Danny Glover Endorses Bernie Sanders

by Danny Glover
Huffington Post
February 4 2014

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has already accomplished what most observers — including many of his supporters — thought was impossible. Coming from 40 points behind in the polls when the campaign began, he achieved a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and enjoys a huge lead in the second Democratic contest in New Hampshire.

There is now no denying that he is a serious contender. Although Clinton still leads in national polls, most of the people surveyed by those polls have so far given little attention to the fundamentally different policy goals between Democratic Party presidential candidates.

Political commentators in the establishment media and status-quo political operatives have overwhelmingly endorsed Clinton, raising a number of doubts about Sanders’ prospects of appealing to and winning support of Black voters, who comprise a sizable share of Democratic primary voters. But there are a number of reasons why he can win the majority of Democratic Party and Independent voters, including moderate Republicans — and many specific reasons why a Sanders’ presidency could serve the policy interests of the Black community.

“Sanders has demonstrated that he understands that real democracy is essentially a pro-active citizenry demanding that public servants represent just causes.”

First, Sanders has put forth the most coherent policy changes to achieve full employment. His economic class-based proposals for change could have great benefits for unemployed and under- employed Americans — especially African-Americans because most Black people in this country are working class and a disproportionate number are poor. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is persistently about twice that of whites, and vastly higher for Black teenagers. Sanders’ proposals to create millions of jobs through public investment could greatly benefit African-Americans.

Unlike other candidates, Sanders has highlighted the importance of reform at the U.S. Federal Reserve. This is the institution that, when operating unchecked, basically determines the level of unemployment in the U.S. He has argued that the Fed should not raise interest rates until the unemployment rate falls below 4 percent.

When the Fed raises interest rates, as they did unnecessarily in December, they are deliberately creating unemployment, with the intention of slowing wage growth. In this way they not only reduce employment opportunities but also worsen inequality, since lower-wage workers are disproportionately hit. These workers are also disproportionately Black and Latino.

African-Americans will also benefit greatly from Sanders’ proposals

African-Americans will also benefit greatly from Sanders’ proposals for free tuition at public universities, expanding Social Security benefits, raising the minimum wage to $15, universal childcare and pre-kindergarten, a youth jobs program, and other measures to reduce America’s vast disparities of income, wealth, and yes, opportunity for all.

Responding earnestly to direct calls from Black Lives Matter, Sanders has demonstrated that he understands that real democracy is essentially a pro-active citizenry demanding that public servants represent just causes. He understands that generalized economic class-based reforms must be linked with what he has correctly called “serious problems in this country with institutional racism, and a broken criminal justice system.” And he has pledged to do something about it if he becomes president.

What makes Sanders’ campaign worthy of serious attention is that, unlike other candidates, he has a decades-long track record of fighting for the reforms that he is proposing — and honestly responding to critiques and challenges to expand and deepen democratic policies. Some have attacked his proposals as impractical; for example, free tuition at public universities. But public universities were free when I went to college in California. By what economic or accounting logic is this not affordable today, when America has more than twice the income per person that it had when I was a student?

We must change our national priorities, away from the endless overseas wars that are the main cause of terrorism — therefore begetting more war — and invest in the education of our children and youth. Here, too, Sanders shows a clear contrast with his opponent, who voted for the Iraq War and has continued since then to advocate a more belligerent foreign policy than that of President Obama.

Others have maintained that Sanders is not electable because he is a democratic socialist, or more accurately, a social democrat. But the social democratic reforms that he proposes to enact with the support of a permanently active citizenry are not only feasible but needed and popular.

“We must change our national priorities, away from the endless overseas wars that are the main cause of terrorism … and invest in the education of our children and youth.”

Look at our two most “socialist” programs, Social Security and Medicare. Why would democratic-minded Americans reject Sanders for wanting to expand both of these widely popular programs? Or for using the government to expand the rights of its citizens, rather than supporting the heavy state intervention that protects the exorbitant profits of pharmaceutical companies?

