ABBY MARTIN - Biden is Not on the Left, But There is a Difference That Matters

Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files, and Paul Jay discuss how working people and the Left should vote in the presidential election and Glenn Greenwald’s resignation from The Intercept.


Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to podcast, this time with full video. I’m Paul Jay, and thanks for joining us. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button at the top of the website.

Now joining us is a friend of the show and a longtime, independent, and to my mind, very courageous journalist — one of the more courageous journalists on the scene — Abby Martin. She’s the host and producer of The Empire Files. She’s also the host of Media Roots Radio.

Thanks for joining us, Abby.

Abby Martin

Thanks so much for having me. Paul, I’ve missed you. We used to work closely together, so it’s fun to be back with you.

Paul Jay

Well, I guess people that know you, know that you had a kid, and I think that’s super. And I’ve got two eight-year-olds, and now we could do parent-talking.

Abby Martin


Paul Jay

And I hope we get to a lot of this more political chatting now, too. So, let’s move on. 

So, Biden-Trump, the elections coming up on the 3rd. Of course, there’s a lot more at stake than just the presidency here. The Senate battle is critical. And there are quite a few progressives running in different districts and places.

But let’s start with the Biden-Trump issue. What’s your general take in terms of how the left should respond on November 3rd?

Abby Martin

I think it’s completely false to have this equivalency between the two parties. Let’s be honest here. Despite calling Biden and Kamala far-left communists and kind of running his whole campaign on that, there are substantial differences between the two parties, especially when it comes to domestic policy. Having a child recently, Paul, as I’m sure that you can relate to, the climate crisis certainly is looming. Other eras of history seem like nothing compared to what we’re facing now, which is a dire, cataclysmic environmental crisis. And there are no second chances that we have here in terms of the climate.

So that really does add another layer of urgency in this election and every election moving forward, I think. But also, it’s the pandemic. I think that Trump literally, after contracting Covid, downplayed the pandemic. He said, don’t worry about it. We’ll all get the best doctors and health care. Well, no one has health care, Trump; certainly not the same level of top-tier health care that you got.

And millions, tens of millions of people are losing access to health care. We know that the Affordable Care Act is set to be overturned, especially with Amy Coney Barrett set to be the ninth judge, who has been sworn in.

So, it is very scary. There are things that can really shift this country in a dangerous direction, more so than it already has been for the last four years. And on the foreign policy front, which I know we’re going to go into, certainly completely unpredictable things [loom] there, especially war with Iran. These crazy neocon outliers that Trump has surrounded himself with: they want war.

But as a leftist, as someone who is far to the left of Biden, I think that we, as you mentioned in your latest article, we should have no illusions about who Biden is. He is certainly not on the left. I would barely call him a liberal, you know. Yes, I understand they have some decent climate skeletal-policy that he’s adopting from climate activists that have maybe pushed him farther left than he would have been on this. But he’s proclaimed that he will not ban fracking. He’s basically said that he won’t adhere to the popular demand of even thinking about defunding the police. In fact, he says they need more funding. Pretty much every step of the way — vetoing Medicare for All — every step of the way he has basically signaled to moderates, at best — and really to conservatives kind of running on this ideology of anti-socialism, anti-communism — [that he is] discarding that Bernie wing and doubling down on that.

You had Obama campaigning recently for him in Florida saying, “I know Biden. He’s not a socialist. Don’t worry.” It’s, like, “Yeah, we know he’s not a socialist. [Laughs.] What is your plan for working people suffering during the pandemic? What is your plan to help people who have lost their jobs, lost their health care access?” So, yes, we should have no illusions when it comes to who Biden is.

Luckily, Paul, I live in California. Because of this amazing democracy that we have, the electoral college renders voting mostly symbolic because of this locked-in voting base that we have in every other state except the twelve swing states. So, I don’t have to face that moral dilemma of voting for Biden. If I did live in one of those swing states, I think that in this election, like every election, we should not vote-shame people who want to vote for a third party, like I am doing in California, but also not vote-shame people who want to vote for Biden.

I think Trump is an existential threat. I think that he is a unique threat. Unmatched. And we may disagree on this, but I don’t think that there will be necessarily a more dangerous version of Trump in 2024, because I think Trump is a unique con artist who has a cult of personality that I don’t think that you can garner if you’re looking at someone like a Tom Cotton.

