Ta-Nehisi Coates, discouraged by the Sanders campaign’s response to his reparations campaign:
Liberals have dared to believe in the seemingly impossible—a socialist presiding over the most capitalist nation to ever exist. If the liberal imagination is so grand as to assert this new American reality, why when confronting racism, presumably a mere adjunct of class, should it suddenly come up shaky? Is shy incrementalism really the lesson of this fortuitous outburst of Vermont radicalism? Or is it that constraining the political imagination, too, constrains the possible? If we can be inspired to directly address class in such radical ways, why should we allow our imaginative powers end there?
These and other questions were recently put to Sanders. His answer was underwhelming. It does not have to be this way. One could imagine a candidate asserting the worth of reparations, the worth of John Conyers H.R. 40, while also correctly noting the present lack of working coalition. What should be unimaginable is defaulting to the standard of Clintonism, of “Yes, but she’s against it, too.” A left radicalism that fails to debate its own standards, that counsels misdirection, that preaches avoidance, is really just a radicalism of convenience.
In the early 2000s well-intentioned straight political hands advised gay men and women to lay off pushing for marriage. Gay marriage polled better than reparations did but not by much. But when I remember that we do better congratulating our good intentions and living up to what we imagine is most noble in us than considering the intellectual and moral rigor of redress, I understand Coates’ resignation