Saturday 20 February 2016

Black Brothers And Good Ole Boys: Bernie Sanders' Winning Margin?

Rooting For The Wrong Team: Dumb, racist, Bible-thumping, gun-loving, working-class white males living in the American South began voting for the Republican Party when the Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson, signed the Civil Rights Bill into law in 1965. The Republican Right has been playing them like a fiddle ever since. If he's to become President, Bernie Sanders is going to have to persuade these good ole boys to vote the same way as their black brothers.
IF BERNIE SANDERS is to win the US Presidential Election he’ll have to win the support of two crucial demographics. The first group to win over are working-class blacks. The second, and arguably the more important, are working-class whites. Because, right now, the Sanders campaign is a paradox: it offers America a left-wing programme, but the voters who have , so far, responded most enthusiastically are not the black, white and Latino working-class Americans who would benefit most from its content, but the young, well-educated children of America’s white professional middle-class – and some of their parents.
As the primaries head South and South-West into South Carolina and Nevada the Sanders campaign must find a way to counter Hillary Clinton’s popularity among African-American voters and Latinos. If he does not find some way of detaching a significant number of black support from the Clinton juggernaut in South Carolina, he risks getting what Barack Obama calls a “shellacking”. Being beaten by 40-50 percentage points in the Palmetto State would damage the Sander’s campaign very seriously. A narrow loss (10-15 points) on the other hand, would indicate that he just might come out the other side of “Super Tuesday” with enough delegates to keep on fighting.
[The phrase “Super Tuesday” refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party’s presidential candidates are officially nominated. More delegates can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar; accordingly, candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to secure their party’s nomination. States participating in this year’s “Super Tuesday” (1 March 2016) are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. – Wikipedia]
Sander’s position in Nevada is of less concern than his situation in South Carolina. The Nevada polls put him within striking distance of Clinton, which suggests that, whoever wins there, the margin will be relatively narrow. If it’s not, and Clinton racks up a big Nevada win, then the Sanders campaign will find itself holed below the waterline.
In Sander’s favour, however, is the endorsement he has received from the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This mostly young activist group has broken ranks with the ageing veterans of the 1950s and 60s civil rights leadership – nearly all of whom have come out strongly for Clinton. Black youth, who have grown up in the post-civil rights activism era, are drawn to Sander’s unequivocal condemnation of Police racism, and are as enthusiastic as white youth about his promises of free tertiary education and universal, publicly funded and provided health care.  If Sanders attracts the support of young black working-class voters across the South (where most of the Super Tuesday primaries will be taking place) then Clinton campaign’s progress will be severely impeded.
But, even if he heads off Hillary to claim the Democratic Party’s nomination, Sanders cannot become President of the United States without re-claiming for the Democratic Party a significant chunk of the white working-class’s current support for the Republicans.
In the states of the old Confederacy, and especially among voters with only a high-school education, the formerly rock-solid grip of the Democratic Party was broken as long ago as the late 1960s. The poor, ill-educated, deeply religious working-class white males of the Old South never forgave President Johnson (a Texan goddammit!) for passing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. It made them easy meat for the Alabama Governor, George Wallace, in 1968; Richard Nixon, in 1972; and Ronald Reagan in 1980.
By skilfully practising the dark art of “wedge politics” the Republicans have by-and-large held on to these angry and alienated “good ole boys”. Culturally impoverished, Fox News watching, minimum wage workers comprise the core of evangelical Christianity in America; hold deeply conservative views on most social issues; love their guns, their families and their flag; and have precious little that’s good to say about Blacks (welfare scroungers!) Latinos (illegal immigrants!) Muslims (terrorists!) or “Big Government”.
Can Sanders – a socialist Jewish-American – win back these good ole boys? That depends upon how forthright and uncompromising he is willing to be in sheeting home the blame for working-class America’s woes to where it properly belongs. Deep down these voters know that they’ve been suckered by the country-club set, and that, as Sanders declares over and over again, the game in America is rigged against the ordinary working stiff – no matter what colour or creed he may be.
Only if he is able to convince both the black and the white working-class that a vote for the Democratic candidate is a vote to break through to the surface and once again breathe free American air, can Bernie Sanders hope to become the 45th President of the United States.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road  of Saturday, 20 February 2016.


peteswriteplace said...

