Why Bernie Doesn’t Appeal to Black Voters

 

“[O]ur survey suggests that if Sanders—or whomever Democrats ultimately choose—wants to win over black voters, a message stressing economic justice is not the best option; he needs to appeal explicitly to race (italics added). This finding builds on emerging work showing that the perception of threat on the part of racial minorities can encourage political participation, as has been demonstrated in the Latino community. It also builds on our finding, published in a previous study, that holding negative opinions of Trump can be a mobilizing force for African American voters.

Why is a message emphasizing racism so effective, relative to the alternatives? Simply put, race is the principal identity that resonates with the black community (italics added). History makes clear that racism affects every aspect of African Americans’ lives, so much so that most members of the black community perceive that they share a common fate (italics added). This is not to say that class isn’t sometimes important, but when it comes to political engagement, racial identity is a more reliable predictor of black political behavior (italics added). 

This passage from Politico, which discusses Bernie Sanders’ underwhelming performance with black voters during the Democrat presidential primaries, confirms several sad truisms that most Americans already know.

In the post-civil rights era, blacks have singularly defined themselves – at their own expense and relevance – by race. If any Democrat candidate specifically, and the party generally, wants to attract black voters, they only have to appeal to race or, as the passage shows, play on racial hysteria to manipulate blacks into voting. Even more limiting, blacks have sacrificed their individuality for collective, racial self-identity. This, too, is demonstrated by a willing resignation to the deterministic view that blacks share a common fate, despite contrary evidence, and any and all attempts at self-determination.

Suffice it to say, Democrat candidates have not, will not, and ultimately do not have to appeal to blacks by addressing the systemic and substandard government schools that have miseducated and undereducated blacks for several generations.

Democrat candidates will not be forced to address the burdensome economic regulations which prevent black teenagers and black males from entering into and staying put in the workforce, which also prevents black entrepreneurship.

In their appeal to black voters, Democrat candidates will not be forced to answer for supporting costly environmental regulations which prohibit blacks from purchasing (better) homes in more desirable neighborhoods, which confines them to less desirable neighborhoods at best, and violent neighborhoods at worst, both of which minimize human flourishing. Moreover, these economic restrictions also increase the costs of oil gas, electricity, cars, food, and other goods and services which in turn, partially contributes to the racial wealth gap Democrats claim to care about.

Democrat candidates will not be forced to explain, in detail, their preference for illegal immigrants – who by definition are not only a drain on services in neighborhoods that are disproportionally black but who also compete with blacks for low-skill jobs.

These issues simply scratch the surface of what Democrats aren’t forced to defend vis-à-vis electoral appeals to blacks precisely because blacks have cornered themselves into a single-issue demographic that prioritizes more important quality-of-life concerns behind racial identity and “racial issues.”

Blacks often complain about the fact that one party takes their votes for granted while the other party ignores their votes altogether. Well, we see why.

Ultimately, blacks can’t complain about a problem they helped create and continue to sustain.

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  1. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why can’t Blacks be like Polish-Americans or Irish-Americans where they have a stronger sense of ethnic identification than the average American but still feel more American than they feel Black.

    I agree. Even with the history of slavery, modern blacks have never lived that life (although older blacks have lived through Jim Crow). No one is asking for blacks as a group to ignore slavery. Instead, they should look at it as history that should never repeat itself. Think of “never again” and the Holocaust. Jewish people don’t let that terrible past keep them from moving forward in life, and there are still people alive who survived it. Modern Jews do have to deal with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but no one is calling for a return to slavery . . .

    My experience with West Indian black medical students suggests that slavery has little to do with it.  Colin Powell comes from Jamaican black parents.  I see lots of blacks from the West Indies whose ancestors had slavery but they do not show the same pathology American blacks have.  I had one medical student who was a light skinned black (Often the most angry it seems to me ) who was behaving so oddly I feared he was schizophrenic.  One patient (a white woman) threw him out of her room in the university hospital.  After some time talking with him, I figured out that he had never talked to white adults. His parents were Black Panther members in Oakland.  I finally wrote out a script for him to use in taking a medical history and introducing himself.  He had no trouble with white classmates his own age.

    • #31
  2. Derryck Green Member
    Derryck Green
    @DerryckGreen

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    It’s an American phenomenon. Not a black one.

    Well to get technical, I would call it a Black-American problem and not an African-American one. Ethiopian and Nigerian Americans are African-American because they are from Africa. This is odd because Nigerian-Americans are some of the darkest colored human beings in the world but they often don’t much care for some parts Black-American culture.

