Why do you think Bernie Sanders has difficulty getting the support of African Americans? (a Sunday school sermon)

Someone asked me this question recently: “Why do you think Sanders has difficulty getting the support of African Americans?  There is no reason I can see for this lack of support…”

^This is a fantastic question. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. Let’s find out…

by O Society Feb 24, 2019

First off, I am not qualified to give a definitive answer. This enters the realm of identity politics. Therefore, because I am not black, I am not qualified to speak for African Americans (unless they ask me to do so for some unknown reason).

Historically speaking, the African American community speaks truth to power rather well. We all know Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Huey Newton, don’t we?

I can say with confidence gained from observation, Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2016 presidential nomination – before which I was not familiar with Bernie or congressional politicians in general, Pelosi, McConnell, etc – was not about identity politics.

Instead, Sanders’ campaign was distinctly about equality/ inequality, which is a different focus.

He chose to focus on something else instead. Good for Bernie. Going for fairness regardless of skin pigmentation or sex (yes, please!) or any of these other identity demographic boxes.

Note: you are not allowed to complain. No one said identity is not important, obviously it is really to human beings. Instead, we’re saying for purposes of this thought experiment (which means it isn’t real, it’s all in our heads), Bernie is all about inequality.

What the hell is that?

Inequality is defined by the economics people:

The Gini Index is one such economic measure, as it looks at “income distribution or, less commonly, wealth distribution among a population. The coefficient ranges from 0 (or 0%) to 1 (or 100%), with 0 representing perfect equality and 1 representing perfect inequality.”

Therefore, inequality is often expressed in terms of status, class, income, wealth, and so on. The Upper/ Middle/ Lower class model is one such classic expression used frequently in America. We can say inequality is “an extreme concentration of wealth or income in the hands of a small percentage of a population. It has been described as the gap between the richest and the rest.”

This is class struggle. Another classic.

What the hell is that?

Say we have a pile of loot. Pirate loot. Gold doubloons and fancy jewels and so on. The “worlds greatest treasure hunt” is for  Blackbeard’s treasure. Let’s say we’ve found it, just now, hiding under this flag right v here vblackbeard.gif

Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. In the real world, it’s finders keepers. So who ever found Blackbeard’s treasure owns it. And if the finder tells anybody about it, well then, it’s on isn’t it? Museums, countries, private collectors, all sorts of people want it and claim it though some sort of property “rights” then, don’t they?

But this isn’t real archaeology, Mr. Sticky Fingers, it’s an internet example, so put that gun back in your pocket. We’re going to phrase the question this way: “Who gets the loot? The Rich or The Poor?” as if these are the only two choices. Ok then?

How do we define “The Rich” and “The Poor?” This is important because somebody is going to be the “Haves” and someone is going to be the “Have-nots” in just a moment.

For sake of example, we’re going to use a 90/10 split. Percentages. The 90% vs. the 10%. These are our only choices in this example. Black. White. No grey.

If anyone asks why, tell them to read this. We have to draw a line somewhere. This is where the line is. The New American Aristocracy.

So, which side of the line are HillBillary Clinton and the Trump Family Grifters on?

Why they’re on the 10% side of the line. Clintons and Trumps are in The Club. Duh!

You and me, were not. We’re on the 90% side of the line. We are not in The Club.

No whining. Time for the money shot!

The question is who gets Blackbeard’s Treasure?

The answer is either the 90% or the 10%. Final answer…

And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is inequality.

To go back to the original question, my guesstimate is the vast majority of African American people are in the 90% right along with us. Just a guess…

So we’d expect these people to be against HillBillary and the Trump Family Grifters too, and for Bernie Sanders, who represents us on the 90% side of the line. HillBillary Grifters represent themselves. Because neither you, nor me, is running for president.


This is where the confusion about the original question comes from. To repeat: “Why do you think Sanders has difficulty getting the support of African Americans?  There is no objective, self-interest reason I can see for this lack of support…”

Bernie has street cred:

sanders-civil rights.png

Arrest photo of young activist Bernie Sanders emerges from Chicago Tribune archives

Yes, he does. Danny Lyon did our homework:

The Struggle to ID Bernie Sanders in Civil Rights Photographs — Solved by Danny Lyon

Therefore, my best-guesstimate answer is most black folks in the 90% simply did not recognize Sanders represents their horse in this race. Apparently, the majority of white folks in the 90% did not recognize it either. Go figure.

Couldn’t have anything to do with the billion$ and billion$ of free media the 10% rich folks who own the media companies gave to HillBillary and the Grifters, which they did not give to Sanders, could it?

Nah. None of it was real or fair, was it?

That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Or maybe it isn’t…

As promised, I will shut up now and let our esteemed guests, Michael Harriot and Cornel West, represent. Why here they are now!

Michael Harriot: Hillary Clinton Rigged the Race Against Bernie Sanders and Donna Brazile Has Proof

Donna Brazile at the Radisson Hotel on Feb. 5, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

When Hillary Clinton took the stage as the party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention, it was already a foregone conclusion. She had long tied up the nomination process by securing the number of delegates needed for a victory. But in an explosive new article, former interim Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile says that Hillary Clinton rigged the race in her favor long before a single vote was counted, and she has proof.

Brazile was selected to run the Democratic Party after Debbie Wasserman Shultz was ousted as chairperson when leaked emails revealed that Shultz was essentially a Hillary operative running the party. Brazile says that she promised Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, that if she ever discovered that the presidential nomination process was unfair or unethical, she’d let him know.

Well, now she’s letting Sanders know.

Brazile penned an in-depth article for Politico today that exposed how Hillary Clinton finagled a secret agreement to put her in control of the DNC’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised by the party in exchange for resolving its debt.

The Democratic National Committee is the national party. Until a presidential candidate is nominated, it is supposed to work as an unbiased umbrella organization for all of the presidential candidates. Contributions are limited to $33,400.

Hillary for Americawas the Clinton campaign. Contributions to the campaign are capped at $2,700, but Clinton can do whatever she wants with the money.

The Hillary Victory Fund was the joint fundraising arm of the DNC and the Clinton campaign. It raises money for each individual state campaign and shares it with the DNC. Because of federal election laws, a person can contribute up to $10,000 to each of these state campaigns.

Since HFA was in 32 states, essentially, Clinton’s big-money donors could write a check for $353,400 ($10,000 for each state, plus $33,400 to the DNC), but the money was theoretically supposed to stay in each state, and the rest with the DNC.

Brazile explains when she took over, she was surprised to find out the DNC was millions of dollars in financial debt (partly because Shultz managed the committee so poorly). So the Democratic Party went to Clinton, who was raking in huge amounts of money through fundraising with big-money donors, and asked for a loan.

Clinton agreed, but only on one condition. Brazile discovered Hillary for America, the Democratic National Committee, and the Hillary Victory Fund signed an agreement that gave the DNC $2 million in exchange for control of the party’s finances, strategy and fundraising.

Remember all those dollar amounts we talked about earlier?

Here’s why you had to read that bullshit:

Hillary Clinton’s big-money donors donated $82 million. Well, Clinton funneled all of that money to the DNC because she controlled it! In fact, less than half of 1 percent went to the state campaigns. While this is not technically illegal, Politico described it as “essentially money-laundering” for the Clinton campaign.

Why is this important? Because the Clinton campaign controlled the strategy, which means:

  • In states where Sanders was favored in the primary, Clinton could control the purse strings of the DNC’s “get out the vote effort.”
  • Even if Sanders raised the maximum amount possible, he couldn’t compete with Clinton’s fundraising because she also had the secret, supposedly unbiased DNC bank account in her back pocket.

Election primaries are not controlled by the government. They are determined by the parties, which means Clinton had control over every contest she competed with Sanders. It’s like playing a basketball game with your mom and dad as the referees.

And your cousin is the scorekeeper.

And your brother is the other team’s coach.

Donna Brazile said she cried, and I got a little misty-eyed reading this, too. Hillary Clinton is running around the country hawking books, talking about how Donald Trump rigged the election, while she was doing the same thing. I told you that wrinkled old fainting lady was evil. It is undeniable. She is a crook and a liar.

None of this means that Trump isn’t a terrible president, but always remember:

The lesser of two evils is still evil.

But your vote still counts …

I think.

Man, I don’t even know anymore.



barack obama
‘Most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand.’

This is a depressing decline in the highest office of the most powerful empire in the history of the world. It could easily produce a pervasive cynicism and poisonous nihilism. Is there really any hope for truth and justice in this decadent time? Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville – the two great public intellectuals of 19th-century America – wrestled with similar questions and reached the same conclusion as Heraclitus: character is destiny (“sow a character and you reap a destiny”).

The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft. We are rooted in market-driven brands that shun integrity and profit-driven policies that trump public goods. Our “post-integrity” and “post-truth” world is suffocated by entertaining brands and money-making activities that have little or nothing to do with truth, integrity or the long-term survival of the planet. We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world.

The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.


A few of us begged and pleaded with Obama to break with the Wall Street priorities and bail out Main Street. But he followed the advice of his “smart” neoliberal advisers to bail out Wall Street. In March 2009, Obama met with Wall Street leaders. He proclaimed: I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you, he promised them. And not one Wall Street criminal executive went to jail.

We called for the accountability of US torturers of innocent Muslims and the transparency of US drone strikes killing innocent civilians. Obama’s administration told us no civilians had been killed. And then we were told a few had been killed. And then told maybe 65 or so had been killed. Yet when an American civilian, Warren Weinstein, was killed in 2015 there was an immediate press conference with deep apologies and financial compensation. And today we still don’t know how many have had their lives taken away.

We hit the streets again with Black Lives Matter and other groups and went to jailfor protesting against police killing black youth. We protested when the Israeli Defense Forces killed more than 2,000 Palestinians (including 550 children) in 50 days. Yet Obama replied with words about the difficult plight of police officers, department investigations (with no police going to jail) and the additional $225m in financial support of the Israeli army. Obama said not a mumbling word about the dead Palestinian children but he did call Baltimore black youth “criminals and thugs”

In addition, Obama’s education policy unleashed more market forces that closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones. The top 1% got nearly two-thirds of the income growth in eight years even as child poverty, especially black child poverty, remained astronomical. Labor insurgencies in Wisconsin, Seattle and Chicago (vigorously opposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close confidant of Obama) were passed over in silence.

In 2009, Obama called New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg an “outstanding mayor.” Yet he overlooked the fact that more than 4 million people were stopped-and-frisked under Bloomberg’s watch. Along with Carl Dix and others, I sat in a jail two years later for protesting these very same policies Obama ignored when praising Bloomberg.

Yet the mainstream media and academia failed to highlight these painful truths linked to Obama. Instead, most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand. And most black spokespeople shamelessly defended Obama’s silences and crimes in the name of racial symbolism and their own careerism. How hypocritical to see them now speak truth to white power when most went mute in the face of black power. Their moral authority is weak and their newfound militancy is shallow.

The gross killing of US citizens with no due process after direct orders from Obama was cast aside by neoliberal supporters of all colors. And Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling and other truth-tellers were demonized just as the crimes they exposed were hardly mentioned.

The president’s greatest legislative achievement was to provide healthcare for over 25 million citizens, even as another 20 million are still uncovered. But it remained a market-based policy, created by the conservative Heritage Foundation and firstpioneered by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

Obama’s lack of courage to confront Wall Street criminals and his lapse of character in ordering drone strikes unintentionally led to rightwing populist revolts at home and ugly Islamic fascist rebellions in the Middle East. And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plans.

Bernie Sanders gallantly tried to generate a leftwing populism but he was crushed by Clinton and Obama in the unfair Democratic party primaries. So now we find ourselves entering a neofascist era: a neoliberal economy on steroids, a reactionary repressive attitude toward domestic “aliens”, a militaristic cabinet eager for war and in denial of global warming. All the while, we are seeing a wholesale eclipse of truth and integrity in the name of the Trump brand, facilitated by the profit-hungry corporate media.

What a sad legacy for our hope and change candidate – even as we warriors go down swinging in the fading names of truth and justice.


The First White President

~ Ta-Nehisi Coates

From an Ex-Neoliberal: Why Ta-Nehisi Coates Keeps Talking About White Supremacy

~ Michael Harriot

Did Cornel West Come for Ta-Nehisi Coates?

~ Michael Harriot

Obama’s complicated legacy on climate change


Barack Obama’s original sin: America’s post-racial illusion

~ Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Yes, Bernie Sanders, the System Is Rigged—What Else Is New?

~ Jason Johnson

I’m Not With Her Because I’m Petty

~ Michael Harriot

That 1 Time Donald Trump Was Right

~ Michael Harriot






3 thoughts on “Why do you think Bernie Sanders has difficulty getting the support of African Americans? (a Sunday school sermon)

  1. Stop and think about the question itself. Question it.

    In taking the question seriously, you’ve already allowed someone else to determine the possible answers allowed to be taken seriously. This frames the debate for ulterior motives and was one of the effective means that those controlling the narrative were able to control public perception. And when public perception is controlled, voting and polling behavior can also be manipulated. We need to learn to always maintain our intellectual defenses, especially when some asserted truism seems obvious because it is repeated so often.

    The fact remains that, even with all the big money and propaganda wielded against him, Sanders had immense support from the younger generations — not just young white men but also young blacks, Latinxs, Asian-Americans, and women. Of course, you aren’t going to hear that repeated ad nauseum in the corporate media in the way one heard the lies and spin about Sanders. We Americans were brilliantly played by the ruling elite and then we accepted the narrative given to us.

    On many major issues, most Americans hold positions to the left of the Democratic Party. But we are a majority who doesn’t know we are a majority. That is because the ‘centrist’ position is so far right. The center of established power is no where near the center of the American public. Few Americans yet realize this, though.


    “Blacks and other minorities don’t like Bernie Sanders, an old white guy, because he is some combination of racist and out of touch. That is what some non-white elites keep repeating. I guess they’re hoping that if they repeat it enough voters will be persuaded to support the DNC establishment, which is to say the Clinton cronies. The implication seems to be that blacks should prioritize abstract identity politics over bread-and-butter progressivism. But most blacks aren’t persuaded. Maybe that is the reason for the ever more desperate obsession with this DNC talking point. What the elite fail to understand or else try to obfuscate is that economic populism cuts across the racial divide. Non-whites in the comfortable class are as much of problem as the rest.”


    “The saddest part of racism is how it is used by blacks in the comfortable classes to silence the voices of blacks in the lower classes. Allegations of racism thrown at Sanders didn’t just dismiss white Bernie Bros but throws the entire cross-racial support under the bus. And it tramples on one of Martin Luther King’s greatest dreams, to join blacks and whites in a common cause of class war against an oppressive capitalist class.”


    “We don’t even know that Sanders lost most blacks in the South, as the majority of blacks are so disenfranchised and demoralized that few are involved in primaries/caucuses. Considering Sanders wins among the low income demographic and considering low income people are least likely to participate in the electoral process and the least likely to be represented in polls, it’s possible that Sanders would have won the South if all blacks were involved. We’ll never know, until we get a functioning democracy.”


    “Now here is mind-blowing data. Blacks vote at an extremely rate (so do poor whites; as for Hispanics, they vote at even lower rates). Only about a quarter of blacks end up supporting Democrats. With Sanders winning some of the black voters, this would mean that Clinton is getting less than a quarter of the black vote. Among young minorities, Clinton’s support is probably down in the single digit percentages.”


    “While Sanders struggled during his Democratic primary challenge against Clinton in states with large African-American voting populations, he is viewed favorably by 73 percent of black registered voters.

    “That’s better than Hispanics, at 68 percent favorable, Asian-Americans, at 62 percent favorable, and whites, at 52 percent favorable.

    “Sanders is viewed favorably by 80 percent of registered Democrats, even though he has steadfastly refused to join the party whose presidential nominee he campaigned for.”


    “Last spring, a Harvard-Harris poll found Sanders to be the most popular active politician in the country. African Americans gave the senator the highest favorables at 73 percent — vs. 68 percent among Latinos, 62 percent among Asian Americans and 52 percent among white voters. It wasn’t a fluke: This August, black voters again reported a 73 percent favorability rating for Sanders. Critics, such as Starr, continue to point to the senator’s 2016 primary numbers among older African American voters to claim that his message somehow doesn’t resonate with people of color as a whole — and continue to ignore that, according to GenForward, Sanders won the black millennial vote in the primaries.

    “So why does the myth that black voters don’t like Sanders persist? It certainly isn’t because black voters can’t relate to his focus on the working class. According to the Economic Policy Institute, people of color will form the majority of the American working class by 2032. In other words, the white working class does not have a monopoly on economic marginalization.”


    “Sanders is winning the young Latino vote 2 to 1, according to a recent report from NPR, and also has majority support among young black voters.”


    “Still, nothing you say can change the fact that Sanders is, in reality, more popular among Latinx and black voters than he is among whites, and more popular among women than he is among men. This is shown to be true in poll after poll. […] Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America, and has been for some time, and continues to gain strength. He is viewed favourably by 92% of Democrats, and its more popular among Hillary voters than even Hillary is.”


    “Mr. Sanders has gained a deep following among black college students, according to more than three dozen interviews across five universities with students, professors, university administrators and longtime political observers.”


    “Peeling back the layers of these numbers, however, reveals a level of complexity and nuance that’s worth exploring. More than 90 percent of voters over the age of 65, for example, voted for Clinton. Young black voters under the age of 30 also supported Clinton in high numbers – 56 percent. But what does it mean that 43 percent of young African-Americans supported Bernie Sanders?”


    “”When you break down those Southern numbers by age, Sanders does better with younger black voters,” Andra Gillespie, a political scientist who specializes in political mobilization and race at Emory University, told Mic. “What we’re probably seeing here is the black electorate in Michigan is probably younger.”

    “In Michigan Sanders split black voters under the age of 45 with Clinton, but lost them by a wide margin when they were older.


    “To me, the choice is clear. And the difference now between Hillary and Bernie’s African American support is largely driven by a lack of information. Black people need to know more about Bernie and more about the Clintons’ record. I was surprised when Sanders won every one of Deray Mckesson’s Democratic Primary polls on Twitter.

    “The race between Clinton and Sanders is apparently not close when you’re talking about young Black people. The question is: when will older Black people catch up?”


    “The story here is clear: one can only call Clinton an advocate of the powerless by ignoring women, Hispanics and other non-black voters of color, ~30% of black Americans, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and other non-straights, the young, and the poor. The narrative being aggressively advanced by writers like Tomasky and Goldberg – that Sanders is the candidate of privilege – can only be made by a stunning degree of demographic gerrymandering that ignores the dramatic sea changes in preference that have taken place since the beginning of the campaign.”


    “The first hint that Sanders’ halting efforts to break Clinton’s iron-grip on Black voters paid some dividends came in the early March Michigan Democratic primary. Sanders got almost one-third of the Black vote in that primary. It did more than raise a few eyebrows. It was just enough to edge Sanders past Clinton and nab the win. It also did much more. It proved that in close contests in the Northern states with a significant percentage of Black votes, Sanders need not top Clinton’s Black vote total. This won’t happen. He just needs to slice into her percentage of the Black vote to be competitive, and as Michigan showed, to even defy the oddsmakers, and win.”


    “On the other hand, Alaska and Hawaii are two of the most racially and linguistically diverse states in the nation, and Sanders polls well with younger voters of all races, enjoying a slight edge over Clinton among young African Americans.

    “According to the polling firm Edison Research, 51 percent of African American Democratic voters aged 17 to 29 said they support Sanders, versus 48 percent supporting Clinton. Sanders leads 66-34 among young Hispanics who are likely to support a Democrat.”


    “Lots of young people want a candidate who will appoint more minorities to top positions, and many of them think Bernie Sanders is the candidate to do it, according to a new Fusion poll about race and the election.

    “When asked which of the presidential candidates would be most likely to appoint minorities to high ranking positions, 35% of young people chose Bernie Sanders while 22% chose Hillary Clinton. Republican candidates were far less likely to be chosen, with each of them registering in the low single digits, while 26% of young people had no opinion about the question. Among those young adults who chose a candidate, 60% said that appointing minorities to important positions is a good reason to support someone’s candidacy.

    “By similar margins, both white and Hispanic respondents thought Sanders was more likely to appoint minorities to top jobs than Clinton. Among black respondents, however, 38% chose Sanders and 37% chose Clinton, a difference within the poll’s margin of error.

    “The results are consistent with the generally high levels of support that Sanders enjoys among younger voters. Though Sanders struggles with African American support against Clinton, he often performs better with younger black voters than with older ones.”


    “In keeping with our mission, it is with great pride that Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, will support U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on his run to be the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States of America.”

    “If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and losers), the spectacle of large majorities of black folks supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary races ought to be proof enough. I can’t believe Hillary would be coasting into the primaries with her current margin of black support if most people knew how much damage the Clintons have done – the millions of families that were destroyed the last time they were in the White House thanks to their boastful embrace of the mass incarceration machine and their total capitulation to the right-wing narrative on race, crime, welfare and taxes. There’s so much more to say on this topic and it’s a shame that more people aren’t saying it. I think it’s time we have that conversation.”
    ~ Michelle Alexander


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