Bankole: This may deny Hillary the presidency

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

Barack Obama’s candidacy in 2008 invoked the painful history of slavery and Jim Crow, and many of those in the black community who came out in droves to support him did so because they were participating in a lifetime opportunity to do what their ancestors could not do: put a black man as president in the White House built by slave labor.

That is why some blacks cried on national television on the day of Obama’s victory as well as the day of his inauguration. I was there. I covered that historic campaign and have interviewed Obama a number of times.

That victory, and its 2012 repeat, happened largely because Obama made those supporters realize how much their votes could change history. The then-young U.S. senator from Illinois connected with voters on the bread and butter issues — factoring into the issues the disastrous Iraq war and an economy that tanked under George W. Bush — in the same way that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is doing now by attracting thousands of young people to his rallies.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, with a massive public service record and a name that resonates globally has yet to fully articulate to voters what is at stake in this election. She has not defined why she’s the best choice and how that would revolutionize the presidency by having a woman at the helm.

It’s not enough for Clinton to urge a protest vote against Donald Trump which is what some of her remarks have been doing. That would not seal the deal. Dismissing Trump, her likely Republican opponent, as a “loose cannon” is not a winning strategy. She has to show passion and explain what a Trump presidency offers the nation.

It’s not enough for Clinton to be a policy wonk or to act like a professor on the campaign trail. Something has to push voters to come out for Clinton. The difference between Clinton and Trump is that the billionaire investor has political novelty. And novelty has currency especially in a presidential race. Trump has shown the courage of his convictions. He is consistent about what he believes and what he says, and he connects with those he thinks he needs to win the race. He’s made his views clear about immigrants, minorities and women. Even after his Indiana win made his path to the GOP nomination uncontested, Trump told NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt in a May 4 interview that he still stands by his views about Muslims and immigrants.

What is Clinton passionate about?

She is passionate about women’s and children’s issues and health care, but she has been unable to effectively transfer that passion to voters. Several polls have shown that even a significant number of Democratic women voters have been reluctant to support her candidacy. And among young voters whom Sanders has convincingly swayed, Clinton is lagging behind.

Clinton does have the support of some high-profile names, such as civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis. But that does not translate into mass support in black and other minority communities because again she has not channeled her passion into showing a clear understanding of issues that affect those communities and her commitment toward resolving those issues.

If Trump ran a brutal campaign against his fellow Republicans in the primaries, what kind of campaign would you expect against the Democrats? This is a candidate, who earlier on the campaign trail, said: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Hillary Clinton will have to do more to earn the unflinching support of the voters she wants to bestow upon her the esteemed title of “Madam President.”


Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” on Super Station 910-AM at noon Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.