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A challenge to black voting power

Melvin B. Miller
A challenge to black voting power
“Well, I guess if you want to get into politics now you have to learn to speak Russian.”

Many American citizens were disturbed to learn that the Russians had infiltrated the last presidential election, and plans are underway to continue to disrupt the nation’s democratic process. The indictment of 13 Russians and three companies settled the assertion that stories over Russian meddling were “fake news.” The issue for African Americans is whether the vitiation of the black vote was also part of the plan.

The evidence is clear that the objective was to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. The black turnout has been strongest in presidential elections and the vote has been consistently at about 95 percent in favor of the Democratic candidate. Support for Republicans by blacks dissipated in the 1964 election when Barry Goldwater refused to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The only effective strategy for the Russians was to induce blacks to stay home on Election Day. According to a Charles Blow New York Times report, the black voter turnout rate in 2016 was only 59.6 percent, seven points less than in 2012. The Russian campaign to limit the black vote asserted that false charges were levelled against Trump to increase the vote for Hillary. It is better to stay home, the Russians claimed, than vote for the lesser of two evils. The Russians conducted their campaign on Instagram and other social media platforms.

A major focus of black empowerment has been the development of the black vote in support of generally agreed upon issues. Communication was established by the black press and radio. With black newspapers in financial difficulty, public opinion can be inordinately influenced through social media platforms that are controlled by others.

Prominent blacks should be aware that the means for maintaining a strong and unified black vote has been greatly diminished.