There is a well-known book about the five stages of the grieving process that often comes to mind when I read about Democrats truly unable to accept the results of the 2016 presidential election. It’s been almost four years now, yet the denial and anger remain.
As you probably know by now, Michelle Obama is releasing a behind the scenes look at her book tour. The best-seller, “Becoming” is Obama’s autobiography and the documentary, which premieres tomorrow on Netflix, is produced by the Obamas’ production company. In other words, she has complete control over both the story and the documentary.
The Daily Beast has a piece about it and notes that Michelle Obama doesn’t blame who you might think she does for Hillary Clinton’s loss of the 2016 election. No, she doesn’t blame the gun-toting, Bible reading, American flag waving Deplorables from Hillary’s basket. Michelle Obama blames “our folks” as she addresses her audience. She blames black voters for not turning out the vote for Hillary. And, Michelle is angry that black folks didn’t get out and vote during the mid-term elections when Barack Obama was president. They didn’t give him the Congress that he needed, you know. I assume this is a reference to the first term of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House when Obama enjoyed Democrat majorities in both the House and Senate. That’s when Obamacare was rammed through, after all, with only Democrat support.
“It takes some energy to go high, and we were exhausted from it. Because when you are the first black anything…” she said, referencing anecdotes from her Becoming book. “So the day I left the White House and I write about how painful it was to sit on that [inauguration] stage. A lot of our folks didn’t vote. It was almost like a slap in the face.”
“I understand the people who voted for Trump,” she continued. “The people who didn’t vote at all, the young people, the women, that’s when you think, man, people think this is a game. It wasn’t just in this election. Every midterm. Every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up. After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. That’s my trauma.”
No doubt that Trump’s inauguration was painful for her and for Hillary, too. His victory was largely in part a populist response to the two terms of President Obama’s “I’ve got a pen and a phone” attitude to governing. What is interesting is the brutal honesty of Michelle Obama’s remark not said out loud but implied – she expected complete loyalty from black voters for Democrat candidates, even for Hillary who wasn’t particularly liked by any voter demographic except for aging feminists and hippies. Voter turnout among African-Americans soared to new levels in 2008 and a little less so in 2010 only because black voters wanted to vote for a black man to be president. Period. It was a historic accomplishment, a marker in American history.
What has the Democrat Party done for black voters in the last couple of decades? Not much. Politicians promise them everything in return for their votes, they comply and yet nothing very much changes for them. You know who did get into office and begin improving their lives? Donald Trump. With the heights of success reached during his first three years in office, all levels of the economic ladder benefited. Unemployment was at historically low levels for minorities, young workers, women, and African-Americans. Remember the quote from George W. Bush that he often used in speaking about school choice and the African-American community? He referred to “the soft bigotry of low expectations”, a line written by speechwriter Michael Gerson, still applicable today within the Democrat Party. With over 90% of African-Americans voting for Democrats election after election, those low expectations are not a high bar to clear.
Joe Biden expects African Americans to turn out for him in November. It took Rep. Clyburn’s efforts to turn out the African-American vote in South Carolina, though, for Biden to begin to win over black voters. There is a real enthusiasm problem for the Biden campaign and that is among all Democrat voters, not just black voters. Will they turn out in record levels again just because he’ll throw around the name of his best friend, Barack on the campaign trail? I doubt it. Maybe if Obama does enough videos or town halls with Biden but I don’t see Barack Obama breaking a sweat to get Biden elected. He finally endorsed him but nothing since then. Obama’s playing golf and raking in the big Netflix bucks now.
Biden has released his “Lift Every Voice” proposal, a six-point plan for black Americans. The title is a little too on-the-nose but even this attempt at heavily pandering to black voters fails to announce anything new, as far as I can tell. That’s a big problem for Biden – he has no new ideas after over forty years in office. He keeps reminiscing about the past, as 70+ year people do, and lacks inspiration for the future. For example, what has he suggested to combat the coronavirus pandemic in America that the Trump administration hasn’t done or is doing? Nothing.
The six points from Biden’s plan are not new ideas. He starts out with standard Democrat talking points about education, health care, and economics. He ends with words he uses to satisfy the progressive wing of the party, the demands of The Squad, and Bernie Sanders’s wing of the Democrat Party. There is the use of words like ‘justice’ and ‘voter suppression’. Also, ironically, gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is fine if they are doing it, just not so much when Republicans do it.
Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gap by investing in African American workers, businesses, and communities, and expanding African American homeownership and wealth building.
Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system by investing in universal preschool, closing funding gaps by race, making college affordable, and tackling the student debt crisis.
End health disparities by making far-reaching investments, expanding access to affordable health care, improving the quality of care African Americans receive, and making health equity a reality for African Americans.
Strengthen America’s commitment to justice by ending incarceration for drug use alone, reducing the number of people incarcerated, reinvesting those savings in communities affected by mass incarceration, and addressing systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.
Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans by dramatically expanding the Department of Justice’s ability to fight voter suppression and gerrymandering, bringing the full force of the federal government’s authority to confront voter disinformation efforts targeting African Americans, and appointing a federal judiciary that looks like America.
Address environmental justice by making historic investments, enforcing environmental justice legislation, and ensuring that African Americans are dealt in on the country’s clean energy future.
Joe Biden’s candidacy is a nod to the past, and acceptance of the status quo, not an inspiring call for voters to get out and vote for him. Has Michelle Obama decided to endorse Biden and campaign for the black vote for him? So far no word on that. She didn’t endorse Biden when her husband did. Maybe she’s waiting for her own big moment to make a splash.