Sharpton says progressive Democrats are ‘shortchanging’ African Americans
In an opinion piece for USA Today, Al Sharpton claimed that Democrats are not paying attention to their African-American base and that progressives are not taking “real action.”
In the piece, Sharpton decried the fact that, just like in the 1980s when Jesse Jackson ran for president, there is now “a great deal of talk” but “no real action.”
“The press speaks a great deal about the supposed fact that the ‘Democratic base’ is riled up and activated by the state of play in America. This assessment ignores the most important segment of that base: the African-American voter,” he wrote. “We are not motivated by anyone right now.”
He specifically pointed to the fact that neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton were able to excite the African-American base of the party, noting that it was arguably this very lack of engagement that cost Clinton the votes she would have needed to win the presidency.
“It would be unfair to claim that leaders like Clinton and Sanders do not care about issues that are important to people of color. They do,” he wrote. “However, it is equally inaccurate to claim that the current progressive movement is fueling African-American participation or interest in our political process. It is not. Blacks largely sit on the sidelines while the game of politics is being played around us. In the post-Obama era there is the sense that Democrats feel people of color — African Americans in particular — have had their chance and that we should now take a back seat to new leadership and let them handle the politics of today. However, such a sentiment is both foolhardy and wrong.”
The civil rights leader went on to blast the Democrats for not having enough African-Americans at the table and for not working hard enough on African-American issues. Sharpton then called for more action, and a more diverse party to reflect their base to help meet those goals.
“Talk is not enough anymore to be on the righteous path for justice and black political participation. Nor is caring about, or sympathy over, unjust policies. An effective progressive movement is more than an intellectual exercise espousing policy goals: it requires action and results. And people of color need to be at the table in large enough numbers to help make that difference. We cannot depend upon action from well-meaning progressives or others who want to fight our fight for us. History proves that change comes too slowly when we rely on that model,” he wrote.
You can read the whole opinion piece here.