PAR FOR THE (TERRIBLE) COURSE

There's something about the interaction between Bernie Sanders campaign (and/or his mostly white supporters) and Black Lives Matter activists that hasn't been talked about but is awkward in an instructive way. Bear with me for a moment.

One of the primary criticisms leveled at Sanders' supporters is their reliance on the logic that while he might not be giving black activists much of what they want, there is no other candidate who comes as close to addressing these issues. In other words, Sanders is the best of what's available so black voters should support him even if he doesn't actually do much for them. He's a "friend" to that portion of the electorate.

I understand reflexively why black activists find this response patronizing and unsatisfactory. What I don't understand is how it differs fundamentally from what all of us – black, white, young, old, gluten intolerant – are told every time we suffer an election. Have you never been party to, either as the speaker or the recipient of wisdom, the "Well he's better than Bush/McCain/Romney/Beelzebub" conversation? I've seen it here every time in the past decade that I've written something critical of the Democratic Party or its candidates. Yes, they're milquetoasty and disappointing but you have to support them because what else are you gonna do? If you stay home the Republicans win and then we're really boned.

In that sense, the message Sanders and other Democrats have so relied upon over the past several decades is condescending and defeatist, but it isn't uniquely condescending and defeatist to black voters. It's a shit stew of which every voter with a more than casual interest in any issue that isn't pre-approved by the Moneyed Interests must chow down every couple years. The activists and Sanders campaign critics are correct to point out that the issues in question were being ignored. But unless you're in the NRA or fighting to increase the wealth of the oligarchy, everybody's issues get ignored. That's precisely why so many people think the system sucks and disengage from it. Lip service is standard operating procedure.

It is fair to say that since these issues are in a literal sense life and death issues for some people of color in this country that an extraordinary response should be forthcoming from Democratic candidates (Republicans can safely be presumed to make no response or an utterly terrible one). That is valid; I hope the leading Democratic candidates do take these issues seriously because that's what serious issues deserve. But it certainly isn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that candidates have half-assed an issue and fallen back on the "Well, who else are you gonna vote for, this is the best you'll do" argument. When those activists said "We're being ignored!" part of me thought, well, who isn't? They're correct to say that the system isn't responsive to their interests because the system isn't responsive to the vast majority of the electorate's interests. That's where the apathy and cynicism come from. Our candidates and officeholders can't do much effectively beyond carrying water for well funded interest groups. It is disappointing, but not shocking in the slightest, that they would do so little in response to the angry voices of black people who have the audacity to ask that the police stop killing them.

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52 Responses to “PAR FOR THE (TERRIBLE) COURSE”

  1. Corwin Says:

    First!

  2. quixote Says:

    Seems to me that the people who do get even a smidge of attention are the ones willing to walk. Hispanics in noticeable numbers are capable of voting Republican, so issues of immigration come in for at least respectful lip service. Likewise gays. (Remember a few months before the 2012 election, Obama suddenly pulled out a few gay-friendly edicts he could have done years earlier?)

    Women and blacks are considered safety bets by the Dems (not without reason) so they get ignored or traded to the bishops for a mess of politics.

    Until we're willing to burn the joint down by voting Repug, *and following through on it*, we'll always be ignored.

    Or we can try to get the politicians/corporations who benefit from the current system to sit by while we vote in a real third party. It sounds ridiculous, but history is nonlinear.

  3. HoosierPoli Says:

    What I don't get is how Bernie's issues AREN'T black issues. Inequality is a black issue. Prison reform is a black issue. Grants to police departments for body cameras instead of assault weapons is a black issue. Ending the drug war is a black issue. Appointing non-wingnut Supremes is a black issue.

    I'm not sure why this small sliver of black activists feel that they can't make common cause with the huge numbers of white people who are all outraged when it comes to these issues.

  4. Coises Says:

    I am a 57-year-old non-Hispanic white male. That might be relevant to, and maybe obvious from, what I’m about to write.

    A while back, a Republican Facebook friend shared an article about a black sheriff from Wisconsin who claimed, It is a myth that police kill black males in greater numbers than anyone else. His statement referenced a study which observed that between 2009 and 2012, “61 percent or 915 of 1,491 people who died from police use of force were white males, while 32 percent or 481 were black males.”

    I noted that those figures mean a black male is about three times more likely to be killed by police than a white male, and remarked that I didn’t think anyone was arguing that the absolute numbers were the point.

    However, the apparent attitude of Black Lives Matter leads me to think of this from the other direction. Yes, per capita blacks are getting hit harder by police violence than whites; but it is hardly a uniquely black problem. It is a police problem. There is certainly racism here; but as is often the case with prejudice, it is an opportunistic evil, flourishing where a broader injustice is already entrenched. Fix the culture of warrior cops, and you won’t have to ask who gets the worst of it.

    Yet—and here, maybe, I just don’t understand—it seems as if Black Lives Matter is heavily invested in keeping this all about race… that somehow, to admit that blacks aren’t fundamentally special in regard to this issue would be to lose their battle. I don’t follow that strategy. It seems to me that if you wanted police violence to stop, you’d want everyone to understand that it is a danger to everyone, not just to 13% of the population.

  5. Talisker Says:

    Sorry Ed, I don't buy it. All you're saying would be true regarding Hillary Clinton or some other mainstream Democrat, but this is Bernie Sanders. The whole point of his campaign is that he has not been afraid to speak plainly and piss off the big-money interests. So what exactly does he have to lose by taking Black Lives Matter more seriously?

    The uncomfortable fact is, it's not a very high priority for Sanders. There aren't very many black people in Vermont, so maybe he just lacks a visceral, emotional understanding of the situation in somewhere like Ferguson. Whatever the reason, it's fair for Black Lives Matter activists to criticise him for it.

  6. Talisker Says:

    @Coises: As someone said on Twitter, people who campaign to save the rainforest are not saying, "fuck all those other kinds of forest". I'm pretty sure Black Lives Matter is not indifferent to police brutality directed against non-blacks.

    Mostly you are describing your subjective impression of what they are trying to do (rather than looking for actual quotes which might confirm or contradict your gut reaction), and that says more about you than it does about them.

    For the record, I'm a whiter-than-white Canadian resident in the UK. I just think it's worth listening to Black Lives Matter before forming a judgement about them.

  7. Nan Says:

    @Talisker. I'll respectfully disagree that Black Lives Matter is not indifferent to police brutality directed toward nonblacks. As Coises noted, it is a society-wide problem, but BLM doesn't seem to want to admit that. Statistically, black men may be disproportionately targeted but they are not the only groups affected. BLM's strident insistence that it's a black problem rather than a society-wide problem is costing them allies. There have been a couple incidents that sort of crept into the news in recent months where the shooting victim was white, including one where the victim was an unarmed white woman. It would have been the perfect opportunity for BLM to say loudly and clearly "It's not just us!" but, IIRC, the response was. . . crickets.

  8. Major Kong Says:

    "If you stay home the Republicans win and then we're really boned."

    The problem is, this is true.

    If they're disappointed in Bernie, imagine how much they'll love a Walker administration.

  9. Jestbill Says:

    Ahh–the "advantage" of age.
    Sanders said something about how terrible it is that physical workers might have to work beyond 65.
    My comment was that if they can't figure out who to vote for, let 'em work 'til they're 90.
    In our system, there are TWO options. Whatever you do, you will receive the benefits of ONE of those two options.

    If someone is in the news, don't ask why they don't exactly make sense: ask how much money they're making.

  10. anotherbozo Says:

    "…the system isn't responsive to their interests…"

    Ed's post ignores the mastodon in the room: that any intelligent candidate, such as Bernie Sanders, realizes that his main task is to educate, to tell the people what's REALLY behind their misery. To simplify, it's not the gun-crazed NRA, not the Bible thumpers, not the xenophobes, not the racists, but those friendly oligarchs who've been fleecing them for thirty years and counting. Bernie has to abbreviate his message, and repeat it ad nauseum, because MOST VOTERS HAVEN'T A CLUE.* Naturally a candidate can't insult the electorate or appear to be talking down to them while he educates. Ed, as a professor you know all about this problem, though you don't have to be nearly so diplomatic as a presidential candidate. In the Sanders campaign it's probably called "staying on message." If he fails in his educational objective, he fails, period. Voters will vote for whoever waves the biggest flag.

    *"What's the Matter with Kansas?", Thomas Frank, etc. etc.

  11. Talisker Says:

    @Nan: I think we can agree that racism by the police — targeting black people because they are black — is not acceptable.

    Some degree of violence dealt out by police is not only acceptable but necessary. Yes, the general level of police violence is far too high in the USA, and that needs to be dealt with, but it is a separate and less straightforward issue.

