Danny Cardwell's picture

    Voting While Black: Georgia Edition

    FiveThirtyEight published an article by Patrick Ruffini titled Black Voters Aren’t Turning Out For The Post-Obama Democratic Party. In his piece he argued that the lack of black turnout in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District primary could be a politically disastrous sign for Democrats moving forward. His argument is legitimate but a bit shortsighted. Saying any political party would be in trouble if, demographically speaking, their most reliable constituency stayed home isn’t groundbreaking. Ruffini, like many pundits, looked at the data following the 2016 election and decided that black voter disenchantment with the Barack “Obamaless” Democratic party was the cause for the decline. Why?

    Liberal and conservative pundits have written hundreds of articles about black voter participation since the 2016 election. Liberals tend to write these articles as a way of scapegoating black voters for the election of Donald Trump; while conservatives write them to deflect the impact voter suppression has had in Republican led states. Federal courts have written opinion after opinion overturning Republican sponsored legislation designed to make voting harder for blacks, but somehow this fact gets overlooked in many of these articles.

    Political commentators on the right willfully downplay or ignore the effects of voter suppression. Since the 2010 mid-term elections people of color have had a number of obstacles placed in front of them by Republican led state legislatures. There’s enough Prima Facie evidence to support the claim that some of the declines since 2010 could be attributed to Republican efforts to restrict early voting while simultaneously cutting the number of voting precincts in minority districts. It’s not a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of federal cases concerning voter disenfranchisement have been filed against Republican governors and legislatures. This doesn’t explain voter decline in states that haven’t had to deal with this type of electoral malfeasance, but it shouldn’t be ignored in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin where the right to vote has been under constant assault.

    Omission is a powerful tool. If Ruffini willfully ignored the almost decade long war waged by Republicans in Georgia against black voters he’s part of the problem. It’s disingenuous for anyone to rest the result of the June 20th special election solely at the feet of black voters. Blacks are 13.4% of a district with a population close to 700,000, but If Jon Ossoff loses to Karen Handel the story will be centered around what percentage of the black population voted.

    The last three national election cycles have been defined by Republicans making voting harder for black people and Democrats blaming us for their electoral failures. Both groups are acting out of fear. Republicans are afraid of the demographic shifts that place them in electoral peril, and the Democrats are afraid of addressing their failures with uneducated white women. For all of the misogyny Hillary Clinton faced from the left this same group ignores the fact that their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, and cousins voted for Donald Trump in 2016 by a margin of 62% to 38%. There are more uneducated white women in America than black people as a whole, but this demographic remains free from any serious critique.

    On November 2nd, 2016, I published an article titled "We Don't Owe The Democrats Our Vote!" In it I wrote:

    There are people in the Black community who are ready to concede the 2016 election in lieu of more political capital in 2020. The Democrats have blackmailed us for so long with the threat of horrible Republican policies that many have stopped listening. Maybe, the best way to leverage our political power moving forward is to sit out 2016? This isn’t that crazy of a thought to someone living through hell. How much worse can life get for someone trapped in a failing neighborhood, in a failing city under a Trump Administration? I don’t subscribe to this line of thinking, but I know some very smart people of color who do. Some live in solidly blue states and some live in deep red states, but there are some in battleground states who have decided they will vote Jill Stein or avoid the long lines and stay home.

    I was excoriated by many of my colleagues for introducing them to this line of thinking. The same people who’ve written dozens of articles blaming black voters for supporting Hillary over Bernie, or for not showing up in high enough numbers during the general election have avoided the real 800lb electoral gorilla in the room. No matter what happens on June 20th black voters will either be ignored or blamed. The right is more than happy to continue ignoring our needs, and the left is more than happy to blame marginal drops in black voter participation for their failures. We are damned if we do and damned if we do.  



    Funny, I still don't think of Hillary as "pandering" to blacks, rather than simply caring about their issues for 40+ years. I still think black turnout for her was great even if it unsurprisingly didn't reach the levels of "the candidate that looked like them". I still feel she consulted with the black community much much closer in the 90's as First Lady and 2000's as Senator than Obama did, and I still think she would have represented blacks' overall interests much more fervently, less carefully, though there's obviously no way she could compete with the boost of having a black man in the White House. I think she recognized the danger and injustice of black suppression and spoke out about it, but she wasn't president either, nor were the domestic policies and execution of 2009-2016 hers. I remember seeing an impressive video of her sitting with a black child, relating to that child, and thinking "what male candidate could do the same, not just pat the kid on the head and give some joky platitude about something, but really dig into the moment grandma/mom style to feel how the kid felt, or entertain, what politician could care about that kid's future more?" I remember her spot ad on disabilities, working on making treatments and devices affordable, an area that hit me rather hard and I assume hits poor minority communities much much harder. I read these pithy comments like "Bernie Sanders was the best candidate for Black America" and mutter "WTF?" but not as loud as I used to - Black America's needs summed up in $15/hr and free college and extending Medicare? I don't think so. 

    I don't know where to go from here. Once again I hear that some male candidate was better, but I didn't see him put in the time, the energy, the empathy, the detail. I don't think that will be recreated by just any woman either. I greatly appreciate that black women responded to what she was doing and offering. I don't know who will offer as great an assist to the black community, be it naturally or "pandering" (uh, 'hot sauce'? really? that's a serious complaint?) I never liked Rahm, and we see how the brutal anti-black policeing has flourished in his Democratic Chicago. That lack of sympathy to black issues is rampant. I saw blacks get their voice, their place at the table in the 90's and was proud of it. I think we blew it horribly now, but don't know where we're going to find that next-generation advocate to try to fix it - all these other "priorities" always carry the day - a pipeline here, transexual bathrooms there, the troops the troops the troops... Disappointed as usual. Nope, Blacks don't owe the party their vote and never did. But I don't know how much it will matter now either way  - I expect  a bunch of easy platitudes coming your way. It's a shame.


    You write: Hillary has been "caring about [African-American] issues for 40+ years."  For years now, I have listed the ways that she has let African-Americans down.  To date, you have provided few if any specifics in response.  Perhaps you could let us all know exactly how Clinton has demonstrated her concerns for African Americans since the mid-1970s and how those demonstrations outweigh:

    Superpredators, free trade, hard-working white voters, stifling minimum wage hike to 61 cents in Haiti, Walmart, war on drugs, death penalty, numerous speeches to red-lining banks, dogged opposition to single-payer healthcare, private prisons, welfare "reform".

    There's more "but that's enough.  All those on one side.  Maybe some of them are unimportant.  I won't argue about that.  But look at the number of them.  Now on your side, we've got what? All we've got is the fact" that she plopped a black kid on her lap for an "awww how cute" photo op and a glossy ad on disabilities.

    Speaking for myself and not Danny, we had this discussion multiple times in 2016, going back to her work with Marian Wright Edelman.


    Edelman introduced Hillary when Clinton gave her first post election speech.

    In 2017, the problem is that Perez, Sanders, etc.are not connecting with the black community. There is the bone-headed focus on "identity politics". Black are wondering when that platform that focused on black "identity politics" happened. 

    In an interview with Democracy Now! in 2007, Marian Wright Edelman said, “Hillary Clinton’s an old friend, but [the Clintons] are not friends in politics.” Edelman’s husband, Peter, resigned from his post as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services just after Bill signed the welfare-reform law, as did HHS officials Mary Jo Bane and Wendell E. Primus. Following his resignation, Edelman wrote an article in The Atlantic about welfare reform entitled “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done.”


    Regarding your comment that Sanders is not connecting with the black community, I accept it.  Indeed, I noted in a previous post that this is a very unfortunate dynamic.  So, my question to you is how can he?  What should Sanders and his supporters (like me) be saying and doing that will resonate with the black community?

    Hal, we discussed this and the fact that Edelman introduced Hillary at the first major speech post-election. There is no way that Edelman favored Trump over Hillary. Those discussions were in 2016. It is 2017.

    I did not say or imply that Edelman preferred Trump over Hillary.

    Google "PeraclesPlease blacks Hillary dagblog" - and enjoy!!!

    PS - reminder of Trump's racist housing practices

    Google search isn't working well on my PC.  Perhaps you can list 2 or 3 examples off the top of your head, since you undoubtedly know your own work better than I do, of Clinton demonstrating that she understands the concerns of African Americans and that outweigh the harm she caused by the many actions that I list. 

    RMRD linked to an article about her undercover work 45 years ago.  I'm sure you've got some more recent examples in mind. 

