Election '92

Election '92 (1992)
Duration: 00:27:46

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Themes: Leadership |

Guests: George H.W. Bush, Bishop Alfred Kelly, Larry Bivens, Michael Wimberley, Bill Clinton, H. Ross Perot
Host : Cliff Russell
Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: Host Cliff Russell begins by introducing short video clips from Detroit appearances by the three major presidential candidates - Republican George H.W. Bush, Democrat Bill Clinton, and Independent H. Ross Perot - and a series of man-on-the-street interviews with voters. Russell then turns to a discussion of the election with two studio guests, Michael Wimberley, a reporter for the Michigan Chronicle, and Larry Bivens, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Wimberley and Bivens generally agree that Clinton is likely to win the election, but they differ on the attitude of black voters during the campaign. Wimberley interprets some of the disaffection expressed by black voters as a desire to be "spoon-fed" by the candidates on issues directly aimed at black interests. He says black voters should recognize that issues like the economy are vital to them, even though such issues are not black-only issues.

Bivens says he does not think black voters desire to be "spoon-fed" as much as they want to feel that they are being spoken to directly by the candidates.

Russell asks about Clinton's efforts to distance himself in the campaign from Jesse Jackson - who had been a Democratic presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988. Wimberley points out that some African American leaders have also kept Jackson at a distance, and Bivens says Clinton's attitude is understandable, given the fact that Jackson has also expressed an interest in the job Clinton is after.

But Bivens also notes that Jackson raises an important issue for black voters - the politics of empowerment versus the politics of accommodation. "Blacks have always, in the final hour, gone with the candidate who they felt have benefited them the most," Bivens says.

Wimberley and Bivens debate the possibility of blacks developing a common agenda across the conventional political spectrum that could be used by black Republicans and black Democrats alike to influence their respective parties. Wimberley thinks that might be possible on issues, such as welfare, where everyone agrees that change is needed and the issue is simply what kind of change. Bivens is less optimistic about bipartisanship, but argues that blacks need to engage with the existing political parties.

"I don't think that blacks alone can accomplish much in terms of the overall picture, but in forming coalitions with Hispanics, with other minorities, with other voters who feel disenfranchised or disaffected," Bivens says.

Russell concludes the show by interviewing Bishop Alfred Kelly, a leader of the Black Slate, a community group connected with the Shrine of the Black Madonna which seeks to educate African American voters about election issues and promotes candidates who support the interests of the African American community.

The program is valuable for its glimpse of the 1992 presidential campaign and the insight it offers into African American interpretations of the political system.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 5, File 16, Election ’92: What’s In It for US – November 2, 1992 – Show # 2402
Box 8, File 13, Detroit After the Election – November 3, 1993 – Show # 2507