When Democrats went to the polls in South Carolina about a week ago, they handed Hillary Clinton a huge victory. She won 74 percent of the vote to Bernie’s 26 percent, mostly because Hillary was the choice of most of South Carolina’s African American voters.
And it’s Hillary’s ability to connect with African American voters — and with Latinos too — that’s become a key factor in this campaign, or so the political pundits keeps saying. To win the Democratic nomination, they tell us, requires the support of people of color, and Hillary has that support all locked up.
But does she really? Do African American voters choose to support Hillary because she represents their interests? Does she “get” them in a way that Bernie doesn’t? Is Bernie unable to appeal to black voters because he’s a stranger from lily-white Vermont, while the folks in South Carolina know and still admire the Clintons?
Wendell Gilliard is an African American member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he’s served since 2009. Mr. Gilliard is a former member of the Charleston City Council, and a former president of the United Steel Workers Local Union.
Mr. Gilliard has also endorsed Bernie Sanders. I talked to him a few days ago about the campaign, about the racial dynamics of South Carolina politics, and about the demands of what he calls the “cookies and Kool Aid circuit” and the great divide between Democratic grassroots voters and the party’s leadership.