Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton delivered an important address at the African Methodist Episcopal Church National Convention in Philadelphia, during which she talked about the ugly violence of the past few days. She urged communication, listening, self-reflection, and meaningful reforms. (Monica Roberts has video of the speech at her place.)
For those who worried Clinton would tack back to center on criminal justice/policing issues, this AME speech seems evidence she won't— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) July 8, 2016
Indeed, Clinton made clear that she is deeply concerned about police killings of Black people, deeply concerned about mass killings targeting police, and deeply concerned about gun violence more broadly. And she noted:
I know that, just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people. I'm talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers. I'm talking about courageous, honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota. I'm bringing up guns in a country where merely talking about comprehensive background checks and getting assault weapons off our streets gets you demonized.They are all true at once—and they are related, in multiple ways: Via systemic racism; via a history of state-sanctioned violence against Black people; via our nation's unique history with and perception of guns; via our continued tolerance of funding police through municipal violations; and a host of other interconnected issues.
But all these things can be true at once.
Clinton doesn't pretend to have all the solutions. To the absolute contrary, she said straightforwardly: "No one has all the answers. We need to find them together. Indeed, that is the only way we can find them."
She urged listening, and that is important (as is it always). And what she said was important, too. Which is not to suggest that it is enough. No single speech, no serious of speeches no matter how many in number, ever could be.
It is only to say that I am grateful that she is talking about these issues frankly. And I need to express my gratitude because I want her to keep talking about them. I want her to keep listening, and keep talking, and keep developing better policy, and keep getting better and better at how she talks about these life and death issues.
I want her to know that I support her centering these issues. I want her to know they are important to me.
I don't merely "tolerate" her talking about these things: I expect it.
And I am a big believer in the concept that we don't have the right to expect of any other person something we've never told them we want. So here I am, telling Hillary Clinton, please keep talking about these things.
I don't expect her to have all the answers; I don't expect her to be able to solve entrenched injustice or a national obsession with deadly weapons on her own. All I expect is for her to use the biggest bully pulpit in the world, which comes with the job she's petitioning to hold, to its maximum potential on these issues, in both word and deed (policy).
I'm relieved to see she appears to expect the same of herself: "I want you to know the 24-hour news cycle moves on—I won't."
I want her to do the best she can to make the biggest difference she can in a complex set of deadly problems that demand a comprehensive set of solutions which are beyond any single person.
And I want the Republicans who will try to shame her for "saying all these things together" to know that her progressive base expects it. She is doing the will of her constituents.
Which, since Republicans seem to have forgotten it, is what politicians are elected to do.