On Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer sat down with Alexander Kelly, Truthdig’s associate editor, for a discussion of the convention and the future of the election. He explains how past economic failures, many of which were at the hands of Democratic Party leaders, have led us to such a critical election. He also urges a return to a truly progressive Democratic Party.

Miss Day 1 of the convention? Check out our coverage of the convention here.

“For me, the great fear is not that the Democrats could lose the election,” Scheer says. “The great fear is that the American people could lose their country.”

You can watch the full video below:

Here is the transcript.

ROBERT SCHEER: Hi, I’m Bob Scheer, the editor of Truthdig.com. I’m here at the Democratic convention. And it’s kind of sad. I’m here with Alex Kelly, our associate editor. And you’ll hear his voice, but we only have the technical ability to give you one speaker visually. And we’re in a room here at the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, where the Bernie Delegates Network, a really terrific group committed to what they call political revolution, a group of a large number of the 1,200-odd delegates for Bernie, had been meeting here and trying to get some energy and criticism going. And I want to say that the behavior of the Bernie supporters in the streets at the convention has been incredible. I’ve been going to political conventions since 1956 [laughs], when I was a young kid working for Estes Kefauver, and I’ve seen ’em go, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group hold to its principles and be clearer about reaching out and getting those points made.

So anything I’m going to say is going to be positive about the Sanders people, and it’s not just the delegates; it’s the people in Philadelphia who support them, and so forth. They seem to have a very sharp sense of what the issues are. I hear them in conversations with people, defending their positions. And I would say that inside the convention hall, yesterday, when I was there, I would say the Sanders people carried the coffee-klatch debate and the hallway debate. The Clinton people seemed to me more in the category of job seekers, or members—leading members—of organizations that have something to gain, and so forth. I don’t want to denigrate all of them, at all; but I’m just giving you my honest appraisal of, again, the hallway conversation.

Having said that, and I think Bernie Sanders, the first part of his speech, was terrific. I thought the guy—you know, first of all, I thought the Clinton people tried to marginalize him with excessively verbose speeches, and even I was very disappointed in Elizabeth Warren’s speech. It seemed to me she provided evidence that she is, indeed, a Harvard Law professor and can defend any client, even the Democratic Party and even Hillary Clinton, to effect. And that’s really what she did; she made a case. There was a shout-out to Bernie, but you know, in general, it was a whitewash of a candidate in her own party. And you wonder: Why would a candidate who’s going to get the nomination need a whitewash? Why wouldn’t the record of Hillary Clinton, and of Clintonism, be sufficient?

And whitewashing involved bringing up every foreseeable person who might have been benefited by any slightly progressive program affecting people with disabilities, or what have you. And it’s all legitimate concern, but the idea was somehow the Democratic Party is the party of all virtue, and the Republicans have none; and in the current election, clearly, the Republicans seem to have a great virtue deficit.

But there was one thing that bothered me when Bernie Sanders switched gears. And I just could not—I printed out the speech, even though I was there to hear it. And at first, I mean, it was absolutely devastating. He repeated the statistics of his campaign that just cannot be ignored. “It is not”—this is what Bernie Sanders said—“It is not moral, nor acceptable, and not sustainable that the top one-tenth of 1 percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” And he described this as a 40-year slide, and that part was really right on. And he said “In recent years”—and the recent years, by the way, those are Obama years. He said, “In the recent years, the top 1 percent has earned 85 percent of all new income.” Well, we’ve had a Democratic president and he’s saying that in recent years—so that has to be the post-recession period, in which Obama was operating, that the top 1 percent received 85 percent of all new income. And that new income was created by great government spending, running up enormous debts to guarantee the low interest rates, bailing out the banks, and what have you.

OK. I understood what he was doing. I understood he was going to make the argument, I thought, for the lesser evil; it’s hard to use that word if you’re endorsing somebody. But he didn’t have to switch gears in the abrupt way he did. And I thought, sitting there, I thought, you know, what he just said was really dishonest. And I say that advisedly; I clapped when the man was introduced, I admire him, I’ve admired his long career. For him to just quickly shift gears, and what he said was—this is after describing the misery that has been created over decades, in which Democrats have been in the White House for 20 of the last 40 years that he was describing. They’ve been there half the time, and they’ve had strong representation in Congress. Then he, but somehow the Democrats were forgotten, these statistics about income inequality. And what Bernie Sanders said, “The Republicans want us to forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, when Obama took over.” OK?

