Why Have Dems Lost Working Class Voters? (w/ Nina Turner)
1:14AM Mar 8, 2023
Hey there, welcome to another episode of leverage time the flagship podcast from deliver an independent investigative news outlet. I'm your host, David Sirota on today's show, we've got the one and only the great Nina Turner. Joining me to talk about Ohio. And why Democrats like Joe Biden and Mayor Pete completely fumbled the political response to the train derailment in East Palestine. And what that fumbling says about the Democrats prospects in the upcoming elections Yes, elections are coming in 2024. Nina Turner, among many other things served as a state senator in Ohio. So she has many insights into the history and the politics of that state, which used to be considered a swing state. She also has a lot of insights into why Donald Trump's messaging appeals so much more to working class residents in that state, or at least why it has to question about whether it will in the future. Nina and I also talked about the recent organizing efforts by workers at Starbucks and Amazon. And we talked about the 2024 presidential election, and a potential Democratic primary. Just a quick note. This week, we will not be having a bonus segment for our lever time premium subscribers as we work through a bit of a transition with our own podcast team. But I promise the bonuses will be back shortly. So we really appreciate your patience. If you want to access lever time premium, you can head over to lever news.com To become a supporting subscriber that gives you access to all of our premium content. And you'll be directly supporting the investigative journalism that we do here at the lever. Speaking of which, if you're looking for other ways to support our work here at the lever, you can share our reporting with your friends and family leave this podcast a rating and review on the podcast player you're listening to it on right now. The only way that independent media grows is by word of mouth. So we need all the help we can get to combat the inane bullshit. That is corporate media. I'm here now with our new lead producer. Yes, this is part of the transition. I mentioned our new lead producer of lever time. Jared Kang mer. Hey, Jared, how you doing? Hey, David, I'm super excited to be part of the program here. I've been waiting a long time. Welcome, man. Welcome. Thank you for taking over for producer Frank. I should mention producer Frank is still working with us on his movies versus capitalism show. But he is transitioning to a new role. And producer Jared is now taking over Jared and I have known each other for a while here in Denver. He has a lot of podcasting experience. And, and we're planning to, to mix it up a little bit. And I think I think we're gonna start by mixing it up with Jared, you've got some questions for me. Yeah, I do. And you know, before, before we get started, I wanted to say I was getting a little nervous this weekend thinking I was gonna be taking over for producer Frank, knowing that this is going up on YouTube, and I started to think I'm not, I'm just definitely not as cool as Frank. Frank. Frank. Frank is definitely pretty cool. When got a hair cut. I thought about trimming it up and getting the Frank mustache but, you know, decided just to kind of just to kind of leave it as it is, but I won't be as cool as Frank. You got to be your own cool self, man. I'm comfortable not being cool. It's okay to not be cool. Thanks. We're just two dads who are just can be uncool together. Exactly. I mean, Frank, I'm glad that Frank's cool vibe still redounds to us on his movies versus capitalism. Yeah. And you know, this, this time is really cool, because I'll be able to talk to you and get your take on some of the news stories that are out there and ask you a bunch of the questions that I just wonder what is the Serota take on some of these issues like the this fight over E S G, type investing that's going on in the Senate and President Biden is involved. And first of all, can you explain to me what is ESG? And how is this being looped into Congress and Biden? Yeah. So this week, Joe Biden said, The White House has said that he is going to veto legislation coming to him from the Senate, I think with a couple of Democratic votes, by the way, and the house that will try to overturn a Labor Department rule that allows for retirement systems to consider what's known as ESG, which is basically environmental, social and governance considerations in their investments. So what does that mean in practice, what it means is, there's this whole debate over
whether the people who manage whether it's your 401k, if you have a pension or any of your retirement funds, the people who manage that money are under a special set of fiduciary laws, they have to consider certain things. And they, in some ways can't consider other things because they're managing other people's money. So there were these special rules that were put in place to say, Listen, if you're managing other people's money, you got to follow some, like pretty strict rules, because it's, it's not your money. Like if you want to invest your money in in stupid shit, like crypto or, or some other nonsense like that's that's your business, right? But like, if you're managing someone else's money, you have to follow some specific rules. So the debate is over those rules, can those rules should those rules allow the people managing other people's money to consider, like the climate sustainability of the business that they're investing in?
And so if I'm an investor, and I have my pension fund, or I have my savings, and I want to actually direct it to an entity that will invest that money responsibly, I can make that choice and go to one of these different types of funds. But that's what I don't get about this, because these are private businesses making choices. And yet, the Republicans and the GOP, somehow don't want that to be allowed.
