Briahna stopped by Politicon for a live show of Hear the Bern featuring Kyle Kulinski, James Adomian, and Anthony Atamanuik. The four talked the current state of the 2020 race, celebrity impressions, and, of course, why Bernie beats Trump.
Kyle Kulinski is the host of the show Secular Talk and co-founder of Justice Democrats. James Adomian is a comedian, host of the podcast The Underculture, and the Bernie half of "Trump vs. Bernie." Anthony Atamanuik is a comedian, author of American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives, and the Trump half of "Trump vs. Bernie."
Kyle's Secular Talk Channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SecularTalk
James's Underculture podcast: https://foreverdogpodcasts.com/podcasts/the-underculture/
Anthony's book, American Tantrum: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062851888/american-tantrum/
Briahna Joy Gray: The weekend before last, I had the enormous pleasure of hosting Hear the Bern's first ever live show at Politicon, in Nashville. Not only was it a real joy to be able to engage directly with a politically diverse audience from all across the country, I was finally able to interview some superstars on the left. I was joined by Kyle Kulinski, perhaps the most popular YouTube host on the left, who posts some of the name Secular Talk. Kyle is a co-founder of Justice Democrats, the organization which works to get progressive candidates elected all across the country, and which sought out and supported representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her race for New York's 14th district.
His deep knowledge of political history and commitment to left politics has netted him three quarters of a million followers on YouTube, and he was truly one of the stars of Politicon. Often the only left representative on panels, and often receiving the loudest applause as he went toe to toe with the likes of Charlie Kirk and Tomi Lahren.
Charlie Kirk: Here's the other thing that really fascinates me, and maybe you can explain it to me Kyle, is that, when you own international assets, and you become President of the United States? Are you just supposed to sell everything?
Kyle Kulinski: [crosstalk 00:01:07] yes. Yes.
Charlie Kirk: Really? Wow.
Briahna Joy Gray: But not to be outdone, I was also thrilled to be joined by two men who in my humble opinion, are the all-time best Bernie and Trump impersonators respectively, James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik.
In 2016, the two starred in a Comedy Central debate between Bernie and Trump, which if you haven't seen it, go immediately and watch it after you listen to this podcast.
James Adomian: And look, we are winning amongst some key demographics that I think it’s important to keep in mind. Amongst voters who shop at Whole Foods and yet feel guilty about shopping at Whole Foods, we are winning 92% of the vote.
Anthony Atamanuik: I promise you this, if I become president, we will get rid of every tree [laughs]. We are gonna turn, we will turn every forest into glass, I guarantee you that [laughs]. All right, we got to use these nukes. We haven't used them in years [laughs].
James Adomian: All right, uh-
Briahna Joy Gray: They rehashed their debate at Politicon, and it brought the house down. These two are hysterical, and even better, they're smart, insightful, and invested in the revolution.
This is Hear the Bern, a podcast about the people, ideas, and policies that drive the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign and the movement to secure and dignified life for everyone living in this country. My name is Briahna Joy Gray, and I'm coming to you from campaign headquarters here in Washington, D.C.
Just a heads up, there's some colorful language in this episode. Without further delay, the first Hear the Bern live show.
This is an embarrassment of riches because I just found out that I was doing this about a couple of days ago and started sending around frantic DMs to all of my favorite lefties. And I'm so glad that so many of you came through. Thank you so much. So, does everybody... I feel like most people know who's on the stage, but do you guys want to get on the line and introduce yourselves? Oh, maybe I should start.
James Adomian: Yeah, you should start.
Briahna Joy Gray: Um, I'm Briahna Gray, the national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign. And, the host of the Hear the Bern podcast, which if you don't listen to it, I strongly recommend it. We're the only campaign I think with a podcast. And when I started, I had a very clear edict in mind for myself, which was to not make it like certain other political podcasts I had listened to back in 2016, I won't name names. [laughs] And so this really isn't about just aggrandizement of Bernie where I get on and I talk about how great he is every week, although I think a lot of you would probably enjoy that as well.
We really tried to elevate the stories that don't make it through to the mainstream media. We do media analysis and criticism. We have people who are working inside of the campaign to give it behind the scenes look of how it actually works and how the sausage gets made. And the reviews are really, really strong. So, if you're not already on board, get on board. Especially because I have heard it's a great way to convert your mother.
James Adomian: Hi. Thanks, Briahna. It's great to be here. I'm James Adomian. I am Bernie Sanders in the comedy show Trump Versus Bernie. Also, I have my podcast, The Underculture, which is gonzo insane version of a serious podcasts talking about the issues where I play Bernie and I also play some bad guys too, like Gorka and so forth. Um, but hi. Hi. Thanks. Nice to be here.
Kyle Kulinski: I'm Kyle Kulinski from Secular Talk. Thank you. Appreciate it. I just want to take a minute here to appreciate everybody around me because they do amazing work. Briahna, you're amazing at what you do. I'm so happy that you're in the position that you're in. I think the Bernie Sanders campaign is really forward thinking for, you know, looking to voices like you for, you know, talking to people who are really young and social media savvy. I think that's a-
Briahna Joy Gray: I'm not that young but thank you. I appreciate it.
Kyle Kulinski: [laughing] And then also, I mean, these two, honestly, it's kind of a crime that SNL has not picked them up and thrown them each a billion dollars for how good they are.
James Adomian: That's not what they pay [laughs].
Kyle Kulinski: Because they're really amazing. So anyway, I'll turn it over.
Anthony Atamanuik: Hi. I'm Anthony Atamanuik, uh, and I was the host of the President Show on Comedy Central and, uh, did the Tony... Yeah, good. I'm glad everyone saw it, and did the, did Trump Versus Bernie with James and, yeah, I'm thrilled to be here with all this brilliance. And you know, I don't know, I don't have a podcast, but I have a book American Tantrum, so you can go buy that, and I play Trump. Oh yeah. That's the thing. I play Trump, which is, you know rough. But whatever [laughs].
Briahna Joy Gray: For those who haven't been exposed to the impression yet, can you give people just a little bit of a taste? Can you guys just talk to each other?
James Adomian: Let me say this. When I say that what I mean is, I'm going to say something.
Anthony Atamanuik: The media is totally against us. They're locked in a secret bunker and I wrote Erdogan and I said to him, "General [inaudible 00:06:01] is willing to come to the table. Don't be a bad guy."
James Adomian: You see, he's a bad guy. You're a bad guy.
Anthony Atamanuik: He is a bad guy. Listen the Turkish people and the Kurds are getting together and they're going to become the Turds.
James Adomian: What do you-
Anthony Atamanuik: [crosstalk 00:06:15] and they're going to be so incredible?
James Adomian: [crosstalk 00:06:16] what are you playing a game of Risk?
Anthony Atamanuik: The Turds, it's all about the Turds [laughs].
Kyle Kulinski: Oh, my God.
Briahna Joy Gray: That's extraordinary.
Kyle Kulinski: Literally unbelievable.
Briahna Joy Gray: I put my brother onto your Comedy Central show last night, and he like texted me and it was a series of like 15 texts at like two o'clock in the morning. "This is the funniest thing; how have I not been exposed to this before?" It really is a crime that you're not everywhere on TV all the time. But we're doing our part here today.
So, in different ways, right? Through comedy impersonation, doing these deep dive factual analysis that you know completely expose the hypocrisy of basically everyone in politics, you are doing the work of advancing the cause of progressive politics. And so, my question to you is when we’re at a conference like this where it's all about bipartisanship, so much of what we do is about distinguishing our candidate, Bernie Sanders, I should say, my candidate at least, from kind of the center, right? And so, there's this, this, uh, left versus Trump broader analysis out there in the media, but there's this some more discrete fight that is happening, especially now that we have other progressives in the race. So, what do you guys think strategically is the way to go about doing that?
James Adomian: Personally, as one half of Trump Versus Bernie, one of the delicious things for me to do was just cut out the centrists completely and then have the debate that I wished there would would've been in 2016. Look, it's good and evil, there is no middle ground. Right, Trump vs Bernie, Bernie vs Trump. Anybody else, got out of the way.
Anthony Atamanuik: Well, I'll say that, uh, in two points, uh, the first one relating to our debate in how we approached it in 2016, and I agree with James, is that my role is Trump obviously is an easy one to sort of make fun of Trump, right? But that's real surface material. So, my thinking instead was to figure out how to, instead of getting clapped or from the audience, to challenge the audience to understand that they also participate in a lot of the dynamics that they don't like, right?
Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-
Anthony Atamanuik: So that like white liberalism is also a contributor to a lot of suppression and otherization. And so instead of worrying about the right, which we already know is like trash Nazi-ism, we can instead deal with where our deficits are because that's actually how you become better. And the second part, and I know that this term won't work. But to me, I actually see centrism, not the centrism as we label it, but when I think of Bernie's policies and the thoughts that he put forward that have completely rewritten how this debate is happening in 2020, and no one's giving him credit for it. Some people are, but not a lot. When you think about the things that he's putting forward, they are based purely in real reason. So, to me, they are the center of what it should be in this country.
James Adomian: Thank you.
Anthony Atamanuik: It is not far left to want to have our citizenry be elevated, have a living wage, get basic health care, and be able to operate in society in a way where they feel a sense of freedom and liberty. These are all the basic tenants of the Constitution and the imperfect document were supposedly built on. So, it makes no sense to me the notion that it's far left.
Briahna Joy Gray: What do we do, Kyle? How do we get the bulk of the Democratic Party to agree that this is actually what it should stand for and get out of the space where it's the kind of, "Bernie is not a Democrat," instead of, "What should Democratic values be? What should we be really standing for?
Kyle Kulinski: Well, I have a politically incorrect answer to that, which is we make them.
Yeah, no, you have to make them do it. Bernie Sanders came along, and he's actually presenting a positive vision for something. And the thing that always annoys me the most is when you listen to other Democratic candidates speak, and they talk more about what they're against than what they're for. Every time Amy Klobuchar, every time Mayor Pete says anything in a debate, it's always like, "Let me tell you why we can't do this, this, and this." And who's going to want to vote for you? I mean, listen, it's possible to be a centrist and present ideas that you think are good, but they're not even doing that. They're just saying, "No, we can have Medicare for All. No, we can't have free college." And the bottom line is, all Bernie's asking for is to basically make the U.S. catch up to the rest of the industrialized world, which is really not that much to ask for. So, to your point, he actually is the real centrist in the sense that he's center of mainstream opinion.
Briahna Joy Gray: So, so one of the things that I really love about your impersonation, and particularly the way that you do Trump, is that sometimes I feel like liberals don't acknowledge any aspect of Trump's appeal other than the racism.
Anthony Atamanuik: Right.
Briahna Joy Gray: So, the racism is real.
Anthony Atamanuik: Yeah sure.
Briahna Joy Gray: The xenophobia is real.
Anthony Atamanuik: Yeah.
Briahna Joy Gray: But I was just listening to a little bit of Ann Coulter's remarks in there.
Anthony Atamanuik: They're making a shake over there just in case you can hear it on a podcast [laughs]. They're making a hell of a blended fruit shake. All right, keep going. And we're across from a men's room. All right.