    BLM has chosen to focus and campaign on the specific issue of racial prejudice. It doesn't mean they think that's the only problem with the police or society in general. I'm a comfortable white guy in a very safe environment, and I personally don't have the chutzpah to tell BLM their priorities are wrong.

  12. J.D. Says:

    I have two thoughts on this. The first is that regardless of the amount of lip service he pays, Bernie Sanders is clearly, objectively, the best candidate for the issues commonly conceptualized as "black" issues – prison and police reform, anti-poverty measures, and so forth. While there is certainly a racial component to many of the issues, there's also a socioeconomic component to them, and Bernie is the only candidate who is even remotely likely to shake up the socioeconomic order if elected. (If anyone thinks any of the candidates are likely to address the racial side of the issues, except when politically convenient like the recent anti-Confederate-flag movement, they haven't been paying attention.)

    But the second thought is that maybe the idea of lip service is a particularly sensitive one for black voters. Context matters. You know how idiot conservatives tend to respond "all lives matter" when presented with the Black Lives Matter movement? Well, yes, they do, but the reason for the BLM movement is that situations keep arising where it is apparent that, to some people in power, black lives DON'T seem to matter. In cultural context, it's obvious that BLM is not a movement to say that white/Asian/Hispanic lives don't matter, it's a movement to say that black lives matter TOO. I can see the lip service problem being a similar one. Ed's right that most intelligent voters will never find a candidate who actually represents them on the issues, and are forced to pick from the lesser of two evils. But historically, at least most voters have been able to get close. Well, for black voters, there has virtually never been a candidate who even gives them the time of day. So I can't blame them for seeing another candidate who comes from a lily-white state and doesn't address them directly and thinking "this shit again…".

  13. Talisker Says:

    @JD: Good points. I think the black community trusts Obama to take racial issues seriously, for obvious reasons. White guys like Sanders need to work a little harder to establish trust, which is something Sanders doesn't seem to recognise.

  14. c u n d gulag Says:

    Yes, this time we will truly be "boned" if any of the GOP candidate wins!

    The GOP "Crazy Train" isn't even close to coming to its final destination – it keeps chugging farther and farther to the Reich.

    The ideologically "purest" candidate right now on both sides, is tRUMP – with Bernie next in line.
    As for the rest of the GOP candidates, there's not a dime's worth of difference between them

    If tRUMP is the GOP nominee, will the motto be:
    Vote for Donald tRUMP!
    He’ll make the deportation trains run on time!!

    We are ripe for Fascism.
    Tell me where we’re not already there, or almost there, in these 4 defining points of Fascism:
    http://rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

    Well?

    Any of the GOP candidates who win, will start to add Theocratic Christianity onto our existing Fascism and Plutocracy/Oligarchy.

    And in that system, the only lives that will matter, will be white Christian ones – mostly males.

    The reason our system is fucked-up, is that we're not a parliamentary system. It's a system dominated by two parties, and all 3rd Parties have done historically, is sway the election in favor of one of the other two parties.

    Also, the GOP starts off with 27-30% (the hard-core Authoritarian followers) of the electorate in its pocket – so all it needs is somewhere 20.01 to 23.01 percent of the rest of the electorate to win.
    The number of self-declared liberals and progressives is smaller – but, thankfully, is growing slowly.

    Hillary is not my ideal candidate – Bernie comes much closer. But I'm not convinced that after all of the propaganda about the horrors of "Socialism," that a Democratic Socialist who is Jewish and was born in NYC and represents a pretty lily-white state, will appeal to the 'Murkin Heartland.
    The white part, yes. The Democratic Socialism and the Jewish part… Uhm… Not so much…

    Sure, he speaks the language of income inequality

    But how much effort will the conservative money guy's and gal's expend trying to keep the issues about race, sex, xenophobia, homophobia, and "Christian" "religious freedom?"

    FSM forbid anyone mention class!
    And that is the REAL problem.

    Sorry if this long-ass word-turd is rambling.
    I'm kind of all over the place this morning, since I haven't finished my coffee yet.
    And I have a major leg operation coming up – where they'll fuse my ankle, and I won't be able to walk for 3-4 months, or drive for 6-7, so I don't exactly sleep well.
    I'm not worried about me, but about my 83 1/2 year old diabetic, legally blind, and handicapped Mother. I do pretty much everything in the house, and am worried about what will happen, and who will do it, while I'm incapacitated.
    My sister lives 45 minutes away, but she teaches piano from her home, so pretty much her whole day is taken up by that.

