Sanders Supporters On The March Against Clinton
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene in Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention begins tonight. And I'm alongside NPR's Don Gonyea, who has covered a convention or two.
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: I have.
GREENE: It's been a little while, Don, since we saw parties having to really work to come together. We saw that in Cleveland last week and, safe to say, we're seeing that in Philadelphia.
GONYEA: It's astounding that we're seeing it with both conventions back-to-back like this, where there are significant, you know, outsider - in - on the Democratic side, it's a faction. It's a Bernie Sanders faction, which won a lot of votes. On the Republican side, of course, the outsiders took took over the party. But in years past, it was, you know, a march through the convention floor by some disgruntled Ron Paul reporters who felt like the Romney camp hadn't treated them fairly.
GREENE: Sort of sideshow, in a way.
GONYEA: Sideshow, but that was - and it kind of came and went, but it was not the topic of discussion.
GREENE: Well, let's look forward to tonight where, you know, much of what we're talking about is going to be on display. This will be a big focus. Bernie Sanders is going to take the stage, so will one of his biggest supporters in Congress, Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona. He is co-chair of the House's Progressive Caucus, and he is with us in the studio. Congressman, good morning to you.
RAUL GRIJALVA: Good morning. How are you?
GREENE: I'm well. Thank you. So what is your message tonight?
GRIJALVA: It's a message kind of looking back and forward. In the 3-5 minutes of fame that I have, I'm trying to...
GREENE: It's a short amount of time.
GRIJALVA: ...(Laughter) Trying to cobble that together. Looking back, the - this is a party of progressive ideas, beginning with the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act - you can go back - and Clean Air, Clean Water Act, talking about the advancements in Medicare-Medicaid. And that - but not specific - but say - but this is a party where our forebears in leadership, decades passed, carried that progressive mantle and set a tone for this nation. And now we're on - we're here to support Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump. And then I go into what the challenges are now to that democracy and to that progressive legacy.
GREENE: Stay with me here because I want to play you some some tape. You know, you are going to be speaking tonight to, among others, a very passionate movement that Bernie Sanders created. Our colleague Sam Sanders has been covering that movement. He - right near our studios here at the Liberty Bell Independence Hall, Sam was out there yesterday. And it was just jammed with people who support Bernie Sanders and are not happy about how this nomination went.
SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Sunday afternoon, thousands of protesters marched from Philadelphia's City Hall to a park right next to the Liberty Bell.
JOSH HEDGE: (Singing, in the style of "The Sound Of Music") Our democracy is alive with the sound of Bernie.
SANDERS: That's Josh Hedge. He came all the way from Portland, Ore. There was also a band.
(SOUNDBITE OF BAND PLAYING)
SANDERS: And some bagpipes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BAGPIPES PLAYING "THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG")
SANDERS: And a lot of causes represented - anti-fracking, action against climate change, Black Lives Matter. But many of the people at this march are some of Bernie Sanders' most diehard supporters.
BILLY TAYLOR: We're not going to vote for the demon named Hillary just because they're threatening us with the devil named Trump.
SANDERS: That's Billy Taylor. He says the way things are going now, he'll be voting for the Green Party candidate in the fall.
TAYLOR: We're going to vote for a saint, no matter what. And if that scene is not Bernie Sanders, we'll be voting for the saint named Jill Stein.
SANDERS: In case you missed it, that's Saint Jill Stein. Taylor came to the protest with a wooden casket with the letters D-N-C on top. For him, the Democratic Party is dead.
Taylor, like many others in the crowd, is infuriated over a new email dump from WikiLeaks. It showed that high-ranking officials in the Democratic Party discussed trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders' campaign. One even suggested calling Sanders an atheist to hurt him with Southern voters. Sanders himself has called those emails an outrage, but he hasn't taken back his endorsement of Clinton.
REBECCA DALY: Well, Bernie endorsed her, but he didn't concede the race.
SANDERS: That's Rebeccah Daly. She says she still thinks Bernie Sanders is in the race.
DALY: He's still running. He's got 1,900 delegates showing up on the floor this week.
SANDERS: So you expect a floor fight?
DALY: I think they'll contest the nomination, yeah.
SANDERS: Sanders himself has said he won't put up a big fight this week. But these protesters will do just that - all over Philly for the whole convention.
GREENE: All right. That's my colleague Sam Sanders covering some of the activity among Bernie Sanders supporters yesterday. Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Bernie Sanders supporter who's going to be speaking tonight - let me just ask you - as you listen to those voices, Congressman, I mean, what is your message to people who are still so incredibly passionate about this movement? They feel wronged to - that Bernie Sanders is not the choice. They feel angry. I mean, what are you telling them to do at this moment in Philadelphia?
