While the 2014 elections showed Democrats their difficulties in defeating Republicans, the elections also revealed the problem the Democratic Party has in appealing to their white constituents. The Democrats now find themselves in a very precarious position as they find a way to put together a message that resonates with the white as well as the black voter. Let’s consider for a moment the 2014 exit poll, particularly the questions about race relations. For example, 40% said race relations in the country had stayed about the same in the last few years. 38% said they had gotten worse while 20% said they’ve gotten better. Certainly no surprise here but let’s consider remarks made by the Congressional Black Caucus Chairperson, Marcia Fudge (D-OH) when she stated that Democrats lost the white Southerners due in part to racism. “Democrats lost Senate control because we failed to mobilize young voters across racial and regional spectrums. We failed to persuade Southern voters to hold true to core Democratic values. We lost because the Hispanic community was insufficiently motivated. We lost because of ideological differences within the Democratic Party and with our Administration. We lost because our party has, to some extent, lost white Southerners due in part to the race of our President. We lost because the Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon allowed a select few to subvert the political process with secret, unlimited money. We lost because of gerrymandering in our state redistricting processes. We lost because of our continuing problem with a clear and compelling message that would encourage voters to stay with us. Let the talking heads do what they do best: talk. But let’s be very clear in our analyses of the 2014 midterm elections. African Americans showed up. So don’t blame us! A review of the 2014 exit poll data verifies Rep. Fudge’s statement as the data indicates that while voter turnout for Hispanics and Blacks increased, the voter turnout for Whites went down, and overall turnout was quite low.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Charles Brooks
Since Hillary Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State in February 2013, a groundswell of support has emerged encouraging her to run for the presidency in 2016. Although she remains noncommittal to the idea of running for president, nevertheless there’s the foregone conclusion that she will be the Democratic Party nominee. Now, if you recall, there was a similar sentiment when she launched her 2008 campaign – when she was afforded front runner status – until the bubble burst in the Iowa caucuses when then-candidate Barack Obama shocked the world by defeating Hillary Clinton. Obama went on to win several key primaries during a contentious campaign while Hillary played catch up and failed to gain traction. Only time will tell if history will repeat itself, but in the meantime there are two years before the 2016 campaign really starts to heat up.
In recent months, several news articles were written advancing the notion of Ms. Clinton running and even winning the nomination in 2016. Now bear in mind that Ms. Clinton has already garnered a number of early endorsements from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillbrand, and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. In addition, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have voiced their support for Hillary such as James Clyburn (D-SC) John Lewis, (D-GA), and Donna Edwards (D-MD).
But the question here though is - what is the basis of their support for Hillary – aside from her popularity? What is in her body of work that indicates she will be responsive to their interests as president? It is probably better to take a step back and pause for a second or two before we declare Hilary the winner…before the first vote is cast. For an electorate that has demonstrated vulnerability to political symbolism and gestures, there’s the strong potential of getting caught up in all of the hype, pomp and circumstance that already surrounds her much anticipated candidacy. This is significant, particularly before any tough questions are asked - such as what does Hillary stand for and is it relevant or aligned with our interests. Wouldn’t you agree that the tough questions need to be asked because posing the tough questions ignores the popularity and instead, highlights the politics? A curious observer of these events must critically think for themselves and not choose popularity over policy. A critical thinking observer must also be wary of a media that fails to ask the important questions because of their partnership with the idea of a Hillary run for the presidency.
For example, the New York Times recently published an article about Clinton’s attempt to mend fences hwith their most supportive yet maligned constituency – the African American voter. Incredibly though, the article was written without so much of a thread of scrutiny or coherent analysis. Although the article cited several popular political commentators, there were no political analysts or even a professor of political science interviewed for the piece. Hmmm...strike one. The article indicated the wounds opened during the 2008 campaign were healed as a result of the "Clinton personal touch". Additionally, no insight was provided regarding the source of those opened wounds other than the “fairy tale” quote made by former president Bill Clinton. No mention of Hillary’s quote about Dr. Martin Luther King’s role in the passage of key civil rights legislation. Ahem…strike two. And lastly, the article appeared to indicate that African Americans has forgiven the Clintons, especially due to the role the Clinton personal touch played in all of this…whiff – strike three! On the other hand, a Washington Post article argues that there is no need for Hillary to rebuild her relationship with Black America, “...Hillary Clinton’s reputation among black voters is on solid ground.”
The voter must critically think for themselves and disregard Clinton's popularity over policy; become more interested in policy proposals and ideas while ignoring celebrity and elitist endorsements. For example, while we know of Hillary’s advocacy for women issues - what do we know of her positions on the economy, unemployment, education, or affirmative action? What about her views on Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East? Where does she stand on the use of drones – both domestically and internationally, as well as the NSA's surveillance on American citizens? Taking into consideration the fallout between Blacks and Clinton during the 2008 campaign – what will be Black America’s political reaction if Hillary disagrees and then criticizes President Obama policies?
And just one last point…why is there such a bright spotlight cast on the much anticipated candidacy of Hillary Clinton while Joe Biden, the Vice-President for five years, is barely noticeable behind the faint glow of a flickering candle. What about Joe? What about Joe?