The Washington Post reported that a Census Bureau report released in May showed that the rate of African American voters in the 2012 presidential election surpassed that of whites for the first time in history. “About two in three eligible blacks (66.2 percent) voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites who did so,” the study showed.
What was also important of the report was that Black people were the only race or ethnic group to show a significant increase between the 2008 and 2012 elections in the likelihood of voting (from 64.7 percent to 66.2 percent). The 2012 increase in voting among blacks continues what has been a long-term trend: since 1996, turnout rates have risen 13 percentage points to the highest levels of any recent presidential election.
There is no question that President Obama being up for election motivated black voters, young and old. What the 2008 and 2012 election has shown us, is that our vote is vital, especially to the Democratic Party. What many blacks fail to realizes is that the power that Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X and many others, that spoke of the power of the vote. Blacks literally have it in their hands, but we don’t talk about it enough or strategize around this power.
“We just can’t come out when Obama is running,” said Mayo Bartlett Esq. “Every election counts.”
Because at the end of the day what have Black people received for their vote on a local, state and national level?
“We can rally around our Black elected officials but when the “Common Black Folk” do not see any change than many lose hope in the system,” said Damon K. Jones, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
The Black vote is so important even Sen. Rand Paul has seen the need to get the Black vote. Sen. Rand Paul tells POLITICO that the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 could capture one-third or more of the African-American vote by pushing criminal-justice reform, school choice and economic empowerment.
But Black people have heard that talk before.
America’s recession may be over for the country as a whole, but many aren’t feeling the recovery. Black unemployment remains double, than that for whites. The median income gap between white and black households has hit a record high. Blacks have half the access to health care as whites. The gap in homeownership is wider today than it was in 1990. African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to have suffered foreclosure.
Net wealth for black families dropped by 27.1 percent during the recession. One in 15 African-American men is incarcerated, compared with one in 106 white men. Blacks make up 38 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons. Although only 13.8 percent of the U.S. population, African-Americans represent 27 percent of those living below the poverty line.
We haven’t learned how to block out vote for candidates that are going to work for us,” said Bartlett.
There has also been a plethora of “Police Crimes” against Blacks throughout the nation. The riots in Ferguson, Mo. after the killing of Mike Brown- an unarmed black teen shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer has brought into question of the over militarization of our counties police force. What many Black communities have seen from their elected officials has been lip service in addressing the problem.
In June of this year, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced an amendment to halt the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars of military-grade weapons and equipment to local police annually. The amendment overwhelmingly failed, and just seven out of 41 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) supported it.
What is most troublesome is that Ferguson’s own congressman is Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.); who is a member of the CBC, voted against demilitarizing police.
“This shows us that many of our own Black elected officials do not have our interest,” said Jones.
“The CBC needs to be called on the carpet for failure to support legislation that could have been the first step in changing the mindset of our Law Enforcement agencies,” said Jones.
The New York Times reports that the CBC is campaigning on what happened in Ferguson to turn out African-American voters for 2014.
“Ferguson has made it crystal clear to the African-American community and others that we’ve got to go to the polls,” said Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia and a civil-rights leader. “You participate and vote, and you can have some control over what happens to your child and your country.”
Unfortunately, John Lewis can’t expect to rally around Ferguson when even black elected officials have failed to support legislation to change Cities like Ferguson around the country.
If political parties want the Black vote to be truly energized they must begin to address the interest of the black community not just by lip service but also through real comprehensive legislation. And if Black people really want to be respected for their vote we must understand that are vote has a price and that’s legislation to ensure the future of our communities or after Obama all will be lost.