What is at stake in the 2020 election? Is democracy on the ballot? Howard Dean has a unique perspective that extends from the Green Mountains to the nation. He served as governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003, ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, and served as chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. He has worked as a political consultant and commentator in the years since. “What’s going on is just shocking,” he says. “We’re in really serious trouble. When you abandon the rule of law as a democracy, your democracy is gone. And it’s going to be gone before people realize if we don’t turn this thing around.” Dean also discusses his thoughts on running for office again if Sen. Patrick Leahy does not run for re-election in 2022, or Sen. Bernie Sanders retires in 2024.
Voter suppression could affect the outcome of the November presidential election. Will everyone get to vote in November, and will their votes be counted? “It could be a big mess,” warns Sue Halpern, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine covering election security and a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. “There’s so many reasons why the simple act of voting has become so fraught.” She adds, “My biggest concern is that people won’t be able to vote.”
The presidential debate held on Sept. 30 will be remembered as the first time that an American president openly allied with white supremacists. “The remarks addressed to the Proud Boys stood out as a kind of bellwether of something pretty severe and to be taken seriously,” says Lawrence Rosenthal, the founder of the Center for Right Wing Studies at UC Berkeley and author of Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism. “He was giving them orders: Stand down, stand by. He was also giving orders to his army of pollwatchers … a force of intimidation. Trump last night crossed the Rubicon.”
Trump also claimed that former Vice President Joe Biden is a socialist and part of the “radical left.” John Judis, editor-at-large of Talking Points Memo and author of The Socialist Awakening: What’s Different Now About the Left, asserts that Biden “is not in any sense a doctrinaire socialist.” But he adds that Biden, who may be forced by the pandemic to expand national health care and other social welfare programs, might “tend toward policies that put the public first, that put the public interest before profits and that shift the balance of power in America.” Judis also says that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, together with Eugene V. Debs, are the “two great figures in the history of American socialism.”
Lawrence Rosenthal, founder, Center for Right Wing Studies at UC Berkeley; author, Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism
John Judis, editor-at-large, Talking Points Memo; author, The Socialist Awakening: What’s Different Now About the Left
Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale and a world renowned scholar of authoritarianism. His 2017 international bestseller, On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century, is a roadmap to how autocrats rise and democracies fall. Snyder’s newest book is Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary. He describes his near death experience following a missed medical diagnosis last year, and he eviscerates America’s failed coronavirus response. He calls on us to rethink the fundamental connection between health and freedom. “Other countries look at us and for the first time ever, they sincerely pity us, but also wonder, how can you have so much wealth… and kill so many people?” He observes, “We’re at a tipping point. To say that it can’t go on like this is an understatement. Things could get much worse than they are — and they might.” He notes that if Joe Biden is elected president, he will have to undertake “a redo of the 21st century.”
Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History, Yale University, author, On Tyranny and Our Malady
When NBA players walked off the court in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in late August 2020, they announced a surprising precondition for their return: that the arenas in which they played should be used as voting sites in the November 2020 election.
The idea had been floated by a group of activists led by Eugene Jarecki, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker from Vermont. Jarecki is co-chair of the non-partisan Election Super Centers Project. Numerous professional sports teams have now agreed to have their stadiums and arenas serve as election centers, including the Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards. Jarecki explains how the idea became reality with the help of basketball superstar LeBron James, coach Doc Rivers, and others, and why they view this move as a vital strategy to defend fair elections and American democracy.
Eugene Jarecki, filmmaker and co-chair, Election Super Centers Project
Will the 2020 election be stolen? Will voter suppression affect the outcome? Voting rights expert and journalist Ari Berman discusses how voter suppression works and how it has already changed electoral outcomes in the U.S. He explains the strategy behind President Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service and Trump’s threat to deploy armed agents at polling places — a voter intimidation tactic with long history. Berman explains his nightmare scenario for Election Day 2020 — what it will take for it to happen, and how to prevent it.
Ari Berman, senior reporter, Mother Jones, author, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
This has been the most unconventional Democratic National Convention. It is taking place, not in Milwaukee as originally planned, but virtually, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We talk with five Vermont delegates to the 2020 DNC about their roles, their hopes and their fears for the 2020 presidential election. (August 19, 2020 broadcast)
Carolyn Dwyer, political advisor, managed last four campaigns for Sen. Patrick Leahy and also headed Rep. Peter Welch’s efforts in 2006 and 2008 (Biden delegate)
Jim Dandeneau, former House campaign director for Vermont Democratic Party, (Sanders delegate)
Lisa Ryan, Director of Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC Community Action, serve on Rutland City Board of Aldermen, former first vice president of the Rutland Area NAACP (Sanders)
Rep. Mary Sullivan, longtime state rep from Burlington (unpledged)
Allison Leibly, 18 year old from Woodstock, VT, freshman at Stanford (Biden)