Now, “Republicans want us to forget”—that, you know, what do Democrats want us to forget? What Democrats want us to forget, and Bernie Sanders conveniently forgot, was that the great economic slide was a bipartisan creation. It represented the triangulation of Bill Clinton, and what it represented was the result not only of the destruction of the Glass-Steagall standard, preventing, as Bernie Sanders has pointed out quite accurately, commercial banks and investment banks coming together. And people like Paul Krugman and others who support Hillary Clinton have tried to lessen the impact of Glass-Steagall—it’s just not true. Citigroup was allowed to become the biggest bank in the world and had to be bailed out with $300 billion of its lousy paper guaranteed by the government. You know, an enormous payoff to Citigroup. And Robert Rubin, who was the guy who came from Goldman Sachs and was Bill Clinton’s Treasury secretary, is the one who brought about the reversal of Glass-Steagall, along with Lawrence Summers, who’s speaking in this very hotel tomorrow, still supporting and important to the Democrats, who became Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton. And then of course, was involved with the Obama bailout, which bailed out the banks but not the victims of the banks.

But for Bernie Sanders to say the Republicans don’t want us to notice—which is true; the Republicans don’t want to know they were party to the rape of the economy and the well-being of the American people. But the Democrats don’t want us to know. Not the Democratic establishment, because their triangulation policy under Bill Clinton—and let me just punctuate this by saying last night we had the political revolution of Bernie Sanders; today we have the counterrevolution with Bill Clinton speaking. In a matter of hours, I’m going to go over to the convention center, listen carefully; maybe I’ll be surprised, maybe he’ll admit the error of his ways, maybe he’ll admit it was wrong to reverse Glass-Steagall and give the pen, one of the pens he used to sign, to Sandy Weill, the head of Traveler’s Insurance, [which] was allowed to merge with Citibank to form Citigroup. That’s what happened. And the first person he handed a pen to was Sandy Weill, the guy who put it together. All right? And ironically, in the Republican platform, there is a passage calling for the restoration of Glass-Steagall explicitly; it doesn’t exist in the Democratic platform.

So amazingly enough, here was Bernie Sanders holding the Republicans responsible, which they should be; they supported the radical deregulation of Wall Street. But to not admit that it was the Democratic support that made it happen—it didn’t happen under Ronald Reagan. Under Ronald Reagan, you had the savings and loan collapse, and as a result he couldn’t get through radical deregulation; in fact, they had to tighten regulation of the bank. It was only with a Democratic president, under Bill Clinton, that that happened.

The other piece of legislation which never gets mentioned in these circles is something that Bill Clinton signed into law as a lame-duck president after the 2000 election. And he signed in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. And that act, Title III, said that no existing regulatory agency or regulation will govern these newfangled, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps. And these newfangled, bundling together of all kinds of debt obligations, collateralizing them, selling them and having phony insurance policies, credit-default swaps to back them up, is exactly what destroyed much of the world economy and brought us to the worst point, worldwide, since the Great Depression. And people throughout the world are still suffering from it, and hundreds of trillions of dollars of these lousy packaged financial gimmicks are circulating the globe to this day. Yet Lawrence Summers, who’s the guy who testified before the Congress—testified before the Congress that this legislation was absolutely necessary, legislation that was concocted between Bill Clinton and the Republicans in the House and Senate, was absolutely necessary to free American banks to compete effectively in the world.

And it was the anti-Brooksley Born, a name never mentioned here, this terrific woman who had been head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who was trying to control this junk from being sold. They passed this legislation saying no regulatory agency—including the ones in the executive branch that Clinton was heading—no existing law would govern the trade of these commodity futures packages and the phony insurance policies backing them up. That and the reversal of Glass-Steagall is what destroyed the American economy and impoverished so many people.

