Politics,  Race

Black Democratic Voters Unchained, Republicans Unchanged: Politics as Usual

In the wake of a paradigm shifting election where evangelical Christians voted overwhelmingly for a devout Mormon, a black man was reelected as president in spite of a stalling economy and the long discussed demographic clout of the growing Hispanic population was finally felt, one voting bloc remained unchanged; black people still continued to vote overwhelmingly democratic.

With Charles Krauthammer leading the charge, bringing the Hispanic vote into the republican fold has been agreed upon prescription for future Republican success (and understandably so), but with margins so thin in swing states, why no push to bring the naturally conservative black voter back into the party of Lincoln?

Understanding why black people are so dedicated to the Democrats is the first piece to this puzzle.  Republicans have their own theories.  Mitt Romney implied on multiple occasions, mostly when he thought no on was listing, that the answer lies in the “extraordinary gifts” from the Democratic Party and republicans largely agree, attributing the cause to blacks being government dependents that want something for nothing.  Nothing new here.  Typical view that all minorities are monolithic, single-issue self-serving voters.

black-republican-good-luck-charm_rectangle_ - Opinionated Male
“Legend has it, if I rub three times I’ll get the Black vote”

Strangely (or appropriately) enough, the conservative I found best insight on this topic was Karl Rove.  My personal feelings about the man aside, you don’t become the architect of the one of the most breathtaking pieces of demagoguery in a generation without some insight into the ethos of your constituency.

Like most other Republicans, Rove addresses the importance of capturing the Hispanic vote. Rove says “If we do with Latinos what we did with African-Americans, Republicans and conservatives will be doomed,”.   When asked about the difference in Hispanic turnout for Romney and George W. Bush, Rove attributed it to how  “unwelcome” the campaign’s message made even “Latinos who are passionate about border security” feel and its general lack of respect for the Hispanic community.

The subtle genius of Rove’s insight is that it simply acknowledges a link between the Republican party’s actions and the likelihood of minorities voting for it and addresses the all-important interpersonal aspect of politics.  And if anyone understands that identity politics is a larger motivation for the average voter than policy proposals (and that most voters care more about what they believe to be the motive behind the policy than the policy itself), it’s Karl Rove.

When Rove speaks of Republicans not doing to Latinos what they did to African Americans, he means alienating them through them racially tinged rhetoric both direct and indirect.  He understands that there are electoral consequences for being the face behind Arizona’s jingoistic immigration laws and nominating a presidential candidate who recommended self-deportation as an effective from of immigration reform and suggested his presidential prospects would be brighter if he were Hispanic.

Rove also understands that the actions of the Republican Party are what yoked blacks to the Democrats.  His account doesn’t require a unique lack of independent thought or diversity of opinion in the black community to make sense.  Only a convincing external force can motivate such a varied group to effectively vote as a herd (upwards of 90 %!), and from Nixon’s southern strategy to Reagan’s depiction of welfare queens, Bush’s Willie Horton ads, to the racial language and the thinly veiled attempts at voter suppression in the form of voter ID laws used in the most recent election, the republicans have provided that force.

If the black allegiance to the Democrats is simply a matter of messaging then it would logically follow that a change of message could break the monopoly.  But the Republican Party’s approach to black people doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Another political savant with keen insight into the psyche of the American voter went eyes wide open into a political realignment of his own making.  Soon after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson predicted “we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come”.  That year marked the beginning of the realignment of the once solidly Democrat southern states to the Republican Party and was the last time a Democrat won a majority of the white vote.  In the following presidential election Nixon harnessed the racial animosity triggered by the civil rights act, implemented his Southern Strategy and the rest is history.

From a political perspective, the larger impact of the Republican’s racially charged message is motivating what now consists of the base of the party and framing its platform, not alienating the comparatively small black vote. The Willie Horton ad, which would double nicely as the trailer for a remake of The Birth of a Nation, ties directly into the Republican position on gun control and crime  (i.e. stand your ground laws) by casting a visceral image of a foreign other as a threatening foil to a “civil” society.   Reagan’s depiction of welfare queens does the same thing for entitlement reform.  The southern strategy saw the reemergence of the pre-civil war concept of “state’s rights” and “limited government” as they pertained to the right of the states’ independence superseding the rights of the individual when it comes to the civil liberties of African-Americans.

Simply put, a platform that actively appeals to African-Americans and the Republican Party as we know it cannot co-exist.  The tension that holds the Republican Party together is essentially the same tension that holds blacks at bay.  Remove that tension to be more inclusive of blacks and what helps hold together the central tenants of the party’s ideology ceases to exist.  The math is simple, and whether they are actively aware or subliminally cognizant of this reality, Republicans are in no rush to commit what amounts to political suicide.  But the smarter ones among them understand that satiating the same xenophobia that devoured the black vote with the Hispanic vote will lead to the same end.   And that‘s the real reason why we wont see any meaningful number of black republicans


  • bernasvibe

    **Outstanding commentary! I’ll be back when time permits to comment further(and I’ve linked up as a follower to make sure I do) 2 thumbs UP on your blog site also..Love it

  • bernasvibe

    Great. I hope I can deliver something you’ll find interesting..Politics is one of many things I’m passionate about..Getting settled in for the evening but I’ll definitely be back in a short bit. Ya’ll going to take it easy on me since its going to be my first response here?

