LOS ANGELES, November 7, 2014 — Dani McClain of The Nation rejects claims that the total rout suffered by the Democrats on November 4 had anything to do with a lack of Black voter turnout.
“One place you can’t lay blame for the Democrats’ trouncing last night: at the feet of black voters. That demographic made up 12 percent of the vote last night, up 1 percent point from the 2010 midterms and on par with turnout in the 2008 presidential election.”
She is right. NBC News points out that in North Carolina, a closely-watched race between Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis, black voters made up 21 percent of the electorate, just 2 percentage points less than in 2012. Yet, Hagen still lost.
What is automatically assumed is that the Blacks who did show up and voted were robbed of a desired outcome, and from my Facebook feeds, some of that is probably true. Here is an angle that no one is investigating: What if one-fourth, or dare I say, one-half of that 12 percent voted for the Republicans, assisting in shifting the balance of power in not only the houses of Congress, but in the state houses too?
We know of one 82-year old Black woman who confessed on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Live that she voted straight Republican for the first time in her life.
This grandmother lays out sensible reasons why voting Democrat was no longer an option for her; for many Blacks (and other Americans), President Obama continues to loom large — but not in a good way. The President and his policies have done little for the Black community, and many Black activists, including Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have expressed their strong disappointment in the President’s lack of action on economic concerns that affect all communities, but have particularly devastated the Black community.
In both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Obama was strong on theater, making grand speeches and sweeping declarations that had Blacks excited and motivated to ensure he was elected and re-elected. But when the campaigns were over, and it got down to actual governance, he was found wanting.
Giving a sound bite about the murder of a Black youth is good theater. Spotlighting solutions to the poverty and participation in street life that contributes to this, and seeing whether your policies are also at play and working to change them, this requires an ability to govern. With the President, it has been much of the former and little of the latter. So who is to say that some of the Black community did not choose to express their strong disappointment by changing their vote?
There are indications that some did just that, because the deep blue states of Illinois and Maryland were painted red with the gubernatorial elections of Republican Bruce Rauer in Illinois, and Republican Larry Hogan in Maryland.
Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (who is Black) was soundly defeated, despite strong campaigns to get out the “African-American vote.” One campaign involved a mailer issued days before the November 4 election, with the authority line “Paid for by the Maryland Democratic Party”. The mailer targeted Black voters and made attempts to tie Republicans to the Democratic Party’s racist past.
Like the Georgia mailers mentioned in my article, Ferguson, fear and loathing: how Blacks are being motivated to vote in the mid-terms, the campaign clearly states its purpose: Vote for the Democrat or you’ll regret it. The Maryland mailers ended with, “Vote for Anthony Brown as Maryland’s first African-American Governor. History is watching to see if we vote.”
So we can surmise one of two things: 1) either Blacks voted for Anthony Brown but this was not sufficient to get him over the top, or 2) some Blacks rejected Anthony Brown and voted for Larry Hogan.
We know of at least one woman who went on the record that she voted for Hogan. Run by Hogan’s team, “Kandie” is a tasteful campaign ad in a sea of tasteless ones. Aside from the subject being a Black American, the focus of the ad is not race, but economics. Kandie points out that high taxation and unemployment were the breaking points for her and her family in changing their vote.
Kandie said, “I have never voted for anyone in the Republican party in the past; I am voting for Larry Hogan.” How many other thinking people of color also made that choice this election cycle?
In Illinois, Rev. Corey Brooks expressed similar sentiments for candidate (now Governor-elect) Bruce Rauner. Rev. Brooks is a Black pastor from the South Side of Chicago, who openly endorsed Rauner’s candidacy over incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. Soon after this endorsement, the pastor’s church was vandalized, and Rev. Brooks received death threats. To his credit, Rauner held a press conference with Rev. Brooks, and during Q&A, Rev. Brooks deepened the reasons behind his endorsement, stating what many Black conservatives have been articulating for a long time:
“We are the only race of people that I know who are beholden to one party,” Rev. Brooks responded. “We claim that party but they don’t claim us as you can see from our neighborhoods, our education, our school systems are failing, our unemployment is high, violence is everywhere, it’s rampant. … And for so long we’ve been loyal to a party, but that party has not reciprocated what we have done for them. So in doing this, I’m hoping and praying we will change the tide of Illinois and change the tide of America and let people know that we’re no longer going to be a people that submit and surrender to one party.”
Are any of the reporters and analyst even curious about how many 82-year old grandmothers, Kandies, and Rev. Brookses were replicated across America? That would be the breakout story on the 2014 midterms.