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Race, Reparations, and Sanders

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Ta-Nehisi Coates writes pretty strongly against Bernie Sanders’ position on race, accusing him of being nothing more than a mainstream white Democrat on race, lacking any of the imagination he brings to economics, and basically of reinforcing white supremacy through not wanting to talk about it.

If not even an avowed socialist can be bothered to grapple with reparations, if the question really is that far beyond the pale, if Bernie Sanders truly believes that victims of the Tulsa pogrom deserved nothing, that the victims of contract lending deserve nothing, that the victims of debt peonage deserve nothing, that that political plunder of black communities entitle them to nothing, if this is the candidate of the radical left—then expect white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children. Reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy. One cannot propose to plunder a people, incur a moral and monetary debt, propose to never pay it back, and then claim to be seriously engaging in the fight against white supremacy.

My hope was to talk to Sanders directly, before writing this article. I reached out repeatedly to his campaign over the past three days. The Sanders campaign did not respond.

I don’t think one has to per se endorse reparations as a policy preference in order to be deeply concerned about Sanders and race. Although my research and writing is primarily on economic issues and not racial issues, I can’t imagine making the claim that class trumps race in categories of oppression. It just doesn’t make sense to say that. And while Sanders doesn’t necessarily say that outright, his actions certainly suggest it. I have some pretty serious concerns about Sanders as an electable candidate because of the self-identified socialism, but if he’s going to call himself a socialist, one of the most politically demonized words in American history, taking an blah pragmatic approach to race that effectively sweeps it under the rug is really pretty depressing.

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  • Crusty

    “I can’t imagine making the claim that class trumps race in categories of oppression.”

    I don’t know that I agree with the claim, but it is a reasonable claim. The claim being that economically powerful black people do ok. Take Bill Cosby. Many would argue that he has been able to shield himself from the consequences of being a rapist through his privilege as a member of the economically powerful class. He has money and clout in hollywood, ergo he walks freely among us, whereas a poor black person would not be doing so. There you go, class trumping race.

    Again, I don’t know that I agree, but I don’t think its so wild as to be “unimaginable.”

    • J. Otto Pohl

      The socialist argument is mostly the other way. That the creation of an economically egalitarian society will eliminate racism which they see as a tool or outgrowth of captialism. Eliminate capitalism and you eliminate racism. It hasn’t worked that way in practice. But, that is the theory. Hence, Castro and Che never entertained the idea of paying the millions of descendants of chattel slavery in Cuba any reparations.

      • I sometimes wonder whether you are aware that there are different forms of socialism than just state socialism.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Which forms of socialism have eliminated racism in practice?

          • Malaclypse

            All of the ones that made everything perfect forever, which is clearly the only acceptable goal.

          • None, but that’s not the point either. Or at least it has nothing to do with any point I am trying to make. What your point may be is, as always, a mystery.

        • Brett

          There are, but I think it’s a good point. Post-revolution Cuba wasn’t any more inclined to grant reparations to the descendants of slaves in Cuba than pre-revolutionary Cuba.

          . . . That said, their lives are almost certainly better off. So that’s something.

      • Perhaps the goal should not be to totally eliminate racism, because one can’t eliminate that type of cultural hatred entirely. Maybe the goal should be to lessen it as much as possible, using economic equality as one very important goal in the pursuit of racial equality.

        It would be moronic populism for Bernie, or any politician to state he can “end racism”. At this point in time, one can only take steps to lessen it, particularly to make racism less of a factor in Law enforcement. Economic equality is a very good place to start. What are the alternatives?

        • AdamPShort

          The Coates blurb is about white supremacy, not racism. They aren’t the same thing.

          Barack Obama’s election to the presidency was a major blow to white supremacy, but it probably increased racism, at least in the short term.

      • DrDick

        You would deny that the lives of Afro-Cubans are in fact vastly better under Castro than Batista? You need to visit reality someday. Just because things are not perfect under communism, much as a result of US actions and other geopolitical factors beyond the control of the Cuban government, does not mean that they are not much better than before the revolution.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          You have a serious reading comprehension problem. Nowhere did I say that the lives of Blacks in Cuba were worse under Castro than Batista. That is a lie of your manufacture. But, that is typical of you. I am saying that Castro and Che never entertained paying reparations to Black Cubans for slavery. That is true. Class not race was the focus of socialist policies in Cuba and never did the leadership seek to provide any type of reparations for slavery under the Spanish.

    • the ordinary fool

      Cosby may have benefitted from his class, but that doesn’t mean that it trumped the effects of race. He probably feels/felt it all the time. I can only imagine what it’s like to be non-white in the entertainment industry and have to, e.g., deal with a room full of white executives while you pitch your show or whatever.

      (It should go without saying that nothing I’ve said is meant to justify or condone his sexual assaults).

      Also, I’d argue that, even if you’re open to the class-trumps-race theory, Bill Cosby would be a huge outlier. Quick search of his net worth tells me he is/was estimated at $400 million. You would (accurately) be considered “upper class” well before that point. Even assuming that class >> race for Cosby, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that it holds reliably for less extreme incomes/net worths.

      Anecdotal evidence: I grew up in a white-ass suburb. Most people knew the story of the black cardiologist who would periodically be pulled over for some bullshit when he was driving through town late at night.

      • nocutename

        I grew up in a white-ass suburb. Most people knew the story of the black cardiologist who would periodically be pulled over for some bullshit when he was driving through town late at night.

        Really? It was a common occurrence that black doctors would be driving through white-ass suburbs in the middle of the night? And these black doctors would be pulled over? And white-ass people would have heard about this story? I’m skeptical.

        • advocatethis

          My take on that was that he was describing a single black cardiologist who would repeatedly be pulled over, but ymmv.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            Yes, I interpreted it to mean that a local hospital had a Black cardiologist who lived in an otherwise mostly White neighborhood and got pulled over repeatedly. That isn’t hard to believe at all.

          • the ordinary fool

            That was what I meant, thank you.

            • nocutename

              OK, that’s a far more reasonable. My apologies.

        • Brett

          There’s this woman as well. I agree with L2P – other non-white minorities can often have class trump race when they’re rich, but not black folks. A black person in a mostly white, affluent neighborhood will always be a Scary Black Person, even if they’re well-off.

        • the ordinary fool

          Seriously? That wasn’t even good by strawman standards.

          For future reference:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_%28grammar%29#Definite_article

      • Karen24

        I used to work with a guy who had been an assistant DA in Lubbock. Remember that part, “assistant DA,” as in “had cops as witnesses every day he went to work.” He bought a sports car, which resulted in him getting pulled over about once a week.

    • djw

      Obviously there’s a difference between saying “class trumps race” as a general rule and acknowledging that in particular cases, class can occasionally trump race.

      One of the reasons it would be absurd to say it as a general matter is laid out very clearly in Coates reparations article last year–black people moving up the class ladder has very often made them targets for innovative new forms of racial plunder.

      • L2P

        But it can also be exactly the opposite. To my often-overtly-racist relatives, a wealthy enough Hispanic guy is just a white person, but a poor one is a cholo who should go back to Mexico. Same with Asians. Class almost always trumps race IMX.

        That doesn’t ever seem to work for black people, though. Bill Cosby, though wealthy, is a black guy FIRST, and wealthy second. There’s something ingrained in racism against black people that no amount of wealth can overcome.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          In the US there tends to be a caste barrier regarding Blacks. But, in Brazil the more money a Black person has the less discrimination he tends to suffer. So somebody like Pele can as in your Hispanic example above become “White” by being rich enough. In this sense class trumps race in some racialized systems.

          • sonamib

            Actually, Pelé isn’t really considered white, even though everyone loves him. I knew some people who liked to use a racist (and gross) phrase to say “I gotta shit”. They said “I gotta teach Pelé how to swim”.

            My apologies to anyone who’s reading, but there you go, there is still racism against Pelé.

            • Rob in CT

              Ala “gotta drop the Cosby kids off at the pool” (yes, that’s a thing, and I’ve heard it as recently as a couple of years ago).

              • joe from Lowell

                I’ve found that, as a white person, keeping your hair a little on the long side can help discourage racists from thinking that you’re safe to say things like that to.

                • Rob in CT

                  Goddamned hippy. ;)

                  The people who say these sorts of things to me know full well I’m a liberal. I’m not shy about it.

                  In part, it’s about trying to get a rise out of me.

              • Damn.

                I’ve never heard either of these and it never even occurred to me that anyone would think anything like that. Fucking naive me.

              • sonamib

                Wow, that’s a nice example of convergent evolution in racism.

    • DrDick

      That is pretty much standard orthodox Marxist thinking, which subsumes race as a manifestation of social class. It is one of the areas where I diverge from orthodoxy.

    • durk

      In class many years ago, we (the students) got Bill (William Julias) Wilson to admit that his earlier book “The Declining Significance of Race” might better have been titled “The Increasing Significance of Class”. Of course, that was before the middle class disappeared.

    • kped

      Coates has presented the fact many times that wealthy black people are more likely to live around people in poverty then poor white people. This is where you can see race trumps class.

      Or a black man with a college degree has more trouble finding a job then a white man without. Again, race trumps class.

      Or look how the media and politicians are talking about the problem with lower class whites and drug addiction. Such compassion, such understanding and desire to help solve this from both parties. Similar crisis’ in the black community are looked at as criminal problems. Because race trumps class. It has always been this way, and it will continue to be, even if the entire country “feels the Bernnnnn!”

      • Moondog

        But your examples only apply to the vast majority of people rather than to the more interesting celebrities and millionaires.

        • kped

          Lol “but what about Oprah!!! What about Oprah!”

  • Hercules Mulligan

    This is fair, but does seem more suited for the summer 2015 Sanders than today…it’s to his credit that he has responded to the criticism from last summer by adding a strong policy platform on civil rights issues. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to argue that he is a far better candidate than he used to be and will hopefully respond to current criticism as he has in the past.

    • But Civil Rights issues–i.e. voting?–aren’t the only issues of concern for POC and specifically African Americans. There’s a huge range of oppressive events, systems, institutions, histories, corporations and groups that need to be dealt with.

      • Pat

        I have to put in a shout-out to Chauncey Vega’s new article (in Salon, they must be trying to get readers back) on reparations. Vega covers recent research on reparations, and of course is a super writer.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        True– I used civil rights vaguely, and broadly. I meant his platform on police reform, prisons, etc. is stronger than HRC’s and, more importantly, far, far stronger than it was seven months ago.

    • Eh, his heart is in the right place, I think, but he’s blinkered by social/political insularity, and fealty to an ideological position. After his embarrassing run-in with the BLM protesters–embarrassing, imo, to both parties; they were far from the best spokespeople for BLM–he quickly responded by hiring a black national press secretary…who had recently worked for one of the Nader organizations, and who during the last presidential cycle was in college and interning for a realtor in Omaha, Nebraska. I doubt it was consciously that dismissive, but the “let’s hire a black person, they can help us with blacks” move was offensively clueless.

      Bernie’s out of his element. Unfortunately there’s a good constituency for potential white Dem primary voters who want to “stick it to the man” (who in this case is represented by a woman). It’s always good for about 35% in a contested election between a viable candidate and one who feeds that portion of the base the emotionally satisfying explanations and promises. It’s how Joe Trippi kept getting hired by candidate who he’d convince could win by running against the party.

  • prplmnkydw

    As always, Coates rights very convincingly, but… is this not another case of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, much like the “Clinton is really a republican” nonsense? Bernie is not really tackling race, but I bet you he will do a much better job than Cruz.

    • Bernie is not really tackling race, but I bet you he will do a much better job than Cruz.

      I’m not sure if this is really the question here.

      • postmodulator

        Will Bernie be much better on race per se than Clinton? As opposed to economic changes that give African-Americans a more closely level playing field.

        • Steve LaBonne

          I see no reason to believe that she would, which is why I’m not sure what practical conclusion I’m supposed to draw from what either Coates or Loomis wrote.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            Political writers don’t always approach the issues from “this is the candidate I think you should vote for.”

            Shocking, I know.

            • efc

              Interesting place to call out Sanders, when the primary has changed from a coronation to a competition and on an issue that the other candidates are exactly the same. Maybe you were too shocked to read the subtext?

              • Lost Left Coaster

                Just come right out and say it: Coates is in the tank for Hillary.

                And, naturally, you’ll be able to back it up with some links for how he is shilling for her.

                • efc

                  I’m not saying that. But even if he was, why would that mean I could provide links to show that beyond the posted article? Shilling has to start somewhere.

          • Murc

            I see no reason to believe that she would, which is why I’m not sure what practical conclusion I’m supposed to draw from what either Coates or Loomis wrote.

            Gaining a deeper understanding of people, their beliefs, and those beliefs relationship to the wider society is sometimes considered a worthwhile endeavor on its own even without immediate practical benefit.

        • Pat

          The big point is that the economic changes Bernie proposes will not level the playing field for African Americans. They don’t address housing discrimination, or unjust policing, or the use of municipal fines against African Americans in lieu of appropriate taxation levels. They don’t address the fact that a white man with a police record is more likely to be hired than a black man without one.

          That’s the reason Bernie plays solely to a white audience.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            And what is Clinton proposing that fixes those things?

            • Lost Left Coaster

              That’s a fair question, but it should not be used, as some people do, to deflect any criticism of Sanders’s platform.

              • efc

                LGM writers constantly write that while the Dems may have some bad points, the GOP is doing nothing or actively creating harm for the purpose of deflecting criticism of certain Democratic candidates. Isn’t the whole point of choosing someone that we know can never check all the boxes (all politicians) comparing and contrasting them with the available alternatives?

                • Lost Left Coaster

                  I am not a LGM writer.

              • Pat

                Just_Dropping_By:

                I’m answering the question of why African Americans don’t seem to be flocking to Bernie’s economic message. The majority viewpoint may presume that a policy of wealth transfer from the rich to the middle class, a la Bernie, could be attractive to minorities. But it isn’t. That’s because structural racism has prevented similar wealth transfers from going to minorities in previous decades.

                The fact that addressing structural racism hasn’t been on Bernie’s radar for more than a couple of weeks tells you that he has only just started considering it, and I doubt it will be a priority for him were he to be elected president.

                Clinton has hired a lot of Obama’s people, she has consistently interacted with African American activists, and she has put out proposals addressing these issues. Not surprisingly, she has a lot of minority support.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  The fact that addressing structural racism hasn’t been on Bernie’s radar for more than a couple of weeks

                  Seriously? He’s been actively improving on these issues for multiple months, and arguably the best candidate in the race for over two of them.

        • DrDick

          He has responded more quickly and proactively to the BLM activists, even incorporating them in his campaign, than she has. He is admittedly weak on race, but so is Clinton and Coates has acknowledged as much.

        • manual

          Im not sure what this means. As if black people’s lives are independent of economics, or say predatory lending (banks), healthcare or any assortment of issues that materially affect their lives.

          If you think black peoples’ lives are just police and “structural racism” surely you should meet some more black people.

          But really, yes. Bernie voted against racially-coded welfare reform that has turned many black people from poor to extremely income insecure. He opposes trade deals that hurt black people disproportionately (come take a tour of the industrial south or south side of Chicago with me), and the list goes on. So yes, he is better on race if that is what you are asking.

      • Right–of course Bernie will do a better job than Cruz. But TNC is just doing what Bernie’s fans want us all to do during the primary: use the temporary leverage as a way of pushing these ok candidates (HRC, Bernie) in the direction we need them to go. What’s weird to me is that Bernie just keeps blowing this stuff off as of no importance or, contrariwise, accusing the people raising these concerns of being somehow a niche market or in the tank for HRC (see, e.g. the accusation that PP is part of the Democratic Establishment against which Bernie is waging war).

        • Steve LaBonne

          I’m certainly concerned from an electoral standpoint that Bernie really hasn’t learned how to connect with African-American voters. Or rather I would be concerned if I thought he had any chance of being the nominee.

        • Spiny

          The response to the PP endorsement was really disappointing. Even if Sanders supporters believe economic inequality is the unmoved mover of all inequality, it really should not surprise them by now that others with a gender/race/lgbt focus may not agree.

          • efc

            He was connecting PP and Clinton to the Dem establishment and thereby creating a contrast between himself and Clinton vis a vis the Democratic party establishment. I didn’t see where that meant he didn’t care about issues of gender/race/lgbt issues or thinks PP and it’s mission are unimportant.

            • Spiny

              Look, I don’t think Sanders believes gender/race/lgbt issues are unimportant either. But whether it is with PP, BLM, the Human Rights Campaign, or reparations, there’s a pattern of Sanders and his campaign implying that progressive interest groups that don’t align with him have less-than-noble motives for doing so. That he has a political interest in presenting himself as a fighter against the establishment doesn’t excuse it in my mind.

              • efc

                How is aligning your organization with the person you think is going to win the nomination “less than noble” as a motivation? It seems like you are projecting a darker sub-text on Sanders’ statements.

                • Spiny

                  He’s implying they aren’t aligning with her because they think she’s the best person for the job and will best represent PP’s interests, but because they are insiders standing up for another insider. In that way he is trying to minimize the import of an endorsement from a progressive group that is recognized as standing up for poor women. Absolutely no projection is needed to understand this.

              • Gregor Sansa

                He did not belittle BLM. With PP and HRC, it was a mouthpiece, and they did specify “leadership”. I think it’s correct, though not good politics.

                • Spiny

                  I did not say he belittled BLM, but he didn’t exactly behave well at the time. I will concede that I don’t remember him or his campaign explicitly saying BLM only protested him because they are establishment, but plenty of his supporters loudly accused BLM of being in the tank for Clinton.

                • Brien Jackson

                  More specifically, a metric ton of Berniebros essentially argued that black people were too stupid to realize that Bernie was the best candidate for them.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  People on the internet are assholes. Thanks, ObamaBernie.

          • manual

            Why? Planned Parenthood and HRC are part of the democratic party establishment. Ive sat with them in conference tables discussing the funding of the D party and its direction with people from the DNC. How are they not a part of the party establishment? This line of argument seems completely out of whack with how you would define the DEMOCRATIC PARTY establishment. Sure PP has had a horrible year. But if you with Richards is not part of the Dem establishment, you are completely out to lunch.

        • junker

          It’s starting to feel increasingly like Sanders is the Ron Paul of the left in this race – extremely interested in making progress on his pet ideas and not interested in much else.

          I get the feeling that Sanders and his team have found themselves unexpectedly in a semi-competitive primary and still have no idea how to handle it.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Which will insure that it never becomes more than semi-competitive.

          • Pat

            That’s a super observation, junker. Wish I’d thought of it.

          • CrunchyFrog

            Interesting observation. I don’t think anyone thought Sanders had a real chance at the start – the point was just to put some pressure on the obvious nominee, Clinton. Sorta like the movie “The Candidate” – at the end when he wins in a major upset, Redford’s character says “What do we do now?”

            He will need to fix the race problem if he does win – for example, if Clinton is incapacitated (and I don’t even want to imagine that happening, but it is always a possibility), he’d be the de facto nominee. And he would need to get minority voters to the polls to keep the GOP from winning the general.

            I hope someone in his inner circle can get him to understand that race is the one thing that keeps so many white voting GOP – voting to destroy their own social security and medical insurance.

            • Pat

              Unless he fixes the race problem, he cannot win. Without solid African American support (and some of them practically have to crawl over broken glass to vote) the Democrat won’t win.

              So we’d end up with President Trump.

          • SNF

            That’s what I think happened.

            I think Sanders went into the race as a protest/issue candidate. He thought he had no chance but figured that it’d be healthy for a more liberal candidate to present his ideas and to pull Clinton to the left.