    It is sad that the U.S.A. can integrate this newcomers from Africa quite easily but still have difficulty integrating folks who have been longer than almost anyone else.

    You’re coming *very* close to the preeminent issue.

    Black immigrants can’t wait to integrate into America for all of the social and economic advantages being in America– and being American– offers. That is, they’re willing and desiring to integrate.

    American blacks, on the other hand, have not completed the goal of integration that the civil rights revolution sought to achieve. Post-civil rights blacks have repeatedly sought to racially redefine themselves since the inception of the black power movement. Negro was a passive identity, too reflective of the civil rights movement and Jim Crow segregation. So the new racial militants proudly (and theatrically) called themselves, “black,” and demanded people address them as such. Then came Afro-American in the 70’s. Then in the 80’s came African-American, with the all important, hyphen. Then in the oughts, African American with no hyphen. Now we have this broad based, intersectional gibberish, “people of color,” which is nothing more than a restyled phrase of “colored people” from the Jim Crow era. 

    All of this collective redefinition has prioritized (collective) self-definition and (collective) self-expression in racial terms first. Not once have we (re)defined ourselves as American, first, or have sought to embrace the only country (and requisite benefits) that many blacks have ever known. Once blacks decide to finish integration and demand equal treatment– being judged by the same standards and expectations of our multiethnic peers (which means rejecting racial preference programs and racial paternalism), much of this racial acrimony and black racial self-consciousness will recede into history where it belongs. 

    • #32
  3. Derryck Green Member
    Derryck Green
    @DerryckGreen

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    I have spent 15 years teaching medical students, quite a few of whom were black. The difference is that quite a few of the black students were not Americans. Some were African, one from Eritrea, some from West Indies, including Jamaica and Trinidad. They showed none of the pathology that seems to infect American black college students.

    I had two 4th graders in Maryland who were being raised in the same household. They were both “black”–one was born in the United States from an American-born black mother and another man. The other daughter had come from her birth mother in Nigeria to live with her father who was now married to the American black woman. The girls were not related, but lived in the same home. They had such different personalities.

    The father said to me at a conference once: “Why do American black people act like they do?? They live in the greatest country! There is every opportunity here! I cannot believe that so many choose to stay in poverty and don’t take advantage of the schools. They have no idea how blessed they are!”

    I’m sure his point of view would have really aggravated some of the people he was referring to, but I do get it. I also get how some American born-and-raised black people view life as they do. I wish there was something that could change it. But I’m not optimistic.

    African and black immigrants ask this question frequently. Most want no part in being identified with American blacks because of the destructive cultural elements that stigmatize us. I’ve had a college professor say as much. A friend who coached college basketball told me a story of a father of a black immigrant on the team. The father tells my friend, “I’m sending my son to school to get an education. Basketball pays for that. But the minute my son starts acting like one of your (American) blacks, I’ll be on the fist plane here to straighten him out. That behavior may be acceptable to them but he will not embarrass himself our our family.” 

    It’s very real.

    • #33
  4. Derryck Green Member
    Derryck Green
    @DerryckGreen

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Derryck Green (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    But your graph strongly supports the thesis of the OP, and does not support your rebuttal.

    And that is my bad. I think there are two questions: DNC v. GOP and Sanders v. Biden. I conflated the two and I should have been more clear. I am hearing that a common issue is peer-pressure within a group to take action as a group. I understand that people identify by what distinguishes them from the whole of a population. That is why I list my self-identifications in my profile. I am also not a partisan, which is blind spot for me when it comes to understanding party loyalties. I understand the DNC actively pushes Marxist (us v. them) Identity politics. I think that is a dangerous idea and I support all efforts to destroy the concept. This is a good time to promote https://1776unites.com/

    This was a needed clarification and a good one, too. I appreciate it. I also endorse promoting and supporting the 1776 Unites. They have some solid scholars refuting the distortions and lies of the 1619 Project.

    What do Republicans need to do to reach out to blacks? What do you think about Trump’s outreach. Is there anything in particular he should do better or change in his approach. Thanks!

    I’m not sure that Republicans are serious about black outreach, so to speak. Of course, Republicans say they are, but their actions, or lack thereof, speak much louder than what they say they want. If they were serious, why not encourage blacks who are Republican/conservative to speak in specific areas that are in desperate need of the practical tools republicanism/conservatism? They don’t even attempt to translate conservatism into a pragmatic message that blacks can understand, then use to their benefit. It’s not enough to appeal to middle class blacks who, whether they admit it or not, or know it or not, have appropriated bourgeois values/behaviors that make them more susceptible to conservatism/conservative principles. The message needs to be communicated to the black lower class so as to transcend the attitudes, ideas, and behaviors characteristic of moral and economic poverty. Conservative principles, are and have historically been– part of black conservatism going back to Frederick Douglass and especially to the under-appreciated Booker T. Washington. I appeal to these to great men as a proactive approach to diffuse claims/charges of conservatism being white or embracing conservatism is acting white (or race betrayal).

