Thursday, April 09, 2020

Race. It Shouldn't Be Difficult To Say.


Liberal and progressive commenters, officials and rank-and-file Democrats alike, are not reticent about attributing serious significance to "white privilege."

Their sincerity is in doubt.  This from the founder of 538.com:
I gave up after 44 tweets but at that point, there were 42 which ignored the elephant in the room. The other two were my own and one from Joy Brianha-Gray, who only hinting at the elephant, slammed famed civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis.

In his tweet, Bernie Sanders did not vow that he was bringing down the establishment, which we all knew was his aim. (His goal has been a more economically equitable society.) He did not state even that he was bringing down the Democratic establishment, which he legitimately believed was blocking his path to the nomination.

Sanders took it a step further. He explicitly stated that he was targeting the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment.  In a bold- if risky, and ultimately self-damaging- move, he named the two establishments. He suggested a sort of equivalence between the two.

There are many reasons for white people such as myself to vote Democratic rather than Republican. However, my rights have not been secured, fortified, and strengthened by the Democratic Party- and the Democratic establishment- for over a half century. When Bernie Sanders pledged to fight the Democratic Party, he took on an institution which many Democratic primary voters, especially African-American- recognize as having been fundamental to gaining rights, however inadequate, which would otherwise be lacking.

Not surprisingly,  91% of black voters in 2016 opted for the Democratic, and only 6% for the Republican, presidential candidate. That extended to fifteen (15) the winningstreak of Democratic, over Republican, presidential candidates. In the determining primary of the 2020 nominating cycle, middle-aged and elderly blacks overwhelmingly opted for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders. (Young blacks, like young whites, were more receptive to the Vermonter than were their elders.)

As the popular base of the Democratic Party, African-Americans have a particular stake in its success, and therefore often are motivated to vote for the candidate who is perceived as the stronger general election candidate. That impulse is weaker among non-black voters. Accurately or otherwise (and probably the latter), Joe Biden has been seen as the candidate most likely to defeat the GOP incumbent, who is especially hostile toward minorities. And then Bernard Sanders, running in a Democratic primary, boasted that the Democratic-explicitly (though not solely) Democratic- establishment "can't stop us."

Yet, in explaining the victory of Joe Biden, whose cognitive skills appear to be slipping but served loyally as vice-president to the nation's first black President, few people appear willing to invoke the word "black" or phrase "African-American." It's as if both the winning (Biden) and losing (Sanders) sides are embarrassed at acknowledging the impact of race. They do so even as the now-presumptive Democratic nominee pledges to put onto the US Supreme Court not someone liberal or progressive, not someone young or whose experience and writings are highly regarded in the legal community, but a black woman.  

It is a down-payment on the debt he owes to Jim Clyburn and black voters.  After Sanders' victories in Iowa (sort of), New Hampshire, and Nevada, the (accurate) cry came "black voters haven't had their say yet" was heard. On primary day in February, Goose Creek, South Carolina church deacon David Cakley said of black voters "Biden needs a boost and we're going to give it to him." That was honest, direct, and as explicit as Sanders' remark about the Democratic establishment.

It also was effective, the deciding factor in this year's primary process. That's not judgmental, only observational, and there is no decent reason not to acknowledge it.



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