Black Americans wrestle with prospects for the future
By Derek Joy
So let it be written. So let it be done.
The 2014 Mid Term Elections are a memory. Republicans won in Florida and elsewhere around the country to send a devastating message to Democrats.
While municipal elections don’t have the high powered political partisanship as the state and federal elections, the impacts are just as important.
That was a constant reminder of Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard, (Dem., Dist. 40) and many other Black American elected officials in the months before the Nov. 4, election date.
Regrettably, for some, far too many Black American voters didn’t heed the reminders of Bullard and others. The church community’s effort with the “Souls to the Polls Campaign” was enough to oust Republican Governor Rick Scott, who narrowly won a second term over former Republican Governor Charlie Crist.
“Enough of my supporters didn’t vote,“ said long time El Portal Village Mayor Daisy Black, who was defeated by Councilwoman Claudia Cubillos. “You, one resident called me and apologized for not voting. There’s nothing I can do about that. If you didn’t vote, don’t complain.”
Fact is, Black American voters turned out just above a mere 40-percent in Miami Dade County and a little higher in Broward. It wasn’t much higher throughout the rest of the state, which virtually made Scott only the second Republican – Jeb Bush is the other – to win the Florida Governor’s Mansion two consecutive terms.
Nationally, a low voter turn-out could have factored into how Republicans increased their U.S. House majority and won a majority in the U.S. Senate.
“I had to tell somebody about that this morning,” said Ted Pinckney, a Miami native now living in Pinellas County. “Black people need to stop blaming everything on discrimination.
“They need to look at facts. Fact is Black people didn’t vote in high numbers. Not like they did in 2008, and, to a lesser extent, in 2012. Republicans were better organized, worked harder and got more people to the polls.”
Pinckney also noted that President Obama is to blame for some of that because he wasn’t outspoken enough. Another factor noted by Pinckney is that “Younger voters voted in 2008 and 2012 based on Obama’s promise for change. But then became disillusioned and discouraged when change was slow in coming. Young people don’t have the patience to wait.”
Still, there are haunting questions to be answered. Questions such as, will people of color and Black American communities prosper or stagnate in the aftermath of resounding Republican wins in the Florida State Legislature and both Houses of Congress?
One person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Republican policies are geared to towards the upper class. Their policies hinder Blacks and poor people.”
Dr. Clarence Jones, a Nova Southeastern University Administrator, went a step further.
“Of course their policies (Republicans) will negatively impact Blacks and poor people,” said Jones. “They will attempt to repeal or block Obamacare (Affordable Health Care Act), which will be a tremendous blow to the people needing healthcare the most.
“Also look for them (Republicans) to try and eliminate the National Labor Relations Board, further weakening the influence of unions and depressing the pressure to raise wages – both minimum and regular.
“They will not do anything to strengthen the Voting Rights Law and will encourage more voter suppression. They will try to undo Dodd-Frank Regulations, allowing banks to once again fleece poor people and attempt to privatize social security, which will have negative impacts on all people.”
Of course, there is always a chance, however slight, that Republicans will take advantage of the opportunity to recruit more Black Americans. And also a chance, however slight, that Republicans will act for the benefit of the masses rather than the wealthy few.
At any rate, Florida, as is America, will have to deal with the consequences of a Republican majority.