I’ve touched on the topic of the Democratic Primary before, but I feel compelled to do it again, on the grounds of something I see trumpeted by Clinton supporters on a daily basis.
So let’s talk about “the Black Vote”.
(Somehow I just know this is going to land me in hot water with someone, but so be it.)
After Sanders’ most recent upset in Indiana, I saw quite a few Clinton fans talking about how she won three times the number of votes among minority voters there. To which I am forced to respond: So what?
Seriously. So what? What possible relevance does that have in the general election? Do you suddenly think that every one of those people is going to say “eh, fuck it, Hillary didn’t get the nomination so I guess I’ll have to stay home, or maybe just go vote for Trump?”
It’s particularly irrelevant in Indiana, given that it’s something on the order of 86% white. What matters there, clearly, is the blue collar white vote, and that, unsurprisingly, is going to two candidates by overwhelming margins: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Hillary may have swept the South, but again, so what? Tim Robbins may have been somewhat insensitive when he said that a Democrat winning the primary in South Carolina is about as significant as winning Guam, but the truth of the matter is that he wasn’t wrong. South Carolina has gone Republican for the last four elections straight, and there’s not a whole lot of reason to expect things to go any differently this time around, given the way the system works.
Clinton supporters should, at most, be crowing about how she won in several swing states, though losing in Indiana bodes ill for her chances in the general election. They probably should not be constantly harping on the fact that Sanders “should have dropped out already” and for the love of Odin stop whinging about “Bernie Bros” and other mythical creatures, because while it might serve their purposes now, it will certainly not do so come the general election.
And that’s the point of the whole affair, isn’t it?
I’m going to be frank for a moment here, and hopefully Frank doesn’t mind, but this is the reality of the situation: The vast majority of Clinton’s support comes from within the “traditional” Democratic base. Those are the people you can count on, even when their support is irrelevant (see: The South), and while Bernie Sanders’ politics might alienate some of the swing voters in states like Florida (see: Old People), his crossover appeal to demographics that tend to lean Republican more often than not is significant, as is his potential to galvanize the admittedly unreliable youth vote (see: People Who Talk About Politics Nonstop But Then Don’t Bother To Vote).
So while I have a reasonable amount of faith that the system of checks and balances built into our government will keep any President, no matter how radical they might like to be, from doing anything too unreasonable, I’d really rather not sit through four years of President Trump, if only because I get enough comments on the similarities of our last names as is, and having him be the damned President would mean I’d never see the end of it.
The primaries are simply the means why which the two major parties select their candidates, with varying levels of transparency and actual democracy. And while the rhetoric of Trump and Clinton might have shifted towards the general election already, if Clinton supporters keep pissing off Sanders supporters that are ideologically closer to Trump to begin with, things could get ugly come November.
Because this year is going to be a key test for “the Black Vote”. It showed up in record numbers for Barack Obama, but in the off years, not so much. In his second election, less so than the first. Will it show up for Clinton this year?
Maybe yes, but the answer seems to be “probably no”. Because what I’ve been looking at, mostly, is how the Democratic voter turnout in this year’s primary season is down significantly in the South, and while that’s not a perfect gauge of “the Black Vote”, it’s about as close as you can manage at this point in the year. More ominous in terms of the general election is that Republican voters turned up to their primaries in record numbers.
Hillary Clinton may not need it to beat Trump in November. It’s possible that I’m misreading the situation, or that Trump’s appeal will wane as the general election nears. But it’s also worth noting that the Sanders campaign has been extraordinarily gentle with Hillary Clinton, and that Trump will be significantly less so. And let’s be honest; the woman has enough skeletons in her closet to open a medical supply store.
Suffice to say I’m concerned.