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Cornel West: Bernie Sanders Would be ‘Better for Black America’ Than Hillary Clinton

Author and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Cornel West weighs in on the question of which elderly white leftist should be supported by black voters with a Politico op-ed, entitled “Why Brother Bernie Is Better for Black People Than Sister Hillary.”

No one should be surprised that left-wing politics confers “brotherhood” or “sisterhood” in West’s eyes, and he’s well-aware that the Party machine assumes Clinton will “win over African-American voters,” but he still aims to challenge the Clinton campaign’s confidence that Sanders can only win in “disproportionately white” states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

West hits Clinton hard for “falling far short” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy… mostly because she was a Goldwater Girl in her youth, and actually dared to attend the Republican convention in 1968, an event West punctuates with an exclamation point. Let us pause to admire the restraint it took to avoid using all capital letters.

West’s narrative of Clinton’s liberal journey gives her some credit for working with Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund, but then she went off the rails by “defending her husband’s punitive crime bill and its drastic escalation of the mass incarceration of poor people” in the Nineties.

He also hammers Clinton for his “ending welfare as we know it reforms” – i.e. the most successful public policy reform of our lifetimes, although it’s an article of faith on the far-Left that requiring welfare recipients to work is an act of unspeakable cruelty. The Clintons come in for a thrashing on just about every point of their “centrist triangulation,” from the repeal of Glass-Steagall to NAFTA, and of course West doesn’t like Hillary taking big payoffs from Goldman-Sachs and other deep-pocketed special interests.

West isn’t too happy with Barack Obama, either, and he sums up the current state of left-wing populism – really, the outright regression into Marxism – than Bernie Sanders himself has done, as well as capturing the tortured confusion of Democrat identity politics:

The battle now raging in Black America over the Clinton-Sanders election is principally a battle between a declining neoliberal black political and chattering class still on the decaying Clinton bandwagon (and gravy train!) and an emerging populism among black poor, working and middle class people fed up with the Clinton establishment in the Democratic Party. It is easy to use one’s gender identity, as Clinton has, or racial identity, as the Congressional Black Caucus recently did in endorsing her, to hide one’s allegiance to the multi-cultural and multi-gendered Establishment. But a vote for Clinton forecloses the new day for all of us and keeps us captive to the trap of wealth inequality, greed (“everybody else is doing it”), corporate media propaganda and militarism abroad—all of which are detrimental to black America.

In the age of Barack Obama, this battle remained latent, with dissenting voices vilified. As a black president, Obama has tended to talk progressive but walk neoliberal in the face of outrageous right-wing opposition. Black child poverty has increased since 2008, with more than 45 percent of black children under age 6 living in poverty today. Sanders talks and walks populist, and he is committed to targeting child poverty. As president, he would be a more progressive than not just Clinton but also Obama—and that means better for black America.

Left-wing politics has been an utter disaster for black America. Solution: More left-wing politics! If we just put the pedal to the metal and drive the jalopy of liberalism even faster off the cliff, we’re bound to take flight!

West’s op-ed illustrates one reason the Sanders campaign caught fire: leftists are desperate to write the first draft of history on Obama’s failures, by claiming he wasn’t liberal enough. They’re terrified that American voters – especially the minority voters they need to take for granted – will start asking uncomfortable questions about how Obama doubled the national debt without delivering any of the comforts he promised.

Everything they claim to care about, from “income inequality” to race relations, got worse under the most liberal president of the modern era.  Of course the Marxists will rush to blame it on whatever strand of “centrism” they can find in Obama’s political DNA, and whatever freedom the American private sector retains.

The far Left is also addicted to its paranoid fantasies, so West complains about unnamed “dissenting voices” being somehow stifled during Obama’s reign of neoliberal terror. Rest assured, he isn’t talking about the Tea Party and pro-life groups suppressed by Obama’s weaponized Internal Revenue Service. The “vilification” going on in today’s society comes far, far more from the Left than any other quarter, in both volume and intensity.  

It’s downright delusional to ignore the left-wing P.C. crusades that have destroyed so many lives and careers, from campus to social media… but the hard Left absolutely must have that delusion, because they can only find moral justification for their tyrannical impulses in the belief they are oppressed rebels striking out at evil empires.

Victim culture, lawlessness, and Big Government welfare money have done to black America precisely what critics of Cornel West’s thinking predicted they would, decades ago. No demographic could endure what the Left has done to black people. The nation at large will not survive another dose of Marxist claptrap, purchased at the price Bernie Sanders envisions… but to borrow an old joke about biased media headlines, women and minorities will be hardest hit.  They’re already suffering the worst effects of degraded human and venture capital. People in big cities suffer the worst from the corruption that is inescapably part of the mega-State envisioned by leftists.

Opportunity is always the first casualty of statist corruption, and that’s naturally rough on those who have the most trouble finding and exploiting opportunity. We can spend another generation rehashing decades-old arguments about why those troubles exist, or we can set about dismantling corrupt government and restoring opportunity, so they can have a better future.

That would be a far more productive dispute than fussing over the Sixties and Nineties to explain why one tired statist Democrat is better than another. At any rate, Clinton is currently polling 28 points ahead of Sanders in South Carolina, she’s up by double digits in most of the upcoming states, and the pre-committed “super delegates” have pretty much fixed the race for her anyway, so unless the FBI weighs in soon, the Sanders insurgency might not have much of a future. The mainstream media isn’t about to help Sanders out by telling Democrat voters that Bill Clinton’s presidency was a disaster.

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