Monday, February 15, 2016

Next Week, Will Black Voters In South Carolina Pay Attention To Michelle Alexander-- Or Gregory Meeks?


Corey Robin, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, wrote a phenomenal book I read some years ago-- and talked a lot about here at DWT-- The Reactionary Mind. Musing aloud last month for Salon, Robin let his readers know what Bill and Hillary Clinton mean to him: "Sister Souljah, welfare reform, Ricky Ray Rector and the crime bill." Yeah, not a fan. If that video up top moved you at all, The Clintons’ sordid race game: No one will say it, but the Clintons’ rise was premised on repudiating black voters is a must-read. Especially if you're considering voting for Hillary, who brings with her lessons she learned while First Lady of Arkansas, "namely, that in the face of white reactionary intransigence, the best thing to do is nip and tuck, compromise, conciliate, mollify, appease. In other words, be a Clinton. And not a Sanders... Or a Lincoln."
Many of the liberal journalists who are supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy are too young to remember what the Clintons did to American politics and the Democratic Party in the 1990s. But even journalists who are old enough seem to have forgotten just how much the Clintons’ national ascendancy was premised on the repudiation of black voters and black interests. This was a move that was both inspired and applauded by a small but influential group of Beltway journalists and party strategists, who believed making the Democrats a white middle-class party was the only path back to the White House after wandering for 12 years in the Republican wilderness.

...Hillary Clinton in 1996 resorted to the worst sort of animal imagery to describe teenage criminals:

Some might prefer to call her pals like Kissinger or the Goldman crew "super-predators"

They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel.

As one wag said on Facebook the other night—in response to the question “Bring them to heel? Who says that shit out loud?”-- “Dog trainers.”

What’s more, white people got the message: According to polls, white voters were more familiar with Clinton’s attack on Sister Souljah than they were with his economic plan. So did black people: Though they voted for Clinton, their share of the total voter turnout fell by 20 percent from 1988, when they cast their ballots for Michael Dukakis (and accounted for 20 percent of the vote for him and 10 percent of total turnout), and 1992, when they cast their ballots for Clinton (and accounted for 15 percent of the vote for him and 8 percent of total turnout).

[Clinton pollster Stanley] Greenberg, for his part, celebrated all these changes in an influential book, arguing that this recalibrated focus “allowed for a Democratic Party that could once again represent people in the broadest sense.” It doesn’t take a close reader to know what that “people in the broadest sense” looked like.

This is what the Clintons were to millions of voters. This is what they will always be to me.

And not just me. As Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, which helped galvanize the movement against mass incarceration in this country, posted on Facebook on Thursday night:
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.
Black Agenda Radio editor Brace Dixon: "Bill Clinton offered a half-hearted 'apology' for his 1990s crime bills, which he admitted 'set the stage' for state and federal governments to nearly double the US prison population.
[H]ow come Bill Clinton, fifteen years out of office chose this week to publicly admit that black mass incarceration was maybe not the best public policy?

The short answer is that Hillary Clinton is running for president, and she needs that big black vote. Barack and Bill are working hard to position Hillary as the lesser evil, so that a large black vote, an essential component of what Democratic party consultants call their “base vote” can be mobilized for her.

We shouldn't forget however that despite the posturing of former presidents, that mass black incarceration has been the joint and bipartisan policy of both Republicans and Democrats.

The federal prison budget rose every year but one in the Clinton years, the Bush years, and so far the Obama years look about the same. The First Black President approved new federal supermax solitary prisons in places like Illinois, where citizen action closed the infamous Tamms penitentiary, and his Justice Department went to court to keep thousands who should have been freed when Congress relaxed the crack to powder sentence disparity from 100 to on to 17 to 1 behind the walls to this day.

Why? Why is black mass incarceration the bipartisan policy of America's rulers?

...The America prison state came into fullest flower at the same time as and as the flip side of Bill and Hillary Clinton's so-called “welfare reform.” Whether Republicans or Democrats are in office black mass incarceration serves the vital purpose of morally justifying America's viciously unequal and racist economic and social order. The prison state does this by creating mostly black and brown class of permanently stigmatized and “unworthy” poor who can be portrayed as not deserving decent housing, real educations, affordable health care, dignity or jobs at living wages and whose precarious lives and devastated communities can be blamed on anything except the failure of neoliberal capitalism to provide bread, education, housing dignity or justice.

The more unjust and unequal capitalist America becomes, the more it needs prisons, and that stigmatized class defined by them. Their precarious lives are also a standing lesson to millions more with falling wages and rising debts to shut up and suck it up or this could be you.
Lesser of two evil... it's all she's got to offer besides the fact that America still hasn't had a woman president. But the lesser of two evils is still evil and-- in any case-- is something to be thought about when she faces Trumpf, Cruz, Rubio or Ryan, not now when there's is a non-evil choice. She's running a misleading ad in South Carolina mocking Bernie. I wish DWT had enough money to send the graphic below to every voter in the state. By the way, if you click on this link you can contribute to Bernie's campaign through ActBlue.

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