Friday, February 12, 2016

The Master Debaters, Democratic Edition Con't

Last night's Democratic presidential debate before Nevada showed Hillary Clinton finally taking Bernie Sanders supporters seriously, something Sanders still has yet to do with Clinton's backers.

Clinton got in some good jabs on Bernie, opening up and saying that Sanders was basically right about the economy and the country being rigged in favor of the 1%, but Sanders hit back on the issue of huge corporate donations from Wall Street.

Both candidates had excellent answers on criminal justice reform and police reform, outstanding stuff.

But where Bernie lost me was on race relations.  Clinton gave a great answer to moderator Judy Woodruff's question:

WOODRUFF: Secretary Clinton, I was talking recently with a 23 year old black woman who voted for President Obama because she said she thought relations between the races would get better under his leadership, and his example. Hardly anyone believes that they have. Why do you think race relations would be better under a Clinton presidency? What would you do that the nation's first African American has not been able to?

CLINTON: Well, I'm just not sure I agree completely with that assessment. I think under President Obama we have seen a lot of advances, the Affordable Care Act has helped more African Americans than any other group to get insurance, to be taken care of, but we also know a lot more than we did. We have a lot more social media, we have everybody with a cellphone.

So, we are seeing the dark side of the remaining systemic racism that we have to root out in our society. I think President Obama has set a great example. I think he has addressed a lot of these issues that have been quite difficult, but he has gone forward. Now, what we have to do is to build on an honest conversation about where we go next.

That's the correct answer here, Clinton immediately rejecting the notion that race relations getting "worse" under Obama is somehow Obama's fault for being black.

Sanders's response was okay for the first half...

SANDERS: Well, I think, Judy, what has to be appreciated is that, as a result of the disastrous and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of lives were hurt. People lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings. Turns out that the African-American community and the Latino community were hit especially hard. As I understand it, the African-American community lost half of their wealth as a result of the Wall Street collapse.

So when you have childhood African-American poverty rates of 35 percent, when you have youth unemployment at 51 percent, when you have unbelievable rates of incarceration -- which, by the way, leaves the children back home without a dad or even a mother -- clearly, we are looking at institutional racism. We are looking at an economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And sadly, in America today, in our economy, a whole lot of those poor people are African-American.

True.  It is institutional, he's absolutely correct.  But then...

WOODRUFF: So race relation was be better under a Sanders presidency than they've been?

SANDERS: Absolutely, because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they're not hanging out on street corners. We're going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education.

And I think when you give low-income kids -- African-American, white, Latino kids -- the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They're going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.

The problem with racism in this country will be solved by ending Wall Street tax breaks?   Race relations will absolutely be better under Sanders?

This is exactly the kind of conflation of class and race that really pisses me off about Sanders. He. Does. Not. Get. It.  I'm not saying he's as bad as Rand Paul, who was clearly running a hustle, but Sanders keeps thinking the problem is class warfare and not racism.  He sees the problem, but his solutions are "all lives matter".

Which is a shame, because both candidates were stellar on mass incarceration issues.

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