Ep. 30: It's Not Your Fault (w/ Michael Moore & Meagan Day)

Nov. 1, 2019

Ep. 30: It's Not Your Fault (w/ Michael Moore & Meagan Day)

Briahna Joy Gray: In perhaps the most memorable scene in the 1997 classic film, Good Will Hunting, a brilliant working-class janitor, played by Matt Damon, breaks down when told simply by his therapist, "It's not your fault."

Speaker 2: Look at me son. It's not your fault.

Speaker 3: I know.

Speaker 2: It's not your fault.

Speaker 3: I know.

Speaker 2: No, no, you don't. It's not your fault.

Briahna Joy Gray: I think about that scene a lot these days, and not just because we're living through a period of 90s nostalgia. I think about it because it exemplifies what I believe is happening on an emotional level to people who are connecting with the Bernie Sanders campaign. You see, Bernie articulates more clearly than any other candidate that the problems facing everyday Americans are not the result of laziness or failure to work hard. It's because systems have been rigged to benefit the rich at our expense. Republicans and moderate Democrats, for years, have mythologized the "undeserving poor," cast working people as takers as opposed to makers, and pretended that good outcomes were proof of merit and that poor outcomes were deserved.

In psychology, this is called the just-world fallacy, the idea that good things happen to good people and bad things are deserved. It helps us to feel that the world isn't so random and cruel, but it also helps disguise structural issues that are the root of so many problems that feel random but aren't really. While wealthy politicians and CEOs have been complaining that they pay more taxes than working class people, they obscure that they have rigged the tax system so that they pay less proportionately while they take larger and larger percentages of profit. While they've been selling us on the idea of choice, they've been taking ours away. Employers can change our healthcare plans at the drop of a hat, and tough luck getting insurance at all if you find yourself laid off.

While they've been telling us that living paycheck to paycheck is our fault for not getting enough education, Americans are tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt with jobs that require higher education, but which don't pay enough to keep up with 8%interest rates. Billionaires sell their rags to riches stories while declining to mention that only 4% of people born in the bottom fifth in terms of wealth ever end up at the top. And crucially, they omit the reasons why. Our current economic system constrains Americans' options all while convincing us that our struggles are personal failings. And now, Bernie is saying clearly and unequivocally, "It's not your fault."

This is Hear the Bern, a podcast about the people, ideas and politics that are driving the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign, and the movement to secure a dignified life for everyone living in this country. My name is Briahna Joy Gray, and I'm coming to you from campaign headquarters in Washington, DC. Bernie has transformed American politics by identifying the real enemy, and now, we're on a mission to close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be. I've come to see the emotion expressed by attendees of Bernie's rallies and townhalls as akin to the release captured in that famous Good Will Hunting scene. It's the emotion that comes from no longer being gaslighted and from being able to translate the private shame of personal struggles into an opportunity for solidarity and mass movement.

On this week's episode, I talk to Jacobin staff writer, Meagan Day and Academy Award winning director, Michael Moore about the ideology behind left politics, and why the movement led by Bernie Sanders offers something unique. A challenge to the system that is more than technocratic, more than superficial, it's a rejection of the status quo and an expansion of our political imagination to include life, true liberty and happiness for every single one of us. I started by asking Michael Moore why his read on things is so consistently unique and often more accurate than that of most opinion setters in the pundit class.

Michael Moore: Look, I mean I straddle a number of worlds, uh, in terms of the popular culture in, in terms of life's politics, uh, the working class, which never gets discussed.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: Uh, it bothers me constantly to hear when they do talk about the working class and how that's, you know, that's why you should vote for Joe Biden because he's gonna bring those working-class voters in. And they're lying whenever they use the words working class, because the majority of the working class are not angry white guys over the age of 50. The majority of the working class are women, people of color and young people. Young people earn the, the least amount of money.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: Women earn less than men, people of color earn less than people that have no color.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: [laughing] So it's basically when you hear the words working class, the first image that should come into your head is a 30-year-old black woman.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: That's the working class of the United States of America.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative], it's so f- it's funny you mention that. You know, uh, there was an article by, uh, Thomas Frank, who wrote Listen Liberal and-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... What's the Matter With Kansas a couple years ago in the Guardian where he wrote about how the Democratic Party had turned its back on the working class and they needed to do better. And not once in the article did he mention the words white working class, anything that was racial in nature, and he got dragged on the internet for saying, basically arguing ... people were arguing that he's defending the white working class. Why does everything have to be about the white working class? The Democratic Party is about people of color too. And he was like, "Hey, wait a minute. It's me at this point." Oftentimes, it's liberals. It, it's not like, Conservatives at this point who are whitewashing the working class. It is presumptively some people in the center left to the left who are so sensitive, understandably, about pandering to like, working class interests and throwing the interests of other people under the bus. That they don't keep in their mind the possibility of a more diverse working-class coalition. To them-

Michael Moore: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... and you saw this following 2016 when there was this conversation about what caused Trump to win.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, and this insistence that it was exclusively race, right?

Michael Moore: Hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: And there was no class component to it as opposed an- a conversation we could very easily have about it being both.

Michael Moore: So why do you think that is, that class is rarely discussed?

Briahna Joy Gray: I mean there is ... there is like, a historical narrative that's laid out very well and less than liberal about how basically, with the rise of television, there was a, a greater need. That the power of big dollar donations grew because similarly, you could ... more money meant more advertising dollars and that had a real impact on elections. And at that point, the Democratic Party, with the McGovern Laws, they basically freaked out and said, "We gotta start earning a lot of corporate money too," abandoned the Labor Party, stopped talking about class issues, decided to go for the big dollar donations as well, and we got two corporate parties in a more cemented way than we ever had before.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: But I think there's also a lot of well-meaning liberals who bought into the idea that politics could be fully known based on identity, right?

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: Not that identity is an important lens and it informs people's politics-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... but that all you ... the Republicans are bad and racist and lie and Democrats are good and diverse and they're LGBT and good.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: And that that was as far as politics had to go because otherwise, there's no difference, right? If, if both parties are kinda courting the same class interests, then the only thing that distinguishes them is more cultural issues-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... whether it's abortion or race and-

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... things like that. So now, we're in this pickle where people are now having to confront the reality that we have AOC and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... supporting someone because of his politics-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... in Bernie Sanders, but who doesn't share their racial identity.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: And I think it's, it's an interesting turning point we're at right now, and I'm interested to see where it goes.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: But I wanna know from, from you, someone who's been described as this kinda working class whisperer, who when-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... so many people thought that Michigan was a long shot, who wrote Bernie Sanders off in 2016-

Michael Moore: Hmm.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... you correctly identified what was going on in the country. And I'm curious, what inputs are you seeing that informed your views back then, want are you seeing now? I mean do you expect those, the same kind of trends, the same kind of unexpected success of Bernie especially in these states that are known as these, like, working class bastions-

Michael Moore: Absolutely, absolutely. I'll give you a, a good example of where I live in northern Michigan. I live in a town called Traverse City, Michigan.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: In the primary in 2016, uh, not, not only did Bernie win the state of Michigan, but you'd think the, the city that he would have done the best I and would be Ann Arbor-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... right, just traditionally. The city he did best in was in Traverse City.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: 70% Bernie, 30% Hillary, that was the spread.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: Traverse City had voted twice for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. So, I found that very interesting to see how did it go from, just a few years earlier, being a ... I would say a fairly Republican town, not a right-wing town, but, uh, these liberal Republicans that are in Michigan. New York had them-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... the Rock- Rockefeller Republicans-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... that sort of thing. How did it go from hat to Bernie? But I think ... I think the campaign, I'm guessing, and the polling that has happened here, that you found that oftentimes, in certain places where Trump was the first choice of the voter, their second choice was Bernie Sanders.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: And the, the pundits, the pundit class didn't understand how to deal with that. I think I understand it. I think that people, people ... Remember, most Americans don't identify themselves with, "Hi, I'm a Democrat."

