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Rev. William Barber talks about the Poor People’s Campaign, the Republican Party’s welcome of President Trump’s extremist policies, threats to voting rights and the GOP’s remaking of the sovereign courts. Rev. William Barber is boss of Repairers of the Breach and the author of “Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. As the republic prepares to respect Martin Luther King on Dr. Martin Luther King Day, on Monday, complicated day polite rights leaders have launched a new Poor People’s Campaign, desirous by King’s ancestral 1968 action, led by King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We’re speaking to the Reverend Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breach and devout apportion Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, who once was a page for Strom Thurmond. Now, the man who transposed Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. This is what Lindsey Graham had to contend when he seemed on ABC’s The View on Monday.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: He kick me like a drum. He ran against 17 Republicans and dejected us all. He ran against the Clinton appurtenance and won.
JOY BEHAR: Yeah.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: So, all we can contend is, you can contend anything you wish to contend about the guy. we pronounced he was a xenophobic, race-baiting, eremite bigot. we ran out of things to say. He won. Guess what. He’s the president.
JOY BEHAR: You’re pursuit him xenophobic, eremite bigot?
MEGHAN McCAIN: He did.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I did that during the campaign.
JOY BEHAR: Yeah, you did.
ANA NAVARRO: Has he finished anything to change?
MEGHAN McCAIN: By the way, we think—
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah.
ANA NAVARRO: Is he still all those things?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: In my view, he is my president, and he’s doing a really good job.
AMY GOODMAN: Ah, very interesting, what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say. We’re assimilated again by Dr. William Barber and apportion Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Your thoughts?
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah. And I’m sitting here thinking—I wish to just discuss first, Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, who’s the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, she’s substantially looking at that and, like me, saying, “What in the world?” So, you contend that’s during the campaign, and you giggle about it. And now the person is in office, and you contend they’re doing a good job. And they’ve conjunction repented in word or in deed. And, in fact, their policies are fine, and you’re ancillary the policies.
So here’s the question: If you’re ancillary the policies of a extremist xenophobe, what does that make you? And that’s since we have to have a policy focus. Remember, it was Lindsey Graham, we believe, and others who came out quickly—Tim Scott—against what happened in Charlottesville. And many politicians will be intelligent adequate to do that. That doesn’t meant they aren’t white supremacists and white nationalists. The doubt is: Mr. Graham, Mr. Scott, who is black—because you can be black and be a white supremacist. At slightest you can be one who encourages it. And we consider you can be, in politics. Where do you mount on restoring the Voting Rights Act? You’ve had 4 years to do that. You do know that undermining the Voting Rights Act is white nationalism, white supremacy. Where do you mount on healthcare? Because you do know that when you cut healthcare, you harm a vast elect of African Americans, quite in your state. Where do you mount on vital wages, given 52 percent of African Americans make reduction than a vital wage, and there’s 64 million people that make reduction than a vital salary in this country, reduction than $15 an hour? Where do you mount on immigration reform? Because, you know, Richard Spencer declares that immigration is the first battle of white supremacists and white nationalists in the complicated era. That’s what he has actually said.
So, the doubt becomes not are you shrill like Trump, and are you—do you lift on the antics of Trump. It’s the policies. It’s the policies of white nationalism and white supremacy. And with Mr. Graham, where do you mount on appointing Jeff Sessions, who has a story of station against voting rights and trying to prosecute people fighting for voting rights? Where do you stand? Your committee, Mr. Graham, the cabinet you’re on, allowed Thomas Farr to come through, out of North Carolina, to be—to almost make it to the sovereign bench, who is a famous Nazi pacifier and also a white supremacist, who carried the work of Jesse Helms and who has been behind every voter termination act in North Carolina.
AMY GOODMAN: So, speak about Thomas Alvin Farr.
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Yeah, well, sure.
AMY GOODMAN: You also wrote about him in your New York Times op-ed piece, one of Trump’s, what you called, worrisome nominees to the judiciary.
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: Well, and we wish to step back from Trump, given I’m trying to work on that—I consider we’re too Trumpy. So, yes, in the article, we did contend Trump, but we also forked out—and some people missed this—Thomas Farr would have never gotten to the law if it wasn’t for Senator Richard Burr and Senator Tillis from the state—by the way, Senator Tillis was the designer of the voter termination when he was orator of the House—who denied two black women, a former Supreme Court probity in North Carolina and a sovereign prosecutor in North Carolina—they denied them even getting a hearing. They didn’t even concede them to get a hearing. And then, once Trump gets in, they lift brazen Farr’s name.
So we can’t just lay this reality of what we’re seeing at the feet of Trump. Trump is a sign of a deeper dignified malady. And if he was left tomorrow or impeached tomorrow, the senators and the House of Representatives and Ryan and McConnell and Graham and all them would still be there. And what we have found, Amy, when we demeanour at them, no matter how crazy they call him or names they call him or anger they get with him, it’s all a front, given at the finish of the day, they competence remonstrate with his antics, but they support his agenda.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to spin to something that happened that competence have astounded a series of people last week, and that was President Trump abruptly shutting down the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, after it unsuccessful to infer any—after it unsuccessful to yield any justification of voter fraud. The commission’s chair, Kris Kobach, blamed a, quote, “barrage of meritless lawsuits” for the investigation’s closure, after many U.S. states and the District of Columbia refused to share information with the commission. Can you speak about the—I mean, is this a victory?
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: No, no. Well, no. It is, and it isn’t. And it shouldn’t—the explain of rascal is fake in itself. we mean, the first thing that the Trump administration did, with Jeff Sessions, is lift out ancillary a case out of North Carolina that the Supreme Court unanimously pronounced was surgical racism. Now consider about that. The first thing his AG nominee does is say, “I’m no longer going to strengthen voting rights.” So he’s incited the profession general’s bureau divided from safeguarding voting rights. Then we have this fraudulent—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 60 seconds.
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: OK. We have this fake committee, and they now close it down, but it’s finished its job. They are personification to a certain base. They have sown the speculation of voter fraud, and now they’re observant they couldn’t infer it given the lawsuits blocked them. It’s all a game, and we have to empty it. And we need a transformation to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, how are you moving that transformation forward, Minister Hartgrove?
JONATHAN WILSON-HARTGROVE: I consider what’s really critical with this Poor People’s Campaign is that it’s internal groups all over the country who are coming together, people who are impacted by these issues realizing that the folks in Washington are not portion them. And so, what we can learn from Dr. King and from that whole transformation 50 years ago is that a different alloy bloc of people coming together and insisting on changing the priorities is what changes the country. We can’t demeanour for dignified care from Washington. We’ve got to get it from the ground.
AMY GOODMAN: And the first action? Ten seconds.
BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER II: First transformation will be on the Monday after Mother’s Day. We’re going after 25,000 people enchanting in polite insubordination over 6 weeks, to launch a movement. we wish to contend that: to launch the movement, not finish the movement. We’ll come back and speak some-more about it in days to come.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breach and devout apportion Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, School for Conversion in North Carolina, organizing a new Poor People’s campaign.
And that does it for the show. Democracy Now! welcomes back Mike Burke from paternity leave. Thank you so much to Renée Feltz, who filled in so well.