Well, yes, and no, so So what it's saying is, is that if you're at a company that provides a 401k, and there, you're putting in, I don't know, whatever 1% 2% of your paycheck into your company's 401k. The rules say that the person managing the 401k can consider XY and Z and can't consider A, B and C for a very long time. The rules are very narrow and saying the only thing that the and I'm speaking broadly here, but the only thing that the manager that money can consider is short term returns, right? Like how much money are we going to get back for the retiree, how much money we need to get back ASAP. That's basically the only thing you can really consider. lately, there's been a push to say, Well, wait a minute. If I'm investing, if I'm managing someone else's money, in this, you know, mythical 401k plan here, I'm managing a bunch of other people's money, I can now consider it well, if I'm putting the money into a company, let's say its headquarters is right on a coastal floodplain, during the climate emergency, do I really want to put people's money into that investment, knowing that the climate crisis could like wipe out that company, and then the investor could lose all of their money? So all the Biden Labor Department rule says is, yes, the people managing other people's money can consider things like the environmental or climate sustainability of the businesses that they're putting other people's money into. Now, the Republicans don't like this. And really, the Republican donors don't like this, because this means that the people managing hundreds of billions of dollars, right pension funds for one case, that they can consider these, these risks. That's what they are. They can consider these risks in a way that might mean that they're not going to invest in the big company to build its headquarters on a floodplain. Well, they call it they call it woke capitalism. Right? Exactly. Right. It's somehow woke capitalism, because they're extrapolating to say, Oh, well, you're not going to invest in an oil company, you're not going to invest in a coal company, you're not going to invest in a natural gas company. Because Because you're supposedly woke to the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the other side of the argument is, well, listen, the oil and gas companies and coal companies might not be economically viable in the near future, because we as a society have to deal with the climate crisis. And that may not actually be a good investment. Yeah, it's a different way of looking at risk. And the climate crisis is an example is not a short term problem. It's a It's the longest of long term existential problem.
And so the GOP and Mitch McConnell actually were able to block this rule change in the Senate
know what the process is this Biden puts in place a Labor Department rule that says yes, the financial folks can consider these things in investments. Then the Senate and the House use what's known as the Congressional Review Act. Under current law, they can pass a bill that says we're repealing the executive branch's rule. Now baked into that is that Biden is in a position to veto it he can say no, the rule stance, but what happened under Trump, of course was right when Trump came in the den Ripa Wilkin house and Republican Senate passed a bunch of these Congressional Review Act to repeal various Obama administration rules. And of course, Trump signed it. In this case, you have Biden in the position to veto it. But that's what they're using the so called Congressional Review Act. So the the rule is on the books, the Republicans are trying to repeal
it. Okay. And so it looks like Biden is moving in the direction of vetoing this, that the ESG will be able to can continue on, are we on the right track?
At least for now? We'll see. I mean, the next president could of course repeal it, because it's not in statute. It's just under an agency rule.
Okay. And we want to talk about this other area where Biden and his veto power is kind of taking the reverse tack, the DC crime bill where Washington DC as a city had made certain changes to their criminal statutes. And, you know, how did that work out? And what did what did Biden do or not do?
Right? So on this one, he's not using his veto pen. And granted, the bill isn't at his desk yet. But what's going on as and I don't know, the intricacies of the DC law, but basically, the DC city council passed some criminal justice reforms. The mayor, I think, was opposed to the mayor of DC it was opposed to them. The DC City Council kind of overrode her, the mayor's opposition. And so the, and look there criminal justice reforms to make the criminal code there slightly less punitive, slightly less, you know, war on crime. So you know, so as part of the larger criminal justice reform movement, and the Republicans see an opportunity to demagogue the crime issue, so they are trying to use the Congress's power over DC. Remember, Congress and the Federal Government still have power over DC,
DC is in its own state. It's not its own home rule city and the federal elected officials can really mess with the will of the people. It's extremely frustrating. The little I know about it, I just can't believe that it still exists in this way.
Right. The Congress can pretend to be the DC city council and essentially override what the DC city council did. Biden, by the way, Mr. Crime Bill from the the from the early 90s, who then campaigned as look, I've learned lessons from how the crime bill wasn't so great. Biden could veto this, and has said, The White House has said he wouldn't veto it. If it gets to his desk. I mean, the two things that are going on here as well, one, either you respect democracy or you don't. And DCS elected officials who are elected by the people are trying to go in one direction when it comes to Criminal Justice and criminal justice reform. And the Biden administration and within the Congress is basically positioning itself to say no, we don't care about that kind of democracy. We're just going to override it. And then the other piece here, of course, is like Biden, in some ways, reverting back to the Old Joe Biden to the quote unquote, tough on crime, Joe Biden, right. The the the Old Joe Biden, that he during the presidential campaign tried to say he really wasn't the Old Joe Biden anymore. Right. He was he had said he made some mistakes on the on the crime bill and the like, and the Republicans obviously are trying to demagogue crime. Now, I want to be clear, my take on this is, look, crime is a serious issue. People need to feel safe in in their communities. And I think there is whether it part of it is political. Part of it is, you know, the media kind of overblowing and sensationalizing things. I think there's a perception in some communities that that that things aren't safe. So I don't think we can just scoff at the crime issue, quote, unquote, as just Oh, it's just like a made up issue. I think people have some real fears. But I also think, watching the Democratic administration, position itself to veto criminal justice reforms and do so in a way that overrides the will of the people that the bill is governing. I mean, that's pretty gross.
