The Republican response to the rising "black lives matter" movement was to label it racist and anti-police - and to counter with "all lives matter." Sanctimony aside, all lives do matter, but if the gun-toting, flag-waving, saber-rattling hard right edge of the Republican Party had believed that all along, there would be no need for the current emphasis on black lives mattering. Black lives really haven't mattered to to the basest of the GOP base in over fifty years. They wrote that vote off long ago, and with it any and all responsibility for the safety, health, and welfare of black Americans. The only responsibility that segment of society felt toward black Americans was the responsibility to police them and keep them "in their place." Black lives were not a pressing concern of many in the once proud party of Lincoln.
When the "black lives matter" movement began to take hold, primarily as a response to brutal police assaults on young black people, many of which ended in death for protest behaviors and crimes against property, the Republican response was to obfuscate, to bury the issue in a tsunami of right-wing ravings, to make it an us-against-them thing.
Then this water crisis happened in Flint, Michigan. The city's population, largely black, had it's relatively safe water supply interrupted by a Republican governor and his administration and replaced with one that was dangerously unsafe - a water supply that exposed the population and many children to high levels of lead contamination. It took nearly two years for the state officials of Michigan to even admit that there was a problem, much less one of such critical and deadly proportions.
One of the oversight committees of the current Republican Congress held a meeting to look at the situation in Flint, but that committee failed to either subpoena or invite Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, to testify. When angry Democrats on the committee issued a minority invitation to the governor, he declined due to a prior appointment. The governor obviously had something more pressing that dying Michiganders on his calendar.
Now it falls to Democrats, once again, to point out that black lives also matter. Bernie Sanders called on Governor Snyder to do the right thing and resign. True, that wasn't much of a response to the crisis - and it is a crisis of epic proportions - but it was something - and more than has been voiced by any of the Republican presidential contenders who are, by-and-large, ignoring the issue entirely.
Hillary Clinton moved past the vocal outrage - though she had plenty of that - to actually making a trip to Flint to view the man-made disaster first hand. Her staff has been working with the staff of Flint's mayor for several weeks in a common effort to determine how much harm has been done and to seek solutions. Mrs. Clinton is behaving very presidential - and, of course, her efforts are not going unobserved by the state's Republican politicians, cretins who have risen in righteous anger to declare that Hillary is "politicizing" the situation. Well, yes she is. Politics created this poisonous problem, and it will absolutely take politics to fix it.
(And not to give President Obama a pass - he should be out walking the streets of Flint as well. But as soon as our black President comes to town, out come the pick-up trucks with the Confederate flags, gun-rights morons, Fox News reporters, and every other clown in the circus - all stoking the old us-against-them fears of white America - and strengthening the hand of the politicians who created the problem in the first place. Obama undoubtedly senses that he can get more done by staying away.)
The shouting about "politicizing" and "all" lives mattering is meant to do little more than take the onus off of the bigots. Children are dying at the hands of overzealous policemen, and children are dying as a result of calculated decisions by politicians - and more often than not those children are black. And those lost lives cannot be overlooked or swept aside simply because of the color of the victim's skin. Black lives really do matter.