'Yes, I Will Be Voting for Senator Sanders'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

That’s what Ta-Nehisi just told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, and you can watch the segment through this link.

His endorsement of Bernie [he parses his statement here] makes me think of this unpublished reader email from a few weeks quoting one of TNC’s reparations posts:

But raising the minimum wage doesn’t really address the fact that black men without criminal records have about the same shot at low-wage work as white men with them; nor can making college free address the wage gap between black and white graduates. Housing discrimination, historical and present, may well be the fulcrum of white supremacy.

This is (in my view) the crux of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ argument. Class-based solutions are good, and will by their nature affect the most change within communities of color that have greatly suffered for the entire history of this country and beyond. Simply addressing the symptoms, which have been disproportionately been suffered by people of color, will not address the problem, and there are symptoms of systemic racism (which Coates cites) that cannot be addressed in the frame of a class struggle.

I agree with him. Fully and truly, if a policy could address these systemic and greater-than-class symptoms of a problem I have been an unwilling beneficiary of, I would support them.

They would not, however, be an issue by which I decide my vote for president. This is in part because of the absolute dichotomy of our political system. When I view the candidates, and the state of our electorate, I could not support a candidate who purely thought the way I thought. There is too much to be lost by supporting the grander ideas of my intellectual person than the practical implications of embracing someone whose ideas were succinctly in my own sphere at the expense of that person being written off to history while their opponent governs our country.

More reader discussion of the reparations debate here.