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“Dear Bernie Sanders; Black Votes Matter”: In The South, Black Votes Matter — A Lot

African Americans in the South can’t get a break when it comes to voting, as history can’t deny.

After all they’ve endured through slavery, Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, their voices are still treated dismissively by tone-deaf politicians who would ask for their votes.

If you’re thinking Bernie Sanders, you’re partly right.

This month, having lost massively to Hillary Clinton across the Southeast, Sanders commented that the bevy of early Southern primaries “distorts reality.” In other comments soon thereafter, perhaps covering for what was obviously a lapse in political acumen, he clarified that those early states are the most conservative in the country.

Not really. And not really.

While some segments of the South are undeniably conservative, Dixie is also home to a large and reliably Democratic cohort — African Americans. Many of the most liberal people serving in today’s Congress were elected by Southerners, and especially black Southerners. The reality is that Sanders failed to earn their votes in part by treating the South as a lost cause.

Many took Sanders’s remarks as insinuating that the black vote isn’t all that important. Adding to the insult, actor Tim Robbins, a Sanders surrogate, said that Clinton’s win in South Carolina, where more than half of Democratic voters are African American, was “about as significant” as winning Guam.

Not cool, Mr. Robbins, but you were great in “The Shawshank Redemption.”

The gentleman from Vermont (black population: 1 percent) and the gentleman from Hollywood failed to charm Southern Democratic leaders, who recently responded with a letter condemning Sanders’s remarks. The signatories, including the Democratic Party chairs of South Carolina (an African American), Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, expressed concern that Sanders’s characterization of the South minimized “the importance of the voices of a core constituency for our party.”

The letter writers also pointed out that some of Sanders’s victories have been in states that are more conservative than Southern ones, such as Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho.

That black voters would prefer a familiar candidate such as Clinton over someone whose personal experience among African Americans seems to have been relatively limited, notwithstanding his participation in civil rights demonstrations, is hardly surprising. For decades, the Clintons have worked for issues and protections important to the African American community.

But the Clintons, too, have been dismissive toward black voters when things didn’t go their way. During the 2008 primaries when it was clear that Barack Obama would trounce Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, Bill Clinton remarked that Jesse Jackson also had won the state in 1984 and 1988.

No one needs a translator to get Clinton’s meaning. His next hastily drawn sentence — “Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here” — did little to distract from the implication that Obama would win because he was black.

Not cool, Mr. President.

Hillary Clinton got herself into a hot mess when she asserted that President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the Civil Rights Act, which many saw as dismissive of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. She scrambled to explain herself and mitigate the damage, but feelings once hurt are hard to mend.

Then again, time is a miracle worker, and all is apparently forgiven. Clinton is the new black and has been duly rewarded for her loyalty, patience and sportsmanship. She played nice with Obama, crushing her resentment beneath the heel of her sensible shoes and erasing from memory Obama’s condescending “You’re likable enough, Hillary” during a debate.

On the campaign trail, Clinton now tosses rose petals at Obama’s feats, promising to carry on his policies not because she necessarily agrees with them but because it’s politically savvy. For his part, the president has all but endorsed Clinton, returning the favor of her indulgence and her husband’s vigorous support.

The truth is, only Obama could have defeated Clinton for the 2008 nomination, and he probably did win at least partly because he was African American. The country felt it was time for a black president and Obama’s message of hope against a purple-colored backdrop of streamlined unity, baby, was intoxicating. He was a dazzling diamond in the rough world of partisan politics.

Clinton shares none of Obama’s sparkle, but she has more than paid her dues, and African American voters have rewarded her loyalty. For his part, Sanders not only confirmed African Americans’ concerns about his disconnect from their daily lives but also was badly mistaken about the South’s distance from reality.

In the South, black votes matter — a lot — and no one has understood this better than the Clintons.

