Last night’s midterm elections should be a wake up call for the black American electorate. Last night’s repudiation of the Obama administration’s policies should cause Black Americans to start asking themselves whether their current approach to extracting goods and services from the political market works anymore especially since the United States’ first president of African descent is suffering from severely diminished political capital.
One step black American voters may have to take is getting rid of the decades old community model approach to influencing elected officials and policymakers. That model, where black leadership aggregates the needs and wants of people sharing history of discrimination based on skin color, is an effective representative model only for those few leaders that are sitting at the table negotiating with policymakers and other politicians. The model hasn’t done much in terms of influencing economic policy to close the wealth and income gaps between people of color and non-whites.
Instead what the community model has done is given the political market that the black “public goods” consumer is monolithic; will only vote for one party based on that party’s purported support and willingness to provide social and economic justice. The community model has created a ready-made block of constituents that can be exploited by one party, in this case the more progressive Democratic Party.
Progressives have been showing their willingness to create a buffer between themselves and the black electorate. One example is the attitude held by grass-roots groups that support net neutrality toward historical civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. Free Press and Public Knowledge have accused the NAACP and the Urban League of being in cahoots with large broadband providers, accepting financial support in exchange for taking a stance against net neutrality. Liberal would never have been so brazen to attack the hands that feed them, but today seems to reflect a new world order. Progressives appear willing to make civil rights groups sacrificial lambs in order to promote their cause.
Democrats may consider taking the sacrifice to another level given white Democratic candidates inability to win a significant percentage of white votes. According to The Washington Post, approximately 90% of black voters supported Kay Hagan and Michelle Nunn’s run for U.S. Senate in North Carolina and Georgia respectively. Ms. Hagan trailed North Carolina state house speaker Thom Tillis by 24 points among white voters while Ms. Nunn was only able to pick up 23% of white voters in Georgia.
To compound the matter in Georgia the black share of the vote (29%) was lower than the black shares of the vote in 2010 and 2012. Approximately 21% of the share of the vote in North Carolina went to blacks but that share was lower than the amount in 2012.
White Democratic candidates may spend 2015 and 2016 a little bit closer to home and try to harvest votes from among the white electorate.
Where will this leave the black electorate? At a minimum it should leave them in a state of self-reflection; one that has them reevaluating what they want from the political marketplace and what they will have to do to get it.