Project 21 New Visions

 

The Perceived Stupidity of the Black Voter


by Kevin Martin

When I changed my political affiliation ten years ago, I thought I broke the chains of the liberal plantation.  But I am resentful of the crass racial politics still aimed at me and the rest of the black community.

I am angered by liberals taking black voters for granted.  I am outraged when we are used as a shield to deflect criticism for electoral failures.  Candidates, party leaders, supporters and black operatives seem all too willing to blame their shortcomings on black voters allegedly being disfranchised, suppressed or intimidated into not voting.

In 1998, the Missouri Democratic Party ran pre-election ads on black radio stations warning, "When you don't vote, you let another church explode... another cross to burn... [and] you let Republicans continue to cut school lunches and Head Start."

Putting aside the lack of facts to back up such fearmongering, do liberal policies really keep these things from happening?  Missouri is a red state, yet it still feeds needy children and funds Head Start.  It is not a KKK stronghold.

In 2000, liberals upped the ante.  It was no longer good enough to claim that a vote for conservatives would return us to the days of mass shootings, lynching and church burnings.  In the new millennium, voting conservative would return slavery and destroy civil rights.

When these scare tactics failed, liberals began a campaign of disinformation and excuses.  One of recurring myths of the 2000 Florida presidential recount says not all black votes were not counted on purpose, despite the fact that intense scrutiny failed to prove such allegations.

It's strange that real voting irregularities in places such as Maryland - a very blue state where motor voter problems disfranchised me in 2000 - went overlooked while tall tales told in states with close results sprouted like weeds and garnered high-profile media coverage.

In 2002, liberals seemed willing to blame black voters outright for the failure of their party to capture the House and retain their one-vote majority in the Senate.  Despite perpetuating the myths of 2000, their campaign fell flat.  Blacks were blamed for not showing up.

But did they take blacks for granted?  It seemed so in Maryland.  Liberals there overlooked senior black officeholders for a Republican convert as their candidate for lieutenant governor.  To many, this slight to blacks is the reason the Republicans retook the Maryland governorship for the first time in decades.

By 2004, liberals refined their message, seeming to realize the black community was sick and tired of being taken for granted and maybe even perceived as stupid.  They front-loaded excuses such as claims that electronic voting machines could not be trusted and that conservatives would employ dirty tricks.  They demanded foreign election observers to ensure fairness.

When it was clear President Bush won a second term, liberals made unsupported claims that black voters in Ohio were disfranchised because of the bad weather and long lines.  Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) held hearings to lend credence to these conspiracy theories.  Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) shed tears as Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) rattled off a list of far-fetched theories on why Senator Kerry lost.

Are Americans that weak?  People waited outside for months to be the first in line to see the recent Star Wars movie.  If 50 Cent were passing out free copies of his new album in a snowstorm, people would eagerly wait in line.  P. Diddy, Whoopi Goldberg and a host of celebrities begged people to vote against the President.  They just didn't.

Was there a conspiracy?  In Prince George's County in Maryland, one of the largest black counties in America, voter turnout was down in 2004.  The weather was mild, and there is no formidable Republican presence there to suppress and intimidate voters.

Could the liberals be the cause?  Could it be that black voters saw nothing to motivate them to go to the polls?  Could it be that the downright hostile treatment by liberals toward black conservatives such as Condoleezza Rice and Janice Rogers Brown became too much to stomach?

I can shed tears about the election just like Senator Boxer, but for a different reason.  If there are people in my community who still believe the election was stolen, I weep for them.  To me, their chains are tight.  And their insistence in believing in conspiracy theories will continue to lead liberals to perceive our community as being stuck on stupid.

###

Kevin Martin, a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21, is an environmental contractor in Maryland.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.


 Center for Environmental Justice
Donate | Subscribe | Search | About Project 21 | What's New | Blog | Project 21 | NCPPR