massachusetts, but it does not appear that Bernie is doing — you know, it’s closer, obviously, but Biden still seems to have a very strong African-American base, kind of regardless of the state, of the region of the country. Now, I do think that, and I expect to see this as we get exit polls from tonight, if you looked at South Carolina, for instance, there was still a pretty clear distinction between older African-American voters and younger African-American voters. And I think that tracks generally with how Bernie has been doing better across the board with younger voters, while Biden has been doing better with older voters. So I think that narrative is likely to hold throughout the African-American community. But I think that’s potentially in this election going to be the stronger break point than this regional thing. Biden does seem to have regional appeal to African-American voters and of all across the country.
What I do think is interesting, what I really do want to see out of California and Texas, is that Bernie did something very interesting, I thought, in Nevada. He really cleaned up among Latino voters in Nevada. And if he can keep that strength among Latino voters in Texas, among Latino voters in California, that’s the kind [inaudible] coalition that might be a winning strategy for Bernie. You know, if he gets young African Americans, a broad cross-section of Latinos, and he still has his young progressive base, like that might be enough to stop this, what’s looking like a Biden tide right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to continue this discussion right after the top of the hour. That’s Elie Mystal of The Nation. We’ll be also speaking especially about the youth vote to Aracely Jimenez of the Sunrise Movement. New Yorker magazine’s Masha Gessen is with us, Lee Fang is here with us in San Francisco, and the polls are just about to close in California. And The New Republic's Kate Aronoff is with us. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill. We’ll be back in a minute. We’re going to a music break.
[End of Hour 4]
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 11 p.m. Eastern time now as we continue our live broadcast of Super Tuesday with The Intercept. I’m Amy Goodman, joined by Nermeen Shaikh and The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill. Polls have just closed in California, the nation's most populous state, with 416 pledged delegates at stake, almost a third of the delegates to be apportioned during Tuesday’s Super Tuesday election.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Tonight’s second-largest race, in Texas, remains too close to call. With a little over a quarter of Texas’s precincts reporting, Bernie Sanders has about 29% of the vote to Biden’s 25%. Michael Bloomberg is at about 18%. Meanwhile, AP has called a number of states for Joe Biden: Minnesota, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. And the Associated Press is predicting Joe Biden will win a plurality of delegates in Massachusetts, edging out Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren in a tight three-way race. Well, during the last hour, Joe Biden addressed his supporters at a campaign rally in Los Angeles.
JOE BIDEN: But it’s looking good. So I’m here to report we are very much alive! And make no mistake about it: This campaign will send Donald Trump packing. This campaign is taking off! Join us! For those folks listening, go to JoeBiden.com. Sign up, volunteer, contribute if you can. We need you, we want you, and there’s a place for you in this campaign. People are talking about a revolution. We started a movement. We’ve increased turnout! And the turnout turned out for us!
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that’s Joe Biden speaking earlier this evening. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is projected to win his home state of Vermont, along with Colorado and Utah. He’s currently leading in Texas and is neck and neck with Joe Biden in Maine. And Sanders’ campaign is confident of a decisive victory in today’s biggest prize, California. During the last hour, Bernie Sanders spoke to supporters in Essex Junction, Vermont.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: But tonight I tell you with absolute confidence, we are going to win the Democratic nomination, and we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country. … But no matter what happens, if this campaign — and I don’t know what will happen, but if it comes out to be a campaign in which we have one candidate who is standing up for the working class and the middle class, we’re going to win that election. And if we have another candidate who has received contributions from at least 60 billionaires, we’re going to win that election. And if there is another candidate in the race who is spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, we’re going to tell him, “In America, you cannot buy elections.”
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Bernie Sanders speaking just in this last hour to supporters in Essex Junction, Vermont. Well, we’re joined in this last hour of our five-hour special by a roundtable. We’re joined by Elie Mystal, The Nation's justice correspondent, author of the magazine's new monthly column, “Objection!” Intercept reporter Rob Mackey, who was at Biden’s event in Los Angeles, is joining us in a minute. But first, in Los Angeles, Earl Ofari Hutchinson is with us, political analyst and author of many books, including The Obama Legacy and The Trump Challenge to Black America_. Lee Fang is in San Francisco, investigative journalist at The Intercept. We’re joined, as well, by Kate Aronoff of The New Republic, and, as well, Aracely Jimenez of the Sunrise Movement.
So, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, thanks for joining us in Los Angeles. If you can respond to what’s happened this Super Tuesday night? This is the largest primary day in the entire election season. And while we don’t know the number of delegates at this point, because delegates are shared in every state, it’s not a winner-take-all system, it looks like at this point Joe Biden is predicted to win something like eight states. Also, right now, as you sit there in Los Angeles, AP has just called California for Bernie Sanders. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, your response?
EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON: Well, no surprise about California. I and many other experts have looked at it, analysts, pretty much figured that Bernie would take California. You’ve got a strong — it’s a Democratic state, first of all. We start with that. Secondly, when you look at Bernie, he’s spent a lot of time in California. He’s got a huge base, both financial and also in terms of the numbers here. Very, very strong number of supporters here, a very strong organization here. And Bernie is a known quantity in California, especially Southern California and the Bay Area. So, Bernie has done his homework well in California. And he knew, at some point, that if it came down to it, i.e., the primaries, California would be the delegate jewel in the crown. He had to win it.
Now, there is a bit of a surprise, though, in California. Joe Biden is not doing badly in California. You know, I’ve been tracking it pretty much since the early afternoon, and Biden has held steady in second, 22, 23, 24 or 25%. So it’s a bit closer than if you went back a month earlier. You had Bernie running away with California. Not anymore. But still, a win here is significant. The other thing I think is important is —
AMY GOODMAN: Because it’s over 400 delegates.
EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON: California, again, is a delegate jewel in the crown, along with Texas and New York — New York a little bit later with their primary.
But the other thing is, Biden has shown a great deal, I mean, tremendous resilience among African-American voters. We know about South Carolina. He won big there. But also, moving across through the South, just about every other state where there’s been a significant African-American vote presence in the Democratic Party — that’s the South — Biden has done well. But again, not much of a surprise there, given his history.
So, back to California again, the polls, by the way, are still open in California, so there’s still voting that’s going on, even as we speak now. So we’ll have to see, as the dust settles in California, how many delegates are apportioned to Bernie — he will win the state — and also how many delegates will be apportioned to Biden, too. So, it’s really going to be interesting. And I’ve said all along, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to a slugfest between the two Bs, Bernie and Biden. And I haven’t seen anything today that certainly would change that.
AMY GOODMAN: Kate Aronoff, the significance of what has transpired so far tonight?
KATE ARONOFF: I think we’re seeing a really big generational divide. Masha was talking earlier about future- versus past-oriented politics versus a sort of nostalgia for what existed under President Obama. And I think we’re seeing a lot of voters looking toward the future. And, you know, the folks that I have spoken with in the youth climate movement, people who are knocking doors for Bernie Sanders, for them, he is their shot at a future. I think that’s really the terms that people are seeing this in. I don’t think that can be underestimated, if we’re looking at not just November, but, you know, the next five, 10 years of politics in the Democratic Party. Right? Is it smart for the Democratic establishment to go against what is, you know, just pragmatically speaking, the future of the party, or sort of double down on this nostalgia for really the purpose of protecting turf? I don’t think we need to overthink why the Democratic establishment is doing this. There’s a lot of people who just want their jobs back in the White House. It’s as simple as that, right? There are real ideological divides certainly between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and other sort of people on the spectrum, but there’s just a real defense of turf that we see in the kind of closing ranks that’s happened around Joe Biden. And there’s no vision for the thing that is, for many voters, for the first time, really, a big electoral issue, which is the climate crisis, right?
We are looking at a very scary next 20, 30 years. And as Naomi Klein was saying earlier, there is no normal anymore, right? California is on fire, has been on fire for the past two years. Voters in places like San Francisco are seeing that, and you have young people growing up who have only known wildfires — right? — who that is kind of their existence now. And that, I don’t think we can underestimate as something that people are voting about, right? And I think to discount that and to just say we can go back to the sort of Obama era is really not taking seriously what that looked like for the climate crisis. Joe Biden talks a lot, he talked tonight, about having been involved. I think his involvement in the Paris Agreement is debatable. But let’s not forget the Paris Agreement will raise temperatures by 3.3 degrees, if every country currently agreed to it follows through on its commitments. That condemns millions of people to death and displacement. Right? Let’s just keep that in mind as we’re talking about kind of the horse race, is that there are very real stakes for a lot of people. And I think young voters in particular are seeing that, and that’s why we see, across the board, young voters voting for candidates who endorse things like a Green New Deal, because they want to have a future that’s defined by something other than just, you know, death and destruction. And I think those really are the terms that people are thinking about this in, that just, I think, does not translate to an older generation, who are very active voters in primaries.
AMY GOODMAN: Aracely, why don’t you talk about that, I mean, the significance of the climate, the issue of the climate crisis for the youth vote? You’re with the Sunrise Movement. And also, respond to where — you know, the results so far, where you see Bernie Sanders and how Biden is doing.
ARACELY JIMENEZ: Of course, yeah. Again, thanks for having me. I couldn’t agree more with what you just mentioned, Kate, and I think, again, as a lot of folks are saying, like not really many surprises here as the state results are coming in, how the delegates and who’s winning is shaking out. But I would add to, Kate, what you said, that we’re not — my generation isn’t just a generation that’s grown up in the midst of the climate crisis, but also in a crisis of wealth inequality, in a crisis of deepening structural racism. And we’re in a moment when all of these crises are coming to a head, and we’re feeling the effects so deeply in our everyday lives. And I think that that’s really the coalition that Bernie Sanders is building across the United States. This like multigenerational, cross-class, multiracial movement is really deeply feeling the weight of these crises coming to a head. And I think that, you know, as we see the results come in from California and Texas, I think that — my prediction is that I think we’re going to see that those are really the issues, and that’s really the movement that’s going to deliver Bernie this big win on Super Tuesday.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, I think in the big —
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy.
JEREMY SCAHILL: In the big picture, too, you know, the kind of narrative has been turned upside down with the kind of attempt to portray Biden as the fighter that rose back, you know, rose from the dead, like he’s the Lazarus of this campaign. I mean, if you just strip it down to its barest form, Bernie Sanders is hated by swaths of the Democratic Party, particularly diehard Hillary Clinton fans, who will never, ever forgive him for running in 2016. There’s still this spreading of what is just a fiction that all of Bernie Sanders’ supporters voted for Jill Stein, and they all somehow managed to be residents of the state of Wisconsin. I mean, that is some of the sense that you get if you listen to hardcore Hillary Clinton partisans. And they’ve effectively tagged Bernie Sanders as a closet racist or somebody who like just doesn’t get it about race and someone who is exclusively backed by, you know, bearded, hippieish, Chapo Trap House guys in Brooklyn, when the reality is quite different.
Bernie Sanders, I think, learned a lot of lessons from 2016. He built a multigenerational, multiracial campaign that actually talks about Palestine, that talks about the climate at the forefront of what he’s doing. And Bernie Sanders and the movements that empower him, that are part of this movement, that will last far beyond Bernie Sanders’ life or even the life of his campaign, whether he wins or loses, this is a real threat to the way that politics are done in this country.
And I think it’s pretty remarkable. If you just shave off all of the BS and analysis from pundits, etc., what we saw here is remarkable. You had Barack Obama and other very powerful figures in the Democratic Party make a series of phone calls that resulted in a real — a quick consolidation around Joe Biden. You had a large corporate media apparatus in this country that very willingly and enthusiastically abetted the narrative of Biden as Lazarus. And Bernie Sanders has actually had a number of victories tonight. He won a lot of votes tonight. He won a lot of delegates tonight. He is fighting a multipronged battle against very powerful, entrenched individuals, one of whom was president of the United States for eight years. You know, and then you have Hillary Clinton this morning going on television to promote the hagiography about her on Hulu and making the same jabs and whistling about Bernie Sanders.
So, you know, I think sometimes you could look at this, and there’s this tendency to say, “Oh my god, look, everyone thought Bernie was going to win.” No, everyone didn’t think Bernie was going to win. People have been led on this leash to believe a totally fictitious narrative that ignores the fact that what Bernie Sanders is doing is rocking their worlds right now in the chambers of power. You have Silicon Valley, Wall Street. Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest people in the world, jumped into this race primarily to stop Bernie Sanders. I mean, he also has his own ginormous ego. But these guys are in an utter panic about what this represents.
AMY GOODMAN: And we should say that, according to news reports, Michael Bloomberg will reconsider what he’s doing on Wednesday.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. And, you know, like Jesse Jackson said the other day, if Mike Bloomberg wanted to stop Donald Trump, he should have run against him in the Republican primary. But, you know, and also I’ll add, Jackson said — I was asking him, Jesse Jackson, about — who won the South Carolina primary twice, in both '84 and ’88. He also is from, was born in South Carolina. But he said — you know, I asked him about the possibility of a Sanders/Warren ticket, and he said, you know, “They're too similar. And in the Democratic Party, you need two wings to fly the plane. You need a right wing and a left wing,” regardless of what anybody else thinks about that. The point he made is that with Barack off the plane, you only have the right wing, you know, with Joe Biden. It’s going to be interesting to see if they try to preempt any further Bernie Sanders victories by announcing a running mate. People have talked about Stacey Abrams. People have talked about Kamala Harris. Who knows what’s going to happen?
But the main point that I think people need to remember here, as you watch the really fictional narrative, I’m sorry to say it, that’s unfolding on corporate television, is that Bernie Sanders is — he is the underdog’s underdog in this thing. And people have allowed themselves to be led down this path that is totally fake, the idea that this was Bernie Sanders’ to lose. No, no, no, no, no. He is challenging everything that the institutional Democratic Party has stood for. And it’s quite a contrast between him and Joe Biden when you boil it down to policy. Joe Biden was on the wrong side of history in many ways. You can thank Joe Biden for Clarence Thomas having a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. You know, and it’s like this is the guy they want to put up against Donald Trump. Let’s back up. Always go back up to 30,000 feet and remember that the movements empowering Bernie Sanders are challenging the most powerful economic, political and media forces in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about his disrespect for Anita Hill at the time that he was the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I wanted to bring in Rob Mackey, who has just come from the Biden event. He is in Los Angeles. And Lee Fang is in San Francisco. And I want to underscore something. We don’t know the delegate count right now. We don’t know who’s winning that count. While Joe Biden seems to have won many more states at this point in this 14-state race, in addition American Samoa, the actual numbers of delegates are massive in Texas and California, and Bernie Sanders is ahead in Texas, and AP has said that he has won California. So we don’t know, ultimately, who’s won the most delegates tonight. But Rob Mackey is with us in Los Angeles. You just came from the Biden election speech. Talk about what’s happened there and what the reaction was in the room.
ROBERT MACKEY: Yes, I did. It was outdoors. It was at a baseball field just off Obama Boulevard in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. It was a relatively small crowd, a few hundred people. And Joe Biden gave quite a short address. He was very revved up. He shouted a lot of his remarks. He took a couple of obvious swipes at Bernie Sanders. He said something about how the pundits had counted his own campaign out. They had said his campaign was dead. But now it might be the other guy who is out of the race. He had a couple of characteristic stumbles. When he was introducing himself at the beginning, he pointed to his wife and his sister, who flanked him, and got them confused and then corrected himself, to laughter. And he — at one stage, when he tried to hit Bernie Sanders on gun control, he stumbled over his words and just sort of gave up, and the crowd sort of laughed along with him. It was a very mixed performance.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Rob, I also wanted to ask you — when you’re at the Biden rally, the Biden speech there, you said there were a few hundred people. Did you get a sense that it was mostly campaign staff there, or is there like some indigenous crowd of people that are super psyched about Joe Biden as a candidate?
ROBERT MACKEY: I mean, it was difficult to tell. It was definitely — the people behind Biden seemed to have been bused in. They were definitely campaign staffers. There were a lot of local politicians, and they brought their own people, I think, was part of the crowd. It didn’t seem — people weren’t massively enthusiastic. I was at the Warren event in East Los Angeles last night. It was far larger. There were several thousand people, and people were very revved up for that speech. This was more reminiscent, for me, of some of the rallies I attended that Hillary Clinton gave in 2015, 2016, a smaller crowd, an older crowd, and not hugely enthusiastic.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Masha, I also wanted to ask you — I mean, I know we brought up the whole Hunter Biden-Burisma thing, but the reality is — and this is something that people do have to assess if they’re honestly contemplating the state of the Democratic race with Biden and Sanders, and, you know, then you also have Warren and the looming Bloomberg thing. But based on your writing on authoritarianism and the notion that Naomi Klein was raising earlier that it’s not just a continuation of the Trump policy that we would be facing with more Trump, it could be a far worse reality, but game out some thoughts on how Trump and his people might respond to — because I imagine they’re salivating at the idea of running against Joe Biden. But what tactics can you point to that might be informing us on this from like history or sort of how somebody in a Trump-like position responds to a candidate like Biden, who they’re going to paint as extremely corrupt?