And one of the ironies is, here’s a candidate, Hillary Clinton, campaigning on that record, and here’s Bill Clinton up there. And a lot of people say you have to support the Clintons because they’ve been great for minorities. And yet if you look at the Federal Reserve Study of St. Louis, one of the best studies on this subject using the best available data, they conclude that black and brown college graduates were the main victims of this recession that reversed all of the achievements of education and the civil rights movement. Because black and brown college graduates—the targeted, the most severely targeted audience in the great economic swindle—lost 70 percent of their wealth. Not their annual income; their total wealth. That’s why the top 1 percent now has the same wealth that the bottom 90 percent has. You have a question for me, Alexander Kelly.

ALEXANDER KELLY: Do you see any of this being acknowledged here at the convention by the Democrats and their supporters? These criticisms that you’re bringing up.

RS: No, I would say—Alex’s question, in case you can’t hear it, is do I see any acknowledgment of this at the convention. And sadly enough, I really don’t even see it from the Sanders people; yes, some individuals, but generally it’s, you know, unite the party; get along, go along. And the sad thing is, because we have such a monstrous candidate on the Republican side, I can’t go anywhere, I can’t break bread with anyone, I can’t have a dinner without people denouncing me for my callousness and telling me I’m betraying the hopes of working people in America because I won’t rally around the flag and say it’s all wonderful. But my fear is, my fear is, if we don’t hold the culprits accountable—the swindlers of both parties, who basically did the bidding of Wall Street, basically did, I mean, what these thieves on Wall Street asked them to do, or paid them to do through their lobbying—and they’re all over the place. The real power here is in the private parties, the cocktail receptions, and so forth. And they’re the Wall Street crowd; there’s a very good article in Politico about this. They just, the money is pouring around, and they’re here, and they’re sending the signal, hey! These are Democrats we like. You know? We never liked those Bible-belting, God-quoting conservatives anyway; we’re from New York; we’re sophisticated, we’re from San Francisco, and so forth; we don’t want to get into that. And now, what Clinton did—and now the good times are rolling; if she had nominated, picked Elizabeth Warren to be her vice president, well, that might have been a different story, or certainly Bernie Sanders. But now there’s reassurance the old crowd is back.

And what you have—I think if I should recommend something our viewers can read, I’m a big fan of Chris Hedges, but he has an unusually powerful bit of journalism—and I use the word “journalism” advisedly. Chris Hedges, who you may know was a New York Times correspondent and bureau chief for many years, he’s written very important books. But when I read his column this morning on Truthdig about Poland, his visit to Poland and the betrayal of the post-Communist hoax of the Polish revolution, of the idea of building a democratic, just society, and seeing the emergence of a neofascist right-wing movement in Poland that is suppressing dissent, that is—you know, playing up the chauvinist card; even the reintroduction of anti-Semitism, pitting one group against another, playing up a narrow Polish nationalism. And he attributes the responsibility of that rise in neofascism to neoliberalism, and the neoliberalism that you can identify with the Clintons very much. Which was, you know, a tough love. The neoliberalism that under Bill Clinton gave us so-called welfare reform, which showed the way for children—the federal poverty program, the largest federal poverty program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and 70 percent of the people on that program were children—and that program just got gutted and turned over to the states. Yet you go around this convention, and tonight on the program I saw there’s going to be endless tributes to Hillary Clinton’s great work for the Children’s Defense Fund, and great work for children. Well, she did go work for the Rose Law Firm after that. And the fact of the matter is, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman, her husband, who worked for them—they have both criticized the welfare reform, and Peter Edelman actually wrote the best book on what had happened after welfare.

