Just watched this two-part video of a backstage meeting between 2016 Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton, and several activists from the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.
I actually garnered a lot more respect for Clinton after seeing this exchange. Her focus on relentlessly tackling policy changes was spot on. Obviously, her family’s complicity in promoting race-based mass incarceration is noxious, and her current bid for the presidency is troubling.
I respect the #BlackLivesMatter movement and believe that their existence is critical to spurring the sort of “national conversations” that the corporate media always insists we need. However, we can recite stats about prison populations, the vestiges of slavery, a lack of adequate education and housing, institutionalized racism, micro-aggressions, and anti-black police violence all day long (and those conversations will never stop). The movement is hyper-intellectual, which is critical to its current success and national legitimacy. We know our shit. It’s not simply a swarm of black people running around incoherently yelling about “the man”.
But, what I’m ready to see is a platform. A draft bill. A candidate. A policy roundtable. A white paper. Something more tangible that catalyzes forward movement on the legislative side.
We have the intellectual butter. We need the policy guns.
The ongoing immigration saga precipitated by the bloated influx of thousands of children from Central America has provided a platform for Texas Governor Rick Perry to superficially flex what some consider his newfound national security bona fides. At a press conference on Monday, Perry announced that he was authorizing the dispatch of approximately 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in order to stem the tide of desperate refugees.
Perry’s move serves three functions: chiefly, he draws a sharp distinction with President Obama, and by extension congressional Democrats, by appearing to take decisive action on immigration while Congress attacks the details of Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency funding request. Second, the dispatch of troops can be seen as a bold reaction to conservative media claims of rampant criminality and disease brought on by undocumented immigrants (claims that have more of a basis in xenophobic sensationalism than fact). Finally, this latest gambit can be used to burnish his reputation as the proponent of a muscular policy that an ultra-conservative base can rally around. Yesterday, the NY Times noted the following:
By seeking more military resources at the border, Mr. Perry may also be trying to repair his standing among some conservatives who had expressed doubts about his willingness to be tough on immigration. During a Republican presidential debate in 2012, the Texas governor defended in-state tuition for immigrants in the country illegally and said of those who disagreed: “I don’t think you have a heart.”
Perry’s tripartite scheme is clearly intended to catapult him to the forefront of the 2016 presidential contest. However, what’s most striking about the coverage of Governor Perry’s recent announcement is that there’s been virtually no examination of the impact on Hispanic voters of what some may consider a racist policy.
Instead there have been wry jabs at his new “hipster glasses”, mentions of his time spent being “tutored” by republican intellectuals, and even quick looks at his new exercise regimen— all in an attempt to gauge his preparation for the bitter slog that promises to be the 2016 election. Muscular though it may be, the Governor’s shortsighted policy move is guaranteed to poison the presidential well.