Where Do We Go from Here? Former Bernie Sanders Adviser & Chicana Organizer Call for Mass Organizing
As protests against President-elect Trump continued for a second night in cities across the United States, there are increasing reports of threats against Latinos, Muslims, African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community, that many feel are a result of Trump’s rhetoric. We discuss the reaction by activists and organizers to Trump’s victory with Becky Bond, longtime progressive activist and former senior adviser on volunteer mobilization for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Her new book is "Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything." We also go to the Facing Race conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where we are joined by Chicana feminist Jodeen OlguÃn-Tayler, social movement strategist and vice president at Demos. She helped organize protests here in New York at Trump Tower. She has helped organize protests in New York City leading up to and after the election, and helped to coordinate the #Our100 campaign’s letter to the nation with the co-founders of Black Lives Matter.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: We turn now to the reaction by activists and organizers to Trump’s victory on Tuesday. Anti-Trump protests continued for the second night in a row on Thursday in cities across the country—New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Oakland, Portland and more. Demonstrators took to the streets voicing fears that Trump’s political triumph would deal a blow to civil rights. This is a middle school teacher at a protest in Washington, D.C., who teaches immigrant [students].
MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER: A lot of them are really confused about these election results. So, after I explain to them how Trump, quote-unquote, "won," they ask me the same question: "Mr. E, will I get deported?" All of my periods ask me the same question. Are we going to deport them?
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: Adding to their fears are increased reports of threats against Latinos, Muslims, African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community, that many feel are a result of Trump’s rhetoric. Hundreds of people of color nationwide have reported being physically and verbally attacked, harassed, threatened and insulted in the wake of Donald Trump’s election Tuesday. At Southern Lehigh High School in Pennsylvania, students and the principal report white students calling their fellow black students "cotton pickers" and using the "heil Hitler" salute. At Royal Oak Middle School in Michigan, white students chanted "build a wall, build a wall." Another teacher posted on social media that a 10-year-old girl had to be picked up from school because a boy grabbed her vagina and then reportedly said that "if a president can do it, I can, too."
AMY GOODMAN: Multiple women reported not wearing a hijab outside out of fear, while others reported their hijabs being ripped from their heads while in public. In Woodland Hills, California, a 16-year-old girl told local media she was on her high school campus when a fellow student came up behind her and tried to rip her headscarf off and then told her, quote, "You shouldn’t be wearing that, you towelhead. You’re not American. This isn’t America," unquote. On a college campus outside Buffalo, New York, a black baby doll was found in an elevator with a rope around its neck, while in Wellsville, New York, a swastika and the words "MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN" were spray-painted on a baseball dugout. Several LGBTQ suicide hotlines are reporting the number of calls has risen significantly since Tuesday, and that hotlines are seeking additional volunteers. Activists are also calling for organized resistance against the Trump presidency. Groups, from Black Lives Matter to the Color of Change Political Action Committee to the ACLU, say they’re preparing for a short-term fight against Trump’s policies—long-term fight, I should say. Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests. Becky Bond, longtime progressive activist, senior adviser on volunteer mobilization for the Bernie Sanders campaign. She has a new book out; it’s called Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything. And joining us from Atlanta at the Facing Race conference is Jodeen OlguÃn-Tayler, a Chicano feminist at Demos, where she’s a social media strategist and vice president, helped organize protests here in New York at Trump Tower and also helped coordinate the #Our100 letter to the nation with the co-founders of Black Lives Matter and others to both critically evaluate Trump’s victory and also look at how to move forward. We welcome you to Democracy Now! I wanted to begin right now with Becky Bond. What you see took place and what you think has to happen, Becky?
BECKY BOND: Well, I think a lot of us, most of us, are stunned. People are losing sleep over what happened on Tuesday night. But when we look at what’s been going on for the last year, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to understand how this happened. We have a Clinton campaign that wasn’t speaking to the real hurt that America was feeling, and wasn’t offering the radical solutions that we need to solve the urgent problems of our time. And what we think needs to happen now is not only do we need to resist, but we also need to rebuild our democratic institutions, because we saw the voters not just vote for Trump, but vote a resounding rejection of Clintonism and neoliberalism.
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: And, Jodeen OlguÃn-Tayler, can you—you’re having the conference now. What are the main topics that you’re dealing with there in terms of strategies ahead?
JODEEN OLGUÃN-TAYLER: We are talking about how to reckon with the fact that the majority, the vast majority, of people of color support a very different vision for this country. And we need to especially reckon with the fact that 53 percent of white women voted to have a sexual predator, a racist, be the president-elect of this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Jodeen, you were also in New York just before you went to Atlanta for this conference. The Skype has frozen, so we’re going to go to Becky for a minute. Becky, before Tuesday, the big discussion was the Republican Party had to re-create itself. In some ways, parts of it had died. Now, the Republican Party is, to say the least, just going to figure out how they’ll align themselves back together again, but they seem to be doing that very quickly. It’s the Democratic Party that people are saying, "Where will it go right now?" You have the Bernie Sanders wing and Elizabeth Warren and—and who else, would you say? And what is going to happen? You’re a close adviser to Bernie Sanders.