So you know, that tough love—same thing happened with the prison population, no we’ll believe in capital punishment, Bill Clinton rushes to Arkansas as a candidate to witness an execution as a result of that tough law-and-order position. You get all these people thrown in jail, the prison population swells, we know that; sad story. You can go through the payoff to the big telecommunications giants, with the Telecommunications Act. You can go through all of this neoliberal cloak—terrible programs, destructive programs that create inequality—and put a liberal clothing on it. And that analysis that Hedges has today is the first thing that did in Poland, and a lot of the countries of Europe in the post-Communist period, was this tough-love approach. And the tough-love approach created a lot of anger, a lot of bitterness in those societies. Because life didn’t get better for most people, whether it was in Greece, whether it was in Spain, whether it was in Poland. And as a result, what happens with the failure of neoliberalism to deliver through this tough love—you get neofascism.

And that’s what we see playing out in the American election. It was this whole policy of impoverishing people, of creating the Great Recession—as a result, oh! You got the savior on the right who’s an old-fashioned neofascist. Blame the vulnerable. Blame Mexican-Americans. Blame Muslims. Blame the victims. And that’s really what the election now is about. If you want a choreography of it, brilliantly, read Chris Hedges’ column on Truthdig today [July 24, 2016] about what happened in Poland, and see if it can happen here [omission].

AK: Earlier, you described Bernie Sanders’ selective application or assignment of the blame for what we see going on today to the Republicans, and not the Democrats, as dishonest. How do you account for this selectivity on his part? What’s he doing? If he knows.

RS: What is Paul Krugman doing? What—I mean, there are a lot of people who know better. Bernie Sanders is certainly not a major offender. He has fought the good fight, and frankly I thought he—last night it took a really strong person to get up in that hall and reiterate his basic points. Because they had overwhelmed him. The Clinton machine is formidable. I sat there through the whole thing for hours and hours, and you have one victim after another in society, and somehow it’s all Donald Trump’s fault. You’d think Donald Trump had been running America all these years, and you would think he’s the only businessman. There’s no mention—well, first of all, there’s no mention of any foreign policy, so anybody getting bombed in Syria or any unnecessary military expenditures or drone attacks—none of that comes up, OK? Hillary Clinton is this great leader [omission]. But my point is that you have this, you’re suffocated by this celebration of the Democratic Party, as if it’s never done anything wrong, it’s never—you know, after all, we have this great, oh! We have gay people now, and gay rights—well, then, why didn’t a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, sign the Defense of Marriage Act? And why did Obama take so long to recognize the humanity of gay people and the right to have the same rights as anybody else? So this whitewashing of the Democratic Party, I find obscene. And Bernie Sanders has fought the good fight, within the party. OK? And he’s taken it as far as you can take it.

But if you want to stay a player with the Democrats, you want to get a committee assignment, you want to be relevant, you want to get brought back for another show, you want to maybe have another attempt, and you want to be able to advance your cause within the party—this is the price you’re going to pay. And look, they don’t even mention George McGovern, one of the great Democrats that ever lived. George McGovern, a man destroyed by Richard Nixon—you would think that the Democrats would celebrate George McGovern. They all see George McGovern as that horrible loser, right? The fact that George McGovern was right on every single issue, right—and by the way, won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism during World War II, yet described as a hopeless peacenik by Richard Nixon—that’s what sticks with George McGovern. Or that George McGovern represented a major, the major progressive force within the Democratic Party on every issue; they don’t ever bring him up, you know. They bring up war criminals, actually. We’re going to have Madeleine Albright talk tonight, and she sponsored all kinds of wars and so forth. You know, there will be others. But George McGovern, that’s forgotten.

And the fact of the matter is, Bernie Sanders is a role model. And last night he came dangerously close to jeopardizing that model. Because if that model means you can say all the stuff you’ve said about the betrayal of the average person by the system, and then deny that the Democratic Party is half of that system—my goodness, what are we talking about, you know? Who destroyed Occupy in America by bringing excessive police power, if not Democratic mayors, and the New York mayor who’s poised right now, the former New York mayor, [Michael] Bloomberg, who’s poised now to support Hillary Clinton. Every other city, it was a Democratic mayor that crushed Occupy. So it’s not just the nasty, old Republicans. And the idea that Bernie Sanders is now part—let’s rally around the flag of the Democratic Party—that’s not educational. And that’s sort of a betrayal of what Bernie really should—did represent.

