“Maybe they can win with nobody else supporting them. Which means we’re about to find out if you can win a presidential election in this country, in this year 2012, by deliberately running against minority voters.” –Rachel Maddow
The African-American electorate doesn’t get much attention from either of the country’s major political parties. Democrats know that African-Americans are going to vote for them overwhelmingly, its’ been that way since the 1960s, and the Republican Party honestly doesn’t care about any of the issues effecting African-Americans. African-Americans like all Americans care about the overall condition of the economy and jobs, but high incarceration rates among black youths, affordable health care, wages, the failing education system, and the growing amount of inequality are all issues hurting African-Americans that hardly anyone is addressing.
Black Entertainment Television (BET) recently conducted a poll surveying African-Americans in the Battleground States (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin). Here is an excerpt from a story by Joyce Jones of BET (http://www.bet.com/news/features/vote-2012/news/politics/2012/08/28/new-bet-poll-surveys-black-voters-in-battleground-states.html) on the new polling numbers:
“…Their [African-Americans] backgrounds are varied. They include “hopeful elites” who are mostly college graduates living in integrated neighborhoods (13 percent); “solid seniors” (27 percent), whose biggest concern is cuts to programs; and “anxious families” (31 percent) that are most concerned about college education cost and value issues.
“Frustrated youth,” who, despite suspicions that the “system is rigged,” still feel optimistic about their personal economic futures, made up 30 percent of the respondents. Only 2 percent of all poll participants say they support Republican Mitt Romney.
The poll, conducted by Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies, not only gauge where people stand on various topics, but also puts to rest the rumors of an enthusiasm gap between 2008 and 2012 that have been used to predict low voter turnout. In fact, 92 percent said they are very likely to vote in November and just 4 percent reported feeling less interested than in 2008. Eighty-five percent also said they’re following the election closely.
African-Americans, who’ve been disproportionately affected by the nation’s economic downturn and subsequently slow recovery, are “surprisingly optimistic,” the poll found. Seventy-seven percent say the economy is stabilizing and getting better; 61 percent said their personal finances have gotten better compared to 7 percent who say theirs have gotten worse.
Interestingly, while lawmakers debate which side is offering the best plan for much-needed job creation, 38 percent of African-Americans are more concerned about whether their salary and wages are keeping up with the cost of living and 24 percent said that affordable health care is their chief concern. Finding work and being laid off was the their third most significant concern.
On social issues, African-Americans are divided. Some do not share the president’s position, but that doesn’t diminish their support for him. Forty percent said they favor marriage equality, while 38 percent oppose it. Among frequent churchgoers, 87 percent give Obama a high job approval, 89 percent high approve of how he’s handling the economy and he gets an 89 percent high favorability rating.”
African-Americans have been hit the hardest during this economic downturn, but instead of appealing to issues and concerns of the African-American community the Republican Party has decided to take part in race-baiting as a means to win the election. The Romney campaign has been running false welfare ads in the Battleground states accusing the President of handing out welfare checks without requiring the recipient to work. Every independent fact-checker has called these ads false, but Romney continues to run them with the goal of raising racial resentment against the President. That is probably why Romney is polling at ZERO percent amongst African-Americans.
Besides Romney’s racially hostile campaign, Republican legislatures has passed new voter suppression laws in states like Ohio and Florida for the sole purpose of making it harder for African-Americans to vote. If the percentage of the African-American electorate falls back to 2004 levels, Barack Obama would have a hard time winning states he won in 2008, like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Here are some of the issues facing African-Americans:
- The unemployment rate amongst African-American is 14.1%; almost double that of the national average.
- One in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime, students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated.
- The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.
- According to Pew Research the median wealth of white households is 20 times ($113,149) that of black households ($5,677).
- In 2010, 28 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 11 percent of non-Hispanic Whites relied on Medicaid, public health insurance.
- 20.8 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 11.7 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured.
- According to the 2010 Census Bureau report, the average African-American family median income was $32,068
- In 2010, the U.S. Census bureau reported that 27.4 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic Whites were living at the poverty level
- In 2010, as compared to Whites 25 years and over, a lower percentage of Blacks had earned at least a high school diploma (82 percent and 90 percent, respectively). More Black women than Black men had earned at least a bachelor’s degree (19.3 percent compared with 15.6 percent)
“Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys (Trip Gabriel).”
The issues that are effecting the African-American community is something both political parties should be able to address, and while Democrats are not perfect when it comes to addressing these issues; they have introduced and passed legislation that aims to uplift downtrodden communities. Republicans have decided that if you are poor, uneducated, or unsuccessful that it is because you have done something wrong. They fail to realize that not everyone was born on third base and into privilege. That some people do need a little more help than others, and that America is a country where the government can and should help people accomplish their dreams.