How Hillary Clinton can remain the favourite among black voters

'You can't win Florida, Ohio or North Carolina without the black vote — you can't win the election without carrying at least one of these states'

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The Independent US

“Black lives matter.”

After stumbling over the phrase in June, Hillary Clinton used the the three words during a Facebook Q&A on Monday that the nations needs face the racial injustices that black Americans face on a daily basis in the states.

“Black people across America still experience racism every day. Since this campaign started, I've been talking about the work we must do to address the systemic inequities that persist in education, in economic opportunity, in our justice system,” she wrote, responding to the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowry.

“We should make sure every police department in the US has body cameras. We should provide alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders. We should invest in early childhood education for every child. We should fight for voting rights and universal voter registration.

“You will continue to hear me talking about these issues throughout this campaign and pushing for real solutions.”

Ms Clinton was criticised for skipping the Netroots Nation 2016 conference, where her main Democratic competitors Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley were interrupted by vocal protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement.  Mr O'Malley faired worse, apologising for saying: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter,” which protesters claim mute the struggle and issues blacks face.

Fewer African-American voters may turnout after racial violence, high unemployment and police misconduct have plagued cities across the nation such as Charleston, South Carolina, Ferguson, Missouri and Cleveland, Ohio. Last week, Ms Clinton met with minority lawmakers of the Black Caucus on Capitol Hill to discuss the issues, seemingly the best way to engage black voters — a key constituency to winning the White House in 2016.

Caucus chairman G. K. Butterfield told The Independent that policy meeting with Ms Clinton was a productive beginning to the campaign, addressing issues that were important to the policymakers including gun control, poverty and criminal justice reform.

The Democratic congressman said that if Ms Clinton is elected, she promised to back the group’s 10|20|30 Amendment. The recovery act would send 10 percent of Rural Development funds are spent on communities where 20 percent or more of the population had lived below the poverty line over the past 30 years. The bill, currently in draft form, would authorize $50 billion over 10 years to counties with persistent poverty.

During her first economic address, Ms Clinton focused on women's issues, calling for policies to promote equal pay for equal work — especially minority women.

“There are nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today who are not in school or at work. The numbers for young people of color are particularly staggering. A quarter of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job.

The caucus and Ms Clinton also discussed ways to prevent attacks like the racially motivated shooting in Charleston. In America, blacks are killed at 12 times a higher rate than other developed countries, according to the Human Development Index.

“[Hillary] said she is not opposed to the second amendment and the right to bear arms but agreed that guns need to be in the hands of responsible people. There needs to be ways to keep guns out of the hands of people who are racist and mentally ill.”

However, not all were convinced that the meeting was anything beyond political handshaking. Larry Sabato, director for the Center of Politics and professor at the University of Virginia, said that he wasn’t convinced that the meeting was anything more than a chat to say, “my door will always be open to you”.

“The Clinton forces aren't worried about the black vote. Hillary will get the lion's share both in the Democratic primaries and the general election. But her campaign is indeed concerned about turnout. She'll have a hard time generating anything close to the enthusiasm that Obama enjoyed in 2008 and 2012.”

Mr Sabato said that the meeting was just a minor effort to increase Democratic turnout. Ms Clinton can extend a competitive advantage over her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders who’s extremely popular among progressive voters but has been criticized for his lack of ability to engage black voters.

“There's very little chance that a Republican will grab more than a few percent of the black vote. The real danger is lowered turnout. In Obama's elections, black turnout actually exceeded white turnout — a rare occurrence.”

In January 2008, Ms Clinton led Barack Obama 52 percent to 39 percent among black voters, according to Washington Post-ABC News poll. Ms Clinton won amongst white and hispanic voters but Mr Obama dominated the South Carolina primary taking home 78 percent of black votes.

This time around, Democratic pollster Peter Hart told The Independent that Ms Clinton will not have a “true challenger” for black voters.

“Hillary Clinton has overwhelming support in the black community.  It is a critical constituency for any Democrat in the primary.  She will not have a true challenger from the current candidates in the primary field with the African-American electorate.  The Kennedy family and the Clinton family have true and long lasting bonds — this will not change in 2016.“

One of the people hoping for change is Samuel Sinyangwe, the policy analyst for WeTheProtesters. Mr Sinyangwe said that meaningful action on a myriad of issues would be needed from the next president in order for blacks to continue making progress in America. He said that police violence would need curbed, which reportedly took the lives of more than 300 blacks in 2014.

“Hillary should stop the federal government from providing military weapons to local police departments, and lower the standard of proof needed for Department of Justice investigations to convict police officers who brutalize our people.”

The 24-year-old data scientist and Stanford grad also said that Ms Clinton’s willingness to endorse military intervention abroad is “worrisome.”

“Twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists as foreign terrorists over the past 14 years. Yet, there has been no comparable call for us to invest trillions of dollars in protecting black people from these attacks.

“We don’t need more wars on other poor nations. It’s time to focus our resources on combating the racism and racial inequities that threaten too many lives and undermine our nation’s moral and economic potential,“ he said.

Mr Sinyangwe maintained that Ms Clinton should use the power of her platform to tell the truth about racism in the country: “Throughout our history, ‘all’ has never included us. ‘All men are created equal’ was written in the context of slavery. We remember her saying ‘all lives matter’ in Ferguson. We hope that she’ll join us in acknowledging that black lives matter too.”

In her first policy speech this year, Ms Clinton called for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system, drawing attention to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Walter Scott in Charleston and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who were all part of an “undeniable” pattern.

Mr Butterfield said that he has not endorsed Ms Clinton for president because it would be far too early to commit to one candidate: “In time, I’m sure she's going g to address every issue that we care about and hopefully helping us find ways to keep other Charleston’s from keeping place.”

Mr Sinyangwe and Mr Sabato both agreed — you can't win Florida, Ohio or North Carolina without the black vote and you can't win the election without carrying at least one of these states.