The PJ Tatler

Does 'Black Lives Matter' Matter?

MSNBC was quick to declare a winner in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, namely the Black Lives Matter movement. Amanda Sakuma writes:

Democratic presidential candidates stumbled early in their campaigns by underestimating the growing political power of the Black Lives Matter social movement. But in Tuesday night’s debate, those 2016 hopefuls were out to prove that they would not be caught flat-footed again.

“Black lives matter,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said unequivocally.

Political power? What evidence is there of the movement’s political power? Sakuma merely cites their publicized agitation.

The course correction comes after activists disrupted the progressive confab Netroots Nation in July, taking over the stage with demands to be heard. The confrontation left Democratic candidates at a loss for words. (Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made what supporters considered a faux pas by declaring that all lives, not just black lives, matter.) But it also sparked a reckoning in demands for Democrats to take the movement seriously as a major 2016 litmus test.

Litmus test? Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves? So far, there’s nothing to indicate that the Black Lives Matter movement represents a significant voter bloc. On the contrary, as the tactics of local cells grow increasingly abrasive and distasteful, the movement loses would-be allies.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, rebuked Black Lives Matter Minneapolis when the group announced plans to shut down the state fair. He later condemned the group’s outrageous “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” chant. The group responded by protesting outside his mansion. When you lose someone like Mark Dayton, whom do you have left?

Candidates like Bernie Sanders might accommodate the movement now. Eventually, however, these “community organizers” will have to demonstrate a bite to go along with their bark. Currently, no reason has been offered suggesting that the group’s rhetoric and theatrics can translate to electoral influence.