Well, I mean, if anything, it shows just how sensitive and exposed they perceive themselves to Democrats on the issue of crime and don't want to open themselves up, even when it is kind of a no brainer from what what I've learned. I mean, this is a city trying to make its own decisions locally for what it wants to do about crime. And if you disagree with it, go get on the DC City Council. Right? Why can't DC voters make their own decisions on what they want to do about crime just like any other city,
and the Republicans obviously see a really kind of they're so opportunistic, they see an opportunity to to put a majority black Back city with the crime issue into the national spotlight. I mean, it's classic Republican demagoguery is
Warner is looking for their Willie Horton moment. Exactly.
Exactly. And and you know, you can, you know, I think it's very disappointing and upsetting the Biden is taking the, by the way, not surprising, but disappointing and upsetting that he's taking the position he is, and, and sort of playing into this politics. But but the Republicans clearly see an opportunity and my guess is speculating here, Biden's like, look, it's it's not a national crime bill. It just deals with the with DC it's it doesn't affect billions and millions of voters. So I'm not going to have a fight over a divisive issue. When the practicalities of the bill only affect a sort of compared to the entire country, a very small segment of the population. I'm not going to have that fight over that. I'm just gonna let it go through and not have a fight. And my guess is that his political calculation, he doesn't want to fight over this issue and certainly doesn't want to have a fight over it when when it's in kind of a relatively small venue. But again, my take is it's it's pretty pathetic, right? You campaigned on criminal justice reform, after saying you had made some mistakes as like a tough on crime, you know, late 80s, early 90s. politician and now you're reverting the form. Again, not surprising, but but certainly disappointing. Okay, so, up next, we're going to go to our featured interview of this episode, we're going to be talking to former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, about the Democrats and their struggles with working class voters. That's coming up next.
Welcome back to labor time. A lot of our listeners and followers of the lever should already be very familiar with our guest today. Nina Turner has been pounding the pavement on progressive politics and activism for years. She does her terrific show unbossed with Nina Turner every weekday on The Young Turks Network. But I wanted to have her on this show today because we've been talking so much lately about Ohio with regards to the Norfolk Southern train derailment. And Nina Turner knows Ohio inside and out. She served for years on the Cleveland city council and was also an Ohio State Senator. So today I talked to Nina about how badly national Democrats bungled the political response in Ohio these past few weeks when it comes to the train derailment and how it once again showcased the deeper issues plaguing liberalism and the Democratic Party, the modern form of the Democratic Party. Why is the Democratic Party
lost the kinds of working class voters that swing elections in a place like Ohio? What can the modern day Democratic Party do if anything, to stop losing those areas? Is it sustainable for the Democratic Party to continue losing larger shares of the working class in the middle of the country? That's what we talked to Nina Turner about. We recorded this episode last week. It's a great conversation. Here it is. Senator Nina Turner. How you doing?
Fine. David Sirota? How are you?
I'm good. It's good to get to chat with you today. Well, there's a lot to talk about of late. But let's first talk about the most important story I would say over the last two weeks, which happened relatively in your your area in Ohio, and that's the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East palestino. Ohio. You're a former Ohio State Senator, and we're on the ground in East Palestine this week. What do you see being done to help the community what have you learned from speaking with residents there?
Well, not a whole lot, at least in terms of laying the fears that they have. And there is certainly an indictment to be made against both the federal and the state level of government. Unfortunately, both of those levels are captured. We have subsequently found out and many shout outs to you Serota and your incredible team at the lover for really continuing to push on this and push so hard that you made not only representatives from the federal government stand up and respond, but also you shook mainstream media outlets as well to get them to jump in on this otherwise this would have been swept under the rug, like many issues of this magnitude that impact the poor and working poor communities of which East Palestine certainly fits that. But I was there I definitely saw and we it was palpable. The fear and the anger in the eyes of the residents. It was in the atmosphere as well. The notion of uncertainty and also the notion that government did in fact fail them so while the folks on the GOP side as you and I both know are saying smaller gun Make rid of government less government, government is intrusive. You have the opposite or the antithesis of that happening in East Palestine where you have residents saying government, what about us? And that was very, very clear there one lady that I had a chance to talk to. And I want to thank John Russell and just for being my guide on the ground, but one lady in particular, she was so upset. And you could definitely, I mean, it was in her eyes, she was almost shaking. And she said, You know, I don't ever want to see a vehicle carrying chemicals come through my community again. So people are really shook, they're angry and they are fearful because they don't know who to believe, especially when it comes to how safe the air is to breathe the water to drink. I mean, we know that countless 1000s of fish have died, other wildlife have died yet you have the governor, Governor Mike DeWine, going into that community drinking the water and trying to convince folks that that water is okay. When we know and in fact that it it might not very likely it is not okay.
