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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 67,264

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Anyone concerned about a republican victory has a responsibility to join our Democratic coalition

...when we eventually choose a nominee.

It's not a negotiation, it's a personal responsibility which I'd expect supporters of either candidate to live up to. You're either going to coalesce in the end with your rivals in this primary to defeat the republican nominee, or render yourself irrelevant (or an impediment) to that fight.

Just as importantly, the losers of our primary aren't in much of a position to make the demands I see popping up on this site in exchange for their votes. You don't get to demand fealty to a 'movement' which has failed to gain the support of the majority of voters in our Democratic primary.

In this primary election, Hillary Clinton is racking up a majority of votes from a good representation of the Obama coalition, which, itself represented the closest thing we've experienced in decades to a revolution of voters. The voters who achieve a majority in our primary election deserve to have see their interests take precedence as we move forward to the general election.

For everyone else, their participation will be a compromise, similar to countless of other primary elections where Democrats put aside their differences and united to defeat the republican challenge to all of our ambitions and goals. No one should need to bend over backwards persuade those who actually care about the issues they represent to join in that effort after we deliberate and produce a nominee.

I don't see the Sanders' campaign as 'historic' but it's not because of some difference in values

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." ― John F. Kennedy

One of the misimpressions of the contest between these two decades-long D.C. political fixtures, expressed by some Sanders supporters, is the characterization of their campaign which has consistently trailed in voter support (both in the polls and at the polls) as a 'movement,' and the Clinton campaign as something inferior, or 'establishment politics.'

The one thing which distinguishes the Clinton support is it's broad base of Democrats, most notably in its attraction to black voters, and Latino voters, as well, in record numbers sometimes exceeding the share Barack Obama received in many contests in 2008.

In fact, the Clinton support is a mirror of the Obama coalition; more exactly, a legacy of those historic candidacies which, by any measure, was the largest 'movement' of motivated, new voters our party has ever experienced. It's no wonder that these same voters are under direct and daily assault by the leading republican contenders.

I raise that point, because the turnout at the polls hasn't measured up to the standard Bernie Sanders, himself, has set for his definition of a political revolution. Not only is there less of a diverse coalition of support for Sanders than Clinton, there's no evidence of any legislative candidate movement to buttress his expectations of some watershed event in American politics...that is, outside of his election.

That's what the Sanders candidacy represents to me, a 'movement' to elect him. Moreover, it has regressed, in my opinion, into an anti-Hillary campaign, with any and all political figures and institutions associating themselves with her candidacy labeled as 'establishment' and targeted as the embodiment of all political evil; never mind that the Sanders campaign would welcome their endorsement in a heartbeat.

The absurdity is that a President Sanders is running to head the 'establishment,' and is more than probably going to recruit most of the political class from previous administrations to manage government. It's just not that apparent to me that this decades-long national legislator has any more clue how to enact his proposals from outside the dreaded Democratic establishment he's running against, than he did as a Senator.

He's opportunistically kept the party at an arms-length when it suited him politically; and embraced our Democratic mantle when it suited his political ambition to be president; essentially an Opportunistic Democrat without any dependable allegiance to judge where he'll set his political sails in the presidency.

Unless I'm missing something, other candidates have run this close to their rival in a Democratic primary before. The campaign is reduced recently to declaring a 2% point win in MI as 'historic' when Sanders merely achieved 4 more delegates than Clinton in that race.

Meanwhile, down South, Hillary was racking up a whopping 66% point win in MS, driven in large part by Obama 'movement' voters. Tell them someone says their aspirations in this election are somehow different from the Sanders folks. Someone should have the audacity to tell them directly they think these voters' 'values' are somehow less than 'revolutionary' in working to advance this accomplished and dedicated woman to a potentially historic presidency.

I think they'd say that someone has forgotten who we're really fighting against in this election.

Talking About Race In This Election

I've been told by some here that discussing race in this campaign is 'divisive.' I reject the notion that I, or anyone else impacted by race should be silent, just to satisfy someone's discomfort with the subject. It's actually cathartic for me to discuss race in this campaign in a constructive way. The alternative is to do what I've done in my youth, which is to bury those feelings and cede our political conversations to those who feel comfortable in disparaging blacks, intentionally or out of ignorance.

One of the results of the presidential pursuit of Barack Obama has been the awakening of a new (and reinvigorated) generation of black voters. That's not something which I believe should be parsed out in our conversations, but, rather a development which deserves highlighting and nurturing.

Like it or not, there are going to be differences expressed about the value of such votes, and also, the inevitable efforts to dismiss or denigrate these important and consequential votes for our party. Those votes and voters should be pursued and defended by our party with just as much vigor and determination as any grassroots, political 'revolution' of support for our party and candidates is celebrated.

However, unfortunately, we're not talking about something which occurs in a benign vacuum of indifference. The effort for representation and recognition of blacks in our political system has been going on since Reconstruction, and continued through the dark days of Jim Crow and state-sponsored discrimination and obstruction of this vital community's political voices.

Indeed, the representation of blacks (by elected black politicians) is a relatively new development, in my own lifetime. (Repeating a narrative of mine), when I was a young adult, there were just a couple black legislators in Congress. I still recall the mere handful of blacks I found in Congress when I first explored the Capitol. I remember seeing the tall head of Rep. Ron Dellums, ever present on the House floor, and imagining that there were many more like him in the wings. It wasn't until 1990, though, that we actually saw a significant influx of minorities elected to Congress, enabled by the 1990 census Democrats fought to reform and manage (along with their fight for an extension of the Voting Rights Act which Bush I vetoed five times before trading his signature on the bill for votes for Clarance Thomas) which allowed court-ordered redistricting to double the number of districts with black majorities.

The gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace, for example. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.

Moreover, there has been a fear of black advancement throughout our early American history - fear that blacks would rise up and dish out the same injustice & violence many in the white-dominated had perpetrated against the race of people since slavery and through the years of segregation and state-sanctioned discrimination. Yet, despite our tragic history, though, blacks have shown great forbearance and benignity in the face of it all.

The federal advancement of group rights was an important element in securing individual rights for blacks, before and after the abolition of slavery. Government's role has been expanded, mostly in response to needs which had gone unfulfilled by the states; either by lack of will or limited resources. After the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments, the federal government had to assert itself to defend these rights -- albeit with much reluctance and not without much prodding and instigation -- by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That effort, and others by the federal government were a direct acknowledgment of the burdens and obstacles facing an emerging class of blacks.

Indeed, the efforts in the '60's to bolster and nurture black Americans into the social, economic, and political mainstream of America has meshed perfectly with the needs of our expanding economy and the growing markets which have eagerly absorbed millions of black Americans who were advantaged by the educational opportunities and initiatives which were focused on lifting their communities out of the squalor of indifference and disrespect of the past.

It's not uncommon, as many folks so breathlessly want to express, to find blacks succeeding and operating at almost every level of opportunity, industry, or occupation. But, that advancement of black Americans did not occur in some vacuum of 'colorblindness,' nor, will the progress of black Americans in our political system be served by a revisionism which automatically suggests the playing field has been fair or accommodating to the interests of the individuals -- or, even, to the black communities which are assumed to have advanced along with those who manage to get elected.

Racism certainly isn't chic anymore; not like it was in the days where slurs, slights, and outright discrimination were allowed to flourish under the umbrella of segregation and Jim Crow. But, it has still been used by some, over the years since the dismantling of that institutionalized racism, to manipulate and control the level of access and acceptability of blacks in a white-dominated political system.

In this day and age, the persistent racism directed against President Obama has not allowed many in the black community to feel secure in this one advancement. That racial insecurity recalls the immediate wake of Reconstruction and the election of a handful of black lawyers, ministers, teachers, college presidents to the national legislature where there was a concerted campaign by their white peers and other detractors to challenge their seats and to construct discriminatory barriers to the election of other blacks which persisted for generations and generations. The 'birther' movement is no stranger to those who recall that 'Jim Crow' past.

President Obama's courage and vision in seeking and achieving the highest office in the land has been inspiring; not only for this generation, but for generations of Americans who will follow in the wake of his historic achievement and his outstanding service to the nation.

In fact, volume of remarkable and celebrated subjects who have enriched and enhanced our lives here in America over centuries of our nation's growth is vast and wide. Many of the giants in the black American experience have earned prominent positions in our recitation of that history of our development as a country and as individuals. However, there is an endless resource of black Americans in our nation's history whose accomplishments aren't as widely known and recognized.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments; many in the face of intense and personal racial adversity. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts. Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It's a dwindling white majority in the workplace, and a dwindling dominance in other institutions which is, ironically, producing a familiar insecurity in some. Overall, black Americans' reaction to a dominating majority has been remarkably gracious, patient, and forgiving over the decades. Some of these dominionists could learn from that as they reconsider their role in a more inclusive society.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

The attacks in this generation are not to be taken lightly, even though we may assume that the nation is past all of that. The attacks need to be openly and loudly defended against by Democrats and Republicans alike. They can't just be brushed aside as some sort of acceptable standard of discourse. For the most part, they've been responded to with dispatch and sincerity. For the other, there's a glaring silence -- and even a rhetorical encouragement by some in the political arena who are leveraging age-old stereotypes to serve their cynical campaigns for office.

Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., wrote in HuffPo today that, "The entire discussion is almost beyond comprehension for those of us who are not being blinded by bigotry and hatred."

"Magic Mulatto, Mrs. YoMama, Touching A Tar Baby, Your Boy, Orbameo, Watermelons on the White House Lawn, cartoons with the President Obama's head and a chimpanzee's body, references to monkeys who escaped the zoo being related to the First Lady, and the list goes on with the racial slurs that have been hurled at this President and his family," recalls Meeks. "Along with these is the recent attack of racial slurs against 11-year-old Malia, his youngest daughter."

"Whatever policy issues that anyone finds themselves at odds with him about should be spoken about, debated and fought over in whatever civilized manner that discourse can occur," she wrote. "But I am talking about this low level of racist discourse that has been going on since day one. A discourse that has exhibited no respect for the office of President in the first place as well as no respect for this man, his wife and children. But even larger than this is the lack of respect that is being shown toward every African American in this country," she said.