It’s kind of the perfect storm, right? — the reality-stardom, this painting himself as this anti-establishment outsider, the Bannon ideology that he took the mantle of. And he has really galvanized a very dangerous sect of cult fanatics, especially with legitimizing things like QAnon and people like Mark Dice. I mean, it’s absolutely bizarre what he has done in the last four years, and I am scared of what that can mean.

Not necessarily him, even though there’s many things to be scared of with him because he’s so unpredictable and insane. But his base of supporters, these militias, these frenzied people who have complete detachment from reality and who literally think the left, this large umbrella of the left, meaning everyone from Nancy Pelosi on, is the enemy, are coming to burn down their neighborhoods, and they need to essentially foment civil war against us. And, Paul, that to me is the scariest thing of all. 

I do think Biden needs to win, but I think that the Biden camp isn’t depending on the ultra-left. I think that’s a very, very small, minute amount of people who — we end up being blamed anyway for whatever the outcome will be. But I think that if you’re looking at the grand scheme of things, the nonvoters are the largest bloc that they need to be signaling to and using their six billion dollars on, right? This record-shattering number of campaign spending that they’re doing in this election: they need to be spending that money to focus in on the 50 percent of Americans who aren’t interested in voting, who don’t vote, and get those people to the polls. Because I think the vast majority of Bernie supporters are going to vote for Biden because they agree with us.

Paul Jay

So, people who follow my website know I just wrote a piece which you just referred to, that, without illusions, the left should vote for Biden. So, it’s out there, what I think on this. I think the most important thing I was trying to say in that article is that what you really get to vote for is, Which section of capital do you want?

I always reference this one quote from the rightwing conservative pundit, George Will. He said in one of the previous elections — maybe it was the first Obama election against McCain; he was on the George Stephanopoulos show. And he got really mad because somebody on the show — maybe Donna Brazile or someone like that — was going on about how many houses McCain had. (Or maybe it was the Romney election; how rich Romney was.)

And Will says, “OK” — because he’s really getting mad — he says, “Let’s be serious here.” He says, “This isn’t really that kind of a democracy. Of course, the elites rule. What you get to choose in an election is which section of the elites you want to rule.” And that is the choice because, one, a lot of what I would call the further left, far left — they’re so far left, I don’t consider them actually oppositional anymore. Not all individuals. I would say most of the individuals are probably sincere and well-intentioned people. But as an ideology, this far left position, it so winds up helping the status quo that I’m not sure I would call it oppositional.

But the point here is if you look at the different groupings of sections of capital, of course, the most important being finance, the majority of finance wants the world to be a good place to do business in. They want open markets. They want a certain amount of democracy, especially democracy for the elites.

They don’t like kleptocracies, you know, where a family gets hold of a state and then uses that state to enrich themselves. The American government will work with those kinds of places. But, like, why didn’t, in the end, they like Gaddafi? Gaddafi, in fact, was playing ball with the Americans. He made a deal with the Bush administration; even helped with the rendering of political prisoners after 9/11.

Yet they still brought him down. Because capital doesn’t like these family-controlled states. And I think this is to some extent what’s going on in the US. Finance doesn’t like this. It’s kind of like a family-controlled state. At least they’re trying to turn it into that. It’s not good for business — it’s not the best for business.

Even though — to quote Larry Fink, who’s the head of BlackRock, this enormous asset management company — even though Trump, quote unquote, “gave us everything on our bucket list,” in terms of tax cuts and deregulation, in the end, it’s too chaotic for them. And in terms of foreign policy, who owns the arms manufacturers? Well, it’s finance. So, it’s not like they don’t mind “almost-war.” They don’t mind rivalry.

But they don’t want to so screw up the relationship with China that it’s going to impede American business interests in China. Like, BlackRock, for example, has just opened up an index fund on the Chinese stock market, [just] as they have a massive index fund here. You know, an index fund is where you buy an entire range of stock. So, yeah, there’s very serious contention with China and it’s at a systemic level, but they don’t want craziness.

