Bernie Sanders, Cornel West, and Martin Luther King Jr.

    The upcoming Primaries will tell the tale of inroads that Bernie Sanders made into black voters. Hillary is a name familiar to the black community. Civil Rights hero Bernie Sanders has been working in the background. When faced with the voting divide in South Carolina where the majority of white Democrats support Bernie and the majority of black Democrats support Hillary, white Progressives wonder "What's wrong with blacks?". This is not stated in that blunt term, but it does come in the form of the of why are you voting for a racist like Hillary. Hillary's support for the crime bill and her use of the term "superpredator" are the initial part of the attack.

    Lost in the discussion is the battle that went on between Hillary and the President in the 2008 Primaries. Hillary had to build back bridges with the black community to regain support. The fact that the President selected her as Secretary of State played a major role in Hillary's rehabilitation in the black community. President Obama is hugely popular in the black community of voters. Hillary has a history of Progressive votes.

    When church members were massacred in Charleston, Hillary pointed out the role gun laws play in gun violence. Bernie Sanders was mute on gun laws.

    If Bernie wants black voter support, he needs to kiss the feet of President. Bernie Sanders is unlikely to give very high praise to President Obama. One of Sanders' earluy choices was Obama critic Cornel West. I won't repeat the slurs that West has laid upon the President, because they are well known.Let us simply focus on Cornel West's rationale for endorsing Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton.

    Black America over the Clinton-Sanders election is principally a battle between a declining neoliberal black political and chattering class still on the decaying Clinton bandwagon (and gravy train!) and an emerging populism among black poor, working and middle class people fed up with the Clinton establishment in the Democratic Party. It is easy to use one’s gender identity, as Clinton has, or racial identity, as the Congressional Black Caucus recently did in endorsing her, to hide one’s allegiance to the multi-cultural and multi-gendered Establishment. But a vote for Clinton forecloses the new day for all of us and keeps us captive to the trap of wealth inequality, greed (“everybody else is doing it”), corporate media propaganda and militarism abroad—all of which are detrimental to black America.

    In the age of Barack Obama, this battle remained latent, with dissenting voices vilified. As a black president, Obama has tended to talk progressive but walk neoliberal in the face of outrageous right-wing opposition.

    Jonathan Capehart of the WaPo points out how the "deranged ravings" of West against the President. Capehart notes that another Sanders supporter, Killer Mike called Obama a house slave. West operates under the delusion that he determines who carries Martin Luther King Jr's message. As Capehart notes, West is "blacker than thou". The old guard is a relic of the past. The thing is when have we ever heard of black families ever calling on, and receiving help from Cornel West? Al Sharpton may have a negative image outside of the black community, but let us consider a few of the times that Sharpton was called upon to bring attention to police or judicial abuse:

    Jena, Louisiana 

    Tamir Rice

    NYPD Stop and Frisk

    FL Stand Your Ground

    Eric Garner

    The above are cases that come to mind. Rev. Al Sharpton has been the one that came to the aid of family's, not Cornel West. When the actual old guard Civil Rights leaders are gone, we have no reason to believe that Cornel West has any skills that would give us comfort that he will be an adequate replacement for the old guard.

    By selecting Cornel West, Sanders has promising a revolution when it comes to who will represent black families needing aid when facing injustice in the legal system. Black Lives Matter is nonpartisan. Cornel West has shown no talent for being able to offer anything more than rhetoric. 

    Bernie Sanders provided a little blurb in a new book by Bill Press that is critical of President Obama. Buyer's Remorse details how President Obama let the country down by ot being Progressive enough.

    ​Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. Sanders is an Independent who finds it convenient to run as a Democrat. Sanders mused about running an opposition candidate against Obama because the President was a failure.

    Like Cornel West who feels black superiority, Sanders claims Progressive superiority. Hillary and Obama fail that test according to Sanders.

    Many black voters do not have good feelings about Bernie Sanders. Sanders is not recognized as a leader on Civil Rights. He has been slow to change his views on gun laws. Other than producing empty rhetoric, what has Bernie Sanders shown that he can actually accomplish? Until that question is answered, he will not have majority support in the black community.​ Blacks saw the opposition that Obama faced and may be unwilling to believe that Sanders can deliver on his promises

    Hillary is simply being




    Last line should be Hillary stands up well to Sanders on issues of race.

    rmrd comes out swinging - nicely written. Maybe you can fix the last line directly in the diary.

    I like West, and while he's a bit of a fool, he's a useful fool. I thought the recovery for blacks who were hit especially hard would have been faster with more direct relief, though I don't know the chances of it passing and it's largely come around anyway, while I think we could have supported the Arab Spring as a violence-free revolution than no-fly/supplied weapons regime change to better effect.

    But the last 2 years of violence towards blacks, especially by police, has changed priorities and and overall outlook.

    I'm not a big fan of Trayvon Martin, but in the aggregate I'm reminded how the defense in the Rodney King went carefully through the beating and justified this blow and that blow and the other, but still they beat the shit out of this guy. And then this large  supposed goon says "Why can't we all just get along?" and is the most forgiving sad pitiable nice guy in all of the horrid violence. 

    So whether I agree or not in 1 case or not, the backdrop of multiple cases over and over is appalling (including lesser publicized police epidemic rape of black women suspects and underclass - and  - -I suspect there's a bit of sexism in that rapes are common and no big deal compared to beatings and shootings, though largely women are much more minding their own business)

    So the economic "give 'em more education and free housing and job training" bit simply sounds deluded. It's been 25 years since Rodney King's beating and it's more dangerous than ever to be black - the wealthy sports star tackled by cops in front of his classy hotel, the black witness arrested roughly while all the observers tell security the white guy did it, the choke holds and tasering and beatings in the name of protecting police safety over using a bit of practical compassionate sense... And then there's stop-and-frisk as official policy in case you think you can just mind your own business and avoid it.

    Last year a slightly dark-skin Indian grandpa was visiting his high-tech engineer son and baby sitting his grandson in Alabama, and taking a walk in the neighborhood someone reported him to the police. He didn't speak English, so one cop flipped the poor bastard crash onto his face and chest, paralyzing him - and of course the policeman was acquitted on the 3Rd attempt despite dash cams showing the smash down unprovoked - though to Alabama's credit, the prosecution did try 3 times despite the mistrial in response to the outrage and common sense. But you can't get past a crazy judge (hint hint, Obama)

    The game's changed, the needed solutions have changed, easy or not - while the establishment largely defends the police no matter what. 50 years of crime-stopper TV and war against drugs has made the public and whole judicial system an integral part of the blue wall of silence.

    Tl;Dr for JR: it sucks

    PS - as I read about Denise Matthews of Vanity 6 who just died, and her crack addiction that largely finished off her career, it's also worth remembering that the war on drugs hasn't all been about arresting people for a joint as is often implied or stated, and it's absurd that we're still treating mostly harmless pot as a gateway drug when it's mostly criminal laws that make pot a gateway crime. The warnings that "this can kill you" are much more believable for drugs that can at least destroy your life if you don't start off with one that's  the most obvious lie, and one that's invited police to mess with the 30-50% of Americans who've smoked dope at some point.


    I think Zimmerman's post-shooting violence and racism verifies that Zimmerman was not a victim.

    Or may be self-destructing to deal with guilt despite big words, or something... I'm not a shrink, but I think most people are fairly unevolved and capable of unhinged idiotic behavior, and putting a taser or gun or other tool in their hands increases the likelihood that something bad is going to happen in a tense situation. With the police we have the unfortunate necessity that someone has to do it (though I'd prefer we were the UK where gunless law enforcement was still workable). The inability to read US statistics is another sign of our national idiocy - not to hard to realize that guns falling in the hands of kids or otherwise accidental stupid shootings are larger than any self-defense benefit, yet the only-over-my-dead-body freaks seem intent on reveling in the concept of macho self-defense that frequently turns out like the circular firing squad in Reservoir Dogs. We'd be better off with a bit more humble image of ourselves, but then we wouldn't be Americans.

    This is interesting; that is your view of Bernie.

    I tend to almost always see things in terms of economic class.

    West and his cohorts piss me off from time to time in their attacks against President Obama.

    What exactly was Barry to do after crossing a line or breaking through a glass shield or.....whatever?

    One of the greatest Attorneys General was appointed by Barry.

    And so many other Blacks were appointed by Barry but he had to appoint Whites and Hispanics and Asians and....

    And he did!

    Barry makes one statement concerning a Black Business Man who attempted to get into his own house and the repubs react like our President was starting a slave revolt!

    Barry invites one rapper to the WH and O'Reilly acts like our President just consented to everything that man ever wrote or said.

    Does President Obama even wince at these ridiculous attacks? No. And the reason for his demeanor is that he has faced these types of attacks since he was a kid.

    I cannot believe how he takes all this crap!

    And West and others just wish that our Commander in Chief do what?


    Anyway, I like Hillary and I like Bernie much better than any representative of 'the other side'.

    Thank you for a fine post.


    I wrote this mainly as a letter to myself on why my misgivings about Sanders runs so deep. Bernie Sanders and Cornel West believe that a magic revolution will happen if they come to power. West is placed in the front row at Sanders rallies, so it is very likely that West would get tickets to a Sanders Inauguration.( Chances of tickets to a Clinton Inauguration are equal to the tickets he received from Obama)

    In order to have a revolution, you need the public behind you. This means not just at election time but a dedicated group to elect downstream politicians in the midterms. You need to support downstream candidates. Dana Milbank made a comment on one of the MSNBC shows yesterday (Hardball?) that Hillary had donated $3M to the Democratic Party to support downstream candidates, Bernie donated $1K. Sanders is not a Democrat. West has done no work building a coalition to support his political desires West has hip-hop, jazz and blues infused rhetoric that is entertaining, but he has NO political accomplishments. Michael Moore, another "more Progressive than thou" activist said that he voted for the black guy , but got the white guy" in expressing displeasure with Obama.It gets tiresome.

    Several so-called Progressives have books bout the failure of President Obama. 

    "Democracy in Black" by Eddie S. Glaude.

    "The Covenant With Black America-Ten Years Later" by Tavis Smiley

    "The Black Presidency" by Michael Eric Dyson

    "Buyer's Remorse" by Bill Press ( with Forward by Bernie Sanders)

    One wonders when these gentlemen will write books focusing on a Republican Congress that vowed to make Obama "a one term President", demanded his birth certificate, and are objecting to his Presidential power to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. The Progressive authors above above focus on the wrong  target, in my opinion.

    Sanders surrogate Cornel West says the old guard black leadership is outdated. The black community should be in tears. The Black Church is behind fighting voter suppression via Moral Mondays with Reverend Barber. I mentioned Reverend Sharpton above. The churches have structure and ability to organize. West has nothing we shall see if the structure-free Black Lives Matter or other groups can duplicate the success of the old guard.

    I do not feel the Bern because I don't see anything that will continually stoke the fire after the initial flame dies down.

    I took a look at the Hillary side of things, here are some of her Civil Rights activities

    For some reason I can't post a full comment  on Safari or Chrome on my iPad

    I guess it doesn't like emojis today

    Bernie Sanders and Cornel West believe that a magic revolution will happen if they come to power.

    If there is anything that Sanders has been clear and unequivocal about it is that his election alone will not bring about needed change. That change, as you say later in your piece, will require that the public gets behind that change. 

    I want a unicorn for Christmas.

    Just show me some midterm voters. Let Sanders show some financial support for downstream Democrats

    One person's unicorn is another person's One eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater.

    I don't see any relationship between my comment, which was on point to yours, and your response but that's ok, avoiding acknowledging mistakes is what a political campaign is all about.  

    Your point was that the revolution that Sanders wants requires persistent pressure by the public. I'm skeptical that will happen on a massive scale, even if Sanders is elected.

    Regarding mistakes made by a campaign, I agree that Sanders has made a mistake by focusing on issues of race rather than just income inequality late in the game. The meme that is heard by many African-American voters is that Sanders has very limited ties to activists in the black community. Even black activists in Sanders' home state of Vermont found him dismissive when addressing issues of race.

    The comments from many of those interviewed for the Daily Beast article coincide with the impression many I the black community have about Bernie Sanders. The Sanders campaign may be able to correct their mistakes.

    Sanders is worse on guns.  The Brady Bill which he opposed is probably the biggest reason murder rates have declined steadily since 1994 when it went into effect.  He supported exempting gun makers and dealers from liability for manufacturing unreasonably dangerous products and reckless distribution in 2005.  This legislation stopped the development of safer weapons and put more guns in dangerous hands.  African-American communities have suffered disproportionately as a result.

    I'm sure some gun control believers may swallow your erroneous statement about the effects of the Brady bill but  gun and other violent crimes had already  started to decline in 1993 and the full effect or lack of effect of this strateist gun tracking bill  wasn't  seen even after 1998 when the national background check system was in place. So far this bill has affected .05% of legal gun sales and the Ludwig,Jens study reported in JAMA in 2000 verified that it had no effect on homicides and very little on suicides.  

    It was and is just more expensive Liberal  feel-good State harassment of gun buyers with no real results. Even the felons who tried to purchase guns and were denied were only slightly delayed in getting guns from other sources.


    Leaving aside the debate about the findings of the study (rmrd responds to the issue on LisB's post) it should be noted that the document is not a critique of gun control but a call for much more extensive national regulation:

    Our findings do not imply that screening FFL (or primary-market) gun sales is of no consequence for gun crime. Even before the Brady Act went into effect, federal law required FFLs to record the identity of each handgun buyer. Since this paperwork provides law enforcement with the means of tracing guns used in crimes back to the original purchaser, screening may have deterred most convicted felons from shopping for guns in the primary market in treatment states even before background checks and waiting periods were mandated by the Brady Act.

    More importantly, the effects of primary-market gun regulations may depend on the extent to which the secondary market in guns is regulated. Secondary-market sales account for about 40% of the approximately 10 million gun transfers in the United States each year2,4 and are the source for the large majority of guns obtained by juveniles and criminals.2,3537 The secondary market in guns, which is currently almost completely unregulated, is thus an enormous loophole that limits the effectiveness of primary-market regulations.38

    Thanks for responding Hal

    i feel much better about Hillary than I do Bernie. I went search for why I don't feel attached to Bernie. If he is the candidate I will vote and work for him, but it would be more of an act to go against the GOP rather than go for someone I actually feel that I understand despite flaws (which are assess in dealing with the GOP)

    My issue with Bernie is my issue. I note that I still don't understand "Alright" which was the black youth activist theme song last summer. ( The fact that he swept the Grammy's in Hip-Hop may be proof that my taste Is intact-snark). Beyoncé's "Formation", on the other hand,is pure poetry

    RMRD - You devote time and energy clearing the air after I throw stink bombs at the Clintons, the least I can do in return is agree with you on issues where we do see eye to eye.

    Thx again

    Outstanding post and discussion.

    More later, just wanted you to know.


    It's hurt me to see how negative Cornel West has been over the last 6 years. I agree with you; there are people who feel like they alone decide how progress is to be made. This is a messy situation for progressives. 

    Cornel West is a hot mess. Hopefully people are making their analysis of Sanders individually. The fact that Ta-Nehisi Coates is voting for (not endorsing) Sanders may get people to take a more serious look at Sanders. I doubt that people will vote for Sanders because Coates is voting for Sanders.Hopefully people with a negative view of Cornel West will not vote against Sanders because Cornel West is acting as a surrogate.

    I have to admit I tuned out Cornel West, especially on the topic of Obama, a long time ago.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates [UPDATE: WRONG! It was Melissa Harris-Perry. I'm an idiot.] had a great piece in The Root many years ago, maybe the first thing of his I'd ever read, called "Who Died and Made Tavis King?" about how some mid-level African-American leaders couldn't get on board with Obama because he overturned their sense of succession and hierarchy among black leadership. I still view Cornel West's complaints partly through that lens.

    [Link here:

    Disputes among activists are nothing new

    Washington vs DuBois, King vs.Malcolm, Sharpton vs. Black Lives Matter. Disagreement is expected. The main difference is that The major players had organizations behind them to lend support.

    Washington      Tuskeegee Institute 

    DuBois              NAACP

    King                   SCLC

    Malcolm X          Former Nation of Islam members

    Sharpton            National action Network 

    BLM                   Black Lives Matter

    Then there is West who has his ego.

    Yes. Or, to put it another way, West has no program and no plan.

    Washington and DuBois were advocating separate strategies which were not entirely compatible with each other. King and Malcom the same. But they led, and in many cases personally built, organizations to carry those strategies out. West has never done anything like that. There's no way forward, or if it is it's enormously pie in the sky.

    Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the chairman of the CBC PAC, told the HuffPost that they endorsed Hillary over Bernie because they felt that Sanders felt that addressing income inequality alone would solve the ills in the black community. The PAC members felt that Sanders put racism on the back burner.

    The sense that racism was a back burner issue for Sanders is repeated from interviews of African-American activists in Vermont according to an article in the Daily Beast.

    Race remains a key concern for black voters. Blacks see racism in the GOP's attempt to block Obama appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia

    Sanders failure to capture a majority of the black vote appears tied to the perception that he has not seen race as a factor until he needed black votes.

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