Black lives and black issues have gotten a lot of exposure during the Democratic presidential primary, but as author Steve Phillips points out in The Nation magazine, black people have largely been shutoff from the flow of political cash that Democrats shower grassroots organizations with to get out the vote. In a characteristically epic rant, NewsOne Now host and award-winning journalist Roland Martin called out the Democratic Party for treating black voters like “political sharecroppers… tilling the field, but not wanting to pay.”
Martin also criticized President Obama for not doing more to improve black political infrastructure:
The President was elected, and I made it clear, at the most, he’s only going to be there eight years. And so what is left after eight years? And the bottom line is, if you don’t have an infrastructure, if you don’t have black folks who are top strategists, if you don’t have black folks who are in these PACs, and look, Cornell (Belcher, Democratic pollster) can’t say it, I’ma go ahead and say it, this party has consistently thrown money at largely white pollsters, Cornell should be getting far more business, black political consultants should be getting far more business, and again, it’s political sharecropping.
After a lengthy panel discussion on the topic, Roland stuck the landing right on the Democratic Party’s power structure, challenging DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the heads of other party organizations, like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governor’s Association, to come on his show and explain their “black plan”:
What you are not going to continue to do is come to black people and ask for our votes, and beg for us to save your behind on Election Day, and you don’t want to spend the money. Let me be clear: I am not a slave. I have no chains, and I damn sure am not interested in being a political sharecropper!
Black voters have long been the most reliable and most active Democratic constituency, in no small part because Republicans have done so much of the Democrats’ work for them, but the dynamic that he describes isn’t just messed up from a moral point of view, it’s also incredibly shortsighted. The Democrats’ attitude seems to be that spending money on black votes is like paying for something you already have, but even though black voter turnout is high in presidential election years, there are still enough black votes sitting on the sidelines to swing elections in places like Georgia. Donald Trump is sure as hell working on turning out more of a certain kind of white voter, so any money spent turning out black votes would seem to be money well spent.
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