Return to Transcripts main page
The Van Jones Show
Fight to Keep Justice Alive. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 21, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] Good evening. Welcome to the VAN JONES SHOW. I'm Van Jones.
We have got an amazing show for you tonight. We have got two lifelong champions for justice. One has made it his personal mission to stick up for working families and to challenge the billionaires. We have got Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the building. Bernie's in the building.
JONES: That's amazing we have got Bernie in the building.
Also, she has been fighting for labor rights, for women's rights, for women's health for decades. The outgoing President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards is also here tonight. She is in the building. We are going to hear from her.
And later, now it's been awhile, I got back in my van, yes, Van in the van. Get it? Because my name is van -- never mind. This time I go to Wisconsin, the state that shocked everybody in 2016. It voted for Trump, turned Republican red. First time a Republican won that state in 32 years. Now Wisconsin's favorite son, Paul Ryan, says he is quitting. The Republican governor warning they have got a big blue wave billing in that state.
So I went out and talked so some voters. Putting them in my van. We got some very surprising results from that conversation. You are going to hear from that. So much to get to.
But first, let's talk. I feel like we are living inside a political pin ball machine, OK? In the past two weeks, just been knocked around. We have bounced from U.S. airstrikes in Syria, secret talks with the North Koreans. You got the former FBI director comparing President Trump to a mob boss. And we even lost the former first lady Barbara Bush, who was laid to rest earlier today, rest in peace to her.
Now, in all this chaos, there are actually some deeper trends and some of them are quite disturbing I don't want us to lose sight of. For example, as difficult as things are right now, most of us got this belief that the next generation's going to make everything better. You know, just yesterday, we had thousands of young people protesting peacefully against gun violence. Very positive stuff. So it's tempting to believe all we've got to do is just hold on because the youth are going to grow up and they'll fix everything. But hold on a second. Just this week, at Syracuse University, a
fraternity of young engineering students, supposed to be smart kids, got suspended after a video surfaced showing members pledging hatred against black people, Latinos and Jews. Now that I say it was just a satire skit, no malice, but it is super troubling anyway. And you have got a group of white students that got upset that someone stole there confederate flag, this is in Michigan, so they returned with a bunch of pickup trucks draped with these confederate flags, intimidating black students. Officials had to close the school briefly because of this type of thing.
And then you got students at DePaul University in Indiana. And they are protesting after they found racist and anti-Semitic threats on their campus. These are young people. So you have got hate mongering from the 1930s cropping up among today's kids. So maybe we can't just rely on that old myth of inevitable progress.
Maybe inside every generation, young and old, there is a strong pull towards justice and injustice. If so, you can't just assume that the last generation's human rights achievements are going to stand up forever or that the next generation's advances are going to roll in automatically. Unless each generation puts in an equal measure of work. Freedom is a constant struggle. So if this period teaches us anything, it's this, take nothing for granted.
Now, if there is any silver lining, the actual protest against the hatred was bigger than the instance it started. That's a good thing. We have got to keep the fight for good going, though. And if there is one person I know how knows how to keep a fight for justice alive for a long time, it's our first guest.
Welcome to THE VAN JONES SHOW senator Bernie Sanders.
JONES: The legend. Good to see you, sir. Big honor. Big honor. Wow. I am so happy to see you, and I have to say, I was surprised -- you've got a new political adviser, Cardi B. Cardi B. She is out there sticking up for FDR. Were you surprised to hear Cardi B.'s in line with you on that?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Yes. And here's what the modern world is about. For 20 years I have been fighting to strengthen Social Security, fighting to increase benefits, and she comes along and suddenly we get more attention in one day than I think I've gotten in 20 years. That says something about the modern world.
JONES: Well, it's amazing how she said if you want to make America great, FDR made America great because of Social Security and you retweeted it. Listen, it's so amazing to me the way that young people relate to you. You are, you know, you're young at heart. I wouldn't say that you are a young guy --
SANDERS: You wouldn't?
[19:05:00] JONES: And yet somehow -- not so much. SANDERS: See, there is discrimination that goes on.