Briahna Joy Gray: It's primo location. They were talking about the border and immigration, and her case for why the right shouldn't be perceived as racist for wanting there to be a border wall is, "Hey, we don't want people dying in the desert on the way here. We don't want women being raped in the desert on the way here. That's why we don't want to make America an attraction to folks. That's why we deny them all services and health care because we don't want them making the journey in the first place because we really care."
And a part of me, you know obviously rolls my eyes at that, but another part of me says, "Well, there are people that I think take that argument in good faith, and it might not be her, but there are people that you speaking to who don't see themselves as bad people."
Anthony Atamanuik: Yeah.
Briahna Joy Gray: And sometimes I wonder, is the left, is the center left, doing enough to address those aspects of what Trump promised that he didn't fulfill?
Anthony Atamanuik: Right.
Briahna Joy Gray: Instead of picking up on that aspect of his approach, which we all find to be virulent, but a lot of people who like him don't actually perceive as racist in the way that we do.
Anthony Atamanuik: They like it. They like his approach. And I say this to say that there are people who could find him distasteful who enjoy his swagger and lack of care. Right?
Briahna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-
Anthony Atamanuik: And it's not an endorsement to say that that's the reality. We have to face the reality, which is the reality is that there's a portion of this population, even if you said it was 10%, it's 35 million people. 35 million people who are locked in. Okay. That's a lot of people in the United States. I think the deeper problem and the criticism on the left, we’ll argue center left, is that it's so much easier to apply the same logic that lost us in 2016, which is, "This guy's so offensive. This guy is so terrible," and that's been the marching orders for three years. Look at him. He's so nuts, and it's gotten us nothing.
The only reason the blue wave hit in the House was because of the progressive momentum that occurred in 2016 through 2018. It was not the rejection politics of, "Isn't Trump offensive and awful?" That actually feeds him. And the deeper issue is our lack of understanding of more than our little piece of the world, and our involvement in Central America for over 100 years. That has destabilized Central America to the point where people have to escape Guatemala because it's a completely overrun country that is mostly destabilized because of our policies and influence. If they want to address the issue, it has to be a global addressing, not just an airing of grievances, because that's also not going to do anything.
We did what we did. There is no undoing the past, but we can change our policies and thinking and do a comprehensive approach. You can also funnel money and put goodwill forces, not military forces, but work with the UN to change the approach of the controlling drug cartels in those areas so that you can create a place where Guatemalans would like to live in fucking Guatemala, and that would be the point. The point to me would be that both things can be true. We want to have immigration. We also don't want to have people just desperately leaving wherever they're at because it's unlivable. And coming here and being paid by corporations, a third of minimum wage, which both the Democrat and Republican parties support, these corporate underpaying of migrant workers as a way to bump our economy. And that's something everybody has to own.
Kyle Kulinski: Yeah. To add onto that. And that was brilliant. Um-
James Adomian: That's him out of character by the way [laughs].
Kyle Kulinski: There's a reason why Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang are the two candidates who are taking most from the disaffected pool of Trump voters. And it's because their message is, the problem is not immigrants. The problem is the corporations corrupting the system and rigging the rules in favor of them and against everybody else.
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, yeah. So, some people say, "Oh, well, you're attracting Trump voters. This must be like horseshoe theory, right?" If everybody likes Trump because he's racist and you are attracting Trump voters, it must mean that by proxy you have the same kinds of problems and issues and xenophobia, et cetera, as Trump. What's your guys’ response to that?
Kyle Kulinski: Getting more voters to agree with you is always a good thing. So as long as you're also holding your base because you stand for the right things, then it's wonderful to get people who consider themselves moderates, to get people who consider themselves Republicans, to get former Trump voters. I don't care if you convert a Ted Cruz voter, which is probably mission impossible, by the way, but I don't care if you do that. The more voters the better, as long as you're not abandoning your core message and what you should be fighting for.
Briahna Joy Gray: I think that's really key. I think that sometimes our brains got broken by the idea that for so long, any kind of outreach to the right meant sacrificing the values of the Democratic Party. So, you had folks in 2016 saying, "For every so-and-so voter we lose, we'll pick up a moderate Republican in Connecticut or what have you." And a real dereliction of duty when it comes to the working class, something we saw through the 70s and 80s as the Democratic Party became more sensitive to wanting to raise more money when TV advertisements became more influential in political races, suddenly there was a real payoff, right, to being able to get those big-dollar donations and it really made a difference in these elections.
So, that being the case, I think that there's a certain kind of logic in the brains of people that say, "Well, if you appeal to a Republican at all, but only way that you can do that in a world where you have two captured political parties is through identity and through racism and through those kinds of, of those characteristics." But in a world where you're actually offering somebody economic equality, when you're actually offering somebody something material-
James Adomian: When that's on the table-
Briahna Joy Gray: And when you're supporting labor, when that's on the table, then you get things like shock and awe. People like AOC and Ilhan Omar supporting Bernie Sanders despite the fact, as they've been asked over and over and over again by the media, he is in fact, you are in fact a white man.
James Adomian: I recently polished off my mirror. There's no avoiding it [laughs]. You know, I think something is interesting, uh, that I, I'm really enjoying about the Bernie campaign this year. What you're doing there, all of you, is that you're appealing also to the tens of millions of people who did not vote in the last election, which is a growing crisis in this country. The election was decided by about half of eligible voters, 120 million people, and there were about 120 million non-voters. The trend has been going up for, towards non-voting, and those are a lot of people that can show up and cast a ballot if there's someone speaking to them. It's not about fighting over the same CNN swing voters that they make it sound like. "This county went this way and barely this way. How can we convince these three people to change their vote?" There's just a bunch of people that didn't vote and I, I really admire that the Bernie campaign is, uh, is going for them.
