The Bernie Sanders people are quite excited by polls that say their candidate has drawn virtually even with Hillary Clinton among national Democrats.
The truth is, it’s a good thing that Sanders is doing well in the polls. It’s a measure of public sentiment against corporations and Wall Street, among Democrats. We should all welcome such expressions of public sentiment.
The problem is, the Democratic Party is not a vehicle that is capable of actually challenging Wall Street. It is said that Wall Street is to the Democrats, what Big Energy is to the Republicans: their “sugar daddy.” It’s why Barack Obama’s 2008 race was the first billion-dollar presidential campaign.
The best result that can occur from the Sanders campaign would be that it leads to a split in the Democratic Party – somewhat like the split that occurred in the old Whig Party, over slavery, in the years before the Civil War. That split led to the birth of a new, anti-slavery Republican Party, and ultimately to Black emancipation.
I would love to see such a split in the Democratic Party leading to the creation of a new, broadly-based, anti-Wall Street and anti-imperialist party – and/or the blossoming of other left-wing parties.
There is also a lot of talk about how Bernie has succeeded in “moving Hillary to the left.” That’s ridiculous.
The Sanders campaign has only succeeded in forcing Hillary to tell the biggest lies of her non-stop lying career.In any case, Clinton and the rest of her ilk will continue to lie about their plans for governance, because they serve the rich people that control the Republican-Democratic duopoly.
From what we do know, Blacks are the least likely ethnic constituency to vote for Bernie. This is historically consistent with Black voting behavior in national Democratic primary elections, and presents a great paradox and contraction that goes to the heart of the Black political crisis.
Black Americans are the most left-leaning group on issues of war and peace and social justice. This fact is affirmed by every poll on peace and economic issues over generations, and most dramatically, it is affirmed by Black grassroots movement behavior – when such movements exist.
In terms of pro-union sentiment, at the top of the list is Black women, followed by Black men, then Hispanic women, followed by Hispanic men, then White women and, at the bottom of the list, White men.
Therefore, the Black Radical Tradition not only exists, it is measurable in the present day – EXCEPT on national primary election days in the Democratic Party.
That’s why the Sanders campaign is all but certain to be derailed by Black voters down South, where Blacks are majorities of the Democratic electorate in a number of states, and the decisive bloc in many others.
Fit Bernie’s politics
The noted Black social demographer Michael Dawson’s studies have shown that the biggest bloc of Black voters are most like Swedish Social Democrats, and that a very large number of them are “more radical than that.”
However, in national primary elections, these Black Social Democrats – these pro-peace, pro-social justice, pro-union folks – fail to express their own political sentiments at the polls.
Black national voting behavior is inconsistent with Black ideological characteristics. Black voting behavior often betrays Black people’s politics. The reason lies in what Blacks perceive as the purpose for voting in national elections, and how they view the Democratic Party.
The nature of the American duopoly system is that one of the parties will always be the White Man’s Party, with White supremacy as its organizing principle. In this era, it’s the Republicans. In a past era, it was the Democrats. Both of these parties are Rich Man’s Parties.
Throughout U.S. history, Blacks have sought protection from the White Man’s Party in the bosom of the other party – the one that is more inclusive of minorities. They want the party that opposes the White Man’s Party to pick the strongest possible candidate.
The question of whether that candidate actually agrees with them, ideologically, becomes secondary or even irrelevant.
Blacks will vote against their own politics in order to pick a winner. Huge numbers will even vote against their own race – all things being equal – to pick what they believe is the strongest candidate against the Republicans – the White Man’s Party.
That’s why half of Black voters, and most Black elected officials, refused to support Obama against his ideological twin, Hillary Clinton, until after the Iowa primary in 2008. Only after Obama won in a White state did Blacks abandon Hillary Clinton wholesale.
Blacks are the most re-distributionist constituency in the country, but they rejected Dennis Kucinich, a genuine Social Democrat, and John Edwards, who kicked off his campaign in New Orleans and pitched it directly to Blacks, in 2008. Instead, they rallied around the two corporatists – Clinton and Obama – as the antidote to the White Man’s Party.
Is there something wrong with African-Americans?
No. There is something wrong with America, its history and its race and class dynamics. There is something wrong about this two-party system, where both parties are Rich Man’s Parties, and one of the parties is always the White Man’s Party.
The duopoly system traps Blacks in the Democratic Party, and keeps them there on the premise that only Democrats can beat the White Man’s GOP.
The numbers in 2016 show Black voters are operating under the same dynamic. They know Sanders is to the left of Clinton, but their priority is victory for the Democratic Party, and they are willing to sacrifice their own politics in its cause.
‘Ooze like pus’
The Democratic Party is hegemonic in Black America. Black elected officials are overwhelmingly Democratic. The mainline Black civic organizations – the NAACP, the Urban League and the rest – are annexes of the Democratic Party. So are most Black churches. The party’s tentacles even reach down to the Black sororities and fraternities.
The Democrats ooze like pus from every orifice of the Black body politic. And now, with the emergence of an incipient grassroots movement for the first time in two generations, the Democratic Party has moved quickly to absorb and render it harmless to the Rule of the Rich.
Elements of the new movement appear eager to embrace the Democrats back. One leader of a faction of what is called the Black Lives Matter movement is running for mayor of Baltimore – as a Democrat, of course.
Democratic Party politics kills Black politics. The two cannot coexist. If you want a real Black grassroots movement, you have to fight the Democratic Party, tooth and claw.
Can’t be transformed
Sanders’ supporters think they can transform the Democratic Party “from below.” They are wrong.
Black people ARE the “below” in America, and we make up a quarter of the Democratic Party. But Blacks haven’t transformed the Democratic Party by our overwhelming presence. Instead, the party has transformed us – and overwhelmed our radical politics.
The solution is to throw off the dead weight of that party. The turning point in history comes with masses of people in the streets, fighting BOTH Rich Man’s Parties.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. E-mail him at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.