From the Washington Post:
By David Weigel
April 4 at 6:05 PM
NEW YORK — Beto O’Rourke had just finished speaking about racial injustice to the National Action Network when the Rev. Al Sharpton, its president, pushed him to say a little more.
“Your fellow Texan, Sheila Jackson Lee, has proposed a commission to study reparations,” Sharpton said. “If that passes, and you are president of the United States, would you sign that bill?”
O’Rourke, who had spent 15 minutes talking about how white America left black America behind, didn’t hesitate. “Yes,” he said, to applause and a few surprised cheers. “Until all Americans understand that civil rights are not just those victories that I began with at the outset of my comments, but the injustices that continue to be visited on people, we will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country.”
The former Texas congressman, the first of 11 presidential candidates scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, had helped set the tone. Sharpton’s conference has become a can’t-miss station on the Democrats’ presidential gantlet — a place where candidates will face hard questions about racial inequality and the criminal justice system. Any hand-wringing about “identity politics” or talk of pandering to the president’s more loyal voters and alienating the most loyal Democrats is banished.
… By Friday afternoon, nearly every Democrat who has declared a presidential bid will have spoken at the conference. Those who spoke on Wednesday and Thursday walked through poverty and health statistics, promising to close the racial gaps — and then, they endorsed some form of reparations.
“There are many things that we need to do in this country that have been a long time in coming, and one of those is to move forward with reparations,” said Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development who spoke a few hours after O’Rourke. “Our country will never truly heal until we address the original sin of slavery.”
Republicans are genuinely surprised at how the issue of reparations — compensation for the descendants of slaves — has reemerged as a Democratic base issue. Polling has consistently found most black voters warm to the idea and a supermajority of other voters opposed to it. It was nowhere on the political radar until February, when the hosts of the Breakfast Club radio show asked Sen. Kamala Harris of California whether she supported “some type” of reparations and she said she did, arguing that her focus on criminal justice reform and disparities in health care would benefit black Americans.
The legislation introduced by Jackson Lee, which would create a commission to study the viability of reparations, doesn’t commit Democrats to cash payments — the concept that made “reparations” controversial when it was discussed 10 and 15 years ago.
Ta-Nehesi Coates doesn’t care very much whether his fellow blacks ever get checks. What he wants is a giant Presidential commission that will denounce whitey on TV day in and day out for years. Then, he will finally have vengeance upon the white lady on the escalator who told his son “Come on.”
“Democrats are trying to represent their base, but in the process they’re overcompensating and may find themselves in a perilous position,” said Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and former Trump White House official. “I think the reparations issue is a big turnoff for a lot of people.”
In an interview, former attorney general Eric Holder
Not to be confused with aspiring rapper Eric Holder.
… One possible reason for the issue’s second life is the Democratic Party’s fast movement toward the issues of black civil rights activists, from police reform to felon voter rights restoration to the end of the war on drugs. In 2015, Sharpton used his platform to grill Hillary Clinton on racial justice issues and found her ready to endorse many of the Black Lives Matter movement’s goals, starting with an end to “mass incarceration.”
That worked out well. Homicides went up 22% from 2014-2016.
… Doing any less, Sharpton said, would cede a winning issue to Republicans. … the Trump administration had signed prison and criminal justice reform legislation at the end of 2018 that led to the high-profile release of many prisoners and was a key part of outreach to black voters.
“I think that if they do not have this very clear in their head that the Republicans will do [criminal justice reform] and people like Van Jones will praise them for it, they are in trouble,” Sharpton said of Democrats. …
So the Democrats are responding to Trump moving to the left on race by moving even further to the left on race.
There is not much evidence that the Trump campaign has made inroads with black voters.
I’m shocked, shocked …
Anyway, the Democrats’ Coalition of the Fringes strategy has the danger I identified in the previous decade of turning from the Nonwhite Party to the Black Party:
It’s not all that hard to get blacks to feel that they morally deserve something, such as, for example, predominance in the Democratic Party. African-Americans are good at feeling that others owe them deference.
Do Hispanics and Asians want to belong to the Black Party in which everybody has to kiss the ring of Reverend Al?
It’s going to take a lot of KKKrazy Glue to make that happen.