My guest today is Tom Gallagher, author and former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Tom. You've written a number of articles about the presidential primaries. Let's start with We Need to Explode the Myth That Hillary Clinton Is the Stronger Candidate -- and We Need to Do it Fast [April 9, 2016]. Hillary and her crew have from the onset of the campaign striven to establish her as the obvious and inevitable candidate. They've been pretty good at it, too. That meme has been picked up pretty consistently by the corporate media. What do you know that they don't?
Tom Gallagher: I'm sure I don't know anything they don't know. But I do know something that the Clinton campaign hopes that the rest of us don't get wise to -- the fact that virtually every poll shows Bernie Sanders running stronger against all potential Republican nominees than Hillary Clinton does. In the last month, for instance, ten national polls have compared a hypothetical Clinton-Trump matchup with a Sanders-Trump matchup. Every one of them shows Sanders winning with a greater margin. Nine polls have made the
Clinton-Cruz and Sanders-Cruz comparison. Sanders again leads in each and here the match-ups become more problematic for the Clinton bandwagon, if the growing sense that Trump will not actually win the nomination proves well founded. Cruz actually beats Clinton in one of the polls and ties her in two others; Sanders wins all nine. The Sanders advantage, by the way, also holds in Clinton-Kasich and Sanders-Kasich comparisons."
So, why do so few people ever hear about these polls? Well, the Clinton people debunk them at every turn, for obvious reasons. The mainstream media tend to share that campaign's view of what is real and what is not, so these results tend to confound them and they prefer to quickly move on to the next subject -- I see that Bill O'Reilly was recently expressing his disbelief in the results of his own network's poll showing Sanders beating all Republican comers. And I think that for some time even we Sanders backers couldn't believe our eyes when we saw the numbers because we accepted the conventional wisdom that independent voters would prefer the more centrist Democrat, when the reality is that many of them view Sanders as a honest man and Clinton as a hack.
JB: Despite Bernie's impressive string of wins, eight of the last nine contests and the fact that he is Brooklyn-born and bred, the Clinton campaign claims that New York is Hillary turf and that it will be challenging to upset her there. No matter how you slice it , a lot is riding on the NY primary on Tuesday. Your thoughts?
TG: I agree. I think that the race is moving inexorably toward Sanders, as people have had the time to realize what he's saying and compare it to Clinton. But we are racing the clock.
JB: You were in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for a time and you've since relocated to California. What's the race look like out there on the coast?
TG: Well, the latest Field Poll showed Clinton's lead down to six points, so I'm more optimistic that we can catch up here than I am for my original home state -- New York. But the more interesting aspect of that poll was how unpopular it showed Clinton to be. This is the other facet of the secret hiding in full sight -- not only does Clinton not poll as well as Sanders against the Republicans, but people flat out don't like her. According to this poll, 49% viewed her unfavorably, compared to 48% favorable. And we see this nationwide. So we kind of have to congratulate the Clinton people for maintaining the widely-held perception that this unloved candidate is the best option the Democrats have.
The interesting thing about California is that we vote last, so we work on all the other states first. I've made Sanders calls to Iowa, Illinois, Hawaii, Alaska, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and maybe a couple of others I don't remember, and I've yet to call a Californian (at least intentionally -- today I called a New York voter and he told me he'd moved to California). But that is about to change. Usually Californians vote after the nomination has pretty much been settled. But this year, we might have a chance to have an impact.
And the really interesting thing is that we may be looking at the first contested convention in awhile.
JB: Maybe. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
TG: I think when this all started all of us who supported the Sanders effort -- candidate included -- would have been very happy to be able to take this thing to all fifty states and that's what we're going to do, as far as I can see. I don't know that anyone could have imagined that this campaign would, in the process, revolutionize campaign fund raising, allowing a candidate who explicitly ran against the influence of big money in politics to actually raise more a candidate who said that she had no choice but to take their money, by getting people to contribute an average of $27. A year ago a scenario like what has played out would have been dismissed as lunacy. In principle, we all believed that if you talked sense to the American people, they would respond. But would they really? We have our answer -- they have.
It's hard to imagine Clinton not going to the convention with a lead -- although you never know. But an unintended consequence of the superdelegates is that she's unlikely to have enough committed (elected) delegates to clinch. So it ain't over until it's over, which probably gives Sanders delegates great opportunities for raising issues at the platform convention and will likely add an overall element of frisson to the proceedings. Are the superdelegates likely to wake up to Clinton's weakness as a candidate and turn their votes around? Probably not, but it's worth the try.
And there's something else -- is there anyone confident that, all the discussion about how thoroughly Clinton has been vetted over the years notwithstanding, there isn't another shoe that may drop regarding her past? Should something happen between now and the convention, it's important that we maintain a living, breathing alternative, in the form of the Sanders candidacy.
JB: I just interviewed Seth Abramson, The Audacity of Nope: Clinton's Nix on Transparency. We discuss the Goldman-Sachs speeches and why Hillary is adamantly refusing to release the transcripts. He says that this is just one more example of poor judgment on her part and something voters should be very aware of. He surmises that if the transcripts were to emerge, the contents would reflect even more poorly on her than her refusal to release them. Comments?
TG: I've read his assessment and it seems about right. When you think about it, if a company drops $225,000 on you to come to talk to them, well it might seem a bit ungrateful of you to say anything but that they're a bunch of nice fellows doing great things for humanity -- a sentiment that would not play nearly so well among the great foreclosed-upon masses.
JB: I never asked: When and why did you become a Bernie supporter, Tom?
TG: I've known about Bernie Sanders for a very long time. Some time in the late '80s, after my stint in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, I spent a Fourth of July with him, going to picnics while conducting an interview for "Socialist Review." I've always believed in socialists engaging in electoral politics and he was one of a handful of others doing it. I've been the chair of the San Francisco chapter of Progressive Democrats of America for a few years and the organization ran a "Run Bernie, Run -- as a Democrat" campaign for a year before he declared. I also wrote a book, The Primary Route: How the 99% Takes on the Military Industrial Rout e, which argues that there will never be an American electoral left until we start running candidates in the Democratic presidential primaries, along with several articles urging Bernie to carry the banner. (Hey, I might have looked like a prophet if anyone had bought the book!)