So, what’s in the interests of the people here when you have a serious difference between different sections of capital? One section of capital is Trump, the Robert Mercers of this world, Sheldon Adelson, to some extent the Koch brothers — they go back and forth a little bit, but mostly they go in the direction I’m about to say: they are for a really coercive state. And the most dangerous thing, probably domestically, Trump’s done, amongst many dangerous things — maybe it’s the second most dangerous thing: the most dangerous is climate denial, as you said — is the rallying cry to the fascists.

Not in the streets. I’m far less worried about these far-right fascist organizations, and all that. It’s the fascists in the police forces that I’m worried about. He’s emboldened these racist, fascist sectors of the police forces.

Abby Martin


Paul Jay

Like, I lived in Baltimore for a few years. A large number of cops in Baltimore hates white supremacy. Many of them are black, but not all. They don’t want the police force to be fascist. And there’s a real contention within the police force because the police union is so reactionary in many of these cities. Again, not all, but many. And Trump’s emboldened that domestically. Of course, in terms of climate, the denial is catastrophic.

So, we get to choose between what I called in my article, the sections of capital. The sections of the society — it’s not all about finance. It’s also about religious extremists and sections of the working class that have been influenced by these ideas. And, of course, a great deal of people that just simply always vote Republican because they want lower taxes and don’t care about anything else. Those sections of the society are for a coercive state. This rhetoric against leftism and socialism, it’s not just some ploy to connect Biden to these forces because, frankly, everybody knows he’s no socialist. It’s also to prepare public opinion so that if Trump wins, or even if he doesn’t win, they’re going to try to launch a real fight against socialist forces in the United States.

Why? Because it’s obvious: for every bloody problem facing the country, a socialized, at least, solution, is the one that makes sense. You know, capitalism, liberal capitalism, whether it’s the Democratic Party or even centrist-Republican, they’re completely out of any real solutions.

But on these sections of capital: in some ways, to my mind, the rightwing sections of capital are smarter. They get that the objective world is leading people towards more socialistic solutions, and they don’t like that. And they’re going to fight that.

It’s not like the individuals don’t matter; the individual records don’t matter. They do. But the analysis of who they represent is kind of more important. And then let’s dig into the individual stuff.

Abby Martin

I couldn’t agree more with you. I think the tens of millions of people who were awakened — I mean, for the first time that we know really since the labor movement was really strong for basically generations, Paul, as we know, anti-communism has been the dominant religion of the US. So, to see it [i.e., socialism] resurrected and palatable again, where it’s no longer this big, bad, scary word and people are connecting it to issues for the first time, at least in my adult life, where I’ve been politically active, to systemic issues centered around capitalism is really amazing.

And it’s a very optimistic thing. And that’s exactly why the ruling class is so hellbent to destroy it, to focus on it as the end-all/be-all problem:” the left is really the problem for everything.” And that’s why Trump’s rhetoric is so narrowed and focused on communism and socialism as this big, bad thing. And that’s exactly why you see Biden focusing in on it as well, because they know that that’s the real danger here: a popular uprising of people who are rejecting the status quo and rejecting capital. And we know that both parties really hinge on the status quo being what it is.

So, again, it’s two heads of the same beast, yet, as we talked about, Trump is the cancerous tumor that needs to be severed before we really deal with the systemic cancer that bred him and that will continue to breed people like Trump out of this corrupt, failing, quote-unquote-democracy that we have.

But the people behind them, that’s another good point. I mean, you can point to Biden and say, yeah, he has a lot of the mainstream media, a lot of this corporate media that has gone to bat for him. But Trump also has a hugely significant media arm, these rightwing billionaires, the Koch brothers, all of these crazy rightwing institutions who are funded by God-knows-what corporations and rightwing billionaires, like Gateway Pundit, Breitbart. I mean, the list goes on and on of his own media apparatus. And then, of course, you have Fox News which grovels to him. And essentially there’s this feedback loop where, again, this cult of personality just signals to his base and they literally only believe his word.

And that’s, I think, something unique that I haven’t seen before either. So, it’s a feedback loop of the regurgitation of Fox News and him feeding back into it, and then the millions of people, who are kind of cult followers of Trump, taking his word as gospel. And that’s a whole other issue, right?

