For this week’s Write Anything Wednesday, I would like to share a few political musings. I know where I stand and you may differ from me. But that shouldn’t really be an issue … today.
What would I like to talk about? To be quite honest, I’m really going to talk about the issues because …
Ugh …This U.S. Presidential Election really sucks!
Okay, after having got that off my chest, I wanted to say that I was bothered a discussion I read on a forum I frequent. Well, I am more of a lurker nowadays, but I have gone back often.
The Gist of the Argument
Now, the posters I’m talking about are left-of-center. One person supports Hillary Clinton in this election. The person he was talking to preferred Bernie Sanders and wants to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party (as a protest vote).
Saying nothing about their preferences, I will focus on the issue of race. Race came up because the Bernie supporter essentially said that black voters were acting against their own interests by choosing Hillary Clinton.
(If you will remember, Hillary Clinton supported the “Three Strikes Law,” and “Welfare reform,” as the First Lady. Those policies have had decidedly negative effects on the Black community. She also uttered the term “super-predators” when referring to criminals and talked of “bringing them to heel.”)
What Was Wrong About What the Other Person Said
Basically, I agree that the Bernie supporter was out of line. Not only did he make assumptions about black voters based on her support among different racial groups in America, but he went several steps further in calling Representative John Lewis and other members of the Black Congressional Caucus “sellouts.”
John Lewis is known for his work as a civil rights leader throughout the 1960’s, and he started at around 17-18 years old. After learning about nonviolent protest, Lewis decided to organize sit-ins at lunch counters that were segregated. He was part of the Freedom Riders, who worked to desegregate the bus terminals in the South. In 1963, Lewis was made the committee chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; he would hold the post until 1966. And he was among the protesters who were beaten on Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965). For the sheer volume of work he did during the 1960’s, Lewis became known as one the “Big Six,” a group of black leaders in the Civil Rights Movement that included Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lewis has consistently voted in congress in accordance to his work as a civil rights leader. Here are the things he cared/worked for as a Representative for Georgia:
- Fighting for healthcare reform.
- Consistently voting to extend provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
- Fighting for improvements in education.
That was just a shameful comment. And I hate it when people attack Lewis on these grounds.
Years ago, some columnist had the nerve to chastise Lewis for complaining about the behavior of some citizens who hurled racial epithets while protesting around the Capitol Building. The writer said something like, “This doesn’t compared to what you faced during the Civil Rights Movement.” That disgusted me because:
- That stupid writer never faced anything close to what Lewis experienced in the 1960’s. Most of us haven’t. And …
- That was also a pretty careless statement.
While the behaviors of idiots at the Capitol Building is nothing like an attack from police officers that fractured Lewis’ skull, the epithets kind of brought him back to that oppression in the way. Like an insult or a word can remind a former victim of bullying of the abuse they had, the behavior of racists can remind someone of the real racism they saw when they were younger. Duh.
So, Basically …
John Lewis is no sellout on the grounds that he endorsed Former Secretary Clinton. In fact, his support of the Clintons is due to his relationship with them. It’s more than a racial thing. He simply is closer to the Clintons than he was ever to Bernie Sanders.
Also, there are multiple explanations why Bernie Sanders has minimal support among black voters. I think that the first poster hit on a few points, including political and personal survival. Another point was the focus on probabilities. From the standpoint of many Democrats — regardless of race — Hillary Clinton was simply more likely to get the Democratic nomination.
Additionally, not many people knew of or about Bernie Sanders before this election. Clinton had name recognition, so there was a steeper climb for Sanders. That is just a fact.
The first poster was wrong on the grounds that he insisted that Sanders himself was racist. Here’s one excerpt:
Bernie’s minority outreach has unfortunately been woefully inadequate. For example: Cornel West – who described Obama as the “first n***erized black president” – is not an effective face for minority outreach!
Additionally, this poster insisted that Sanders was appealing to nostalgia. But on top of that, a connection was made to the GOP and its nominee.
That was a bunch of crock. While, yes, I could see how Cornel West turns off some black voters, specifically for using harsh language towards Obama (and a word that I hate with a passion), West has valid criticisms of Hillary Clinton and our economic policies. And West, among others, fought hard as members in the Democratic Platform Committee.
But what was going on here is that the poster I quoted was essentially calling Bernie Sanders a racist, or at least out of touch. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He does come from Vermont, which has a white population that was at 94.8 percent (and a black population that was at 1.3 %) as of July 1, 2015. However, that doesn’t mean that he has no knowledge or concern about issues that affect Black Americans and those in lower tax brackets.
The fact Is …
Sanders never used his own civil rights record (he marched with Martin Luther, King and got arrested). He never really brought up his voting record as a member of Congress, although he has been consistent as he is with his message. And, in fact, he made efforts to reach out to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. (I mention this because the poster in question has said that he supports #BlackLivesMatter. That is kinda ironic.)
To say that Sanders hasn’t done enough to reach out to black voters (or did it too late) is disingenuous. Sanders never really reached out to specific groups. It was about his message and principles. His message was for anyone who would listen. It was not about race where Sanders was concerned, outside of recognizing inequalities and promoting solutions.
BTW: I’m black and I liked Sanders’ message. A number of my relatives preferred him over Hillary Clinton. What does that tell you?