            But as his support has grown, he’s shifted. Now I think he actually wants to be president and thinks that he has a good shot at it.

            Partly that’s probably ego – it’s hard to not seriously start thinking about being president when you start seeing momentum. I also think his shift is necessary because to act otherwise would betray his followers. A lot of his supporters have always been 100% serious, and so now they expect him to fight for the nomination now that he has more of a chance.

            I mean, even though his primary goal of keeping Clinton to the left has been pretty much accomplished, he can’t exactly announce that he’s ending his campaign at this point.

            But if he is going to act like a serious candidate instead of a protest candidate, then he’s open to criticism and vetting.

            Anyway, what I think is really really important is that Sanders endorses and campaigns for Clinton if he loses. A lot of Sanders fans have been pledging to either not vote or even vote Republican if Clinton beats him. It’s very important that he talk some sense into those followers.

            • GFW

              > A lot of Sanders fans have been pledging to either not vote or even vote Republican

              Define “a lot”. Also such noise during a primary doesn’t really mean anything on election day. How many PUMAs really refused to vote for Obama in the end?

              I like Bernie a lot, and I’m probably going to caucus for him … but of course I’m voting for HRC in the general.

              • efc

                Yup. I’m voting for Sanders in the primary and I’ll openly advocate for him, but I’ll be dancing into the voting booth to vote for Clinton in the general and I’ll make sure all the berniebros join me.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              A lot of Sanders’ supporters haven’t been 100% serious about *him*.

              What they’ve been 100% serious about from the beginning is that they HATE Clinton. And will not cast a vote for her under any circumstances.

              Most of the ones I know are open about this, and for the ones that aren’t, well, I remember what they were talking about *before* Sanders announced – which was looking for any possible non-Clinton candidate (Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, etc.)

              When Sanders endorses Clinton in the general, his former fans will quickly abandon him as a traitor to the cause.

        • Gee Suss

          This x1000. This is a similar trap that Nader voters fell into: solving the capitalism problem will usher in glorious racial and sexual equality. And Sanders voters should be pushed on this.

        • twbb

          “Right–of course Bernie will do a better job than Cruz”

          A name picked at random from the telephone book would almost certainly do a better job than Cruz. That is not hyperbole.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Coates isn’t a partisan for any candidate. He’s a critic. The world needs critics who aren’t pushing any single candidate. Especially ones of his caliber.

    • Sly

      Coates isn’t expecting reparations for slavery to be a policy plank in any candidate or party’s platform, but is basically wondering aloud – rhetorically – about why Sanders’ radicalism (and I don’t think it a stretch to say that Sanders’ radicalism is being used as a stand-in for white radicalism) ends where it does.

      Fundamentally restructuring the American health care and financial systems? Hell yes, and pragmatic cautions about such things be damned.

      Fundamentally restructuring America’s commitment to racial justice? Whoa whoa whoa… let’s be reasonable!

      • Pat

        And by phrasing the dilemma in that fashion, it reveals the group that best stands to benefit from Bernie’s plans.

        • L2P

          The poor, right?

          • Pat

            If they’re white, yeah.

            • West

              Beat me to it while I was logging on. Precisely, the white poor. And that’s assuming Bernie somehow gets his plans passed, which in turn assumes that he has some extremely long coat tails in Congressional elections at some point, whether that be 2016 or 2018 I don’t know.

            • L2P

              Doesn’t seem likely.

              Let’s say his plan is to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour throughout the country. That will help 60% of black workers and 30% of white workers. It’s pretty deceptive (and shows a lot of ability to ignore reality) to frame that as “helping white people, but not black people.”

            • efc

              Why? Is this 1934? Is Sanders planning to specifically exclude African-Americans from social programs either explicitly or indirectly?

          • Pat

            I’m not going to say that the white poor are undeserving. We absolutely need to raise the minimum wage, vastly increase infrastructural investment, and build job programs in places that have been devastated by outsourcing. Some of this can be funded by higher taxes on the wealthy. These things will help a lot of millenials.

            I’m all for these things. I would selfishly add increasing the NIH budget to that list.

            The issue comes in balancing the needs of the Democratic constituents. There’s a primal scream coming from the African American community, for the dead kids on the street, for the poisoned environment, for the millions imprisoned. They know that the Democrats can’t elect a president without them, and they want to hear that they won’t be taken for granted.

            • L2P

              Maybe you should put more thought into why we lavish so very much money on social programs that don’t help the white middle class.

              Oh, wait. We don’t, do we? Well, at least we’ll always have being right!

            • Gregor Sansa

              Poor White southern women ages 45-54 have seen mortality go from .3% to .36% in the last 15 years, surpassing the corresponding Black subgroup. That’s a pretty drastic rise.

              Other than that, Blacks are generally worse off.

              I don’t have a larger point, it’s just a striking fact.

      • wengler

        Or it’s Sanders being a lot more politically adept that he is given credit for. He supports a lot of universal programs which reparations are not. He can sell universal ideas to everyone. He can only sell reparations to a small part of the US populace while turning another part of the population completely off.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          It’s almost like he wants to win the election…

          • wengler

            Or he could you know, go in for reparations, never be heard from again, never have the issue heard from again and we can all enjoy the Trumpocalypse.

            Until we get some sort of multiracial dictatorship of the proletariat, reparations for slavery aren’t going to pass.

            • Gee Suss

              False equivalency much?

            • Gregor Sansa

              TNC clearly talks about reparations as being for more than just slavery. There have been plenty of government policies that have directly and indirectly promoted White supremacy in living memory. I actually think that that would be a good way for Sanders to split the baby on this: say “only for stuff in people’s lifetimes”. Racists would think “that means no”, but it would be a dog whistle saying “get organized and make me and then yes”.

        • Sly

          Or it’s Sanders being a lot more politically adept that he is given credit for. He supports a lot of universal programs which reparations are not.

          Which, speaking only for myself, I’m fine with. Yay practically. Yet Hillary Clinton can make this exact same argument with respect to single payer, and suddenly there are a legion of Bernie Fans ready to rip up her Democratic Party Club Card.

          • wengler

            Um, Hillary said that Bernie wants to destroy Obamacare, CHIP and every other current government healthcare program. A bold-faced lie of omission by not noting that they would be replaced by single payer.

            • Spiny

              You’re avoiding Sly’s point. Clinton being politically adept and making an argument for practical policies that are short of the ideal is often treated by Sanders fans as at best cowardly and at worst proof of her inherent right-wingitude. Why is the same not true for Sanders?

              • Gregor Sansa

                There’s a difference between saying “we can’t do that because the majority doesn’t want to” and “we can’t do that because I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth President Obama”.

            • SNF

              I thought only her daughter put it like that.

              Clinton herself has just said that, look, we just got Obamacare and only after an incredible amount of fighting. So immediately starting a push for single-payer in 2017 would be a stupid use of very limited political capital.

              • Pat

                Sign of someone who has been a professional negotiator for a long time.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Political capital doesn’t exist. Power is dynamic, it’s not a bank account that you just spend until it runs out.

      • xq

        I think this understate’s Sander’s pragmatism, though. His proposal for restructuring the American health care system is…that we should adopt one more similar to that of other wealthy nations that are culturally similar to ourselves. He’s not actually a left-radical. And most of his proposals have broad popularity, which reparations doesn’t.

        • SNF

          Most of those other countries adopted single payer decades ago, before a massive private insurance industry developed, and before doctor pay skyrocketed.

          It’s a valid question how we go from here to there. The status quo would be incredibly disrupted if we tried to transition all at once. IMO, single payer as a single bill passing soon is basically asking for unicorns. If we get single payer it’ll happen some other way (such as slowly expanding Medicaid income brackets, or creating a public option that grows more popular – eventually after those types of reforms take hold it becomes easier to make the final push).

          Also note that reparations are not some impossible idea. We did it for Japanese Americans who suffered internment, for example.

          • efc

            Reparations for slavery make single payer health care look like a bill affirming the goodness of motherhood and apple pie. There is a huge rhetorical difference between reparations for something that happened to the person receiving the money and someone receiving money for something that happened 150-200 years ago.

            • SNF

              I guess this is kind of quibbling over semantics.

              It’s basically arguing over which policy has a 0% chance of happening soon, and which one maybe has a tiny bit above 0% chance of happening soon.

              • ProgressiveLiberal

                LOL…”semantics.” No, this is apples and bricks.

                Did you predict a back president and 60 senators in 2004?

                One of those is 0%, one has a path that could happen in the next 8 years. Again, you guys aren’t very good at predicting these things…

                • SNF

                  Wait, you really think that in 2024 we could have single payer healthcare?

            • Rob in CT

              While I agree on the politics, one of the points Coates has written so well about is that reparations wouldn’t just be for stuff that happened 150+ years ago. There’s plenty of harm that was done in the past 50 years as well. Housing discrimination being a big one.

            • Gee Suss

              Yeshua Alpha Ichthys, the whole point of Coates’s argument is that the reparations are not just for slavery, but the continued extracting from and brutalizing of black bodies. This is an issue for today. That is the point. It’s not some 200 year old issue.

              • efc

                Sure. I 100% agree. But that makes reparations way, way less realistic politically. Now you are telling some poor white guy he needs to give money to Oprah or MJ for their suffering caused by white supremacy.

            • Origami Isopod

              something that happened 150-200 years ago.

              …NO.

            • TNC is pretty clear in saying that reparations is not merely for slavery but for the subsequent 150 years and counting when race was the basis of a good part of the economy, particularly in home lending. The Atlantic piece focused on lending practices in Chicago in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
              One of the things that gives TNC’s arguments so much salience is the way he demonstrates that the impacts of white supremacy are ongoing.

          • xq

            My main point about Sander’s pragmatism isn’t that his proposals have a good chance of passing congress, but that, because they have popular support, they are actually good politics. Running against Republicans on popular policies they are preventing us from passing (along with some conservative Democrats) is a good idea even if they will continue to prevent it. It doesn’t make Sanders any kind of radical, any more than Obama is a radical for asking congress to pass gun regulations or raise minimum wage.

        • Rob in CT

          ~75 years of going down the wrong path makes it harder to set up a proper system.

          We’ll probably get there, eventually, but it’ll be in stages.

          I liked the public option approach. Another one that seems viable is to slowly decrease the age for Medicare eligibility.

          • Pat

            What’s nice is that the ACA allows for states to experiment with the public option. It even allowed one (was it Vermont?) to experiment with single payer.

            Failed horribly on the first try, but maybe people learned from the experience.

            • Rob in CT

              Yes, VT. And I think they may have been foolish to try on such a small scale. Maybe if they could’ve put together a regional coalition…

              Or maybe they just did it wrong. I don’t know enough about the attempt. I think partly people freak out about the cost without realizing that the tax increase nets out with the premiums/copays/coinsurance you’re no longer paying (or paying less of, depending on the details).

              But if VT didn’t have the political will to see it through, that suggests it’s a bridge too far, at least for now. Getting the recalcitrant states to expand Medicaid would be a big win right now.

    • Karen24

      My oldest pair of stinky sneakers will do a better job than Cruz, on any issue that can be named. If you want us to admit that we will vote for Sanders if he gets the nomination, then certainly. That doesn’t change the fact that on this issue he is significantly less enlightened than his Democratic opponents.

      • efc

        Can you point to Clinton or O’Malley’s plan for reparations? Because otherwise all three are on exactly the same page.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Sanders supporters are less enlightened on average, but that just means a bit more bad apples and a bit fewer good ones. Sanders’s platform and record on race are better than Clinton’s.

    • nocutename

      Coates rights very convincingly

      I hate to be a pedant, but “rights”? WTF?

      • Moondog

        I doubt your claim that you hate being a pedant.

        • nocutename

          And it’s Moondog for the win!

    • kped

      Coates doesn’t advocate not voting for Bernie. He expresses frustration that Sanders is willing to go out and present unrealistic divisive plans that have next to no chance of getting passed, but draws the line at this one. “No, that is too divisive” (ie…white people won’t like it)

      • SNF

        It’s also important to put this in context. Sanders also thinks that liberals are being divisive on gun control.

        When you look at the issues that he considers divisive, it’s pretty clear that it’s basically issues where rural white people get too squeamish about hard-left views.

        • Pat

          Getting the weapons of war off our streets is hardly a “hard-left view.”

          • SNF

            Which makes my point stronger!

        • kped

          Excellent point!

  • J. Otto Pohl

    I can’t think of any circumstances where orthodox (Marxist) socialists have in practice endorsed reparations for chattel slavery. In absolute numbers more slaves were shipped to Cuba than to the US. Yet, never anywhere that I can discern did Fidel Castro or Che Guevara endorse reparations to their descendants. Instead they maintained that economic egalitarianism would solve Cuba’s racial problems. It didn’t completely solve them by any means. But, reparations for slavery were never part of the Cuban Communist Party agenda. Even paying reparations for actual survivors of Nazi persecution were rejected by the East German government and this stand supported by the USSR and other socialist states. Paying reparations to survivors of Nazi concentration camps was a policy of the capitalist BRD.

    • DrDick

      As opposed to all conservative governments, which have actively acted to maintain slavery or near equivalents (see Bolivia, Guatemala, etc.).

  • Rob in CT

    On the one hand, this is a fair point.

    On the other, I think it’s fair to point out that Hillary Clinton isn’t going to endorse reparations either.

    It’s entirely possible to believe in good faith that a set of economic policies that neglect race as a key issue would, though flawed, still be better than a different (much weaker) set of economic policies that take race into account more.

    But, since neither President Clinton nor President Sanders are going to get much through Congress barring repeated electoral victories, I think the question is how much this speaks to the candidates’ blindspots – will Bernie neglect these issues when he makes appointments and therefore will a Sanders DOJ be less vigorous in defense of civil rights than a Clinton DOJ? That seems like a reasonable concern (though a concern Sanders has attempted to address).

    • Spiny

      On the other, I think it’s fair to point out that Hillary Clinton isn’t going to endorse reparations either.

      TNC’s central point is that Sanders is selectively endorsing pragmatist vs radical policy: yes to Medicare for All, no to reparations. Since Clinton isn’t pretending to be a radical, it wouldn’t make much sense to ding her for selective radicalism.

      • Sue.K.Mabels

        Being a “radical” on one issue is not logically inconsistent with non-radicalism on other issues. It makes Sanders no more of a hypocrite for being a socialist and YET! (gasp) to not support reparations than it does for him to (also gasp!) not to support Trump’s Great American Wall. Radicalism is a description of an extreme point on a range of one set of ideas, not ALL sets.

        • Spiny

          It may be that Sanders genuinely does not support reparations – I don’t think we can say for sure whether he does or not. Either way that is not the objection – that he must show himself to be equally radical on all issues or else his economic radicalism is somehow invalid.

          It’s about the arguments he advances for the feasibility of his preferred radicalisms. He is telling people, right now, that a people’s revolution can upend the health care system as we know it, break up big banks, and end the power of money in politics. If you believe all that, it’s jarring to then turn around and talk about pragmatism and meeting the people where they’re at when the subject is reparations. But this is what Sanders is doing.

          • Sue.K.Mabels

            that he must show himself to be equally radical on all issues or else his economic radicalism is somehow invalid.

            I already explained how “radicalism” on one issue shouldn’t demand radicalism on all issues. Furthermore, “radical” positions are not all created equal. As someone else in the comments has pointed out, there’s a lot more popular support for socialism than there is for reparations. There’s your explanation for difference in feasibility.

            • Spiny

              I already explained how “radicalism” on one issue shouldn’t demand radicalism on all issues.

              And I said that was not the point. The point is that if people ask you how your most-controversial policies will overcome the popular and structural barriers against them and your answer is “peoples’ revolution”, people may rightly ask why you don’t extend that possibility to other controversial policies. Am I really to believe Bernie’s answer is “because reparations don’t poll quite as well?”

              • Sue.K.Mabels

                Aha, I misinterpreted your em dash.

                And I think the difference is that the “people’s revolution” on social economics is already here, and Bernie is simply riding the wave, whereas the one on reparations is not.

                Should TNC continue to agitate for reparations? Absolutely; that’s how people’s minds get changed. Expecting politicians not to agitate for change based on what people popularly believe and want, but instead to agitate to change people’s minds is just silly, especially where the difference between the two in function is just not that stark. So yes, if you want to think of it as “polls”, then it’s not that far off. As frustrating as that might be for anyone fighting for justice is, that’s still political reality.

                Bernie’s calling for a meaningful change that is politically possible at this moment in time and it helps minorities economically just like reparations do. The criticism against him on this point seems quixotic and counterproductive to me.

                • Spiny

                  Bernie’s calling for a meaningful change that is politically possible at this moment in time

                  Many people, including liberals, including this liberal, including Paul Krugman, disagree with you that what he’s calling for is possible.

                  and it helps minorities economically just like reparations do.

                  TNC and others on this thread argue that economically-redistributive policies cannot be assumed to benefit minorities simply because the policies are pro-poor. They have good reason to think this. Perhaps the Sanders plan would address racial disparities in a way other redistributive plans haven’t, but it’s a mistake to think they will by default.

      • Nick never Nick

        Basically, you’re arguing that one ‘radical’ position means that one has to be ‘radical’ everywhere. This is absurd, and it also exhibits the silliness of talking about public policy in terms of territory; it’s the same thing that everyone here laughs at when people are portioned out as left, right, or centre.

        • Spiny

          No, it’s not that he must be radical in all things if he is radical in one thing. It’s that he can’t plausibly dismiss arguments about incremental policy-making and the art of the possible when the topic is economics and then embrace them when the topic is race.

          • efc

            Why? He doesn’t agree with you that single payer and reparations are equally radical or unachievable in the current political context. One is a policy that has been used in the US for various populations (VA, medicaid, medicare) and for the bulk of the health care system in other countries. The other is a policy that has never happened anywhere.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Uh….Medicare, for millions and millions, exists.

        Reparations, on any comparable scale, do not.

        We are one budget reconciliation from medicare for all and we could have done it last time around if we wanted. You tell me the last time we “could” have passed reparations? Which year was that exactly?

        Sanders isn’t all that radical. But its funny that the “leftists” among us describe him as such!

        Tells me all I need to know…

        • Spiny

          Reparations can and have existed for millions before. I agree that they are not plausible now, but then I also think Sanders’ health care proposals are not plausible now.

          We are not one budget reconciliation away from Medicare for All, and could not have done it last time. That you are willing to believe that tells me all I need to know.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            Indeed we were close. Reconciliation has been used before to expand medicare, and we were damn close to 51 votes for doing so this time – or at a bare minimum, getting a public option. The house would have been a breeze. Unfortunately they took the route they did, requiring 60 votes! This is why we got the compromise we did – a 50 vote bill would have been much more progressive. (And let’s not pretend that the filibuster could disappear in the next few years, and its not out of the realm of possibility we get 50+1 and a majority in the house again.)

            Now, you tell me when reparations for black people got anywhere near this, or has a shot at it in the next 8 years. I’ll hang up and listen for your response.

            • Indeed we were close. Reconciliation has been used before to expand medicare, and we were damn close to 51 votes for doing so this time – or at a bare minimum, getting a public option.