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: [crosstalk 00:10:25], "Hey, I'm a republican." Nobody is an "I'm a" anything.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: They're just trying to get by. They're trying to get by. They're trying to get out of work after 10 hours, so they maybe get 45 minutes with the kids before they got to put them to bed. You know, that's, that's really what's on most people's minds, and how to pay the bills this month. So, I think, because so many people are so fed up with a political system that has let them down, that has promised many of a number of things and hasn't come through on, that they're looking for the person who's outside that box.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: They want somebody like ... For the people who voted for Trump [laughs], he was so far out of the box, and he love- They, people that voted for Trump loved that he scared the establishment-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... and that he scared the Republican Party establishment.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: That he scared them all 'because he wasn't part of any of it, 'because he doesn't believe in anything, first of all.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: Trump has no ideology-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... except the ideology, ideology of Donald J. Trump. He totally believes in Donald J. Trump.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] Right.

Michael Moore: You know, the first time I ran into him, when I first came to New York after Roger & Me-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... was at a benefit for Planned Parenthood, and I think he was one of the co-sponsors of the benefit.

Briahna Joy Gray: Really?

Michael Moore: Oh yeah. Now, this guy has-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... flipped every which way the wind blows.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: Whatever benefits him, that's without he's, he's down with, but to the public, he, he had a TV show that was on for 14 seasons.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: And because our side doesn't even own a TV-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... or if they do, they're not hooked up to cable, you know, you put on your Apple Play and then you can-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... you just watch what you wanna watch. But our fellow Americans still watch TV, and out there between the Hudson River and Interstate 5, people loved that show.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: They loved the show because they got to cathartically live through Donald Trump, not just the, the American dream that he was living on in his gold-plated Trump Tower-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... but it was also the fact that every week, they got to watch him fire the jerk, and everybody works next to that jerk.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: And every office, everybody watching this right now, you know who I'm talking about-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... the person in your office, the cubicle-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... three cu- [laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: Not here [laughs].

Michael Moore: No [laughs], three cubicles down. No, there is somebody that does work here-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... that just could be a little nice to people-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... could be a little less snarky-

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: ... could be a little less whatever, and every week, you got to sit there on the sofa and watch Donald Trump. He never fired, never got rid of the good people.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: He got rid of ... he got ... And when it went to Celebrity Apprentice, he got rid of Gary Busey.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: He got rid of Meatloaf.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughing].

Michael Moore: You're fired. You're fired. You know, they, they had an acting coach to come two weeks to get him to be able to say that one line.

Briahna Joy Gray: Really?

Michael Moore: He couldn't say the line. No. Well, what CEO has ever said, "You're fired," to anybody?

Briahna Joy Gray: Fair enough.

Michael Moore: They have henchmen do it.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: He's never said the words, "You're fired," so they had to teach him how to say you're fired.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: You're fired. And I think when people see that, "Yeah, they got rid of that guy. I work next to that guy," and so people loved the show for that. And that's how they knew Trump. They don't know. They don't know what he's really about.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. I, I think your-

Michael Moore: About Trump.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... your point about a lot of people saying that Bernie was their second choice when Trump was their first, and the media not knowing what to do with that, the interpretation of that by the mainstream press is, you know, this horseshoe theory argument right, where-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: ... you know, if, if the same people like both Bernie and Trump, it must mean that they have the agenda.

Michael Moore: Mm-mm [negative] no, no.

Briahna Joy Gray: That they mean the same thing for the country.

Michael Moore: No.

Briahna Joy Gray: And it can be ... you know, you get into some pretty difficult conversations with people because they are offended by that notion. They think that the notion that Bernie Sanders as an independent means that he doesn't share the values of the Democratic Party.

Michael Moore: I think what it means is, is that both Trump and Bernie, as they are perceived by the different people that would support them, are perceived as completely authentic people. And what's really interesting about Trump is he's so inauthentic-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... that, that makes him authentic.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right, and people don't get that.

Michael Moore: He's so- No, I know, and you can so trust his inauthenticity. And then, and then when he says things like, "I could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and nothing would happen to me," it's like, oh, he's actually telling you the truth.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: You know.

Briahna Joy Gray: When you're so audacious about your lie, when you're, when you ... If I say I'm wearing a green coat-

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... you and I both know I'm not wearing a green coat. My confidence and my ability to say that, it says something else about my trust in myself. It feels truthful because you and I both know we're thinking the same thing even though I'm telling you a lie, right?

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: And his failure to ... his unwillingness to apologize for, for anything is kind of this miraculous shield that Democrats haven't quite figured out how to diffuse, right?

Michael Moore: Right [laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: He does something terrible, we all go and say he should be ashamed of himself, but he doesn't say he's ashamed of himself. So, there's never that part of the media cycle where he is contrite and where everyone has to admit that he did something wrong. We have to move on to the next thing because what is it? What is there? There's no repentance. There's not ... That, that moment doesn't exist, and there's a strange kinda power in that. So, then it becomes this question of how do you diffuse someone like Trump? What do you do with someone who, because of their own l- uh, like, lapse of integrity or their own, uh, indifference to being called out or shamed, Trump is able to say whatever he wants to about you regardless of hypocrisy?

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: And sometimes I feel like the left Democrats live in this space where we're like, pointing out hypocrisy as the be all and end all of our argument.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, how dare you say you were, you, you know, you were gonna, you know, keep people from dying on the street Trump, and now, you're trying to cut Obamacare without a plan to replace it.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, how dare you accuse so and so of sexual assault when you've been accused of raping all of these women?

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, and he's like, "I don't care. I never said I was a good person, but you did."

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: Democrats, you did say that you were good and above this also, so I'm gonna call your stuff. It seems to me the only beat that is with someone who has unimpeachable integrity.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative], yes, and that's Bernie. Here's the one thing you know about Bernie, is that he will never sell out. Uh, whether you l- love Bernie or you don't love Bernie or whatever, here's what you know about Bernie. What you see is what you get. He's not gonna change. He can't be bought. He's had 78 years to cash in.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: To get his yacht-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... to get his golden palace or whatever, and I think ... this is why I think Bernie will crush Trump, or if Trump doesn't make it to the election, whoever is in his stead. That the public right now, wants the person who's going to be just exactly who he says that she is or who she says that she is, whoever the candidate is that is the most authentic. You know something about Bernie, that if he's promised you he's gonna do this, I swear to God, he's gonna do it. He's gonna find a way to do it. He won't do it alone. He'll bring us in on it. He'll bring all the people in, the people of this country that he's there to serve. He will be the servant of the people in the White House. That's gonna be so refreshing, when the public finally has a chance to vote and think about yeah, that's who I want.

I, I say to people, listen, the, the, the, the gruff exterior that you see in Bernie or the way he come, comes off may be sometimes ... Somebody, uh, said to me, uh, one time, who are those two guys in the Muppets, uh, Statler-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughing].

