Hillary Clinton and black voters
In the race to the Democratic party selection, Hillary Clinton expects to bag the votes in the Southern primaries, but will the black voters will pause and scrutinize her credentials more closely?
February marks the beginning of an exciting period in the race to the White House. The sound bites, the debates, the polls and the forecasts continue until the dust settles a little on Super Tuesday.
So far, despite the best efforts of the GOP’s grandees, Le Trump continues to be relevant, and may be super relevant come Tuesday 1 March. The road to the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries is long and perilous; it is a grinding road show of puffs and grandstanding, displays of the loudest and the brashest. And while political pundits may say that Iowa or Hampshire are not the deciding places – they are in the very least, the first test run, and pointers as to what lies ahead. As the bandwagon moves from state to state, the demographic changes, the issues change, the focus changes, the headlines change and each candidate has to adjust his/her rhetoric on the bandstand. One day you carry a white baby, the next day a black baby, and for now in Nevada, until 20 February, a Hispanic baby.
Hampshire delivered an unexpected result for both Republicans and Democrats giving victory to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But Iowa and Hampshire are predominantly white and as the party moves down south, the flavour changes and so do the rhetoric and the promises.
Ahead of Nevada and South Carolina, we have time to consider the latest Clinton headlines: ‘What should Hillary do about her women problems?’ Surprise, no one envisaged she would have a ‘women’ problem. Women had her back. When she set out her stall, she knew she could count on the women. After all, she is a woman. As Madeleine Albright reminded the voters in New Hampshire “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”, and even more damning, “any woman supporting Bernie is betraying the feminist cause.” Hell is going to be over crowded, because Bernie Sanders got 84% of the women’s vote, a wholesale betrayal of the feminist cause. If we are to believe Albright, women’s cause in 2016 is reduced to one single thing: send Hillary Clinton to the White House because she is a woman. But these two champions of women seemed to have glossed over their parts in the betrayal of that 22-year-old female intern Monica Lewinsky. Time flies, memories disappear when you are racing to the White House.
For now the circus moves first to Nevada and then south, Hillary’s home ground amongst the black southern voters. Hillary may be white, but her husband, Bill Clinton was ‘our first black president’. Bill throwing on Blues Brothers’ dark shades playing the saxophone, and carrying black babies must count as one of those authentic black experiences. The truth is that the Clintons have always been able to romance the black vote. Ahead of his wife’s presidential campaign, Bill Clinton embarked on damage control: distancing his wife from and taking sole responsibility for the devastation and excesses of the Clinton years 1993 – 2001, especially the monstrous crime bill, which Hillary wholeheartedly supported. He admitted that his 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act “overshot the mark” and that the justice system that now saddles America with 2.2 million prisoners was overdone.
So when Clinton’s bandwagon rolls into South Carolina, let’s hope the black voters ask, “What have you done to us, Hillary?” The Hispanics in Nevada are already asking, “What have you done to us, Hillary?”
The above article has been amended. The original version was published in The European Financial Review on February 15 2015.