Two weeks ago, in Black America’s Moment, I made the observation that Black Democratic voters, collectively, held the balance of power in the Democratic nominating process. My concluding paragraph:
This really isn’t about Sanders vs. Clinton. The reality here is that Sanders or Clinton, if elected and if given the wiggle room, will make decisions and agree to compromises that perpetuate structural racism in America and work to the detriment of Blacks at large. There is an opportunity here for Black America to use the power it now wields to minimize that wiggle room, to put the next President in a box so that he/she must do the right thing. Are steps being taken to achieve that result? I sure hope so.
If South Carolina is any indication, Black Americans are acting quite decisively on this front. The numbers from last night were stunning: 85% of Black South Carolina primary voters favored Clinton. Obama didn’t do that well in the 2008 primaries.
Is there a takeaway from this, in the context of my prior post?
I think so. We can debate why Clinton did as well as she did last night (and why she likely will do similarly well in other states), but the “why” here really doesn’t matter.
The fact of the matter is that Clinton went to what she perceived to be the power structure in Black America: Elected officials like John Lewis and Jim Clyburn, and various celebrities. They in turn went to local leaders, including many members of the clergy.
It might be that she didn’t need their help. It might be that Black voters just had a comfort level with Clinton they didn’t have with Sanders. Doesn’t matter. The folks Clinton asked to help delivered big time.
Which brings me back to that concluding paragraph. What did those leaders get in exchange for their help?
Did they get ironclad guaranties on measures that will be implemented to tear down structural racism in America? Did they, as I suggested, put her in a box so she must do the right thing if elected? If so, I’m okay with this result, as much as I personally would prefer a Sanders candidacy. Black America’s freedom from structural racism is more important than my policy preferences in other areas.
Or did they not bother getting real guaranties? Worse yet, will the bargained for reciprocation run to them personally, rather than Black America at large?
Time will tell.