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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/27/16

Who Should Bernie Voters Support Now? Robert Reich vs. Chris Hedges on Tackling the Neoliberal Order

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AMY GOODMAN: Take up the invitation of Dr. Jill Stein --

CHRIS HEDGES: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: -- and run on a ticket with --

CHRIS HEDGES: She offered to let him run on the top of the ticket. That's what he should have done. And the fact is, you know, let's not forget that Bernie has a very checkered past. He campaigned for Clinton in '92. He campaigned for Clinton again in '96, after NAFTA -- the greatest betrayal of the working class in this country since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1948 -- after the destruction of welfare, after the omnibus crime bill that exploded the prison population, and, you know, we now have -- I mean, it's just a monstrosity what we've done; 350,000 to 400,000 people locked in cages in this country are severely mentally ill. Half of them never committed a violent crime. That's all Bill Clinton. And yet he went out and campaigned. In 2004, he called on Nader not to run, to step down, so he could support a war candidate like John Kerry. And I'm listening to Jealous before talk about the Iraq War. Sixty percent of the Democratic senators voted for the war, including Hillary Clinton. The idea that somehow Democrats don't push us into war defies American history.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Reich?

ROBERT REICH: Well, all I can say is that at this particular point in time -- I mean, again, many of the things that Chris Hedges is saying, I completely agree with. The real question here is: What do we do right now? And what do we do to mobilize and organize a lot of people out there who right now are not mobilized and organized? And how do we keep the energy building? I disagree with Chris with regard to Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie Sanders has been a great and is a great leader right now of the progressive cause.

What I think we ought to do is develop a third party outside the Democratic and Republican parties, maybe the Green Party, so that in the year 2020, four years from now, we have another candidate -- it may be Bernie Sanders, I think he's probably going to be too old by then -- but we have a candidate that holds the Democrats accountable, that provides a vehicle for a lot of the energy of the Bernie Sanders movement to continue to develop, that fields new candidates at the Senate, in Congress, at the state level, that actually holds Democrats' feet to the fire and Republicans' feet to the fire, that develops an agenda of getting big money out of politics and severing the link between extraordinarily concentrated wealth and political power in this country. That's what we ought to be doing.

Now, we can -- but in order to do that, we cannot have -- and, you know, I think that Hillary will be a good president, if not a great president. This is not just trucking in fear, Chris. But I do fear Donald Trump. I fear the polls that I saw yesterday. Now, polls, again, this early in a campaign still -- we're still months away from the election, but they are indicative. They show Donald Trump doing exceedingly well, beating Hillary Clinton. And right now, given our two-party system, given our winner-take-all system with regard to the Electoral College, it's just too much of a risk to go and to say, "Well, I'm going to vote -- I'm not going to vote for the lesser of two evils, I'm going to vote exactly what I want to do." Well, anybody can do that, obviously. This is a free country. You vote what you -- you vote your conscience. You have to do that. I'm just saying that your conscience needs to be aware that if you do not support Hillary Clinton, you are increasing the odds of a true, clear and present danger to the United States, a menace to the United States. And you're increasing the possibility that there will not be a progressive movement, there will not be anything we believe in in the future, because the United States will really be changed for the worse.

That's not a -- that's not a risk I'm prepared to take at this point in time. I'm going to move -- I'm going to do exactly what I've been doing for the last 40 years: I'm going to continue to beat my head against the wall, to build and contribute to building a progressive movement. The day after Election Day, I am going to try to work with Bernie Sanders and anybody else who wants to work in strengthening a third party -- and again, maybe it's the Green Party -- for the year 2020, and do everything else I was just talking about. But right now, as we lead up to Election Day 2016, I must urge everyone who is listening or who is watching to do whatever they can to make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president, and not Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we're going to break and then come back to this debate on both sides of the United States, as well as of this issue. Chris Hedges is with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, award-winning author and activist. Latest book, Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt. And who you were just listening to is Robert Reich, who is the former labor secretary under President Clinton and professor at University of California, Berkeley, his latest book called Saving Capitalism. He was a Bernie Sanders supporter and now says he will vote for Hillary Clinton. When we come back, we'll hear some of the words of Donald Trump and get response. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: "Opening Ceremony" by Laura Ortman. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Our special for this two weeks, "Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency." I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonza'lez.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in a moment, we'll return to our debate between Robert Reich and Chris Hedges, but first let's turn to Donald Trump's nomination speech at the RNC in Cleveland last Thursday. Trump said Sanders' supporters would vote for him in the fall.

DONALD TRUMP: I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He never had a chance, never had a chance. But his supporters will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest single issue -- trade deals that strip our country of its jobs and strip us of our wealth as a country. Millions of Democrats will join our movement, because we are going to fix the system so it works fairly and justly for each and every American.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Donald Trump talking at the convention in Cleveland. Robert Reich, interestingly, Donald Trump and Chris Hedges agree on one thing, that free trade deals that the -- that both the Republicans and Democrats have negotiated over the past few years, especially NAFTA, have been disastrous for the American people. You were part of the Clinton administration when NAFTA was passed. Talk about this, the impact that Trump is utilizing among white workers in America over the issue of free trade.

ROBERT REICH: Well, Donald Trump is clearly using trade and also immigration as vehicles for making the people who have really been hurt by trade, by globalization, feel that he is going to somehow be on their side. He's not going to be on their side.

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