NewsOne’s PolitickerOne blog tackles some of the most important topics in politics: Election 2016, moves by the Obama administration, voting rights, lawmaking, and the way that elected officials represent our communities. Three times a week, we will go beyond the mainstream media’s “pack” coverage of politics to highlight the underreported aspects of how politics and policy affect you and the people you care about. In between, follow the conversation on Twitter at #PolitickerOne.
Bernie Sanders Vows To Fight Hardest To “End Institutional Racism” While Rescinding Aide’s #BlackLivesMatter Apology
At first it seemed that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was finally on the right track.
While other candidates–Republicans and Democrats alike–walked around the Iowa State Fair this weekend snacking on pork on a stick and fried Snickers bars, Sanders appeared to have learned his lesson after embarrassing face-offs with Black Lives Matter protesters in recent weeks.
During a town hall speech Saturday at the IAFF Local 809 Union Hall in Long Grove, Iowa, the Vermont senator talked about working to help Barack Obama become the nation’s first Black president. He then rattled off the names of Blacks killed at the hands of police, telling the audience, “‘that has got to end,’” according to text accompanying a YouTube video posted by WSBN News:
“And let me promise you, as somebody who has one of the strongest civil rights records in the United States Congress,” Sanders said, “nobody will fight harder than I will to end racism in America and to reform our broken criminal justice system.”
Sanders received several standing ovations from the audience throughout the speech that lasted a little over an hour.
Not a bad message after his high-profile #BlackLivesMatter stumbles, right?
And then this happened Sunday, according to Talking Points Memo:
Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told CNN on Sunday that he doesn’t think he needs to apologize to the Black Lives Matter movement after members of the group forced him offstage at a campaign stop in Seattle. But one of his staffers already did so.
In an email obtained by BuzzFeed news, Sanders’ African-American outreach director, Marcus Ferrell, told Black Lives Matter leadership that he was sorry “it took our campaign so long to officially reach out,” and asked to kick off a formal dialogue. Sanders told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that the email was sent “without my knowledge” and that his campaign was going to be working “with all groups.”
Wait, what? No apology necessary? It would seem Sanders doesn’t believe his own knotty White liberalism. You can’t put on your superhero cape on Saturday, pledge to be the one to fight hardest to end racism in America, and then take it off on Sunday and once again dismiss the group working hard to draw attention to the persistent and pervasive problem of racism.
Nevertheless, on Monday, Sanders returned to making overtures to tackle racism in America, agreeing on Twitter to meet civil rights leader DeRay McKesson and discuss his racial justice platform.
What do you think about the latest twist in Sanders’ handling of Black Lives Matter? Sound off in the comments…
Black Leaders Hit Obama On New Environmental Regulations
As next year’s national elections approach, the Democratic coalition is showing signs of splintering amid a smoldering dispute that pits urban leaders against environmentalists.
The disagreement comes as the Obama administration presses an agenda this summer that some experts say will help cement the president’s legacy for environmental achievements. And the standoff centers on regulations that require communities across the nation, from Indiana to Illinois to Pennsylvania, to reduce ground-level ozone, or smog.
An array of Democrats — including prominent Black leaders from politics and the faith community — are warning that the new standards will be difficult to achieve in urban communities and will likely hamper economic activity and job growth, according to Hazel Trice Edney at the Amsterdam News:
N. C. State Rep. Rosa Gill, a Democratic member of the N. C. Legislative Black Caucus, recently wrote to the White House warning the new standards would undermine the success the President has had in creating an environment that has fostered job growth in areas on the economic margins.
“The minority and disadvantaged population in my district is especially grateful for President Obama’s tireless efforts on their behalf,” she wrote. “So you’ll understand why I’m concerned that the newly proposed air quality standards would act as a drag on the long awaited recovery my constituents are now enjoying.”
Environmentalists are encouraging the Obama administration to move quickly to implement the standards in October. But the move threatens to alienate some urban leaders, who say now is not the time to impose new standards on communities that have not yet completely benefited from the economic recovery that has lifted the fortunes of other parts of the nation.
The dispute has significant implications for 2016, when Republicans and Democrats will battle for control of the White House and Congress.
While no one expects Black and other urban leaders to abandon the Democratic Party over the issue, it could dampen enthusiasm in urban communities, where Democrats draw significant energy and support at the polls.
The situation reflects the challenges that often confront Democratic leaders as they try to hold together the delicate patchwork of constituencies that make up the party. It is not unlike the pressures confronting Republican leaders, whose coalition has been divided by the competing needs of the party’s establishment wing and its Tea Party faction.
At the heart of objections by some Black leaders is the fact that many urban communities are having a difficult time meeting the current standards, which limit ground-ozone emissions to 75 parts per billion, where the new standards would set the limit at 60 to 65 parts per billion, writes Albert R. Wynn, a former member of Congress representing Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, in a recent Baltimore Sun op-ed. At risk is federal highway funding that the communities could lose if they can’t measure up to the new standards, he explains.
But the Obama administration argues the revised rules will help cut energy costs for low-income families, and improve health in communities that need it most. Said President Obama in remarks on August 6:
“We’ve got critics of this plan who are actually claiming that this will harm minority and low-income communities — even though climate change hurts those Americans the most, who are the most vulnerable. Today, an African-American child is more than twice as likely to be hospitalized from asthma; a Latino child is 40 percent more likely to die from asthma. So if you care about low-income, minority communities, start protecting the air that they breathe….”
What do you think about this debate?
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube