“More cooperative political tone” versus list of demands: In this morning’s New York Times, Blinder and Fausset offer a fascinating portrait of black political thinking in South Carolina in the wake of Charleston.
We don’t know what will and won’t occur in South Carolina. Because of something we read yesterday, we were struck by the outlook of Robert Brown, am experienced member of the state legislature.
Rep. Brown is a black Democrat. He thinks additional change may be on the way in the Palmetto State:
BLINDER AND FAUSSET (7/21/15): With the lowering of the battle flag, black South Carolinians are wondering whether this moment might augur a new, more cooperative political tone that could help the state, one of the nation’s poorest, begin to address the longstanding racial disparities in income, education, health care and quality of life.Other blacks are less optimistic about the prospects for additional change. But in the passage shown below, Representative Joseph Neal, an African-American minister and a veteran state legislator, explains where he’d like things to go in the state.
A handful of black leaders are indulging in an unbridled optimism after South Carolinians of all races rallied to condemn the massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, which the authorities have described as a hate crime, and after a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers voted to take down the divisive battle flag. A few hours after the vote in the House, which came after a contentious, 15-hour debate, Representative Robert L. Brown, a black Democrat, closed the door to his legislative office in Columbia. Then he faced a corner and sobbed.
“The flag is just part of it,” Mr. Brown said through his tears, invoking the notion of a South Carolina that for once offers “prosperity for all.” He added: “I think it’s going to happen.”
Rep. Neal seems to think well of Governor Haley. His idea for the next advance is Medicaid expansion:
BLINDER AND FAUSSET: In their meeting, Mr. Neal pressed Ms. Haley on the Democratic priority of broadening Medicaid eligibility. Some 194,000 South Carolinians fall into the so-called coverage gap, meaning they make too much to enroll in Medicaid but not enough to qualify for tax credits to buy health insurance. Minorities make up 57 percent of the state’s poor, uninsured, nonelderly adults.Brown and Neal seem to think the “improved political tone” could produce additional progress. We were struck by their hopeful outlook, mainly because we had read Kevin Drum’s post about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ms. Haley has said in the past that she worried a Medicaid expansion would wreak havoc on the state’s budget. In the meeting, Mr. Neal said, the governor told him that someone would have to persuade her that the state could afford such a shift.
“That’s something I’d like to try to do,” Mr. Neal said.
Mr. Neal and other black leaders will have to persuade many more people than Ms. Haley, who has a difficult relationship with the legislature. But the governor is seen as a potential ally who could prove critical.
Last weekend, demonstrators from the group interrupted speeches by Candidates Sanders and O’Malley. Right on cue, Gwen Ifill clucked on Face the Nation about how poorly the two candidates had handled the hissing and yelling.
(We have a dream today! We dream we’ll see a cadre from BLM invade the set of The NewsHour, interrupting Ifill as she reads the news. We’re eager to see the masterful way she handles all the confusion!)
Black Lives Matter was on the march! To some extent, we can’t help recalling the way this type of thing, from white and black protest groups alike, helped create a whole generation of Nixon and Reagan the last time around.
We especially suffered those non-acid flashbacks when Drum produced the movement’s current list of demands. At the BLM web site, Drum had clicked on a button labeled, "Learn About Our Demands.” Below, you see the first five:
Demands from Black Lives MatterAt least they aren’t non-negotiable demands, we incomparably said.
We demand an end to all forms of discrimination and the full recognition of our human rights.
We demand an immediate end to police brutality and the murder of Black people and all oppressed people.
We demand full, living wage employment for our people.
We demand decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings and an end to gentrification.
We demand an end to the school to prison pipeline & quality education for all.
In his post, Drum mentioned the vagueness of the dozen demands. It’s hard to oppose “the full recognition of someone’s rights.” It’s also hard to know what to do to satisfy such a demand.
“We demand quality education for all?” It’s almost painful to read that demand, which skips the obvious question:
How do we accomplish that task? For academically struggling kids from low-income, low-literacy backgrounds, what do we actually do to guarantee the “quality education” the BLM cadre demands?
These are the two Americas as we sit typing today:
In South Carolina, two experienced Democratic pols sense a hopeful political tone. As experienced pols, they have a specific, definable goal in mind—Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act!
Out in Arizona, the youngsters were shouting the candidates down, and their list of demands seems like what it is—a list compiled by well-intentioned people who are also young and inexperienced.
We read the comments at Drum’s post. Some commenters criticized the demonstrators. Other commenters were more upbeat.
We were struck by the comment which nobody wrote:
By and large, the people involved in this movement are young and inexperienced. They aren’t sophisticated policy mavens; very few people are. Almost surely, they aren’t political geniuses. Almost nobody is.
They’re well-intentioned, but inexperienced. There’s no particular reason to expect good results from the judgments they’re going to make.
What do we see in this situation, as we look at their strategies and read their list of “demands?” We see the lack of intelligent adult leadership which virtually defines the liberal/progressive world.
As with Occupy, so with Black Lives Matter. It isn’t fair, it doesn’t make sense, to expect young people to fill the void left by our dearth of adult leaders.
But look around at our adult leaders, such as they are. On the national level, our adult leaders simply aren’t there, not unlike Bergman’s god.
Our professors are a horrible joke. They seem to be living the silly good life, not unlike our pols.
Our mainstream “press corps?” They’re only able to get upset if they think that someone has insulted McCain. Otherwise, nothing matters.
We’re asking young people to pick up the slack. The last time this started, it went rather badly. That isn’t the fault of young people.