Tag Archives: Presidential Race 2020

Running from Race is Hard in the Presidential Race

New Orleans       It’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, so what better time to talk about the still unresolved, raw issues around race that continue more than 150 years after his death.  Evidence abounds that you can’t run from issues around race, as we examine increased scrutiny of Democratic presidential candidates, and their forced confrontations with the issue to their peril.

Former Mayor Peter Buttigieg has borne the brunt of a number of recent commentaries over his comments late in his term in the small city of South Bend, Indiana that he was surprised to find the level of segregation in the local schools.  A racialized killing involving a cop brought him off the campaign trail while he was still mayor to deal with the crisis to less than rave reviews.  His abysmal polling at around 6.6% in the latest 538 summary indicates he’s a very tough sell outside of the white castles of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar is having to answer questions about her time as prosecuting attorney in the Twin Cities and her role in the conviction of an African-American teenager that remains a controversy.  Her law and order claims have had to confront questions about how she handled race in the overwhelmingly white St. Paul / Minneapolis area.  Another white settlement in the spotlight problem.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appropriately finding it hard to paper over the years of damage his top-of-his-lungs advocacy of destructively racist stop-and-frisk policies by the police with a simple apology.  The fact that it was racial profiling is beyond debate.  The fact that it led to huge incarceration rates of black and brown New Yorkers during his many terms in office is also beyond dispute.  Millions of dollars in television ads has bought him a 7.8% showing in South Carolina so far, just as billionaire Tom Steyer’s millions have him now standing at 10%, but those numbers don’t indicate that all is forgiven, all is forgotten.

Senator Bernie Sanders faces some of the same dilemma with all of his political experience coming from snow white Vermont.  The Census Bureau still classifies Vermont as the whitest state in the country with somewhere between 95 and 96% of the population easily lost in the winter there.  In Vermont, it’s a white-in, not a white-out, when a winter storm breaks.  Sanders has worked hard to offset his inexperience with race, and his experience in the primaries in 2016 and now again in 2020 shows that he has made some progress perhaps but still runs far behind former Vice-President Joe Biden, who has dealt with race by embracing President Obama in a bearhug and constantly citing their eight years together.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren isn’t having to sweep up mountains of problems in her past record, but clearly has not been able to catch fire with African-American voters yet either.  She may continue to be damaged in the kerfuffle of her claims to Native American heritage there.

African-Americans are the largest, most unified voting block in the Democratic Party.  Ambition may trump everything else, but how can any candidate believe they can win in the primaries or against Trump without uniting black votes and dealing aggressively in every way possible with the issues of race?

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Tenants Are Front and Center in Presidential Race

Milwaukee       A funny thing happened on the way to the 2020 presidential primaries in the long shadow of the Great Recession of 2007:  Democrats are finally discovering the tenants living right under their noses, and the fact that the American dream is no longer home ownership, it’s affordable housing.  One candidate after another, elbowing to get to the top of the heap is advocating some kind of plan to address the soaring housing costs in cities around the country.

The latest in the new Tenant Sweepstakes is Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey who has now announced his plan.  It has a big price tag and a huge footprint.  His campaign claims his plan, if implemented, would benefit 57 million Americans including 17 million children.  The central objective, importantly is family-based, rather than developer centered.  Booker’s plan would create an entitlement so that a family’s rental costs would be capped at no more than 30% of their income and make up the difference between that number and fair market rent in the family’s neighborhood.  Booker’s plan would involve an income transfer through a tax credit.  It’s pricey. Reporting in the New York Times offered further details, saying,

“There would not be an income cap limiting who could qualify, according to the campaign, which said the median participating family would receive $4,800 per year. His campaign estimated the program would cost $134 billion annually. It did not propose specifically how to pay for the plan beyond rolling back changes to the estate tax made by President Trump, which it said would raise about $25 billion annually. The remainder, the campaign said, would come from restoring various taxes that were cut in the Republican-led tax overhaul from 2017.”

Now, let’s agree, this is a bold and exciting plan on a number of levels, regardless of the fact that Booker is sitting at 2% in the polls and is carrying huge, almost disqualifying baggage from his courtship with billionaires and Wall Street over the years and the charter school and Facebook debacle in Newark while he was mayor.  I also don’t want to get in the weeds with speculation about whether calculating the spread between 30% of income and the family’s neighborhood would subsidize a family’s residence in a lower income neighborhood and not impact gentrification and exacerbate segregation. The campaign estimates that the median benefit would be $4800 per year, but that certainly wouldn’t allow a family, following Booker’s own personal narrative, to move into a gentrified area with good schools and opportunity to increase their tax credit.  I can just imagine the outcry from existing communities about families moving to their areas to expand their tax credits.  They would be changing the name of that website to NOT Next Door!

The exciting thing has to be that the door is opening for tenants and affordable housing to be at the center of a political campaign waged against an upscale condo developer now living in public housing in the White House.  I like that contrast.  Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren also have housing proposals of interest, and with Booker putting his bet on the table, we can bet the others are going to have to match that ante as well, so the odds of something happening increases, if any of them are able to beat Trump’s current lease on the presidency.

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Please enjoy Ohio by Cherry Glazerr.

Thanks to KABF.

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