Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oppenheim: Bernie, Hillary And Trust

When you think about the different big-picture messages between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, it has all boiled down to something like this.

Bernie’s been saying he’s the one who can take on the rigged economy that not only makes the rich richer, but leaves politicians susceptible to greed and corruption. He’s the one who, in the minds of his supporters, is speaking truth to power.

Hillary’s also been addressing unfairness and inequality, but she’s emphasized something Bernie hasn’t – and that’s electability. Hillary’s pushed the idea that she’s the one who can get things done. The thinking goes, she can actually win – and make change.

In the early rounds, as Bernie surged, and Hillary faltered, the analysis was she was appealing to the head, while he was appealing to the heart.

It’s possible that some of those themes will sustain as the election plods forward. But now we know something we didn't fully grasp before – and that’s the overwhelming response from African American voters for Hillary Clinton.

Mind you, she did exceptionally well in southern states – but if she got nominated, she would not likely carry those states in a general election.

Still, the margins there were in the range of 80 percent of the black vote, in some places better than what Obama got. And black voters make up about a fourth of the democratic electorate.

It’s worth noting, because a repeated stumbling block for Hillary Clinton is the charge she cannot be trusted. But from many African Americans, there is, so far, a loud statement they have faith.

One of the reasons behind that is our current political landscape. We’re so divided now, that when the President nominates a Supreme Court justice, GOP senators, fearful of their base, may flat out refuse to hold a hearing. Some polls have shown black voters feel President Obama has been repeatedly disrespected, in part because of the color of his skin.

So, as the primaries have moved from states with little diversity, to those with more, we see a problem for the Sanders campaign that may not be easy to overcome.

Some voters are yearning for someone who can succeed, not just in the election, but in the fight that will follow. For Hillary, that’s now her edge.

The landscape, however, remains bleak. Because in the wake of what appears will be a bruising and damaging political year, what’s unclear for whoever gets elected, is whether success and governing - will be even possible.

Keith Oppenheim, Associate Professor in Broadcast Media Production at Champlain College, has been with the college since 2014. Prior to that, he coordinated the broadcasting program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). Keith was a correspondent for CNN for 11 years and worked as a television news reporter in Providence, Scranton, Sacramento and Detroit. He produces documentaries, and his latest project, Noyana - Singing at the end of life, tells the story of a Vermont choir that sings to hospice patients.
Latest Stories