Corporate Dems Won’t Push the Real Wedge Issue and Lose - Paul Jay

Polls show at least 10% of conservative Republicans consider climate change a top priority, 24% consider it important and favor stronger Federal action. Paul Jay’s interview by Muslim TV.

The poll above was based on data by Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Virginia’s loss to Republican Party has probably wakened up the Democrats. They are worried about their act in Congress, loss of Biden’s agenda and what’s going to happen next year. Are they going to lose Congress, Senate and House? A whole lot of questions, and Democrats will be talking about it for a while. While the Republicans will be happy and learning, what can they do to take over the country once again? That’s called democracy. What is the key to the success of Republicans, and why Democrats did so bad?

To discuss all of that we have with us, Paul Jay. Welcome, to Muslim Network TV, Paul.

Paul Jay

Thanks for inviting me.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Paul Jay is a journalist, filmmaker and founder and host of

Now Van Jones has declared it is a five-alarm fire. Do you agree with him?

Paul Jay

Yeah, but the five-alarm fire, the fire, isn’t the Republicans winning Virginia or who knows, we’ll see what happens in New Jersey. We should remember back in the last presidential election, even though [Donald] Trump lost in many of these States, including Virginia, by what was it? More than ten points.

The Republican Party itself did quite well at state levels, legislature levels, governorships. So the base of the Republican Party, sections of it actually don’t like Trump, but they remain within the realm of the ideology and politics of the Republican Party. I think, first of all, that has to be understood.

The second thing is that the Democratic Party is incapable of talking to and developing a strategy that might actually win in States that could go either Republican or Democrat; these kinds of swing States. And Virginia, although recently has been more Democrat, it’s still really fundamentally a swing state.

The reason the Democrats don’t know how to win is because— I’ve been; some other people using this line, the Democratic or the corporate Democrats, in any way, the establishment Democrats are caught between a BlackRock and a hard place. BlackRock being the big financial firm, and I use it as a symbol for Wall Street. And the hard place being the promises they make that they’re not able to implement either because of divisions in their own party or because their allegiance is more to the financial sector than in dealing with these problems.

But there is one issue that the Democrats could win on, and I think they probably could have won on in Virginia and New Jersey, and I think it would be a game-changer. And I’m not the only one that thinks this. The issue is climate.

Before the last presidential election, early in the election, the Washington Post actually had an editorial where they said the wedge issue for the Democrats is going to be; not going to be; should be climate change. And they went on to make the argument that that’s the issue that could transcend the normal division between Republicans and Democrats.

If you look at some of the PEW research on polling amongst Republicans, 10% of conservative Republicans consider climate change or global warming or climate crisis as one of the most urgent issues to be dealt with.

Now, amongst all the Republicans, 10% may not sound like much, but if you could pick up even half of that 10% in these States that are so close in the voting, it might make the difference between a win and a loss.

If you go dig further into the PEW polling results, I think it’s 37% of Republicans consider it a high priority, maybe not the highest as in the 10%. So you got 47% of people that identify as conservative Republicans take the climate crisis very seriously, even if a majority of Republicans don’t.

But you don’t need a majority of the Republicans. Ninety percent of Democrats take the climate crisis seriously and think it’s a very top issue. So just add a small percentage of those Republicans that actually agree on that issue. It’s a serious wedge issue.

But the Democrats don’t really fight on that issue because they won’t really defy the fossil fuel industry because the fossil fuel industry isn’t just the fossil fuel industry. If you look at who owns the fossil fuel industry, it’s mostly, guess who? Wall Street. It’s the big financial institutions, which are the major backers of the Democratic Party.

So the issue that could be a unifying issue that could actually rally people towards an agenda that, in fact, is the most urgent issue facing us, the existential issue facing us. The establishment Democratic Party just won’t go there. And instead, they get this hack to run for Governor, [Terry] McAuliffe. You can’t get a more quintessential guy identified as a corporate Democrat. And then they play into the hands of the Republicans on some of the cultural issues.

And the economy is not doing well. Biden is not very inspiring to be polite, to be nice. So it’s not a surprise.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

So Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine told CNN that it is the congressional Democrats who are fighting and not passing the Biden’s agenda, which caused them the race in Virginia.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I don’t buy that. I can’t say it’s not a factor because it gives people the sense that not much is happening. Maybe it would affect the turnout, the enthusiasm of people who would have voted Democrat but didn’t bother to vote at all. But that’s not going to cut into the vote of any people that voted Republican or independents that wound up voting Republican. I don’t think very much. And people understand they’re not stupid. They get it, Joe Manchin and a few of these conservative Democrats that are holding things up.

So I don’t think that’s the explanation. The explanation is deeper than that. It’s that the Democratic Party is trying to look like it’s transformative, that it’s progressive, it’s going to change the lives of people. But because it’s so intertwined with the financial sector and the corporate sector, it can’t really do that.

It can’t be any surprise to the Democrats that Joe Manchin is taking the position he’s taking and holding things up. They had lots of time to try to put enormous pressure on him. And one of the pressures they could have put on Manchin is something that a lot of the progressive economists are advocating; it’s called a just transition.

And essentially, what it is, is you promise fossil fuel workers in States like West Virginia that you will not lose a penny of your wages if you have to either leave your job as we phase out coal. If you go into another job, there’ll be a big expansion of the sustainable energy industry, wind, solar, but it may not pay as much as you’re making now. Well, we, the federal government, will subsidize the difference. So you won’t lose any money.

That’s a message. How does Joe Manchin counter that? Because then they’re going to say, well, Manchin, of course, he doesn’t like this idea because he’s got money, his own investments in coal. He’s a frontman for the coal industry. But we’re going to make sure you don’t lose a penny fossil fuel workers. And you got to know coal eventually is going to get phased out. So why don’t we prepare for it now in a way that you don’t lose any money?

An economist named Bob Pollin priced this out. If every fossil fuel worker in the United States and some of the associated jobs, like restaurants that service fossil fuel workers, if every single one of them was subsidized in the way I’m talking about for three years, it would only cost around $2 billion. For a federal budget, that’s not even lunch money. So, extend that out six years, nine years?

Well, one Ford-class aircraft carrier is going to cost about $14 billion. They’re building like a dozen of these things. And even the Neocons, the right-wingers, are saying, you know these are actually useless. Because both the Russians and the Chinese have missiles now that can knock these things out of the water [snap’s fingers] in a snap, it’s actually pointless to build these things other than the fact that the military-industrial complex will make a fortune building these things. And go look at who owns the companies that are building the aircraft carriers. Oh … Wall Street. It’s the same financial institutions.

So that’s the problem with the Democratic. That’s the real underlying problem here.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

But, Paul, this is not what people were debating. People were debating McAuliffe diminishing the role of parents in what their children are going to study, connecting it to the race theory. So issues that you’re talking about did not become a part of the conversation. Which you’re saying is the failure of the Democratic Party.

Paul Jay


Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

But do you think the Republicans were more clear about their messaging?

Paul Jay

I don’t know if they were more clear, but the messaging of McAuliffe. First of all, he said this stupid thing about schools. Parents shouldn’t have anything to say about what their kids learn. I mean, that’s just stupid. But these are secondary. These come to the fore when you don’t have a primary message that actually resonates with the majority of the voters.

And I’m saying if McAuliffe had run as the climate change guy, although I don’t know, why was he the candidate anyway? Because who does McAuliffe actually believe in anything? I doubt it. He believes in getting elected and power.

So he was the wrong candidate in the first place. In terms of 2022, in terms of 2024, the candidate of the Democrats needs to be about climate, a progressive message, yeah. But maybe not even— it doesn’t need a Green New Deal envelope, which might also kind of alienate some of these voters. But it does need to focus on what are effective measures for dealing with this coming apocalypse, this catastrophe.

And Republicans, if you look at the polling numbers and even amongst evangelicals, they do care that their kids aren’t going to have a planet to grow up in.

If that had been McAuliffe’s primary message, and then he could have been smarter on the other issues. I’m not saying you can ignore them, but this issue of explicit sexual messaging in schools compared to the end of human civilization. But you’ve got to make that argument. [Barack] Obama never made the argument. Even [Joe] Biden, he talks about it when you look at his policies, they’re so wishy-washy the argument he makes just falls apart.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

You know, the governor-elect did not quite wholeheartedly embrace former President Trump. Do you think it will give some idea and some freedom to some Republicans that they will have a future instead of being just in the pocket of the former President?

Paul Jay

Yeah. I think Trump is very happy with the outcome of this election, but I think it’s very important to understand that it’s not really about Trump. I mean, he’s an important player in this, but Trump is a vehicle for a lot of forces on the far right, including forces, which I would describe as real fascist forces.

But this social base that supports Trump, both in terms of the billionaires and amongst the working class and professional classes. That social base really emerged after World War II, to a large extent, created by Cold War propaganda, sections of the population that think their interests lie in a powerful America dominant America, America the superpower of the world.

There’s always some existential enemy out there, whether it’s the Soviet Union or now Russia or China. That identity really comes to form with Barry Goldwater, and then it really breaks through with Ronald Reagan. And if you look at the Reagan campaign and then the Trump campaign, the Trump campaign is a mirror, a replica of the Reagan campaign.

So there’s nothing new in this about Trump. That right-wing social base, an identity based on, to some extent, or should I say, a large extent, white privilege. Which goes right back to why poor white farmers and workers fought and were willing to die in the Civil War to defend a slave system that they didn’t even benefit from.

They were too poor to own slaves. They had an identity that said, oh, well, at least I’m not them. I’m white. At least I’m not a slave. That kind of identity. But that said, people that identify that way that have that kind of mentality they still; a significant number, are opening their minds on the climate issue.

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

Thank you so much for your time. Truly appreciate it.

Paul Jay

Yeah, anytime.

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Corporate Dems Won’t Push the Real Wedge Issue, and Lose - Paul Jay

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