JONES: Why is it that you have this tie with young people?
SANDERS: One time we did a rally during the campaign and a lot of people there at the end you go down and shake a lot of hands. And some young man came up to me and said you know, Bernie, what I like about you is you treat us like intelligent people, all right?
In other words, we live in a complicated world. And you know what? I cannot explain what's going on in six second sound bite and I can't give you answers in a minute. So when I'd give speeches they would be an hour or an hour and 15 minutes. And you know what, Van? Not a lot of people left. Because I think there's an a hunger in this country, kind of an understanding why we are, where we are and how we go forward in a more positive way.
JONES: When I say you are young at heart I really mean that. To me you feel like you are still somehow very close to your initial inspiration (INAUDIBLE). Your belief in ordinary people. I think a lot of people don't know where that comes from. I think a lot of people don't know a big part of your father's family was actually wiped out in the holocaust.
SANDERS: That is very definitely a part of my fabric and what makes me who I am. I never fully understood, to be honest with you, until rather recently. My father came from an area in Poland where hunger was an issue, I mean really, really poor people. And anti-Semitism was an issue, and there was a world war going on at that and all of that impacted him which impacted me.
And the other thing is he came to this country without a nickel and yet made anybody. We grew up in Brooklyn, New York in a three-and-a- half room rent controlled apartment. And the fact that our family not that we were poor, but that money was always a struggle and always a source of tension between my parents. And I remember the arguments that took place. So I never forgot what it was like to be in a family which struggled financially.
JONES: You know, your dad is an immigrant. And there's so much anti- immigrant, nasty anti-immigrant stuff, but you are the son of an immigrant.
SANDERS: That's right.
JONES: Does that give you an ability to understand these dreamers?
SANDERS: It does. I wouldn't say understand. The situation is different, but I have great sympathy with them. You know, I think, Van, and I just a couple of years ago went back to Poland with my brother to see where my father came from. And you think about. It is easy to talk about it, but it's harder to really feel it.
Here is a guy at the age of 17 leaving, didn't speak a word of English, no money, he had one brother here in the country that had come a few years earlier. Think of the courage to come to a new country and, you know, that just overwhelmed me. So I see these kids and I have been all over this country. Kids who have come to this country at the age of two or three, and we have this guy in the White House now who wants to throw them out of the only country that they have ever known, and that's a horrific situation. We are going to fight as hard as we can for these young people.
JONES: Absolutely. You know, you mentioned your brother. And the most emotional I have ever seen you was, we got a video of this, when your brother at the Democratic convention stands up and he starts speaking from his heart about your parents and he starts speaking from his heart about you and what it meant. How did that feel seeing your brother making that kind of a statement?
SANDERS: Well, it was -- you know, we came like I said from a family that never had any money. In a million zillian years my parents wouldn't dream I would become a United States senator, let alone one for President of the United Stated and that's what my brother was talk about. I love my brother very much.
JONES: You know, you lost your parents young. You were in your early 20s. How did that impact you?
SANDERS: My mom died when I was about 18 and my father three years later. And we were out on the world -- you kind of - my brother was (INAUDIBLE). So you kind of learn to stand on your own two feet and it wasn't the easiest thing.
JONES: You know, I think a lot of people, you know, they look at you, they see somebody who has been consistent. I think one reason young people like you, they can go on You Tube and they can find you giving a speech in 1970, 1980, 1990, last week and it's basically the same speech.
SANDERS: I'm not very smart, but I am consistent.
JONES: Yes, exactly. You don't spill out money on speechwriters. It's basically the same speech. So far so good.
You know, at the same time, of course, everybody does evolve. Everybody does, you know. What are some of the things you at this stage of your life know or understand and believe that that maybe you didn't know in 1980 or 1990?
[19:10:07] SANDERS: Well. Look, I come from a small beautiful state, state of Vermont where I'm welcome. I urge everyone to come and visit us. It is just beautiful ad we have just great beautiful people. We are an overwhelmingly white state. And when you go around the country you learn it is a beautiful country physically and wonderful, wonderful people around the country. But you know what? There are a lot of people who have a lot of different issues. And I learned a lot during the campaign. So I, you know, we went into African-American communities and we sat down and listened.
