Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Wealth and Race: Reflections on Two State of the Union Responses

I have watched the official Democratic response (10 minutes) from Stacey Abrams and the unofficial and resented response (30 minutes) from Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Abrams gave a short response, heavy on solidarity and consensus. It was impressive, the moreso since this is a woman who probably lost the governorship of Georgia due to Republican electoral shenanigans, and there are voters who just eat this stuff up, but I doubt that any meaningful compromise with the extremists who control the Republican Party is possible. Yet this is apparently the official position of the Democratic Party, as it has been for decades as much of the country was lost to Democrats.

After Abrams, Sanders gave a well-organized long response on social media, giving credit to Abrams. His response contrasted a democratic socialist position with that of President Trump and the Republicans. He started with a scathing critique of wealth inequality, moved on to the trade deficit and off-shoring of jobs, infrastructure, privatization, and health care. He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of this. And he went on. It was a very good speech – I have seldom seen Sanders given credit as an orator, but he is a very good one, and there was substance as well as style in his response.

I wish the Democratic leadership would take more of this up, but Sanders criticizes the very wealthy who fund many of the party's campaigns. It is striking how, even before Sanders gave his speech, there was talk about his trying to upstage Abrams, how even just giving a response on social media, which he has now done for three years, was somehow an attack on women and people of color. I don't see it. He spoke after Abrams, on platforms with much less reachthan national television, and gave her credit. He's a sitting Senator, he represents the views of a substantial faction of the Democratic Party, and I can't see any reason why he shouldn't give a response. No-one criticized Kamala Harris for giving a pre-response before Trump's speech – why does Sanders get slammed for it?

I think it is because critics of the disparities of wealth are always attacked, and this is an easy way to do it. Sanders is called racist and sexist. Elizabeth Warren is called racist. The people who do this haven't yet figured out how to call the Puerto Rican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez either racist or sexist, but there is already talk of running a Democratic candidate against her in the next primaries. Abrams, who probably privately is as much a critic of wealth as anyone, gave a speech which didn't touch on wealth at all, instead calling for consensus when she knows better than any of these that consensus would be unjust.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

3 comments:

JACKIESUE said...

Bernie can kiss my pagan ass..

Raven Onthill said...

Let's hear it for solidarity in the Resistance.

The Blog Fodder said...

Democrats are terrified of anyone taking on wealth inequality. Wall Street controls them. Warren, Bernie, AOC, any truly progressive people. They must be controlled or eliminated