Bernie Sanders is continuing to rally the nation with his second go at a U.S. presidency and with a rising support from Black voters, Sanders seems to be making moves that speak directly to his base. Considering Black people always have to be wary of who to vote for, it doesn’t hurt to ask whether Sanders’ policies are causing the support or his certain appearances that some might call “pandering.”
As of now, the Vermont senator is leading in support from Black voters in certain polls. According to a Reuters/Ipsos national poll conducted February 19-25 and released on Tuesday, 26% of Black voters said they would support Sanders in their state’s nominating contest. Twenty-three percent said they would pick Joe Biden, which is down 10 points from the last survey the group conducted. Twenty percent of Black voters said they would support former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Bernie has risen seven points in the polls and now he continues to campaign across the country as state primaries are on the horizon. He already had a great turnout last week by winning the Nevada caucuses and delegates by a large margin, according to Business Insider. He also took the win for the New Hampshire primaries.
One state that’s gearing up for their primaries is California, and Sanders is sure to attract some Black attention with an upcoming rally featuring Public Enemy. The event will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 1, with comedian Sarah Silverman and veteran actor Dick Van Dyke also participating in the rally, according to BILLBOARD.
The event is timed just two days before Super Tuesday on March 3, in which the greatest number of U.S. states, including California, will hold their primary elections and caucuses. Sanders’ team released a poster for the L.A. rally with the title “Fight the Power” at the top from Public Enemy’s iconic 1989 song.
While such a message might be too on the nose for some Black voters, Sanders’ partnership with Public Enemy can’t be understated. At their peak, Public Enemy were some of the most outspoken political voices for Black America. The group was bringing attention to certain injustices in the 1980s and 1990s that activists are still mobilizing against today, such as police brutality and a white-washed Hollywood. One of their most infamous and celebrated lines include “Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant sh*t to me you see/ Straight up racist that sucker was/ Simple and plain/ Motherfu** him and John Wayne.”
Such strong political views could be a risk to Sanders, considering he has a large white following, especially a following that has voted for Trump when Bernie didn’t win the Democratic nomination back in 2016. There’s no hard evidence that these people are racist, but it does say a lot if someone can so easily vote for Trump — a candidate with a long track record of racism — after Sanders loses the nomination.
Some of Bernie’s following have even been given the derogatory name “Bernie Bros,” alluding to the idea that mostly white men go extra hard for Sanders. However, Black people are, once again, proving that the race is not a monolith. A strong number of Black progressives are completely here for Bernie, including activist and media personality Marc Lamont Hill and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.
A “Bernie Bruh” video has even been making waves across the Internet highlighting Black people who support Sanders.
Clearly, Bernie’s platform, and not just his appearances with Public Enemy, is firing up Black voters. However, the senator still doesn’t come without some questionable rhetoric and video appearances.
For example, in one campaign stop, Sanders is recorded holding a boombox on his shoulder and asking Houston rapper Trae tha Truth, “you walking around the hood with this?”
Some people were not amused.
But no politician is perfect, right?
Are you feeling the Bern?