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It’s time for black voters to be strategic

Melvin B. Miller
It’s time for black voters to be strategic
“We’ll probably know who the Democratic candidate is next week.”

Every four years, the most talented political consultants vie to be recruited by candidates for president and other high elective office. It is the time for political operatives to earn substantial fees and burnish their reputations. The political campaigns are usually between reputable members of the various wings of the Republican and Democratic Parties, but this year the primary theme of the Democratic Party is to run a campaign to remove Donald Trump from office.

That objective is so compelling that it is unsettling to see black political consultants sign on for any candidate with little chance to attract the black vote. The expectation is that black votes will account for as much as 25% of the Democratic Party electorate in this primary. The ideal candidate is one who blacks will vote for and white voters will also support.

For many months, Joe Biden had the commitment of a substantial percentage of black voters and he led the race for Democrats, but losses in Iowa and New Hampshire have raised questions about whether he could beat Trump. Consequently, black support for Biden has gone soft.

The Nevada caucus of Saturday, Feb. 22 and now the South Carolina primary coming up on Saturday, Feb. 29 will determine whether there is substantial life left in the Biden campaign. Blacks should already be planning whom to support if Biden fizzles out, as some predict he might.

Black History Month is a good time to consider political issues in light of the travails of blacks in America. To avoid the persistent abuses in the states of the old Confederacy, millions of blacks packed up and moved to the industrial Midwest and Northeast in search of employment. They were motivated by the promise of an America for freedom, justice and equality. From 1916 to 1970, six million blacks moved north and west, away from bigotry and in search of the American Dream.

A dramatic moment occurred in this trek when black voters went to the polls in 1964 and walked away from their support of the Republican Party. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate, and several other Republican senators, had voted against the Civil Rights Act. Consequently, the black vote for Republicans, which was usually about one-third of the total black vote, collapsed to only 4%. Lyndon Johnson won by a landslide and the black vote for Republicans has never recovered.

Republicans will do whatever is necessary to deflate this powerful black voting bloc. According to reports, in 2016 Trump supporters used internet messages to discourage black voters from showing up on Election Day. In the 2020 campaign, some of the criticism of Mike Bloomberg is designed to damage the support he might reasonably have from black citizens. Blacks will likely support the candidate of the Democratic Party, but unenthusiastic black voters might stay home on Election Day, just as they did in 2016.

The ultimate objective for Democrats is to replace Trump with a qualified occupant of the White House. That is the goal. Democratic candidates for president must earn the support of voters by the quality of their proposals, rather than by relying on hostile criticism of their Democratic opponents. The emergence in the campaign of Mike Bloomberg, a candidate with such extensive financial resources, benefits the cause of the Democrats, especially since he shall financially support the election of whichever Democratic candidate is nominated.

A Republican strategy undoubtedly is to diminish the black vote, just as they did in 2016. Excessive criticisms of Bloomberg are an attempt to dull the luster of his candidacy in the primary. Trump would rather have a candidate that he and his minions believe they can defeat, but some analysts say Bloomberg would well win the battle with support of the black vote. Some Democratic Party critics of Bloomberg seem to be acting inadvertently from the Trump political handbook.

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