              Oy:

              Various health policy experts encouraged the House to pass the Senate version,[120] but House Democrats were not happy with it and had expected to be able to negotiate changes in a House-Senate conference before passing a final bill.[116] With that option off the table, since any bill that emerged from conference that differed from the Senate bill would have to be passed in the Senate despite another Republican filibuster, most House Democrats agreed to pass the Senate bill on condition that it be amended by a subsequent bill.[116] They drafted the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which could be passed by the reconciliation process.[117][121][122]

              Unlike rules under regular order, as per the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation cannot be subject to a filibuster. But reconciliation is limited to budget changes, which is why the procedure was not used to pass the ACA in the first place; the bill had inherently non-budgetary regulations.[123][124] Still, although the already passed Senate bill could not have been passed by reconciliation, most of House Democrats’ demands were budgetary: “these changes—higher subsidy levels, different kinds of taxes to pay for them, nixing the Nebraska Medicaid deal—mainly involve taxes and spending. In other words, they’re exactly the kinds of policies that are well-suited for reconciliation.”

              Just because you fantasise that you had 51 votes and know that reconciliation only requires 51 (senate) votes, doesn’t mean that you could have used reconciliation to get whatever you want.

              C’mon.

              And, they passed an amending bill by reconciliation and…didn’t put in a public option. If there was the support and you could do it via reconciliation…why didn’t they in that bill?

              C’mon.

              Oy, Cruz is saying that the ACA was passed by reconciliation GRR!

              • Brien Jackson

                To be fair, you could pass a bill expanding Medicare to cover everyone through the budget process.

                • Yes, but then no 51 votes.

                  I think the fact that there was a reconciliation bill follow up, the public option (or lowering Medicare age to 55) was potentially reconcilable and yet nothing there speaks pretty loudly.

                • ProgressiveLiberal

                  Bingo. And they may have been tired with this whole mess and just passed what they had, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be 51 votes at some point between 2016-2024 for a medicare expansion.

                  But I can guarantee there will not be 51 votes for reparations. This whole argument is silly.

              • DrDick

                C’mon now, Bijan! This is ProLib. He doesn’t do reality, his hands might get dirty.

              • ProgressiveLiberal

                You’re butchering the legislative history and conflating several issues.

                The ACA as it was written couldn’t be passed by reconciliation but an expansion of medicare could be. Medicare has been expanded this way, historically. No one is saying you could get “whatever I want.”

                They originally weren’t going to use reconciliation, but Kennedy died and they only had 59 votes, so they had to use it to change part of the already passed ACA to make it more amenable to the house, whos bill was tossed in the shitter. At that point they just wanted to get the bill over with. What they should have done is started with “what can we do through reconciliation” first. That bill would have looked significantly different from what we got.

                • You’re butchering the legislative history

                  By citing it? Whatever, dude.

                  and conflating several issues.

                  Sure I am.

                  The ACA as it was written couldn’t be passed by reconciliation but an expansion of medicare could be. Medicare has been expanded this way, historically. No one is saying you could get “whatever I want.”

                  This doesn’t help you, as I’ve pointed out. There was no where near enough votes for Medicare for all. Not even optional Medicare for all (ie Medicare buy in). Not even just making it available to 55 and over. So, that’s a fantasy right there for all that it could technically have passed through reconciliation.

                  They originally weren’t going to use reconciliation,

                  Yes, so?

                  but Kennedy died and they only had 59 votes, so they had to use it to change part of the already passed ACA to make it more amenable to the house, whos bill was tossed in the shitter. At that point they just wanted to get the bill over with.

                  Hahah. Seriously dude. Why aren’t you up in arms about that? There was a reconciliation bill. They could have done all sorts of magic there. Supposedly a public option. An expansion of Medicare. Everything you want. But they didn’t because “bored now”? And you’re ok with it?

                  Bonkers.

                  What they should have done is started with “what can we do through reconciliation” first. That bill would have looked significantly different from what we got.

                  Ponies!

                  But seriously, I do understand why you need to go further back in time so that you have more scope for your magical thinking to play out. But come on. “Butchering” doesn’t begin to cover your analysis.

          • L2P

            In America? When did that happen?

        • rea

          “We” could have passed reparations in 2009-2010 the same way we could have passed medicare for all–namely. not at all.

          • Rob in CT

            Right?!

            Reality called, Proglib. It wants you to check in.

            One could argue that single-payer-for-all healthcare is closer to being realized than reparations. That I might buy. But neither was there for the taking in 2009.

        • kped

          Lol, one budget reconciliation away…keep telling yourself that there are even 40 votes in the Senate for that (and…you still need to pass the House…good luck there buddy!)

          If it could have passed last time…it would have passed last time. If “we” wanted it. Who are we in this magical retelling of history? Lieberman? Webb? the 9 or 10 other Blue Dogs in the Senate? the other half dozen who have states that have large private insurers as some of the largest employers in their states?

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            60 minus 9 or 10 is, you know, 51 or 50 (plus VP.) And i bet it seemed impossible in 2004 that in 2008 we’d have 60 seats for even a minute.

            Do any of you know what reconciliation is? Do any of you know that the filibuster isn’t written in stone?

            How close are reparations for black people?

            And comparing medicare and the reparations is not even comparing apples and oranges – its apples and bricks. One is one of the most popular programs that ALREADY EXISTS FOR 50 MILLION PEOPLE, and the other is one the most divisive issues you could think of.

            • Rob in CT

              Ah, but then you would need majority support for nuking the filibuster back in ’09 and that wasn’t there either. It took years of unbelievable levels of GOP obstruction for Senate Democrats to get it through their skulls that the filibuster had to be weakened (and even then, they didn’t remove it entirely).

              edit: and I don’t think there were 50 Dem senate votes for single payer in 2009. Maaaaybe, but I doubt it. I’d guess maybe 40ish. This is debatable.

              • ProgressiveLiberal

                Reconciliation could have worked. No one has refuted this.

                They tried to go through normal procedure. They only went to reconciliation at the end.

                They should have started with the least common denominator. They made an error.

                Medicare has been expanded through reconciliation in the past.

                And it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that in 4 or 6 years we have a D pres, R have nuked filibuster and now we have a D congress too. Yet reparations will still be out of the realm of possibility.

                • Reconciliation could have worked. No one has refuted this.

                  Yes they have.

                  Here’s an interesting Nate Silver piece on what could have gotten in under reconciliation. He thinks *maybe* public option, but you lose a lot.

                  I suspect you could do Medicare for all under reconciliation (but as you see above, Cruz is already using “reconciliation” as a delegitimizer), but there clearly were never 51 votes for that. Public option without guaranteed issue or an insurance exchange basically means only a public option and that would have died hard.

                • kped

                  Reconciliation the process could have worked. And it still can…so? That’s the “theory” but the truth is there weren’t the votes even for reconciliation. I just listed the blue dogs above, but there were other dems who weren’t on board for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t passing.

        • Hogan

          Who were the 51 votes for Medicare for All?

          • Steve LaBonne

            You’re forgetting to count the 101st senator, Senator Invisible Pink Unicorn.

            • Breadbaker

              Wasn’t he just arrested in Harney County, Oregon?

        • Scott P.

          Sanders isn’t proposing Medicare for all. He’s proposing a single-payer system with no copays, no deductibles, and covering all aspects of medicine (eye, dental, mental). That’s not Medicare at all, not even close.

          • kped

            My god, even Canada doesn’t cover all that! He also covers all prescription drugs (again, not even Canada does that). It’s a freaking fantasy!

            • Brien Jackson

              I’ve blasted his proposal, but it’s not so much a fantasy as the paper is extremely dishonest about the cuts to reimbursement rates it will take to make the TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN SAVINGS it promises a reality.

      • Rob in CT

        Oh, believe me I get that and I think it’s a decent point.

        “Let’s have a ReVoLuTiOn and get some single payer” + “Reparations aren’t doable” is a jarring juxtaposition.

        Thing is… while I agree neither of these policies are doable at this time, I think single-payer universal healthcare is *more* doable than reparations. So I think Bernie’s right here on the political calculus. Basically, I think we’ll eventually get a proper healthcare system but I think reparations will happen the day after Hell freezes over.

        It’s still fair for Coates to make this point and for Clinton supporters to point out that castigating Hillary for pragmatism on healthcare whilst being totally fine with Bernie’s pragmatism on reparations involves some inconsistency.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          One has a chance in hell with a “revolution” that could happen. Say, 2004-2008.

          The other has no chance in hell.

          How many of you predicted on election night in 2004 that we’d have a black president with 60 senators in 2008, for even a minute? That’s what I thought.

          I know sanders “seems” radical and uses some “radical” language some time, but he’s just a regular ol liberal. Can we quit pretending now?

          • Rob in CT

            Dude, I’m gonna vote for Bernie. I like him. I’m just calling things as I see them here. I’ve just said that I do think single-payer healthcare, while not doable now (and not doable in 2009, even) is a more doable thing than reparations and, therefore, Bernie’s right in his political calculation.

            As for how to classify Bernie… he’s a social democrat, I’d say. Leftward side of liberal, without being a radical leftist.

            • ProgressiveLiberal

              Then your calculation is way off, by an order of magnitude. I can, and have given plausible examples of how it could happen.

              We need to play long ball. And AGAIN, in 2004, NOT A SINGLE PERSON HERE WOULD HAVE BET A SINGLE DOLLAR than we’d have a black president and 60 senators for even a single second in 4 short years.

              • Rob in CT

                Then your calculation is way off, by an order of magnitude.

                Whatever, man.

                Long ball is fine! Raising the issue of single-payer is fine! I too favor it as policy, and hope we eventually get there.

                I simply think your beliefs about what happened in ’09 smack of mythology – the great betrayal! Well, sure, if Joe Lieberman wasn’t an asshole maybe we’d have had Medicare buy-in. Or if the Senate Dems had nuked the filibuster we could’ve had a public option (not single payer, but a PO, as a path). But those things weren’t realistic then. They look that way now, but only because Dems in congress: 1) learned some things; and 2) are less conservative b/c the blue dogs largely lost their seats.

              • sharculese

                No. We have to play short ball, because if we don’t, people die. You have the luxury of worrying about the long game. Congratulations to you. Your total lack of interest in people who don’t have that luxury is, to repeat a point I’ve made about you, selfish and cruel.

                • Origami Isopod

                  I can’t +1 this enough.

                • Malaclypse

                  Seconded.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  yes

                • ProgressiveLiberal only thinks in these terms when it concerns cows and pigs.

                • efc

                  So then we shouldn’t be talking about reparations because it seems everyone agrees it is just as likely to advance Democratic goals as arguing for single payer health care.

                • ChrisTS

                  Jesus. Thanks (Again).

                  I’m teaching utopianism this semester, and I constantly have to answer students’ questions about the way so many utopists hand-wave over the Xthousands dead before we reached Heaven on Earth.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  This is a great point, and maybe elsewhere PL gave a definition of “long ball” that included short-term sacrifices. But just reading the comment you’re replying to, I understood it to mean set up for long term progress because in the short term we’re not making any legislative progress no matter what we try. You can disagree with that assessment but it is not something only a privileged person would say.

                • ProgressiveLiberal

                  There is no reason we can’t play both – instead of just shortball.

                  You guys are hilarious. For all the trash talking of Lieberman, y’all sounds like you can’t get enough of his clones.

                  You all realize that Sanders and I supported and continue to support the ACA? Name one policy that I haven’t supported, that in doing so would cause harm to current people.

                  This is why our liberal party sucks. They can’t get out of their own way and actually advocate for anything liberal – even vastly popular things that could conceivably happen in the next few decades.

                  I see that a total of one person understood what I said. Congrats.

                • ProgressiveLiberal

                  Loomis – the reason you take cheap shots is because of your obvious inconsistencies. I get it. Not only do I support the ACA, but I also support ending the exploitation of workers and animals, reparations, and single payer. You see, you can be liberal on all issues – the world won’t end.

                  The next time that you support a policy that would make the world a better place and I don’t, will be the first. The opposite cannot be said. You do not support multiple policies that would reduce climate change, end the exploitation of animals and the damage to the environment that said policies do, or reducing the exploitation of workers – if it meant dinner plans would get changed.

                  Try to be consistent for once.

                • This is silly.

                  The problem isn’t whether, in abstracto, we would support similar policies. You get no special credit for that.

                  The problem is that you infer lack of support because of outcomes that are hugely constrained. This is why you make up stories a out how so too it could have passed if earlier decisions that hand no chance of being made were made. This makes you a loon.

              • ajay

                And AGAIN, in 2004, NOT A SINGLE PERSON HERE WOULD HAVE BET A SINGLE DOLLAR than we’d have a black president and 60 senators for even a single second in 4 short years.

                Really? Because this very blog was describing him as “official Democratic rising star ™ Barack Obama” (or, occasionally, “Barak Obama”) in 2004. He was very definitely seen as presidential material, even back then.

    • Pat

      Clinton has already proposed a number of things that will go much farther in addressing racial disparity than Bernie has. Mostly it’s on policing and incarceration.

      Plus I have a lot more confidence in Clinton’s ability to strike a deal than Bernie’s.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Maybe you should look at which was a more effective legislator. You like Clinton, clearly, so you’re haven’t looked to see how effective Bernie was at getting amendments and legislation passed – many in bipartisan fashion, if that’s what you think will exist.

        Could you list the things that Clinton goes further with than Bernie on racial disparity? Which policies is Bernie against?

        And I won’t even get into where Clinton is on war, trade, wages, etc. It ain’t pretty. I also have no trust that when Sanders isn’t running against her she will stay as liberal as she has shifted to for the election. I don’t want the TPP and I don’t want a grand bargain full of cuts – both of which we are more likely to get under Clinton.

      • Phil Perspective

        Strike a deal with GOPers? Hahahaha!! Good one!!!

    • wengler

      It’s all about building a bullshit narrative that BERNIE SANDERS DOES NOT CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE!

    • ASV

      Clinton’s platform doesn’t rely on a fantasyland Congress that’s willing to pass single-payer, free tuition, etc. A lot of Bernie’s platform does — and it’s one he’s willing to imagine being swept into office in a revolutionary wave. And yet, it’s not one he can imagine supporting reparations (even in the abstract — it’s not like the questioner was presenting him with a specific bill). This is the point. Reparations are not part of his revolution.

      • wengler

        Do you really think reparations have the same likelihood of passing as single payer or free tuition?

        • rea

          0% = 0%

          • McAllen

            Yes. Or, to go into a little more detail, reparations, single payer, and free tuition are all going to require a major shift in our political thinking before they come to pass, and there’s no particular reason to think a shift in racial views is less likely than a shift in healthcare or economic views.

            • xq

              I think there’s a big difference. Single payer and free tuition are ideas with majority support that are prevented by elite opposition. As we see with both Trump and Sanders, politicians can take advantage of such ideas. Reparations are an idea with very low support among both elites and the people.

              • DAtt

                This.

              • SNF

                Single payer’s support starts decreasing really fast when it comes into contact with a general electorate, and when the details start getting put out.

                Look how much anger there was over Obamacare kicking a few people off of junk policies. Under single-payer, there would be a lot more of that. And some people actually really would be paying more for less care than they did before. And doctors would have to take some big pay cuts.

                You can argue that those things are worth it. You can’t argue that they are politically easy.

                • sharculese

                  Fun story: My dad’s sister is married to a wealthy Chicago physician, but of course their practice has a garbage policy that was made illegal by the ACA. When he was visiting, like a year after it passed, she started ranting to him about that.

                  His response: You’re both old enough to be on Medicare, why aren’t you just doing that?

                  She kind of just sputtered at him in response.

                • xq

                  My post wasn’t intended to convey that getting single payer is easy. Getting single payer would be extremely hard in the US, obviously. It’s something that could happen in a few decades, maybe, with a lot of work and some big political shifts. Could reparations? I don’t see it.

                • If it were to happen it would happen in a similar way: Bits and pieces and compromises and calling it other things. A new war on poverty plus Civil Rights action (police reform, voting rights, etc.) could work out. Maybe.

                  Cash transfers are not going to happen unless part of UBI.

                • djw

                  (never mind)

              • UserGoogol

                Majority support doesn’t work that way. Polling on policy positions just doesn’t mean much. Most people spend fairly little time thinking about policy, and thus when they give an answer to a pollster about how they stand on an issue, that’s a gut reaction which isn’t representative of how they’d feel if really pressed on the issue.

                There’s plenty of situations where a policy position has majority support among voters and then it fails when it goes to a ballot question. (The recent posting on assisted suicide was an example of this, for instance.) Of course, the answer that people give on polling day isn’t necessarily the result of an ideal process of rational thought either: those elites make a rather concerted attempt to persuade voters that their positions are best, and I think voters are often persuaded to believe the wrong thing by such campaigns. But the unreflective answers people give before campaigns isn’t inherently more sincere than the answers they give after campaigns. Even the most idealized democratic process would not cause the policies with the most “majority support” to win.

                Progressive change isn’t about “elites” getting out of the way so that “the majority” can have their way, but the slow boring of boards of building organized coalitions of people who do have strong firmly held beliefs about single payer and then getting the more ambivalent masses to sign onto that on election day.

                • xq

                  I agree that polling does not give a full accounting of every relevant aspect of the politics involved. But that single payer has 55% support and reparations has 15% support reflects real differences in voter attitudes that a politician who wants to win elections needs to take into account.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Use log odds. -5 is not -10.

        • SNF

          Yes.

          At least, any time soon.

          (I could maybe see tuition getting done, but not single payer)

    • apogean

      It’s important to point out that Bernie’a much whiter base is overwhelmingly opposed to reparations, so there is a strong degree of self-interest in this stance. Maybe it’s valid and maybe it’s not, but it’s clear that coming out for reparations would torpedo his candidacy.

  • catbirdman

    Coates puts himself in a weird position on this one. He must know that openly endorsing reparations would 100% torpedo Sanders’s candidacy and hand the nomination to Hillary — who has far less chance of ever advocating such a thing — yet he writes this piece. Can he just not help himself, realpolitik be damned?

    • Why should he care about realpolitik in his columns?

      I mean, if he’s going to support one candidate or another, fine. But it’s not like he’s saying not to vote for Sanders.

      • Lost Left Coaster

        It’s so strange that so many people act like Coates is obligated to support Bernie Sanders and not write anything as the social and political critic that he is that might reflect poorly on Sanders.

        Some people, like Coates, see the world in bigger terms than just what candidate to support in the Democratic primary. And Coates did not exactly come out of the blue here with the issue of reparations. He’s done more than any other person of our time to bring the issue of reparations to the forefront. Now that Sanders has commented publicly on it, Coates makes a cogent point here about what kinds of radicalism Sanders is willing to make a part of his campaign platform, and what kinds he still won’t touch. I think it’s a great point and I am disappointed to see so many people respond with this idea that for some reason Coates owes allegiance to Sanders or should only respond to the candidates in pragmatic/political terms.

        • Pat

          Coates is about expanding the discussion. He has a strong sense of logic and a rarely represented viewpoint. His inclusion helps to minimize groupthink for liberals.

          It’s not about allegiance. Coates has also been criticized for criticizing Obama. We Democrats have our discussions out in the open, and I think we benefit greatly from inclusion of Coates, Vega, Steve M, and many others.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          I haven’t see anyone claim that Coates is “obligated to support Bernie Sanders . . . .” I see lots of people pointing out that attacking one candidate by name on a specific issue when all the other candidates in the race hold functionally indistinguishable positions on the same issue (since Clinton and O’Malley certainly aren’t going to be any more pro-reparations than Sanders) makes it look like a hit piece.

          • Lost Left Coaster

            Sanders was asked about reparations and commented on it. Coates wrote a blog piece in response.

      • Derelict

        While I understand that being such a critic is part of TNC’s job, I’m still distressed by the prospect of the left once again tearing itself apart because “Candidate X doesn’t perfectly conform to and exclusively push my issue.” Dinging Sanders for failing to publicly support reparations is one of these things, and it certainly does HUGE favors to Republicans in helping to persuade POC to stay home and not vote come November.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          If this is going to be a problem for Sanders, then Sanders needs to fix it.

        • McAllen

          If you’re going to argue that, why not argue that Sanders is damaging Clinton and doing a huge favor to the Republicans, and therefore should not run? I don’t think that’s a legitimate argument, so I’m not sure why I should accept it when it comes to Coates.

        • advocatethis

          So, we can’t have a discussion about these issues? Or, maybe, we can have a discussion, just as long as nobody’s ox gets gored?

        • kped

          Only assuming that Sanders somehow overcomes Clinton’s huge lead of course. You seem to be saying his is the guaranteed nominee…and that is still a very, very big long shot.

        • While I understand that being such a critic is part of TNC’s job, I’m still distressed by the prospect of the left once again tearing itself apart because “Candidate X doesn’t perfectly conform to and exclusively push my issue.”

          That’s not happening, is it?

          Plus, we’re in a primary. Now is the time to push and squabble and work things out.

          Dinging Sanders for failing to publicly support reparations is one of these things, and it certainly does HUGE favors to Republicans in helping to persuade POC to stay home and not vote come November.

          Hahahahhaha…no. C’mon. You can’t possibly believe this.

          • Derelict

            My fault for not wording this better. Essentially, the lack of perfection in any single candidate becomes the excuse for not voting. As this blog has been flogging the “not a dime’s worth of difference” fallacy, I was trying to put TNC’s criticism into that context.

      • that seems a little disingenuous here. if he’s not trying to single out Sanders here, he could easily say so.

        sharpshooting po

    • junker

      Is it really that much easier to envision Sanders fighting for reparations than Clinton?

    • wengler

      Coates isn’t dumb. He knows he’ll get more mileage from attacking Bernie on this issue than Hillary.

      • Steve LaBonne

        That’s one of the dumbest pieces of Berniebro horseshit I’ve seen. Coates, who will be read long after Bernie is “Bernie who?”, has no need for “mileage” from any of this.

        • wengler

          Yeah, OK. I’ll pretend that TNC attacking Hillary would’ve gotten him the same number of media appearances.

          Also your name-calling is something I’d expect from the supporter of a floundering campaign.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Which is even funnier since I have a Bernie sticker on my car, dumbass.

          • McAllen

            Also your name-calling is something I’d expect from the supporter of a floundering campaign.

            Assuming a black writer cannot be criticizing a white politician in good faith and must only be interested in media appearances, on the other hand, is A-OK!

            • Steve LaBonne

              Thank you for saying what I also should have said.

            • And…Sanders is the right target, yes? I mean, for advancing the conversation:

              1) He’s already proposing fairly radical and outlier societal restructurings and redistributions, so it’s not as much of a reach for him and he’s more comfortable with such positions (and thus perhaps more open).

              2) He’s unlikely to win the nomination, so any hit that comes from championing reparations is negligible and yet he’s a good vector to insert it into the conversation.

              3) He has a black appeal problem (though he’s improved). So he’s perhaps more willing to take a chance. If it starts working, Clinton will have to do something.

              4) He has a lot of appeal with young whites democrats and getting them thinking about reparations seems like a good move for their long term prospects in the party.

              So, seems strategically and tactically sound to me. I’ve no idea what Coates’ actual logic was, but there’s no need to suppose wildly implausible grifty motives.

      • kped

        Yeah, Coates needs the press. The guy who won a national magazine award a year ago for…what was that article…oh, “The Case for Reparations”.

        And just in the last few months, this man who is soooo concerned about quick media attention also won a National Book Award and a Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

        And, he was so unknown that Marvel comics got him to be a new “celebrity” writer for the revamped “Black Panther” comic series starting in April.

        But yeah…somehow this guy is so desperate to get on TV he wrote a hit piece on Bernie Sanders. Yeah, I buy it.

    • kped

      Why is this a weird position? You presume he supports one over the other, or sees much difference in either.

    • djw

      This is utterly myopic. Stop reading everything through the lens of Sanders campaign.

      • Origami Isopod

        FEEEEEEEL THE BEEEERRRRRNNNNN1111one!

  • Sue.K.Mabels

    Funny that the axe job on Bernie is “he’s like all the other candidates”.

    I’d rather unite around someone with ideas to fix the inequalities and economic crimes of today, but whatever – the important part is that we all squabble and fight with each other over our respective places on the social ladder so we can’t ever do anything to knock off the people on top or, god forbid, lay the ladder down on the ground. Lord knows that silly commie concepts like “economic equality” aren’t going to have any affect on minorities, anyways.

    • I’m not sure that saying race isn’t all that important and instead we should unite over economic crimes is exactly proving Coates wrong for writing this column.

      • Sue.K.Mabels

        race isn’t all that important

        I just can’t agree with your strawman’s position on this, Loomis. I think race is extremely important and I think class-based solutions are where it’s at to form a broad coalition to make actual visible change in the issue.

        TNC is wrong when he writes that reparations are the only tool available to deal with racism. He criticizes Bernie’s “raising the minimum wage” for failing to deal with racial issues like disproportionate criminal records, availability of jobs, the wage gap, housing discrimination but – reparations don’t do that either, do they? Do reparations do anything different than what that sort of class-based solution would do? (other than focus solely on one group of disaffected)

        This country is inextricably built on the exploitation of minorities, from africans to japanese internees to the treatment of hispanics today. Let’s fix how we do things in the future with the tools we have.

        One of my favorite quotes I’ve picked up from LGM over the years is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, and I think that’s what’s going on here.

        • Sly

          I think race is extremely important and I think class-based solutions are where it’s at to form a broad coalition to make actual visible change in the issue.

          This would be a really nice thing to believe if it didn’t run counter to the entirety of American history.

          It isn’t that class-based economic reforms have not addressed the racial divide. It’s that class-based economic reforms have actually deepened the racial divide, because those class-based reforms have only been palatable to a controlling majority of the electorate if they overwhelmingly – or even exclusively – benefited whites. The reason why there is such a gulf between median white and median black household wealth isn’t just slavery. It’s because the white middle class was a complete construction of the American state, and that construction was predicated on the exclusion of black households from the process.

          I see no reason to believe that the electorate in 2016 will be any different, at least to the extent that broad skepticism of “fixing class will fix race” arguments does not remain eminently justified.

          • Rob in CT

            Well, there is the fact that the 2016 electorate is a lot less white than the electorates that set up the policies that created the wealth gap in the first place. So there’s that.

            I’m mostly in agreement with you, this is just a quibble. The changing demographics of the electorate do matter (there’s a reason [some] white people are engaging in an epic freakout/tantrum).

            • Steve LaBonne

              They matter also because if white Democrats don’t become less tone-deaf about race, those demographics will turn around and bite the party in the ass.

          • Steve LaBonne

            This. And if anyone wants to see the supporting evidence, there’s plenty of it in Coates’s famous Atlantic essay “The Case for Reparations”.

      • L2P

        What many people are going to take away from that position is that Coates wants us to sacrifice economic equality to get racial equality.

        • Steve LaBonne

          It’s true that our schools could do a better job of teaching literacy to white people.

          • Origami Isopod

            Ouch. Nicely done.

          • L2P

            You say that like it’s a dig? People are going to go out of there way to find a way to hate on something like this. The implication is that solving racial disparities are more important than solving economic disparities, and plenty of people will draw that inference.

            • Snuff curry

              Speaking as a white (American) person, I feel there are pressing, life-or-death racial disparities in the US that are vastly more important to solve right now than economic ones. That this sounds ludicrous to some self-identified left-wing or progressive or liberal people is sort of the root of this disagreement, because I’m certainly not the only one.

              • jim, some guy in iowa

                is it totally ass-backwards of me to wonder if we tried to do something about the racial disparities that might actually have a positive effect on the economic ones? It isn’t a thought-out notion (just occurred to me right now), but it seems *possible*

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Is there any form of critique of Sanders that wouldn’t be an “axe job”?

      • Steve LaBonne

        Yeah, I like Bernie (certainly better than I like Clinton), but the Berniebros- not so much.

        • sam

          Coates spent yesterday afternoon reposting some of the more *delightful* twitter responses he was getting from the Bernie bros. Between that and the Planned Parenthood crap, every time I start thinking *Hm, maybe Bernie…”, I end up violently recoiling from his “supporters”.

      • efc

        Yes. A critique of his theory of political change vis a vis Clinton or O’Malley would be legitimate. It would be a critique that explained why Sanders’ position is wrong and why an alternative is better. A specific critique of Sanders for a position that both Clinton or O’Malley hold (or I guess don’t hold) seems kind of “axey”.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          That’s ludicrous. Why should Bernie be on such a pedestal that he cannot be critiqued on his own? Bernie was asked about reparations, made a statement in response, and Coates wrote a blog post about it — Coates doesn’t have to subsequently write that post to your specifications. Obviously none of the other candidates support reparations. Coates’s point here was that Bernie is the self-proclaimed radical in this race, but even so, white supremacy is so entrenched that even reparations are too radical for the one radical in the race to endorse what Coates has argued elsewhere is vital for overcoming centuries of systematic oppression.

          • efc

            Coates’s point here was that Bernie is the self-proclaimed radical in this race, but even so, white supremacy is so entrenched that even reparations are too radical for the one radical in the race to endorse what Coates has argued elsewhere is vital for overcoming centuries of systematic oppression.

            That is a very good point. But then why the need to write

            I don’t think one has to per se endorse reparations as a policy preference in order to be deeply concerned about Sanders and race.

            Because this isn’t a Sanders problem. It is a problem with American society and entrenched white supremacy. So why the pivot to an attack on Sanders?

        • See my comment elsewhere on this page for why targeting Bernie can be rational and not an attack on Bernie or his campaign per se.

          Primaries are great times for issue mongering and politicking. Indeed, a great part of (and probably ultimately all of) the value of Sanders’ campaign is raising (left friendly) issue and pushing the party to support them. There’s nothing wrong with using Sanders to advance other issues either by getting him to adopt them or by attacking him for not supporting them.

          Either candidate would be an acceptable president and obviously hugely better than any Republican. Both would have a reasonable chance of winning. They both have pros and cons. Using either’s campaign for issue pushing is just dandy and we should embrace it. There’s no evidence that any such act will negatively affect the general.

    • kped

      So…we can fight over who is the better candidate, so long as it’s in service of proving that Bernie is the better candidate?

      Everyone wants a contested primary, not a coronation…but man, it sure seems like some of you lot want a coronation for Bernie Sanders.

      • catbirdman

        So… we can rip on Sanders for not coming out and calling for reparations, but Hillary and every other candidate with any chance of being elected gets a pass for holding the exact same position. Got it.

        • kped

          But Sanders isn’t getting ripped, it’s more disapointment that his “radical revolution” has such defined borders.

          Free College – Yay!
          Single Payer – Yay!

          Gun Control – Eh….let’s not be rash, it’s divisive
          Reparations – Eh….it’s too divisive

          It just seems like this candidate isn’t going far enough, or doesn’t have a better reason why he isn’t.

          • Breadbaker

            And the line is drawn at a place that fits into the life experience of the Jew who moved to Vermont rather than demonstrating an understanding or empathy for people whose votes he would need to have come out in droves for the general.

            There was a lot of talk upthread about 2004 versus 2008. Let me try another one. Imagine in 1981 suggesting that there would be an independent Estonia in 1990. But there were people who were saying just that (and had since 1940). They kept the flame alive, kept the idea alive (ultimately, that was essentially what Jerry Ford was ripped for saying in 1976, he just said it bad). All of these ideas are, in 2016, politically impossible. The question is which ones you dismiss out of hand and which ones you choose to fan the tiny sparks of. And it is worth noting that this is where Bernie Sanders draws the line.

  • junker

    I think TNC has less of a problem with the failure to stand up for reparations than the Sanders brush off of “Oh it’s not worth talking about since it will never get through congress.”

    It’s important to note that part of Sanders’ argument is that his election would have the power to genuinely foment a revolution in this country that would sweep away all concerns in opposition to his agenda. Yet reparations is still a bridge too far for him? It’s hard for me to imagine a world that has so totally changed to usher in single-payer and all the other ideas he has but would still think reparations is wholly out of the realm of the possible.

    • Nick never Nick

      And Sanders will ‘foment’ a revolution exactly how? And why would that be a good thing?

      • Davis X. Machina

        It’s self-fomenting.

        Dispassionate reflection by the people upon the injustice of the status quo, once they are in possession of all the facts, is all you need.

        • libarbarian

          LOL!

      • junker

        Ask him – I think he’s naive in the extreme.

        In many ways Sanders is the ultimate expression of the green Lantern school of politics; all you need for radical change is just to appeal loudly to the people! If he does become President I think it will be funny to see how quickly he becomes the next big liberal sellout.

        • so-in-so

          Wasn’t that guy already in (and out) of the race? He’d be a “mandate” candidate and therefore able to force Congress to enact his desired reform?

    • SNF

      This.

      Sanders is really weird about what he thinks is politically possible.

      He promises unicorns on economic issues, and quibbles over other issues.

      I think it’s a clue into what he considers most important. Sanders is pro-racial justice, but he cares much less about it than he does about issues that fit into his anti-1% narrative of the world.

    • efc

      Because his theory of change and the racialized component of the limits of that change have historical presedents. LGM writers (I forget who) constantly have defended the incrementalism of the ACA by pointing to FDR and social security. So we have an example of a program that was created as part of a political revolution that would not have also allowed for race based reparations.

      Sanders’ belief in a political revolution based on mass participation doesn’t mean he thinks that this revolution would allow for anything or everything to be changed in the US.

      • Gregor Sansa

        This. Though of course it’s worth saying that Sanders is better than FDR on race, even compared to average contemporaries.

        • efc

          Yes. Definitely. I wasn’t trying to imply Sanders would support a new program that implicitly or explicitly excluded non-whites from the benefits like FDR.

    • catbirdman

      “It’s hard for me to imagine a world that has so totally changed to usher in single-payer and all the other ideas he has but would still think reparations is wholly out of the realm of the possible.”

      That’s quite a stretch, to compare “Medicare for all” — the approach to health care taken by every other industrial country — to reparations, something that has never been tried in the world (to the best of my knowledge — correct me if I’m wrong), and that would have incredible potential for violent and widespread backlash by heavily armed racists.

  • slothrop

    Cornell West endorses “brother Bernie Sanders.” Good enough for me.

    • Why?

      • slothrop

        Here. Socialism (I assume that “socialism” is informed by Marxist analysis of class conflict), does not reduce racism, gender chauvinism, or any other discourses of exclusion, to economic relations. I understand class conflict to include all of these forms of conflict. So, as Cornel West says, socialism “is the best hope for alleviating and minimizing racism.” Even if Bernie doesn’t care about race (which is not true), the fact that he is a socialist makes all the difference.

        • slothrop

          I wrote that hastily – I should have said that class conflict includes these other dimensions of social exclusion, but that racism can’t be reduced to purely the social relations of production in any given historical context.

        • sharculese

          The thing is that half a decade of acting like a crazy person has really minimized my ability to care what West says. If you told me in 2010 that West endorsed Sanders I would have been intrigued. At this point it means about as much to me as Palin supporting Trump and probably serves a lot of the same functions for both of them – whatever keeps you in the spotlight.

          • djw

            As a fan of the early work, so to speak, I really wish West would stop trying to prove Larry Summers right about him. West’s switch on Obama was utterly and completely abrupt. He was a big fan, until one day when suddenly he was the worst kind of neoliberal sellout imaginable. The thing is, at T1 when he was a big fan, he was utterly contemptuous of those who didn’t, and at T2 he had the same contempt for those who still supported the sellout.

            • sam

              The fact that the pivot point happened immediately after Obama didn’t personally invite him to the inauguration has nothing to do with it, I’m sure.

    • sharculese

      At this point that’s almost an argument in support of Hillary.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Given the way West has trashed Obama, I’d delete the “almost” from that sentence.

        • sharculese

          I don’t think he’s completely wrecked his reputation yet, but he needs to pull back from the brink soon.

          • Sly

            The brink disappeared past the horizon in Cornell West’s rearview mirror the moment the words “Global George Zimmerman” left his lips.

            • Gregor Sansa

              As a Bernie supporter who really wants Bernie to do the best he can on race, I definitely would like to see West held at arm’s length. Especially if by doing so you could get West to say “Obama and Sanders….”

      • slothrop

        Feminists have good reason to not vote for HRC, but rather for Bernie.

        • sharculese

          I don’t know how this is responsive to what I said nor what it has to do with Cornell West.

          • slothrop

            Sorry – to clarify – socialism also provides the best means to reduce gender discrimination.

            • How?

              This seems very much in doubt.

              • SNF

                Once you get some magic unicorns, you get all the other magical unicorns too.

                • so-in-so

                  Like “Save the whales – collect the whole set!”?

              • slothrop

                If you look at countries in the industrialized North that promote greater distributions of the social product, like Denmark, (I’m using Denmark as the example because Bernie Sanders sure likes Denmark), women enjoy far greater economic parity. Of course, There is more to gender inequality than economic parity.

                • Breadbaker

                  These are the same countries with significant problems dealing with immigrants.

            • sharculese

              I still don’t know what this has to do with Cornell West.

              • slothrop

                As I mentioned, using his citation about race, I think you can say the same thing about gender – that socialism is the best antidote against gender discrimination.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  And I can say that unicorns shit gold bricks.

            • advocatethis

              That’s all well and good, but as we are not going to become a socialist nation even if Bernie is elected, what policies can Bernie advance that put him on a par with Hillary from a feminist perspective?

            • kped

              So…elect Bernie Sanders, the nominally socialist Democrat…and suddenly the entire government is socialist?

              Can you show your work please, I’m having trouble with your calculations here.

        • Sanders’ response to Planned Parenthood brings that assertion under some doubt.

          • sharculese

            Yeah it kind of highlights an ignorance of RR politics that is… concerning. Like I don’t think Sanders needs to be clued in to the nitty-gritty of the movement, but he should have someone around who can explain this stuff to him.

            I’ve always been a bigger defender of PP’s skittishness about national politics than a lot of people, because I believe that PP’s job is keeping clinic doors open, and that primarily happens at the state level. But officially endorsing Hillary is a BFD, and the response from Bernie showed an alarming level of tone-deafness.

            • cppb

              I don’t really understand this line of argument. Isn’t it correct to diagnose progressive organizations like PP (and, especially, unions) endorsing Clinton as a reflection of establishment politics? I get that it sounds kind of bitter to respond to the news with anything other than “I’m disappointed, I think my platform is better than my opponent’s, but I hope we can all work towards common ideas, etc.”

              But is there any evidence that Sanders would be less supportive of pro-women or pro-reproductive rights policies than Clinton? Is there any evidence that Sanders’ preferred economic policies would not benefit women more than Clinton’s (even assuming Clinton’s current position doesn’t shift rightward). So I see these sort of organizations’ endorsements of Clinton as very much the product of establishment politics, picking the assumed winner, buying access, etc.

              I’m a supporter of PP, too, and of course their endorsement of Clinton doesn’t affect that in any way, but I don’t get how Sanders’ response is “troubling” or casts doubt on whether expanding the welfare state is a feminist policy. It’s not like he said, “since PP is engaging in establishment politics, when my political revolution puts me in office I’m going to defund them.”

              • sharculese

                Isn’t it correct to diagnose progressive organizations like PP (and, especially, unions) endorsing Clinton as a reflection of establishment politics?

