Blacks don’t have the numbers and it will get worse, unless….
Back in August I wrote the following regarding representative democracy’s failure of black people:
“Representative democracy has failed black people in America. The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough. Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.”
In addition to this major fail of black leadership and representative democracy will be the further weakening of black political capital as a result of demographics. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the portion of the American population identifying as “black” will increase to 13.3% in 2060, barely budging from the 2014 statistic of 13%. Meanwhile, the population identifying as “Hispanic” will see their percentage of the population increase to 25.5% in 2060 up from 13% in 2014.
The population identifying as “white” will represent 49.4% of the U.S. population in 2060, down from the 2014 figure of 68.8%.
As a voting bloc, I expect that Hispanics will cement their position as the go-to ethnic group that sways at least the popular vote for president. The current “people of color” movement may have run its course by then depending on how much farther the interests of both groups diverge. Assuming that blacks and Hispanics occupy in 2060 the regions of the country they mostly occupy today, there may not be a demographic clash. Blacks still mostly occupy the south and southeastern United States while Hispanics mostly occupy Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Two of the states, California and Florida, because of the number of electoral votes they carry, will continue to influence the popular vote and the Electoral College vote. Hispanics will be in a position to exercise substantial electoral clout.
This clout may come in handy on policy issues such as immigration and trade. Blacks have expressed animosity to policy that favors immigration because they see immigrants from Latin American countries as competitive cheap labor. Hispanics see immigration as access to better pay and living conditions while trade benefits Latino populations living on both sides of the southwestern border where there is an opportunity to access and transport more goods and services at affordable prices.
The issue for black political leaders will be how best to manage a political environment, based on a failed representative framework, within which the struggle for public capital will only intensify. One solution may be to go external and manipulate the system from the outside.
Manipulate the equation…Raise the ante….
Yvette Carnell last night described a voting strategy for getting the Democratic Party to take notice of black voters without black voters giving away all of their electoral capital. The “down ballot” tactic allows black voters to exercise the option of skipping Democratic candidates for president, vice-president, Congress, etc., where those candidates do not offer adequate public policy in exchange for the vote. Ms. Carnell stresses that blacks should just not show up, but should instead go to the polls and cast a vote on other issues reflected on the ballot with the goal of letting Democrats know that the voter showed up but did not see on the ballot a candidate that presented an adequate black agenda.
Another tactic I would suggest is that blacks skip the primaries and that this practice should start in 2020. Skipping the primaries raises not only uncertainty in both parties, especially the Democratic Party, but would force the parties to pay more attention to black public policy needs and start preparing substantive packages in advance of election so that packages can be put in place soon after an election.
I believe these are the sort of tactics that blacks should implement now in order to strategically position themselves as the price giver versus price takers.
Conclusion: A more active listening public administrator
There is no guarantee 40 years out that black political leaders external to the government will follow the above strategies in the face of changing demographics and political power. Public administrators should get in the habit of being forward looking, however, as demands of the electorate in the political markets will call for changes in approach to governance. To stay valid, public administrators have to listen to two constituencies: the elected official that oversees them, and the electorate that at least in theory oversees them both.