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Member since: Sun Jul 16, 2017, 06:11 AM
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"Houston we have a problem!"

Actually, it's "We have a problem IN Houston . . . and Memphis, and Detroit, and Atlanta, and Gary, and . . . "

A couple of days ago, another OP linked to an article from the Kansas City Star about a study from the AFL-CIO group "Working America." The article concluded that economic anxiety is a major factor for black voters and that our failure to speak loud and often about improving conditions for working people had cost us in terms of black voter turnout. As might have been expected, and as was undoubtedly intended, the mere mention of "economic anxiety" brought heated denials from those for whom the term "economic anxiety" is a synonym for "Bernie Sander" and for whom "Bernie Sanders" is a synonym for "Why Clinton lost."

As shocking as it might seem given my continuing support for Senator Sanders, I cannot agree with the premise of the article (and if I believed it to be true I would have joined the view of the article without the slightest hesitation because it is pretty clearly a pro-Sanders article). While I hear about "economic anxiety" from other black people every time we talk about politics/the economy/our daily lives, the anxiety we face is different, although no less or more important on a personal level, than the anxiety faced by white working class voters. I know this comes as no shocker to most of you, but black people and white people have different life experiences and those differences are ultimately founded upon the color of our skin.

Unfortunately, the responses attacking the OP and the article were even more incorrect. Denying that our party has a major problem with black voters, insulting black voters by suggesting that they fell for the ham-handed "Russian interference" we have seen so far, insulting them again by suggesting that they came out to vote for President Obama only because he was black, and minimizing the importance of low black voter turnout in 2016 by placing it behind manifestly less-significant (statistically) factors like "Jill Stein/disloyal leftists/Susan Sarandon" and/or as-yet un-quantified factors like Comey, increases in voter suppression between 2012 and 2016, and what I call the "Russian version of 'Candy Crush' Syndrome (i.e., the incredible power of social media to get folks to engage in mindless self-destructive behavior)" when it comes to figuring out why we lost to a f-ing buffoon is a recipe for disaster later this year in Alabama and elsewhere and across the country in 2018 and beyond.

While I will focus on a particular FACTS, Pew Research has published the FACTS about black voter participation in 2016. As much as some folks want to (no adverb needed here, I hope) claim that Secretary Clinton performed as well as other recent non-black candidates, the fact is that 2016 marked the first decline in black voter participation in two decades. Given that many (white and black) Democrats saw us as not only championing the interests of Black Americans in the last election, but also being punished by white voters (and attacked by economic justice Democrats) for doing so, it should be of concern for ALL Democrats that black voters didn't, shall we say, "feel the[our] love."


Here is a simple mathematical fact, the primary reason we lost in those states we absolutely needed, Michigan, for example, was not because Jill Stein took away vote Secretary Clinton should have had, but because black voters were so unenthused by what we as a party offered that they didn’t turn out and vote.

In Michigan, Jill Stein received 30K more votes total in 2016 than she did in 2012 AND that was taking her votes from across the entire state. In just one Michigan county alone, Wayne County, with a population that is 40% black, Secretary Clinton received over 70K less votes than President Obama and 2012 was Obama’s close election. (Secretary Clinton received 130K less votes in Wayne County in 2016 than President Obama did in 2008). To place the blame on Stein-ists in face of those numbers is simple denial. (Btw, if you are thinking about blaming black voters for not turning out with the same level of and anger that we see leveled here on an almost daily basis against "leftists" who didn't vote, be prepared for a little pushback.)

Far too many people try to paper this over by saying, “We got 90%+ of the black vote in Michigan. We’ve got the message black voters want to hear.” Sorry, that’s just wrong. ANY Democrat is going to garner 90%+ of the black vote because we f’n suffer in a way non-black voters do not when Republicans win. (As I have mentioned in other posts, I am as extreme left as is humanly possible and I have voted for the Democrat in every single election beginning in 1972 for simply that reason, not because any candidate other than Obama in 2008 has spoken to my interests.) If you want to see whether we buy what is being sold, look at turnout. Turnout in 2016 tells you that all of the “experts” who are talking about how moderation and incremental-ism sells with black voters are wrong. They may sell at DU, and even with a vast majority of black DU members, but they doesn’t sell in Memphis where I live, or Houston, or, as we see from the stats, Detroit.

I have zero doubt that given the closeness of the 2016 presidential election in 3-4 key states, that without Russian/Cambridge Analytical social media disinformation, suppression of Democratic voters in the form of voter ID and voter registration laws – particularly combined with racially and/or ethnically targeted voter purges; and the suppression of Democratic voters in the form of racially and/or ethnically targeted decreases in polling locations and voting hours could have independently caused the 2016 disaster. Even the defectors to Stein could have changed the outcome. BUT if we are looking at the MAJOR cause of our defeat, it wasn’t any of those, it was our decision to ignore the dissatisfaction of black voters and to simultaneously tell working class voters to jump in a lake (when both of those groups have consistently voted in favor of the Democratic candidate and did again in 2016) AND then to continue the morally indefensible and failed strategy of playing to educated suburban whites which have never voted in our favor.

That has to change and it has to change now.

If we are to win in 2017, 2018, and beyond, it will take more than just claiming that we stand for people of color, or for that matter, working people. It sure as hell will take more than pitting them against each other. We are the party of the oppressed. We have to act on it, even if it means forcing "the middle" who doesn't vote for us anyway to deal with some ugly truths. We don't have the media. We don't have the money. We sure as hell don't have the Russians. All we have are each other.

Here at DU it is fine to vent. It's fine to let emotion overrun fact. It's fine to speculate what might have been if only . . . (insert your favorite Bernie hate and/or Bernie love meme OR Clinton hate and/or Clinton love meme here). 2016 f'ing hurt and that hurt isn't going away in 6 months, none months, or even a year, or quite frankly, forever. What's more, it will hurt our country for decades (as anyone who understands how easy it is to get rid of regulations - as we are seeing that POTrump do every single day - but how long it takes to put them in place knows) Let it out while you're here.


When we get out from in front of our computers or off our cell phones, when we walk out that door, when we walk out the door and look our oppressed Democratic constituencies in the eye, we need to do more than just be "better than the Republican," we need stand up and fight for everyone from Michael Brown, to the prisoners victimized by a racist criminal justice system, to the women who are still voting Democratic, to the workers who have watched their real incomes plummet.

We need to unite.

Thanks. I know it's long.

Well, you're half right anyway

You write:

The arrogance of white people to say ["It is all about the money"] astounds me.

The arrogance of ANY white person to pontificate about racism AT ALL should astound you.

Like you, I am offended when white folks tell me that racism is just one form of the economic oppression suffered by all people and that, if we just correct economic injustice, all will be well. I am ALSO offended when white folks tell me that people who look like me don't think economic injustice is a top priority.

Racism is housed in the "evolved" DNA of white people who have assured each other for thousands of years that they are not merely intellectually, morally, and spiritually superior to us, but genetically superior to us. It is that inbred ideology that gives them the "moral freedom" to treat us like chattel, beat us, rape us, lynch us, imprison us, execute us, and, yes, steal from us. It is, however, either an unawareness of historical fact, or the willingness to sacrifice fact for the sake of a political talking point, to not admit that economic oppression (read: capitalism) - together with an intrinsically racist criminal justice system - are the new masters' primary tools for maintaining a chainless slavery.

This dismissing of the economic justice issues we face is particularly troubling for me because I speak to groups of young people living in urban areas a lot and a majority, in my opinion a substantial majority, of them are unconvinced that we (meaning those of us trying to fire them up about the Democratic Party) really give a shit about social justice issues because the folks who are telling them we do care won't speak out forcefully about things that affect their everyday lives like the racial and cultural genocide being perpetrated through: every level of the criminal justice system; and, a social support network that has trapped them in despair. (Heck, it wasn't until Trump turned it into a political flashpoint we could use against Republicans that many in the DU community started showing support for Colin Kaepernick.)

When we aren't talking about economic oppression and they don't believe we care about social justice issues, we are losing needed votes. If you don't believe me, take a moment to compare turnout in Wayne County Michigan (where we make up an overwhelming majority of the registered voters) in 2012 and 2016. We lost Michigan by around 10,000 votes, statewide. In 2012, President Obama's so-called "bad" year, more than 60,000 more people got out and voted Democratic than voted for us in 2016.

The Democratic Party can't afford to lose 60,000 votes. If anyone thinks that CLAIMING that this party stands for social justice is working at the ballot box while we have major party spokespeople supporting DA Bob McCulloch's grand jury whitewash of the murder of Michael Brown, while our party's office holders won't prosecute anyone participating in this epidemic of blue on black murder (not even the f'n murder of a child, Tamir Rice), and while our cities are dying as unbridled capitalism leaves them to rot, they need to think again.

Sure, 90+% of us who do show up and vote will vote for Democratic Party candidates (e.g., I am black but I am also a Marxist. I have voted in every election at every level beginning 1972, BUT I have never voted for anyone but the Democrat in a general election in my entire life) because we actually suffer when Republicans win, but 60,000 less Democratic voters in Wayne County is a message to those who think that we can keep on doing what we did in 2016 and still win.

Yea, white people need to be called out for the way they talk to us and about us . . . ALL white people.


I am close friends with a former member of this group, Uponthegears. For those of you who don't remember him, he was one of a handful of Black DU members who stood for Senator Sanders until the convention and then stood in his defense after he became one of the whipping boys for Trump's victory. Even though Uponthegears views could not have been the most popular, he was always treated as a brother here. In fact, I came to DU because, even though he was FFR'd, he told me about the only post he had that that even most of the white DUers liked, a post about a friend of his whose tire was shot out late at night in rural Ohio and who got interrogated by the police for driving while black instead of treated like a victim of attempted murder. I was that friend.