                Planned Parenthood not only doesn’t have a history of endorsing establishment candidates, it doesn’t have a history of endorsing candidates at all.

                • Phil Perspective

                  Planned Parenthood not only doesn’t have a history of endorsing establishment candidates, it doesn’t have a history of endorsing candidates at all.

                  HRC didn’t endorse candidates before the nominations was all but wrapped up, until they did(being now). To call HRC non-establishment is very stupid. Just look at their board of directors. PP is establishment too. Richards’s mother was the former Governor of Texas, for cryin’ out loud. If they weren’t establishment, it would have been less likely that they got caught flat-footed by the GOP’s hard-right turn.

                • cppb

                  I don’t think you have to have a history of endorsing candidates to be engaging in “establishment politics” when you do finally endorse someone. PP donates to candidates and fund-raises for them, doesn’t it? The organization certainly lobbies and engages in public political advocacy. It has close ties with the Democratic Party leadership. It’s certainly a political organization that can be considered “establishment” compared to other organizations that don’t work through those sort of channels.

                  The question is, since PP did endorse someone, why did they choose to endorse Clinton over Sanders? If Clinton was both “more establishment” (whatever that might mean) AND the candidate with the better expressed policy preferences for the organization’s constituency, the distinction wouldn’t really matter.

                  But here, I think that they chose the “more establishment” candidate over a candidate that has expressed policy preferences that are better for women in general, and at least as good on issues of reproductive rights specifically. So, why? The idea that they made their choice because Clinton is the presumptive nominee, or that Clinton has closer ties with the Party leadership, or some other “establishment” reason, is not outlandish.

                  I’m not saying those reasons are horrible. Betting on a small likely benefit over a larger, but less likely, benefit is a totally defensible choice, especially for a large organization doing important day-to-day work that must continue. It’s just that in this case (and the case of unions endorsing Clinton) I don’t see the upside. If you endorse Sanders and Clinton wins, is Clinton really going to throw her support for your policies away? Likely not, but working to beat Sanders just guarantees that you won’t have a nominee who is even better on collateral issues like the welfare state.

                • cppb

                  Missed my edit window. I think in a big way, this dispute is a symptom of the fact that “establishment” is a pretty meaningless term. All I really want to know is, if we assume that Sanders’ policy preferences related to women and/or reproductive rights are at least as good or better than Clinton’s policy preferences, then why would PP endorse Clinton? I think there are good answers and bad answers to that question, but Sanders expressing (by calling it “establishment” or whatever) that he thinks they had a bad reason doesn’t make me worry that Sanders would not, in fact, be good for reproductive rights. It just makes me think he would have preferred their endorsement because he thinks his policies are better than Clinton’s.

              • Brien Jackson

                “But is there any evidence that Sanders would be less supportive of pro-women or pro-reproductive rights policies than Clinton? Is there any evidence that Sanders’ preferred economic policies would not benefit women more than Clinton’s (even assuming Clinton’s current position doesn’t shift rightward). So I see these sort of organizations’ endorsements of Clinton as very much the product of establishment politics, picking the assumed winner, buying access, etc. ”

                The people who work and volunteer at Planned Parenthood do so with the very real threat of getting bombed or shot whenever they show up, all in the name of promoting women’s rights. For such a statement to not only be drafted, but make it through however many filters the campaign has set up and actually be published, does in fact raise quite a few serious doubts about how committed Sanders is to these issues beyond just casting votes.

                • cppb

                  Calling an organization “establishment” raises doubts that Sanders doesn’t support funding PP, protecting clinic workers, or protecting reproductive rights? I just don’t see how you get from A to B. He has a 100% lifetime rating from them. What does a complaint about their endorsement have to do with clinic workers?

                  I’m not trying to be a dick. I support PP financially and think everyone who works for them is doing crucial service. I just don’t think criticizing a primary endorsement undermines that, and I’m genuinely interested if you care to elaborate.

                • Brien Jackson

                  The Sanders campaign are the ones who characterized Planned Parenthood as a group they’re fighting against, not me.

                • cppb

                  No, he didn’t. He said they were “part of the establishment.” If you think that implicates being against clinic workers, or abortion rights, then we simply disagree about what it means to be against things.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  The quotes in context are much more nuanced than “PP=establishment=bad”. It was stupid but it wasn’t wrong.

          • manual

            Again, this line of logic is completely incompatible with the truth. PP and HRC are completely creatures of the Dem establishment. They meet at the DNC during its organizing, targeting and funding meetings to direct democratic politics, and help funnel money to candidates. The idea that they are not part of the DEM establishment suggests you dont really have a firm grasp of what the DEM establishment is.

            I’ve sat in room with these organizations as they work with the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC to help chart strategy. They might be under attack from the right, but are not from the left or the Dem party. The idea that the work of Democrats, or Wall Street Democrats, is in crosswise or otherwise not in complete agreement is just not true.

            They are professional political organizations with large staffs that are well within the coalition that makes up Washington DC Dem politics.

            • Origami Isopod

              So… if Bernie is opposing the Democratic establishment, and PP is “the Democratic establishment,” what does that say about Bernie’s attitude toward PP, then? Or, rather, what does that say about Berniebros’ attitudes toward PP?

              • manual

                You do realize you can try and best the DC establishment in the election and still support Choice and Gay Rights, which Bernie has done longer and more consistently than Clinton, right. It just means he wants to beat their candidate.

                I work for a DC organization to which Bernie is the greater champion but he has not received an endorsement. Because establishment Dem origanizations have a legitimate self interest in currying favor with the likely nominee. Its rationale self interest. I dont think any of us believe Bernie will be abandoning the cause of workers rights because he wishes to “beat” or “oppose” the dem establishment.

                When he opposed DOMA, supported gay marriage, and has never once qualified his support for abortion (unlike clinton, who wanted it “rare”) did that endanger these groups or their causes.

                You must realize there is a difference between the causes and the organizations that represent them in DC, right? This should not be that hard.

                • efc

                  It’s hard because otherwise you couldn’t show how Serious you are by bashing those millions of berniebros who are the true establishment.

                • catbirdman

                  I like that Freudian typo, “rationale self interest” ;- ]

              • Phil Perspective

                Nothing. Show me why he wouldn’t be a champion of their causes just as much as Hillary might be. He has a lifetime 100% rating from PP.

            • Spiny

              …what does this have to do with Sanders being tone-deaf on a major gender politics issue?

              • manual

                Was he, or Sec. Clinton, tone def on gender politics when she declared that abortion should be “rare?” Or was he deaf when he has, without hesitation, supported a womens right to choose.

                I think saying abortion should be “rare,” stigmatizes the procedure.

                Or was he – or she – gender tone def by supporting the end to cash assistance to needy families. A policy that devastated primarily women, especially women of color?

                Unlike his record, her’s is a bit troubling on these gender specific issues.

                • Spiny

                  You keep changing the topic in your response. Erik said Sanders’ reaction to the PP endorsement gave some doubt to the idea that feminists should vote Sanders. You responded with an argument that PP is definitely establishment, which was irrelevant and which Erik hadn’t even disputed.

                  Now you’ve dropped the establishment line and are arguing that Sanders’ record means he is superior on these issues. On this point I can only refer to the reasons PP gave for their endorsement. In short, while Sanders supports women’s rights legislation, Clinton actually puts that legislation on the table in the first place. They do not agree with you that her record is troubling on gender issues. Yes, it is tone-deaf of Sanders to imply that the PP endorsement is just establishment politics and not a women’s rights group endorsing the candidate they think is best for women.

                • Brien Jackson

                  The Berniebros are the class of internet lefty who don’t actually care about politics in the sense of accomplishing real gains, but rather beating THE ESTABLISHMENT as marking themselves as the kingmakers in Democratic Party politics.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  BJ, you’re right, they are. But they are also less than 10% of Bernie’s support. If you look for the most annoying 10% of Hillary supporters, or Obama supporters, you can find some peaches.

  • D.N. Nation

    I wonder how much of this is small-fish/big-pond for Sanders. His Planned Parenthood comments that reeked of Nader’s “gonadal politics” complaint were awful disappointing as well, but could be seen as a man forced for the first time in his political life to laser-scope focus on issues outside of his wheelhouse. Then again, you’re running for president, Bernie, so.

    What do we want out of Bernie Sanders? If it’s to influence the debate on our side of the spectrum from his specific speciality, it’s one thing; if it’s to be a champion of broad progressive policy while juggling being an electable Democratic candidate, it’s another.

    If Bernie’s right that solving economic/class issues would bequeath a shattering of systemic, institutional racism, then I’d like to hear him explain it better than he has. Which is why

    My hope was to talk to Sanders directly, before writing this article. I reached out repeatedly to his campaign over the past three days. The Sanders campaign did not respond.

    bothers me.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Well, this kind of thing is why I like him as an issue raiser and a useful sparring partner for Clinton, but would start having second thoughts if he seemed to have a serious chance of being nominated.

      • D.N. Nation

        My thoughts exactly and more succinctly than I was putting it.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      yeah at this point *someone*- not necessarily Sanders himself- should have responded directly to Coates. even a boilerplate “we’re working on it” is better than silence

      • kped

        This is where Hillary Clinton has the better way of answering. She talks about being pragmatic and getting things done. Her response to reparations would be “just can’t pass it through this congress” and she could move on.

        But Bernie is in the tricky spot of promising LA [email protected] where everyone gets healthcare and free school and a bank in their backyard, and despite the fact that there is about a 0% chance of any of that, he is unwilling to even consider reparations.

        I mean, when i talk about my fantasies, i don’t say “In my dreams I can fly and have laser vision, but not immortality, that would just be unrealistic”. It’s all unrealistic. So why some and not others? What of LA REVOLUTION!

        • efc

          Reparations and single payer are not the same level of “realistic”. We already have single payer healthcare for millions and millions of people in the US. We don’t and never have had reparations. Other people have made the same point a number of different times in the comments. Were you just looking for a chance to sound really Serious?

    • Yeah, I thought that was the biggest problem here too. He just doesn’t want to talk about race.

      • wengler

        He’s talked about race plenty. He doesn’t want to talk about reparations.

        • Pat

          I guess it’s fine to talk about race as long as white people don’t have to put any money out.

          • Matt Stevens

            No, Sanders is happy to send a disproportionate share of tax dollars to black people. He just doesn’t want to only send that money to black people.

            • Steve LaBonne

              Neither does Coates.

              • Matt Stevens

                Only because he’s been weaselly about what, exactly, “reparations” means.

                • sharculese

                  Does anyone know exactly what ‘reparations’ means? We’re so far from the point where we can talk about reparations happening that there’s no way to talk about what form it would take.

                • so-in-so

                  Isn’t TNC’s point to have a serious debate on the issue, not necessarily looking for the money immediately? I thought that the core point of his article was that the idea gets quickly blown off with no actual consideration.

                • djw

                  Saying, completely forthrightly, as Coates does in his reparations article, that the details of a reparations plan would be difficult and complex, which is why the next step is to pass Rangel’sConyer’s bill to study it and come up with some models, isn’t weaselly at all, unless you treat any admission of uncertainty is “weaselly.”

                • Nick056

                  It is weaselly in the limited sense that HR 40 isn’t really reparations per se; it’s a commitment to study the effects of racism and submit recommendations. So if that is far as you are willing to go, you don’t really “support” reparations either. And even in his piece Coates calls it the “indispensable tool.” So it’s indispensable — and all Coates will say concretely we should support a bill that authorizes a study with recommendations? How is that “indispensable?” His piece was bad and too many people do not want to admit it because they are tired of glib Bernie supporters who can’t discuss race, sex, etc.

            • advocatethis

              Disproportionate in what regard? So far, I don’t think your use of that word is helping your or Bernie’s cause.

              • Matt Stevens

                Meaning that social democracy, in general, would help black people more than white people, just because black people are more likely to be poor. You can infer all sorts of things from “disproportionate” but it doesn’t mean “unfair,” just that the average black American will see slightly more $ (in services-taxes sense) than the average white American under an ideal Bernie Sander’s style social democracy. That’s the way it should be.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  And you know, Bernie could have said that in response to the inquiry! But he didn’t. He actually listed a bunch of things that clearly are part of a practical reparations agenda, but completely failed to connect them to the question rather than brushing the question off in a dismissive tone. That’s exactly the kind of tone-deafness that’s concerning.

                • Nick056

                  Hmm. He said that the impoverished communities he would help are often African Anerican and Latino. That is a weak connection, but he made it.

                • advocatethis

                  That’s a fair enough explanation, but I think that in the context of this thread the use of that word reflects the tone-deafness that is also being discussed. The premise of reparations is that blacks have given far more than their share, “proportionate” to what has been returned to them, in the creation and accumulation of wealth in this country and that it’s well past time to make them whole. In that regard, there is nothing disproportionate in now giving them more than the average white American would receive relative to taxes paid.

                • Matt Stevens

                  advocatethis, your response, while perfectly polite and respectful, represents everything I despite about the left today.

                  I didn’t use “disproportionate” in a bizarre or wacky way. I assumed, arguing among supposed ideological allies, that people wouldn’t be trolls and would read things in context.

                  But because somebody could take it out of context to make a strained, racist argument, that means I’m guilty of “tone deafness.”

                  We can’t discuss issues honestly and forthrightly in that kind of environment. It’s equivalent to the “civility” dodge.

            • kped

              How is he proposing to send a “disproportionate share” of tax dollars to black people? What proportion do you think they are owed, and where did he say he’d give more?

              • Matt Stevens

                All it means is that if you take from the rich and give to the poor, then on average, more money will be taken from white people and given to black people. This shouldn’t be controversial, and I never said this was a bad thing.

                • kped

                  Fair enough, but the way some people in their thread are talking…some words or comments just end up coming off…wrong. Glad you cleared it up!

  • xq

    Socialism is considerably more popular than reparations. I think Sanders can win a general election as a self-declared socialist (given that his actual policy positions are just on the left end of the Democratic party). If you think there’s any chance at all he could win the primary, it would be irresponsible for Sanders to support a policy that would hurt him so badly in the general election.

    Polling on reparations: https://today.yougov.com/news/2014/06/02/reparations/

    Polling on socialism: https://today.yougov.com/news/2015/05/11/one-third-millennials-like-socialism/

    • Steve LaBonne

      I agree, and besides any Dem is going to get called a socialist. What bugs me is that in at least some moods- the ones where I see capitalism as dangerously unsustainable- I consider myself a socialist, and Bernie just isn’t one. He’s a left-liberal not much different from Sherrod Brown (my sainted Senator) and Elizabeth Warren.

      • MacK

        Well – he’s not a democratic socialist, at most he’s a social democrat.

    • Roberta

      This. This is why those who argue that if Bernie is “radical” enough to be a self-declared socialist, he has no excuse for not being “radical” enough to be pro-reparations, are wrong.

    • Hogan

      You’re comparing polling on reparations among whites to polling on socialism among millennials. That seems like loading the dice, apart from the fact that “socialism” doesn’t have any more specific content than “reparations.”

      • xq

        Both articles contain the overall numbers. 15% of Americans support reparations, 26% favor socialism.

    • djw

      This is, of course, absolutely part of Coates’ point. That reparations is entirely unthinkable to the vast majority of white people across the ideological spectrum is a strong indication of the depth of white supremacy, and is precisely why we need it as part of the national conversation. Ignoring our the debt racial plunder incurred obviously isn’t working, since we keep re-inventing new forms of it.

      • xq

        That reparations is entirely unthinkable to the vast majority of white people across the ideological spectrum is a strong indication of the depth of white supremacy, and is precisely why we need it as part of the national conversation. Ignoring our the debt racial plunder incurred obviously isn’t working, since we keep re-inventing new forms of it.

        This is not an argument I would expect you to make in any other context. That the status quo isn’t “working” doesn’t mean that any particular deviation from it will improve things rather than harm them. What reason do you have to believe that white people are receptive to talk about reparations (I can’t find polling on Hispanics or Asians)? The most powerful message Republicans have is “Democrats want to take money from hard-working white people and give it to minorities.”

      • Nick056

        I can’t buy this logic. In a recent poll, only 4% of American whites supported reparations. Is that because 96% of white Americans are animated by white supremacy?

        • Are 96% of whites white supremacists?

          Certainly one can argue that this is true.

          • Nick056

            I would only argue that in public if I were cashing a large sub rosa check from Donald Trump, who would be the person alive today most delighted to hear that on the evening news, because he would be the only one to benefit from it overnight.

        • djw

          What’s the alternative explanation for the view that centuries of racial plunder incurs no debts? I mean, you can argue that most white people don’t understand the extent and scope of racial plunder, but that carefully crafted ignorance is an important part of a white supremacist social and political order.

          Obviously I’m not saying that 96% of white people are straightforwardly committed to maintaining white supremacy. That’a simplistic and Manichean.

          • Nick056

            The alternative explanation is that a debt dies with the person who incurred it, and the US government that incurred the debts of slavery died and was reconstituted in 1865. Is this a good argument? Sufficient? Maybe not. But Lincoln said that that war itself was the woe due to those by whom the offense came — i.e. the price you pay. He also said that every drop of blood drawn by the lash may be paid by another drawn by the sword. The language itself — a woe due, blood paid for by blood — implies that the war itself is the true punishment for slavery. Am I appealing to authority? No. But I don’t think it’s an argument you can dismiss as white supremacist.

            Now, what about reconstruction’s failure? What about terrorism? What about housing and land policy? These questions are out there too. But I think the word reparations is so bound up in slavery you can’t expect people to see past that, and there are viable, non-white-supremacist arguments that no one living today can pay or collect a debt for slavery. that’s why only 66 percent or so black Americans support reparations, I suppose, and you can hardly say they’re white supremacist.

            • djw

              But I think the word reparations is so bound up in slavery you can’t expect people to see past that

              This is a kind of deliberate ignorance about the resilience of racial plunder; an agnotology of white innocence, is an important part of how white supremacy survives in a society where people psychologically value a self-image as non-racist.

              • Nick056

                ?

                I think “reparations” is bound up in discussions of slavery because that’s the meaning behind its initial use in contemporary culture. Ta-Nehesi Coates writes:

                In the 20th century, the cause of reparations was taken up by a diverse cast that included the Confederate veteran Walter R. Vaughan, who believed that reparations would be a stimulus for the South; the black activist Callie House; black-nationalist leaders like “Queen Mother” Audley Moore; and the civil-rights activist James Forman. The movement coalesced in 1987 under an umbrella organization called the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA). The NAACP endorsed reparations in 1993. Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a professor at Harvard Law School, has pursued reparations claims in court.

                The NCOBRA website explicitly discusses reparations in the context of slavery. This is how the term entered contemporary discourse. I respect your overall position, but, frankly, you’re accusing white people of engaging in a process of deliberate ignorance with regard to the word “reparations” when all white people are doing is recalling the specific meaning of the word when it first entered our modern political lexicon — according to its proponents. Is it hard to for you to see why conservatives might find it silly and offensive to assert that “agnotology” — an academic word if ever there was one — explains why people associate “reparations” with slavery, when in fact that was the intended usage back in 1987?

  • Matt Stevens

    I don’t think one has to per se endorse reparations as a policy preference in order to be deeply concerned about Sanders and race.

    No, but if you don’t endorse reparations as a policy then you are, in TNC’s eyes, as much of a white supremacist as Sanders. After all, if reparations are “the indispensable tool against white supremacy” then opposing reparations ipso facto makes one a supporter of it. Because really, the only evidence that TNC has that Sanders “has failed in the ancient fight against white supremacy” is that Sander’s won’t put reparations in his policy platform. Otherwise they basically agree on the issues.

    To me, though, this just shows intellectual cowardice on your part: You’re not really agreeing with TNC’s argument; instead you’re shuffling your feet and saying there has to be something wrong with Sanders for riling up the black guy. Be honest and cut the crap.

    • Origami Isopod

      You can’t “basically agree on the issues” while denying that African Americans have had their wealth massively drained for the benefit of white Americans throughout U.S. history and deserve to have it restored to them. Sorry you’re so butthurt at being called out on your racism, bro.

      • Matt Stevens

        You can’t “basically agree on the issues” while denying that African Americans have had their wealth massively drained for the benefit of white Americans throughout U.S. history and deserve to have it restored to them.

        Who ever denied that? Sanders didn’t. But good for you for knocking down a straw man.

        Sorry you’re so butthurt at being called out on your racism, bro.

        Did you actually read a word I said, or you just a stone-cold moron?

    • Brien Jackson

      “No, but if you don’t endorse reparations as a policy then you are, in TNC’s eyes, as much of a white supremacist as Sanders. ”

      Well…yeah. This is obviously correct.

  • ProgressiveLiberal

    Shorter TNC: “Sanders is not appreciably better on ‘race’ than Clinton.”

    Is the silly season over yet? I have the utmost respect for Ta-Nehisi Coates but this article was a waste of space.

    I welcome our future vegan candidate who is better on race than Sanders, Clinton and Obama, so I can cast my vote with a clear conscience.

    PS. Did I miss the article about Clinton or is this a thinly veiled attempt to push Sanders even further left?

    • Origami Isopod

      I welcome our future vegan candidate

      Thanks for proving what a joke your handle is.

      • The Temporary Name

        Assuming the American empire will span the stars is at least optimistic.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Unlike virtually everyone here, I am consistently liberal. I support single payer, reparations, and the end of animal exploitation. I just don’t see two of those as good politics right now.

        It’s a shame our “liberals” here don’t agree.

  • MacK

    One odd trope about Sanders is his insistence on calling himself a “Democratic Socialist” while at the same time making statements that demonstrate that he most certainly is not.

    Democratic socialism is the promotion of an economic system, in which the means of production are controlled democratically by the workers or by the state. Social democracy is the promotion of a mixed economy, in which the private capitalist sector is retained, but social welfare provisions are in place to make capitalist’s activity tolerable to society at large.

    As far as I can tell, Sanders is a social democrat – not a democratic socialist. I am puzzled as to why he uses this self-description.

    • Ronan

      I’ve noticed that as well but assumed that he wasn’t a social democrat

      • MacK

        Nah – he’s hardly a Democratic Socialist – the few I knew when growing up were members of the CPI-ML and used to sell a really awful magazine Red Patriot – you can find some hilarious archive copies here:

        https://cedarlounge.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/cpi-ml.pdf

        https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2007/08/16/the-cpi-ml-albania-ireland-and-me/

        and here is a mimeographed minute of the “party congress” in which a large amount of time is spent denouncing the less pure:

        https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ireland/12th-conf.pdf

        They had some prominent members who could reduce pretty well any situation to a brawl (or you could start one by yelling “hey Trotsky” at Tommy Graham.) They were Albanian line communists and were forever having motions to send fraternal greetings to Enver Hoxha – on thing like, oh his successful passing of a gall-stone, while attacking the Kruschevites.

        They used to go on fraternal trips to Albania, where they would come back with tales of the workers paradise – the CPI (without the ML) used to make similar trips to East Germany, again describing it as a workers paradise – each stayed in special resorts for visiting leftists – Potemkin villages of a sort.

        I mean seriously, Bernie would have nothing pretty well he’d agree with that crowd on.

        The last I heard of Tommy Graham I think he was teaching art I think in the US, might have been in a college in Vermont actually.

        • Ronan

          Did you ever shout “hey Trotsky” at Tommy Graham, yourself, Mack ; )

        • J. Otto Pohl

          East Germany probably had the highest material standard of living of any socialist state. It certainly outdid Albania and even the USSR. But, it was quite poor compared to next door West Germany. I don’t know how it compared to Ireland at the time.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Left-wing Dems in the US would be Social Democrats in Europe. We just don’t use that terminology.

    • SNF

      Probably because “socialist” is a provocative term.

    • Lee Rudolph

      I am puzzled as to why he uses this self-description.

      Presumably because he aligns himself with the Democratic Socialists of America, which (however incoherently) is described as “a democratic-socialist and social-democratic organization and political party in the United States, which is a member of the Socialist International” (I quote the Wikipedia article, but believe that it accurately reflects DSA self-definitions).

      Michael Harrington kind of thing.

  • cs

    I think it is basically fair to describe Sanders as a “mainstream white Democrat” on race, but couldn’t you have also just said “mainstream Democrat”? What is the typical position on reparations among prominent black Democrats?

    • Sly

      What is the typical position on reparations among prominent black Democrats?

      I don’t know how illustrative this is – YMMV – but every Congressional session, since 1989, John Conyers introduces a bill to form a commission on reparations for slavery, and its been supported by the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus.

      Notwithstanding all the dumb shit you find on the wingnutosphere, Obama’s only comment on reparations was made back in 2008, when he said something to the effect of “Fool, do you realize white people are listening? I think improving schools in the inner city would be better.”

      • Steve LaBonne

        Obama’s comment represents what I believe is the most effective strategy as a matter of practical politics- bag the “R” word, just do as many as possible of the things subsumed under it, of which major investment in inner-city schools is certainly one.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Except isn’t that effectively what Sanders is advocating? I’m pretty sure, for example, that an increase in the minimum wage to $15 helps a larger percentage of African-American workers than white workers in the same way that improving inner city schools helps a larger percentage of African-American students than white students.

          • Steve LaBonne

            It is, but as I said in another comment, he needs to make that connection himself rather than brushing off the question in a dismissive way. I know how that kind of response would sound to me if I were African-American.

      • advocatethis

        And Coates’s main request for action in “The Case for Reparations” was that Congressional Democrats, at least, support that bill to study, not adopt, reparations.

  • manual

    This is kind of posturing.

    The hard work of making American politics change requires coalition building, hard work and finding areas of common ground on which to unite the many in favor of policy goals that can only be accomplished during time-limited windows (I do for a living).

    Whether we like it or not (1) reparations are not popular broadly, (2) have not been a focal point of liberal politics or black politics, and (3) no work has been done to change this. Coates wrote an essay that was, empirically speaking, pretty pedestrian for people who’ve read Wilson, Massey and Denton and others. Do black Americans have a claim to reparations – absolutely. But is anyone doing it? Does anyone believe the time and capital to make it happen would be better spent than on programs that accomplish the same goals in terms of material redistribution that actually have a constituency? Probably not.

    Sanders is communicating things that are pretty popular but do not quite have the political salience to happen. Reparations is not its coequal politically just because it is equally as deserving. Unfortunately, politics requires making decisions. And for a variety of reasons, reparations has not been a focal point for American whites or blacks. An essay published in the Atlantic does not change that.

    It’s simply posturing of the type in which non-material, amorphous issues – say, a national conversation – is given too much credibility. How reperations end racism, Im not quite sure.

    Now if people think that massive redistribution is insufficient and reparations are better, thats fine intellectual discourse but seemingly lacking politics. Choices need to be made at some point. Coates is a man of good prose but not much substantive politics. Adolph Reed – an intellectual with a background in politics – has done better treatment on reparations (in my small opinion) and realizes, from years of organizing work, that coalition based politics and substantive redress are better than emotive markings.

    I support reperations but I dont think its a real politics at this point. Say what you want about Bernie, but paid family leave, breaking up the banks, and truly universal, cheap healthcare are positions supported by the vast majority of democrats. Reperations is not. Until we change that, saddling Sanders with the problems of certain political positions seems useless

    • Roberta

      Agreed entirely.

    • Nick056

      This comment is terrific, thank you.

      Also Coates is flat out wrong about Bernie’s campaign. He specifically says Bernie is comfortable with radicalism and partisanship, but Sanders does not rely on partisan rhetoric. In fact, his message is calibrated to emphasize a divide that is deeper than party politics as he conceives of them. He is, after all, a registered independent. And yet Coates benefits from so much deference that I have not seen one pundit call him out for saying that a career independent embraces “radicalism and partisanship.” To quote Nino, that’s pure applesauce.

      Too, the claim that Sanders wraps himself in the mantle of socialism is quite a bit exaggerated. Look at his campaign site; listen to his debate performance. He does not emphasize “socialism” as such. He talks about billionaires, banks, campaign donations, healthcare, the financial services industry, etc. So too, he is not emphasizing the most divisive label available to him. When asked whether he would use the term, he agrees and explains, but that’s different from what Coates lays out in his vision of a happy socialist warrior.

      Finally, I think Coates has a decent point about the selective benefits of political realism, and he probably could even anticipate Sanders’s honest reply, which would be that his proposals are not nearly as divisive within the Democratic Party as reparations would be. Sanders’s plans are nationally divisive, but could potentially receive broad support among liberals and within the Democratic coalition. Reparations cannot because they enjoy narrower and less intense support. It’s even possibly a classically defined wedge issue: in that sense, it is not only divisive between the party but inside the party. Therefore, I don’t think Sanders is necessarily a hypocrite to focus on the potential of reparations to divide rather than unite, even in comparison to universal healthcare. (You could object that I just finished calling Bernie an independent before defending his position on the basis of sensible party politics, but there’s no conflict between saying Sanders does not promote partisan thinking and saying he wants to support policies that have a relatively broad coalition in waiting.)

      None of this gets to the larger point, which is, why is reparations internally too divisive to touch, but not healthcare?

      • AMK

        “Why is reparations too internally divisive to touch, but not healthcare?”

        Really? Well, the debate between Obamacare and Universal Medicare is a practical process debate over something everyone in the country needs, would apply to everyone equally, and serves an end (affordable, accessable healthcare) that everyone agrees on. The reparations “debate” is an ideological crusade that is inherently unequal in its application, sharply divisive in the party and the country, serves no practical need, etc..etc…

        • manual

          Because most people in spirit (not practice) agree with universal healthcare, and almost all dems support the idea. This is not true of reparations.

          I would also note that the US is increasingly less black and white and other minority groups (and the majority of Americans) are more interested in other reforms than race-based reparations related to slavery.

          Finally, the black community has not made reparations a priority, despite Coates’ interest otherwise, in political practice. Affirmative action, education, funding for community development, housing, voting rights, increasingly policing and incarceration, and yes – economic justice – have played a larger role in black politics both nationally and locally than reparations.

          This blog and Coates are overestimating the interest and time the black community has invested in reparations as a central plank in racial justice.

          • Nick056

            I should say again I agree with you 100%.

        • Nick056

          The emancipation proclamation freed 10,000 slaves on the Sea Isle of South Carolina at the stroke of a pen. (It was a rare example of an area that was under Union control but not exempt from the provisions of the Proclamation.) the slaves there had direct ownership of the land, appropriated from their former masters, for a short time. Then the Johnson administration sent a man to inform them they would not keep the land they had toiled on so long for so little. This had a doubtless long and compound effect on the fortunes of their descendants.

          Davis Bend was a stretch of land belonging to that Davis family, which temporarily fell under the control of freed peoples, who realized a decent amount of security based on the ownership — until it was converted back to the Davis family.

          These are two small examples of recently freed black folks losing the most valuable commodity in the country other than themselves. There is a staggering, staggering moral claim that these losses must be made right. Even if you argue that the war itself constituted a metaphysical punishment to the country itself for slavery (as Lincoln did), even then, beginning in 1865 and running to the present day in different forms, blacks have been raided, used, fixated upon, and then grotesquely held up as both a pathology separate from America or a symbol of our greatness and capacity for progress, sometimes in the same breath. There is a terrific case that we shouldn’t see reparations so much as the wrath of God for what we have done.

          But. The opposition to “reparations” per se has arguments almost equally powerful. Only 2/3s of black respondents support reparations — a high number, but we are talking about a policy specifically conceived to make people whole, and it lacks overwhelming support. When something cannot be made right — when the debt is to great to pay — the effort to settle can be dangerous. If we did have reparations, would black people be able to obtain a hearing on issues like criminal justice reform? No, or at least, I don’t think so, because people would not view it as partial payment of a debt, but getting freeand clear. I think that nationally mandated reparations would, despite being politically impossible, actually result in greater indifference to black suffering. Few whites would ever want to hear “poverty” again. In other words, don’t demand recompense but fall for a pay off. Finally, while collective moral debt isn’t like personal debt, you have the problem of demanding that s broad and transformed polity make good on a debt they did not directly incur. Good luck.

    • AMK

      For the win.

  • Coates is completely right. It’s not just a political thing, either; on watching the Iowa Brown and Black Forum it was really striking how clear it was that both Hillary and Bernie have only a shallow understanding of the issues concerning PoC. If it goes beyond the one or two questions they’d expect in a regular debate they don’t have an answer, and they don’t have an answer in a way that reflects the limited amount of thought they’ve put into those issues.

    For example, Sanders was asked about affirmative action and college admissions and his answer showed he basically has no idea why people think it exists. Clinton was asked a basic question about privilege and from her answer I’m not sure she knows what the concept means.

    I support Sanders but also like Cliton, but the forum was really depressing, especially compared to when Obama talks about racial issues. It’s not one step down, it’s like ten steps.

    • Steve LaBonne

      And this is actively dangerous given how crucial African-Americans are to any winning Dem coalition.

  • McAllen

    Christ, some of you are being obtuse.

    Sanders seems to me to be a lot like Obama was in 2008: a very good candidate on whom left-wingers are projecting a lot of their views. It’s not a bad thing to point out that he’s not perfect, that he has weaknesses, and to push him to be better! It doesn’t mean Clinton’s better than him!

    • Sanders seems to me to be a lot like Obama was in 2008: a very good candidate on whom left-wingers are projecting a lot of their views.

      Yes. And it is clear to me that the left has learned nothing. If Sanders wins, when he compromises and can’t get legislation passed, his supporters will also accuse him of selling out and look for the next One True Leader who will bring their dreams to fruition.

      • SNF

        Yup.

        That’s one of the big things repelling me these days from his fanbase. They really believe he’s going to deliver all of this, and that this will be easy if he wins.

        If he were president they would turn on him incredibly fast. Especially if he passed anything that moved things in a liberal direction but was still too corporate-friendly for people’s purist tastes.

        • kped

          Hell, even after Obama did get things passed in his first two years in office (Health Care, Stimulus), his fickle worshipful base abandoned him in the midterms and he’s been forced to play around the margins ever since.

          These people vote every 4 years, and they work themselves up thinking that this time, this time it will happen! This time the new Daddy Jesus will convince everyone that they should all agree with him and pass what he wants, and everything will finally be perfect. And I can sit on my ass for 4 years because conservatives will be so moved that they will all become radical leftists.

          Or something. It’s not a very well thought out ideology.

          • Rob in CT

            It’s not clear to me that it was “the Base” (real or self-proclaimed) that abandoned the Dems in the midterms.

            I could be wrong, but I thought it was marginally attached D-leaners – people who don’t really pay much attention to politics and think Both Sides Do It – who consistently don’t show up for mid-term elections.

            The # of leftier-than-thous who stayed home in a snit is probably negligible in comparison.

            The simple fact is the Dem coalition, due to its composition, is weak in mid-terms. This can be overcome (2006), but seems to require scary levels of GOP fuckups first.

            • Steve LaBonne

              Nobody “abandoned” them. The people who never vote in midterms didn’t vote, while the Teabaggers were highly energized.

              • Rob in CT

                What I was trying to say.

                • kped

                  A lot of the people who don’t vote in teh mid-terms are the young. The people who tend to support the messianic view of presidential candidates seem to be the young. I may be wrong in equating the two groups, but it seems to have a large overlap.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        No.

        Some of us think that he will be better than Clinton in compromises. IE, he won’t trade TPP or do a grand bargain full of cuts. Would you bet your life savings that Clinton wouldn’t do either?

        IE, we are trying to avoid Obama (Clinton.)

        • Steve LaBonne

          Yeah, I’m desperate to avoid another Obama- by far the most progressive President since Johnson before he got bogged down in Vietnam. Jesus, I wish people like you would just stay away from Democratic politics altogether. The Greens need you, man!

          • pillsy

            Also, I gotta say, if I wanted to support candidates who refused to compromise with the opposition no mater what, I know where to find the Republican Party.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            Ugh…again with the semantics.

            Avoid the parts of obama that were bad. You know, patriot act style crap, grand bargain wishes, TPP, etc.

            I mean, none of you can argue that he isn’t supporting the TPP, right? Right?

            Clinton is Obama. Sanders is Obama plus groceries.

        • Some of us think that he will be better than Clinton in compromises. IE, he won’t trade TPP or do a grand bargain full of cuts

          It would help if half of your examples weren’t things that didn’t happen and were, in fact, deliberately poisoned by Obama in a political knife fight.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            Hilarious.

            And I’m sure the same could be said of the TPP.

            I take the president at his word. NOW who are the people “projecting their views”?

            Can’t have it both ways…

            • In one case he supported in normal times through to passage with considerable effort to make it happen. And it did happen.

              In the other, he said a lot, including under extraordinary times when the Republicans were holding the country hostage, switched in new clearly unacceptable options when the Republicans started moving toward agreement, won the fight and dropped like a hot stone.

              Your bad example is bad. Your good example is fine. That you rely on a bad example after it’s been shown bad is interesting.

        • Malaclypse

          IE, we are trying to avoid Obama (Clinton.)

          Real True Progressives know enough to sneer at people who successfully expand the welfare state.

          • SNF

            Yeah maybe he expanded the welfare state, but he didn’t really mean it.

            • pillsy

              On the other hand, he really meant to slash Social Security even if he never actually did it.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            Answered above.

            Did obama support TPP, yes or no?

            What makes any of you think he wouldn’t have accepted a grand bargain?

            He did a lot of good as a progressive. He just isn’t as progressive as Sanders.

            I mean, even Lieberman voted for the ACA, so there’s no difference between him and Clinton amirite? Or, could it be that some people are more progressive than others?!?!

    • catbirdman

      Who’s being obtuse? When one candidate is singled out and criticized for holding precisely the same view as every other candidate, how is that helpful, fair, etc?

  • politicalfootball

    I’m not sure Coates himself would agree with me, but I felt like the focus of his piece was more the US as a whole than it was Sanders. That is to say, Sanders’ position illustrates our shortcomings as a nation. To the extent that it’s a critique of Sanders, Coates is saying that in this respect, the candidate fails to transcend the tragic limitations of the country he lives in.

    • politicalfootball

      This is what I took to be Coates’ essential point, and it’s not about Sanders at all, but about America:

      if this is the candidate of the radical left — then expect white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children.

      • Steve LaBonne

        I read it that way also, nor can I dispute his point.

      • catbirdman

        “Radial left”? That’s what I don’t understand. Sanders’ most “radical” positions are far from being radical in much of the industrialized world. Reparations would be a truly “radical” position, and I don’t understand why Sanders should be expected to support it just because TNC decided that Sanders represents the “radical left.”

        • apogean

          To find the radial left, turn away from the center and keep going.

        • Hogan

          Sanders’ most “radical” positions are far from being radical in much of the industrialized world.

          Yes, but we don’t live there. We live here.

          • ProgressiveLiberal

            Ohhhhhhhh….”radical.” As in expanding a program that already exists and changing tax rates back to what they were for most of the last century! RAADDDDDDICALLLL….

