Aw, it's adorable! Democrats learned to dog-whistle! (Bernie's 'white' support)

Or something. Actually, I think Bubba and Hilly have probably been doing it all along, but this one is pretty clever.

It’s seemed funny to me that we keep hearing (from mainstream white media, natch) about how Bernie’s support is only “white progressives.” This is backed up by claims that Hillary is beloved by blacks—again, white media making these claims—as if she just is, & we don’t need to explain it. But why? Why would Hillary Clinton be heavily favored by American blacks?

Marian Wright Edelman called the Clintons out back in the 1990’s for the welfare reform bill. Michelle Alexander lays a share of the blame for the “school-to-prison pipeline” on policies that date to the Clinton era. DLC-style white Democrats like Missouri’s Jay Nixon are now seeing the wrath of black voters. Certainly Hillary lost black voters in 2008 for obvious reasons.

When black people talk about politics today, are they even talking about the Presidential election? Um. Probably, somewhere. But it seems like to many blacks in America, that’s a bunch of white folk, and who cares, did you hear about the latest three brothers and sisters killed by police?

Now Sanders does have a different position with black Democrats than with white ones. He’s a candidate from a white rural state whose appeal is egalitarian, in favor of quality of life issues & the welfare state, and effectively both reform and a little populist. White leftists today probably are animated by economic concerns. Black Democrats, though? Right now, they’re preoccupied by structural racism. And they don’t have to be poor to be Democrats. Even though American blacks are poorer on average than American whites; black Democratic primary voters may average a little more upscale than white Democratic primary voters, and bourgeois blacks may be in the party for very different reasons than Bernie’s young progressives. So the difference is real.

But why has Bernie gained ground so rapidly among whites, and not among blacks? Well, some of it is his fault, probably. He’s working on it. Some of it is that blacks really are much more preoccupied by city governments and police killing people than by the Presidential primaries, and not paying that much attention.

Here’s the whistle though: It’ll usually be stated as, “Sanders needs to broaden his appeal beyond white progressives.”

What’s objectionable about that?! It’s technically true! Except that it’s injecting a racial element into the narrative; a narrative shaped by (white) media that are blatantly upscale, elite, and in the tank for HRC. Bernie didn’t counter it quickly to take control, because his own narrative didn’t mention all that identitarian stuff.

“Only white progressives.” Got it?

The “only” is usually only implied. But Sanders is framed as only having appeal to white people. This is stated in reporting, and it is technically true. At the time. But the real divider in rates of support for Sanders is…familiarity. He’s gained ground as people have learned about him.

Is there something about Sanders that doesn’t connect with black people? Well, maybe. I’ve been wondering about this. I mean, he did leave Brooklyn for Vermont, that sounds a little like “White Flight.” He is well-liked by rural white folks.

Does Clinton have this something? Um. Well. No? She’s a rich white lady, who acts like a rich white lady.

Blacks in America know that* all* white people are to be assumed to be against them until proven otherwise. Democrat, Republican, rich, poor, Christian, Jew, it doesn’t matter. A giant sea of white hostility. Bernie hasn’t won their trust. If they hear that only white people like him, well, he* must *be a racist, aren’t they all?

If he only appeals to whites, it’s an easy slide to “Whites only.” “White progressives,” “White people,” “White power.”

You’ll say I’m being crazy to call this a dog whistle. Well, maybe you don’t hear it. But the likes of ABC News have been blatantly in the tank for Hillary to an awesome degree. I think they’ve been playing us a little bit.

I don’t understand what you’re saying. A “dog whistle” is a message that has a special hidden meaning to a certain group of people, which other people don’t perceive. Right? What you’re objecting to seems to be right on the surface, not hidden at all.

Why don’t you put all that passion into telling us Bernie’s good points? Instead of going on about the Evil of Those Arrayed Against Him?

OK, maybe it’s the wrong word. But I think the media have been, intentionally or not, subtly implying that Sanders is a big ol’ racist.

Frankly, that seems pretty odd, considering his background. (Associated with international socialism, the civil rights movement, and so on.) But it’s a characterization that some will suspect is true.

I don’t think Sanders is a racist, but I do think that his Vermont background hasn’t provided him with much practice talking to Democratic constituencies other than white liberals, which is why the media keeps pointing out that his polling numbers with minorities are relatively poor.

Your contention is that they’re calling him a racist instead. Maybe that is a dog whistle I just don’t hear, but do you have any evidence anyone - other than you - is hearing it that way?

No, no not at all. This is an incredibly cartoonish view. I’m not someone who throws around accusations of racism without a very good reason, but if I was…

So the media is conspiring against Bernie, by discouraging black voters from voting for him. Which they are doing simply by reporting on his levels of support among various demographics, which they do for all candidates…?? :confused:

What about the notion that black voters are rational and capable of making intelligent, informed decisions? And that when doing so, they choose not to support Bernie, for good reasons?


One of “the best mayors in America” in the 1980’s. Able to work with conservative Republican landowners and developers to make his ideas a reality. Made Burlington one of “the most liveable cities in America.”

He was at one time considered the hardest working man in the House of Representatives. Other politicians went out and tried to raise money; he went to the Rules Committee and fought for amendments to bills all day. He said he tried to appeal to their consciences. Against Denny Hastert’s notoriously corrupt crew. Got some into law here and there.

Seems to be well-liked in the Senate Democratic caucus, is ranking member on a couple of committees.

Despite his far-left reputation, may be less partisan than average, since he’s mainly identified as an independent. He seems to work pretty well with Republicans as well as Democrats, if they can take him yelling at them. :smiley:

Deeply committed to a non-corporate, anti-corruption politics. Takes no Wall Street money, doesn’t charge absurd amounts for “speaking fees.”

Wants something akin to Canadian-style socialized medicine. This would get the middle incomes into the same program as the lowest quintile, instead of the split between “mandatory health insurance” and Medicaid we see now. This would, at the very least, make Medicaid less easy for state politicians to cut; that’s a good thing. It’s also more efficient, and could end up a lot easier on freelancers and small businesses with marginal profitability than the present exchanges. (He’s talking about an 8% payroll tax for this, and some additional marginal taxes; there’s some argument about his numbers.)

Advocates for free post-secondary education at state colleges. The Germans and the Nordic countries do this. Norwegians say it seems “obvious” to them that the state should pay for specialized education. I think they have a point.

Advocates a modest financial transactions tax (FTT) for Wall Street. This not only could raise an absurd amount of money in our financialized economy, but would deter high-frequency trades. (I think he’s planning to use this for the universities.)

He frames catastrophic climate change in terms of economic justice. Might actually take AGW more seriously than certain candidates I could name who softball the issue.

Despite his Trotskyist-radical roots, at this point he is basically the return of the mid-century “liberal consensus” to USA politics. High marginal income taxes (~77%) much like those in the 1960’s, forward-looking. Possibly the anti-Reagan, in the sense that he’s an old fart telling young punks about a “better way of life” before they were born, and thus he’s trying to reverse the Reagan Revolution by doing a little of what Reagan did.

(Note: He* will *raise your taxes. Everybody’s. And the very richest Americans by 40+ percentage points, to where they could pay almost 3x what they pay now. Anti-Reagan, indeed.)

Ticks the various boxes of modern progressivism better than most Democrats: pro-human rights in general; so pro-welfare; against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, etc.; was pro-SSM when that was fringe; a bit dovish; very leery of sending American soldiers to die in foreign wars.

If you’ll allow a little cynical analysis, he’s good for the Democratic Party. He can mobilize Occupy sympathizers better than Hillary. If he can mobilize anti-war voters even a little bit, that’s better than HRC. He can mobilize youth in huge numbers.

It’s kind of true that Tumblr kids love him. They’ve taken the joke that “Bernie will make anime real,” and run with it. But more seriously, tuition-free college and keeping us out of war? His natural base is non-privileged youth and their parents—which is a lot of people.

Wow, too bad he’s an old white fart, unlike the other old white farts—oh, wait.

Are you claiming that blacks have superhuman intelligence and are immune to propaganda?

Burlington. The largest city in Vermont. Its population was almost 40,000 in 1990. But not quite. You could probably fit it in between 1st and 2nd Avenue in New York City.

He did do a good job there though, which helps explain his win in neighboring New Hampshire. I doubt whether the rest of the country will feel the Bern to that extent.

I’d note that African-American voters were solidly behind Clinton in 2008 as well, until they weren’t. Have a little faith.

No, I never claimed that. But I sure don’t think that blacks lack of support for Bernie is because they were duped by propaganda.

She’s spent years reaching out to black communities. Sanders hasn’t.

Politics isn’t about issues.

Sanders supporters have pointed out many other ways in which Bill Clinton hurt black communities. They think black people voting for Hillary are voting against their own interests. They’re confused and upset because Sanders is going to be obliterated as soon as anyone with melanin votes. Maybe they can write a sequel to the “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” book: “What’s the Matter with South Carolina?”

A more sophisticated argument that doesn’t imply white progressives are smarter than black people is that it takes a certain amount of privilege to have the time and resources to educate yourself on complex political topics. Privilege is something white progs have plenty of.

I agree. I googled “lack of black support for Sanders”, and found this article, which mentions that Cornel West is one of the people that have been out on the campaign trail supporting Sanders. But West has repeatedly been super critical of Obama, calling him “a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” Obama has a pretty high approval rating among black Americans, and West’s over-the-top criticisms of him don’t seem to endear West or Sanders to many. This is in comparison to Clinton, who is often praising Obama, and highlighting her connections with him.

That article had a link to this article, where Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses how Sanders basically one track mind regarding economic injustice ignores the systemic racism of America. From the article:

The media probably does have an affect in Sanders support among black people, but much less than Sanders’ actual policy positions and speeches and interviews do. Sanders could likely pick up more support if he said that fixing economic issues will help the black community, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle, and he’ll work on the racial injustice issues as well.

Agreed. There is a difference between “has not spent much time working for causes dear to most blacks in the US” and “being a racist”. And that is assuming that first phrase is even true. OTOH, he hasn’t spent a bunch of time pandering, either, which is a good thing.

He’s now making the rounds, meeting with the media appointed leaders in the black community, which I guess he has to, but I hope he reaches out well beyond that and doesn’t get caught up in the Jackson/Sharpton endorsement/extortion game.

You are reaching. Big time.

I’ll also put this Op-Ed by Charles Blow in the NY Times here, calling for people to stop “Bernie-splaining” to black people:

In addition, it’s not a media driven narrative that Clinton is more popular among black voters. You’ve probably seen the polls on it and the level of endorsements Clinton has receive. And, today, the Congressional Black Caucus is set to endorse Clinton as well:

Clinton also has a nice line up of black pastors who have a good reputation for getting out the vote.

Just want to note that this sounds suspiciously like your other mantra, that all voters tend to make intelligent, informed decisions, carefully educating themselves and studying the issues, being informed by fair and balanced media (special thanks to Fox News!) and completely immune to political spin and the billions being [del]spent[/del] apparently wasted on it.

In #6 you seemed to imply that racism wasn’t a factor in Sanders’ lack of black support. Above and here you imply that political propagandizing isn’t a factor, either.

Which raises an interesting question. Blacks as a demographic disproportionately occupy the lowest economic echelons. Precisely the demographic that stands to benefit the most from Bernie’s democratic socialist policies. So why aren’t these “intelligent, informed” voters supporting him? Indeed why aren’t they cheering him on like the second coming of Jesus Christ himself?

He does Tai Chi while speaking? Now, all he needs to do is add some footwork.

Surely Blacks should rally to support Sanders. This is a man who among other things was active in C.O.R.E. as a young man and was once arrested for protesting segregation in public schools.