The question of of the politics of this, Donald Trump has sort of insinuated that the Republican Party will not forget East Palestina and that the Democratic Party the Democratic leadership has, has forgotten the folks in East Palestine. What do you what do you make of that? And I'll just preface it by saying, you know, Donald Trump, pretending like he cares about people in places like East Palestine is it would be funny, because it's it's so ridiculous. And yet it's not funny because I think sometimes our politics portrays up as down left as right but so so I don't take him at his word that he cares at all. But I just want to hear your reaction to the to the politics of what's going on.
It was very much like him coming home on Serota when he went there, Donald J. Trump, President Trump won over 70% of the vote in that community. And as explained to me by John and we can certainly look up data, that community was a democratic community, more Reagan Democrat, but they were a democratic community. And much like Cleveland, Ohio, the same thing happened to East Palestine as well, where these trade deals impacted that community due to such a way, a lot of job loss and, and anger around that too. And these things, don't just impact the people in that moment. It has a ripple effect, as we both know, and many of your listeners know, I remember when I was teaching, I was a professor at Cuyahoga Community College. And I had students in there whose parents actually were in, you know, in in steel, and in some of the more manufacturing type jobs, and their parents were impacted by these trade deals that did nothing to lift the working class and in places like Cleveland, Ohio, East Palestine, it or more Detroit, it really undercut them. And so that is the vibe that you get there. And that is one of the reasons why this community drifted further and further towards Republicans. Now the facts are that the Democratic Party ie President Joe Biden and the Secretary of Transportation Mayor Pete budaj Egg allowed this opening for Trump, it is actually stunningly ridiculous politics one on one says that when people are suffering to this magnitude, you show them that you care, you can't can't talk about caring, which they didn't even really do that, as reported by the lover. You know, it took this dude, meaning the Secretary and Mayor of transportation, it took him 10 days to say something publicly and even when he started or to send something on social media say something publicly and even when he did, he kind of made it seem like this was nothing you may I'm sure you remember the comments he made, I forget what he vent who's been interviewed by but he basically said to this reporter, I mean, the media is making a big deal out of this. There are over 1000 derailments a year as if that is something to be happy about. And none of that is lost on the residents of East Palestine that they have been forgotten and primarily probably forgotten because of who they voted for. There's something stunningly sinister in our body politic today, when you have Neo liberals and you and I battled them all the time on social media, but people like Joy Bay heart on the view saying that these people got what they deserved. These folks got what they deserved, because they voted for President Donald J. Trump and incomes Trump to say, to validate because a broke clock can be right twice a day. He is that clock. He's a full populace. But he was right in that to that point. Nobody came on the federal level. The President is in Ukraine was in Ukraine at the time when he could have just had Air Force One stop by their Serota. So they gave this to the Republicans. They gave this to Donald J. Trump, and it is not a figment of those people's imagination, because we know that the President is still on record at this very moment, at least as of our conversation in late February saying that he will not go there.
I want to ask the question that you touched on about this notion In that you see, I don't know how widespread it is. And I wonder how widespread you think it is. But this notion that you hear from some liberals, whether it's on social media, whether it's in the media that there are these places in the country that if they voted for Trump, they are, quote, getting what they deserve. Hillary Clinton, at one point, many years ago at this point, sort of said, you know, I won the dynamic parts of the country and Donald Trump won won the I forget how she characterized it, but the parts of the country that have that are I guess, not dynamic, and and there is this insinuation, this kind of narrative that that folks who are voting Republican voting for Donald Trump or or or the Trump movement, they have it coming to them? Where do you think that comes from? How widespread Do you think that school of thought is? And and why do you think it's, it's so detestable that school of thought? I mean, I agree it is. It's, it's grotesque, but I want to hear what you think about that.
