Black Democrats lament tough election

Black Democrats lament tough election
November 17
08:00 2016



Most Democrats agree that the damage they suffered nationally and statewide after the 2016 general election cannot be underestimated.  For black Democrats in North Carolina and Forsyth County,  beyond the decisive victory of Wake Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan for the state Supreme Court, and Lynne Johnson, the first African-American elected as county Register of Deeds, there is particular consternation.

With the 2018 congressional midterm elections the next electoral challenge, black Democrats say the lessons learned from the party’s poor showing should not be ignored.

“I’m just tragically disappointed,” a somber Eric Ellison, chairman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, told The Chronicle Friday regarding the defeat of Hillary Clinton by Republican Donald Trump for president.

On the bright side, Ellison did proudly tout the apparent 5,000-vote victory of state Attorney General Roy Cooper over incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in unofficial results, noting that Forsyth County Democrats worked for months in their get-out-the-vote efforts to also bring about victories for Justice-elect Morgan and Register of Deeds leader Johnson.

“Look at the numbers – Forsyth County did exceptionally well,” Ellison insists, noting how Cooper led all Democrats in the county as a top vote getter “The story of [Justice-elect] Mike Morgan is huge. We have control of the Executive Branch, we have control of the Judicial Branch.”

Though many political observers charge that Democrats largely fumbled their message and didn’t hear the true hurt and pain of average Americans, leading to substantial losses, Ellison disagrees.

“Democrats have policies for the working class, the middle-class, the working poor … I don’t think that’s a problem, and I don’t think this was a policy election,” Ellison says, noting that a questionably qualified Trump beat out an exceptionally qualified Hillary Clinton by racially appealing to people’s fears.

“They’re going to get what they asked, and they’re going to see that there are horrible consequences when they elect somebody who is unqualified, incompetent, and has never even read the [U.S.] Constitution a day in his life,” Ellison charged.

Although most Democrats agree on what the negative prospects of the Trump presidency could be, there are those, like former school board candidate Chenita Barber Johnson, who believe a combination of voter suppression and party shortsightedness were key to crippling a greater Democratic Party turnout.

“[The Democratic Party] did not shore up its most loyal base, the African-American voter,” Barber Johnson told The Chronicle in a statement. “While most African-Americans at this point in history will not vote Republican, they can and will stay at home and not vote at all if it is perceived their interests are not included or if they have felt unappreciated.”

“The African-American vote did the best it could, but not necessarily what it should have done,” Barber Johnson continued. “But considering the blatant voter suppression in our state by our legislature and local boards of elections, African- Americans had various barriers to voting even until just prior to Early Vote with the court case in Forsyth County by the NAACP. Other barriers were voters purged from voter rolls, gerrymandered districts, early voting days shortened across the country with some states having only one site for each county.

“Even in Forsyth County we had one site opened [at the Government Center] for the first week of early voting, and Anderson Center was a site the BOE refused to open as an early vote site because it was on the campus of WSSU.”

Barber Johnson concludes that “it was unrealistic” to expect African-Americans to turn out in the same numbers as they did for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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