    Sorry, maybe you can write Larry Page or Sergey Brynn to help you

    Thanks for taking the time to offer such a well thought out response. I've grown so weary of politics, but this election is important. I've hidden myself in writing and thinking about theology. Have a great day Peracles!

    All citizens should vote.  All voters should vote for the candidate who promotes policies and practices that they agree with.  I will never need SCHIP. I MAY never need Medicaid.  I have never been subject to voter suppression.  There are many policies that Democrats support that will likely never affect me, although Medicare and Social Security certainly do.  I want my children and grandchildren to have public transportation, and good, reliable community services.  I will always vote for the person who  will work for the common good.  Republicans don't even believe in the common good.  

    Could you be more specific about what particular policies the Democrats need to do?  It seems to me, that, as far as voting is concerned, we are all damned if we don't , and not at all damned if we do.  I agree that blaming blacks for not supporting dems is hurtful and wrong.  White women are more responsible than any black demographic for trump's win.  

    Thanks Danny.  There really is no doubt that the Democratic Party has lost its way over the past 30+ years.  Until it champions economic justice - healthcare, food, shelter, education, a secure retirement, good jobs, and a clean safe environment - for all and economic royalty for none, it will remain in the wilderness.

    Hal, it says a lot that you can comment on a blog titled "voting while black" without mentioning 'championing" civil rights.

    One civil rights issue: 

    Trump's AG say it is "right and moral" for America to lock up more citizens, even though we already have the highest prison population in the world. Overwhelmingly minority.

    BTW, every one of the points on your list are being eviscerated by Trump and the Republicans.

    The Democratic Party is the only force holding back their complete evisceration by the GOP.

    The Republicans are taking away our democracy chunk by chunk.  One way that they are doing this is by suppressing the black vote.  Neither Hillary Clinton nor other Democratic leaders nor Bernie Sanders has focused on this problem since the election.  President Obama and A.G. Holder did exemplary work in this area but were often stymied by hostile courts and states.

    Democrats still haven't figured out that outreach with things like town halls might be useful in black communities. At least acknowledge that you want to hear concerns.

    Great point RMRD!

    Ever think the situation in this country right now may be more like

    ask not what your country party can do for youask what you can do for your country party


    The power of the Freedom Caucus in the GOP didn't happen because they were sitting there waiting for the GOP bosses to do "outreach". They did not see sitting at home and refusing to vote because they felt dissed by their party as a viable way to get anywhere.

    AA, are you saying that the burden falls only on black voters? Why aren't white voters reacting more forcefully to the Trump abomination? Blacks who voted did their part.

    If black voters want something different than white voters, they have to go after it proactively. Like the Freedom Caucus people did, they didn't like what the GOP was doing and offering them, they ran their own candidates to pull the party in their direction.

    If "the Afro-American community" is as monolithic on what they want as you often seem to say it is, that should be easy peasy.

    And after Trump this much EVERYONE should have learned: withholding your vote because you're mad about this or that or you can't do "lesser of two evils" is: just plain stupid, Grow up, see what happens when you don't vote; parties should not even have to have a GOTV as part of their program.

    The suppression of vote issues and gerrymandering are the only real issues. If you want to push for some other certain kind of group or program, go after it from the wilderness of being ignored, step by step. No one else is going to do it for you. Staying home means being marginalized further.

    P.S. http://dagblog.com/link/ferguson-you-let-us-down-22259

    Works basically the same nationally.


    Perhaps the biggest drags on voter turnout in Milwaukee, as in the rest of the country, were the candidates themselves. To some, it was like having to choose between broccoli and liver.

    from Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn’t Vote — and Don’t Regret It,  NYTimes, Nov. 20, 2016

    So there's no Barack to vote for anymore, one goes back to sitting it out and waiting for the Dems to offer a messiah again. Or maybe if they bring a bus to take us to the polling place, maybe, maybe we'll go.Sorry if if you don't like broccoli or liver, them was the choices, UNLESS you get out and do something about offering a more varied menu yourself.

    Myself, I understand the part about not wanting to be a chef. I'm lazy about it, not into politics or changing the world and in particular don't want to align with any party much less work to contribute to one. I let others try their hand and make do with the broccoli and liver choices I get. I go out and vote for the broccoli. And then try to figure out what winner portends for me and play that hand the best I can.

    Why treat Trump voters with kid gloves while criticizing black voters?

    Ferguson let us down, so did white women voters.

    Well, white men let us down more, but yes, white women voting Trump seems like Bizarroworld, whatever the supposed Facebook microtargeting coming your way. I mean, everyone could still occasionally see a real newspaper or non-Russian news program, and I didn't think Fox had 60% viewership, and even they should have been aware of Ailes and O'Reilly's sexist meltdown and Trump's stage abuse of Megyn Kelly. How many Americans are too damn dumb to realize that an email server that wasn't hacked and had maybe 9 classified emails ain't no big deal?

    I will say this - Trump came to power by blowing up an apartment complex in Moscow and blaming it on Chechens. He doesn't take chances. There are stolen votes somewhere, not just discouraged voters, though that helped create the fog. The exit polls did not match the results in those key states, though that by itself is not conclusive. But unlike 2001 we absolutely know there are enough rotten people with crooked partisan and profiteering interests to pull this off through just a few sneaky acts of subterfuge, certainly there's red line of silence that's hard to break. But it's starting to break - we'll see how bad.

    PP's concerns about the legitimacy of the 2016 general election results are founded.  Both Inc. and Alternet have published well-reasoned analyses of the non-trivial discrepancies between the exit polls, which indicated that Clinton would win the election, and the published results.  Moreover, according to Fortune Magazine, as reported by Inc., the PA and WI used highly vulnerable electronic machines.  Vote suppression may have also played a role in the discrepancy if voters thought their vote was going to count but it was discarded for some reason. 

    In addition, Glenn Greenwald's the Intercept reported this afternoon that "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept."  The Intercept is careful to note that there is no evidence that the Russians actually could or did interfere with the election count.

    Scary stuff.


    Threatening not to vote gets you: NOTHING. Simply absurd to think otherwise. Especially if you're already in a gerrymandered district: why should they even care about you? They're trying to win, it's a contest. After they win, that's when you are supposed to start bitching at them to deliver something to your group. Talking about sitting it out before a party has won something: ridiculous.

    The argument has been not to insult Trump voters to bring them back to the Democratic fold. The same approach is not being offered to black voters. 

    So you are saying that Afro-American voters were not happy with what Obama's Dem Party did for them when they came out and voted for him and down-ticket in 2008 and 2012? And that's why they stayed home in 2016? And more are going to stay home they are so mad about it?

    If that's the case, those Afro-American voters got to work to help find better candidates.

    Yes, I will give you that people are trying to figure out how to woo back voters that voted for Obama and switched to Trump. That's all I see.They are not trying to get white voters that voted against Obama.

    If you want to win, it would seem that you would support outreach to white and black Obama voters who are not enthusiastic about the Democratic Party. Creating a rationale to vote for Democrats seems appropriate for both groups. "Identity politics" comes across as a dog-whistle. It suggests hostility to black voters.

    The proper response to the poor results in Ferguson is to send even more activists educating voters to oust the Mayor next time. You can't say that you going after white voters who voted against their own interests by voting for Trump and then abandon black voters who cast votes against their interests. That is a double standard.

    again, it's not a double standard to go after voters who once voted for your party but switched their votes to another. It's just sensible, especially when you have lost the presidency and congress.

    On Ferguson, I don't get who the national party boss man is who is supposed to send in "activists" to get people out to vote on a local race. If the people in Ferguson don't care to be those activist themselves, why should the national party?

    I've asked several times what you think what you call "the Afro-American community" wants from the Dem national party that's different from what white Dem voters want and any other color voters want from the Dem national party that is not being addressed. You are continually threatening that you fear they will stay home next time until they get something addressed by the Dem party, but it's not clear exactly what it is.

    But what you seem to suggest it is for this community you speak for is that they want the Dem party to stop courting people who switched from Obama to Trump, you instead want to hear the Dem party call them out as deplorables and racists instead of courting them. In effect suggesting polarization needs to be increased in order that lots of Afro-American voters don't stay home. So it's blackmail from non-activists who are wont to staying home anyways, and aren't that passionate about the right to vote, towards activists. As if punishing and shaming and polarizing will create a win for the Dem party.

    Good luck with that. As I said, I'm an Independent who wishes we had followed George Washington's farewell address not to have any political parties at all. I'm just interested in how on earth you think this is going to work in the system we have.