MASHA GESSEN: You know, I have no idea what goes through the man’s head, if anything goes through the man’s head. But there’s a kind of worldview that underlies the kind of autocracies that we see all over the world now — Trumpism, Putinism, Orbánism. Like there’s actually a way in which they see the world. And that way is that the world is rotten, that everything is for sale, that everyone is corrupt, and some people put a better mask on it, and some people put a worse mask on it. But really what they’re doing, and I think part of — and this is really essential to understanding how Trump gets away with a lot of what he gets away with, sort of, you know, short of shooting somebody on Fifth Avenue, which is that, you know, it’s the conceit of throwing off the mask of hypocrisy and just showing precisely just how rotten politics and humankind is. And Joe Biden fits into that worldview. Right? So, I don’t know if Trump is actually salivating at the idea of running against him. Maybe he fears running against him. But what I do know is that we would not, in a sense, have competing realities there — right? — is that it’s really easy to place Joe Biden right in that world and, you know, basically, to argue that the Democrats are telling you that there is a kind of nice, social, acceptable corruption that Joe Biden represents, and the unacceptable corruption that we represent. And that —
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. “We’re not that corrupt.”
MASHA GESSEN: And that is, on the face of it, hypocritical.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. You know, also, it’s been just assumed as conventional wisdom that Trump, you know, will run against Sanders as Bernie Sanders is a dirty old communist. But let’s remember what Trump’s narrative was about Obama. I mean, first of all, just the whole notion of questioning Obama’s citizenship and the idea of a fabricated birth certificate, but also a big part of the Trump world narrative is that Obama was in fact a socialist, and they harp on that all the time. He was the scary black socialist. And so, that’s going to be a dynamic in this, no matter what. And I sort of feel like with all that we know about Bernie Sanders, there is stuff that’s going to be tough and the Republicans are going to go to town on. But with Biden, it just really feels like, first of all, there are probably a lot of skeletons in the closet that have not been made public, and there’s lots of skeletons walking around in public about Joe Biden that are going to make for very rich fodder in the general election.
MASHA GESSEN: I mean, you know, I wouldn’t go too far trying to game it out, just because —
JEREMY SCAHILL: I’m sorry.
MASHA GESSEN: No, just because we also — we know that any kind of lie that emanates from that side —
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah.
MASHA GESSEN: — also sticks. So, it’s kind of a dead end to say, “Oh, you know, they’re” —
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
MASHA GESSEN: Yeah, “They’re going to tell the truth. They’re going to tell a lie.” You know, yeah, whatever.
JEREMY SCAHILL: OK, that’s a fair point.
MASHA GESSEN: They’re going to smear. But what I do think is important is that you don’t have a clash of realities there.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, yeah. And that’s fascinating.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go back to Rob Mackey and ask about the reporting that you’ve been doing. Well, first, let me say that in Los Angeles, local news station Fox 11 is reporting an emergency motion was filed by the Bernie Sanders campaign asking for a Los Angeles County judge to keep polling centers open for an additional two hours due to long lines and reported problems with voting machines. The motion comes after countless residents complained of wait times of more than two hours, primarily in the Westwood, San Fernando Valley, Los Feliz and North Hollywood areas. But I wanted to ask you about your reporting on allegations by Sanders supporters that Biden exaggerated about his record as a civil rights activist as a young man. What did you find when you looked into these claims, Rob?
ROBERT MACKEY: Well, yes. I mean, it’s quite fascinating that you have — now if you see a more narrowed race, where it’s essentially Biden against Bernie Sanders, one of the things that’s clear about Bernie Sanders’ record as a young man is that there is film footage of him being arrested protesting. There’s film footage and still photographs of him being a civil rights activist. He was a member of CORE. He was the kind of college student who took part in those social movements in the ’60s.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, for much of his career, in his own biography, his own autobiography, made no mention of playing any role in those movements. But during his campaign for the presidency in 1987, as some prominent Sanders surrogates, including Shaun King, have pointed out, Biden started to say that he had been one of those guys who marched and sat in and all that. And then, towards the end of that campaign, in September of 1987, when the plagiarism scandal was raised, when Biden borrowed heavily from the life story of the Labour leader Neil Kinnock, he admitted, in a sort of offhand way, that he didn’t really play any part in those. He said he wasn’t a joiner. He didn’t take part in the social movements, in civil rights marches or in the antiwar protests.
And then, strangely, in recent years, Joe Biden has started to say again, frequently, that his political education came through the black church when he would attend specific — he named specific civil rights pastors in Delaware, that he would go to their churches as a young man, as a 17-year-old, he said, to plan out with fellow activists where they were going to march, what desegregation protests they were going to take part in. And there’s no real direct evidence of any of this. There’s no objective — there’s no photographs. There’s no contemporary reports at the time.
And what the campaign itself says is they offer a single individual, who was a former president, a state president, of the NAACP in Delaware, Richard “Mouse” Smith, who says that, yes, he took part in these things with Joe Biden. But in the telling of the stories, they have frequently gotten the years wrong for specific events. There was a famous desegregation protest that was six months long in Delaware against a segregated movie theater, and Biden and Smith talked about taking part in that in 1965. And it happened — it started in '62 and was over in ’63. And Smith himself was a young man. He met Biden when Joe Biden was famously the only white lifeguard at a pool in a predominantly black part of Wilmington, Delaware, when he was 19. Smith was 13 at the time. And he says it was around that time that they attended these desegregation protests, when Smith himself was only a 13-year-old boy. So, there's no direct evidence of it, and the campaign leans heavily on his account. It really comes down to whether people are going to take that man at his word.
