It appears the majority of Republicans are, at least in the 2016 race for the presidency, conceding the black vote to Democrats.
There was at one recent point an effort by the Republican Party to market itself as more inclusive and diverse in order to attract black voters, who more often that not in presidential elections, and in other political contest, vote Democrat. The result of that initiative seems to be minuscule or non-existent, and it appears now that the majority of Republicans are, at least in the 2016 race for the presidency, conceding the black vote to Democrats before even attempting to earn it. In contrast, the Democratic candidates, Mr. Bernie Sanders and Mrs. Hillary Clinton, have both thus far met with various black leaders, spoke candidly about racism and race relations—though not always succinctly—and have touted the endorsements they received from the loved ones of those black individuals killed by police violence.
Mr. Trump, who said he’s capable of winning the black vote, last year in New York City met with a group of black pastors, some of whom pledged to support him, and he’s received the endorsement of the National Black Republican Association. But that’s the extent of contact Mr. Trump, who at 38% percent in a new CNN/ORC South Carolina poll is well ahead of his competitors, has had visibly with black constituents while on the campaign trail. And as pundits have already noted, South Carolina, whose primary is four days away, is made up of many black voters.
The Republican presidential candidates have, to-date, rarely spoken publicly about, nor offered solutions to, the issues unique to African-Americans, like criminal justice and police-community relations. When Mr. Trump during the last debate was asked how he’d bridge the gap between police and the communities they serve, he acknowledged the gap exist, but then went on a tangent about how police—not the black people who are, compared to their white counterparts, four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession—are mistreated in America. And despite the response lacking cohesion, it was probably the longest the Republican front-runner has spent discussing the issue of American policing in the #BlackLivesMatter era.
To be fair to the Republican candidates, Ohio Governor John Kasich at that same debate boasted about the “collaborative between police and community leaders” he created; Mr. Jeb Bush in July of 2015 during his remarks at the National Urban League’s annual conference spoke briefly about restorative justice; Mr. Marco Rubio during a 2015 speech in Detroit talked about police-community relations but said he isn’t sure how Washington can help; and Mr. Ted Cruz in an essay collection published by the Brennan Center for Justice wrote about the disappearance of trial by jury in criminal cases, the leverage mandatory minimums give prosecutors and the criminal code.
But the aforementioned, compared to how frequently Democratic candidates have discussed and embraced these issues, makes the Republicans appear as if the black vote is out of reach, thus not warranting from them measurable thought-leadership on the subjects of great concerns to black voters. And maybe it’s true that no matter what they say, blacks will vote Democrat anyway, but to see the Republican presidential candidates not even try to engage the topics germane to criminal justice and policing is disheartening, and, to a degree, hints that maybe none are really prepared to lead in an era made tumultuous by racial strife, police brutality and failed criminal justice policies.
CLICK HERE to listen to ‘Why the Black Vote Matters,’ a podcast from The Dr. Vibe Show featuring a panel of black male thought-leaders, including the co-founder of the ‘Vote or Die’ movement.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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