Leaders warn that black voters must be ready to vote in midterms

Leaders warn that black voters must be ready to vote in midterms
April 12
01:00 2018

If black voters want real change, they just can’t vote for it, say North Carolina black leaders.
They have to work for it. They must understand that when they vote someone into office, they are hiring that candidate to work for them, which means they must keep that candidate accountable long after the election.

“The upcoming elections are critical, especially for our young people,” says U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1).

“What more must we do to be saved?” asked Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of N.C. NAACP.Even though black females Democrats in Alabama are credited with helping to elect a white Democratic US Senator there for the first time in years recently, and Democrats, by and large, are feeling hopeful about taking back at least the US House, and possibly even the NC House, black voters showing up for the 2018 midterms is still an open question.

By most indicators, even with the Trump Administration continuing to outrage many, black voters, this year, just aren’t feeling it.

“4.4 million 2012 Obama voters stayed home in 2016 – more than a third of them black,” was the March 12th headline story in The Washington Post. Based on a report originally published by The New York Times, while “…12 percent of white voters who had backed Obama in 2012 voted for Trump four years later… eleven percent of black Obama 2012 voters stayed home.”
The analysis is clear – if black voters showed up in decent percentages in 2016, Donald Trump most likely wouldn’t be president today. In fact, after his election, then President-elect Trump actually thanked black voters,

Saying, “…They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big – so thank you to the African-American community.”

In North Carolina in 2016, the writing on the wall for a depressed black Democratic turnout came early in the form of lower than normal presidential year early voting black turnout. The fear is, the same may happen again this fall, especially since African-Americans historically don’t show up for midterm elections.

For many black voters, there is an expressed sense of betrayal by the Democratic Party. They feel that being the party’s most loyal base of supporters has done little to change their fortunes, whether it be better employment, affordable housing, or fairer law enforcement in their communities.

“Now people can wake up,” Kelton Larson, 26, of Ohio told National Public Radio recently. “Black people have been voting for over 50 years, and nothing has ever changed. Our communities still look the same. We’re still at the bottom of the economic poll.”

Here in North Carolina, black leaders are all too familiar with the African-American community’s perennial frustration with the political party is has supported overwhelming for decades. Even with more black elected officials than ever before, the failure of real, grassroots change, or “politics as usual,” is something many black voters, particularly millennials, have decided not to put up with anymore.
But black Democratic leaders counter, that with Republicans in charge in the NC General Assembly, in Congress, and certainly in the White House, sitting on the sidelines during the 2018 midterm elections will not accomplish anything but embolden those who are making policies that ultimately hurt the African-American community.

“Of course, there is no future, or no value in not advocating for your own interests,’ says Larry Hall, N.C. Secretary of Veteran Affairs. “You either have to participate and work to change the process, or participate and try to be effective in the current process. But sitting on the sidelines, and letting everyone else’s issues be addressed does nothing for you. So that’s a failed strategy, and certainly one that no one has proven works by not participating.”

Voters don’t understand that it takes more than just showing up on Election Day, Sec. Hall agrees. Learning about the issues and the candidates’ positions on those issues, asking tough questions, and then, after the election, holding the candidate accountable by staying in touch, and making your voice heard.

Many voters don’t do that, and thus become frustrated, he agrees.

“It takes effort,” Hall said.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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