More than 15,000 volunteers helped Sanders succeed in Iowa, and there are many tens of thousands more who will participate in the rest of the primary and presidential campaigns. And that is perhaps the most hopeful part of the Sanders campaign. It is a genuine mass justice movement, fueled by young people and others whose lives, limited and degraded by broken and false promises, demonstrate why America’s dominant business-as-usual political class is discredited, and its political system is corrupted. The rising tide of Sanders supporters are not naïve — they are the realists — and after decades of stagnant or declining living standards for the majority, most Americans also understand this reality.

And who best to take on such a system but a candidate who is straightforwardly honest, boldly courageous, who has not been corrupted, who receives nothing from Wall Street or the corporations who have hijacked American democracy, and who owes them nothing in return? This campaign is a rare, perhaps unprecedented event in this country’s modern electoral history. It deserves the support of everyone who favors social and economic justice.

Danny Glover is an actor, director, producer and activist.

Follow Danny Glover on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrdannyglover


2 thoughts on “Danny Glover Endorses Bernie Sanders

  1. Pingback: Danny Glover’s rousing introduction of Bernie Sanders in Greenville, South Carolina | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Brother Cornel West’s endorsement of Senator Sanders as well as the other endorsements of Sanders by other prominent black progressives like Harry Belafonte, Benjamin Jealous, Danny Glover and Spike Lee seem to represent what maybe a shift in some of the black elites support for the establishment political candidates like Hillary Clinton. The latter is commendable if in fact it is a sign of a rising trend in the US political process.

    However, while these endorsements of Senator Sanders by progressive black intellectuals and activists are laudable steps in the right direction, it is questionable as to whether their endorsements will translate into actual votes in the democratic primaries and caucuses across the political geography of the US.

    There is probably no doubt that the appeal of these prominent Afro-Americans such as Cornel West and Danny Glover will probably sway some blacks to support and maybe even vote for Sanders though their appeal and prominence are probably inadequate to mobilize hundreds of thousands of blacks to vote for the democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

    Why is this even a question worthy of thought?
    There are some valid reasons for advancing these thoughts. First, with all due respects to these prominent black scholars, singers, movie stars and activists who have endorsed Sanders as far as I am aware, though they have appeal among black people they do not have an organizational machinery among the black masses to mobilize them in an organized way to vote for Sanders and against Hillary Clinton.

    On the contrary, the black politicians who are falling over themselves to endorse and support Miss Establishment (or Hillary Clinton) have not only the Clinton political machinery but also their own political machinery to pull out the black voters to vote for Miss Establishment.

    Furthermore, there are hundreds of black pastors who like their black political counterparts have overwhelmingly expressed their loyalty almost slavishly to the Clintons apparently with the blind hope that should Hillary become president in November, she will reward their loyalty with positions in her government, the federal bureaucracy and elsewhere in the state machinery.

    The critical point here is that despite what these black Clinton loyalists will say, the fact is that given Hillary Clinton’s track record as the co president with her husband Bill Clinton in the 1990s, her support for the crime bill of her husband in 1994 and for the decimation of welfare as it was known by President Clinton in 1996 significantly destroyed black lives and communities.

    These two acts alone as Michelle Alexander deftly pointed out in her recent Nation Magazine piece entitled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote” should be sufficient to disqualify Hillary Clinton from getting the support and votes of black people for the during the democratic nomination process.

    However, the black pastors like the black politicians who support Hillary Clinton unlike the prominent black progressives who support Sanders typically have an organized presence among black folks called the black church and the Democratic Party machinery. Unfortunately, these black pastors and politicians at the federal, state and local government levels of the political system unlike the prominent black activists and progressives who support Bernie Sanders have the political machinery to convert appeal to black folks into votes for Miss Establishment during the primaries and caucuses.

    The latter is what largely explains Hillary Clinton’s huge Super Tuesday victories in Southern states like Virginia 84%, Tennessee of 82%, Arkansas 88%, Georgia 83%, Alabama of 87%, South Carolina 86% among black voters compared to Sanders more modest showing in these states according to a CNN exit poll. For example, Senator Sanders won only 14% of the black votes in South Carolina and 12% of their votes in Tennessee compared to Secretary Clinton’s 86% and 82% of black votes in those states.The latter results were the case despite the intense campaigning of some of the prominent African-Americans such as Dr. Cornel West, Danny Glover and Ben Jealous in several of these states.