So, yeah, the forces behind Trump: the Sheldon Adelsons, the Mercers, the Bannons. I think Bannon is still kind of behind the scenes. Maybe not as much because you don’t see Trump really on the level that he was in 2016 where he’s [now] kind of faltering in terms of the populist rhetoric. So, I don’t know how much Bannon really has sway in that.

But we know Bannon is behind the scenes in these anti-China think tanks and fostering fear against [China]. You know, the wing of the establishment which represents Trump really wants that chaos with China and they want a full-fledged potential confrontation with China. Whereas the more Bannon people behind the scenes want that predictability.

And I think that that’s exactly why they don’t want Trump again for four years because anything could happen. You know, whenever something happens — like the assassination of General Soleimani: Biden didn’t necessarily disagree with it. He just said we lacked strategy in order to carry it out. And I think that’s exactly what the difference is in terms of foreign policy, specifically, because they don’t necessarily want a different outcome. I mean, maybe they do want [a different outcome] but we don’t hear Biden talking about lifting the sanctions with Iran. Trump has implemented devastating genocidal sanctions with Iran, at least eight hundred at this point. But Biden has not really confronted that situation and said we’re going to lift these sanctions. Of course, if he wants to re-enlist with the nuclear deal, that’s one thing, but there are still all the other sanctions around the world.

And I think that really leaves us with a quandary where it’s really the strategy and that’s where the ruling class doesn’t want Trump, specifically in terms of the global hegemon, running as the CEO of the U.S. empire. Because they just want someone who they can really hedge their bets on in being exactly what they want to carry out in terms of the world order.

Paul Jay

When I say I think we should vote for Biden without illusions, it means even in the days just before the election, there should be no hesitation of critiquing Biden. People should vote for Biden, I think, with eyes open. This is not going to be a progressive foreign policy with the possible exception of Iran. I think he’ll probably reinstate the nuclear agreement. He fought very hard for it against Democrats like Chuck Schumer who were trying to kill it.

Honestly, as much as I fully expect Biden to win this election and I fully expect to spend the next four years savaging him on so many things, I do find myself having to say two or three positive things in terms of foreign policy and Biden. Even though, one, he’s fully rooted, as are almost all of the leaders of the Democratic Party, rooted in the Cold War mentality. Meaning that America is the real civilization, the pillar of democracy. What was Reagan’s line, “the beacon on the hill,” or whatever? I think he believes all that. And it’s convenient to believe all that because the military industrial complex and finance, it fits their strategy of how to make money out of being the global policeman.

But I also think he’s realistic and pragmatic in the way Obama was. And Obama, we should remember, was against the Iraq war. And he said very clearly he wasn’t against war and he wasn’t against regime change.

Abby Martin

“Dumb war.”

Paul Jay

He just thought the Iraq war was stupid. Yeah, it was dumb. And I think Biden agrees with him on that now, that that type of intervention is done. It doesn’t help the empire. In one of his vice-presidential debates, he said that if you didn’t want Iran to be a regional power, then the United States shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Because that’s what Iraq was: the buffer. And he said, It’s over now, you did invade Iraq, and you do have to accept Iran as a regional power.

That’s a very important point of difference because of the foreign-policy-gang types around Trump. And I must include Chuck Schumer and, of course, Netanyahu from Israel and the Saudis. They don’t want to accept Iran as a regional power. They want to try to destroy the place, mostly through economic warfare, but possibly more.

And I think when Obama got elected, I said, I only have one hope that he’s going to be anything different than a Clinton or any other centrist Democrat: on Iran, he might be rational. And it turned out he was. The rest of his foreign policy was just normal, corporate-Democratic, defend-the-empire policy.

I’m saying I think Biden realized he was wrong about Iraq. He could have taken the Obama position. On the other hand, he’s a political opportunist, Biden. He goes where the wind blows, where he thinks his political fortunes will be best. So, I think it was more about that than anything, why he voted for the resolution that wound up enabling the Iraq war.

Now, just a couple of other things to his merit. And again, this is less about him personally, but it partly informs us. Apparently, he was against Hillary Clinton on the invasion of Libya. There’s a fair amount of reporting on that. And Obama went with Clinton, with completely disastrous results, especially disastrous results for the Libyan people.

