Vincent Chin, the most famous of all Asian American hate crime victims, was murdered in the Detroit area, so maybe that was our way of being present at CNN’s Democratic presidential debate 2019, night one.
We were ghosts.
I listened for us. I didn’t hear Asian Americans mentioned once. Not even in what I call the “litany of diversity,” when a candidate lists all the ethnic groups in America, i.e, “Blacks, Latinos, Asians, LGBTQ…etc.”
But that didn’t even happen during night one, the whitest group of Democrats you could wrangle up in Montana or anywhere.
Night two should be better.
But will Andrew Yang, Mr. Guaranteed Income, get a race question?
The 2020 campaign agenda was set the last few days by that twittering nabob of Pennsylvania Avenue, who went off on rants that were both racist and speciesist. Trump dumped on rats in Baltimore, then went after that city’s congressman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, as well as civil rights activist Al Sharpton. But he didn’t gaslight afterwards. Trump owned it all by declaring himself the “least racist person there is anywhere in the world.”
It’s evident that Trump wants this campaign to be about race, white grievance, and American identity. It’s all the explosive issues that intentionally divide an electorate. There’s no middle ground. And now all the secret racists have a person to be their public racist.
With Trump, you can shamelessly lie to pollsters and, under cloak of secret ballot, turn the voting booth into the most despicable hood of all.
That’s how Trump is hoping all the voting marbles will funnel down into his camp.
Public racists have run in our representative democracy before. George Wallace was Governor of Alabama and ran for president.
But this is 2019, in an America that has never been more diverse.
And Trump is betting that it is time for a new kind of politics. Open, out-front modern representative racism.
Boomtime for White Supremacy!
So, of course, the set of white Democrats in Tuesday’s debate weren’t the best group to deal with this. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were the presumptive leaders in the first batch.
Bernie went after the racial gaps in economic injustice. He mentioned South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 approach to ending poverty in the black community and backed a Thurgood Marshall Plan for education. (Marshall, the late Supreme Court justice, was married to a Filipina, and they had a son who bears his name. A hidden Asian American reference?) But somehow all his talk didn’t offset the hate put out by Trump.
Warren was a bit better. She was asked about the recent Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter’s advocacy of a 19th century White Supremacist, and was quick to point out that we need to expose it and fight it as “domestic terrorism.” But then she dealt with racism in her wonky way, talking about ending the black/white wealth gap with education, Pell grants, and funding to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Good, but again, platform pamphlet stuff.
Debates are for fire and passion. Moments that pop.
In the first go round, no one popped. Not on race.
Except for Marianne Williamson.
She’s way out ahead of everyone as a truth teller on race. Few have realized that the way to fight and beat Trump is not by being a traditional politician. No one touched reparations in the last debate on NBC. Not like Williamson did on Tuesday.
She was challenged by CNN’s Don Lemon on her position to provide $500 billion in financial assistance to descendants of slaves. What made her qualified to determine how much is owed in reparations?
Williamson: Well, first of all, it’s not $500 billion in financial assistance. It’s a $200 to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed. That is what reparations is. We need some deep truth telling when it comes. We don’t need another commission to look at evidence. I appreciate what Congressman O’Rourke has said. It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal. All that a country is is a collection of people. People heal when there is some deep truth telling. We need to realize that when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with.
That great injustice has to do with the fact there were 250 years of slavery followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism. What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion? I’ll tell you what makes me qualified. If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule, given that there were 4 to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War—they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for a family of four. If you did the math today it would be trillions of dollars. I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult, and I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today, because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface.
Williamson was candid. Non-wonky. Emotional. She scored.
That was Trump’s secret in 2016. Only Williamson doesn’t lie like Trump, the non-traditional business person who won the “fed-up” voter. The anti-politician vote.
Williamson’s the only non-traditional Democrat–the anti-politician for the good guys.
And she’s the purest anti-Trump. He’s all wolf-y hate. She’s all lamb-y love.
When Williamson talks love and truth telling, she soars where politicians usually don’t. Because when the others go wonky, they don’t address the heart. They don’t hit the emotional buttons that show they care for the voters. It’s not enough to say, “I will fight for you.”
You won’t fight if you don’t care.
In a room of policy nerds, Williamson shows she cares and isn’t afraid to show her heart.
Bernie loved to talk numbers. All the millions who will lose insurance, etc. etc. It keeps fact checkers busy. But the facts don’t sell like the emotional pitch.
Can’t vote for someone who can be logical on reparations and be so loving and truthful? Well, we voted for someone hateful and deceitful, plus racist, sexist, and homophobic.
Time to consider the alternative?
Things should change with the second batch. We show up! We’ll see Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and guaranteed income guru Andrew Yang of New York take the stage. And of course, we’ll get to see Senator Kamala Harris of California, half-South Asian American, half-African American. My perennial question for her: Will she mention her Asianness at all or does it alienate her from the voters she wants?
It’s important because 2020 is going to be all about race, and it’s a shame when people just don’t see us. Not in immigration. Not in DACA. Here’s another issue: Will anyone during the debates mention the discrimination faced by Chinese American scientists, what I call the Wen Ho Lee hangover?
At least in Part Two, we will have a definite presence.
There will be Asian Americans on stage tonight in the metro area where Vincent Chin was murdered.