Danny Cardwell's picture

    Bernie Can't Win In Virginia: Neither Can Hillary!

    This election cycle has provided more than its share of political theater; however, after Iowa and New Hampshire there are still some questions we aren't any closer to answering. Can the GOP establishment sabotage Donald Trump without alienating the right-wing of their party? Can Bernie Sanders win electoral support in minority communities? When will Jeb Bush admit defeat and suspend his campaign? Can Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination after three decades of personal and political attacks from conservatives and liberals? But for me, the biggest question is: can Bernie or Hillary keep the Commonwealth of Virginia blue? 

    In 2008 President Obama won Virginia with 53% of the vote; It was the first time Virginia went blue since President Lyndon Johnson won here in 1964. In 2012 the president defeated Mitt Romney winning just 51% of the vote; Mitt Romney received almost 100,000 more votes than John McCain did four years earlier. In 2008 third party and write-in candidates received 38,000 votes a figure that amounted to roughly 1% of the total vote; by 2012 those fractional factions received 60,000 votes. There's a very real possibility that Democratic turn out will be down this November. If a strong democratic leaning independent or Green Party candidate were to make a serious run, third party and write-in totals could exceed 100,000 votes. Either of these factors alone could hurt the Democrats, but if both happened it would be game over. With that said, is Virginia (with all of our coal mines) the canary in the Democratic coal mine? 

    I live in a very rural, conservative part of Virginia. President Obama got trounced by large margins in many of the sparsely populated areas similar to where I live. President Obama's victory was a result of dominating high density urban areas like Richmond, Petersburg, Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, and Norfolk. I've lived in Richmond and Norfolk. I travel to northern Virginia a few times a year; I would be shocked if northern Virginia and my former neighbors in Richmond and Norfolk came out and supported Bernie or Hillary with the level of enthusiasm they had for president Obama. The 20% African American population of Virginia will decide who gets our 13 electoral votes- whether we want this responsibility or not. 

    In the last week Hillary and Bernie received strong criticism from powerful figures inside the African American community: Michelle Alexander and Charles Blow. Their critiques were met with opposition inside the campaigns, and vitriol by some of their supporters, but in reality, the two articles were a microcosm of the kinds of (barber shop/ beauty salon) conversations that don't get media attention. Michelle Alexander wrote a thought provoking article that was published in The Root questioning whether or not Hillary Clinton deserves the black vote. Without being nasty she asked a few serious questions about the Clintons: Did they take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African Americans? Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about black communities? Did they help usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for neighborhoods devastated by deindustrialization, globalization and the disappearance of work? 


    Michelle's questions carry weight with people who read and respect her work. Hillary's supporters have to understand that this line of questioning is fair. Hillary's staunchest supporters are similar to President Obama's staunchest supporters in that both groups have a knee-jerk reaction to defend criticism without engaging it. If Hillary is going to excite younger black voters she has to, in an authentic way, engage these types of questions forcefully. Like it or not, the three decades of attacks on her character have caused some people to view her as calculating and manipulative. 

    Charles Blow published a New York Times Op Ed piece titled Stop Bernie-Splaining to Black Voters in it he writes: Tucked among all this Bernie-splaining by some supporters, it appears to me, is a not-so-subtle, not-so-innocuous savior syndrome and paternalistic patronage that I find so grossly offensive that it boggles the mind that such language should emanate from the mouths — or keyboards — of supposed progressives. 


    In my opinion, this sentiment is what John Lewis was channeling when he made his statement about never seeing Bernie Sanders in the midst of the civil rights movement- a statement he's since softened. While some of our progressive allies are hoping for a utopian shift in our economic and political system, the black experience is rooted in the reality that change, even small shifts, is the result of fighting for a cause over a protracted period of time. More pre-Civil War abolitionist died trying to get emancipation than ever saw it come to fruition. This doesn't mean progressives should avoid trying large scale projects, but it does mean we have to come to grips with the reality that our role in progress may be to build a solid enough foundation for the next generation to finish the work. In some ways Bernie's rhetoric diminishes the steps President Obama has made. None of the gains made by the left have been the result of immediate actions.


    I don’t think either candidate can win Virginia. I hope I’m wrong. If Hillary wants black voters in the 18-35 demographic to vote for her she’s going to have to do more than “whip and Nae Nae” If Bernie wants that demographic to come out for him he’s going to have to measure his tone as it relates to his criticism of president Obama. This slice of the electorate has watched the first black president be viciously disrespected by his political opponents for the last seven years. I don’t think it behooves Bernie to engage in this new progressive pastime of being let down by President Obama. That doesn’t mean he should avoid legitimate criticisms of the president and his policies, but he can’t continue to negate his accomplishments either. Virginia and North Carolina are very similar in some respects. President Obama narrowly won in Virginia in 2012; that same year he lost North Carolina by 2 points. The electoral map could change faster than our suburban and metropolitan progressive allies can order their next Grande Skim Milk No Foam Latte.





    Thanks for another excellent analysis. There are a multitude of books that make the argument that Barack Obama is a failed President. Bernie tells us that he will get single-payer and that he will release hordes of prisoners from prison. Both are not feasible in practice. Hillary is viewed as thinking that she is owed the black vote. Whether they can overcome their negative perceptions will only be determined by the Primary elections.

    Those of us who realize the importance of the vote have to encourage others who are not enthused about either candidate should be reminded that not voting in Ferguson encouraged targeting of the black community. Not voting in midterm elections ushered in gerrymandering and the attempted theft of black votes. The acting of voting is an act of survival.

    You're 100% correct! The apathy inside some communities of color is literally killing people. This is a tough situation. In Virginia we have off year elections. Last year I worked on the Ellen Arthur campaign for the 24th district House of Delegates; we were killed by low voter turn out. I'll be doing events throughout the fall no matter who the candidate is, but the excitement level is down a bit.

    It's not just African Americans. It's every race, age group, economic group etc. People elected Obama gave him a democratic house and senate and 2 years later couldn't be bothered to vote and we lost the house. Then we lost the senate. It's like they think all they have to do is elect one person and the world will change. That's why I can't buy into Bernie's revolution. I just don't believe.

    The 2010 elections suffered from displeasure over Obamacare - the Democratic side wasn't thrilled with the half-a-loaf results and the Republicans had their tea-party nonsense to rally behind. It does point to finding an enthusiastic platform to run on, but you also can't please everyone.

    Apathy is killing us.

    At least Bernie is making a full throated plea for down ticket support which His Diffidence ( we are not a blue or red America) thought beneath him.

    ( we are not a blue or red America)

    Obviously you didn't see my post a couple of days ago or you wouldn't say that to me.

    Well, there you go. I didn't see it cuz it was attached to one of PP's rambles, of which I have (categorically) said, "TLDR"

    [TL;DR JR edition: all we are saying is give peace a chance/ power to the people/ instant karma gonna get you]

    Take up speed reading - it was quite popular in the 70's long before Twitter.

    (thought you were a lawyer - typical brief is about 2000x anything I write)

    You didn't read my profile.  I WAS a lawyer but I rehabilitated myself...

    Danny - I really enjoy your work and this piece is no exception. [Shameless plug alert - I look forward to discussing it with you at 10am east coast this morning live at www.halginsberg.com].  One thing I want to explore is the idea that Bernie Sanders is diminishing President Obama's accomplishments.  Also, there is such a great divide in South Carolina between white and black Democrats.  Pursuant to the latest CBS/YouGov poll, which has Clinton up 19, whites support Sanders 63 - 36 while blacks support Clinton 73 - 26.  How can this be?  In what ways are the perceptions/interests/values of black and white South Carolina Democrats so dissimilar?

    Danny, thank you so much for writing this.  As a fellow Virginian I really appreciate your explanation of why there is such apathy about voting.  We have a Democratic governor and two Senators, but the entire State House is Republican.  That's why we don't have Medicaid expansion, and so many other things.  

    It's really no wonder to me that people who need help are wondering what all these Democrats have done for them.  The challenge for Dems is to show what Republicans have done in other states:  Kentucky, Michican, Texas, and on and on.  

    The toxic Hillary/Bernie thing is really getting scary.  Even Lis B posted on fb that she would vote Green if Bernie didn't get the nomination.  

    Thanks for reading and engaging this post. Many people don't understand how divided Virginia is. I hope I'm wrong, but you are probably seeing everything I'm seeing.

    If we lose LisB we lose the White House.

    Maybe America deserves total GOP control again. Memories are short.

    People in places like North Carolina are fighting for access to the vote. The people trying to keep people from voting are the Republicans. If people are so upset that they will vote their anger rather than attempt to vote against the Republican, others will suffer.

    Everyone except the 1% will suffer. Including the world. It's unlikely our economy can withstand 4 more years of GOP's trickle down tax cuts. As I have posted they have changed Social Security budget math as a precursor to slashing benefits. Trumps top advisors are all war mongers, like John Bolton. Expect futile military conflicts and once again cargo planes full of caskets at midnight from the Middle East.

    As Krugman said in his column today, only lefties complain that both parties are the same. 

    Maybe she should start a PUMA group. I'm sure when she was voting for Obama she was very supportive of them in 08.

    What's a puma?

    In 08 some die hard Hillary supporters started a group, Party Unity My Ass, saying they wouldn't vote for Obama if he won. It never went anywhere because most Hillary supporters weren't immature assholes. In the end the vast majority of Hillary's supporters voted for Obama. If Hillary wins this year I suspect it will be the same. While some Sanders supporters might piss and moan like the Hillary supporters did in 08 the vast majority of Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary.

    Thanks. Hillary or Bernie, the nation needs one to win or the GOP will finish the job they almost completed under W., irreversible economic collapse.

    I'm not very worried that the Hillary Sanders fight will hurt the party's chances in the general. In 08 the campaign was much more bitter than today. Both sides did things that the other side felt were unconscionable and both sides were furious when it was finally decided. Even after 8 years I still feel a bit of anger when I think of some of the shit that went down. As angry as I was at the time I still voted for Obama and most Hillary supporters put it behind them and voted for Obama too. This year is less toxic than 08. Are Sanders supporters less mature than Hillary supporters in 08? I doubt it. The vast majority of democrats on either side will support who ever wins.


    What you're remembering and comparing didn't even have a good head start at this point in '08. We've a long way to go before it's anywhere near over.

    Oh no, we were already into Hillary not paying her suppliers and Solis-Doyle's mismanagement and Bill's "racist" reference to Jesse Jackson. The Rev Wright blowup was a couple weeks later. It was the 21St of Feb that Hillary after answering "Obama is a Christian" 4 times on the 5th added "as far as I know" which was then pumped into the headlines. The birther controversy got legs around then (while Republicans blame it on Hillary supporters, I dont recall any Democrat thinking Ann would run off to shitty Kenyan hospitals to give birth far from beautiful clean Hawaii and not tell anyone about it -that's tea party/Donald trump-style lunacy.)

    I do retain some suspicions that Obama's real father might have been a radical friend of hers in Washington, which wouldn't affect his constitutional eligibility and would be cooler than the dickhead bigamist alcoholic who's listed as his father, but I'm not the average disapproving American either - though it's okay for Bernie to have an out-of-wedlock kid, I doubt a female candidate or even candidate's mother would get such a pass - Hillary's already responsible for not keeping her husband's dick properly trousered. 

    I will say the Chinese give an example where birtherusm might matter, by having their alternate state-approved Dalai Lama in Beijing who's never been to Tibet. I'm sure the Founding Fathers were concerned th-at the kid of a turncoat American would be bred and raised in England as a 5th column which is largely as stuff was done with European succession.

    Why would a different father for Obama affect his constitutional suitability as President?  He was born in Hawaii so is natural born regardless of either parent, no?

    never mind. I just re-read your post. I am using my phone because I lost power and the wifi is gone. All words are very small. Lol

    Yes, I use small words because... big ones r 2 tuff ;-)

    Perhaps it will get as bad this year too but what pissed me off the most in 08 happened just after NH on Jan 9. It was such a vicious lie and I will never forgive Jesse Jackson Jr for it. I know it's scapegoating to forgive Obama and blame Jackson and Axelrod when Obama must have signed off on it. I'm not always consistent, rational, or high minded all the time either. For me this was the start of the most vicious and slimy campaign season of my life.






    Yeah, that was pretty shitty. I'd forgotten about that.

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