There’s a good book out on America’s nuclear war strategy, and in the book, it reports — and this is by a guy who’s a well-known journalist and author and covers these issues. He says when Obama was trying to get the Republicans to sign on to renew the next big nuclear arms treaty, the Republicans told him, “We’ll only sign on if you give us a massive new investment in modernizing the nuclear weapons arsenal.” And Biden apparently argued against it. He says, one, the Republicans are never going to live up to actually supporting the arms deal anyway. And apparently, he was against this big expansion into nuclear weapons. But Obama went ahead with it and committed something like a trillion dollars over thirty years, most of which is going to get spent in the next ten years. So, maybe Biden has some instincts in that direction.

You know, what will assert itself in the end — except for a big if — will be the power of finance, the power of the military-industrial complex. There is no reason to believe Biden will buck them on certain kinds of issues. But if there really is a big mass movement, especially on questions of war and peace and on climate and against fascism, maybe there’s some room to move. Biden is concerned about the left wing of the Democratic Party. He’s going to have a lot of people in Congress that are going to speak out.

So, no illusions. Biden does represent a very definite section of capital that can be very aggressive, both domestically and in terms of foreign policy. But not as much. I don’t know whether it’s a quantitative difference or qualitative. [Laughs.] I guess it’s quantitative, but it matters.

I don’t like, for example, what Glenn Greenwald did in the last day or two. As we’re talking, the internet’s full of this Glenn Greenwald conversation. I see nothing wrong with Glenn reporting on Hunter Biden. I think he’s been a serious journalist and as a journalist, he has a responsibility to be a journalist, not to judge how his journalism will affect the outcome one way or another of an election. And if he really has the goods on this story, then, yeah, he should write the story. I don’t think the Intercept, unless they have really substantive proof that what Glenn’s writing is wrong, just journalistically unsound, then they shouldn’t have interfered, and they should have done what he said, like had a debate, a discussion and all the rest.

But when Glenn goes on Tucker Carlson… He crossed a line there. Not by going on Tucker Carlson. I’ll go on Tucker Carlson, but they’d never invite me. One, I’m not famous enough. Nobody knows who I am. And, two, they know, if they listen to me, I’m not going to do what Glenn did, which is, I’m not going to regurgitate Tucker Carlson’s own speaking points back to him and just say what he wants to hear. Because when Glenn was on Rising, that Krystal Ball show on The Hill, he didn’t say what he said on Tucker Carlson. He spoke completely differently. He spoke to a leftwing audience. And to his left audience, all he did was defend his right to have journalistic independence and integrity and so on. But when he goes on Tucker Carlson, he says more or less the following words, that there’s an alliance between the CIA and the Deep State and the Democratic Party and most of the media to undermine the first four years of the Trump presidency. Well, that’s a Fox News, rightwing Trump speaking point. More importantly, it’s just not true.

Yes, the Democratic Party obviously has been fighting against Trump. And most of the media, like, the CNNs, the non-Fox media. And that makes them money to be anti-Trump. Plus, Trump is batshit crazy. So, there’s reasons for —

Abby Martin


Paul Jay

[Laughs.] He’s a lunatic. I mean, anybody that can look into the camera and say, “I’m the least racist person in the room,” that person’s a lunatic. So, there are a lot of reasons for all kinds of sections of the elite to be anti-Trump.

But when you talk about this kind of conspiracy to undermine the first four years of Trump and then — and here’s the most important thing — he didn’t say one critical thing about Trump. Like, if you want to attack and critique the Democratic Party and forces behind it, go for it, no problem. I don’t care whether it’s four days before the election. But you have to have the critique of Trump, too. Not just play into what Tucker Carlson wants.

So, yes, critique Biden, even now. But let’s be realistic that this, as you reference and I said before, this Trump is a cancerous tumor and he’s very, very dangerous to progressive forces. We’re heading into a deep depression. This pandemic: round two, round three? The vaccine may not work. There could be millions and millions more unemployed. We could start to see a real spontaneous uprising amongst workers that we haven’t seen in years. There are already strikes breaking out. The teachers have shown some real guts. As I said earlier, this consciousness of socialism is growing.

We’re heading into a real period of conflict, and I’m not saying the Biden forces aren’t capable of some serious coercive action, but it’s harder for them. They depend on the Black vote. They depend on the Latino vote. They depend on votes from the big cities where the working class and people are more conscious and more progressive. It’s harder, and those differences matter.

