Bernie Sanders isn’t winning minority votes and it’s his own fault | Steven W Thrasher | The Knowledge Dynasty

Bernie Sanders isn’t winning minority votes and it’s his own fault | Steven W Thrasher

The senator should be making racism a cornerstone of his stump speech, but instead hes practically ceding black and Latino voters to Hillary Clinton

On Sunday, I went to Bernie Sanderss press conference in Washington DC. As a black voter who has felt the Bern, I wanted to see what he was going to do to reignite his dwindling flame especially as I had just seen his slogan co-opted and reduced to feel the burn at a DC bus stop promoting check-ups for sexually transmitted diseases.

I left the press event extremely disappointed. Sanders lectured us about super-delegates. He obsessed over the possibility of Hillary Clinton failing to win enough pledged delegates. He spoke of a contested convention, and he recycled his well-worn talking points about inequality.

Two things he failed to mention: black and Hispanic voters, two constituencies whose support he has failed, repeatedly, to gain.

I get that he thinks the lives of people of color will be improved by reining in Wall Street, curbing financial inequality and confronting climate change. But any democratic socialist should know that the economic violence of capitalism is specifically gendered and racialized, that Wall Street explicitly harms black and brown people and that the effects of climatechange are racist. Indeed, Sanders knows this and his platforms address it.

How, then, can Sanders still be failing to talk about racism, anti-blackness and anti-Latino sentiment at every turn, especially heading into the primary in California, a state with more Latinos than whites? If you listen to what Sanders is actually saying in this late stage of the game, he seems much more interested in open primaries, independent voters and super-delegates than he is in voters of color or the disenfranchised. Thats unsettling.

I have also noticed white leftists who feel the Bern starting to whisper that if Sanders doesnt beat Clinton, its the fault of the unenlightened black and brown folks who didnt vote in their own interest. Their condescension is misplaced; their ire should be with their candidate. I have written about my wonder at why the Clintons enjoy such robust support from black people when the Clintonian legacy resulted in generations of incarcerated black men, broken families and terrible economics.

But votes arent owed to anyone, and if Sanders doesnt win the black vote, its his own fault (and, possibly, that of the people he has chosen to advise him). You cant blame the Clintons they have handed Sanders one unforced error after another, from Hillary praising the Reagans on Aids and joking about CPT (colored-people time) to Bill yelling at a protester that black lives matter in Africa.

Sanders does pivot well to talking about race when forced to I loved how he gave the stage to the protesters in Seattle and came up with a robust HIV/Aids plan after Hillarys insane Reagan worship. But its often in reaction, and it seems like the Clintons could burn down a black church while wearing white sheets and Sanders would still fail to talk about race and racism on the regular.

His underlying view that racism will be ameliorated by curbing Wall Street and excessive capitalism is right: black and brown Americans would fare much better under this approach than we would under Hillary Clintons Wall Street influence or the color-blind rising tide will lift all boats nonsense that Obama espoused. But no corrective of American economics can be color-blind while creating equality for people of all races. This is what Sanders either doesnt get, or doesnt seem inclined to discuss.

And its agonizing because Sanders has gotten within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. I do honestly believe his policies would be far better for black and brown America than Clintons. I voted for him in New York, and I hope he can find a way to pull off a win with the DNC. But as his chances dwindle, and as he still fails to specifically address racism at every turn, hes erasing his own best chance.

The emerging black and brown coalition first harnessed electorally under President Obama, and more radicalized because of Black Lives Matter doesnt want a Trump v Clinton death match. It does not suffer from a failure of political imagination or feel checkmated. But it does want to be considered beyond moments of crisis.

The failure to connect more broadly with this coalition is on Senator Sanders, who still cant seem to imagine a path to victory in which the defeat of racism is foregrounded at all times. Its as if hes willing to let a technical defeat with super-delegates from past states swallow him up when he could be mobilizing an electric, unbeatable black and brown force in California.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/03/bernie-sanders-failure-diversity-hispanic-black-voters

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