A racial reparations platform may sell well in the primaries, but it would be general election death.
The 2020 election campaign season is kicking into high gear, and a number of Democratic party hopefuls are jumping onto the reparations train. But it’s one they may find could derail their aspirations for higher office.
The New York Times reports:
Last week, on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” Senator Kamala Harris of California agreed with a host’s suggestion that government reparations for black Americans were necessary to address the legacies of slavery and discrimination. Ms. Harris later affirmed that support in a statement to The New York Times.
[Elizabeth] Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery — a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.
Julián Castro, the former cabinet secretary who is also running for president, has also indicated that he would support reparations.
Only one 2020 candidate has laid out a reparations plan with specifics: Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and self-described “spiritual teacher.” Since the start of her long-shot campaign, Ms. Williamson has called for $100 billion in reparations for black Americans — far more than any other Democrat, but substantially less than what scholars have said would be necessary.
The article went on to note that while other Democratic candidates were not yet on record as endorsing reparations, they had still “laid out robust policies aimed at closing the gap in wealth between black and white families.”
Harris, Warren, Castro and other candidates who are floating this idea have been emboldened to do so by their party’s hard left lurch over the last couple of years. But in spite of the support they might get from voters in Democratic primaries on the issue, making such grand promises during the general election season would prove problematic:
Progressives will have to prioritize their trillion dollar proposals: save the planet or offer racial reparations.
As far as the politics go, proposals with 16 percent approval (and 68 percent disapproval) usually don’t go very far. pic.twitter.com/YTgo5ngQzv
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 21, 2019
They are unpopular for a reason, as Professor Jacobson explained in his 2014 response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 15,000+ word article on the topic:
If you can’t answer the question of why a Vietnamese boat person has to pay reparations for the conduct of white plantation owners more than a century earlier, then you can’t make the argument.
If you can’t answer the question of why two successful black doctors living in a fashionable suburb should get reparations paid for by the white children of Appalachia, then you can’t make the argument.
If you can’t answer the question of why the adult black recent immigrant from Paris should be pay or be paid reparations based on the color of his skin for crimes committed in a land he did not grow up in, then you can’t make the argument.
And as if we have not thrown trillions at the problem, and sullied ourselves with engaging in more racism to remedy past racism.
Consider this as well: While you’d think reparations in theory would be a winning issue for Democrats during the primaries, results from a January poll suggest primary voters are looking for someone “electable” who could beat Trump.
With the thought in mind that reparations do not sit well with nearly 70% of the American people, would a Democrat contender who thinks making the case for reparations a focal point of both their primary and general election campaigns be considered “electable” to their base voters?
This almost makes me eager to watch their debates when they start. Watching the candidates fumble through requests for specifics on how they’re going to (make us) pay for their reparations plan are going to be popcorn-worthy.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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