In my article, I quote Gerald Horne. He cracked a joke in one of our interviews that if Trump’s re-elected, the left could be all meeting up in Yankee Stadium. And that’s referencing how they rounded up people in Chile when they overthrew Pinochet and threw people into stadiums and then killed a bunch of them.

Don’t rule this stuff out. Glenn needs to take what he’s doing way more seriously, no matter how angry he is at the Intercept or the Democratic Party.

Abby Martin

Biden’s entire candidacy was a repudiation of the Bernie wing. I think that’s why he was there. Right? That’s why you saw this this right wing [of the Democrats] coalesce behind him. “I’ll drop out and support him before Super Tuesday.” It was all to get Bernie out. And in fact, you can argue that the Democrats worked harder to squash Bernie and the movement and to repudiate the movement than they did to stop Amy Comey Barrett. There were many things they could have done to jam up that process. And I think that when the left looks at the Democratic Party, as I’ve been told for the last twenty years, that this [election] may not even be about the [presidential] nominee, this could be about the Supreme Court. Well, we just saw that fight play out. And guess what? It’s over. And it was pretty devastating, Paul, to say the least.

So, I get it. I get why people hate the system. I get this anti-Democratic Party ideology, if you could really call it that. I don’t think it’s really an ideology. But I think that they’ve made it clear to us that they don’t want our votes and all they do is campaign on anti-left. You saw Biden actually saying that he is going to entertain putting Republicans in his cabinet. He even said that he doesn’t maybe want Warren to even have a cabinet position. Warren, who, again, kneecapped Bernie at the end.

I get it. I get the seething hatred for Democrats. I share that hatred. But I also agree with you that a Trump presidency — and let’s just talk about, again, domestic policy alone: not having a plan for the pandemic. This could be never-ending. I mean, we could literally see another four years of hundreds of thousands of more people dying because we have just an absolute shit-show clown running this. Where just to double down on being right, he will continue to downplay and essentially deny that this is even a thing. Right? Because this abject denial of reality is such a bizarre characteristic of this administration. So, that’s one thing. Then you have the law-and-order mentality where, again, [they’re] emboldening the fascistic wing of the police forces. (I would argue most of the police, just by its essence, is fascistic.)

But that is very scary as well. Paul. The political persecution of activists, slapping potentially decades-long sentences on people who are just doing simple political actions. We see people in the Party for Socialism and Liberation facing now years, potentially a decade, in prison for staging a sit-in in front of a police station in Colorado. 

So, these things are happening. I totally get why I would want a playing field that is not black-bagging protesters in the street and throwing them in unmarked vans. I do not want that reality. I do not want marauding gangs of fascists being emboldened like Kyle Rittenhouse. I do not want to face down people who are trying to kill leftists on behalf of their cult leader. I think rhetoric absolutely matters and that bleeds over to all sectors of the right wing who are emboldened here.

Now, let’s move on to this anti-Democrat thing. Look, basically, under the Trump administration, I have pivoted. The second Trump got elected. And I think that we can all agree we did not see that coming. At least I didn’t. I believed that, for the most part, the polls and all the pundits who said Hillary Clinton had it in the bag. So, I was dead set on criticizing Hillary Clinton because I wanted to be fighting her from day one.

I was sideswiped. I think a lot of us were with the Trump administration. And so, from day one, I have been focusing on how dangerous and how rabid of a militarist Trump has been, and debunking this notion that there is this Deep State, and how Trump is fighting the Deep State, and how Trump is fighting the military-industrial complex, and how he’s really antiwar and that’s why you have these insiders trying to oust him because he’s not carrying out their imperialist agenda.

It is absolutely absurd. It’s simplistic. You can argue that it’s just Bannonite regurgitation of very dumbed down talking points catering to the right wing who are more isolationist. I can go over all the things Trump has done and I want to. But I do think that there is a tendency among the left — and I’ve seen this quite a bit. This is not just one person: this is a lot of people, I would argue, a lot of people — in alternative media as well — who have essentially given Trump a pass. Who have essentially ended up apologizing for Trump because of the strict focus on the Democratic Party, the failures of Russiagate — which I know we both agree on, this complete distraction, which essentially has emboldened and legitimized Trump that has essentially led a large sector of [left, alternative] media that should be focusing on where we are today to continuing to double down and fall back on the Obama administration and how we got here and what led to Trump instead of talking about where we are.