But Biden certainly has been — throughout this campaign, he’s frequently made the claim again that he was, as a young man, a civil rights activist. And it seems like that’s something that obviously will be challenged.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Bernie Sanders’ record himself is he was arrested in Chicago protesting racist housing policies.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Amy, can we just ask Lee Fang really quickly about the — you know, we talk about down-ballot races, and there’s been this narrative that Bernie Sanders is going to harm Democrats on the down ballot. But there’s been some interesting movement. And Sanders and other figures in his campaign, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, have been trying to elevate candidates that are even challenging Democratic insurgents. And you have this race with Jessica Cisneros in Texas, where she’s taking on one of the most right-wing, anti-choice, pro-gun Democrats in the Congress right now. Lee, do we know anything about what’s going on in that race, as we start to see the returns coming in from Texas?
LEE FANG: Yeah, we don’t have great numbers right now. Only 18% of results are in in the South Texas race. This is Texas 28. This is a long kind of gerrymandered district that goes to the border towns of Laredo up to San Antonio. And we don’t know yet. Right now Henry Cuellar, the incumbent Democrat, is up about 10%. Jessica Cisneros still struggling there, but many votes are yet to be counted.
Now, this is an important kind of bellwether district. You know, we’ve looked at so many primaries over the last three or four years at The Intercept, covering a variety of races, you know, in Virginia, the governor’s race there, the New York governor’s race, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, taking out Crowley. And, you know, the big question here is: For this battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, will this kind of retrenched, conservative, pro-business, pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-status quo with healthcare, pro-oil-and-gas faction in the party, that’s largely been in the driver’s seat, will they continue to be there? Will progressive activists be able to take on some of these powerful incumbents? And was AOC, her victory, an outlier? That was a race with relatively low turnout. And AOC ran a really brilliant grassroots campaign to unseat one of the most powerful Democrats in 2018, Joe Crowley, who was the number three Democrat in the House. But looking across the country, we haven’t seen many other progressives dislodge conservative Democrats.
This South Texas race is unique. Henry Cuellar, a longtime Democrat there, although he served previously in the administration of Republican Governor Rick Perry, he consistently votes with Donald Trump and his agenda in Congress, about 75% of the time. Henry Cuellar is backed by big business. He’s the number one Democrat recipient of private prison money. He’s the number two recipient of payday lender, predatory lender donations. You know, he’s voted against labor reform. He’s voted against regulations on payday lenders. He’s voted against environmental regulations. There’s a long list. And he’s very strong on increasing border enforcement activities, very hawkish, as well. He was one of the few Democrats to praise Trump for assassinating General Soleimani in Iraq last year.
So, Jessica Cisneros, many have compared her to AOC. She’s running in this district. She’s only 26 years old. She’s a progressive immigration attorney, Yale-educated. She’s backed up by a small donor base, very much like AOC or Bernie. She’s been endorsed by Bernie, endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, endorsed by some labor unions, including the Texas AFL-CIO.
But what’s interesting here, the dynamic that we’ve seen in primary races throughout the country — and, frankly, in the presidential race, it’s very similar — big money has flooded into this district. A new dark money group was set up primarily to help Henry Cuellar beat off this challenge. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Banking Association, the Realtors Association, they flooded this district with dark money. Henry Cuellar is the only Democrat to receive support from the Koch brothers’ super PAC, Americans for Prosperity Action. This is the very first time they’ve interjected themselves to help a Democrat, and that’s to help this conservative Democrat defeat this progressive challenger.
And, you know, it’s TBD. The numbers aren’t in yet, but it’s not looking good for Cisneros. And we’re seeing this throughout the country. You know, in the Virginia governor’s race, a lot of entrenched money, a lot of entrenched interests poured in to stop Tom Perriello on his primary against Ralph Northam. A lot of entrenched money and interests went in to help Cuomo against Zephyr Teachout in that race. And so, was AOC an outlier? Or is there a progressive wave reshaping the heart and soul of the Democratic Party? We don’t know yet, but the early numbers don’t look good.
AMY GOODMAN: Lee Fang, can you talk about Anita Dunn and her role in the Biden campaign? Explain who she is and the research you’ve done.
LEE FANG: Yeah, of course. You know, after the shakeup in the campaign — and Biden’s campaign, of course, did very poorly in Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa. There was a campaign shakeup, and Anita Dunn was given kind of a de facto campaign manager role. This is a former Obama communications director in the Obama White House, but kind of — this person kind of embodies the revolving door in Washington. This is someone who left the Obama White House and became a partner at a lobbying and public affairs firm that helped corporate interests undermine the Obama progressive agenda. So, when Michelle Obama promoted an idea to tackle childhood obesity, one of the main pillars of that was looking at how junk food companies aggressively market foods with added sugar, added fat, to children, and she attempted to create a regulation, a voluntary regulation, to set guidelines on this. This coalition of junk food companies hired Anita Dunn to defeat that. Anita Dunn worked with a group of billionaires to push austerity and Social Security cuts in 2011. She worked with for-profit colleges that were defrauding thousands of students in this country, defrauding taxpayers, as well, you know, wasting billions of dollars in taxpayer money to these for-profit schools owned by investors. When Obama tried to crack down on these predatory for-profit and online universities, Anita Dunn again was hired to undermine that agenda.
So, you know, for Joe Biden, he’s running, as many other guests have noted, on nostalgia. You know, he’s running these around-the-clock ads that imply explicit support from President Obama, you know, montages of images of the two men hugging each other. An when Joe Biden announced his campaign, he signed a similar pledge as Obama did in 2008, promising to get rid of lobbyist donations and of special interest influence in his campaign. I think it’s very symbolic and, I think, very telling that Joe Biden, in fact, rather than getting rid of special interest influence, he has this kind of personification of the revolving door, of people who go into politics saying they want to elect progressive lawmakers, and coming out and working with corporate interests to undermine the progressive agenda, having someone like Anita Dunn run his campaign.