Briahna Joy Gray: Kyle, you mentioned that the campaign has made a choice in terms of the kinds of people that it's hiring. I came from the world of journalism and the internet. Twitter is my medium of choice. There are people on the campaign who don't necessarily have as long of a background. David Sirota, for instance, is similarly positioned to me. There are those who really disagree with that choice and say that trying to mobilize different kinds of voters, whether it's through being the only campaign that has a Twitch channel except, but now Trump does, um, the only campaign with the podcast. The only campaign that has the kind of digital outreach that we have, is kind of missing the forest for the trees. There are folks that say, "That's a mistake and that you're not going to win this battle online." As the king of the online left, one might say, what do you have to say to that?
Kyle Kulinski: These are the same people who lost the last election giving you advice on like, "Oh, you should do this stuff that we just did that didn't work." Why would I do that? That makes absolutely no sense. I mean, yeah, this is the new world. This is the new medium. If Trump proved anything, it's that the standard, uh, playbook the standard, you know, rules that everybody was abiding by for elections. They're not a thing. They don't actually work. They're just what people thought like, "Oh, this kind of makes sense. Maybe you run to the left in the primary if you're a Democrat and then you run to the center. Like there's a kind of a logic to that."
Except every time they've done that in the modern era, they've gotten obliterated. And so, what Trump did is… all he cared about, he never pivoted. Everybody was waiting for, "Oh, is he going to pivot. Is he gonna pivot?" No. What he did is he only played to his base, and he fired them up, and then they went out to the polls and voted for him. So, we have the option of somebody who doesn't compromise his values.
You know, some people call it pivoting. We call it lying. You told me one thing in the primary, now you're telling me the opposite in the general election. So, you don't have any integrity, you don't have any consistency.
The media actually goes after Bernie for saying the same things. It's like what, Medicare for All was a good idea two years ago and now it's a bad idea? No, we still don't have Medicare for All. We still need Medicare for All and that's why he's fighting for it. So-
James Adomian: These old-fashioned ideas that I've been right on.
Kyle Kulinski: Exactly. That's the short version of it. So yeah, I mean the pivot absolutely needs to die, and we need a new way of thinking because, you know, as somebody who was a co-founder of Justice Democrats, I know the power of the ideas is so strong that you can get an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a 10-1 money disadvantage to beat Joe Crowley. Honestly guys, they’re a paper tiger. The establishment is a paper tiger, and we just got to topple them by showing out.
Anthony Atamanuik: You can catch me on Twitch playing Dig Dog every day from noon to five and Miss Pac-Man at night-
James Adomian: [crosstalk 00:20:51] you can... I'm also on Twitch trying to figure out how to get the quarters into a Cubit machine.
Anthony Atamanuik: Bernie, I think you're just twitching. Uh-
James Adomian: Shut up, numb nuts.
Anthony Atamanuik: Uh, I just wanted to just, uh, address sort of the whole thing that was just, is that I think that reaching voters, this is a hard one to say. Gonna speak to something I guess controversial, but like there are, I think people… there's sure like to break into three categories, there's your hardcore like hood wearing racists, right? Just out there showing everybody what their deal is. Then I think you have the reachables. People who are ignorant, who maybe have lived in a homogenized environment their entire lives. They've been raised in households where racism is a form of child abuse. And those folks, I think if they can be reached on an economic message and join into a group where they can find some understanding and tolerance, why would you shut that out?
Why wouldn't you want more people to become tolerant? Why... And I tolerance is a terrible word. Why would you not want more people to, I think, recognize their participation? And then the third of course, is the centrist liberal. I come from New England, the new England liberal who's essentially a colonial. And they perceive people of color as someone to teach and elevate and figure out how to help them up. Which also, yeah, David Brooks, which comes from a colonial thinking. So, this notion of race is so systemically problematic and unaddressed. We see how it perverts the possibility of progression in this country because it can be used as a cudgel to push away any sort of progress. There you go.
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, no, I, I, I love that. I think that there's a-
Audience: [inaudible 00:22:34].
Briahna Joy Gray: Let me repeat the questions that everybody can hear and the people who are listening to the podcast can hear it. The question is, do you think that the average everyday person who doesn't agree with you, your political worldview, is the racist?
Anthony Atamanuik: No, because I think I actually, if you, what I just said is that I was saying that I think that there are... Well, no, hold on. Oh, I, excuse me sir. Let me answer my own question and then it'll be, I appreciate it, but let me answer for her. What I'm trying to say is that I think there are folks who, because of their circumstances, might never have had the opportunity to understand the similarities and, uh, participation they have maybe in the subjugation of people who built this country for free, by the way. Right? And their side... No, no, it was particularly African American slaves who built the country…. Don't come on me. That's history.
But the other point I want to make is I don't think that the average person, because they’re working class or because of what they think ideologically might be different from me, I presumed that they're racist. But I do think that that person has the opportunity more or more likely opportunity to participate in a racist or a submissive system because of the political thinking they align with. And I think a lot of those folks, if given a straight opportunity that wasn't as aligned with that dark thinking, would take it. And I believe that those people could have an opportunity to change it. And I have many of them in my family. I understand that.
Briahna Joy Gray: So, I want to make sure we'll have an opportunity for questions at the end and hopefully we can all have a conversation together, but I think this is an important and interesting point. Too often I actually do agree that there is a way that racism is talked about and framed in this country as a kind of like an essential quality, an unchanging physiognomic quality, right? There are racists and they’re are not. There are deplorables who are irredeemable, right? And then there is the good guys. Right? When the, the reality is right now but I, I just, I well I disagree with that, that worldview right?
