Bill Clinton, Hillary’s Campaign and #BlackLivesMatter

 

Former President Bill Clinton’s “spirited defense”  of his 1994 Crime Bill and his record on civil rights during an event for his wife’s Presidential campaign was inspired by either his ego or as a calculated effort at appealing to white voters that Hillary’s campaign is currently not attracting.  In either case, it was a misstep–one that the Clinton’s are already walking back.

We can have a spirited debate about the overreaction to the high crime rates in the 80’s and 90’s–and there is a very good argument to be made about the limited effects that Clinton’s federal crime policy had on mass incarceration–given the small percentage of inmates in federal prisons v. the vast number of state and local inmates.  However, the pernicious effects on people of color and low income communities because of our nation’s policy of mass incarceration is undeniable and needs to be seriously addressed. Policy needs to be crafted and decisions made–and they must involve cooperation by state governments too.

But if this whole kerfluffle was the result of a deliberate tactic in a Presidential political campaign, it points to a grievous misunderstanding on the part of the Clintons about the basic demographic shift in voting patterns since Bill’s races in the 90’s. Democrats have nothing to gain by getting into a pissing match with #BlackLivesMatter in 2016, thinking it will be as effective as calling out Sister Souljah in the 90’s.

Bill successfully courted the white working class in his ’92 campaign by publicly distancing himself from the more liberal parts of the Democratic coalition. Those “Reagan Democrats” are now both a smaller part of the electorate and no longer as crucial to putting together electoral college victories.

The Obama coalition of voters: college educated, young people, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, women, LGBT is now large enough to have swung states like CA, NY, IL into solid Dem strongholds–and put formerly solid GOP states like NC, VA, CO, FL into tossup status.

Obama won big in two consecutive elections while getting trounced in the white, male working class vote. The Democrats will win in 2016 by energizing and mobilizing their coalition. They should put their efforts into overturning voter ID laws and voter suppression gerrymandering of House districts.

Any effort at recruiting the “Trump Republicans” should be an honest attempt to point out the common economic exploitation of ALL low income groups–while refusing to cede any ground to those who would marginalize and stereotype those groups already under the Democratic Party’s umbrella.

The Clintons’ need to embrace #BlackLivesMatter, acknowledge the pain of racist policing and mass incarceration and state that they look forward to a Hillary administration that works with people all across the country to deal with the problems that face our nation–but more specifically, people of color.  It is not only the right thing to do, it’s smart politics.

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3 thoughts on “Bill Clinton, Hillary’s Campaign and #BlackLivesMatter

  1. mitchtheman

    Okay, I’m going to take an unpopular stance here, but I figure it needs to be said.

    One thing that kind of grates my nerve is this rewriting of history. I remember back in ’94 when these laws were passed that the overwhelming majority of us supported them. The crack epidemic was getting out of hand, gang violence was getting out of hand because of it, and people in the community were clamoring for someone to do something about it. True, it had some after effects that weren’t close to being expected, but it was a not-quite-vocal minority who were wondering if some of these laws were a bit too much… and I wasn’t one of those.

    As for the Black Lives Matter thing… well, we both know I’m all for that. Still, history shows that in this case Clinton and the rest gave the populace what it wanted, which was some kind of “positive” action against this scourge that, unfortunately, we still live with. I’ve never been one of those folks who’s believed that there can be “too much” criminal action against some types of crimes. I will say that some of the laws against what I’ll say are lesser drugs are a bit steep, and the 3 strikes laws are uneven… but I’m less than sympathetic overall.

    BTW, Sanders is dealing with his share of Black Lives Matter protests also. Let’s not make this a one-sided thing against Clinton; all the candidates are dealing with this. Either all of them deserve it or none of them do, but I think the degrees of vitriol aren’t helping anyone because, in the long run, there’s no talking, only yelling, and nothing will ever, and I mean never, get solved if people don’t find a way to talk to each other.

    Unfortunately, if you saw a particular video of mine, I postulate that it’s never going to happen… things are only going to get worse…

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  2. Mitch: the 1994 crime bill was one of those huge omnibus bills that had a lot of stuff in it–appealing to a wide range of folks. Bernie Sanders voted for the bill–because as he rightly points out–it included the automatic weapons ban and the Violence Against Woman act.

    While Clinton’s 1994 crime bill only dealt with federal prisoners, who make up 13% of our nation’s penal population, it set the tone for the draconian policies that states then pursued–getting us in the situation where we lock up more folks than anyone in the world. Yes, there was serious crime in our nation–but since when should we pursue wrongheaded policy that was not tested nor well reasoned? The shouts of “do something, anything . . .” usually end up in disaster–as was the case here.

    And finally–what video are you referencing?

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    1. mitchtheman

      I’m referring to this video: youtu.be/KBo2AFW47kI I put it on this way because if the rest of it was on my blog it would automatically reject it. lol

      As to the rest… hindsight is always 20/20. I’m someone who usually tells people they should be careful what they ask for because there’s always someone waiting in the wings to take it even further. This is one of those times, yet to blame the initiator for what others did with it later on makes no sense, especially when not only was the intention done in trying to address what was considered a crisis at the time but many people actually wanted something big done to combat it… and that was even in those communities that ended up being affected the most.

      Luckily, because of how I live my life I didn’t have an opinion either way because it wasn’t going to affect me.

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