Liberal writer and professor Melissa Harris-Perry is covering this year’s Democratic National Convention for Elle and BET. She spoke to Variety about the booing on the convention floor from Bernie Sanders supporters, and why she doesn’t watch MSNBC after the network took away her show last February.
What do you make of the booing from the Bernie Sanders supporters?
I think it’s fine to not be happy. I want to be a little careful, because I’m here [at an event] and not watching it. It’s my understanding they are booing speakers.
They even booed Bernie.
That does sound troubling to me. So I’m not a fan of false unity. I’m not a fan of putting down dissent. But I am a fan that dissent has to be substantive. Substantive dissent will get us to a far more useful place than dissent for dissent’s sake. If they are booing Sanders because they are perceiving of him as selling out, I could live with that if I’m clear about what their alternative is. What would be the alternative formulation? What would a Democratic Party or third-party challenge look like?
Do you think Donald Trump could win?
Oh yeah. There’s clearly a path for him to win. Basically, it’s a five-state [puzzle]. I teach my students about it. You always start with 2012, and you look at the states where the president won with a marginal win, and in those states, is there a Republican governor, and are there new voting restrictions? Those five states are Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and Colorado. Are those states that Trump can win? Are they enough to come to 270? The answer to that is yes. Is it easy? No. But is it possible? Sure. It’s a competitive two-party system. Democrats have a record low voter turnout in terms of their primary, and Republicans have a record high.
Are you going back on TV soon?
Right now I’m working for BET. I did an RNC wrap-up for them, and DNC wrap-up for them. For me, I have no plans to do a regular show. I love what I’m doing at Elle. I’m really enjoying writing again. For me, TV was the work I was doing with my team. That team is working with Joy Reid now. I don’t have any real interest in making TV just to make it. If I could take those 12 people somewhere, but they have a job!
Have you been watching MSNBC?
Not at all. You don’t go to your ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page.
Some people do.
I would not.
Was it a mutual break-up?
Hell no. I certainly would have preferred for it to happen a different way. I would have very much liked to have covered this election with my team. I am disappointed that did not happen. But that said, there’s no person I’d rather have with that team than Joy Reid. I think she’s brilliant.