And so, what I would like, I, I feel like sometimes as liberals, we understand on some level that we have a more inclusive and open perspective to people who have erred. So when we're talking about criminal justice reform, for instance, we say things like, "Well, this person has committed a crime," but we understand that there are crimes of poverty, that there are all kinds of social factors that go into people's behavior, et cetera, et cetera. And we want to address the criminal, the mass incarceration complex on the front end. And on the back end. We're not saying that people haven't been bad actors. What we're saying is, let's change the social conditions so there are fewer bad actors, and let's also treat bad actors in a way that we'd want to rehabilitate them and bring them back into society.
And I think that sometimes we don't think of racists that way, despite the fact that they similarly are more often than not just growing up in social contexts where they don't have as much exposure to other people, where they had been told a bunch of lies about the other people that they see as different from them. And that exposure and education goes a really long way, and it is not liberal. It is illiberal for us to not have that same kind of open attitude toward folks who, the bad thing that they have done is not criminal, but racist.
Kyle Kulinski: I'm a big believer in finding points of agreement wherever you can and working towards those positive ends, regardless of who it might be. So, you know, the best example of this is it was Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee, Republican Senator of Utah, who actually were able to get something done when it comes to the genocide in Yemen that Saudi Arabia is carrying out. They invoke the War Powers Act. So now are there going to be some people who say, "Oh my God, Mike Lee is such a bad person. Look at the 90% of the things he's dead wrong on. What are you doing?" Sure, they'll exist. But again, as long as you're not compromising your values and your policies, then you should work with people to advance them no matter what else they might represent.
James Adomian: Yeah, don't be in a party with Mike Lee, but go ahead and work with him on a bill now and then.
Kyle Kulinski: If as long as you're not compromising your values, yes, 100%. Same with Rand Paul and, and working on, you know, say criminal justice reform. Like you said, the First Step Act. The First Step Act literally is just a first step. But I would go much further. I'd go as far as Bernie, which is legalize marijuana and free all the nonviolent drug offenders.
Briahna Joy Gray: Hashtag 420 for all.
Kyle Kulinski: But that's the idea, you know, work with people wherever you can on the things that make sense where you're not compromising your values. The problem with the corporate Democrats is they'll work with Republicans on Republican priorities.
Anthony Atamanuik: Yes, on the worst things.
Kyle Kulinski: So yeah, the, the big one recently was like Wall Street deregulation, and I remember the headlines when that happened. Everything was so positive like, "Bipartisan consensus reached." Why would I want bipartisan consensus for the thing that's guaranteeing the next giant economic crash? Not a good idea.
James Adomian: How dare you appeal to these right-wing people who could change their minds and vote for you? Well, you supported the Iraq War and sold it to the country.
Kyle Kulinski: Exactly.
James Adomian: You hear that from people in you're like, "Wait a minute. Yeah, you, you, you cooperated with the right-wing project on making sure it could happen."
Briahna Joy Gray: What role do you think that being critical of the Democratic Party's kind of historical failures plays here? Because it does feel like in 2016, there was this clear tee up between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders where she was a really effective foil for the kind of establishment politics that Bernie was running against. And this time, maybe because there's so many people in the race, because Bernie Sanders has pulled the party to the left over the last three years, because there are some newer actors with shorter political histories that have less to defend, there is perhaps... That contrast is less acute than it was back then. Do you think that’s the case and if so, how do you recommend we get around that?
Kyle Kulinski: Well, it's tough because there's a lot of people who just flat out lie now to try to sound more like them. I mean that's the thing. Like, I remember Cenk Uygur of TYT spoke to Tim Ryan, and Tim Ryan said point blank like, "No, if Medicare for All comes up, I will not support it." And the logical response to that is, "Dude, you literally signed onto the bill, like you added your name down for the bill." So, it's like, well, now they just put us in a weird position where they're all trying to pretend to be like Bernie. But what happens is over time their true colors come out. Look at Mayor Pete. I mean, oh my God, the dude did a 180 on everything.
James Adomian: If you're a, if you're a wrestling fan, you know that Mayor Pete is currently in the middle of a heel turn [laughs].
Kyle Kulinski: That's exactly right. To get those sweet, sweet Wall Street bucks.
Anthony Atamanuik: Well, I think you're gonna start seeing that open up as you already are that now super PAC money's coming in on Biden, and I think even Warren's going to start opening up to some money donations. I think that this is the turn because the last six months have been play time. I mean, they'd been sort of pretend debate, weird, like extra debate time that made no sense with Chuck Todd taking up most of the time, more than anybody else. His goatee spoke for 30 minutes alone [laughs]. I think that the differentiation is going to play itself out in November more clearly. Again, because this was so much play time over the summer.
I also fear that we are watching the slow mitigation of the message happening, except I think with Bernie standing so clearly with how he's been for the last 35 years. As someone who grew up Massachusetts. I used to watch him on CSPAN just to see him because he, at the time, he was again pretty center. In like 1980 he was not that wild, you know, in terms of his thinking. But I, I really do believe that, or fear, that we have not learned anything. And in fact, we have calcified exactly the wrong thinking in the Democratic Party about how to undermine or get the President out and that the Democratic Party is balking. And the simplest answer with Medicare for All that blows my mind, that is never said yet, I think on a debate stage, which is yes, sure, costs ultimately on average will go up in taxation, but you will no longer pay for healthcare.
You will no longer pay for insurance, and there's no losing your doctor, 'cause there's only one game in town, and it guarantees everything, and many industrialized nations provide it. And why... My concern is that, besides Bernie Sanders, who is always couched as yelling, which is ridiculous, is the authenticity around him is zilch, and Trump will win if you have some stumbling, fumbling, mumbling idiot trying to get out carefully vetted talking points and stupid jokes.
Briahna Joy Gray: So, I... Snaps for, for sure. So, I want to ask you this because we get this a lot. I heard this there. I don't know if you guys noticed the last couple of days. There are a lot of, uh, kind of famous people who've come out in support of Bernie on Twitter. At least there was like Ariana Grande, TI. There were a couple of others. And one of the questions that we got from someone who's interested in perhaps endorsing is, you know, they want to make sure that Bernie can be Trump. And there are people who, one of these narratives, these 2016 narratives, is Bernie can't beat Trump. Please gentlemen, respond.
James Adomian: Okay. All right. Our whole, the entire premise of Trump Versus Bernie is that that is false. Listen to our album. I mean, there would be no greater debate of ideas than Trump versus Bernie, Bernie versus Trump. And it would end in the right way, I think.
Kyle Kulinski: Okay. In order to win the election in the United States of America, you have to win the Rust Belt. The Rust Belt just happens to be the place where Bernie Sanders performs the best. So, when you talk about electability, you're really having a conversation about those states that Hillary Clinton didn't campaign in last time. Those states that she lost by, what was the total number? I'm forgetting, like 60,000 or something. Some incredibly tiny number of votes, which was the reason she didn't win. That's why I've said repeatedly on my show. If it's anybody else, I'm afraid of Trump winning. Elizabeth Warren, I'll give it a coin flip against Donald Trump, but with Bernie Sanders, I think we have over an 80% chance of him winning because he takes away all of that perceived edge that Trump has. That fake antiestablishment streak that he has where he pretends like it's the world versus Donald Trump, and he's going to stand up for the little guy.
James Adomian: It's left populism. It's true progressive left populism versus the false version of it that Trump's tried for so long.
Kyle Kulinski: That's right. Because Bernie will actually bring the jobs back there. He'll actually do it. There were 93,000 jobs outsourced from the Rust Belt under Donald Trump when he campaigned, particularly on, "I'm gonna stop outsourcing." So, he failed. He failed on that. We need somebody who's going to go there and remind the people that he failed, he failed. "Here's my specific proposals to actually bring the jobs back."
Briahna Joy Gray: I, I think one other point is that Democrats are obsessed with this idea of hypocrisy, right? So, they're like, I want to talk about how we'll Trump can't talk about how I'm correct because he's more corrupt. Trump can't talk about my husband's sexual indiscretions because he is a full-on rapist, right? Like, but Trump never pretended to be a good person. Trump isn't running on the things that we're running on. So, what that means is that when Democrats have vulnerabilities, it doesn't matter that you're better than Trump. It means you have to be airtight against the slings and arrows that are going to come your way regardless. And I think over and over again what beats Trump is integrity. Integrity beats Trump. And frankly, there's not a lot of people in our political system on either side of the aisle who have as unimpeachable a record as Bernie Sanders. And the people don't credit enough, I think, what it means to have a long career and not to have to be running away from it, but to actually be able to run on it.
Anthony Atamanuik: When authenticity, I think authenticity is the name of the game because that's the thing, it's very true, is that he's Trump's playing a totally different game, and everyone is forgiving that game because the profit model for for-profit corporate news is that it pays for Trump to stay. So, they are totally down with making sure that he is covered in a way that keeps you just pissed off enough that you watch, but not so pissed that you actually activate to do anything about it. They did $2.5 billion in free coverage in the 2016 election.
I agree wholeheartedly. And in terms of the achievement of winning the Rust Belt, and I think more importantly is it sort of like the Glenda the good witch versus the, it's, it's Wizard of Oz level. You just have sort of two New York witches, and one is this evil sort of sad queen of a witch, which is Trump. And then you have the good witch, which is, which is Bernie in the sense of this-
James Adomian: [crosstalk 00:34:58] I showed up in a bubble.
Anthony Atamanuik: [laughing] Exactly. And I will say during the debates, James and I predicted everything that happened, and the one thing that we predicted that didn't happen was this matchup between Trump and Bernie. And in it, every single time, Bernie beats me, and if we are arbiters of the future, then that's what needs to happen. And we will have proven to you that it will happen, it will happen. And he needs to, he needs to be the nominee, or we're doomed.
James Adomian: I-I-it's a, i-i-it would be a really fun to watch Bernie Sanders clobber Donald Trump. There, my prediction is that if he's the nominee, there won't be a single state that borders the Great Lakes that will go Trump. All the Great Lakes states will go Bernie Sanders. That's my prediction. That's my prediction.
Kyle Kulinski: Democrats-
James Adomian: Including Ohio.
Kyle Kulinski: Democrats who aren't named Bernie Sanders keep trying to use shortcuts to take out Trump. And there's no better example of this then the height of the election right before one of the debates where I think it was the October surprise, where the tape leaked, where Trump famously said, "I grabbed ‘em by the pussy. I don't even wait." And I remember all the media chatter that entire time was like, "[laughing] Oh, he's so done." And the speculation was, "No, no, no. He's probably going to drop out." He's probably going to say, "I'm not even going to do the election. I'm dropping out. And maybe Mike Pence takes his place or whatever it might be." But I don't know if you guys remember this, the very next debate, what did he do?
Briahna Joy Gray: He brought out all the women.
Kyle Kulinski: [crosstalk 00:36:23] he showed up and had like eight Bill Clinton accusers there and he goes out there, and you could deliver this line much better than me. But he goes, "It was just words. What I said was just words. With Bill Clinton, it was actions. It was actions." And so just like that, it was a wash. So, what does that prove? It proves that you can't beat him with these little like politically incorrect shortcuts. You have to go right to the heart of it, which is the integrity and the policies. That's the only way you're going to beat him is to have somebody who's really authentic and actually is fighting for the people.
