Hillary Clinton’s Black firewall in the South may be in jeopardy. Certainly the Clinton’s are respected by Southern Black voters and Hillary is in a position to pull away from Bernie in the Southern primaries, but she has some vulnerabilities in the area of race relations and another one may have recently surfaced.
The 2008 Presidential primaries featured a bitter battle between Hillary and then candidate Obama. In the trenches of political warfare Hillary crossed the line on racial sensitivity a few times. The Hillary camp was involved in acts that, if the Sanders campaign is so inclined to exploit, could prove problematic in her relationship with Black voters.
Though it seems to be forgotten, forgiven, or overlooked Hillary turned to racial identity politics when facing a difficult period leading up to the Kentucky and West Virginia primaries. Her infamous “Hard working Americans, White Americans” statement seemed to indicate a propensity to turn to race when the primary race turned to White dominated Southern States:
Far worse was her attempt to exercise the ultimate White privilege. Hillary lost the race to a Black man, and argued that she should be given the victory anyway. As could be expected, an article in Mike Bloomberg’s “Business Week” argued that even though all candidates had agreed that the delegates from Michigan and Florida would not be counted, the rules should be changed and Hillary should be given the Delegates and ultimately awarded the nomination. Unsurprisingly, the business community fought for their champion. Faced with losing a fair fight, Hillary argued that the rules should be changed for counting Delegates and then implied that delegates in the States that Barack Obama won were fair game. CNN reported that “Sen. Hillary Clinton told reporters that the pledged delegates awarded based on vote totals in their state are not bound to abide by election results.”
Could there be any greater exercise of White privilege than to argue that you lost the race to a Black man, but that you should be awarded the victory anyway based on “the candidates viability” (interpreted by many to be a thinly veiled reference to his race). It was reported that Bill Clinton argued to Bill Richardson “He can’t win.” This was a reasonable argument, if the person who he defeated in the primaries was awarded the victory.
Once again in 2016 Hillary is treading on the ground of a dangerous racial discussion. This time, her historical reference to reconstruction indicates a sympathy towards racist Southern revisionism. When asked about her favorite President, Hillary was not content to name Abraham Lincoln as her guy but went on to imagine a history in which he had survived:
“And I don’t know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancor, a little more forgiving and tolerant than might possibly have brought people back together more quickly,” Clinton continued. “But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the reigns of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.”
The inference that reconstruction was a political and social mistake that Lincoln would not have supported and that it should be lumped in with segregation and Jim Crow is as absurd as it is insulting to Black Americans. The end of reconstruction was the beginning of a life of hell for Black former slaves, their families, and descendants. The White Southerners who Hillary refers to as “defiant and discouraged” are the ones who started the civil war and ultimately exacted their revenge and control on Black Southerners through terrorism and racist laws after it ended. Her expression of empathy for the antebellum oppressive terrorist class ofSoutherners is indicative of a person who is culturally deaf, dumb, and blind. These types of statements would bring down the house at a Trump rally.
Luckily for Hillary the mainstream media is unlikely to report on her bumbling insensitive statements and she may just skate through the South on her “Black firewall,” that is unless the Sanders campaign decides to exploit these mistakes.