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2024 Election Emergency with Waleed Shahid

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Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
Hegemonicon - An Investigation Into the Workings of Power
2024 Election Emergency with Waleed Shahid

President Joe Biden, the man entrusted with our defense against Trump’s MAGA fascism, is now enabling a genocide in Gaza. The situation looks bad from almost any angle. What does this mean for US progressives who prefer Biden to Trump on domestic policy, but find Biden’s current foreign policy unconscionable? Should we shut up about Palestine to shore up Biden’s popularity? Unacceptable. Is there a Democratic primary challenger who can overcome Biden? Way too late, apparently. So what is to be done? 

In this episode William talks with Waleed Shahid, a progressive Democratic strategist and former national spokesperson for Justice Democrats. They discuss the recent “Vote Ceasefire” campaign in New Hampshire, an upcoming “Vote Uncommitted” campaign in Michigan, and ask if there are any other strategies available to stop a genocide, while giving ourselves the best chance to defeat Trump in November.

Reach out with your thoughts and comments on this episode: [email protected]

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the Democrats and liberals don’t oppose Islamophobia, they oppose the Republican use of Islamophobia, they don’t oppose racism, they oppose the Republican use of racism, and so it’s, it’s, it’s largely partisan, and I think what the Arab and Muslim community are calling out [00:47:00] about that is that no, like, we have actual demands that we want to make of this political party and its leadership, and we are trying to be We have agency here and you might not like it, but like we are like any other community and we’re not just going to give our votes because or money when if we don’t get anything in return, like this is politics, 

[00:00:34] William Lawrence:  

[00:01:23] Hello listeners and welcome to the Hegemonicon. We are interrupting our loose series on what we’re building, which will continue next week for an urgent conversation [00:01:30] on the 2024 election. This is 2024 election emergency featuring Waleed Shaheed. I’m your host, William Lawrence, and we are recording this on Monday, January 29th. Uh, President Joe Biden, uh, the man entrusted with our defense against Trumpian American fascism is now enabling a genocide in Gaza.

[00:01:53] This is bad, very bad, very, very bad. So what does this mean for US progressives [00:02:00] who prefer Biden to Trump on domestic policy, but find Biden’s current foreign policy to be unconscionable? Should we shut up about Palestine to shore up Biden’s popularity? That seems unacceptable. Is there a democratic primary challenger who can overcome Biden?

[00:02:16] It would appear to be way too late for that. So what is to be done? That’s what we’re here to talk about. And in the days before this episode was recorded over this weekend, the Biden administration’s messaging and overall posture went [00:02:30] from very bad to even worse regarding Palestine, the Biden administration cut off funding to the UN relief and works agency, which furnishes food, clean water, and medical supplies to Gaza, making the U S even more complicit in the famine and disease that is now.

[00:02:47] rampant there. Nancy Pelosi this weekend went on TV to accuse ceasefire proponents of being Russian assets in the pocket of Vladimir Putin. That’s 80 percent of the Democratic [00:03:00] electorate, mind you, who support a ceasefire. And separately, Biden is now pushing a draconian border deal, which is actually worse than anything Ever proposed by Trump, which his administration is selling to Republicans saying this is a harder line deal than you would ever get under Trump, which would grant the executive vast new authorities to shut down border traffic and automatically deport all asylum seekers.

[00:03:24] The segment of the Democratic Party base, which believes in human rights for people of the global South. [00:03:30] Be they in Palestine or in Latin America or anywhere around the world is being treated with just utter contempt and condescension. This is not humane and it’s definitely not the way to win an election.

[00:03:43] Dear listeners, if you are also very concerned about the Biden administration’s policy and equally concerned about Biden’s electability versus Trump, if you doubt that Biden and his team can turn this thing around, please listen to this episode. If you want to be involved in organizing [00:04:00] efforts to do something, please be in touch.

[00:04:03] We’re going to put my email in the show notes. Waleed and I do not have all the answers here. But I personally think things are more fluid, possibilities are more open ended than we might believe. This is January. The Democratic nominee will be determined in August at the convention in Chicago. If now were September, we’d be having a different conversation.

[00:04:26] But it’s not September, it’s January. A different [00:04:30] course may still be possible. So we’re going to sound out some ideas on this show and some campaigns that are underway right now. Please let us know what you think. Be in touch to collaborate and with your thoughts, maybe just, maybe we still have some agency in this situation.

[00:04:47] I’m joined now by my friend, Waleed Shaheed, who is a progressive democratic political strategist. He spans the space between, uh. political strategy and movement strategy on the left. He’s the former [00:05:00] national spokesperson and communications director for Justice Democrats. Waleed, thanks so much for being here.

[00:05:05] Thanks for having me, Will. So let’s get right into it and start with Israel’s policy in Gaza, the Biden administration’s enabling of which has I think for many people, and I’ll certainly put myself in this camp, these last four months have been horrifying. The death toll in Gaza has exceeded 26, 000 people.

[00:05:23] The International Court of Justice has found that South Africa has a credible case to charge Israel with genocide. [00:05:30] And the United States remains Israel’s number one ally, funder, and arms dealer. I think for many people, and I’ll certainly put myself in this camp, these last four months have been horrifying.

[00:05:42] We’ve seen things out of Gaza that we will never be able to forget, and it has fundamentally changed the way we think about Israel, but more importantly, for our purposes, how we think about the United States and United States foreign policy and our role as progressives in opposing it. [00:06:00] I spoke in last week’s episode about how the left of the 2010s was relatively quiet on international issues.

[00:06:06] But now that has changed dramatically at this moment, support for Palestine is the largest and most mobilized. Grassroots social movement in the United States. Waleed, I’m curious how these last four months have looked to you. 

[00:06:23] Waleed Sahid: So I think the left’s initial response to October 7th was a little clumsy and disorganized [00:06:30] and, um, the media ended up attacking a lot of the mobilizations and activists because in part the media’s job is to cover the craziest thing that will drive clicks.

[00:06:39] And that’s what they did by like finding the one or two people who said pro Hamas things at these rallies. But I think Eventually the left did step in, in an organized way and create some frameworks around ceasefire and anti war and pro peace and the preciousness of all human life that I think was the right moral call in the moment to make that has since [00:07:00] driven the ceasefire, uh, movement forward.

[00:14:01] William Lawrence: so let’s stick for a minute on the infrastructure that’s required to sustain this kind of.

[00:14:05] Um, protest movement or, you know, what is really a counter hegemonic opposition to the will of U. S. Empire, which is not an easy thing to do. The infrastructure that’s required to sustain that you’ve thought a lot. You’ve done probably more than almost anybody to elect the squad. You’ve thought a lot about the kind of infrastructure required to build a block of, you know, strong left progressives [00:14:30] in Congress who can Take tough stands like the ceasefire resolution push, which has been led by Rashida to leave and Corey Bush and take those stands, hold their seats and grow more powerful over time.

[00:14:43] Um, we know now that APAC has pledged to spend a hundred million dollars. To unseat the squad, um, for its outspoken advocacy for Gaza. So, uh, that’s not going to be easy to overcome in this cycle. So what does this present situation [00:15:00] reveal about kind of like, uh, again, the asymmetric character of our resources, our funding, our infrastructure, where we stand in the mission of being able to build a block in Congress backed up by the grassroots that can.

[00:15:13] Actually be opposed to, um, U. S. Empire on an issue like this. 

