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Keep a united black voting bloc at the polls

Melvin B. Miller
Keep a united black voting bloc at the polls
“Back in the day we would always think black to vote for the best candidate.”

Americans live in a continually changing society. Today’s comments and attitudes will lose their novelty and become outmoded even before the next generation emerges. That is what caused the misunderstanding on Joe Biden’s remark that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Prior to 1964, the goal was simply to get blacks registered to vote despite the discrimination in some places. There was little belief that the black vote was sufficiently powerful to change the oppressive circumstances that blacks encountered. However, when Sen. Barry Goldwater vigorously opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ran as the Republican candidate for president, blacks became aroused and gave 95% of their votes to the Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, who then won in a landslide.

From that time on, the black vote became overwhelmingly Democratic. It was apparent that with a black population of only 12% of the total, black political solidarity was necessary to gain significant power at the polls. Since 1964, about 90 percent of black voters have cast their vote for the Democratic candidates for president.

Blacks were able to see from the policies of President Johnson that it was important to maintain black political power. In 1965, Johnson approved the Voting Rights Act to force reticent Southern states to place black applicants on the voting rolls. In 1968, the Fair Housing Act made racial discrimination in housing illegal.

Black leaders understood that progress depended upon the maintenance of a solid black vote. Those who deviated from the standard were often openly derided. Some comments were quite harsh and insulting. More diplomatic statements were “All black ain’t coal,” or simply “He looks black, but he don’t think black.”

It should be pointed out that the black political mindset is so humanistic that many whites feel comfortable with it. Since 1964, Barack Obama has been the only black candidate for president to benefit from the black bloc. Nonetheless, blacks turned out in force for a number of white Democratic candidates for Congress and president. In 2016, the Republican Donald Trump won only 8% of the black vote. Republicans realize that they must receive a much higher black vote to win the presidency.

The future of white domination in America looks imperiled. According to the United States Elections Project, the white share in the electorate was 85.9% in 1990, but it has declined to 73% in 2018, and the path continues downward. Projections are that America will no longer be a white majority country by 2050. This specter of the loss of racial dominion motivates much of the nation’s racist conflict.

The Trump campaign and conservative Republicans have enlisted the support of black operatives to breach the solidarity of the black voting bloc. They now try to impress the younger black generation to believe that Biden has disrespected blacks with an expression that was actually approved of and accepted by most of their elders. Those complaining ought to explain why they think it is helpful to blacks for them to be the agents of conservative tactics to diminish the power of the black vote.

According to a recent poll of African American voters by the African American Research Collaborative and the NAACP, 80% give Trump a negative rating in responding to the Covid-19 crisis that has so disproportionately inflicted suffering on blacks. As a consequence, only 11% of registered voters in that poll plan to vote for Trump.

There is much to do to create racial justice and equality in America. Biden is much more likely to contribute to that process than Barry Goldwater would have had he been elected in 1964. Fortunately, blacks had the wisdom to elect Lyndon B. Johnson. Now 56 years later, blacks are at another political crossroad. Surely, blacks are too wise to abandon a tried and true political strategy for the likes of Donald Trump.   

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