And I think it’s also symbolic — this isn’t exactly what you asked, but let’s look at how Joe Biden launched his campaign. He launched his campaign in the Philadelphia — on the same day of his launch of his campaign, he went to the Philadelphia home of David Cohen — that’s a high-level executive at Comcast, the parent company of MSNBC, their chief lobbyist, David Cohen — and held a fundraiser there to start running for president. And over the last three days, it’s kind of symbolic. You know, for someone who’s said that they’d get rid of special interest influence, they’re collecting these big checks from multimillion-dollar donors. They’re working with the Democratic establishment. And this one corporate channel, MSNBC, has been cheerleading all along the way, creating this narrative that Bernie Sanders is hostile to African Americans or that he’s a stooge to the Russians, and touting [Joe Biden] as the comeback kid, all the while not really delving into the actual political and policy substance of Biden’s political career, whether that’s the mass incarceration crisis he created, his support for cutting entitlement programs like Social Security, or his disastrous policy record in terms of supporting the War in Iraq or the more recent war in Yemen.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Amy, I just want to tell people, Lee Fang is absolutely one of the best investigative reporters covering this primary and is really a master at digging through documents and extracting lots of information about who is powering these campaigns. So I just want to encourage people to check out Lee Fang’s broader body of work, because he’s really an unsung hero journalistically of this primary campaign. He’s done some of the best digging there is.
LEE FANG: Thanks, Jeremy. Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s bring Julian Brave NoiseCat into — thanks so much, Lee, for all of your work. Let’s bring Julian Brave NoiseCat into this conversation. We would have had him in studio, but I think he broke his ankle. He’s in Washington, D.C. Julian, if you can talk about how the candidates are addressing Native issues, and your thoughts today on this Super Tuesday and how it’s turning out? We don’t know yet the delegate breakdown. It could well be that Bernie Sanders beats Joe Biden, but at this point Joe Biden has something like eight states. The biggest states, Texas and California, AP has called California for Biden [sic], and he has — and California has over 400 —
JEREMY SCAHILL: For Sanders.
AMY GOODMAN: Sorry, for Bernie Sanders, and that has more than 400 delegates. And Texas has more than 200. But your thoughts?
JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT: So, I think this is a great question, Amy. I would say that, from a platform perspective, many of the candidates have taken Native issues quite seriously. This go-around, of course, Senator Warren has Representative Deb Haaland, one of two Native American women in Congress, as one of the co-chairs of her campaign. She also worked with Congresswoman Haaland on the Broken Promises legislation that aims to address treaty violations and many other important Native issues. Senator Sanders also boasts pretty strong relationships with Indian country, was one of the very few candidates to actually visit Indian country in 2016 on the trail, although has been doing a little bit less of that in 2020.
But, you know, the big picture is that actually Native issues tend to be a little bit less politicized or polarized than a lot of other issues, so they don’t feature quite as heavily in the primary. I would say, in general, the Democratic Party does rely on Native votes, particularly in places that aren’t voting tonight, like Arizona, New Mexico and some other Western states, but tend not to think about that nationally, tend to think about it more as a region or state-specific constituency. And we also don’t do a lot of great polling and social science research on Native American voters, the Native public opinion, so it’s hard to say right now where Native voters are placing their support tonight, although we do have some other indicators in terms of, you know, where the candidates have gone, their platforms and their endorsements and surrogates and campaign co-chairs and all that.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Have you been surprised, though, by the way — what we know so far about the results, Julian?
JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT: About the results in a broader sense? I mean, I think that —
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, about the results that have come in this evening.
JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT: Yeah. So, you know, Data for Progress put out our final Super Tuesday poll — Data for Progress being the think tank where I work — this morning, and we were showing a major bump for Biden. And, you know, I think I was still — despite knowing that going into today, I was quite surprised to see so many states, that just a week ago were polling in favor of Bernie, suddenly swinging to Biden. I personally was not — I live in a world where people have pretty strong political opinions or have limited their political choices for the candidate for president pretty significantly. Obviously, my world of acquaintances actually isn’t particularly representative of Democratic primary voters writ large. There were evidently many, many voters across the country who made their decision about who they were going to vote for on Super Tuesday in the last 48 to 24 hours, which I’m quite surprised by. And obviously, that has come to the detriment of, so far, Senator Sanders’ campaign, although we should caveat that we do not have the largest states’, with the most delegates, results in. And that’s California and Texas, of course.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Aracely Jimenez. Your organization, the Sunrise Movement, just tweeted, “Exit polls in California show 72% of young voters for @BernieSanders. Biden gets 5%.” So that’s 72% versus 5%. “It looks different shades of this all across the country… There is no way to defeat Tr•mp without record youth turnout. @TheDemocrats are planning their own funeral if they nominate Joe,” your group has said. Now, actually, one of your first actions, as your movement began, was to protest outside of soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. In fact, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she had already been elected as the youngest congresswoman ever, but she hadn’t yet taken her seat, and she joined you outside. Well, Nancy Pelosi hadn’t been elected yet to be the House speaker, but she was about to be. And I think that certainly infuriated her. But talk about your organizing. And while you’re very involved with Democratic politics and involved with supporting Bernie Sanders, you have not been — let’s just say, you’ve been very tough on Democrats and holding Democrats accountable, in addition, of course, to President Trump.
