Bernie Sanders' campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States is on life support because of his inability to rally support among Black voters. Now, many of the Black people on his staff are speaking up about why the man who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can't get anywhere close to a majority of Black voters to support him.
A in-depth article published in the Washington Post quotes several Sanders campaign staff and surrogates in South Carolina, a Black-majority state where he suffered a crushing defeat against Joe Biden. While a portion of Biden's victory is credited to a last minute endorsement by the state's beloved representative James E. Clyburn and some legacy loyalty among older Black voters to President Obama's former vice president, those closest to the progressive candidate's campaign feel there were plenty of avoidable missteps and mistakes made.
“I knew that our campaign had not done the work it needed to do,” Donald Gilliard, the campaign's deputy state political director, tells WaPo, adding that the campaign’s strategy was “geared toward white progressives” and neglecting Black voters.
“I think the distinguishing attitude for Sanders, that you didn’t see associated with Biden, was an angry white man,” adds Ivory Thigpen, a state representative who served as co-chair for Sanders in South Carolina. “In the African American culture, nonverbal communication and body language is huge.” Thigpen also indicates that Sanders didn't give enough face time to Black leaders in the Palmetto state.
Nina Turner, a national co-chair of the Sanders campaign and the most visible Black woman in its ranks, countered the criticism by saying it was too narrowly focused on South Carolina, and that the campaign “had to focus on the nation.”
Responding to Gilliard's comment that Turner "didn't know the state," she responds, “I have a keen understanding of the Black community. The overwhelming majority of [South Carolina staffers], including him, understood the state. And he was hired to do a job.”
Sanders, of course, also lost big among Black voters on Super Tuesday. While many have declared his campaign all but dead, he plans to remain in the race until after the New York primary, according to an email from his campaign.
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