 

By: Kathleen Parker, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 222, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, The South | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why I’m Ashamed To Be Republican”: We’ve Become A Party That Preys On The Discouraged, Not One That Fosters Hope

Noticing the growing pile of rejected dresses, the saleswoman asked me what I was shopping for. I responded, “I know what I want, I just can’t seem to find it. Something conservative but cute, shorter than work length, longer than club length. I’m not opposed to a romper, but don’t really want a skirt. Help.” She laughed and asked me if I was shopping for a specific event. The words formulated in my brain but I couldn’t get them out. I didn’t want to tell her.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend reunion of my colleagues from the Bush-Cheney administration at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, but I didn’t want to say that. “A company picnic,” I said, “Nothing too riveting, but I’ll see co-workers I haven’t seen in a while.” As I looked in the mirror (having found the perfect shirt dress), I thought: Why did I say that? This event was exciting; I was going to see a former president, vice president, first lady and countless friends. When did I become so embarrassed to be a Republican?

I grew up in a conservative, Catholic family. I remember voting for President George H.W. Bush in my school’s straw ballot in the 1980s. I’ve voted mostly with the party over the years. I joined the College Republicans and planned rallies for the troops, went to seminars on entrepreneurship and volunteered for Sen. Jim Talent’s reelection campaign in Missouri. I swear I bled little red elephants. Following graduation, I worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign in Florida and fell further in love with politics, the party and the process. I worked on the Presidential Inaugural Committee and was honored to receive an appointment in Bush’s administration. We even had a softball league. Some of my fondest memories are from those years; it was an incredible time to be alive. I was (and still am) truly proud to have been a part of it all.

As the years passed, though, I became more liberal on social issues, not understanding why my best friend from college couldn’t marry his longtime boyfriend. I struggled with the line between the right to life and a woman’s right to make her own decisions about what to do with her body. I read and reread the Constitution, studied the Federalist Papers and came to better understand the ideals on which our nation was founded. I quickly learned what it was like to make $30,000 a year in the District (along with the necessity of having multiple roommates).

I shifted closer to the middle, but there was still so much about the Republican Party that I loved. It was the party that fought to give more funding, better equipment and training to my husband — a Navy pilot. The party that pressed for veterans’ health reform. The party that gave us a president who delivered the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program to combat HIV in Africa. The party that encouraged and promoted the growth of small businesses.

But more than anything, it was the people. My colleagues in the Bush administration were compassionate, innovative and enthusiastic. We were men and women of various ages, demographics and backgrounds, woven together by our common belief in a president, a mission and, above all, the importance of character. The hours were long, but the years went fast. At the opening of Bush’s presidential library in Dallas three years ago, I was again surrounded by those colleagues. When President Obama was introduced, every person in attendance rose in thunderous applause. I realized then what made that group of colleagues so special: our respect for the office of the president.

Three years later, at this month’s reunion, tears came to my eyes as I listened to Bush speak about what made our country great. We fought for inclusion, not isolationism. We were patriots, not protectionists, and we worked to advance freedom, not fear.

I was proud to be a Republican. The GOP I worked for, fundraised for and fundamentally believed in put forward candidates who reflected my values. But now? I’m embarrassed to be a Republican because of who is leading in the polls. We’ve become a party that preys on the discouraged, not one that fosters hope. We’re incentivizing anger, not integrity. We tear down others to promote ourselves. If our current front-runner is the GOP candidate, I won’t vote Republican in November. I’m still stuck in that dressing room: I know what I want. I just can’t seem to find it.

 

By: T. T. Robinson, Author of the New York Times Deployment Diary and a political correspondent for NextGen MilSpouse; The Washington Post, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Donald Trump, GOP, Republicans | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Win The War Over Time”: The Koch Brothers Play The Long Game, Making Them Smarter Than The Average Republican

The biggest political news this weekend is coming in two separate stories from the from the Koch brothers. Most important is that the Kochs are staying out of the nomination fight completely now that it has functionally come down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz:

Charles Koch says he won’t “put a penny” into trying to stop Donald Trump, that there are “terrible role models” among the remaining Republican presidential candidates, and that his massive political network may decide to sit out of the presidential race entirely.

