The nomineee for this week's Whine of the Week goes to the
influential group of Democrats is piling on Bernie Sanders for portraying Hillary Clinton's Southern victories as a product of a conservative region that is out of step with the rest of the country’s thinking.
When asked about his delegate deficit against Clinton, Sanders has on several recent occasions tried to explain away her lead as the result of wide margins of victory in deep red Southern states that rarely vote for Democrats in general elections. Those dismissals have irritated Southern Democratic Party leaders who insist their region is a growth opportunity for the national party, especially in the age of Donald Trump. And some are acutely sensitive to the racial dimension of Sanders’ remarks, since Clinton’s victories in the Deep South have been powered by her landslide margins among African-American voters.
Sanders was asked by Dana Bash a standard, worthless question in the debate in Brooklyn, "Do you vow to take this fight to Philadelphia no matter what?" He should have complemented "That is the most conservative part of this great country" with "and the voters there rejected our more aggressive approach to income inequality, the role of big money in politics, and endless wars." Instead, he added "But you know what? We're out of the Deep South now. And we're moving up."
This is, at worst, a minor slight. Nevertheless, Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti continues,
In a stern, roughly 800-word letter sent Wednesday via post to Sanders’ Burlington, Vermont, headquarters, a high-profile group that includes the Democratic Party chairs of South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi expresses its concern about his characterizations of the South, which they contend “minimize the importance of the voices of a core constituency for our party”: African-Americans.
Perhaps the group would have preferred Sanders acknowledge "we lost in the south because of black voters." It is unlikely, however, that its members would have defended Sanders for his forthrightness as his political career and (ironically) credibility went up in flames.
It is an impressive letter. The group threads the needle between implying that the south actually is fairly liberal and noting that southern Democrats need national Democrats to be supportive in their effort to surmount GOP opposition to expanding Medicaid, improving infrastructure and increasing education spending. The portrait painted is a contradictory one, but the contradictions are effectively explained away.
Nonetheless, the group is exposed when it argues
In contrast, Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career trying to help people all across the South. She saw a region full of families and children of every color, and instead of diminishing them, she worked to build them up. She is committed to a long-term strategy of rebuilding our state Democratic parties, to assist candidates up and down the ballot, and to serve as a voice for the voiceless.
She saw also "super-predators" we need to bring to heel."The signatories support Clinton's candidacy, which probably sparked the letter. The group includes a former South Carolina governor, former DNC chairperson, and the chairpersons of five southern states, which over the past few decades entered the 20th century. Still, one of them is Mississippi, whose voters decided earlier this year to keep flying over its statehouse in Jackson this flag (photo by Encyclopaedia Brittanica/UIG/Getty via MSNBC via MSNBC):