by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
While Hillary Clinton runs rightward at breakneck speed, attempting to suck every stray Republican into her nasty Big Tent, Black Democrats worry that young African Americans have rejected both major parties. Black Millennials, correctly, tend to see no difference in the two wings of the Duopoly, and resist being turned into fodder for Hillary’s campaign. Movement politics is breaking the bonds to the Democrats.
Young Blacks are Learning the Nature of the Duopoly Beast
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The Democrats howl in distress at their inability to count on the votes of Black youth.”
Movements are difficult phenomena to measure. Scholars bicker over where and when to pinpoint the beginnings of social movements, or when they have petered out, or the difference between dead movements and those that are merely dormant. However, we can now be certain that the surge of grassroots Black political action that gained international attention through fierce resistance to police repression in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago, is a full-blown “movement” with the potential to shake the foundations of the prevailing order.
Real movements have profound, lasting effects on the worldviews of a broad strata of the populations from which they emerge. Lives are no longer simply lived; they are set in motion – towards a goal and against an oppressor. The movement that went under the general heading of Black Lives Matter has permeated the consciousness of young Black people, reigniting the seemingly dead coals of a previous mass movement that was violently crushed two generations ago. The Black Radical Tradition re-emerges in an era when capitalism is in permanent, fatal crisis and U.S. Empire thrashes about like a vampire exposed at sunrise.
You can be confident that this movement has taken firm root when the Democrats howl in distress at their inability to count on the votes of Black youth -- while most of their elders and the supine and corrupt Black Misleadership Class huddle near the latrine of Hillary Clinton’s obscenely overstuffed Big Tent, now also home to hordes of refugee Republicans, the job-exporting filthy rich, and their retainers in the “national security” and regime-changing, earth-scorching establishment. Black Millennials will not vote for Donald Trump, the white nationalist, but many see no earthly reason to support Hillary Clinton, either. They don’t buy into her reincarnation from the ghoulish co-president who railed against young Black “super-predators,” condemning unprecedented multitudes of Black people to prison, and who endorsed the abandonment of millions of poor women and children to the depredations of a “workfare” marketplace. “That stuff comes up unprompted,” said Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher, who sounded the alarm to party brass after conducting a series of focus groups with young Blacks in Cleveland, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Florida.
“Black young people don’t buy into her reincarnation from the ghoulish co-president who railed against young Black ‘super-predators.’”
In presenting his findings to his paymasters, Belcher selected statements from the disturbingly large numbers of focus group members that see no urgency in voting for Clinton. “For the fact they got Hillary against Donald Trump,” said a non-college Black man from Cleveland. “It's to tell you that it’s just the lesser of two evils either way you go. If you choose Hilary, she was part of the whole problem that started sending blacks to jail.” A college graduate woman from Jacksonville said of Trump, “He might be the devil but she has been in bed with the devil, why vote for any of them?”
Belcher urges the Democrats to respond to such “pessimists” and “cynics” by changing the subject to Barack Obama and “tying Trump to violence against Black bodies.” Belcher writes that the latter approach and language is “very compelling” -- despite the obvious fact that it’s just another “lesser evil” argument.
He concludes that many skeptical Blacks are “not aware of Mrs. Clinton’s plans regarding police conduct, mass incarceration and structural racism broadly.” Belcher is wrong. It’s not that they are unaware of Clinton’s promises, but that they don’t believe anything she says, and are convinced that she is not an agent for the kind of change they demand. She’s a historically proven part of the problem, the solutions to which must come from the Black community, itself.
Belcher warns that, without a huge, near unanimous Black turnout in November, the election could be a replay of John Kerry’s loss to George Bush in 2004. That’s unlikely, but Belcher no doubt has learned that Democrats won’t spend money on anything Black unless they fear imminent defeat. He is also certainly aware that Hillary Clinton is betting she can more than make up for Black and progressive defections through a full-blown appeal to disaffected Republicans. Plus, she will vastly overspend Donald Trump, whose billionaire peers are luxuriating at Hillary’s gilded tent in The Hamptons, where she holds forth for hours on a full range of foreign and domestic policy subjects (although she has not held a full-blown press conference since December).
“He might be the devil but she has been in bed with the devil, why vote for any of them?”
Cornell Belcher advises the Democrats to “make Hillary the vehicle for a community centric agenda” -- meaning, local problems can be solved by voting for Clinton – and by making “Trump’s racism real.” Clinton’s stances on mass incarceration and police violence need to be communicated “more effectively.” In other words: pretend to listen; deploy key buzz words that make Clinton appear empathetic to Blacks; blow Trump up as the ultimate danger to Black lives; and keep reminding young Blacks that Clinton has changed from her Black-bashing days in the White House -- even though she has never claimed to have needed, or undergone, a metamorphosis.
A significant section of young Black people have become immune to this crap. Their eyes are on movement-building and Black self-determination. And, just as you can’t unmake monstrosities like the Clintons and Trump, you can’t snuff out a worldview that has been transformed by a period of intense struggle. Even after two generations of relative quietude, the Black Radical Tradition blossoms anew.
Which is in stark contrast to the stink emanating from the mouth of New York Times pundit Charles Blow, who these days moonlights as a rent-a-cop at Hillary’s Big Tent. Blow is on the same page as Belcher, week after week performing the same two-step of alternately kissing Hillary’s nether-parts and Satanizing Trump. His column has become an intellectual desert – until September 5, when it became a house of mirrors, in which Hillary and Obama’s politics are reflected onto Trump.
“Charles Blow’s column has become an intellectual desert.”
The occasion was Trump’s visit to a Black church in Detroit. Blow quoted part of Trump’s remarks to the congregation:
“I believe we need a civil rights agenda of our time, one that ensures the rights to a great education and the right to live in safety and in peace and to have a really, really great job, a good-paying job, and one that you love to go to every morning.”
Then, Charles Blow offers what he calls his own “translation”:
“I want to further weaken public education through more charters and vouchers. I want to flood your neighborhoods with more police because you can’t control yourselves. I want you to stop freeloading, get off welfare, and get a job.”
Actually, Trump said none of that, although it could honestly be inferred that’s what he thinks. But, the atrocities Blow suspects Trump is planning to commit have already been carried out by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The First Black President is the unchallenged champion of charterization, having created a national alternative charter school system through the coercive power of his Race to the Top program, which Clinton heartily endorses. The Clinton co-presidency did, indeed, flood Black communities with cops, setting off the greatest surge in Black mass incarceration in modern U.S. history, while President Obama is the Police Militarizer-in-Chief, having increased Pentagon transfers of arms and battle equipment to local departments 24-fold in his first years in office. And of course, it was Bill Clinton who destroyed “welfare as we knew it” 20 years ago last month, with Hillary’s blessing.
As Cornell Belcher’s Black Millennials said, Hillary “was part of the whole problem that started sending blacks to jail,” and “she has been in bed with the devil, why vote for any of them?”
Jill Stein’s Power to the People Platform is generally compatible with the Historical Black Political Consensus. And neither Stein nor Green Party vice presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka has slept with the devil.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].