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Appeasement or Revolution?

Historian, Paul Street, joins us to discuss how the Democrats seeded the ground for the rise of Trump in his new book, “Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump and the Politics of Appeasement.” And Ralph welcomes the chair of Our Revolution, Larry Cohen, to update us on how the progressive movement is faring in the Biden/Harris campaign.

Paul Street is an historian, journalist and political commentator. He writes regularly for CounterPunch and Black Agenda Report. Mr. Street has a doctorate in U.S. History from SUNY Binghamton University. He is the author of many books including Barack Obama and the Future of American PoliticsThe Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power and Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump and the Politics of Appeasement.

“I had not anticipated how much reporters at the Washington Post and the New York Times and elsewhere want to think that Obama is fighting back against Donald Trump and saying energetic and aggressive and critical things. [They] put it in the title of their write up. And then you look at the primary sources and what the reporters are writing about. And he did no such thing at all.”

Paul Street, author of Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump and the Politics of Appeasement

“I think that if [Obama] would use his ex-presidential bully pulpit to call [Trump] out for what he really is. An arch authoritarian menace. That he had the platform to do that. And that it would have been useful to do that.”

Paul Street, author of Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump and the Politics of Appeasement

Larry Cohen chairs the board of Our Revolution, the successor to Bernie 2016. He was the founding chair of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of more than 50 membership organizations working together on securing voting rights and removing big money from politics. Mr. Cohen is a member of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by Senator Bernie Sanders as vice-chair of the Unity Reform Commission. From 2005 to 2015, Mr. Cohen served as president of the 600,000 member Communications Workers of America. He also spent nearly all of his adult life as a member, organizer and officer of the union.

“A deliberate strategy by Republicans for decades now. Goes back to the 1950s, when [the Republicans] realized that their values were not majority values so they could only win by making sure that voter turnout and voter eligibility was increasingly crushed.”

Larry Cohen, Chair of Our Revolution

“We get divided up. And that’s what Republicans figured out. To get their economic agenda they have to divide us up based on racism and anti-immigrant bashing and make sure 20 million immigrants can’t vote, etc.”

Larry Cohen, Chair of Our Revolution

“I go into Congress a lot, and the Democrats just don’t have the energy the Republicans have.”

Ralph Nader

“Justice is efficient.”

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 345 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. 10-17-2020

    Ralph Nader Radio Hour:

    Comment – Wow, you are big time liars! You’re career Politicians and Academics who think you can lie to adults as if we are drunk and stoned College students! The Democrat Party has attacked Trump since before he became President. The Democrat Party is guilty of Treason, punishable by Death! Who, Obama; Biden; Sanders; Pelosi for trying to convert the Democrat Party into a Communist / Socialist Party! You must START YOUR OWN POLITICAL PARTY ! Who the Fuck do you think you are ! It’s that simple and straight forward. You blame Republican’s for dividing and separating the Party when no Party can even define or recall your initial fundamental ideologies! So by starting a new Party ( Communist ( Socialist / Fascist ) ) then you can define your core values which in turn will force the Republican & Democrat Party to confirm their true long term foundation of ideals.

    Mr. Marty Tiezzi, B. A. ( Concert For Political Correctness ( Facebook Page + Group ) )

    • J.M.G says:

      Great way to bridge a conversation…. I believe Ralph Nader’s approach for “left-right” issues… issues that transcend “skins-shirts labels” – even labels you used: communist / socialist / fascist – what do these really mean?

  2. Mark Hughes says:

    Very glad to hear an interview with Paul Street. His anecdotes on the Illinois Obama are both eye-opening yet unsurprising at the same time. Certainly reinforcing, and definitely shows just how long he’s been a fraud. After all, Obama rather admitted to this when he said in an interview that he would have been considered a moderate Republican had he been in office in the 1980s, something Street explained on during the Wrap-Up.

    I will say that he did write a piece 2 years ago basically herding people to vote Democrat. Ick. To my knowledge, he hasn’t done that since and I didn’t pick anything like that up in this interview. So I’m willing to overlook that.


    There is no such thing largely as a progressive billionaire. Oh wait, I think they call themselves ‘activist investors’. Regardless, George Soros certainly does not qualify. Which relates to a point Larry Cohen made, and that is the Democratic Party is led by fundraisers. In order to be a leader of this corporate party, the sole qualification is how much money you can raise. Policy ideas, vision, none of those things matter. Only whether you can raise money.