[00:15:18] Waleed Sahid: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I just want to acknowledge that it’s like hard to think about. Methods and approaches and strategies when our government is funding war crimes and genocide, [00:15:30] but I have been thinking a lot about this because, um, APEC has become typically the number one spender against progressive candidates, um, for office and democratic primaries and those primaries are what determine who gets to be a Democrat and who doesn’t.

[00:15:47] And, you know, we’ve talked a lot, About and you’ve talked on your podcast about, um, the relationship between political parties and movements. But to me, we need to have more Democrats in office who support Palestinian human rights. [00:16:00] And if we don’t, our movement is our move. The movement for human rights is kind of doomed.

[00:16:05] And so if we can’t overcome a pack spending through both political organizing, movement, organizing, financial organizing, then, um, I’m this movement is troubled. And so there’s, that’s a huge effort being taken hold largely by justice Democrats over the next few months to defend the seats in the squad.

[00:16:25] But ultimately, you know, some of my thinking about this comes from, [00:16:30] um, Daniel Schlossman’s book when movements anchor parties and he. You know, um, I’d be curious what he thinks about this too, but he basically says that, um, parties will align with movements only out of self interest. And so that self interest means that a movement offers either votes or donors or networks, um, uh, resources to that party, um, and that, and that helped them sustain [00:17:00] themselves electorally, politically.

[00:17:02] And so, And, you know, that, that is obvious for AIPAC about the ways that they, they do that. Um, they have, uh, enormous influential donors to the Democrat party and the Republican party. But not only that, they also control, um, AIPAC has enormous influence on a large constituency of organized, um, largely older Jewish Americans, um, synagogue infrastructure, Jewish communal infrastructure.

[00:17:29] [00:17:30] Um, uh, And like networks of influential people in the community that can be mobilized for political outcomes on the other side of that, um, on on the Palestinian human rights side, like the political infrastructure still is being, um, It’s still new, uh, APAC is many decades old and, um, you know, there’s not, there’s not a real Palestinian equivalent, uh, to APAC, um, and, [00:18:00] or DMF, like in terms of both the lobbying presence or, um, the financial power or the electoral presence, um, I think Justice Democrats is trying to build that, but Justice Democrats started in 2017, um, and also Justice Democrats is not a, um, just a, uh, israeli or palestinian public affairs, uh, public affairs group.

[00:18:21] Um, and so one question I have going forward is If Schlozman’s theory is true, that parties align with [00:18:30] movements out of self interest, how can we create or broker a deal where our movements, and I think this is starting to happen, our movements are, are, have organized resources, operatives, voters, um, donors to offer Not not the Democratic Party, but to the squad and our faction of the Democratic Party.

[00:18:53] And I think that has slowly started to come together. And it’s some of the most under, um, it’s [00:19:00] developing, but I think it’s like understudied, underexplored. And that give at least the fact give at least the squad some of that political cover of like, this is not just an ideological movement, but a real grassroots constituency, not just the Muslims and Arabs, but also just I think millennials and Gen Z are organized around this, like it is night and day between voters under 45 and over 45 of their stances toward the war in Gaza.

[00:19:23] And I think movements in the progressive foreign policy space, [00:19:30] but also just generationally, like, um, I think even like members of groups like Sunrise or DSA, who are not primarily politicized by. Or Black Lives Matter are not primarily politicized by foreign policy or by Palestine because of their ideological commitments to either intersectionality or democratic socialism, or their identification with people like Bernie Sanders and AOC, or that they grew up under the material circumstances of the war on terror, they feel a natural affinity to [00:20:00] question and oppose wars on terror and think about what would be political or diplomatic solutions to this.

[00:20:05] And so, um, that is progress, I think, but it is, it is built, it needs. It still needs to be built and today it was announced that Jamal Bowman’s primary challenger like outraised him very significantly and that makes me worried about can we put together the The political infrastructure to defend the squad, like it is a real concern that one or two or three of these members might [00:20:30] lose their seats, which would be a huge blow for anyone who cares about Palestinian human rights and a huge win for Benjamin Netanyahu and a pack.

[00:20:40] William Lawrence: It seems like another version of the same story that you and I have talked about over the last You know, 10 years or so, there’s a social movement uprising. The, uh, ideological landscape has shift dramatically. Public opinion has swung hugely in the favor of, um, Palestinian human rights and [00:21:00] into the occupation.

[00:21:02] And. Yet our infrastructure, um, lags so far behind, and that’s really been the same story that you could tell, uh, in some of the peak moments of the climate movement, peak moments of, um, uprising for black lives over the last decade, uh, and, and, and other movements besides. So the infrastructural gap is there and, uh, the money, the personnel.

[00:21:28] That’s required [00:21:30] to pull that together on a durable basis. I mean, you know, this 

[00:21:33] Waleed Sahid: from your experience, but it’s not easy. You’re, you know, this from your experience with sunrise is like every Democrat believes that climate change is a problem, but like, can you create the coalitions and the Presence in state capitals and Washington and city councils.

[00:21:50] And it’s like, you know, winning public, the truth shall not set us free. Well, public opinion is only, it’s only stage one.[00:22:00] 

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[00:22:50] William Lawrence: So let’s turn to Biden then and and and the election, um, because he’s the president. He’s the person in our country with the most power to end this genocide in [00:23:00] progress. And you know, part of what’s making me crazy about this is that we grow up. We’ve been taught that there is like every category of crime in the world.

[00:23:08] And then there is genocide, which is something that is actually the worst possible crime that one people can do to another and standing aside during a genocide or what might be credibly alleged as a genocide is not an option. It’s not an option. This is like what we’ve been taught our whole lives. This is the foundation of the principle of human rights and [00:23:30] international law.

[00:23:30] And that means we have an ethical imperative to target Biden, to pressure Biden, to call him out, the president of the United States, who could do something about this. And yet this is an election year in which the presumptive matchup in November will be Biden against Donald Trump, if they both secure their nominations, assuming this matchup holds to protest Biden.

[00:23:53] Indirectly helps trump. That’s true. Uh, but so this makes for a very bad situation and the [00:24:00] choice apparently as I think the democratic establishment would want to frame it is to quiet down about a genocide happening abroad or to help a fascist get elected here at home. This is the framing I hear from people when they’re in the process of telling me to shut up.

[00:24:16] About Gaza. Waleed, I think you disagree with this framing, but why, why do you, why do you disagree that our only choice is to, uh, uh, shut up about Gaza or help elect a fascist? 

[00:24:28] Waleed Sahid: I just think it’s really [00:24:30] concerning that. In a country as diverse and as large as the United States that like, you know, we’re presented this binary choice where in January, you have to shut up about the president of the unit, like half the country has to just say, like, everything this man does is great and we should support him and not criticize him.

[00:24:49] Like, I don’t know, maybe I would understand that in September, October, but it’s. It’s January. And I think, you know, the president of the United States is [00:25:00] overseeing horrific war crimes, not overseeing, funding horrific war crimes by the Israeli government. And it’s our job as Americans and as, and particularly as Democrats to stand up to that.

[00:25:12] I think a lot of the left liberal space. Well, particularly the liberal space that and, um, and like donor networks, like have a blind spot when it comes to foreign policy, but particularly the case of the Palestinian, of Palestinian human rights, where, [00:25:30] um, what I consistently hear is like, why would you let this one issue?