To be very honest with you I was not aware of the extent of police oppression in many communities and the anger that people felt, the fear that people felt against the police. And that's not something that exists in Vermont. I learned a lot about the immigrant situation. And I will never forget as long as I live, I was in Phoenix, young kids, teenage kids with tears rolling out of their eyes, worrying and telling it's a constant worry that when they come home from school, whether their parents would still be there. How it is like to live without them.
So I learned a lot during the campaign. And as I result, you know, you positions, all the involves -- you just learn more and understand the problems better. But I'll tell you, Van, what I'm feeling very good about is the many of the ideas that I laid out during the campaign which as you will recall, you followed that campaign, were seemingly so radical. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Oh, Bernie, you are nuts. We can't do that.
Well, all over the country people are now doing Medicare for all. Why isn't the United States joining every other major country on earth? Making public colleges and universities tuition free. Making marijuana legal. Would be criminalizing marijuana. All of those ideas which are a few years ago seemed very radical are now kind of main stream.
JONES: I want to get in to all that stuff when we get back. We have got so much to talk with Senators Bernie Sanders about including an issue that doesn't get a lot of coverage but could have a big, big impact on Democrat's ability to win elections.
Now as we go to break, you know, I love to hear from you. And here is what you had to say to Bernie Sanders and what he is fighting for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need more universal health care. We need more universal day care. We need parental leave for everyone. We need free public education.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie, please run in 2020. We need you so badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:16:04] JONES: Welcome back to the VAN JONES SHOW. I am talking to senator Bernie Sanders.
Now listen. There are questions that they have, other people have, but I want my questions first.
SANDERS: All right.
JONES: OK. So --.
SANDERS: She won't show you --. JONES: I get some prerogative around here. Look. I am thinking
about the midterm elections. I don't hear us talking about as Democrats ideas as much as porn stars and Robert Mueller and et cetera. Isn't there a concern or danger we're in the biggest mid-term election of our lives and we are not talking about the right stuff?
SANDERS: Absolutely. And, you know, that has been my criticism of media from way back when. We have a middle class which has been shrinking for four years. There is enormous pain out there. Everything (INAUDIBLE). The younger generation will have a lowest standard of living than their parents. We have a climate change situation which is threatening the entire planet. You have got three people in America who own more wealth than the bottom half. And the gap between the very, very rich and everyone is growing wider. Those are the issues it seems to me that we should be spending a lot of time talking.
JONES: I'm not talking about this, the media. I mean, I talked to directly Democrats, people who are not on television, they are -- it's all impeachment all the time. Is that realistic?
SANDERS: It's bad. I think that that is a mistake. Look, I think, you know, the Mueller investigation will go where it goes. And I should say that if Trump fires Mueller that is obstruction of justice. And to my mind, that is an impeachable offense.
But I think ordinary Americans are out there and working two or three jobs, kids are leaving school $40,000 in debt. People can't afford healthcare. They can't afford prescription drugs. They want us to deal with those issues. So, yes, I think you have to be taking on Trump's racism and the sexism and this homophobia. That you got to do. But most of our energy has to be to bring people together around an agenda that speaks for the middle class of working families.
JONES: How to we thread this needle? Because on the one hand you have got to appeal to some of those Trump voters who maybe have that economic pain, but some people are afraid now if we go after too much of that we are going to be putting those black women who are on the backbone of this party, on the back seat. I mean, how do you --? This is tough thing.
SANDERS: You are helping on this one. This is what I think. It goes without saying that we have got to combat institutional racism and sexism and homophobia in every way that we can. We can't give Trump an inch on that. But on the other hand, when you are a white working class guy in Kansas or a young African-American in Brooklyn, New York, you know what, you want wages that you can live on.
I talk about the working class. This is not white people. Over 50 percent of black workers in America make less than $15 an hour. You know what it would mean if we raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, huge wage increases for African-American and Latino workers.
JONES: Well, you know, another issue that we don't talk about enough I think unions.
JONES: The labor unions.
JONES: And now I did a little bit of my own research. I want you to see what I found about labor unions and the vote.
JONES: During the industrial revolution the U.S. labor movement began to bring some power to the workingman. They got higher wages, better hours and protection from unsafe working conditions like sweatshops. You like weekends? You like overtime pay? You can thank unions for that.
The unionization rate peaked in 1954. Back then more than a third of wage salary workers in the U.S. were in unions. Through collective bargaining labor unions increased weekly earnings and they brought job security and benefits to workers especially in manufacturing. And that helped to develop a strong middle class in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The middle class.
[19:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The middle class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unions built America's middle class.
JONES: Well, that was then.
Recently, union membership has plummeted over the past 40 years to 20 percent in 1983 and less than 11 percent in 2017. There are a bunch of reasons for this. Corporations took factories overseas, trying to find cheap workers. In manufacturing, they also turned to automation and robots. Jobs have also been growing in the service sectors which often don't even have unions. Anti-labor critics say unions are too restrictive, charging members hefty dues, making it hard for companies to innovate or get rid of bad employees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We won our battles against big government union bosses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm attacking the leadership of the union because they are greedy and they selfish and self-interested.
JONES: Twenty-eight states have passed right to work laws which have been bolstered in recent years by Republicans.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What they are really talk about is giving you the right to work for less money.
JONES: These laws in the manufacturing strongholds like Michigan and Wisconsin delivered a real gut punch to organized labor in traditionally blue states. Many argue that the decline of union membership is also responsible for wage stagnation and an increase in inequality in the U.S.
JONES: You know, when I went up to Michigan and other places it turns out a lot of union organizations had been stripped of a lot of their members, a lot of their money by some of these right to work laws. And I don't think that the Obama administration did enough to make sure that we built our labor unions when we have the opportunity. Did we miss an opportunity in the last administration to strengthen our unions?
SANDERS: Well, I think so. Some of us tried very, very hard, I think forth (ph) lies with the opposition we had from corporate America. And what I think everybody understands is like workers come together and they sit down at the bargaining table and they collectively negotiate. They get better wages and they get better working conditions like a better pensions and benefits.
And by the way, this is important, Van. This not only impacts unionized workers who get those benefits. But if you are a nonunion worker and wages go up, your employer is going to have to match those wages. And the truth is over the last 40 years or so we have seen a decline in wages for millions of American workers. We have to rebuild that movement.
JONES: Again, and just say, though, the labor unions they went to bat for Democrats. They fought hard for Democrats. They had a couple of things that they wanted to get help on. They didn't get that help. Now, if you critique that sometimes you run into the idea that you are being too tough on Obama. How do you handle that? Because you got into a bit of trouble recently. You said something. It sound like - Obama. People misheard. They got mad.
SANDERS: I mean, this year, that was intentionally.
JONES: Tell me about it.
SANDERS: I mean, it was - when I talked about was the fact that the business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party over the last ten years has failed. And that is instead of being a 50s state party it's a 25 state party. The Democratic Party has lost about a thousand members of state legislators throughout the country. Is that sound like a successful model to you? And what I said that is about was disguised by the fact that we had a brilliant candidate who won a great campaign in 2008. Obama got elected in 2012. People, that's great. But they forgot about what else was happening. That was my point.
JONES: People may hear that as being tough on Obama. It's another challenge I think inside of this moment of reflection for Democrats. How can we critique the Obama years and figure out where we could have done better, where we could have done more without stepping on the rake of people saying, well, you are being too tough on Obama. He was being beat up by the Republicans, you don't get it.
SANDERS: We got to think about how we go forward. You are right with the 17 months ago. This 2018 elections will determine the cost of American history. No question in my mind about it. If the Democrats control either -- regain control of either the House or the Senate in a significant way Trump's agenda will be ending. You will see these both bodies, House and Senate, this apart. It will be over. And that is a huge thing because I think this President is one of the most reactionary Presidents in the history of this country. And what we need to do is not only stop what Trump is doing. We need to start talking to the American people, working people, not wealthy campaign contributors about what their needs are.