ARACELY JIMENEZ: Yeah, of course. I’d love to speak to some of the down-ballot races that we’ve endorsed. I mean, we brought up Jessica Cisneros, and we leaned into that race in Texas 28, but we also leaned into two other Texas races: Mike Siegel running in Texas 10, Heidi Sloan running in Texas 25. Up in Northern California, our first endorsement of 2020 actually was to Audrey Denney, you know, a farmer scientist running exclusively on the Green New Deal against a climate-denying Republican in the district that was totally decimated by the Camp Fire in 2018.
And so, yeah, speaking to our organizing, our level of organizing has definitely grown since that sit-in that you mentioned. You know, we’ve exploded from just barely a dozen local chapters to now, I believe, over 300 nationwide, including one in Puerto Rico. And so, you know, we’re really capitalizing a lot on the momentum, this youth energy behind, you know, that glorious vision of the future that is so beautifully embodied in the Green New Deal. And I think that, you know, that polling that we just — that exit polling that we just tweeted out is a perfect example of the kind of energy that the Democratic Party is going to need in order to defeat Trump, you know, when —
AMY GOODMAN: And also Julio Ricardo Varela, who we just had on, just tweeted, “California exit polls show that @BernieSanders got 55% of Latino voters and @JoeBiden got 21% of Latinos. #SuperTuesday.”
ARACELY JIMENEZ: Super Tuesday indeed. And I think, you know, when we look at the last — when we take a step back and we look at the last 20 years of American politics, only one Democrat has been elected. And that Democrat was elected by a movement that crossed the lines of generation, of class, of race. And so, when we think of like what is actually necessary to win in November and to, you know, as Kate mentioned earlier, to keep winning in the years to come, we need a candidate who is not going to inspire a shallow base of support, as we’ve seen at Biden’s rallies, just today, as we heard earlier. But, you know, that actual like really deep, deep movement support that we see behind Bernie is really what’s going to deliver the change that we need in this country.
KATE ARONOFF: Yeah, and just to tap onto that, I mean —
AMY GOODMAN: Kate.
KATE ARONOFF: — to step back for a minute and kind of look at what’s happening in U.S. politics, in relief to what happens in other places, we haven’t had really, you know, a social democratic party or a labor party or a policy that — or, a party that’s really the kind of meaningful opposition to the right wing in a long time. American politics is just so far to the right of where it is in many other places. And so, for the last 40, 50 years, we’ve had two parties of capital, I mean, to put it really crassly, right? And I think what we’re seeing right now is, frankly, a primary that’s happening between a center-right party and a social democratic party. And that’s kind of the fight that we see between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. And, you know, Elizabeth Warren, to her credit, is on the social democratic side of that equation, and so are people like AOC, so are people like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, who have all endorsed Bernie Sanders. And so, you know, we’re seeing something that’s — the emergence of something that’s very normal in a lot of other politics. Despite the fact that MSNBC likes to call much of Sanders’s platform radical or socialist, these are not sort of outrageous politics in many other places. In fact, they’re just very mundane in much of the world. And so, you know, I think to call sort of the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party radical or sort of extreme, really, is not looking at what has been the case in many other countries for decades and decades now.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Brave NoiseCat, you wanted to weigh in?
JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT: Yeah. I think that it’s really important to also distinguish progressive policies and issues from the candidate themselves. There will be an attempt tonight — it’s already happening on many of the cable networks — to portray Sanders’s lackluster performance in the Eastern Seaboard and the South to Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, you know, these brand-name progressive policies. And that’s simply not true. We have polled — for example, we just ran a poll in four Super Tuesday states on the Green New Deal, you know, the progressive, lefty standard, the thing that was attacked as Venezuela-style socialism on Fox News, the thing that Speaker Pelosi called the “green dream or whatever,” and we found that there was an 80-plus-point margin of support for the Green New Deal in Colorado, in Virginia, in Super Tuesday states. So, it’s really important to continue to point out that, not just globally, but actually right here in the United States, there is broad and robust support for truly progressive policies. And regardless of how Sanders or any of the other progressives perform tonight or in this primary, the public support for those visions, those ideas, is going to continue, is going to continue to grow, as this country — as millennials continue to become a larger portion of the voting bloc, as this country becomes more diverse. So, we need to hold onto that as progressives, because the wind is at our backs.
AMY GOODMAN: On the issue of authoritarianism, Masha Gessen, you write continually about this in different respects in The New Yorker, and also how little we in this country understand what’s happening in the world, and that the U.S. is not exceptional in that way. It’s very much either both part of an authoritarian trend or leading that trend. And if you can talk about the effect the U.S. has on the world and what is happening? Before, we were talking about Modi and Trump, Trump just coming from India in the wake of terrible devastation and destruction and the taking of people’s lives as Modi cracks down on his own population, and Trump continuing to hail him as a great leader.
MASHA GESSEN: Well, first of all, I think Trump sincerely believes that Modi, that Putin, that Netanyahu, that Erdogan are great leaders. Right? You know, that is his idea of political power, that power is raw, it’s brutal, it actually makes a spectacle of cruelty. So these are not oversights or coincidences. And Trump, by virtue of being the most powerful man in the world, has become the chief enabler of brutal autocracy around the world.
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, the other — I was just thinking about this as Masha was speaking, that some of my favorite trolls on Twitter or people that attack me are people that are saying that Bernie Sanders isn’t left enough, you know, like he’s not — you know, “Sanders, he’s kicking Cuba under the bus, and he’s kicking Castro under the bus!” But the fact is that there are some problems. You know, if you’re looking at Sanders from a left perspective or an anti-imperialist perspective, there are some problems with Sanders’ — some of Sanders’ foreign policy votes in the past, some of his positions. You know, he’s indicated he’s open to the Obama style of drone strikes. He voted for the Iraq Liberation Act. He was a supporter of the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia, where the Clinton administration circumvented the United Nations and violated the War Powers Act. You know, there are questions like that.
