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Bernie’s to the Left of Me, Joker’s to the Right: We’re Stuck in the Middle with Joe

On the latest episode of democracy-ish, we’re joined by Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science Fordham University, politics editor at theGrio and co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC. She’s sitting in for Danielle, who’s caring for her mother as she recovers from surgery. Much love to you both!


  • Biden is leading in the Dem’s delegate count –– due in no small part to Black voters, not just in the South but around the country.

  • Where did Bernie go wrong? (Hint: he wasn’t in Selma last weekend).

  • Can a strategic veep help sweep Bernie’s (and Liz’s) voters toward a new coalition?

  • Does Trump think Corona is just a Mexican beer, and is that why he thinks he can wall it off?

Voters in six states weighed in at the polls earlier this week. And yet again, Black voters pulled the lever in large numbers for Joe Biden –– “not just in the South, where we expected it, but in Michigan,” says Christina. “It was like a second Super Tuesday.”


Biden’s victory in Michigan was especially significant because Sanders won there in 2016. But why did it swing centerward this time?


As usual, our hosts have a lot of thoughts. And this week, Christina takes us to poli-sci school!


We break down the state of the Democratic race, why so many Black voters are choosing Uncle Joe and whether history can help tell us how we got here.



Episode Highlights — Stuck in the Center with Joe



‘Joe knows’ … and so it goes?


Democratic voters, particularly Black voters, opted for the safe choice yet again this week, says Touré.


“When they called Michigan … I said, I think that's it. The race is effectively over.”

It seems that we’re looking to restore “an expectation of normalcy and general competence over the possibility of revolution and change,” he says.


Although Reverend Jesse Jackson endorsed him at a rally in Michigan last Sunday, Sanders netted only about 36 percent of the vote there.


Christina points out that Jim Clyburn’s imprimatur for Biden in South Carolina was much more influential with Black voters.


Clyburn is not just a sitting Congressman –– as majority whip, he’s one of the most powerful. Christina thinks that when he said, “we know Joe,” the second line was even more important: “Joe knows us.


And Biden’s loyalty to Barack Obama means everything to older folks who grew up in a more segregated America.


In many Black homes, she sees “Obama on the wall along with Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ and Malcolm X, if you're a slightly radical household –– or JFK if you're more conservative. He's in the pantheon of great leaders.”


Bernie’s deep (South) freeze


“He knows us” isn’t something Jackson can say about Sanders, Christina says.


“Bernie's going to propose a lot of ideas that may come to fruition, but we all know what this country is. So we've got to go with the prone gaffe-prone birdman.”


Touré thinks that Sanders learned a key lesson too late: in spite of his rabid fanbase, he cannot rely on young voters. And it appears he also hasn’t internalized the results of 2016, when it became clear that he had a problem with Black voters.


“Bernie has not, in the years since, addressed that,” he says.


For Christina, that was apparent when Sanders chose not to campaign in Mississippi. His absence from the commemoration of the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, was conspicuous as well.


From a delegate-math standpoint, it may have made sense for Sanders to laser focus on Michigan. But it may have backfired instead.


“Literally everybody and their grandmother was in Selma, thinking about civil rights in a really important context, especially in this political moment with Donald Trump trying to bring those days back,” she says. “Skipping that said a lot to Black primary voters, who tend to be older.”


Protectionism before progressivism