Why I'm Glad Bernie Got Interrupted
July 20, 2015 9:28 AM   Subscribe

You don't get any of those things by staying quiet. On the contrary, the best way to get politicians to listen, and to force them to deal with an agenda, is to frighten them. So BlackLivesMatter came to Netroots Nation, and it showed that its activists have a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and a lot of support. They forced Sanders and O'Malley to address their issues.
Noah Berlatsky: Why I'm Glad Bernie Got Interrupted.
posted by MartinWisse (485 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm actually kind of stunned that Sanders wouldn't have considered that question a little bit more -- yeah, I get that it was all off-script, but surely he's thought about the issue in the last few months?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:36 AM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Eh, hecklers not getting a note perfect response should be expected, because they are hecklers.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on July 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


Berlatsky writes:
You don't get any of those things by staying quiet. On the contrary, the best way to get politicians to listen, and to force them to deal with an agenda, is to frighten them.

He also emphasizes:
the fact that Sanders has no chance of winning is important to keep in mind

So this implies either
1) It works for frighten Sanders about his political chances because he's deluded and thinks he really has a chance to win

or

2) Sanders knows he has no chance to win so let's frighten him on a personal level
posted by Bwithh at 9:39 AM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yeah, the thing that's really bothersome is what a missed opportunity this was for Sanders — if he had said the right things off the cuff, instead of getting weird and cranky and defensive and insisting on reading his stump speech instead of actually responding to the (very important) people in the protest, it could have been a campaign-changing moment in the good way.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:40 AM on July 20, 2015 [54 favorites]


ugh, don't let me down on this one, metafilter. The BLM protestors in the crowd weren't random hecklers. They were paid Netroots attendees, and many of them have pretty substantial organizations behind them.

The only Netroots attendees to criticize here are the white people who stayed in their seats instead of going to the front with the protestors, or at least standing up.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2015 [20 favorites]


Eh, hecklers not getting a note perfect response should be expected, because they are hecklers.

Are they, though? That's the question, I guess. I'm sure Bernie thinks they're hecklers.
posted by blucevalo at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Bernie was irritated that, as someone who gets this and has a forty year history of getting it, he is getting heckled about it.

Also going to vote for the guy in the primaries as hearing about his unelectability over and over from every fucking angle is wearing thin.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2015 [54 favorites]


To dismiss them as hecklers is, well, dismissive. They were voicing a legitimate concern, but did not appear to want to yield any time to Sanders who initially seemed willing to listen to and address said concerns. They just kept steamrolling him which forced him to make his point known at a later time through twitter.

Bernie is not the racist liberal Phil Ochs sang about, and in spite of him being an old jewish guy, he is familiar with the unique challenges faced by ethnic minorities. He's been a tireless advocate against racism in the criminal justice system, especially in the form of mandatory minimum sentencing, WAY before it was cool. Like, I get it. And I know I come off as a privileged white guy asking them to wait their turn. But please. This is not the guy you want to be talking all over.
posted by triceryclops at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2015 [24 favorites]


You know who else had no chance of getting elected? Jimmy Carter. Too bad how it worked out for him, huh?
posted by Bringer Tom at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Dang, I usually love Berlatsky, but this is not so well thought out. I agree that Sanders doesn't have a chance, and that he exists mostly as a conduit for a particular cause or platform. But #blacklivesmatter is also a single-cause actor1 that doesn't have a chance to be president, and the real candidate that stands in opposition to both of these positions (HRC) benefits enormously from disharmony in the opposition. Hilary is in the position of waiting out everyone else, and the safer her path to the nomination (and the white house), the less she'll have to address her positions as a deregulating, 3-striking drug-warrior Clinton democrat.

The fact that Sanders' is not the BLM candidate does not mean that interrupting Sanders is a good strategic goal.2 Sanders' economic equality stance is the most natural partner for #BLM, and both are far closer to each other than either are to Hilary.

1) to the extent that it's possible to talk about a hashtag as a single entity.
2) Assuming that the strategic goal of this interruption was to change the direction of the presidential race in some way. If the actual goal was some kind of nebulous "consciousness raising", then perhaps this can be seen as a success, but that's a different discussion.

posted by DGStieber at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, there's been an issue with Sanders that he's been VERY tonedeaf when it comes to the minority community. Quite a bit of his rhetoric has some serious issues in that regard.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Bernie has been well known for his extensive engagement with town halls across Vermont on a frequent basis. I'm willing to bet far more frequently than any other senator. I've seen him on a few occasions and I've watched as he has patiently listened to, and responded to, various pronouncements and concerns from the banal to the unhinged. And, I have noticed that what he particularly does not have a lot of patience for is interruption and people speaking out of turn. Unfortunately, what plays well as a good regard for fairness and giving everyone an equal chance to speak in a local town hall does a lot less well under the optics of a national campaign where it is simply impossible to sit there for hours and let everyone who would like to walk up to a podium and ask him a question.

I'm also a bit sad about this particular turn, because I have thought from the beginning that Bernie's biggest challenge would be his appeal across party racial demographics. Coming from Vermont does him no favors. His beliefs and background are right on this issue, but he needs to find a way to speak to it more effectively and acknowledge head-on the challenge. Sometimes that means a bit of patience with folks who may be going about things in not quite the best way for you.
posted by meinvt at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Again, he was offered an opportunity to say the right things after O'Malley made an ass of himself, and he unfortunately instead proceeded to make an ass of himself, largely because he was in the moment under the delusion that he was more important than the protestors.

Something contextual to keep in mind is that there are always protests at Netroots. You get a bunch of activists together, they're gonna activist.

As such, don't think of it as the BLM protestors being out of order. Think of it as the BLM protestors instituting progressive stack. If you think that protestors don't have the right to do that, we have fundamental disagreements.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


[We sort of had a big to-do about What Qualifies As Heckling recently, re: a speech Obama gave; it'd be good to maybe not do that all over again. Maybe let's just take it as read that people disagree on the definition of "heckler" and "heckling", and focus on talking about the specifics and substance of what was said instead or the larger context of the event itself.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2015


The left loves to eat itself.

Why not take the fight to the Ted Cruz rally where people will be deeply discomfited if not downright hostile (equating to much better PR) rather than merely annoyed?
posted by anazgnos at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2015 [48 favorites]


I heard Sanders a couplefew weeks back on Morning Edition being asked directly and repeatedly about racism and was appalled at how committed he was to avoiding the question in an "it's really about classism" way. He really had to work to dodge the issue as thoroughly as he did.

It's not like this hasn't come up before for him. He's got no excuse for not being able to give a simple, clear statement that black lives matter.
posted by asperity at 10:00 AM on July 20, 2015 [23 favorites]


I think it's pretty clear this was about consciousness-raising rather than trying to influence the future President of the United States. I mean, if they'd wanted to do the latter, why not target the present front-runner as well? Why confront only the long-shot candidates?
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:01 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not getting how telling these folks (oops, "single-cause actors," sorry) to be patient and/or wait their turn with lectures about Bernie Sanders' record on civil rights, his lionized progressive status, etc., is going to (a) change their tactics and (b) come off as anything but more white-people finger-wagging.
posted by blucevalo at 10:02 AM on July 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


Speaking truth to ... weakness? Is that the central point here? This guy is never going to win so let's shit all over him, even though he agrees with us about just about all of our issues?

Hillary Clinton is an Ivy League-educated corporate lawyer, a millionaire many times over, and her PAC has been hungrily accepting money from Wall Street interests forever. And you know what? She didn't even bother showing up, because she doesn't *care* about these voters. As the inevitable candidate going against a field of right-wing loonies she thinks that the BLM voters, along with everyone else at Netroots, has no choice but to vote for her. And by eating their own, the left is proving her right - that they are incapable of mounting a unified front against the usual center-right DLC platform. Sad.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2015 [80 favorites]


I am quite confident the only national consciousness raised by hecklers is irritation at them and their cause. Civility is not only the domain of the white man. I can think of some rather outstanding Black leaders and activists ( national and International ) who demonstrated as much.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:09 AM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


It seems very strange to refer to the left "eating itself" when some leftists suggest to politicians that maybe we should focus on the citizens being murdered in the streets.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:11 AM on July 20, 2015 [50 favorites]


Yeah, I'm really conflicted here. I'm a big supporter of BLM, but this doesn't really seem like a particularly effective method of protest. On the other hand, I'm also a big supporter of Bernie (And will definitely vote for him in the Primary), but I feel like he's been stepping in it here when he could be augmenting his inequality stance by standing in solidarity with BLM.
posted by KGMoney at 10:12 AM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why would anyone assume they are not also going to do this Hillary? I have every confidence they will show up at her rallies as well.

Demanding better from your candidates, especially about a very hot issue (the growing awareness of the true scope of institutionalized racism in this country) is not "eating your own." We haven't had the primary yet. There is no better time to demand potential candidates address issues we care about.

I am quite confident the only national consciousness raised by hecklers is irritation at them and their cause. Civility is not only the domain of the white man. I can think of some rather outstanding Black leaders and activists ( national and International ) who demonstrated as much.

Respectability politics finger-wagging shows up right on time! But once 12-year-old kids are getting slaughtered on the playground by cops for doing nothing at all, I personally don't think black people owe white people politeness or "civility." People are dying due to racism, daily, visibly, publicly. Their killers walk free and are rewarded by many other Americans with fundraising money. Outrage is the appropriate response.
posted by emjaybee at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2015 [33 favorites]


Sanders can win. The idea that there is no chance of him winning is incorrect. If the conventional wisdom represented certainty, we wouldn't need elections.

I wish he had handled this better. Despite the fact that he handled it poorly, I still think he is the best candidate for dealing with the systemic racism that is such a problem in this country. I do not think that means that #BlackLivesMatter should give him a pass, but no one should lose sight of the fact that he would be much better as President on this issue than Clinton.

Racism and classism are linked. That doesn't mean that racism, particularly systemic racism, shouldn't be considered on its own, or that it shouldn't be a primary focus of some activists. Nevertheless, suggesting that there is no class component to racism is risible.
posted by ent at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


in spite of him being an old jewish guy, he is familiar with the unique challenges faced by ethnic minorities

The "in spite of" part of this sentence seems... weird.

Jewish identity doesn't seem to carry much baggage these days (and maybe in the history of this country it was always easier than being black), but it hasn't been that long since it did.
posted by weston at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's been rather informative watching Elon James' Twitter timeline (Netroots Nation media director) on this. The operative hashtag on this has been #EarnThisDamnVoteOrLose and the reaction has been amazing to watch.

It's almost like assuming that demographics are going to give you their vote no matter what is a dangerous and belittling strategy or something.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Civility is not only the domain of the white man.

So not only should BLM sit down and shut up, but they should be "civil" about it too. All right.
posted by blucevalo at 10:17 AM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


In fact, O'Malley[...] said later, "I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue."
The former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore did not understand the "depth of feeling" about the murder of African-Americans? What the fuckity fuck. Apparently he did need the dose of reality.
posted by jaguar at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


I was speaking with a regular NetRoots attendee this weekend, who had not attended this year, about the Sanders protest, and she brought up something that gives this a little more context.

Sanders is so fixated on economic injustice (which also needs attention, clearly) that he is currently part of a wider problem of white progressive leaders ignoring the staggering problem of violence against blacks. This is not to say that Sanders doesn't care about racial issues, or that he's a racist, or anything like that. But he has what this activist called a problematic reputation when it comes to today's racial issues. And saying "I marched with Martin Luther King" is kind of a politician's version of "I have a black best friend." There are issues that matter today, and what he says about them today matters and no amount of marching 40 years ago changes that.

I went and did some small amount of research online and found articles like this one, among many many others, that outline the problem pretty well:

In a political climate where blacks are repeatedly being told that working on economic equality will also benefit them tremendously, (and it's important to understand that that's not an especially accurate statement.) activists are finding that this is a convenient dodge around the very real threats black people are facing economically and violently. When even a progressive will sort of blunder into the "all lives matter, now let's talk economy" canard, then yeah. It becomes exceptionally important to remind economically-focused progressive candidates that they cannot afford to be that narrow in their rhetoric or in their policies.

So I'm tending to agree with the protestors. I support what they did wholeheartedly, and I like this article.
posted by shmegegge at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2015 [38 favorites]


Sanders Judaism has already been used against him on NPR in a thoroughly repugnant way.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I had previously thought that maybe black people shouldn't be murdered by police, but now that someone shouted about it... well, I just don't know. Is the other side shouting? Who's shouting less, I'll probably just vote for the people shouting the least
posted by Greg Nog at 10:20 AM on July 20, 2015 [52 favorites]


Douglas Williams in a piece in The South Lawn a few weeks ago: Making Black Lives Matter to Liberals
In a RH Reality Check piece entitled, “Why It Matters If Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Talk About Race or Gender,” Emily Crockett quotes marketing consultant Anat Shenker-Osorio:

“It’s the idea that speaking about racial inequality and gender inequality is an important thing to do, but you don’t have to do it first, and you don’t have to do it all the time…..If you don’t lead with it, then you don’t take it seriously.”

Osorio’s claim is alarming to those who care about these issues. Yet Sanders has had a 100 rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America every year since he first entered Congress in 1991. Over the same time period, he has never been rated below a 90 by the NAACP.

A quick look at the bills that Bernie Sanders has sponsored in Congress, as well as the voting record he has amassed over the last twenty-five years, shows Sanders placing material gains for vulnerable communities such as women and people of color at the top of his agenda. In this Congress alone, Sanders has introduced bills to make public higher education free, reduce the cost of prescriptions purchased under Medicaid, create federal youth employment programs, and expand Social Security. If there is a gold standard of advocacy in Congress for racial justice and gender equality, Sanders would seem to fit the bill.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:20 AM on July 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


I love you, Greg Nog.
posted by shmegegge at 10:21 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know who else had no chance of getting elected? Jimmy Carter. Too bad how it worked out for him, huh?

Cribbing from Wikipedia:
When Carter entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries in 1976, he was considered to have little chance against nationally better-known politicians; his name recognition was two percent. As the Watergate scandal of President Nixon was still fresh in the voters' minds, Carter's position as an outsider, distant from Washington, D.C., became an asset. He promoted government reorganization. Carter published Why Not the Best? (autobiography preview on Google books) in June 1976 to help introduce himself to the American public.
Sanders is both a career politician, and an eternal outsider, but he'll have to do something to stand above others in the ever increasing pool of candidates. He's getting a lot of good press, but some not so great (as seen here). Sad he stuck to his stump speech, makes him seem like more of the career politician and less of a candidate for the people.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am quite confident the only national consciousness raised by hecklers is irritation at them and their cause.

If professional interviewers can't get an answer out of him about racism, then IMO heckling's entirely justifiable.

And I like a lot of his positions, and I'm pleased at the attention he's bringing to economic inequality -- but it wouldn't take much at all for him to quit failing so hard here. I've been looking through NPR's site to try to link the interview I heard on Morning Edition, but I'm not having any luck so far and I'm not able to listen to the clips at work anyway.

It's not that hard to make answers fit a "yes, racism, and also classism" template rather than a "no, it's classism" one. He could absolutely still get his main talking points in while acknowledging, y'know, what people are actually asking him about.
posted by asperity at 10:23 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


gonna back off a little, but: judging from the chatter on the Netroots conference app after the protest, it was stunningly successful, aside from Sanders's stumbling.

The Netroots crowd is a fairly well-connected mix of center-ish-left non-profit types and left-left organizers. There were a whole bunch of white people from those organizations who think of themselves as anti-racists, but who didn't think of themselves as people who needed to join in. After the fact, many, many of them were deeply ashamed that they hadn't come to the front with the people of color. They know what to do next time. They're also going to be taking this knowledge back to their organizations, which hopefully will make opposition to white supremacy more central to their strategies.

Influencing the Netroots crowd maybe isn't crucial for the 2016 elections, but the people in that room are without a doubt going to be the big behind-the-scenes players in the 2020 and 2024 elections. And, well, future cycles aside, today they are already quite influential in mainstream left and center-left political organizing, much more than the press gives them credit for.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:26 AM on July 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


I had planned to make this an FPP, but it fits very well here.

Aphra Behn on Shakesville is a historian and has completed a 4 part retrospective of Sanders' (50+ year) political career based on contemporary newspaper accounts. No muckraking, no personal stuff, just what he campaigned on and voted on and what contemporary reporters said. His continued clumsiness and misteps on issues of race and gender are quite obvious.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I'm still a Sanders supporter, but I refuse to close my eyes to my points of disagreement with him or his continued failure on race and gender issues. I believe in him, I give him money, and I expect more.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:26 AM on July 20, 2015 [26 favorites]


I am also frequently frustrated by the tendency of leftists to prefer engaging in paralyzing internal conflict in lieu of pursuing more strategic political goals, but I don't think it's fair to slot the BLM action into this rubric. So far Bernie has been rather more tepid than I'd like to see in connecting the dots (and the two concepts are inextricably linked, IMO - can't fully discuss one without the other) between structural racism and classism (i.e. how does a racialized criminal justice system work to regulate the supply of reserve labor?) There are other, perhaps more politically palatable examples out there, but his campaign hasn't really seized upon them to my knowledge. Why shouldn't BLM push him, along with his supporters, to address these points of intersection? And wouldn't the Sanders campaign have a lot to gain by enlisting the help of volunteers energized by BLM?

It already appears as if the Sanders' campaign is incorporating this weekend's lessons into its strategy:

Sanders re-emerged later that evening for a short speech at a private fundraiser for the Latino Victory Project, an advocacy group led by major Democratic donors that focuses on Latino outreach, where he, again, took questions about race.

But instead of adopting the defensive stance from that morning, Sanders' tone changed. He appeared humble, and asked questions of the activists gathered about how he could better pursue and talk about policies to combat racial injustice.

"I want some help on this. I'm being very honest," Sanders said. "I want some ideas, as somebody who was arrested 50 years ago fighting for Civil Rights trying to desegregate schools in Chicago, who spent his whole life fighting against racism, I want your ideas. What do you think we can do? What can we do?"

Sanders took on questions about what activists called "institutional racism" in education, housing, and criminal justice, and called for changes in leadership and an end to mass incarceration. He listened to ideas from the small group, and he even brought those who questioned him to stand next time while he spoke. He said that stories of minorities being shot by police was "horrendous" and "unacceptable," but touted progress that had been made since he began first started protesting for civil rights as a young radical in the 1960s.

posted by black_lizard at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2015 [31 favorites]


Yeah, I'm really conflicted here. I'm a big supporter of BLM, but this doesn't really seem like a particularly effective method of protest.

Note that it's using the same sort of methods with which gay groups got their agenda taken seriously by the Democratic leadership.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


judging from the chatter on the Netroots conference app after the protest, it was stunningly successful, aside from Sanders's stumbling.

They wanted to hijack his audience and they did so for a bit, and got a nice media spin to boot. It's hard to see them as hard done by in this.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Aphra Behn on Shakesville is a historian and has completed a 4 part retrospective of Sanders' (50+ year) political career based on contemporary newspaper accounts.

Wow, she and I seem to have widely different perspectives about what is a misstep / disappointing / worth noting.

It's great that she's looking at the actual historical record.

On a more general note, I feel like this is the kind of thing where we will eventually see how this works out and that it's good that people are getting their message out there and pressuring candidates to be explicit about what they believe, instead of taking it for granted that we'll just assume that they agree with us on issue X because they are explicit about issue Y.

I have long thought that a number of "women's issues" need to be subordinated to class issues when they conflict--but they're not conflicting in a campaign. That's when it's the lowest cost to be pro- whatever it is that you're pro- because you're not figuring out the details of a huge monster bill and trying to get enough support to make it work. You're saying what you want. You can want a lot of things.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I feel sort of dumb, but I just don't see how this counts as "paralyzing internal conflict" — what I'm hearing from people who were actually there was that it was, well, educational and galvanizing, not paralyzing.

Again, though, I am legit way sad that Sanders didn't rise to the occasion that he was offered, because he couldn't get over himself quickly enough to view this opportunity as an opportunity instead of as a disruption.

On the one hand, I'm not exactly surprised — there's a lot of old-school white socialists who think that the "identity politics is a distraction from class based organizing" frame from the 1960s still makes sense. But on the other hand, I am deeply disappointed. He's still got my vote in the primary, but the bulk of my political contributions (money and time) are likely going to be devoted to local politics instead.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:43 AM on July 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also, some liberals protesting/heckling/whatevering isn't "the left" and it is really dramatic to make this out to be "the left". It's an interest group and interest groups happen in politics. They lobby and work to get their agenda heard.

Is every single person lobbying a candidate part of a circular firing squad? Or just people who can't afford expensive lobbyists, but who dare to make their preferences known in relatively effective ways?

Maybe these protestors should have gotten a huge fortune and then donated money to a Sanders-aligned PAC. That's the only civilized and intelligent and strategic way to affect the political process, you know.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:45 AM on July 20, 2015 [18 favorites]


(Hey YCTAB, if I wasn't clear in my post above, I was trying to suggest that this action didn't count as an example leftist paralyzing internal conflict! Apologies if it came out muddled.)
posted by black_lizard at 10:46 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this doesn't make Sanders look good, but I'm not sure I want to entirely hold politicians responsible for off the cuff remarks that they are pressured to make. I just don't find it entirely fair, even if most of my skepticism around Sanders is that he'll appear like a cranky old white guy to average voters.
posted by lownote at 10:47 AM on July 20, 2015


black_lizard: whoops! apologies for badly misreading you (or, well, for using your words to talk past you). I'm possibly doing too much typing and too little reading in this thread...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:48 AM on July 20, 2015


Also, I have no problem with BLM interrupting the event. I think its good for a movement to leverage opportunities to get its message across. I just think it might be a bit much to read a lot into a less than perfectly formed answer in response to the interruption.
posted by lownote at 10:50 AM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this doesn't make Sanders look good, but I'm not sure I want to entirely hold politicians responsible for off the cuff remarks that they are pressured to make. I just don't find it entirely fair, even if most of my skepticism around Sanders is that he'll appear like a cranky old white guy to average voters.

The thing that I don't want to say, because it's the worst possible thing I could say about Sanders in this context (and I really, really, really want to like the guy), is that this incident indicated that maybe he's just not very good at quickly responding to situations. And being good at quickly responding to changing situations is a skill that's a little bit important for a president, you know?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


enjopybe-say what you want about respectable finger wagging and express your rage but it probably won't get you a thing except a real riskof increased marginalization. I have been around way to long to see what actually works in producing significant social change and it is not these type of tactics. Your rage and the rage shared by others may make you/them feel temporarily better but that is about all. But I am an old line liberal ( maybe progressive or so I sometimes think) but if getting elected means focusing more on class and economic issues than identity politics then so be it. We will see and time will tell what appears to make a real difference.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, this is the deal with presidential campaigns. There are protests, op-eds, distracting news events, debates, and hostile interviewers. There are opponents digging up dirt (or making up dirt) on you and your connections/family. It's a tough slog. What BLM did was a tiny taste of what a real candidate has to face. (I mean, ask Hilary about that, seriously.) If Bernie wants to go beyond cozy townhall setups and talk to a national audience and deal with all the giant problems that entails, then he needs to be on top of his fighting game. He should welcome this as a little bit of practice.
posted by emjaybee at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure I want to entirely hold politicians responsible for off the cuff remarks that they are pressured to make.

I'm generally with you on this, but in this case, he's been asked these questions repeatedly for a while now. In my experiences answering questions publicly, if I've bobbled a question once, I come up with something to say the next time I'm asked that question. And I have never been a presidential candidate. I'm frustrated that it seems to have been taking him so long to get the point that it is not okay to sidestep questions about racism.

That said, from black_lizard's link above, it does seem like Sanders is making some positive changes here. And if that's the case now (and it wasn't previously), what we're seeing is that "heckling" worked where all the usual civil discourse didn't. Good on the hecklers.
posted by asperity at 10:56 AM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Again, though, I am legit way sad that Sanders didn't rise to the occasion that he was offered, because he couldn't get over himself quickly enough to view this opportunity as an opportunity instead of as a disruption.

Has this ever happened? It seems somewhat unlikely.
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


and in spite of him being an old jewish guy

Old enough to remember when being Jewish in the United States did not mean the same thing as being "white".
posted by atrazine at 10:56 AM on July 20, 2015 [18 favorites]


@YCTAB - That is important. How relevant is dealing with a few protesters to say... making judgments on guiding the economy? I don't really know if those are part of the same skill set.
posted by lownote at 10:56 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


And much of the discussion here is why maybe, just maybe, Hillary might be better Presidential material. Populism, whether left or right is extremely compelling and seductive, and I love Bernie, but I fear the passion of populism may have its limits. As I said--time will tell.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:58 AM on July 20, 2015


Well, Walker let us know that dealing with protesters in Madison enabled him to take on ISIS, so it seems like it sharpens a very broad skill set.
posted by eyesontheroad at 11:00 AM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


The skillset required to gracefully handle protestors is, it seems to me, fairly closely related to the skillset required to lead negotiations. Being quick on your feet is important.

and I mean, they were in large part protestors who were on his side! There were folks involved in the action who chanted "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" when he came on. Unfortunately his stumbling, and his deeply awkward refusal to address the protestors directly (instead speaking to and through the moderator — even O'Malley didn't make that particular screwup) wrecked that for him.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:01 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


And much of the discussion here is why maybe, just maybe, Hillary might be better Presidential material. Populism, whether left or right is extremely compelling and seductive, and I love Bernie, but I fear the passion of populism may have its limits. As I said--time will tell.

Also bigger security team.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


artw: You seem to be confused about who the protestors were. They were paid attendees, many of them paid by their organizations to be there, and (unless I'm deeply mistaken) they kept their distance from the candidates. This is to say, they were not doing anything that would get a politician's security detail sicced on them.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:03 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's been an issue with Sanders that he's been VERY tonedeaf when it comes to the minority community. Quite a bit of his rhetoric has some serious issues in that regard.

Have you read this?
posted by NoMich at 11:03 AM on July 20, 2015


Aphra Behn on Shakesville is a historian and has completed a 4 part retrospective of Sanders' (50+ year) political career based on contemporary newspaper accounts. No muckraking, no personal stuff, just what he campaigned on and voted on and what contemporary reporters said. His continued clumsiness and misteps on issues of race and gender are quite obvious.

I was trying to be tactful before but having read more, this person is either completely being disingenuous or she completely lacks the reading comprehension to understand what she's talking about. It really is complete and utter bullshit; a hack job.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Clinton made almost exactly the same mistake a month ago with the "#allivesmatter" thing, you'd think that Sanders and O'Malley would have picked up on that and have been better prepared.
posted by octothorpe at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Anyone who is betting against Bernie Sanders is probably making a huge mistake at this point, but at the same time, Sanders should do better on BLM. I think "we" are probably going to keep the White House, pretty handily, but it's important for us to do this right.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Say what you will about Bernie's ability to think on his feet, but at least he didn't decide it'd be a good idea to go to a Black church and tell everyone that All Lives Matter. While Bernie has a ways to go on these issues and seems to be working hard to get there, Hillary Clinton deserves zero credit or benefit of the doubt here either. (on preview, yep!)

She particularly shouldn't benefit from the comparison with respect to this situation - after all, she avoided this moment altogether by deciding the Netroots and BLM people were beneath her from the very beginning, or she would have been there making these Very Important Split Second Decisions with Sanders and O'Malley.
posted by dialetheia at 11:10 AM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


What BLM did was a tiny taste of what a real candidate has to face.

No, don't spook him! If we can all agree to sit perfectly still and not make any loud noises, he might accidentally walk under this big box propped up by a stick with the presidency underneath.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:12 AM on July 20, 2015 [33 favorites]


Sanders is both a career politician, and an eternal outsider, but he'll have to do something to stand above others in the ever increasing pool of candidates.

What ever-increasing field of candidates? The clown car is on the Republican side this year. So far it's looking very much like Sanders v. Clinton in the primary, and Dem v. Some Clown in the general. There is a deep well of discontent because not one of the banksters who crashed the economy and raped the mortgage system went to jail. Sanders is counting on that to make him viable, and it's why he has been peeling off Republican primary voters in some places.

Carter catapulted to the lead because of the deep discontent over Watergate and Ford's pardon of Nixon. He came across as truthful and sincere and that was what people wanted. The vein of discontent Sanders is aiming to tap is similar; he speaks plainly about the crimes and responsibilities of people who were not punished but actually rewarded for the evil they did. Clinton is having a hard time responding to that because of the plain and rather obvious fact that those same people are giving her so much money.

It is probably fair to accuse Sanders of treating BLM's concerns as a side issue. But it's early in the campaign and he's already reacted, speaking more about the issue and addressing it more directly than he did after the BLM altercation. As he continues to campaign I suspect that will become more obvious; right now the media are too busy focusing on "Bernie got punk'd" to notice that he's altering course in response.
posted by Bringer Tom at 11:14 AM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, there's been an issue with Sanders that he's been VERY tonedeaf when it comes to the minority community. Quite a bit of his rhetoric has some serious issues in that regard.

Have you read this?


Yes, and that illustrates the point. Sanders says "you shouldn't vote your race", which is an absolutely ridiculous argument to make to people for whom race impacts so much. Addressing minimum wage is only a small facet of the economic issues that minorities face, and a lot of those issues deal with race.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:15 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, on the bright side, I think it's safe to assume that Carcetti O'Malley's campaign isn't going to ever get any traction.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Anyone who is betting against Bernie Sanders is probably making a huge mistake at this point, but at the same time, Sanders should do better on BLM. I think "we" are probably going to keep the White House, pretty handily, but it's important for us to do this right.

I agree with your larger point re: Doing Things Right, but the hair stands up on my neck when people say something like this. The last time a party won a third term in the White House was 1989. The last time the Democratic Party managed that trick was 1945. I don't think it is going to be an easy home run, and whoever you're rooting for in the primary, I think we should be clear-eyed about the vicious slog that is going to follow.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


You Can't Tip a Buick the bulk of my political contributions (money and time) are likely going to be devoted to local politics instead.

I think that is as it should be!