American's description of socialists is amusing - social democrats or democratic socialists are more correct terms.

Kat said...

Them "good ole boys" sound just like the 47% that vote National here in NZ.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

It wasn't just LBJ. There was a definite Southern strategy by Republicans under Nixon.
I'm not sure if Sanders can do well with Southern whites, or any other, particularly older working class whites, which is interesting because when presented with policies with no party attribution, working class people favour Sanders' policies by a large margin. But the white working class indeed whites as a whole are at decreasing part of the American demographic mix. Particularly as younger white working class people are damn sight more liberal/tolerant than in the past. Sanders might need to gain some of their votes, but he CANNOT win without black and Latino votes. That's interesting, because Clinton does very well with black voters. I can't for the life of me understand that considering what her husband did, particularly with his prison policies. But still, interesting times indeed.

care said...

Not forgetting the other hurdle,the parties 20 vote sitting delegates,a powerful voting block.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

PS Sanders has done very well in two of the WHITEST states in the US. :)

Anonymous said...

Against the odds lets hope Bernie Sanders can do it, in its own way Donald Trump leading the GOP is helping him.
Both come from different moulds than mainstream.
People across America are looking for some-one outside of the political elite to lead them.
In Britain Jeremy Corbyn is proving to be a massive 'point of difference' to David Cameron, Jeremy still has long way to go but he could still do it.
In NZ our revolution is whether John Key can get a fourth term !.
Labour seem to be determined that he can.

jh said...

How condescending. If only the good old boys studied sociology under Spoonley they would see the world through corrective lenses?
The good old boys have as much social intelligence as anyone else.

jh said...

I recall your comments about our good old boys and the anti smacking legislation. It didn't appear that the good old boys were dummies in that case?

jh said...

"Black brothers and dumb white racists"
Othering isn't just something whites do. Oxytocin moderates ethnocentrism.

Punch said...

As an apostrophe pedant, I'm intrigued by your possessive "Sander's.."
Surely, as his name is Sanders, the correct possessive is "Sanders's.." or just "Sanders'.."
Apart from that, I suspect Mr Sanders chances of claiming the "good ole boys" is remote. Obama put them off the Democrats for life.

Anonymous said...

The US elites have been pitching poor whites against poor blacks for the past 300-400 years.

Richard said...

It is the Voting Rights Act...and fyi had to be renewed by Congress in 1995...a real battle that wa
Richard Jefferis

Victor said...


I agree. The African-American love affair with the Clintons is only slightly less inexplicable than the love affair of many New Zealanders with John Key.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

JH - you need to spend a little more time on American websites if you're going to make generalisations about good old boys. Do you mean the good old boys who think Obama was born in Kenya, and is a Muslim? The good old boys who fly the Confederate flag from their monster trucks? The good old boy who preaches self-sufficiency yet seems to think he should be allowed to graze his cattle on public land for nothing? That same good old boy who thinks that black people were better off under slavery? Or maybe the good old boys who camped in the National Park, desecrated an Indian burial site, and were sent a box full of dildos to their astonishment?
Many of these good old boys have been voting against their own interests for more than 50 years. And judging by their actions and statements, that's just how little social intelligence they have.

Victor said...

Another key issue is the role of 'Super Delegates' (e.g Members of Congress and of the DNC) most of whom might have long been sown up by Hillary. From memory, that's about 15% of the Convention.

Robert M said...

