How Blacks can stop Democrats from taking them for granted… : ThyBlackMan.com

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How Blacks can stop Democrats from taking them for granted…

October 18, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

(ThyBlackMan.com) Black voters shouldn’t hand over their votes to the Democrats just because they want Obama to triumph…

The Democratic Party is counting on African Americans to show up at the polls for the midterm elections. So far, the party has funneled $2 million to reach out to black voters. That’s eight times more than the Democrats spent on African American outreach in 2006. But it’s a crafty move, considering that a new study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Study found that the black electorate may influence the outcomes of 20 House races in more than a dozen states.

As David Bositis, the center’s senior political analyst, explained:

The extent of the Democrats’ losses will depend on their ability to turn out their most loyal voters, and no voting bloc will be more important to them than African Americans.”

Black voters in Southern and Eastern states such as Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia are large enough in number to tip the political scales in the Democrats’ favor. But the question is, why should African Americans guarantee their votes to the Democrats? Does the Democratic platform benefit blacks in any way?

Year after year, Republicans clinch the evangelical vote by endorsing abstinence education in schools, anti-abortion legislation and heterosexual marriage only. Moreover, Democrats seeking the Latino vote court that  demographic by advocating immigration reform that’s more charitable to our nation’s newcomers—documented or otherwise.

When it comes to African Americans, however, Democrats typically visit black churches, make an impassioned speech about education or the civil rights leaders of yesteryear and move on. In some ways, this trend is as much the black community’s fault as it is the Democratic Party’s. Why would Democrats go out of their way to adopt a platform that would specifically benefit blacks when they know that African Americans devotedly cast votes for them each election cycle?

Two years after the first black president was elected, it seems that black voters are being taken for granted once more. The Democratic Party may be spending millions to reach African Americans through radio and newspaper ads, but in these advertisements they’re not making any real promises to the black community. Instead, they’re urging blacks to turn out at the polls and vote Democrat so as not to embarrass the Obama administration. The Washington Post described the message of the party’s ad campaign as simple. It states: “Stand With President Obama. Vote November 2.”

The President’s approval rating among African Americans is sky high at 91 percent, so it makes sense for the Democrats to suggest that the midterms have more to do with Obama’s legacy than about the Democratic candidates themselves. Even Obama has taken part in this strategy. At a Philadelphia rally on Oct. 10, the President implied that the Republicans are counting out the black vote because his name’s not on the ballot.

They think… ‘maybe they’re not going to turn out,’” he said. “You’ve got to prove them wrong.

“Make no mistake. I understand that if the Democrats do poorly in the midterm elections, the media, the GOP and maybe even voters themselves will view it an indictment of Obama as president. That being said, asking black voters to support Democrats across the board isn’t the solution. After all, Democrats such as Sen. Russ Feingold and gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink are reportedly distancing themselves from the President, so why should black supporters of Obama vote for them? They should only do so if they know where these candidates stand on issues of importance to the black electorate.

African Americans, for example, have the highest unemployment rate of any major racial group in the nation.  Which Democratic candidates know this, and what do they plan to do about it? In addition, how will these candidates address the fact that racial discrimination in employment remains pervasive, or that many African Americans are ruled out for jobs because they’ve been convicted of felonies?

Responsible voters cast ballots based on a candidate’s record and position on the issues, not because the candidate happens to be a Democrat. In the same vein, black voters shouldn’t hand over their votes to the Democrats just because they want Obama to triumph. They should do so because Democratic candidates have worked hard to earn their vote. Casting a ballot for any other reason will only lead to African Americans being taken for granted. What this means over time is that the political power blacks currently exercise will be eroded.

Written By Nadra Kareem


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