Make no mistake, it will not be easy to beat Trump. That's why Democrats can ill afford unforced errors like advocating reparations. I get that in the current climate, this is a lot about competing for black Democratic primary voters and that whatever Democratic candidates say now may well be moderated if one of the pro-reparations candidates actually gets the nomination.
But damage is already being done, as Paul Starr argues in the American Prospect. I find little to disagree with in Starr's take, the essence of which is this:
"Donald Trump and Steve Bannon must be smiling from ear to ear and celebrating their good fortune whenever they hear one of the Democratic presidential candidates endorsing a bill to establish a commission to study reparations for descendants of slaves—a proposal that everyone will take as preliminary to support for financial reparations. It's the sort of idea Trump and Bannon can work with, to expand and lock down Republican support among white voters next year....
[E]ven considered just from the standpoint of racial justice, the Democrats’ top priority ought to be winning the election, not running a campaign of moral gestures toward ideas that are overwhelmingly unpopular and might well cost them the White House....
[T]he priority for Democrats has to be ideas that will help them win a majority in 2020, and reparations in any form will not get them there. Endorsing a commission to study reparations is no solution; it will only invite more questions to the candidates about what they support and what taxes they propose to raise to pay for reparations. Leaving those questions open will only seem evasive, and in the general election, leaving them open will allow the Republicans to define the issue.
African Americans may or may not ever receive reparations, but the 2020 Democratic candidates who are moving in that direction have already given Trump and Bannon a priceless gift."
Stern words. But Starr is right. No unforced errors. Please.