Matt Taibbi and Norman Solomon on the Progressive Movement and Rising Fascism

Matt, Norman and Paul discuss the events of Jan. 6th, the nature of growing fascism and the need to make progressive demands and critique of the Democratic Party – “with no honeymoon.”

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to podcast. I’m Paul Jay. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button at the top of the web page.

On Monday, House Democrats formally introduced a resolution to impeach President Trump, charging him with incitement of insurrection for his role in last week’s deadly U.S. capital attack. There’s also a resolution being put forward by Congressman Jamie Raskin calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Now joining me to discuss Trump, the riot, and the storming of the Capitol building on January 6th, and the response of the Democratic Party is Matt Taibbi and Norman Solomon.

Matt is an award-winning investigative reporter and contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and he writes a top-rated column on Substack. Norman is the founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy and is co-founder and national director of the online organization He was also elected as a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and again in 2020, and he’s also been the coordinator of the independent Bernie Delegates Network. Thank you both for joining me.

Matt Taibi

Thank you.

Norman Solomon

Glad to be here.

Paul Jay

 Matt, kick us off,  what do you make of these events of January 6th and then what do you make of the response of the Democratic Party so far?

Matt Taibi

That’s a tough question. Obviously it’s the end of a long and painful sequence of events. I think this is fundamentally an expression of the problem of information in this country. We clearly have a significant number of people who are now believing things that just aren’t true. And then we had a President who took measures that were unprecedented in their unpatriotic breadth. In some past episodes like Bush v. Gore, the political parties always came to a point where they said for the good of the country, let’s just put it aside and go forward. Trump didn’t do that. He’s going to be impeached for that reason and that seems appropriate to me. The 25th Amendment question is a little different, having done a couple of stories on that issue, I don’t necessarily think that that’s going to work because that relies upon a definition of incapacity. I don’t think he’s incapacitated. Impeachment seems more likely to me.

Norman Solomon

I agree with what Matt said. I’ve been thinking about how there’s a baseline of lies that has been ongoing from the Oval Office and whoever has sat behind the desk there. But what we’ve seen in the last four years is not just lies about what is going on in other countries and about machinations from the U.S. Government, but it’s been gaslighting lies, so it’s very empirical when Trump has said things that are so clearly absurd. It’s who you’re going to believe? Him or your own eyes. That has had a cumulative effect of trying to gain the allegiance of people who say they are going to believe him over whatever part of their brain used to function about something that’s empirical. The famous statement that Trump made about he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and his followers wouldn’t mind. That’s been borne out on a lot of different levels.

Paul Jay

I think it’s important and I know we’ve both discussed this. I’ve discussed it with Matt and you, Norman, before. But before we dig further into January 6th, I think we should remind ourselves in this conversation that maybe it was the pandemic that lost Trump the election. But the other side of that, if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, this guy who was capable of doing these things, probably would have been re-elected.

In all likelihood, if he can get 74, 75 million votes after such disastrous handling of the pandemic, he may well have won. Matt, I know we talked about it before, but I don’t think we should forget that this is who Trump really is and has been and he could well have won this election.

Matt Taibi

Yeah, absolutely. But I think we have to ask ourselves why is that the case? And there are some pretty troubling answers to that question. I have a lot of discussions with friends in media about this. Do people believe Trump? Do they follow him against all empirical evidence or against all seeming empirical evidence because they’re crazy or because of decades of feeling alienated from the truth and feeling they can’t trust institutional sources as much as they used to. I’ve definitely noticed in covering presidential elections, dating back to the early 2000s, that there’s been a progression in this feeling of distrust towards news reporters and towards commercial media that for me, 100% contributes to the Trump phenomenon.

Throughout his presidency we’ve seen that develop. As crazy as he’s been, there just hasn’t been this commensurate effort to try to win people back or to successfully win people back, and I think that’s troubling. Again he needed the pandemic to lose and I think that speaks to some pretty remarkable institutional failures.

