Technically Speaking/Politics Commentary
The Case of the Convenient, Useful and Effective Lie
“If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.”
– Harriet Tubman
Ever since delegates settled on a three-fifths compromise, African Americans have been a quandary for America’s political system. The power of the African American voting bloc is unparalleled. Unlike any other demographic group, it has the capacity to sway the outcome of most national or state elections.
That is a well-known fact.
It is the primary reason why Republican led state chambers have adopted election laws that make it harder for African Americans to cast a ballot.
It is also the reason why Democratic candidates, after months of wooing “on the fence” voters, dedicate the last month of their campaign to going to Black churches and community events, and buying ad space from African American media outlets. Whether or not they’re effective last-ditch efforts to ensure a victory is debateable.
Among the many significant achievements surrounding the 2012 re-election of Barrack Obama was the 66.6% turnout from African Americans. The 17.8M vote total had surpassed the previous record of 15.9M, which was set in Obama’s first election in 2008.
This is significant because it was the second consecutive election in which the African American turnout rate had exceeded whites. It also proved a politically engaged African American community had the power to sway an election.
Even though the 59.6% turnout rate in the 2016 election showed a decrease, the 16.4M voters who participated was still higher than 2008. A contributing factor that time was an onslaught of videos campaigns targeting African Americans in key swing states, through their social media accounts, persuading some to sit the election out.
I admit, the numbers are encouraging, especially when you consider the recent string of news stories exposing the inefficiency and inaccuracy with current voting system technology. Not to mention the number of reported cases of possible voter suppression.
However, it is for those exact reasons, I believe we must engage in, what corporate America calls, a “deep-dive” to determine the true valuation. Otherwise, how else will we know if we’ve progressed or regressed on that original three-fifth deal.
Establishing a citizen-based audit team and working with a non-profit organization like Democracy Counts! to provide the tools and means to collect data is viable option. Communities are empowered because it gives citizens the ability to monitor the results at their polling location, as well as offer an opportunity to validate results by actively inviting broad participation. Most importantly the citizen collected data will help identify possible suppression practices, such as elongated wait times or ballot refusals, and provide key data that will help improve voter access.
While, on one hand, Republicans work overtime to reduce access for African Americans, on the other hand, the belief that African Americans aren’t pulling their weight to ensure victories for Democratic candidates persists. If history serves me right, getting out the Black vote was a concern in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, despite evidence proving the exact opposite was happening. And, in 2018, African American women let it be known that they, alone, are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to reshaping election outcomes.
If the goal of the Democrats is to improve, or at the very least maintain the turnout total from 2016, it behooves Democratic candidates to engage African Americans through more direct media sources. For years, national media hosts such as Tom Joyner and Joe Madison have spoken openly about the disparity in time candidates spend on mainstream media outlets as opposed to those with a predominantly African American audience. Westside Gazette publisher, Bobby Henry, and publishers of many other African American owned newspapers say the results are similar, if not worst, when it comes to advertising in print media outlets.
Critical to establishing any significant political movement is knowing your areas of weakness and strength and monitoring their position and status at all times. It is critical that African Americans, and American citizens in general, establish a process whereby they can gather, analyze and preserve their own data to combat the persistent attempts to undermine our elections.
Afterall, if the best odds African Americans could get at the beginning was three-fifths, how likely do you believe this voting system is going to deal honestly with us now.
As always stay tuned to the Westside Gazette for more information about your vote.