Bernie Sanders supporters have a problem. Super Tuesday is upon us. Their Presidential candidate is looking to lose the nomination just as the voting has just begun.
Oddly enough, it turns out that Black Lives DO Matter…More specifically: Black Votes Matter. This year, the Black (and Latino) vote looks like it will be just as pivotal as it was in 2008 and 2012.
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are working hard for that vote but the Senator from Vermont has an uphill battle to climb. That’s what happens when you not only suddenly become a Democrat after a lifetime of being independent, but also when you suddenly have to actually interact with real black people after a lifetime of doing so tangentially.
Up until now, I’ve been undecided.
While my “stay woke” black friends jumped on the Bernie Bandwagon long ago, I sat back and watched, listened and observed what all of the candidates, Democrat and Republican, had to say. With the exception of John Kasich, nothing the GOP had to say swayed me to their side. And even then, Kasich’s position on Social Issues borders on regressive and downright crazy.
So it was back to the Dems: Clinton and Sanders.
I’ve had problems with Clinton for years. From her close Obama-like ties to the Banking Industry to her pro-interventionist approach to foreign policy, suspect is an apt word to describe how I viewed the politician. At the end of the day, she’s a politician. A shrewd one. Maybe not as nimble on her feet as her husband Bill Clinton or her former rival-then-boss Barack Obama, but for decades she’s navigated the waters to still be on course to the presidency.
When confronted about her ties to the Banks, I was somewhat satisfied with her responses. She said that if she had been “bought and paid for by the Banks,” people should be able to point to policies or votes that demonstrated this coercion.
The best that people could come up with was a single bill that she opposed as First Lady, but voted to pass as Senator. That bill had been significantly changed in that span of time to remove many of the things she had originally opposed, yet the record does show that she voted for it nonetheless. That’s a strike but I wouldn’t call it a Knockout.
I voted for President Obama twice knowing that he had voted for similar bills in the Senate, that he had massive donations from “The Big Banks” and that he was had doubled-downed on the military drone strikes in the Middle East. Why is he much different than her? He got my vote, twice.
I also observed that many people seemed to place 100% of the blame for mass incarcerations on Hillary Clinton, by way of her husband Bill who was President at the time. It’s true that she lobbied hard for the 1994 Crime Bill that many black activists seem to point to as the impetus for mass incarcerations.
Here’s the thing though, when I researched this ongoing meme by Bernie Sanders supporters, it turns out to not be supported by history.
It turns out that the 1994 crime bill wasn’t responsible for mass incarceration:
States preside over the great bulk of the US justice system. So it’s actually state policies that fueled mass incarceration….Federal criminal justice policy, including much of the 1994 crime law, focuses almost entirely on the federal system, particularly federal prisons….In the US, federal prisons house only about 13 percent of the overall prison population.
As Mother Jones, a liberal publication, further states:
And there’s one other thing to add to that: by 1995, when the crime bill took effect, state and federal policies had long since been committed to mass incarceration. Between 1978 and 1995 the prison population had already increased by more than 250 percent. Between 1995 and its peak in 2009, it increased only another 40 percent—and even that was due almost entirely to policies already in place.
Even if you dismiss all of that, both President Clinton and Secretary Clinton have since apologized for the bill, the former calling it a bill that “made the problem worse.”
“We had gang warfare on the streets. We had little children being shot dead on the streets who were just innocent bystanders standing in the wrong place,” he said.
In response, Clinton said, the bill increased the number of police on the streets and enacted gun control legislation. But decades later, Clinton believes the results of the law were mixed, at best.
“In that bill, there were longer sentences. And most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend,” Clinton said. “And that was overdone. We were wrong about that. That percentage of it, we were wrong about. ”
He added: “The good news is we had the biggest drop in crime in history. The bad news is we had a lot people who were locked up, who were minor actors, for way too long.” – via CNN
This doesn’t sound like a racist who just wanted to lock up a bunch of Negroes…
He, and the First Lady Hillary Clinton, were attempting to help innocent people who lived in these “war zones.”
On top of that, many leaders in the Black community supported the bill.
You know who else voted for the 1994 Crime Bill? Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
So why does Bernie get a pass and not the non-elected official Hillary Clinton, who had no power to pass or fail the bill?
Even every liberals most beloved President, Barack Obama “Outspent And Out-Arrested George W. Bush On Marijuana.” Why did he get a pass on mass incarcerations over the years?