I love Bernie Sanders and I am in awe that he even exists in American politics, but I feel really frustrated at how many people are pinning their hopes on imagining him as president. Even if he did win, what would he ever be able to do with a tea-party dominated congress? I'd love to know to how that would work (I'm serious about that actually). Instead, people get all excited about one person who can never be perfect and then his issues are discredited until the next savior comes around.

I'm frustrated because the people I know in my own life who are excited about Bernie Sanders can't be bothered to vote in local elections where it really matters, and where change is possible - just look at Sanders' own record.

I know there was a concerted effort to get people to register to vote in Ferguson after last summer, where something really needs to be done. I'm not saying this kind of heckling won't do anything, or that we can't do both at once, but I'd a million times rather look at what is going on locally.
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:22 AM on July 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


AdamCSnider, point taken, although really, I don't know who the Republicans can put up who could possibly win, especially if the Democrats do a good job getting out the vote, which is absolutely essential.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2015


The important thing here is this: you can't build a socialist movement that doesn't directly deal with race and racism – not as a peculiar form of "classism," but engaging the fact that white supremacy is one of the main issues facing the US today, period. This is a very old debate on the far left (going back to the 1920s), and Sanders is wrong on it. He deserves to be called out as such, because at least ostensibly he is the most visible person building a movement that wants to be called "socialist" in the US.
posted by graymouser at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2015 [18 favorites]


what I'm hearing from people who were actually there was that it was, well, educational and galvanizing, not paralyzing.

Is there a substantial transcript from the event anywhere that gives what Sanders was talking about when he was interrupted, the full text of the exchange that happened, and what happened after that?

I found this from the linked op-ed above, and if Sanders exchange is how things went down -- I can see some being unsatisfied with the smoothness of the transition, but that seems like a pretty shallow complaint, one with a tinge of hypocrisy given that interruption/heckling tactics themselves are not smooth and likely to disrupt any smoothness. And no, that's not a suggestion that people should never use that tactics, just pointing out that it's fundamentally unsound to make expect smoothness part of your expectations for what happens next. Heck, I might even go farther and say that anyone who makes this about missteps or gaffes or Sanders electability is actually reinforcing a common problem with political coverage that keeps us from talking ideas and policy.

More substantial might be the complaint that it seems to have been reported that Sanders didn't have many specific policy ideas to address what he agreed is a real problem. That's something I hope every single progressive candidate will figure out, and I don't mind activists pressing for.

How harsh that pressure should be when a candidate like Sanders seems to agree on the problem is something else that's probably worth thinking about, and while one might well hope a candidate for public office could come up with his own policy ideas, if the activists and the candidate are already on the same page about the problem maybe the best thing they could do is talk about solutions rather than appear as apparent opposition to someone who seems to agree with them.

Finally, I think it's weird that O'Malley seems to get away with some smaller degree of criticism than Sanders does here. I hope I'm misreading that, because from the stories I'm familiar with O'Malley has probably been personally responsible for policies that sacrificed black lives pretty much to bolster his political career. In a time where the idea that black lives matter matters, his candidacy for any executive office should quite simply be a non-starter.
posted by weston at 11:27 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nothing could be better for America than if losing its faith in magical presidents and actually voting in local and midterm elections.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2015 [27 favorites]


Finally, I think it's weird that O'Malley seems to get away with some smaller degree of criticism than Sanders does here.

Sanders is "supposed" to be fully progressive on race issues. Obviously, O'Malley has a lot more to account for.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2015


I feel really frustrated at how many people are pinning their hopes on imagining him as president. Even if he did win, what would he ever be able to do with a tea-party dominated congress.

Just hoping it's him and not someone else. Not all my hopes for the future, my hoverboard, my robot butler, etc...

After Obama got elected, I'm a little slower to say "America would *never* elect... [xyz]"

What could he do as President? I don't know, sounds like it'd be fun to see what that would look like. The president has quite a bit of power. He certainly could change the US's role internationally. He could empty much of our prisons (as could Obama, and it looks like he's trying to do so more than any president in recent history). He could drastically change the role of the CIA/NSA/Homeland security. He could institute openness in government (as Obama promised to do).

I don't know what he could do, but I'd love to find out.
posted by el io at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sanders doesn't have the best record of negotiating to get things, but I think some people see this as a feature because he is uncompromising.

I wonder how he would have reacted differently during the debates around the Affordable Healthcare Act and what different outcomes there would have been. Would he have tanked the whole thing once republicans began meddling? Is that really a great option?

I'm not stumping for Hillary here, and I definitely align more with Sanders ideologically than any other candidate. I think after 7 years I've finally begun to appreciate Obama's negotiating strategy that I originally found appalling. I'm afraid that someone less compromising might create less progress.
posted by lownote at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I feel really frustrated at how many people are pinning their hopes on imagining him as president.

It might help to reframe his campaign a little bit. As far as I'm concerned, the "will he be President" part is secondary; the truly crucial part is demonstrating whether or not the American media-political system is irrevocably broken and closed-off from anybody who would point out the obvious flaws in our current billionaire-centered system. Sanders is a serious candidate, definitely, but his campaign is also intended to highlight the absurdity of our hidebound political and media establishments - including the way we think about what is possible in our elections. From a recent Rolling Stone article about Sanders:
In many ways, the most boring question about Sanders' candidacy is the horse-race question. What are his odds [...]?
Sanders, though, believes these odds only hold true if the existing electoral reality remains unchanged — which is to say, extremely low voter turnout, a focus on personality rather than issues, and the rank corruption of outside campaign spending. So the far more interesting question becomes: Does Sanders have a shot at changing what have come to be accepted as the fundamentals of modern presidential campaigning? If you are willing to risk sounding naive or unsophisticated and entertain the notion, as Sanders does, that it's possible to upend the system entirely if you mobilize enough grassroots support, well, then, who knows? Seven years ago, Barack Obama broke all previous records when it came to small-donor fundraising and African-American voter turnout. Sanders looks to the way activism by fast-food workers agitating for a $15 minimum wage, a demand taken seriously by very few members of the elite early on, has entirely changed the national debate on what a living wage should be (and has actually become law in major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle).
One example of highlighting our electoral absurdity is the juxtaposition between how they've treated Sanders and Trump in the media. Trump is a complete and utter buffoon and has still been treated as a more serious candidate than Sanders in many respects. By Sanders' very presence in the Presidential race, he draws an especially sharp contrast with everyone else's co-option by the system everyone claims to want to change. When people see the way the media treats him compared to the way they treat Trump, they ought to start losing faith in the media as an even-handed information broker (if they haven't already). If nothing else, it highlights the media's unshakable "more money = better than" philosophy in a way that hopefully makes people uncomfortable.

Anyway, if none of that is convincing, it may just help to think of Sanders' campaign as a simple statement of hope that we are still actually capable of facing and addressing our economic problems head-on in this country, not just burying our heads in denial and finding incremental ways to superficially address those situations but really just funnel more money to the 1%, as the other major candidates would have us do.
posted by dialetheia at 11:41 AM on July 20, 2015 [25 favorites]


This protest was 100% effective at making clear that many people care more about preserving their vision of Sanders as progressive savior than they do about a 12 year old human child being shot in a park and bleeding out as his murderers stood by and watched.

I find it disquieting that someone with Sanders's history in the civil rights movement was at all reticent to answer this protest with anything less than an immediate "Yes, black lives matter."

So far, Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley have flunked and fumbled this easy question. And the anger and, frankly, entitlement some of their supporters have shown to Black Lives Matter activists is disgusting, condescending, and comes off as "now listen you, do what I say."

Your favored candidate is not owed a vote, especially by people who have legitimate fears that they or their friends and family could be picked off by the police like game at any minute.
posted by sallybrown at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2015 [31 favorites]


Oh and I recommend Elon James White's Twitter timeline from yesterday (@elonjames) to anyone with doubts about whether white "progressives" were harassing activists of color over this issue.
posted by sallybrown at 11:51 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know who else had no chance of getting elected? Jimmy Carter. Too bad how it worked out for him, huh?

That was the post-Watergate electoral cycle. The Democrats could have run a potato and won! Especially if they put a pair of glasses on it to make it look more thoughtful. The question is how they ended up nominating Carter instead of someone else.

But regardless, this isn't then, and Sanders is neither Jimmy Carter nor Barack Obama. He's more like this electoral cycle's Howard Dean. I plan on voting for Sanders in the primary too, but I have no illusions about him being President.
posted by Naberius at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Your favored candidate is not owed a vote

I completely agree, which is why I find it so confounding that Clinton isn't getting more flak for skipping the whole thing altogether. I totally agree with your criticism of Sanders and want him to step up in a big way. But if anyone is acting entitled to anyone's votes, it's Hillary Clinton - especially with all the coded "Sanders will never do well in the South" stuff.
posted by dialetheia at 11:58 AM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hillary Clinton deserves zero credit or benefit of the doubt here either.

As stated above, I'm completely OK with BLM showing up at her events and forcing the issue. And no, I don't believe in the "identity politics vs. class (i.e., "real") politics dichotomy. Because it all intersects. You have to fight them both, they are inextricably intertwined. If you are paid less because of your race or gender, is that a class issue or an "identity" issue? It's both/and.

Rather than feeling despair about this, we should see it as an opportunity. To bring in more minority/female voices would be to bring in fresh blood, new perspectives, and ultimately, better ways of fighting. Our old white knights are tired and they have serious blind spots. Let's get some new people up there, give them some power, let them take some whacks at the monster. Barack Obama was a start, but he should not be the end. Hilary Clinton/other women are a start, but they should not be the end, either. We need to be promoting new voices, lots of them, so that when one falters, because that happens, we have two others to step up and keep going. Instead of the near-token approach we have now, where we allow one person from X group, pat ourselves on the back, and then are crushed when they screw up/can't fulfill all our dreams for overcoming inequality.

I like Mr. Sanders's stances, but he's only one guy, and he and Hilary should not be all we can come up with. But if we don't complain and insist on more, they're all we're ever going to get.
posted by emjaybee at 11:59 AM on July 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think it will be interesting to see if Hillary's new strategy of meeting with small groups of Americans is going to work for her. Sanders had two events over the past few days that had more than 10,000 people show up at each one.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:00 PM on July 20, 2015


I find the use of the dismissive term "identity politics" illuminating also. This trivializes a movement built around the legalized murder of a group of people based on race. This is a life or death issue that involves pushing this country to consider whether or not we are treating people of color as HUMAN BEINGS or not. It is not just a distraction from some "real" issue, and if you feel that it is then it's worth considering whether black lives matter to you, or not.
posted by sallybrown at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


I mean, this whole thing is really emblematic of the way we hold people to a higher standard when we actually perceive them as being on our side. I don't mean any of this to deflect from the rightful criticism that Sanders is receiving, only to put it in perspective. Clinton is distrusted by most of this community (and with good reason), so nobody even really expected her to show up, much less say the right thing. Therefore, she escapes with no criticism and no bad press. But Sanders and O'Malley show up and try to engage with people and in return they get criticized ten times worse than she does, even though she didn't even do these folks the basic courtesy of showing up and listening. I just find it so frustrating.
posted by dialetheia at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think in this case it's more that there's just nothing more to say about Clinton. We know who she is, and for better or for worse she's likely going to be the next President of the United States.

Certainly, Sanders and O'Malley are getting bad press over this, but it's like a year and a half until the election and unless this particular event actually craters someone's campaign pleaaase let it be O'Malley's, no one's who's primarily involved in politics on the electoral horserace level will remember it.

Hopefully someone close to Sanders will talk sense into him and he'll rework the campaign to put opposition to white supremacy front and center (he's already started to do this). It's super sad that he didn't realize he needed to do that without being told, but, oh well. If he does so, this action will have been a great thing for his campaign, regardless of any short-term bad press he receives.

And, again, most all of the (generally well-connected) white people in that room also know what they need to do now, and that is a massively good thing for both the movement and for the left generally.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sanders doesn't have the best record of negotiating to get things, but I think some people see this as a feature because he is uncompromising.

Huh. My understanding is that when he worked in an executive position (as the Mayor of Vermont's largest town - granted it's a pretty small town) he was very effective and negotiated a lot of wins. Feel free to correct me.
posted by el io at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Black Lives Matter / Ferguson activists I follow were vocally disappointed in Clinton's "All Lives Matter" moment as well (which happened in front of a much smaller audience filled with mostly people of color). If that misstep wasn't as reported in the national press as Bernie's, I'd say that has more to do with whose voices are valued and listened to in this country's political press than expectations for the candidates.
posted by sallybrown at 12:16 PM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


In considering some of the BLM-backlash, I'm thinking that given the astronomically high rates of Black people being killed, often at the hands of the state, the insidious prevalence of racism, often baked into institutions and systems, it's pretty much impossible to say that any one white person, especially a white person in a position of political or institutional power, has done "enough" to be immune from public criticism regarding racism. It's impossible that anyone's done enough, because racist systems and institutions are still in place. No one's done enough.
posted by jaguar at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


We know who she is, and for better or for worse she's likely going to be the next President of the United States.

This 100% does not have to happen, though. I mean, it just doesn't.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I feel really frustrated at how many people are pinning their hopes on imagining him as president. Even if he did win, what would he ever be able to do with a tea-party dominated congress.

...

What could he do as President? I don't know, sounds like it'd be fun to see what that would look like. The president has quite a bit of power. He certainly could change the US's role internationally. He could empty much of our prisons (as could Obama, and it looks like he's trying to do so more than any president in recent history). He could drastically change the role of the CIA/NSA/Homeland security. He could institute openness in government (as Obama promised to do).

Yes.

"But the President has no power!" is a bizarre talking point. Under current constitutional and administrative precedents, the President has directive power over a federal workforce of about 5,000,000 people. He or she sets regulatory policy in almost every domain, over which Congress has only limited control. He or she can decide who is subject to federal prosecution. He or she can decide the intelligence priorities of a huge "Intelligence Community" workforce with an unsupervised "black budget" in the ten figure range (most employees in this system lack civil service protections, too, IIRC, so they really do serve at the pleasure of the President). He or she can decide the US's foreign policy stance almost unilaterally -- including to a large extent matters of war and peace. There are some limits on some of these powers, but the President has tremendous freedom of action. Over the last several decades, the balance of power has shifted far towards the President and away from the Congress and the courts.

Obviously Congress certainly retains many powers, and it can stymie more ambitious Presidential plans. But the image of the President as the helpless hostage of Congressional ideologues is misplaced.

The President needs Congress in order to allocate a large new social spending program. So it's fair to give them shit about health care, for example. But the President doesn't need Congress in order to massively re-order our disastrous prisons policy, our disastrous drug policy, our disastrous foreign wars, our disastrous foreign and domestic spying, the way we have handled the crime of torture committed in our names, etc., etc. In a very real way, these are crimes that are perpetrated and re-perpetrated by each new sitting President who doesn't refrain from using his or her powers to make them worse.
posted by grobstein at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


The thing about #BlackLivesMatter is: people have noticed that CLASS WON'T SAVE YOU. You can be well-educated, well-employed, and still die from police violence.

Bernie is going to have to develop a platform that goes beyond anti-classism.
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:27 PM on July 20, 2015 [39 favorites]


Clinton is distrusted by most of this community (and with good reason), so nobody even really expected her to show up, much less say the right thing. Therefore, she escapes with no criticism and no bad press.

The article linked above, White progressives’ racial myopia: Why their colorblindness fails minorities — and the left , mentions that Clinton has been doing some work on addressing her previous screw-ups on race issues, though it's from a month and a half ago so doesn't talk about the Netroots Nation event or her own "All lives matter" statement.
Hillary Clinton could be the unlikely beneficiary of white progressives’ stumbles on race. The woman who herself stumbled facing Barack Obama in 2008 seems to have learned from her political mistakes. She’s taken stands on mass incarceration and immigration reform that put her nominally to the left of de Blasio’s Progressive Agenda on those issues, as well as the president’s. Clinton proves that these racial blind spots can be corrected. And American politics today requires that they be corrected: no Democrat can win the presidency without consolidating the Obama coalition, particularly the African American vote.

In fact, African American women are to the Democrats what white evangelical men are to Republicans: the most devoted, reliable segment of the party base. But where all the GOP contenders pander to their base, Democrats often don’t even acknowledge theirs. Clinton seems determined to do things differently, the second time around. The hiring of senior policy advisor Maya Harris as well as former Congressional Black Caucus director LaDavia Drane signal the centrality of black female voters to the campaign. In a briefing with reporters Thursday in Brooklyn, senior Clinton campaign officials said their polling shows she’s doing very well with the Obama coalition, despite her 2008 struggles – but she’s taking nothing for granted.
posted by jaguar at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing about #BlackLivesMatter is: people have noticed that CLASS WON'T SAVE YOU. You can be well-educated, well-employed, and still die from police violence.

I regret that I have but one favorite to give to this comment. I just wanted to add that the flip side of this is that I am a broke-ass white person from a basically lumpenproletariat background, and even so I'm a thousand times safer around the cops than my PoC neighbors are.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


Finally, I think it's weird that O'Malley seems to get away with some smaller degree of criticism than Sanders does here.

Nobody really cares about O'Malley; he's polling at less than one percent while Sanders is in the double digits. Granted that still puts Clinton at 40+ points ahead of Sanders but at least he's in the discussion of possibilities.
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2015


The Sanders campaign needs to do more to address racism and racist violence. I say that as a person planning to vote for Sanders and currently donating regularly to the campaign. I don't see myself as one of those "pinning their hopes on imagining him as president." I have little hope at all when it comes to US presidential campaigns and elections. What hope I do have is that the primaries can engage a wide array of Democrats and potential Democratic voters in support of issues. This inevitably means there'll be conflict or at least discomfort as people are asked to address issues they either haven't addressed or would rather not address. This friction can be (though often isn't) channeled in a productive manner to rally the voters behind the winner of the primary and move forward, in whatever small way, our work toward common goals.

I'm supporting Sanders in part because of his stated commitment to addressing issues and avoiding the usual political dog and pony show. How the campaign acts in the coming weeks will tell me how well they can actually do that when it comes to issues they haven't had extensive experience with in the past.

It's unfortunate that part of the narrative unfolding among some commentators is framed in terms of horse race politics (i.e. how will this affect campaign winner and losers) instead of the substance of #BlackLivesMatter, which disregards the goals of both BLM activists and the Sanders campaign.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:46 PM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


enjopybe-say what you want about respectable finger wagging and express your rage but it probably won't get you a thing except a real riskof increased marginalization. ... But I am an old line liberal ( maybe progressive or so I sometimes think) but if getting elected means focusing more on class and economic issues than identity politics then so be it. We will see and time will tell what appears to make a real difference.

You have to be aware of how unconvincing this threat of "well, Democrats aren't going to do anything to explicitly address your concerns but you should vote for them anyway or else things will get even worse" is in the face of black people getting killed by police and other state-sanctioned operators, and how disgusting the whining about maybe not seeing your middle-class economic agenda realized is in the face of black people getting killed by police and other state-sanctioned operators. Fuck that. These protesters don't owe the left anything, and the left will not do shit about the issue if everyone just keeps quiet about it and hopes that the next Democrat in office will get around to dealing with "identity politics."

The talk about "eating their own" is moronic because, if you want these protesters to keep quiet to avoid hurting your guy's chances of getting elected, then you're not actually on their side.
posted by invitapriore at 1:19 PM on July 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


Invitapriore--have your way but this is very similar to the kind of thinking that got us Bush instead of Gore. I would have much preferred the lives saved, rather than lost, in Iraq. And do you really need to use "fuck that" and "moronic" in a response clearly directed to my comments. And I don't believe i said anything about them keeping quiet--problem solving attention is not always focused by noise and clamor. Finally, economic security and (upward) mobility will certainly not solve all of the problems of racial neglect and discrimination but it continues to move millions into a better place.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:30 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Finally, economic security and (upward) mobility will certainly not solve all of the problems of racial neglect and discrimination but it continues to move millions into a better place.

And the fact that the history of such in the US is the history of minorities falling through the cracks should be ignored...because?
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


rmhsinc: The people you are dismissing as uncivil are in fact respected activists with long track records of success, using tactics that themselves have had a long track record of success.

What you are saying is grammatically correct — it is a thing that it is possible to say — but beyond that it does not in any way refer to the actual world of 2015.

Moreover, if one has made the mistake of heavily investing in the idea of respectability politics (despite the historical successes of organizations like ACT UP and the ongoing success of the BLM movement), one should probably work to maintain one's own respectability by not making wildly uncivil statements like "civility is not only the domain of the white man."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Not gonna get into the right and wrong of the protest here, just a few things from a purely horse race perspective.

A June CNN/ORC poll showed just 2% of black Democrats supporting Sanders, a figure that has remained unchanged since February. Among non-white voters overall, Sanders polls at 9% compared to Hillary Clinton's 61%.

Bernie, whether you think he is good on minority and women's rights or not, is getting a lot of his support right now from white liberal men who just don't want to vote for Hillary. If he doesn't broaden his appeal out to minorities and give women more reasons not to vote for a very accomplished Democratic woman to be the first woman President (after the party already passed her over once), he is going to lose.

It was tone deaf and a sign of a poorly run campaign that he was not more on top of the current zeitgeist on racial issues and didn't have have something better to say to this sort of protest. Figuring out how to appeal to people like that should already have been a #1 campaign priority. It may be too late to right that ship with Hillary already having such a strong lead. It will take some major screwups from her even if he campaigns perfectly going forward, which I don't think he is capable of doing. Strong ideological preferences can hamstring you in modern politics. Look at how debate moderators would serve up questions about legalizing heroin to Ron Paul. Socialism isn't nearly as ridiculous as libertarianism, but you can definitely serve up questions to a dedicated socialist that are not going to be answered in a way a lot of voters like. I don't think Sanders is going to compromise his ideas for the sake of electability.

One other thing though. What exactly will the next President be able to do to protect black lives that our incumbent President couldn't? I think he has exhausted most reasonable avenues for executive action on a wide variety of issues but he can't force Congress to go with him on major reform. Also, a lot of the issues that impact black lives may have to be confronted at the state and local levels. There is only so much the federal government can force on them.

Regardless, it's the job of a leader to find a way. I haven't been persuaded anybody in this race has found that way yet, but I'll listen to them and see what I think. I think the protests have definitely made sure they will at least have something to say.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2015 [8 favorites]




You can't tip a buick:"wildly uncivil statements like "civility is not only the domain of the white man."--I was responding to a previous comment about "white people finger wagging"--And how then is my comment uncivil? Do you not think that blacks may have concerns about civility and the lack there of. ACT up has been relatively successful but I do not give it the stature you do for promoting change. And whether you agree or not I am not sure you have a lock on seeing the world of 2015 any more clearly that I do. You might or you might not.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bernie, whether you think he is good on minority and women's rights or not, is getting a lot of his support right now from white liberal men who just don't want to vote for Hillary. If he doesn't broaden his appeal out to minorities and give women more reasons not to vote for a very accomplished Democratic woman to be the first woman President (after the party already passed her over once), he is going to lose.

This is a pretty insulting way to characterize peoples' motivations. I'm a woman voting for Sanders, and Hillary Clinton certainly doesn't get my vote by default just because she's a woman. The idea that I would just vote for her because we share a gender unless I was given some reason to do otherwise is super condescending, no matter who it's coming from (and I've heard it from a lot of Clinton supporters too). I also think it's super dirty pool to so much as imply that his supporters are supporting him because they have some weird thing against Hillary. There are a thousand legitimate reasons to dislike her politics that are not some personal judgment on her or some indication of misogyny. I don't think you meant it this way, but it's worth being very careful with that language.
posted by dialetheia at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


I find it disquieting that someone with Sanders's history in the civil rights movement was at all reticent to answer this protest with anything less than an immediate "Yes, black lives matter."

Why? Fighting against segregation is very different than fighting against implicit racism. Segregation is obvious. Implicit racism? Not so much. You can quantify it in deaths of Black men by police or a study about the influence of a "Black" name at the top of a resume or distribution of Black people in tech companies, but ultimately addressing it requires a level of soul-searching about race that is very difficult for most people--especially White people--to do.

If 50 years ago you grabbed someone who considered themselves a radical liberal and preserved them in amber, they'd probably be shocked to find out how not radical their beliefs are now. If you're lucky they'll change, if you're not they'll decide they're still a radical liberal, everyone else to the left of them is just *wrong*. And there's a lot of people who basically preserve their beliefs in amber in their 20s and those just don't change.

A friend of mine was telling me about her mother-in-law. She's in her 60s and is an ardent organizer of the pro-choice movement, a leader of women's studies programs, a feminist activist by any definition. And yet she'll never call herself a feminist. Something about that word got preserved in amber for her, and now that definition--the definition she doesn't associate with--is the only definition of the word she sees.

So yeah. Getting older brings maturity, but it can also bring inflexibility if we're not careful to fight against it.
posted by schroedinger at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's been rather informative watching Elon James' Twitter timeline (Netroots Nation media director) on this. The operative hashtag on this has been #EarnThisDamnVoteOrLose and the reaction has been amazing to watch.

I wonder how many of the people taking that attitude also blame Nader voters for GWB's 2000 win?

I'm now 100% distrustful of any media narrative of what the "result" of this is. I'm not sure I think any of them understand it, though I wonder how much any of the electorate does either. There's this never-ending thread of blaming anyone who pushes on folks within their own party as if they're being disloyal and causing harm. Maybe that's not wrong. But one would hope that the result of BLM's awareness raising is that it forces candidates to articulate and refine their positions, not that it paints them with a mark that says "stay home or pick someone who is actually worse for your interests because this person fucked up this time."
posted by phearlez at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bernie, whether you think he is good on minority and women's rights or not, is getting a lot of his support right now from white liberal men who just don't want to vote for Hillary.

You can certainly see from the crosstabs that Sanders does markedly better with liberal Democrats than other Democrats, and better with men than with women, and vastly better with whites than with blacks. But, just to be pedantic, I haven't seen any crosstabs that do sex by race by ideology, and I'm not aware of any that have released the actual data. So anyway we don't know from the released data that his liberal supporters aren't disproportionately women, even if that's not especially likely.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2015


This event is a great example of implementing the Overton window concept on acceptable political discussion.

Overall, it proves to be a good thing for everyone who agrees more recognition and discussion of this important issue is needed.
posted by nofundy at 2:10 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was there at the Netroots Nation Town Hall. To me, the protest was nothing less than electric. I mean, O'Malley came out, gave a milquetoast stump speech, and was in the process of offering some rather pat answers when it all began.

Up to that point, I was bored, and annoyed because O'Malley hadn't said anything about reproductive rights (and neither had Elizabeth Warren in the previous day's keynote) and I was feeling like 2016 was going to be yet another platform for the Dems to give a subtle middle finger to everyone with a uterus and still get our goddamn vote anyhow. But when the singing began it was like a thunderclap.

First of all, the protest centered black women's voices and experiences, which have been given short shrift even by those within the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It was a series of proclamations, each of which began: "If I die in police custody..." It was absolutely gutting to hear as a bystander, so I can't even imagine the emotional energy and strength it took for those who spoke. I imagine some of the naysayers felt it went on too long. Well, catharsis has its own timeline.

I understand how disappointing it was for the Bernie supporters (and I consider myself one!) who were really excited to hear him speak. But the fact that he didn't even want to stray from his prepared remarks really projected a lack of regard. "Of course black lives matter," he said, and it sounded like an afterthought, or a given. But it's not, and it never has been, and he should have known better. He threatened to leave the stage after touting his "50-year record" on civil rights, which, whatever dude.

This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:
I was disappointed (though unsurprised) to see so many white "progressives" in attendance who totally missed the entire point of what was happening, and why it was important and necessary. O'Malley imploded, and rightfully so. I was also disheartened that Sanders refused to come out and say "Black people are dying because of white supremacy," and instead chose to continue on with his rehearsed talking points. Yesterday should be a powerful wake up call for candidates, and for so-called "progressives" in general. If you can't center the voices of Black people and people of color in your concerns and in your activism, you're part of the problem.

I understand that this protest has not translated well in second-hand accounts by mainstream media news outlets. That's too bad, but maybe they should have been at NN15 in the first place. For me, a bystander who stood there in support and attended the impromptu post-Town Hall meeting with the protest organizers, it was a galvanizing moment. I am so sick and tired of people on MY SIDE of the political spectrum who only acknowledge that black lives matter when it's convenient for them, and only when they can have it on their terms. This was a call to action, and both candidates flopped--O'Malley more spectacularly than Sanders, but perhaps it's because Sanders went on second. I don't care who it inconvenienced and I ESPECIALLY don't care if some people think it was "disrespectful" or any other dogwhistle word that really means that Black people need to be less angry.

They should be angry. We should ALL be angry. Especially any presidential candidate who wants my vote.
posted by cowboy_sally at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2015 [40 favorites]


The idea that I would just vote for her because we share a gender unless I was given some reason to do otherwise is super condescending, no matter who it's coming from

Yeah, let me clarify. I definitely did not mean to communicate "just" because of gender. It's not like people who consider Hillary's gender a factor would vote for Bachmann or Palin if they were the only women in the race. What I am saying is that there was not record turnout and support for Barack Obama from the black community solely because he just happened to have the best rhetoric. Clinton didn't pick up a lot of votes among rural white conservadems in that primary solely because she had the right rhetoric. Identity matters in politics. It's why the right spent so much time trying to distort Kerry's and Obama's personal histories. Who they are is a political asset for them, so the opponents try to turn them into someone else.

Some of Clinton's appeal among women (and men) is that she is an extremely accomplished, very qualified woman with a strong track record of leadership and electing her would be a historic step forward. That isn't the only reason she has supporters, but it is a very strong argument in her favor. Bernie needs to make a case why he is better than that for the audience who supports her at least in part for those reasons, and so far I don't think he has been super compelling. Bumbling the protest was a missed opportunity to try and offer a reason why he is the better candidate.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:46 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


> "I want some help on this. I'm being very honest," Sanders said

This is a good response -- If he can actually approach this earnestly and listen, I think that could be incredible - These aren't words that you hear a politician say, as a general rule.

He fucked up, no question about it - If he can listen, learn, and then act from that, then I think this will be a positive.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:45 PM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


These aren't words that you hear a politician say, as a general rule.

Well, Bernie Sanders says a lot of things you rarely hear politicians say. That's why people get excited about him.

I suspect that he got to this point because he believes that the best place to start fixing the equality issue is with the economic issues, which are quantifiable and create direct and obvious benefits.

Having seen the video I am convinced that his peevishness during the altercation was not because he didn't care about BLM's issue, but that when he tried to address them they continued to shout over him. He then said "I'm not going to get in a shouting match."

But then at the first opportunity that wasn't a shouting match, there he was addressing BLM's issues.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:55 PM on July 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


go to a Black church and tell everyone that All Lives Matter.

She was telling a story about her mother. Quote:

"I asked her, 'What kept you going?' Her answer was very simple. Kindness along the way from someone who believed she mattered. All lives matter."

She was paraphrasing what her mother told her about what kept her mother going during her very difficult childhood. It would have been absurd for her to say "Black lives matter" in that context.
posted by caryatid at 4:59 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


She was paraphrasing what her mother told her about what kept her mother going during her very difficult childhood. It would have been absurd for her to say "Black lives matter" in that context.

The "context" is the immediate wake of a racist massacre of Black church-goers. It's absurd and deeply offensive that she chose that anecdote to tell at a Black church at such a time. In fact, it's pretty much the definition of white privilege to declare such a thing.

Having seen the video I am convinced that his peevishness during the altercation was not because he didn't care about BLM's issue, but that when he tried to address them they continued to shout over him. He then said "I'm not going to get in a shouting match."

He didn't need to get into a "shouting match" and could have easily avoided one. He could have stopped shouting. He could have sat the fuck down and listened.
posted by jammy at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah but "All lives matter" is a specific meme that she should not have invoked. It's like a dog-whistle for people who want to ignore race.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:05 PM on July 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


I suspect that he got to this point because he believes that the best place to start fixing the equality issue is with the economic issues, which are quantifiable and create direct and obvious benefits.

I wonder whether Sanders has seen the information about just how fucked up racist America is about things that disproportionally punish black Americans and therefor thinks he's got a way better chance of enacting change that will benefit black America if they don't talk about the fact that it'll benefit black America. Which is depressing on a lot of levels, but I am not entirely sure it would be wrong.
posted by phearlez at 6:11 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think Sanders is going to compromise his ideas for the sake of electability.

Um he might sincerely agree with the NRA about federally mandated waiting periods for handgun purchases.

Or that might have been a compromise.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:16 PM on July 20, 2015


Wow phearlez I hadn't even thought it through to quite that level but now that you say it, D'OH.

Sanders is a successful politician, despite proudly holding out an agenda that many people consider insanely toxic. He has a track record for getting elected and for getting useful things done. He is a generation older than me and if I can remember the electricity around Jimmy Carter's campaign (as a teenager he got my first ever campaign contribution) I know Sanders sure as hell remembers that.

The Left really is an army of cats. You can get us all to go in the same direction for awhile but not for much of a while. Historically there have been strategic moments when it was possible to accomplish amazing things, usually at a focal point created by several long-term converging phenomena. I think Sanders is in the race because he sees that a portal has opened, with the rape of the economy by the ever more self enrichening 0.01% suddenly breaking the fourth wall for at least a moment, and that's the ticket he's trying to cash.

But he's also a long term successful politician. He *cough*ed for the Vermonters' gun fetish, and if he senses that he has to make BLM happy to keep his boat floating, he'll do it. It's not like it would even be a compromise, since he's firmly in favor of everything they want, it's just his instinct to prioritize differently.

Every single faction of the Left Cat Army bristles at the idea of being made to wait our turn, but the fact is the people we manage to elect can only do so much and if they try to do everything they will get nothing done. There is no better example than our current outgoing President who has of course disappointed me in some ways, but who has gotten far more done than anyone thought would ever be possible. Seriously, if the only thing he had gotten done was no more pre-existing conditions on health insurance, it would have been huge, and he's done quite a bit more than that. I think my wife is already planning her bird watching trip to Cuba.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:50 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Um he might sincerely agree with the NRA about federally mandated waiting periods for handgun purchases.

Or that might have been a compromise.

-
The Democrat in the race turned out to be so far left — suggesting the legalization of heroin — she made the socialist look moderate.

Heh. Guess Ron Paul isn't the only politician who fell into the tempting, "Legalize Heroin!" trap.

But yeah, I'm not clear on if his stance on waiting periods is sincerely held or not based on that article and other stuff I've read about him. His record on guns is very mixed and does not seem ideological. His ideological baby is the socialist economic stuff.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2015


If Bernie doesn't make it past the primaries, I don't think I'll even be voting.
posted by idiopath at 7:05 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know its the same argument every time, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82. If a Republican had been in the White House, we wouldn't have had Kagan and Sotomayor.

Which would mean no Obamacare and no same-sex marriage, among other things.

I get not wanting to vote for someone you disagree with in many ways, but I don't see a way around this --- there is a very high chance the next President will have the opportunity to either preserve the status quo or tilt the court further to the right. And those effects last beyond a 4 year term.
posted by thefoxgod at 7:15 PM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


If Bernie doesn't make it past the primaries, I don't think I'll even be voting.

Y'know, I understand the sentiment, but I really find it hard not to be contemptuous of this sort of thing. Vote for who you want in the primary, yes, but vote for the lesser evil in the general. I'm sorry, but what seem like small differences in policy do matter for millions of fellow Americans, even if they don't come up to your standards.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:22 PM on July 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


The frustrating thing is that, if you actually pay attention to what Sanders says, he DOES talk about race and the injustice of our current system on a social rather than economic justice angle. For instance, he gave a speech last month where he said
From Ferguson to Baltimore and across this nation, too many African-Americans and other minorities find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes as if they were criminals, and that is unacceptable.
A few days earlier, he caught flak for a PBS interview where he pointed out that a black male baby born today has a 1 in 3 chance of ending up in prison.

I was disappointed at the way the event yesterday turned out because it seems like he actually DOES care about racial issues, but he's doing a bad job getting the message across. It doesn't matter what he truly believes in his heart if he can't express it at the right moment when he gets confronted over it. It doesn't matter what he says in individual speeches if the voters most invested in the issues he's speaking about don't know he said it.

I've seen some Sanders supporters get defensive and ask why BLM activists and others don't know Bernie's positions on these issues, and I see where they're coming from. But this is a national campaign, and it's not their fault if Sanders and his staff aren't getting his platform and his messages across. Hillary has had a lot more experience running huge campaigns and she is inarguably doing better at this aspect of it.

Hopefully what happened at NN will be a wake up call for Sanders and his staff that they need to focus on this - if people aren't hearing you, talk about it more. Add it to your speeches, diversify your ad messaging. Because at some point it'll be too late - the narrative can sink campaigns, even when it's unfair (ask Howard Dean!), and if he doesn't speak to the concerns of POC loudly and soon, he's doomed to be that old white guy from Vermont who doesn't care about black people, and his run will come to a premature end.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:04 PM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


But this is a national campaign, and it's not their fault if Sanders and his staff aren't getting his platform and his messages across

Yup. And, in my opinion, that's something to keep in mind for anyone who wants to complain about Sanders voters who say they won't show up in the general if he isn't there. Find a campaign message that works for them, or find other voters to take their place at the polls. Voters who support (semi) independent candidates like Sanders are already aware of the lesser of two evils arguments so repeating it may not be the best approach. If Hillary can't find enough votes, it's the fault of her own organization and a credit to the Republican one.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


So... protestors heckled the one candidate who has literally championed civil rights his entire adult life [2] to the benefit of a political dynasty that has done more to immiserate black lives and "create the current racial underclass" than any other [1] in the modern era? (democracy palm)

Also, what a lazy, biased, self-serving, and misleading article. It devotes less space to discussing BlackLivesMatter or Netroots Nation than it does to bashing Sanders and pumping the inevitability of a candidate who didn't even bother to show up. (6 of 10 paragraphs repeat the theme that Sanders has no chance of winning, e.g. not even "If Hillary Clinton is hit by a meteor tomorrow.”)

Even though Sanders spoke at length, the author gives the false impression that Sanders never acknowledged police brutality or that black lives matter:
Sanders, for his part, crankily referenced his past support for civil rights and added, "But if you don't want me to be here, that's okay. I don't want to outscream people." The protesters were not impressed." (emphasis added)
Compare the CSM's reporting:
"At one point, Sanders said: "Black lives of course matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don't want me to be here, that's OK."

[...] Sanders later addressed police brutality at a large rally in Phoenix Saturday night, telling a crowd of more than 11,000 it is unacceptable for young black men to be beaten and killed while walking down the street.

"When a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable," Sanders said." (emphasis added)
Sanders has also repeatedly addressed police brutality prior to Netroots Nation, e.g. specific policy recommendations [3]

_______________________________________________
[Footnotes]

[1] Salon: The Clinton dynasty’s horrific legacy: How “tough-on-crime” politics built the world’s largest prison system.
In the late 1990s, Bill Clinton played in instrumental role in creating the world’s largest prison system — one that has devastated our inner cities [...] and continues to inflict needless suffering on millions of people. And he did it with his wife’s support.

[...] “Under President Bill Clinton, the number of prisoners under federal jurisdiction doubled, and grew more than it did under the previous 12-years of Republican rule,combined,” states the JPI report.

[...] a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes; new life-sentence rules for some three-time offenders; mandatory minimums for crack and crack cocaine possession; [...] limited judges’ discretion in determining criminal sentences; and so on. There is very strong evidence that these policies had a small impact on actual crime rates, totally out of proportion to their severity.

There is also very strong evidence that these policies contributed to the immiseration of vast numbers of black (and also white) Americans [...] Federal funding for public housing fell by $17 billion (a 61 percent reduction) under Bill Clinton’s tenure; federal funding for corrections rose by $19 billion (an increase of 171 percent), according to Michelle Alexander’s seminal work, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

The federal government’s new priorities redirected nearly $1 billion in state spending for higher education to prison construction. Clinton put a permanent eligibility ban for welfare or food stamps on anyone convicted of a felony drug offense (including marijuana possession). [...] As Alexander writes, “More than any other president, [Clinton] created the current racial undercaste.”
[2] The Radical Education of Bernie Sanders, Time:
* At 20, Sanders made national news by leading Chicago's first civil rights sit-in against the University of Chicago's housing segregation policy.

* By 23, Sanders had worked for a meatpackers union, marched for civil rights in Washington D.C., become a leader of an NAACP ally, the Congress of Racial Equality at a time when most civil rights activists were black.

* He was arrested demonstrating in support of the desegregation of Chicago's public schools. Police called him an agitator.

* He put up fliers protesting police brutality. After half an hour, he realized a police car was following him, taking down every paper he put up.
[3] Sanders addresses police brutality June 6th on CNN [video, 2 minutes]:
“But for too many years, too many mostly black suspects have been treated terribly and in some cases murdered. That is unacceptable. And police officers have got to be held accountable for their actions. [...]

So short term, we've got to make sure that police officers have cameras. We've got to make sure that we have real police reform, so that suspects are treated with respect. Long term, we've got to make sure that our young people are working - they're in school.” [...]

The federal government has got to work with state and local governments to move towards... community policing where police are perceived as part of the community, the good guys, rather than as interlopers, people who are from the outside coming." (sic Yoda)
posted by Davenhill at 3:10 AM on July 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Even though Sanders spoke at length, the author gives the false impression that Sanders never acknowledged police brutality or that black lives matter

Actually, since I was there, I can say from my perspective that the author is not mischaracterizing Sanders' response to the protesters AT ALL. He sounded snide and irritated, more like a beleaguered substitute teacher than a presidential candidate. He literally threatened to leave the stage. And touting your civil rights bona fides offhand while at the same time threatening to LEAVE the stage would indicate to me that you don't believe that protest is an appropriate form of political expression. That line about "If you don't want me to be here, that's ok?" That was not stated out of benevolence--it was sarcasm.

During the Town Hall, he pivoted from addressing the protesters in less than two sentences, and launched right back into his prepared speech. Which, frankly, did not cut it. Why was he unwilling to say that Black lives are threatened by white supremacy? Why did he have to pivot right into economics instead of acknowledging that Black lives are inherently valuable regardless of whether they have jobs or not? It was immensely frustrating. And I say that as a supporter.

The speech he gave later to 11K people--that was many hours later. He and his speechwriters had plenty of time to incorporate new messaging. I'm glad he did. But it's troubling that neither he nor O'Malley could speak extemporaneously on the subject of race in America. It speaks volumes to where our priorities are.
posted by cowboy_sally at 5:35 AM on July 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


#BlackTwitter Turns on Bernie Sanders has this:
“Every time race is brought up, he pivots to the economy, which obviously a lot of racial disparity comes via economic means, but some of it is just flat out racism and discrimination,” Morrow said. Sanders’s view that “if we had more jobs in Ferguson, this wouldn’t have happened, I’m not sure that is valid. I mean, Mike Brown was on his way to college. It’s not just a jobs thing.”
This is really important for those trying to build a progressive movement in America, and it correctly points out the flaw in Sanders's approach. (While I'm a socialist, I am not a Sanders supporter, and this is one of several important reasons.) You can't cram all of race into class, and you can't fix either race or class separately.
posted by graymouser at 5:53 AM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


And, in my opinion, that's something to keep in mind for anyone who wants to complain about Sanders voters who say they won't show up in the general if he isn't there.

I would like to personally assure anyone with this worry that I will show up for the general election, even if Sanders isn't there. But I sure as hell won't be voting for Hillary.
posted by grobstein at 6:02 AM on July 21, 2015


So you're going to vote for whom? Jeb?
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 AM on July 21, 2015


coughcoughthegeneralelectionisnotjustthepresidentialelectioncoughcoughcough
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:55 AM on July 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't know why we're talking about media coverage when there was at least one person who was actually there in the thread. (FWIW I wasn't there, but I was getting texts throughout the event from people I know who were there, whose takes I trust, and whose accounts of the event match cowboy_sally's).

I know, I know, you're all ready to type about how the media coverage immediately after the event defines what the event was and what it meant. It doesn't. It is well over a year before the general election. It is months and months and months until the first caucuses and primaries. This event will be utterly forgotten by the media and by non-insiders two weeks from now. The effects on the people in the room will last, though.

And again, the people who are being dismissed here as hecklers, and who in the moment O'Malley and Sanders very, very awkwardly dismissed as hecklers, are personally (not in some demographic sense, but personally) people who Sanders needs on his side if he wants to be successful (by whatever metric we're using to assess success). There were people in the protest who work for major nonprofits and whose job titles include words like "director" and "chief," there were people involved in the protest who are experienced and successful organizers, and even the people who don't have major organizations behind them are prominent Black Twitter figures who can get pretty much any hashtag to trend anytime they want. I mean, even if the people that O'Malley and Sanders disrespectfully failed to respond to weren't big wheels, it would have been rude and wrong; because they are big wheels, it was completely dumb.

I know for a fact that one largish alliance-of-the-left organization where I live was planning on voting to endorse Sanders this week. That endorsement is, needless to say, gone, largely because Sanders personally disrespected members of that organization with his actions at Netroots, not just through his failure to respond to the protestors, but through the way that after the event he cancelled his meetings with Black-led organizations (whoops did I say that out loud?).

Hopefully the intervention that's going on right now in Sanders' campaign (I dunno, maybe he brought the lady from Scandal in) sticks. Because he is going to need to get a lot better and stay a lot better — not just banging on about his Civil Rights Movement history but actually talking and behaving in terms that indicate that he understands the contemporary anti-white-supremacy movement — if he wants to be seen as a trustworthy ally. And he needs to get it sorted out now, instead of in January 2016.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


The speech he gave later to 11K people--that was many hours later. He and his speechwriters had plenty of time to incorporate new messaging. I'm glad he did. But it's troubling that neither he nor O'Malley could speak extemporaneously on the subject of race in America. It speaks volumes to where our priorities are.

I agree. But if you're someone who questions how this impacts the huge money candidate who will likely be the actual Dem candidate, SHE is getting kudos for saying the right thing after two DAYS to work her message.

I'm not in that camp, but I do think the value of rabble rousing (something I view as a positive term) is forcing the comfortable to deal with stuff and recognize the need to improve. It may be that Sanders should have expected and coped with a less structured event at NN, and doing so poorly is a ding against him as a candidate.

But I think if we really want to prioritize improvement and change over glad-handing we shouldn't hold Sanders to a standard that disadvantages him over a person who has walked the walk way less. That's not about fairness, that's about not giving away our leverage over the candidates too soon by eating enough of our own that hey don't HAVE to change.
posted by phearlez at 7:42 AM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


But I think if we really want to prioritize improvement and change over glad-handing we shouldn't hold Sanders to a standard that disadvantages him over a person who has walked the walk way less.

Haha what. You think Hilary Clinton has not had to deal with storms of scrutiny? This is like being pelted with cotton balls next to the stuff she's been put through. You are not going to get any traction with "Bernie wuz treated unfairly next to Hilary!" with anyone who has been paying any attention for the last two decades. I'm pretty sure there are still active Benghazi and Emailgate activities going on right this second. Or you could just mention "Vince Foster" to your most conservative relatives and see what happens.

(for example, my last workplace, five years ago, still had a Hilary Clinton nutcracker in one of the drawers where we kept plates and spoons. Because haha, she'll break your nuts, she's such a bitch! )

Like I said: this is politics, this is Presidential politics. Hilary came off better (maybe?) in this because she didn't happen to be present, although I'm sure she'll face some sort of heckling/disruption at some point. But Sanders isn't going to get any sympathy from me for being roughly handled. That bar is completely out of his reach compared to Clinton.
posted by emjaybee at 8:11 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


But I think if we really want to prioritize improvement and change over glad-handing we shouldn't hold Sanders to a standard that disadvantages him over a person who has walked the walk way less.

Haha what. You think Hilary Clinton has not had to deal with storms of scrutiny?


I interpreted that as "Walking the walk" as far as fighting for the rights of African Americans. Nobody can reasonably deny she has been through the political wringer more than anybody.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:31 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I interpreted that as "Walking the walk" as far as fighting for the rights of African Americans.

Except that he hasn't. As Imani "The Angry Black Lady" Gandy stated:

If I see one more Bernie acolyte mention that he marched with MLK, I'm going to burn the Internet to the ground.

Yes, he's been saying the right things about incarceration and police brutality. But that's the easy part. The moment the intersection of race and economics comes up, his response has been "race doesn't matter", which, if you have been paying attention for the past century or so, is a load of bullshit. So, finally, he's been called out on it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:52 AM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I interpreted that as "Walking the walk" as far as fighting for the rights of African Americans.

Except that he hasn't.


I interpreted that as "Walking the walk" as far as fighting for the rights of African Americans compared to Hillary Clinton.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:59 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, obviously there is real disappointment with the rhetoric Sanders has offered in response to white supremacy, to which warmed-over platformist leftism is not an adequate response. That said, I think a guy whom the NAACP has never scored below 90% probably isn't as deaf to these issues as his detractors claim.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


The moment the intersection of race and economics comes up, his response has been "race doesn't matter"

Citation please? I completely agree that this is a pitfall of a lot of privileged white progressive economic rhetoric, but I haven't seen it from Sanders. His argument has been much more nuanced; he's not at all saying that race doesn't matter, just that his platform is centered around economic issues that disproportionately affect women and people of color. He certainly needs to improve his communication around white supremacy, to be sure, but I have never, ever heard him say anything like what you've ascribed to him here. He may not have his messaging perfected but I think it's deeply unfair to characterize his platform or his record this way.

I hope his campaign is scrambling right now to hire some great people who can help them communicate effectively on these issues without appearing to co-opt anything; I noticed they tried to tweet some supportive Sandra Bland #BlackLivesMatter messages and were roundly criticized for co-opting her murder. It's a delicate communication challenge and I really hope they are up to it.
posted by dialetheia at 9:23 AM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


He's out and out said "you shouldn't vote based on your race." Yes, he talks up police brutality and incarceration, but when the discussion moves to the economic issues that minorities face, he's very quick to pivot away from the racial aspects.

Look - it's pretty clear that he's trying to build the coalition that keeps putting him back in office in Vermont. But that coalition is built around working class white people - and if you have been following race relations in this country, then it's not hard to see why - especially considering some of his rhetoric - minority activists have serious problems with this. And this is not something that will just go away.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:37 AM on July 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


The moment the intersection of race and economics comes up, his response has been "race doesn't matter"

Citation please?


This is the sort of rhetoric in question:
On African-American support for Democrats

Well, here's what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism and voted for him for president. And that's kind of natural. You've got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you've got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help.

But that's not important. You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing? ... In the last election, in state after state, you had an abysmally low vote for the Democrats among white, working-class people. And I think the reason for that is that the Democrats have not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests. I think the key issue that we have to focus on, and I know people are uncomfortable about talking about it, is the role of the billionaire class in American society.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love that blacks voting for Obama is an example of basing your politics on your color but whites not voting for him isn't.
posted by octothorpe at 10:31 AM on July 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I love that blacks voting for Obama is an example of basing your politics on your color but whites not voting for him isn't.

That's because white is the default. Which is the whole problem in a nutshell.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:39 AM on July 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here is protest leader Tia Oso's explanation of Saturday's action:

Saturday's action was powerful. Black organizers claimed our rightful place at the front of the progressive movement. Allies from Latino, Asian, LGBT and other communities stood in solidarity with us as we called the names of black women killed in police custody, expressed our heartbreaking requests to the community should we ourselves die in police custody and looked on as respected and revered progressive leaders were woefully unable to answer our reasonable question as to how they will lead America to a brighter future.
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:30 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


But I think if we really want to prioritize improvement and change over glad-handing we shouldn't hold Sanders to a standard that disadvantages him over a person who has walked the walk way less.

Haha what. You think Hilary Clinton has not had to deal with storms of scrutiny?


I think that if I had to weigh each person's political activities and determine who has done more for black folks specifically and the disadvantaged in general I would give it to Sanders by a mile. So if we're going to say well yeah he did better, but only after he had a few hours to mull it over, then I think giving Clinton credit for knocking it out of the park after a few days - when she hadn't even bothered to show up for NN at all - is not very balanced.

I'll be clear here though - I don't think that Benghazi Foster blah blah really is pertinent because that's the nutter attack dogs of the people who are never going to vote for her anyway. That's opposition slander who will do their best to smear any dem. They are their own problem and important, but I don't think they're a part of what we're concerned with here.

At this point we're concerned with pushing the people who might ever do the right thing on race. Whoever they turn out to be, they're who most of us social liberals are going to vote for in 2016 because they're going to be better than the alternative the 'pubs float. We're over a year out from the election, roughly a year out from officially picking the dem candidate, less than a year from the crafting of the party platform, half a year from any primaries.

I don't think beating Sanders - or O'Malley or whoever - down and making them unattractive this far in advance does good things for our ability to shove Clinton into better positions. Once she's got the nomination locked[1] she's got no reason to improve. We don't need to work to make any of the dem candidates better than the 'pub offerings. They're there already.

So no, I don't care one whit if Sanders has to take lumps. Mostly I care about not letting Clinton take everyone for granted by staying out of the fray and sniping from the sidelines. But if we want to look at apples to apples then I will happily give Clinton 3 times as many points for speaking right as I would Sanders. But I'm also going to compare a lot more years of in-office service from Sanders, which includes things like death penalty opposition - which disproportionately hits blacks - as opposed to Clinton who has "unenthusiastic"ly supported it. Saying the right thing is nice and important, but if I had to choose I'll take doing over talking. While the choice is still open I'm going to keep pushing everyone into being right on both things.

[1] Personally I think the money means this is an inevitability but that doesn't make it a sure thing that she gets there and can still win the election.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, does that mean we can count his indemnification of the gun industry against him, then?
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:31 PM on July 21, 2015


[A few comments deleted. If it's relevant to get into Gandy's past, maybe do that in a way that's a bit clearer and lays out exactly what point you intend. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


cowboy_sally: Actually, since I was there, I can say from my perspective that the author is not mischaracterizing Sanders' response to the protesters AT ALL. He sounded snide and irritated, more like a beleaguered substitute teacher than a presidential candidate. He literally threatened to leave the stage. And touting your civil rights bona fides offhand while at the same time threatening to LEAVE the stage would indicate to me that you don't believe that protest is an appropriate form of political expression. That line about "If you don't want me to be here, that's ok?" That was not stated out of benevolence--it was sarcasm.
People can watch the full video and decide for themselves. To me, Sanders sounds calm and matter of fact. But he's typically fairly shouty in front of loud audiences, anyway, even in those rare moments he cracks a smile.

Sanders spoke for 20 minutes. At times, people applauded and cheered Sanders; at others, people shouted or chanted. It’s a mixed bag. To represent it as all negative or all positive, especially based on one sentence, is misleading.

No, the audience didn't applaud the line quoted by the author. But it did cheer and applaud the very next sentence out of Bernie Sanders’ mouth, and continued to applaud and/or cheer throughout his stump speech. But you wouldn't know that from the author's characterization of the audience as 'unimpressed.'

Given that a chief goal of the BlackLivesMatter protest is to force candidates to address the issue of police brutality, it's curious the author fails to mention that Sanders has spoken to the issue before, during, and after the Netroots Nation appearance. It gives the impression the author is less interested in the goals of the protest than exploiting it as an excuse to trash one of Hillary's opponents.

Granted, Sanders isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. But while he may have been irritated -- really, with him it's hard to tell -- he wasn't being snide or sarcastic. This wasn't a Dean Scream moment, no matter how much some Hillary supporters wish it were.

________________________
FWIW: The Q&A session is also mostly calm and laid back. There are sporadic interruptions, but the audience is generally receptive to Sanders’ answers, e.g. the criminal justice system or failures of congress.
________________________
posted by Davenhill at 1:58 PM on July 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know what, my brain logically said "oh, someone might not understand why people are skeptical of Gandy's thoughts on economic justice?" and I went and typed out a careful explanation with what I believed to be even handed deference given to both sides of the issue, in case there were readers in the thread who hadn't seen this drama play out on Twitter and might be interested in learning more

Then I realized that ultimately that would just be justifying an argument to discount a prominent black woman's statements about what issues truly matter to her and her community as she perceives it. It's pretty rude to assume I could look to her past and divine what's true in her heart about where her criticism is coming from and god knows we need to hear from many more BW voices

SO: if you want to find out what the hubbub was about it's out there, but maybe just don't and consider what she has to say even if you don't agree
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:46 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


But while he may have been irritated -- really, with him it's hard to tell -- he wasn't being snide or sarcastic.

While I cannot read Sanders' mind, I am telling you what I observed being present in the audience at the Town Hall. I don't know what his actual mood was. I am telling you how he came across. His body language and rhetoric felt defensive.

For the record, the lav mics worn onstage do not pick up the stream of general outrage and engaged energy that floated up from the audience. I wouldn't characterize the overall audience response as one of disapproval--in fact, some of the shouting I heard was "progressives" literally telling the protesters to shut up*--but a large swath of the audience understood where the protesters were coming from.

*Later, one fellow NN attendee told me about how an older white attendee chided the "colored people" for ruining Sanders' speech. With friends like these...
posted by cowboy_sally at 3:41 PM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


what a lazy, biased, self-serving, and misleading article. It devotes less space to discussing BlackLivesMatter or Netroots Nation than it does to bashing Sanders and pumping the inevitability of a candidate who didn't even bother to show up. (6 of 10 paragraphs repeat the theme that Sanders has no chance of winning, e.g. not even "If Hillary Clinton is hit by a meteor tomorrow.”)

Why is do you perceive it as "biased, self-serving" to point out that Bernie won't win?

The reason Berlatsky repeats this point is presumably because it plays an important role in his argument. He's explaining, remember, why he's glad Bernie got interrupted. Some people say such arguments are bad because the left is eating its own, or whatever. Berlatsky is countering this argument:

Attacking someone who agrees with you on the main issues is divisive and bad strategy, supposedly. But again, undermining Sanders is only a strategic problem if he has a chance of winning the nomination—and there's no evidence he does.

Are you saying Berlatsky is somehow serving his own self-interested bias by "pumping [Hilary's] inevitability"?

There is no reason to think this based on the article, and I'm pretty sure it's false. Berlatsky was outraged by Bill Clinton's track record on e.g. welfare reform, and in 2000 as I recall was leaning towards Ralph Nader. (Berlatsky was voting in Illinois, which wasn't a critical swing state.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:56 PM on July 21, 2015






Well he said her name. I do recall predicting that he would do something like that. I don't think Sanders is quite the poker player that Obama is, but I might even be wrong about that; he's been in this game a long time without folding. He is an old progressive who knows that you have to ride the wave of populism to smash what needs changing, and he probably didn't realize until a few days ago that this wave was lurking. Being a socialist, after all, his focus has always been on economics and how that drives everything. But he's gotten a quick education that some things need to bypass the economics and just be addressed by law.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:00 PM on July 23, 2015


Meanwhile, the WaPo illustrates the other problem with Sanders' platform:

The new Washington Post/ABC News poll starkly illustrates the challenge Democrats face in this regard. It turns out that an overwhelming majority of non-college whites believes the U.S. economic system is stacked in favor of the rich — but far more of those voters also think Republicans, not Democrats, have better ideas to address that problem.
The Post/ABC poll finds that 68 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy rather than being fair to most Americans (only 27 percent believe the latter). Some 69 percent of white non-college voters believe it favors the wealthy, somewhat higher than the 61 percent of white college-educated voters who believe the same.

...

Non-college whites overwhelmingly believe the economic system is not fair to most Americans, but substantially more of them prefer GOP ideas on what to do about it. By contrast, other groups are much more evenly divided on this question. Among college-educated whites, Republicans lead by a much smaller 46-38. Independents are almost exactly split. And in a bit of good news for Dems, moderates favor their ideas by 45-34. But among non-college whites, GOP ideas enjoy a 21 point advantage.


If you wonder why minority activists look askance at economic populism, that should give you a hint to the reason.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:00 AM on July 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Non-college whites overwhelmingly believe the economic system is not fair to most Americans, but substantially more of them prefer GOP ideas on what to do about it.