I’m not going to take anything away from an incredibly important, educational campaign. I didn’t think he would get more than 4 or 5 percent of the vote, and the fact that he came this close—and by the way, let’s take another apology of last night. Everybody was talking about campaign finance reform, and oh, Citizens United, we have to overturn—well, if what Hillary Clinton did was acceptable, what’s so bad about Citizens United? It’s just a little more honest than this other; look at all the money she got from wealthy centers. Look at all the Wall Street money. Same thing with Obama when he got elected; he turned down campaign finance, he turned down public financing of the presidential campaign and turned to Wall Street, OK? Now, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders. Why? Because this—if she had to go out and get just the funds of ordinary people, Bernie Sanders would have won the election. She was able to get this, you know, PAC money and everything else to make her case. It’s amazing that Bernie did it as well as he did.

So here they’re talking about campaign finance, and Hillary Clinton goes everywhere, and the only thing stopping Hillary Clinton from being Donald Trump is she hasn’t had enough speaking engagements yet. If she could keep up her speaking schedule, she also could be a billionaire. If you can make, what, three or four hundred million from a few speeches, how far away is a billion? What are we talking about? The Clinton Foundation, how much is that worth? And they use it as a private funding to reward people, to advance their own reputation, and so forth.

So I think if left to their own devices, and given that Trump is not such a great businessman—and God knows what he really has—they could probably come out on top. They certainly have a lot of friends that are up there. And they will probably be supported in this election by that crowd.

Now, let me just say something very clearly. I’m not underestimating Trump as a menace. I think what Trump is doing—and that’s part of, you know, sitting here at the Democratic convention—I agree with it: It’s very divisive, it’s destructive of people; he makes fun of people who have physical and mental problems. He attacks whole categories of people in a totally racist, fascistic, scapegoating way. The border issue, and we have the hardest working population in this country in the undocumented workers; everybody knows that who goes to a Home Depot or a Lowe’s. Everybody knows that who adds a room to their home. This is garbage, and certainly in the states where there are significant numbers of undocumented workers raising the children, picking the crops, doing all the construction work, or a lot of it. Everybody knows that. So to demonize this incredibly hard-working group of people—and by the way, if you’re worried about their impact on wages, working conditions, the first thing you want to do is give them legality. Because if people have legality, and they’re not worried about immigration arresting them, they can join unions, they can demand that labor laws be enforced.

The phony debate about immigration that Trump has stoked is enough reason to think the guy is totally evil and a great menace. Because as an employer, as somebody who has run businesses, he knows that these undocumented folks are incredible workers. And he also knows that as long as they’re kept at a status of illegality, they can’t demand their rights, because labor laws are supposed to apply to everyone, whether you’re documented or not, but who’s going to complain about they’re not getting overtime or they’re not getting their lunch break, or occupational safety, or so forth, if they’re afraid of being turned in? So the clear answer to the demagogues of the Trump kind about immigration is legality, a path to citizenship, the Dream Act, et cetera. It’s not build a higher wall, scare people even more, have even more of an underground economy.

So yes, Trump is a great menace. His attack on Muslims, it’s unspeakable; unspeakable. Undifferentiated, also; I mean, you’re talking about all of these people, and you’re blaming them, basically, for groups that come out of Saudi Arabia, funded by Saudi Arabia, that the conservative hawks in America have welcomed as an ally. This is not the average Muslim in the world living, you know, in most countries, including the Arab world, but Indonesia, everywhere else; the largest Muslim population. So again, I use the word “neofascist” very carefully; historically, if I think of what’s happening contemporaneously in Europe, and if I think historically of the rise of a Mussolini and then of a Hitler, the “neo” will get dropped at some point, and you’re facing fascism. And that’s not kidding around.

And I understand the concern of people and what Bernie Sanders said; yes, compared to Trump, Hillary Clinton looks a lot better. However, the analysis cannot stop with that. The question is, how do you get a Trump? What happened to the Republican Party? Why isn’t that discussed anywhere? You know, here was a party of a lot of stakeholders; people who care about their children; they don’t want unnecessary wars, presumably; they don’t want to waste resources, right? They know if they’re living in Texas or Arizona or California, they know that these undocumented folks in their midst are not the enemy. They know the wall would not help anybody, would be inhuman, just cause people to die in the deserts and so forth. They know that.