It would be a mistake to see the Southern Strategy as purely racial, particularly today. It has always in part been about patriotism, flag, military and rejection of the Democrats support for gay and trans gender rights. As Lee Altwater a southern poor boy said, his choice had little to do with ideology. As a frat boy when he discovered what the professors and fashionable people were for, he was for the opposition. When he arrived at the Bush family door in Kennybunkport he was seen as little more than something the cat had brought in from, the gutter, the lowest form of highered help, adopted by similarly dissaffected W.
The ruthless pursual of the Vietnam War through 1972 by Kissinger and Nixon had much to do with hard hat support. During the 1972 California Humphery old HHH ( Hubert Horatio Humphery) nailed McGovern by pointing out that George intended to reduce the US Navy to 6 aircraft carriers and what about the job losses down in Renaldo Beach at Northrop and McDonnell.
Bernie Sanders isnt a serious candidate, he looks like bespecaled Micheal Foot in his ridiculous run 9n the Militant ticked as UK Labour ticket in 1983 against Thatcher. I had a look at the Clark document on TV3 this morning Sunday 21/2/16 and Clark was certainly well tailored, made up and elegant in her election campaigns- in 1998 at 48, while not as glossed as Megan Kelly on Fox she might even still had some sex appeal. The point about Sanders is that he is so extreme and unattractive that Clinton can not lose against him, but in November she faces a fellow expansionist in Trump, the ultimate Nixon low wage, high fee Republican in Ted Cruz or his fellow ex Cuban Rubio, a hard Clinton or soft Cruz its difficult to know.
But with Hillary the doubt is, she's too old: not enough a genuine supporter or the US military, ie her past hard line, support for warhorse John McCain and bombing Iran has been all tactical and too the ultimate and final hard left 1960s trojan horse. So it will be close. At the moment was I a yank, I would vote for Trump. Trump and Cruz alone recognise the reality and limitations of American military and economic power today, that even against Russia, US power is no longer overwhelming or guaranteed. Caution and Compromise are needed.

Dennis said...

Robert, I am a yank!
Will not be voting for Trump...
nor the wall Street Socket puppet, war-mongering, Generalissimo Clinton.
Your comment that Sander's is too extreme is laughable.
He would be a middle-right candidate in any other enlightened democracy's.
You Sir, despite all your "educated" diatribe...are clueless on the current political climate in the US.

Anonymous said...

Robert M: Donald Trump is 69. Bernie Sanders is 74. Would you say they are too old? (Hillary Clinton is 68)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" Trump and Cruz alone recognise the reality and limitations of American military and economic power today, that even against Russia, US power is no longer overwhelming or guaranteed. Caution and Compromise are needed."

Trump may or may not recognise the reality and limitations of American military and economic power, it's difficult to tell. But he talks as if he doesn't. I haven't read anything that suggests Trump recognises that caution and compromise are needed. And if you have Robert perhaps you should post a link to it. Let's face it, the man is a narcissist. Probably clinically so. He says whatever comes into his head, and seems to regard the whole shebang is just another TV show.
Sanders, as Victor said has got to overcome the problem of the super delegates, party members whose job it is to make sure that no one too radical gets in. I'm not particularly hopeful, but they have been known to change their mind, and as some polls now have Sanders as the best Democratic candidate tested against all the Republican candidates, they may just swallow the dead rat.
IMO Sanders needs to emphasise more Hillary's ties to banksters and the huge fees she got from them for doing nothing much – except helping them avoid prosecutions and taxes. Sanders might look like Michael Foot – but that doesn't seem to bother the young people who see him as uncorrupted by the system, who are American and have never heard of Michael Foot anyway.
On the other hand, unless Democrats get off their arses and vote, he's not going to be able to do much with Republicans in charge of Congress. And if Hillary can do a little bit more, it'll most likely be the right-wing shit that the banksters approve of.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh and just so you should know Robert, Hillary is a year younger than Trump, and women do tend to live longer than men anyway :)

Loz said...

The Democratic Primary is turning into a nightmare for the grandees of the party. By all estimations, Hillary Clinton was expected to gain the nomination easily. The passionate challenge coming from the Sanders camp is damaging Hillary in a way that may see her win the nomination but not the Presidency.

Increasingly shady attacks on Sanders and his supporters are fostering deep resentment. The latest mis-accredited controversy being over the translation of Nevada Caucus proceedings into Spanish being blocked (

Only a third of Democrats now consider Clinton trustworthy while 60% of the American public also believe she is dishonest. There is no certainty that Sanders supporters will fall into the fold behind Clinton if he should lose and it appears he does have an appeal to Trump supporters that Hillary does not.

The fracture-lines are opening within the Democratic Party in ways not seen since Chicago `68 or McGovern `72. Ironically the youthful Clintons and activists like Gloria Steinem were part of the new-left realignment of the Democratic party over 40 years ago. Yet, they now find their personal politics at odds with the younger generations and challenged by a growing class-based analysis not seen prominently since that time.

Simon said...

Unfortunately, there is no very little indication so far that African Americans are coming to him in any great numbers. I am big Bernie supporter, but I fear he will b soundly whipped in South Carolina.

Chris, I notice you have no trouble calling out the "ignorance of working class whites". But this same ignorance also applies to Blacks not making the connection between Bernie's policies, superior electability against Republicans(according to numerous polls) and all-round authenticity vs the Clinton deceptive neo-liberal ways.

Funnily enough, liberals might be able to legitimately blame Black Americans for something - electing Hillary Clinton

Robert M said...

But if the electable alternative to Hillary Clinton is not Trump or Bernie Sanders but Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio is not Trump rather more knowable and somewhat rational, compared with the two ex Cubans whose real political position or stability is questionable.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I must say that if I had to vote for one of the Republican candidates I would vote for Trump. He is barmy as a boxful of badgers and pretty much unpredictable. But he knows absolutely nothing, and I suspect he knows he knows absolutely nothing – so he might be amenable to guidance by the American bureaucracy such as it is. On the other hand, sadly Cruz and Rubio are totally predictable – members of the religious right, who are not only barmy but vicious with it. If they get in, they will be trying to roll back women's and gay rights, and just about every other social advance made in the last 50 years or so. They're already trying to prevent black people from voting.
One thing will be interesting – will all those people who say if Bernie doesn't win they won't vote for Hillary exceed those people who say if Trump wins they won't vote for him? :)

Anonymous said...

Robert M, I agree with you regarding Cruz and Rubio, both are two charlatans saying what anyone wants to hear, Trump simply states what he believes and that truthfulness is what many Americans are looking for. Trump should win the nomination, I hope he does but he won't beat Hillary or Bernie.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Rubio and Cruz may well be charlatans. But they are not saying what "anyone" wants to hear. They don't necessarily tailor their message to their audience like Trump seems to do somewhat. They are firmly in the tradition of the nutty religious right in the US. Which luckily for us seems to have had little influence on politics until recently. Unfortunately for social progress such as reproductive rights, that influence seems to be increasing. Rubio and Cruz are on message – they know their audience, they know what they want to hear, and on the whole they believe it themselves. All the more dangerous for that.

Victor said...

With Trump, what you vote for and what you get might be two totally different propositions. There again, they might not be. So start building your fallout shelter NOW!

With Cruz or Rubio, you certainly know what you're getting and it's pretty noxious. Attack dog Rubio, moreover, strikes me as a better looking version of the young Richard Nixon.

Trump is one of the most formidable demagogues of recent decades. Ignore the curious thatch on his head and concentrate on his voice; it's really an amazing instrument, which manages to remain tuneful and well-modulated, even when he’s roaring his head off, thus enabling him to rant away to the mob whilst also communicating, on a one to one basis, with people at home, watching on TV. A thoroughly 21st century Duce!

Meanwhile, there's still seems to be some talk of Michael Bloomberg running as an Independent. If that happened, I'm not sure whether he'd siphon off more Republican or Democratic votes and/or whether he'd be more of a threat to Bernie or Hillary.

America's venerable but always flawed democracy is at crisis point and is losing credibility amongst a once proud citizenry. Even so, I'm finding the Bernie/Hillary debates to be master classes in political argument and persuasion.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Trump is a TV personality. He treats everything like a TV show. And he is great at getting free publicity. He is a model of a modern major demagogue :). (Sorry)

Anonymous said...

Sanders is unlikely to even win the Democrat candidacy.

Hillary has already toed up nearly all the 'super delegates' and it would need an earthquake in the Democrat convention to change this