Why Black Lives Matter Won the First Democratic Debate

After two Republican debates, Democrats finally got their moment to shine. Meeting in Las Vegas and moderated by Anderson Cooper, the candidates had a sometimes-contentious debate that focused more on the issues than personal attacks. There are two takeaways about the candidates and one clear winner.

Hillary is Polished

She rarely misspoke. She was cool and confident. Everyone knew she was the front-runner and treated her accordingly. She embodied ‘practiced spontaneity’ and, in my eyes, outperformed Sanders. She came off as a pragmatic centrist that can win in the general election. When given the opportunity, she attacked Sanders on gun control and, amazingly, made him look like a centrist on the issue. She is a force to be reckoned with. She banged the ‘I’m a mother, grandmother, and possible first woman president’ drum a bit too hard, but she did so in a way that reminds us of the fact that we have a choice between white men and history.

Bernie is Passionate.

He tripped over his words early in the debate. He unconvincingly explained how a Democratic Socialist could be a viable candidate in the general election. He was flustered when his untenable gun policy was discussed, and he seems shaky at best on foreign policy. Yet, while he lacks the polish of Secretary Clinton, he was unwavering in his enthusiasm. Catering to his supporters, Sanders consistently raised the issue of economic inequality. In doing so, he pushed Clinton so far left that she disingenuously tried to characterize herself as a ‘pragmatic progressive.’ I do think Sanders made a crucial error by coming to her defense about the emails. Principled politics is fine if you are only a symbolic candidate, but that is a genuine weakness for Clinton that should have been exploited.

#BlackLivesMatter are the real winners of the debate

Van Jones rightly declared BLM the true winners of the debate; institutional racism and police brutality were front and center. The Movement for Black Lives forced candidates to address their concerns with clarity and care. More should have been said, but the fact that the candidates were forced to address overt and covert forms of racism speak to the impact this group is having upon the political landscape. Candidates are no longer taking black votes for granted. They now see that they must cater to black and brown people or be taken to task publically for their silence.

Those of you who were disapproving and condescending to #BlackLivesMatter activists and supporters about protesting Sanders should now see the error in your thinking. The goal was never to work within a white supremacist political frame to gain trickle down justice. Black folks have tried that. It’s gotten us poverty, inadequate healthcare, and the new Jim Crow. The goal, now, is to force politicians to address black concerns or risk disruption. That is happening. BLM is having a real impact upon American political discourse. Let’s hope this translates into policy soon.

More articles by:

Lawrence Ware is a professor of philosophy and diversity coordinator for Oklahoma State University’s Ethics Center. He can be reached at:  Law.writes@gmail.com.

March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Sam Husseini
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us