So what happened to the Republican Party? And I didn’t get any answer at the Democratic convention. You would have thought that this magician, Donald Trump, came in and seized control of the party. Right? And of course he’s evil incarnate, and there’s no questioning—wait a minute! There must be a lot of unhappy folks out there in all of those states that voted for Trump from Maine down to Alabama, and what are they unhappy about? Is it possibly the bipartisan economic policies that impoverished them? Is it possibly connected with those statistics that Sanders was bringing out that their real incomes have not increased, that college tuition impoverishes them when their kids try to get into a school, or that they lost their homes or they lost their jobs? Is it possible that the policies of the neoliberals created the neofascists? Is that possible? And that maybe four more years or eight more years of that kind of Clinton triangulation might even make the ground more fertile for neofascism? Isn’t that a possibility that should be considered? And the answer of Bernie Sanders last night was, we have to trust that he has set sufficient sense, awareness of these issues in place, and there’s enough consciousness in the Democratic Party that somehow we’ll have a new Hillary Clinton. We’ll have a new triangulation, a new Clintonism that is progressive. And that all those folks from the labor movement who spoke last night will realize their dream of a Democrat who actually listens to them, in fact, instead of betraying them.

We’ll see. But that is the hope. It’s the lesser-evil notion gone wild. And it hasn’t historically worked very well. And my own view is, starting tonight, with Bill Clinton, the shackles of restraint of Bernie Sanders and the stuff that we saw in this room of the Sanders delegates will be broken. You already have them going on the talk shows. Just think of one figure, Mr. [John] Podesta, [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign manager, right? And Podesta was a partner with his brother, in a lobbying firm. And he was totally into this whole Wall Street stuff. He went on the talk show this morning, and he said oh, well, the Bernie people will come around because they’ll see how bad Trump is. Well, that’s not the same as the Bernie people who come around because they’ll see how progressive we are. That would have been the proper answer. The proper answer to the Clinton people would not be to say, oh, we—you Bernie people—we don’t have to make any more concessions to you, because you’re going to be so afraid of Trump that you’re going to accept whatever we dish out. And now we’re going to move right. OK? The proper answer is, we are as afraid of Trump as you are, because it’ll hurt the country—what Michelle Obama said last night—and as a result, we have to examine seriously where this hysteria and madness and fear of the economic future of the average American came from. We have to own up to some of our own responsibility for this, and we have to have a more progressive Democratic Party and candidacy that will address those issues. And that begins with the dismantling of the big banks that are too big to fail. And that message, I assure you, will be muffled from here on out as they do massive fundraising precisely among the people who have benefited from this perversion of our economy that Bernie Sanders so eloquently described.

AK: Perhaps the last question about the Democrats: If their failures are visible, increasingly so, and they’re also obviously failing to answer their critics, to a growing number of people, what is the cost to them of refusing to account for their deeds and misdeeds?

RS: The cost of their refusing to be held accountable and mounting a progressive campaign—and trust me, no one would be happier than me for Hillary Clinton to prove me wrong. OK? I love to be proved wrong when I’m being pessimistic, right? I care about the survival of this country, and I care about the survival of the people who live in it, whether I’m related to them or not. And I would love to run into people a year from now and say, Bob, you really got it wrong. You really got it wrong. Hillary Clinton has turned out to be an incredibly progressive president. The Democrats have a new one; you can now believe in them; they’re passing legislation that is curtailing the banks; they’re passing legislation that’s helping homeowners, you know? They’re doing something about medical costs. Because after all, Obamacare is a big problem. Otherwise, why can Trump run against Obamacare successfully? It’s because for a lot of people, the costs are increasing. In California, we’re looking at a 13 percent increase in [health coverage] costs—Covered California—over this year! A 13 percent increase. That really means digging into your pocket pretty deeply, so you stop going. The costs are significant. They put no cost control. That was true of the original Hillary health care; it’s true of Obamacare.