    • Nick056

      I think it’s obvious Coates is trying to raise a broader point. His peroration talked about a nation that proposes to plunder their minorities and never make good on the debt. I thought it was obvious he wasn’t talking just about Sanders. And if he was then he’s lost his mind.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      That’s how I read it too. Coates keeps his eyes on the big picture. He’s a historian at heart, not a what’s-on-the-news-today political commentator.

    • Quite Likely

      But it seems pretty crazy to use the best candidate on the issues you care about as the center-piece of your critique of people’s positions overall, especially when he’s in the middle of a competitive race with a candidate who’s significantly worse on these issues. It’s like writing a whole piece on how bad the Democrats are on racial issues in the middle of a general election without mentioning any Republican positions.

      • It really isn’t.

      • politicalfootball

        But it seems pretty crazy to use the best candidate on the issues you care about as the center-piece of your critique of people’s positions overall

        Not everybody is a political operative. Coates tries to be an honorable journalist – that is, he tries to illuminate the truth.

        Here, his subject is the limits of what politicians can say about race, and what that means for America. In that context, he has to critique Sanders.

        It’s not a journalists’ job to shill for a candidate, but why do you think Coates would support Sanders over Clinton anyway, unless you get that impression from reading what he writes?

        How can Coates’ writing be consistent with support for Sanders?

        Well, as you and anybody with any sense knows, nothing in this piece suggests that Coates doesn’t support Sanders. Some writers don’t want to write for idiots – they’d rather write for you and me. I don’t blame them, and I’m glad such writers exist.

        (By the way, what you are failing to understand about Coates is the same point that LGM* persistently misses regarding Greenwald.)

        *More the commenters than the front-page posters, but them too, sometimes.

        • Ronan

          Coates isnt apolitical operative ? He’s pushing a specific policy position and basing his critique of a candidate over how much he satisfies his own political priors and hobby horses. I really dont get the love the love for Coates that exists. I mean he writes well and sometimes has interesting things to say , but is one note snd seems to have moved away from the self critical perspective he used to have to something much closer to an ideological/tribal operative

          • Coates isnt apolitical operative

            Nope. For whom does he operate?

            He has a perspective, of course.

            But let’s preserve some distinctions! You can say he’s one note or biased (I don’t agree but ok), but that doesn’t meaningfully make him a “political operative” even metaphorically.

      • advocatethis

        We can only wonder how the piece might have come out differently had Sanders or somebody from his campaign gotten back to Coates and had an open discussion about it. Perhaps they were too busy with more important things. In any case, the column was written without input from the Sanders people and now we see how perhaps things that seem unimportant can really f*ck us up if we neglect them.

  • pillsy

    I thought Coates’ original question was not good, Sanders’ answer was bad, and Coates’ follow-up did nothing to improve things. The main issue here is that “reparations”, at least if you’re taking Coates’ earlier writing on the subject seriously, are not a policy. This means it’s not remotely clear to me what he’s asking Sanders to support. Some of the the things that have been described as “reparations” are things that Sanders already supports, while other things that have been described as “reparations” actually are politically impossible even compared to, say, Sanders’ pie-in-the-sky proposal for single-payer healthcare.

    This is a major failure on Coates’ part, IMO, especially since he’s been so good about this in the past.

    Of course, not recognizing that is also a major failure on Sanders’ part. Even if he wasn’t familiar with Coates, or Coates’ work on the subject, just tossing out an off-the-cuff answer on Twitter was a pretty big mistake, and seems to be another instance where Sanders comes off as not quite ready for prime time.

    Then Coates replied to Sanders in a way that really doubled down on his original failure to be precise about what he was asking, which is pretty frustrating. I don’t know if I actually would agree with Coates’ conclusions if he had been more precise, but they seem very hard to support in this instance, but at the same time Sanders opened himself up to the attack by being clumsy and dismissive.

    Ugh.

    [1] Including in Coates’ own long essay on the topic.

    • kped

      Uhhh…reparations would most definitely be a policy, in that it would have to be proposed, passed and ratified as a law, and then paid out, much like a stimulus package.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        I think pillsy’s point is that just saying “reparations” is not articulating a policy without also spelling out what you believe such a “reparations” policy would consist of, since “reparations” can be many things.

        • pillsy

          Exactly. For instance, in Coates’ own “The Case for Reparations”, there are at least three different policies that are described using the word “reparations”.[1] One is passage of a perennial bill that John Conyers keeps submitting which always goes nowhere, which is just supposed to study the issue and propose something; another is a major but race-neutral expansion of the welfare state which looks an awful lot like the Sanders’ program; and the third is making (really huge) direct cash payments to African Americans in order to bring their income in line with the mean income of white Americans for a period of at least ten years.[2]

          I have no idea if Sanders would support the first, little doubt he’d support the second, and pretty sure that his answer for the third would be the answer he gave to Coates, and I gotta say he’d have a point. Coates listed an annual cost of $34 billion as the estimate from 1973, but a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation says it would be more like half-a-trillion dollars today.

          I also think that, even he was clumsy and simplistic about it, Sanders also has a serious point about the divisiveness of the idea of “reparations”. One constant and effective attack against entirely race neutral welfare state programs is that they amount to “reparations”. It’s been used against AFDC, and the various welfare state expansions of the ACA, and even the ridiculously inaccurate complaints about “Obamaphones” from the 2012 elections.

          Racism doesn’t trump poverty, and poverty doesn’t trump racism. Instead, they reinforce each other, and negative attitudes about the poor are used as a way to justify racism, while racist attitudes about black people are used as an excuse to end assistance for the poor.

          [1] And he’s quite clear that this is because there’s no real consensus on what reparations would actually look like when it comes to implementation.

          • Just_Dropping_By

            What was your second footnote supposed to be?

  • Nick never Nick

    Hello?
    Hello!
    It’s Democratic primary time
    So say Hooray!
    Hooray!
    As all the candidates get their say!
    And the outrage bell can chime away!
    Insufficient attention has been paid . . .
    Slaps in the face have been made . . .
    Troubling positions have been laid . . .
    Everybody look away in fright!
    Few have seen such a gruesome sight!
    As the Democrats preparing to unite!
    Hooray!

    Superb?
    It is Superb!
    But what’s it all in service of?
    That, my friend, is the hilarious rub!
    Sanders or Clinton, it makes no boot
    In our two-party presidential hoot!
    You’ll vote for either, the policy’s moot!
    Not a shade of difference, institutional constraints.
    We’re all of us here true sophisticates.
    Superb!

    chorus (repeat for 10 months)

  • RonC

    What most on the blog seem to write are things that at the least imply that Sanders is simply not quite good enough, which then of course leaves us with the other option, or candidate who would therefore be better?

    By the way what is Clinton’s position on reparations?

    • politicalfootball

      I, too, support Sanders because he is the lesser evil.

  • DAtt

    This is the “class first” approach, originating in the myth that racism and socialism are necessarily incompatible. But raising the minimum wage doesn’t really address the fact that black men without criminal records have about the same shot at low-wage work as white men with them; nor can making college free address the wage gap between black and white graduates. Housing discrimination, historical and present, may well be the fulcrum of white supremacy. Affirmative action is one of the most disputed issues of the day. Neither are addressed in the “racial justice” section of Sanders platform.”

    Will reparations solve employment discrimination? Will they address the wage gap? Will they address housing discrimination? TNC’s article would have been stronger if he critiqued Sanders for these omissions, rather than for failing to support reparations.

    It’s completely reasonable to look at the Great Society and say “racial disparity isn’t challenged in a fundamental way by simply expanding public programs and training.” But in contrast to relatively paternalistic supply-side programs, an aggressive demand-side program would massively reduce black poverty and may well empower black political-economic militancy. Check out MLK’s economic and social bill of rights. I’m genuinely not using it as a “get out of racial issues free” card or to invoke him as a totem, but because I think it’s a great piece that looks at the interconnection between racism and inequality.

    http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/document/economic-and-social-bill-rights#

    It would not solve issues of police violence or end racial discrimination, but it would transform black life and bolster black power.

    The claim that “reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensible tool against white supremacy” is over the top. Tell Fight for $15 that they’re wasting their time, then. A statuatory living wage and a unionized service sector are threats to white supremacy (not that they are close to sufficient).

    • Scott P.

      A statuatory living wage and a unionized service sector are threats to white supremacy (not that they are close to sufficient).

      Not if those jobs are largely restricted to whites.

      • Steve LaBonne

        White supremacy was really on the ropes in the 1950s, amirite?

        • DAtt

          Steve- isn’t the context a little different than in the 50s? To start with: the demographic weight and political muscle of minorities within the Democratic Party is much bigger, the labor movement is much less white and more service-sector oriented, we have stronger anti-discrimination law, etc. etc.

          I get what you’re trying to say: egalitarian economic policy doesn’t get rid of discrimination. But I think it’s a bit of a strawman. Particularly as the minimum wage in the 1950s topped out at around $7/hour in real terms.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Yeah. Then the Republican president was Eisenhower. Now if we get a Republican president it’ll be Trump. Not sure this difference helps your argument.

            • DAtt

              That doesn’t even come close to making an argument in good faith. Does President Trump make reparations more likely? Everything we’re discussing involves a Democratic President, by necessity.

      • DAtt

        aren’t the dynamics a bit different? Instead of a largely white highly productive manufacturing sector trying to bolster and protect a limited number of jobs, you’re talking about an incredibly fast growing (and not very productive) service sector which already employs a high percentage of minorities. A $15 an hour minimum wage would also have ripple effects into other industries, so it’s not clear to me how all minorities would be shut out of all jobs.

        We know that there is massive discrimination in the labor market. I guess the question is whether the dynamic would be different for industries where minorities already have the jobs. Unlike Steve, I’m not trying to be snarkey, genuinely would like to hear your thoughts.

  • louislouis

    The comparison of single-payer as an “unwinnable” to reparations was just amazingly dense. Single-payer has been standard issue progressive politics for decades, it polls well; reparations, well, maybe a few college professors and some really really hard core radicals (and one rich dude at the Atlantic).

    One big problem with Coates’s article (as Drum pointed out) is that he defines “reparations” about 5 different ways. I think he made an important point about how there are victims of practices like redlining who are alive and could produce proof they were kept out of the housing market, etc. But the politics of paying descendants of long-dead people (or maybe just everyone who’s black) would probably be really, really divisive.

    • Steve LaBonne

      The shibboleth status of single-payer on the left is bullshit. We could easily afford a largely private but heavily regulated and subsidized insurance system like Switzerland’s- it would be substantially less efficient than Canadian Medicare but would still constrain costs far more effectively than our non-system while providing universal coverage. And it’s a far more realistic goal- ACA can easily serve as a transitional step in getting to such a system.

      • DAtt

        It might be bullshit from a tactical point of view, but it’s obvious from an ideological one.

        Many people on the Left find it morally offensive on a gut-level when capitalists make money off of people’s sickness. They don’t trust anyone but the public sector to have prioritize their health over their money.

        But as a tactical point, you’re probably right. I know my brother has talked about the road to single payer as just expanding Medicaid until it covers everyone and then increasing its generosity of coverage. From this perspective, the ACA was a decent start before the Supreme Court fucked it up.

        • pillsy

          Capitalists make a ton of money off of sickness in countries with single-payer or socialized health care systems. And even multi-payer systems don’t necessarily have for-profit plans (and many US insurers are nominally non-profit). I think these details are important, and have been really frustrated by the lack of careful discussion about them, especially on the part of the both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.

    • Scott P.

      Coates was specifically avoiding talking about what form reparations would take. The idea is: if we decide reparations are important, then we can begin to craft policy. But we can’t seem to agree on that.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Yeah, he knows nothing significant will happen unless white people finally wake up to the historical realities he documented in “The Case for Reparations”.

      • louislouis

        I think what some people are missing is that Sanders wants to win. Politicians who are serious about that stuff can’t just say they “support” something when “something” could either mean payments to redlining victims or a separatist state in Oregon.

      • djw

        Exactly. He’s actually taking a position that’s far more optimistic about American political culture than his critics give him credit for–that the process of figuring out what reparations should look like might actually do us some real good when it comes to white supremacy.

  • Quite Likely

    “Although my research and writing is primarily on economic issues and not racial issues, I can’t imagine making the claim that class trumps race in categories of oppression.”

    Really???? I can’t imagine making the reverse claim. Clearly class trumps race in categories of oppression. Who could possibly argue that you’re better off in modern America as a poor white than as a rich black?

    • Someone who’s having “the talk” with their kid?

      Someone who’s had the police pull them over?

      Of course, I don’t like the idea that one trumps the other in the sense you imply (i.e., trading places). Class doesn’t override race, esp. black. Consider the difference between rich vs. poor asian and rich vs. poor black in the US.

      • Steve LaBonne

        I’m beginning to think the definition of “progressive” is “a person who can’t keep two non-contradictory but different ideas in mind at the same time”.

    • Malaclypse

      Who could possibly argue that you’re better off in modern America as a poor white than as a rich black?

      “There ain’t a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I’m rich!” – Chris Rock

      • libarbarian

        Um .. is Chris Rock a mind reader? Because, if not, then I’m not sure that his opinion of what is in the minds of white people in the audience is really an authoritative answer to anything..

        • Brien Jackson

          Lots of white people have laughed knowingly at that joke.

        • Ronan

          It’s a funny joke but ridiculous claim

        • so-in-so

          If it were possible, the results the first time the newly rich, newly black person got pulled over for driving while black would certainly be interesting…

      • Nick056

        I think that there are absolutely white people who would like to trade places with Chris Rock. I bet he even knows that. Just not the ones who have money to spend going to see him perform.

    • Origami Isopod

      Who could possibly argue that you’re better off in modern America as a poor white than as a rich black?

      Ladies and gentlemen, the Berniebro, in all his obtuse glory.

  • AMK

    Reparations is the only issue I can think of offhand where sheer impassioned stupidity of some on the left matches the the stupidity on the right.

    The anti-vaccination movement is close, but that crazy is at least “bipartisan” (it gets support from plently of tea party nutjobs) and lacks the sort of intellectual imprimatur that reparations alwsys seems to have.

    • Reparations are a perfectly reasonable idea. They solve both a justice claim and a welfare issue. Their political valance is tricky but there are some straightforward benefits to them being in the conversation. They don’t involve denying science or reviving killing diseases.

      Your impassioned pseudocentrism is, itself, pretty damn dumb.

      • AMK

        Affirmative action is politically “tricky.” Reparations are politically insane. Trying to create an intraparty litmus test for “real progressivism” that involves reparations is, politically, about the dumbest thing anyone in American politics could do, short of starting a movement to impose Sharia. I respect Coates as a writer and historian, but Sanders (like just about anyone who has actually worked in politics) has infinately more political sense.

        Lets look at where we are from 10,000 feet. The GOP has entirely lost its mind. Whoever they nominate will be so far to the right (or forced to act so far to the right) that he will make Mitt Romney look like Eleanor Roosevelt…..and Mitt got blown out four years ago, with a weaker economy and Obama in a much weaker position. Unless the Cruz/Trump campaigns start cloning evangelicals and air-dropping them into Ohio and Florida like propaganda leaflets, I don’t see how we lose the WH in November…..and we have a great chance to capture the Senate as well. All we have to do is run a campaign grounded in middle-class economics, inclusiveness, and a posture of strength-without-stupidity. Obama or Bill Clinton or Biden could run it in their sleep. Hillary can do it, and if Bernie succeeds in framing his idea of democratic socialism correctly I think he could win as well…though it would be a closer-run thing.

        There are literally two things that could screw us over: (1) a catastrophic foreign terrorist attack (2) spending the entire time talking not just about specific problems related to racism (police reform, criminal justice reform) but casting the entire campaign and all the country’s problems in racial terms, a la Coates and reparations.

        • Affirmative action is politically “tricky.” Reparations are politically insane.

          Reparations aren’t something that can be done anytime soon, for sure.

          Trying to create an intraparty litmus test for “real progressivism” that involves reparations is, politically, about the dumbest thing anyone in American politics could do, short of starting a movement to impose Sharia.

          Is there anyone doing this?

          I respect Coates as a writer and historian, but Sanders (like just about anyone who has actually worked in politics) has infinately more political sense.

          See my account of why it makes sense to target Sanders for bringing reparations into the conversation, esp. among his supporters.

          Lets look at where we are from 10,000 feet. The GOP has entirely lost its mind. Whoever they nominate will be so far to the right (or forced to act so far to the right) that he will make Mitt Romney look like Eleanor Roosevelt…..and Mitt got blown out four years ago, with a weaker economy and Obama in a much weaker position. Unless the Cruz/Trump campaigns start cloning evangelicals and air-dropping them into Ohio and Florida like propaganda leaflets, I don’t see how we lose the WH in November…..and we have a great chance to capture the Senate as well. All we have to do is run a campaign grounded in middle-class economics, inclusiveness, and a posture of strength-without-stupidity. Obama or Bill Clinton or Biden could run it in their sleep. Hillary can do it, and if Bernie succeeds in framing his idea of democratic socialism correctly I think he could win as well…though it would be a closer-run thing.

          We agree.

          There are literally two things that could screw us over: (1) a catastrophic foreign terrorist attack (2) spending the entire time talking not just about specific problems related to racism (police reform, criminal justice reform) but casting the entire campaign and all the country’s problems in racial terms, a la Coates and reparations.

          I don’t think that’s the strategy. If you assume that Bernie won’t win the nomination (reasonable) but that he’s bringing things to the conversation (also reasonable) and he’s been a bit weak on race (true), then it’s worth targeting him in the primary to try to introduce more radical ideas, esp. to the younger crowd. I would be surprised if Coates thought that Sanders or Clinton should run the general with a platform plank including big cash transfer based reparations.

  • Robespierre

    Reparations are a lousy idea.

    • Malaclypse

      A compelling argument.

      • Robespierre

        Well it’s hard to make one since anyone who proposes them has got to have either wildly different assumptions or different goals than I do, so I despair of the usefulness of making an argument.

        Broadly, for the following reasons:

        1) Because they assume that modern nonblacks are in debt to modern blacks, which is nonsense. We owe each human the guarantee of their rights and nothing more. If you want everyone to enjoy education, health and housing, push for education, health and housing.

        2) Because they would be a monetary answer to a problem that their proponents insist is not monetary, with their dismissal of class.

        3) Because they are quite simply pro-black tribalism, and that is both an unjust and an incredibly dumb idea

        4) Because it is extremely important, though not fashionable in the Usa, to insist that individuals are not defined by their race – and that ridiculous american race taxonomy implicitly forces individuals into rigid and antagonistic groups, ignoring race mixing

        5) Because reparations, even when otherwise owed, engender such resentment among the ones who suffer them that they would be incredibly bad for society to adopt as an internal measure – if they could somehow be approved, which, given the current % of nonblacks in the Usa, they can’t.

        • Malaclypse

          We owe each human the guarantee of their rights and nothing more.

          Because what this thread really needed 300+ comments in was a glibertarian to show up.

          • Robespierre

            Feel free to answer.

            Edit: that’s a slight misdiagnosis of my political stance, but that’s not the point.

        • advocatethis

          This comes across to me as a wordier variation on “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

          I don’t think reparations have any chance of happening in the remainder of my life time. What particularly saddens me, though, is that I also don’t think there’s any chance of the people of this country having a substantive discussion of the reasons why reparations might be apt. Let’s start with “Because they assume that modern nonblacks are in debt to modern blacks, which is nonsense.”