Norman Solomon

I think when Richard Nixon resigned, he still had about one-third of the country that was bedrock support. The way in which the U.S. news media, the mainstream media, took two or three years into the administration of Trump before outlets like CNN or The New York Times would say that he was lying. And that has become routine better late than never, but it took a while. And that should give us pause, because when somebody comes around who is slicker at deception, then we may revert to the euphemisms, which don’t help.

But that said, as Trump has shown, he doesn’t need to get support from what we call the mainstream media because he’s got his own stream of the mainstream media. It goes to questions that have been written about by Wilhelm Reich and others. What is that mass psychology of fascism? And we’ve got a lot of psychology that has been brought to the surface in recent years.

Paul Jay

I was recently watching this series on Showtime called The Reagans, and I’ve interviewed the director. I’m going to be running that soon. I think sometimes this Trump phenomenon is a little bit too much looked like a unique phenomenon.

I think the bulk of the Trump politics and the bulk of the Trump supporters are not all that different than the Reagan campaign, including all the racism, and the constituency that supported Reagan. And you can go back further to Goldwater, and the popular support for McCarthyism and the House of un-American Activities Committee, which is rooted in all the propaganda that came out of World War Two and the sort of fervor on two sides in 1946, after the war, you have more strikes in the United States than any time before and any time after. The rise of working-class militancy was met with McCarthyism.

And you’ve had this progression where the media fully plays along with all the assumptions of the Cold War and Reaganism, and then it becomes a partisan fight with Trump, but the underlying assumptions don’t really change on part of any of the media.

So this whole culture of the rise of this kind of fascistization of the culture. That Trump is the buffoon tip of a fascist spear within a larger fascistization that takes place, which includes the leadership of the Democratic Party. It’s not like these are evil people. This is a kind of an objective process that’s unfolding when you turn most of the power over to Wall Street and financialization. Matt, what do you think?

Matt Taibi

I think I would disagree a little bit there. Trump, he governed, he ran as a populist outsider and as a critic of the intelligence services and at least sometimes the military, the war effort, corporations, whereas, Reagan was full bore a reactionary who ran on pride and belief in free-market capitalism and the military and the military buildup. He was a friend of institutional America in a way that Trump was not. Trump certainly echoed a lot of the themes that Reagan did, and he certainly stole from a lot of the emotional tenor of the Reagan movement, including the slogan Make America Great Again, which was taken from Reagan. Even the whole idea of nostalgia for a lost era that never existed. The symbolism of having Scott Baio be the opening speaker at the Republican National Convention. He literally ran on bringing Happy Days back, which was very similar to what Reagan did. But their orientation as politicians, I think was very different because the population had changed a significant amount from 1980 to now.

There’s just so much more anger directed at the system than there might have been in 1980 when Reagan won white Democrats in places like Macomb County, Michigan, by appealing to patriotism. But this time, those same voters were upset about a whole bunch of other things that Trump also talked about, and you see he was lying in his appeals, but I think it was a different appeal.

Paul Jay

Reagan’s big slogan was “government isn’t the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.” He ran against government. It’s all BS because Trump loved the military. He certainly didn’t mind that institution. But I agree with you. There’s an angrier edge here, which has to do a lot with what’s changed in the country.

Matt Taibi

But he ran against NATO. He talked about why are all these other countries paying their NATO dues. He believes these foreign wars are a bad deal. He was very conscious about when he invoked those things and when he didn’t. Following him around the campaign trail I was always careful to notice when he brought that out. It was always in places where there were lots of returning vets in the audience. In the reddest red state areas, he would pull out those themes.

I see what you’re saying. I just think that he was going for a slightly different vibe in my view.

Norman Solomon

And the rhetoric was quite different. The vibe that he created and accentuated, amplified, tapped into was different, and yet particularly in governance, he was carrying the mail for the same people that George W. Bush carried for and preceding especially Republican presidents. I think that explains why whatever personality clashes – McConnell didn’t want to go to the White House because they didn’t want to wear a mask – that sort of thing. Underlying it, the symbol that is Jeff Flake was thrilled to vote for the Supreme Court nominees.

That of course is an explanation largely for the evangelicals wrapping their holy arms around him as well. He’s delivered for the right-wing, for the classic, very conservative, reactionary Republican agenda. And now that’s where I come back to this phrase that is sort of out of fashion, but there’s a split, actually splits plural, in the ruling class. Even within the more conservative right-wing sectors, especially since last Wednesday, they are in somewhat of a disarray. That said, I think that the Democratic Party has a lot of potential splits ahead and some of them could be constructive. But this is sort of pick up sticks right now. A lot of confusion.

Paul Jay

Matt, do you consider the Trump and/or the movement, or sections of, that back Trump essentially part of a fascistization?

Matt Taibi

I think there are elements to that, but I always thought Trump lacked the discipline, intellectual consistency, the impulse for political organization, and the ambition to be a fascist in any real sense. Watching him campaign, his campaign was essentially him. He didn’t have a massive ground game. He went from city to city improvising and thinking up his speeches off the top of his head. And we saw over the course of four years, he did occasionally implement things where there was an agreement with the existing Republican establishment – like the 2017 massive tax giveaway – but where it would have required a more ambitious overhaul or something more far-reaching, he didn’t have that strategic discipline and he was never able to maintain relationships with people like Steve Bannon, who might have been able to carry it out. There was no Dick Cheney to George W. Bush in this White House. And so I was always a little bit less concerned about that than maybe some other people were.

Paul Jay


Norman Solomon

Well, personally, he didn’t have the requisite combination of qualities to really pull together maybe a fascistic movement or make the party thoroughly fascistic per se. But his guiding star was himself, his megalomania. It’s beyond my expertise, if it’s simply an extreme personality disorder, what kind of mental illness or psychopathy he might be immersed in? But the fact is, it is ultimately all about himself. And you could almost do a thought experiment that if 6, 8, 10 years ago, before he came down the golden escalator, he decided that all glory to him would be more likely if he ran as a Democrat or a liberal Democrat.

I’m not saying he would have done well, but if he thought that was a pathway. You know, he’s a sicko, and it sort of clashes with the classic Marxist idea that individual personalities and psychological make-up of one person doesn’t change history, the economic social forces do. The economic social forces do have huge effects. But still, in all, individuals really can make a huge difference. And I think part of the takeaway now, and some of the mainline media are articulating this, is that this supposedly impregnable democratic system is extremely vulnerable, including even what’s in the constitution that the executive branch is foundering around in the legislative branch is foundering around right now.

So I think underlying it, and especially for people, who have what we call liberal or progressive values, this is a very hazardous moment because even though Trump-ism may lose Trump, and even though that particular unique set of personal capacities and he is shrewd in his own desires, we’re still going to be left with, as we’ve been talking about, this tremendous base of people who want to believe lies. They’re propelled by nativism, racism, sometimes misogyny, a vision of national salvation that’s extremely dangerous, and they’re able to coalesce and in some at least semi-haphazard way to organize effectively.

Matt Taibi

I just want to jump in quickly and agree with that. If you go back and look at Donald Trump, the way he was talking in 1999 when he was thinking about running as a Reform Party candidate, he sounds, for all intents and purposes, like a modern Democrat in a lot of ways. There are some differences, but clearly, he was very interested in being taken seriously by that sector of society.

It just so happened that he was never going to be able to be taken seriously as a Democrat, and I think on some level psychologically he realized that and this is why he moved over towards this incarnation of himself. He’s completely without principles. And he just has an incredibly powerful nose for how to attract attention and how to get crowds together, and how to animate crowds. The content, I always thought was less important to him than the impact.

Paul Jay

I think one of the biggest differences between Reagan and Trump is that Reagan was packaged by what they called the Kitchen Cabinet. He was recruited by a bunch of millionaires, which in today’s terms would have been billionaires. He was an actor playing the part of the face of this extreme globalization, the attacks on the unions, and so on.

He was always in control of the forces that brought him to power. Trump was not supposed to be the guy. He was not the anointed guy. They being the forces that control the Republican Party, thought they were going to have another Bush. Even the far-right crazy money, Robert Mercer and his group, which included Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, thought it was going to be Cruz.

I think what’s happened to both the Democratic and the Republican parties is the Internet and social media has really changed things. As much as it allowed Bernie Sanders to raise money and run a real horse race against Hillary, and again against Biden, if they hadn’t all ganged up to bury Sanders, but in the Republican Party, the same thing happened. This Internet and social media allowed Trump to emerge out of that Republican convention victorious, even though he was bankrupt, more or less, and then you’ve got this weird fracture in the billionaire class where a few crazy right-wing billionaires can anoint a president.

So Robert Mercer comes in, brings his team from Breitbart over to elect Trump. You get Sheldon Adelson $25 million and then more. The bottom line here, I think, is that to a large extent, the elites have lost control of a process they so fully controlled before. It’s interesting that letter that the ten former secretaries of defense published warning the military not to get involved if Trump tried to involve them in creating martial law, as Flynn called for.

And in fact, there’s an article by another general that says that letter was a direct response to Flynn’s call for martial law in a new election. Maybe you guys saw this before; I didn’t realize who actually organized that letter: Dick Cheney. He’s the one that got the 10 guys together to do the letter.

Norman Solomon

And his daughter is the moderate now, you know in the Republican Party which tells you how there’s been this shift. You know, the baseline and part of the character of fascism is that the goalposts keep moving and we keep being encouraged to say, oh well, that’s not fascism, where we would have been shocked a year earlier. Maybe this is an oxymoron. I don’t know. The mainstream elites are very upset with where things are going.

But the Mercers, the Adelsons, they put their money down with some really good investments. I have on my desk, this brilliant book, Democracy and Change by Nancy MacLean. There have been a number of good studies like that one showing that extreme right-wing billionaires have really done some very cagey investments, including at a certain point when there was a tipping point for Trump that he was going to be the nominee. They put their money on him.

For a lot of what they care about, they got what they wanted in spades. Now he is not completely reliable. He’s gone off the deep end. So they’ll toss him, but politicians have always been expendable. I think we could say in a sense, there’s been a sort of inflation of lies and also of Orwellianism. When I was a teenager, I used to watch one of the three TV channels and Lyndon Johnson would say in very grave tones what we’re hearing in the last few days, that nothing can be solved by violence.

And he was ordering these to B-52s to slaughter people in Vietnam. If you had any cognitive ability to understand what’s in the book 1984 and what Orwellian-ism is, back then, the lies were flagrant. But what’s happened now is it’s become so overt and so extreme. It’s some sort of mind rot where you have an important segment, arguably the majority of the so-called leadership of the Republican Party, the GOP folks, including 140 or so of the House, who are willing to say that we want your brain to go into synapse destruction so that you can’t reason any more. And certainly, that seems to be a good runway for fascism to take off.

Matt Taibi

I definitely think that what you were saying about the difference between Reagan being the frontman and Trump not being one, that’s important because one of the things he ran against was the stage-managing of the presidential election process and the fake aspects of it. He went up on stage and he wasn’t an actor. That was his entire appeal to his audiences. You weren’t looking at some exquisitely designed hoax that was some billionaire’s creation you were looking at a real living, breathing, farting human being with all his flaws.

Additionally, he was running against the way the press covered that whole charade previously, where we used to all the time praise candidates who completely didn’t deserve praise for qualities that were completely nonexistent. So we would call people like Jeb Bush the credible candidate or the more credible candidate than somebody else like Ron Paul, or we would arbitrarily decide that Hillary Clinton was a serious candidate. Dennis Kucinich wasn’t a serious candidate or Bernie Sanders wasn’t a serious candidate. These were all elite pronouncements. The voters caught on to the fact that we were selling them all kinds of things that were fake. Trump was very canny in recognizing that people had lost their patience with some of this. And he presented himself as a realistic, authentic solution.

Of course, he wasn’t, but the reason he succeeded was that there was that element of phoniness that existed previously. I think people forget that. If you go back and look there was $150 million behind Jeb Bush and he got three delegates, which tells you about the level of disgust that Republican voters felt for being told whom to vote for. I think that’s an interesting sideline to a little Trump phenomenon, that he was getting a bounce from previous failings.

Norman Solomon

That’s a great point. And I think that Trump intuitively perhaps I don’t know how much he learned from Roy Cohn, but it’s sort of rhetorical judo. There’s this classic moment in one of the final debates last year with Biden where we’ve got Trump saying, oh you just sound like a politician. It was a very deft jab, puncturing the balloon.

We used to say under Reagan that he was like the character in the novel and the film being there. Jerzy Kosinski, somebody who he was schooled in, and he was then great at being like somebody on TV. Whether it was training or just natural affinity, people would say, wow, you’re real because you’re like somebody that I see on TV.

How do you compare and I’m not sure what the answer to this is, the Reagan capacity, which was great. He was good at that. And Trump almost trumped Reagan at seeming like he was somebody stumbling around and being real with you. Something I want to bring up is that I think Bernie Sanders, as usual, has been very cogent in recent days in response to what happened on January 6th. And he’s saying something that the mass media right now have virtually no appetite for.

I just wrote a piece about, which is that, yes, we’ve got to condemn, challenge, and impeach, etc., and push back as hard as we can against Trump and the forces that he’s unleashed, but the reality is that Trump was created by the way that business as usual functions, and the way that the class oppression or whatever phrase you want to use for it has immiserated people, the poverty, the economic insecurity and all of that.

And that unless and until the Democratic Party gets off of its’ elite high horse and its’ capacity to simply weld its future to Wall Street and the big banks and so forth, then there’s going to be this constituency that Trump has enlivened that could triumph next time with somebody even more adept. I think it’s notable that while Bernie is saying that and some progressives are saying that right now, you look at cable news and the elite media and it’s very hard to find that theme coming through.

Matt Taibi

I totally agree with that. I remember talking to Bernie about that right after the 2016 election and talking about how the party needs to try to call Trump’s bluff and try to if he proposes certain things like he did propose universal health insurance on the campaign trail. Let’s see if he really means that. Let’s see if he really is in favor of drug reimportation or reducing the military budget or whatever it was, because he would say all things at all times. It was important, I think Bernie felt, to examine the things that drove people to make this decision.

Instead, this has been a consistent criticism of mine, is that both the Democratic Party and a lot of people in the news media took the opposite route of not really digging into some of the underlying reasons. And because of that, just being a wall of condemnation is not going to change the problem. They’re not making an effort to try to look at what the actual underlying reasons might be and whether there are things that they could say that could actually change minds or help solve the problem. I think that’s it’s significant that Bernie’s point of view is being frozen out of the press.

Paul Jay

So Biden’s going to be president one way or the other in a few days, and both of you have been quite critical of the Democratic Party in different ways. What are your expectations of the Biden administration and what are your expectations of the progressives, AOC, the Squad, and such? Because there’s lots of argument and debate going on about all this on the left right now. Matt, why don’t you start?

