Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
The Great Debate: Did Bernie Cause Hillary to Lose?
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The Brutal Truth is that Sanders Did Damage Clinton
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Hillary Clinton has finally taken the gloves off and spoke her mind about her Democratic presidential rival, Bernie Sanders. She flatly charged that Sanders hurt her White House bid. She got very specific and claimed that the “lasting damage” he did to her campaign did much to put Trump in the Oval Office. She took the big broad side at Sanders in her new book, What Went Wrong. Now that she has made that charge against Sanders, the question is, “Is she right?
The brutal truth is there is more truth than vindictive hyperbole in her blame game assault on Sanders. It’s true that Sanders personally voted for Clinton, campaigned for Clinton, and urged his supporters to back Clinton. But, 3 recent surveys showed that in the 3 states that put Trump in the Oval Office, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, a number of voters who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primary in those states crossed over and voted for Trump in the general election.
They were registered Democrats. They did not simply stay home, cast a vote for a third-party candidate, Jill Stein, or write Sanders name in. They actually voted for Trump, the candidate who seemingly represented almost everything that Sanders’ abhorred. To take that step, a lot of these voters had to really, really, loathe Clinton to the point where they would do anything to keep her out of the White House. This included supping with the political Devil, in this case Trump.
So, how much should Sanders, even though he firmly backed Clinton, be blamed for his most rabid backers breaking ranks and crossing the political Rubicon to vote for Trump? Clinton says he poisoned the political well with his drumbeat attacks on her as a war mongering, handmaiden for corporate interests, hard line beltway Democrat. This did give Trump some ammunition to con voters into thinking that he’d somehow be different from her and any other establishment politician, and really do something for the beleaguered, forgotten, hard pressed workers who watched as their jobs and livelihood and future fled to distant shores.
No matter how much Sanders talked about the threat of Trump, and urged Democratic Party unity, thousands of Bernie backers didn’t hear any of that. The loud echo in their ears was that Clinton was just no good, and putting her in the White House would just be Trump by another name. This slammed the door hard on the lock down, requisite party unity needed to beat back the Trump onslaught.
There’s the counter intuitive argument that says why pick on Sanders’ backers for the Clinton defeat, didn’t a lot of African-American voters stay home on Election day? And more disgracefully, almost 10 percent of Blacks voted for Trump. Isn’t this the voter demographic that Democrats absolutely must have come out in huge numbers to offset the GOP’s bread and butter conservative, blue collar, rural, white male voters? A big Black vote turnout certainly made the difference for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Yes, many Blacks did stay home, and many made their dissatisfaction, even bitterness, with and toward both Hillary and Bill plain on such things as Bill’s shove through of the draconian crime bill, this packed the jails and prisons with Black men, the gut of welfare, and the scrap of financial industry checks. But the Trump Black voters were in the heavily minority cities and counties that went for Clinton overwhelmingly anyway so their vote was no factor in Trump’s win. The same could be said for the Black vote drop-off in 2016. The numbers were still high enough, though, not to be the causative factor in Clinton’s loss.
The finger still points back to the legion of Sanders’ backers in the swing states whose bellyache over Clinton was severe enough to cause them to punch the fateful vote card for Trump. Clinton says she wanted to say that at the time and warn of this danger, but she was told by Obama and others in the party to keep her mouth shut about that. And instead of hitting back harder against Sanders in their debates and on the campaign trail as she wanted, she had to stay mute.
Obama and other key Democrats said that this would further piss off Sanders supporters against her. As it turned out, she could have raged at Sanders during the campaign for sowing enough division to insure her defeat but it wouldn’t have likely changed anything. Many of those that turn-coated from Sanders to Trump would still have cast their vote for him.
Is that Bernie’s fault as Clinton complains? No, if one believes that Sanders had no sway over his backers. Yes, if one accepts the reality that his attacks on Clinton were so fervent that they hit home hard with his most die-hard supporters. The problem for Clinton was that there were
just enough of them to tip the presidential scales to Trump, and that’s the brutal truth about Sanders.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is an associate editor of New America Media. His forthcoming book, The Trump Challenge to Black America (Middle Passage Press) will be released in August. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.
Blame Hillary Not Bernie for her Failure
I cannot disagree with Hillary Clinton more about Bernie Sanders - nor anyone else - damaging Hillary’s candidacy for President. It was the Clintons that adopted the defunct Lee Atwater strategy of bashing the opponent to win an election.
Hillary did not have a strong clearly stated platform on what she do for the American people. Many Black folks this 2016 Presidential race voted for Trump, or did not vote at all. The deciding Blue and Swing States that Trump won had low Black voter turnout. Blaming opponents and obstacles in her new book is irrelevant and have nothing to do with her defeat to Donald J. Trump. It is as if opponents should have fell in line with her Presidential aspirations.
The Clintons are self-proclaimed ‘Half-Republicans’ aka ‘Blue Dogs’ or the 90’s term of ‘Tri-Angulaters’. Repealing the Crime Bill – important to Black Folks - was not of staunch interest to Hillary. Hillary never said that she would fight to repeal the bill, and further, if repealed, remove all of the people from prison receiving minimum maximum lengthy prison terms. And despite Black Lives Matter protesting at her speeches on the Crime Bill issue, all she could aggravatingly say to them, is that they should have ‘set up a meeting with her’. Colin Kaepernick nor the Black Lives Matter protestors are seemingly il-allowed to peacefully protest in America, like other Americans have the right to do.
The historic “Tough on Black Folks” bills from Bill Clinton you mentioned in the article were all harmful to African-Americans. Why didn’t Hillary campaign in a tough manner to reverse these bills you referenced?
Other bills and inactions were not forgotten. Bill Clinton did nothing to prevent, nor stop, the Rwandan ethnic-cleansing where an average of 10-thousand people a day for three consecutive months were slaughtered in Rwanda, Africa. Hillary Clinton was there as first lady - it was on the national news - and she could have cleared the air by verbally disagreeing publically with the former President. She could have denounced Bill’s lack of a response during her 2016 Presidential campaign.
The Minority Tax-Certificate in Broadcasting was repealed by Congress in our radio broadcast field Dr. Hutchinson during the Clinton Presidency, coupled with Bill’s signing of the Telecommunication Bill of 1996 forcing Black Broadcast owners to sell or else be ostracized advertisement-wise by new owners of multiple stations. There were 146 Black-Owned broadcast companies in 1995 compared to just sixty-eight Black Station owners in 2013. Hillary could have campaigned demanding a resurgence of more minority voices on the airwaves, fighting to level the playing field.
I guess it was Bernie’s fault that near 10 percent of Black Folk supported Donald J. Trump for President, while the Clinton campaign advertising dollars were low to nil with the aforementioned 68 or so, to date, Black-Owned Broadcast Companies, taking our vote for granted again. Combining the near ten percent Blacks that voted for Trump with the surprising high non-voting African-Americans, reader polls can state that this “Disinterested in Hillary” voting block is the reason for Hillary’s Presidential demise. Is this because of Bernie Sanders, Russia, Comey, WikiLeaks, etc…?
Conscience African-American voters from the Bill Clinton era and today’s next generation of even bolder conscience Blacks are having none of this Clinton-like ‘blue dog’ ‘take our vote for granted’ game playing anymore. The Sixties conscious Black folks are revoltingly proud of this new serious conscience generation.
The demand was for Hillary to reverse those dangerous ‘Bill bills’ you mentioned Earl. The demand was also for new legislation that would benefit us directly, in exchange for vote of confidence. We did not hear this clearly stated enough with conviction by Hillary R. Clinton. Not even a ‘Hillary would fight’ this Republican Congress to make and attempt to get things done. Bernie Sanders seemingly impossible platform tasks were at least planned out meticulously, and you got the sense that ‘with our help’ he would fight for us ferociously.
We are tired of choosing the lesser of two evils. Hillary wanted to run un-opposed as Obama did in 2012, but Bernie ran and had a greater-than-expected successful campaign. The DNC brass devised strategies to attack Bernie, his religion etc… via emails, while promoting positively for their chosen one Hillary Clinton. We thought the DNC represented Democrats.
Secondly, like Obama, Donald Trump drew more people at his campaign appearances. Trump drew Hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) more people in total. It was a simple S.T.P. (see the people) sales success. Trump campaigned personally those last few weeks of the Presidential campaign to the Swing and closely contested mid-western Blue States barely tilting voters his way to win the election.
In a nutshell, Hillary Clinton promised absolutely nothing concrete, but did very well bash-campaigning against both Bernie and the Donald, receiving some bashing back, which is par for the course. Sanders and Trump though laid “their plans” out with strong base-platforms. Bernie consistently campaigned on making College more affordable (even Free), Free Health for All, and fighting the Corporate/Wealthy Powers-that-be. Trump campaigned on his Economic and Anti-Immigration platform, establishing himself as being a non-beltway ‘drain-the-swamp’ candidate, and yes, his popular Crooked Hillary bashing.
Hillary LOST to Trump because Trump out campaigned her. And Mrs. Bill Clinton would have also lost to Bernie Sanders if he got into the race a year earlier. Bernie’s message and gritty fight was much more appealing to the Democratic and Independent voter. Hillary did win against Bernie Sanders, however later than expected in the Democratic Primary.
Hillary Clinton failed at communicating a convincing platform appealing to the Democratic and Independent voters; over 50 percent of women voted for Donald Trump for President; and we hope that the Democratic Party does not ever again take voting blocks for granted nor crown a Democratic nominee for President just for showing up.
Kirk Tanter is a broadcast veteran, currently Director of Operations for the Reach Media News-Talk Network, a Member of the National Action Network, and blogs at kirktanter.blogspot.com.