As we draw nearer to election day, people are hunkering down in their respective corners in support of their chosen candidate. The divide is largely dependent on the limited information obtained through watching the media and partisan loyalty. Without the vital information about how candidates have behaved in the past, especially when personal gain was weighed against the benefit of the people, the public cannot accurately gauge the character of the nation’s next leader.
“We will finally be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat, violent, criminal offenders—three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back in through the revolving door.”–Hillary Clinton at the Women in Policing awards, in New York City , August 1994
What is interesting and troubling this election, is the loyalty the Clintons enjoy from black people. The Clinton’s used racially charged language to secure Bill Clinton’s presidency, while courting black people with a shuck and jive routines. Bill Clinton ushered in the highest incarceration rates in the world with the “3 strikes law” resulting in automatic life sentences for black people who were arrested three times on drug charges. This has resulted in black people serving life sentences for marijuana.
Black people use hard drugs at lower rates than whites but marijuana at about the same rate. Yet black people bore the brunt of the Clinton bill which resulted in alarming incarceration rates of black people, disproportionate to their drug use or dealing when compared to the whites. The 3 Strikes bill also created prison overpopulation. To remedy the overpopulation issue, Bill Clinton also signed a $30-billion crime bill into law, that authorized some $16-billion in state prison grants. Michelle Alexander wrote: “The legislation was hailed by mainstream-media outlets as a victory for the Democrats, who “were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own,” in a piece for the Nation. Alexander also wrote about how the Clinton’s crime bill created new federal crimes. This would later justify locking even more black people away. When those grants ran out and states, which had become dependent on the grant funding, now wrestled with how to continue services, private prisons became an alternative.
Clinton has recently spoken out against private prisons and locking away young people for profit. She was quickly called on her hypocrisy by several news outlets creating the prison overpopulation in the first place.
Blacks today are arrested at nearly six times the rate of whites and one in three black people can expect to be incarcerated at some point in their lives. While the Clintons are still enjoying the loyalty of black voters and benefitting from donations from prison lobbyists like Corrections Corporation of America that have given to Clinton PACs and to their foundation.
Character matters in an election. It’s what we invest our trust, hopes, values, vision and votes in. Republicans and Democrats this election season are casting their beliefs and values to the wind, convinced they must choose between the “lesser of two evils.” The media is not reporting the necessary information for the public to make that assessment. Instead, hyperbole, fluff and media loyalty tied to advertising accounts and business deals have swept the public into an emotional frenzy with little more information guiding their choices than suggestion, sound bytes and headlines. Truth be told, if there is a “lesser evil” in this election, Clinton most certainly would not be it.