While listening to an interview with Nicole Lee of the Black Movement Law Project on the KPFA Hard Knocks Radio
show, I was surprised to hear that the Black Movement Law Project
has chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton, given Hillary Clinton’s dismal record of race related issues. Here is the letter I wrote to Nicole:
Dear Nicole Lee,
The office of the President in this country is very, very important and anyone who claims otherwise only needs to consider Jimmy Carter proudly boasts that he raised the minimum wage and that there was not a single bomb dropped while he was President, versus the Reagan/Bush years where there was scandal after scandal and wars after war. Jimmy Carter waged a war on poverty, Ronald Reagan waged a war on the poor and minorities and Black America was firmly in the crosshairs. The President sets the mood of the country in so many ways and this November is CRITICAL so I am hoping you will carefully consider what I have to say in this email.
I was listening to you talk on Hard Knocks radio and I was very concerned. I too am very tired of compromising who I vote for, but a third party is not the answer. Although the democratic party is a machine that needs to be broken, the way to break it is to infiltrate it rather than to oppose it. I HATE the Tea Party, but look at what they have done to the Republican Party. They infiltrated it and now every single one of the republican candidates is acting like a Tea Party puppet. And here is the thing…it is happening to the democratic party now. What Bernie Sanders has done by entering the race is to shift the debate so that topics like poverty, inequality, honesty and fairness are the main topics. These would not be the topics of discussion if Bernie Sanders was not in the race. Bernie Sanders is setting the agenda and the agenda he is setting will overwhelmingly benefit black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement’s goals. Here are a few things to consider:
The fact that he has done so much for civil and minority rights despite the fact that his constituency is not one that would naturally demand it speaks to his character and wide empathy that isn’t shared by many politicians.
Hillary Clinton’s long term record is not so good, especially when you look at her actions rather than her words.
There are no credible scandals involving Bernie Sanders. He has worked on racial issues his entire life and for the past 28 years as a very small minority of the House (16 yrs) or the Senate (12 yrs).
We are at a very important junction. It is CRITICAL to get EVERY voter out to vote in November. Only a MASSIVE VOTER TURNOUT will result in the Democratic party regaining the House and the Senate and that is the only way either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will get anything done. I do not even want to think about what will happen over the next 4 years in the Republicans keep the House and the Senate AND win the White House!
The media likes to claim that Bernie Sanders is singularly focused on one issue, but this is definitely not true. Yes, Bernie Sanders is laser focused on creating jobs for low income, minorities and youth, breaking up the predatory banks the kicked so many to the curb, universal single payer health care, free education for all AND prison reform. The prison reform parts of his speeches are not new, he has been saying them for years. He has also been talking about demilitarizing the police, community policing and holding law enforcement officers accountable for their crimes. He has speeches on this topic dating back to the 90’s and he spoke on those issues even before BLM took over his campaign speech in Seattle. AND I agree that was actually a good move because it got both candidates to talk about BLM more, but it will only help if the voter base is rallied to participate rather than discouraged.
Bernie Sanders is not a business as usual candidate. The MOST IMPORTANT thing we all need to do is get people to the voting booth in November. If the Republicans maintain their position things are going to get a whole lot worse for everybody except the 1%. If we can mobilize all of the various communities to get out the vote and we succeed in taking back the House and the Senate, then and only then will Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton be able to help the Black Lives movement.
Reality check: How is Bernie Sanders going to achieve all of this? Well the fact is that he won’t get these things done right away, but he has proven that he is in it for the long haul. If you watch the debates carefully one thing that is crystal clear is that Bernie Sanders is not trying to one up Hillary Clinton, he says the minimum he needs to say to address the whatever attack she presented and then he goes straight back to his agenda. His agenda is no secret and he will keep saying these things once he is in office.
It can only happen if he gets a MASSIVE voter turnout in November. If we all really motivate our bases we can all influence people who are on the fence to get out and vote for democrats at all levels of the government. We need to get OUR candidates in office, the ones that ACTUALLY CARE about Black Lives Matter not the ones who are just speaking to the issues like the Republicans are famous for and something that Hillary Clinton is frequently guilty of but Bernie Sanders is clearly not guilty of. There may not be good candidates everywhere, but over time the bar will be raised if the public is there.
Paul de Jong