FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The South Can Lead the Nation to a New Politics

Liberating the South is the key to liberating the nation. The key to liberating the South is the black vote. Recent black turnout in elections in Virginia and Alabama demonstrate this point.

There are 4 million unregistered black voters in the 11 former Confederate states. Florida has more than 555,000 unregistered blacks (and some 200,000 Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland around Orlando after the recent devastating hurricane). Georgia has 618,000 unregistered blacks and North Carolina 463,000. Massive voter registration efforts must be the priority in those three states, with other Southern states to follow. If African-Americans and Latinos register and vote in large numbers in the South, there will be a new politics in America.

In the most recent Alabama Senate race, voters were offered a stark choice: The Republican nominee, Roy Moore, had praised slavery and vilified immigrants, and had been twice removed from judicial posts for elevating his religious beliefs over the laws and the Constitution. His opponent was Democrat Doug Jones, a lawyer famed for prosecuting the Klansmen who murdered the four little girls in the infamous 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Jones prevailed, but Moore might well have won if he were not been credibly charged with preying on teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

Although it was close, the race represents a turning point. African-Americans — particularly women — turned out in record large numbers. Jones won the Iron Bowl vote, winning in the hometowns of Auburn and the University of Alabama. He fared best among the young. That vote represents the potential future of politics in Alabama, in the South and in the country.

The race-bait politics that have defined the Republican Party since Nixon’s “Southern strategy” in 1968 may well be reaching its end date. Trump renewed the strategy with his posturing on immigrants, his blustery nativism against Muslims and his divisive stance on the haters in Charlottesville, Va. But in the governor’s race in Virginia and the Senate race in Alabama, Republicans trying to recycle Trumpism were defeated — in large part because African-Americans turned out in record numbers.

Trump’s vilifications clearly mobilize the vote of people of color, of the young and increasingly of women. Their vote cannot be inherited; it must be earned. If Democrats want to succeed, they have to put political energy and resources into opening up our elections, making it easier for working people to register and vote, and putting new energy on the ground to persuade and organize people of color to vote.

They will also have to stand up for an agenda that will speak to the pressing needs of the African-American community. At the core of that agenda are policies needed by working and poor people of every race — affordable health care, decent paying jobs, quality schools, affordable college or technical training, clean water and air, retirement security and more. Equal opportunity and equal justice — particularly an end to mass incarceration for nonviolent crimes — are claims not for special treatment but for basic citizenship.

Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez says that African-American women are the “base of the Democratic Party.” Yet neither African-American women nor men have been the center of the party’s efforts or the focus of its resources. What Alabama showed is that there is a new energy outside of the party structures — in organizations such as Black Votes Matter, Woke Vote and more — that can make a difference. Democrats need to walk the talk, to wake up and catch up.

African-Americans are clear about who their foe is; what is yet to be proven is who is for them, who stands on their side. What Alabama and Virginia suggest is that candidates who make that clear may well be able to transform the South — and in doing so, transform the country.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail