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Wed Oct 18, 2017, 08:57 AM

 

"Houston we have a problem!"

Actually, it's "We have a problem IN Houston . . . and Memphis, and Detroit, and Atlanta, and Gary, and . . . "

A couple of days ago, another OP linked to an article from the Kansas City Star about a study from the AFL-CIO group "Working America." The article concluded that economic anxiety is a major factor for black voters and that our failure to speak loud and often about improving conditions for working people had cost us in terms of black voter turnout. As might have been expected, and as was undoubtedly intended, the mere mention of "economic anxiety" brought heated denials from those for whom the term "economic anxiety" is a synonym for "Bernie Sander" and for whom "Bernie Sanders" is a synonym for "Why Clinton lost."

As shocking as it might seem given my continuing support for Senator Sanders, I cannot agree with the premise of the article (and if I believed it to be true I would have joined the view of the article without the slightest hesitation because it is pretty clearly a pro-Sanders article). While I hear about "economic anxiety" from other black people every time we talk about politics/the economy/our daily lives, the anxiety we face is different, although no less or more important on a personal level, than the anxiety faced by white working class voters. I know this comes as no shocker to most of you, but black people and white people have different life experiences and those differences are ultimately founded upon the color of our skin.

Unfortunately, the responses attacking the OP and the article were even more incorrect. Denying that our party has a major problem with black voters, insulting black voters by suggesting that they fell for the ham-handed "Russian interference" we have seen so far, insulting them again by suggesting that they came out to vote for President Obama only because he was black, and minimizing the importance of low black voter turnout in 2016 by placing it behind manifestly less-significant (statistically) factors like "Jill Stein/disloyal leftists/Susan Sarandon" and/or as-yet un-quantified factors like Comey, increases in voter suppression between 2012 and 2016, and what I call the "Russian version of 'Candy Crush' Syndrome (i.e., the incredible power of social media to get folks to engage in mindless self-destructive behavior)" when it comes to figuring out why we lost to a f-ing buffoon is a recipe for disaster later this year in Alabama and elsewhere and across the country in 2018 and beyond.

While I will focus on a particular FACTS, Pew Research has published the FACTS about black voter participation in 2016. As much as some folks want to (no adverb needed here, I hope) claim that Secretary Clinton performed as well as other recent non-black candidates, the fact is that 2016 marked the first decline in black voter participation in two decades. Given that many (white and black) Democrats saw us as not only championing the interests of Black Americans in the last election, but also being punished by white voters (and attacked by economic justice Democrats) for doing so, it should be of concern for ALL Democrats that black voters didn't, shall we say, "feel the[our] love."

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/12/black-voter-turnout-fell-in-2016-even-as-a-record-number-of-americans-cast-ballots/

Here is a simple mathematical fact, the primary reason we lost in those states we absolutely needed, Michigan, for example, was not because Jill Stein took away vote Secretary Clinton should have had, but because black voters were so unenthused by what we as a party offered that they didn’t turn out and vote.

In Michigan, Jill Stein received 30K more votes total in 2016 than she did in 2012 AND that was taking her votes from across the entire state. In just one Michigan county alone, Wayne County, with a population that is 40% black, Secretary Clinton received over 70K less votes than President Obama and 2012 was Obama’s close election. (Secretary Clinton received 130K less votes in Wayne County in 2016 than President Obama did in 2008). To place the blame on Stein-ists in face of those numbers is simple denial. (Btw, if you are thinking about blaming black voters for not turning out with the same level of and anger that we see leveled here on an almost daily basis against "leftists" who didn't vote, be prepared for a little pushback.)

Far too many people try to paper this over by saying, “We got 90%+ of the black vote in Michigan. We’ve got the message black voters want to hear.” Sorry, that’s just wrong. ANY Democrat is going to garner 90%+ of the black vote because we f’n suffer in a way non-black voters do not when Republicans win. (As I have mentioned in other posts, I am as extreme left as is humanly possible and I have voted for the Democrat in every single election beginning in 1972 for simply that reason, not because any candidate other than Obama in 2008 has spoken to my interests.) If you want to see whether we buy what is being sold, look at turnout. Turnout in 2016 tells you that all of the “experts” who are talking about how moderation and incremental-ism sells with black voters are wrong. They may sell at DU, and even with a vast majority of black DU members, but they doesn’t sell in Memphis where I live, or Houston, or, as we see from the stats, Detroit.

I have zero doubt that given the closeness of the 2016 presidential election in 3-4 key states, that without Russian/Cambridge Analytical social media disinformation, suppression of Democratic voters in the form of voter ID and voter registration laws – particularly combined with racially and/or ethnically targeted voter purges; and the suppression of Democratic voters in the form of racially and/or ethnically targeted decreases in polling locations and voting hours could have independently caused the 2016 disaster. Even the defectors to Stein could have changed the outcome. BUT if we are looking at the MAJOR cause of our defeat, it wasn’t any of those, it was our decision to ignore the dissatisfaction of black voters and to simultaneously tell working class voters to jump in a lake (when both of those groups have consistently voted in favor of the Democratic candidate and did again in 2016) AND then to continue the morally indefensible and failed strategy of playing to educated suburban whites which have never voted in our favor.

That has to change and it has to change now.

If we are to win in 2017, 2018, and beyond, it will take more than just claiming that we stand for people of color, or for that matter, working people. It sure as hell will take more than pitting them against each other. We are the party of the oppressed. We have to act on it, even if it means forcing "the middle" who doesn't vote for us anyway to deal with some ugly truths. We don't have the media. We don't have the money. We sure as hell don't have the Russians. All we have are each other.

Here at DU it is fine to vent. It's fine to let emotion overrun fact. It's fine to speculate what might have been if only . . . (insert your favorite Bernie hate and/or Bernie love meme OR Clinton hate and/or Clinton love meme here). 2016 f'ing hurt and that hurt isn't going away in 6 months, none months, or even a year, or quite frankly, forever. What's more, it will hurt our country for decades (as anyone who understands how easy it is to get rid of regulations - as we are seeing that POTrump do every single day - but how long it takes to put them in place knows) Let it out while you're here.

BUT

When we get out from in front of our computers or off our cell phones, when we walk out that door, when we walk out the door and look our oppressed Democratic constituencies in the eye, we need to do more than just be "better than the Republican," we need stand up and fight for everyone from Michael Brown, to the prisoners victimized by a racist criminal justice system, to the women who are still voting Democratic, to the workers who have watched their real incomes plummet.

We need to unite.

Thanks. I know it's long.

4 replies, 2337 views

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Reply "Houston we have a problem!" (Original post)
GaryCnf Oct 2017 OP
George II Oct 2017 #1
GaryCnf Oct 2017 #2
George II Oct 2017 #4
PatSeg Oct 2017 #3

Response to GaryCnf (Original post)

Wed Oct 18, 2017, 09:19 AM

1. For reference, where is the OP you refer to in your third paragraph? Thanks.

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Response to George II (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 18, 2017, 11:08 AM

2. It was the one about

 

our "working class problem" not being limited to WWC. I didn't link it because I disagreed with the premise (which I explained) and I thought it was too obviously just another pro-Bernie post and this issue is too important to get lost in that battle.

It had a bunch of replies even when i looked at it so it might be on the first page of Latest Posts if you are on a computer instead of a phone. I looked on my phone and my post is barely on the first page.

Sorry I am not of more help.

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Response to GaryCnf (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 18, 2017, 12:29 PM

4. Thanks. Doesn't ring a bell for me, either.

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Response to GaryCnf (Original post)

Wed Oct 18, 2017, 12:29 PM

3. Excellent essay

Well thought out and well presented.

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