[00:25:34] Stop you from supporting someone who could take action on abortion and climate change and student debt and immigration And why are you risking? Damaging biden and helping pave the way for trump and i’m like, what is the point of having political power? If it’s not to uh change things um, and so if we just shut up, we’re never going to change anything and um, it’s like [00:26:00] we uh, so, I don’t know I think like there’s there’s Uh, there’s a long time between now and November, um, to figure out, um, what our relationship is to Biden.

[00:26:11] But, uh, I think right now it’s very critical for these disruptions and protests to continue every public appearance Biden does, like right now he’s being disrupted by ceasefire protesters. I think that’s really positive. We need to keep driving the media, uh, coverage of this as a, as a voting issue for [00:26:30] people.

[00:26:31] You know, one thing. A friend of mine was in the focus group last week, um, and of millennials and Gen Z, 14 millennials and, um, 14 Democrats who are millennial or Gen Z. And none of them brought up Gaza organically. And so part of me is also wondering whether we’re in echo chambers and bubbles, like people’s, people’s criticism of like, it’s one of those things where I think.

[00:26:58] And polls, people are [00:27:00] opposed to the war, but it’s not a top 123 priority issue for them. And I think the way that it becomes a priority issue is that movements have to drive the urgency still. And that doesn’t mean we can’t do that if we’re going to shut up like a someone, a broadcast producer told me that Starting in 2024, we are going to pivot away from our wartime coverage of Gaza and move toward the political coverage of Trump versus Biden.

[00:27:25] And that means that the media will only cover really Gaza [00:27:30] if we politicize it and make it about the election. So, um, uh, And so, yeah, I don’t know. I think 

[00:27:36] William Lawrence: that, um, that’s a reason to do it. That’s not a reason not to do it. That is a reason to do it, to politicize it and to make it about the election. Yeah, exactly.

[00:27:44] Waleed Sahid: Like there is, um, if, um, you know, right, right now, Joe Biden has been, I mean, I’m curious what you think about this too, but Joe Biden has been successful as a candidate and as a president by representing the broad coalition of the [00:28:00] Democratic Party. Um, Examples on climate or student debt or, um, et cetera.

[00:28:06] And like right now, he’s the things that he and Nancy Pelosi are doing are really just vociferously aggressively attacking the 70 to 80 percent of Democrats who opposed the war vehemently, which doesn’t make sense to me about your own strategy going into November, where You can’t have the party divided against itself and you’re exacerbating that divide by [00:28:30] attacking your voters rather than trying to heal the divisions like they’re being so aggressive and ham fisted about their, and you know, um, I don’t want to say semi authoritarian, but Nancy Pelosi’s comments this week, this weekend were horrific, um, and um, Yeah, we’re going 

[00:28:46] William Lawrence: to be investigated by the FBI now.

[00:28:48] So I guess you and I will be getting phone calls because we’re apparently in the pocket of Putin. I mean, she said that the FBI should be looking into it. 

[00:28:56] Waleed Sahid: You have, you have news stories every week about how Muslims and Arabs are [00:29:00] upset about the Biden administration’s conduct of the war. And then one of the most powerful Democrats in the country says we should think about getting the FBI on these pro Palestine people.

[00:29:09] Like, I’m like, are you serious? Like. Do you not see how alienated people are from, from, I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense to me. And it’s like, I don’t know, they’re part of a generation that’s extremely, um, it’s interesting to me because this, I mean, this is what I was going to ask you is like on, on many economic issues, Biden has turned away from the [00:29:30] conventional thinking of the Larry Summers, old guard of the democratic party.

[00:29:34] Um, You know, on, on COVID relief on the IRA, but on this issue, he is very much in line with the old guard ideologically. Um, and so I’m like, maybe our I don’t know, maybe our infrastructure is more developed on those other issues, or it’s just Biden, Biden and Pelosi are just We had Yeah, I don’t know. 

[00:29:56] William Lawrence: Part of it is Biden personally, but like, I also think, um, [00:30:00] you know, David Adler was on last week, um, we were talking about the internationalist turn on the, on the U.

[00:30:05] S. left, and he just said objectively, you know, there have been studies that show that, um, um, U. S. ruling class is less susceptible, To, um, pressure or democratic oversight on its foreign policy than on its domestic policy. This has been demonstrated. And, um, there are interests at play when we’re talking about American foreign policy.

[00:30:25] And there’s a bureaucracy. The blob, uh, is not for [00:30:30] nothing. You know, this is this is real. These are real material structures that are attached to this sort of You know, military industrial complex and the Pentagon and the defense department that are, um, impenetrable. And, you know, some of these people, while you’re literally giving Israel money to handling 

[00:30:45] Waleed Sahid: this or Biden is giving money to Israel to buy weapons made by American, it’s a self, it’s a snake 

[00:30:53] William Lawrence: eating itself.

[00:30:56] So this is, I think, where, like, this really speaks to some deep, deep political [00:31:00] questions for the U. S. Left. I mean, the amount of infrastructure that we lack to be able to, um, win on our desired policy solutions on something like climate or racial justice, um, domestically, um, the amount of infrastructure needed to win on a durable basis on on foreign policy, um, is is on another level.

[00:31:21] And so I think it really poses the question of how we could imagine a I mean, literally, how can we imagine being able to actually, uh, [00:31:30] stop this machine? I think that’s something that none of us have the answer to. And it’s very difficult and it’s leading people to some, um, you know, very radical conclusions in some cases.

[00:31:38] But, um, you know, just to something else you said, like I think like in 2020 by, you know, this is where I, in hindsight, our lack of having a progressive presidential candidate this cycle, which none of us thought was like either necessary nor possible a year ago, um, has turned out to become a huge problem because the, uh, because Biden understood in 2020 that he needed to negotiate with Bernie in order to [00:32:00] be able to, um, uh, unify the party.

[00:32:02] And they had the Bernie Biden task force and, you know, some people, you know, that didn’t result in all the outcomes that. Um, uh, we wanted, but it did result in, in, in the progressive victories under the Biden administration that are there to claim, but he worked hard for it, worked really hard for it, worked really hard to win the young vote and the progressive vote in 2020, and he got it.

[00:32:23] But this year, it’s like they’re not trying. Instead, they’re trying to frickin poke us in the eye and insult us every chance we get and tell us that we’re throwing a [00:32:30] tantrum or, Um, you know, all the rest of the stuff we’ve both been hearing. So I, I think that they’ve totally lost the plot when it comes to the coalition that is in their own party and they are, um, just acting with a degree of entitlement that is, is, is very, very, very concerning condescension.

[00:32:48] I mean, all of it. Hmm. 

[00:32:49] Waleed Sahid: Doesn’t that remind you of as a Michigan resident of 2016? Didn’t we see this already? Um, but I, uh, a New York, a New York times reporter [00:33:00] told me that, you know, I was trying to get, I was trying to convince him that or persuade him that this was going to be a voting issue, at least in Michigan.

[00:33:07] And he wasn’t buying it. And he was like, look, the Biden team says they have record. Fundraising halls at the end of 2023. And they’re breaking all the fundraising records. So they, when you tell them that they’re out of touch and they’re not doing well, they’re like, what are you talking about? Look, we’ve raised so much money.

[00:33:26] And I think this is precisely the kind of thinking [00:33:30] the failed thinking of 2016 where it’s like, if we throw enough donor money at the problem, then we’ll solve things. And that shows us our sign of success. But yeah. Um, I think the 

[00:33:41] William Lawrence: money is paying for phone calls. And when you ask their phone bankers what Biden is going to do in his next term, they say, we’re going to stop illegal immigration.

