Black Voters Won’t Save the Democrats: Black Agenda Report

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Written by Ann Brown
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The Black vote. Politicians are always trying to nab the Black vote. And Democrats have come to always count on it — but should they? RICHMOND, KENTUCKY, USA – NOVEMBER 6, 2018: Election Judge Hunter Winkler hands out Kentucky themed “I Voted” stickers to voters at the Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for the Arts in Richmond, Ky. on November 6, 2018. (Photo by Philip Scott Andrews for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Black vote. Politicians are always trying to nab the Black vote. And Democrats have come to always count on it. But not so fast, says activist and public interest attorney Malaika Jabali. The Democrats, she says, shouldn’t automatically rely on it. 

The Democrats’ reliance on the Black vote goes way back. “The importance of Black voters to Democratic primary candidates has been clear for decades, particularly in areas where Black residents form a majority. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination (and ultimately the presidency) due in part to strong support from Black voters, particularly in the South. In 1980, Carter faced a strong primary challenge from Ted Kennedy, who decided to forego a pursuit of the Southern states to focus on the industrial Midwest and Northeast. And while Kennedy was ultimately the preferred choice of Black voters by a slim margin nationwide, Carter’s winning coalition included the overwhelming majority of Black voters throughout the South, where most Black-majority cities are located,” Brookings reported.

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Then there was the huge voter turnout by Blacks for Barack Obama’s first run for president. Obama lured in 93 percent of Blacks at the time. 

But as of late, Democrats have been failing in attracting and energizing Blacks. 

And Jabali knows why. She says that if the Democrats continue to ignore the Black working class why it is trying to woo the white working class, they won’t have the benefit of large turnouts at the polls by Blacks. This is why many Blacks in the economically depressed Midwest didn’t vote in the last presidential election — they felt the Democrats “don’t care about me, so why should I care about them,” said Jabali.

In an interview with the Black Agenda Report, Brooklyn, NY-based Jabali noted, “The Black voter turnout has only reacted its apex in 1964 and 2012.”

Since then the Democrats, she said have been having trouble getting Blacks to the polls to vote.

“When folks see their conditions have not changed and in fact, they have declined since the 1960s, what motivation do they have to vote…this is not me saying this…this is what people are telling me…and someone has to listen to them and make some changes,” she said.

She added, “I think we have to access what we mean by a candidate is electable. If a candidate [Biden] has been triangulating with racists all their congressional career, that is going to be vetted …then there should not be an assumption that Biden will win over Black voters.”