Searching for Billion Dollar “Massa”

Democratic moderates, liberal media fear Bernie & Elizabeth. Believe only white rich man can beat Trump

Why do moderate Democrats and mainstream media outlets like CNN and MSNBC keep branding Senators Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s ideas as dangerous, divisive, and extreme when the majority of Americans support them? They must be watching too much cable television news or searching for a billion dollar “Massa.”

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren stand together before the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit on July 30, 2019. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

This column is not intended as an endorsement of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but I believe the black community and progressives owe themselves the time to take a closer look. It would be disingenuous if we were to act as if middle-of-the road, neoliberal politics and politicians have solved social and economic issues disproportionately plaguing the black community.

Without data to back them up, Chuck Todd and his nod squad keep telling viewers that the reforms proposed by the two senators are impractical. They tell viewers, petrified of the prospect of four more years of Trump, Sanders can’t build a majority of support for his positions despite national polling that shows the opposite.

The Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll on health shows that 56% of Americans support Medicare-for-all type plans. According to Inside Higher Ed, 65% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans support free public higher Ed.

According to the Sentencing Project, one out of 10 black men in their 30s is incarcerated everyday. Because of serious health disparities, Blacks are far more likely than Whites to be plagued by or die from diabetes, lung cancer, strokes, HIV, and other illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, as of the last quarter of 2019, the median White worker made 28% more than the typical Black worker and 35% more than the median Latinix worker. For every dollar a white man makes, a black woman takes home 77 cents. These disparities aren’t narrowing; they are getting worse. And this has occurred under the watch of both Democratic and Republican administrations.

If ever a group in America could benefit from major structural changes, it is the black community. Small changes around the edges will not prevent the economic calamity headed for black America that is predicted to reach its apex in 2050 when the black community is slated to have zero wealth.

Mike Bloomberg portrait
Michael Bloomberg, billion dollar “Massa”

The possibility that black support might migrate from former V.P. Joe Biden to billionaire Bloomberg is even more puzzling. This prospect, sadly, seems to emanate from a deep psychological attachment to the notion that only a white man, billionaire at that, can bring down a white “savior” like Donald John Trump. I heard similar hogwash in 2008 when a young black Senator from Illinois was up against the white, center-right establishment in the Democratic Party. He won.

Michael Bloomberg. This is the same dude who was a Republican mayor of liberal New York City. During his tenure as mayor his police department, unconstitutionally, stopped and frisked nearly five million mostly black and brown men. In a secret recording he was overheard saying, referring to minority youth, “throw them against the wall and frisk them.” Only one out of 10 detainees ended up being guilty of anything.

Bloomberg also seemed to blame discriminated against residents of color in New York for the housing crisis. The New York Times this week reported that Bloomberg stated that the “end of redlining, a discriminatory housing practice, had helped contribute to the economic collapse.” In other words, if banks continued to discriminate against people of color, which they actually did, the economy would have remained strong. What type of mental contortion does one have to go through to arrive at such a bizarre conclusion?

I understand that Trump is an autocrat and has acted consistently in defiance of The U.S. Constitution. He is a white nationalist, racist, misogynist, and much more. What he has done by packing the courts with unqualified and extremely conservative judges will change the face of justice in this country for the next two generations. By this I mean, he has taken an unjust criminal justice system and made it even worse with his appointments.

No doubt, Trump must go, but as we build a national coalition to do just this, let us not panic and settle for any rich guy who happens to ask for our votes. We must carefully scrutinize past records. Listen to black and brown people from New York who endured 12 years of Bloomberg as mayor. Moreover, we must have confidence in ourselves to make the changes that serve our interest. In 2016, led by black women, this coalition powered Hillary Clinton past 45 by three million popular votes. Were it not for losses in usual Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, we would have carried Hillary all the way to The White House.

There is nothing about the Sanders-Warren agenda that should diminish black women’s or people of color’s excitement and motivation for supporting these progressives. National polls show that they, like moderates, would defeat Trump. After the Hillary loss in 2016, it does not reason that we would place much faith in political moderation.

Democratic Debate

The Republicans and moderate Democrats like Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Amy Klobuchar have tried to scare American voters by saying the Putin-Russian-loving 45th President will clobber Bernie and Elizabeth and label them “socialist.” Even Mayor Pete had the prescience to say even if we run from policies of free education (for those in need), universal healthcare, and raising the minimum wage, they will still call us “socialists.” President Roosevelt was called socialist for bringing us social security. They called Barack Obama a socialist because he passed healthcare reform. They called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a communist because he pursued civil rights for all, fought for working (and poor) people, and opposed the Vietnam War.

If wanting an economy that works for the 99% of the American people and not just the 1% makes us socialists, then, perhaps, we all should be socialists. Maybe it is time we stop searching for old Master to save us. Let’s come together and save ourselves.

5 thoughts on “Searching for Billion Dollar “Massa”

  1. In ordinary times, I would agree with you completely. But these are not ordinary times, as it is essential to us that there be a change. I believe that so long as a candidate meets a basic level of acceptability, the sole criteria should be who has the best chance of winning. The mission is critical enough that we cannot rely on ideological purity to make our choice-instead, ask who can win.


    1. Thanks Michael, but be sure that there will be support for moderate ideology. Turn out will be important and I am not sure if middle-of-the-road, politics as usual will create the enthusiasm for the turnout we need. I also believe the VP choice will make a big difference.


  2. Jabari

    Thanks. What may relate, but seems somewhat different, however, is that, policy differences aside, polls suggest really only Biden gets significant support from black voters. The implication being that any of the other top 4 candidates will be weaker for that reason alone in the fall. As I have to make my mind up this week to get my absentee vote in, your words give me some reason to go with an ideological choice.


  3. It will not be until Super Tuesday that we really know who gets the black vote. In some polls Bloomberg is getting 22% of the black vote already. Bernie’s support among African Americans is growing too. Biden’s support is dropping.


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