Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can Bernie win in poor urban neighborhoods?

Do city folk, Black folk, Latinos love Hillary and reject Bernie?  

I've been out canvassing in working-class neighborhoods in Hartford and Woonsocket, and I saw no sign of this.  I can tell you, Bernie's problem is not folks who love Hillary or dislike Bernie, but that Bernie's supporters have not been out organizing in those urban neighborhoods - and the media is still giving him short shrift.  As Cornell West famously observed, the problem is that Black voters don't know Brother Bernie.

The voters I met who know about Bernie and have really listened to his message are often passionate about supporting him and about getting their friends and relations out to vote for him too.  I saw no distinction here between Black, brown or white voters, young, medium or old, Anglo or Latino.  But there were far too many in these neighborhoods who didn't know him, and even, shockingly, who didn't know his name.

I didn't meet any genuinely enthusiastic Hillary supporters this weekend, but did meet some whose  support for her was firm.  Most appeared to be making a calculation - it's time for a woman, or they have to vote for Hillary because they're Democrats (what?), or they have to vote for Hillary to stop Trump. (!?) Few had really listened to and considered Bernie.

Among white voters in these mixed working-class neighborhoods I heard a lot more support for Trump than for Hillary - just how much I'm not certain because who support Trump seem reluctant - or even ashamed - to admit it. Those I asked told me they didn't hear about Bernie until this year - when the media finally ended its Bernie Blackout - by which time they had already committed to Trump.  Some expressed bitterness toward less-deserving Spanish-speaking neighbors who are doing better than themselves.  Many fell back on the position that all politicians are crooks so why not support one who's at least honest about it!

If Bernie doesn't get the nomination we face a very dangerous political crisis, and we still have a huge organizing drive ahead of us either way.  But the organized expression of the real views needs and feelings of the working people has become legitimate, and a cloud has lifted from the minds and hearts of millions.  However difficult our circumstances may become, we have made a big step forward and there is no going back.  
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