Hilary Clinton may be the front runner, but Bernie Sanders is a growing force to be reckoned with. Look to his past and you’ll discover a consistent stance on issues like the Voting Rights Act and the failed ‘War on Drugs.’ Look to his present and you’ll discover one of the only candidates that’s openly embraced issues like rising college tuition, prison reform, the Black Lives Matter movement and more. In a presidential campaign that includes the unapologetically offensive Donald Trump, the 74-year-old Senator has quietly emerged as one of the few candidates actually in touch with the everyday reality of the average American.
Clinton may have built-in name recognition, but as Sanders’ star continues to rise it’s become apparent that her name alone may not be enough to capture the same hearts that her saxophone playing husband did back in 1992. Despite success in areas like the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program that brought coverage to millions of children across the country, the former Secretary of State has also faced backlash in other areas, including her voting record on issues related to racial justice.
Speaking to NPR, Boston Black Lives Matter president Daunasia Yancey explained, “I think that her record is abysmal. I think that her support of policies that have decimated the black community – She talked a lot about her advocacy for children, for black children, for Latino children while simultaneously sending those children’s parents to jail…”
Another obstacle: policies enacted during the original Clinton administration including the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill, which enhanced prison sentences and sent a disproportionate number of people of color to jail. In time it became one of the driving forces behind America’s mass incarceration problem.
Speaking to a crowd in Pennsylvania the former president explained, “I signed a bill that made the problem worse. I wanted to admit it. In that bill, there were longer sentences. And most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone. We were wrong about that. That percentage of it, we were wrong about.”
Meanwhile, Sanders has continued to enjoy a surge of support from white liberals and minorities alike; including a recent endorsement from veteran emcee Killer Mike, as the Run the Jewels rapper recently introduced Sanders during a rally in his native Atlanta.
Addressing the crowd he laid it all on the line, “I’m not here to talk about the dream that you think is unattainable so you settle for less. I’m not here to talk about a utopian society where everyone is forgiven and no one has to pay for past debts. What I am talking about today is Martin post the Washington march.” He added, “Martin King on the war on poverty. Martin King against the war machine that uses your sons and your nephews to go to other lands and murder.”
During the 2008 presidential race artists including Diddy and Jeezy used their voices to help draw the voting masses, as initiatives like “Vote or Die” became movements in their own right. The next election may not have the appeal of electing the first Black president into the Oval Office, but you can bet your life on the fact that the outcome will directly affect us all. As the race heats up, it will be interesting to see whether any of the candidates are truly interested in enacting a real change as it pertains to social justice.
Do you know who you’re casting your vote for next November? Check out the entire exchange below and see if you agree with Killer Mike’s assessment of Sanders.
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