Legal Scholar Michelle Alexander Explains Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote
“It seems that we—black people—are [Hillary Clinton’s] winning card,” writes Michelle Alexander, Ohio State University law professor and author of “The New Jim Crow,” at The Nation. “And it seems we’re eager to get played. Again.”
Having suffered a 21-point defeat in the New Hampshire primary by her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a virtual tie in the Iowa caucus, Clinton “is looking to gain momentum on the campaign trail as the primaries move […] into states like South Carolina, where large pockets of black voters can be found.”
“According to some polls,” she adds, Clinton leads Sanders—a self-described democratic socialist who promises a political revolution that will bring many of the same goals championed by Martin Luther King Jr.—“by as much as 60 percent among African Americans.”
Is this favor justified? More specifically, Alexander asks: Did the Clintons “take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African Americans? Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about black communities? Did they help usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for neighborhoods devastated by deindustrialization, globalization, and the disappearance of work?”
“No,” she declares. “Quite the opposite.”
After detailing Bill Clinton’s advocacy of policies that put record numbers of blacks in prison and poverty, and disproportionately so to whites, Alexander explains:
Some might argue that it’s unfair to judge Hillary Clinton for the policies her husband championed years ago. But Hillary wasn’t picking out china while she was first lady. She bravely broke the mold and redefined that job in ways no woman ever had before. She not only campaigned for Bill; she also wielded power and significant influence once he was elected, lobbying for legislation and other measures. That record, and her statements from that era, should be scrutinized. In her support for the 1994 crime bill, for example, she used racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals. “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
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