An Honest Evaluation of the Devaluation of the Black Vote

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7 mins read

I know I’ll catch hell for what I am about to say but  – I do not care. It’s time for a serious talk about the direction of the Democratic Party in regards to its devaluation of the black vote.  Senator Bernie Sanders has called the system “rigged”, so guess it’s now alright for me to say the same with one modification – the system is rigged and racist. 

Let’s be clear, racism in America is both endemic and systemic.  What would make anyone think that the Democratic Party is somehow exempt from America’s seemingly incurable disease? In fact, there are in my view, likely to be as many racists in the Democratic Party as the Republican Party. I, however, am still a Democrat. When this presidential race began, we had two Black candidates. Under the Obama administration, we had a Latino former mayor, and Secretary of HUD. Now all of them are gone, having fallen to the DNC’s “fair and necessary” qualifications. 

Let’s be clear, racism in America is both endemic and systemic. What would make anyone think that the Democratic Party is somehow exempt from America’s seemingly incurable disease?

Johnnie Cordero

The DNC set out its initial debate participation criteria in 2019, including both polling and individual donor requirements. The rule was changed on January 31, 2020, eliminating the minimum donor requirement; the only impediment to one particular candidate getting on the debate stage: Michael Bloomberg.  He’s insisted that he wants to participate in debates, if only the DNC would rid this regulation. Conspicuously absent from the stage was Tom Steyer. Now the telling aspect of this is that Steyer is surging among black Democrats, while Bloomberg is not. 

Bloomberg not polling well among Black voters could be attributed to a number of factors. Could be the hugely detrimental effect of the “stop-and-frisk” policy enacted under his governance, where Blacks and Latinos accounted for anywhere from 50% to 90% of all stops. An enactment that also skyrocketed the incarceration rate for Blacks in New York. Or, it could be because he keeps changing parties; since 2001, he has switched from being a Republican who endorsed Bush’s re-election, to an Independent, and then as of October 2018, a Democrat, again. Bloomberg’s past shows denigration of the Black community, while Tom Steyer’s shows the opposite.

Fourteen years before running for president, Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor founded Beneficial State Bank, an establishment built to address lending disparities and allow those who can not usually get a loan have access to the same opportunities as their counterparts. In 2013, Tom founded NextGen America, an organization to inform, register and mobilize voters to ensure that our government is actually representative of our constituents. So long before his campaign, his record shows that he was investing in communities of colors and underserved voters, while Bloomberg’s policies did the exact opposite. Since his campaign began, he has made personal connections with the communities he wants to govern through food drops, meet and greets and discussions that highlight pertinent issues that Americans face. Racial justice has remained a large part of his platform, as seen in the New Hampshire debate when he joined me in demanding Sen. Biden disavows Sen. Harpootlian’s comments concerning Rep. Jerry Govan, Steyer’s Sr. Advisor. With Blacks making up a majority of Democrats, why is the DNC removing candidates that have sown into the black community and replacing them with candidates that would seemingly like to see them imprisoned? 

Click here to watch the full press conference

Unlike college-educated whites and liberals, black voters have consistently been a large portion of the party’s base, making up about 20% of all Democratic voters in recent years (Pew Research Center, 2018). Voting as a bloc means that a group can be decisive. That’s partially about how many black voters are in the electorate, but also about when the states with the highest percentage of black voters cast ballots, as evidenced by the last two primaries. Clinton’s African-American support gave her an easy win in 2016. Contrarily, in 2008, Obama’s large win with black voters gave him just enough to beat Clinton overall. The weight of the black vote is heavy. 

In labor law, there is a doctrine known as disparate impact.  It holds that when a practice has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class, it is prohibited. It means that even if a practice isn’t discriminatory on its face, it can be discriminatory in effect. Black people are the original protected class. So why aren’t our voices and our votes being protected when the effects of the disparagement to our community have been made clear? 

We know racism when we see it! The DNC’s recent alterations to these policies have served to manifest a disparate impact for Black voters across the nation. Those who genuinely support, like Tom Steyer, or belong to the black community, like previous candidates, have been silenced or eradicated from this presidential race completely. For us, that is the hallmark of disparagement, devaluation, and I’ll say it again – racism. It is time for Black vote to finally, truly be valued.

Johnnie Cordero is an African American thought leader who identifies as a Radical Centrist. He is the current Chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina. Cordero is the host of the “Radical Review” podcast and is a frequent political contributor and commentator for The MinorityEye. Cordero holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence. He is the author of ‘Total Black Empowerment: A Guide to Critical Thinking in the Age of Trump.’ His new book ‘Theodicy and The Power of the African Will’ is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book sellers.

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