We all have read Malcom X’s speech named the Ballot and the Bullet. In case you haven’t, it is a speech that stresses the importance of voting as a solution to ending discrimination against blacks. Malcolm X addresses how the black vote is divided and how together they can be the swing vote.
“What does this mean? It means that when white people are evenly divided, and Black people have a bloc of votes of their own, it is left up to them to determine who’s going to sit in the White House and who’s going to be in the dog house.”
However, what happens when you are limited to one choice of who to vote for because only one party ever caters to the specific needs of your community?
It is no secret that African Americans primarily vote Democratic. But it hasn’t always been like this. Since given the right to vote African Americans have, for the most part, remained a one party system. When African Americans first gained the right to vote, Fredrick Douglas said to a group of black votes, “The Republican Party is the deck, all else is the sea.” When Douglas said that he was stating that out of the main two parties’ only the Republican Party was willing to address the concerns of blacks. Then you had the Democratic Party which was described as racist, (Walton, Smith pg. 146).
But now it seems like the like the parties have flipped flopped and now the Democrats are deck and all else is the sea. And now it seems that the Republican Party is racist … well at least according to Kanye West.
Although I love Kanye’s music, I not sure I completely agree with his remark in the video. I also cannot state with absolute certainty whether President Bush cares about African Americans or not. What I can state is that Republicans tend to ignore the African American vote all together or when it comes to President George W. Bush, engage in patronage. Since the Republican Party is generally not interested in the black vote, it may be inclined to dismiss issues concerning African-Americans. The first ten seconds of the following video basically summarizes what I previously stated.
So African Americans are left with the only option of voting for Democrats. However, since the 1970s and 1980s the Democratic Party has taken the black vote for granted, just like the Republicans did a century ago (Walton, Smith pg. 148.) Recognizing that the Democrats can count on almost 90 percent of the black vote, they have started to pay minimal attention to the issues of African Americans such as joblessness and racialized poverty. Nevertheless, black identification with Democratic Party is near universal. This because black partisanship is based on “their perceptions of each Party’s responsiveness to the needs and interests of the black community”. Each, individual black voters embrace a group-based perception of the parties. In other words, racial identification determines Democratic partisanship, (Walton, Smith, pg. 148).
Walton, Hanes, and Robert Charles Smith. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom. New York: Longman, 2000. Print