[00:33:50] That’s what the money is paying for. 

[00:33:52] Waleed Sahid: Or it’s like paying, yeah. Or it’s paying for campaign ads, telling Muslim voters in Michigan that Trump will do a Muslim ban. And they’re [00:34:00] like, You know, that is what Hillary did. Hillary did the exact same kind of thing in 2016. It doesn’t work because when you’re the incumbent party, you have to earn, there’s more of a standard where you have to earn the trust of voters than, uh, someone who’s essentially running on change or throw them out, which is Trump.

[00:34:17] And I don’t know. I’m like, it’s very disheartening and infuriating that they would point to their fundraising numbers to, to the New York times to be like, Progressives don’t know what they’re talking about. Look, we’re doing great. And I’m like, [00:34:30] that’s also part of the calculus of the movement’s anchoring parties thing because the donor class is much more, uh, right wing on Israel and on foreign policy in general.

[00:34:41] And so they’re like, if we want to keep these voters, these donors in our tent. We can’t alienate them. And, uh, that’s like another thing reporters bring up a lot is if Biden swung the other way, wouldn’t he alienate Jewish voters or moderate Christian voters away from the Democrats? And I’m, [00:35:00] I’m skeptical of that take, um, mostly because I think partisan affiliation with college educated, uh, white people is, uh, much deeper with the democratic party than it is with newer immigrant communities.

[00:35:13] I think people really overestimate how much. Muslim Americans, Arab Americans, Latino Americans, like affiliate on some deeper level with the Democratic Party on as compared to college educated white liberals, that’s another topic for another time. [00:35:30] 

[00:35:31] William Lawrence: So you mentioned how, like, you know, although we’re in a certain echo chamber, um, uh, Gaza.

[00:35:40] Is probably not in the top two or three issues for the Democratic, um, primary electorate as a whole, or it may not be, um, even so, Biden was unpopular even before, uh, before October, and there was a lot of concern about him because he was too old, um, the, the, he [00:36:00] hasn’t gotten credit for, you know, the good things that he has done.

[00:36:03] On issues like climate or student debt because they’ve really just lost the media war on that, and they let the Supreme Court kneecap them on on student debt. They could have had another strategy. Um, they went with their strategy. They lost that. They lost that PR battle. Um, so So that’s the electorate. I mean, it seems like his, his, his approval is hovering somewhere around, you know, 30, 33 to 35%.[00:36:30] 

[00:36:30] I know they say, well, he doesn’t need to be popular. He could still be Trump in a head to head matchup. I kind of doubt it, but there’s also this issue aside from the electorate at large of the engaged volunteer base of the, um, uh, the democratic. Party apparatus in an extended sense. I mean, how viable is it going to be?

[00:36:51] If every time you have a campaign event, the people who would be turning people out to your campaign event, [00:37:00] because they’re young party activists, the sort of people who are normally your ground troops are instead going in and disrupting the speech, calling for a speech fire, which is going to happen at every single event.

[00:37:10] That he does this cycle, and we’ve already seen it happening. What’s going to happen if all of the independent grassroots organizations, like, um, number of organizations I could name here in Michigan, C4 organizations, groups in Georgia, groups in other swing States, Arizona are not able to. Endorse Biden or are [00:37:30] not able to, uh, put a lot of weight behind those endorsements because they’re going to face an internal revolt from their own members, um, or their own staff, even if they do so, I mean, I’ve gotten calls in the last week from, you know, people who are work for, for unions, uh, that are, you know, are in swing states who are saying like, I’m about to quit my job because I don’t want to be contractually obligated to campaign for Biden.

[00:37:54] And, uh, I mean, I think these conversations happening all over [00:38:00] the, the progressive ecosystem and these organizations actually did a lot of the groundwork, millions of voter contacts in Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, the progressive independent political apparatus is not a good fit. Uh, is not nothing in these presidential elections.

[00:38:20] Uh, it’s, you know, field margins are what they are, but elections are won on the margins. And these, these, you’re doing millions of voter contacts to these organizations. I just don’t see it [00:38:30] happening this year. We had a thousand black pastors go public to say that Biden is blowing it with his position on Gaza, and we’re not going to be able to turn out our members.

[00:38:37] We’re not going to be able to preach Biden from the pulpit. Um, how much do you, how much weight do you give to this factor? That’s less about the electorate at large and is more about this critically active mobilized sector of the progressive democratic base, which is just currently in a state of outright revolt.

[00:38:56] Waleed Sahid: Well, there’s already being pressure put on those organizations by donors and [00:39:00] foundations to, you know, shut up and, uh, you know, get on the program, get on the Biden program. And so I’m curious how much that pressure increases over the next, um, few months. I mean, Enormous pressure was put on the United auto workers, um, to rush their endorsement this month, um, for those reasons, um, political pressure.

[00:39:21] Speaking of UAW, I’m like. To me, I’m shocked by the significance that people are giving, the press is giving to the [00:39:30] UAW endorsement in part because I’m like, Hillary Clinton had the endorsement of every labor union in 2016, and when your members and activists either are half assing their canvassing and phone banking because they don’t actually believe in you, or, uh, the people at the doors don’t, uh, feel very passionately or strongly about the candidate or the campaign, like, The number of endorsements or money you have don’t matter that much.

[00:39:54] If the product you’re selling is, uh, something that people don’t feel great about or don’t want. [00:40:00] Um, and so, I mean, I will tell you what the Biden campaign is telling mainstream journalists. It’s that in 2020, we had no canvassing operation because of COVID. And so we’ll be fine. We won that election. Uh, and, uh, that might shock some of your listeners, but that is what they’re telling journalists, um, that, uh, canvassing and phone banking and volunteers are overrated.

[00:40:23] Uh, we didn’t need them in 2020. And, um, yeah, it’ll be, uh, if we could do that, then we can do that [00:40:30] now. What really matters is the amount of money we raise and how many ads we can buy.

[00:40:37] William Lawrence: And the surrogates we can recruit to insult the voters. 

[00:40:40] Waleed Sahid: Well, I mean, this is why I’m like, this is very, very, it’s, we are having conversations today that most of us only had in January, 2017 about the nominee retrospectively, like we’re preemptively having these conversations about, I mean, like. Hillary got every celebrity out for in 2016.

[00:40:59] LeBron [00:41:00] James, like, you know, whatever, like Beyonce. Um, and it doesn’t like when it, those things don’t go very far when the people don’t believe in your candidate. I mean, the thing that Democratic Party strategists will say in response is, well, while Eid, now we have, now we know that Trump can win. And so people are going to be much more scared of Trump winning this time because it’s, they’ve seen it happen.

[00:41:25] But, you Uh, yeah, I think I just think the [00:41:30] when you can feel the like winds in the air are for change, uh, that’s the winds are sailing in Donald Trump’s direction. And, you know, we don’t know what happens when come july august september when The two of them are, you know, face to face on CNN and MSNBC on, on the debate stage, like things could change and maybe Trump, you know, Trump hasn’t gotten as much media coverage as he should be going.

[00:41:55] The things Trump has said about Palestinians in particular are horrifying. I think a lot of people don’t know what [00:42:00] he has been saying, but, um. You know, I’m very, if on a scale of one to 10, I’m pretty much at a nine or 10 on afraid of Biden’s reelection chances. 

