Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has snagged key endorsements, including that of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
It’s been an incredible three months for the Bernie Sanders campaign. What was once perceived as a fringe candidacy has quickly transformed into a legitimate threat to Hillary Clinton. But it’s not Sanders’ climb in the polls that should be making the Clinton campaign sweat the most; it’s the caliber of early endorsements her contender continues to reel in.
Just this past weekend, both singer-songwriter David Crosby and Belinda Carlisle, former lead singer of The Go-Go’s, declared their support. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently jumped on the Bernie train calling upon his 450k Twitter followers to “feel the Bern.”
There has also been a significant amount of media coverage devoted to who Sanders isn’t attracting. He is currently polling well behind Clinton with non-white voters. But out of his many early supporters, three key public figures indicate Sanders’ message is in fact resonating with African-Americans.
When Sanders called for restoring the Voting Rights Act in June, rapper and activist Killer Mike took to Twitter announcing his support. Killer Mike (Michael Render) is half of the hip-hop duo called Run The Jewels who released the critically acclaimed Run The Jewels 2 last fall.
Killer Mike is also an outspoken social activist. He has had frequent appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News offering a voice of reason in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown and the unrest that followed. He is a talented public speaker, a monumental figure in music, and his endorsement’s value to the Sanders campaign cannot be overstated.
Kendrick Lamar, one hip-hop’s most lauded emcees, even called out Killer Mike on this year’s To Pimp A Butterfly. In its first 24 hours, this record set a Spotify record with 9.6 million streams with the song “Hood Politics” mentioning Killer Mike as an important figure in rap music.
Another adamant supporter is Dr. Cornel West. An activist who has been arrested more than once protesting police violence. In his statement explaining why he endorses Sanders, he wrote: “ Now is the time for his prophetic voice to be heard across our crisis-ridden country.”
Dr. West’s endorsement proves Sanders’ message shares essential sentiments with the Black Lives Matter movement. In Seattle and Phoenix, Sanders saw firsthand the outrage within this community, and his response was swift and detailed with a new section on his website laying out numerous ways to reform police practices.
On a national scale, Dr. West and Killer Mike’s endorsements carry momentous weight, whereas, Dr. Frantz Whitfield’s endorsement is huge on the local side.
Whitfield is the pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Waterloo, Iowa. He is an admired local activist, a powerhouse behind the pulpit, and has been a Hillary Clinton supporter since 2008. He recently ditched Clinton in support of Sanders after Black Lives Matter shut down his speech in Seattle, spurring the release of Sanders’ racial justice plan.
Clinton’s endorsements project a much different reality. Dozens and dozens of current and former senators, representatives, governors, and celebrities have declared they’re ready for Hillary. But there is virtually no public support for her campaign from any prominent social activist.
After the Democratic Party publically endorsed Black Lives Matter, a statement was issued in response on the movement’s behalf stating, “We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party.”
After Clinton’s tense face-to-face meeting with chapter members in New Hampshire, this statement alone could be damning for her campaign in the long run.
It’s important to note the Sanders campaign has a long road ahead. National polls still show Clinton with a substantial lead, but thee same polls also reveal many voters are still unsure or don’t know enough about what Sanders represents.
As long as the media storm keeps feeding off this email scandal, more endorsements will continue to trickle in for Sanders. As we all saw in 2008, enthusiasm amongst young people while appealing to African-American voters is the perfect recipe for an underdog victory.