After New Hampshire.  The Battle Moves On.

After New Hampshire.  The Battle Moves On. February 11, 2016

Lent 2 Bernie_Sanders_by_Gage_Skidmore enwikipediaLent 2 Hillary_Clinton_2016_Kickoff_—_Greeting_Crowd.jpeg eneikipediaThe sweeping up is major.  There is the demographic data: women, men,  youth, religion, Party folks, Unenrolled.  Sanders won them all. Clinton won the non-white vote, which in NH is 7%. Trump won them all, except for the evangelicals, Cruz won those. In NH they are thin on the ground, only about 11%.

And then there is the internet: Bernie sandwiches are everywhere since an MSNBC reporter misspoke his last name as Sandwiches. Late night comic Stephen Colbert offered a sandwich for each candidate, but offered Bernie, who was his guest, boiled peanuts and beer, things he said would help Sanders in South Carolina, Colbert’s home state. On The View, Bernie ate a new Ben and Jerry ice cream named Bernie’s Yearning with a boyish delight.

In northern cities and around the South, black leaders did not find this a time for joking around. Shaken by the message New Hampshire sent, that Hillary Clinton is not inevitable and that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are possible, they met with Sanders, argued about him, and endorsements began to flow.

The Congressional Black Caucus Political Committee endorsed Hillary for her record and her results for Democrats.

Harry Belafonte, Ben Jealous, Cornel West, Ta-Nehisi Coates, have all endorsed Bernie for daring to name the big issues and to hold up hope that America can make big changes.

Michelle Alexander, black scholar and impressive author, endorsed Bernie, saying From the crime bill to welfare reform, policies Bill Clinton enacted—and Hillary Clinton supported—decimated black America.

Al Sharpton and several others met with Sanders and will meet with Clinton. And CNN has presented an array of blackcommentators, some supporting Sanders and some Clinton, letting us hear them debate who will work better for black Americans.

Jesus peppered his remarks with references to the political scene in which he lived.  He called Herod ‘that fox’, and issued a defiant message after John was beheaded.  He mentioned the Tower of Siloam, an ancient worship site with huge political significance, that many thought was not destroyed by accident. He held up the Samaritan, a despised minority in his day, as virtuous, and he preached among them.

The battle of translating faith into action, something most candidates pledge they will do, is ours to assess.

So far, I’m hearing Hillary speak about the need to extend justice and to practice gratitude.  But soaring hope, and a vision of a changed world, so key to Jesus, is absent in her rhetoric.  Her devotion to Christian faith is real.  But have the places she has sought faith sold the vision short?  Has she not heard much, or any, kingdom preaching?

So far, I’m hearing Bernie speak about justice with passion that flies on wings of commitment to a new and better America.  The roots of his faith  are mixed.  His Polish Jewish immigrant parents survived poverty, miserably hard work, life in a 3 room apartment in Brooklyn, and escape from Hitler, on this dream. They planted it in him. His ardor for social democracy is shaped by this, and by the civil rights struggles of his youth.

The argument in both parties rages over who can get things done. And I am tempted to judge that.  But each time I try I run into the unyielding wall of the unknown.  No one knows what circumstances will change, what winds will shift, what blows will wound whomever we elect, how intransigent Congress will be.

It’s clear that established leadership in both parties is shaken this year.  That’s a good thing, for the wind of the Spirit never blows into established structures that shutter their windows to all but incremental change.

It’s also clear the GOP isn’t offering minorities much of anything  to address their needs.

So I’m impressed by the wind in Bernie’s sails, powered by the vibrant breath of so many young Americans, including young black Americans and young Latinos, who have wrapped their arms around this rumpled 73 year old Brooklyn Vermonter, whose voice, heart and head, are all about hope of a better America.

The conversation among minorities has just begun, and won’t be finished for some weeks, even months. I’m staying tuned.

In the ashes of Ferguson, after the rage in Baltimore, with Flint in the background, this is a big American conversation. As it moves around the states, I believe the voice of the God of exiles, the God of the poor, the God of refugees and immigrants, the God of Hope, is being heard.

For Hillary to be the speaker, she really must proclaim hope, not just recite the past and denounce the baddies. For Bernie to be the speaker, he must stay on message, and keep showing us his joy.
1. Bernie Sanders, Campaigningby Gage Skidmore. Enwikipedia image.
2. Hillary Clinton, 2016 Kickoff.  Greeting Crowd. Enwikipedia image.

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