    As for Trump… he hasn’t pandered like politicians in the past (though the FSA is a somewhat constructive form of political pandering). He’s simply treated blacks as Americans– his policies, specifically his economic and environmental policies, haven’t been race based but have significantly helped American blacks. If he had people on his team effectively communicating that more consistently, it would help him.

    • #34
  5. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge
    Jeff Hawkins
    @JeffHawkins

    I think too many people miss the more obvious issue:

    Bernie’s version of socialism allows other sociopolitical and ethnic groups equal “most aggrieved” status.  It’s also very “white savior” in terms of invoking Scandinavian countries. The Democrat establishment still caters to blacks as our nation’s most affronted group even if they give some lip service to others.

    In terms of voting demographic generalizations:

    Blacks, on the whole, don’t care about student debt.  Most blacks if they want to go to high achieving, pricey schools that aren’t community colleges, have people begging to give them scholarship money and financial aid. Others are going to affordable community colleges.  The student debt that’s non-graduate is that middle swath of schools, liberal arts schools with not a lot of name value in the market that average students go to because they’re told they need to go to college, and have useless degrees because they’re 18 and don’t have the right mindset going in that you need something that teaches actual skill.  That’s generally a middle class white kid problem.

    They don’t care about wealth disparity so far as other people are upset about it.  It’s always been that way in their experience

    Blacks don’t care about gay marriage.  They get insulted when you equate it to civil rights. They used to really like not like illegal immigration either due to fighting for the same jobs, but it appears those jobs may not be desirable, it’s become acceptable.  

    They do care about abortion, they do think benefits take care of their community.  That’s why they’re unwinnable.

    Conservatives don’t cater, they want a set of rules out there, and for people to sink or swim, but the rules are known.  This translates as being uncaring.  That and the one thing white liberals bring to the black community, a fall guy for all the problems.  They point at us and say racist, and it’s believed.

    We blame systems.  They blame us personally.  It works.

    • #35
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Derryck Green (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    I have spent 15 years teaching medical students, quite a few of whom were black. The difference is that quite a few of the black students were not Americans. Some were African, one from Eritrea, some from West Indies, including Jamaica and Trinidad. They showed none of the pathology that seems to infect American black college students.

    I had two 4th graders in Maryland who were being raised in the same household. They were both “black”–one was born in the United States from an American-born black mother and another man. The other daughter had come from her birth mother in Nigeria to live with her father who was now married to the American black woman. The girls were not related, but lived in the same home. They had such different personalities.

    The father said to me at a conference once: “Why do American black people act like they do?? They live in the greatest country! There is every opportunity here! I cannot believe that so many choose to stay in poverty and don’t take advantage of the schools. They have no idea how blessed they are!”

    I’m sure his point of view would have really aggravated some of the people he was referring to, but I do get it. I also get how some American born-and-raised black people view life as they do. I wish there was something that could change it. But I’m not optimistic.

    African and black immigrants ask this question frequently. Most want no part in being identified with American blacks because of the destructive cultural elements that stigmatize us. I’ve had a college professor say as much. A friend who coached college basketball told me a story of a father of a black immigrant on the team. The father tells my friend, “I’m sending my son to school to get an education. Basketball pays for that. But the minute my son starts acting like one of your (American) blacks, I’ll be on the fist plane here to straighten him out. That behavior may be acceptable to them but he will not embarrass himself our our family.

    It’s very real.

    Fathers can be handy that way. 

    • #36
  7. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Derryck Green (View Comment):

    As for Trump… he hasn’t pandered like politicians in the past (though the FSA is a somewhat constructive form of political pandering). He’s simply treated blacks as Americans– and his policies, specifically his economic and environmental policies, haven’t been race based but have significantly helped American blacks. If he had people on his team effectively communicating that more consistently, it would help him.

    I worry that the moment they were identified as ‘on his team’ they would be dismissed out of hand/impugned by the press. 

    • #37
  8. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Derryck Green (View Comment):
    It’s not enough to appeal to middle class blacks who, whether they admit it or not, or know it or not, have appropriated bourgeois values and behaviors that make them more susceptible to conservatism.

    A lot of black middle class members are government employees and not likely to accept a conservative message that wants, as Barry Goldwater said, to reduce government’s size.