Yeah, I mean, it is very abhorrent, and especially to have leaders because someone like Secretary Clinton, or even President Biden could step to the mic right now and say to all anybody that supports me to saying that the citizens of East Palestine deserve what they're getting because they voted for Donald J. Trump, you're wrong. So that's what leaders would do. And because you happy we just have a cult like following both. Donald Trump has a cult like following the Neo liberals have a cult like following in his self righteousness. I'm with you. I don't necessarily know how widespread it is. But what I will tell you is that people with extra special titles or extra special influence, have definitely stoked this. And they their followers start to believe it. And that is where that is the crucial point where those of us who believe in humanity and justice in all of its forms must speak up and speak out. I mean, so when we talk about Medicare for all, we're not just talking about Medicare for All for people who lean our way or who voted for, let's say, you know, our, our, the person we wanted to see be president, which is Senator Bernard Sanders, we're saying Medicare for all, whether you're Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, we're saying college for all whether you're Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, no party, atheist, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, it doesn't matter. And so we have to continue to challenge any type of ideology or beliefs, whether these people have special titles or not, they say that a certain group of people don't deserve because of who they voted for, you want to talk about a destructive force. This is in fact, a very destructive force. And it is being perpetrated by people who should know better, you cannot say you're gonna serve people and decide you're gonna go serve half the people, only the people who voted for you, you cannot say that you have love and empathy and a commitment to public service, when in fact, you only are going to serve the people who actually supported you. And on the opposite side of that throat, it's not just enough, they need to come out against this because this fervor that you and I are seeing, and we know that social media is not all of real life, but it's a part of real life. This is real, and he's going to continue to be stoked the far right is stoking these flames, you know, they came out saying, oh, Had this been Flint, Michigan, Biden would have been there, no, he would not have been there. This is about class. Now, there is a race component for people in Flint, Michigan, or Jackson, Mississippi, East Palestine. This is class in Flint, Michigan, or Jackson, Mississippi or Cleveland, Ohio, is class and it is race but the same, the same frame the same synergy and energy that thumbs its nose at poor and working class people. They don't care whether you black or white, and we're seeing that play out in real time in East Palestine. And I want to see more leaders with special extra special titles, speak up and speak out. And that is why Donald J. Trump is able to push his full populism because Serota, as you all reported in the lever, I mean, he doesn't have clean hands on this. He backtracked on just even a little progress, very little progress that the Obama administration had made on this before they cave to lobbyists to but yet with a straight face, because the man has no shame. He was able to go up in there and say the Democrats don't care about you. And in some parts of that, even though he is complicit to, he is actually right. Why because of the inaction and the fact that up until that point until Donald J. Trump came in there, the Secretary of Transportation had not been there. And God knows the President of the United States has not been there. And so nature, nature abhors a vacuum. And so if no one is really pushing back, and I'm talking about grassroots people, but also grasstops people, then people can continue to build this up in their mind and work themselves up into such a frenzy, that we continue to be divided, when in fact, working class people, no matter how they identify, are catching the same types of hell. And we should be you 90 and pushing back against a system that does not see the humanity of poor people does not see the humanity of working class people do not see the humanity of middle class people do not see how what they have lost does not care whether or not they have clean air, clean water, or even clean food. So that is happening right now in real time. And East Palestine, Ohio is just one recent example of the decay in this
republic. Now, the Democratic Party, it seems to me the culture of the Democratic Party remains a culture that is that is quite hostile to dissent, quite hostile to pressure there. It's not just at the politician level, or the operative level or the pundit level, it's that there are some grassroots activists are think that their job after a situation like, like the US Palestinian disaster, is to simply immediately defend Democratic politicians. I have a different view. I've seen what's played out. I've had a different view since before this, but I've seen what's played out, for instance, in the aftermath of East Palestine, where our reporting prompted a lot of pressure on the Biden administration on Secretary Pete Buda judge, to go from being silent, to then saying, well, it's bad, but I'm constrained. That was his quote, I'm constrained by what I can do as Secretary of Transportation to then finally after the pressure built up so much finally saying, I actually do have rulemaking authority here to make the rail system safer. Meanwhile, now Congress as of just now, right before we're recording this, Congressman ro Khanna and Congressman crystal Lucio both democrats, Crystal Lucio on our podcast, did a live event about this. They came out and they have now introduced legislation that they say was prompted by our reporting, to expand the definition of what's known as a high hazard flammable train. The Ohio train was not classified as that was not subject to tougher rules. And I guess in saying all that, the point is, is that seems to me that what we're seeing right now is proof of the opposite theory of the culture of the Democratic Party but culture, the Democratic party seems to have a theory that pressure is bad. That pressure is divisive, quote unquote, pressure is to quote polarizing pressure on the Democratic Party weakens Democrats and helps Republicans. I see it a different way I see that pressure actually forces politicians are can force politicians to change. It can force politicians to push better policy and if anything, that's that's what politics is supposed to be for ultimately results and, and can push the Democratic Party to embrace the policies that are also good politics. I don't think it's particularly good politics for the Republicans to be demagoguing, this and the Democrats to be saying nothing at all. And it looks like that the pressure has actually forced the party to respond. So I think pressure on the party is actually a good thing for many reasons, both morally for policy wise, and politically. But there does seem to be this culture of hostility towards that pressure. I mean, I saw a fans of Secretary Pete Buttigieg immediately started attacking ROH Khanna on social media for ROH Khanna releasing that bill to expand and improve rail safety rules. What do you make of that culture? Where do you think that comes from?
