Feb 12, 2016
I’m taking a break from my mundane job as an ice cream taster to get back to politics for a few minutes, because there is an awful lot going on in both the Democratic and republican circles, and I need to express my views. The Democrats first. the slugs tomorrow…
You see, like a lot of old fogeys like me, ooooooold!!!!, I remember Bill Clinton’s era………. And his attempts to bridge the racial divide while supporting a better health care system. I believe that Hillary had something to do with his outlook. (Pillow talk??) He raised taxes on the rich, fought to balance the national budget resulting in higher wages and more jobs, good things for the black community. When he left office we had a surplus, something this nation had not had for the longest time. There was a semblance of prosperity.
So when it comes to parsing Bernie’s rhetoric and ranting, one focus style, I prefer the history of the Clintons. (Well, I was wrong when Obama steamrolled her aspirations, as black folks jumped ship). The results are undeniable…Obama’s done an incredible job despite the fierce and underhanded, dishonest racist opposition from the mostly garbage pile called republicans.
Hillary seems to have a history and a broader focus, like preserving Social Security, better health care (improving on the ACA, while Bernie wants to redo it…) I do not want a revolution, I want progress without furor. I want….
Wait!! Wait!!! Why am I trying convince you???? I’m going back to ice cream!! Here’s……..
Now that Iowa and New Hampshire are vanishing in the rearview mirror, the Democratic contests shift more West and South — beginning with Nevada and South Carolina, states that have significantly more Hispanic or black voters, respectively, who at this point disproportionately favor Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.
This support for Clinton, particular among African-American voters, is for some perplexing and for others irritating.
I cannot tell you the number of people who have commented to me on social media that they don’t understand this support. “Don’t black folks understand that Bernie best represents their interests?” the argument generally goes. But from there, it can lead to a comparison between Sanders and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; to an assertion that Sanders is the Barack Obama that we really wanted and needed; to an exasperated “black people are voting against their interests” stance.
If only black people knew more, understood better, where the candidates stood — now and over their lifetimes — they would make a better choice, the right choice. The level of condescension in these comments is staggering.
Sanders is a solid candidate and his integrity and earnestness are admirable, but that can get lost in the noise of advocacy.
Tucked among all this Bernie-splaining by some supporters, it appears to me, is a not-so-subtle, not-so-innocuous savior syndrome and paternalistic patronage that I find so grossly offensive that it boggles the mind that such language should emanate from the mouths — or keyboards — of supposed progressives.
But then I am reminded that the idea that black folks are infantile and must be told what to do and what to think is not confined by ideological barriers. The ideological difference is that one side prefers punishment and the other pity, and neither is a thing in which most black folks delight.
It is not so much that black voters love Clinton and loathe Sanders. Indeed, in The Nation magazine, the estimable Michelle Alexander makes a strong case in an essay titled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.” For many there isn’t much passion for either candidate. Instead, black folks are trying to keep their feet planted in reality and choose from among politicians who have historically promised much and delivered little. It is often a choice between the devil you know and the one you don’t, or more precisely, among the friend who betrays you, the stranger who entices you and the enemy who seeks to destroy you.
It is not black folks who need to come to a new understanding, but those whose privileged gaze prevents them from seeing that black thought and consciousness is informed by a bitter history, a mountain of disappointment and an ocean of tears.
There is a passage by James Baldwin in his essay “Journey to Atlanta” that I believe explains some of the apprehension about Sanders’s grand plans in a way that I could never equal, and although it is long, I’m going to quote it here in full.
“Of all Americans, Negroes distrust politicians most, or, more accurately, they have been best trained to expect nothing from them; more than other Americans, they are always aware of the enormous gap between election promises and their daily lives. It is true that the promises excite them, but this is not because they are taken as proof of good intentions. They are the proof of something more concrete than intentions: that the Negro situation is not static, that changes have occurred, and are occurring and will occur — this, in spite of the daily, dead-end monotony. It is this daily, dead-end monotony, though, as well as the wise desire not to be betrayed by too much hoping, which causes them to look on politicians with such an extraordinarily disenchanted eye.
This fatalistic indifference is something that drives the optimistic American liberal quite mad; he is prone, in his more exasperated moments, to refer to Negroes as political children, an appellation not entirely just. Negro liberals, being consulted, assure us that this is something that will disappear with “education,” a vast, all-purpose term, conjuring up visions of sunlit housing projects, stacks of copybooks and a race of well-soaped, dark-skinned people who never slur their R’s. Actually, this is not so much political irresponsibility as the product of experience, experience which no amount of education can quite efface.
“Our people” have functioned in this country for nearly a century as political weapons, the trump card up the enemies’ sleeve; anything promised Negroes at election time is also a threat leveled at the opposition; in the struggle for mastery the Negro is the pawn.
Even black folks who don’t explicitly articulate this intuitively understand it.
Great writing! Lots to think about, thanks.
History and experience have burned into the black American psyche a sort of functional pragmatism that will be hard to erase. It is a coping mechanism, a survival mechanism, and its existence doesn’t depend on others’ understanding or approval.