    Is the Democratic Party weak when they’re going up against Republicans? I would say no. Like your previous guest, Paul Street, has written and stated multiple times in the past, the Democratic Party is not feckless, it’s not tired; it’s flat out corrupt. Think it’s tired, they certainly weren’t dragging around when it came time to bail out corporations and banks a few months ago. Like most Republicans, most Democrats are merely political operatives. Careerists. I don’t think many of them have an ideology, nor vision, they can’t even handle a very valid interview without losing their minds, as Nancy Pelosi has done. I’m not sure they know how to draft a bill, which might be true since too many bill templates are written by corporate lobbies and their lawyers. All they care about are their careers and ensuring that the revolving door between federal offices and corporate board rooms remain functional. So they slum through their jobs keeping an eye out for better opportunities. So yes, the Democrats have done the same stuff as the Republicans. It’s not cynical! It’s a fact that unfortunately few have woken up to. Yet we still ask ourselves why this corrupt party won’t do anything about corruption?

    Ralph said “I don’t think they’re capable of reform.“ No shit. Again, Street has said that multiple times in the past. And that’s why true leftists are leaving that nest little by little. That’s why I didn’t vote for Biden nor Trump in this election.

    On Steve’s great question to Cohen about how to hold the Democrats feet to the fire, my simple answer is you’re not going to. But it did remind me of a cogent tweet about this:

    ‘If Biden wins, how long before “push him left once he’s elected” turns into “stop criticizing Biden. We can’t fight like this with midterms coming up. Besides, he inherited this mess from Trump. He can’t fix everything at once.”‘

  3. Hahaahahaaha Marty! Obama, Biden, Sanders, Pelosi are nowhere near Socialists or Communists! They are war mongers and Wall Street supporters just like the Republicans. You are quite out of touch, blindly ignorant, or a bad faith actor. Maybe all three.

    No one listen to Marty Tiezzi, B.S., he is a troll and a liar sowing confusion.

  4. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Our Revolution largely -hasn’t- kept the groups alive. In fact it’s been a big disappointment to many disaffected Sanders’ supporters who hadn’t seen this sort of post-election Democrat party grift before. Thankfully in the area where I live we had seen this before, and rather be folded into a national organization to have our local movements co-opted by the Democrats, we decided to form our own local organization from ex-Sanders supporters completely independent of any others. It came as no surprise at all to us when, or example, Our Revolution completely abandoned Tim Canova’s campaigns to unseat the DNC’s arch-sleaze Deborah Wasserman Schultz. One of the most corrupt members of Congress who had a direct role in the defrauding of Sanders supporters in 2016 and Our Revolution couldn’t be bothered to support her ousting. When Canova decided to run as an independent he might as well have been dead and buried as far as Our Revolution was concerned. Four years later and our organization is still alive and thriving, while others nearby that chose to be cutouts of Our Revolution are basically dead in the water after Sanders’ humiliating defeat this year and the century-long continued failure of attempts to turn the Democrats into some kind of progressive party. Let the record be known that organizations wedded to ridiculous entryism tactics within the Democrat party have to play by Democrat rules, pander to elected Democrats wishes, and eventually end up co-opting movements in their vicinity to be controlled and managed by the people who actually fund the party.

    • Demetrio says:

      Well said. And Sanders himself sold out when he pledged to support Hillary and Creepy Biden despite the dirty plays against him.

      • Bruce K. says:

        > Sanders himself sold out when he pledged to support Hillary and Creepy Biden despite the dirty plays against him.

        It is not up really to Russian Trolls at the IRA to judge any American politicians, least of all Socialists.

  5. stephen pfrimmer says:

    there is a working class and a nonworking class. stop talking middle class. the unemployed are not members of the nonworking class. working class is composed of more and less professionally trained people. all of our wealth is produced by these: Henry George, Leo Tolstoy, William James,

  6. Bruce K. says:

    This was a great show. I never heard of Paul Street, so thank you for having him on your show. So many facts I have not heard of, and great points. It would be nice to actually hear a conversation or a talk by Paul instead of just random chops for less than 20 minutes.