JONES: Well, as we are trying to get ready to move forward, we still have to learn a few lessons. Looking back, what do you wish the DNC had done differently during 2016 so that your supporters might have felt more welcome and more like they were respected part of the party?
SANDERS: Look. I don't want to - you know, we are going forward and not back. In my campaign, just like most people, we have to take on everything. We took on the entire corporate establishment. We took on the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. And I think the lesson of that, Van, I would hope is that the future of the Democratic Party has to be with grass roots politics, has to be with working people, has to be with young people and not just wealthy campaign contributors.
And by the way, I think that lesson is percolating right now. You are seeing many people coming forward and saying what I said, we are not going to take any corporate tax among others.
[19:25:34] JONES: You know, one thing that I would love to get your sense about is going forward, I'm not going to ask anything about 2020 and your plans, but it does seem like it's becoming more about a physical fitness. Biden says he want to get into it with Trump. Trump says he can take Biden. Can you take either one of them? I want to know. Tell the truth. Are you ready?
SANDERS: This is - I mean, among the major issues facing our country, probably a physical fight between Biden and Trump. I may be wrong on that.
JONES: Well, listen. I can't tell you how important it is to me to have you here. You know, you -- when you were coming up you looked up to Eugene Debs, and he was the person that you saw as like the leading light for working people.
SANDERS: And Martin Luther King, Jr.
JONES: Sure, Martin Luther King, Jr. and yet a few other heroes. I just want you to know you have got a whole generation, if not more, young people who see you in the same light.
Thank you for being on THE VAN JONES SHOW.
(APPLAUSE) JONES: Thanks so much for being here.
When we get back, Van is back in the van. I'm driving around Wisconsin with a bunch of voters. Wait until will you hear what they have to say about the economy and what the impact of all these stories about porn star pay outs could have on mid-term election. I'm going to take you to Wisconsin when we get back.
[19:30:40] JONES: Now Wisconsin was mostly part of that big blue wall is guarantee that Hillary Clinton was going to be President in 2016, but President Trump shattered that wall and promised manufacturing jobs and new trade deals to the white working class voters up there. And in Wisconsin, a state that voted twice for Obama turned ruby red for Donald Trump.
And now, since then, there's been some big shakeups. The Democrats pulled out a big upset win. They got a new seat on the Supreme Court. Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker says it is going to be a big Democratic blue wave this fall. And last week Wisconsin's golden boy, speaker Paul Ryan threw in the towel and said he is retiring.
So we went to back to Midwest to check in with the voters to figure out what's going on up there. And also what about this proposed tariff that could start a trade war with China? So I'm back in my van in Milwaukee, the most polarized city in one of the most polarized states in our very polarized country.
JONES: Sunny Milwaukee. Lord, have mercy. It's supposed to be April. Supposed to be springtime. Here we go. Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know how cold it is?
JONES: Yes, get in here where it's warm. Get out this cold. Glad to have you. Glad to have you.
Wisconsin is a strange state in that it's got a little bit of everything that Donald Trump needs to make happy. You have got farmers in Wisconsin who might be scared about the trade war with China. You have got manufacturers. Some are closing, some or opening.
From your point of view when you look at your guys or you look and wanting jobs in manufacturing and worrying about, you know, the farming community, do you think Donald Trump starting all these trade wars is a good thing or bad thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't call them trade wars. I think we have been getting jobs by our trade agreements for a number of years going back a long time.
When I started working in the (INAUDIBLE), we had 8,000 guys there in 1973. And when the last day I worked in May of 2006 we had 60 people. We have got people in this country that would experience and work. And we got people that are trainable. Yes, they were talking about black folk, take these young guys that don't have jobs, train them. Train them. We can train these guys. And I think that's one of the things that President Trump wants to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a cousin right now that just went through a trade program. She is an African-American female who doesn't have a job in that trade. You know why she doesn't a job in that trade, because she needed experience. She went through everything she was supposed to but yet she still doesn't have a job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wisconsin has a lot of rural people that need jobs and make an actual living.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you go into a trade or you go into a career medical field especially and you get a year under your belt, you are going to get hired. You are getting hired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I disagree. You can tell me that all I have to do is go through this trade program, but I as an African-American is hold to a different standard.