“These personal attacks and pitting one person against the other — that’s the message you’re sending the country,” Koch said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired Sunday. “You’re role models and you’re terrible role models. So how — I don’t know how we could support ’em.”

The billionaire CEO of Koch Industries and one of the most powerful and controversial figures in politics said he and his brother David Koch have also turned down pleas to join the “Never Trump” movement, which aims to deny the real estate mogul the nomination.

Instead Koch said he and his brother plan to stay out of the party’s nomination fight.

The other not totally unrelated news from the same ABC interview is that the Kochs are so disgusted with their Republican candidates that they even believe it’s possible that Hillary Clinton would make a better president–which is predictably being used against her by many Sanders supporters.

The great advantage the Koch brothers have over most people in politics is that they really believe in their ideology so deeply that they are willing to hand over the presidency–and its concomitant power to select Supreme Court justices–to their ideological enemies for four years in the service of longer-term goals lasting decades. The Koch brothers do not depend on winning elected office to advance their careers, and they (admirably and rightly, in my view) see politics not as a series of pitched electoral battles to implement various legislative aims, but rather as a grand battle of ideologies in which the entire longitudinal direction of a country is determined. If some Republican careers are damaged in the process, so be it. If some (to them) odious regulations are implemented in the meantime, so be it. They intend to win the war over time, even if it means losing the occasional battle. And that makes them a far more terrifying and effective opponent than the likes of Reince Priebus or Charles Krauthammer, whose vision goes no farther than the next election they can, donor they can please, or war they can start.

In this case, the Kochs know that even if Trump or Cruz were to win the general election–and even if they therefore had the power to appoint Supreme Court justices!–it would actually be more damaging to their long-term economic libertarian interests than if they were to win. They know that putting Hillary Clinton into office gives them potentially four years to run oppositional politics and ramp up their Hispanic outreach initiative.

They can deal with one or two more liberal justices on the court, because they know that if they can engineer a counter-revolution in the next decade and unseat Democrats in 2020, they can lock down Congress for yet another decade and ultimately have a near permanent Supreme Court majority by 2030 or 2035. Charles and David Koch themselves may not live that long, but that’s not their concern: their concern is to win the war. That makes them far more ambitious and frankly smarter than the average operative.

The question is whether their bet is correct. It could be that letting Clinton into the presidency in 2016 does what they believe it will. It’s also possible that 2016 will be the last chance for a Republican running on Reaganomics to win the presidency at all, and that by 2024 the Koch brothers’ Objectivist vision for the Republican Party will be all but irrelevant. But in either case, the Koch brothers are absolutely correct that neither Trump nor Cruz will adequately serve their decades-long interest.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Koch Brothers, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Story About How We Treat The Poor”: Sometimes, Race Is More Distraction Than Explanation

Dear white people:

As you no doubt know, the water crisis in Flint, Mich., returned to the headlines last week with news that the state attorney general is charging three government officials for their alleged roles in the debacle. It makes this a convenient moment to deal with something that has irked me about the way this disaster is framed.

Namely, the fact that people who look like you often get left out of it.

Consider some of the headlines:

The Racist Roots of Flint’s Water Crisis — Huffington Post

How A Racist System Has Poisoned The Water in Flint — The Root

A Question of Environmental Racism — The New York Times

As has been reported repeatedly, Flint is a majority black city with a 41 percent poverty rate, so critics ask if the water would have been so blithely poisoned, and if it would have taken media so long to notice, had the victims been mostly white.

It’s a sensible question, but whenever I hear it, I engage in a little thought experiment. I try to imagine what happened in Flint happening in Bowie, a city in Maryland where blacks outnumber whites, but the median household income is more than $100,000 a year and the poverty rate is about 3 percent. I can’t.

Then I try to imagine it happening in Morgantown, West Virginia, where whites outnumber blacks, the median household income is about $32,000 a year, and the poverty rate approaches 40 percent — and I find that I easily can. It helps that Bowie is a few minutes from Washington, D.C., while Morgantown is more than an hour from the nearest city of any size.

My point is neither that race carries no weight nor that it had no impact on what happened in Flint. No, my point is only that sometimes, race is more distraction than explanation. Indeed, that’s the story of our lives.

To be white in America is to have been sold a bill of goods that there exists between you and people of color a gap of morality, behavior, intelligence and fundamental humanity. Forces of money and power have often used that perceived gap to con people like you into acting against their own self-interest.

In the Civil War, white men too poor to own slaves died in grotesque numbers to protect the “right” of a few plutocrats to continue that despicable practice. In the Industrial Revolution, white workers agitating for a living wage were kept in line by the threat that their jobs would be given to “Negroes.” In the Depression, white families mired in poverty were mollified by signs reading “Whites Only.”

You have to wonder what would happen if white people — particularly, those of modest means — ever saw that gap for the fiction it is? What if they ever realized you don’t need common color to reach common ground? What if all of us were less reflexive in using race as our prism, just because it’s handy?

You see, for as much as Flint is a story about how we treat people of color, it is also — I would say more so — a story about how we treat the poor, the way we render them invisible. That was also the story of Hurricane Katrina. Remember news media’s shock at discovering there were Americans too poor to escape a killer storm?

Granted, there is a discussion to be had about how poverty is constructed in this country; the black poverty rate is higher than any other with the exception of Native Americans, and that’s no coincidence. But it’s equally true that, once you are poor, the array of slights and indignities to which you are subjected is remarkably consistent across that racial gap.

That fact should induce you — and all of us — to reconsider the de facto primacy we assign this arbitrary marker of identity. After all, 37 percent of the people in Flint are white.

But that’s done nothing to make their water clean.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Flint Water Crisis, Poor and Low Income, Poverty, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Disagreeing Publicly?”: Is There Dissension In The Sanders Campaign About An Endgame?

Yesterday I noted that, on Tuesday night, Jeff Weaver was crystal clear about the Sanders’ endgame when he talked with Steve Kornacki: even if Clinton leads in pledged delegates and the popular vote at the end of the primaries, they will spend the weeks prior to the Democratic convention attempting to flip the support of superdelegates to vote for Sanders. As implausible as that sounds (and contrary to most everything Bernie Sanders stands for), Weaver stuck to his guns on this as the strategy of the campaign.

On the other hand, Tad Devine has sounded a different note – suggesting that the campaign would re-assess after the five primaries next Tuesday. In talking to Rachel Maddow last night, he continued with that approach.

The superdelegates are there. We’re gonna work hard to earn their support. I think we’ll be able to do that if we succeed. Listen, the key test is succeeding with voters. In 2008 I wrote a piece that they published in the New York Times right after Super Tuesday. And I argued that superdelegates should wait, should look, and listen to what the voters do and follow the will of the voters. And I can tell you I got a lot of pushback from the Clinton campaign at the time, you know, when I published that piece. But I believe that today, that our superdelegates, that our party leaders should let the voters speak first. And I think if they do that all the way through the end of voting that will strengthen our party, and certainly strengthen our hand if we succeed with voters between now and June.

Perhaps this is simply Devine making a more palatable case for the same strategy Weaver outlined. No one is likely to challenge the idea of letting the voters speak. But that “if” in the last sentence carries a lot of the load for what he seems to be saying. While Weaver indicates that the outcome of the last primaries won’t affect the strategy, Devine seems to indicate that it will.

It is very possible that candidate Sanders is receiving different advice from his campaign manager than he is from his chief strategist. One might expect this in any campaign that is on the ropes. The fact that they seem to be disagreeing publicly could indicate a problem. But ultimately it is Sanders who will decide on the path forward. The rational choice would obviously be to go with the advice he’s getting from Devine. We’ll see.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 21, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Jeff Weaver, Tad Devine | , , , , | Leave a comment

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