To me, I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can criticize the Democratic Party all day, but I can also criticize where we are and how dangerous what is happening is. Right? And that’s where I kind of gravitate toward today: Trump is a monstrous outgrowth of the cancer of neoliberalism. He needs to be taken down for multiple reasons, as we’ve outlined. And the Democratic Party is also very dangerous as well.

I think the focus [should be] on organizing here instead of electoralism. I maybe have my differences with you about the progressive wing that has been elected to Congress. Look, we’re talking about maybe five or six people in a sea of hundreds of centrists and right-wingers. I think we both can agree that we need a new party for the people, a pro-worker party. I don’t know how far off that is. We need maybe rank-choice voting first and to abolish the electoral college. That’s for a different conversation.

But all of these problems, it gives people faith in electoralism. It makes people think that all they need to do is pull that lever every four years. And I think that that’s a dangerous way of thinking because it makes people disengaged and depoliticized. And then when the Democrats turn around and blame leftists for everything that happens, when they literally do nothing to get our vote for the entirety of their administrations — in fact, the opposite is true — I think it’s a really disingenuous way of campaigning and also just engaging in politics.

Paul Jay

I mean, in some ways, the Democrats’ bullshit created this situation, because, one, the Russia stuff. I’ve been saying from the very beginning — and I didn’t get into the weeds of it as some journalists did because I kept saying, I don’t care if it’s all true. I’m not sure if I have already said this in this interview or not. But if I have, I’m going to say it again. If everything the Russians are accused of they actually did, I don’t care, because what the American oligarchy does to undermine democracy every day in so many ways, down to what the police forces do in the cities to poor blacks and working-class blacks, it [i.e., Russian interference] pales in comparison to what the American oligarchy does to destroy American democracy. From violating poor and working-class blacks’ constitutional rights — and Latino — every single day to unlimited funding of parties by corporations and voter suppression, and so on, and so on.

Whatever Russia may or may not have done, it’s practically irrelevant. What’s more important and what was so dangerous is that the Democratic Party tried to invoke the ghosts and demons of the Cold War to fight their battle. So, they invoke Russophobia. Like, this business of impeaching him over something that happens in the Ukraine and some conversations that happen. Like, who cares? The only reason they think any of this matters — the links [to Russia], the Mueller investigation, and all the rest — the only reason anybody might care is because of this Cold War fanaticism they’re trying to link to, to bring against Trump. It didn’t work. And a lot of the journalists, including Glenn and others, who attacked this and showed it didn’t bear up factually, I think that was good work. And I was for publishing that kind of stuff.

But I also thought it didn’t get at the real nub of it which is what I just said. The real threat to democracy came from the American elites. The danger is these rising tensions with a nuclear power. Obama once called Russia a mid-level regional power. Well, that’s what they are. And it’s no existential threat. The idea of Russia invading Western Europe is absurd.

So, the critique of that, of the Democratic Party, fed this whole stream of journalism that became so invested in attacking the Democratic Party that they lost sight of Trump. And it’s partly something Glenn said on the same show I referred to earlier: Rising. What’s the point of him writing against Trump when CNN and MSNBC are doing it every day, anyway? I mean, what has he got to add to that conversation?

Well, what there is to add to that conversation is the systemic analysis.

Abby Martin

Of course.

Paul Jay

What are the forces that are driving this Trump fascism? And he didn’t do that. He and others just keep harping on about the Democratic Party without getting to that. The real issue is who owns stuff and the political power that comes from that concentration of ownership. And that, of course, applies to both parties.

Abby Martin

Well, that’s exactly right. We need that systemic analysis that’s not going to be given to us by the corporate media. I mean, the corporate media has a very superficial analysis. They harp on Trump for very ridiculous reasons sometimes and get caught up in claiming that he’s being engineered by the Putin regime, which is absolutely laughable. So, yeah, it’s a complete distraction. And we need people who are engaged in that systemic analysis to be reporting on what Trump is doing, which is exactly why I have been focusing on what Trump’s militarism has been.