GRIJALVA: You know - and I had - in visited Nevada last week and talking to people that I work with during the primary, both volunteer supporters and staff and delegates for Bernie, the passion's there. And what I didn't do is pretend to be a broker and say you must do this. This is why we have to do it. I explained why I'm doing it. And...
GREENE: Why - you're endorsing Hillary Clinton (unintelligible)...
GREENE: ...Explain (unintelligible).
GRIJALVA: I see that - the precedent that Trump is taking us, turned this whole election in kind of a racist theme park in many ways and the dangers that he poses not only to the things that we've gained and are trying to protect and hold on to, but almost to an antithesis of what Bernie's agenda is, an antithesis of what the supporters rallied around, whether it's climate change and minimum wage, universal education - that, at some point, defeating someone like Trump and Hillary Clinton is the implicit way to do it at this point is, I think, a vital, progressive step forward.
GONYEA: Congressman, so many of the Bernie Sanders supporters are - they'll tell you - they're new to politics. They've never gotten involved before. Is the danger that they just drift away at this point?
GRIJALVA: You know, I really think that Bernie, through the whole campaign, said it's not about me. It's about us and that we are building a movement. And I believe that. And I don't think they'll drift away. I think that they'll see that changing the political landscape, dealing with the concentration of power and wealth and how that influences everything we do in our political life - I don't think that freely is going to go away. That's going to be channeled. And hopefully, it's going to be channeled in ways that brings about change. But at this point, you know, we're dealing with an election in November and being in this business longer than I want to remember.
GRIJALVA: This is part of the fight. This is part of the step to move the agenda, and we have to take it.
GREENE: All right. Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona, thanks for joining us this morning.
GRIJALVA: Thank you.
GREENE: Let's bring in another voice here because you raise an interesting - Don, the congressman raised an question. I mean, it's - Donald Trump is sitting there, and Bernie Sanders has told his supporters that Donald Trump would be the last person they should consider. But, you know, we're in a state here - Pennsylvania could be very crucial.
And with us here in the studio Jim Davis who's the Democratic chairman of Fayette County, Pa. It is an area south of Pittsburgh. It is coal and steel country. And Jim, you and I have talked about, over the course of this campaign, that Donald Trump can be appealing to some Democrats. What are you seeing in your part of the state right now?
JIM DAVIS: Well, his appeal has considerably - I would say - increased. I think he has more appeal today to many of the Fayette County Democrats and in the 9th Congressional District than I would have ever imagined could happen.
GREENE: Not something the party would want to hear right now, the Democratic Party.
DAVIS: Absolutely not. And we talked in the past. We saw an increase in voter registration, changing from Democrat to Republican, something we hadn't seen previously. And it's because people like to hear that - how bad things are. They like to hear how I'm going to make America better.
GREENE: Donald Trump's message is really resonating with...
DAVIS: It's resonating, and I can't figure out why because he hasn't really articulated anything that he's going to do.
GREENE: But sounds like you have figured out why - I mean, the people want to hear, at this moment, that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Does that say something about their lives and sort of where they are today, people who are working-class and in your part of the state of Pennsylvania?
DAVIS: Well, it does in terms of their perception, I think it does. And of course, perception becomes reality in politics, as we we've come to learn. But what I don't understand and what's been bothersome to me is how - how does this happen. And is it just because he keeps saying it over and over again - I'm going to make America better. I'm going to do things better. I'm going to bring back coal. I'm going to bring back steel. But he's never said how.
We have steel plants that have been closed for 30 years. And how is he going to resurrect them? How's he going to bring back coal when the coal mines have been - many coal mines are closed? And we know the problems with clean air, and we know the problems with how are we going to make coal clean and safe as a energy resource.
GONYEA: It's very emotional, though. And there's a sense that nobody has been on their side before. This is not your county, but I was in Canton with a steel worker, a former steel worker. We are looking across the field at what was once his plant. And he knows Donald Trump has said, I'm going to bring these jobs back. And he knows also that the jobs here are not coming back. He readily admitted that, but he said the fact that he's saying it is so important to me. Can you speak to that?
DAVIS: Well, I agree that that is the mentality, the fact that he's saying it. And that has resonated, as I've said earlier, particularly with people who no longer have - that - we no longer have the steel mill jobs. We no longer have the higher-paying coal-mining jobs. So certainly, it affects them. I think that it's the idea that they're able to grasp on to someone who has been successful and is an outsider. So they're saying, hey, look. We've had enough of the elected officials, the guys that came through the system - we want someone who's outside.
GREENE: All right. I've been listening there to Jim Davis who is the Democratic Party chair from Fayette County, Pa. He is a delegate here in Philadelphia this week and also my colleague Don Gonyea. We're at member station WHYY covering the Democratic National Convention all week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.