Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Decline of Clintonism

Bill Clinton, posing in front of  confederate milestone Stone Mountain with black prisoners, Zell Miller (who infamously backed GWB in 2004 because the Democratic party was not militaristic enough) and Ben Lewis Jones (Dukes of Hazzard actor and Confederate Flag proponent)

"It is hard to imagine the DLC would not have been aware of Stone Mountain’s significance as a theater of white supremacy when it staged Clinton’s campaign event at the prison there. In fact, the choice of that particular place as a campaign stop—arranging white political leaders in business suits in front of subjugated black male prisoners in jumpsuits—is illegible except in light of this history. One would be hard-pressed to find a photograph that more forcefully exposes the deep racial paradox of the DLC and the modern Democratic Party. Perhaps this helps to explain why Alexander holds “little hope that a political revolution will occur within the Democratic Party without a sustained outside movement forcing truly transformational change.” 
"...Whereas the modern Republican Party often seems disturbingly unwilling to critique even the most conspicuous forms of white supremacy, the Democratic Party seems eager to reach for “post-race” without giving serious attention to the historical production of race itself. The difference is more tactical than substantive. 
"Most problematic, however, is the near-total erasure from canonical history of watershed, critically symbolic events such as Clinton’s photo op at Stone Mountain—and what they reveal about the birth of the modern Democratic Party. Examination of this history unlocks the possibility of truthful public conversations about the harm done by the party’s rightward shift. It is a pre-requisite in moving the party back to the left.

-Christopher Petrella, On Stone Mountain, Boston Review

"Dig [Toni] Morrison's description of Clinton's blackness 
"After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and body-searched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear: “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and—who knows?—maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

"With the exception of the saxophone-playing detail, everything here boils down to power. Clinton isn’t black, in Morrison’s rendition, because he knows every verse of Lift Every Voice and Sing, but because the powers arrayed against him find their most illustrative analogue in white supremacy. “People misunderstood that phrase,” Morrison would later say. “I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp.”

"Now, one can make all sorts of arguments over whether the pursuit of Clinton was, in fact, analogous to how black people have been regarded across American history. But Morrison was not giving Clinton an award. She was welcoming him into a club which should not exist

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, It Was No Compliment to Call Bill Clinton 'The First Black President', The Atlantic

Top& Middle: The Segregated Golf Course Bill Clinton played at prior to the 1992 Election.  Bottom: Clinton playing golf with Trump, Guiliani, Bloomberg, Baseball legend Joe Torre, and Billy Crystal at Trump's Golf Course

"Yet, I would be reluctant to say that Bill Clinton's angry tirade against BLM was a misstep, a moment of him just losing his cool, or an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Rather, not only do I think that the former president meant every word he said, I also think that his pushback was deliberate and purposeful. A calculated risk, perhaps, but one that could pay off big in the long run. Clinton might have been dismissing the young people who spoke out against him and his wife, but he was really talking to another audience, one that was largely outside of that room. 
"Sure, Bernie Sanders has the bleeding hearts on lock, but the Clinton campaign is not just interested in winning over liberals and progressives. They also hope to garner votes from disaffected whites who feel left behind in the economic and demographic shifts the country is going through. And while some, perhaps even many, of these white potential voters are supporting Donald Trump, some of them are on the fence about the demagogue and are equally disinterested in his truly conservative opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. 
"Bill Clinton was talking to those voters, letting the folks who think that today's BLM protesters are whiny, entitled, spoiled Millennial brats who don't know about following orders. And that he and, by proxy, Hillary Clinton are not afraid to put these uppity negroes back in their place. Bill Clinton is also signifying to those in black communities who find the current rhetoric of black protest too brash and aggressive, those who feel like protesters should be marching peacefully, demanding rights while they sing hymns, as the sanitized history of Martin Luther King Jr. suggests is the most respectable way to make change.

-Susanna Morris, Bill Clinton Knew Exactly What He Was Doing With That Tirade Against Black Lives Matter, Cosmopolitan

"What would upset these allies, however, is a second aspect of [Clinton's withdrawn nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Lani] Guinier's writing. She not only condemns the Republicans who "refused to court the black vote at all" but also castigates Democrats. Mainstream Democrats, she writes, have "taken blacks for granted" and "do not accept black Democrats, such as Jesse Jackson, as legitimate party spokespersons." Taking aim at the low priority Michael Dukakis placed on issues of racial justice in his presidential campaign, Guinier writes that "the vision Democrats offered in 1988 hardly mentioned, even indirectly, problems of race, and . . . deliberately ignored connections between racism and poverty." 
"The Democratic Party," she charges, "has responded to racial polarization by distancing itself from black interests." Pursuing and broadening her point, Guinier argues that "Democrats who control both Houses of Congress seem unaware that reciprocity in bargaining requires the active promotion of black interests, not just the occasional subvention and authorization of civil rights enforcement. In other words, black legislative issues can be ghettoized from the Left as well as the Right." She asserts, moreover, that "the Democrats' policy of benign neglect toward African Americans has not gone unnoticed." Arguing that blacks' support for Democrats has far outstripped Democrats' support for blacks, she raises the specter of black withdrawal from the Democratic Party."

- Randall Kennedy, Lani Guinier's Consitution, the American Prospect Fall 1993

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