So if Hillary Clinton were suddenly to say, you know what, I learned a lot from Bernie Sanders—that’s the speech she should give—I learned a lot. And I see the mistakes we made, and we’re not making them anymore. Because that, you know, we have to have a progressive alternative. We can’t just say, like Michelle [Obama] once said, no country is better in the world—fine. What does that mean? You go to sleep? You clap your hands? No! We have big problems, big problems. If Bernie Sanders’ statistics are right, Michelle Obama should not have said that. No. There are countries in the world that don’t have this degree of income inequality. And have more security for their people, and have better health care, OK? And have systems of politics that are less under the control of the most affluent than ours. You can name quite a few. So that was a false statement.

But to answer your question precisely, for me the great fear is not that the Democrats could [lose] an election. The great fear is the American people could lose their country. If we talk about the Trump menace, that’s a galvanizing notion, you know? And what are we doing about it? Now, if what I’m supposed to do about it is just shut my mouth and back Hillary uncritically, and not look at alternatives like Jill Stein of the Greens or [Gary] Johnson of the Libertarian Party, who’s getting 10 percent support now—I wish Jill Stein would get up higher, people would take her excellent program more seriously. But if I’m just supposed to do what many people here are doing at this convention now—not the Sanders people, but a lot of other folks—hold their nose. I almost felt like having a button: “Hold Your Nose for Hillary.” That’s really the answer to the “I’m With Her” button. OK? “Hold Your Nose for Hillary.”

Back when Lyndon Johnson was running against Barry Goldwater, SDS came up with a slogan, Students for a Democratic Society, “Part of the Way with LBJ.” “Part of the Way with LBJ,” OK? Great! You win part of the way with LBJ, and three and a half million Indochinese and 59,000 American troops died. Part of the way with LBJ, OK, and you lost the poverty program, which was going to be his signature issue, and a great program, could have been made great, if you had the money that was wasted on the war.

So you know, people have got to answer, what is the best thing we can do to stop Trump? And I think the best thing for people like us to do, people who are—we’re both journalists; I’m talking to Alexander Kelly, editor at Truthdig. Our job is not to become propagandists for the Clinton machine. Our job is to discuss the issues, try to figure out why Americans are hurting, who’s getting screwed and who’s doing the screwing. And if it’s Democrats doing the screwing, you got to expose them. If it’s Republicans doing the screwing, you’ve got to expose them. And when they do it together, yeah, we got a big—which they have been doing. American people have economically and in foreign policy been screwed by a bipartisan coalition of the DNC, where the new vice presidential candidate comes out of, and the Republican side. And Donald Trump is the result.

I don’t think silence about the Democrats is the way to defeat Trump. I think you have to say part of the policies, part of the responsibility is with the Democrats, and we have to change those policies so that Trump gets weaker. His base has catered to people who are voting for Trump, in the main—when they’re not being racists, when they’re not being hypocrites—in the main, have legitimate concerns. I heard not one word last night at the Democratic convention of the legitimate concerns of a Trump voter. About their jobs, about their income. Whether it’s a coal miner being told mining coal is a horrible way of destroying the economy, and not given a serious alternative except some minimum-wage job, and you don’t even want to increase the minimum wage. If you talk about people out there who are worried about their future, and they’re hearing a message from other people that they’re doing well, that they should shut up and go along, and they go to Trump because he says he’s going to give them something—you’ve got to talk about that. You’ve got to analyze it, and you have to have an alternative. I heard no serious alternative, and I heard not a word, outside of Sanders’ people, of serious criticism from the Democratic establishment of the way they have run the country for half of the last 40 years that Bernie Sanders said was a period of the decline of the American dream.

If the American dream has been savaged over the last 40 years, and betrayed the trust of our founders, of our system, of an ever-growing middle class, Democrats deserve a good deal of the responsibility, right alongside their bipartisan allies, the Republicans, whether those Republicans were called moderate or whether they become neofascists. Enough, Alex? Let’s stop.

AK: I think that’s good for now. We’ll be back later on.

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