Bernie (who I will vote for in the California primary) has come closer to pulling socialism (or at least social democracy) into the mainstream than any U.S. contender since perhaps Eugene V. Debs.
But Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee because of the choices of the most excluded group in our democracy, African Americans -- especially women -- in the Deep South. If we believe that the Beloved Community -- or the Revolution -- should mean that "the last shall be first," we're seeing it, whether it accords with our druthers or not.
legislation that laid the foundation for 19th century U.S. prosperity. Never would have happened with the plantation gentry around. Of course letting the South go would have also perpetuated slavery, a grotesquely immoral choice as abolitionists, black and white, noisily insisted at the time.
And I sometimes look at our own time and wish our national politics didn't have to take into account the bitter, biased, and ignorant views too often embodied in southern Republicans. But for Democrats to just back away from the solid white Republican south would be to abandon the most disenfranchised citizens of our country. Southern blacks lose and lose again, out-numbered by white voters who monolithically oppose their interests. (That's if they are allowed to vote at all, not robbed of their ballots by discriminatory laws.)
In this primary, the votes of Democratic Party black people in the South have MATTERED for the first time in a long time. Maybe the first time ever at the national level. If you are a serious progressive or leftist or whatever we're calling ourselves these days, that has to gladden your heart, even as you come to terms with the country's resistance to the nominee you hoped for. Bernie coming up short just means there's more work to do for a more just society. We've been in that hard place for a long time.
There are genuine rising expectations going on here.
Yet with those expectations comes a caution based on history. Journalist Farai Chideya commentating at 538 has some suggestions as to why older (and many younger) African Americans think Clinton is a better bet:
Prudential concerns aside, most successful candidates have to prove able to speak to the hearts of at least some fraction of the electorate. We white people may not hear it, but Clinton clearly knows how to signify to many black people that she gets what matters. I was astonished to read this passage in Michael Eric Dyson's The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. After the Charleston massacre at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church, Obama confined his early comments to putting the murders in the context of other gun slaughters. Dyson thinks Hillary Clinton's response made room for Obama to become "racially unshackled" in his response to Dylann Roof's crime. She
At a moment of horror, that's a national politician calling out white supremacy. Let's the rest of us white folks try to do at least as well as Hillary Clinton.