Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Bernie Could Win With All Hands on Deck

Now that billionaire Mike Bloomberg (sounds like the TV announcer describing “billionaire Bruce Wayne” on the “Batman” show…billionaire is part of his name) has gotten knee-deep in the Democratic presidential race, the waters are sufficiently muddied. Mike has got the best advertising team in the business. They are superior to the suits on Madison Ave. They have transformed this three-term Republican mayor of New York City into an attractive Democratic presidential candidate, despite a terrible history of racial insensitivity and multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. That’s good.

In the meantime, former Vice President Joe Biden has faded from serious contention because of a series of poor debate performances, and two poor showings in voting in Iowa and New Hampshire. So, Bloomberg steps in as the moderate, elderly, white father figure to challenge front-running radical socialist, elderly, white father figure Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Modern Democrats like to elect moderate, white males to be president — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton (Hillary Clinton was a moderate but was not elected) — but never really radical or progressive types. Barack Obama? An anomaly, to be sure.

So, with Democrats having become the default party for African American aspirations, the big problem is that moderate solutions cannot solve the problems confronting Black folks, and folks are scared to death of the ugly truth. That’s a big problem.

Not even liberal solutions are sufficient in this climate, but the toxic effect of Donald J. Trump’s ruling the country has made folks so desperate to get rid of him, nothing else seems to matter nowadays except “electability.”

Electability was to have been Biden’s strong suit until he started stammering and forgetting points in the debates, and before he insulted a young student who asked him a tough question, calling her a “lying, dog-faced, pony soldier.” That response, indicative of a meltdown and mental fatigue, was way too much firepower for the occasion. So now we have Bloomberg, the moderate.

Meanwhile, despite the debacle of defeat suffered by Republicans, and especially rabid, right-wing Republicans who supported (and lost miserably) with Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater as their nominee in 1964, the hardcore GOP right wing never gave up, and struggled, and struggled, finally electing conservatives, each more radical than the last — Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Trump.

What I’d like to see is a real ideological debate this election year, resolving the country’s identity and direction. Is it the xenophobic, Trump- and Koch brothers-esque conservative world of punishment, denial and sanctions against those not white enough for the Anglo-American white guys club? Or is it the inclusive, multi-culti, Michele and Barack Obama “kumbaya” world of plenty — the American dream?

Let the Democrats nominate Sanders — he’s 100 percent the “anti-Trump” in 2020 — and then decide: should the country provide Medicare for all, or should the social safety net be plundered in order to give tax breaks to the billionaires and the corporations? The problem with the moderate, “electable” guys is that their solutions only offer a return to the unsatisfactory, pre-Trump, status quo. The energized, white-right is clearly invested, all-in on Trumpism, and that’s OK with the average squares, as long as their 401(k) accounts are performing well, and the guys on Wall Street are happy.

Whether they know it or not, Black folks are central in this conversation. If Bernie is the nominee and there’s a chance that problems might be solved in radically different ways than before. The other candidates will simply vie with The Donald (probably unsuccessfully) in order to restore things back the way they were. There is no reason for Black folks to engage, if the best outcome from a Democratic electoral victory would be a sigh of relief so we could get back to the school-to-prison pipeline, get back to job discrimination, get back to redlining/and/or/gentrification, get back to business as usual.

If that’s the best-case scenario, versus more-of-the-same Trumpism, then I don’t see what interest Black voters have in getting involved on either side, wasting our hopes and expectations on more of the same, at best.

Bernie is electable if all the Democratic also-rans worked half as hard to help him defeat Trump (if that’s their agenda) as they would have worked if they had been the nominee!

In order to defeat the already-cheating Republicans, Democrats will need massive, massive everything in 2020. They’ll need get-out-the-vote efforts, as well as campaigns to fight GOP voter suppression, intimidation and everything else you can think of.

But remember: Half the eligible don’t register. Half the registered don’t vote. All hands on deck — if there’s something worth voting for.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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