Attention Wolf Blitzer and President Obama: Black people don’t owe the Democrats our vote on November 8th. I found myself in the familiar position of yelling at the television like a madman. President Obama was a guest on the Tom Joyner Morning Show (11/2/16) when he said, “I’m going to be honest with you right now, because we track, we’ve got early voting, we’ve got all kinds of metrics to see what’s going on, and right now, the Latino vote is up. Overall vote is up. But the African-American vote right now is not as solid as it needs to be…” My question was: how excited should Black people be? Wolf Blitzer added to my agony with his constant droning about early voting numbers for African Americans in key battleground states being below the 2008 and 2012 levels. At no point did Wolf Blitzer or his panel of "experts" consider the idea that the lack of support some in the Black community are showing for Hillary Clinton might be connected to the overall lack of support the Black community got from the first Black President. President Obama is a great symbol of Black excellence. He was a great choice to be the first President of color. He comports himself well, he’s very measured, and he’s excelled at making historically difficult subject matter easier to digest for racially sensitive allies. But what specifically has he done for someone living in what Donald Trump likes to call “hell” or we call neighborhoods?
There are plenty of reasons to support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but what does this election look like to someone who doesn’t have one? If you’re a twenty something black male or female who’s paid any attention over the last few years, what’s the strongest argument Hillary Clinton can make to convince you that you would be safer from discriminatory housing practices, human resources practices, and police practices than a president who looks like you? Donald Trump’s call for nationwide Stop-and-Frisk is the worst kind of racial politics, but his soft fascism isn’t that much different from what too many people of color deal with every day. Bernie Sanders was the best candidate for Black America, but he failed at making that case with enough voters his age irrespective of race: it also didn’t help that Debbie Wasserman Schultz had it out for him. I've watched Hillary Clinton pander to African American voters in every imaginable way over the course of her political career: hot sauce! She, like every Democratic candidate in my lifetime, has done the necessary toe tapping and sermonizing to "prove" their commitment to the Black community and social justice, but what makes this time different?
The same narrative Northern Progressives and the media used to explain Bernie Sanders’ primary defeat has already started making the rounds on the cable shows. African Americans are being set up as the patsies should Hillary lose the election next week. Instead of asking what’s wrong with a majority of the white voters who support Trump, African Americans are being asked to explain the lack of enthusiasm in our communities. In a warped way, this is a typical American response to issues that stretch across racial lines. When crack was destroying inner cities, the response was to criminalize addiction; now, suburban and rural communities are suffering from opioid addiction and the response is treatment and understanding. There have been thousands of articles written by liberals explaining the economic hardships some of Donald Trump’s supporters are feeling. You can find articles explaining away xenophobia, misogyny, and bigotry, yet these same journalists can’t accept the fact that a person of color could be carrying the same level of economic resentment towards the system plus the burden of systemic racism. Maybe not voting is our version of voting Trump? I’m tired of explaining this to my well-intentioned allies, but it gets old having the political failings and electoral shortcomings of the left’s chosen candidate dropped off at the doorstep of Black America.
President Obama’s pleas to the Black community will have an impact, but he’s 7 years too late for some. For the most part the black community has gone above and beyond what could be reasonably expected considering how little we got in return for our support. Louis Farrakhan said it best in September, “But I just want to tell you, Mr. President, you’re from Chicago, and so am I. I go out in the streets with the people. I visited the worst neighborhoods. I talked to the gangs. And while I was out there talking to them, they said ‘You know, Farrakhan, the president ain’t never come. Could you get him to come and look after us?’ There’s your legacy, Mr. President. It’s in the streets with your suffering people, Mr. President. And If you can’t go and see about them, then don’t worry about your legacy… We put you there. You fought for the rights of gay people. You fought for the rights of this people and that people. You fight for Israel. Your people are suffering and dying in the streets! That’s where your legacy is. Now you failed to do what should have been done.”
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. The political landscape has changed. The Republican's biggest problem moving forward is demographics, but what if the left's biggest problem moving forward is a lack of enthusiasm?