Like Uponthegears, I am a Marxist and have been ever since we were both members of the Black Panther Party. I am as proud of that fact now as I was almost 50 years ago when we first learned of about the necessary role of Marxism in liberation from Seale and Cleaver. Even so, I have never voted for anyone in any election at any level who was not a Democrat. I have worked for the Democratic nominee during in every general election beginning in 1972 even though in 1972 I attended our convention instead. The reason for that is simple. It does not matter whether the Democratic Party "cares" about black people, or whether its policies are what I want them to be, or even whether it runs someone who I know to be racist. The United States has a binary system at the presidential level and for black people, at least in my mind, there is never a Republican who is better than any Democrat.

That does not mean that I will be silent when I see my brothers and sisters exploited. We were silent for 400 years. As of late, I have learned there is a price to be paid for that here. Because I have no doubt that I will pay that price in the near future, I just wanted to tell you before I do that Uponthegears is alive and well and that he still calls everyone in this group brother and sister.


When rhetoric is unchained to fact

it is easy to launch into such rants.

While my gut tells me to respond to your fantasies about what "Leftists" stand for by expounding upon the TRUTH about what the "anti-Left" stands for, my desire to continue to be able to exchange viewpoints with people who care more about building a future for our party than excusing its past failures tells me not to.

Instead, I will simply correct the following non-exclusive list of false statements about "the Left:"

1. Lie >>> The Left believes in "the subjugation of the many to one powerful man" Truth >>> "The Left" believes that the policies espoused by Senator Sanders are, where they differ, preferable to those espoused by the former power structure of our party. For all the insulting insinuations that supporters of Senator Sanders are nothing more than a cult of personality, I think you would have at least some difficulty finding a post among our community here referring to Senator Sanders as "that noble man."

2. Lie >>> "[H]ow is it that a Marxist cares about a politician and political Tribe to the exclusion of class solidarity? Truth >>> Though this seems more about me personally than "the Left," I will be presumptuous and answer for the whole of "the Left." This accusation rests upon a two basic falsehoods. The first is a repetition of the smear that "the Left" is a cult of personality, as opposed to simply a political viewpoint different from your own. I understand that when one is firmly convinced of the infallibility one's own political beliefs, such an accusation seems the only possible explanation why anyone would challenge those beliefs. It isn't. There is actually a principled opposition to the direction our party has taken (with, at least for me, the exception of the decidedly liberal 2008 campaign of the greatest president in history and his necessarily pragmatic campaign of 2012) since 1992. The second is a repetition of the intentionally false and divisive meme that people who look like me, our LGBTQ friends, undocumented immigrants, non-"Christians" of every persuasion but most prominently adherents to Islam, women, workers of every persuasion who have watched their wealth, their income, and their children's future being stolen by the largest transfer of wealth to the 1% in the history of world, and all other oppressed groups are not ALL victims and do not ALL stand in solidarity.

3. Lie >>> The Left are "people who have no idea what it's like to be poor, including some who talk about "only" having 4 bathrooms and wearing couture gowns, people who own multiple homes or think $70k a year a pittance, all because they divide the country according to Bernie." Truth >>> This little diatribe ignores the history of the American "Left" in favor of perpetuating the intentionally divisive meme that Bernie supporters are nothing more than young white ivory tower liberal males just because SOME of his supporters fit that description. It implicitly suggests that the fact that people like me vote 90% and more for the inevitably mainstream Democratic candidate (indeed, I myself have never voted for anyone other than the Democratic Party nominee in the almost half-century since I first voted) proves we reject leftists policies when the fact is that we do not have the privilege to vote our conscience except when that vote is for a potential winner because the consequences of losing in our community are literally matters of life and death. In fact, many of the heroes of the fight for liberation, including Newton, Seale, Cleaver, King, Malik el-Shabazz etc., were confirmed socialists and confirmed agents of change and NOT the wearers of haute couture gowns you might find at . . . (well, you know what goes here).

4. Lie (this time by omission)>>> "Instead we see demands to abandon reproductive rights and civil rights, demands that education funding not be need-based so the several hundred K a year crowd can benefit off the labor of the working poor" Truth >>> Go back through the posts here over the last three weeks on the "we need to welcome anti-choice candidates (actually anti-a woman's absolute sovereignty over her own body candidates because this issue way bigger than just choice)." Count how many of those demanding loyalty to the party over the party's loyalty to one of our party's most basic tenets come from the same pragmatists who routinely cheer these anti-"Left" diatribes and compare that number to the number of "Leftists" demanding the same thing. It's not even close and yet you lay this at the feet of "Leftists."

How much more of this mantra - a term I use because we see it repeated over and over again - do I have to address before you finally admit that "the Left" has always stood by Democratic Party values and by Democratic candidates come time to vote with much greater frequency than at least some groups whose loyalty goes virtually unchallenged? Do I have to go through every line?

Btw, just because I am over being lectured about things I know first-hand, I've been to Cuba and not just for a weekend. You can toss out a hundred articles about the way we are treated there but I will tell you that it pales in comparison to how we are treated here.
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