Thursday, April 26, 2007

Race is onstage in South Carolina debate

Democrats may have to address the issues of inequality and justice

Those stately homes sit on the mostly white side of town. In the city's poor black neighborhoods, the odd laundromat and ramshackle corner grocery are spread amid broken-down cars and beat-up furniture left stranded on the buckled sidewalks. A decrepit mobile home park and some clapboard homes — windows gone, porches collapsed, boards missing — seem scarcely fit for human habitation.

Those disparities could force an uncomfortable conversation. The issues likely to come up in tonight's Democratic presidential debate are familiar ones — the war in Iraq, healthcare, the economy, education. The big difference in South Carolina is race, which overlays just about every policy discussion in the state, as it has since Emancipation and reconstruction.

"Here you have to face issues that candidates shy away from elsewhere," said state Rep. Bakari T. Sellers, who went to school in Orangeburg and now represents the district next door. "Issues of justice and inequality. Issues of race."

I'm looking forward to this debate. I want the candidates to acknowledge some awful truths and put forth substantive proposals on how to deal with the problems that have been caused by government policies born of racism. I know that's a lofty order, and I'll probably be disappointed, but that's what I want.
"When you look at the candidates up on the stage, the whole world will think how far we've come," said Bakari Sellers, who has driven past All Star bowling alley countless times yet never set foot inside. "But if you look just below the surface here in South Carolina, where you have the Confederate flag still flying, where you have such widespread inequality, you see how far we still have to go."

It'll be interesting to see how far the candidates are willing to go.

make it plain


Sonya said...

What a waste of time.

Brian said...

Why....what happened Sonya?

I just got home from work...

Haven't learned anything yet about the debate.

I assume that it was not to your satisfaction?

Sonya said...

The format was terrible. It went back and forth between limiting time so that the candidates could only answer in sound bites or allowing them to give position statements from their campaigns. That's not a debate.

Brian said...

Yeah... I managed to catch a replay of it.

Not much of a debate. And most of the top contenders sounded more like Republicans... Especially Clinton and Richardson. Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and John Edwards were the only candidates who behaved like "Democrats".

I hate formats where everything is scripted....

None of the Democrats impress me.... although I hope Edwards can pull it off... he's one of the very few viable candidates right now. Edwards will be the best chance that Democrats have for beating a Republican in a general election.

One thing in the Democrats favor is John McCain.... and his stumbling. I just hope he can keep messing up until election day.

Anonymous said...

The format sucked, and for issues regarding race, it wasn't enough for where the debate was held, because the folks asking the questions, well, they weren't Black.

I think the only way that these questions will even be consistently asked will be at Tavis' debate at Howard in June. If they aren't asked there directly, this it's hopeless.

I agree that the format was hideous.