The 2020 elections are still over a year away, but the growing field of Democratic contenders is already working hard to differentiate themselves and to appeal to voters in a variety of ways. Some focus on increasing the size of government, others on hating and replacing President Donald Trump — but one wants to make generations of Americans pay for acts committed well before they were born.
New Jersey Senator and Democratic hopeful Cory Booker introduced a bill to a committee to explore the possibility of providing reparations to black Americans in the coming years, based on slavery, an institution that ended over a century ago.
“This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country,” Booker said. “It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed.”
Booker’s bill would allow for the creation of a task force and commission that would study the impact of slavery and the 150+ years since the practice was defeated by Union forces during the Civil War. According to Booker, the commission would determine ways to identify the descendants of slaves and offer them financial or social rewards and compensation, though the actual process and incentives were not revealed.
Booker’s stance appeals to the many in the Democratic base, and anyone arguing against it is perceived as taking the side of slavery and minimizing its impact. The nation fought a war to prevent this barbaric practice from continuing, and many lives of all races were lost to correct this historic and momentous wrong. No one alive today was held as a slave, and no one alive today held slaves. But for Booker, reparations still make sense.
Fellow Democrat and activist Al Sharpton has also supported the idea of tying some form of reparations. Other potential and announced presidential hopefuls have done so as well. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke were all swift to announce that they, too, would support this idea if elected president.
While many in the Democratic field of primary candidates have embraced the idea of exploring reparations, no one has described what that process would look like or how it would be determined.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans oppose the idea, stating that reparations would be impossible to determine and that the process would be simply overwhelming and potentially unfair to some descendants. James Clyburn, R, SC, told the Post and Courier of Charleston that pure reparations would be “impossible to implement.”
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter