Being a Black Voter is a thankless burden akin to Atlas carrying the world upon his shoulders.
While white voters are free to run around testing out new candidates like a sugared up pack of fifth graders snagging samples at Costco, Black Voters these days are stuck pragmatically analyzing each candidate to see who can actually win the election. White voters can fall in and out of political love with 3 or 4 candidates in a cycle that has over 20 hopefuls, and whoever they are in love with, for that instant, will be the one the media fawns over. You can bet on it. They’ll choose candidates with no history with the Black Community, candidates too young to be wise, candidates that are perfect on paper, though not in practice, and even candidates with big ideas that are devoid of a plan to pass them or even pay for them.
Black voters are not so privileged. Sure, we fall in love with candidates too; men like Jesse Jackson got our votes twice during the dark years of the ’80s when Dems were out of power. Barack Obama is still well loved by us, and women like Kamala Harris still have a dedicated following, ready to be led by her wherever she goes. Yet, we know our duty. We know when white people lose their ever-loving minds over a sure loser, it’s up to us to save the day, coalesce behind a candidate who can win, and use our collective power to right the ship while white voters get sober from being drunk on their own power.
Kingmaker in chief is House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose emotional, full-throated endorsement last week lifted Biden to a landslide in a state where black voters make up more than half of the Democratic electorate. After Clyburn weighed in, what had been a confusing picture — Would younger African Americans turn out in droves for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)? Was billionaire Tom Steyer’s barrage of television ads across the state winning him votes? — suddenly became crystal clear.
That is what happened this past week on Super Tuesday too. This primary year was just like the rest; heavily White states are front-loaded onto the primary calendar, and the narrative in the media for months is concentrated upon what those few White voters, in a relatively low population state, think about the candidates. Black voters are deliberately ignored or tokenized until the week before the first Southern state votes, this is just facts, yet the polls usually tell the story months before we head out to the Union Halls and Libraries to pull the lever for a candidate. Joe Biden was always going to win the Primary, but like White voters, we sampled various other candidates until it was crunch time.
This reality is what makes Biden’s commanding performance last week even more meaningful. Trump’s disapproval rating among black voters is exceedingly high – just one in 10 has a favorable view of him, and only a dismal 4% support his policies all or some of the time. But dissatisfaction with Trump is not enough to improve the most important metric when it comes to black voters in the general election: turnout. Biden’s Super Tuesday wins suggest he is best-positioned to accomplish it.
Turnout turnout turnout. I cannot stress this enough.
In 2016, the black voter participation rate fell by seven points from 67% in 2012 to 60%, its lowest level in two decades. That reduced the black share of the electorate from nearly 13% in 2012 to less than 12% in 2016. And for an election that was essentially decided by 77,000 votes over three battleground states, higher black turnout might have resulted in a different electoral outcome where Hillary Clinton became the first female president.
One of my main concerns was not to get stuck with a candidate who could not increase Black Voter turnout from the 2016 level of 60% back up to 2008 or 2012 levels of 65% to 67% respectively. Once Kamala was off the board it was my opinion immediately that the only other candidate who connected with Black Voters enough to drive us to the polls was Joe Biden. Some will say that Kamala didn’t have Black Voters on her side, but if you look at the polls taken before the non-stop smear campaign by the Bernie Brothers, Kamala Harris was gaining ground with Black women across the board. Had this been a normal election year without the rehash of 2016 playing out due to Bernie Sanders and his army of smear-mongers deciding to run again, regardless of how divisive 2016 was, I’m confident she would still be in the race. As it stands, she is not. But Joe Biden is, and if they were to team up I believe turnout would surpass what we saw with Barack Obama and Joe Biden; we have already seen record turn out in Virginia.
Biden won 69 percent of the black vote in Virginia, about 60 percent in Texas and North Carolina, and a staggering 72 percent in Alabama. Those margins helped him build a lead in pledged convention delegates that will be hard for Sanders to erase, especially with populous and delegate-rich Southern states such as Florida and Georgia yet to vote.
Why was Biden able to win so decisively in states he spent very little time and very little money in? As Biden said earlier this year of Mayor Bloomberg, when he was asked about Bloomberg’s seeming surge with Black Voters, “I don’t think you can buy an election.” Apparently, Biden was right.
Clyburn’s message last week seemed to clarify things for black South Carolina voters, who were trying to figure out how best to defeat President Trump. The landslide those voters gave to Biden seemed to clarify things for black voters in the Super Tuesday states. If Biden is nominated and wins in November, African Americans will have picked a president.
After being ignored, unless we were needed as props or tokens, Black voters decided we needed to save ourselves from the possibility of running a sure loser against Trump in the general election. And that brings us to the other candidates; Pete was too young and still learning about racial justice, Amy centered her campaign around Midwestern whites, Liz was good at reaching Black Activists, yet not so much the rank and file, Bloomberg was missing the charisma we expected from a Big City Mayor (de Blasio? Also missing it.), Steyer was trying too hard to be the Un-Billionaire and Captain Planet and a number of other things at once, and then we have Bernie. What can we say about Bernie that won’t be used as proof that everything was rigged? Why did Bernie’s message fail to take hold of the collective Black Soul?
In other words, our survey suggests that if Sanders—or whomever Democrats ultimately choose—wants to win over black voters, a message stressing economic justice is not the best option; he needs to appeal explicitly to race.
Oh. Is this exactly what I have been saying for five fucking years just for me to get dismissed as practicing “Identity Politics?”
Why is a message emphasizing racism so effective, relative to the alternatives? Simply put, race is the principal identity that resonates with the black community. History makes clear that racism affects every aspect of African Americans’ lives, so much so that most members of the black community perceive that they share a common fate. This is not to say that class isn’t sometimes important, but when it comes to political engagement, racial identity is a more reliable predictor of black political behavior.
The thing that Bernie spent years railing against Dems for using to reach Black Voters–Identity Politics–appears to be the most effective way of reaching us, regardless of what the Senator may believe about the unifying nature of a “class” based message. He has stubbornly refused to adjust his message and tailor his policies to the voters, he instead attempts to fit the voters he needs into the plans he already has.
To win the nomination, Sanders must cut deeply into Biden’s African American edge.
So, Sanders is pulling a fast one in a last-ditch ploy to woo former President Barack Obama’s fervent and loyal base.
“Feel the Bern,” the 30-second commercial released Wednesday by the Sanders campaign, is peppered with images of Obama and Sanders walking into the White House and sharing camaraderie.
Shit like this is another reason he fails with Black Voters. We’re not stupid. We know Bernie’s history of contention towards Obama, and it rather feels cheap and plastic how he uses Obama in a blatant attempt to pander for votes.
Yeah. I may have added a bit of context to this video, and I don’t feel one bit bad about it.
Black voters won’t fall for the okey-doke.
They know that Sanders’ footprint on issues of concern to African Americans was virtually invisible before he launched his 2016 run.
They know that Sanders has been a frequent Obama critic, and even considered challenging the president in the 2012 presidential primary.
They know where Obama stands. They know that when the time comes, Obama will be standing with Biden.
And crucially, they know, better than any other Democratic constituency, that electability matters most in 2020.
I just have one question.
When Bernie loses, do middle class neck-beards REALLY need to come screeching invectives at Black Women about how oppressed their Teslas are, just because Bernie lost? I’m just wondering, because if the non-stop histrionics in my mentions is predictive of just how poorly The Revolution is going to handle this year’s loss, I’m so moving to Canada and deleting my Twitter until 2022.