Matt Taibi

I guess what I’m anxious to see is what does the term progressive mean going forward? Because the version that Bernie Sanders campaigned on in 2016 and 2020 was a starkly anti-corporate message, and that was based on a hardcore pocketbook issues, income inequality, labor rights, that sort of thing. Now, there’s a version of the future going forward where somebody like AOC maybe deemphasizes some of those things in favor of cultural issues. We see propagandized in the press a more superficial version of what was a real conflict within the Democratic Party in the last four years, a real schism between the candidate who didn’t take any corporate money and all the candidates who did like Joe Biden.

That’s what I’m curious to see is going forward. Does that schism still exist? Is there going to be a vigorous debate about things like lowering the defense budget, pulling back from our aggressive foreign policy stance, really trying to implement anti-trust laws, taking on medical complex, trying to push through something like Medicare for all, reducing student debt, or are we not going to have any of that and are we going to have a version of basically the Obama years where we only have a superficial nod to a few issues here and there? I don’t know. I’d be curious to see what Norman says about this because from the perspective of the Sanders people, it’s very interesting to see what happens with what they built over the last four or five years.

Norman Solomon

I think that’s a really key question. What do we mean by the term progressive and how does that play out in practice by the actual concepts that people are moving ahead on? As an organizer with, I’ve been really immersed in this two phase campaign we’ve had. First, vote Trump out. We put a lot of energy and frankly, money, and staff time into several swing states, and there was always a second part to that. We said vote Trump out, then challenge Biden.

Now we’ve launched the No Honeymoon campaign at We found that among some people we worked with at the grassroots, they really meant it: to challenge Biden. They’re with us and we’re working together and we’re challenging several of the corporate and militaristic nominees to the Cabinet and so forth and we’re going to be doing that throughout January and February, but we’re also getting some real blowback, and we’re getting messages like we were with you to vote Trump out at Roots Action, but what the hell are you doing now with your campaign? Because we got to give him a chance. Look at what Biden is up against. Why are you undercutting him? And our response is that Barack Obama was up against a lot when he came in in 2009. The economy had absolutely cratered. And he proceeded to bail out the big banks and let millions of people with their houses underwater suffer and have tremendous losses, the aggregate value of their homes, especially elderly people and others, just went through the floor. He proceeded to be largely a gift to Wall Street with some phony populist rhetoric. And then two years later, the Republicans in 2010 took over Congress.

What happened with Bill Clinton? Very similar. Bill Clinton was somebody who came in with the rhetoric. We were told to give him a chance. Then we got the so-called reforms that he put in. He brought in NAFTA, so-called welfare reform, the crime bill, repeal of Glass-Steagall later on, and two years later, in 1994, the Contract for America was a Republican takeover. So are we supposed to do this a third time? Are we supposed to give the incoming Democrat for the third time in a row all the space to collapse into corporate America so that the Republicans with their phony populism can come back because Democrats haven’t provided genuine populism to latch on to and get behind? So I think that this is an unresolved battle.

While there are some good picks, mostly subcabinet, for the most part, these are standard issue corporate Democrats who are put into the cabinet and I think it’s very telling, although rarely mentioned, there’s not one single cabinet nominee from Biden who is an authentic part of the Bernie Sanders revolution. The political revolution. It’s an exclusion that’s quite intentional. While we have people like Neera Tanden nominated to Office of Management and Budget, one of the most virulent and powerful private-sector think tank anti-progressives in the Democratic Party universe.

Speaking for Roots Action, we’re organizing like crazy, and we’re intent that throughout this year there’s the No Honeymoon campaign, but beyond that, working in coalition with many groups that are going to oppose the, and be willing to fight against the default militarism of the incoming Biden administration and the corporatism. I think that battle has to be joined if we fall back and let the back to the future Biden people work their way on the administration and the country, it simply gives more fodder and power to the right-wing to come back in terms of grabbing control of Congress again. And it also damages our prospects for the future we need.

Matt Taibi

Yeah, and just to just to tie that in with what I was saying in the beginning. That moment that Norman talks about where Obama got elected and the economy was in crisis, and then there was this very telling opportunity there for him to make a dramatic stand on behalf of people who are in real trouble, and they took a very, very consequential decision to execute this bailout, which was an even more aggressive continuation of the bailout policies that had begun under Bush before Obama got elected. That one decision ended up having consequences that I think continued on through 2016 and laid that laid the groundwork for an argument that Trump made, especially against Hillary Clinton, given her closeness to a lot of those banks.

It’s incredibly important to define what exactly the Biden administration is going to be early because that’ll probably have a lot of impact on how much leverage the Republicans have 4 years from now or 8 years from now, and what kind of person we end up getting as a result.

Paul Jay

Norman, how do you think first of all, how do you assess so far the women known as the Squad, the progressives in the house. They’re dealing with I think a very complicated situation, trying to fight from within the Democratic Party on the floor of the House and still maintain really progressive positions. How do you think they’ve been doing?

Norman Solomon

Well, overall, I think they’re in their own tactical space where, for instance, they were able to use some leverage towards at least putting some holes in the PAYGO straitjacket that Nancy Pelosi had imposed that was limiting or almost eliminating the capacity in many cases to have affirmative public investment and programs to help people with money. So I think overall, the Squad and now it’s a bigger Squad, they’re playing a good tactical role, but that’s not our job on the outside.

We should be pushing harder. We don’t have the constraints. And this is true of Bernie too. Bernie to some extent, even though he’s speaking wonderfully and articulating well, Bernie Sanders is somewhat in a political box. You know, now fortunately, he’s going to be chair of the Senate Budget Committee, but he has a relationship with Biden and so on and so forth, and activists on the outside, we need to be more uncompromising.

We need to be more demanding. We need to push more emphatically and demand more. I feel that we should be willing to criticize members of the Squad. There’s no question about that, but at the same time, we shouldn’t be pointing any loose cannons at them. We should be identifying the, if you will, the political enemies, which are not only the Blue Dog Democrats but a hell of a lot of members of the almost 100 member Congressional Progressive Caucus who are not progressive. At RootsAction action we’re already researching which ones to primary.

Paul Jay

Matt, same question. I know on the Internet right now, there are some people calling the Squad the Fraud Squad, sellouts. It’s a lot of pretty strong language. What’s your assessment of how they’ve been doing.

Matt Taibi

I mean, it’s so early, it’s impossible to say yet. That whole brouhaha that’s going on within left online circles is a massive distraction for those people, but I think it’s not a huge issue for people overall. If you leave New York, San Francisco, and Washington, most people are even aware of a lot of these things that are going on.

I just really think it’s going to come down to big, meaty pocketbook issues. Do they actually forgive student debt? Do they come up with some kind of actual solution to problems like that, or is it going to all be cosmetic? The way it mostly was during the Obama years? And do we have continuity with the same militaristic policies – drone assassination,  indefinite detention? All of these things that Biden was very much a part of in his last tour in the Executive branch.

If they continue with that and AOC just becomes a lodestar for more cultural issues to lobby Biden on some of those things, then that’s where we are going to have a problem. That’s what I’m worried about. Where the spirit of the Sanders campaign, if that doesn’t continue in some fashion, in a pretty aggressive way, then I’ll be worried.

Norman Solomon

It’s just like canceling student debt and quick action on $15 an hour federal minimum wage, is going to be really important bedrock economic issues. I’m already sick of hearing how he’s got a great cabinet because he’s got women and people of color. The Biden campaign loves that stuff. Hillary Clinton loved that stuff four years ago, and on the stage, there’d be a lot of women and people of color.

And yet she stood for and we have to make sure that Biden if we can prevent him from standing for essentially a back to the future status quo. I mean, can you think of a more a status quo slogan then America is Already Great, which Hillary Clinton used. That was her response to Make America Great Again. Who knows what Biden’s slogan will be? Build Back Better will probably have to go to the ashcan, but whatever those sloganeerings are, the fact is we need fundamental economic justice. And that’s a bedrock of the Bernie Sanders campaigns and we’ve got to fight for it.