Michael Moore: ... or Waldorf in the [laughs] ... on the balcony? He was like, "One of them is Bernie." And it's like yeah, but you don't understand. What you need to see when you hear Bernie at the microphone like that, what you're witnessing is his armor.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: You're witnessing a person who's got his armor on because he's going into battle for us. He is gonna stand firm. He will not give in. He will not relent, 'because you know this is really a war. It's a war for so many things. It's a war to save our planet, but, but that's, that's who I want in the White House.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: I, I want some, somebody who literally ... I don't want him to pass away obviously-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... but I want somebody, just like I, I believe this about myself, I believe that you believe this about yourself, what would you be willing to do for others? And, you know, that speech in, in, uh, Queensbridge Park-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: ... when he ended it, I had never seen anything, when I looked around the crowd. And if, if you haven't heard it, you should link it or go listen to it. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, go to the end, listen to the last five minutes. He asks everybody at the rally to look around and find somebody that doesn't look like you, maybe somebody that isn't of the same skin color, maybe somebody that isn't of the same gender, maybe, maybe there's two men holding hands there and you're heterosexual, whatever it is. And look at that person, the stranger and ask yourself would you be willing to fight as hard for them as you would for yourself? And if the answer is yes, then we're gonna make it. This country ... We're gonna make it. This country is gonna be better. We're gonna have the America that we've never had.

It was so emotional. I looked around. I couldn't beli- Uh, everybody was in tears.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: I have never been to a politician's rally, and that includes his-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... where I have seen people crying-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: ... over what a politician just said.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: But you see, because ... but that's the beauty of it because he's not really a politician.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: And, and I think that that's why there are these Trump voters-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... who will list him as the second choice 'because they see everybody else as just the same old, same old. And with him, you may not agree with him on a number of things-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... but at least they know what you see is what you get, and it's one of the most inspiring things, uh, about Bernie. And, and I know, having known him, having spoken at his first rally when he won for Congress-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... I flew to Vermont. I know he was trying to get celebrities to come, and he [laughs] ... and you know, even though he's got to go to Vermont to an unknown, that Mayor of Burlington who says he's a Democratic Socialist.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: So, I said to him, "Bernie, uh, it was a big year for celebrities." There was Crocodile Dundee.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughing].

Michael Moore: There was Milli Vanilli. There was Vanilla Ice. There was a [laughs], a lot of people he could have got, and you know, it was me. Actually, he got ... No, he had, he had two guys from Vermont who made ice cream-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... then he had me, the guy who ate ice cream, and, uh, and I said that in the, in the park. It was just, uh-

Briahna Joy Gray: It's okay. They don't have to know [laughs].

Michael Moore: Can I say okay, I'm gonna retire it after this podcast.

Briahna Joy Gray: It's a good lie [laughs].

Michael Moore: But it was like [laughing] ... It was just ... It was just funny 'cause it's true actually. Do you know, uh, actually, can I just say now that we are moving to the lifestyle section of the podcast?

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] Of course.

Michael Moore: I have lost 78 pounds in the last 24 months.

Briahna Joy Gray: Oh, wow.

Michael Moore: Yeah, yeah, and, and I have eaten Ben & Jerry's ice cream every single night-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... before going to bed. I made it a-

Briahna Joy Gray: I can do that diet.

Michael Moore: No, seriously, I have, I have. And what am I drinking over here?

Briahna Joy Gray: Coke.

Michael Moore: A cola, yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: There's something to be said for, uh, just satisfying your urges, right, 'cause there's a, there's diet logic from, like, the, the 80s, like, eat all the sugar free, fat free stuff that doesn't even taste good.

Michael Moore: Oh no, that made, and by the way, we'll blame Howard for this too-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... because the sugar industry paid off a bunch of scientists at Harvard to do these studies to show that the problem was we had too much fat in our diet.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right, which is-

Michael Moore: And what the sugar companies wanted was then to take the fat out and replace it with the sugar, and that's what happened. And when I stopped shaming myself and I said you can eat whatever you want-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: ... as much as you want, whenever you want-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... just have one rule, only, only eat when I'm hungry.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: And when I'm not, I won't.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: And I'll stop when I'm full.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: You know, and it has, it has this ... I still have, like, 60, 70 pounds to go, but, uh, you know, I just think more ice cream is gonna get me there.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: But, uh, um, you can cut all that out if you want.

Briahna Joy Gray: Well, that, that ... No, I, I ... Look, that point about shaming weirdly has residence .... re- resonance across all kinds of political contexts, right? You know, the reality is that the ... a lot of folks are st- on our, on our side of the aisle are obsessed with this notion that if we just point out the things that Trump does that are awful and in fact, shameful enough-

Michael Moore: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... if we shame voters who did not vote and say you know ... you know, I hear this a lot when I'm at black events, you know, your ancestors fought and died for this, right? Why aren't you getting out there? Wha-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: You know, how dare you, um, squander this opportunity? You know, I saw ... I was able to see some, uh, footage, when you were making your last film, and you ... There was a, an interview with a bunch of nonvoters in, I believe, West Virginia. And their conversation was so interesting to me, 'because these were all people who were deeply committed, active in their communities. These were not fence sitters. These were not people, people who were indifferent to what happened in the world, and they all articulated that the reason they didn't vote was because they didn't feel like they were being offered something affirmative to vote for in the election. And that after spending decades of your life dutifully going out and voting for candidates who don't offer meaningful change and don't even pretend to offer meaningful change-

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... right, who literally ... And in this election, we're seeing people expressly run on the notion of incrementalism and trying to pa- like, play incrementalism off as pragmatism, right? As though we don't notice that the reason that we actually can't have good things isn't because we can't afford them. And this is, this is the lid that Bernie's blowing off, right?

Michael Moore: Right, that's right.

Briahna Joy Gray: He's exposed the notion of it's not because we can't afford to have these things. Canada can afford it. Yes, they're a tenth the size smaller, uh, smaller than us, but their economy is also the tenth of the size of ours, right?

Michael Moore: Yeah.

Briahna Joy Gray: All these other countries can do it. The reason we don't do it is because we're choosing to put our money elsewhere, in the military industrial complex, in the pockets of Wall Street financiers, right?

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: These are choices that we're making, and when you're talking about the emotional resonance of that speech in the park and the catha- the catharsis, that feeling of winning the crowd because you're looking around and saying oh gosh, we really are in this together, I call that the, uh ... I think of that as the, like, uh, it's not your fault moment from Good Will Hunting.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative], mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: 'Cause we have been told, the political lie has been everything bad in your life is your fault.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: If you're poor, you didn't work hard enough. You should have gone to college, oh, but you shouldn't have taken out that debt. That's your fault too if you're, you're saddled with that debt.

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

Briahna Joy Gray: And for someone to finally say actually, there are systems that have been rigged against you-

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... beyond your imagination.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: The law has been written for the entire history of this country to benefit the people, uh, elites, in ways that you will never benefit from.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: And that I'm someone who can actually speak truth to that power because I am ... have been able to get to this political position without taking a dime from any of those interests-

Michael Moore: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Briahna Joy Gray: It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Michael Moore: Right.

Briahna Joy Gray: A once in a generation opportunity.

Michael Moore: That is correct. We're in a dark time. To give up this opportunity now to have the country we re- really wanna have, because we've got the TV on for too many hours in the day listening to the pundits drill it into our heads that well, a few months ago, the drill was it's gotta be Joe Biden. It's gotta be Joe Biden. It's gotta be somebody in the center. It's gotta be a moderate. It's the only way we can win, when all the research shows that when Democrats run to the left, that's when they win. When they try to pretend to be nicer Republicans-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... that's when they lose.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: So that's how very true it, it really is. The thing that really, that's, really been upsetting me lately is how the centrists, we'll just call them that, the Bidens and the Buttigiegs, this thing, man, when they say this about you can't just tell 149 million people that there goes their private healthcare insurance, and I'm like, are you kidding? And I heard UAW guys saying that, uh before the strike.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: You know, I, I, uh, we can't go to this Medicare for All because we negotiated this great health insurance, and it is. It's, it is pretty damn good health insurance. I grew up on it.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: So, three days into the strike, when the UAW went on strike against General Motors last month, three days into the strike, the CEO of General Motors cuts off everybody's healthcare.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: People were freaked out. What?

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: And I said, "Yeah, that's what happens in a system where it's not a right codified by law." But when your boss, and I mean any boss, not just UAW, not just union even, everybody listening to this or watching this knows your boss can wake up tomorrow morning and just go, "You know what? We gotta cut back. Let's cut the healthcare."

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: What are you gonna do about it? They control it. That is absolutely immoral, and the fact that we allow that coupled with a system that's based on profit making health insurance companies, this is stunning to me, that we allow a company to make a profit of because somebody got sick.

Briahna Joy Gray: Okay.

Michael Moore: And the only way they make the real profits is by denying claims. I did make a movie, uh, Sicko, about 50 million people that didn't have health insurance.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: You know, why would I ask you to go to the movies on a Friday night-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... to be told that there's 50 million people that not only don't have health insurance, but that that's wrong?

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: You don't need to go to see from your end. I said, "We're gonna make a movie about people who have health insurance and think that they're the cat's meow, and that, you know, yeah, that's right, when I ... if I get sick, I'm all covered."

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: And in fact, that a lie.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: That's a lie that, that has been perpetrated upon people, and to hear Democrats at the debates perpetrating this lie, I'm like, okay, you sir, when's the last time you had this so-called great health insurance? Yeah, you've got it because ... either because you were Vice President, you were a US Senator and all that for all those years. You never had to worry about it.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: You know, keep that if you've got good health insurance, that health insurance company is right now trying to think of how to screw you when you get sick-

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: ... 'cause they cannot be paying for all this and make the profits that they need to make.

Briahna Joy Gray: I wanna ask you, and you've just given me an opportunity, because you are such an effective communicator. And because you have communicated so effectively to diverse political groups, I wonder what your message would be to people who are in the kind of, like, more liberal elites, the people who occupy the mainstream media, the people who largely comprise the, the demographic of people who are supporting Elizabeth Warren right now. Wealthier, more college educated whiter audience who are good liberals and who share our values broadly, but who aren't bought into this idea of a revolution and don't take seriously the scope of what we think we can accomplish with the Bernie Sanders campaign. You know, what would be your message to them to help them understand what's at stake here?

Michael Moore: You've got over 50 years of evidence of what Bernie Sanders has done, all kinds of evidence. Start with the photographic evidence in Chicago in 1963 when he is being violently arrested by the Chicago police because he was demonstrating against segregation. He was demonstrating in favor of civil rights in 1963. If I go out anywhere and, and speak on behalf of Bernie, I want that slide behind me.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: I will not go to the lectern unless that is behind me.

Briahna Joy Gray: Well, some people are dismissive of that. Some people say oh, that's so long ago. You know, what does that even mean?

Michael Moore: So long ago when it wasn't popular for a white person-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... 'cause he could just ... he could have just rested in his white privilege.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: He's a White, Jewish guy from New York.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right, the fact that he's Jewish-

Michael Moore: He doesn't have to do anything.

Briahna Joy Gray: ... is meaningful there as well 'cause so many Jewish activists were getting killed across the country for participating in civil rights a- activism, right?

Michael Moore: Yeah. Uh, yes, uh, most famously, uh, in Mississippi-

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: ... uh, two young Jewish men and a young black man, and ... but yes, it was happening, uh, and this ... uh, uh, I'm telling, uh, it's so upsetting to me to think about, and God bless Sean King for is speech. If you, if you have a link on your site anywhere and you can link to what ... when Bernie announced at Brooklyn College back in January that he was gonna run, and Sean gave the biography of Bernie.

Briahna Joy Gray: It was amazing.

Michael Moore: And I've known Bernie now for 30 years. I couldn't see him in the frame, but I know he was backstage going, "Oh, jeez, don't bring that up."

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: 'Cause he ... This guy is so humble.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: He has an overdose of humility that sometimes doesn't serve him well, 'cause he doesn't want you telling his whole story of the struggle, of the near poverty that he was born in and grew up in, of the parents he lost before ... uh, in a time before they ... they should have lived a longer life.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: Of the struggle they had to live. The, the fact that he ... You and I probably have a lot of cousins and we have aunts and uncles, and we have extended families, and ... but when you are a family where the Holocaust has wiped out-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: ... the extended family, you don't need a long table at Thanksgiving. We just as- That's the privilege of those of us who haven't had to experience that.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Michael Moore: So, uh, he has 50 years of this, and I think that that goes a long way, for me. Bernie was talking about climate change before it was called climate change.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Michael Moore: When he talked about doubling the minimum wage, they literally looked at him like one of your insane professors [laughs].

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: You know, like, that one just spews the [laughs] ... The fact that he didn't believe it should be a crime to be in love with and want to marry somebody of your gender.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Michael Moore: Go down the whole list with him. He's OG of so much of this, especially in the politician class where oftentimes, it was only Bernie saying these things. And here's the beauty of what he's done for this country, he moved, he and others, moved our fellow Americans to all those positions where now the majority of Americans agree with Bernie Sanders. He's no longer out on that crazy left wing of the, the limb of tree. The majority of Americans want that minimum wage doubled. The majority of Americans believe women should be paid the same as, as men. The majority of Americans believe that climate change is real. The majority of Americans want ... Go down the list. The majority of Americans are against mass incarceration. The majority of Americans are against the death penalty. The majority of Americans are for choice.

I can go on and on. In other words, the majority of Americans in 2019 have taken the Bernie Sanders position that he had in 1970.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] That's right.

Michael Moore: He didn't, he didn't change, the country changed. The country came to him and the others, we all owe a great debt to the fact that now, we don't really have to do the work to convince people that the planet's dying or that, that we shouldn't locking up a certain race of people at the rate that we do. Everybody gets that now. Thank you, Bernie. And what better ending to this story than to have the OG of this [laughs]-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Michael Moore: ... in the White House.

Briahna Joy Gray: I think that's an amazing answer and thank you so much, Michael Moore, for joining me today. I really appreciate it and thank you for your solidarity.

Michael Moore: Oh, thank ... No, believe me, thank you and I hope everybody that's listening will talk to others about this and, and this our moment. This is our chance. I am on a mission to save the America that we've never had.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Michael Moore: I want that America in my, in my lifetime, and I'm sure many people listening or watching to this also want it. And next time when I come, I will come better dressed.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] We, we take you ... we take you as you are and we're happy to have you. Thank you.

