Look for Hillary Clinton to fall back on racial-identity politics to counter Bernie Sanders and his economic message on the left.
Let’s pause for a moment and ponder the sheer, breathtaking magnitude of Hillary Clinton’s collapse. In Iowa, she once held a 56-point lead over Bernie Sanders in the polls. She finished in a dead heat, with the Iowa Democratic party, led by a woman whose car reportedly sports an “HRC2016” license plate, brazenly stonewalling an inquiry into numerous voting irregularities. In New Hampshire, her lead over Sanders also peaked at 56 points, and she lost by 22 — a stunning 78-point turnaround.
It would be a partial consolation (very partial) if she lost to a young, charismatic firebrand, but she’s losing to an avowed socialist, a man who has traditionally and proudly rejected the Democratic party. He served in the Senate as an independent and publicly identified as a Democrat only two months ago. Even worse, when asked to describe Clinton, the first words in voters’ minds are “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” Oh, and has anyone mentioned that she’s under FBI investigation for improper storage and handling of classified information (and perhaps also for public corruption)? And yet she is still the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination — because of race. So far, black and Latino voters aren’t feeling the Bern, and with the campaign heading south, that could cripple his effort. The short version of the black and Latino case against Bernie is simple — his class-based rhetoric indicates that he just doesn’t get it. The true divide in America isn’t class but race, and the true enemy of progress isn’t Wall Street but white supremacy.
For Hillary to win, she’s going to have to relentlessly feed that narrative. Sanders is out of touch. Sanders doesn’t truly understand your struggle. She’ll hype any real or imagined racial slights, embrace Black Lives Matter, and waffle just enough on reparations to maintain the fiction that only Sanders has clearly rejected compensating the descendants of slaves and victims of Jim Crow. She’ll argue that Sanders is new to the fight and can’t be trusted. She’ll stoke the fires of racial grievance as fast and hot as she can to win, and she’ll do it without a second thought. And the entire time she’s stoking those divisions, she’ll be attempting to conceal and cover up two huge vulnerabilities. The first is the blaring message today in The Nation — that Clinton-era crime bills and welfare reform “decimated black America.” Michelle Alexander makes the progressive case:
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