Why do blacks block vote? Let’s count reasons
Bill Webster wants to know why black voters align with the Democratic Party and why “such a high percentage” voted for President Obama. Oh, where to begin?
I do not speak for all black voters, as we are not monolithic, rather, pragmatic in the voting booth. Given the current political and social environment, the answers are not elusive, and we can thank Republicans for their clarity.
Look at the election cycles since 2008. The essence of the Republican Party has been quite unambiguous, thanks to ambassadors of intolerance, dishonesty, incompetence, negativity, bigotry, chicanery, and the asinine. The cast of characters who crystallize the party is endless, and each has made this impression for many voters — stay away from the Republican Party.
• We’re disgusted by the legislative shenanigans of congressional leaders (Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, etc.). Very little gets done by their design, while the country suffers.
• The party embraces and defends the most extreme, idiotic and vile people: Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Joe Walsh, Allen West, Steve King, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, etc. Their utterances are a national disgrace.
• Compromise is a dirty word to most Republicans. Somehow, their “Conservative Principles” trump all others.
• Lies, distortions, and dishonesty are the norm. The Republican narrative on most issues is often inaccurate, and always repetitive.
• Demonization of the president, the Democrats and anyone who isn’t in lockstep with them.
• Achieving power is the ultimate goal (bought and paid for by billionaire bankrollers).
• Allegiance to the almighty dollar (corporations over people, and they are not the same).
There’s no denying most African-Americans were enormously proud when then-Senator Obama, a highly educated and intelligent, qualified, civic-minded candidate, emerged to run for president. His presence on the national stage exemplified the American dream — where hard work and education were the well-spring to success. America was finally closer to becoming “that more perfect union.”
However, that perfection has been stymied by the vestiges of our nation’s ugly history. When Obama announced his candidacy for president, the racially charged rhetoric directed at him required Secret Service protection earlier than any other candidate. It’s been a toxic atmosphere ever since.
Obama’s election revealed a part of America that many hoped was well behind us. Instead, an unhinged, irrational vilification of the president has surfaced with an unprecedented level of disrespect.
Starting with the 2008 campaign, McCain/Palin and many Republicans chose to exploit racial divisions, sometimes subtly and often blatantly. The documentary “Right America; Feeling Wronged” captured what most black voters are keenly aware of — a palpable hatred and disrespect for President Obama by a segment of the population; largely Republican. That reality is a vicarious insult for the rest of us, and a sobering reason to be leery of a disingenuous Republican Party.
The litany of Republican intransigence, insanity, intolerance, bigotry, hypocrisy, ignorance, policies, and manipulations is well-documented and way too long for this space. Mr. Webster asked for specifics on the cons of the Republican Party relative to black voters. There are plenty. Here are a few starters:
• Republican leaders in Washington met on inauguration night 2009 to plot against President Obama. (As well documented in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”) Where was their allegiance to an ailing country?
• Mitch McConnell has orchestrated legislative obstruction and made clear his primary goal — to “make President Obama a one-term president.”
Republicans have been in lockstep with McConnell to obstruct everything. They’ve blocked more than 350 bills that could have made a significant impact on the economy and in the lives of many Americans. They own an unprecedented number of filibuster abuses and have mastered legislative shenanigans that grind the people’s business to a near halt.
• Senator Jim DeMint (referring to President Obama) made it clear that Republicans wanted “to break him.” The very essence of that statement conjures up the brutality (physical and otherwise) towards blacks throughout our history.
• Why are Republicans obsessed with vaginas instead of jobs? They’ve wasted more time on legislation to impose controls on women’s health issues than on making real efforts to confront our economic challenges. People want jobs and leaders willing to work on the economy.
• Republicans blasted President Obama with faux outrage over his first speech to encourage students to work hard. (September 2009). Really? Isn’t excellence what we want from our students?
• Outright lies and ignorance: “the president is a Muslim.” Republicans choose to demonize a religion (Islam) and him by inference. “He’s a socialist. “ “He’s a Communist”
• His spending is out of control. NOT (http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-05-22/commentary/31802270_1_spendin...).
• Intolerance for others as demonstrated by the shameful witch hunt (Huma Abedin) from congressional Republicans Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, and our very own, Lynn Westmoreland, among others. Who will they target and smear next?
• Are there no Republican voices of reason? The silence is deafening.