Who are we; we the people of color? We the African Americans? We Minorities, we Negroes, we Blacks? Our history in this country is rooted in slavery and oppression, but in the search for the roots we sometimes find that the more we draw closer to our black identity, the more we seem to pull away from the broader America. An insistence that our community must necessarily be at odds with white America, because of our tragic beginnings, threatens to render our successes impotent. But, what becomes of a quest for a national identity when many of blacks' contributions in developing and reforming this nation have not been acknowledged or reciprocated? Can we really put aside our identification with our unique heritage and regard ourselves as 'homogenized,' even as our particular needs are seemingly ignored? Even as the advancement of a person of color to the highest office in the land is openly disparaged by racism?

In this very forum, in this very primary, I was told by a poster that my blackness is essentially irrelevant. It was actually more vile than that..


" At this point, I'm tired of blacks expecting people to kiss their ass in return for their vote. Sorry, you're just not that important. You do not contribute enough to America to be worthy of such special treatment. In fact, the truth is we'd all just be better off without you. You are a burden we're all tired of bearing.

I don't care anymore. Fuck you and your race."

I'd humbly like to ask just how many folks here have been denigrated in this primary for the color of their skin? It's a withering and extremely challenging experience which I don't wish on anyone.

It's not something I can just shed out of some attempt at comity with those uncomfortable discussing these issues. Like it or not, I'm stuck with this skin, and I'm not going to hide away from defending it, much less from recognizing the blackness of others who contribute to our society and politics just because someone has a political pique over the subject.

Now, many here who have read my (long) posts on race before will recognize these thoughts from my earlier writings. It has been a cathartic experience to write about these issues of race and to share them here and elsewhere. I've experienced a lifetime of slights and outright abuse due to the color of my skin. It's my intention that some of these thoughts have some lasting influence on our conversations. I'll be damned if I'll be dissuaded from discussing this important subject because of familiar accusations of 'racebaiting' or divisiveness.' There is a lifetime of understanding which I want to convey. I don't expect everyone to understand or agree with me, but I do expect understanding of my need and my obligation to speak out when I feel it's necessary.

One of the things I learned from my youth is that there's absolutely no benefit in keeping these issues quiet. There's no great virtue in avoiding the subject of race. There's every opportunity to heal divisions through better understanding of each other.

I'd like to re-share some things I wrote about in 2008 which I hope will be enlightening as to my own intentions, and to the issues we face today.:

IN so many ways, I was a direct beneficiary of the civil rights movement. In 1968, I was living in D.C. and witness to the upheaval that the shooting of Martin Luther King produced in our middle-class neighborhood. D.C. was a smoldering mess of brick right after Dr. King was killed. It was chaos for everyone. Blacks there seemed to suffer the most from the violence. It was a fearful time for a young kid like me, although black myself. Knives, not guns, were the weapons of choice. Really tough times. Lots of robbery. Mostly blacks were the victims as well as the perpetrators.

I remember in that same period, a kid strutting down our street singing 'I'm black and I'm proud' at the top of his lungs. I was pretty young and naive, and I imagined he was saying, 'I'm black and I'm brown'. I thought to myself, Yeah, that's me. Black and brown.

My parents certainly knew the importance of civil rights, as their own livelihood and their own expectations of comity and acceptance were challenged by my African-American mother's pale skin - which was often mistaken for that of a Caucasian individual - and her marriage to my dark-skinned father. Their own work experience was advantaged by the new civil rights initiatives which were opening the workplace for blacks and providing opportunities which often were in the very civil rights field that they were counting on to lift them out of the oppression that their earlier lives had endured during segregation, Jim Crow, and the like.

Mom worked in the personnel division at Raritan Arsenal overseeing and managing a fresh population of light-skinned blacks who had managed to find higher employment in the clerical field.

Dad had taken on civil service positions ever since his stint in the Army in New Guinea where he was given a field promotion with the expectation that he would keep his all-black unit in line and still be accommodating of the expectations of the segregating majority. He went on to achieve a position in the federal government in the newly created Equal Opportunity Commission which was to facilitate the influx of the new generation of blacks into the federal workplace who were advantaged by the Civil Rights Act that had just passed. He moved up the ladder and retired some 30 years later in the position of Director of Civil Rights in the newly revamped EEOC.

Our progress was a progression in which the negative forces we were pushing back to allow us room and opportunity to grow and prosper fell steadily away as our generation grew and staked our claim to our newly-protected citizenship. In many ways, the struggle was glaring, but, to those who observed our progression out of the era of Jim Crow and other resistance and indifference, it was all opportunity with the worst behind us. Slights and other aggravating remnants of the earlier racism began to fall out of public fashion (at least up north, in the region which was our nation's capital).

My father moved us to the suburbs very shortly after the riots and looting and I was propelled into a world which was green, open, and almost pristine in comparison to the broken glass and the suffering facade of our once-quiet and serene community.

The folks who I met had the same sunny, polite manner that masked any resentment or discomfort they may have felt in the presence of this brown person in the middle of the sea of light skin. It was a culture shock for me. It was likely one, as well, for the kids and adults who mostly welcomed me into their community. I say 'mostly welcomed' because most of the folks were unfailingly polite. There was no visible tinge of overt racism in their embrace of me that summer when we arrived. There was also no visible expression of the upheaval that had characterized my former community - and many parts of the nation, as well.