JONES: Do you agree what she is saying? I mean, have you noticed or seeing sometimes people favor their own over others?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that right now companies, corporations, businesses are doing all they can to hire qualified minorities as well as over whites because they don't want to hear about it. And I don't have a problem with that. If you are qualified I don't care what color you are. The most qualified person should get the job. You shouldn't get the job because you are black. You shouldn't get preferential treatment because you are black or white or blue or Mexican.
JONES: But you have had two elections now where the Republicans were supposed to win and the Democrats won. You have got Scott Walker saying there is going to be a blue wave. You have got Paul Ryan running for the hills. Is this whole thing about to fall apart? Is there a blue wave coming up? Are people dissatisfied with Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think with our country we are just so fickle if we're not happy with one, we are just going to, you know, flip-flop. Well, I didn't see what I saw with Obama. So let's go --.
[19:35:08] JONES: That's what you did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's what I did.
JONES: You voted for Obama for change and then you voted for Trump for change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
JONES: How do you feel now that you voted for Trump? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is our President. So at a certain point it's
like, oh, God, he is our President so how do we move forward with what we have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are jumping ahead for a lot of things. Now they are calling him names. They are calling him a racist. They are calling him this. They are calling him that. It seems like not a day goes that some is not accusing him of something or saying something very derogatory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that people don't want to call him a racist, but everything he says and everything that he does is racist. I don't know, you know, but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And the reality of it is, is he says some flat out racist things and he has not apologized and he has not change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it's a matter of interpretation. You know, I - I have heard just about everything he has said. And I can understand where somebody might say, well, that's kind of racist there. I don't interpret it that way myself.
When he talked about Mexican folks or illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, I don't think he is being racist by pointing out certain things that prove to be true. And like I said --
JONES: What about these midterm elections?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
JONES: You say there might be a secret red wave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think a lot of people would want and would vote Republican. They are just not going to talk about it. They are not going to talk about it. And my family is very Republican. However, they are not happy with Trump at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talk about this blue wave, some people might buy into it. I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wave is coming.
JONES: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is me now, I wouldn't vote against Scott Walker because Donald Trump's President. I just wouldn't do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we need to give Americans more credit. Do we think going to the polls, the things on twitter and the porn stars are going to play into it? Do we romanticize Kennedy because he had an affair with Marilyn Monroe? Is that OK?
JONES: If Barack Obama had had two or three porn stars come out and a shady lawyer paying him off, he'd be out of there, right or wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But is that the media?
JONES: No, I'm just saying --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That will be screaming impeachment. They will already in the process. Trump is not held to the very same standard as Obama was.
JONES: The reason that we have you guys in this car is because you are the three kinds of people that had Trump win. You have a hard core conservative. You have a swing voter who was an Obama voter who wanted to give someone else a chance and you have a black voter who said the heck to both of them. And that's combination that put Trump in office. If you guys all do exactly what you just did he will be there for eight years and so will Republicans. But if anybody in this car changes big changes are possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to change. I'm not doing that again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen. People are talking about politics again. Isn't that what's important?
JONES: Well, I can't -- I'm glad we're talking about politics because that means I have got a job.
JONES: When we get back, we have seen these massive marches, you have seen the MeToo and Times Up movement online. But what are the real challenges of women's rights in the Trump era? We are going to here from a longtime activist and president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards when we get back.
[19:42:39] JONES: Our next guest has been a troublemaker since she was in the seventh grade. She got sent to the principal's office for protesting the Vietnam War. Cecile Richards is no stranger to controversy. As a president of Planned Parenthood, she has been a progressive activist for years. Cecile is the leaving Planned Parenthood early next month. But stepping down, that means you are stepping out of the arena. She gas got a new book out just published about her life appropriately titled "Make Trouble."