• “The president was not born in the U.S”. How can so many Republicans (64 percent by the most recent poll) be so ignorant and persistent in this absurdity? From the halls of Congress to the backwoods (where you might expect it.) No other president has had to deal with this relentless nonsense. Why?
• Republicans, by virtue of their legislative maneuvers, have shown their true colors towards people of color by passing voter ID laws for a problem that never existed.
Some Florida Republicans spilled the beans on this sham and Pennsylvania’s GOP official was famously caught on tape saying the purpose of the voter ID laws would “get Romney elected.” Most egregious is the lame reasoning for their actions. It’s the ultimate insult to voters who know better.
• Always scheming — Now Republicans want to change the rules to elect a president. If they can’t win on merit, then they propose shameless “cheat-to-beat” strategies.
The non-stop drumbeat of bigotry and vitriol (courtesy of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, Alex Jones, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Ted Nugent, etc., etc., etc.) and the actions of Republican leaders is a constant reminder that humanity’s cancer still afflicts far too many Americans. Dare I say it: the “R” word.
Racism. There’s a defensive bridled response to stating what really ails America, and as long as it’s allowed to fester, we’ll never reach our full potential as a nation. Time and again, voters have seen the scab picked by Republicans who chose to appeal to the worst rather than take on substantive issues that need solutions. We watch incredulously as “R” bubbles up from pulpits, the business community, legislators and others in “leadership” positions; all directed towards the president.
It’s “R” that’s being used to fan irrational fears based on nothing more than that: “Obama will take your guns away,” “Obama’s healthcare law will have death panels,” “Obama has a hatred of white people,” etc.
The “R” problem is not unlike an addict in denial — don’t own up to it; don’t work at it, and it won’t go away.
No racism, you say? Then, what we’ve seen and heard from Republicans must be a stunning level of stupidity and another reason for black voters to shun the Republican Party.
Besides avoidance of the aforementioned lunacy, black voters tend to choose the Democratic Party, because it best addresses the interests of all people, does a better job of respecting all people, and includes the least of these in its policies.
Most black voters would rather be aligned with the party that championed the right to vote for women and African-Americans; the party that passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and created Social Security and Medicare.
Most of those achievements are now targeted by Republicans on the state and national level, purely for political advantage. Yet, they now claim to want to reach out to minority voters. Another insult!
The Democratic Party, contrary to the misdirected Republican narrative, is not the party of big spenders or big government, as Republicans like to tout. Research will establish the reality. Republican presidents increased the debt far greater than their Democratic counterpart.
A U.S. Treasury Department report breaks down the debt increase this way: Reagan 189 percent, George H.W. Bush 55 percent, Clinton 37 percent, George W. Bush 115 percent, Obama 16 percent. Recall any Republican/Tea Party outrage over those high debt increases?
As for spending, reports from the OMB and CBO show President Obama has the lowest spending of any recent president. Republicans tell another story and belie the facts. The Republican spending spree of the Bush years brought us to the brink we’re dealing with today.
The bottom line for Mr. Webster is this: The Republican Party has not demonstrated a commitment to inclusion of all Americans, not by their policies, rhetoric or actions. There was a time when the party was on the right side of history for African Americans (Lincoln), then came the slide into the muck of divisiveness that followed the Voting Rights Act. The legacies of Lee Atwater, Barry Goldwater, Jesse Helms, et al, and the Republican “Southern Strategy” are still with us today and, undoubtedly, unappealing to most black voters.
Who can respect a political party willing to ignore the real needs of the country; willing to take down the country at any cost?
We watch as Republicans “govern” from vehemence — writing exclusionary laws; make obstruction a political tactic; act stupid, as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal correctly noted (so many instances); dismiss segments of the population while embracing the inflammatory and disrespectful dialog from their own with no retribution. This deep-seated political dysfunction is a turn-off for most voters, and is not likely to change any time soon.
Perhaps Mr. Webster, in his words, “will enlighten me on why such a high percentage of white voters vote for Republicans” and “why are they virtually monolithic at the voting booth?”
When history is written on the age of Obama, notably, there will be chapters on the baggage of bigotry that tarnished the country’s pivotal moment. However, we still have the capacity to write a better historical outcome. It will require respect, inclusion, compromise, intelligence, and a commitment to the process called democracy.