    I am a bit concerned that the prison release policies are pandering and will back fire.  Do the residents of dangerous neighborhoods really want to release all these felons and the kids that are shoplifting with impunity ?

    Of course, one way to learn is to ask but there are lots of activists who will object.

    • #38
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why can’t Blacks be like Polish-Americans or Irish-Americans where they have a stronger sense of ethnic identification than the average American but still feel more American than they feel Black.

    I agree. Even with the history of slavery, modern blacks have never lived that life (although older blacks have lived through Jim Crow). No one is asking for blacks as a group to ignore slavery. Instead, they should look at it as history that should never repeat itself. Think of “never again” and the Holocaust. Jewish people don’t let that terrible past keep them from moving forward in life, and there are still people alive who survived it. Modern Jews do have to deal with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but no one is calling for a return to slavery . . .

    My experience with West Indian black medical students suggests that slavery has little to do with it. Colin Powell comes from Jamaican black parents. I see lots of blacks from the West Indies whose ancestors had slavery but they do not show the same pathology American blacks have. I had one medical student who was a light skinned black (Often the most angry it seems to me ) who was behaving so oddly I feared he was schizophrenic. One patient (a white woman) threw him out of her room in the university hospital. After some time talking with him, I figured out that he had never talked to white adults. His parents were Black Panther members in Oakland. I finally wrote out a script for him to use in taking a medical history and introducing himself. He had no trouble with white classmates his own age.

    I thought most of the blacks who originated from the Caribbean islands were descendants of slaves . . .

    • #39
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Stad (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why can’t Blacks be like Polish-Americans or Irish-Americans where they have a stronger sense of ethnic identification than the average American but still feel more American than they feel Black.

    I agree. Even with the history of slavery, modern blacks have never lived that life (although older blacks have lived through Jim Crow). No one is asking for blacks as a group to ignore slavery. Instead, they should look at it as history that should never repeat itself. Think of “never again” and the Holocaust. Jewish people don’t let that terrible past keep them from moving forward in life, and there are still people alive who survived it. Modern Jews do have to deal with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but no one is calling for a return to slavery . . .

    My experience with West Indian black medical students suggests that slavery has little to do with it. Colin Powell comes from Jamaican black parents. I see lots of blacks from the West Indies whose ancestors had slavery but they do not show the same pathology American blacks have. I had one medical student who was a light skinned black (Often the most angry it seems to me ) who was behaving so oddly I feared he was schizophrenic. One patient (a white woman) threw him out of her room in the university hospital. After some time talking with him, I figured out that he had never talked to white adults. His parents were Black Panther members in Oakland. I finally wrote out a script for him to use in taking a medical history and introducing himself. He had no trouble with white classmates his own age.

    I thought most of the blacks who originated from the Caribbean islands were descendants of slaves . . .

    But also rebels. I am told that Jamaicans perceive themselves as descendants of slaves that couldn’t be controlled – so there is some pride there. 

    • #40
  11. MichaelKennedy Inactive
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why can’t Blacks be like Polish-Americans or Irish-Americans where they have a stronger sense of ethnic identification than the average American but still feel more American than they feel Black.

    I agree. Even with the history of slavery, modern blacks have never lived that life (although older blacks have lived through Jim Crow). No one is asking for blacks as a group to ignore slavery. Instead, they should look at it as history that should never repeat itself. Think of “never again” and the Holocaust. Jewish people don’t let that terrible past keep them from moving forward in life, and there are still people alive who survived it. Modern Jews do have to deal with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but no one is calling for a return to slavery . . .

    The West Indies blacks I had as students had none of the American black pathology in spite of a history of slavery. Perhaps being governed by black politicians longer has reduced the victim mentality.

    • #41
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    Why can’t Blacks be like Polish-Americans or Irish-Americans where they have a stronger sense of ethnic identification than the average American but still feel more American than they feel Black.

    I agree. Even with the history of slavery, modern blacks have never lived that life (although older blacks have lived through Jim Crow). No one is asking for blacks as a group to ignore slavery. Instead, they should look at it as history that should never repeat itself. Think of “never again” and the Holocaust. Jewish people don’t let that terrible past keep them from moving forward in life, and there are still people alive who survived it. Modern Jews do have to deal with a resurgence of anti-Semitism, but no one is calling for a return to slavery . . .

    The West Indies blacks I had as students had none of the American black pathology in spite of a history of slavery. Perhaps being governed by black politicians longer has reduced the victim mentality.

    Perhaps it was being governed by black politicians who weren’t maybe just using them as stepping stones to greater personal success and wealth?

    • #42
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