Why Bernie Sanders is Losing the African American Vote
by Corey Bu-Shea
Feel the Bern! Since arriving in the 2016 presidential race, this has been the slogan that has been the heart of his campaign. Sen. Sanders boasts a civil rights record that is exemplary. Countless black and white photos have circulated via social media of him being arrested in the 1960’s and marching for civil rights during that time as well. But despite his exemplary record, many African Americans aren’t “Feeling the Bern.” In the recent South Carolina primary, Hillary Clinton captured more than 90%of the African American vote, performing better than Obama did with African Americans in that same state in 2008. Bernie’s supporters definitely can’t understand it! So why aren’t many African Americans not “Feeling the Bern?” Here are some reasons why:
1. They don’t trust Bernie! Many African Americans still tout President Bill Clinton as the first African American president, so Hillary naturally gets support by association. They believe that voting for Hillary, and is somehow getting their beloved President Clinton from the 1990’s back.
2. Bernie has problematic surrogates. Cornel West, who has publicly criticized President Obama, has become a major surrogate for Bernie. With President Obama receiving over 90% of the African American vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively, anyone who comes out against him, is not going to receive a warm and fuzzy response from African Americans. Bernie is also endorsed by hip hop artist, Killer Mike, who has a history of misogynistic lyrics and has made “uterus” comments about Hillary Clinton, and African American women are an even larger group of voters than African American men, so having a sexist surrogate, alienates one of your largest voting bases.
3. African Americans hate being told what to do. Berniebots or Berniebros have been downright dismissive and racist via social media, trying to shove Bernie down African American voters’ throats. Being aggressive and pushy, or insulting African American voters’ intelligence, is a sure way to make them turn in the other direction and support another candidate.
4. Bernie’s message is not reaching key African American interests and/or concerns. Bernie’s core messages are tackling Wall Street and income inequality. With African Americans being murdered at the rate of one every 28 hours, and over 1,100 African Americans being murdered in 2015, without any consequence for their killers, most African Americans do not care about Wall Street or income, when they can be murdered performing daily tasks like walking to the store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), asking for assistance after an auto accident (Renisha McBride), looking at a cop (Freddie Gray), or failing to make a traffic signal (Sandra Bland).
5. Jane Sanders is also hurting her husband’s campaign. When Bernie Sanders lost several Southern states, his wife went on record making an off hand comment that Southerners were not “informed” enough to know who her husband was, which is code, that African Americans are not informed enough to make their own decisions and need a white savior, which is both racist, and off putting to a large part of the voting base.
Bernie’s campaign is in trouble, and if he ever expects to see any parts of the White House, he has got to do a better job of addressing African American voter concerns (not as a savior, not by talking down to them, not by reminding them of what he did 50 years ago), reign in his surrogates, and actually visit some current black spaces (We have seen the 1960’s black and white pictures, and we are not impressed).
Whether it is Hillary or Bernie, every African American, well except for maybe Clarence Thomas, Hermain Cain, and Ben Carson, wants to see a Democrat in office