Democrats Takes Black Voters For Granted. What If We Abandoned Them?


By Steven W. Thrasher
The Guardian (5/31/17)

n a widely circulated article at FiveThirtyEight, Patrick Ruffini – a digital strategist for George W Bush’s highly divisive 2004 campaign – wrote on Tuesday that while African Americans continue to vote heavily for Democrats, they are not showing up for the Democratic party in the numbers they once did.

This certainly makes sense to me. Other than not being as crudely racist, xenophobic and misogynist as the Republican party, the contemporary Democratic party offers little to African Americans.

Looking toward the upcoming special election in Georgia, Ruffini wrote: “Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean after that group’s historic turnout for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012,” adding: “If there was one area where Democratic turnout was undeniably weaker in 2016 than 2012, it was among African Americans.”

I have come to think of voting as a form of harm reduction. Voting Democrat is the equivalent of using a clean needle to shoot up, so that trying to get that American high is less likely to screw me up as badly as it could.

This isn’t to say African Americans don’t do a huge amount of heavy lifting for the Democrats. Hillary Clinton won 89% of black American votes overall, and a whopping 94% of black women’s support.

But after electing the first black president failed to ameliorate the plight of black America in any meaningful structural way, I suspect the jig is up that the Democrat party (as presently constituted) is going to help black Americans.

When the persistence of racial gaps in wealth, education, incarceration and employment remain unchanged by the Democrats – not to mention the way the Democrats facilitate the outright theft of black wealth by Wall Street – it’s not hard to see why fewer voters are turning up.

Obviously there are ways that the Republicans are more crudely violent, misogynist, racist, xenophobic and warmongering. Yet wrestling with how voting for either party often yields similar results for people living in black or brown skin (or, for that matter, for poor and working class people of all races) is not a matter of creating false equivalency.

For instance, the Democrats may whisper about war while the Republicans trumpet about it – yet the bombs falling from drones kill brown people regardless. On these shores, it matters little to black people killed by police whether they’re shot with someone named Clinton, Bush, Obama or Trump in the White House. …

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