I wonder what ideas they are thinking of exactly.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:08 AM on July 24, 2015


I'd guess "not Democrat." The GOP has managed to control the language for decades and I suspect there's a lot of people who have internalized the "D = Bad With Money" idea. I'd bet those same folks, if you asked them who'd lowered their tax rates in the last 20 years, wouldn't get the answer right.
posted by phearlez at 11:51 AM on July 24, 2015


No, it's not about being "bad with money". It's all about where - and to whom - the money goes.

Which has always been a problem with economic populism in the US.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:47 PM on July 24, 2015


A bit off-topic, but this is the only Bernie-related thread still open:

Reason #1 to Vote Bernie: Sanders Does 'Better Than Clinton' Against GOP in Swing States
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:05 AM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


If anyone believes that Sanders would do better than Clinton in swing states on election day I have a certain bridge I can get you a really good price on.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on July 25, 2015


What is your evidence for that being completely ridiculous, Justinian?

I have no clue why people are so persistently convinced that Hillary Clinton just HAS to be the MOST ELECTABLE in ALL SCENARIOS or else you're JUST DUMB AND GULLIBLE. It's an open question and there's evidence both ways.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:19 PM on July 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Obviously there can't be evidence yet since election day isn't for rather a long time. But common sense, history, and any amount of historical awareness should be enough. Dude is a socialist. The only reason he's doing as well as he is in polls right now is that most people don't know anything about him and so his negatives are really, really low. The minute it looked like he might actually get the nomination that would change.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


So your evidence is that you think that in a hypothetical future people's perceptions of him will change, and that therefore anyone who thinks something different from what you--a non-expert--thinks is practically an idiot? Ok.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Now I'm wondering what constitutes an "expert" in posting opinions on electability over a year in advance of elections. Is there such a thing?
posted by Justinian at 1:35 PM on July 25, 2015


There might not be such an expert, in which case the condescension about people who disagree with you is even more unwarranted--if literally no one is good at predicting this stuff (and I tend to think that's the case) then why act like people whose predictions differ from yours are being intensely gullible? If anyone's gullible, it's the people who buy the Clinton campaign line about how she's obviously much more electable than all the other candidates. It's far from obvious.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


And as far as being historically aware goes--I remember Barack Obama being a black guy with a weird name who OBVIOUSLY would never win the general. "Electability" is not as obvious as Hillary Clinton's campaign would like us to think it is.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:53 PM on July 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


The difference is that Obama was a left-centrist whose electability was being questioned on personal demographic grounds while Sanders' electability is an issue because of his actual positions.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 PM on July 25, 2015


Dude is a socialist

No he isn't. He is a socialist democrat, which is a specific thing quite different from a socialist. Words have meanings and Sanders' platform contains one people keep forgetting belongs there.

As for what that means with regular people, when they learn what the actual elements of his platform are a huge majority of Americans really, really like it. A lot of those people are too young to be "booga-booga'd" by that socialist label (brilliantly coined "pink-baiting" by someone I read). Sanders' platform is that the rich are using the wealth to screw the poor and only the government can stop them. That's so obviously true that he has been peeling off Republican base voters in some places. Sanders could very well end up winning Democratic primaries and caucuses with votes from people who have never voted democratic in their lives.

As I've repeatedly said, the comparison point with Sanders isn't Obama, it's Jimmy Carter who was propelled to the Dem candidacy over the heads of some much better known and better funded competitors by a universal wave of disgust in the wake of Watergate. There's another universal wave of disgust crashing around us, but it's at the banksters and the 1% and their enablers, and Sanders has his surfboard at the ready for it.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


No he isn't. He is a socialist democrat, which is a specific thing quite different from a socialist.

I'm sure that distinction will be clearly and explicitly made to the voters via Fox News and other media outlets.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on July 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


(In any case, Democratic Socialism is still socialism, it's just not Marxism-Leninism socialism.)
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on July 25, 2015


via Fox News

Nobody who watches Fox News is going to vote for Hillary Clinton either.

Sanders has been very aggressive about getting specific policy points out there, and he's been good at it even on venues where it's hard. That's important because it's something he absolutely has to do. Sanders is doing well because he is not doing weasel words and when he's opposite a screen with someone who is it really shows. Try calling him a socialist after he's gone past should you be making $15 an hour minimum wage, should your social security be safe, should you be able to get health care even if you've been sick before, should the rich be taking all the new wealth created since 1990 for themselves, and see how far that pink baiting gets you.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:41 PM on July 25, 2015


I just wish he were a decade or two younger; I just can't see myself voting for a 75 year old man. I'm having enough troubles with the fact that Hillary will be 69 if she becomes president, the same age Reagan was.
posted by octothorpe at 3:05 PM on July 25, 2015


Try calling him a socialist

Democratic socialism is socialism, it's just not Marxism-Leninism. Where is this whole "it's not socialism" thing coming from? There is more than one type of socialism.
posted by Justinian at 3:24 PM on July 25, 2015


The idea that socialism is bad and that nobody will accept it is based on the Red scare and the cold war fears of Russia and China, and that's what people think of when you bait them with the naked word "socialism." Remind people that Sanders' form of socialism is much more similar to the way Sweden or Norway is run and you will get at first blank stares because people in the US are too stupid to know that but when it's explained they have very consistently decided that, unlike those booga-booga socialist states they were conditioned to hate and fear this kind of socialism is something completely different that is actually pretty damn nice when you put it in practice.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:12 PM on July 25, 2015


The idea that socialism is bad and that nobody will accept it is based on the Red scare and the cold war fears of Russia and China, and that's what people think of when you bait them with the naked word "socialism."

I think more about Democrats being driven out of Congress with shouts of "Death Panels!" in the air.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:17 PM on July 25, 2015


Yeah except the real death panels were run by private insurance companies, and what Obama did was put a halter on them. The tipping point is that too many people have noticed shit like that. The lie on the news is kind of hard to swallow when you're moving out of the family house because Mom got cancer.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:19 PM on July 25, 2015 [2 favorites]




Sanders' platform is that the rich are using the wealth to screw the poor and only the government can stop them. That's so obviously true that he has been peeling off Republican base voters in some places. Sanders could very well end up winning Democratic primaries and caucuses with votes from people who have never voted democratic in their lives.

Which is a big problem, and is what lead up to the Netroots Nation incident in the first place. As I've stated a few times in this thread, the history of economic populism in the US has been filled with racism, which is something that cannot be ignored. You talk about Sanders peeling off Republican primary voters with his platform, but that leads to a big question - if he creates a coalition built around the interests of working class white males, will there be room for minorities in it?
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:38 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


How can Bernie change his economic message to make it clear African Americans won't be left behind, given the history you correctly point out?
posted by Drinky Die at 9:59 AM on July 28, 2015


Well, for starters, he could apologize for that "you shouldn't vote your color" comment.

Ultimately, I think he's going to have to address it directly, which he's had a problem with. He needs to acknowledge that his economic view of the world is incomplete, and that race and class are orthogonal to one another (though not completely so.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it's a total oversimplification to talk about Sanders' "economic populism" like he's Huey Long or something. The economic policies he advocates - actual alleviation of poverty, not just some bullshit middle-class soothing - would disproportionately help women and people of color, and he never uses racism as a campaign tool like so many of the 'economic populists' of the past have. I don't think there is any contradiction whatsoever between his economic policies and including minorities in his coalition and I think it's a mistake to frame things that way. Yes, I would absolutely love to see him talk about racism more directly, and he's already doing that. He ended his rally in Louisiana on Sunday by talking about Sandra Bland and how what happened to her is a travesty that would never happen to a middle-class white woman, for example. But taking the only person in the race who has any plan whatsoever for helping women and people of color in real poverty and dismissing him as an 'economic populist' with all the racism implicit in that is kind of missing the forest for the trees.
posted by dialetheia at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


and he never uses racism as a campaign tool like so many of the 'economic populists' of the past have.

Except he has - again, he openly said in an interview "you shouldn't vote based on your color." That's a comment that is racially problematic at best. And while he follows that up by saying that you should vote on how you are doing, the lack of recognition of how that is very much tied into race in the US is telling.

While you mention how his policies would help minorities, it's in a passing manner in that his policies, if implemented, would allow for minorities to get a larger boost. But again - the history of economic populism in the US is that these policies are rarely implemented as such. And considering his rhetoric about how Democrats have abandoned working class whites, it's really not surprising that minority activists are looking askance at him.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2015


the history of economic populism in the US is that these policies are rarely implemented as such.

Which policies are these that have been implemented in such a way as to leave people of color out of benefiting from them? Food stamps? The earned income tax credit? Section 8?

Are you genuinely arguing that major anti-poverty programs would not benefit people of color? (Disproportionately, just like poverty disproportionately affects people of color)?

I tend to agree that these kinds of programs are not actually programs for people of color, and that they, alone, do not constitute a platform that genuinely addresses all of the issues facing people of color (which vary based on the constituency involved, but at a bare minimum require a serious position on criminal justice reform). I think Bernie Sanders has committed at least part of what I would want to see for that platform, and I hope to see much, much more from him on the topic.

However, I think that denying that anti-poverty programs would be hugely beneficial for a number of (the most vulnerable) people of color is simply factually incorrect, based on what we know about how those programs work now.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:05 AM on July 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are you genuinely arguing that major anti-poverty programs would not benefit people of color? (Disproportionately, just like poverty disproportionately affects people of color)?

I'm arguing that there is a long and ignoble tradition of framing anti-poverty programs in the US in a manner that blunts their effect for minorities. Which is why I tend to find "rising tide" type arguments to be unconvincing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2015


I'm curious if you could dig into that a bit more. My understanding is more that the clawback on these programs has been framed in racist terms. "Young Bucks/Welfare Queens" type rhetoric in the 80s followed up ultimately with Clinton signing welfare reforms. It's not generally that anti-poverty is racist to start, it's that white people will vote against their own interests on it if they perceive African Americans of taking unfair advantage of the programs. I think Atrios describes it as a perception of a, "Secret Welfare," that is more generous to black people than white people.

This isn't an area of politics I know a ton about though, so I'm honest when I say I'm interested to hear more of your perspective on that.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:38 AM on July 28, 2015


I'm arguing that there is a long and ignoble tradition of framing anti-poverty programs in the US in a manner that blunts their effect for minorities.

That's two separate things, though. Anti-poverty programs have often been framed in terms of white folks (or aracially, at best) because lots of white racist poor people don't like the idea of giving their money to minorities. This is terrible and I wish I could change it, and I think it's slowly getting better. But you're eliding the second half of the argument: you're just assuming that the framing carries into implementation, for which I have seen no evidence. Even if e.g. Section 8 was introduced in such a way that everyone could pretend it was just about helping other poor white folks, are you saying that it also disproportionately benefits white people as a result somehow? The sort of traditional liberal argument (as Drinky Die cites, on preview) is that the best we can hope to do right now, given the racism of the voting public, is sort of 'trojan horse' anti-poverty measures, where we don't exactly emphasize that it's not for white people but in truth, it will disproportionately help people of color.

I think a lot of Sanders supporters see the "don't emphasize race w/r/t anti-poverty measures" as accomplishing two major rhetorical goals: one, it takes rhetorical ammo away from racist assholes who are only against anti-poverty measures because they hate people of color (basically the "what's the matter with Kansas" problem), so that hopefully we can implement these policies and they can disproportionately help women and people of color (just like other anti-poverty measures have, by my understanding). Two, it removes the also-problematic framing of the 90s where "poverty" was an ugly code word for "race". In the 90s, the politics around poverty were basically 100% race-centered - and it led to a lot of gross conflation of poverty issues and minority issues in a condescending way that implied that all minorities were unwashed poor people living in inner-city ghettos or something. Going too far in the other direction of only talking about economics in terms of race can result in equally gross rhetoric.

I'm just having trouble with this argument in this context because I see the Clintons as ground zero for dismantling anti-poverty programs under the guise of winning white voters and accepting racist anti-poverty framing, so criticizing Sanders on this front while not simultaneously excoriating Clinton seems completely and totally ridiculous. I mean, the DLC-era Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, basically accepted the racist "poverty = 'urban' = 'inner city'", 'welfare queen' rhetoric and almost totally dismantled welfare (replaced by the barely-adequate TANF) not twenty years ago, and now I'm supposed to believe Hillary Clinton is preferable on racial justice issues just because Sanders wants to talk about poverty? I'd say the story of TANF is actually a pretty good example of why framing these issues in terms of race is not necessarily an unalloyed good in accomplishing the policy goals that would actually help alleviate poverty for people.
posted by dialetheia at 11:46 AM on July 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


The sort of traditional liberal argument (as Drinky Die cites, on preview) is that the best we can hope to do right now, given the racism of the voting public, is sort of 'trojan horse' anti-poverty measures, where we don't exactly emphasize that it's not for white people but in truth, it will disproportionately help people of color.

And you don't see why minority activists might have a problem with that argument?
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:12 PM on July 28, 2015


I do see why, and I said I had a problem with it too right there in my comment - it's terrible and ridiculous that we have to dance around white supremacy and white fragility in order to get any traction around poverty issues. I hate it and I think it's execrable and I wish it weren't so, just like a million other aspects of American politics.

If Sanders were ignoring racial justice issues, I'd agree with your critique. But I don't see him doing that; what I see him doing is very carefully avoiding racial framing specifically with respect to his antipoverty economic agenda, but still being forthright about systemic racism as a huge factor in the issues he's trying to address with that agenda. He talks a lot about racial disparities in incarceration and youth unemployment, and he is very explicit about racism being the cause of the disparities. He's also very critical of the prison-industrial complex - he's trying to make "education, not incarceration" one of his catch-phrases, to judge from recent speeches. He's also been outspoken about militarization of police forces and has explicitly criticized use of force regulations in his statements about Sandra Bland, which is more than I can say for any other candidate.

If anyone is interested in how he incorporates racial justice into his economic arguments, he just gave a fairly comprehensive speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
posted by dialetheia at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Not to browbeat anyone, I just wanted to add that the punchline to his "education, not incarceration" line isn't some weak-sauce no child left behind BS or victim-blaming crap about culture, either - it's a free college education for all Americans. Many of his proposed solutions are so radical (at least by today's definition of radical) - like the $15 federal minimum wage - that they would still have huge benefits for all working people, even beyond racial disparities in implementation (which also absolutely need to be addressed, no doubt about it).

Anyway, I respect other opinions and really don't mean to get too "no, actually, he's great" about this. I agree he needs to work on his framing a lot and that he says problematic stuff - I didn't like that NPR quote at all either (although it was specifically in the context of the Dems getting slaughtered in the last midterm, so he was talking about a specific coalition-building thing... but it was still a ridiculously tone-deaf dumb thing to say).

I just think that it's unfair to dismiss his platform as akin to typical racist white economic populism when the solutions he's proposing would do like, a million times more to improve the lives of people of color (and all systematically and economically marginalized people) than any other major candidate is proposing to do.
posted by dialetheia at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


NoxAeternum, given your objections, I'm puzzled about what you think a positive presidential program that you support would look like. Taking a radical rhetorical position on minority issues isn't necessarily proof of benevolent intent -- even Richard Nixon claimed to be a supporter of Black Power. In any event, it seems that minorities generally care about the issues that Sanders is running on and, as others have pointed out, would greatly benefit if his proposed programs were implemented. The political priorities of minority activists (whoever they may be) and minorities generally do not necessarily align.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:28 PM on July 28, 2015


If anyone is interested in how he incorporates racial justice into his economic arguments, he just gave a fairly comprehensive speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

That speech illustrates the problem, though - he briefly talks about issues that minorities face...and then immediately pivots into his usual economic-focused speech. Yes, a $15/hour minimum wage would address some of the economic issues that minorities face financially - but it doesn't really deal with the fact that it's harder for minorities to get hired in the first place. Support for education is nice, but it ignores the ways that societal influence has altered how education appears to minorities. And this comes back to NPB's point - while yes, minorities are just as focused on things like unemployment, the nature of that focus is going to be different because of race.

I guess my problem is that Sanders strikes me as being someone who views the world through a particular lens, and finds it hard to see the world in a different light.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2015


I guess my problem is that Sanders strikes me as being someone who views the world through a particular lens, and finds it hard to see the world in a different light.

And that is most certainly true. Sanders sees it through an economic lens. What I can't figure out is why that is such a bad thing.

Sanders has been fighting the good fight, and not just in purely economic terms, since before I was born. He's obviously a very smart man because he has managed to be elected to high office on a platform that is designed to look toxic. That is a hat trick not to be ignored.

After all those years, while he acknowledges that all the problems are important, the most important immediate ones most likely to be solved in the short term are economic. You cannot really hope to make progress on the other problems while the poor are being divided and conquered by survival issues.

Now, Sanders isn't the first to face a suicidal backlash from the left in this regard. I remember many in the GLBT community absolutely hating on Obama for not doing more in the matter of gay marriage during his first term.

The thing is, the President has a limited amount of power and political capital, and Obama has turned out to be an absolute wizard in deploying his in the most productive possible way. He observed early on that no matter what he did it wouldn't make much difference in the matter of gay marriage, but putting himself out there on the issue would eat up resources he might direct toward something he could accomplish, like health care. That desn't mean he didn't care about gay marriage, but he had to make a calculated decision.

Sanders has been in politics a very long time and has a proven track record getting things done. He also has a track record of working for racial equality. But I think he has made a decision, much like Obama's to concentrate on things other than gay marriage, that what he might actually be able to get done is fixing the economic problem, and that that is a good thing because the rest of it can't get fixed anyway until the economic problem is fixed. Poor whites hate poor blacks in large measure because they don't have what they need to reliably survive either and they resent the blacks getting any of it.

But if people do generally have what they need to survive that kind of resentment loses much of its power. I believe that is a core belief for Sanders and it is why he will always pivot back to economics. It's not because he doesn't care about POC but because he believes the first best way to address the real world problems POC face is to fix the economic problem first. Then a lot of the resistance to fixing the other problems will fall away.

You can of course disagree with this. Matters of policy like this are subject to all kinds of argument. But I think that to dismiss Sanders as being dismissive of POC concerns because he is putting economics first is to seriously misunderstand what he is trying to do on their behalf. He is trying to get substantive change, which has to be done with compromises and increments in the real world. He has a long and consistent history of this.

It is quixotic and foolish to aim for goals that cannot be attained or which will not mean anything even if participating in the demonstration might feel good. You will not get racial justice while poor whites feel poor blacks are effectively taking what they think is theirs. Republicans have been feeding them that message since I was in diapers and you have to somehow undo that. The only real way to fix that is to give all the poor comfortable means of survival, so they don't need to fear what they have being given to someone else. Then you can ask them to be more accepting of people who are different.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:10 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is quixotic and foolish to aim for goals that cannot be attained or which will not mean anything even if participating in the demonstration might feel good.

Perhaps it's also quixotic and foolish to assume that centuries of racial oppression will disappear in an instant once some money is shoved in the hands of the oppressors. Perhaps it's naive to pretend as if we can just sweep the concerns of the oppressed under the rug, telling them to wait their turn because once President Sanders is elected everyone will get their fair share in due time. Perhaps it's downright inhumane to tell the oppressed to settle down, to wait the years for President Sanders' election and the bill-crafting, politicking, glad-handing, arguing, lobbying that it takes to actually implement his policies? To just wait and be quiet while they watch their sons and daughters be incarcerated and murdered by the government?

Your arguments are abominably cruel and selfish when looked at from the perspective of those actually suffering. Frankly, if the Civil Rights movement took your tactics Black people would still be swinging from the trees in the South without any repercussions whatsoever.

When I hear my POC friends complain about White liberals it's exactly that kind of holier-than-thou arrogance that comes from Sanders defenders that they're complaining about.
posted by schroedinger at 7:55 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


So...vote Hillary?
posted by Drinky Die at 12:34 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Perhaps it's downright inhumane to tell the oppressed to settle down, to wait the years for President Sanders' election and the bill-crafting, politicking, glad-handing, arguing, lobbying that it takes to actually implement his policies? To just wait and be quiet while they watch their sons and daughters be incarcerated and murdered by the government?

I agree 100% with what you posted, but I have one question: Is there a presidential candidate that what you said above would not apply to?

I've been surprised by how much criticism on this issue has focused on Sanders when I haven't heard anything better from the other candidates, but if someone has been doing a good job on these issues and I've missed it I definitely want to learn about it
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:35 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been surprised by how much criticism on this issue has focused on Sanders when I haven't heard anything better from the other candidates, but if someone has been doing a good job on these issues and I've missed it I definitely want to learn about it

Because, to put it bluntly, none of the other major Democratic candidates has outright said that minorities should not vote based on their race. This has been a massive and continuing forced error on Sanders' part - he has assumed that the minority members of the Democratic coalition would fall in line with his plan because of the benefits. He just received a massive wakeup call that no, they damn well expect him to demonstrate that he will actually be responsive to their concerns - or they'll find a candidate who will.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:08 AM on July 29, 2015


He just received a massive wakeup call that no, they damn well expect him to demonstrate that he will actually be responsive to their concerns - or they'll find a candidate who will.

Who? The woman who ran this campaign? O'Malley? It's a little bit late in the process to go looking for fresh names.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:19 AM on July 29, 2015


Because, to put it bluntly, none of the other major Democratic candidates has outright said that minorities should not vote based on their race.

That makes sense. I don't know what he was going for with that comment, but it sounds terrible.

So it isn't that there are other candidates who have demonstrated they will be responsive to minority concerns, it's more that Sanders has said some things that make it sound like he won't be?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:31 AM on July 29, 2015


It's a little bit late in the process to go looking for fresh names.

...
posted by phearlez at 8:41 AM on July 29, 2015


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Not saying it's my favorite system, but it is what it is. A candidate announcing today is starting off $15.2 million behind Sanders and $47.5 million behind Clinton. The new candidate is $103 million behind Jeb Bush on money from outside groups. Plus you are months behind on organizing in the early primary states. Organizations and politicians have already begun making their endorsements known. You have a few more months for the filing deadlines for the early primaries but that is the least of your worries. I can't think of anybody who has been seen as preparing for a possible run who would be someone Black Lives Matter would likely turn to as an obvious choice so new candidate is probably someone lesser known who has not even done the exploratory work yet.

The most likely situation is you have to choose between the currently announced Democratic candidates if you want someone with a realistic chance of winning the primary. I'm not sure any of them are particularly inspiring on race related issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:07 AM on July 29, 2015


he briefly talks about issues that minorities face...and then immediately pivots into his usual economic-focused speech.

I completely and totally disagree with that characterization. He didn't pivot into his economic argument; he made a full-throated, careful, thoughtful argument for economic justice as an essential part of addressing racial injustice. I don't think he ignored intersectional economic issues at all - he's explicit about racial disparities in these economic issues and is very clear that these need to be addressed. I thought this was one of the all-time best speeches I've seen a Democrat give on the way that racial justice intersects with economic justice, actually. It's taking a lot of restraint not to blockquote huge swaths of that speech here.

I don't know what he was going for with that comment, but it sounds terrible.

I wasn't going to go into this but since the quote keeps coming up, I will. The context is this interview with NPR about why Democrats lost the midterms, and specifically why they lost white voters: Bernie Sanders on how Democrats lost white voters. They've taken that quote and slotted it under "on African-American voters:" in their article, but he is talking about why poor white people aren't voting for Democrats.

I'm actually pretty frustrated with the way they took his comment out of context in the interview if you listen to it, because it's the NPR guy who raises the thesis that Democrats can't get white working class voters because they're always catering to minorities all the time. In that context, I honestly think that Bernie is talking about everyone when he says people shouldn't base their politics on their color - in that context, I think that's his way of saying that these poor white people are being racist and voting their color. The first paragraph is meant to address the NPR guy's question, which started "Democrats got less than 25% of the white vote, but the African American working class has been voting for Democrats, single white women have been voting for Democrats..." and was clearly aiming for Bernie to say "yes, because poor white people are racist" - which yes, probably he should have said, but this was like the day after the Democrats lost the white vote by a gigantic margin - and Bernie cuts him off with this:
Well, here's what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism and voted for him for president. And that's kind of natural. You've got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you've got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help.

But that's not important. You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing? ... In the last election, in state after state, you had an abysmally low vote for the Democrats among white, working-class people. And I think the reason for that is that the Democrats have not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests. I think the key issue that we have to focus on, and I know people are uncomfortable about talking about it, is the role of the billionaire class in American society.
It's still kind of problematic that he doesn't just come out and call all those white folks racist, sure. And I do think Sanders still has a ways to go on these issues. But there's a lot more nuance to the context of that comment than just randomly castigating voters of color for voting based on racial issues. He was specifically talking about the Democratic party's relationship to white voters.

Anyway, I just really hope that everyone is calling all the other candidates out on their racially problematic histories and statements too (Hillary had some doozies during the 2008 election, not to mention Bill's administration) and not holding Sanders to a higher standard.
posted by dialetheia at 9:21 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't know what he was going for with that comment, but it sounds terrible.

From the passage that dialetheia quoted, Sanders just sounds like he's talking common sense. Just because, say, Ted Cruz is Hispanic doesn't mean he's going to favor Hispanic-friendly (whatever that might mean) policies. Is this really that controversial of a statement? Bernie could have been talking about whites or non-whites; class differences and different political agendas divide every demographic group.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:03 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but I don't buy the nuance argument there. He starts out by talking about how you have minority communities pushing for the Democrats to support their policies, and then outright says "that doesn't matter."

Well guess what? It matters to those communities.

And then he compounds things by saying "you should not be basing your politics on your color." And then goes into explaining that you should be voting based on how your family is doing - which is a juxtaposition that can only be explained by him not considering racial issues as important to one's familial welfare. And then he goes into that the real issue is economics, and that's why the Democrats lost white voters.

It's the exact same dynamic with what happened with Patricia Arquette's comments at the Oscars earlier this year, and people are upset for the same reasons - minority interests are being told to take a back seat. And then people wonder why minority activists aren't happy with that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:14 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the passage that dialetheia quoted, Sanders just sounds like he's talking common sense. Just because, say, Ted Cruz is Hispanic doesn't mean he's going to favor Hispanic-friendly (whatever that might mean) policies. Is this really that controversial of a statement?

The black community pushes racial issues because those issues directly affect how they and their families are doing. The Latino community does the same. So they push for policies that will improve their lot.

So yeah, it's a bit controversial when a white politician tells a minority community that their concerns don't matter.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:20 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


So yeah, it's a bit controversial when a white politician tells a minority community that their concerns don't matter.

Is that how you read that interview? Having only read that particular sound bite several times, I thought it sounded bad (as I mentioned earlier). But in context, it sounds like he's saying white people shouldn't vote against Democrats just because there's a black Democratic president, Hispanic voters are turning to Democratic candidates for help on immigration reform since the Republicans are anti-immigration, and so on. It looked to me like he was saying that working class white people shouldn't automatically vote Republican because it's seen as the "white party," not that the minority community's concerns don't matter.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, but I don't buy the nuance argument there. He starts out by talking about how you have minority communities pushing for the Democrats to support their policies, and then outright says "that doesn't matter."

Yes - again, he says it doesn't matter in response to the question, why aren't you getting white votes. He's saying that it shouldn't matter that Democrats get huge support from Latino and Black people with respect to earning the white working class vote. Consider listening to the 7-minute interview - he very much isn't just talking specifically to minority voters, he's explicitly responding to a question about why Democrats do so poorly with the white vote. In that context, in direct response to the question that was being asked, his answer is basically a more diplomatic way of saying "because we get a lot of minority support, and white people are racist".

It looked to me like he was saying that working class white people shouldn't automatically vote Republican because it's seen as the "white party," not that the minority community's concerns don't matter.

Yes, exactly! Anyway, I'll grant inartful phrasing, but I just really don't think he was saying what you think he was saying there, NoxAeternum. In the context of the interview, which was about earning white votes, he had no reason to address minority voters at all - and only did so when the NPR guy tried to get him to pit minority working class voters against white working class voters.
posted by dialetheia at 10:43 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because, to put it bluntly, none of the other major Democratic candidates has outright said that minorities should not vote based on their race.

It's not just that, either, it's also because Sandersites have been incredibly aggressive about touting him as the best choice for minorities based on his background in the Civil Rights movement, while willfully ignoring the voices of minorities pointing out that what's racially progressive in the 60s may not still be progressive today.
posted by schroedinger at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2015


In the context of the interview, which was about earning white votes, he had no reason to address minority voters at all - and only did so when the NPR guy tried to get him to pit minority working class voters against white working class voters.

Except that he winds up chastising the Democrats over not looking out for the interests of working class whites:

And I think the reason for that is that the Democrats have not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests. I think the key issue that we have to focus on, and I know people are uncomfortable about talking about it, is the role of the billionaire class in American society.

Again, if the problem is how working class whites see the Democrats, why chastise them?

Which, again, comes back to my point that he has a hammer labeled "economic theory", and as such he sees everything as a nail.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:01 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm stepping back from the thread again but I just want to emphasize that although I like Sanders, I'm not trying to be argumentative or to tell anyone how to vote. I'm genuinely interested in understanding criticisms of him better and I'm very thankful to people like NoxAeternum and schroedinger for helping me do so. I know MeFites complain sometimes that the blue can be an echo chamber on political issues but I really appreciate the respectful and informative conversation we still have going in this thread 9 days later.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:08 AM on July 29, 2015


Which, again, comes back to my point that he has a hammer labeled "economic theory", and as such he sees everything as a nail.

I don't disagree and I completely understand your concerns about economic theory in this context. I think it's important for us to push all the candidates to be better. My reaction at this point, based on your repeated push on this here, is at what point does this become a purity test that invalidates someone in favor of someone who is worse?
posted by phearlez at 11:13 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


My reaction at this point, based on your repeated push on this here, is at what point does this become a purity test that invalidates someone in favor of someone who is worse?

Define worse. Because I don't see Sanders as the Great Progressive Hope for a few reasons:

1. As I've stated before, his vote to indemnify the gun industry is something I find very problematic, and his defense of that vote I find lacking.

2. He overly focuses on an economic view of US politics, and I think that leaves him with large gaps when it comes to dealing with racial and gender issues.

3. He's shown that he does not do well with hostile crowds. This isn't just based on the NN incident - he's melted down at town halls as well.

4. Finally, I find him seeking the Democratic nomination after years as an independent to be a bit distasteful.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2015


Except that he winds up chastising the Democrats over not looking out for the interests of working class whites: ... Again, if the problem is how working class whites see the Democrats, why chastise them?

I mean, yes? He's chastising Democrats. That's his point - that Democrats have done a shitty job on economic issues, and that has left a lot of room for Republicans to capitalize on racism because working class white folks don't believe that Democrats are working in their interests. Those points aren't mutually exclusive at all. He's saying that if Democrats demonstrated their commitment to people in poverty, there wouldn't be so much room for Republicans to campaign solely on racism & resentment among poor white people.

Which, again, comes back to my point that he has a hammer labeled "economic theory", and as such he sees everything as a nail.

I disagree, unsurprisingly - he believes that Democrats have largely abandoned real working-class/poverty issues altogether and thinks that it's immoral to do that, so he's trying to tip the scale back in that direction a little bit. He doesn't see everything as being solely economic, he just sees that the economic issues are being neglected (or bought, or co-opted) within the Democratic party. I tend to agree with him. Democrats hardly talk about the poor at all anymore - everything is about the middle class now if they talk about class at all. They've largely bought into the idea that to to talk about class is to practice "class warfare" - ignoring the fact that the 1% are practicing class warfare on everyone else all the time.

When he talks about economics, he isn't talking dry Marxist theory or some abstract Hayek/Keynes debate, he's talking about economic inequality in the sense of MLK's anti-poverty work, as a moral responsibility and a prerequisite to racial equality. From that address to the SCLC:
[continuing an extended quote from a Eugene Robinson column]: "King explained the shift in his focus: “Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?”

But what King saw in 1968 — and what we all should recognize today — is that it is useless to try to address race without also taking on the larger issue of inequality. He was planning a poor people’s march on Washington that would include not only African-Americans but also Latinos, Native Americans and poor Appalachian whites. He envisioned a rainbow of the dispossessed, assembled to demand not just an end to discrimination but a change in the way the economy doles out its spoils.”

And that is the theme that I wish to pursue this evening. The need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country, while at the same time we vigorously attack the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer while everyone else – especially the African-American community and working-class whites – are becoming poorer.
For folks who think his focus is too heavily based in economics, how do you feel about Elizabeth Warren? She has largely the same politics on these issues, as far as I'm aware, but I've never heard anyone criticize her for being too focused on economic issues.

I'm stepping back from the thread again but I just want to emphasize that although I like Sanders, I'm not trying to be argumentative or to tell anyone how to vote.

Same! I was also super irritated by people going overboard with the Sanders browbeating right after Netroots Nation. This has been a great, respectful discussion, and I appreciate it. I think there's room for people to defend his record and argue in favor of his candidacy without haranguing people or telling anyone how to vote.
posted by dialetheia at 11:50 AM on July 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean, yes? He's chastising Democrats. That's his point - that Democrats have done a shitty job on economic issues, and that has left a lot of room for Republicans to capitalize on racism because working class white folks don't believe that Democrats are working in their interests. Those points aren't mutually exclusive at all. He's saying that if Democrats demonstrated their commitment to people in poverty, there wouldn't be so much room for Republicans to campaign solely on racism & resentment among poor white people.

And considering Atwater's famous quote, I think the arrow of causality there is backwards - lack of support for the working class didn't drive them to racism, but instead racism opened the door to popularizing attacking the social safety net. Which is why the argument strikes me as tonedeaf as best.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:13 PM on July 29, 2015


For folks who think his focus is too heavily based in economics, how do you feel about Elizabeth Warren? She has largely the same politics on these issues, as far as I'm aware, but I've never heard anyone criticize her for being too focused on economic issues.

Actually, Warren herself has done so, in pointing out why she wasn't interested in pursuing the Presidency.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:14 PM on July 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's a pretty darn good point.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:44 PM on July 29, 2015


3. He's shown that he does not do well with hostile crowds. This isn't just based on the NN incident - he's melted down at town halls as well.

Oh my God. When Sanders is agitated, he sounds exactly like Larry David!

#1 Reason to want this man to be president.
posted by riruro at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody who likes Palestinian Chicken that much will ever be President.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:32 PM on July 29, 2015


lack of support for the working class didn't drive them to racism, but instead racism opened the door to popularizing attacking the social safety net.

Atwater has so much to do with it, absolutely. The Southern Strategy was, unfortunately, an unmitigated success for Republicans, as fucked up and terrible as that is. That's exactly the context in which Democrats are trying to get white working class people to vote in their own economic best interests again (see: 'what's the matter with Kansas' arguments). Again, I don't think the two explanations are mutually exclusive at all, or that the causality only goes one direction at this late stage in the game - it's a positive feedback process that's gotten stronger and stronger in the forty years since Atwater &etc kicked it off. The Democrats in the 90s (led by Bill Clinton) largely responded to the Southern Strategy by capitulating to it, abandoning welfare, and just giving up altogether on talking about poverty issues. That clearly isn't the answer either, and that's the context in which Sanders is arguing that Dems have abandoned their economic wheelhouse.

In this framing, one could argue that Sanders is attempting to cut off that Southern Strategy feedback process by removing all support for the "and the Dems don't really care about poor people like you, they only care about minorities" part of the strategy by making an honest effort to make policy that would significantly and materially improve the lives of poor people (explicitly including white people for exactly that reason) - like doubling your wages and sending your kids to college for free. Whether it would work or not, I'm not sure, but I think it's really unfair to compare Sanders' platform, which is really more about undoing the Southern Strategy if anything, to Lee Atwater.

Actually, thinking more about the history of white resentment and Democratic anti-poverty policy, the whole thing reminds me a little bit of the argument against "need-based entitlements" as opposed to universal entitlements. The liberal argument against need-based entitlements is that once people aren't poor anymore, they don't see themselves as the beneficiaries of these policies. That's the major liberal argument against making Social Security entirely need-based - because then it would be defunded within 10 years as people stopped supporting it because it doesn't do anything for them. Thinking about this kind of framing with respect to intersectional economic policy, I think Sanders's proposals are all universal economic policies, in the sense that they would legally apply to everyone in America, for exactly that reason - these policies wouldn't just benefit some "other" poor people, they would benefit everybody in America all at once.

It strikes me that one of the problems Dems have faced in trying to enact anti-poverty legislation is that they end up getting bargained down to the point where they're essentially only providing a 'need-based' benefit instead of a universal benefit. Single payer health care is a fantastic example, actually - single-payer would have given everybody in the country a tangible benefit that they could point to and say hey, this is something the government provided me with (leaving aside all the ideology for a moment, anyway). What we got instead is a watered-down change that many middle-class people barely noticed, but which is incredibly important for people in poverty. The fact that not everybody directly benefits from it (at least not noticeably) is likely a major reason why there is still so much support for repealing it.

In this context, Sanders is trying to shortcut that incrementalist 'need-based' approach by arguing in favor of universal benefits like free college for everyone and doubling the minimum wage. I think he's hoping that providing such clear, obvious benefits to all poor people, regardless of color or circumstance, will resonate with poor white voters in a way that would reduce some of the (completely unjustified, racist, ridiculous) resentment of poor people of color receiving benefits, which as you point out has been a major obstacle to enacting anti-poverty legislation.

Actually, Warren herself has done so, in pointing out why she wasn't interested in pursuing the Presidency.

Unless we're thinking of different quotes - and I know there were a ton because she got asked so often - she's essentially said she didn't think she could continue to speak truth to power and work on the economic issues that she believes are of key importance if she were nominated. Was there a more pointed comment than that? I'm sincerely curious - if she made the argument that she shouldn't run for President because her key issues are economic in nature, that would be an interesting argument and I'd like to read it.
posted by dialetheia at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


abominably cruel and selfish

Really? *sigh*

If your problem is that you are trapped on the wrong side of a wide river, the guy who is chopping down trees to clear some land by the riverbank and lay a keel is not necessarily ignoring your problem. You might wish he would direct that energy elsewhere but that boat he's building might also be your best chance of getting where you want to be.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:02 PM on July 29, 2015


If your problem is that you are trapped on the wrong side of a wide river, the guy who is chopping down trees to clear some land by the riverbank and lay a keel is not necessarily ignoring your problem. You might wish he would direct that energy elsewhere but that boat he's building might also be your best chance of getting where you want to be.

Aaaaaand there's that patronizing attitude that is so prevalent among Sanders supporters . . .
posted by schroedinger at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing is that historically, what were considered "universal" entitlements were anything but. As I said earlier, the history of economic populism in the US has always had a long running racist streak within it - it's been well documented how the New Deal Coalition made peace with white supremacy to pass policies that improved the lot of poor whites while excluding minorities. It's also been the downfall of economic populism as well - a good example being how the labor movement had its throat cut by leadership that chose to align with conservatives against left wing movements in the 50s and 60s.

And that history is very much part of the problem. You argue that universal programs would defuse these complaints, but I'm skeptical of that, because there's a pretty ugly historical streak in the US of lower and middle class white communities being willing to give up benefits and institutions in order to deny them to minorities.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:21 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing is that historically, what were considered "universal" entitlements were anything but.

Of course, nobody would argue with that. Are you saying that the policies he's advocating for would be applied so unevenly that it isn't even worth trying? Do you feel the same way about e.g. Hillary Clinton's economic proposals?

there's a pretty ugly historical streak in the US of lower and middle class white communities being willing to give up benefits and institutions in order to deny them to minorities.

100% granted. How do you propose we break out of that cycle so that we can enact those benefits and institutions, though? Are *all* economic proposals necessarily tainted because the US has such an awful racist history? I could totally understand believing that, though I don't think I'd bother with presidential politics if I believed it so it seems kind of beyond the scope of this particular argument.
posted by dialetheia at 3:32 PM on July 29, 2015


(I feel like that comment came off more confrontational than I would have liked - I'm sincerely curious about where you draw the line on economic policy, not trying to be all "so what do you propose, huh?" about it)
posted by dialetheia at 3:39 PM on July 29, 2015


I feel like that comment came off more confrontational than I would have liked - I'm sincerely curious about where you draw the line on economic policy, not trying to be all "so what do you propose, huh?" about it

I think Jamelle Bowie made the point in his piece on the NN incident for Slate:

As for the former critique, I think this episode was more significant than mere infighting. Regardless of where you stand on the wisdom of the direct action against Sanders and O’Malley, it showed the limits of Sanders’ brand of liberal coalition-building, which hinges on the idea that we could ameliorate serious injustice if we just achieve—or move toward—economic justice. It’s why he touts college education and affordable health care in response to questions on police discrimination and criminal justice reform.

For Black Lives Matter activists, this is almost an insult. To them, racism is orthogonal to class: They’re two different dimensions of disadvantage, and to improve the picture on one isn’t always to improve the picture for the other. Jim Crow, for instance, coexisted with strong unions, high wages, and an active welfare state. When that heckler said “Public college won’t stop police from killing us,” that person was right. To combat racism, you have to fight it on its own terms. Moreover, there are times when fighting racism in policing and other areas is necessary for headway on economic justice. Ending “stop and frisk” in New York City, for example, lowers the odds young men of color will lose their jobs because of unfair stops. And in Ferguson, Missouri, aggressive policing on small infractions essentially served as an additional tax paid largely by black citizens.

An effective and broad-based left has to have answers for anti-racist activists. The question is whether Sanders can see this. Is he adaptable enough to build a new platform that tackles these concerns? Can he include other conversations around fair and affordable housing—and employment—that intersect with anti-racist activism? If he can, then Netroots might stand as a valuable learning experience for the remainder of his campaign. And if he can’t—if Sanders is too stubborn to abandon the pitch he’s used for decades and adopt one more suited to today—then we may have seen the beginning of the end of Berniemania. (To his credit, it already appears as though Sanders is learning.)


Those are the things that I feel he has to answer. And I feel that his constant returns to the economic argument aren't doing so. It's not incumbent on me to show that his policies won't be applied equitably - it's on him to show that they will.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:23 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aaaaaand there's that patronizing attitude

Consult a thesaurus. "disagrees with me" is not the same as "patronizing."

THIS comment is patronizing, by design. Observe the difference.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:28 PM on July 29, 2015


Consult a thesaurus. "disagrees with me" is not the same as "patronizing."

It's patronizing because you're saying "hey, stop attacking your ally" without considering that perhaps they don't consider him to be one.

Instead of dismissing why they think that, try listening to why they think that's the case.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:38 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


try listening to why they think that's the case.

I did. I explained, at great length and very carefully, why I disagree, and it is my argument that they dismissed as if I had not even made it to make an ad hominem accusation of being patronizing.

Life is full of hard problems which sometimes can't be solved by a direct approach. Even if your problem is crossing a river or processing fish fillets or getting trucks in and out of your plant it's never fun to be told that before you can solve what looks like your main problem you have to solve a series of smaller ones, some of which will involve a lot of work, if you want to have any hope of fixing the big problem.

I have been doing stuff like that my entire life. Bernie Sanders has been doing it specifically in politics since before I was born. Obama has been doing that for seven years, ultimately with far more success than anyone ever dreamed might be possible. As I explained at some length we have seen this mistake before on the part of LGBT people who were sooooo outraged that Obama wasn't doing as much as they wanted on gay marriage. I'm not asking for anyone to learn from me, I am just someone on the Internet who is probably a dog. But do learn from experience.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:04 AM on July 30, 2015


But the thing is that they are saying that the problem isn't what you think it is. The Bouie piece lays it out - race and class are orthogonal to one another. Increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour isn't going to fix the fact that a large part of minority unemployment is due to employers passing them over. College for all doesn't make police brutality any less of a problem (as Sandra Bland so tragically illustrated.) Jim Crow and a strong labor movement are not mutually exclusive - in fact, one of the drivers of the great schism between the AFL and CIO was admittance of minorities into the member unions.

And yet when this gets pointed out, it gets dismissed. And then people wonder why minorities are questioning if Sanders really is an ally to them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


But race and class aren't completely orthogonal. Racial divisions are encouraged by a divide and conquer tactic of keeping much of the population so insecure that they resent resources going to anyone other than themselves. Fixing that problem of course doesn't automatically fix the problem of, say, brutal racist cops, but it would dramatically cut the resistance that exists.

And once the other problems were pointed out to him, Sanders has started talking about them. He is going to concentrate on economics because it's a problem he knows how to address where government action can be very effective and which is at the root of many other problems, but he knows and now is publicly acknowledging in every speech he gives that of course other efforts will also be necessary. Once you build that boat you have to sail it across the river after all.
posted by Bringer Tom at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fixing that problem of course doesn't automatically fix the problem of, say, brutal racist cops, but it would dramatically cut the resistance that exists.

I think that you're underestimating how ingrained racism is in the US. The New Deal Coalition cut deals with white supremacism, after all.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:10 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sighing at someone and clucking your tongue like they're a misbehaving child who needs to step aside and let the Adults make the decisions is about as patronizing as it gets.

Racial divisions are encouraged by a divide and conquer tactic of keeping much of the population so insecure that they resent resources going to anyone other than themselves.

Yes, back in the Civil War era. And it worked so well that racism is now a societal ill with a life of its own that exists separate from such manipulations. As such it needs to be addressed on its own, and to argue addressing economic divides will sweep it away is naive at best. You really should read that Bowie piece.

As has been stated repeatedly you are completely dismissive of the concerns of minorities and POC who recognize both from data and their own life experiences that economics is not the only answer. Furthermore you continue to ignore the point that POC are dying right now. Hand-waving about how economics will make it all better ten years from now, you promise, does not address that issue nor will it bring back to life the people who die in the interim. If having enough money cured racism then no rich person would be racist--and God knows that's not true.
posted by schroedinger at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


And it worked so well that racism is now a societal ill with a life of its own that exists separate from such manipulations. As such it needs to be addressed on its own, and to argue addressing economic divides will sweep it away is naive at best.

What federal policy changes are necessary to directly address the social ill of racism?
posted by Drinky Die at 12:32 PM on July 30, 2015


As has been stated repeatedly you are completely dismissive of the concerns of minorities and POC who recognize both from data and their own life experiences that economics is not the only answer.

What has been frustrating about this conversation is that nobody is saying that economics is the only answer at all - only that it is an important (and arguably necessary) part of the answer. Nowhere in his platform or speeches is Sanders saying that all we have to do is achieve economic equality and everything will be great; he's saying that reducing economic inequality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving racial justice.

Also, Sanders is already talking about police brutality regularly as a main part of his message - in his address to the 100,000+ volunteers assembled at house parties last night, he talked about Sandra Bland by name and how everything that happened in that case was a travesty of policing, that a middle-class white woman would never be treated the same way. He's even criticizing the right things - not just making vague noises about tragedy, but talking about community policing efforts, body cams, changing rules around use of force. I just wish that anybody would acknowledge that he absolutely isn't suggesting that economic solutions are the only answer - just that addressing economic inequality is a very important and currently very neglected part of the answer (not to police brutality specifically, but to racial injustice overall).

At the same time, I wish people supporting Sanders would be more careful and respectful in these arguments - it is so unnecessary and counterproductive to say that people are mistaken about what they need, or what would make the biggest difference for them. I disagree with any blanket statement that race and class are orthogonal, at least in a general sense - I think they're highly intertwined in a lot of ways, but not all ways - but I don't think it's OK to tell anyone their priorities should be different, or be condescending about how your priorities are more important. In a perfect world, everyone moves forward with what they believe is important; Sanders supporters believe that economic injustice is an inextricable part (but not whole!) of racial injustice, so they can move ahead with those efforts at the same time that they support and advocate for police reform. I just hate the idea that this is all a zero-sum game.

This might be a little bit of a derail, but how much oversight does the President have over local policing regulations or policies, anyway? My impression is that a big part of why this issue is so intractable is that there is little federal oversight over local PDs anyway, so all any President can really do is instruct his AG to prosecute the shit out of brutality/murder cases and try to get Congress to move toward comprehensive police reform legislation. Is that mostly right, or are there other things that can be accomplished in this department from the Executive branch?
posted by dialetheia at 1:15 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


What has been frustrating about this conversation is that nobody is saying that economics is the only answer at all - only that it is an important (and arguably necessary) part of the answer. Nowhere in his platform or speeches is Sanders saying that all we have to do is achieve economic equality and everything will be great; he's saying that reducing economic inequality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving racial justice.

Except that by routinely pivoting back to his economic argument whenever social issues were brought up, it really created the image that he thought that economics was the core of the issue, and more importantly came across as dismissive of the social concerns of these activists. And it was that which I think led to the confrontation at NN, where the point was made that he needed to stop pivoting back to his platform, and actually address the issues that activists were putting forth. And yes, he's gotten better - but I think that without that impetus, he wouldn't have.

Furthermore, I think that race and class aren't intertwined so much as heavily interact. And because of that, it causes situations unique to those intersections. As such, trying to solve those issues with a more generalized plan won't work.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:09 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Disagreement is not being dismissive. I sighed because a considered argument about policy was called "abominably cruel and selfish." Would you prefer that I be less patronizing and use words like stupid and ridiculous?

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Perhaps because they feel the need to justify actions that frankly made BLM look like assholes, some people are reading things into Sanders' statements and all the similar arguments offered which simply aren't there. Nobody is being dismissive of anybody's concerns. What we have is a disagreement as to where the President can best direct the political capital he will acquire to make the best progress for those and other concerns. Such disagreements are a necessary and fundamental part of the political process, as is compromise in their negotiation. If you aren't willing to consider compromise, what you will get is nothing, because the only political change that will ever happen is that to which you can get a majority, including people who really are your enemies, to agree on.

Maybe you think that's cruel and selfish. What it is is reality.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:59 PM on July 30, 2015


actions that frankly made BLM look like assholes

I completely disagree with this, for what it's worth. I'm thankful for the BLM protesters for bringing attention to this issue, and I do think their protest has had a real net positive effect on Sanders's campaign, at least (if not necessarily Clinton's or O'Malley's). I still think Clinton's complete lack of interest in engaging with Netroots Nation at all was a more unforgivable offense, and I find the disproportionate level of criticism leveled at Sanders vs at Clinton to be quite perplexing - but I don't fault the protesters one bit.
posted by dialetheia at 3:26 PM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe you think that's cruel and selfish. What it is is reality.

It's ironic to me that your comments only get more bad-faith and patronizing as you attempt to argue that they're not (see for instance your explanation of the basic points of "political process," which is both insulting in its presumption of ignorance and its wild question begging).
posted by invitapriore at 4:07 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it dismissive of the concerns of Kansas to ask, "What's the matter with Kansas?"
posted by Drinky Die at 4:25 PM on July 30, 2015


Not long ago, Kansas would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers – when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists' furthest imaginings – when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work – you could be damned sure about what would follow.

Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today's Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you know they're protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there's a good chance they'll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.

posted by Drinky Die at 4:30 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm thankful for the BLM protesters for bringing attention to this issue, and I do think their protest has had a real net positive effect on Sanders's campaign, at least (if not necessarily Clinton's or O'Malley's).

I agree that the net effect was a good thing this time. I think his original position derives from an estimate of what he can actually do as President, much as Obama's actions have. I think he has been reminded that he could do other more direct things, such as having the Feds aggressively prosecute murderous cops, and he's talking about that sort of thing a lot more now.

But the problem is that this is a tactic that is only effective for the first group that does it and becomes nothing but destructive chaos the minute a second group with an unrelated agenda gets the same idea. Consider what that would have looked like if you also had, for example, climate change activists present with the same level of enthusiasm and insistence that theirs is the One True Agenda and shouting down anything else. Or any of a half dozen other groups which are prominent in the Democratic party.

Then again Immanuel Kant was a European white guy, so I guess what did he know.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:47 PM on July 30, 2015


and its wild question begging

I do not think this word means what you think it means. Nor for that matter do some of the others we've been using.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:52 PM on July 30, 2015


The comment I was responding to can be restated as: "it is the reality that it is the reality that politics works this way," which is about as unadorned an instance of assuming your conclusion as you can get. I mean, I guess one could make the argument that it's not really question begging in the traditional sense since you don't really even attempt to obscure that fact by introducing intervening claims in a chain of implications. I don't know that squeezing out of that category by being even more artless about it than usual is something to be proud of, though.
posted by invitapriore at 5:26 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


In a recent video, Sanders called open borders a Koch Brothers policy and repeated some really regressive bullshit that boils down to "they steal our jobs" and "immigrants drive down wages" that has been debunked for a long time. Socialists, as internationalists first and foremost (workers, as Marx put it, have no country), have in fact traditionally stood for open borders and deep international solidarity. It makes me sick to hear this being peddled, not as right-wing boilerplate on immigration, but as a socialist position. If you want evidence that Bernie's not right on race, among other things, that's the smoking gun.
posted by graymouser at 6:07 PM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, but are any presidential candidates even close to endorsing open borders? It seems a little ways outside the current Overton window, even if the evidence in favor of that policy is pretty convincing.

His campaign and his supporters are taking this very seriously: Bernie Sanders Supporters Tackle Racism In A "State of Emergency" Conference Call
posted by dialetheia at 6:31 PM on July 30, 2015


The comment I was responding to can be restated as: "it is the reality that it is the reality that politics works this way,"

No, it can't. It may have been a little condescending but that's because I'm getting tired of responses that ignore half the sentences I've written, which this response does too. If you don't want people to be condescending it would be best not to take their statements out of context, make wild inflations of their probable hostility to your cause, and ignore their attempts to meet you in the middle.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:44 PM on July 30, 2015


Fair enough, but are any presidential candidates even close to endorsing open borders? It seems a little ways outside the current Overton window, even if the evidence in favor of that policy is pretty convincing.

No, open borders aren't part of the overall discussion. But both Clinton and O'Malley have acknowledged that the rhetoric about taking jobs and driving down wages is false, so right now Sanders is effectively to their right.

An open immigration program, if not an immediate demand, is a long-term goal for socialists. Seeing worse rhetoric than the liberals on this issue is disgusting. This is a serious question of democracy, internationalism, and workers' solidarity. Sanders's politics, when you scratch them, have serious gaps in being even "progressive," much less "socialist."
posted by graymouser at 6:59 PM on July 30, 2015


Except you haven't been trying to meet anyone in the middle. You've been arguing that if people would only look at your policies, they'd realize that you are their ally, and that they should just work with you, since you have been working at this for some time.

Sorry, but that's not how allyship works.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:01 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


But both Clinton and O'Malley have acknowledged that the rhetoric about taking jobs and driving down wages is false, so right now Sanders is effectively to their right.

But he wasn't talking about immigration in general, he was talking about what he thought the effects of an open border policy would be. Those are totally different things.
posted by dialetheia at 7:05 PM on July 30, 2015


and that they should just work with you

That is not what anyone here has said, nor what Sanders has said, and this is a perfect example of ignoring half of what has been said.

This is most galling in the case of Sanders, who within 24 hours of the BLM fracas had gone to great lengths to ask the other protesters at the next event who weren't acting like assholes what he could do, and immediately started to do many of those very things in the later speeches he has made.

But many folks have consistently ignored that little fact, as well as the fact that I've tried to phrase every comment I've left here in the vein "this is another valid approach that some people think is more likely to bring actual results more quickly," which is not at all the same as "just work with me." That invites an argument nobody has been willing to engage. Nobody has actually counterargued the economic approach, just claimed that it is racist and selfish and was misused in the past and $BAD.

But nobody has offered an alternative approach and an argument that such alternative approach would be more likely to produce positive results more effectively or quickly. The alternative to Sanders' plan is like the Republicans' proposed replacement for Obamacare. Lots of people say it needs to be adopted, but nobody has bothered to actually try and describe it.

The thing about Sanders is that you might not like his plan, but IT IS AT LEAST A PLAN. It consists of steps which seem realistically achievable which lead to a better state of affairs. If you don't like his plan, WHERE IS YOURS?

Some people are reading what they want to hear, not what is on the screen, so they can get all satisfactorily offended by it. And it's really annoying.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:32 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is most galling in the case of Sanders, who within 24 hours of the BLM fracas had gone to great lengths to ask the other protesters at the next event who weren't acting like assholes what he could do, and immediately started to do many of those very things in the later speeches he has made.

Yes, he did that because after his conduct at Netroot Nations - which, may I remind you, not only included his response on stage, but cancelling scheduled meetings with minority activists by sending a campaign representative to inform them he would not be present - he realized that he shat the bed hard with people whose support he needs if he wants to actually win.

So sorry, Sanders doesn't get a cookie for damage control.

But many folks have consistently ignored that little fact, as well as the fact that I've tried to phrase every comment I've left here in the vein "this is another valid approach that some people think is more likely to bring actual results more quickly," which is not at all the same as "just work with me." That invites an argument nobody has been willing to engage. Nobody has actually counterargued the economic approach, just claimed that it is racist and selfish and was misused in the past and $BAD.

Actually, several of us have addressed that, both by pointing out that many of the issues that are being brought up are fundamentally social in nature, and by pointing out that the economic proposals don't address the specific economic concerns. (Not to mention that arguing for making whites feel secure in order to enable progress on protecting minority rights is a really oogy argument when you think about it.)


But nobody has offered an alternative approach and an argument that such alternative approach would be more likely to produce positive results more effectively or quickly. The alternative to Sanders' plan is like the Republicans' proposed replacement for Obamacare. Lots of people say it needs to be adopted, but nobody has bothered to actually try and describe it.

The thing about Sanders is that you might not like his plan, but IT IS AT LEAST A PLAN. It consists of steps which seem realistically achievable which lead to a better state of affairs. If you don't like his plan, WHERE IS YOURS?


Congratulations - by engaging in textbook derailing, you've just illustrated that you're not arguing in good faith. Your critics are in no way obliged to present an alternative plan, and to demand that they do so is very much a bad faith argument.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:54 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bringer Tom, your arguments seem to be "But I'm not being patronizing or rude because I'm right," which is not really how debate works.


What federal policy changes are necessary to directly address the social ill of racism?

Hearts and minds are complicated, but off the top of my head here are some ideas for addressing the effects. They're of various levels of feasibility--some of these will never, ever happen:
  • National mandatory registry of incidents of police violence
  • Independent, out-of-district investigation panels applied to all law-enforcement-caused fatalities, and with independent prosecutors not associated with local law enforcement
  • In-depth courses on implicit bias given to all public employees, with mandatory yearly training given to those tasked with directly interacting with the public (for example, law enforcement)
  • Development of compulsory national education programs dedicated to the history of racial and ethnic violence in the US, a la the way the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust is taught in Germany
  • Restructuring school funding so districts in poor communities are not dependent on taxes from within those poor communities
  • Stricter protections of voting rights
  • More protections afforded to immigrants, including illegal immigrants
  • More public emphasis placed on the threat of terrorism from white supremacist organizations. Like, the FBI actually declaring the KKK to be a terrorist organization would be nice.
posted by schroedinger at 11:24 PM on July 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


What we have is a disagreement as to where the President can best direct the political capital he will acquire to make the best progress for those and other concerns. Such disagreements are a necessary and fundamental part of the political process, as is compromise in their negotiation. If you aren't willing to consider compromise, what you will get is nothing, because the only political change that will ever happen is that to which you can get a majority, including people who really are your enemies, to agree on.

The suggestion that any politician seeking the presidency limits themselves to proposing things they actually have the ability to do as president - much less the things they'll actually have the political capital and cooperation to do - is laughable on its face. Campaigns don't limit themselves that way, including Sanders.

Then again Immanuel Kant was a European white guy, so I guess what did he know.

Yeah that doesn't sound racist at all. Maybe stop digging while it's still possible for us to think less of you?
posted by phearlez at 8:22 AM on July 31, 2015 [5 favorites]




(facepalm)

That article is an excellent example of when everything starts looking like a nail, it's time to put the hammer down.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2015


That article is an excellent example of when everything starts looking like a nail, it's time to put the hammer down.