My point here isn’t to like hammer away on the problems with Sanders. I mean, I’ve talked about this a lot on my own show. But the point I want to make is, Sanders is convincing large swaths of people, who would have been Jill Stein voters or would have sat out, that are coming at it from a left, anti-imperialist perspective, to hold their nose and participate in a partisan election that ultimately is going to mean pulling the lever for the Democratic Party. And, you know, that may not be some huge percentage of the population. But I think that same dynamic that — and I know a lot of people who are holding their nose and supporting Bernie Sanders because he’s not radical enough for them. But the broader point is, the Democratic Party wins when they inspire people to actually care about voting. It’s not just about like, you know, we need to get the young people, etc. But the idea that Joe Biden is going to excite people or that you’re going to win over new voters, yes, maybe some of the panic over four more years of Trump will have some impact on that, but, you know, as you were saying earlier, the proactive “I want to get involved with this because this is something exciting,” there’s only one candidate right now in the race that introduces that prospect to the Democratic Party right now, and it’s Bernie Sanders, which is why I think it’s quite likely that Joe Biden is going to have to put up a running mate much earlier and while he’s still fighting against Bernie Sanders. I mean, he’s almost certainly going to have to name someone as a running mate.
AMY GOODMAN: And before we end, the issue of Medicare for All, Kate. In state after state, the number one issue of voters is healthcare. And yet, on all of the networks — and I’m not talking about Fox, I’m talking about MSNBC, I’m talking about CNN — the way this is framed is “Bernie Sanders wants to increase taxes,” when, if it was an honest discussion, it would be “Will this increase the cost of healthcare overall, whether we’re talking about premiums or taxes, overall?” And if you could address this, what is considered one of the most critical issues of our day, and how unusual our country is in the industrialized world in the lack of medical care for all, that we have access to?
KATE ARONOFF: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. And we’ve had a completely dishonest debate, especially on the Democratic debate stage, where every single time, one of the first questions is “How, Bernie Sanders, will you pay for Medicare for All?” And that question is just not asked of other policy issues, right? We can go to war, and there’s unlimited funds to do that. We can give $26 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies over to the most powerful industries on Earth; there’s virtually unlimited money for that. But when it comes to providing people with what is a just basic human right, as Bernie Sanders and many other people have framed it, that’s when we really have to pinch our purse and think about the cost to American consumers, where American consumers and American people are just fed up with having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to go into debt. And the reality is that people are dying because they’re poor. Right? We live in the wealthiest country that’s ever existed, and people are dying because they can’t afford to go to a doctor. And, you know, with the potential of being in a pandemic in the next several months, that’s horrifying, right? And the fact that the United States healthcare system is just not set up to deal with a global health emergency, to deal with a public health emergency, is stunning. And it —
AMY GOODMAN: Which we may be dealing with right now with the coronavirus.
KATE ARONOFF: Yeah, already are.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Also, no one ever says to Trump, like, “How are we going to pay for all of your golf trips and for your sons to go on their business trips around the world with full security details, etc.?” I mean, it’s — go ahead, sorry.
MASHA GESSEN: There’s a reason for that.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. Well, yeah.
MASHA GESSEN: You know, there’s a reason for that. And there’s a —
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
MASHA GESSEN: And there’s a reason why that question is not asked about defense spending, but it is asked about Medicare: because Medicare suggests a redistribution of wealth, and defense spending suggests — and Trump’s golfing — is the maintenance of status quo.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, it’s nearly midnight here on the East Coast. And as we wrap up our Super Tuesday coverage, here’s a recap. It’s now a two-person race, after the Democratic Party establishment consolidated around Joe Biden, with Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropping out in recent days and throwing their support behind the 77-year-old former vice president. Biden had a big night. He is the projected winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. Bernie Sanders is the projected winner of tonight’s biggest prize, California, along with Vermont, Colorado and Utah. Sanders is leading a close race with Biden in Texas, the second most populous state on Super Tuesday, and Biden is ahead by a whisker in Maine, with a third of precincts yet to report.
AMY GOODMAN: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York and the ninth-richest person on Earth, will earn some delegates after breaking the 15% viability mark in a number of states, but can only claim the U.S. territory of American Samoa as his victory. Bloomberg has spent over half a billion dollars of his vast personal wealth on the race. The Associated Press reports Bloomberg will reassess on Wednesday whether to drop out of the race.
It was a disappointing night for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who lost her home state of Massachusetts and appears to have broken the 15% threshold in only a handful of states.
For the latest election returns and analysis, tune into Democracy Now! live at 8 a.m. Eastern time. That does it for our Super Tuesday special broadcast. Thanks so much to The Intercept and The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, as well as reporters Rob Mackey and Lee Fang, as well as Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Aracely Jimenez, Kate Aronoff, Julian Brave NoiseCat, for joining us in this last hour.
Democracy Now! is produced by Renée Feltz, Deena Guzder, Mike Burke, Nermeen Shaikh, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Libby Rainey, Sam Alcoff, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Charina Nadura, Tey-Marie Astudillo, Adriano Contreras, María Taracena and Denis Moynihan. Mike DiFilippo and Miguel Nogueira are our engineers. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Julie Crosby, Miriam Barnard, Erin Dooley, Hugh Gran, David Prude, Vesta Goodarz and Carl Marxer, and to our camera crew, Jon Randolph, Kieran Krug-Meadows, Anna Özbek and Matt Ealy. Again, for those latest election returns and analysis, tune in tomorrow to Democracy Now! and democracynow.org at 8 Eastern Standard Time and tune into The Intercept. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh and Jeremy Scahill. Thanks so much for joining us.
[End of Hour 5]