BECKY BOND: Well, you know, we have—for one thing, we have the vast majority of young people in this country. If the millennial vote had decided the outcome of the election, then Secretary Clinton would have won by a landslide. And so, what we have to look for is we have to look to the future, and we have to rebuild the Democratic Party in the United States. One of the things in the book that I wrote with Zack Exley about our experiences on the campaign, called Rules for Revolutionaries, is that we learned on the Bernie Sanders campaign—is that people are just waiting to be asked to do something big, and they’re are not as interested in doing something small to win something small. But if you say, "We’re going to win big change," they’re willing to do a lot. And so we need to get millions of people involved in the process. And we need to get the white working class, we need to get African Americans, we need to get the Latino working class, and we need to build a coalition to actually win the changes that are going to improve people’s lives, people who ended up voting for Donald Trump because they didn’t believe that Clinton was actually going to change this country for the better. So we need to start that rebuilding now, and it starts by embracing a big organizing approach. The Clinton campaign made a big mistake by not getting people involved in the campaign. They focused on consultants. They decided there were very few people in this country that actually needed to be persuaded in a few states. They took traditional constituencies for granted. We need to have a big campaign that addresses all of the issues and that puts race at the core of the message to everyone, because if we don’t solve problems like structural racism, we’ll never solve income inequality. And that work needs to start now. And the good news is, a lot of people are out there. They’re saying, "What can I do?" Not just "How did this happen?" but "What do I do now?" And that’s one of the reasons why those of us on the Bernie campaign are really coming out right now to say, "Here’s what we got started. You tell us what you’re doing in the Black Lives Matter movement, what’s happening on the front lines on the Dakota Access pipeline." We need to bring these struggles together, and we need to fight for big things.
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: And, Jodeen, we have you back now. What do you say now, for instance, in the loyal opposition point of view that President Obama has espoused and that Hillary Clinton—that now it’s time to see what we can do to make President Trump succeed—what’s your response to that?
JODEEN OLGUÃN-TAYLER: Well, I would agree with Becky that there are millions of people in this country right now asking what they can do. And we are really pleased that there’s a—that there’s a resource for people from all over the country to come together and pledge to take action and to follow explicitly women of color’s leadership and a vision forward for this country that is a pro-immigrant, pro-woman vision, that includes a vision for black lives, an end to rape culture and an end to Islamophobia. Over a hundred women of color came together, and on the morning after the election we wrote a letter to this country, saying, "Here is a vision forward. Join us. Pledge to take action, not just in the first hundred hours, not just in the first hundred days, but beyond." And by signing that pledge, people are making themselves available to get information from all of those 100 organizations, led by women of color, to find out how it is that they can continue to take action, how it is that we can continue to stand together and protect—protect our immigrant communities, protect our Muslim brothers and sisters, and stand together for a country that needs to be led by women of color if it’s going to be a country that is working and good for all of us.
AMY GOODMAN: Donald Trump tweeted last night, "Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!" Jodeen, your response to that? I’m also seeing increasingly in the mainstream media, like on CNN, they’re talking about the "professional activists" who are getting out there, trying to delegitimize the level of protest around the country right now. That term, "professional activists."
JODEEN OLGUÃN-TAYLER: You know, I think that Donald Trump is very afraid and needs to be very afraid of a public that sees democracy as not a spectator sport, of people that believe that we need to be in the streets, we need to be able to govern ourselves, and that is the true spirit of democracy. Thousands and thousands of women, tens of thousands of women, in the weeks leading up to the election, who were women of color, survivors of sexual assault, took to the streets to protest the Trump tapes. And these were not professional activists. These were tens of thousands of women who came out to the streets within 36 hours’ notice, because we know how dangerous it is to have a racist sexual predator, someone who believes in authoritarian government, who doesn’t believe that our democracy must be and should be owned by all of us, as the president-elect. And we’re not professional protesters. We’re mothers. We’re sisters. We’re daughters. We’re people of this country. And I would love to be in a country where all elected officials see that the activism of people, the desire to participate in our democracy, is actually what this country needs.
JUAN GONZÃLEZ: Becky Bond, I’d like to ask you, if you could in just about 30 seconds or so, the move by—Bernie Sanders came out in support of having Keith Ellison of Minnesota become the new head of the Democratic National Committee to replace Donna Brazile, who’s actually just an interim head right now. Your sense of the importance of that, of removing the leadership of the Democratic Party that was responsible for this losing strategy in this election?
BECKY BOND: Job one is to replace the people responsible for the Clinton campaign debacle of the DNC and put in a true leader, like Keith Ellison, who speaks to the young people of this country, who speaks to the African-American community, who speaks to the working-class community. We need new leadership of the DNC. Keith Ellison needs to go in and clean house and then start rebuilding, so that we can have a wave election in 2018 and then replace Donald Trump in 2020.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us, Becky Bond, Jodeen OlguÃn-Tayler, for joining us. Becky Bond’s new book is called Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything. And thank you to OlguÃn-Tayler, who was in the streets in New York just two nights ago, now in Atlanta at the Changing—at the conference right now in Atlanta called Changing Race [sic], this—called Facing Race. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’ll be back in a minute.