09 Mar Seriously, people . . .
How many times does black America have to step up and save the republic it built? African Americans did it again on Super Tuesday. They did it with a vote that was unequivocal, pragmatic, and politically sophisticated.
They also did it with a vote that was huge (despite all prophecies that only Senator Sanders could drive turnout) and intergenerational (despite all predictions that younger black voters would opt for Sanders). When you’ve had to fight so hard, so long, and so repeatedly for the vote—which is still being suppressed—you don’t mess around. When your vote’s been denied, stolen, erased, then manipulated, taken for granted, numbed by deafening rhetoric and broken promises, and generally seduced and abandoned, abstract idealistic shouting doesn’t stand a chance against experience and survival. So while decidedly not monolithic, this time the black vote roared in one voice:
Seriously, people. To dump Trump we need to WIN!
And let’s hear it for another group: Hallelujah, white suburban women! They’ve been floundering the last few times around, so the Women’s Movement has focused laser-like on those women, helping to grow their already articulated disgust at Trump’s style, language, tweeting, and behaviors they wouldn’t tolerate in their own kids, grow it into a consciousness that connects his behavior with his policies. This time they were ready and they spoke, too. Loud and clear.
For the rest, personally, it breaks down into gripes and gratitudes. My gratitudes are mostly above. My gripes:
- Early voting gone wild. Look, I applaud any attempt to make voting easier and welcome in more voters, and early voting makes sense in an election with few candidates. But with a primary field as rush-hour crowded as the Democratic one has been, there’s the certainty that people will be dropping out at different points, so then what? Thousands of voters in states with early voting on Super Tuesday basically lost their votes—because they had already voted for Buttigieg or Klobuchar or Steyer. We’ve all been so busy enduring caucus systems and waiting for the more inclusive, fairer primaries to begin that apparently not many of us thought much about the undertow effect of early voting. Along with almost everything else in our electoral system, this needs to be revisited. We need early voting options, oh yes, but finer tuned.
- The money spent OMG the money! Those who profit most are the political ad makers and the broadcast media, who are rolling in it this year. Between Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer alone, we could have revamped whole chunks of the public education system or built a new highway or bridge (or fixed old ones) or relieved student debt. Forgodsake we could have just bought Russia, paid off Putin and his oligarchs and trolls, and had a safe election!
- Bloomberg and Sanders who, though each other’s perfect foils, managed to be almost mirror images of insensitivity regarding the black community. Bloomberg did show up at the 55th Anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery, Alabama ‘“Bloody Sunday” March across the Pettus bridge—as did Representative John Lewis, the whole Obama family, and candidates Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Warren, Steyer, and Biden. But Bloomberg was wretchedly uncomfortable at being so out of his element, and wow did he show it. At least he was there though, and he toughed it out when some of the audience turned their backs to him as he spoke at the church beforehand. The Sanders campaign—what? triaging black voters as “pawns of the establishment”?—didn’t even bother to send their guy, a slap in the face to the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. history itself. Once, Sanders used to openly but at least honestly be dismissive of racism and sexism as “identity politics.” Does his campaign seriously think covering that attitude with facile lip service now is sufficient? (White male class distinctions, you understand, are not identity politics, because Sanders has experienced them.)
- The Bloomberg Sanders mirror image regarding women voters, for that matter? Oh, don’t get me started. Elizabeth Warren flattened Bloomberg and actually dared challenge Sanders; even Klobuchar’s Minnesota niceness frayed at dealing with Buttigieg and the rest of these bro’s. None of the men got it, with the possible exception of long-dropped-out Cory Booker. Oh, the guys know enough to speechify the right things now, but as the late congresswoman Bella Abzug used to say, “We’ve had the words, boys. Now we’d like the music.”
I’m tempted to return to gratitude for those candidates who were not going to make it so, early or late, closed shop and threw their support where they thought it would have a real impact. But my heart breaks and my teeth grind, because it’s not just coincidence that most of those candidates were female and/or people of color. Amy Klobuchar’s exit and endorsement were graciously done, and Minnesota heard her and confirmed her home-state power. Like most women and many men, I was moved by the raw emotion in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign-suspension announcement and her tearful regret that all those little girls with whom she took thousands of selfies would have to wait another four years to see a viable female candidate for the White House. During this year, the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, when we will all be besieged by platitudes, no woman heads the ticket of either party. Again. And a happy International Women’s Day to you, too.
(Of course, we shouldn’t forget—though it’s hard to remember—that Tulsi Gabbard is still running, and is even a two-fer: a woman and a person of color, with South Asian ancestry. The problem is her record shows that she’s never quite certain she is A) militantly homophobic or sort of maybe kind of sorry she used to be, B) a woman who gives a damn about women, C) a Democrat, and D) unremorseful at having voted only “present” instead of voting to impeach Trump. Kind of merciful to forget. Although if Sanders should win the nomination, she might well be his VP choice, since they are close and she has endorsed him numerous times.)
So I’ll end with some advice that will go totally unheeded.
- To Bernie Sanders: Please abide by the Convention rules you yourself insisted on, sir.
- To Joe Biden: Announce that your VP pick/running mate will be Kamala Harris or Stacy Abrams. Do it now.
- To other candidates who aren’t already senators, run for the Senate! This means you, Buttigieg and you Beto, and Yang and Steyer and the lot of you (except do spare us Marianne Williamson, please).
- To Donald Trump: Start packing.
- And to Mike Bloomberg: Pour funds into exposing Trump with the same avalanche you used for yourself, then ensure the downtickets: increase the House and buy back the Senate. Yep, I actually did just write those words. This country desperately needs to free itself from all moneybag elections. But not one–sidedly, especially when Earth’s fate itself depends on the result. As long as the ultra right is fueled by its Koch brothers, Mercers, Adelsons, and Murdochs, damned right I want us to have our Buffetts and Soros’s and Steyers and Bloombergs. So listen, Mike, once the election is secured, buy Fox News.