Black Lives Matter Leaders Get Pragmatic, Vote for Clinton

Members of Black Lives Matter have resisted endorsing Hillary Clinton. The Democrat’s blunt pragmatism does not resonate with the youthful passions of the movement.

But as we peel away the abstraction of our Presidential choice with the pages of the calendar, even these radical progressives are coming around to their own pragmatism and voting for Hillary Clinton. Here’s BLM founder Alicia Garza, who said in June she would “absolutely not” support Clinton:

I voted early. I voted for Clinton, but I don’t support Clinton. I’m not ‘with her’ and I don’t and won’t endorse her. I do not support Hillary Clinton, even as I recognize the difficult challenge we face regarding the need to halt Donald Trump. I respect the choices others feel they must make in this environment. I believe we must ask ourselves what it takes to make a candidate feel accountable to the concrete policy demands of a movement [Melissa Harris-Perry, “Black Lives Matter Activist Brittany Packnett on Why She’s Finally #WithHer,” Elle, 2016.10.21].

And here’s BLM leader Brittany Packnett, similarly acceding to pragmatism:

I have been wrestling with the same frustrations, but I have a responsibility to young people, to my community, and to our work. If our work is progress, then I must use the platform I have to ensure the work has the best possibility to advance. This is not about me. This is about the work. The best way I can use my platform is to support Secretary Clinton. Our vote is sacred. If it weren’t, people wouldn’t have been trying to steal it from us for so long. I’m hoping that we use our vote wisely on November 8.

As a woman struggling for the equality of her people, Packnett recognizes that Clinton lived a very similar struggle, a struggle the Republican nominee has never faced and, in his own rhetoric and behavior, has imposed on other women:

Part of it was coming to see and understand Hillary’s personal story more. Have you seen the Humans of New York video of her discussing her experiences as a young law student? The first time I watched the video I identified with her in a way that I hadn’t before. She discussed taking her law school entrance exams and having men verbally assault her. That resonated with me. I vividly remember my experiences of sexism and racism, and I could see how her experiences had imprinted on her as well. Those moments never go away. They shape you.

And as a fairly young woman in positions of authority, I have been in a lot of spaces where men wouldn’t speak to me. They’d only speak to my male colleagues, even though I was the one in the position of authority. I have been treated more as an object than as a professional; the topic of conversation was my nail color or if my hair was in braids or straight or natural. As a woman activist, I have had to think about what I am wearing, where I take meetings, what time I schedule them, and who else is around when I take them. There are so many more hoops for women [Harris-Perry, 2016.10.21].

We all have our ideals. We enter each election season hoping to advance our ideals. And every Election Day, we acknowledge that we won’t fully realize every one of our ideals simply by casting a vote. We won’t elect one Great Leader who will take up all of our burdens and free us from the work of democracy. We vote for the best option before us, the candidate who best understands our struggles and who thus is most likely to move our way when we bring that struggle to her. Even with that optimal candidate in office, we will keep struggling. We will keep doing the work of democracy, sweating every day for Packnett’s “radical dream of justice and liberation for us all.”

We can hope this pragmatic realization by the Black Lives Matter leaders signals a broader realization among young progressives in the electorate that will drive a landslide for the qualified, pragmatic Hillary Clinton, the next President of the United States.

9 Responses to Black Lives Matter Leaders Get Pragmatic, Vote for Clinton

  1. mike from iowa

    We won’t elect one Great Leader who will take up all of our burdens and free us from the work of democracy.

    You got that right, although Drumpf did say he alone could fix what ails everyone. Let’s not test that theory, okay? Pinkie swear it.

  2. Pinky sworn. That’s another great example of how Trump proves his own failure to understand democracy. No one alone fixes anything. In a democracy, it takes a village.

  3. Porter Lansing

    As Madame President, HRC will be a thousand times more apt to put body cameras with no on/off switch on every cop and FBI agent and make it a very serious career ending violation to tamper with them or obstruct their operation. A retired black police detective from St. Louis said that 30% of cops will always do the right thing, no matter what. 30% will do anything they think they can get away with and 30% will follow the lead of their Captain. If Captain is a bigot, they will be too. Black or white cops, the percentages matter not. Too many unarmed black people are killed by cops and too few cops are brought to trial for it!

  4. Roger Cornelius

    Native Americans often share the same views of some BLM members, often wondering what difference does it make if you are a republican or Democrat, nothing ever changes for us.

    I’ve always a Democrat and a pragmatic Indian. There is no doubt in my mind that Trump along with a republican senate would attempt to dismantle laws made specifically for tribes.

    With Democrats in the House and Senate, tribes we have some reassurance that their funding for tribal governments and healthcare will continue.

    Funding is imperative for tribes, but the real challenge is the protection of tribal sovereignty and the lands that tribes and tribal members own.

    In most recent decades Indians tend to vote Democrat because of their progressive approaches and attitudes.

    Now, some will say that there is little or no progress on reservations and that the poverty levels and unemployment rates are too high.
    But imagine for a moment what it would like for tribes and tribal members if they didn’t have some support from the government.
    Generations ago the federal government had a master plan to place Indian reservations in the most isolated places of the country in an attempt to continue their genocide.

    Oops! Sorry for the rant.

  5. Porter Lansing

    Well said Roger. Did you notice the Republicans disinformation campaign this cycle attempting to label Democrats as the party of racism, slavery, the KKK, hate and bigotry? Of course, they’re referring to the Southern Democrats who left and became today’s Republicans (who can’t even lie their party into minority voters approval.)

  6. mike from iowa

    Roger, with a full slate of wingnuts in control, the only sacred land in America would be that which korporate Amerika coveted.

    Wingnuts won’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way of korporate profit.

  7. Roger Cornelius

    Yes Porter, I did notice that attempt, it seems to have fizzled somewhat.

    Stace Nelson continues to blame slavery on only Democrats and refuses to accept the factual accuracy of Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

  8. Porter Lansing

    Yes. Bless little Stace’s anti-women’s rights heart.

  9. Roger and BLM leaders understand that Indians, blacks, Muslims, gays, and anyone else not in the majority will have to keep pushing for equality no matter who occupies the White House. Roger and BLM leaders can tell the difference between leaders who will respond to their pushing with progress and demagogues who will respond to their pushing with mockery, bigotry, violence, and bad policy.