Democrats and Republicans must do more to engage African Americans

Jeffrey L. Boney (NNPA Newswire Political Analyst) | 8/20/2018, 10:39 a.m.
When it comes to politics in this country, there is one thing that seems to be a constant—the Black vote ...
Voters cast their picks in Jackson for the Mississippi primary contest on Tuesday, March 8. CNN photo

When it comes to politics in this country, there is one thing that seems to be a constant—the Black vote is important and always tends to make a difference.

Although Blacks make up roughly 13 percent of the overall population in the United States, Black voters remain a powerful voting bloc that can change the trajectory of any election.

Now, it is no secret that Black people overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates in nearly every national election, with identical results being shown in local and state elections.

Even in elections where a race is considered to be nonpartisan, such as for a Mayor or City Council seat, Black people have historically voted for the candidates that have self-identified or campaigned as a Democrat.

While this has been the norm for decades, Black people have been on the receiving end of neglect and disparate treatment by candidates who win with the overwhelming support of the Black vote.

It is an interesting phenomenon to watch, as Black people are strategically sought after and courted for their vote, with the hope of securing their collective support for specific candidates or certain issues. Black people are typically courted with the same archaic methods to get them registered and to the polls, while providing limited resources for voter outreach and education.

On the surface, African Americans are marketed to as if their sacred vote means so much, but historically that often changes once their vote is cast.

The way African American voters are treated, it is as if they have become a political piñata.

You know what a “piñata is right?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “piñata” is “a decorated container filled with candies, fruits, and gifts that is hung up at parties or celebrations and hit with a stick by blindfolded persons until it is broken and the things inside it fall out.”

As it relates to voting, African Americans are often treated like the treats on the inside of a piñata. They don’t care how they get Black votes, they just want that vote no matter how Blacks are treated or handled. Blacks are consistently pounded and beat over the head with political messages during campaign season until they give up their precious and valuable vote. Then once that piñata is finally opened, or in this case when the Black votes are finally cast, Black voters are either forgotten or vilified depending on the outcome of the race.

The routine is simple. When the results don’t go the way those who courted the Black vote wanted it to go, they blame the Blacks for the results. However, when the outcome is favorable to those who courted the Black vote, they celebrate the results, reap the benefits and then essentially ignore those same loyal, African American voters after the election is over.

Because Black voters overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates, it would make sense for the Democratic Party to avoid treating Blacks like piñatas and taking them for granted.

At a recent plenary session at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Annual Convention in Detroit, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez emphatically stated that the Democratic Party had become notorious for taking African Americans for granted.