FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Republican Party Abandons Black Voters

Are black voters so loyal to Democrats that their issues are ignored? Donald Trump suggests as much, arguing that blacks had “nothing to lose” by voting for him. Now a column by Farai Chideya at FiveThirtyEight cites academics who make a similar argument.

In recent elections, about 90 percent of the black vote has gone to Democrats. Chideya cites Professor Paul Frymer of Princeton, who argues that politicians focus their appeals on swing voters, particularly “moderate, disaffected whites in the middle — whether you call them soccer moms or NASCAR dads.”

Chideya also cites two recent studies on how well black interests are represented in government. A 2015 report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies concluded that “black voices are less equal than others when it comes to policy.” And a 2015 law review article by Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos of the University of Chicago Law School “found that black support for Congressional legislation actually decreased its chances of passage.”

Are blacks voting against their own interests? Are they a “captured group” who would be better off if they weren’t so pro-Democrat?

African-American voters are neither fools nor inherently Democratic partisans. When Lincoln Republicans were leading the fight for the freedom amendments after the Civil War — the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — African-Americans voted overwhelmingly with Republicans. Blacks began voting Democratic when FDR launched the New Deal and stood with poor and working people in the Great Depression. When Democratic Dixiecrats fought to sustain legal segregation, many African-Americans in the South voted Republican. Dr. Martin Luther King’s father was a Republican.

But then, after Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Voting Rights Act and the Great Society, Republicans — beginning with Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy and continuing with Ronald Reagan and beyond — used racial dog-whistle politics to consolidate their party in the white South. The party of Lincoln became the party of Jefferson Davis.

Now African-Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democrats not because we reject the Republican Party but because the Republican Party rejects us. If we vote our interests, we have little choice but to vote against a party that has systematically tried to undermine and constrict the right to vote, that votes against affordable housing, against expanding Social Security and against poverty programs.

Republicans have led the fight against a living wage. They oppose efforts to curb gun violence in our cities by blocking background checks and repealing the ban on assault weapons. They vocally undermine enforcement of equal employment laws and anti-discrimination measures. Their Supreme Court nominees gutted the Voting Rights Act, and their legislators have blocked efforts to restore it. They have consistently voted against any plan to rebuild our cities, reinvest in infrastructure and put people to work. They oppose efforts to ease the student loan debt that burdens too many African-Americans.

Blacks vote against Republicans in overwhelming numbers because Republicans are overwhelmingly campaigning against our core interests. Republicans can appeal to black voters but only if they reach out and change their policy positions. As former New Orleans Mayor Mark Morial told Chideya, “A chicken can’t root for Colonel Sanders.”

Arguably, the real “captured group” of voters are the poor and working-class white voters who vote Republican. That vote is surely against their economic interests. Republicans have won their votes by appeals to race, to religion and to conservative social issues, but they never deliver. Liberal social movements for equality — the civil rights movement, the women’s movement and the gay rights movement — continue to make progress. And working and poor white people continue to lose ground economically.

Now polls suggest that they favor Donald Trump for president, someone who opposes lifting the minimum wage, opposes empowering workers to organize, opposes expanding Social Security, wants to repeal health care reform and vows to cut taxes on the rich and corporations.

African-Americans aren’t a captured bloc of voters. We are people who are voting our interests — and looking for allies. Republicans have to decide if they want to continue to push off against us or begin to reach out to us.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail