The main complaint I hear from other black voters who are hesitant to support Clinton is that she has no real plan for criminal justice reform and to end mass incarceration. Now, nobody I've talked to plans to vote for Trump, and maybe one or two are thinking about Stein or Johnson, but the choice is much more "I plan not to vote for anyone unless they earn it" on the issue of police.
So what is Hillary Clinton's policy on fixing our broken policing system in America? She made her case in Charlotte over the weekend.
In a humble church with a familiar name, Little Rock A.M.E. Zion, Hillary Clinton on Sunday made a passionate case for police reform and a direct appeal to the city's black voters, whose support she needs to win this swing state.
Less than two weeks after the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man killed by police, Clinton arrived here Sunday morning with a message of sympathy for a grieving community and political promises, including “end to end reform in our criminal justice system — not half-measures, but full measures.”
She acknowledged that when it comes to understanding the plight of black families in America, she will never be able to replicate the symbolic empathy of President Barack Obama. “I’m a grandmother, but my worries are not the same as black grandmothers who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face,” Clinton said. “I wouldn’t be able to stand it if my grandchildren had to be scared and worried, the way too many children across our country feel right now."
Clinton’s visit to Charlotte was critical — she was so eager to visit that the campaign announced a trip last Sunday, when the city was still grappling with violent protests and looting. The trip was ultimately delayed by a week at the request of local lawmakers.
On Sunday, she was accompanied by her senior policy adviser Maya Harris, longtime aide Capricia Marshall and senior staffer Marlon Marshall, who is overseeing the campaign’s African-American outreach.
Clinton’s challenge in North Carolina, where current polls put her trailing Donald Trump by about 3 points, is boosting the African-American vote that landed Obama a victory in 2008, when he won a state that had gone to the Republican nominee in the previous seven presidential election cycles. The key was Mecklenburg County, which includes the city of Charlotte, where Obama beat John McCain by more than 100,000 votes.
And that's true: black turnout in Mecklenburg, Orange (Chapel Hill), Durham and Wake (Raleigh) is the key to Clinton winning the state. But more importantly, she does have a real plan for police reform.
Since the beginning of her campaign, Clinton has called for training police to de-escalate tense situations; common-sense gun reforms; and ending the “school-to-prison pipeline” by investing in education. But the Charlotte trip offered her a critical opportunity to make the case directly to black voters, with 36 days to go in the race.
And the political message of the day was clear. Robin Bradford, who heads up the National Action Network’s Charlotte chapter, implored the congregation that “if you don’t utilize your right to vote, then you have no right to say anything.”
“We do more than pray,” Clinton added in her remarks. “Everyone can vote.”
And that's important. It's easy to dismiss Clinton's stated policies in all the noise over Trump and everything else, but they are there, and they are a universe better than anything I've seen out of Trump or Johnson or even Stein on this.