    Oh well, I'm sure we all have our own sad songs to sing…

  15. GunstarGreen Says:

    And if he establishes that trust, then what? What's the next thing that people will find wrong with him?

    Because there is *always* a next thing. There is *always* some aggrieved group that hasn't been "directly addressed", because it is not possible to directly address everyone on their specific issue. But in the modern, social-media-enabled world, every single group you don't specifically address is The Most Important Group, and you are a horrible monster for failing to speak to that one group directly.

    Politicians are ignoring your needs and issues? Welcome to the club; almost literally everyone else has been in it for as long as they've been alive. If you're not one of the wealthiest people in the nation, no candidate has ever or will ever give a shit about you, and that has nothing to do with your race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever other category you can find to divide yourselves up with.

    At the end of the day, you have three choices in the United States of America: Democrat, Republican , or None Of The Above. You already know where these options lead.

  16. Tim H. Says:

    In the unlikely event Bernie Sanders won the Presidency, and even less likely event that he was able to improve matters for the working class, it would help people of all tones. Conversely, dealing with the specific concerns of Black Lives Matter can't be done without aiding other working class people, I think I'm good with it either way. And pardon me if you've heard this before, tolerance of Human suffering debases Human society, just like tolerance of trash in the streets debases property values.

  17. Well mostly Says:

    It's clearly visible in conservative ranks: specific issue groups slice up a candidate or leader for wavering on policy or slights or failing the many true believer tests. Many in the media make a point of passing the mic to the offended or enraged voices that challenge the purity of the broader movement. We're pretty use to seeing them go at each other. Outside of state Rep Party platform time, when everyone gets their digs in, the attention goes back to whatever is perceived as the necessary position to win: elections, funding, publicity, etc. No one gets all they want and nearly everyone is slightly pissed off all the time. Still, the movement takes over more and more of the government at every level.
    But if you want to see truly lethal infighting, where progress is stopped pending resolution of issues along acceptable lines, where competing positions drown out any message, we have to look to the left. Broad based unity is always hard to come by but seems to be particularly hard for progressives. Ed's point is true: what every issue group has in common is that they are ignored most of the time. This makes the whole movement ripe for devisiveness. Anyone trying to lead (here read "run for office") on the left needs the skill to contend with the very human element of this specific/general issue well and convincingly. The fight for attention and influence may shift around, but it never goes away. Big during campaigns, even bigger in office. We'll see if Sanders has it, or gets it.
    Only conviction has the power to divide natural allies. That's what' wrong with Kansas, my home state. Best wishes CU.

  18. Huntly Says:

    Apologies if someone said this already: a lot of democrats are as racist as republicans just not as good at it. If a dem candidate actually started to seriously address the racial issues he/she would alienate a lot of voters.

  19. negative 1 Says:

    @GunstarGreen —
    I'll second that. If you are running an underdog campaign (i.e. one with far less money than your opponent) then there is CERTAINLY a risk/reward strategy that comes with addressing issues on a population by population basis. Otherwise, the efficient move is what Sanders is doing — claiming his policy prescriptions are the cure for everyone's complaint and then hammering those prescriptions home. Every time you individualize a message, you've made it so that other people won't listen. That's just an unfortunate reality in the $1BB or more political campaign world.
    @Ed —
    The other way to look at Sanders (or anyone else's) supposed ignoring of a specific population (not just the BLM movement) is not 'it could be worse' but also 'whose specific policies would be the best for [insert people here]'. Sanders championing of the end of for-profit prisons seems to be more of an address of the BLM grievances than anyone else, no?

  20. Skippper Says:

    @Talisker. There may be few black folks in VT, but Bernie was born in Brooklyn and went to high school and college there. He also went to school in Chicago. So, there's a chance he may have encountered one or two black people in either of those places.

    "As a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders was active in both the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1962, he was arrested for protesting segregation in public schools in Chicago; the police came to call him an outside agitator, as he went around putting up flyers around the city detailing police brutality."

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/20-examples-bernie-sanders-powerful-record-civil-and-human-rights-1950s

    All this talk about his being tone deaf on race and racial equality is just bullshit.

  21. Templar Says:

    At first, I was pretty offended at the tactics applied to Sen. Sanders. However, after a little thinking, this is what people without traditional political leverage do to have their voices heard. These protestors were using the 'weapons of the weak' to get attention – mostly from white liberals – about the issue of police brutality against black Americans.

    Bernie was chosen because: (1) he is a soft target in the sense that he allows people to come near whereas other candidates have armies of security and handlers and (2) he might actually listen. Complaining to your enemies gets you nothing; complaining to your friends can develop a dialog. Granted, these protesters – especially the folks in Seattle who just held the mic and expected some form of Maoist self-criticism in front of national news cameras – did an awful job of developing any conversation. That may not have been their purpose.

    What I don't get is this handwringing by some on the left. I don't follow Twitter, so I don't know the inside baseball at play here. Ed and some of the writers and editors at Gawker have been going on and on about how the white liberal base has been pushy and somewhat racist about all this. I just haven't seen it, not one bit. Is this some sort of straw man?

    Also, how tone deaf has Bernie really been? He got blindsided in Arizona. Ok, he is not good on his feet when people don't abide by the rules of civility he expected. The people in Seattle were not reasonable and nothing could have gotten them to listen. After Arizona, he put out a slew of positions on issues relevant to BLM and had already been working to bring in a more inclusive campaign team. What more can be asked of the guy with no money who lacks decades of campaign infrastructure?

  22. Michael Says:

    Bernie's got a tightrope to walk; the reason police are so militarized in this country is that white people want them to be, in order to harm nonwhite people.

    That includes a lot of Democrats.

    I've seen a great deal of hero-worship douchebaggery from Bernie's supporters, in a similar way to the Obots back during the first term (before it became impossible to pretend even for them). I haven't seen the same from Bernie; he seems to be staffing up, educating himself, and looking for a way to talk about the issue that doesn't end up alienating us fragile white folks.

    Senator Sanders got himself elected by educating his constituents and asking more of them. It's a long-term process, and it relies on knowing the people you're talking to well. I don't think there's enough time to do that in a Presidential campaign, but I do think that's in his toolkit.

    Anyways, I still maintain that O'Malley's saying "all lives matter" was such a total bed-shitting that more or less nothing could be salvaged for a few weeks after that.

  23. Noel Barrett Says:

    Well mostly: "Broad based unity is always hard to come by but seems to be particularly hard for progressives" too true – always hard to corral people who think – the the right wing, especially those that fund it, hare fortunate in that the have a very simple unifying principle – the word is greed

  24. democommie Says:

    NPR had a piece on Sander'S campaigning in the South over the weekend.

    They interviewed a black man who said that Bernie Sanders coming from his life of "White privilege" in Vermont had a lot to learn–and he appeared to be sincere. WTF?

    Sanders did not grow up in Vermont, he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He's been involved in social legislation at every level of government in which he has served.

    I'm not surprised that some of the people in the BLM movement (and it's still not clear, to me, who they are and who they represent) are engaging in tactics that seem counter-intuitive to their goals. Progressives are not the only group that are splintered on any number of issues.

  25. bb in GA Says:

    @Skip and DC

    Right Wingers, Socialists it doesn't matter…every damn body is historically ignorant these days. Even if you would quarrel with the version of history that may be taught, it doesn't matter…they still don't even have a sliver of it…

    For the Record, I am a putrid, Right Wing, Libertarian, but I admire Bernie Sanders for his honesty and no BS about what his goals are.

    //bb

  26. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Huntly:

    Bingo. The Clintons in 2008 and O'Malley circa now both banked on the particular cultural resentments of white Democrats. Obama only won by pacifying them after the Rev. Wright flap. It's a winning strategy up until blacks decide they're done being taken for granted.

  27. Skippper Says:

    Here's a group that has a clear idea with workable solutions and achievable goals — things that have been lacking up until now. This is the sort of program you can ask a political candidate to sign onto.

    http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision

  28. GunstarGreen Says:

    @Skipper, @Democommie:

    Do not be surprised that the loud, disruptive voices currently grabbing the spotlight don't actually know what the hell they're talking about when leveling accusations of "privilege" or whatever the social-justice buzzword-du-jour is: that's a feature of Social Media Enabled Outrage Movements, not a bug.