  • bernasvibe

    **@”And that‘s the real reason why we wont see any meaningful number of black republicans..”
    >Isn’t Black Republican an oxyMORON? Hope I can be frank here..for its the only way I know how to be when rapping about politics..I once had a strong desire to join the ranks of being/becoming a politician..But? I just didn’t have the heart for it and have far too much heart to be a good politician. And I try hard not to “do” anything that I feel I won’t be good at. 100% or nothing at all..so I stopped my quest to become a politician with a stint as a school board member & a run at city council against a life long native..and it was an awesome experience. But I digress..
    Personally? I don’t feel Republi’cant’s’ give a good dang about what Blacks or Hispanics feel or think about their “platform” . It IS a racist tinted platform from the word GO..and what the world was fortunate(loved when that happened!) to hear a snippet of Romney behind closed doors speaking about the infamous “they”(he was talking about US) ..I think ALOT of Republicans feeeeel that way…they’ve just not yet gotten busted saying it.
    I can’t for the life of me wrap my brain around why ANY Black person, a sane one, would vote or become Republican. How can one so blatantly join a group that is so against their on common good? I don’t get it. I refuse to get it. It makes absolutely NO sense to me. Anyone pulling in less than $250,000 a year is worse than a misguided fool to vote Republican. The list is so long of what President Obama has achieved in only 4 brief years that I fear most folks don’t truly know all that he accomplished..for them!
    The tension you commented about within the Republican party? I foresee it will get alot more obvious this next 4 years…Things are “a changing”…its going to be a GREAT 4 years . President Obama can now do the things he’d like to do ; with no holds barred. Which is why Republicans gave it all they could to actually win this one..Its been so badly “tainted” and the racist sentiment so permeates the Republican party; I think they’d have to scrap the majority of what they stand for to welcome people of color. I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon…What folks I know , including myself, are doing on this end in the interim..Encouraging folks to stay plugged in. Read, read, read…and pay attention. Alot of what is said is spoken/written in words other than blatant racism. And for heavens sake every , single time you get the chance VOTE

    • mediummeech

      Good comment. I have my theories about why some black people can stand to vote republican, but that’s for another day. What really bothers me is when they a find a black person to espouse their views (there seems to only be one at a time) and embrace that person and hold them up as proof that there is no racial component to their ideology because Token is on team R.

      • bernasvibe

        *Well, when the “another day” comes and you’re ready; I’m ready to join that conversation@Why some Black folks can stand to vote republican’t…As for using “tokens” to fake people out; I’m not mad at them for trying that tactic. The infamous “they” has used it forever. What bothers me more is that fools, I mean some folks, fall for it..In my opinion as important an issue as voting is for Blacks; we’ve all got to do our due diligence. Which , btw, I did even with Barack Obama. He didn’t get a “pass” in my book just because he was/is a brother..However, it has felt dang! good, fabulous actually to vote for him twice. And yep, because I knew/felt I was voting not only for the BEST candidate..but also because that candidate just happened to be BLACK also. For me it doesn’t get too much better than that

  • root

    You can lie to yourself and say that you voted for him because of his beliefs but in reality you saw that he was black and that sealed the deal for you instantly. Black people didn’t vote Democrat in 2008 or in 2012. They voted black.
    And please don’t tell me that anyone making under $250k should vote Democrat. I don’t think you understand how money is generated. The middle/low class workers do a great service to the country but they don’t generate money. It’s the 1% that do. If we alienate the 1% then the jobs will go away and there will be jobs to be had. Obama has done no good in his 4 years and now he will do even less in the next 4.

    • mediummeech

      Hi Root, thanks for commenting. Although I’m a little confused about what post you are replying to. This post was about why blacks vote democrat, not for Obama. You should check the numbers for how blacks vote for white deomocrat presidential candidates to have a point of comparison.
      I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention supply side economics or Obama’s job performance either, but both are interesting topics.

    • bernasvibe

      **@You can lie to yourself and say that you voted for him because of his beliefs but in reality you saw that he was black and that sealed the deal for you instantly. Black people didn’t vote Democrat in 2008 or in 2012. They voted black…
      >>I don’t lie to myself; nor do I waste time spinning lies while blogging or anything I write or say. Nor do I waste brain cells, finger strokes, or precious time responding to folks offline or online..who generalize people(as in your reference above to how “all” Black people voted…) or an entire groups’ actions. But, if I were in the mood to waste finger strokes responding to you..I’d remind you President Obama was voted in, twice!, by far more than just Black voters. So I guess, if you must and if you like, you might want to add them to the heap of folks you’re saying lied to themselves..

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