    Even in such a short segment, there is so much to react to it is hard to organize my thoughts. So much about Barack Obama I agree with. Obama has been a disaster, and I think Obama is a Republican elitist and his main concern has been to place him, his wife and family into the American elite aristocracy, and in turn he is not going anywhere near the Left or even democracy. If our politicians would just say what they really think instead of having to twist and turn under the strain of getting enough money then people would be able to make up their minds about things.

    We already know what is right and wrong, and as Paul Street said – 70%+ of Americans want Single Payer Health Care … and a whole host of other functions in our government to support the people – but it seems obvious and clear that our country is working very, very hard to make life so miserable and difficult for the average American that they have no time or resources to invest in their political lives and education … in other words our government is the Great and Powerful OZ that exists mostly as a fiction so people think things are OK and as good as they can be, while in reality what is really happening is that per capita more Americans are just steamrolled over than Chinese or Russians.

    But, is there any acknowledgement or analysis of this system, i.e. Noam Chomsky style? Democrats talk about things in a way that is not so far from being Trumpian in terms of making their constituents powerless and manipulated. But, again, there is a reality here, a political and economical reality that is completely hidden and disguised from the people of the country and the world. The people who own the world have no intention of giving up their control, paying more taxes, or doing anything for the “masses”.

    We on the Left must start understanding that our leaders and thinkers are part of the elites … their money, support, … the fact that they are not in prison, that they have jobs and status is due to their willingness to be puppets and actors, to trade their integrity and representation and for their own benefit trade it to protect a status quo system that a lot closer to continuing slavery and genocide that it ever is to anything like resuming FDR’s agenda.

    In fact today I heard on the radio that Joe Biden is talking about putting Republicans in his cabinet. That makes me wonder – what about a Democratic Party that is opening its doors to fleeing Republicans, and putting the very people who supported this extreme Conservative agenda right up to today and putting them in the heart of the Democratic party? WTF?

    The reason for this could be that Americans are so stupid and useless and out of touch that they cannot be good citizens of the FDR Democracy. If this is true maybe it needs to be acknowledged and we need to find a real less ambitious social policy for the American proletariat, which at least would lead towards something to build change on – the problem is that the elites refuse to accept any guidance, responsibility or representation – they will work as actors and puppets to pretend we have the government we think we have, but even that is disappearing now. Obama knows this and is not going to put on single calorie of work towards democracy, republicanism, because all the cards and chips are owned by the rich, and nothing is going to stop that.

    We may drive ourselves into place where this is revealed, like looking under the carpet where all the dirt is hidden … but somehow intuitively none of us really want to go there – to admit that we are what we are, we have not changed much since the 19th century. We all know nothing is going to change, there is no way to change, and if there was/is it is not going to make its way to the public in any efficient way that will change anything, so why make everyone miserable and depressed … feed them fantasy and lies, and keep them busy. Meanwhile look at our elites, they get more criminal and cruel every decade. There is so much to say about the political state of America, and the people we have picked to say it might as well be mutes.

    There is too much to understand … and for the average person even if they are looking, political and economic reality might start to come into focus in their 60’s … when there is no point, and they have no voice or traction with the young. I cannot help but think this has been deliberately engineered when I see the changes in our media, press, literature, public discourse … it just gets worse and more unpleasant to the point where people are nauseated to even put any energy into it at all.

    • Skro35 says:

      Bruce, I bet you could go to YouTube and find Paul Street giving a longer lecture. Might want to try that now that you’ve been exposed to his ideas on our show.

  7. J.M.G says:

    Something that has frustrated me with the conversation ya’ll have had about Barack Obama is that race is not as salient as I think it should be. I think this episode did address this explicitly (note: he is actually biracial & 1st generation).

    I believe the “45” was a reaction to him. How Republicans (and conservative tv and radio) mobilized conservatives and republicans during his time in office was jaw-dropping (taking over the House midterm, all the State legislatures they took over – granted gerrymandering had a lot to do with that and it’s goal). I was always puzzled because he maintained George W. Bush policies and WAS NOT the progressive some of us wanted him to be (don’t get me started on his foreign policy)….

    IMO, Obama could say what he wants to say or how because it will be perceived not only as a former president but as a “Black” person in America. And that ‘norm’ that former presidents keep quiet, of course.

    Okay, so finally he’s on the campaign trail for Biden but I do think that of course he wanted to say something but even he knew that if “45” was a response to his presidency…. how much more would he want to foment that movement like he did during presidency?