PHILADELPHIA, July 28, 2016 — For many decades, African-Americans have routinely voted Democrat, making them the most reliably solid voting block favoring that party. But should this outcome always be assumed and taken for granted? For all those decades of rock solid Democrat support, what improvements do African-American voters, particularly those in America’s inner cities, have to show for it?
One of the biggest legitimate arguments that African-Americans have with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the party’s apparent inability to spend substantial amounts of money in urban communities after they’ve turned out the black vote and won the election.
Traditionally, Democrats have obtained black votes by spending money on voter registration drives and salaries for election day workers to turn out the vote in predominantly black precincts. But after they predictibly win the election, the victorious Democrat politicians vanish, not to re-appear for another four years. Promises remain unfulfilled and the precincts continue to decline as if there had been no vote at all. It is almost as if a cash-for-votes policy or political quid pro quo were permanently in place, except that after the quid, there is no pro quo.
In other words, African-American votes are obtained by virtue of the election-year get-out-the-vote expenditures, not by virtue of policies that have been implemented to improve employment and quality of life in majority black precincts. Promises are made during the election, but those helpful new policies never materialize. Nothing changes.
This is a dangerous strategy. Individuals learn to treat their vote as a commodity. Unfortunately, as the supply of a commodity increases, the price of that commodity—in this case each individual vote—declines, and so does its worth.
Tens of millions are spent each election cycle to purchase urban votes. One Democratic political activist on the radio recently claimed he was eager to fulfill his duty to the party—if the price was right—by acting as a “vote-getter.” He reminded his fellow American listeners that their most cherished right is worth a nominal fee.
If what he said were true, it would seem that we African-Americans only vote when money is directly involved as an inducement without paying attention in the intervening years as to whether policy decisions of tremendous concern to us are actually enacted–or ignored, as is so often the case once elections are won. While not completely illegal—some states like New Jersey prohibit pay to play—this pattern is worrisome to those entrusted with maintaining election and franchise integrity.
Should the individual vote be regarded as an important, valuable asset instead of a commodity would, from an accounting perspective—I use that term considering the large sums of money involved in election campaigns—lead to each individual vote being linked to a future obligation or promise by the winner, analagous to obtaining equity in the enterprise. The next election year, the individual voter could then link his vote (asset) to the representative’s or party’s success in delivering on previously incurred obligations.
The notion that your vote is yours alone to control is one of the bedrock principles upon which this nation’s government was built. Capturing it by means of coercive tactics that devalue that vote erodes this principle and could cause the collapse of democracy as we know it.
In this election year as in the past, the African-American community may again be selling itself short if the DNC is signaling that it must win at any cost, regardless of the consequences to the African-American community. Based on the latest email scandal, however, that is the signal that is being sent.
Keeping costs down is an objective of any enterprise including politics. In potentially tough electoral situations like the current one, budget concerns require the Democrats to discount commodity cost drivers like the African American vote, which they have come to take for granted. If the DNC can politically discredit even the thought that urban African-American voters might support GOP candidates—some of whom are African American—regardless of policy, it could limit its spending in those areas.
In other words, if there is little or no cost to gain the votes of a given voting block like urban African-Americans, then there is little need to expend money in such communities either for turning out the vote or delivering on promises once the election is over.
Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., is proof that approach is not always successful, however. He is both black and Republican, challenging the notion that you can fix policy from only one side of the aisle. But how many urban voters are actually aware of this?
Perhaps at least some reflexively Democrat voters are beginning to notice there’s something seriously wrong with their party. Notably, Bernie Sanders fell victim to the win-at-any-cost mentality of the DNC’s ruling elites, who, as those recently released DNC emails would seem to prove, likely rigged the 2016 primary process to skew the outcome in a decidedly undemocratic way. The fury of Sanders’ supporters at their apparent betrayal by the party has helped put the Democrats in some disarray.
But if African Americans took the same approach as those who’ve been “feeling the Bern,” clamoring for better public policy for their support and not simply settling for miniscule election day cash rewards, would the DNC even listen, given its lengthy history of taking African-American voters for granted?
Why, for example, have Democrats persistently opposed proven, helpful and greatly desired policies like offering school vouchers and freedom of educational choice to help offset the effects of failing public schools; lower urban zone tax rates to spur economic growth and increase disposable income; and better and more effective drug treatment programs to lower incarceration and recidivism rates in urban communities?
None of these topics were discussed by that political activist Democrat on the radio broadcast, even though they should have been addressed. Interestingly, all these policies are endorsed and/or have already been implemented by one-time presidential hopeful, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R).
This fact alone shows that the right stuff can come from any candidate with a will to endure politically correct media bias and take charge of the agenda he or she truly believes in.
It was quite a public fiasco when the voting public learned that Bernie Sanders had been barred from access to Democrat voter lists until the outcry became large enough to force the hand of the DNC to correct their actions. Perhaps African-American voters should take note of this
True, those rebellious Sanders voters did fail to alter the pro-Hillary DNC’s intent to manipulate the outcome of the primaries instead of letting it be controlled by the will of the voters. But continuing rebellion by Sanders’ supporters forced changes in the Democrats’ national platform, proving that ignoring them and their candidate did have a price. There is a lesson in this for all voters.
Yes, perhaps the DNC already has complete control of the African-American vote in 2016. If so, the policy behind making better urban communities has gone out the window once again. But if, as Sanders supporters have clearly demonstrated, there is a path toward holding the Democrats and the DNC responsible for ignoring the will of their constituents, things can and will begin to change for the better.