I am seeing no serious attempt on the part of blacks to step up our political game. Oh yes, we may have a Stacey Abrams, Ben Jealous, Andrew Gillum, or Mike Espy run for a governor or U.S. senate seat. We may even show case a couple “winners” like Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, or Tim Scott, but in the larger scheme, beyond these “one-zee, two-zees”, are blacks posing a meaningful impact in the area of national politics?
What I am seeing so far post mid-term 2018 is the current national black political leadership moving lockstep with Democrat Party messaging, messaging that does not address economic needs of blacks. To assess the needs of blacks, you need look no further than the income disparity and wealth gap between white and black people in America. According to research by the Pew Research Center, the adjusted income for households headed by blacks was $43,300 versus those households headed by whites came in at $71,300. Pew also reported that median net worth of white households was 13 times higher ($144,000) than that of blacks ($11,200).
As we saw in the last major recession, not having a wealth cushion can be disastrous for households that lose their income. Having some wealth that can be monetized can help tide a person over until the storm passes, but for many blacks, there may not be any chances of seeing the eye of the financial storm because the first wall of the hurricane wiped them out.
In the political theater, not having a wealth cushion also means diminished influence on elected officials, during a campaign and post elections. Being able to finance targeted and strategic messages or finance a campaign’s operational spending increases the chances of being listened to during the interval between elections, when policy making occurs. Blacks are disproportionately participate in general elections and forego midterms or even some local elections. But worse, blacks are likely less inclined to keep up with the granular needs of day-to-day governance. Not donating to campaigns or keeping constant pressure on elected officials only makes overlooking blacks as a constituency easier for elected officials.
Sure there are advocacy groups out there that allegedly speak on behalf of “people of color”, but these groups tend to look out for the concerns of the fringe upper crust of minority groups. the highly-educated, higher-wage types who do not reflect the needs of the vast majority of everyday blacks.
This is the downside of being low-income in a political eco-system that stresses buying the eardrums of candidates, where candidates need money to run campaigns while poor blacks have to decide between electric bills, food, or rent.
It would be beautiful to construct a campaign finance model that disrupts the status quo of political party leadership and incumbent elected officials. A disruptive system that keeps black elected officials especially focused on why the masses elected them won’t be created by blacks beholden the party leadership and messaging that does not serve blacks.