Idealists want what’s best for everyone. When attacked, we ask why and seek compromise. When the attacker rejects compromise, we panic.
Pragmatists will look to protect themselves. They’ll look for the enemy’s weakness and seek to take them down.
The difference between white and black Democrats is just that. White Democrats are idealists. We can afford to be. Black Democrats are pragmatists. They won’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Or even the barely OK.
My black neighbors never loved Joe Biden. They supported him for practical reasons. He was Barack Obama’s “Uncle Joe.” Polls said he could win. But they also knew that Biden is a white liberal, always ready to compromise, to say “yeah, but,” to seek the good in everyone. Even a snake like Trump.
The failure of other white liberals to back Biden shook these voters hard. They were left adrift. They have one great desire, which is to win, to get rid of Trump. They’re also much more realistic than we white liberals about what might follow a Trump victory.
It’s not that Trump is a Nazi. It’s not that he’s a Confederate. These are the clothes liberals like to put on Trump supporters. That’s not what Trumpublicanism is about.
Contrary to what you may read in history books, Jim Crow was a great success. Jim Crow kept southerners in bondage, white and black, for almost 90 years. For whites, that’s three generations. For blacks, it was more like five.
Jim Crow is a program of systematic oppression under the cover of democracy. Opponents are denied the right to vote, and then deprived of economic rights and their very lives. It’s a program of fear and intimidation that operated from the top down. It was controlled by the people who had the money. Rich whites used Jim Crow to oppress poor whites, then used poor whites to oppress poor blacks, because no matter how poor the poor whites were at least they weren’t black. Jim Crow made sharecroppers think they were middle class.
They knew that state power was only possible through compromise and the leadership of white liberals. But white liberals, as I said, are weak. We seek compromise. When attacked, we panic. We’re idealists. We say yeah-but.
So it was that for 30 years blacks in the South gradually lost power back to Republicans, because white liberals refused to stand fast. Blacks were left with only those cities and counties where they held an absolute majority. Atlanta became the hole in a doughnut. Southern cities came to be defined by their “edge,” the Interstates circling them, whites on the outside and blacks on the inside.
The growth of Techlandia has brought more whites to town, threatening these bastions of black power. Blacks have responded the way white conservatives respond to threats. They circled the wagons. They vote for corrupt politicians because they’re black. White and black Democrats don’t understand each other at all.
What can save America from Trump? White liberals think it’s a promise of better. The last year has seen a host of candidates rise and fall in polls among white Democrats, based upon things that black Democrats knew were irrelevant. The differences among Democrats, in terms of policy, are minimal. The questions for black Democrats are can you win? Will you fight?
Black Democrats know where Jim Crow started. It started with the money. It was rich whites, fearful of sharing the land or its wealth with their former slaves, funding the first riding of the KKK. It was rich whites in the South who created the Apartheid system which kept everyone else here in bondage for nearly a century.
That stranglehold wasn’t just broken by Rosa Parks and Dr. King, as the history books claim. It was broken by rich whites, who finally saw the advantages of being part of the national market and who could, with Interstate Highways and air conditioning, convincingly become part of that market. Robert Woodruff, and people like him, ended Jim Crow. They were gradualists, but black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., “Daddy King,” understood this, accepted this, and urged their sons toward compromise.
Atlanta became the city too busy to hate. Atlanta in the 1960s didn’t deny the reality of hate. Ivan Allen knew he was walking a tightrope. He never understood John Wesley Dobbs, a former railroad worker known as “The Grand” because he led Prince Hall Masons, a black-run offshoot of the Masonic order. But Allen found a way and, in 1973, the Grand’s grandson, Maynard Jackson, was elected Mayor. Jackson created a black political machine that is still in place but is increasingly frail because its corruption turns off white liberals and because Atlanta is increasingly white.
White conservatives also began circling the wagons in this century, driven by the same fear that Atlanta’s political machine shares, fear of demographic change. The hole in the doughnut keeps getting bigger. Tech now drives the economy, not manufacturing. The money is all in the center.
Black people aren’t stupid. They know that the only way through the present crisis is through the power of money. By allying with the new money, with the Cloud Czars, with the tech people and the movie people, they might at least protect what they have.
When white liberals divided hopelessly in Iowa and New Hampshire, effectively knocking out Biden, black folks started looking for money that might protect them. They saw some in Tom Steyer, and he had a vogue for a while.
But Mike Bloomberg has 10 times as much money as Tom Steyer. He’s not afraid to spend it. He spits in Trump’s eye, every day. He calls Trump names. He calls him out. He’s completely unafraid.
Beyond talking about Jim Crow, there’s something else I’ve said consistently. That is, technology is going to rule. Technology is where the money is. The gating factor for the technology economy is human capital, trained, empowered minds. Liberals within the tech community bemoan the fact that, in tech, the big money is still going to white males. But some is trickling down. Tech jobs pay well.
So, Mike Bloomberg.
Blacks are swallowing his past, which includes policies just as racist as any Trump ever advocated, because of his money, because black voters are pragmatists. Joe Biden helped write the 1994 Crime Bill. But Bloomberg, unlike Trump, knows where the money is made. He knows it comes from trained, empowered minds. He doesn’t care about their sex, their color, who they love or how they identify. He doesn’t care if they can move at all. They might be Stephen Hawking.
When black folks move toward Bloomberg, it’s pragmatically. It they move en masse, and most know that unity is the key to power, Bloomberg will sweep southern primaries on Super Tuesday and the rest of the party will fall in line. They’ll deal with him, as the Grand dealt with Ivan Allen.
With eyes wide open.