          Modern non-blacks, whites in particular, owe the wealth of this nation, which, by virtue of being non-black they have greater access to than blacks, to the centuries-long non-compensated toil of blacks. While blacks were building this wealth for the nation, they did not have access to it, while non-blacks did. Once slavery was ended, blacks were still largely deprived of the opportunity to amass wealth, as individuals and as a group, while being uniquely subjected to torture and murder at the hands of white people, the ancestors of those modern whites who owe nothing to modern blacks. This is not long time ago stuff, this continues into the present day.

          • UncleEbeneezer

            What particularly saddens me, though, is that I also don’t think there’s any chance of the people of this country having a substantive discussion of the reasons why reparations might be apt.

            And THAT is what I took to be the entire point of TNC’s post.

    • Hogan

      No wonder they cut your head off.

      • Malaclypse

        Danton always was the sensible one.

        • Steve LaBonne

          But he was a crook, like the Clintons!

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    So I see we’re in for another temper tantrum from the left when Bernie loses the primary.

  • Brien Jackson

    It’s odd: I started out figuring I’d probably end up voting for Sanders as a mostly meaningless gesture towards a more liberal Democratic Party, but as he’s become a serious candidate I’m much more off put by him to the point I mostly actively don’t want him to win the nomination. Most of that stems, I think, from my discomfort with his obvious disinterest in issues outside of what he wants to talk about, and his lack of desire to listen to minorities, women, etc. when they tell him they face problems stemming from things beyond simple class based challenges. I’ve also been really annoyed by his campaign failing to put forward any serious plans for, well, anything. Not only that his “plans” that have been put out aren’t serious policy proposals, which they’re not, but also that he hasn’t bothered to highlight any “compromise” plans for, say, expanding the ACA that he might push in the event he gets a Democratic Congress that would be open to such outcomes.

    Now, all that said, while I think Coates’ piece is amusing for hoisting the Berniebros on their own petard, I also think it’s sort of too clever by half as an honest criticism. No, single payer and universal free college tuition aren’t legislatively feasible, but they’re also not SO unpopular with (white) people that advocating for them is political suicide either.

    • Nick056

      Pretty much all of this, except I actually like Hillary a lot and always expected to vote for her.

      • Brien Jackson

        I like Hillary too, and an honest tiebreaker between the two is my desire for the Democratic Party to nominate a woman for President already. I’m saying that I figured Clinton would still win the nomination pretty handily, and I’d cast a vote for Sanders just to pad the numbers of people expressing a desire for a more progressive agenda for the party this cycle.

        • Nick056

          Right. I guess the reason I’m less enthusiastic about Bernie is that when I hear him talk about the Tres. Secretaries who came from Goldman Sachs, my first thought is, okay, who would you appoint? And when I hear him talk about the big fines where no one goes to jail, my first thought is, okay, “someone” goes to jail, and let’s assume rightfully so. Is that a financial policy issue, or a criminal justice issue? Is it an effective deterrent? And when he bags on Hillary for accepting speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, my first thought is, okay, but what did she say?

          I like Bernie — a lot. I think his policies are good. I think his criticisms are shallow, though, but they’re the ones that get attention. He doesn’t have Bro support because he believes in healthcare for all. He has Bros because he rails against corrupt big money and THE SYSTEM and I get the appeal but I’m 10x more engaged by Hillary talking about Putin or ISIS or Flint Michigan.

          • Brien Jackson

            Yeah, I’m really legitimately peeved at the way Sanders is getting to run a, well, un-serious campaign in what is supposed to be the serious party, against one of the most knowledgeable candidates ever (frankly, there’s a huge whiff of sexism to the entire dynamic, but we don’ tneed to invite the red hot ire of the Berniebros any further). It was fine from the standpoint of being a message candidate, but seeing him make wild claims about the affordability of single payer or pretending that he can break up big banks through executive order is really disappointing, in the sense that it’s the kind of claim that belongs in the GOP primary, not the “reality has a liberal bias” one.

            • Nick056

              Has he said he could break up banks by executive order? Oh dear.

              • Brien Jackson
                • Nick056

                  Well he’s not saying he’d use executive order, I guess; hes claiming that Dodd-Frank gives him that authority, but … It doesn’t. Ugh.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Yeah, I should have said executive action rather than order, but in any case he’s claiming he can do it under current regulatory law without Congressional action.

                • Nick056

                  Yeah. He can, technically, without Congress, but he needs like the entire Federal Reserve to sign off. So, pipe dream, lie, false promise, whatever. This is why I like Hillary. (Though I like Bernie too and think he is unfairly maligned for not anticipating that racial justice issues would be more prominent in this campaign than in any campaign, I think, since 1992.)

  • LifeOntheFallLine

    A couple thoughts here…

    1) At some level politics is about giving services back to the people who support you. Black citizens have been the most consistent supporters of Democrats for years now – Black women especially – and have received precious little in return other than, “Well, we tried and it could have been worse!” True as that statement is, it would go some distance for a white Democratic candidate, when asked about reparations to not summarily write it off as impossible and then call the idea divisive, PARTICULARLY a candidate whose platform planks are made mostly out of things it would be impossible for a president to enact and who self-identifies as one of the most divisive political types in the country. If Sanders doesn’t support reparations because he doesn’t believe in it, fine, whatever, but at least be honest about it.

    2) I’m all for expanding the welfare state to ease class inequality AND reparations – the two are not mutually exclusive and arguing otherwise is a tacit endorsement of the white supremacist notion that this country owes no special debt to its Black citizens. From slavery to sharecropping to Jim Crow to housing segregation to exploitation of prison labor to fucking rock and roll music the white portion of this country has stolen from Black labor, profited from Black creativity and shielded itself behind Black bodies without any adequate redress.

    3) As a piggyback off number two – using an expanded welfare system as a substitute for reparations is a slap in the face. That’s basically saying that the descendants of people who benefited from the oppression of one group should then turn around and benefit as equals with the oppressed group. The poor descendant of a Confederate soldier and the poor descendant of a slave should both get help in the here and now because poverty is a problem, but to say the solution to helping the second necessarily involves helping the first in equal measure is morally upside down.

    • Robespierre

      How so? What crime must the descendants pay for?

      • LifeOntheFallLine

        Not getting as much as someone else isn’t paying for a crime.

      • The U.S. Has been a continuous entity that has had multigenerational obligations. This is no different.

        Try again. Well don’t, given the crappiness of the first effort.

        • Nick056

          Whst is the claim against the government in this case that is not already covered by existing law? Genuine question as the scope of reparations itself is a topic with no consensus.

          • I don’t understand your question.

            My point is that you can’t dismiss reparations on the basis that citizens now didn’t do the wrong. Obligations can inhere in the society and government.

            I guess you are saying that they have already been dealt with? I’d argue not. If we restrict ourselves to Jim Crow alone, there seems that restoration hasn’t occurred and ongoing problems stemming from that era cause persistent problems.

            I’m not saying that the case for reparations is a slam dunk or anything, just that it’s not dead in the water due to bad people having died off.

    • witlesschum

      Number one is a very important to me. If you like this country not being Brownbackian Kansas writ large, thank a black voter. White people, left to our own devices, would have driven this country completely off a cliff, but because black people turn out and vote for the Democrats by huge margins, it’s not. I’m grateful, but my gratitude is worth its weight in gold. The Democratic Party’s and the United States of America’s should be more substantial.

      • Nick056

        The problem is that white Democrats are entirely comfortable and even delighted that for 40 years black people have voted, as a fairly solid group, for Democrats, but then white Democrats like me or like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton get nervous when black people ask to be treated like a distinct constituency with direct concerns that have no equivalent in other communities of common interest. Your comment would be seen as a white guy endorsing reparations in return for decades of loyal Democratic voting along racial lines. In fact, you are saying that. Now, I don’t happen to think that’s ridiculous because, well, every loyal constituency should get rewarded, since that is what politics is for, everywhere. But as a message? Ironically it proves Beenie right: divisive doesn’t cut it.

        • LifeOntheFallLine

          So it’s that message that’s divisive, not white people deciding they’re the only people worthy of political benefit?

          • Nick056

            I think you should reread my message because I’m not saying what you think I’m saying.

            • LifeOntheFallLine

              “But as a message? Ironically it proves Beenie right: divisive doesn’t cut it.”

              So Bernie said reparations was divisive. I read this as saying Bernie is right about divisive politics and that reparations as the same type of political benefit white people get is divisive and isn’t going to fly. I am more than willing to be corrected.

              • Nick056

                They’re not mutually exclusive. Of course white people deciding to create value for themselves alone is divisive. So is reparations for slavery.

                • Breadbaker

                  We have ethanol subsidies because of pandering to nearly all-white farmers in Iowa and no one blinks an eye.

        • witlesschum

          The assumption seems to be that reparations for Jim Crow and/or slavery are more “divisive” than a number of other things Bernie Sanders says he wants to do. Do you actually know that to be true? How many people who are possible Democratic voters would actually be turned off by the Sanders campaign endorsing reparations in a limited way, say, for people who suffered racial discrimination in housing in the 1960s? How many would be bothered by some sort of fuzzy statement in favor of studying the issue rather than dismissing it out of hand?

          I don’t know the answers to these, but it appears to me that it’s just being assumed as true that it’s more unpopular or out of bounds than universal free college or single payer healthcare.

          • Nick056

            Well, Sanders was asked specifically about slavery reparations, and yes, that is extraordinarily divisive along racial and political lines, moreso than universal healthcare or free college.

            That’s not a value judgment, but polls have shown that 66% of black respondents and 4% (!) of white respondents favor reparations. It is quite a bit more divisive than universal healthcare, for good or ill.

            • LifeOntheFallLine

              You’re confusing divisive with unpopular among white people…

              • joe from Lowell

                This comment makes no sense. If the public is (lopsidedly) divided on an issue, we have to eliminate the opinions of all the white people before we can declare it divisive?

                You seem to be doing the same thing here as the people who write columns about how Democrats aren’t really popular because of the race of some of their supporters. Um, no, the opinions of the people in the race you don’t want to count actually do matter.

                • LifeOntheFallLine

                  “…we have to eliminate the opinions of all the white people before we can declare it divisive?”

                  “Um, no, the opinions of the people in the race you don’t want to count actually do matter.”

                  I hope you stretch before you reach like that, you might pull something.

                  I’m not saying that white opinion doesn’t matter, I’m saying that a lot of white people not liking something isn’t the same thing as it being divisive. Especially since the public includes more than just white people and Black people.

                • Nick056

                  Are you claiming that “divisive” and “popular with 66% of black people and 4% percent of white people” are mutually exclusive? There’s no confusion. Both are true. In fact, “divisive” is just a way to describe the fact of public opinion. Joe’s analogy is entirely correct and it’s funny to hear you say, well, once you forget about all the white people, it’s not so divisive!

                  You could say the same thing about black opinion, of course, but that would be awful.

  • Origami Isopod

    Planned Parenthood has chosen to go political which is their right and, perhaps obligation. But in doing so they have chosen oligarchy over populism. That puts them on the wrong side. In my mind donating to them is a lot like buying products of advertisers on Rush Limbaugh’s show.

    That was pretty special.

    I’d worry more about the ‘bros refusing to donate to PP anymore if I actually thought most of them had ever bothered to do so.

    • But in doing so they have chosen oligarchy over populism

      Somehow I’m not buying this as the parameters.

  • joe from Lowell

    I find the insistence on establishing a competition between racial and economic oppression distasteful.

    And I find the habit of projecting a side in that debate onto the candidate who is running on the most robust economic justice platform of anyone in the field, and the most robust racial justice platform, downright bizarre.

    • LifeOntheFallLine

      In what way is acknowledging that Black people in this country have suffered unique loss of labor, life and liberty and looking for specific redress in that arena from politicians establishing a competition between racial and economic oppression?

      • Breadbaker

        “Unique” is probably overstating it. There were people here before Europeans or Africans. You might want to recognize they still exist.

        • LifeOntheFallLine

          I would posit that the suffering visited upon Black Americans and the suffering visited upon Native Americans are both unique and that both groups deserve reparations from their suffering at the hands of white imperialism and supremacy.

          We were talking about the former without precluding the latter.

      • joe from Lowell

        In no way whatsoever.

        The problem is, doing so (as Bernie Sanders has in such a prominent manner) clearly doesn’t get you off the hook from the charge.

        The problem is the sloppy reasoning and “Me-first-ism” that leads some (small but loud) internet-based segment of the population to conclude that speaking forcefully about economic class must necessarily mean one is refusing to address racism – regardless, apparently, of how forcefully one actually is addressing racism.

        It is Sanders’ critics on this, not Sanders himself, who insist on establishing a competition.

        • LifeOntheFallLine

          Except no one is saying he is refusing to address racism, and that certainly wasn’t the argument Coates made.

          The argument Coates made – the only argument he made – is that Sanders’ supposed radicalism falls short of adequately addressing the total effects of white supremacy on this nation’s Black population.

          Pointing this out doesn’t establish a competition any more than arguing for a truly progressive tax code establishes class warfare.

          • joe from Lowell

            As with so much discussion of race this year, I’m talking more about people piggy-backing on and extending the argument of the black thinker, more than the argument of the black thinker himself.

            There is quite a bit of distance between where Coates left off and where much of the commentary about Coates and Sanders has picked up.

            • LifeOntheFallLine

              Even within the framework of your comment being about non-Coates people, I haven’t seen anyone here or elsewhere use this to set up the sort of Oppression Olympics you were talking about.

          • UncleEbeneezer

            In the last debate Sanders’ “first 100 Days” list of goals was almost entirely economic measures and made no mention whatsoever of addressing the problem of Black people being murdered by police every day. He has a detailed plan to break up the banks, but no plan on how to address the literal life/death issue that most concerns 13% of the population. When asked about racial injustice and systemic racism he still immediately pivots to economic policies that benefit all or most, rather than policies that specifically address minority concerns. The “competition” arises from Sander’s own actions/inactions. Despite the claims of his most ardent fans that he’s the resurrected MLK on racial issues (or at least better than HRC…which is deflection at best) he shows clearly, time and again that his priorities place racial issues nowhere near the top of his list. So alot of voters, especially Black people, are rightfully skeptical of him and tired of vague lip-service from the candidate and insulting lectures from his supporters. His position on reparations may be no different than any other candidate but it serves as another data point showing his disinterest in racial equality. It’s not that he doesn’t care about racial justice at all, it’s that he doesn’t care enough, only addresses it grudgingly after being pressured and still mostly does so through his preferred economic lens which has limited scope (Sandra Bland was fully educated, on the way to her dream job yet still ended up dead) and that his actions don’t match the St. Bernie that everyone is being told they should support if they really cared about racial injustice. I don’t think anyone is claiming that a candidate’s views on reparations are going to be the deal-breaker on voting for them. But Bernie’s dismissiveness (not even responding) is part of a larger picture of his priorities and where racial issues rank among them.

            I think a fairly accurate “shorter” of the sentiment of TNC’s article can be seen in a hyperbolic joke I saw on FB:

            “We gotta tear down the system! These people are using you! Eat the rich! Divide their riches amongst the people! This country has been stolen from the poor!”

            -hey what about reparations?

            “Slow down now, let’s be reasonable…”

            • joe from Lowell

              He has a detailed plan to break up the banks, but no plan on how to address the literal life/death issue that most concerns 13% of the population.

              Not so much. As a factual matter, he has the most extensive, detailed, and forceful racial justice platform of any major candidate in American history. Where on earth did you get this notion that he didn’t?

              The “competition” arises from Sander’s own actions/inactions.

              Clearly, demonstrably not.

              Despite the claims of his most ardent fans that he’s the resurrected MLK on racial issues (or at least better than HRC…which is deflection at best) he shows clearly, time and again that his priorities place racial issues nowhere near the top of his list.

              On his actual list, the issue appears 7th out of 22 items. Again, your claim is clearly, demonstrably untrue. Sanders has prioritized racial justice more highly than any other major presidential candidate in American history.

              Did you bother to do any research whatsoever on the question of Sanders’ position and priorities on these matters, or did you take the word of someone else?

              • UncleEbeneezer

                You don’t see a difference between:

                ECON- “Within the first 100 days of my administration, I will require the secretary of the Treasury Department to establish a “Too-Big-to Fail” list of commercial banks, shadow banks and insurance companies whose failure would pose a catastrophic risk to the United States economy without a taxpayer bailout.

                Within one year, my administration will break these institutions up so that they no longer pose a grave threat to the economy as authorized under Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank Act.”

                And

                RACIAL JUSTICE:

                “We must demilitarize our police forces so they don’t look and act like invading armies.
                We must invest in community policing. Only when we get officers into the communities, working within neighborhoods before trouble arises, do we develop the relationships necessary to make our communities safer together. Among other things, that means increasing civilian oversight of police departments.
                We must create a police culture that allows for good officers to report the actions of bad officers without fear of retaliation and allows for a department to follow through on such reports.
                We need police forces that reflect the diversity of our communities, including in the training academies and leadership.”

                The first has specific actions he is pledging to take as President, the second doesn’t say fuck all about how he intends to use the office to make these things happen.

                His Racial Justice platform is lovely. I was well aware of it, thank you. Hooray for him. But the difference in how much time, thought and effort he puts into the two is clear (not to mention the fact that he made no mention of his Racial Justice goals in the First 100 Days debate question). And it’s important for assessing his priorities and for people who are suspicious that, like umpteen other White Dem candidates from the past, he can talk a good game about Race issues but probably won’t actually spend political capital on them or place them at the top of his list of priorities. The fact that he mentions Econ solutions at every turn and didn’t need to be confronted by protestors before he came out with his Econ policies says a lot about where his priorities lie. The fact that he doesn’t even want to talk about reparations (even if they are not feasible) or even have someone from his staff respond to one of the most prominent Black writers in America, only adds to the trend. Having the most extensive RJ platform in history doesn’t mean shit if there’s no plan or desire to implement it.

                The fact that so many White people are outraged that Black people could have the audacity to demand that their life/death issues be prioritized ahead of and given the same urgency and detailed plan as breaking up the banks by their potential Dem Candidate, is a perfect good reminder that it’s White Supremacy, all the way down, even on the Left.

            • joe from Lowell

              I’m going to make a prediction:

              I predict that the person who just a couple minutes ago discovered that Bernie Sanders has a lengthy and detailed racial justice platform will be back to denounce it as weak tea in less time than it takes to read it.

      • joe from Lowell

        Setting up reparations-by-that-name as the sole measure of whether a candidate views racism as a problem that needs to solved in and of itself looks an awful lot like an acknowledgment that using the constellation of issues BLM has been highlighting doesn’t yield the desired results.

        • Nick056

          More to the point: when Ta-Nehisi Coates calls reparations the indispensable tool for fighting white supremacy without specifying what forms he thinks those reparations might take, he is wasting everyone’s time. There is no such thing as an indispensable but undefined public policy.

          • joe from Lowell

            I wouldn’t go that far.

            The people extending Coates’ argument into some campaign talking points are wasting everyone’s time.

            Just talking on the level of ideas, without getting into candidate preference or specific policy solutions, is a perfectly legitimate thing for a thinker like Coates to do.

            • Nick056

              I’m claiming specifically that describing reparations as “indispensable” without defining what you mean by reparations is a distraction in that it casts far more heat than light.It’s an incomplete thought. And ultimately Coates raised the issue in the context of criticizing Sanders, who *would* need to express his support in terms of specific proposals at some point. I understand that Coates wants reparations to receive serious consideration — that he wants to limn the extent of the harm and the power of real restitution. But if he’s going to criticize Sanders for his response to the question, he should think through the issue more relative to Sanders actual position.

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