Do #BlackVotesMatter?


While it’s utterly disappointing to see another innocent Black teen being arrested, it spurred an important political discussion about why Republicans can’t get Blacks to vote for them. As Roland Martin points out, Republicans don’t address issues that matter to Blacks, such as the issue of police brutality. This is mostly true. However, rather than assume that they don’t cater to Black issues because of bigotry, I tend to think it is a practical decision.

Republicans don’t want to risk alienating their base trying to attract the Black vote. The GOP base is more concerned about threats to their 2nd Amendment liberties than they are about overly aggressive policing in Black communities.  To see an example of the risk Republicans face, just take a look at how poorly presidential candidate Rand Paul is doing in the polls. To my knowledge, he’s the most outspoken Republican presidential candidate when it comes to issues that concern Blacks, such as mass incarceration. Have Blacks responded by donating to his campaign or publicly endorsing him in big numbers? No. Rand Paul went against conventional political wisdom, went out on a limb and got nothing in return. Therefore, I don’t believe Republicans will make Black issues central to their platform any time soon.

On the Democratic side, candidates always address Blacks issues. In Wednesday night’s presidential debate, CNN made it a point to ask whether Black lives matter and candidates each took a turn trying to reassure Blacks that they do. The question they should have asked is whether the party that supposedly champions Black issues actually gets anything done? All the recent national stories concerning instances of police brutality seem to occur in democratically controlled cities, such as Baltimore, MD or, as in this latest example, Washington, DC. During Bill Clinton’s administration, he was screaming just as loudly as Republicans were about getting tough on crime. Bi-partisan support for mandatory jail sentences contributed to the current state of the US prison population.

The truth is that when it comes to crime, Democrats deal with it the same way Republicans do. Allow me to illustrate why that is with an analogy. It is well known that those who are abused as children end up becoming abusers themselves. No matter how sympathetic you are to this fact, you still have to take a strong stance on child abuse to keep children safe. Likewise, even if you are sympathetic to the fact that young Blacks that commit crimes often come from fatherless homes, you still have to take a strong stance against crime to keep streets safe. Since young Blacks account disproportionately for violent crime, Black communities will be more heavily policed, which leads to more opportunities to catch them committing the same low-level drug crimes that are committed in equal numbers by Whites.

In the end, Republicans don’t care to reach out for Black votes and  even though Democrats have Black votes, they really can’t risk being soft on crime, lest US cities return to the high murder rates of the 1980’s and 90’s. As it relates to criminal justice reform, Black votes have not mattered.

The bottom line is that regardless of the party in control and the lip-service they pay, government is impotent to deal with the broken homes that are all too prevalent in Black communities. The only way to improve broken homes is for Blacks to deal with the issue on a social level. The negative aspects of Black culture must be addressed by Blacks first and foremost. It is therefore ironic to me that Blacks vote for the party that believes more government is the answer for most problems, even though it has failed them for so long, rather than the party that thinks empowering people to help themselves is the key.

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