    It's gradually coming to a head, though I've no idea when the bubble will actually burst. It's getting to the point where even the most inclusive, bleeding-heart-of-bleeding-hearts progressive folks are considered to be racists/sexists/ableists/whatever-ists. Seinfeld will no longer play colleges because it's impossible to do anything without offending *someone*, and thanks to Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/Etc. that someone turns into a thousand screeching bugbears because our modern society is addicted to Feeling Important and Being A Good Person, where those are currently defined as Showing We Are Inclusive.

    Nevermind that "Showing We Are Inclusive" often involves shouting down and insulting members of Groups That Need Inclusiveness when they don't agree with the current marching orders.

  29. Eric the infrequent Says:

    If only it were a strawman Templar. The amount of patronizing, whitesplaining Sanders supporters lecturing black activists on Twitter was astounding. It was also pretty disgusting because it came with a fringe who didn't even want to explain, they just wanted to tell them to fuck off.
    Folks I had considered to be rational progressive types got really angry and made stupid arguments. It really was not a good moment for us liberal white folk.

  30. pathman Says:

    The Archdruid had an interesting take on this subject here:
    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-suicide-of-american-left.html

  31. Michael Says:

    "It's getting to the point where even the most inclusive, bleeding-heart-of-bleeding-hearts progressive folks are considered to be racists/sexists/ableists/whatever-ists."

    CONGRATULATIONS! You have finally figured out that our society is institutionally shitty to anyone who isn't a healthy straight white male who conforms to arbitrary standards of looks and behavior. You're fleeing from the implications of that knowledge, but don't worry! Your society will, in fact, support you in pretending that the folks who you've decided don't deserve to be treated well are, in fact, subhuman. Huzzah! Episodes of Everyone Loves Raymond for all!

  32. Wizzle Says:

    I've long been an advocate of not voting if there's no decent party worth voting for. Here in the UK we're stuck (for now) with essentially three variations of right wing to vote for. The supposedly left wing party – Labour – has long since abandoned genuinely progressive politics (just oner eason Tony Blair is despised by the left).

    I gave Labour a chance in the '97 election but haven't voted since. It seems a lot of people had the same thoughts and gradually, since '01, Labour lost millions of votes leading to a catastrophic Tory outright win in this year's general election. Following that, Ed Miliband, Labour leader, resigned, as he should. That is one positive of not voting. Labour stopped representing their core support in pursuit of middle class, affluent voters, now they've reaped what they sown.

    The subsequent Labour leadership contest has seen an old-school leftie outsider storm in to the lead, surprising the shit out of the 'experts' in the media and leaving the other three Decaf Tory candidates desperately scrabbling around for support. As a result, the second favourite has suddenly discovered some left wing policies including scrapping university tuition fes, which os odd considering he voted to introduce when his party were in government.

    Long and short: withdrawing your support by not voting – demanding better from your politicians – can actually work.

  33. GunstarGreen Says:

    @Michael:

    No, our society is institutionally shitty to anyone that doesn't have a boatload of money. Dividing along any other line is a useless waste of time and energy, playing directly into the hands of the monied demigod-class by distracting everyone else from the actual problem.

    The media gave fawning, love-slathered coverage to Caitlyn Jenner, including a glamorous photoshoot for Vanity Fair. But I thought our society was institutionally shitty to non-cis people? Oh, wait, it turns out that if you have a boatload of money, people treat you quite well regardless of your gender identity. Do you think Jenny from down the street would get similar treatment upon transition? Hell no. Because Jenny doesn't have a boatload of money.

    Barack Obama became President of the United States. But I thought our society was institutionally opposed to the very idea of black people? #BlackLiveMatter and all that, yeah? How did Barack end up being the idol of millions and holding the most powerful seat in the land if he's not of the magic privileged skin color? Well, that would be because Barack Obama has a boatload of money. Terry down the street does not, and that's why Terry gets harassed by the cops, but Barack does not.

    Our society is institutionally shitty to EVERYONE that doesn't have a boatload of money, and that is the only distinction that matters. Trying to explain to someone that's been stomped on their whole lives that they have some magic "privilege" and that somehow they've had it easier than Person-Of-Non-Majority-Distinction-X who has a boatload of money is not a good way to "win allies".

    Incidentally, this would be why the folks that crow the loudest about things like "privilege" and "institutionalized Y" never seem to get around to talking about Money/Class in their bids to divide everyone up into groups-which-may-or-may-not-be-oppressed. It's kind of interesting to note how many of the loudest bunch of the Twitteratti socjus crowd happen to be from middle- to upper-middle-class stock, enjoying the only *real* form of privilege that exists in this nation: Wealth.