Here to discuss what is next, please welcome Cecile Richards in the house on the VAN JONES SHOW.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Thank you.
JONES: Well, first of all, I want to say, I actually read the book.
RICHARDS: I'm so honored. Thank you.
JONES: And more importantly I audio booked it, so I actually heard you read the whole book.
RICHARDS: With my Texas accent and everything.
JONES: And listen, there were times I was tearing up on the airplane. It is a beautiful, beautiful book.
RICHARDS: Thank you.
JONES: I encourage everybody to get it.
But people have been talking about you behind your back. And I'm going to tell it to your face.
RICHARDS: All right.
JONES: (INAUDIBLE). You picked the wrong time to leave us, Cecile. Why are you leaving? We need your help. You know who is in the White House? Why did you decide to leave now?
RICHARDS: Well, as you said earlier I'm not leaving in a sense. I mean, I'm stepping aside from the job I have had for 12 years in Planned Parenthood because I think the organization is as strong as it's ever been.
RICHARDS: And because I want to be 100 percent focused to your last segment, getting every single person we can registered, motivated and out to vote this November.
JONES: The Republicans are often saying, well, this next generation actually is on a different place in women's rights. So different places on abortion rights. And you are saying that you are losing the next generation. Is that true?
RICHARDS: Hundred percent, no. In fact, it's interesting. You know, I have been out on book tour for the last couple of weeks. Women are flooding these events. Young women, women who have been fighting these fights for a long, long time.
But, no, I think is the most progressive generation that we have ever seen. As you know, four million young people turned 18 every single year. And they are flocking to Planned Parenthood not only as patients but as activists. I have never felt like it is a better time to be an organizer and a troublemaker and an activist than it is now.
JONES: One of those women in a strong position that can maybe make a positive difference is Ivanka Trump. You had an opportunity to meet with Ivanka Trump and it didn't go as well as you had hoped. What would you say as a strong Republican woman leader that she should be doing that she is not doing rights now in the White House? [19:45:15] RICHARDS: Well, I mean pretty much anything. I feel like
right now, you know, she is the highest - obviously, she is the daughter of the President, but putting that aside she is actually one of the highest ranking women in the White House and federal employees. And my understanding is her portfolio is women. There are a number of places in which she could be making an impact, but we are seeing this administration is the worst for women that I have seen in my lifetime.
JONES: And so, do you -- just because some people may not know. So you got a chance to meet with Ivanka. You sat down with her, Jared Kushner. And rather than making the progress you are hoping to make it became more of a discussion of how Planned Parenthood gave up doing abortions, you might be able to get more money. Was that disappointing? And how do you feel about that? I just saw that in the book.
RICHARDS: Right. Well, I mean, I wouldn't say I had high expectations for the meeting going in, but certainly my position is that anywhere I can go and talk about the incredibly important work Planned Parenthood does, particularly to provide affordable health care for millions of folks every year, then I will do it. It was pretty clear that at least it was in Jared's mind was that if we would just simply quit providing safe and legal abortion to women in this country, that he would talk to Paul Ryan about getting us money or perhaps more money.
And I said, look we are not going to trade away women's rights in this country for money. And so, it didn't end well. But I feel like I made my point. And then we went out and of course, defended Obamacare and defended Planned Parenthood. And today, Paul Ryan is retiring and Planned Parenthood doors ate still open all across the country. So, I feel like, you know --.
JONES: Listen, you just wrote such a warm statement about Nancy n Pelosi. And you got the time, 100. You were her chief of staff and yet, you know, Republicans want to run against her. They think that she is a terrible person. What do you know about Nancy Pelosi that you wish people in our land knew about Nancy Pelosi?
RICHARDS: Well, one thing, I think it is indication that the fact that Republicans want to get rid of her and go at her so hard is I think because she is the most effective politician in Congress. And that's been true.
And as a progressive, forgetting the gender issue, I have never worked with anyone who holds our values so strongly and does not give in. She is -- I think she is really underrated and underestimated. And I guess my general feeling is when I see Republicans going after Nancy Pelosi is we need more women in Congress, not less.
JONES: Also, your mom was able to run and win against a Trump-like person.
RICHARDS: Hundred percent. JONES: You know, back in 1990, I think it was. And of course Hillary
Clinton wasn't able to pull that off. So you have seen two different campaigns. What do you think that women - and look, we have got (INAUDIBLE), others who might want to run against, like Donald Trump, having seen one go well and one go badly, what advice would you have for women running against people like him.
RICHARDS: Well, I guess one thing I would say is I think because Hillary ran, it's not going to be easier for the next person. It is not going to be easy, but I feel like she really demonstrated what it takes. And I just have to point out, Van, she did get three million more votes than Donald Trump. So in any case, I mean, she is not in the White House, but I do think by any measure she ran a really important campaign.
I think what really -- and I know you were talking to senator Sanders about this, too. I think that the frustration women are feeling in this country right now is that no one in Washington is talking about the issues they care about. They are not talking about their access to health care. They are not talking about their access to child care.
JONES: You have people who are watching this who feel under assault, they feel that this President, his rhetoric is triggering them, traumatizing them. You had to lead an organization that's literally under assault.
What advice do you have for people which China get through this? You had to hold a team together under the roughest of the rough. What gets you through?
RICHARDS: I mean, I think, again, I have been very privilege to be a social justice activist my whole life. And I think you have to focus on the progress we make. Because this is long journey for all of us that really want to make social change. And so, I think it's important to recognize when we do make progress, when we do win, when we do things like, win Obamacare, when we do things like keep Planned Parenthood doors open. And what I thought about this entire year as the President and Congress is taking aim at Planned Parenthood is every single day that we can keep our doors open 8,000 are getting help in America. And a lot of them wouldn't be getting it otherwise.
And then I think if you stand up for the people who are counting on you and you stand up for the women and not the politics, things sometimes just go your way and people recognize it.
JONES: My advice to anybody trying to forget some way to get through a tough time, buy this book and read this book. It's an extraordinary book. Get the book.
[19:50:04] RICHARDS: Thank you.
JONES: Gladly. And I thank you so much.
RICHARDS: Thanks a lot.
JONES: Look, when we get back, I want to talk to my heart, two years ago today, the world lost a musical icon. I lost a beloved friend. My reflections on Prince when we get back.
[19:54:16] JONES: Two years ago today, the world lost an icon, Prince Rogers Nelson. This man changed the world with Israel art and challenged our perception on race, on gender, on sexuality and on religion. But he was more than a musical genius. He was also an activist, a philanthropist. And you are a friend to many people, including me, I'm so grateful I got to know Prince, the man, the mentor, the big brother. I think about him all the time.
And I can guess some of what he would be thinking about the state of the world right now. First of all, he would be rooting for his Minnesota twins 100 percent I know about that. But also, in all seriousness, as somebody who had to knock down so many racial barriers in the music industry.
Prince really cared about civil rights and racial justice way more than the world understood. So he would probably be writing a song right now about the killing of Stephan Clark who was shot by police in Sacramento. Same way he did with Freddie Gray, another unarmed black man who died tragically. He would be disgusted but he wouldn't be surprised by the mistreatment of two young black men arrested within minutes, a walking into a Starbucks.
But Prince would also be heartened today by the many examples of young, black artists breaking through barriers just like he did, you know. He would love that rapper, Kendrick Lamar. Won a Pulitzer Prize this week for his phenomenal album, Damn. You know, damn, you know. And he was actually a big fan of Kendra too. They played music together. He would have cheered Beyonce for her historic Coachella set. She is the first black woman to headline the festival and she played for two hours. And you know, on the Time 100 list that just came out, Ryan Cublehr (ph), (INAUDIBLE), Tiffany Haddish, Rihanna, (INAUDIBLE). So many other young brown faces representing the best of America's got to offer. He would have loved to see so many people streaming through those doors. And he helped to kicked in.
So I would like to close my show with the same words the Prince used to close his show, especially meaningful for me tonight. Peace and love for one another.