In 2008, when most black Democratic primary voters supported Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton argued that he couldn’t win the general election because white voters didn’t like him; she infamously said that Obama’s appeal “among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans” was limited. Her campaign representatives and surrogates, meanwhile, suggested that there was something a little shady, un-American, and possibly even Muslim about Obama. Her campaign’s belief seemed to be that white people would—and perhaps should!—be suspicious of a candidate who was too popular with black people.
This year, as Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote yesterday, Clinton is facing a primary opponent who’s popular with white voters but not black voters. A widespread protest movement, meanwhile, has helped put issues of racial justice at the top of many Democratic and liberal Americans’ minds. It is under these circumstances that a longtime Clinton ally, the notoriously aggressive Democratic operative and pro-Hillary Super PAC founder David Brock, just declared disparagingly to the AP that Bernie Sanders’ new TV ad is evidence that “black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders.”
To be fair, there are a lot of white people in the ad … literally thousands of them. White people everywhere, as far as the eye can see. Does that mean Bernie Sanders—who has made extensive though generally ineffective efforts to make inroads with black voters—doesn’t care whether black people live or die? Eh, probably not.
Either way, though, it is heartening to see that Hillary and her supporters have made such personal progress in their understanding of the importance of black lives and black votes.