[00:42:13] William Lawrence: You know, I think, uh, of constituencies that are not going to come back, uh, it’s pretty clear that the Arab and Muslim community is not going to come back.

[00:42:22] Um, and there’s a full on abandoned Biden campaign, um, led by, um, Muslim American groups. [00:42:30] from important states, including a lot here in Michigan. Um, I’m curious if you, just to tell us a little bit, paint the picture of, um, uh, this, this sentiment in the, um, Arab and Muslim American communities. 

[00:42:44] Waleed Sahid: Yeah, I think Muslim and Arab voters and Muslim and Arab Democrats are very understudied in the U S.

[00:42:50] Um, and you know, particularly because they’re a smaller demographic, but you know, they are equivalent in size to the Jewish American community. And, [00:43:00] um, In terms of population and voting numbers, but. I, you know, I don’t know very many, if any, I don’t know any Muslim Americans or Arab Americans who are right now saying they plan to vote for President Biden in November and that’s horrifying to me.

[00:43:18] Um, and like the number one response I always get when I, when I share this with the media is, how can that be? Trump wants to ban Muslims. And I’m like, you don’t think? They know that like this is like, [00:43:30] uh, people know that They are they are saying this out of they are saying this out of desperation. Like they are trying to be agents of Agents of their own lives, agents of their own, agents of their own, uh, fates, and they are trying to politically exert their, um, their voices and feel like they’re being unheard.

[00:43:49] This is a strategy of desperation, not a strategy of, uh, you know. Not something they want to do, but something they’re forced to be doing. And so there is an abandoned Biden campaign being run mostly by [00:44:00] like uncles and aunties. It’s like a decentralized mosque, mosque based campaign. But you know, these are people that vote those, those mosques control or not control, but those mosques have a lot of congregants that.

[00:44:12] Speak to a lot of people. And like I’ve seen on my social media and WhatsApp, people unregistering as Democrats, people, um, you know, committing to not vote for Biden in November. Um, I don’t know. I think, I mean, it’s a very, uh, I, I don’t necessarily prescribe to the abandoned [00:44:30] Biden strategy, but, um, I understand why people are doing it.

[00:44:33] And I, you know, just this past weekend, um, The Biden campaign manager was supposed to have a meeting with Arab American Democrats in Dearborn and, uh, It was, people thought it was so, um, what’s the word people just thought it was such a, it was just a terrible setup because they wanted to talk about the campaign and voter outreach and everyone wanted to talk to them about Gaza policy and they just can’t read the room [00:45:00] where I’m like the Michigan, the Dearborn mayor and other representatives, political representatives, political representatives of the Dearborn.

[00:45:06] And we’re like, how dare you come to our community to talk about voter outreach and send your campaign manager instead of someone like Jake Sullivan or someone who has you. Influence over policy on Gaza, which is what we’re concerned about. If, when you send your campaign manager, you’re only there to, it’s a one way conversation, which is like, how can you turn out votes for us?

[00:45:26] That’s what their goal is. Their goal is the campaign manager has no [00:45:30] influence on policy. 

[00:45:30] William Lawrence: Abdullah Hamoud is the mayor of Dearborn. He’s really been on fire lately. I mean, it’s really great being here in Michigan. I got to say where there is just like such a, um, strong and organized, uh, Arab American.

[00:45:44] community, uh, that are speaking unapologetically on this issue, it really, it really lays things clear. And this is exactly what he was saying is don’t come to us and talk politics. This is a time to talk about how to save lives and win justice in Gaza. Like this is absolutely insulting. [00:46:00] And to have people who are, I mean, he’s a Democrat, you know, he’s a Democrat.

[00:46:03] He’s got the D before his name. And there’s others who are interstate legislature who have been just as strong and outspoken. And, um, I think that is what’s a little bit different about Michigan than almost every other state in the country, especially, uh, you know, the, the highest profile swing states is that there is this, uh, um, incredibly organized and, you know, politically self possessed, um, Arab American community.

[00:46:24] And they’re, they’re just not going to take this shit. 

[00:46:27] Waleed Sahid: Yeah. I think, I think there’s this like liberal kind of [00:46:30] sneering from like New York times reading class where it’s like, why can’t they just get in line? And I’m like, You just think, uh, this is like something the Democrats and liberals don’t oppose Islamophobia, they oppose the Republican use of Islamophobia, they don’t oppose racism, they oppose the Republican use of racism, and so it’s, it’s, it’s largely partisan, and I think what the Arab and Muslim community are calling out [00:47:00] about that is that no, like, we have actual demands that we want to make of this political party and its leadership, and we are trying to be We have agency here and you might not like it, but like we are like any other community and we’re not just going to give our votes because or money when if we don’t get anything in return, like this is politics, 

[00:47:22] William Lawrence: it’s almost as if when Pelosi says that these are putinites, that they’re the ones that did it.

[00:47:27] It’s Pelosi and Biden and them who are the ones [00:47:30] throwing the tantrum because they’re realizing that they can’t actually just give orders. Yeah, exactly. 

[00:47:35] Waleed Sahid: And like this is, this is, this is democracy and At every point of democratic intervention, like we are headed, we are having roadblocks put up before us by the political establishment.

[00:47:46] Like, okay, you can’t, you can’t run candidates in democratic party primary elections who criticize Israel because if you do, they’ll be totally annihilated by super PAC spending and can’t viably use electoral means to [00:48:00] talk about, uh, why our government is funding the Israeli military. You can’t do, uh, you can’t, Organize on campus or say that Israel’s committing a genocide because that’s antisemitic.

[00:48:10] You can’t, uh, you, you can’t be a member of Congress and hold a vigil for Palestinians because, uh, that is, you know, that could be considered pro Hamas. Like, um, I don’t know. Like, to me, one thing that’s been shocking is like we have a whole. Presidential campaign has based itself in opposition to MAGA [00:48:30] fascism in the spirit of a fight for the soul of our democracy.

[00:48:34] And then at the same time in this country, like so many means of democratic participation and democratic, uh, engagement on raising the concerns of people in Gaza are being closed. Like what this is like. These are just normal democratic means of democratic tactics, voting or not voting, mobilizing on campus, mobilizing in the streets, like civil disobedience.

[00:48:55] These are all tactics within the range of democracy, but there’s like this [00:49:00] cone of silence and, you know, criminalization, semi criminalization of any sort of democratic organizing on this issue, um, where people are just being forced to be silenced. But I think ideologically there’s been a major shift, um, where people aren’t willing to stand by it anymore.

[00:49:20] William Lawrence: Um, so let’s stick with like some real practical initiatives that are underway right now. There was a effort that came together like [00:49:30] in a week before the election in New Hampshire to write ceasefire on the Democratic primary ballot with basically no, very little money. Um, a volunteer initiative that came together in a week, um, got around 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire as write ins for ceasefire, but the next and much bigger opportunity is here in Michigan, which has the next democratic primary at the end of February.

[00:49:56] Um, you and I are both connected to an [00:50:00] initiative that is asking primary voters to vote. Uncommitted on the Democratic primary line. There will be a ballot line that says uncommitted, and we’re asking people to vote uncommitted in Michigan. Um, why should Michigan Democratic primary voters vote uncommitted?

[00:50:18] And, uh, what can we hope to achieve with this? So, yeah, 

[00:50:22] Waleed Sahid: Michigan is unique in having a bubble that you can fill out under, um, Joe Biden’s name that says uncommitted. I [00:50:30] think it’s a tactic, um, to show, uh, the number of votes in Michigan that are deeply committed to, um, anti war politics and opposition to funding Israel’s war in Gaza, and to commit, show that through votes.

[00:50:46] I think that, um, one, will demonstrate the real numbers around this, and two, like, it’s a way to get, you know, media coverage around Gaza. Like, there’s been way less media coverage about the war or about the [00:51:00] mobilizations, um, happening in the United States, uh, since, um, since, since the new year started, and I think we need to wedge, um, our criticism of the.

[00:51:09] President’s conduct in the war through, uh, the electoral and, um, election frame. Um, I also think it’s a useful organizing tactic because I think, I do think people need to get out of their bubbles and go like talk to people and canvas and phone bank about this issue where, um, I don’t think it’s a priority issue for a lot of [00:51:30] democratic voters.

[00:51:30] And I think we need to force it to be by talking to them. So that’s another thing. Um, and then lastly, Michigan is a purple state. It’s a symbolic state. Like, can we put our money where our mouth is and show that the community is, uh, uncommitted to Biden, that he can count us out for his support of war crimes and genocide in Gaza and, um.

[00:51:53] Can we yeah, can we or can we just uh demonstrate that through the power of uh of votes? I [00:52:00] don’t you know, a lot of states don’t have the uncommitted option Some of them have write in options the new hampshire thing got a lot of press coverage It was very last minute and low budget This one the one in michigan has more serious organizing muscle behind it.

[00:52:14] I think Um, and it has a few more weeks in advance of uh for advanced preparation, but look like I don’t know, to me, it’s disappointing sometimes to look around and be like, if we actually had a primary candidate, we would have a lot of organizing capacity [00:52:30] to put behind, uh, some, some sort of push of Biden right now, but, um, because we don’t, you know, there was so much capacity behind both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in 2020 from movement organizations, but, um, Yeah, right now I want to see some of that revived for this.

[00:52:50] William Lawrence: Um, let’s just imagine that, uh, we get a strong showing for, uh, uncommitted in a month. Um, White House [00:53:00] starts to understand that they have a major political program. Problem on their hands. They continue to do more campaign events that basically just get disrupted, uh, and ruined by by protests. And then things are also changing.

[00:53:15] Uh, you know, in Israel, uh, there’s a deal. There’s a ceasefire that happens. But, you know, armed shipments to Israel continue. U. S. Funding to Israel continues and the U. S. Continues to oppose accountability. Like the I. C. J. [00:53:30] Proceedings. I mean, I think even if we get a ceasefire, I have a really hard time imagining a situation where we’re gonna cut off the money spigot entirely or or stop running cover for Israel.

[00:53:41] I just don’t think the Biden administration is going to do it. So if we imagine this scenario where the bomb stopped falling, but the support for Israel is still there, it’s Do you think this would improve Biden’s standing among, um, young progressive voters and Arab and Muslim Americans? Would it quell any of your concerns about his [00:54:00] electability in November?

[00:54:01] Or do you think there’s a chance that it’s just too late? We’ve seen too much, too many people have died. Four months of this has been for too many, and there’s no washing his hands of this. 

[00:54:15] Waleed Sahid: Yeah, this is, um, an interesting question because, you know, movements have to have carrots and sticks. And so, um, the, the carrot here is that Biden could announce tomorrow that from the Rose garden, I [00:54:30] have, uh, Broker the ceasefire, um, in Gaza and we, Israel is going to withdraw its troops and, um, Hamas is going to stop attacking, uh, Israelis and we’re going to move toward a path to Palestinian statehood, um, or, you know, some sort of political long term political solution.

[00:54:50] Polls that I’ve seen show that if Biden supported a ceasefire and an end to the war, that he could win back significant numbers of Arab and Muslim Americans and young people. Like that hasn’t been a polled [00:55:00] question in Michigan nationally. Um, would, would you vote for Biden if he supported a ceasefire?

[00:55:06] Many, many people switched there. Um, switch from not voting to Biden for voting for Biden. Um, that said there’s a huge difference between, you know, just long term politically for the case of Palestinian human rights, like obviously wars end, like, uh, this war will end inevitably and what will be the outcome after that, nobody knows.

[00:55:26] And I, um, [00:55:30] I, I, this I think what this, what October 7th and the, the, the war following it shows that there is no long term solution to the, to the security and safety and freedom of Israelis and Palestinians that don’t involve some sort of Palestinian statehood or Palestinian self determination. And we don’t have an Israeli political regime that is willing to give that.

[00:55:56] And so there’s two things here where it’s like. Some people are [00:56:00] saying if there’s a ceasefire or Netanyahu leaves office, like that would solve everything somewhat. Yeah, but I think on the long term, if people in the West Bank, if Palestinians in the West Bank or Palestinians in Israel or Palestinians in Gaza don’t feel like they have some sort of basic human and civil rights, um, I, I don’t think this will be a success for president Biden.

[00:56:22] And so, um, we’ll see what happens, but, um. Yeah, I don’t know. That’s my read on it.[00:56:30] 

[00:56:31] William Lawrence: So this kind of brings my next question and I’ve said this to you off the air and I don’t think we totally agree about this, but I’m curious what you’ll say today. Um, you know, as much as I support this vote uncommitted effort, I’m going to be helping it out here in Michigan for the next month. Um, And, uh, I wonder what happens if, you know, the status quo prevails in Gaza.

[00:56:55] Um, and, uh, we just continue to see more death [00:57:00] and suffering. Biden continues to get protested at every campaign event. His polling numbers don’t get any better. At that point, what cards do we have left to play? And. As hard as it is to imagine, I’m just becoming more convinced that we need to seriously entertain the possibility of the Democratic Party finding a way to nominate somebody other than Biden for the presidency.

[00:57:23] Again, this is January. The nomination is not settled until the convention in August. We all want the [00:57:30] strongest possible candidate to be Trump. Biden is not, I think we’ve got half a dozen democratic governors, Newsom, Whitmer, Pritzker, hell, Tim Walz, Andy Beshear, Katie Hobbs, any of these people, and the polling shows this for at least several of them would do better, could do better than Biden against Trump in a general election.

[00:57:53] So I’m thinking more and more that. There could be an organized campaign demanding that [00:58:00] Biden withdraw from the race. That’s what we all want. If we’re being honest, Biden, withdraw, make room for new leadership, make room for a snap primary, a two to three month primary. What an idea among whoever wants to jump in for the latter primaries, and then we’ll settle it at convention.

[00:58:16] Now this would be messy, right? But I actually think the messy could be energizing because at least we’d be debating. Which of these qualified democratic governors we prefer to be the democratic nominee for president, there would be a campaign. A campaign [00:58:30] is good. It brings energy. It brings negotiations right now.

[00:58:33] The only energy that democratic party activists have is for protesting our own nominee. So I really think that a snap primary were Biden to get out of the way could be good for the party and good for our prospects in November. But obviously this is like inconceivable. For the party establishment, even though lots of them are having these same concerns behind closed doors about Biden’s viability.

[00:58:56] So I’m curious what you think about this idea. [00:59:00] 

[00:59:00] Waleed Sahid: It’s an idea. I think it’s, uh, I mean, I, I, I think that we could, uh, if maybe it was proposed six or nine months ago, it could have maybe got some legs, but you know about the story about what, um, at the Yalta conference during World War Two, Churchill says to Stalin, we should ask the Pope to get involved.

[00:59:17] with the allied effort against the Nazis. And Stalin laughs at him and says, how many divisions does the Pope have? Like meaning troops. I’m like, this is how I feel about this where I’m like, do we have, do we have the troops [00:59:30] for this? Like, it’s a good idea. We should get the Pope involved, but is he going to contribute anything?

[00:59:34] But I mean, it does reveal that there are like between, you know, Newsome, Whitmer, Warnock, um, several of the senators, AOC, um, Pritzker. There are several people who could theoretically be president of the United States. It’s just that Biden, I mean, I raised this question on a panel the other month, uh, last month where I was like, what, why, what made Biden and his [01:00:00] team think that he was the best nominee for 2024?

[01:00:05] Like, I don’t understand that other than he could not. Look at, look Jim Clyburn in the face and say, we’re not going with Kamala Harris. Like that’s the only reason to me that. Or look look kamala harris in the face and say we’re not going with you because there’s no way they would appoint kamala to Be the nominee at this point from everything i’ve read and heard about right what they feel like her chances would be They feel like her chances would [01:00:30] be even less than his and so, um, I don’t know.

[01:00:33] I’m just uh It’s a good idea. I think, um, I would 

[01:00:38] William Lawrence: love to see if they’re afraid of a messy primary and they’re afraid of a messy primary. They believe in the benefits of incumbency. They don’t believe in Kamala, who’s the heir apparent. So Biden thought that they would just be better with him. But the the incumbency is a disadvantage at this point, because this is the incumbent that’s presiding over war crimes on a daily basis.

[01:00:57] And we’ve been looking at it for the last four months. [01:01:00] So all these other candidates, even if they’re not meaningfully different, actually, Even on, um, Israel, Palestine, they have that special sauce that Biden doesn’t have, which is that they have not directly presided over this, these war crimes, cleansing and, um, for a candidate that, uh, Doesn’t have that on their record.

[01:01:20] Yeah. Call me crazy. 

[01:01:22] Waleed Sahid: Yeah. I mean, he, the three biggest negatives for Biden are, uh, his age, inflation and the war in Gaza [01:01:30] and any other governor would not have any of those things on their, on their hands. Um, and so, and, and number four, that I think people just want. You know, sometimes the weather is for change, and I think the weather is for change right now in this country.

[01:01:45] William Lawrence: Well, I mean, I’m serious that I, I, I think, you know, how many, how many divisions do we have? I mean, the answer is, is not many in an organized sense. I do think that there is a sort of inchoate, uh, uh, fear of having [01:02:00] Biden on top of the ticket. That actually is beyond just the people who are like the young and angry activists.

[01:02:07] I think that there are more. Um, just sort of like middle of the road party people who really are concerned about his age and they’re smart enough to be concerned about the politics of the situation he’s gotten into around Gaza. And if there were a credible pathway of people making the case for how he could withdraw and then the snap [01:02:30] primary would be a good outcome for the party.

[01:02:33] I, I, I wonder if you would start to see. Some more middle of the road people, um, going public in agreement with that. I think the big fear is not knowing what would going to happen next. And the fear that the messy primary would be a disaster for the party. There was a 

[01:02:48] Waleed Sahid: moment in October, November, where, um, David Axelrod and Nate Silver and Van Jones were all saying, why is this man, the nominee, you know, they’ve [01:03:00] backed, they’ve, they’ve started to back away from that.

[01:03:02] Um, But you know in november the people are really raising those concerns after seeing the polling that um, you know, we haven’t even talked about the third parties like robert kennedy is polling at 20 in some states right now like um, it’s it’s it’s not a good yeah, I don’t know. Um, but I think that um I don’t know on some level I also feel like we’re going we meaning you and I are going through the stages of grief around [01:03:30] biden where i’m like maybe We’re in the bargaining stage and like, ultimately this guy’s going to be our candidate.

[01:03:35] We got to figure it out. Um, and I don’t know, I’m, I’m struggling with that myself where I’m like, doesn’t the thing, the thing I’m most challenged by is that there are several people in the liberal commentary class, democratic party strategist class who are like, why would you let this one issue of Gaza prevent you from stopping Trump from becoming a dictator?

[01:03:58] But they never, it’s always [01:04:00] tactical. It’s always partisan. They don’t actually want to debate the substance of Gaza, and that’s what’s really frustrating, where I don’t even think a lot of people disagree with progressives or Arabs or young people about, or Muslims about Gaza, but they just want everyone to get in line for the Democratic candidate because they have other priority issues, which is namely that they don’t want.

[01:04:20] Trump to be president, I guess, um, or, you know, abortion or climate, whatever their issues are, but, um, which are all important, but I just wish that some of that liberal [01:04:30] commentary class and democratic strategist class would just say that the war is a concern for. Biden’s reelection changes and he should change course like that would maybe buy some, that would be a mutually beneficial thing to everybody because no, very few people argue with me about the, the thing they’ll say about the war and Biden is Biden’s doing the best he can behind the scenes.

[01:04:51] And I’m like, I don’t think you know anything about this topic. If you think the United States is doing the best it can for Palestinian human [01:05:00] rights, you have not read. a single news article in the last 15 years. I don’t know. That’s how I feel about 

[01:05:08] William Lawrence: it. Yeah. Well, maybe another, I mean, it’s just, it’s just insulting.

[01:05:11] It’s just, it’s just insulting. Every three days they leak a story about how concerned the Biden administration is about the civilian casualties. And then, and then they continue to send the money and send the arms and they continue to run cover for them at the UN and they continue to sort of. You know, cast out [01:05:30] on things like the ICJ and there’s just no substance there.

[01:05:33] That’s just a pure political talking point about how they’re doing their best. I don’t buy it for one second. 

[01:05:38] Waleed Sahid: But how, I mean, okay, but Will, how do you, I want to ask you, I want to ask you a question. The issue that Biden has been most friendly to the left on is climate change. And how do you feel as someone who has moved him, moved the party, and won some of the biggest achievements that social movements have ever won in the past decade?

[01:05:56] Like, cause I feel like in August, you [01:06:00] might, that’s part of the reason of why progressives weren’t This concerned about Biden in August because we were like, uh, he did some good stuff for us with the, with the Senate he had, but I don’t know, I’m curious what you as, as someone who won things under him, what you, what you think,

[01:06:17] William Lawrence: I mean, yeah, look, I think a year ago we might have said like, all right, if we could get back a majority in Congress, we could have another go round at The rest of build back better that got left on the table, maybe expand the majority and [01:06:30] not have to deal with mansion and cinema as the swing votes. We could have another four years of, um, winning campaigning and organizing as the progressive junior partner in Congress under a Biden administration with a Biden administration that’s willing to deal with the left wing of the party as they were in the 2020 campaign and in the first year of his administration, when they were.

[01:06:54] Uh, sincerely trying to pass build back better, which, uh, you know, would have been the, [01:07:00] uh, you know, kind of most progressive policy making since the great society, what they’ve done through the inflation reduction act, and then the NLRB policy probably still is unfortunately the most progressive policy making since the great society, even though I don’t think it rises quite to that level.

[01:07:16] Um, but you know. All of that being said, like, I think the big lesson of the Biden administration is these fundamental tensions we have to grapple with around us primacy [01:07:30] in the realms of realms, economic and military. And I think that the inflation reduction act and the way that the green economy has gone under Biden, I’ve talked about this on other shows has been.