James Adomian: I also think-
Anthony Atamanuik: [crosstalk 00:36:57] great impression.
James Adomian: ... stylistically-
Anthony Atamanuik: That was a great impression.
James Adomian: Unbelievable.
Anthony Atamanuik: Unbelievable.
Kyle Kulinski: Second most unbelievable impression ever to this guy.
Anthony Atamanuik: You're doing the debate tonight. I'll moderate.
James Adomian: Bernie has held back a lot in the primary debates, and I think if let loose in a general election debate with Donald Trump, he would be very mean and disrespectful back to him, which is what we need. We don't need someone going like, "How dare you, Mr. President." We need someone going, "Mr. President with all due respect, shut the fuck up."
Briahna Joy Gray: [laughs] On that note, I want to leave a little time if we can, to have some questions from the audience. If you have some, I want you to say them into the microphone. So, if you could pop up.
Speaker 6: As a student of criminology, I like Bernie Sanders pushing for legalizing marijuana, but personally I don't think he goes far enough. You'll never convince me that incarcerating people is the answer to addiction. So, do you think we can put this, push the Senator a little further on this issue?
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. So given that our marijuana policy came out this week, we've been having a lot of conversations about what the next steps are and these are conversations we've been having with community leaders who feel strongly, as we all do as a campaign, that car-, incarceration is not a response to addiction at all. So, on the back end, what we're trying to do first and foremost, is to have Medicare for All and fully have affordable treatment options for everyone in this country. And there are conversations being had right now about what we decriminalize, et cetera, et cetera. Now, marijuana is an easy one because it literally hurts no one and was literally one of the founding fathers’ first crops and has only made criminal for frankly, political reasons. But I absolutely think that what you're saying is right, that nobody should be in jail because of addiction.
James Adomian: Bernie Sanders has moved the Overton Window so fast and so far left to where it should have. It's almost like the ads for Empire Carpets where the guys come in with the hammers and just like overnight, 800-580-2323 Bernie.
Anthony Atamanuik: We have a question over here.
Speaker 7: Oh, quick, quick question. Um, I see a lot of, uh, I see a few Bernie fans out here uh, supporters. Uh, quick question for you. I've, I watched Bernie here, uh, Bernie since his hair was black and, um, if you're a fan of YouTube, you look him up and you see that for the last 40 years he's been saying the same thing consecutively and consistently, but he's been a part of the non change, so forth, so on. However, if elected as president, I'm trying to find out where the Bern is coming from because I didn't, I didn't vote for him. I voted for Hillary, however. But my part and my, my problem is, is that I see a lot of people in the audience that should be running for president versus voting for Bernie, and Bernie is only holding up seats to keep people from running. So that is my question. Why aren't you guys running for president versus voting for someone that has been a part of the problem for 40 years?
Kyle Kulinski: So earlier today I did, uh, a bunch of pictures over there, thank you everybody for coming by. And there were at least two people who are running for office. So, we're working on it, you know, younger generation here, we're, you know, developing your worldview, developing your ideology, figuring out what you believe, figuring out what you want to fight for. And then from there on, it's all systems go. And again, as somebody who co-founded Justice Democrats, you know, I was never prouder than on that night that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knocked off Joe Crowley, who was next in line to be a Democratic leader by the way. It was, it was the Democrats, Eric Cantor moment when Eric Cantor got knocked out, political media was like, "Oh my God, what just happened?"
I still remember the smug reaction from corporate media where none of them saw it coming and I saw these terrible tweets about how, "All of, uh, political media is doing a crash course on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tonight." [crosstalk 00:40:54] And I'm like, "No, actually we started that, we launched that," and so we're working on it is my answer.
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. I also just want to say to the point to the point about, um, you know, what has Bernie done, 'cause we, we that a lot and the reality is that when we say this movement is not me, us, it's because we are building a movement, a revolution of people. It's never going to be a single person that is able to impact the kind of change that needs to get accomplished in this country. Now the first words out of Bernie's mouth when he won his first public office, were, "It's not just me." And the second he had an iota political power, he turned the mirror around and said, "If we don't do this all together, it's not gonna work out." And that's why Justice Democrats is so important. People like AOC and the entire squad and people who are just now getting themselves into a position, be elected, and now AOC is not 35 years old and cannot run for office. As a lot of people in this crowd I'm looking at aren't either. Um, so maybe that's something that we need to talk about getting changed as well [laughing]. Right. And I'm sure, let's call it point out. A lot of people are, but yeah, let's, let's-
James Adomian: Can I say, uh, somebody, somebody in the back said, our revolution, if you go to our revolution and look up-
James Adomian: You will see the list of candidates inspired by Bernie Sanders and endorsed by Bernie Sanders. It's a national movement that does go down to the local level. He's the, he's the biggest name right now. He's the biggest name it would have, that's our best chance for a Robert Kennedy, uh, style political shocking change.
Speaker 8: So, I am a political just dabbler. I really don't know that much. I just came because I was curious mostly. And I have a couple of questions. The first one is how do you justify, I guess I, maybe the words justify a-another old white man in, in office? Um, and then my second question is how do I discuss with my deeply conservative coworkers why they should consider Bernie when they are usually single, single, um, topic voters?
Briahna Joy Gray: So, I'll take the second one first if I, if I may. When I am traveling around the country, uh, to red states and blue states alike, I have sometimes a much easier, um, time having conversations with conservative voters than I do certain moderate liberal voters. Um, and it's because I think there are certain issues that everyone agrees on. Um, people on the left understand and that a lot of conservatives understand that, which is why in fact, they liked Trump, which is this idea of political corruption. And the value of a candidate who was politically independent because they don't take money from corporate interests. Now Donald Trump ran on the idea that he was so rich, he didn't have to take corporate money.