    You certainly have not convinced me that threatening not to vote is something that would accomplish anything.


    AA, I don't care that I haven't convinced you. The threat to stay home is a clear message that they want the Democrats to pay attention to the community. It is blackmail in the same sense that white voters voting for the incompetent orange racist Trump was blackmail. You had better hope Democrats make every overture to the black community possible. We have political parties. Those parties have to sell their ideas to the public. Black voters are included in the public. The majority of blacks voted, so cut the crap,about not voting. You seem to want Republicans to win if people don't follow your rigid viewpoint.

    Black voters didn't "stay home" - they were out in large numbers. The fault lies elsewhere - 10 types of elsewhere combined, some more significant than others.

    Much of the disinfo is simply to blame Hillary - she couldn't inspire her party's core, she couldn't even inspire white women. And of course there's never any down side to blaming the black man for anything.

    Yes, blacks support our party, and if a black president and the system can't even stop the vote disenfranchisement, the endless Freddy Gray-type police abuse, the "settle for twice the unemployment of whites" permanent ghettoization, they should be looking for other alternatives and approaches - certainly not "stay home". Except I think this time we had a candidate who would have fought harder and better knew the ropes - the other side simply pulled out all the stops.

    Corbyn looked doomed a month ago, a dinosaur of the past. Now he might win. Macron proposes more of a Hillary-like neoliberal big tent for France and he *crushed* Le Pen. Those voters are angry over austerity (even Obama's austerity), scared about security, but still not abandoning human rights or giving in to petty racism. That even seems partially true in the US where the struggle and the cheating and the Russian-assisted chaos are greatest.

    When women get mugged or raped, police always ask "what were you wearing? Why were you out that late or in that area? Why did you go to that party? Why did you drink?" Democracy got mugged, and we're still blaming the victim.

    Worse, it's not a one-off - it's a mafia-style, entrenched corruption made worse by approved gerrymandering. [the good news - yesterday the Supreme Court said it's illegal. The bad news is they said the courts can't reverse results or make amends for the 6 year period it took to win the case - 3 elections gerrymandered, but forget that, let bygones be bygones, look to the future].

    We tell the Democratic candidate "okay, you need X% extra margin to account for voter disenfranchisement, Y% extra to account for illegal money and collusion in the system, and Z% to account for illegal hacking & revealing of your records and Q% for the biased corporate-backed media attacks & anything-to-promote-a-horserace coverage and R% for the foreign paid spammers and the Google/Facebook exploits & rigged listings, and then leave an extra T% as slush in case some FBI official goes rogue or other unexpected October Surprise happens.

    And if you don't manage all those extra margins? You're a loser, shut up and stop complaining.

    I agree 100%

    artappraiser's response to this post is very telling and actually proves my point. The overwhelming majority of the left spent the weeks after the election repudiating anyone who linked Trump's victory to racism or misogyny. I'm certain there aren't many posts condemning uneducated white women for doing what I pointed out some blacks were considering doing. This is the trap of the left. I challenge people to look at your wedding pictures. If there aren't any black people in the photos maybe you don't qualify to say what black people should or shouldn't do with their vote. I live in the heart of the Confederacy. At a time when white supremacists are hanging people in Maryland and marching in Charlottesville. The left still thinks the issues black people bring up are "identity politics" that hurt their electoral chances. If the right doesn't care and the left is spineless why vote?

    I'm not upset with any of you. It becomes emotionally exhausting trying to convince your allies that things suck for you. The need to equate economic issues with civil rights issues is one rooted in a fear of poverty. I have very well meaning allies who are so afraid of poverty that they equate it to living surrounded by people who don't have to respect your right to life. I've been a poor black man and a middle-class black man and I can assure you racism doesn't give a damn either way.

    There's not enough political courage to call out the women who gave the presidency to the pu$$y grabber, so blacks will undoubtedly bear the responsibility should Ossoff lose. 

    Thanks Danny. I agree it is tiresome.

    Ossoff's Republican opponent says that she does not believe in a "livable wage". That statement would be thought to kill her chances, but in Trumpworld, she can still win the election.


    The Trumpers are thinking of the illegals they hire. 

    Does it really matter if the poors get a livable wage so long as the have enough kids to replace them when they die?

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