    Hmmmm…

  34. Greg Says:

    Boatloads of money are pretty powerful at reducing negative consequences of other prejudices, especially if they buy you access to model minority status. But it's just libertarianism to pretend that the institutional racism that redlinedortgages and prevented business loans and ensured substandard schools and on and on weren't designed to prevent the accumulation of boatloads of money by the ones who didn't have it and were also brown. Class and race and gender are all different mechanisms to enforce the same social order, but it was a white supremacist social order for far longer than it wasn't.
    Jerry Seinfeld can also fuck himself. Kids don't laugh cause he's not funny, and never particularly was. He's just another rich jackass who can't understand why his boatloads of money don't compensate for his massive personality deficit.

  35. Carter Says:

    I think the big difference between black activists and other liberal causes is that most liberal causes receive at least half-assed support from Democratic leadership. We might not get a Carbon Tax, but they try somewhat on the environment. We might not return to pre-Reagan levels, but Democrats do try to increase revenue from rich people. We might not get an equal pay amendment or Federal intervention to strengthen abortion protections at the state level, but they do make progress on Women's issues. The Democrats hemmed and hawed on gay rights for two decades, but in the end, they passed meaningful reform.

    Meanwhile, since Johnson left office, it is hard to say where elected Democrats have been that much better than Republicans for black issues. Nixon quietly oversaw the largest amount of school desegregation of any president. Meanwhile, the increase in incarceration and "reform" of welfare under Clinton dwarfed anything that happened while Reagan was in charge. While they still support him, I think Obama has failed to meaningfully impact the daily problems of impoverished black communities.

    Black causes have received more empty hot air from Democrats than most other liberal causes (the only possible contender in this contest is the labor unions).

    Of course Bernie's proposed reforms will help black people, but for decades the black political experience has been that the Democrats throw them under the bus first when there is any uncertainty of centrist support from whites. That Bernie's supporters are the most sympathetic to their cause is exactly why he's the target. If they are ignored yet again, he could lose the left-wing white support that keeps his campaign running.

  36. Timurid Says:

    White privilege is the longest con of them all. Since 1607 long.
    Like any really effective grift, it plays on the greed and fear of the marks. So you can argue that all white people are to blame in some way. But the vast majority of them (99%, let's say) will still end up losers in the end…

  37. Syrbal/Labrys Says:

    What I don't get is why Donald Trump isn't getting mobbed by black activists. After all, he recently dismissed issues in Ferguson Mo and other places as being caused by "gangs of illegal immigrants". So, HE can dismiss blacks protesting being shot by mostly white cops as 'gang activity' by illegal immigrants and it goes unremarked?

    My desk is tired of being hit by my head.

  38. c u n d gulag Says:

    Syrbal/Labrys,
    BLM activists wouldn't be allowed IN to a GOP event, let alone close to the stage!

  39. Katydid Says:

    Hey, Gulag, best of luck to you and I hope you heal quickly.

  40. Skepticalist Says:

    Bernie is running an old fashioned left wing political campaign. It's been awhile since we've seen one. Bernie knows what he's doing and although these things aren't always pretty even with its many flaws, sometimes it gets the job done.

    Donald Trump is running a GOP version old fashioned campaign from the late 19th century. They are never pretty but in this case, it's perfect casting.

  41. Mike H Says:

    I can't believe at least 75% of this thread. Unbelievable.

  42. Robert Says:

    I remember a conversation I had back in college (early 1980s). A housemate was bemoaning how the Right seemed to be able to stick together enough to get people elected and policies enacted, but the Left was too mired in internecine squabbling to do the same. Why couldn't leftists look past petty doctrinal differences and work together? I mentioned that I'd seen the same argument in a radical newspaper recently. He asked with interest, Who put it out? The Spartacist Youth League, I told him. Fuckin' Trots! he swore.

    I laughed, until I realized he wasn't joking.

  43. c u n d gulag Says:

    Katydid,
    Thanks! :-)

  44. Argon Says:

    Regarding the Archdriud blog post cited above:
    One very big thing that blog misses is the influence of the US Supreme Court and the respective ages of its various members. If nothing else, influencing the makeup of that government branch very much matters. Loss of majorities on that bench have devastated voting rights legislation and minority protections in favor of corporate interests. Democrats win elections by grabbing the middle even as the Republicans flee the center. But don't think for a moment that the current directions of the two parties are irrelevant.

  45. Syrbal/Labrys Says:

    c u n d gulag:

    Well, yes, there IS that. Guess my old youth-era combative attitude was showing — I think it would make good television if they at least TRIED.

  46. Nate Says:

    @Wizzle Let's hope that your country isn't a smoking cinder of what it used to be by the time that the slim minority of nutballs gets done voting for what they want so that your non-votes can "count" for that perfect politician.

    Stop being lazy.

  47. Michael Says:

    "Dividing along any other line is a useless waste of time and energy,"

    You can tell, because the fountains in the South said "poor" and "rich". And Viagra for rich men is included in standard insurance plans, while Viagra for poor men is not.

    Or maybe there are a number of diffferent ways people are hosed over, and some can mitigate or worsen the others, even if some of them get to be on magazine covers.

    Good luck in your spiritual journey. Next up: how #Gamergate was really about ethics in Class Warfare journalism.

  48. Amy Says:

    While it isn't uniquely condescending and defeatist, it is especially condescending and defeatist. Liberal politicians have historically counted on Black voters to get them into office, but have for decades been spending that political capital and infrastructure to pander to the whiter, more affluent portion of the electorate.

    "Vote for me because things will get worse for you more slowly than if the other guy wins." has been the Democratic platform plank for Black voters since the Carter administration. It's not great. And offering that to an electorate leads, I think, to voter apathy, especially among voters who are both disinclined to really examine how bad things can get in just four or eight years and indifferent to voting to choose between what is perceived as "more" and "even more" misery for themselves in their "golden" years.

    Criticizing people desperate to not be jailed or murdered by a capricious system for taking a more active, more invasive, largely nonviolent approach to signalling their concerns to those who would represent them as not being "camera ready" or "continuing to criticize" while (as it later turns out) changes were underway seems, at best, nitpicky. But it also shows the disconnect between what critics and activists will have to cope with in the event that both groups suffer political defeat.

    Defeat of the BLM movement (which may happen even with the election of a 'liberal' candidate, see: Obama) will literally result in the continued escalation of systemic murder and brutalization of Black Americans (aka "tough on crime" and "education reform" policies). The amount of skin they have in this game is literally 'all of it'. Defeat of a white liberal candidate may result in harm to white liberals (loss of financial security, loss of medical service access, declining infrastructure), but that harm is not in any way comparable. Saying "well that's what everybody gets" is plainly false after even a little investigation into the disparate outcomes for Black and white citizens in educational and judicial systems.

    Popular movements are messy, they repeat themselves a lot, and they're unlikely to ever appear "appropriately" grateful when their message is adopted by a mainstream candidate (though why anyone should have to be grateful for someone publicly objecting to the ongoing murder of civilians by 'peace' officers puzzles me). With modern communication tools we see more of the warts and fumbling of a popular movement in action than we ever have before. These are not carefully managed public figures with PR prep teams. So it's easy to assume modern movement leaders are less competent than those of the past and write them off rather than sit down and sort through the noise and see what they're actually getting done. And they are getting things done.

  49. Wizzle Says:

    Jeremy Corbyn has a decent majority, indeed the bookies, rarely wrong, have him odds-on in front by some distance. As for your 'lazy' accusation re not voting; it seems you didn't get the point at all, perhaps deliberately.

    Not sure how a few much-needed social democratic policies will reduce the UK to a smoking cinder. You can elaborate on that if you want?

  50. Karen Says:

    I'm sure Bernie and staff can read and break down polls. What sticks in the craw of supporters is the way he was treated in Seattle by a couple of mean, nasty BLM reps. Thousands of people gathered too see and hear Sanders speak. For BLM to go onstage and take away the mic and essentially say don't all about what YOU came here to talk about talk about talk about what WE want you to talk about is unacceptable. What if someone did the to Obama? Why attack progressives? Easy target maybe? Obama was a white progressive candidate long before he was a candidate of blacks. Blacks came on board when it became obvious that he was a viable candidate capable of winning the nomination. I mean, there are now 34 states that require voter ID's. A clear attempt at voter suppression in black districts as there ever has been. Where is BLM? Too bust bullying those who would rather not have another MOR candidate elite HRC.

  51. Looking For Political Love In All The Wrong Places | Mike the Mad Biologist Says:

    […] Ed at Gin and Tacos makes an excellent point that I've been struggling to put into coherent words (boldface mine): […]

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