Why ‘First in the Nation’ Status Doesn’t Cut It for Black Voters

Why Symbolic Gestures Aren't Enough

3 mins read

The pivotal role of Black voters in Biden’s presidential win

Unless you have been living in Siberia in a cave without internet for the last few years, you are undoubtedly aware that Joseph R. Biden is the 46th President of the United States. You will also remember that in the run-up to the 2020 Democratic Primary then Democratic candidate Joe Biden had suffered several lackluster primary showings and had been all but counted out. 

Then came the South Carolina Democratic Primary. It is now acknowledged that black voters in South Carolina gave him the win that catapulted him to the nomination and ultimately the White House.  

A Debt owed 

President Biden acknowledged his debt to black voters when he admitted that “You’ve [referring to black voters} always had my back and [when I become president] I’ll have yours.”  Vice President Kamala Harris noted that black voters are the “backbone of our democracy.” 

Now first in the nation primary status has been bestowed on South Carolina. This ‘honor’ is at least partially an acknowledgment of, if not a ’reward’ for, the support of black voters in South Carolina and the Democratic Party at large. 

What we asked for 

Black voters did not ask to be first in the nation but rather asked for substantive change in areas that are important to them. The passage of H.R.1280George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, H.R.4 – John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021, and H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act are critical pieces of legislation that would make drastic changes toward improving the lives of black voters.

Acknowledgment alone is not payment

President Biden and the Democratic National Committee have acknowledged the debt owed to black voters for their overwhelming support, but acknowledgment alone is not payment of the debt. Giving South Carolina first in the nation primary status is not payment for our support. Our support was significant and made it possible for Biden to become the 46th President of the United States.

Time to Deliver

It is time for the Democratic Party to prioritize the interests and concerns of black voters and to make it their mission to pass critical pieces of legislation that would improve the lives of black voters. The passage of H.R.1280, H.R.4, and H.R.40 would be a significant step in that direction. It is not enough to make promises; we need results.

Black voters did not ask to be first in the nation. We asked for substantive change, and it is time for the Democratic Party to deliver.

Johnnie Cordero is an African American thought leader who identifies as a Radical Centrist. He is the current Chairman of the South Carolina Community Black Caucus. 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 booksellers.

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