I'm not really all that mysterious

The Problem with Classical Liberalism and Classical Marxism

I already know Sanderistas will argue about whether or not Clinton is sincere about talking about white privilege and institutionalized racism, but I am certain that Sanders trying to fix the problems caused by racism indirectly by only trying to fix the problems caused by income inequality is going to fail hard and may even backfire horribly.1

To reach minority voters, Clinton talks white privilege. Sanders has another way… • 2016 Feb 25 • Chris Megerian and Evan Halper • Los Angeles Times

The argument I frequently see in defense of Sanders is that he should focus on economic issues because that’s what’s hurting us all regardless of race, but it just rings hollow to argue that someone who depicts himself as a radical idealist shouldn’t approach institutionalized racism with the same fervor because “we need to focus on the real issues.”

Whatever the merits of this argument, it’s simply not going to win over people of color. It especially rankles since so many Sanders supporters brought up his Civil Rights Movement record. If he was that radical then, why not now?2

Bottom line, I think most people would rather side with someone who may only be touching upon an issue for political advantage but at least can articulate and describe the problem in detail than with someone who is actively denying something is a real problem. Possibly fake empathy is better than no empathy.3

Sanders himself is definitely not saying that institutionalized racism doesn’t really exist, but the overall thrust of his message and his policies is that if he can fix the problems caused by economic inequality, that will also fix a lot of the problems caused by racism.

I think he’s right to an extent. Fixing the problems caused by income inequality will ameliorate a lot of major problems which are also affected by racism like police brutality, mass incarceration, job discrimination, lack of educational access, lack of affordable housing access, voter suppression, etc. But it can’t directly solve them.4

My cynical theory about why Sanders hasn’t gone all in with people of color: there are a lot of people trying to decide between Trump and Sanders because all they’re looking for is an anti-establishment candidate and talking about racism is likely to alienate them completely. I have no proof that’s really what’s happening, but I just have a feeling it’s part of the calculations.5

Certainly, Clinton is doing her part to foment this perception of Sanders:

Clinton implied Sanders was the kind of well-meaning white liberal that has long irritated black activists, promising that redistributing the nation’s wealth alone was the key to racial harmony.6

“Bernie has the classic liberal problem of wrapping everything up in class,” said Charles Henry, a professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. “He’s been called out on it. Solving the class problem doesn’t necessarily solve the race problem.”7

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