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Bernie Sanders and the Black Vote, 2016 Primaries

Bernie Sander's 2016 campaign could have learned a lot from the Cuban experience:  the comrades thought in 1959 that the top down, economic approach of outlawing segregation while providing jobs and education would stamp out racism. It did not. In the 70's and 80's, their efforts did bear fruits to the point where there were several generations of black doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers and other professionals, But even before the economy went bad when the Special Period started in 1989, the hard dollar sector of tourism was taken over by Cubans of ibero spanish origins while the remittances from iberian Miami drove the creation of many new businesses that exclude black Cubans. Relying on an economic approach alone did not affect the real practice of racism, which is also dependent on culture bubbles and the psychology of white supremacy, a complex phenomenon.

Over the course of the US primaries, from Feb 1 to June 14, 2016, the Sanders campaign started doing better among black youth, but still wound up with less than 1/4 of the black vote overall, to Clinton's 3/4, with some exit polling showing an even more serious discrepancy. The Bern's campaign had sought the help of able intermediaries such as Danny Glover, but gave them no support, no funds even at a time when they had a lot in their coffers. The campaign relied on the economic reductionism so common on the left in their initial approach to racism, promising that getting everyone a job and equal opportunities would fix the scourge. These articles chronicle this story, some from a Hillary Clinton point of view and so somewhat suspect, but the facts appear pretty well laid out, including the story of the do nothing campaign who did not believe they could get the black vote.  All this at a time when polls were showing that the Bern would do far better against Trump than Hillary.


What’s a Class Revolution Without Black People?  8/3/2016 Politico: "Sanders had some high-profile minority surrogates, but in exit polling data from 27 states, black voters ultimately rejected him by a margin of 7 to 1, and Clinton won the Latino vote by double digits. Jill Stein is now making an overt play for Sanders’ voters, but her supporters are overwhelmingly white, too: She has the support of only 3 percent of non-white people, according to a late July CNN poll, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 61 percent."

Why this black Bernie Sanders delegate says he doesn't have the luxury of going "Bernie or Bust"  8/1/2016 Vox: "If Donald Trump wins, he's more likely to appoint judges who oppose Black Lives Matter and criminal justice reform, and who think that police officers — who can kill black people without being charged — already don't have enough power. That means if my kids get shot, the officers who did it would become less likely to be charged," he says. "This isn’t theory for us. It’s reality."

Sanders Didn’t Lose the Black Vote: He Never Had It, and Never Asked Why  7/13/2016 Black Agenda Report: "The utterly unaccountable nature of traditional black leadership is why the Congressional Black Caucus mostly endorsed the militarization of cops, why it backs the arming and financing of apartheid in Israel, and doesn’t stand against gentrification or school privatization or the militarization of Africa, why it did not muster a peep of objection to the displacement of a quarter million black people from New Orleans and the Gulf after Katrina, or vote against the bailout of criminal banksters who sold predatory mortgages to black homeowners, stripping black America of 90% of family wealth in the 2007-08 housing meltdown. Without mapping out, acknowledging and questioning the lineup of forces arrayed against it, organizers of the Sanders campaign never even knocked on the door of black support. They were knocking on the black wall, unable to find the door. Behind that wall however, the black political class was able to produce an overwhelming black vote for Hillary, in keeping with its alliance to the most right wing and corporate dominated sectors of that party."

Bernie Sanders didn't really try to win black vote, campaign staffers tell website  7/11/2016 NOLA: "Bernie Sanders did horribly with black voters. And that, even more than his not actually being a Democrat, might explain why he won't be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Given his talk about wanting to lead the way toward a political revolution – and not just your typical liberalism – what accounts for his inability to get black votes? It may be as simple as his decision not to fight for them."

How Bernie Sanders lost black voters  7/10/2016 Fusion: "As a black progressive, Glover was drawn to Sanders’ message of free public college, dismantling Wall Street, and rectifying economic inequality. Surely, Glover believed, he could get black students to feel the same enthusiasm for Sanders as the young white folks who screamed the senator’s name in packed arenas around the country. But it didn’t take long for him to feel that the campaign had no real interest in converting young black progressives into a powerful voting bloc that could have made Sanders truly competitive against Clinton."

Bernie Sanders Flips Off Black Voters On His Way Out the Door  6/17/2016 Mediaite: "That’s it. Black people got tacked onto a few lists of other things, and some lines about failing schools and criminal justice reform. Or to put it another way, what black voters could expect from a Rand Paul speech. Not a syllable about ending police brutality or racial profiling, nothing about the Voting Rights Act or any other Republican schemes to disenfranchise black voters, and those are just the easy ones. Fifty-six seconds out of 23 minutes, and none of the bullet points he rushed up onto his website when #BlackLivesMatter protesters hassled him almost a year ago. Yeah, black voters had Bernie all wrong, didn’t they?"

Why Bernie Sanders Lost, Part I: He Was Unrealistic About Race  6/9/2016 Madame Noire: "While Ferguson burned and marches against police violence and systematic racism raged on in the streets, Sanders was still talking about poverty and championing the cause of getting everyone jobs as a solution to everyone’s problems."

New Poll Shows Divide Amongst Blacks in Democratic Race  6/3/2016 Black Youth Project: "In the Democratic primary race, there seems to be a large divide between the older and younger African-Americans. Many black voters under 30 favor Senator Bernie Sanders, while older African-Americans are overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly backing Hillary Clinton."

#BernieLostMe: Black Voters Use Hashtag Explaining Why They Won’t Vote For Bernie Sanders  5/20/2016 Hip Hop Wired: "Black voters took to Twitter earlier this week to share why they aren’t voting for Bernie Sanders. The explanations are…interesting."

Clinton, Sanders, and the Myth of a Monolithic “Black Vote”  4/15/2016 New Yorker: "So far, Sanders has not won a majority of black voters in any contest with a large African-American population. But he has done much better with black voters in Midwestern states and with younger black voters across the country. These variances are one reason to start to unravel the myth of a monolithic black vote."

The Paradox of Bernie Sanders and the Black Voter  4/12/2016 In These Times: "When Ta-Nehisi Coates gently chided Sanders for excluding reparations from his list of policy demands, the senator’s supporters went ballistic. Cedric Johnson in Jacobin and Paul Street in Counterpunch launched attacks that recalled those ideological screeds from the ‘70’s denouncing black nationalists as “bougie” class traitors. The significance of these ideological nuances made a brief appearance during a debate in Flint, Michigan, when Sanders’ response to a question about his “racial blind spots” implied that only black people live in “ghettos” and that most black people were poor."

A Shock: Bernie is Actually Bagging Black Votes  4/8/2016 Huff Post: "He’s learned something else about race politics. It’s fine to talk about smashing wealth and income inequality, but that doesn’t do much when even black millionaires, business persons and professionals can be spread-eagled by police after a phony stop, or shadowed by store security in retail stores, or watch as cabs ignore their frantic signals to stop and breeze by them, or are excluded from contract bidding by the good ol’ boy system. Having all the wealth in the world means nothing in the face of naked and raw racial degradation."

Why Black Voters Don’t Feel the Bern  3/7/2016 Politico: "But Hillary Clinton’s support among African-Americans only surprises whites who caricature black politics as blindly radical, and radicals blinded with rage who unfairly blame Bill Clinton for the mass incarceration problem. The Clintons’ relationship with the African-American community has been deep and mutually beneficial, and it’s showing in the election tallies. Distorting the historical record ignores both Clintons’ warm ties to African-Americans and their impressive contributions to racial reconciliation, especially in the 1990s."

How Bernie Sanders Lost The Black Vote Long Before Super Tuesday  3/2/2016 Fast Company: "After Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders isn’t dead, but the challenges seem almost insurmountable. And despite millennial America’s love affair with Sanders, if he does end up losing the nomination to Hillary, it will be because African Americans supported Hillary more than young people supported Bernie. Had Sanders handled the Black Lives Matter takeover in Seattle more gracefully, would things have turned out differently? Maybe, maybe not. But first impressions are hugely important, and sometimes all it takes is four and a half minutes to change everything."

Why Clinton Is Connecting With Black Voters—and Sanders Isn't  2/24/2016 The Atlantic: “Hillary took it upon herself to listen to me when none of the leaders decided to lay in the street with us, march in the street with us, pour our hearts out and ask for help. Hillary heard my cry,” said Maria Hamilton, whose son Dontre was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer in 2014. “When Hillary called me in March, and her staffer told me I didn’t have to rally people in the street to shut her rally down, that she would talk to me, it changed my life.”


Links/Enlaces top

How Hillary Clinton overcame the challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders, WSJ 6/8/2016
Mr. Sanders fought Mrs. Clinton to a draw among white voters, exit polls showed. But he was trounced among nonwhites, who cast four in 10 votes. The decisive edge for Mrs. Clinton: She won African-Americans by more than 50 percentage points.  Clinton: 75.9%   Sanders: 23.1%

More on Bernie Sanders and the way forward in 2017


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