Hallie Jackson spent a good deal of time focusing on the importance of non-white voters in the states where everyone else is obsessed with winning white conservadems.
May 6, 2019

Math actually isn't that hard. Neither is representation. For a change, we saw both of those things on MSNBC this morning in their coverage of the Democratic campaign trail for 2020. Vaughn Hillyard is MSNBC's "Road Warrior" assigned to Senator Kamala Harris, and she's campaigning in Dearborn, MI today. Instead of focusing on winning back the Republicans and conservadems who voted for Trump, who are nearly all white, finally, FINALLY we heard about what the rest of us Democrats care about in a president. What the rest of us consider important factors in "electability."

HILLYARD: I want to hit on specifically what Kamala Harris is essentially arguing is her viability for the general election. And so often, the focus when you hear this idea of midwest voters goes to the white electorate. But the nature of these midwest states is the diversity that these cities have. I want to take into account, remember back in 2016, Michigan. Donald Trump won by just 11,000 votes and while the turnout statewide would increase from 2012 to 2016, look at Wayne county. The most diverse and Democratic county in the state of Michigan. But they had 37,000 fewer voters that turned out in 2016. This place voted by a margin of 2-1 for Hillary Clinton. If you do that math 37,000 voters with an 11,000 voting difference, and you may have, frankly, had a different turnout in this election. I want to introduce you to one voter here. This is in Dearborn, Michigan. This is in Wayne County. This is Killoud Dabaja, you're the owner of a local coffee shop.

D'BAJA: Yes, I am.

HILLYARD: You are one of the Wayne County voters. To you, what is a Midwest voter?

DABAJA: God, someone just like me. Someone that wakes up early in the morning to go to work with a great work ethic, that cares about their family, that cares about their loved ones and love to support everyone and that likes to see everyone happy and that's really what it is. We all work really hard and at the end of the day, we want to feel good.

HILLYARD: When you're looking, there's a field of 20 different Democratic candidates. When you're looking for your candidate and knowing this community that you represent, what are you looking for from a candidate?

DABAJA: Honestly, I'm looking for someone that I'm not afraid of, quite honestly. It makes me sad that one of the worst days was the last elections. I don't want to be afraid. I want to be, I want someone that I could look up to that I can trust, that I can feel safe when I go to sleep. That's what I'm looking for. Someone that I can be proud of to tweet about and someone I can say, "That's my president." That's what I'm looking for right now and I don't want to be afraid.

She wants to not be afraid. Let that sink in.

And that math? This is what many of us have been pleading with people to understand since 2016. That perhaps voter suppression had something to do with the lower minority turnout in states where Hillary Clinton was expected to win but ended up losing by a hair. That going after the white vote that was lost to Trump is not as important as going after the black and minority vote that has been suppressed by Republicans and the Courts, and now, we are learning, likely Russia. Strengthening voting rights that have been gutted by the Supreme Court. Making it easier, not harder for citizens to vote.

Then Hallie Jackson followed up with the exact right question and focus. When talking about "electability," that's code for white and male. She asked Kimberly Atkins about "...what kind of candidate that raises up and what kind of candidate that leaves behind."

ATKINS: Two things that go hand in hand with that is the electability, this idea that has been surrounding Senator Harris in particular and in New Hampshire, for example, there was this idea that maybe she wasn't electable enough or maybe wasn't doing enough and she said, "I'm here. What do you want me to be? It's clear what is not being spoken here is the fact that I'm a Black woman."

JACKSON: Race and gender.

ATKINS: Race and gender.

JACKSON: You can't have a conversation without talking about those.

ATKINS: But it's also about the voters, too. We're talking about the midwest where she is right now. In Michigan, full disclosure, I'm from Michigan, born in Wayne County, but there's been all this focus on McComb county which is this white, primarily white working class suburb, but Wayne County and Oakland County, where I grew up is very diverse and there are a lot of folks in the midwest that don't necessarily look like this voter that we focused on so much. Black voters didn't turn out the same way in Michigan. If they all had come out, that would have closed the gap that Donald Trump won that state in.

SING IT KIMBERLY! Democrats, STOP feeling this incessant, insecure need to appeal to white voters. And if you're a white Democrat clinging to the belief that only a "STRONGWHITEMALE" can defeat Trump, be curious about that and engage in some self-reflection. Don't give in to that, shrug and say, "Well, okay, I guess it's Biden, then." Ask yourself, "What am I doing to make sure that someone OTHER than a "STRONGWHITEMALE" can defeat Trump? Because believe me. There are things you can be doing to lift up these other incredibly strong female and non-white candidates. What is your reluctance?

Jackson then goes on to highlight the interesting tidbit that 3 of the 5 women running for the Democratic ticket have never, NEVER lost an election. None of the front-running male candidates can say that. Not one.

JACKSON: There's this conventional wisdom that most electable candidate in the democratic primary a year and a half before people head to the polls is Joe Biden. Other candidates going, saying, "No, wait a second. I am". Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren have all had success in some of these red areas, and The Times points out, interestingly, that these women can claim an interesting distinction. They have never lost an election in their political careers. All of the most prominent male democratic candidates Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker have all lost at least one. What is up with that?

ATKINS: I think that goes back to this question of who we expect a candidate to look like and who the candidates have always looked like and been. Bernie Sanders coming out and focusing almost entirely on Joe Biden, I think, is a mistake. Don't sleep on the other candidates like Senator Warren, like Senator Harris, who have been fund-raising, who have been organizing. It is still early. We're a year and a half out of this election and if people forget who the voters are and how strong the other candidates potentially are in this, they're gonna make a big mistake.

YES, THANK YOU. The only thing that would make Joe Biden the most electable would the refusal of white people to recognize their own biases and work against them. Oh. Wait a minute. Maybe Joe Biden IS the most electable.

We're so f*cked.

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