Don’t get me wrong. Hillary Clinton is by no means a perfect (or even consistent) candidate. She also isn’t the most Liberal or Progressive like Bernie Sanders, the self proclaimed Socialist.
However, neither am I…or the majority of Black voters in South Carolina, for that matter. Exit Polls after Clinton’s 50-point blowout in South Carolina showed that a majority of voters identified themselves as Moderates.
Take a look at this very revealing 6-minute roundtable discussion with Black voters of various ages, genders, professions and demographics in South Carolina.
These voters reveal that it takes more than repeating Socialist talking points to get a person to connect with a candidate. Bernie (and his sidekick Killer Mike) scream a lot about inequality, but his words don’t seem to be connecting with people of color who are actually struggling.
Killer Mike may be the first non-politician black man that Sanders has even had a meal or conversation with since the civil rights movement.
That’s not to say that Hilary Clinton has been Iyanla Vanzant over the years, crying on couches with black people as they spilled out their sorrows…But at least she’s been connecting with them consistently since she was a law student. Unlike Bernie, she hasn’t suddenly recognized that black people exist and started campaigning with Nicki Minaj.
Check this out, here are some of the more well-made political ads by both candidates:
Did you catch that Bernie Sanders is never actually seen with any regular black voters?
Not even archival photos? Sure you can find him in photos with politicians like Jesse Jackson, when he ran for President. But average everyday black men, women and children?
Then you see that Hillary has been photographed being all over the concerns of African Americans for decades. Even the mothers of unarmed black men killed by police endorsed her and snapped photos.
True, the lack of a few photo-ops doesn’t automatically correlate to a lack of support. But I have to admit that I’d never heard the name Bernie Sanders through all of the Black Lives Matter protests, from Trayvon Martin on to even Eric Garner, whose daughter endorsed him. Yet he says he was talking about it first. No Senator Sanders, you weren’t talking about the cause until protesters invaded your stage to call you out on it:
I’m not going to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton was doing much better in this area at the time (she wasn’t), but this goes to show that contrary to what Killer Mike heavily implies, Sanders had not been throwing garbage cans into the windows of Italian pizzerias over the years.
People that are “Feeling the Bern” often say: “Well, Hillary has name recognition because she’s been in government so long.” So has Bernie Sanders. He’s not a new young buck, fresh on the scene like Marco Rubio. Bernie has served in congress since 1991.
So even after 25 years, Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a relationship with the Black community. You can’t make up that gap in just 6 – 10 months of campaigning with a rapper.
One could argue that Barack Obama did just that. Many average black people didn’t knew who he was when he ran for President. But again, once we saw proof that he had worked closely with the black community in some form (social work in Chicago), we were more willing to hear his policy ideas affecting us and the community’s plights.
That brings me to Bernie’s gift bag: Free College, Free Health Care, Break Up the Big Banks, Taxes on Wall Street.
For me, a more moderate guy who has worked hard for everything I have (including this awesome website), that wish-list doesn’t do much for me. True, I want “a less rigged system,” as Bernie repeatedly says. I’m just not convinced that giving free college to people will be the magic solution. I could be convinced otherwise, but through his yelling at me, Bernie hasn’t articulated and delivered his message well enough to get me on his side.
On top of that, we have an obstructionist Republican congress to deal with. How will Bernie be able to get any of these Socialist ideas passed at all? Again, he’s never articulated a clear plan for doing so. This bothered me for months. Eventually I just gave him the benefit of the doubt and said, “okay maybe he can pressure the public to get the House or Representatives or the Senate to change to majority Democrat by the next mid-term election.”
Then the terrorist attacks and foreign policy issue came up. This is an area where even Bernie Sanders admits that he’s seriously lacking.
So with us Georgia voters set to cast the ballots on Super Tuesday, I have to make a decision on who to vote for. At this point its moot in Georgia, Clinton already leads Sanders by at least 20 points here. So any votes for him here would likely be a symbolic gesture. To be honest, any votes for him from here on out may be symbolic. The electoral college math appears to be on Secretary Clinton’s side since her victory in South Carolina.
While it may be over for Bernie Sanders, he definitely helped influence the election and steer Hillary Clinton a little more left than she had been originally, which is a good thing.
While I may not be in love with her as a potential President, I’ll take her (and even Bernie Sanders) over Donald Trump any day.