I remember getting lost riding my new bike around the neighborhood in the first week in my new home. I had never been lost and I was in some sort of strange wilderness, in this pristine community and I had no recognizable bearing. After an hour or so of an exhausting effort to weave my way out of the maze of freshly-blacktopped streets, I broke down and just went up to the first house I had the nerve to approach and rang the bell. An older white lady came out and was just as sweet as she could be. She put aside what she was doing, loaded up my bike in the trunk of her car, and drove me directly to my house. Now, I didn't know exactly where I lived; I didn't even know the house number or the street address . . .but, somehow, this rescuing angel did. Turned out, her daughter, (Mrs. S) lived directly across from my new home. She knew exactly where this recent aberration to her community belonged.

That incident characterized the majority of my life as a black kid in an overwhelmingly white community. It represented the best of humanity; but, it also represented its hidden face, as well. We had gotten this property by the skin of my parent's wallets. Turns out that our welcome into this community wasn't preceded by a carpet of rose-petals from the residents.

Mrs. Green next door, before she died, told my mother that most of the neighborhood had been, literally, in the middle of the street, up in arms over the prospect of a black family moving in. The alleged ringleader of it all, according to Mrs, Green, had been, none other than our neighbor directly across the street; the daughter of this exceedingly kind lady who had scooped up this young transplant and deposited me at the door of my new home.

Go figure. My father came to regard these folks across the street as his best friends in the neighborhood over the years we lived there; yet, they had actually instigated against our arrival in the past. Who knew where their true affinity for their black neighbors lay?

Did it matter? We'll never know, I suppose.

Does it impact my own thinking and attitude toward that community, as I look back? Absolutely. You see, life growing up in that atmosphere of outward tolerance, was much different from what most folks would regard as acceptability and acceptance.

I remember Bill Clinton once correcting someone who suggested that we need to 'tolerate' our differences. We should 'celebrate' them instead, he had said. I was certainly tolerated in this community, but I had a difficult time gaining acceptance. I participated in most of the activities of the others, but I never really seemed to have the same social experience as the rest of my peers and friends. There were actually quite a number of parents of these kids who would not allow me to come into their homes; and the suburbs was all about the indoors. I got edged out of many of the events which should have been the hallmark of my youth. I didn't really get a grip on the camaraderie others seemed to revel in. It was a period of transformation of views. It was a period of misunderstanding of the, mostly contrived, differences between us. Folks were wary and cliquish. Things like finding a cub scout troop whose mentors would welcome you into their home for meetings. Things like being invited to parties or finding room in a group for the special trips they took to ski or to the beach. This was hard for a kid.

Thing is, though, most of the racism and discrimination was well undercover. Reasons and justifications needn't be openly discussed to deny a kid access to those elements of society that folks wanted to restrict for themselves. You just turn your back. Or, you just decide, as a group, to exclude. That characterized most of the problems I had as a result of the color of my skin. No open hollering racial epithets at me when I walked down the street, like the folks in Cumberland, Md. did when I visited there in 1979. No outright discrimination like I experienced as an adult looking for work and in the actual workplace. Just indifference and exclusion. Coded racism, undercover.

Much of the racism we experience in this 'modern' age -- so far from the overt and institutionalized expressions of our nation's racist and discriminatory past -- isn't overt or obvious; especially to those who haven't been at the receiving end of it all. That reality requires a special kind of vigilance among us which isn't readily understood or identified with by folks who don't see the perniciousness in small, seemingly benign and marginal slights and insults which once were so openly accepted and encouraged against our black population.

In many ways, I see the need to move past the reflexive defensiveness which often deepens the controversies or draws unwanted attention to something which is, perhaps, better left unremarked on. There has been remarkable progress past the old civil rights battles for acceptance and acceptability among our peers which is a product of an enlightened generation determined to put all of that behind us.

Yet, I can't countenance having our discourse go all the way back to the place where folks were comfortable and secure that their slurs and their stereotypical insults wouldn't be met with forceful condemnation by society as a whole, and met by individuals determined to elevate our interactions above these opportunistic appeals to those things we sometimes use to divide or alienate.

There seems to be a revival of that racism and bigotry which is being encouraged by the cynical politics practiced by the present batch of republican candidates. That attitude is certainly trickling down to folks in our communities who are encouraged by these pols to identify their own opposition to this presidency with these racist and bigoted appeals which have root in our nation's tragic past.

I'm not convinced, though, that enough folks out here are truly familiar with all of the nonsense which has been resurrected from the past in a cute attempt to replicate the divisive attitudes and expressions which characterized a more confrontational age. It's going to take some education from those of us whose life experiences aren't readily available in a google search; rendering our experiences mostly invisible and mostly unbelievable to a new generation. I hope for understanding. I fear, though, we'll be fighting many of the old battles out in the open again. That may well be for the best, in the long run.

In the time being, though, the sly appeals to the racism and toleration of the resurgence of some of the divisive rhetoric and attitudes of the past is a disturbing and disheartening trend which will require vigilance and a determined response. I hope to do my part to recall our nation's history and to challenge us to advance our better selves.

Coolest POTUS Sing-Along EVER

ABC News Politics ‏@ABCPolitics 22h22 hours ago
@POTUS leads singalong during Ray Charles tribute at the White House: http://abcn.ws/1KQaLQm

Michelle LaVaughn ‏@meagnacarta 13h13 hours ago
Blackest. Black. History. Month. Ever.


President Obama pays tribute to the late, great Ray Charles and joins Usher in leading a sing-along of "What'd I Say" at the final "In Performance at the White House" concert of the Obama administration. The musical performance begins at 3:00 into the above video. (PBS NewsHour)

The 'Establishment' Slam Against Black Legislators Suppporting Hillary Clinton Is Clueless

...not to mention self-defeating and offensive.

I've seen more than a few snide references to black politicians expressing support for Hillary Clinton's campaign as 'establishment,' as if that defines their public service. The 'political establishment' they belong to is vital to the black community.

For decades, blacks had no seat at the political table, and I would be surprised (maybe not) to find suggestions here that these black legislators shouldn't hold and exercise their political clout in support of those who they feel would advance the issues and concerns of their constituency. Would critics rather they were outsiders to the political process again?

When I was a young adult, there were just a couple black legislators in Congress. I still recall the mere handful of blacks I found in Congress when I first explored the Capitol. I remember seeing the tall head of Rep. Ron Dellums, ever present on the House floor, and imagining that there were many more like him in the wings. It wasn't until 1990, though, that we actually saw a significant influx of minorities elected to Congress, enabled by the 1990 census Democrats fought to reform and manage (along with their fight for an extension of the Voting Rights Act which Bush I vetoed five times before trading his signature for votes for Clarance Thomas) which allowed court-ordered redistricting to double the number of districts with black majorities.

The gains blacks have made in our political institutions have not kept pace with even the incremental gains which have occurred in the workplace, for example. We may well have an abundance of black CEOs, military officers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. However, Americans have yet to support and establish blacks in our political institutions with a regularity we could celebrate as 'colorblindness.' And, to be fair, not even many blacks would likely agree that we've moved past a point where race should be highlighted (if not overtly emphasized), in our political deliberations and considerations.

Reducing these important and principled black legislators to targets in an opportunistic Sanders 'revolution' is self-defeating, short-sighted, and an amazing offense to legislators like John Lewis and Rep. Clyburn and their vital and accomplished histories.

Highlighting Hillary's Harlem speech on systemic racism yesterday - and an endorsement

by Feminista Jones

I am voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.

There. I said it.

Assuming Clinton wins the Democratic Party nomination, I intend to cast my vote for her in the general election. Until now, I've felt rather reluctant to throw my support behind any of the candidates running, because I did not feel a genuine connection to their politics. In fact, I'm quite jaded with America's political process because I do not believe it fairly serves the majority of American citizens. However, I do believe in the power of my vote and as a Black woman, and as such part of the most powerful voting block in the country, I believe it is my duty to vote in each election for the candidate that most aligns with my personal values and beliefs.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is that candidate.

Clinton recently gave a speech at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, N.Y. As a native New Yorker, I was honored to be invited to attend by political analyst, Zerlina Maxwell, one of the newest members of Clinton's digital outreach team. She focuses on African American and women coalitions and, as a member of the SheKnows Media family, I took her up on her invitation and attended the speech live.

Clinton appeared on stage with former Attorney General, Eric Holder, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his wife Sandra, NYC mayor, Bill deBlasio and his wife Chirlaine McCray, and was introduced by congressman Charles Rangel. Her strong speech touched on key issues affecting the African American community and it was clear by the audience response that her thoughtfulness resonated with them.

Some of her key remarks:

"This is not just an education issue, it is a civil rights issue." Clinton spoke about the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects the African American community. Her plan includes investing more resources into getting ore guidance counselors and social workers into the schools "so instead of labeling them as problem children, they can help them". There are approximately 500 students per guidance counselor in schools across America.

"I will ban the box in the federal government." Clinton spoke on employment struggles for ex-offenders who face discrimination when they have to indicate their past convictions on job applications. Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, recently made it the law to ban the box in his city, a monumental act that will help thousands of families lift themselves out of poverty. Read more about the "Ban The Box" campaign here.

"Let's end the epidemic of African Americans dying at the hands or in custody of law enforcement." Clinton spoke directly to the current movement to end police brutality and the disproportionate killing of African Americans by American police forces across the country.

"We're seeing an over-reliance on suspensions and expulsions." Clinton addressed the unreasonably high presence of law enforcement officers in schools across the country and spoke about how strongly affected she was seeing the horrific video of school officer, Ben Fields, throwing an African American female teen across a room while she was still in her chair. In my hometown, NYC, African American female students are 10 times more likely to be suspended than White female students, and are suspended and expelled at a higher rate than any male student demographic. The national figure is that they are 6 times more likely, and that is abhorrent. We must address the insidious racism and sexism affecting Black female students inside of America's classrooms.

"White Americans need to do a better job of listening to African Americans when they talk about seen and unseen experiences." Clinton acknowledged the problems that arise when African Americans speak about their painful experiences with racism and are dismissed by White people who feel personally offended or accused of being racist.

I thought this was one of Clinton's strongest speeches and the focus on key issues that have major impact on African American families and communities was important. There are candidates who refuse to even acknowledge racial disparities and it was refreshing to see Clinton zero in on those issues. She even went so far to admit that she has made mistakes in the past and doesn't want us to erase or forget them; she is calling for us to work together to make changes for the future.

As a Black mom raising a Black son in a tumultuous time in this country, as far as race relations go, I want to know that the candidate I'm voting for acknowledges our struggles and at least outlines a plan to improve the condition of many of our communities. While no candidate is perfect, and we owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves thoroughly about their past actions and current views, we can at least support someone whose politics most align with ours. For all intents and purposes, Hillary Clinton is the most viable candidate for me and I am finally comfortable saying that I will absolutely vote for her to be the next president of the United States.

read: http://www.blogher.com/hillary-clinton-addresses-african-american-voters-harlem?crumb=25

from Vox:

...a particularly powerful moment in which Clinton called on all Americans, white included, and particularly Democrats to help eliminate systemic racism. She said:

We Democrats have a special obligation. If we're serious about our commitment to the poor, to those who need some help, including African Americans, if we continue to ask black people to vote for us, we cannot minimize the realities of the lives they lead or take their concerns for granted.

You know, you can't just show up at election time and say the right things and think that's enough. We can't start building relationships a few weeks before a vote. We have to demonstrate a sustained commitment to building opportunity, creating prosperity, and righting wrongs — not just every two or four years, not just when the cameras are on and people are watching, but every single day.

So here's what I ask of you: Hold me accountable. Hold every candidate accountable. What we say matters, but what we do matters more. And you deserve leaders who will do whatever it takes to tear down all the barriers holding you back and then replace them with those ladders of opportunity that every American deserves to have.

I'm also asking all Americans to join in that effort. As Cornell Brooks, the new head of the NAACP, said in our meeting this morning, none of this is a "they" problem; it's a "we" problem. And all of us have to admit that. And you know what? It is not an urban problem. It's an American problem.

Ending systemic racism requires contributions from all of us, especially those of us who haven't experienced it ourselves.

more from Hillary's address on racism (rough transcript) :

“The Democrats have a special obligation. If we’re serious about our commitment to the poor, to those who need some help, including African Americans, if we continue to ask black people to vote for us, we cannot minimize the realities of the lives they lead or take their concerns for granted.

You know, you can’t just show up at election time and say the right things and think that’s enough. We can’t start building relationships a few weeks before a vote. We have to demonstrate a sustained commitment to building opportunity, creating prosperity, and righting wrongs — not just every two or four years, not just when the cameras are on and people are watching, but every single day.

So here’s what I ask of you: Hold me accountable. Hold every candidate accountable. What we say matters, but what we do matters more. And you deserve leaders who will do whatever it takes to tear down all the barriers holding you back and then replace them with those ladders of opportunity that every American deserves to have.

I’m also asking all Americans to join in that effort. As Cornell Brooks, the new head of the NAACP, said in our meeting this morning, none of this is a “they” problem; it’s a “we” problem. And all of us have to admit that. And you know what? It is not an urban problem. It’s an American problem.

Ending systemic racism requires contributions from all of us, especially those of us who haven’t experienced it ourselves.”

watch clip:

Dan Schwerin ‏@DanSchwerin
The first speech of @hillaryclinton's campaign was about criminal justice reform. Read it here https://www.hillaryclinton.com/speeches/remarks-columbia-university-criminal-justice-and-mass-incarceration/

Just FYI

...I actually like and respect Sen. Sanders, even more so now that I've had the opportunity to see and hear him speak, despite deciding to post mostly on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

That's a far sight from agreeing with him on everything, or believing he's the best nominee for our party, but his policies and platform in this primary are very closely aligned with my own political views - more so than Sec. Clinton's; although I do keep in mind that their voting records were compatible well over 90% of the time.

I don't believe he's racist, or has an agenda, attitude, or belief which would be in any way harmful to blacks. I appreciate, very much, his contributions throughout his life in standing up for civil rights for all. His efforts on behalf of Latinos should be emulated by any politician professing concern or support for the community.

I hope this can provide some understanding as we observe and weigh the efforts of both of these candidates with regard to the black community. Both of our Democratic candidates, I believe, would be significant assets to black and other Americans if elected.

'Establishment' Politics

...it's ridiculous to argue over which candidate represents the establishment. To me, a working class American, both candidates represent the establishment. They both have access to the levers of power and influence in the government and both are accountable for their actions, to some degree, while working within that political system.

I don't have any illusions that I'll be any closer than I am today to influencing the political establishment with a Pres. Sanders in charge. If Bernie Sanders becomes president, he doesn't automatically assume the role he's promoting as candidate as an opponent of the establishment. In that instance, he'll actually be the establishment that Americans will leverage their own aspirations and interests against.

Indeed, a Pres. Sanders would also be challenged to enlist the aid and support of the political establishment in carrying out his promises. That point is made more profound considering the political pressure his 'revolution' has attempted to exert in his campaign on institutions already determined to advance progressive ideals; like Planned Parenthood or the Human Rights Campaign.

Legislators, politicos, and other Democratic allies will be needed to help advance any progressive agenda into action or law. It makes no sense to engage in politics which seeks to divide these forces among themselves; among ourselves. All of the members of our Democratic coalition are challenged to reconcile their differences and unite, at some point, to advance our ideals through our political system. No one ideology is likely to prevail unchecked in our national legislature.

One thought occurred to me as I watched the candidates debate over who was a better progressive, if at all, was how relatively sparse the pool of candidates to fill positions in a Democratic administration can be when it comes to fleshing out a new government. The Obama administration rightly pulled from veterans and refugees from the Clinton administration when filling their offices; the Clinton administration relied on Carter folks. There really isn't going to be some mass exodus of 'establishment' operators and managers in the next administration, no matter which of our Democrats assume power.

That's what makes the present framing about a 'fight' against the political establishment in Washington seem so misdirected. When talking about republican opposition, it's clear and evident where their obstruction to our progressive agenda lies. When arguing against members of our own Democratic coalition, however, there isn't going to be an absolute line to draw between the politicos involved; not if there's going to be any hope of uniting behind one solution or the other.

That's made all the more evident in this primary election with all but two of the members of the Progressive Caucus Bernie Sanders founded when he was in Congress supporting his rival in this campaign; the rival most of his supporters consider less progressive than him - consider institutionally compromised against a progressive agenda by her associations, positions, and record.

I actually missed the most contentious part of the first debate (read up on it later), but the exchanges I tuned in to were an excellent demonstration of the progressiveness of our Democratic candidacies, of our Democratic agenda. Both representations represent progress toward progressive goals, and both candidates have the potential of making great changes in office.

What was striking in the debate was how much these two Democrats actually agreed on their political aspirations, if not on actual policy to bring about those changes. The further they got away from the petty and contradictory arguing about ideology, the more their individual attributes came to fore.

I was especially impressed by Sen. Sanders' defense of free trade, for example. It was a shining moment for all Americans to have their interests represented so forcefully and eloquently. That's the type of appeal which actually speaks to the aspirations of voters; so much more than these attempts to define each other outside of some political ideal.

It remains to be seen if Bernie's tepid benchmark for a 'revolution' meets even those goals

IN his after-caucus speech to supporters, Bernie Sanders pointed to his hair's breadth loss to Hillary Clinton as evidence of a political revolution in the making, but for what his candidacy promises for the voters it represents, it's still a far sight from a successful political revolt to finish neck to neck with your own party's rival in a caucus, to something that can credibly be defined as 'revolutionary'.

Sen. Sanders:

Let me conclude by saying what no other candidate for president will tell you. And that is that no president—not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else—will be able to bring about the changes that the working families and the middle class of this country, that our children, that the seniors, our seniors, deserve. No one president can do it, because the powers that be—Wall Street, with their endless supply of money; corporate America; the large campaign donors—are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone.

...what Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution, a political revolution that says when millions of people come together, including those who have given up on the political process—they’re so dismayed and so frustrated with what goes on in Washington—with young people who before had never been involved in the political process, when young people and working people and seniors begin to stand up and say loudly and clearly, "Enough is enough," that our government, the government of our great country, belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires—when that happens, we will transform this country.

Today, on Morning Joe, Sen. Sanders pointed again to voter participation, and engagement in the political process beyond the election, as the primary element he expects would propel his progressive agenda into action. It's a credible pitch, if not a new one. If record voter participation by disaffected Americans fed up with politics as usual represents a political revolution, the primary contest in 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would appear to be the hallmark of a revolutionary campaign. record numbers voted in that Democratic primary:

Wiki: Voter turnout on Super Tuesday was at 27% of eligible citizens, breaking the previous record of 25.9% set in 1972. Turnout was higher among Democrats than Republicans, with Democratic turnout surpassing Republican turnout even in traditionally red states where the number of registered Democrats is proportionally low. Many states reported high levels of Democratic voter registration in the weeks before primaries.From January 3 through February 5, Democratic turnout exceeded Republican turnout, 19.1 million to 13.1 million.

Fortunately, for the Sanders campaign, there's a dynamic to be tested between Hillary's reassuring pitch as the competent manager of an institutionally-corrupted and prevaricating institution, and Bernie's call to knock down the doors of influence and do away with politics as usual.

As 'The Fix' put it in a Jan. 25 editorial...

... it's impossible not to think that the disadvantage of being as thoroughly D.C. as is Hillary Clinton extends far beyond her campaign being "more prose than poetry." It feels, at times, like a very educated, thoughtful sales pitch for dial-up Internet service: A good sales pitch, but precisely not what people are looking for. Obama's campaign was that of a new voice who promised to reshape a disliked Washington. Clinton's is that of an established voice who knows the ins and outs of a despised one.

That's the most appealing promise of a Sanders bid, the prospect of literally storming the gates of the White House with a true progressive believer. Outside of the dubious achievement of trouncing a fellow member of the Democratic establishment (an establishment which he's voted with over 98% of the time), an unapologetic, progressive Sanders presidency would be an untested commodity.

Yet, there needs to be something more to a political revolution than just 'voter participation.' Indeed, President Obama took full advantage of social media during his presidency, and his political team has worked throughout to advantage their political agenda of the unprecedented network of supporters they'd generated, beginning with the record support he received in his campaign.

If there is to be a serious effort at changing the debate and voting pattern of Congress, there needs to be a 'revolutionary' focus on congressional and Senate elections with a focus and drive to elect progressive candidates who are as unabashedly progressive as his own agenda.

One needs to look no further for evidence of the complexities in running against the D.C. political establishment as a whole, rather than a traditional focus on the republican opposition, than to the Congressional Progressive Caucus (founded by then-congressman Bernie Sanders) where all but two members have endorsed his rival.

I read a comment here right after the Iowa caucus suggesting that anyone supporting Hillary wasn't a progressive. Unfair, or not, that's the message I get from most Sanders supporters here. I think it's a losing proposition to seek to divide our party among ourselves. The Democratic party has always been a coalition of disparate interests from myriad regions of the nation. We bring our diverse interests and concerns to the political table and are challenged to reconcile those to transform our ideals into action or law. Our elections are always going to reflect that diversity of interest and opinion.

Both of our Democratic candidates have the potential to enact progressive change which would transform the nation; they just have different notions of how to get to those. Make no mistake, though, we can't afford to lay either of these Democrats to waste, given the clear and urgent need to maintain the gains we've made over the decades(and recent past) and to protect the institutions under direct assault from anti-government foes in the republican party.

In a '92 convention speech entitled, 'Change: From What, To What?', Barbara Jordan spoke of our need, as Democrats, to convince Americans that we can govern. She also spoke of the need for our efforts to be led and advocated by the people, as Sen. Sanders is counseling. A little for both campaigns...

"We must leave this convention with a determination to convince the American people to trust us, the Democrats, to govern again; it is not an easy task, but it is a doable one.

Public apprehension and fears about the future have provided fertile ground for a chorus of cynics. Their refrain is that it makes no difference who is elected President. Advocates of that point of view perpetuate a fraud. It does make a difference who is President. A Democratic President would appoint a Supreme Court justice who would protect liberty not burden it. A Democratic President would promote those policies and programs which help us help ourselves: such as . . . health care and job training.

Character has become an agenda item this political season. A well-reasoned examination of the question of character reveals more emotionalism than fact. James Madison warned us of the perils of acting out of passion rather than reason. When reason prevails, we prevail. As William Allen White, the late editor of the Emporia, Kansas Gazette, said, “Reason never has failed man. Only fear and oppression have made the wrecks in the world.”

It is reason and not passion which should guide our decisions. The question persists: Who can best lead this country at this moment in our history?

I close by quoting from Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural address to a people longing for change from the despair of the great depression. That was 1933, he said: “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. Given the ingredients of today’s national environment maybe . . . just maybe, we Americans are poised for a second ‘Rendezvous with Destiny.'

Requiem for Martin O'Malley's Campaign

WELL, that's about it for Martin O'Malley's campaign, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sore. All the more poignant and bittersweet an end after an enlightening and inspiring campaign which surprised even this decades-long resident of his home state of Maryland. Presidential campaigns always seem to bring out the best in these candidates and it's fair to say that Gov. O'Malley was as inspired and transformed by the people he met along the trail as he hoped they were by his candidacy.

The swift fall of the O'Malley campaign is also softened by the prospect of the remaining contest between his two very formidable rivals in this primary who have also inspired us with their strong and competitive bids for the presidency.

Martin O'Malley's own run for the White House will mostly be remembered for the integrity he showed in raising Latino issues consistently throughout his campaign. Also, his commitment to gun safety and climate change in this campaign was second to none, in the detail of his proposals and the frequency of his advocacy on the trail, which matched the commitment he'd shown to these issues in the fights and progressive successes he experienced in Maryland.

I want to say that it's been my privilege to discuss, debate, and share info with DUers about O'Malley. The vast majority of posters have made it a pleasure to share this campaign here and have been exceedingly kind and accommodating of this promising bid which never seemed to catch the political wind in its lofty and capable sails.

O'Malley had a thing in this campaign, as most folks already know well, of picking up a guitar at the end of most of his rallies. Less well-known is the fact that it was almost always a fan or supporters guitar brought along with the hope of coaxing a tune out of the more than willing campaign crooner.

The pics we see of O'Malley's March, Martin's real-life band he's performed with in and out of office, portray him as a rock star, all fast and oiled. Yet, the reality is that O'Malley's a folkie out of the best and most gentle of traditions of the craft. In true and classic Woody Guthrie form, he sang about life, love, and opportunity and inspired us to sing along.

One of my best memories was an early event in Iowa where O'Malley performed his standby version of Passenger's 'Scare Away the Dark.' It was a perfect metaphor for his underdog candidacy, and an apt ballad for the lives of the people he met along the way. A verse...

"Sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice
If we all light up we can scare away the dark"

At the end, the audience is invited to hum along in unison with the tune as he fades out. Priceless.

Here's the clip, and many thanks again for putting up with me in this forum.

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