Will Democrats Lose Black Voters?

Allegedly black voters have not been responding to Hillary Clinton or others.

Here is an interesting headline from the Washington Post: “Why Hillary Clinton and her rivals are struggling to grasp Black Lives Matter.” I think it is interesting because the word “grasp” is ambiguous. It can mean “understand” or “catch hold of.” Is Hillary Clinton having trouble comprehending Black Lives Matter or is she having trouble capturing them as voters?

Amid the famous politicians, wealthy donors and top Democratic Party officials invited to New York last month to watch Hillary Rodham Clinton announce her presidential candidacy sat another VIP guest: a newcomer to politics, but a man whose presence at the event was sought by Clinton aides.

DeRay Mckesson, 30, one of the most visible organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement that has sprung up in the aftermath of protests in Ferguson, Mo., had received an invitation, and the campaign encouraged him to tweet his observations to his 178,000 followers.

He wasn’t impressed.

“I heard a lot of things. And nothing directly about black folk,” Mckesson wrote moments after the speech. “Coded language won’t cut it.”

Then, this week, Clinton rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley each began a frenetic push to appease Black Lives Matter activists who are angry about the way the two men handled a demonstration by the group at a liberal conference last weekend. O’Malley, a former governor of Maryland, appeared on a black-oriented talk show to say he made a mistake, while Sanders, a senator from Vermont, called activists to request meetings.

The strained interactions demonstrate the extent to which a vibrant new force on the left has disrupted traditional presidential politics, creating challenges for Democratic candidates who are facing intense pressure to put police brutality and other race-
related issues on the front burner ahead of the 2016 election.

The rise of Black Lives Matter has presented opportunities for Clinton and her opponents, who are seeking to energize black voters to build on the multiethnic coalitions that twice elected Barack Obama. But the candidates have struggled to tap into a movement that has proved unpredictable and fiercely independent. It is a largely organic web of young African American activists — many of them unbound by partisan allegiances and largely un­affiliated with establishment groups such as the NAACP that typically forge close ties with Democrats.

To these people’s credit, they don’t seem to be easily bought off. If you could simply purchase their endorsements then there would be no story about the Democrats’ struggles.

And it is understandable why they wouldn’t be quick to support Democrats. After all, African Americans did not prosper under the Obama Administration and Black employment sank horribly low. African Americans have been better off under white and even more conservative presidents.

But the fact that these black twitter activists are still looking at Democratic candidates indicates they really don’t understand the problem with Democrats and the economy.

Nor do they seem to really care about economic issues. The overwhelming sense one gets from the story is that  anytime politicians say that “all lives matter” (Clinton) or both “black lives matter” and “white lives matter” (O’Malley) these young guns get deeply offended that you don’t respect their unique persecution. (Because we all know white policemen never kill white people.)

In fact, despite the assumption in the story that Democrat politicians need these young black votes, the text seems to hint that they don’t really need their votes that much. They’ve got the older voters through the NAACP and other more “traditional” organizations, we are told. The main thing the politicians seem to want is to avoid the embarrassment of offending or being condemned by a large group of African Americans. Is that because they really can’t afford to lose the votes they represent? Or is it because their reputation with other Liberals would be hurt if it became public knowledge that Black Lives Matter didn’t want to vote Democrat?

All the rhetoric is aimed at the need for Democrats to understand the concerns of Black Lives Matter. But it isn’t clear that the people associated with Black Lives Matter really know what their concerns are.

I doubt twitter influence turns out that many votes. Perhaps Democrats can make it so we vote using our mobile phones. Then it might work. But as it stands, I don’t think it will matter too much if they get the “support” of Black Lives Matter.

Conservatives need to look for other African Americans. The ones who want to own guns are the people we should be reaching in the African American community. We should be reaching out to the many who don’t believe in same sex marriage. We should be pointing out the benefits of economic growth, which Democrats deny to the nation.

I don’t know if people with such concerns are the majority (yet). But I do think they are far more likely to show up and vote.