It’s very ridiculous to actually claim that Trump is fighting the Deep State. And it just kind of a narrative that feeds into legitimizing Trump’s paranoia and base that claims that he’s an outsider, that he’s this political anti-establishment outsider, when in reality, plenty of neocons from the PNAC think tank, actually —

Paul Jay

Project for New American Century.

Abby Martin

I mean, look at Frank Gaffney. It’s kind of like these outsider neocon outliers that are just batshit crazy that have hitched their wagons to Trump. Plenty of other former intelligence officials who are more Islamophobic, let’s say, have hitched their wagons to Trump. So, yeah, it’s not as black and white as saying, “The intelligence community supports Biden. Therefore, Biden is more of a puppet for the CIA.” No, it’s just different wings and different factions of the intelligence apparatus for different reasons.

I just find the lack of nuance to be problematic. And I would like people to approach the subject with a lot more perspective and a lot deeper analysis in terms of who are these figures and how they represent, as you say, the inner workings of finance capital, and why do these [different] sectors support [each of] them, and what does that really mean? 

Paul Jay

I agree. So, we’re going to do a part two because we were going to make foreign policy the topic but because of everything going on, we had other things to talk about.

So please join us for part two of my interview with Abby Martin on podcast. And again, don’t forget the donate button. That’s at the top of the webpage.


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  1. I’ll have to take a look at Greenwald’s conversation with Tucker Carlson, Paul. Like you, I didn’t think it mattered that he might appear on Carlson’s show, so I took no further interest. On the other hand, I was surprised today to find Matt Taibbi linking to a commentary by Carlson that makes me think there are subjects on which left and right can agree: You might find it interesting.

  2. I was disappointed by your criticism of Glenn Greenwald over his criticism of deep state anti-Trump efforts. The CIA, FBI, and “deep state” definitely have conspired against Trump and Americans should be concerned about the undemocratic intervention of these agencies in domestic politics. The FISA-authorized wiretapping of the Trump campaign should be a national scandal. The problem is the national blackout of this topic, not the converse.

    Whether this discussion helps or hinders Trump is neither here nor there.

  3. Surprised to disagree so strenuously with Paul. I think the reason the US took down Gadaffi was because he wanted to replace the US reserve currency with a pan-African.

    1. I think he was taken down because he was about to make a major oil deal with Russia with the help of Italy. The French wanted their oil company Total to control Libyan oil. The U.S. wanted to block the Russians. This all came out in Wikileaks dump of Clinton emails. The West didn’t like the Gadaffi family wheeling and dealing with rivals. There was quite a bit of U.S. Libyan cooperation prior to the invasion. I think the pan-African currency replacing the U.S. dollar was a pipe dream.

  4. Paul and Abby,

    I have had tremendous respect for both of you, but I am very disappointed to hear that you both think it is worth voting for Biden.

    I voted for the lesser of two evils for 50 years, and then a colleague sent me this article (“The Ratchet Effect”) explaining why this doesn’t work:

    In 2012 and 2016 I voted for Jill Stein. This year I voted for Gloria La Riva. They had no chance of winning, but I am done giving my vote away to defective Democratic candidates.

    BTW it’s not clear to me that Joe Biden is the lesser evil. Both Trump and Biden are corrupt, pathological liars who have been accused of rape. I will not go on about the many ways in which both are awful candidates. But the facts are that (1) Trump is the first president in 40 years who has not started a new war, (2) Trump scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (3) he negotiated a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada which President López Obrador says is better for workers (even if not a lot better), (4) he signed a criminal justice reform bill (while Biden has taken credit for the crime bill that led to mass incarceration), (5) he initiated antitrust action against Google (while not specifically attacking their data mining), and (6) he has taken action against cybersecurity threats from Chinese hardware (Huawei) and software (TikTok).

    If Trump and Biden were the same except that Trump will not start another war, that would be reason enough to call Trump the lesser evil.

    BTW Paul, I am also disappointed that I have not heard a single guest on The Analysis who believes progressives should NOT vote for Biden. I have not listened to every single podcast, but my impression is that The Analysis is not even allowing that point of view to be expressed. It’s not too late to invite Jimmy Dore!

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