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Friday, June 17, 2016

Why Some Blacks Support Hillary: Reflection On A Friend's Reason

Back when the primaries were important, I found myself in a sharp disagreement with an online friend whose views and character I greatly respect. The disagreement was over whether Democrats should support Hillary or Bernie. As for voting, since both were way too conservative for me, I had no dog in that fight. But if I had to live under a Trump presidency or a Democratic one, I preferred Bernie over Hillary. In fact, if given a choice between living under a Trump or Hillary presidency, I really prefer to live in another country and I had one in mind. 

What made our disagreements edgy was not that over the mere disagreement with his preference for Hillary, even though I did. It was how unfair, no other way to say it, he was in his criticisms of Bernie Sanders. Again, Sanders is too conservative for me, but then again, I had trouble seeing why my friend did not see how Hillary was even more conservative than Bernie Sanders--a case I would be glad to make any day of the week. 

My friend is Rod Thomas (click here for the all too short intro on his blog) and he was one of many Blacks who support Hillary. He writes an important blog to read. It was called Political Jesus, but he renamed it Resist Daily

In the blog article I am reviewing today (click here for the article), Rod tells us why he supports Hillary over all others. And though I still disagree with his selection, his voice is an important one to listen to if we want to understand some uncomfortable truths about our nation, society, culture, and even ourselves.

His preference for Hillary is much the same as my past preference for political conservatism: it is based on association. I grew up in a 'white bread world' and in a theologically conservative church in a family where the parents were politically conservative. My mom was ideologically conservative while my dad was conservative for more practical reasons. So while my mom's political views were to the right of what we hear from Rush Limbaugh today, my dad voted for Nixon in '68 and '72 because he thought Nixon would provide the greatest chance that I wouldn't have to fight in the Vietnam War. Being a WWII vet in the Pacific Theater, he knew all too well the horrors of war; horrors he brought back with him after the war and, for a while, tried to drown, along with other troubles, in alcohol.

Growing up back then, conservative Christianity and American conservative politics became seemlessly joined in our home. I couldn't think of one without the other. I had taken my own background for granted and assumed others had the same background I did. Living in an all White school district until my senior year, I was completely unaware of how my views were tied to my environment. It was only after a considerable amount of time from my college days that I realized that I and many of my college friends were passively racist. We couldn't understand why American Blacks tended to be angry and we looked down on them for that. We didn't have a clue regarding what they had to endure and thus we judged them as if they grew up under the same circumstances we did. It wasn't until 2001 that I realized how closely tied my political views were to my conservative Christian beliefs. I went through a very taring process in separating them. Though no longer a political conservative, I am still a Christian Fundamentalist. I write all of this to attempt to provide an understanding on why my friend Rod, and perhaps some of his fellow Black Americans, are so loyal to Hillary.

If I am reading Rod's article correctly, then Rod, and perhaps other  Blacks, have this affinity for Hillary because of a strong association that was made between the Clintons and powerful people who listen and care for the concerns that many in the Black community have grown up with. Thus, as with my association between conservative politics and conservative Christianity, this association between power people and those who care for him, his family, friends, and many he cares about appears to be seamless. 

Rod explains how the association was made.  The birth of the association occurred in an antagonistic world of White Supremacy coming from all directions. The Clintons were the first significant politicians who seemed to have listened. Rod emphasizes that they didn't try to act as saviors. Rather, they listened, really listened. And because they listened, unlike all others, they cared. The association was not made by what the Clintons promoted or did, it was made by giving the appearance of listening and feeling the troubles that many Blacks, like Rod, were experiencing. That belief that the Clintons listened is what sealed the deal for Rod from then until now. And to believe that the presentation of mere facts about Hillary's actions and words could easily undo his loyalty is to be ignorant. And, as I was and probably still am to a large degree, many of us are ignorant of the travails that our white race dominated society has visited upon many Blacks. 

For me, it isn't too difficult to point out the logical problems with anyone supporting Hillary. But logic does not easily overcome powerful associations. For example, in defending Hillary from criticism because of the 1994 Crime Bill that was passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, Rod explains that she did not vote for the bill. But such a defense is either an attempt at humor or disingenuous since she was not an elected official who could vote for or against the bill. She did actively promote the bill (click here for documentation). The passing of that crime bill would become an albatross for many from the Black community. We should also note that other people of color suffered greatly from Bill Clinton's foreign policies in that the Iraq sanctions during his presidency, in conjunction with the destruction of civilian infrastructure from the first Persian Gulf War under Bush 41, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. We should also note that it was President Bill Clinton who brought the Democratic Party more under the fold of business elites through his promotion and signing of NAFTA and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has supported and promoted the coup in Libya and at least supported the coup leaders in Honduras after their coup. As Secretary of State, we also need to look at her role in pursuing and prosecuting of then Bradley, and now Chelsea, Manning for his release of information to Wikileaks including a film of a US copter shooting down Iraqis and Reuters' journalists while they were walking the streets of Baghdad. We might also want to consider Hillary's support of the insurance industry friendly Obamacare while bragging about how she opposed the insurance companies when she proposed a healthcare program while her husband was President. One might also want to question her logic as she claimed that Wall Street contributions to Obama's campaigns did not effect his treatment of Wall Street executives even though none of them were ever sentenced to jail for the fraud they forced on world's economy in the years leading up to the economic collapse of 2008.

See, none of that matters when certain associations have been made. It is like trying to point out to patriotic Americans about our past with our nation's ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land and the 30+ times where America has intervened in democracies since WWII only to replace them with dictators in most cases. The association that patriotic Americans have made between honor and ideals with their own nation makes challenging America's honor all but impossible. And it is all about the association such Americans have made between their ideals and their nation.

And so it is with my friend that such a strong association has been made between the Clintons and concern for Black problems has made challenging his support for Hillary all but impossible. And this should not strike us as being a unique flaw. Rather,  we have all made similarly strong associations between our concerns or ideals and some group or person that we should be able to identify with Rod's loyalty to Hillary. But even more important, we need to listen to what life was and is like for Blacks to understand why such an association has been made.

P.S.
In correspondence with Rod, he mentioned some ideas or programs that Bill Clinton pursued for the benefit of Blacks. They include:

  1. Earned Income Tax Credits
  2. Home Ownership
  3. Community Investment
He also mentioned that there were Black leaders who supported Clinton's 1994 Crime Bill. Thomas blames states for how it was implemented.


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