April 19, 2016

Jamelle Bouie wrong to reject unique parts of #FeelTheBern

I like Bouie in general, at least for younger people in his position, as political writers at establishmentarian online mags.

That said, Bouie is partially wrong to say that there is no movement that's unique to Bernie Sanders' candidacy.

Note that I said partially wrong. Not entirely wrong.

He is right that Sanders follows in a trajectory from George McGovern to today.

However, not all candidates were the same in that trajectory.

Brown and Dean both had various degrees of neoliberal in them. Bradley showed more of this outside of the campaign with post-political work. Jerry Brown in his second gubernatorial stint has his picture in the dictionary next to the definition of "tech-neoliberalism," while Dean has his picture next to ... I could say various things. Yes, he opposed the Iraq War. And that was about it. Vermont's support for same-sex civic unions wasn't led by him, although he took it as what he saw as the best political alternative. And, shades of Sanders, he was actually endorsed, multiple times, by the NRA.

That said, Bradley only broke 45 percent in one primary, and struggled to break 30 percent in many cases. Yes, he was running against the standing Veep, but Gore had vulnerabilities.

It's interesting that Bouie omits two names.

One is Gary Hart, who launched a clearly neoliberalism-based challenge to Walter Mondale in 1984. He doesn't at all fit the normal insurgent profile, of course. (Some reporters have actually done that, though.)

The other, though?

Ted Kennedy, 1980.

Ted was no neoliberal, overall. And, unlike many of the other insurgents, through his family history, he had connections to black voters.

So, Bouie's wrong for trying to inflict a simplistic narrative on us. Not all Democratic insurgencies are alike.

As for the degree of Sanders' support coming from white liberals?

Erm ... while African-Americans, due to the legacy of slavery (setting aside the slavery of American Indians), always have a special claim on the ethnical (sic, my word for getting away from "racial") legacy of America in general, and post-1960, of the Democratic Party on political issues, that legacay is fading in a sense.

Hispanic Americans (of any "race," per the Census Bureau) have surpassed African-Americans for a number of years. And, beyond that, as various Americans look forward (and probably not enough years forward) with either joy, lamentation, or other emotions, to the time when the United States becomes a majority-minority nation, growth in Hispanic population, along with East Asian and South Asian immigration, will be drivers of that more than African-American growth. And, today's new wave of African immigration will also be a part, albeit a small part.

First, per the Census Bureau, in this PDF about future population trends, "Hispanic whites" (by subtracting "non-Hispanic whites" from "whites") are at 15 percent of population, compared to African-Americans at 13.2 percent. By 2060, that's expected to be 25 percent Hispanic vs. 14.3 percent black.

Even if that's too high, and I think it is, in 2060 with an estimated non-Hispanic white population at still over 50 percent, we could have a Hispanic population of 21 percent or so, or half again the size of the African-American population.

But, this still all ignores the Asian-American population. It was at 5.4 percent in 2014, but is projected at 9.3 percent by 2060, which I don't think is an underestimate.

In other words, by 2060, Asians will have moved from being a little over 40 percent of black population today to being about two-thirds of black population.

In this, Bouie, and others, are overlooking this broadening of diversity.

Bouie notes:
Black voters aren’t just palette-swapped white ones; they have interests and concerns that are specific to themselves and their communities.

This will be true of other ethnoi as well. 

And, this wasn't Bouie's primary focus in his piece, but he is nonetheless the one who's brought it kind of to the forefront of my mind. I'll be doing more about it in a separate piece.

Back to his piece.

Previous insurgents differed in other ways. Ted Kennedy went back to the Senate, never making peace with Jimmy Carter. He didn't have to, though, because he was a Kennedy. Gary Hart self-destructed, and was probably as unpopular with many Dems as Carter had been before him. Jesse Jackson got shakedown money to go to Operation Push and other organizations before having a later combination of self-destruction and irrelevance. Bradley went off into the nonprofit world, neoliberal division. Howard Dean took his mask back off and went to run the DNC.

Bernie is likely to do none of those. Bouie's half-right about him being a Senate gadfly, though not totally right. So, he won't be a Ted Kennedy. He won't self-destruct like Hart or Jackson, or sell out in the way Dean did.

But, could he sell out to some degree? Well, sure. (This all assumes Clinton is the nominee, which I think likely, but am not assuming it's so in the bag as Bouie does.)

He could continue to fight outside the convention for issues that he gets negotiated at the convention. Especially if Clinton pulls a Jimmy Carter, he couldn't be ignored between now and 2020.

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