Why Black Voters Should Be Supporting Bernie Sanders

A criticism of Bernie Sanders from several black groups is that he has not really talked about racism or otherwise addressing black issues, something they say Hillary Clinton has done.

OK, here’s my response. I’ve listened to Bernie talk for years and I’m currently reading his autobiography. He talks about why this country is so racist, coming to the same conclusion I arrived at independently. Basically, we’re all being played. Poor white sharecroppers and laborers were being played by wealthy Southern landowners, bankers and politicians and we’re being played by the ruling power elite of today. Being played how? By polarizing us into different groups who look across the room or the country with hate at each other. When life is hard and you’re struggling just to survive, many people need someone to blame for their hardships and struggle, a scapegoat. They also need to feel superior to the object of their hate. So, poor whites hate blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, etc., anyone they feel superior to and fear is in danger of taking a piece of the small pie they’re grasping onto.

Blacks and Hispanics hate each other in many communities. Many groups join together and hate gay people. So, we’re all looking across and hating each other instead of stopping to look up and see who are the ones who have pitted us against each other. We’re all rats in an overcrowded maze with no way out and the food and water grow less and less.

Why are we kept pitted against each other like this? Because of all us stopped to think and reason, we’d realize who actually is responsible for all of this. We’d unite and as one huge powerful group rise up and overthrow the power elite, which would be the first step in healing all the rifts between us.

So, this is why Bernie doesn’t concentrate on black issues, or Hispanic issues or any issues which just serve to polarize one group from another. All our issue stem from the same common problems: inequality of wealth and income, lack of a job, working at of a job which pays a living wage and offers benefits, lack of adequate income, lack of adequate housing, lack of affordable college education, etc. If you focus on the basic problems we all face and fix those, racism becomes less of an issue because if just about everybody has theirs, there’s no reason to hate the those who have more than you or for you to try to feel superior to those who have less and you feel are trying to take more of yours.

So, let Hillary talk about black issues. Let her continue to perpetuate the hatred and polarization among the races. Bernie is talking about changing the fundamental issues and institutional inequalities which separate us all so that we can finally unite under the common goal of equality—in every sense of the word—and justice for all. Bernie Sanders for president for ALL of us.

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2 thoughts on “Why Black Voters Should Be Supporting Bernie Sanders

  1. hypestyle says:

    I highly respect the policy ideas of Senator Sanders. I wouldn’t be offended by him getting the Democratic nomination as well as winning in November. That said, it is legitimate issue for the candidate to explore better outreach to black Americans. “Purely” class based outreach messages have their value– however, there is a distinct history of various public officials and government agencies (local, state, federal) promising change that is “for everyone” will affect everyone “equally”. However, “equality” and “equity” are not the same. Historically, predominately white labor groups had viciously racist reactions when it came to admitting blacks and others into their ranks, initially. Even today, certain guilds and unionized associations still remain relatively insular even as (unfortunately) the overall ranks of organized labor groups have shrunk from their numbers of say, 50 years ago. Speaking directly to racial justice issues (i.e., affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, police/court reforms and a detailed urban-centered infrastructure/jobs plan) will go a long way in helping voters see the worth of Sen. Sanders’ candidacy. He demurred on reparations, which I find disappointing. He may not honestly believe it’s a valid policy. However, it inadvertently makes it look as if he’s “simply” trying to avoid alienating whites who may be hostile to the idea. Indeed, much of African American discontent with certain candidates is because of the long history of (white) political candidates and officials seeking out the highly prized “white swing voter/independent”– typically working-to-middle class, over 30, a gun owner, socially conservative and while they may, for example, not identify at all with the KKK, also very ambivalent and/or hostile when it comes to any topics that seem to benefit racial minorities and heavily skeptical to any aired grievances by minorities. And even some “card carrying” professional liberals still supported laws like “3 Strikes You’re Out” and assorted “War on Drugs” and “Tough on Crime” policies (e.g., crack-based sentencing) which have decimated inner-city America.
    The New Deal and the GI Bill were both highly valuable nationwide programs when enacted. However, going back to their initial implementation, there was severe racial discrimination in how these programs were facilitated. Blacks and other minorities still found themselves not getting proper access to these programs in the same way as whites were.
    I appreciate the debates that have taken place so far. I DO wish that there were at least a couple of racial minority candidates that were in the running on the Democratic side. It seemed as if the DNC had all but pre-anointed former Sec. of State Clinton as the Democratic nominee before the “official” campaign season even began. In the aftermath of Obama’s ascendancy, they couldn’t find one, two persons? Someone black? Latino? Arab? Asian? I find that highly dubious and another reason why the DNC needs drastic internal reform.
    I’m glad that Senator Sanders decided to run as a Democrat and at least force candidate Clinton to deal with more radical policy proposals head-on instead of being allowed to glibly ignore them. In the next several months, we’ll see what happens.
    As a sidebar, I will also add that the religious traditions of African-American communities heavily inform various people’s reading of political candidates and officials. I stop way short of suggesting that Sen. Sanders become a born again Christian– however, I would hope that he would recruit campaign workers and volunteers that can successfully frame his policy ideas and platform in terms that relate to aspects of the faith traditions of various folks. No, he’s not running for a pastoral position, and yes, the (overwhelmingly white) Christian Right has severely poisoned much of what passes for religious-informed commentary. But I do hope that he doesn’t go the route of just trying to completely avoid a faith-context to his messaging. Hardcore leftist atheists/agnostics are certainly entitled to their views. But it’s not entirely wise to pretend that people are better off “abandoning” religious institutions as opposed to forcing them to be true to the social uplift tenets that virtually all the major religious have as part of their foundations.

    • farlefty says:

      Thank you for your well-written reply. I think it’s the best reply to one of my posts I’ve ever read.

      Sanders has won many elections in New Hampshire. Admittedly there is not the large black population there that there is in South Carolina but he’s obviously won black votes in his state. Why isn’t he talking more about black issues during this campaign? I’m sure he and his advisers have talked about it and they made the decision to stay above the racial fray. I’m reading his autobiography and while he mentions issues of racial discrimination his central message is that the federal government’s job and responsibility is to protect and provide for all citizens, not to address them as separate racial groups. By provide I mean to provide government services and to provide a level playing field where conditions such as discrimination, income inequality are no longer tolerated and are eliminated, medical care and education are free or affordable and open to all. There should be no homelessness and no poverty. If you read his autobiography. “Outsider In The White House” ( a slightly revised edition of his earlier “Outsider In The House”) he goes into much greater detail what he sees as the major issues facing this country and his proposals for how to deal with or resolve them. You can’t go into a book-length explanation of your stand on everything on the campaign trail or in moderated, timed political “debates”.

      And this was the core point of my post: when you take care of all the problems separating different groups then, behind cultural and ethnic differences, there is no reason to address them as separate groups from a governmental standpoint. I’m not black so I have no idea how widespread and deeply felt the issue of reparations for black people are within that community. I think the whole concept is absurd. To follow this line of reasoning to a more extreme point, since I’m Jewish then I should be petitioning German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pay me reparations for the 6 million Jews–my relatives among them–who were killed by the Nazis in WWII. Let’s bring it back to this country. As I wrote, American Indians had an entire country stolen from them and many of their people were wiped out. I’d say that’s worth a few bucks to the tribes unable to open gambling casinos on their reservations. How much further to we want to polarize the races from each other? The only racial, ethnic group that rightfully deserved reparations were the American Japanese who had their property and virtually their lives stolen from them when they were interred on American soil during WWII by a paranoid president and Congress.

      Bernie, I believe, is the kind of modern Jew that I am: we love and respect our history but not the religion itself. He might have a blind spot for religious traditions of other communities because, although as a politician he must be aware of them, personally he can’t relate. I don’t know. What it must seem to him and other politicians is a situation where all these disparate groups shouting “What about me?!” while, as I’ve explained, Bernie is casting a broad net to include everyone in building a better life in this country. It’s these wedge issues that keep getting right wing Republicans reelected. Keeping people at each other’s throats is the way you safely remain in power.

      You might’ve noticed I used terms like “blacks” and “American Indian”. This is a personal bias of mine. I detest hyphenated American names. They’re just more of that racial and ethnic polarization I’ve been talking about. I refuse to the term Native Americans because it’s incorrect. There is no race of human beings native to the North American continent. Everyone came from someplace else. The fact that who were historically referred to American Indians got here first does not make them native. Besides, I find it humorous when I read articles where a person is referred to as an African-American who is a member of a Black Caucus, or someone is referred to as a Native American who is a member of the American Indian Movement. I say make your mind what you want to be called: either one but to be called both just confuses the issue. I wrote a blog on this. If again I want to take this to its absurd conclusion then I demand to be called a Jewish-Russian-Romanian-Polish-British-American. How far do we want to take this?

      You wish there were a couple of minority candidates running on the Democratic side? Then you must ask yourself why there aren’t any and then provide your own answer. I don’t care about the racial/ethnic background or the gender of a political candidate. I want to know if their views agree with mine and if they can and will do what they promise they will do. Bernie’s the first Jew to run as a major presidential candidate and the first to win a Democratic political primary. He’s also the oldest in modern times.

      I agree the DNC must be reformed. I predict it will be if Clinton gets the nomination but loses the election. Even if she wins but there’s a mass defection from the party, there will be one as well.

      These are my thoughts, the same ones I expressed in my blog. Again, thank you for reading it and for your reply.

      Bernie had no choice but to run as a Democrat. My guess is that should he not get the nomination, thanks to the DNC, he will return to being an Independent. I also think that should that happen a new coalition political party–split off from the Democrat Party–will be built around him or because of him. If her doesn’t get the nomination I will decide for whom I will cast my vote, then I will re-register as an Independent and then see if I can play a part in building that new political party.

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