Friday, February 14, 2020

Those For Whom Losing Is Not An O;tion

Were I Blair LM Kelley, the African-American historian who is an assistant dean at North Carolina State University, I would have written the same article that she did. But I'm not, and I will tell you what she- and others- won't.

Kelley echoes the concerns of many Democrats about the  "harsh policing tactics and gentrification policies" New York City mayor Bloomberg imposed and which he defended "as recently as five years ago." She recognizes that Bloomberg's apology for stop-and-frisk "felt staged — and it came well after a change of heart would have made a substantive difference." Moreover, she understands

most of my neighbors don't track NYC politics as closely as they do local politics (and) their focus is often on their place in a city and the state, not urban politics hundreds of miles away. They have probably heard the term "stop-and-frisk," but it likely isn't as front of mind as the coming school board election.

That's a sound, important point to make. However, she ultimately argues

Bloomberg's strength, surely crafted by some smart and experienced staffers, is the direct appeal to black people. Black voters don't want to be taken for granted. They don't want to be ignored. They don't like campaigns where none of the issues affecting their lives are addressed. They like campaigns that talk about investing in black communities that have been poisoned by pollution and neglect. They care about investments in our schools. They desperately want to see an end to gun violence. They want to close the racial wealth gap. They like to be recognized and heard.

Crass calculation or not, Bloomberg has been putting black voices front and center in his advertising.... The time to invest directly and boldly in engaging black audiences is past due for the rest of the Democratic field.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that the other candidates have but a small fraction of the money Bloomberg has to invest in the campaign.  They cannot have the a staff as large or as well paid, nor saturate the air waves as Bloomberg has done, nor serve swanky hors d'oeuvres at campaign events. Money talks- and sometimes it says "I'm a winner."

Black voters are recognized and heard in the Democratic process. As a white, let me assure Kelley: white voters know that African-Africans are front and center among the concerns of white Democratic politicians.  There is a reason more whites have voted for the presidential nominee of the Republican Party than of the Democratic Party in the last twelve (12) presidential elections and that no part of what may be considered the civil rights, or black, agenda ever is directly opposed by any Democrat in any presidential nominating contest. Blacks are not stupid, and neither are whites.

The popular base of the Republican Party is white evangelicals, who were wary of Donald Trump in 2016 until he emerged as the clear favorite to win the party's nomination. Now, they are his most loyal constituency- not only because they approve of his policies but also because he is their president. He attacks their enemies- Democrats, liberals, the media, and others- constantly and has demonstrated that he can win. 

A similar dynamic holds sway in the Democratic Party. The popular base is generally black voters. It is, more specifically, non-young African-American women.

Bernie Sanders clearly is the favorite of young blacks, for whom party- the Democratic Party- is not the highest political priority. (Not coincidentally, young whites also are particularly fond of the Vermont senator.)

Joe Biden  was the early and undisputed favorite of middle-aged and elderly blacks. He had been not only the loyal vice-president to the first black president, he was more than any candidate the face of the Democratic establishment.  More than anyone, he represented the party of which blacks are the most loyal supporters, and for which they are the party's popular base.

Way back then- a few months ago- Biden also was widely (though not here) viewed as the most electable Democrat and the one most feared by the incumbent GOP president. He was the one seen as most likely to bring it on home, to secure victory for the Democratic Party. It was only logical and reasonable that African-Americans, the engine of the party, were partial to the Delawarean.

No longer.  There now are serious doubts about Biden's electability.  Further, as his numbers decline, he now is no longer perceived as the face of the party, nor even the figure clearly representing the party establishment.

Enter Mike Bloomberg, with his billions to spend on nomination and election, which in turn persuades voters he can win.  In general, the election is viewed by fewer blacks as a theoretical exercise or one that must be dominated by ideological preference.  Call it "white privilege" or whatever you will, but many of us whites have the luxury of supporting the more progressive candidate (which is certainly not Bloomberg), who is most likely to enact policies which are beneficial, especially fopr African-Americans

However, among a significant percentage of blacks, victory is key.  A political scientist lays out the perspective of many Bloomberg supporters and- although unspoken- that of black voters especially:

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