However, that pragmatism could work against the idealism of a candidate like Sanders.
Black folks don’t want to be “betrayed by too much hoping,” and Sanders’s proposals, as good as they sound, can also sound too good to be true. There is a whiff of fancifulness.
For instance, Sanders says that his agenda will require a Congress-flipping political revolution of like-minded voters, but so far, that revolution has yet to materialize.
Just as in Iowa, in New Hampshire there were more voters — or caucusgoers — making choices in the Republican contest than in the Democratic one. That, so far, sounds more like a Republican revolution. If that trend holds for the rest of the primary season and into the general election, not only would Democrats not be likely pick up congressional seats, they could lose more of them.
That’s a stubborn fact emerging — a reality — and it is one that all voters, including black ones, shouldn’t be simply told to discount.
This is not to say that Clinton or Sanders is the better choice for Democrats this season, but simply that the way some of Sanders’s supporters have talked down to black voters does him a disservice, and makes clear their insensitivity to the cultural and experiential political knowledge that has accrued to the black electorate.
Read on, this is David Brooks:
American capitalism has always been distinct from continental European capitalism. We’ve had more entrepreneurial creativity but less security. Our system has favored higher living standards for consumers while theirs has favored stability for employees and producers.
For the past several decades, the United States has had a bipartisan consensus that we should stick to our style of capitalism and our style of welfare state. There has always been a broad consensus that a continent-size nation like ours had to be diverse and decentralized, with a vibrant charitable sector and a great variety of spending patterns and lifestyles.
American values have always been biased toward individualism, achievement and flexibility — nurturing disruptive dynamos like Bell Labs, Walmart, Whole Foods, Google and Apple — and less toward dirigisme, order and economic equality.
It’s amazing that a large part of the millennial generation has rejected this consensus. In supporting Bernie Sanders they are not just supporting a guy who is mad at Wall Street. They are supporting a guy who fundamentally wants to reshape the American economic system, and thus reshape American culture and values. As he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, he wants to make us more like northern Europe.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sanders would add $18 trillion to the federal budget over the next 10 years. Currently, total government spending is about 36 percent of G.D.P. Under Sanders it would rise to about 47.5 percent of G.D.P., putting us comfortably in the European range.
First, Sanders would centralize power in Washington. If you radically increase the amount of money going to the Washington establishment, as Sanders would, you’re giving that establishment greater resources to control American life.
Second, Sanders would weaken the ability of members of the middle class to make choices about their own lives. He would raise taxes on the rich, but there is only so much money you can squeeze out of such a small group of people. European welfare states generally rely on a highly regressive value-added/sales tax — usually around 20 to 25 percent.
Middle classes across Europe bear a much higher tax load than the American middle class. As Austan Goolsbee, a former economic adviser to President Obama, has noted, you really can’t have a Swedish-style welfare state without a broad high tax burden. That means less spending power for most Americans, and fewer resources to choose one’s own lifestyle.
Third, Sanders would change the incentive structure for the country’s most successful people. He proposes raising the top tax rate to 52 percent. As Josh Barro noted in The Times, when you add in state, local and other taxes, top earners would be paying a combined tax rate over 73 percent. In high-tax locales like New York City and California, it would be even more.
It’s possible that entrepreneurs, company founders and others would pay these rates without changing their behavior, but I wouldn’t count on it. When you make risk-taking less rewarding, you get fewer risk-takers, which is exactly what you see across the Atlantic. When you raise taxes that high, the Elon Musks of the world find other places to build their companies.
Fourth, Sanders would Europeanize American public universities. It sounds great to make college free. In fact, it’s a hugely expensive program that would mostly benefit the already affluent.
It would create, as in Germany, a legion of eternal students who have little incentive to leave school because the costs are so low. It would give Washington officials greater control over state universities, determining what sort of faculty they could hire and what sort of programs they could run. It would threaten hundreds of private colleges, which could no longer compete against the completely subsidized state system. It would reduce the pressures universities now feel to reform themselves because it would cushion them with federal largess. Slowly, American universities would look more like their European counterparts. They’d be less good.
The changes in the health care system would be along the same lines. Sanders would create a centralized and streamlined system. His approach would also, as in Europe, reduce the rate of medical progress, increase the rationing of care, increase the wait times for patients, induce many doctors to retire and centralize decision-making. He might reduce health care costs by $6 trillion over the next decade, but his proposal to do this gives new meaning to the word vagueness.
There’s nothing wrong with living in northern Europe. I’ve lived there myself. It’s just not the homeland we’ve always known. Bernie Sanders’s America is starkly different from Alexander Hamilton’s or Alexis de Tocqueville’s America or even Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s America.
It’s amazing that so many young people want to mimic a continent that has been sluggish for decades. It’s amazing that so many look to the future and want a country that would be a lot less vibrant.
Long read, huh????
Enough said, I’m out……..and lazy today…… …
And by the way, treat yourself to my “Mr Bill’s Ice Cream City” ice cream….. How about my Cookies & Cream…uuuuummm!!! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It won’t make you fat…it will just make you jolly!!!!