No more Fergusons means no more partisan manipulation
Dr. Lenora Fulani | 9/11/2014, 1:30 p.m.
Grief can be a terrible blinder. Tears fill our eyes and make it hard to see, even though we feel more clear-eyed in the face of tragedy. I fear that the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City will blind us and foster illusions about the political actions the Black community must take.
The messengers of the status quo, known to us as the Democratic Party, are knocking on our doors and stuffing our mailboxes with fliers. “Remember Ferguson,” they say. “So be sure to come out and vote in record numbers for Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate.” “At all costs,” we are told, “preserve the Democratic majority in the Senate.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton recently observed, “People feel like they would be betraying the spirit of what happened in Ferguson, as well as enabling this impeachment rhetoric, if there’s a low turnout.”
What a trap. We who have been victimized by a profound and never-ending racial violence are to be blamed if we do not turn out in record numbers to prevent the Democratic Party from losing seats in the Senate. Need I mention that the governor of Missouri and the mayor of New York City are both Democrats?
I am an independent, not a Democrat. I ran for president as an independent. In 1988, I became the first African-American and the first woman to access the ballot in all 50 states. In 1992, I forged an alliance with the Perot movement, propelling a multi-racial movement to reform the electoral process. Today, 42 percent of Americans are independents, many are people of color.
It’s old news that we are taken for granted by the Democrats and that our political power is diminished by voting in predictable ways. And yet we are again being told that the Democratic Party is our savior and the Republican Party is evil incarnate. Neither is true.
Because of open primaries in Mississippi in which all voters are free to choose to vote in any primary, Black voters cast their ballots against the tea party candidate in the Republican Senate primary runoff. The whole world took notice because this voter mobility allowed Black people to slam the door on the far right. The more mobility we have, the more powerful we can be. In 2005, I led a New York City coalition that pulled 47 percent of Black voters away from the Democratic Party for independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Democratic Party bigwigs from Hillary Clinton to Eliot Spitzer went on a rampage to undercut us. We survived, but the message to the Black community was clear: Stay put, politically speaking, or you will pay a price. We have largely stayed put. And we continue to pay a heavy price for that.
Electing Barack Obama was a great accomplishment for the nation. But his ability to lead is impaired by the demands the Democratic Party places on him to re-enforce its power. Black people feel very protective of Obama. He is Black, and he has come under vicious attack. The Democratic Party exploits this by requiring loyalty to the party above all else.