MSNBC held a forum for the Democratic presidential candidates at South Carolina’s Benedict College. In that forum, Bernie Sanders was asked by a young black man what he should do if he was pulled over by the police. Sanders sounded more like a Republican to many in his answer, telling the young man that he should essentially just “respect” the police more.
“I would do my best to identify who that police officer is in a polite way, ask him or her for their name,” Sanders replied to the young man on Saturday at the historically black college.
Sanders continued, “I would respect what they are doing so that you don’t get shot in the back of the head, but I would also be very mindful of the fact that, as a nation, we have got to hold police officers accountable for the actions that they commit.”
“So, to answer your question, I would be very cautious if you were my son in terms of dealing with our police officers, but I would also defend my rights and know my rights and make sure, if possible, that police officer’s [body] camera is on.”
What Sanders failed to realize is that many black people have been gunned down without such a cordial conversation beforehand. Many times, as video has shown, black people have been roughed up, thrown on the ground, and even shot before they even realized what was happening. Sanders answer pretends there is some sort of protocol that the police who shoot sometimes totally innocent people follow.
Joe Biden was asked a similar question and took a different tact.
“If I were your daughter, what advice would you give me the next time I am stopped by the police,” the student asked Biden, to which he responded to laughter, “If you were my daughter, you would be a Caucasian girl and you wouldn’t be pulled over.”
Biden added: “No, but here’s the deal. What I would tell you is that’s what’s wrong. That is what’s wrong. There is institutional racism that still exists.”
Later, Biden posted a video of his response to the question to his Twitter account with the caption: “Institutional racism should no longer exist. As president, I’ll put forward change to help put an end to it.”
Institutional racism should no longer exist. As president, I'll put forward change to help put an end to it. pic.twitter.com/DQtPzGIfNq
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 27, 2019
Biden is correct. First off, he acknowledged through the joke and his serious answer that the racism is the problem, not the conduct of many innocent people who have been shot. Sanders put the burden on the young man, almost suggesting whether or not getting shot is solely up to him. It isn’t, and again, there is a lot of video on YouTube that shows that.
Sanders also goes so far as to suggest the young man should be thinking about the politics of it all while being arrested or detained rather than just staying alive. Some might see that as highly insensitive and rather aloof on the issue.
Biden, on the other hand, recognized the problem is racist police and the institutions that harbor those evil sentiments. Then, he followed up after the forum and vowed to do something about it.
Perhaps that is why Biden is still leading by double digits where African-Americans are more prevalent, like in South Carolina — an early primary state.
Biden might make his gaffes, and there are certainly other issues to consider when being for or against any candidate, but it seems that people know where his heart is when it comes to issues around racism. That is something Sanders has yet to show minority voters in both of the presidential contests he has been a part of.
Featured image via Twitter.