[01:07:43] Very sobering for me, uh, in terms of how it was seamlessly articulated into this project of American global energy dominance. That’s their slogan. That’s our former governor, Jennifer Granholm, here in Michigan, who is now the energy secretary, goes all around the world [01:08:00] talking about American energy dominance.

[01:08:01] What do you think dominance means? I mean, how is the rest of the world supposed to respond to this? The green policy that we’ve been pursuing Has escalated tensions with China. They’ve, um, who’s the audience for 

[01:08:13] Waleed Sahid: that talk? They’ve, they’ve shown, I don’t even get it because I don’t think voters care that much about it’s investors.

[01:08:17] It’s investors. It’s for the, it’s investors. Uhhuh it’s investors. You can make money, you can make money 

[01:08:21] William Lawrence: off of it’s investors. Yeah. Mm-Hmm. , it’s green capital. Mm-Hmm. . I mean, there’s, there’s your concord with green capital. Mm-Hmm. is like, and, and we used to say we need to have a concord [01:08:30] green capital against fossil capital.

[01:08:32] But now, you know, I mean, and, and, and of course on some terms we still do, but like. Um, it’s a nasty deal and when it gets articulated to these questions of geopolitical competition and it becomes a zero sum competition against China and all the rest of it, it’s very, very ugly. And now we’ve just seen that again, you know, now, now it’s been taken into a much more sort of, uh, kinetic as they say, military arena in terms of, you know, the Biden’s position in Gaza.

[01:08:59] I think like. [01:09:00] the left of the 2010s. Um, you know, we wanted to believe that we could do social democracy in the U. S. And like, just do it without all the all the ugly aspects of American hegemony that we want to discard for the 20th century. In fact, what we’re getting is we’re getting less of the dividends for U.

[01:09:17] S. Workers and poor people here in the U. S. And more of the ugly aspects of American hegemony. Because there aren’t so many, um, it’s a more competitive global environment. And so, um, uh, the incentives [01:09:30] are training so much more towards the zero sumness. So I, I think it’s just been honestly, that that’s what I’d say is that even the winds have, uh, have, have been sobering because we’ve seen, um, the extent to which the international realm comes in.

[01:09:44] And we really need to, uh, reckon with that in our politics as people on the left to figure out how we can actually, um, articulate an agenda. Which, um, puts us on the same side as poor and oppressed people in the global south, um, rather than against them. [01:10:00] And this is what you see people saying again with this election, just sacrifice the people of the global south, sacrifice Latin American immigrants, sacrifice Palestinians in Gaza for the sake of winning on your domestic priorities.

[01:10:10] And that is always, always the bargain. That we’re going to be offered here as progressives in the heart of empire. And we need to learn how to, uh, I think refuse that bargain and, uh, hold out for a better deal. 

[01:10:24] Waleed Sahid: So bring is a very good word for, uh, the feelings I have of, uh, where I’m at these [01:10:30] days of my own analysis.

[01:10:31] I used to have way more answers. And questions about strategy. And I feel like I’m, uh, I have new questions now, um, that I did five, five, maybe at the beginning of this project, but yeah, sobering is a good word. 

[01:10:47] William Lawrence: And I don’t think it’s a, it can be hand, you can just hand wave it away. Because the reality is that there are a lot of people in the U S for whom Trump would be, uh, an, an, an utter disaster and to empower his [01:11:00] base, especially to further empower the white Christian nationalists that are in his camp.

[01:11:05] I mean, it is going to be bad for. Women, it is going to be bad for trans people if Trump wins and it’s going to be bad for black and brown people in a lot of ways. And, uh, it’s like, so this is why it’s like, if we’re in September and we’re having a conversation, binary choice, Biden or Trump on the ballot, uh, I, I probably will.

[01:11:29] Vote for [01:11:30] Biden if it comes to that, but I don’t think a lot of other people, uh, a lot of other people. 

[01:11:34] Waleed Sahid: Well, this is not a problem of you and I, this is a mass level problem. Like, I think we’re, I think we’re trying to be descriptive of what the dynamics are. Like, I don’t think it’s a, or like, 

[01:11:44] William Lawrence: but yeah. But the competing interests are real.

[01:11:48] I mean, this is what this is. I think the lesson I’m learning is like, actually, the interests of American American workers often are objectively pitted against, um, the interests of peoples of [01:12:00] the global south. And I think that is a question that we really, really, I mean, we’re seeing this very, very concretely here.

[01:12:05] And I think we need to figure out how to change the equation and find the basis for a politics on which we can be fighting for our interests. And the interests of those poor and oppressed people in the global South in a way that has a chance of actually winning and making a difference right now. It’s hard to know what that actually is other than protest Biden, [01:12:30] hold out for a ceasefire, hope that we can get a better Biden or a better another candidate on top of the ballot against Trump.

[01:12:37] Which is a win win proposition, in my opinion, for Gaza and for our electoral prospects in November. But, geez. Okay, what would you say will lead to the listeners who have made it this far and are wondering what to do? We’re here. This is going to air on January 30th, um, uh, if we’re trying to hold on to our agency.

[01:12:55] And not just duck and cover and pray that we [01:13:00] wake up in December in a country that is still in a democracy and a world where the bombs are not still falling on Gaza. What should we do if we’re trying to hold onto our agency and take a stand right now? 

[01:13:15] Waleed Sahid: Get involved with an organization that is campaigning on this issue and pressuring members of Congress, if not now, Jewish Voice for Peace, U.

[01:13:22] S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. DSA, American Muslims for Palestine, there’s lots of places to get involved and make [01:13:30] sure your democratic party leaders hear from you. Don’t unregister as a democrat. I don’t think that is a useful activity. We need to wage this battle for Palestinian human rights within the democratic party and make it a political battle.

[01:13:42] Um, and lastly, like there are these major squad reelections coming up. Like this is, it goes back to the question Stalin asked Churchill about how many divisions the Pope has. The left has maybe like anywhere from six to 10 members of Congress out of like a body of 500. So people like we need to increase our divisions [01:14:00] and make sure people don’t get unseated.

[01:14:02] And so Cori Bush is up for reelection. Jamal Bowman, Ilhan Omar, Summer Lee, Rashida Tlaib, like if you. Those people need your donations. I need your phone banking help. They need your canvassing help. Um, get involved in those reelections. Like almost every member of the squad is getting primaried by a practice cycle.

[01:14:20] So, um, it’s not getting that much press attention, but those elections start as soon as May. 

[01:14:25] William Lawrence: Thank you, my friend, really appreciate all the work you’re doing and the seriousness with [01:14:30] which you take it and the work you’ve done to kind of. Infiltrates parts of the, uh, political and media establishment. Um, ’cause, uh, I certainly couldn’t do what you do.

[01:14:41] I, I run a little, I think my temper runs a little, a little hot. But, um, uh, your restraint is admirable. Your, uh, craft in the communications arena is admirable and you’re doing a heck of a lot of work behind the scenes, um, just to help bring cohesion to this, uh, moment, um, uh, in [01:15:00] American history. So, um, I really appreciate you.

[01:15:02] Thank you for being here. Thank you. Appreciate it, Will. This podcast is written and hosted by me, William Lawrence. Our producer is Josh Elstro, and it is published by Convergence, a magazine for radical insights. You can help support this show and others like it by becoming a Patreon subscriber of Convergence for as low as 2 per month at patreon.

[01:15:24] com slash convergence mag. You can find a direct link in the show notes. This has been the [01:15:30] Hegemonicon. Let’s talk again soon.

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