I fondly remember the days when I was “in the tank” for Bernie Sanders.
My time as a shill for Bernie only lasted for a few weeks after I “attacked” Pete Buttigieg with “wokeness,” which was followed by the time I “smeared” Joe Biden, which was months after I unfairly distorted Kamala Harris’ record. But, of course, everyone knows I’m secretly working for Donald Trump.
Sadly, my tenure as a low-class bully and a paid agent for Sen. Sanders ended when I recently compared him to Joe Rogan after the ultimate fighting podcaster announced that he’ll “probably vote for Bernie,” a statement which many, including Sanders’ campaign, took as an endorsement. Sanders’ legion of supporters and Rogan acolytes quickly disproved my characterization of them as a vicious bearded horde by flooding my inbox and Twitter mentions, bestowing me with titles from “career activist bum” to an “Uncle Tom” who was shilling for “the white muthafuckas.” (My negro senses tell me both insults were from white people. Everyone knows the correct spelling is “muhfuckas” and should never be preceded by the word “the.”)
I’ve been called worse.
However, the mostly Caucasian “not-all ____” clapback illustrates a common characteristic shared by Bernie Bros, MayorSapiens and even MAGAmuffins. Namely, that any criticism—no matter how valid or accurate—is an ad hominem attack on their preferred presidential candidate meant to destroy their chances of becoming the leader of the free world.
We’ve seen the current commander-in-chief do this too many times. Whenever media outlets or individuals point out Trump’s incessant lies, his unyielding ignorance or his perpetual pettiness, he and his minions immediately dismiss the substance of the argument as a conspiratorial plot by “deep state” snowflakes who want to undermine the president’s authority. When Trump retaliates with vile Twitter attacks, progressives cast it as desperation and malevolence. But, if you dare mention Pete’s record on race, it suddenly becomes a divisive, meritless smear.
What about the facts, though?
The truth is, that Bernie Sanders often sidesteps institutional racism, instead, casting racial disparities as consequences of capitalism and corporate greed. There are instances, including a recent interview with the New York Times editorial board, when it seems as if Sanders is unable to say the words “white supremacy” or “racism.”
Sanders’ supporters will insist that economics and systemic racism are inextricably intertwined, a reality that I have reported on extensively. However, Sanders seems all-too-willing to address issues of class, corporatism and economic inequality without asking white America to take responsibility for the “white” part of white supremacy. The problem with this is manifold—the biggest one being that racial disparities can’t be addressed as an economic issue without specifically focusing on race.
Poor urban whites actually have a higher crime rate and use illicit drugs more often than impoverished blacks. But blacks are arrested at higher rates for drug use and receive 20 percent longer prison sentences than whites who commit the same crimes, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Poor white schools receive more funding, on average, than even middle-class, majority-black schools.
These aren’t class problems. These are race problems. Policies that address them as issues of simple economics means that Sanders’ progressive policies could lift poor white people out of poverty while still leaving black people behind.
Pete Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan to address these racial disparities is ambitious and real. However, it is also real that he ignored actual racism in his police force. It is also real that South Bend, Ind., spent zero percent of the city’s contracts budget with black-owned businesses from 2015-2017. It is also true that there are multiple instances of him disregarding racism to parrot conservative talking points when he gets in front of white people.
Pete Buttigieg has said all the right things about race since he became a presidential candidate, but highlighting his racial blindspot and the mistakes he made during his mayoral tenure is not an “attack.” Even if his candidates believe he has seen the light or has made positive changes, there are many people who believe that the shit he actually did as mayor is not only important but more relevant to voters than his negro progressive Negro PowerPoint presentation.
Despite having a large constituency of black voters, no one is “hating” on Joe Biden when they point out his gangsta fairy tales; or the mass incarceration part of his legislative past; or that he said that he’d consider a Republican running mate; or his promise to continue the primary tool in a racist War on Drugs; or the fact that he’s a moderate, old white man who keeps acting like a moderate, old white man.
Elizabeth Warren used to be a Republican and knows like…three black people (Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama and Cardi B). Plus, Warren says she never washes her face. With the buildup over all those years, how can anyone trust that she’s not-two-faced? Amy Klobuchar was a tough-on-crime prosecutor who refused to prosecute cops accused of police brutality. Forgive me for stating actual facts.
There is no perfect candidate.
However, black voters have the right to know the truth and—when it comes to issues of race—they should be able to weigh the pros and the cons. While these candidates’ cons might not necessarily be fatal, it is stupid to dismiss valid criticism as unwarranted attacks. It makes your candidate look weak.
Whether it is policy, character defects or repeated blunders, pointing out these blemishes doesn’t mean the candidate is unworthy of the presidency. Pointing out a politician’s blemishes isn’t a call for that particular contender to be canceled, nor is it necessarily an act of advocacy for a different candidate. It’s facts.
And none of this helps Donald Trump.
Ultimately, most black people are going to vote for whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee. If black voter turnout declines in the 2020 election, it will be because white voters chose a nominee who couldn’t, or didn’t care to motivate black voters. On the other hand, many of the most vocal white supporters who are rankled by actual facts will turn around and vote for Trump if their candidate does not emerge victorious at the conclusion of the primary season.
Yep, we already know that—no matter who the Democrats select—white people are gonna still vote for Donald Trump.
The Republican candidate for president has won the white vote in every election in the last 40 years. Even when it comes to white Democrats, 15 percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters ended up voting for McCain over Obama in 2008. Twelve percent of Bernie’s backers voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to two separate voter surveys.
So, when anyone points out Bernie Sanders’ allergy to the word “racism” or mentions Buttigieg’s racial blind spot, instead of considering it an “attack,” their supporters should either admit that their candidate is flawed or—at the very least—concede that they don’t care about white supremacy as long as they can get Medicare for All. And when Bernie Bros object to being characterized as a bearded, belligerent hoard, they should wonder how they gained that reputation.
But they should still feel free to call me an Uncle Tom centrist hater who’s a shill for (insert the opposing candidate’s name here) because I’m used to it. I’ve heard worse things from better white people (the phrase “President Donald Trump,” for instance). Wypipo are forever and always gonna wypipo.
Trust me. Even the thundering herd of bearded Bernie Bros in my inbox readily acknowledge that I have unequaled expertise in one specific area: