2016 - The Most Important Political Year for African-Americans
There are some who suggest that Black Americans, of which I am a member, should not participate in the game of politics. I disagree and let me tell you why. Deciding who has power and who doesn't in the country that you live in is incredibly important not only for your life, but the lives of your friends and family. Sometimes it's simply a choice of the lesser of two evils. While that may definitely be true in many elections, due to the influence of money in politics, 2016 is not that year. This election cycle may see the "ethnic" vote become more powerful than it's ever been before. To be clear, when I say "ethnic" I am referring to Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc...basically all non-White groups in this country. So if that's the case, then why hand that power over to right-wingers who are looking to usher in fascism via Donald Trump?
The United States Election Project lists data that shows (HERE) that in 2008 and 2012, Black voter turnout surpassed every other ethnic group in America and since 1988 turnout among Black voters has increased every election cycle. This shows plain as day the power of the Black vote and why the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party is desperately trying to trick Black voters into supporting the establishment pick for 2016. A person who has made it clear on the campaign trail that she has no intention of fighting for certain things she deems "unrealistic." I am of course speaking of Hillary Clinton and the fact that if she losses enough of the Black vote, her campaign is done. She knows it, the media knows it, the establishment figures within the Democratic Party knows it...everyone knows...except possibly many African-American voters. We don't know our own power and what's worse are the people who are actively telling Blacks not to use that power because we can't get everything we may want.
In 2008 and 2012 Black voter turnout among those eligible was 69.1% and 67.4% respectively which was the highest ever. Some attribute this to an "Obama effect" on the electorate, however this has been a trend that has been going on since before Barack Obama ran for President.
Over the same time period, the non-Hispanic White share of the electorate has been on a clear downtrend that may have hit a peak during the 2014 midterms and could drop again and as a matter of fact, seems likely to drop again if you look at the graph below. Every Presidential election cycle since 1992 has seen a dip in the white share of the electorate. In the years between the "Republican Revolution of '94" and Bill Clinton's re-election in 1996 there was a 2.5% dip that started this downtrend where the white share dropped from 85% to a little under 83% (let's say 82.5%). Since then however, we've seen bigger drops than that which includes the drop between the 2006 midterms and Obama's election in 2008 which was about a 4.5% drop. Then the 4% drop between the 2010 midterms and Obama's re-election in 2012. So the numbers seem to indicate that the white share of the electorate spikes during midterm years and drop during Presidential election cycles. That has been the clear recent trend and is not likely to reverse in 2016 given what we already know about America's changing demographics. Another 4% drop like 2012 could see the share drop to around 73%...a 10-point plummet since Clinton beat Bob Dole and Ross Perot in 1996. The drop could be steeper and be more like 2008 or not as steep and be more like 2000 or 2004. The point is there is almost certainly going to be a drop.
So what's the point of mentioning all of this? The point is to show to Black people that your vote has more power now than it's ever had since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Not only are more Blacks voting now than ever before, but we're doing it during a time when the white share of the electorate is trending lower and lower each Presidential cycle. So this is the WORST time to tell Black people not to vote or that our votes don't matter. Our votes as well as the votes of other minorities is going to have a huge impact on who becomes the next President. This next President's first duty will likely involve getting the new Supreme Court Justice confirmed by what will surely be a very hostile Congress...especially if they're dealing with another Democrat. This brings me to the last portion of the blog post and that is the impact of the death of right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia.
Before the death of Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court maintained a 5-4 conservative tilt. It was this Court that began gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013 with more attempts coming down the pipe like the coming attempt to re-interpret 'one person, one vote' which would have devastating impacts on the non-White vote in America. I will be making another blog entry separate from this one to address the racist attempt to gut voting rights in America and it has a ton to do with what I mentioned above. There are those in this society who are threatened by the White vote losing power in the coming years and are attempting very obviously to rig voting in a way to give more power to the white vote over voters of color. This is the greatest threat to voting rights for people of color than any time since the 60's and who becomes the next President will have a major impact on how the Court leans. That is why the title of this entry is what it is. 2016 is a game-changer and may be our last chance to maintain the "progress" we've not only made thus far, but maybe continue to make even more progress in the coming years and decades. The role that Blacks will play this election cycle and who we choose to represent us and this country is very important.
To end this, I will say that I am a Bernie Sanders supporter. I have always had a rebel, non-conformist mentality but now I am at the point where I don't WANT to vote for anyone that is openly trying to maintain a certain economic status quo and it really doesn't benefit poor and working-class African-Americans to back people like that either anymore. The status quo has not been good to people of color and actually has at times been a danger to our lives. The status quo during the Reagan era has been defined by 'tough on crime' policies, job-killing free trade deals and a democracy-threatening plutocratic mindset that was given legitimacy due to another disastrous Supreme Court decision known as Citizen's United. The time for complacency and apathy is over and voters have to begin to think for themselves and stop allowing themselves to be played over and over again. Use the power given to you as a citizen of this nation to look out for your own best interests because there are anti-democratic forces in this country attempting to take your vote away from you and a ton of people are being very silent about it and letting it happen. Don't let it happen.
- From Brian