Of course, it didn't matter. He will enrich himself in any way, shape or form and has no personal integrity. So, he wasn't able to live up and wasn't willing, wasn't interested in living up to the promises and lies on the campaign trail. Um, but when I talk to people across the country about Bernie Sanders, regardless of whether or not they agree about his policy prescriptions, they believe that he's honest, that he means what he says and that he's doing what he thinks is the best thing for the American people. Because the idea of him being politically independent resonates with folks on an intrinsic level. Only people who are very wedded to a party structure as a team structure seem to be resistant to the, to the notion of, of why I should be frustrated with the Democratic Party as an institution, right?
So actually, think there's a lot of, a lot more crossover with voters on the right with Bernie Sanders than there are with other people in the Democratic field. To this point about identity, AOC has been asked this question a lot in the last week, and as a black woman who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, I find it a little bit frustrating because in 2016 I was told, well, Hillary is a woman. And I was supposed to ignore the fact that she picked a VP that supported the Hyde Amendment. I'm supposed to care first and foremost that she's a woman. I'm supposed to not care about how her military hawkishness affects the lives of brown women like me across the world because she's a woman, right?
I'm not supposed care about her entire basically history because she's a woman. And now that there are people of color in this race, women of color in this race, I'm not supposed to care about their records on criminal justice and their careers built on putting black and brown people in prison because they're a woman, right? And so what I look to, when I'm voting first and foremost, is not who looks like me necessarily, but who supports the policies that benefit the people who look like me and the people who are in my community and the most marginalized people on this planet?
Sometimes that's a woman, sometimes it's a person of color. Identity is important. It's a lens which colors our understanding of the world and how we move through it, but it does not dictate what we believe. And you know that because you probably wouldn't vote for any number of conservative people of color or women. And we have to be clear eyed about people in our own party about that as well.
James Adomian: Well, let me say this briefly. I understand that I am an old white man, but I, when I win the presidency, the people that lose the most will be the old white man that I've been fighting against my entire life.
Kyle Kulinski: And I'll just add one quick thing to that Killer Mike said, and I thought this was so brilliant that Bernie Sanders is running on the continuation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legacy. So, I think that's a really powerful reason to support him.
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah, and who, by the way, when, when he says that, part of what he means is that one of the things that Dr. King said was, "Look, we've accomplished a great deal legally in terms of getting legal to jury rights. You technically can't do X, Y, or Z anymore. Right? But the reality is that there's still discrimination because what's the point of being, being able to have a seat at the lunch counter if you can't afford a hamburger?" And I think that class element has been divorced from liberal politics forever. And it's why we have people who are so disaffected who say, "There's 40 years of change, what are you going to do, you know, it's impossible."
Well, it isn't possible if you're only interested in kind of the symbolic value of having a certain number of people of color and women on a corporate board or certain number of people of color in office, right? These things matter. There is a representational value, I'm not going to say that there isn't, but they don't matter more than substantive politics that actually end the class hierarchy, the racial apartheid that we have in this country.
Anthony Atamanuik: Who wants another milkshake? I've been making milkshakes. Every time she makes a great point. I make another milkshake.
Briahna Joy Gray: Um, let's do one last question from this gentleman in the red and then we'll wrap up.
Speaker 9: Um, I'm not sure what Bernie's plan is for like local politics 'cause especially in Atlanta where I'm at, it's really hard to get people to go to like city council meetings, meetings about tra-
Speaker 7: Traffic.
Speaker 9: Yeah, exactly. Meetings about traffic, meetings about like local state representatives. So, I don't know what points you guys can have on that to get more local involvement.
Kyle Kulinski: Yeah, I mean, again, I think it goes back to the idea of cloning a million more Bernie Sanders to get involved. Everybody's got to somewhere, and then I'm, you know, regardless of what position you're running for or if it's local, if it's state or you know, you go to the national level, whatever it is. I mean we need people involved who are going to fight for the people at every level of government. And, uh, there's nothing better you can do than to inspire an entire generation and to actually have a philosophy that they believe in as opposed to just being, you know, people who are climbing the ladder for the sake of climbing the ladder and to get the name, the name recognition and self-aggrandizement. Of course, those people are massively insufferable.
Briahna Joy Gray: Yeah. I think the number one lesson is you need to give people something to vote for. If you don't have something affirmative to vote for, if you're getting on the stage at the debate stage and talking about all the reasons we can't do X, Y, and Z, you're not going to win because Trump, as horrific as what he is offering is, is offering people something, something concrete, so concrete that it's literally a wall. So yeah, the, I think that that Bernie Sanders’ movement, um, exemplifies that. And that's why we're going to be Trump. I want to thank you all for joining us here today. I know I wish we could go on forever, but you guys have got to get to hair and makeup and do your stuff later and I think there's someone else coming up here so thank you all very much. I appreciate you and maybe we'll have another official live show of Hear the Bern at some later date. Thank you.
James Adomian: Thank you, everybody.
Briahna Joy Gray: If you enjoyed this episode and liked the idea of coming to a taping of Hear the Bern Live, write us and let us know where you'd like it to happen and who you'd like to see. I had a lot of fun recording this and would love to do it again. You can email us at [email protected], or send us a tweet with the #HeartheBern. I also want to remind our listening audience that every other episode is produced as a video episode, which you can watch on the Bernie Sanders 2020 YouTube page under Hear the Bern. This episode and our best of Bernie episodes are audio only, but you can listen to them on YouTube as well if you prefer. If you haven't already, please take a moment to rate and review us on Apple podcasts, SoundCloud, or wherever you're listening. As always, transcripts will be up soon. Till next week.
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