A few weeks ago, I heard a young black female Bernie Sanders supporter say: “We [black people] built this country; we’re not anyone’s firewall.” How these two propositions might relate to one another, the woman did not say. Logic is not the strong suit of BlackLivesMatter.
In any case, both propositions are false. Black people did not build this country, though they contributed significantly to certain aspects of its development. And blacks are Hillary Clinton’s firewall.
Any doubt about the second point should be dispelled by tonight’s results from South Carolina. In white Iowa, Clinton eked a tie with Sanders. In white New Hampshire, Sanders trounced her. In Nevada, where Hispanic representation is sizable, Clinton won narrowly.
But in South Carolina, where blacks make up a clear majority of the Democratic electorate, the Countess of Chappaqua is walloping the Vermont socialist. With about one quarter of the vote in, Clinton leads Sanders by a ratio of roughly 3-1.
Clinton’s firewall will continue to hold throughout the South, it seems certain. Sanders will probably be competitive in many states and may well win some of them. But only legal difficulties can block Clinton’s march to the nomination.
It would be heartening to see the socialist halted by Democratic voters if his demise had anything to do with his socialism. But that it doesn’t. If Clinton were the socialist and Sanders the candidate stopping just short of the socialist line, Clinton would still be winning. Her firewall isn’t anti-socialist, it’s simply pro-Clinton (in the absence of a black in the campaign).
Give Sanders credit, though. By running so strongly, he hasn’t just “mainstreamed” socialism within the Democratic Party. He has also positioned himself to make a serious bid for the nomination if Clinton’s legal difficulty sinks her candidacy.
Early on, the assumption was that if Clinton sinks, the Democrats will try to replace her with an establishment candidate like Joe Biden. Now, that seems less clear. Sanders has demonstrated his popularity among Democrats and runs well against Republicans in various hypothetical match-ups.
Furthermore, if the establishment did try to replace Clinton with one of its own, which I assume would require some rewriting of the rules, the establishment would risk alienating Sanders’ supporters. Now that it’s clear there are so many of them, this is a risk the Party presumably would be reluctant to assume.
But tonight’s results from South Carolina confirm that Sanders’ only path to the nomination is through Washington, D.C., where the FBI and Main Justice are located.