Michael Moore: All right, thank you.

Briahna Joy Gray: Thank you again.

Michael Moore: We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape, or the fiction of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you've got the ...

Briahna Joy Gray: So, I'm so glad to be joined by Meagan Day, who's a writer at Jacobin and who has written a lot of really helpful articles recently to help us understand the distinctions between Bernie Sanders and some of the other candidates in the field. Welcome, Meagan, thank you.

Meagan Day: Hey, thanks for having me.

Briahna Joy Gray: So, as I was, you know, preparing for this interview, I realized that part of your career trajectory has been a short jaunt, a short stint at, at Mother Jones. And what was really interesting to me as a person who was formerly of the left media world myself, you know, wha- what the contrast was like between that work experience and other experiences, and how you came to kind of identify as a leftist in the journalism space.

Meagan Day: Yeah, I dabbled a little bit in more mainstream progressive media. It seemed like a better fit b- before the 2016 primary happened.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: A lot changed for me-

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Meagan Day: ... then I found myself feeling quite different from a lot of the people I was surrounded by who didn't seem to understand with the quite same urgency or clarity as I did that, as the saying goes, Bernie would have won.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: [laughs] And so, you know, it was really lucky for me that after I spent some time at Mother Jones, I decided to freelance, and Jacobin was actually looking for someone to come on as a full-time staff writer. Meanwhile, I was looking for an opportunity to write about politics the way that I wanted to-

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: ... not the way that, you know, other people wanted me to. And this was like a match made in heaven, and ever since then, I've been, uh, on the, you know, on the, the American political beat at Jacobin. And it's given me an opportunity to talk about socialism and what it means to Americans today, what it meant internationally today, and how to build a socialism for the 21st century.

Briahna Joy Gray: So how do you define it, 'cause I'm asked, I'm asked this question a lot? But someone who writes for a socialist magazine is much more equipped than I am. Um, how do you explain to your friends and family what you mean by socialism?

Meagan Day: Well, there's like nine different registers you can explain it on-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] Right.

Meagan Day: ... going into greater and greater detail [laughs]. I think that I would start by saying what is capitalism?

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: Capitalism is actually really distinct and unique, Uh, we take it for granted because it's what we live under, but it doesn't have to be like that, which is to say that under capitalism, some people own what Marx kind of, uh, called in an antiquated way, uh, the means of production. But it really just means you own ... you own tools. You own factories. You own land, or you own money itself, which creates more money. An if you're in that position, you don't have to work for a living. Your money works for you. What you own works for you. And everybody else, which is the vast majority of people, have to sell their labor to the person who's in the, the position of being a capitalist in order to access the basic means of survival.

So, socialism describes a completely different political economy. It describes a situation where no private individuals own the means of production. Um, you know, basically eliminating private ownership of firms. Now, do I think this is around the corner? No, absolutely not, but you can see socialist principles alive and well in the mass demand for Medicare for All, which is basically saying, look, there are these private individuals who own these insurance companies. Everybody else is at their whim. Why don't we just take those back into the democratic sphere, into the public sphere and own it ourselves and make it something that we all pay for ourselves and that we all provide for ourselves without that specter of private ownership and private profit hanging over it?

Briahna Joy Gray: Right. So, there is the sense that there are at least some areas where we've all agreed that the profit motive is antithetical to the needs of our community in really visceral ways, right? So, whether it's healthcare or whether it's the fire department, you know, things that are kind of life or death essential needs, we're increasingly coming around to understanding we should have more control over as a society. When you're making that kind of a pitch ... I don't know what your family is like, if you're a red diaper baby and everybody is already on board, or what have you. But you know, if your grandparent or aunt or someone who's a little more distant from the lefty scene asks you to explain kind of what you do and what Jacobin is all about, is there a palatable pitch that you go to or certain analogies that you make to make it seem a little less scary for folks?

Meagan Day: So basically, what I start out with is just talking about the basic things that people need, because we can all agree that, you know, basic goods and services, the essentials of life shouldn't be gate kept by people for profit. I mean well, one thing that we start out with is public school, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: When I'm explaining Medicare for all people, I basically explain it by saying that it's like public school but for health insurance. When people are scared of the idea that they might have to pay more in taxes, obviously the comparison is look, I few didn't have public schools, you'd be paying way more than you currently in taxes to fund public schools in order to send your kid to a private school, or possibly if you didn't have the money, your kid just wouldn't get an education. But we all agreed that education is a right, right? And that's what we wanna do with healthcare. We wanna say that it's a right.

Briahna Joy Gray: I think that's a really powerful analogy. I think the public-school analogy and also when we talk about libraries, I find that that moves people. People will say we shouldn't cancel student debt because Jared Kushner's student debt shouldn't be canceled. But when you raise the question of should Jared Kushner have to pay $100 to check a book out of library just because he can, people start to understand this idea of public goods a little bit more clearly. And I think you get a lot of traction, so thank you for that. So as someone who identifies ... I tend to land on the term leftist. I think that's what I, I think is most specific in the, the, the pantheon of terms that are floating around out there, pa- progressive, etc., that are ... some of which have gotten kinda co-opted. As somebody who identifies as a leftist, I think one of the things that we're confronted with by folks who should be our allies in this battle, but who aren't quite there in terms of their personal identification is it seems like there's a lot of "litmus tests."

2016 was this moment, as you identified, where it became clear that even among the broad left, there were these sticking points that a lot of us felt but had never heard articulated by a candidate, and therefore, we were all kinda voting en masse without as much tension. Then here comes Bernie Sanders who's abs- actually articulating a worldview that's much closer to the, the worldview of a lot of us, right? And it becomes clear that to, to the folks who don't necessarily share that worldview or weren't as familiar with those items, a lot of those I- uh, talking points, a lot of those, um, policy points were described as litmus tests and that it was somewhat unfair to be raising them, right? It's somehow unfair to be, like, putting that stuff on the plate now when we all have kinda agreed to be okay with this other version of candidate.

So I wanna know what your response is to that, because ultimately, those "litmus tests," those moral lines in the sand, I would call them, are what make a lot of us feel like only Bernie is the candidate of choice here in this race, 'cause he's the only one who, on so many different policy prongs, has taken what we perceive to be the ethical, correct choice.

Meagan Day: That's completely right. I think basically, when people complain about the emergence of litmus tests, uh, in the sort of Democratic Party sphere, what they're really saying is that somebody came along and pushed the envelope way further than they were comfortable with. And they've got people in their ear telling them that they can't actually do that, but they also know that it's very popular, so that they probably should do that-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: ... to protect their careers. And it's putting them in an uncomfortable spot, and, and the result is that they're complaining about new litmus tests that didn't exist before. But this is actually one of the selling points about Bernie Sanders. I mean this is one of my favorite things about him, is that he doesn't wait for demands or ideas to become poll tested and acceptable and popular before he pushes them. In fact, he's been ... You can find documents of him talking about single payer healthcare in the early 1970s. He's been talking about single payer healthcare this whole time because it's obviously correct. And the thing that changed actually is that after the Great Recession, a sort of what you might call a populist mood kind of gripped the country. This is what the punditry calls it, a populist mood, and it could go either way. It could go to the left, it could go to the right.

We've seen it go to the right. You have little ... You have the Tea Party. You have Occupy. You have Black Lives Matter. You have the rise of Donald Trump, but Bernie Sanders managed to capture a lot of that energy and channel it somewhere coherent, into a positive political vision grounded in material and achievable demands.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: The problem was that some of those demands actually contravened the wishes of the donor class, the people who were actually bankrolling the Democratic Party. So that's put them in a tough spot, and that's why they complain about it, but I think it's one of the best things about him.

Briahna Joy Gray: Right. So then when you're asking people to draw this contrast between the rest of the field and Bernie Sanders, given the fact that so many folks have at least superficially adopted aspects of his 2016 platform, there is this question that keeps floating, uh, a- about, um, gets bandied about by the media class that says well, what's the point of Bernie ow that everybody's cottoned on to his agenda? So, for folks who might like the lines have been blurred, what, to you, are the most significant points on which only Bernie is, is still a choice, like the reason why it's only Bernie still?

Meagan Day: So, the reason why is that saying that you're for something is not the same as fighting for something once you've been elected to office. Uh, it seems like our interlocutors in this hypothetical conversation are actually accepting the premise that Bernie Sanders has actually pushed the discourse significantly to the left, so why not then ... why wouldn't we draw the conclusion that he's the one who's most likely to fight for all those things that everybody else just said that they agreed with? So, the thing is when other people sort of come around to something like Medicare for All or tuition free college, they're responding to the fact that they have to run against Bernie Sanders. But if they were to win the nomination and then go on to win the election and then become president, they're not responding to Bernie Sanders anymore, so what are their instincts?

Their instincts are gonna be much more moderate, and then not to mention, they're gonna have enormous pressure from the capitalist class bearing down on them, from the party establishments, both party establishments bearing down on them. They're not gonna have the will to fight. The only person who's gonna have the will to fight is the person who has been pushing everybody to the left, right? The person that everybody else is responding to already. So, you need somebody who's honestly so stubborn. You need someone who knows what's right, has always known what's right, has ... already has a proven track record of forcing other people to, like, get on board with what's right, even if they don't personally feel it in their heart, just because the sheer force of the movement that he's created has changed the political economy such that they're forced to respond.

That's the only kind of person who's actually gonna be able to fight for Medicare for All and win.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: That's the only kind of person who's, uh, who's gonna be able to fight for tuition free college or student debt cancellation and win.

Briahna Joy Gray: So are there ... so you mentioned dent can- cancellation. We've talked a lot on this podcast about how only Bernie has a plan to cancel all student debt, right? And there is a blurring of even that, right, with other people who have plans to cancel some portion of debt. Some candidates have just recently rejiggered their plans, uh, after a lot of criticism that they were too Byzantine. Still, it remains true that Bernie Sanders is the only one who's canceling all student debt. Are there, are there policy points where that it ... this, the, you think the distinctions have become particularly blurred that you would like to clarify? Perhaps something, you know, from these pieces that you've been writing about, whether it's foreign policy, other, other areas where the distinctions ha- haven't been made clear as of yet.

Meagan Day: Yeah, this is kind of ... this one of the situ- tricky situations that we're in. We've got a lot of people running and a lot of people who wanna claim the mantle of progressive. There's actually only one person, I think, who doesn't actively want to claim the mantle of progressive, and that's Joe Biden-

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: ... who seems uninterested in appealing to anything progressive, uh, or progressives. He's sort of hoping that people will associate him with Barack Obama, who they will forget actually wasn't about progressive-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: ... at the end of the day, and that'll sort of rub off on him, right? Everybody else wants to be see and as a progressive, and so they're adopting a lot of Bernie's points. And Bernie himself has said, you know, this is a good thing. This is what I want because I, it shows that I'm ... that not just me. As, as he says, not me, us, but me and all the people who want the things that I've been talking about have been able to push these people much further to the left. The problem that's arisen is that it's hard to tell who's sincere.

Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Meagan Day: So, you know, you have people who are, are moving into a space that Hillary Clinton was never moving into. It's like saying that they actually ... See, Hill- Hillary Clinton said single payer is never ever going to happen. That's a, a direct quote from Hillary Clinton. That's not what's happening right now. You've got people like Elizabeth Warren saying, "I'm for single payer. What is it? I don't know, ask, ask Bernie."

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: Right, so, so it is, it is getting a little blurry, I think, but we need to make sure that we ... I guess we need to make sure that we convince people to, to look at where these ideas originated and look at where they're spelled out the clearest, and that's in Bernie Sander's, uh, campaign.

Briahna Joy Gray: So, I think that that point that you're making about Bernie's consistency and our, uh, ability to rely on him doing the right thing outside of the context of an electoral battle and outside of the pressures of being directly compared to others in a, in a race, is e- extremely strong. And in my view, is enough on its own to say what ... let's throw our weight behind this guy. At the same time though, it almost concedes on some level that the policies are in fact the same, right? Uh, on some level, and you get this from a lot of main, the mainstream media class, they decline to get into the details of this, of the different policies.

So, two candidates release a labor policy, if two candidates release a Green New Deal policy, the important distinctions between them are glossed over. The fact that Bernie Sanders remains the only ... at least the only top candidate that wants to end at will employment is an incredibly important distinction, right, especially as we're having these conversations about discrimination against LGBT folks, uh, what's happening at the Supreme Court right now, especially as we're having a conversation about discrimination against pregnant women, right? In an at will employment scenario, you can be a protected class all day and night, but it doesn't protect you, right?

So the fact that the media aren't picking up on these extraordinary distinctions that are gonna have real effects on human beings, some of the most vulnerable human beings in our country does a real disservice to the voter who is looking to these articles not just to know so and so announced a policy today, but to know how they should judge said policy against everything that's out in the field. And what's ended up happening in some ways, it feels like the most proximate policy, the ... just the most recent thing to get released is described in the media as though it is the best policy. So, I wonder if, if, you know, if there's an example, a policy example that jumps out to you as something where you think the distinctions haven't been sufficiently made.

Meagan Day: I think climate scene, the, the climate is an area where they haven't been made. I mean on some level, I think that Jacobin has been the only publication that's been consistently trying to tease out the differences between Elizabeth Warren's vision for climate, Joe Biden's vision for climate and Bernie Sanders's vision for climate, those three being the front runners. For the most part, you're right. Whatever the most recent plan is to come out, or whatever new deal a can- ... a new, like, uh, feature a candidate announces is described as the most ambitious thing, as though it were totally pegged to timing, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Right.

Meagan Day: When in reality, Bernie Sanders is planning to spend the most public money to get us out of the most dangerous threat that we've ever faced as a global civilization. And that on its own ought to tell you that these things are completely different, the plans are completely different. But it's not just about the money, but I think obviously, we should be willing to spend our own money as a society to make sure that our own society doesn't collapse. It's also about the orientation within the plans themselves. So, b- Joe Biden doesn't actually have a real plan. He just wants ... He thinks that ... He basically says, like, everything to do with climate change can be traced back to Trump, which is completely ridiculous.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: So, he wants to undo the things that Trump has done and maybe take us back to the Obama years, when everyone knows the world wasn't melting, right?

Briahna Joy Gray: Right [laughs].

Meagan Day: Um, but Elizabeth Warren, it's a little bit trickier because she does have a plan, and it has been described as an ambitious plan, but it's very different in kind from Bernie Sander's plan.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: So, Elizabeth Warren, the main mechanism that it relies on is this idea of green domestic manufacturing.

Briahna Joy Gray: Hmm.