    On the contrary, the existing capability on the ground for Hillary Clinton’s black surrogates as well as the Clinton political machinery yielded the big victories for Hillary as opposed to big losses for Bernie particularly among black folks. These impressive Super Tuesday results for the former Secretary of State seem to be due in large measure to the efforts of the “black leaders” to get out the votes for Clinton as well as the baseless loyalty of black folks in these states that “Hillary will fight for them” and “It’s Hillary time to be president.”

    These sentiments given Clintons’ record on things of interests to black people in America are not only romantic but are also politically sobering from the standpoint of building a movement to challenge the financial and corporate ruling classes that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton clearly represent.

    Consequently, the political zealotry with which the black surrogates of the former Secretary of State rally the black votes for her is not and will not be good news for the black folks that are being sold down the river by their “leaders” for less than 30 pieces of silver to vote for President Bill Clinton’s co-president, Ms. Clinton.

    Additionally, there are several more black intellectuals, academics, actors, singers and others who are either active surrogates for Hillary Clinton than those who are in support of Senator Sanders.

    These groups like those who support Sanders typically do not have any organized presence on the ground in black communities though like those who support Senator Sanders they have appeal and they have access to television, radio and other media outlets to make their case for Hillary Clinton.

    Thus, the point should be made that here again Hillary may have a political advantage not only because of her long established presence as First Lady when her husband was President, as a New York Senator, as a presidential candidate against Senator Barack Obama in 2008 and as Secretary of State to President Obama. On the contrary, Senator Bernie Sanders is not as well known being a Senator from the small rural and mainly white state of Vermont with much less political and social visibility among black people in the country.

    However, as stated earlier, the fact that Miss Establishment has the black political establishment, black intellectuals and black church in her corner to make her case for her and to mobilize the black votes for her gives her a solid advantage over the easily more progressive Sanders.

    The latter fact was manifestly demonstrated in the more racially diverse states like South Carolina,Alabama, and Virginia which Ms. Clinton won handily on Super Tuesday. It is also true that she will do well in other more racially diverse states like Michigan, New York, Florida and California for all the reasons mentioned earlier.

    Additionally, and very importantly Miss Establishment has the full support of the Democratic Party establishment in her support all across the country including the very undemocratic system of pro-establishment super delegates which simply rubber stamp her with more delegates against Senator Sanders.

    Frankly, had she not been so much a part of the political establishment and had the black establishment not be so slavishly in support of her, it is reasonable to believe that Senator Sanders would probably have done better than Hillary in the more racially diverse states particularly in the Southern states which he recently lost to Miss Establishment. It is reasonable to believe the latter given that the Senator’s very strong message of the need for a “political revolution” in America to break the stranglehold of Wall Street and the corporations over the political system and the economy would more likely resonate with working class voters of all races.

    Unfortunately, a big part of Senator Sanders’ weakness among black people is a common weakness of virtually all or certainly most privileged white and Jewish folks including progressive ones like Sanders, namely, they are usually not socially and culturally connected to black and other colored communities.

    The latter is a distinct manifestation of the history of Jim Crow and the deeply entrenched structures of racism that kept and still keep the races apart in social, cultural, economic and political terms. This explains in large measure why both Sanders and Clinton had to ” fight for the black voters” though for reasons already discussed Clinton had the advantage. Frankly, that advantage of Hillary Clinton is not because she has done anything of worth for black folks but more because ” black leaders” have come to her defense largely out of a slavish loyalty that is probably more about their political careers and less about the welfare of the masses of black folks they supposedly lead.

    Perhaps in the absence of her high profile positions as First Lady, as Senator, Secretary of State and presidential candidate against Obama in 2008, and without the loyal “black leaders” she would be much less advantaged against Sanders particularly given his very strong anti-corporate message against the “corrupted political system” which supports the “rigged economy” established against the masses of working folks in America!

    Finally, despite the political and social deficiencies of Sanders’ campaign against Miss Establishment, there are some impressive strengths.

    First and foremost, Sanders’ campaign is a grassroots movement for focused on smashing the rigged political economy for which Secretary Clinton is an apologist despite her rhetoric and that of her black and white surrogates.

    Second, Sanders’ campaign is a movement that resonates with ordinary folks of all races, religions, parties and educational status because unlike Hillary Clinton’s campaign which is about Hillary, Sanders’ campaign is about the mass of Americans who are catching hell and the challenges confronting America such as income-wealth inequality, poverty, climate crisis, health care, un-affordability of college among others.

    Third, Sanders’ campaign is an anti-corporatist, anti-Wall Street movement is funded primarily by ordinary folks unlike Clinton’s campaign which is clearly pro-establishment and which is funded by Wall Street and corporate America to perpetuate the “rigged economy” and the “corrupt political system” in which the super-rich literally uses millions and billions of dollars to buy elections by funding status quo candidates like Secretary Clinton.

    Unfortunately, for Senator Sanders and more importantly for the working American families, time is not on his side and their side for him to better introduce himself and his policies to them particularly the grassroots black and Hispanic Americans that Ms. Clinton and her surrogates from these groups are mesmerizing to forget about her horrible record in support of the 1994 crime bill and the 1996 welfare reform bill that her husband signed into law and she supported as First Lady.

    Furthermore, Ms. Clinton also supported her husband signing into law the deregulation of the financial markets on Wall Street that effectively ended the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial banking from investment banking for over 50 years in the US. The crime bill and the welfare bill as Michelle Alexander correctly pointed out in her earlier referenced nation article decimated the lives of literally millions of black folks many of whom were sent to prisons to enhance Bill Clinton’s political image as “tough on crime” and many others were pushed into poverty as they were kicked off welfare programs by Bill Clinton’s signature to end welfare as it was known.

    However, in addition to the social and economic disasters for black communities of the crime and welfare acts, the deregulation of financial markets by Bill Clinton that Hillary also supported according to some economists like Dean Baker and Joseph Stiglitz played a critical role in causing the Great Recession of 2008 that decimated the lives of most Americans particularly blacks and Latinos who lost millions of jobs, homes and retirement savings.

    The so-called recovery under President Obama still has the net worth of these “minority families” left way behind white families which suggests that President Obama’s recovery has not yet significantly impacted the lives of these families.

    These facts about Secretary Clinton’s record are not well known among blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans because the surrogates of Clinton simply refuse to discuss them selling their people short to bolster her chances against Mr. Sanders to be the nominee for the Democratic Party.

    •Wouldn’t it be great to have the “minority voters” fully informed about Secretary Clinton’s record so that they can make more informed decisions between Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton in the voting booth?

    •Isn’t an informed citizenry at the very core of democracy?

    •Doesn’t an informed citizenry apply to black folks as well?

    So in closing, it is important to say that selling Hillary Clinton to black folks without any clear demands particularly knowing her horrible record for black communities is just another example of the mis-leadership of ” black leaders” like John Lewis, James Clyburn and others who so uncritically and slavishly lend their support to Hillary Clinton to potentially give her the black votes as her card to the White House.

    In this context, despite the concerns that exist about Bernie Sanders’ political deficiencies as it relates to black people, it is undeniable that he has been on the side of civil rights and progressive policy issues in support of not only black people but also working Americans as a whole.

    The “black leaders” in all spheres whether political, religious, intellectual, entertainment and others who uncritically sell Hillary Clinton to black people may arguably be in the process of denying them and the country as a whole a much more progressive alternative to lead the the US in the form of Senator Sanders.

    Sanders is right, the status quo approach of Secretary Clinton as opposed to his call for a “political revolution” is what is required to confront the many challenges that are faced in the US including racism, mass incarceration, income-wealth inequality, poverty, joblessness and climate change all of which disproportionately affect black people.

    The US presidency and who occupies it as president is too important not solely for the domestic agenda that will be pursued by the president but also very importantly, the president’s foreign policy agenda.

    The latter will determine whether there will be more wars, invasions and occupations, more interference in the affairs of sovereign nations or whether there will be peace. Thus, the role of all Americans particularly black people in selecting the president is vital not only for the potential for a more progressive domestic agenda for education, health care, jobs and more equity in the distribution of income and wealth but equally important whether the world will experience more wars and violence or more peace and prosperity for humanity!

    “Fools die for want of wisdom” Bob Marley

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