I try not to enter the mind of mad people. And this is a madness here, I just do. It's just a worship of and as much as those types as you and I both know, we witnessed it during the Sanders presidential campaign those types will be the same types that really believe that in their self righteousness, they will be the same types that will quote the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or MLK Day. Those are those types because they are oblivious to their own failure failing and their own frailty, when in fact if we just even take a look at history and any great event that was able to turn the tide, both using your words morally and politically, required dissent. Brother Frederick Douglass, one of the greatest abolitionist once said the power concedes nothing without a demand. That means you must dissent from the status quo. While we're still in Black History Month, even though I believe that Black history is 365. Let me just draw attention to one of the greatest crimes against humanity that happened before this became the United States of America and carried out even when it became the United States of America as chattel slavery. Do you think if my ancestors went along with the status quo, that black people would have been freed that the 13th 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution that the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act would
had been enacted. If those people, my ancestors first and then their allies and CO conspirators had to say, oh, let's just go right along with the status quo. Let's not push back. And so Serota, we find ourselves being in that same freedom fighting position, fighting against the same types of powers. That was that word that didn't like that the king at the time, even though he's glorified. Now, he was very much hated in his time by both black people status quo, black people, the status quo, white people we noticed to be a fact. And so we are the embodiment you and me and others, not just us, but others who stand up and push back against the status quo, great change does not happen if you just go along, to get along. But it is the self righteousness of those types of people. And I would go as far to say, they don't want to see change, they are there to preserve the status quo. And whether it's on the Democratic side of the ledger, or the Republican side of the ledger, that kind of belief system does not care really deeply whether or not the citizens the folks in East Palestine have clean water, clean air or food, just like they don't care whether or not the people in the Flint of Flint, Michigan, or Jackson, Mississippi, or Cleveland, Ohio who are suffering the same fate, they really don't care all they want to do you remember, so all they want to do is go back to brunch. Those are irrefutable facts. People made these statements, they said, we just got to get Biden elected, as you recall. So then we can get back to brunch, but their world is being up ended. And they don't like it. Because when people like us and others push against the status quo, it makes them uncomfortable. And more importantly, it exposes their hypocrisy and the fact they are not willing to put anything on the line. You and your team at the lover put a whole lot at the line on the line to kind of hate that you got those types going up against you telling people to not subscribe or unsubscribe. Why? Because you had the pure, unadulterated gall to try to get the Secretary of Transportation to do his job. I would say that there's something wrong with those types of people. And we need folks who benefit from that kind of cultish behavior, to stand up and say that anybody that follows me or believes in me, Secretary Bucha could do this tomorrow. He could do it today. President Biden could do this today to or tomorrow, stand up and say anybody that believes in me and what I'm trying to do, if you don't believe that those people deserve clean air, clean water, clean food, because they voted for Donald J. Trump, you are wrong. But you know what, they're not going to do that. Because they don't want to suffer the wrath from the kinds of people that helped catapult them even though it is it moral on any level, it is abhorrent.
I mean, Barack Obama was said something to the effect of you know, you should hold me accountable. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, you know, the, in the in the telling in the in the tail, you know, make me do it. That used to be at least rhetorically, a concept that was honored by the culture of the Democratic Party, that that that that it is the role of the citizen. It is the role of the activist, to pressure both parties to deliver and I just lament the fact that it does seem of late that we live in a kind of cultist, tribalist politics, where that basic ethos of democracy, citizens hold their public officials accountable. That is being challenged by worship of party worship of politician. Now, I want to I want to switch gears here. We got a lot a lot to get to. There's a couple other topics I want to get to. I want to turn back to the Republican Party for a sec. There has been a push over the last few years by the Republicans I just mentioned history by the Republicans to to whitewash American history. Although it's safe to say that whitewashing of history has been happening almost as long as America has existed. Recently, we've seen what seems like an amping up of it. We saw elected Republicans in Florida, including Governor Ron DeSantis, Ban over 100 books banned the teaching of critical race theory and even reject the curriculum of the College Board's AP African American studies course. Why is this such an important issue to educational freedom? Why don't you think it's received the proper amount of media attention? Why do you think this is simmering again, boiling up again? I mean, it's boiled up at previous times in American history. What about right now is prompting it to to boil up?
I mean, as long as America has unfinished business is going to continue to bubble up. I think every generation is going to come face to face with this reckoning, which is the fact that there are leaders in this country who want to Divide and that that is exactly what the census is doing. He is playing to a certain group of white people in this country who feel like they've been put upon because America is browning or darkening or becoming more diverse. And they feel as though their country is being overtaken. And so this DeSantis types are playing to that type of belief when nothing could be further from the truth here. And the fact that people like DeSantis only want to talk about the good old days in American history, and not taking into account that their good old days was somebody else's bad old days, and especially for the African American community that Black history is American history of the stripping away of critical race theory, which you and I both know, and many of your listeners, I'm sure know, as well, that is not taught in pre K through 12. And even undergrad, it is a graduate course that you would have to take mainly in law school, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And so they see that opening that is bubbling up to the top has always been down deep, but now it's at the top. And that started with the election of President Donald J. Trump in terms of letting it bubble all the way up and out. But it was already there. And that is why it is out Serota. But they see a political gain from this. It is just like what Nikki, Nikki Haley, some of the stuff that she was saying. And she announced her presidency, you got the governor over there Huckabee doing the same thing, you got the governor and Texas doing the same thing, because they see a political opportunity here to divide people based on race and ethnicity. And if they keep folks divided, then we can't have that working class solidarity that we need between people in let's say, East Palestine and people in Cleveland, Ohio. This benefits them politically. And this is exactly why they're doing it, David, and they are like the environment is ripe for this type of spirit or energy as I would call it, to rear its ugly head again. And until we really have some true truth and reconciliation in this country, it will always bubble back up. And let's go ahead and keep people ignorant while we're at it. And that really is what the scientists and others are after. Because if you keep people ignorant, then you can continue to control their mind. And if you can control their mind, then you control their actions.
