Cornel West Nailed the Problem With Hillary Clinton in One Perfect Comparison

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Princeton University professor emeritus and noted academic Cornel West served up perhaps the soundbite of the week on Monday, during an appearance on CNN's New Day.

"Sister Hillary Clinton is the Milli Vanilli of American politics," West quipped, in a reference to the late 80s R&B duo's disastrous lip-syncing scandal.

"She lip-syncs, she gives lip service," West said. "But when it comes to policy, who supported crime bill? Who supported not just the deregulating of banks, but also pulled the rug from under welfare?"

Read more: Young Voters Are the Most Important Part of Bernie Sanders' Coalition

West launched into a litany of criticisms of the former secretary of state, taking particular focus on her early '60s conservative activism for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, as well as her racially tinged use of the term "super-predator" to push her husband President Bill Clinton's tough-on-crime legislation in the 1990s.

Source: YouTube

"She talks about her work with the Children's Defense Fund way back in the '70s, doesn't say a word about being a Goldwater girl," West said. "She's vigorously campaigning; she shows up and gives these wonderful speeches sounding like Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders [was] on the ground getting arrested marching with Martin [Luther King Jr.]."

"The problem is black voters don't know his history in the way in which they know the symbolic language of Hillary Clinton," he continued. "But on the ground, she's calling black youths super-predators in the 1990s. That is the most demeaning, degrading language to our precious young folk — [who] sometimes do the wrong thing, yes, acting gangsters, yes — we know they got gangsters on Wall Street. ... She's too tied to Wall Street with all that big Wall Street money flowing her way, my brother."

Whatever positions Clinton advocates now, young voters have indicated they don't trust her — and she's paid a heavy price in the polls for it. In New Hampshire, CNN reported Sanders won over 83% of voters aged 18 to 29, according to exit polls.

For many young voters, West has hit the nail on the head.

Describing the "visceral dislike" many younger Democrats seem to have for Clinton, Slate's Jamelle Bouie argued her failure to capture their passion is due to a perception that "she comes out of a governing class that played a large and important part in letting [corporate-friendly policies] happen. ... What matters is that to these young voters Hillary Clinton was on the wrong side when it mattered. And that Bernie Sanders, as flawed as he might be, wasn't."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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