That the mayor of Ithaca, New York, (population 30,000) wants to create a site for heroin users to shoot up narcotics is mighty scary.
This overwhelmingly white, young city is 26 percent nonwhite and has a median age of 22. The mayor, Svante Myrick, is 28. He’s also a Democrat.
He’s the type of Democrat who’s attracted to Bernard Sanders and the type of Democrat Hillary Clinton is trying to attract.
Before the 2008 presidential race turned foot-soldier campaigning on its head with social media and a relatively young Barack Obama won the White House, political wannabes like Mr. Myrick, who won a council seat at age 20, were few and far between. In fact, he was one of the youngest elected leaders in America in 2008, finished his studies at Cornell University in 2009 and within two years ran for mayor. Television, including C-SPAN and the networks, couldn’t wait to tell his story as his campaign wisely engaged other youths who employ social media to get the word and the vote out. (Shades of the rising Mr. Obama, right?)
Oh, by the way, Mr. Myrick is black.
Contrast that campaign strategy with the 2016 presidential race.
In a few short days, we’ll learn what white and black voters in South Carolina think of the Democrats running for the White House, whether a socialist who claims to be a Democrat is more appealing than a Democrat who appears to be a socialist. Ithaca doesn’t appear to have so many gray areas. In the DMV (District/Maryland/Virginia), though, the Democratic Party dilemma fits squarely into the round hole of the D.C. Democratic Party.
Members of the D.C. electorate effectively follow one marching order: Vote for Democrats. They vote for Democrats who claim to be independent because they once were — David Grosso and Michael Brown of the D.C. Council, to name but two. They even vote for Republicans who claim to be independents — former lawmaker David Catania.
When it comes to the black vote in the DMV, one jurisdiction is a given, while the other two could be up for grabs.
There’s no way Mrs. Clinton could possibly be denied wet smooches from D.C. Democrats come primary day on June 14. In fact, D.C. voters don’t know how to elect a Republican presidential candidate, let alone a Republican nominee who’s trying to whip a Democratic nominee.
Maryland voters — black, white, Hispanic, Native American and Asian, on the other hand — could be up for grabs. In 2006, Michael Steele, a Republican and former lieutenant governor, won 44.19 percent in the statewide U.S. Senate race, and in 2014, Anthony Brown, a Democrat and former lieutenant governor, lost the governor’s race to Larry Hogan, a white Republican. Poor turnout in two black Democratic strongholds, the city of Baltimore and Prince George’s County, propelled Mr. Hogan.
Virginia, whose primary is part of Super Tuesday, is no guarantee for either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Sanders. If Northern Virginia were a state, it would certainly be blue. The southern, central and far western Virginia regions are more violet.
For sure, though, if college-age and young adults are becoming Sanders Sons and Daughters, then the Clinton campaign had better pay attention.
I think, too, that Mrs. Clinton is no shoo-in for black America’s vote, as professor Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary explained in his Feb. 13 commentary in Politico: “The battle now raging in Black America over the Clinton-Sanders election is principally a battle between a declining neoliberal black political and chattering class still on the decaying Clinton bandwagon (and gravy train!) and an emerging populism among black poor, working and middle class people fed up with the Clinton establishment in the Democratic Party. It is easy to use one’s gender identity, as Clinton has, or racial identity, as the Congressional Black Caucus recently did in endorsing her, to hide one’s allegiance to the multi-cultural and multi-gendered Establishment. But a vote for Clinton forecloses the new day for all of us and keeps us captive to the trap of wealth inequality, greed (‘everybody else is doing it’), corporate media propaganda and militarism abroad — all of which are detrimental to black America.”
On March 1, American Samoa, numerous Americans abroad and voters in 14 states, including Virginia, are scheduled to hold primaries, and black Democrats already will have had their say in South Carolina. And well-known blacks as disparate as actor-activists Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, former NAACP leader Ben Jealous and rappers Killer Mike and Scarface are Sanders supporters. There’s even an organization dubbed Black Women 4 Bern. Ha!
To be sure, Mr. Myrick, Mayor Myrick, has a message for us all.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.