For years. Let's turn to the to the labor movement. For years, you've been one of the most vocal proponents of labor unions in progressive politics, even though union density now at a 40 year low. We've seen big union victories at companies like Amazon Starbucks, what are your thoughts on the importance of organized labor right now to not only bring together workers but to create a kind of multiracial, multicultural bloc of working people from different backgrounds? And and I guess, how emboldened Do you think folks should feel about the labor uprisings that we've seen across the country even though those uprisings have happened, at the same time that we still see new data saying, labor union membership has somewhat declined continues to somewhat declined?
Yeah, we should feel very encouraged. I mean, we definitely saw the power of organizing in, I will say from 21, on through this very moment in 2023. And although the pressure from the powers that be continue to try to clamp down on anybody, whether it's Starbucks workers trying to organize or Amazon workers trying to organize or people who are already in labor unions, we saw nurses and coal miners and people from different backgrounds, who have unions right now rising up for better benefits, better wages and better work conditions. To me Serota, the key to true class solidarity, those paths go through unions, or are standing up for workers because that is the one space where who you voted for does not matter how you identified does not matter where you are you 19 on is the fact that you are catching hell from the man or from the woman. And you need to stand up collectively to fight for those better wages, work conditions and benefits. If we're ever going to bring working class people together. It is through that working class movement, which is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful opportunity. I've been on many picket lines, so have you and when people are standing there side by side, nothing else matters. They are fighting for the uplift of themselves and for their families. And to me that is going to be the key to for transcendence in this country. As we look at it historically, too. We know that the labor movement, very imperfect, but there are pathways there that the labor movement and the civil rights movement came together at different points in history. And I see that being able to happen again and I am looking forward to being in there to continue to stoke that flame of working class people from all backgrounds coming together and not taking it anymore and also realizing that the hail that they are catching is a collective hail. Now some of it may lean a little more on the racial side, some of it may lean on the class side, but you are catching hail and that the demise of your standard of living, if we can call it the standard of living is in peril. If we don't fight against the system that does not care about any of us to miss Rhoda. That is a winning message to bring people together.
Let's turn to our final topic, which is I think, starting to be on the minds of a lot of folks, the 2024 presidential election. As of right now, it seems like the Democratic Party is still planning on running Joe Biden as their nominee Joe Biden seems to be saying that he is going to be running for reelection. Despite his his age, I think he'd be the oldest presidential candidate, I think in the history of the country. Even if he decides to not run again, there's a chance that could end up the nomination could end up falling to somebody like vice president Kamala Harris, or, or even Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Notwithstanding the multiple debacles that he's presided over. I want to have this be kind of an open ended question, but with the with maybe your thoughts on should Joe Biden run again? Should there be a primary against Joe Biden? If it's not Joe Biden, what what should the party be be looking for just just your general thoughts on it?
Yeah, I mean, you know, Mother Nature is gonna handle everything, ultimately ages is nothing but a number. So President Joseph R. Biden believes that he has it within him to run again, and he absolutely should run again. But also what absolutely should happen is there should be a primary, because that is the only way that the ideas that are able to change material conditions even get talked about. Even a little bit of progress that we've made, it has been very little under Joe Biden has been because the progressive movement challenge it is because, you know, Senator, Bernie Sanders had the courage to run and 2016 He ran again in 2020. And everything about the debate process in the Democratic primary, as you remember, we were right there was because of the frame that we created, that there is power in that dialogue to force people to do what they would not ordinarily ordinarily do. And you do not get that if we crown somebody and not have a robust primary, both on the Republican side, God help them and also on the Democratic side. So I do want to see people jump into this race, whether he runs again or not, and challenge the systems that are controlling me, why can't we totally cancel student debt? Why did they wait so long to do anything about that? Why hasn't the ProAct passed so that people can organize without fear of losing their jobs? Why didn't the George Floyd policing act pass? Why didn't the the Congressman John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed in the 117? Congress? Why didn't they look at all of the things that President Donald J Trump rolled back, whether it's in the transportation department, or any other department on the federal level of government, and reverse that and go even further, why did the 100 and 17th Congress and this President take away the rights of rail workers to go on strike instead of holding the rail barons accountable, saying you will on our watch, give them the minimum of seven sick paid sick days that they are asking for or else so Serota, the American people deserve so much better than what they're getting right now. And for me, and so many others that I've talked to across this country, it is about finding leaders, a type of leadership that will provide provision for the people of this country so that they don't continue to lose for people who deserve to live a good life so that they don't continue to lose. It is a resurrection of the economic bill of rights that FDR started in the 1940s understanding very clearly that in World War Two, the sacrifices that Americans were making, he needed to guarantee to them that their sacrifice would not be in vain, that he understands domestically what needs to happen and they deserve the economic Bill of Rights. We have a 21st century version of that right now. So those are the kinds of things that have to be debated Serota. And if nobody steps up to challenge this president or any other neoliberal, if he decides not to run, none of those things will be lifted, and we got to put some 21st century on that, because the New Deal was very imperfect because FDR had to negotiate with segregation unless Democrats, you know, that really took away putting, you know, the black community in that, for example. And so we got to put 21st century version on the economic Bill of Rights, but those are the kinds of things that I want to see debated and up Primary. And so we need people more than one person. But several people with some intestinal fortitude who are not controlled by the owner donors to lay that stuff out Medicare for All canceling student debt, not allowing corporations to get away with what they're getting away with not afraid to say we will put a wealth tax on you not afraid to save norfork Sutherland and others in the real industry that we want you to bounce you are going to bounce for what you did to the people East Palestine so that this will never ever happen to another community to say to Tech, we break in Yup, we need that throat if we don't have that, the everyday people that you and I care about, and so many others that are in this movement in different ways. They are doomed. And less. We have people in the race, every single one of these races, but particularly the presidency, who will stand up for the people who will not be controlled by owner donors.
Well, it goes back to what we started talking about at the beginning of this interview, which is this this democratic party culture against dissent against the kind of democratic small d democratic back and forth push and pull. I think the the hostility to primaries at really at all levels of elections. And certainly the the hostility to any kind of primary at the presidential level is just an an expression of that culture, that culture, that kind of top down culture that really does not tolerate dissent. I mean, there's there's a lot of talk in the in the political debate about Republicans being against democracy. And I think that's that criticism of the Republican Party is legitimate. But it it represents itself, the kind of hostility to democracy represents itself in a different way, inside the Democratic Party. It's not the same as a Republican hostility to democracy. But but there is a different kind of hostility to the Democratic back and forth inside the Democratic Party. And that's why I think, again, you see, kind of kind of eye rolling skepticism and hostility to the idea that there should even be a contested primary for president,
why do you think that is the case? I mean, he's out of saying people who say that they believe in choice, why not choice and all of his forms? I think one great person once said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Well, I think it's I think it's because of the people who were in power enjoy being in power, more than they necessarily enjoy a democracy. And if there are ways for them to stay in positions of power and privilege, they will they will try to try to use that power to protect their their own power. I mean, that's as old as the as the human story. Right. That goes that goes back 1000s of years. And I think that, that that's why the idea of democracy is so radical, which is, is because it says that we have systems in place to challenge power. That is what a democracy actually is. It says, we get to challenge power every every election, every couple of elections, that is a moment where the people in power have to face up to the people in whose name they're governing. And I think that people who who are in those positions, they don't want to give up that power. And so I think it's always going to be a challenge to to force both parties to respect the idea of democracy, not just in Word, but in practice. And that's why, you know, I would like to see primaries at all levels of government. I think primaries are healthy. I think elections are healthy. I think those are that's why they exist. So the people have a say in who the nominees are people have a say and who the ultimately who the elected officials are. And I think the less that people have that say, the less democracy we have in this country. So So I am going to be very interested. And we're going to be covering here what happens certainly in this presidential race, and whether there is going to be a primary or not. Anita Turner is a former state senator from Cleveland, Ohio. She's the host of unbossed on the TYT Network, which airs weekdays at 4pm. Eastern. You can find her on Twitter, as always at Nina Turner, Senator Nina Turner, thank you so much for taking time with us today.
My absolute pleasure. And please keep doing what you all are doing you shaking them up.
Thank you, you too. That's it for today's show. Just a reminder, we'll be back with our bonus segments. In the next few weeks. We're doing a little bit of a transition here at lever time. A creating additional content for our paid subscribers I should mention is very important to us. So I really appreciate your patience as we undergo these changes. That being said, thanks so much for your support. It's true when we say we could not do this work without our subscribers. If you particularly liked this episode, please pitch into our tip jar. The tip jar link is in this episode's description, or at lever news.com/tip jar Every little bit helps us do this journalism. Lever time is a podcast production of the lever and the lever Podcast Network. It's hosted by me David Sirota. Our lead producer is Jared Yucheng Mayer, and our editor is Dennis Golan. You can find all of our past episodes at lever time pod.com Or on all of the major podcast player. Until next time, I'm David Sirocco rock the boat