Paul Jay

Matt, Norman, thanks so much for joining me. Let’s do it again soon. And thank you for joining me on podcast. Please don’t forget there’s a donate button at the top of the web page.


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  1. There is no progressive movement in the US. There are self-styled “progressives” in the House, but they lack the fortitude to keep their campaign promises. When given the chance to twist Pelosi’s arm or get rid of her, they instead voted for her. Betrayal !

    I am reminded of another much loved betrayer, Tulsi Gabbard, to whose campaign for the nomination I donated more than I have even given to a candidate, even to Ralph Nader. Ms Gabbard, upon withdrawing from the nomination, could not wait but to endorse “a decent man”, Joe Biden, unconditionally. Yes, to be a Democratic candidate she had to promise to endorse the winner, but he was not yet formally the winner. She could have held out. She had given up the House. What was she hoping for, Secretary of Defense? Why did she betray her peace-loving supporters?

    John LeCarre wrote of spies and betrayal. The two are a collocation. I did not expect betrayal from a pious Hindu as she gave us her “Aloha” !

  2. Forgotten is the role the DNC has played in Trumps success. It is not just the pandemic that lost him the election. Every policy Trump did, they supported, from Yemen and SA to Palestine to Libya to med4all to Assange….Try name a policy they did not support….except maybe the climate….that it supports the war against Venezuela means it is all about oil….withdrawing from Paris meant little in terms of U.S. action. Did it seriously object to withdrawing from ANY Treaty.

    Think about this. You guys are jumping on Trump who is easy to blame and who is an idiot. Fascism is coming with Biden.

    1. Yes, just like the powers behind Newt Gingrich forced him into a partnership with Bill Clinton because it takes a Democrat President to sheepdog the people into allowing anti-Union legislation along with all the points noted in the podcast, it took shade from Donald Trump to let the Democrats vote in pro-corporatist judges like there was no tomorrow. Monica Lewinski should be given a Freedom Medal, she saved Medicare and Social Security from Newt and Bill.

  3. I hope Jay might create a web interface where we can propose points/questions to be covered in interviews.

    There is one “huge” positive that Trump did, by his acting rash and not stopping long enough to let his cabinet get him to understand it was against his real constituency’s best interest. He killed TPP. Biden, or rather the people who pull his strings was/were an architects of TPP. Because this happened early under Trump, I guess it slipped the guests/Jays attention. TPP is real Fascism, corporatism that uses the state as a matt to wipe it’s feet on, and shows Matt was right – Trump didn’t have the instinct to make a good fascists, he’s just a cheap demagog. Now, Biden on the other hand, as the instinct of a good neo-liberal cum fascist, as his proposed anti-terrorism legislation shows.

    So missed chance to look at pro/cons of if TPP is coming back, and if Joe is going to pull off Orwell’s prophesy. Matt would have been good for these two topics, and Norman sounds like he would have been too.

    1. Excellent point. I covered TPP and watch how Hillary had to admit it was NOT the gold standard to trade agreements. It gave corporations power over governments, the right to sue them if they thought their profits suffered.

  4. You know what. I’ve been disbelieving of what’s in the mainstream media for decades now. I’ve been distrustful and cynical about elected officials for the same period. I’ve seen this society slowly decaying, just like everyone else. But my response has not been to make a demi-god of a complete and obvious sleazy grifter like Donald Trump. I heard what he said in his campaign , I nodded my head at times, but I never ever thought for a second he was serious or reliable or anything but an egotistical racist lying clown. Trump’s supporters are as delusional about what America is and who they really are and what’s really happening to them as he is himself. They are immature, childish, angry people who are taken in by anybody who tells them what they want to hear, especially how absolutely great and wonderful they are, which he repeated ad nauseam…and to a great extent Reagan managed the same trick.

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