Meagan Day: So, we're gonna use the United States' privileged position in the world market to basically manufacture green good here and tell other countries, uh, that they need to, if they wanna have access to United States markets, they need to change their environmental standards in order to play and compete. It's totally reliant on the idea of markets and competition, and it sees corporations as key valued partners in the fight against climate change, but not the bad corporations that got us into this, good corporations. How do we make corporations good through a sort of carrot and stick combination, a sort of, uh, oh, [inaudible 00:51:24] Rube Goldberg machine-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: ... that incentivizes and regulates them to bring out the best in the private sector, right? So, Bernie Sanders has a completely different idea. Bernie Sanders's idea for the Green New Deal is basically the corporations got us into this mess and they're not gonna get us out of this mess. We need to tax those corporations, make it ... make that money that there is currently in their possession be public money, and use that on public solutions like overhauling our infrastructure, or transitioning to renewable energy. His idea is basically to set up ad- administrations and bodies that function like the Tennessee Valley Authority did, uh, in the New Deal era, which is that, you know, rural people lacked electricity and people were out of work. You can kill two birds with one stone there by making public jobs with public money to solve a problem that affects the public.

That is fundamentally different in kind from this idea of green manufacturing and relying on the market to stoke competition to make corporations be better, to get us out of the climate crisis. So, I, I think that's been very little discussed, which is really disappointing to me, because then you see people basically saying like, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both have climate plans. They differ a little bit, but these are the two, you know, plans to beat, which I just think is fundamentally untrue. And this is far too important an issue for us to just, you know, leave that to the side, I think.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, that ideological piece, it always ends up coming back to that, right? Like, we can play. There's, there's two strategies that you can, uh, of approach that you could take. I'm ambivalent still about which is the most effective. You can go down line by line and explain to people why, on the merits, our policies are more holistic, more, um, broad based, farther reaching, have more funding, are genuinely ... invents more commitment, are more intersectional, better in every respect. But at the end of the day, I know that what motivates me personally and what gives me confidence in Bernie Sanders's approach is his philosophical approach that sees corporations as a problem that need ... The, the, the people who caused the problem, they need to be taxed to fix it, they need to be subject to litigation, to be forced to pay, to be held accountable.

That don't trust them as partners because there's, uh, an informed skepticism of their ... the fact that they're always going to be driven by their profit motive. I think back to my corporate law class. I was actually taught by a lefty, um, who explained to us in the first week of class how the founding fathers were actually highly skeptical of corporations. How they only wanted them to be 20 to 30 years in length because they understood the intrinsic threat that they posed to a democracy. The in- intrinsic threat that, uh, large collections of money posed to a represent- representative ... sort of, at the time, representative [laughs] democracy. And any plan that would characterize those actors as partners, I am gonna be inherently skeptical of. And any world view that sees those people as potential partners, I'm gonna be inherently skeptical of, because ten what happens when you're staffing up your administration?

Who is it that you're relying on, on advice? Who do you basically hand the kings to the kingdoms off to, um, when this election is over? And that's part of what we saw during the Obama era, is that all of the people who got us into the financial crisis were immediately brought in inside the House, right? And when you have a certain level of confidence in institutions, that's kind of what got us ... that's got, uh, what got us into this mess. So, there is an argument that this broader theoretical conversation kinda cuts through all of the nitty gritty of the policy details that might cause people's eyes to gloss over.

And so, it feels like abstract kind of ideological work, uh, a lot of the work that Jacobin does. That maybe oh, there are populations that might not be ready for that kind of analysis, but I know at my core, that is, I think, the most convincing argument. So, I'm really grateful to those who are out there helping to shift not just on a policy perspective what we should and should not care about, but also help, help people to understand the bigger picture because you don't have to lead the horse to water. You know, if they understand ideologically the signposts they should be looking for in a candidate, including candidates well beyond Bernie Sanders, because it's not me, it's, it's us, and we're gonna need myriad people around the country coming into leadership positions both grassroots and elected if we're going to be able to enact any of this.

Meagan Day: I think that's completely right, and I also wanted to say a note about corporations. So, there's a lot of discussion about corporations having been sort of corrupted by greed or there being bad apples that need to be, you know, like, reined in. I'm mixing metaphors here.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: And this idea that something has gone awry about corporations, and corporations need to be returned to a previous state of goodness. This is where the socialist analysis that we are informed by at Jacobin becomes really useful even if we're not constantly demanding immediately that we rush to the barricades-

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: ... and eliminate all private, you know, control of the means of production or anything like that. It's just that we understand that actually, it does not matter if you are a good person, it doesn't matter if you want to be kind to your workers. This is ... I'm referring to, you know, the capitalist class here. You're still driven by the profit motive and actually, if you decide that you wanna cut against that motive, if you wanna actually, um, you know, raise wages for your workers on your own, for example, or improve, like, their working conditions, uh, and so on or, m- you know, be more environmentally friendly in your production, you're gonna cut into your own profits. And the problem is that ... with that is that because of the laws of the market, you are not gonna be competitive anymore, and your business is going to go under.

John Steinbeck actually wrote about this. Sort of it's the idea that the monster has to keep growing, or else the monster dies. And that's not ... but that's not down to anybody's individual greed. It's not down to the personality of billionaires, though frankly I find that billionaires often have really terrible personalities.

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: But it's really not down to that. It's actually, like, a fundamental truth about how corporations need to behave in a market society in order to not go under. And then the other fundamental truth is that if corporations go under, there's always the threat that the people who own those corporations are no longer going to ... they're not necessarily gonna own another one, right? But the real threat, the basic threat at the end of the line is that the capitalist class will become, as we call it, proletarianized. They'll just become a worker, but it's very nice or fun to be a worker in a capitalist society [laughs]. And so that's what keeps capitalists operating by the profit motive.

So, this is ... The reason why I'm bringing this up is because it really does come to bear on these conversations, for example, about Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders's climate plans. If you think that the problem is that there's something sort of ... something has gone awry with corporations and you're gonna, uh, um, get rid of the bad corporations and the bad CEOs and you're gonna bring in the good ones, or brig out the best in the ones that exist and make them good, and that's how you're gonna get out of the climate crisis, then you're fundamentally mistaken, or at least you don't believe what I just said about how corporations work.

Bernie Sanders obviously calls himself a Democratic Socialist. I think he has a healthy skepticism about corporations and their ability to be key partners in social change. Not their willingness, but their actual fundamental economic ability to be key partners in social change. And that's the same perspective that he brings to bear on Medicare for All. We're not gonna somehow, you know, we're gonna create a public option and this is gonna force the private insurers to compete, and that's gonna bring out the best in them, and they can be key part- key partners with us in, you know, making sure that everyone has decent healthcare.

He's basically saying, no, I know how these ... I know how these guys operate. And it doesn't even matter what's in their hearts. They have to operate like that under this system, and therefore, we just have to build a fence and keep them at bay to make sure that people have the things they need.

Briahna Joy Gray: One of the most powerful messages that Bernie has, and the reason why you see people responding to him at townhalls, etc., the way they do is because he's one of the only politicians that I've ever seen where he says, "It's not your fault." It's the first time that so many of us have heard it because the pervading narrative between both parties is you made choices, you're the undeserving poor, even ... And you have even poor people thinking this about themselves and being very self-critical. And it really feels like catharsis to have someone not just say structural change, not just talk about institutional bias, but to understand that institutional bias isn't just not being invited to the golf game because you're a woman, or not being invited to whatever because you're a person of color.

It's also the institutional barriers that are built in legally in terms of corporate structures that are directly and purposefully keeping us down.

Meagan Day: Yeah. I wanna go back to this not your fault thing, 'cause I think this is so important. So, neoliberalism is the sort of form of capitalism that we ... uh, capitalism and politics that we have today. Some people would say that neoliberalism is kind of a bunk term. You should just call it capitalism without a label or position, or capitalism without a left opposition, which is to say the most vicious that capitalism can possibly get without anybody standing in its way. This system is extraordinarily ruthless. Uh, it punishes people for being poor. It criminalizes poverty. It slaps debt on people just for not having enough money to pay whatever they were trying to get when they went into debt.

People get ... Like you heard in Bernie's townhall, people, their children are on the verge of death and debt collectors will swarm them in hospitals in the ICU. This is a ruthless system, but it has an ideological component as well. I mean the fundamental basis is material. It's economic. This is all driven by the profit motive of the people at the top, as we discussed earlier, right? But there's an ideological basis too, which is that how do you keep pl from revolting in a system like that? You've got to convince people that there is a path from the bottom to the top, but that only the best and the brightest and the most hardworking are able to find that path. You can't tell them what that path is. That's a secret, but you tell them that they can find that path if they're bright enough, and then you hold up a few people here and there and you say look, these people have found the path.

And what it does is it makes everyone feel like absolute garbage all the time and blame themselves for their problems when these are fundamentally structural problems. It also is very atomizing, culturally atomizing, which is to say that it makes people feel alienated. They feel alienated from their jobs. They feel alienate from each other, because cone of the things about this system is that you're in competition with other people to find that path, wherever it may be. And other people are presumed to be standing in your way, 'cause, like, you've seen that only a few people ever get to find that path and make it to the top, right?

This is actually functionally turning you against your neighbor. It's turning you against people in your community, and it's really easy for bigotry and prejudice to slip in there and color people's sense of alienation, uh, and, and competition with each other. Now you've got people blaming whole groups for standing in their way, right? Bernie Sanders is coming in and shattering all of that for people. What he's saying is this is not your fault, this is their fault. He's naming the antagonist, the billionaire class. He's saying these are the people who are doing this to you. And if you look around, all of these people who are different from you have the same problems as you. And the only way that we are gonna get those people up there to stop doing that to us is if we stand together and form a mass movement of the working class across limes of difference.

We're gonna have to set all that stuff aside and we go at them together, right? And he's offering to be a leader for that movement, but he's under no illusions that he can do that himself. The movement itself has to do that. The mass movement of the multiracial, diverse working class has to come together across lines of difference and say this isn't our fault, this is your fault and we're gonna change the system.

Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, I wanna pick up on, on one part of that is I, I think that sometimes what happens, 'cause I get into really interesting race, class co- conversations about this sort of stuff, right? Because a lot of my peers, having been a beneficiary of a lot of these elitism conferring institutions, are both people of color and people who have ... They are that talented. They are the people who made it through this Horatio Alger, you know, mythology of the American dream and are proof perfect that it works. And so, having a conversation with them who are sensitive to structural barriers as people of color, but who are beneficiaries of the system themselves and who finally are like, oh, I made it to the mountaintop. I have my job at this elite firm, etc., etc. Uh, it ends up being this bit of a mind twist [laughs], to keep it PC.

We- when they hear things like okay, you have to put it all aside, you know, put our differences aside to achieve this solidarity, what comes to mind for them is all of the moments historically that mass struggle has meant achievements disproportionately for white America or male America and their discrete interest has been thrown under the bus, if not during the movement, then immediately thereafter. So, there is this kind of necessary sensitivity to making sure that the rising tide actually does lift all boats and to pay enough attention to the discrete needs of communities to make it worthwhile for people to invest in the coalition. But at the same time, there's this countervailing phenomenon that's happening where the historical failures or the mis- historical missteps of broad movement building are weaponized against the prospect of a better kind of coalition today.

So instead of saying, you know, the New Deal had its flaws. It, you know, marginalized domestic workers, agricultural workers who were disproportionately black, etc., let's make sure we don't do that again, the conversation becomes the New Deal was racist. Let's not do that again right? And so, part of the work for me as a journalist was always, particularly as a person of color, was to say hey, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Your concerns are valid, but the coalition building fundamentally, if you are going to be a minority in a country that's still 70% white, is to figure out what those gains to trade are and not let racism be used to divide us up.

Either racism from the right by people who are just telling you people of color suck, you know, Mexicans are rapists, or from people on the left that say don't trust white people. They will never have shared interests with you, despite the fact that historically and electorally, we see all of these people, low income people, working class people who very much have a shared interest. And when you poll black Americans and when you poll white working-class folks, they share interests. They all think of the economy. They think about healthcare. They all think of the Green New Deal. They all think education are priorities.

And to the extent that there are differences, they're seized upon by the media who want us to believe that there's no overlapping interest there. And part of the work is to make those interests extraordinarily clear without making people feel like their specific needs are being undervalued. It's a, it's a balancing act.

Meagan Day: It's a very complicated paradox. I will start by saying that when I say sweep it all aside, I mean sweep the prejudice and the bigotry aside. But it's specific concerns, for instance, about racial oppression or about homophobia or sexism are not only, well, completely legitimate and valid, but are actually really important drivers of our agenda. You know, for, for example ... I'll pull around an example. I wrote an article called I'm gay and I want Medicare for All.

Briahna Joy Gray: That was a good one.

Meagan Day: And it's just list of ways that Medicare for All is actually one of the best ways to address some of the problems that are facing LGBTQ people today. And these kinds of stories tend not to see the light of day. They tend to be replaced by stories about how universal social programs are somehow gonna work against the specific interests of groups that are, you know, facing some kind of cultural oppression in society, longstanding and very deep-rooted cultural oppression, when the truth of the matter is quite different actually. I mean there, there certainly have been a few stories, and not nearly enough, about what Medicare for All would mean black people in this country, given the disparities in healthcare that people receive based on race.

Um, is it gonna solve everything? No, but I do recall a very cynical person saying will braking up the banks solve racism?

Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs].

Meagan Day: And that was garbage and we should let that kind of thinking creep into our ideas on the left. We have to dream boldly together, and we have to have solidarity with each other. We can adjudicate some of these differences about how we go about pursuing our shared goals and while also remaining sensitive to the fact that people have different experiences in this world based on vectors of social oppression that are very real and very deeply felt. But there's no question that we have to have solidarity if wanna win any of the things that we know are gonna benefit us all.

Briahna Joy Gray: I couldn't say it better, couldn't agree more. Thank you so much, Meagan. I really appreciate it. I feel like this was like Democratic Socialism, um, girl chat hour where you can just cathartically let it all out [laughs]. I really appreciate it. I think I'm excited for our listeners to ha- to hear what you have to say.

Meagan Day: Thank you so much. This is so great.

Briahna Joy Gray: That's it for this week. Let us know what you think at [email protected], or send us a tweet with the hashtag #HearTheBern. If you haven't already, please, please, please take a moment to rate, review or like us on Apple podcasts, SoundCloud, or wherever you're listening. That's how people hear word of our show and the revolutions continues to spread. As always, transcripts will be up soon. Thanks for listening. Till next time.