Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WHERE BERNIE STANDS ON CIVIL RIGHTS

It's not on a bridge going for a photo-op or a long winded speech about doing something. Bernie, for the lack of a better label, is a "mover and shaker" and has been in the civil rights causes for many years;



It isn’t that minority voters dislike Senator Bernie Sanders. They just aren’t familiar with him.

Sanders’ presidential campaign seems to be hitting its stride, based on polls coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire. But while he gains traction among those early primary voters, he is failing to generate enthusiasm — or even name recognition — with one key Democratic voting demographic: minorities.

As Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, told The New York Times:


“We’re reaching out, but it’s no secret that Bernie represents a state that is heavily Caucasian, and his decades of work on issues of importance to African Americans aren’t known amid the national conversation on race that is underway.”
In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week, 95 percent of nonwhite Democratic voters said they could see themselves supporting Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination, but only about one-quarter of respondents said they could see themselves voting for Sanders.



Democratic Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chats with supporters during a visit to his Iowa campaign headquarters on June 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chats with supporters during a visit to his Iowa campaign headquarters on June 13, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Bernie addressed his relatively anemic support among African-Americans during an interview with George Stephanopoulos Sunday:

“I have a long history in fighting for civil rights. I understand that many people in the African-American community may not understand that.
“But I think the issues that we are dealing with, combating 51 percent African-American youth unemployment, talking about the need that public colleges and universities should be tuition free, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, creating millions of jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure. These are issues that should apply to every American.”
 The struggle for Sanders, who as a college student organized sit-ins against segregation and attended the 1963 March on Washington, is to make his views known to African-American communities quickly enough to have an impact on the election.

Sanders intended to do just that with an audience in Charleston, S.C., but he postponed that event after the deadly shooting there earlier this month. And when he spoke to a crowd of Latino government officials from across the country in Las Vegas in June, the Los Angeles Times reported that the room was about half-empty. 




Mariachi musicians sing and play serenadas as they go from house to house to encourage people to come to vote on election day in the predominantly Latino Sun Valley district of Los Angeles on November 6, 2012. (Photo: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mariachi musicians sing and play serenadas as they encourage people to vote on election day in Los Angeles on November 6, 2012. (Photo: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matt Barreto, a pollster who focuses on Latino voters, told the Los Angeles Times:

“His name recognition in the Latino community is somewhere in between zero and extremely low. And you’re not going to win an election without Latino support.”

Demographics are not necessarily destiny; but unmarried women, minorities and millennial voters will make up a majority of the total electorate for the first time in 2016, according to pollster and former Bill Clinton advisor Stan Greenberg.
What voters need to do is get to now Bernie and then decide who's on their side. 
Sanders has a 50-year history of standing up for civil and minority rights, as he told the attendants of Netroots Nation after he was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters. Of course, it’s understandable that they want to bring attention to the movement. Killings of people from Ferguson to New York City to Los Angeles to Atlanta have finally brought important issues like police brutality, systemic racism, mass incarceration and militarization of the police into the center of national dialogue.

It is up to all candidates for the presidency, including every Democrat, every Republican and independent candidates, to address these issues in a forthright manner and to do outreach and communicate with communities that are besieged by these problems. Although his events in Phoenix, Houston and Dallas, where he loudly condemned police brutality and racism were a start, Sanders owes it to pay attention to these activists and listen to the concerns of marginalized groups whose civil rights have historically been suppressed. Sanders does have a record of fighting on these issues, and it should be only natural for him to be able to comfortably address them before a diverse audience.

Here are 20 ways Sanders has stood up for civil and minority rights, starting in the early 1950s up to the present year.