Frankly, I would say the same of the contention that racial injustice is all social in nature, or that improving economic inequality for people of color can necessarily have no significant effects on achieving racial justice because economic solutions have previously been used in problematic ways, as you've argued. I think your hammer/nail formulation is overly simplistic and that you seem to be completely skipping over the fact that both social AND economic solutions are going to be required to address these issues. Just because Sanders feels best equipped to address the economic aspect does not mean that he is not interested in addressing social aspect as well, as he's made abundantly clear at this point.
posted by dialetheia at 3:48 PM on July 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah that doesn't sound racist at all.

Well maybe if you had the slightest clue what I was talking about you'd realize it doesn't.

But I am getting tired of taking abuse for things I never said, so I'll show myself out and leave the circular firing squad to whoever still wants to participate.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]




That article is an excellent example of OMG HAMMERS AND NAILS ARE BOTH MADE OF METAL
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:51 PM on August 4, 2015


The article cited at 5:26 pm, I mean. The Onion article is made of win.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2015


A couple columns from Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report:

NetRoots Nation Confrontation Wasn't About #BlackLivesMatter At All
But all in all, the NetRootsNation confrontation wasn't the stirring of black women activists “taking their rightful place at the front of the progressive movement,” as one breathless tweet called it. It didn't tell us anything we didn't know about O'Malley or Sanders, or about hypocritical Hillary.

It was about flying the #BlackLivesMatter flag to jockey for positions inside the machinery that is the Democratic party and its affiliates.
Where's the #BlackLivesMatter Critique of the Black Misleadership Class, or Obama or Hillary?
And at the risk of repeating ourselves, how fixed upon the unique problems of black America, can Garza and her “co-creators” of this movement be without a solid critique of the black political class, unless of course they aspire to join that class as some new/old kind of spokespeople, in Adolph Reed's words, “youthful aspirants to the race management elite”?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:14 PM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Looks like the same thing just happened again in Seattle.
posted by Artw at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2015




This is all really disappointing. I thought Sanders handled it mostly well - he let them have the stage when they wouldn't relinquish it, after giving them the mic, letting them speak, and observing the moment of silence they requested. I'm not sure what else could be expected of him in that situation. He gave them what they asked for and when they wouldn't give up the stage, he gave that to them as well (and I think it was the organizers who made the decision to shut down the event). It isn't like he's refused to engage with #BlackLivesMatter - he's had frequent private contact with the movement as I understand it, he just hasn't made a big show of co-opting it, which I think is preferable overall.

This wasn't even a Sanders rally, it was a speech at an event celebrating the anniversary of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He will almost certainly address this and criminal justice reform issues more squarely at the actual rally tonight at 6 PT/9 ET, and there will probably be a livestream link at the Sanders subreddit if anyone is curious how he is going to respond to this. He has another big event (15,000 people in Portland) tomorrow, too.
posted by dialetheia at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


And I should be clear - the part I find disappointing is the part where the media is inevitably going to cover this such that Social Security gets pitted against Black Lives Matter.
posted by dialetheia at 4:15 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


They have been emboldened by the capitulation after the first demonstration, which is what I was worried about. Sanders was right to cancel the meetings and try to discourage them because these tactics should not be encouraged. You do these things to your enemies, sure but doing them within the party is circular firing squad crap. They're not activists, they're not brilliant tactitians, they're just assholes. Assholes of any color are still assholes.

When the guy gives you the stage for 5 minutes and you still don't leave, you have lost all credibility. I realize BLM is kind of like Occupy or Anonymous in being kind of amorphous but if there is anybody running the shit they need to put a halter on this right now or they will be throwing themselves an anchor.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:09 PM on August 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Black Lives Matter Activists Interrupt Bernie Sanders at Social Security Rally

Pretty sure this is going to happen every time he speaks now, and I don't really see any upside for anyone.
posted by Artw at 6:54 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Speaking as an older white male ( and there are quite a few of us) with substantially liberal leanings, a great affection for Sanders, a long time commitment to civil rights/equality before the law and an active donor to quite a few progressive causes I am sorely disappointed at the behavior/strategies of some "black lives organizers". As far as I am concerned it is off putting, significantly alienates me from them as a group, muddies the message, will create a right wing backlash and is essentially divisive to a number of voters who are sympathetic to their cause. Rudeness and thoughtlessness will not serve Black Lives Matter ant better than it has served Donald Trump as he crashes and burns--and he will.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:19 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


What exactly do they want from him at this point?

Gerald Hankerson, president of the Seattle-King County NAACP, had spoken earlier at the rally about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the national conversation about economic inequality. He wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt to the event.

It seems like other activists are starting to get fed up with it:

That is not what Black Lives Matter stands for and that is not what we're about. Do not let your faith in the movement be shaken by voices of two people. Please do not question our legitimacy as a movement. Again I would like to apologize to the people of Seattle and I will be trying to reach out to Mr. Sanders.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:24 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]






One of the reasons I'm disappointed by this confrontation at this time is that I fear that Black Lives Matter could become less powerful if it becomes tied to and overshadowed by the media-circus presidential elections. Today should have been all about Mike Brown and the Ferguson movement, not about Bernie and the horse race. BLM is a leaderless movement and my twitter feed has been pretty bitterly divided about this today; many within the movement have been critical of this action too, not just clueless white people. That said, I think white people should basically stay out of the internal conversation about tactics that is happening within BLM right now (and for god's sake, nobody go lecture anybody about marching with MLK, please).

I'm glad to see that Sanders continues to respond appropriately: highlighting and formalizing his racial justice platform, hiring Symone Sanders as his press secretary, having every single speaker at his rally last night explicitly address racial justice issues (especially Black Lives Matter and immigration). I hope that other candidates who have been much less responsive and authentic on these issues face similar scrutiny on their records and respond by centering these issues in their campaigns as much as Bernie Sanders has.
posted by dialetheia at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Black Lives Matter Activists Interrupt Bernie Sanders at Social Security Rally

Pretty sure this is going to happen every time he speaks now, and I don't really see any upside for anyone.


One upside is that it forces people to pay attention. I think that's the point, though I'm just inferring.

Black men are being murdered by cops almost every day in America. Black people in general, men, women and children, are routinely brutalized and economically exploited by the police and the carceral state on a constant basis. This is completely unacceptable and represents one of the biggest and most serious issues of social justice of our lifetimes, though of course it's not even remotely new. If there's no space in the camp of the most progressive (and, really, the only decent) candidate for president to point out that this is a huge, slow-motion disaster with incalculable negative effects being felt primarily by communities of color, then what can activists do to get White America as furious and scared as Black people are every fucking day in this country?

These are American citizens getting summarily executed in the streets, for God's sake. If we're not on their side 100%, we're not for social justice, period.

Sanders is right to celebrate Social Security. He's right to advocate for economic fairness and a path away from this runaway train of economic inequality. Unfortunately, we have many more problems than those macro-economic, systemic issues. This isn't all up to him, of course, but the BLM movement needs to be listened to and given a central place at the table, so to speak; and again, those of us who don't just worship power, wealth, and the injustice of their unequal distribution in society need to get on board with taking the widespread, extra-judicial executions of our fellow citizens seriously immediately.
posted by clockzero at 2:02 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Guest Editorial: Why Saturday's Bernie Sanders Rally Left Me Feeling Heartbroken, by Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal, who spoke right before Sanders was going to speak.
I told him in my conversation with him that he needed to talk head on about institutional racism—he said he agreed and he would do it in the evening. And he did—to an enormous, cheering crowd of 15,000 people. That's a huge platform for our messages. There's more to do and learn for sure, but is any one of us perfect? The most we can ask for is for someone who listens and cares deeply, who is trustworthy, and who will do what he says. I know I learned a lot in my campaign and I will continue to grow from listening to people's voices. I believe Bernie Sanders is growing too—and I hope (and yes, believe) that we'll look back on this and see his emergence as a leader who brings our movements for economic, racial and social justice together in a powerful way.
posted by dialetheia at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm bemused at the idea some are floating that Republicans or the Koch Brothers are secretly financing this because Sanders has them running scared. Progressive movements always tear themselves apart with infighting, they don't need the outside help.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


clockzero, not one person here has disputed that BLM's concerns are valid and important. Sanders himself has now responded substantively enough that I think we can be clear it's not "damage control." But as important as BLM's concerns are there are other issues, and my original concern with BLM's first disruption wasn't that BLM's concerns were less important but that it's a bad poisonous tactic. And those toxic chickens have come home to roost with remarkable speed.

Just because a stupid thing worked once does not mean it was a smart thing or that you should do it again. BLM is now about two more stunts like this from completely discrediting themselves. If there is anything resembling a leadership within the movement they need to put a stop to it before they burn up on re-entry.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


As far as I am concerned it is off putting, significantly alienates me from them as a group, muddies the message, will create a right wing backlash and is essentially divisive to a number of voters who are sympathetic to their cause.

All good progressives practice recycling, in this case the criticisms of ACT UP 30 years ago.
posted by rhizome at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


BLM is now about two more stunts like this from completely discrediting themselves. If there is anything resembling a leadership within the movement they need to put a stop to it before they burn up on re-entry.

Do tell, what other political movements have discredited themselves via these techniques? Implying there is no leadership, or that the kind of leadership you suppose they should have is missing, is pretty dismissive.
posted by rhizome at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently the woman who pulled this used to be a Sarah Palin supporter who was upset Republicans didn't "groom" her for leadership. She just strikes me as this narcissistic, power-hungry sort who's using BLM to further her own agenda.

I think the situation in America for black people is atrocious and needs to be changed. But it doesn't help when you have people hijacking movements for their own agendas instead of trying to help her own ostensible cause.

There's a dark side to social justice, the one that takes the moral righteousness of the underdog and uses it as a club to beat people over the head with for personal satisfaction, rather than advancing the cause to improve lives for a group of people. Where there's power and numbers, there'll be people who try to exploit it.
posted by gehenna_lion at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


There is a very real difference between fucking up a church service when that church was actively antagonistic to gay people and fucking up a rally for someone who is sympathetic and on-board with adapting themselves to your cause. Calling criticisms of the latter a tone argument in the same way criticisms of the former were is a bit... dogmatic.
posted by smidgen at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the same way, interrupting a morning commute is different from this -- that kind of interruption is an entirely different (and I feel, valid) kind of attention grabbing where you are not letting everything go on as normal after yet another news cycle where a black person was killed by the police. In the same way, ACT UP expressed the idea that the catholic church doesn't get a free pass. It had a point. Interrupting Bernie really doesn't seem to serve anyones purpose than the people who wanted to yell from the podium.
posted by smidgen at 2:57 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently the woman who pulled this used to be a Sarah Palin supporter who was upset Republicans didn't "groom" her for leadership. She just strikes me as this narcissistic, power-hungry sort who's using BLM to further her own agenda.

Which woman is that? I know both of the women who disrupted the Seattle rally yesterday, and this description would not fit either of them even in the slightest.

Here's a thoughtful discussion of both the BLM action and the liberal Seattle response to it, again from someone I know sort of tangentially (he's a member of my church).
posted by KathrynT at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


So apparently BLM is funded by Soros, is funded by Clinton or actually employed by Clinton, is funded by the Koch brothers, is funded by Trump, and now they're also former Palin supporters. Am I missing any claims?
posted by kmz at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


clockzero, not one person here has disputed that BLM's concerns are valid and important. Sanders himself has now responded substantively enough that I think we can be clear it's not "damage control." But as important as BLM's concerns are there are other issues, and my original concern with BLM's first disruption wasn't that BLM's concerns were less important but that it's a bad poisonous tactic. And those toxic chickens have come home to roost with remarkable speed.

Just because a stupid thing worked once does not mean it was a smart thing or that you should do it again. BLM is now about two more stunts like this from completely discrediting themselves. If there is anything resembling a leadership within the movement they need to put a stop to it before they burn up on re-entry.


I'm not sure what your point is.

People can decide for themselves if these actions are merited by the fact that Black Americans are forced to live in fear of and are regularly getting murdered extra-judicially by the police in America. Personally, I don't think it serves the cause of justice to speak so harshly about tactics and strategy without addressing the empirical problems that those strategies and tactics are designed to bring attention to.
posted by clockzero at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2015 [4 favorites]




BLM is now about two more stunts like this from completely discrediting themselves.

Really? Tell me how a movement titled BLACK LIVES MATTER can possibly be discredited. "Oh well, those women are rude, so black lives no longer matter!" This is a life and death situation, not a theoretical debate.
"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative. . . .

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. . . .

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."
Ring a bell?
posted by sallybrown at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why they're not disrupting any GOP events or am I missing that coverage?
posted by Farce_First at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2015


Because they're looking to move their agenda higher on the priority list of people who will actually put it on their priority list.
posted by Etrigan at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


I can easily imagine them being physically assaulted or even shot at if they did this at a GOP event. Think about it for a minute.
posted by clockzero at 3:28 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Which is also why they're not disrupting Hillary. No need to waste time with a lost cause.
posted by rhizome at 3:28 PM on August 9, 2015


When critiquing their protest approach, consider that you're talking about intelligent adult women with experience in protest tactics, who almost certainly have spent large amounts of time brainstorming and planning how to conduct their events. Is it more likely that (a) they have never considered taking the stage at a GOP rally, or (b) for reasons of tactics, or safety, or likelihood of impact, or a million other things, they made the informed choice to do this instead?
posted by sallybrown at 3:30 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the responses. Please stop comparing them to MLK in any fashion whatsoever now.
posted by Farce_First at 3:32 PM on August 9, 2015


There is a very real difference between fucking up a church service when that church was actively antagonistic to gay people and fucking up a rally for someone who is sympathetic and on-board with adapting themselves to your cause.

You may be interested to learn that ACT UP was directly influenced by the Civil Rights movement, but this may be a derail.
posted by rhizome at 3:34 PM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why they're not disrupting any GOP events or am I missing that coverage?

If you think it would be important and valuable to disrupt all events if you're going to disrupt any, I would invite you to consider doing so yourself!

But yeah. The issue isn't the specific disruptive taken, or the specific venues chosen, or whether the souls of the activists are heavier or lighter than a feather. The issue is that of the dozens of currently-declared major party candidates for the highest office in the land, there is not one who has made a commitment to racial justice a central issue of their campaign -- not even Bernie Sanders, who is by far the best of the bunch on progressive issues. The issue is that it is even possible to run as a liberal, progressive candidate without focusing on racial justice. The Sanders campaign has been hearteningly receptive to these issues, now that they've been raised, but there's still a way to go.
posted by KathrynT at 3:35 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the responses. Please stop comparing them to MLK in any fashion whatsoever now.

Why?
posted by sallybrown at 3:36 PM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the responses. Please stop comparing them to MLK in any fashion whatsoever now.

Dude, what the fuck?
posted by KathrynT at 3:36 PM on August 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Go interrupt the GOP," "Don't 'compare' them to MLK in any fashion." Give me a break, Farce_First.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sanders is getting targeted because Sanders is the only one holding big public events that could even be accessed by protesters. This is part of the reason why Clinton continues to mainly do closed fundraising dinners instead of big public speeches and rallies like this.
posted by dialetheia at 3:42 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


MLK is a very important and revered historical figure for white Americans, it does no one any good for black rabble-rousers to try to claim him as their own
posted by shakespeherian at 3:43 PM on August 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


When critiquing their protest approach, consider that you're talking about intelligent adult women with experience in protest tactics,

I never make the assumption that certain people always make the correct decisions. That is dogma.

It is also the same reason that some of the the crappy reactions from the crowd, who are supposedly intelligent "progressives", aren't terribly surprising to me. As I read that, I feel like there is a clueless white savior undercurrent at the rally that perhaps the BLM folks were correct to expose...

You may be interested to learn that ACT UP was directly influenced by the Civil Rights movement.

Honestly, I don't see what you are getting at here -- so is BLM. Of *course* they were. Doesn't make them correct all the time, or even particular actions of the civil rights movement completely justified in all manner and type. You'll notice that people within these movements are criticizing each other.

My impression is that these "experienced" folks seem to be working at cross purposes to others with the same goal in this particular situation. If it all works out, and this was the right thing to do.. great, I can accept being a dumbass. Like I said before, I agree with some tactics like this, but this tactic in particular seems impotent.
posted by smidgen at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2015


But then we are talking about it, aren't we? So...
posted by smidgen at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So...ignore what you just said?
posted by rhizome at 3:52 PM on August 9, 2015


No, not everything is a debate. Not everything has to be "won" -- and conversations here and elsewhere are poorer for that desire.
posted by smidgen at 3:59 PM on August 9, 2015


Right but like...Black people are dying.

In case there needed to be some sort of regular reminder about why Black people are, in increasing numbers, refusing to play along with the respectability game.
posted by Ashen at 4:26 PM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


And we can talk about how the movement's tactics are turning off more genteel, enlightened white progressives, because that's accurate, but that doesn't change the fact that Sanders has not developed a firm policy platform for addressing the disproportional loss of Black life and the suppression and disenfranchisement of the living. I noticed that he recently updated his campaign website to include a bunch of very lovely words, no doubt in direct response to the pressure that Black people have put on him, but he's going to keep catching heat until he is unquestionably about that life.

Also, it's just not a good look - at all - that no one on his team has not addressed those particularly nasty Sanders supporters who have been antagonizing Black people all over social media. It's becoming common enough that I don't even have to link to it anymore.
posted by Ashen at 4:33 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Part of it is a matter of making Bernie bring the heat to Hillary, who does not have one whit of credibility on this topic. Maybe there's some same-side resistance due to concerns about keeping the powder dry, but when people are dying it's not cool to be strategic and besides that it's not cool for the people in power to be saying, "hey everybody, be nice about this." Plus, the earlier it's made an issue for Democrats, the more foundational it can be once Dems and Repubs are mixing it up.

One way I see it playing out is that if Hillary really starts feeling the heat, Obama will call for some legislation, or executive order, that attempts to moot the topic on the campaign trail. It's no mystery that Hillary is the chosen successor.
posted by rhizome at 4:40 PM on August 9, 2015


One way I see it playing out is that if Hillary really starts feeling the heat, Obama will call for some legislation, or executive order, that attempts to moot the topic on the campaign trail. It's no mystery that Hillary is the chosen successor.

There is no way to moot this topic, and any noise that Obama makes will end up helping whichever candidate has already made it one of their talking points: "Even the president agrees that this is a problem, as shown by his Executive Order/the legislation he wants to introduce/his address to the nation -- but it doesn't go far enough...."
posted by Etrigan at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2015


Is interrupting Sanders saving black lives? Yes, its going to force him to refine his positions, but you're taking a guy who is 80% (? i dunno? 90%?) on your side and moving him 2% at best (which has its value, granted). The funny thing is interrupting the GOP isn't going to change their minds at all, but would be worth it to force them to show their true position on these topics.

I agree 100% that something needs to be done, but I don't think interrupting Sanders is the solution. I'm 100% with Run the Jewels that riots work, but go find a less soft target than Sanders. I'm all for rewriting the laws that have screwed up this country, but Sanders is on our side about this.

MLK took risks. Interrupting a 70-something Jewish man from Vermont who doesn't have Secret Service protection isn't a risk.

And for a fun reminder about what the real problem is I give you Killer Mike's Reagan
posted by Farce_First at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I noticed that he recently updated his campaign website to include a bunch of very lovely words, no doubt in direct response to the pressure that Black people have put on him, but he's going to keep catching heat until he is unquestionably about that life.

Yeah, it's hot air, but he's campaigning for President — everything is hot air for anyone doing that until the day they take office. What could he do that wouldn't just amount to a bunch of very lovely words?
posted by indubitable at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is interrupting Sanders saving black lives?

Like, Bernie Sanders had a terrible, shitty response to this protest, so it seems like the protest being at a Sanders event was 100% legitimate. Everyone who is like 'But Sanders cares so much about this!' should also take the time to explain why he acted so much like he didn't care about this.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:56 PM on August 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


And for a fun reminder about what the real problem is I give you Killer Mike's Reagan

do your brass balls make a racket clanging together when you're walking around on the street
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:00 PM on August 9, 2015


but you're taking a guy who is 80% (? i dunno? 90%?) on your side

Whose side, exactly?

Again, it's not a handwavey 10-20% disagreement that there is no candidate for a major party who started off making racial justice a central part of their campaign. It's not a little fly in the ointment that it's possible to conceive of yourself as a progressive, and possible to be widely perceived as EXTREMELY progressive, without doing a lot of hard, honest talking about race in America. It's a big fucking problem. I get it that it would be easier for a lot of people if we all continued to collectively ignore the fact that it's a big fucking problem, but that doesn't make the problem go away.
posted by KathrynT at 5:01 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


>Yeah, it's hot air, but he's campaigning for President — everything is hot air for anyone doing that until the day they take office. What could he do that wouldn't just amount to a bunch of very lovely words?

Call out those problematic supporters and not get in his feelings whenever #BlackLivesMatter activists commit to the exact "direct action" he dared people to take up in the first place.
posted by Ashen at 5:10 PM on August 9, 2015


I think part of the frustration from the Sanders side comes from the fact that there seems to be just about nothing he can say or do to ameliorate the protesters' supposed concerns. Even if he devoted his entire stump speech to police violence against blacks, would there be some BLM faction who decides that Bernie still doesn't "get it"? Even if he wrote the BLM demands into his platform, would they stop disrupting his events?

As far as I understand, BLM is a pretty dispersed and unorganized phenomenon. Surely there are some factions of it that are more zealous than others. The Seattle BLM Facebook page looks like it was created yesterday. Who is Sanders supposed to negotiate with? There doesn't seem to be a central leadership that he can cause a truce with.

Maybe it is the role of a pressure group to be completely, totally implacable until its aims are met (whatever those may be -- and it would certainly help to have those be clear). But it's understandable that the Sanders campaign resents being drawn into this.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:30 PM on August 9, 2015


Wow when you put it that way those people upset about being murdered in the streets sound like a real headache to that politician!
posted by shakespeherian at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2015 [18 favorites]


Even if he devoted his entire stump speech to police violence against blacks, would there be some BLM faction who decides that Bernie still doesn't "get it"? Even if he wrote the BLM demands into his platform, would they stop disrupting his events?

Maybe he should try it and find out, rather than throw up his hands.

But it's understandable that the Sanders campaign resents being drawn into this.

No one is forcing him to run for President. If he wants this job, he should expect to do this kind of work.
posted by sallybrown at 5:36 PM on August 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


So I was getting my two minutes hate on by reading reddit (because of course that's something I do) and I tripped across this thing at the top of the front page, under the title "HATE." Currently it's got well over 4000 upvotes.

So well there's exhibit A for anyone who still doubts that it's possible for white people to be on the populist left, or even the socialist left, and also really, really, really ugly about race, ugly in a way that would manifest itself even in a postcapitalist economic structure.

Uniting the left in a meaningful way means, perhaps, somehow bringing these guys into the antiracist fold with us. In a certain sense, it is in fact Bernie's duty to help educate some of his more witless supporters toward antiracism, and not just anticapitalism/populist leftism.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:13 PM on August 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have an idea to get them into the fold: humiliating their favorite political leader. I guarantee it will work wonders.
posted by gehenna_lion at 6:31 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you think Sanders wants to be the "favorite political leader" of people on the socialist left who are really ugly about race?
posted by KathrynT at 6:36 PM on August 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Man, the only folks getting humiliated are the ones humiliating themselves by shouting things like "Bernie matters!" They need to know that's not appropriate.

I'm reminded of a documentary I saw recently wherein there were clips of feminist protestors getting booed down by men in the audience at New Left rallies in the 60s. It is disappointing to find that sort of radical failure of intersectionality still happening in the 21st century.

If one goes to a political rally and all the sudden politics starts actually happening, one needs to think about the political implications of one's actions before getting all publicly hurt about the interruption to the scheduled program of political entertainments.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:38 PM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Uniting the left in a meaningful way means, perhaps, somehow bringing these guys into the antiracist fold with us. In a certain sense, it is in fact Bernie's duty to help educate some of his more witless supporters toward antiracism, and not just anticapitalism/populist leftism.

Well said. He has a tremendous opportunity to do this tonight at his 16,000+ rally in Portland (livestream here) which many of those redditors and other allies are watching too. I hope he takes this opportunity to make a passionate case against institutional racism and fully address his policies for racial justice as a major part of his platform.
posted by dialetheia at 6:42 PM on August 9, 2015


So, you white progressives who are upset about the interruptions because they will alienate supporters - do they think the supporters are going to stop believing that black lives matter? do they think they're going to go vote for Clinton now because Sanders "caved" and put up a racial justice page on his website? I don't understand the logic here.
posted by desjardins at 6:52 PM on August 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Interesting - Sanders Press Secretary Symone Sanders is emceeing the event in Portland, and she just started the event by instructing everyone to respond to any interruptions or protests by chanting "we stand together" and being respectful. Looks like they're taking it seriously and want to keep the crowd from being shitty if there are any protests. (locals are now saying they're expecting more like 25k people and lots of people aren't getting into the arena)
posted by dialetheia at 7:13 PM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the link dialetheia! I've gone from a proud Vermonter but occasionally skeptical Bernie supporter to a huge Bernie supporter. And the fact that he would make a decision to take Symone Sanders (who is currently knocking it out of the park) and give her a key role on his team is exactly why. This is how you get things done. And change only comes where you get things done.
posted by meinvt at 7:25 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




I think the backlash to the interruptions is a lot more about temperament than racism, but I've been wrong plenty of times. I know I find that kind of hijacking supremely annoying. It reminds me of the way the Seattle May Day rallies for worker and immigrant rights get co-opted frequently by "anarchists" and others who want to disrupt and grind their axe on that day for what they deem more important purposes.

The link andoatup provided helped me see that maybe I need to get over my decorousness. Thanks for that!
posted by Cassford at 11:47 PM on August 9, 2015


I disagree. This is suppression. And Black Lives Matter activists were arrested preemptively several miles from the event.
posted by Ashen at 3:17 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Giving the attendees instructions to chant "We Stand Together" without calling out their previously shitty behavior, without providing context, is not informative or an attempt to create a more respectful space for protest, it is giving them a unified silencing tactic whenever Black Lives Matter activists make themselves heard. This is effectively the same as shouting All Lives Matter in response.
posted by Ashen at 3:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


rhizome--Re: Act Up. You may be correct that it is a recycling of progressive tactics but I happen to think Act Up and similar confrontation groups take a bit more credit for the progress in their respective interests than they have earned. I have watched this since the early 60's--they may get press, raise awareness but real lasting change in Civil Rights, AIDS research, Environmental Legislation has often come from lawyers, scientists, technicians, administrators, local politicians and plain folk working endless hours/donating time and money with little recognition. But just my observation as one of those plain folk.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:52 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It'd be nice if fellow Sanders supporters would stop poisoning the well in re: to BLM. White progressives are only progressive if black people sit down, shut up, and be respectful, apparently. I'm not overly keen on Hilary, but at this point, either candidate is making me regret I have to choose somebody next year.
posted by Kitteh at 3:53 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


"White progressives are only progressive if black people sit down, shut up"--I was not aware that being progressive also meant being thoughtless, confrontational, overtly provocative and rude. I can think of a handful--perhaps hundreds ( and there certainly are tens of thousands) of hard working progressive who use public platforms to push/promote/advocate for their cause without intrinsically disrupting other persons freedom to speak (or run for President). Take a look at the wiki pages on non-violent resistance and see the people who have really made a difference in progressive causes. I am absolutely sure some of them have interfered and shouted down authority--but I am even more confident that the vast majority of them took their resistance to separate public forums.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:28 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


So I was getting my two minutes hate on by reading reddit (because of course that's something I do) and I tripped across this thing at the top of the front page, under the title "HATE." Currently it's got well over 4000 upvotes.

Reddit has basically been burned down over this, you can't go anywhere on there without running in this crap. It's worse than what happened during the whole Victoria situation as far as penetration goes.

Also, holy fuck wow. I really thought nothing on the internet and especially reddit could ever surprise me with how awful it was ever again, and that picture managed to do it. I'm not going to engage in a round of "here's a shitty thing from elsewhere", but there is a LOT of garbage like that image getting massively upvoted. Decent SRS thread on the response to the protest destroying reddit.

Also, i'm in seattle. I was at the rally(although not the westlake one this happened at, the other one immediately after). I spent all day talking to people about this situation.

My entire facebook feed filled with garbage and respectability politics concern troll BS. A lot of people who i respected, who i thought wouldn't go there did. I fought back for a couple hours until a couple seriously reddity comments in a row, on thoughtful posts by people of color i know, finally pushed me over the edge in to just turning my phone off and heading to the bar. Got completely trashed, and woke up to even more garbage.

There sure are a lot of people who flex hard about how they're super progressive and talk or even are proven to act for say, LGBT rights who are shitposting and well-actuallying hard about this. Even people who were at every single ferguson protest. People who i've seen get off their asses and go outside and do stuff. But this was, somehow, a bridge too far for them. And a lot basically stopped just short of like, calling them uppity or something.

I wrote paragraphs and paragraphs of crap, and i wish that i had just said "guys you're making my mom cry", honestly, because it was a complete fucking waste of mental horsepower and fortitude.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm getting really tired of the internet bashing of these people and saying that they're bringing down their cause. There's barely any discussion of what they said about Michael Brown. Fine, you can say they're rude if you want, but you could also say you understand their message and concerns.

Two people take a few minutes of a stage and they're representative of all of BLM or black people, yet the people who boo the message are ignored or excused.
posted by halifix at 4:54 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


My partner (a white person who gets it), white allies, and my friends have all tried to push back against all of the progressives crawling out of the woodwork to silence these people, to discredit them, and even masquerade as them. It is DEEP out here. You would think that Black Lives Matter activists never tried to sit down with Sanders and that he didn't cancel on them. You would think that there weren't waves of people asking politely, "please stop killing us." "Please, develop a solid policy platform to address this." You would think that people haven't rolled out articles and conducted studies and sent letters to their representatives saying "please acknowledge this as a serious issue."

So to have people who effectively have a boot to our throats saying "ask nicer" is bullshit.
posted by Ashen at 4:54 AM on August 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I was not aware that being progressive also meant being thoughtless, confrontational, overtly provocative and rude. I can think of a handful--perhaps hundreds ( and there certainly are tens of thousands) of hard working progressive who use public platforms to push/promote/advocate for their cause without intrinsically disrupting other persons freedom to speak (or run for President). Take a look at the wiki pages on non-violent resistance and see the people who have really made a difference in progressive causes. I am absolutely sure some of them have interfered and shouted down authority--but I am even more confident that the vast majority of them took their resistance to separate public forums.

how close are you to typing respectability politics

asking for a friend
posted by Kitteh at 5:12 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was not aware that being progressive also meant being thoughtless, confrontational, overtly provocative and rude.

Being progressive means that you care when minorities raise issues of systemic oppression more than you care about an old white dude whose feathers got ruffled by those minorities.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:21 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also, a lot of change happened from people advocating/pushing LOUDLY. To say that they were meek and polite in getting those changes made demonstrates just how white and privileged you are, as well as revising history.
posted by Kitteh at 5:23 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


interfering with authority. good heavens. that's totally unacceptable. next you'll say the us government suppresses dissent
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:29 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


all right everyone, we're trying to bring about a fundamental change in the social order, so remember not to be confrontational, overtly provocative, or rude
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:35 AM on August 10, 2015 [12 favorites]




The "progressive" backlash is really highlighting for me just how many allies see their roles in the movement as a favor they're doing for black people rather than real work. Which is ironic considering we allies are the reason these structures are in place at all. But no, if you give me the wrong kind of cookies I am going HOME!

Makes me wonder how many allies have close black friends and loved ones. Part of my passion stems from fear for people I love and hold dear. Because of that, it's very hard for me think of anything that could push me away from this fight.
posted by sallybrown at 6:25 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Is there anything Bernie possibly do to STOP getting his events hijacked by BLM?

And what do you think the reaction would be if BLM was holding their own rally, and, say, Ta-Nehisi Coates was speaking, and OWS protestors broke in on stage and demanded that they drop everything and work on income inequality?
posted by Foosnark at 6:25 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do you consider that equivalent to what the Black Lives Matter protestors did? Can you think of a reason why it might not be, and why that's a poor example to use?
posted by sallybrown at 6:27 AM on August 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Okay but what about if there was a totally different situation but I could refer to it with parallel sentence structure? Wouldn't that be a problem?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 AM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


And what do you think the reaction would be if BLM was holding their own rally, and, say, Ta-Nehisi Coates was speaking, and OWS protestors broke in on stage and demanded that they drop everything and work on income inequality?

Probably nothing as OWS skews white and doesn't have to worry about being murdered on any given day?
posted by Kitteh at 7:02 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Folks, can we reel this back in from the barbed one-liners a bit?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:10 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just don't see how this is constructive at all. I'm sure Hilary "All Lives Matter" Clinton and the Republicans, who are unlikely to do a damned thing to address racial injustices if they get elected, are aboslutely gleeful that Bernie keeps getting shut down this way.
posted by Foosnark at 7:23 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is interrupting Sanders saving black lives? Yes, its going to force him to refine his positions, but you're taking a guy who is 80% (? i dunno? 90%?) on your side and moving him 2% at best (which has its value, granted). The funny thing is interrupting the GOP isn't going to change their minds at all, but would be worth it to force them to show their true position on these topics.

Why should BLM do work to turn out general election Dem votes if Dem candidates aren't interested in BLM's "2%?" You go to work helping your allies once they demonstrate they're your allies. Otherwise you vote for the less noxious candidate on Tuesday and spend the rest of your time doing things that matter.
posted by phearlez at 7:24 AM on August 10, 2015


kitteh--actually I don't know what your asking--you need to be more specific. In looking at the wiki pages for non-violent activism (BLM is Not violent--OK) I wanted to study up for a minute on passive resistance and other forms of activism. A glance at those pages suggests that I am not talking about respectability politics--though I am not sure what that is according to your friend. I live in a part of the world where BLM is a small, and I would say relative small issue, compared to the over all violence in America, the situation with international relocation of immigrants, Syria/Mideast, death tolls of 30-50 per day due to ISIS, etc. This not in anyway to say that it should not matter to blacks, and their supporters living in the US. But I do try and imagine what would happen if some members ( note some) of every legitimately aggrieved group adopted similar tactics--victims of violence ( five children recently assassinated in Texas) and countless women abused and killed every year, victims of orphan diseases, legal/illegal immigrants in the US, war veterans being served by the VA, etc. What ever--looking at the posts and comments I do realize my thoughts are among the outliers--I wish the cause my best but will probably still have reservation about the tactics ( and relative effectiveness) of SOME members.
posted by rmhsinc at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, I would like it if Clinton were getting more disruption of her campaign than she's getting (similar with Republican politicians). It does seem unfair that these other politicians seem largely insulated compared to Sanders. But I think the anger is at the people doing the interruptions is misguided: the political system is inherently unfair--one of Sanders' major campaigning issues. So yes, these protesters may be illustrating how unfair the political process is but they didn't cause that unfairness, and they have no obligation to be somehow significantly more fair than everyone else. Being fair to Sanders isn't their purpose or their point and they have no obligation to prioritize being fair to Sanders over their other objectives.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:36 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I also think that a lot of the anger here, in addition to being misguided, has its origins in / is getting energy from racism and sexism)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:40 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


But I do try and imagine what would happen if some members ( note some) of every legitimately aggrieved group adopted similar tactics--victims of violence ( five children recently assassinated in Texas) and countless women abused and killed every year, victims of orphan diseases, legal/illegal immigrants in the US, war veterans being served by the VA, etc.

I can't tell whether this is "My problem is worse!" one-upsmanship or plain old lazy "We can't solve every problem, so let's not bother trying to solve this problem."
posted by Etrigan at 7:44 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, as someone whose life has been seriously and significantly affected by domestic violence--I would be FUCKING PUMPED to see direct action like this, getting this much press, getting presidential candidates to explicitly make it a major campaigning platform--hell yes. I also know, rmhsinc, that you'd be right there talking shit about the tactics, which, whatever. The status quo is just so polite I guess
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:48 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't tell whether this is "My problem is worse!" one-upsmanship or plain old lazy "We can't solve every problem, so let's not bother trying to solve this problem."

I think the question is, "How legitimate and serious does your grievance with a politician have to be before they are obligated to stop their events any time an individual from the crowd wants to take the stage to talk about them?" And, with so many serious and legitimate social and political grievances out there, can we successfully do politics if we allow an individual representing every one to interrupt candidates at will? It seems like you would need some OWS style organizing to make that sort of thing work but I believe most people do not like working that way. They want a leader.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


and the people who interrupted Sanders should care about that particularly slippery slope why?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:55 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


can we successfully do politics if we allow an individual representing every one to interrupt candidates at will?

Maybe ask that question when it's happening, which it's not.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:01 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Well, here's a bunch of activists concerned about Palestine interrupting a Bernie appearance.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:08 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sanders almost successfully avoided the confrontation—by distracting and deflecting the question to “bigger” U.S. concerns over ISIS—until he grew frustrated and snapped. Unable to control his temper, Sen. Sanders raised his voice above the disruptive audience member and said,

“Excuse me,” “Shut up! You don’t have the microphone.”


Wow, 2014. He really should have worked on dealing with interruptions in a more productive way before the campaign started to heat up more. This is a pretty clear achilles heel they had good warning ahead of time on.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:11 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That example reminds me of that Jonathan Chait article earlier this year about "unreasonable" online voices and the larger anti-PC backlash. There are people--good people, well-meaning people--who are nevertheless used to speaking without getting told to shut up because society has privileged their voices for as far back as we can remember. The world is changing and it's hard for them to fathom that the conversation is getting larger. As a woman, I'm used to finding a way to sneakily make room for my voice in a conversation that doesn't want to include me, while letting other people speak also. It's a flexibility that is going to be more and more valuable as time goes on. I'm very curious to see if Hillary is better at this than Bernie is so far.
posted by sallybrown at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Honestly I might not have come down so hard on him if he didn't look so fucking inconvenienced by it all.

The dude has people screaming for their lives right in front of him and he's looking like someone just pulled out their checkbook at Shop Rite.
posted by Ashen at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like, Bernie Sanders had a terrible, shitty response to this protest

Cite for this? I thought his response was fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2015


Racial Justice
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2015


Giving the attendees instructions to chant "We Stand Together" without calling out their previously shitty behavior, without providing context, is not informative or an attempt to create a more respectful space for protest, it is giving them a unified silencing tactic whenever Black Lives Matter activists make themselves heard. This is effectively the same as shouting All Lives Matter in response.

I could see this in the abstract, I guess, but at least We Stand Together is intended to say we stand united with the protesters, not to deny their cause or derail to a different cause. And if you watch the video I don't think it was delivered as being a dismissive chant at all - here's how Symone Sanders delivered that message at his rally last night. I think it was a pretty fair way to try to keep control of a rowdy crowd of 22,000 complete strangers, especially if they're mostly worried about a few their supporters being shitheads in reaction to another interruption. In addition to that, before introducing Bernie, Sanders came back out and led the crowd through a powerful remembrance of Michael Brown and celebration of the BLM movement.
posted by dialetheia at 9:26 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


ertigan, is that what i said--a little selective editing of the entire post. I do have my personal priorities and have every confidence I have in no way "given up" or said that "my problem is worse than yours" . And thanks dinky die for clarifying what I said--may not be more palatable than my attempt but it certainly reads better.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]




The South Lawn has conducted itself poorly, Noisy Pink Bubbles, and their attempt to somehow discredit Imani Gandy is not unnoticed. I would take their article with the tiniest grain of salt.
posted by Ashen at 10:05 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Bernie Sanders subreddit is attempting to come to terms with the harassment and bullshit that many of their members and associates displayed this weekend. emptythought above was not wrong about reddit's role in this (and Sanders's overwhelming support there has not gone unnoticed) - while this obviously isn't all coming from reddit by any means, there was a huge groundswell backlash of outrage about this all over the site throughout the weekend that likely drove a lot of people out to twitter and environs to continue making terrible overzealous arguments there. Not to excuse anything, but it really was a big event onsite and had completely taken over /r/all, even worse than some of the Ellen Pao stuff did.

That said, I also saw a lot of disagreement among Black activists this weekend about this protest, with many of them even getting some amount of harassment for saying they thought Sanders shouldn't have been targeted (Michael Twitty's feed has a lot of great discussion about this, for example). I just hope everyone can continue to have productive conversations about how to get everyone together in a coalition around the issues that we can agree on - and for people endorsing Bernie but wanting to argue against BLM, maybe go read his racial justice platform again. I don't even think it was put up to pacify protesters online - I think it was put up to remind his supporters exactly what they're signing on to support, which includes full commitment to racial justice.
posted by dialetheia at 10:12 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Right, which is nice - but until Sanders takes a hardline approach and is willing to directly call out the groundswell of harassment and intimidation, he's going to keep getting pushed and keep getting interrupted. Just like a number of white progressives have decided not to support Black Lives Matter because they find the approach unpleasant, there were Black people who are expressly turned off to Sanders because of his rabid supporters and his absolute silence in that regard. I am fast turning into one of those people, too.
posted by Ashen at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


The South Lawn has conducted itself poorly, Noisy Pink Bubbles, and their attempt to somehow discredit Imani Gandy is not unnoticed. I would take their article with the tiniest grain of salt.

Could you elaborate? I agree that Doug Williams, to his discredit, has been grinding a bunch of personal axes today, and I think Henry Krinkle's comment under "The Failure to Build a Movement" (screencapped here in case it gets modded away) is pretty good on that score, but saying "take this with a grain of salt" without giving more information doesn't give much reason to do so.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:21 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure. The Twitter behavior of the authors that pretty much nailed that coffin. This happened recently. That was only a fraction of the back-and-forth between the writers and Gandy, but I didn't know where to start.
posted by Ashen at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


After reading this thread, I'm of the opinion that if you're on any side here, you're wrong.

The circular firing squad here is arrayed so perfectly that, if this was a deliberate operation, I'd chalk it up to true Evil Genius. Not only are white progressives and BLM going after each other, factions within both the Sanders camp and BLM are going after each other over whether their tactics or reactions were appropriate. It's a clusterfuck made out of smaller clusterfucks.

Everybody here looks bad -- BLM looks bad, Sanders looks bad, progressivism in general looks bad.

In the best case, this is an effective trial by fire. Sanders responds by unveiling some thoughtful proposals, everybody kisses and makes up, and they go into the election stronger for it.

In the worst case, this continues to fester all the way to the general election, at which point two of the most important groups for GOTV and other boots-on-the-ground operations have exhausted themselves infighting, and we get another President Bush.

It's this last scenario that makes me doubt the possibility that Clinton is behind this -- it's making a mess for Sanders now, but it's a mess that she'd inherit if she wins the primary.
posted by bjrubble at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


The only people saying BLM looks bad are established progressives being defensive about being called out.
posted by rhizome at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


It about makes me sick that folks are discussing outrage over the murder of black people in terms of political strategizing. 'I hope this goes away soon!' they say, inexplicably not referring to the murder of black people by the State.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm sure Hilary "All Lives Matter" Clinton and the Republicans, who are unlikely to do a damned thing to address racial injustices if they get elected, are aboslutely gleeful that Bernie keeps getting shut down this way.

If I were on the HRC campaign team, I would be nervous as hell about what this bodes for her, as soon as Sanders is out of the running. I can't imagine I would be gleeful.

I don't know that the Republicans are likely to give two shits about it, as the Republican party is not exactly known for caring about how black people vote in the general (only hoping they don't vote).
posted by Greg Nog at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The South Lawn has conducted itself poorly, Noisy Pink Bubbles, and their attempt to somehow discredit Imani Gandy is not unnoticed. I would take their article with the tiniest grain of salt.

It looks like there's some inside-baseball Twitter feud between Rania Khalek and Gandy over American foreign policy with respect to Nigeria that's snowballed into both camps' friends taking sides and... that's all very interesting, but...

Getting back to the topic of this thread, I'd be more interested to hear what you (or anyone else) have to say about the pieces I linked themselves. It seems to me like they raised some good points about BLM, with or without salt.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only people saying BLM looks bad are established progressives being defensive about being called out.

Except not really. Plenty of people in the BLM movement think BLM looks bad.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:03 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The only people saying BLM looks bad are established progressives being defensive about being called out.

Except not really. Plenty of people in the BLM movement think BLM looks bad.


There's also a lot of concern-trolling from outside BLM, the progressive movement, or Sanders supporters.
posted by Etrigan at 11:06 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


And, roomthreeseventeen? The goals still stand. The reasons for galvanizing still exist. How they go about addressing them is of decreasing importance.
posted by Ashen at 11:07 AM on August 10, 2015


How they go about addressing them is of decreasing importance.

OK. I don't agree with that, but that's fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2015


The South Lawn has conducted itself poorly, Noisy Pink Bubbles, and their attempt to somehow discredit Imani Gandy is not unnoticed. I would take their article with the tiniest grain of salt.

Gandy has plenty of poor conduct in her past as well, to be fair, and this morning she said on her Twitter that she would vote for Clinton, O'Malley, Biden, or anyone else (Dem or Green) except for Sanders. So her dismissal of the substance of that article may come from a different place than remarks from mainstream BLM voices whose pressure on Sanders is actually meant to push a sympathetic candidate in the right direction instead of just to rag on Sanders specifically to the exclusion of other candidates.

I thought the post raised some important points (e.g., the seeming disconnect necessary to herald O'Malley as a leader on police violence given his personal history in Baltimore) and I would love to see a discussion emerge between both sides, but so far I've just seen it dismissed based on criticism of Williams or the line describing Gandy as a former foreclosure litigator without touching on any of the content.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


and this morning she said on her Twitter that she would vote for Clinton, O'Malley, Biden, or anyone else (Dem or Green) except for Sanders.

Well, that's just shortsighted.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2015


Gandy has plenty of poor conduct in her past as well, to be fair, and this morning she said on her Twitter that she would vote for Clinton, O'Malley, Biden, or anyone else (Dem or Green) except for Sanders.

I went and took a look at that. Do you understand why that was said, though? Because this appears to be taken significantly out of context. A further look at her page would indicate that she's been harassed for days. As I said upthread, his followers are turning people off. Looking through what was written, I can absolutely see why.
posted by Ashen at 11:34 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some of the vitriol being directed at the black community by Sanders supporters is 100% messed the fuck up. If these are supposedly progressives, then holy flerking schnit.
posted by Kitteh at 11:40 AM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Some of the vitriol being directed at the black community

Do you mean the black community or the BLM activists who took over the Medicare rally?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2015


Do you understand why that was said, though? Because this appears to be taken significantly out of context. A further look at her page would indicate that she's been harassed for days. As I said upthread, his followers are turning people off. Looking through what was written, I can absolutely see why.

I saw it posted this morning shortly after she blocked someone I follow who was trying to have a respectful conversation with her about the Williams post. I certainly haven't been following her page for several days, nor do I doubt that many people who have spoken in favor of the BLM action this weekend have subsequently been harassed by thoughtless Sanders supporters.

ABL has been vocally anti-Sanders since long before either of the BLM actions (which is related to why others have discussed her background), so I didn't take her announcement this morning as any particular change of platform. And to repeat: I condemn all harassment she may have received from anyone, especially people who purport to be Sanders supporters.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


A further look at her page would indicate that she's been harassed for days. As I said upthread, his followers are turning people off. Looking through what was written, I can absolutely see why.

It's kind of a trend. People who believe themselves educated in social justice react exactly like someone who isn't educated in social justice when they are the people being called out. Denial, anger, harassment, etc. It poisons reaction to the people who take a more thoughtful type of response from being able to get a point across if there is an area where the criticism is valid. Why listen to someone associated with that group of people who is behaving like assholes in response to a callout? Especially if the leaders haven't handled themselves very well at times in the past too.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2015


Please be more precise.
posted by Ashen at 11:49 AM on August 10, 2015


Me? I am saying it's frustrating the Sanders supporters handling this so poorly would probably know better in other contexts outside of a black activist movement calling them and their candidate out.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Me? I am saying it's frustrating the Sanders supporters handling this so poorly would probably know better in other contexts outside of a black activist movement calling them and their candidate out.

What about any of this has been handled poorly?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:55 AM on August 10, 2015


Not to bring the substance of this into this thread because there's a Ferguson thread right now, but as an example of the urgency driving BLM protestors - DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie were just arrested in St. Louis. Knowing what we've learned over the past year about the treatment of black men and women in custody, this has everyone very fearful. We are debating the efficacy of protest tactics and unfairness against Sanders while two people loved and cherished by many of us are in legitimate danger of being hurt or killed. That is why this isn't theoretical for so many. That is why some of us feel "the more the better" about BLM disruptions of Sanders and anyone, everyone else.
posted by sallybrown at 11:55 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


From what I can tell, a lot of Sanders supports like him for the same reasons they liked Ron Paul a cycle or two ago -- anti-corporate populism, the feeling of getting behind a 'fringe' candidate, etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:56 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry - I was terse. I understand now.
posted by Ashen at 11:57 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think Ron Paul ever had tens of thousands of people attend his rallies.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:58 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


We are debating the efficacy of protest tactics and unfairness against Sanders while two people loved and cherished by many of us are in legitimate danger of being hurt or killed.

Honestly, that's one reason I'm wary of BLM being reframed and co-opted in terms of the presidential election - the focus should be on what's happening in Ferguson and St. Louis right now, not the stupid horse race for an election that doesn't even happen for months.
posted by dialetheia at 11:59 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't think Ron Paul ever had tens of thousands of people attend his rallies.

Okay? I'm trying to explain how so many (not all) Sanders supporters can be totally bullheaded about social justice issues despite Sanders being quite a progressive candidate.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:01 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because they're just, "Sanders supporters," and not a population trying to produce a leader for themselves. They've already arrived, chosen their team, and don't want to see a bunch of people who look like carjackers ducking up their vines.
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you mean the black community or the BLM activists who took over the Medicare rally?

I'm saying that it doesn't seem like these people particularly distinguish between the black community and BLM activists. They found themselves a cudgel and they're using it indiscriminately.
posted by Kitteh at 12:46 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I am not wading into that cesspool again to find you the tweets and comments you're going to ask of me.
posted by Kitteh at 12:47 PM on August 10, 2015


I'm saying that it doesn't seem like these people particularly distinguish between the black community and BLM activists. They found themselves a cudgel and they're using it indiscriminately.

That's just plain incorrect and unfair.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2015


Black Lives Matter is shaking up the Bernie Sanders campaign: how he's taking the critique seriously:
“That’s important [marching for civil rights] and that’s great but that was 50 years ago and he has a lot more to stand on than just what he did 50 years ago,” [Symone Sanders] insisted. To that end, Sanders’ campaign released a racial justice platform aimed at “affirm[ing] the value of [America’s] people of color” by “addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”

So far, the platform — which tackles issues like for-profit prisons, out-of-school suspensions, and mandatory minimums — has been well received by leading Black Lives Matter activists:
@deray: The "violence" framing in the initial draft of the Sanders Racial Justice platform is powerful. & I look forward to seeing him expand this.
And here's a response from Shaun King: "I'll be honest with you. The plan that @BernieSanders released is actually really strong. The tone surprised me.", with a link to his piece at the DailyKos, Bernie and O'Malley release strong policy plans addressing police brutality; now waiting on Hillary.
posted by dialetheia at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2015 [10 favorites]




Honestly, that's one reason I'm wary of BLM being reframed and co-opted in terms of the presidential election - the focus should be on what's happening in Ferguson and St. Louis right now, not the stupid horse race for an election that doesn't even happen for months.

If BLM expected to disrupt an election event for a presidential candidate, and for it to not be viewed through the frame of presidential politics, they are amazingly clueless.
posted by bjrubble at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2015


now waiting on Hillary.

Good luck with that.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:29 PM on August 10, 2015


I'm no Mark Penn, but I'm pretty sure Hillary doesn't want to revisit her 2008 strategy.
posted by rhizome at 1:33 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll admit some initial confusion to what happened in Seattle, and I've felt like I haven't had any confusion over the BLM movement until this point... I think part of it is because I've been so used to seeing protests against groups like the KKK, etc - Demonstrations against the overtly racist and offensive groups. I don't think I've ever seen anything like this happen around anything that has been identified as "progressive," or any group I tend to identify with. I don't think I'm alone in that. Count me in the numbers of people who were confused (at first) as to why this was only happening visibly to Bernie.

This post helped me get my head around it, as well as many of the other voices here. I don't know if I can ever TRULY understand what it's like from the perspective of so many involved in the movement, simply because the whole injustice of their day-to-day lives is so outside of my own experience, but I definitely understand it better than I did before.

That so many of us who are white and privileged haven't seen anything like this (I'm making an assumption, but I think it's a safe one) should really show what a huge and important movement it is, and how little many of us have seen of any true civil rights struggle. I wish more people would seek out understanding instead of judging this - but I fear that we have become so used to very divisive political discourse, that the immediate reaction is to jump to the defensive. To begin to understand it if you are not part of it takes a lot of awareness of the world outside of a comfortable bubble, and acknowledgement that not only is it a horrible problem, but one that so many of us are complicit in. Just because this is was a progressive group doesn't mean that they aren't complicit in the institutionalized racism around it, and it's something that anyone who would consider them self "progressive" ESPECIALLY needs be made aware of.

The BLM leaders absolutely did the right thing here. Fighting for what is right is one of those things where you may have to upset a few people to make an actual difference. It's not about making friends, or making people comfortable. It's about getting results.

At least this is the understanding I have at this point. I'm always open to where I may still be wrong.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:24 PM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


MysticMCJ, thanks for pointing me to that post. It makes me feel differently about what happened yesterday.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:33 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Plenty of people in the BLM movement think BLM looks bad."

Here's the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter on the subject..

"Mara Jacqueline and Marissa Jenae deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They are a part of BLM. I support them in their leadership. Please discontinue harming them through social media. If you have questions about what Black Lives Matter's does. Please message me. I'm tired of folks not being principled or just hateful for no good reason.
BLM did not circulate a petition asking for an apology. We are not circulating articles that are slandering these women's names. Cut this shit out, yall."


Also on her Facebook:

"There is a fake Blm Facebook page and a fake petition circulating. Please shut it down."


Someone replied to that saying that It was created by a guy... in Rochester MN. They discovered it yesterday after he trolled some other posts.

-----------------------------------

I had the following conversation with a Bernie supporter today on FB in Bruce Bartlett's page..

------------------------------
Sanders supporter- "Some black live matter. The "Black Queer" women are dead to me. What a bunch of immature babies."

Mark Kraft So, basically you are dismissing huge numbers of people based on a couple people's actions in temporarily interfering with a relatively unimportant public speech and interjecting the message that blacks are getting shot for no good reason? Congrats... you're dead to me. Note: I am not dismissing all white, male, heterosexual liberals in the process of dismissing you. .

Sanders supporter: Just the immature "Black Queer" women that are too stupid to know who their allies are.

Mark Kraft With "allies" like you, who needs enemies?!

Sanders supporter: They can't win without a majority. The majority are white. The civil rights movement succeeded because of white support. Fuck them.

-----------------------------


This doesn't mean that all Sanders supporters are bad people, of course. But should it be seen as a major problem for all Sanders supporters, who need to police their ranks for rabid racist, sexist, homophobic jerks? I ask, because I have talked with some far more reasonable Sanders supporters today, who have pretty uniformly replied that that every movement has racists, sexists, and homophobes in it. Not a one indicated that they would so much as try to do a damn thing if they saw something similar in the future.

Perhaps Sanders supporters weren't among those on the left who pointed out the racism of the Tea Party movement. Perhaps none of them shamed such actions, and said they should police themselves better... but frankly, I really, really doubt that.
posted by markkraft at 10:36 PM on August 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Seems to me that this guy is being unfair to Bernie Sanders.

And besides, I read on a blog somewhere that he was really religious and supported the Republicans. He's got ulterior motives and can be easily dismissed as a traitor who is just trying to sow discord. He's been denounced by his own people!

If only he'd lie down and be silent, I'm sure we'd get around to fixing racism sometime soon!
posted by markkraft at 10:49 PM on August 10, 2015


Meanwhile, over on Twitter...

It's not Bernie that's the problem. It's his supporters.
posted by markkraft at 11:19 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here is an interview with Marissa Janae Johnson (one of the protesters) by This Week in Blackness, apparently the first interview she has done (found via the BLM Seattle Facebook page).

It opens up with an audio clip of (presumably) Johnson at the rally, denouncing the rally's "screaming white racists" and talking about Seattle's stolen Native land.

If you can get through some of the incendiary commentary by the hosts (comparing the Sanders Medicare/SS event to a KKK rally is a low point) Johnson has some revealing things to say about her political strategy. She is aiming for modifying Hillary's positions on race -- because she thinks that she will ultimately be the Democratic presidential candidate -- by going through Bernie.

Some things we learn about her: she is an evangelical Christian; she was a Palin supporter in high school but her views have changed; her parents (one black, one white) are Tea Partiers; she's 24 years old.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:18 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do we need to request a transcript? Should we be ignoring her criticisms of Sanders because of her past history? Did Johnson precisely say that she was going through Sanders to push Clinton further left?
posted by Ashen at 6:11 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some things we learn about her: she is an evangelical Christian; she was a Palin supporter in high school but her views have changed; her parents (one black, one white) are Tea Partiers; she's 24 years old.

The whole "Gotcha!" crap about her once having had a pro-Sarah Palin button on her high school backpack (admitted freely from Johnson) is also messed up. Seriously I believed in some grade A bullshit in high school; if we are gonna judge people from their high school selves, then all of us are in big trouble.
posted by Kitteh at 6:17 AM on August 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


Do we need to request a transcript?

Everything I've said about it is accurate. If you're not satisfied with my distillation of the interview, perhaps you can listen to it yourself.

Should we be ignoring her criticisms of Sanders because of her past history?

No, and I didn't say or imply that.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:11 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


If she really believes that a Bernie Sanders rally is the same as a KKK rally, I really don't know what else to say.

By that standard, there just aren't any white candidates worth voting for, no matter what they believe, and democracy in America is probably pointless.
posted by Avenger at 7:13 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


If she really believes that a Bernie Sanders rally is the same as a KKK rally

One of the hosts said that, not Johnson.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


True, but the protesters called Bernie's audience "White supremacist liberals" which is....pretty similar IMO.
posted by Avenger at 7:24 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe they're not wrong. I'm comfortable with a definition of "white supremacist" that includes not just klan members but also folks who simply think white folks should get to be in charge/shouldn't surrender any privilege to make black folks equal.

I'm personally never sure what the reasonable demand is when it comes to policing fellow supporters of a candidate or cause. There's obviously some tipping point at which you have to ask why people who agree with you in thing A are all horrible people about thing B. Is it related? Or is it just that everyone likes ice cream?

I'm of the mind that we have to call out racist shit when we see it but at the end of the day I can't purge the ranks of Sanders supporters. I can only judge whether the Sanders campaign itself takes ownership of saying "that is not right" to supporters and whether that's enough for me.
posted by phearlez at 7:44 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


"If she really believes that a Bernie Sanders rally is the same as a KKK rally, I really don't know what else to say. "

She didn't say that in the form you are trying to present it. Try a direct, full quote.

She does know that she was manhandled by people on stage, and yelled and sweared at by the crowd, with people who tried to get the police to taze her. Pretty ugly. And Bernie didn't so much as ask her name and try to talk to her, which was a huge opportunity lost... not just for Bernie. For the entire country.
posted by markkraft at 7:50 AM on August 11, 2015


Maybe they're not wrong. I'm comfortable with a definition of "white supremacist" that includes not just klan members but also folks who simply think white folks should get to be in charge/shouldn't surrender any privilege to make black folks equal.

I'm personally never sure what the reasonable demand is when it comes to policing fellow supporters of a candidate or cause. There's obviously some tipping point at which you have to ask why people who agree with you in thing A are all horrible people about thing B. Is it related? Or is it just that everyone likes ice cream?

I'm of the mind that we have to call out racist shit when we see it but at the end of the day I can't purge the ranks of Sanders supporters. I can only judge whether the Sanders campaign itself takes ownership of saying "that is not right" to supporters and whether that's enough for me.
posted by phearlez at 7:44 AM on August 11 [+] [!]


I think this is good, except for the fact that the current, running definition of "White Supremacist" in sj circles is "any white person who gets defensive when you call them a white supremacist" or "any white person who dislikes it when you heckle their favorite candidate". This isn't the same thing as saying "White people should be in charge" (as you seem to imply), by any stretch of the imagination.

She does know that she was manhandled by people on stage, and yelled and sweared at by the crowd, with people who tried to get the police to taze her. Pretty ugly. And Bernie didn't so much as ask her name and try to talk to her, which was a huge opportunity lost... not just for Bernie. For the entire country.

You must be talking about a completely different event. These women stormed a stage, demanded the microphone, got the microphone, got their message out, called everybody white supremacists and forced Bernie Sanders from the stage. People booed them. No crosses were burned.
posted by Avenger at 8:03 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


She didn't say that in the form you are trying to present it. Try a direct, full quote.

Here's your "direct, full quote." Right after the 7:00 mark:

CO-HOST: Haha! How is this any different than a KKK rally? I'm serious, I'm serious.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:04 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dominique Hazzard (in her very cool rant linked by andoatnp and MysticMCJ) makes an effective move:

3) This is what y’alls faulty logic sounds like:
Queer people: “Hey, we have an issue with ignoring queer voices within our org, (insert progressive organization). We’ve expressed this problem to the leadership numerous times, in numerous different ways, and they’ve ignored us. It’s time to escalate tactics and call them out publicly at our annual meeting.”
You: “THAT’S SO STUPID AND UNSTRATEGIC WHY WOULD YOU ADDRESS ISSUES THAT EXIST AMONG YOUR FELLOW PROGRESSIVES, WHAT YOU SHOULD REALLY BE DOING IS COUNTER-PROTESTING THE WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH THEY HATE GAYS.”
No. Ending oppression starts at home.


Is a shift underway in progressive discourse? My past experience as a queer Euroamerican lady: when trying to make people understand a situation by analogizing it to some canonical, recognized form of oppression, our go-to was generally racism -- and especially racism against African-Americans. RIght? I mean, that's still happening with marriage equality. Racism was seen as the example that would get people's attention and, if you could make the analogy stick, force their respect. (Of course, this didn't necessarily translate into anti-racism topping progressive agendas.)

Are queer identities becoming centered as the identities that matter for a paradigm of social struggle? That's ... weird. I mean, yay? Granted, Dominique Hazzard is arguing about tactics (not about what counts as oppression), and she's engaging with a particular crowd. And in one way, I love that queer activism can now be seen as some obvious role model. But it also (at least for me) makes creepily vivid the need for Black Lives Matter: it conjures up a progressive discourse in which anti-racism has somehow passed out of vogue even as a symbol, despite generating a popular moment of increasingly obvious urgency.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


By that standard, there just aren't any white candidates worth voting for, no matter what they believe, and democracy in America is probably pointless.

Yeah, I remember Adolph Reed making a similar point on Doug Henwood's radio show (before either of these Sanders rally disruptions). While I'm transcribing radio shows, I suppose I can provide a rough transcript of this one:
REED: [There are] voices who call for, who insist, that the task of building a viable Left in the United States hinges most crucially on accepting and respecting black leadership. Which has had me scratching my head because, well, what black leadership, according to whom, and what does respecting black leadership mean, and can you really be claiming that just because you have the microphone right now that means you’re somebody that should be paid attention to, or if it’s not you then who is it — I mean, what's the story?

This struck me… because it brought to mind a couple of earlier versions of this. I recall Jesse Jackson's two campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, the first especially, which I wrote about. There was a trope in the campaign: Jackson goes to talk to a church, there are a lot of people in the church, and then, the next thing you know, because there were a lot of people who were enthusiastic in the church, then comes the claim that this is a resurgent movement, and that Jackson is the leader of this resurgent movement, and that he therefore must be respected, the movement must be respected, black people must be respected, etc., etc.

But even earlier, going back to the 70s, at the dawn of what would be, before long, the New Communist [Movement], there was a similar line among black power radicals who wanted to split the difference between a Marxist and a Nationalist take on things: because the white working class was so fundamentally racist, black workers had to take the lead in building the revolutionary movement. And one would ask -- because I was in this position of asking a few times -- "Well, but if white workers are irredeemably racist, then how is it that black workers are going to be able to take the lead in the first place?”

HENWOOD: Who will be the followers of these leaders?

REED: Well, yeah, exactly! And the responses that I would get would kind of trail off into quotes from Cabral and Nkrumah and Fanon and whatever. At what point does naiveté become self-righteous foolishness or careerist aspiration? I mean, who knows, but whatever it is that doesn't seem healthy politically.
The entire thing is worth listening to for a critique of BLM from the left.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:24 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"True, but the protesters called Bernie's audience "White supremacist liberals" "

Some of them, for what they were clearly doing. Not the entire crowd.

There were some whites she acknowledged who protected her when she got off the stage, too.

Really, though... what would we be saying if they protested Trump, and he stormed off, and then a huge amount of Trump's supporters started posting conspiracy theories, some involving rather complex falsified efforts like petitions and fake IP address lookups, in order to discredit the protesters? Going to great lengths to suggest it was anything but black anger and anything but racism.

I tackled one new conspiracy theory just a few hours ago... someone I knew bloged about how the IP for their group was owned and paid for by Merck! I did the work myself and proved it was just some site in Oregon instead. I even found the guy in Minnesota who made the original post.

No, what happened was evil and racist, plain and simple. And LOTS of people were eating that up with silver spoons, because they were unwilling to accept that near the anniversary of Michael Brown's shooting, black protesters would be legitimately upset about black people being arrested, beaten, and shot.

I don't know how much louder I can say "This is not about you and about your hurt feelings." I feel revolted by the whole thing, and that it was such a big, widespread thing. I sure as hell don't know how or even if to talk about our roommate Sheena about this, as it's just too ugly and painful and insufficient.

It's one of the ugliest moments for Democrats in my lifetime, which hasn't been short. I am hoping that we'll be able to come together as a party, but a party of what, exactly? Racists, sexists, conspiracy theorists, and disillusioned minorities who now know they cannot trust us?

Anyone who jumped at one of those conspiracies out there and swallowed deeply needs to ask themselves why they overlooked black anger and Occam's Razor and really ask themselves what was it inside of them that motivated them to swallow such ugliness whole, without meaningful factchecking, and then share it with others.. or simply to ascribe the worst possible motives and the ugliest possible beliefs to the protesters, rather than to try hard to understand where they were coming from.

Ask yourselves... do you love black people as your neighbors, your equals, and your brothers? Or are they just "the other"? Because I am thinking we've gone backwards since the Civil Rights movement in important ways, and maybe this kind of pain and this kind of light being shined on left wing racism is what we need to get past this and move forward.
posted by markkraft at 8:29 AM on August 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


If you're a progressive and you wanted these women to be arrested, something is wrong with you. I am hoping you considered exactly how black people are treated by the police. "Hey, you're shouting at our favorite candidate! Let me threaten to call the police, who I am sure will arrest you peacefully and drop you off at home!"

There is an ugly streak of closet racism in the left wing politics I really wish were examined more. But we're all so busy believing that Clinton and Sanders mean well for everyone, we never stop to take time to examine who it's going to be better for. Pushing the BLM narrative into the spotlight for the presidential campaign is necessary. Black people vote. They want to vote. And by god, given the high profile deaths of so many men and women in all too recent history, they absolutely need their voice heard. This is going to be a net good for Sanders when he goes against Clinton in a debate. (The biggest reason this hasn't happened to her yet is the layers of security that surround her, but it will happen, mark my words.) Any Democratic candidate needs to make this an issue. Having a Presidential candidate that talks and wants to help dismantle systemic racism is a good thing.

Well, it's a start at any rate.
posted by Kitteh at 9:13 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think this is good, except for the fact that the current, running definition of "White Supremacist" in sj circles

and there's where I stopped reading! Thank you for saving me time. See also use of "political correctness," "radical feminist," "playing the race card."
posted by phearlez at 9:14 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]




In talking about the parties and protesting one versus the other etc etc, this makes me think of the problem the R party has with hispanics. There are regularly voices in the party saying that hispanics should be a good fit for them - they tend to be more economically conservative, religious alignments and statistics about abortion, etc. And a lot of us on the outside laugh at them for thinking they should get the hispanic vote because they have these supposedly appealing traits.

Jeez Rs, we say, you can't ignore all the other things this group cares about and have all your constituents fearful and shitty to them and still expect you're going to get their vote just because you align with them on those other things.

Why does that problem and contempt seem familiar?
posted by phearlez at 9:23 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


What does Hillary Clinton have to do with left-wing politics?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:39 AM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


"There is an ugly streak of closet racism in the left wing politics..."

...and sexism.
posted by markkraft at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


So, this piece is a rather succinct rebuttal to all the bromides about "civility" I've seen pop up:

The trouble is the language Nolan uses to police black suffering (and, really, the belief that it needs to be governed at all). He calls the protest of Sanders, who, lest we forget, is a politician, “counterproductive,” “remarkably dumb,” and “stupid.” He also reduces the trauma voiced by BLM Seattle members to shouting, which is both irresponsible and disrespectful of the group’s core belief that activism can shift political and social change (mostly because it has in other cities where racial discord and injustice are widespread). At its heart, Nolan’s message translates to: Wait, just listen! Bernie can fix the structural inequality that has plagued this country since its birth. There is an underlying sense (a posture, if you will) that he somehow knows what is best for Black Lives Matter protestors (Atlantic writer Conor Friedersdorf raised a similar point). I hesitate to label this privilege, mostly because Nolan often writes wonderfully on class inequality and America’s poor and is generally aware of his position in our country’s race-based hierarchy, but his assessment of the Sanders incident was misguided.

Call it the politics of civility.

Let’s talk about what it means to be black in a society that, for generations, has insisted on your civility. And not just any society, but one, in fact, that has profited from the suppression of your collective power through the dismantling of voting rights laws, redlining, the denial of access to wealth, and the creation of the prison industrial complex, among other horrors.

“Civility,” begins Hua Hsu, “is invoked as a method of discipline, as a way of sanding down the edges of a conversation.” Thus: Civility is discipline. Discipline is control. Control, in the context of being black—or, more generally, any non-white individual at the edges of society who lacks not just tools, but the access to tools, to fashion a better life for his or herself—in a country that continually insists on your civility even as it offers none in return, is white supremacy.


And especially in light of Sanders' LA rally, all those authors owe BLM an apology, because it turns out that their strategy actually worked. Furthermore, it made a clear point to Sanders - if he wants to win the Democratic nomination, he's going to have to convince the Democratic coalition to back him. And that means he needs to demonstrate that he will be their advocate for the issues they find important.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:34 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm saying that it doesn't seem like these people particularly distinguish between the black community and BLM activists. They found themselves a cudgel and they're using it indiscriminately. And I am not wading into that cesspool again to find you the tweets and comments you're going to ask of me. (/Kitteh)

Dipped my toe into the cesspool, found one. Here's a comment on Imani Gandy's You're White and Marched with Dr. King: So What?:

Bernie Sanders is the only viable candidate running who has a largely ignored or discounted history of support and action to end the abuses of "the system" in the black community. He sincerely wants to change the way things are done in the corporate world, and the defective judicial system that protects it, and all he gets is grief and belligerent criticism from the very people facing such disaster because he doesn't read from your (or their) script. You ignore the reality that he HAS addressed issues directly affecting black people, but you've got your mouth running more than using your eyes and ears to even be aware of it. The PROOF you demand is out there for all to see. You only have to want to see it. At some point you're going to have to sober up and HELP him get to a position where he AND WE can do something of real substance to fix what's going on, but until then he is only one man, not God. Pulling this BS "damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't" routine just won't fly. It isn't just a case of Bernie doesn't know how to talk to black people. Black people don't know how to talk to Bernie, either.

Maybe that's the only such comment in existence, but I must rip my eyeballs away from Sanders defenders before I get sucked into explaining how YES there are black people in Vermont and YES they get racist bullshit from Vermont cops and YES white Vermont residents who were part of King-era civil rights can still be stunningly naive about such actions by Vermont police.
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:49 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


"What does Hillary Clinton have to do with left-wing politics?"

Well, she's a Democrat, for starters... and has a record that is very liberal. About as liberal as Elizabeth Warren, in fact.

Bernie Sanders doesn't own left wing politics. He's taken money from PACs and big donors. Hell, he complains about Hillary's money, but took a big check in the past from HillPac! He's taken nearly as much from the National Association of Realtors, the sugar industry, and trial lawyers on some years as he has from any union.

But yeah, it's not that he's above politics... he raised nearly twice as much as his fellow senator Leahy over the past four years. Frankly, it's easy for him to brag about not having to take that much big money, because he lives in a state with a population the size of Fresno. The only reason Sanders gets anything like a free pass is because he's from a fairly insignificant backwater.

Perhaps the big difference for Sanders, as opposed to most politicians is that he raises around 85% of his money from out-of-state... which makes running for national office a nice perk, even if he loses, because he'll have more people to fundraise from, even though his campaign is likely to fail.

And don't get me started on his skeletons like partnering up with George W. Bush in an attempt to ship his state's nuclear waste 2000 miles to a poor Mexican-American town that overwhelmingly didn't want it, even though it was on an active fault and major aquafer, was accused by the Mexican government of violating international treaties as it risked polluting the Rio Grande water basin. The poor town sent representatives thousands of miles to meet him, and he refused to have a seious meeting, or even to visit the site and see the substandard way the waste would be stored.

Oh, and his love affair with the largest importer of military-grade weaponry too, trying to protect them after a massacre, and then voting to give them amnesty from lawsuits, even for defective weaponry! Or his willingness to lie to the public just to even be in this race, since he is not a registered Democrat, and never once accepted a nomination to be one, but will need to perjure himself just to get on the ballot in many states, some of which are likely to refuse him anyway.

Oh, and of course his willingness to promise things he absolutely, positively cannot deliver.

So no, you don't get to own left-wing politics, thanks.
posted by markkraft at 11:14 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am hoping you considered exactly how black people are treated by the police. "Hey, you're shouting at our favorite candidate! Let me threaten to call the police, who I am sure will arrest you peacefully and drop you off at home!"

Yeah, I think one reason BLM is less likely to storm a Republican rally is that they would definitely not be allowed to talk at all. Someone like Trump is not going to leave his own stage, he would have security recreate the "Don't taze me, bro!" moment and have them arrested with the crowd cheering and his poll numbers going up again.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:21 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


"if he wants to win the Democratic nomination, he's going to have to convince the Democratic coalition to back him"

He's absolutely not going to win, which is something that his supporters will have to face once they actually realize the dynamics of the election... but if he did win, I would vote for the real deal... a far more principled democratic socialist who doesn't need to be shamed in order to do the right thing.
posted by markkraft at 11:26 AM on August 11, 2015


Nobody said Bernie Sanders "owns left wing politics."
posted by rhizome at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


When someone says "What does Hillary Clinton have to do with left-wing politics"... well, the implication and insult is pretty clear. It's a great way to belittle the most experienced, most qualified person for the job, out of the available applicants.
posted by markkraft at 11:38 AM on August 11, 2015


Oh, and as for a record, in his long, illustrious career, Bernie has sponsored many a bill.

Too bad that only one was ever enacted.
posted by markkraft at 11:42 AM on August 11, 2015


Hillary has a...problematic...history with race.
posted by rhizome at 11:44 AM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, she's a Democrat, for starters

lol
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's a great way to belittle the most experienced, most qualified person for the job, out of the available applicants.

Your motives are showing, dude.
posted by dialetheia at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yeah, no, Hilary trotted out that "All Lives Matter" horse puckey so she too fails miserably.

I'd rather vote Sanders than Clinton but neither of them smell like a rose right now.
posted by Kitteh at 11:47 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm clicking through every Sanders-supporting twitter harrasser I've seen linked on twitter (e.g. this guy bugging the hell out of Talib Kweli, when Kweli started out defending Sanders) and I'm no conspiracy theorist, but soooo many of them are eggs who seem to do nothing but argue with people about Sanders in their mentions. I know everyone is smart enough to know when they're being trolled but I am giving some of these trolls the serious side-eye. Anyway, I'm not saying it's the bulk of the annoying crap on twitter even, but it's worth clicking through to see whether any given asshole on twitter happens to be a sketchy, newish egg account with a single-minded posting history.
posted by dialetheia at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2015


In fact, that mention-troll egg just started tweeting at me for some unknown reason? How does that even happen?
posted by dialetheia at 12:02 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


[markkraft, you're kinda sucking the air out of the room here. Please give this a break.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


This whole thread just went from anger-inducing to surreal.
posted by Avenger at 12:53 PM on August 11, 2015


Gallup: Clinton's Favorability Strong Among Black Americans

80% of black adults suveyed find Hillary Clinton favorable vs 23% for Sanders.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:01 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


80% of black adults suveyed find Hillary Clinton favorable vs 23% for Sanders.

Her unfavorables are higher too though: 10% find Sanders unfavorable, 12% find Clinton unfavorable. Only 33% say they are even familiar with Sanders, which strikes me as the most salient takeaway.
posted by dialetheia at 1:10 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Her unfavorables are higher too though: 10% find Sanders unfavorable, 12% find Clinton unfavorable.

A 57-point lead in one category dwarfs the 2-point lead in the other.

Only 33% say they are even familiar with Sanders, which strikes me as the most salient takeaway.

Agreed. Also, there's the fact that no one's done this to Clinton yet. I doubt she'd do anything too stupid that would drive a bunch of that 80 percent over to the 12 percent side, but stranger things have happened.
posted by Etrigan at 1:13 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A 57-point lead in one category dwarfs the 2-point lead in the other.

Oh certainly! Just pointing out that this dynamic is clearly primarily driven by name recognition.
posted by dialetheia at 1:19 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, there's the fact that no one's done this to Clinton yet.

Would that it were possible
posted by rhizome at 1:49 PM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ah, my point proved! Clinton deserves it just as much as Sanders but when you've got the Secret Service...weird how that works out for voices that need to be heard by another candidate.
posted by Kitteh at 1:55 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, factors weirdly converge.

For one thing, I imagine that Secret Service get uncertain and twitchy around 'disruptive' protestors, and might try to exclude them on those grounds alone (as well as others, probably).

For another thing, the candidates who get Secret Service are those who have generated a lot of attention (even if they didn't use to be First Lady), and so the better you do in the polls, the more immune you become.

For a third thing, there's the argument which Noah Berlatsky does not make himself, but does allude to, in this post's original article: when a candidate has a decent shot at winning the primary, people are more likely to perceive any tarnishing of the candidate's image as damaging the party's prospects in the general election.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:14 PM on August 11, 2015


It looks like the Sanders campaign didn't have a good stream of the Los Angeles rally so I can't link to a clip unfortunately, but Sanders actually had Black Lives Matter activists kick off his LA event (to a crowd of 28,000 people, no less!).
posted by dialetheia at 2:37 PM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm sure that with the poll numbers mentioned above, the Hillary camp prefers the topic not be addressed until they make a big splash with some plank announcement, keeping control of their role.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's from an early wire report, dialethia, which I think was updated (I noticed several corrections making the rounds late last night). In later stories, it's the campaign's new spokesperson who opened the show:
The rally began taking on the issue head-on as Symone Sanders -- Bernie Sanders' new national press secretary who is not related to the candidate -- opened the program and talked at length about racial injustice.

Symone Sanders is a black criminal justice advocate and a strong supporter of Black Lives Matter movement, and said Sanders was the candidate to fight for its values.

"It is very important that we say the words 'black lives matter,' Symone Sanders said. "But it's also important to have people in political office who are going to turn those words into action. No candidate for president is going to fight harder for criminal justice reform and racial justice issues than Senator Bernie Sanders."
Maybe somebody who was there can chime in.
posted by notyou at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's from an early wire report, dialethia, which I think was updated (I noticed several corrections making the rounds late last night). In later stories, it's the campaign's new spokesperson who opened the show

Oops, you're right - thanks, and sorry to have missed the correction! I was going to watch the rally live last night but my power was out all night thanks to a huge thunderstorm. From a quick glance through the reddit LA rally megathread and this Guardian article, looks like it was indeed his press secretary Symone Sanders who opened the event, along with other speakers on Black Lives Matter and immigration issues. (Incidentally, this slideshow of the LA rally last night is pretty amazing and has some great shots of the crowd)
posted by dialetheia at 3:48 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Telling use of "reportedly..." but it sounds like Hillary is going to want her presence known soon.
posted by rhizome at 3:50 PM on August 11, 2015


Except not really. Plenty of people in the BLM movement think BLM looks bad.

On the ground, the percentage looked to be something like 99.9999/0.0001

Did you actually see how much hate was getting spewed on social media(AND STILL IS)? I almost entirely saw the comparatively few people in BLM who disagreed with this getting held up as rhetorical cudgels by white people. They're the one black friend or whatever.

Trying to shift gears on this and point out "hey, plenty of people in BLM think it's bad too!" is really kind of a derail when so many white "liberals" are being this shitty about it.
posted by emptythought at 3:55 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Saying "lots of BLMers" acts as a synecdoche for uncomfortable state of race within white liberalism. It's so gauche to put a flashlight on those innocent people.
posted by rhizome at 4:23 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


so many white "liberals" are being this shitty about it.

lots of BLMers


I'm sure in both cases it's enough to sustain the conclusion they're representative samples of the larger population.
posted by weston at 4:25 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]




Wow, that sounds like a super interesting meeting! They actually got some real discussion going:
Following the event, Clinton met with the group for about 15 minutes in a private meeting that they claim turned contentious at times, and featured Clinton giving unsolicited advice for the direction of the movement.

The group's remarks and questions varied a bit from the script they prepared, which focused on criminal justice policies Clinton had supported while her husband was president, but not in tone. "I asked specifically about her and her family's involvement in the War on Drugs at home and abroad, and the implications that has had on communities of color and especially black people in terms of white supremacist violence," Yancey told me in an interview after the meeting. "And I wanted to know how she felt about her involvement in those processes.”

Asked whether Clinton actually proposed policies in the meeting, Jones said, "Not that I recall, no. In fact, I know that she didn’t because she was projecting that what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do is X,Y, and Z—to which we pushed back [to say] that it is not her place to tell the Black Lives Matter movement or black people what to do, and that the real work doesn’t lie in the victim-blaming that that implies. And that was a rift in the conversation." Jones said that the meeting concluded without any aggression, and that the meeting was "respectful." [...]

"The place we ended up arriving with her, in part, was a personal discussion about what we think would work,” said Julius Jones, founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Worcester, Massachusetts, and one of the activists who attended the meeting. "For her, she was saying that the policies that they tried to implement in the eighties and nineties just didn't work, and they had the unfortunate consequence of being enacted on black or brown bodies more than anyone else.” The Clinton campaign told the New Republic that they are preparing a statement about today's meeting.

Clinton, according to Jones, felt as if the system would be more easily changed structurally, through policy change–rather than tackling anti-blackness in white people through widespread cultural change. "She said that she didn't feel that you were going to be able to change hearts; that you can change systems, and then maybe you can change hearts.”

Jones and the rest of the group contended that it was the racism embedded the policies that needed to be addressed as well. "She was not willing to concede that the inherent anti-blackness in the policies that were enacted to address problems is the cause of the problems we have today," Jones said. "She didn’t concede that."
posted by dialetheia at 8:07 PM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


"I asked specifically about her and her family's involvement in the War on Drugs at home and abroad, and the implications that has had on communities of color and especially black people in terms of white supremacist violence," Yancey told me in an interview after the meeting. "And I wanted to know how she felt about her involvement in those processes.”

I'd like to know too. Beyond, "those policies didn't work."
posted by Drinky Die at 8:26 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:26 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


So Hillary tried to go on the offensive, "well, what you need to do is..." I can't say I'm surprised.
posted by rhizome at 8:54 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


"She was not willing to concede that the inherent anti-blackness in the policies that were enacted to address problems is the cause of the problems we have today," Jones said. "She didn’t concede that."

To concede that point would be to admit that Democrat-driven policies were inherently racist. They were/are, but I don't think Hillary is capable of climbing that mountain, a la Upton Sinclair.
posted by rhizome at 8:57 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Clinton campaign told the New Republic that they are preparing a statement about today's meeting.

I can hardly wait.
posted by phearlez at 7:21 AM on August 12, 2015


Bringer Tom: The idea that socialism is bad and that nobody will accept it is based on the Red scare and the cold war fears of Russia and China, and that's what people think of when you bait them with the naked word "socialism." Remind people that Sanders' form of socialism is much more similar to the way Sweden or Norway is run and you will get at first blank stares because people in the US are too stupid to know that but when it's explained they have very consistently decided that, unlike those booga-booga socialist states they were conditioned to hate and fear this kind of socialism is something completely different that is actually pretty damn nice when you put it in practice.

No, socialism in modern Conservative parlance means the government will take your money to support lazy people who don't deserve it. That's the basis for Conservative isolationist policies, their war on women, healthcare, the poor, the sick, the disabled, minorities, children, education, and anything they think could conceivably be privatized so they don't have to pay for it.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2015 [4 favorites]




He falls right into line as predicted: there's no reason to engage him, he's a lost cause.
posted by rhizome at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2015


He falls right into line as predicted: there's no reason to engage him, he's a lost cause.

I'm still not 100% convinced about this argument. Not that he's ever going to change his mind, but I do think it's worth publicly pushing back on people when they say racist/bigoted/hateful things even if you don't expect them to personally change their minds. If he's allowed to go out saying this stuff without any vocal disapproval, I feel like it has a bigger effect on the Overton window than it would if people earnestly pushed back and took the time to reaffirm how hateful and full of shit he is.

Of course, this isn't advice for Black Lives Matter at all - if this would be anyone's job, it would be the job of white allies who are best positioned to push back against the powerful people who are promoting this hateful crap in the media. While Trump may never come up with a useful policy solution no matter how hard he's lobbied, the media might think twice about happily repeating his racist greatest hits if they actually got real pushback on it instead of a bunch of unsurprised shrugs from white liberals.
posted by dialetheia at 1:43 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that anything that affects the powerless is that last thing ever to be addressed. If Trump is going to address race, it's either going to be either as a result of being scandalized out of the race, or if he reaches the primary. I think there's a slight chance Trump specifically could mention something as a result of incontrovertible poll-effects pushing him out of the limelight, but in the big picture, policies such as these will have to be brought to the most resistant through those more sympathetic, which is why Sanders is the first step.

So I suppose I overspoke. He's not necessarily a lost cause, but he's a loser of a cause at the present.
posted by rhizome at 2:30 PM on August 12, 2015


In Las Vegas, BLM protesters shut down a Jeb Bush appearance.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 2:14 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take this opportunity to say that these tactics seem to have worked enormously well for getting BLM activists a seat at the table. I wish people who said that they wouldn't work would acknowledge that.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:39 AM on August 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


That Jeb ran away from them should tell you all you need to know about trying to engage Republicans at this point. Jeb is the candidate some Republicans think is actually a closet Democrat.
posted by rhizome at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's about engaging Republicans, exactly. It's about making it clear to the entire country that one party isn't allowed to just ignore and dismiss an entire group of people without political repercussions. It's about making sure that the Overton window for conservative racist expression is set in a slightly less permissive place next time.
posted by dialetheia at 10:18 AM on August 13, 2015


For some people it is about engaging Republicans. See, "why go after Bernie? He's on our side!" above and elsewhere.
posted by rhizome at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear #BlackLivesMatter: We Don’t Need Black Leadership

(found via an interview with the author on today's Behind the News show which starts here at 26:15)
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:03 PM on August 13, 2015


When I hear "X is about Y", I do not think Y = that thing someone claims should have happened instead of X.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:10 PM on August 13, 2015


For some people it is about engaging Republicans. See, "why go after Bernie? He's on our side!" above and elsewhere.

Well of course, I understand that. But that's not at all what I'm saying. I'm speaking specifically to your argument that if somebody isn't going to advocate for a given policy, then it's a lost cause and it isn't even worth protesting or making an argument against their claims. I disagree in principle, because I think that there are a lot of other intended outcomes of protest than just getting specific policies changed; it's also about making it clear what is and is not acceptable in civilized society, which is the part the Republicans are rarely challenged on. I was also super clear that I meant white allies, not BLM.
posted by dialetheia at 3:17 PM on August 13, 2015


Muna Mire, She Mad and She Magic - "Black women’s anger towards supposed allies is never taken for the self-preserving force it is"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:33 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear #BlackLivesMatter: We Don’t Need Black Leadership

Fannie Lou Hamer is a very interesting person I hadn't heard about before, thanks for the link.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2015


“Machinists Union Members Outraged Over Hillary Clinton Endorsement, Say They Want Bernie Sanders,” Mario Vasquez, In These Times, 17 August 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 2:45 PM on August 17, 2015


Who Really Runs #BlackLivesMatter?

Goes into some detail about the organization (or lack thereof) of BLM and the struggle over its message in the wake of the Seattle Sanders interruption.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:57 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bernie Sanders takes Black Lives Matter activist up on offer to talk racial justice - "Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted on Monday that he would meet with civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson and others to discuss his racial justice platform."

also btw...
With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency - "Obama's recent visit to a federal prison indicates, advisers say, a likely emphasis on criminal justice reform after he leaves office. His eulogy for one of nine African-Americans killed at a church in Charleston, S.C., is a forerunner, they say, of a focus on race relations... to focus on civic engagement and opportunities for youths, pushing guests for ideas about how to make government work better, Mr. Hoffman recalled in an interview. The president asked if social networks could improve the way society confronted problems."
posted by kliuless at 11:42 PM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


New BLM thread
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:22 AM on August 18, 2015


« Older The 8$ Sheep Doll Would Be 200$ Today   |   You are Stephen Colbert. Congratulations! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments