Do The Hustle

Thanks to Kimberly Veal for pointing this out to me.

The Washington Post gave its view of the Ferguson Commission Report.  The Post excerpts this extremely salient point:

“The report, nearly 200 pages long, fingers every interlocking policy problem — in education, housing, transportation, the courts, employment, law enforcement, public health — implicated in the racial inequality at the heart of Ferguson’s unrest. Want to stabilize families in poverty? Rein in unregulated payday lenders. Want to enable a poor parent to get the job that will pay off the parking ticket that will keep her out of jail? Expand Medicaid so a single mom living on $10,000 a year can actually qualify for it (today in Missouri, unbelievably, she makes too much money).

Want to dissuade police departments from ginning up revenue off petty traffic stops that disproportionately impact minorities? Restructure how public services are provided so every micro-suburb doesn’t need to fund its own police force. And so a driver with an expired tag doesn’t get pulled over multiple times on the same trip as he drives through several jurisdictions (St. Louis County has 81 different municipal courts, and 60 distinct police departments).

This sprawling web — each system and institution is linked to others — isn’t unique to Ferguson. That makes the Ferguson report a valuable blueprint for any place with persistent racial inequality, which is just about every place.”

Racial inequality, as it turns out, is intersectionally related to economic disparity.  Who knew?

The Washington Post knew.  And I’ll tell you someone else who knows, too— the only serious presidential candidate out there talking about economic disparity, inequality and injustice in his regular stump speech, and that candidate is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Did any of the Republicans in the clown car debate mention economic inequality even once?  Not once.  Plenty was said about the march to war; plenty was said about those fetus-eaters at Planned Parenthood (to hear them tell it).  But a serious attempt to grapple with the gross economic disparities of this country?  Nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds, as Kim Veal might say.

Surely Hillary Clinton fares better when addressing issues of economic disparity?

Better than the Republicans, but when it comes to her grand strategy to court black voters, it seems to amount to little more than dancing the nae nae with Ellen DeGeneres, doubtless as part of her calculating— er, I mean, strategic— move to be funnier and more spontaneous.  (As Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H once quipped— “Sincerity… I can fake that.”)

One candidate does the nae nae and one candidate stumps regularly challenging the corporate greed and deep, structural unfairness that keep people in poverty.  I, for one, have had enough nonsense.  Hillary Clinton may do the hustle— in more ways than one— better than Sanders, but these are serious times that call for serious people with serious solutions.

Black men and women are being gunned down, choked, and in the case of Sandra Bland, driven to suicide by wrongful incarceration.  (Even if you are skeptical of the official story, as many are, the official story is bad enough.  She should never have been arrested in the first place.)  There is an undeniable component of abject racism tied up in all of it, no doubt.  And, as it happens, Bernie Sanders has a good record on race relations. 

None of the realities facing African-Americans in this country make me feel like dancin’.  Hillary Clinton needs to offer more to people of color than obvious pandering.  She cannot rely on the idea that she is going to simply call in her markers from establishment Democrats of color and expect the rank and file to file in line.  It’s still a secret ballot.  When confronted with two candidates, one of whom tries to court the voter’s vote by shakin’ her groove thing, and the other of whom courts the voter’s vote with serious proposals that address the systemic problems of racism and economic disparity head-on, whom is the voter ultimately going to choose in the shrouded secrecy of that ballot box?

Not to mention, the idea that Hillary Clinton even could peel off black votes by showing how down she is with popular culture is arguably racist, in that it vastly underestimates the intelligence of black voters.  I for one think black voters are smarter than that, and will be voting on the basis of the issues that directly affect their best economic and social justice interests.

Hillary Clinton needs to change her tune.  Otherwise she may end up being nothing more than a dancing fool.

-Robert Gross

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