In the long arc of American political history, few demographics have been as crucially important as African Americans have, despite the fact that they’ve faced countless discriminatory hurdles over the years. Time and time again, America’s political process has been fundamentally upended by civil rights protests, campaign initiatives and social movements powered by the Black vote. Nonetheless, it seems like we only ever hear about how disenfranchised Black voters are, and the general consensus seems to be that people of color are a demographic worth ignoring.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here’s why the Black vote is actually so powerful in society, and how it can be leveraged to produce progressive gains for everyone.
Conservatives fear the Black vote
Perhaps the main cause of the Black vote’s power is how much conservatives fear people of color who are politically engaged and mobilized. Throughout American history, there are countless examples of a conservative counter-culture movement rising up in the face of progressive gains that help bolster the standing of oppressed Black voters throughout the nation. The most recent example is President Trump’s election, a clear illustration of white backlash to sizable developments made by left-leaning political coalitions that could only succeed with the help of Black voters.
As a matter of fact, the Republican party is engaged in a sinister campaign to suppress as many Black votes as possible precisely because it’s wise enough to understand that people of color who are politically mobilized pose a danger to the racist status quo. As long as the GOP is dependent on racism, it will always see stripping Black voters of their political rights as a necessity. Nonetheless, people of color and their like-minded allies throughout the United States will push on towards equality, undeterred by the racism that stands in their pathway.
The Black vote is so powerful precisely because it’s so unique in the United States; no other demographic has experienced American history quite like African Americans, and people of color who present as Black, have. No other racial group has been so consistently oppressed, nor have any other voters gained such immense experience dealing with a state and a political opposition that’s determined to stymie their political voice. All of this has the effect of rendering the Black vote powerful, because the coalition of Black voters across America have plenty of experience dealing with adversity and mobilization problems head on.
Democrats need Black voters
If there’s any doubt remaining about the true power of Black voters in this country, just look at how the Democratic party is courting them. Left-leaning politicians understand where their bread is buttered; if they want to win, they understand they need to cater to the political whims of the Black vote, which means championing racial equality, better public schools and accountable officials who won’t plunder the public treasury for dental SEO services rather than investing in our local communities.
As the recent Senate runoff in Mississippi illustrates, all Democratic initiatives in competitive areas of the country necessitate the support of Black voters. Time and time again, progressive candidates and Democrats are losing because Black voters in their district are seeing their right to vote taken away. In areas where progressive voting policies dominate, however, Democratic candidates and those promising to fight for racial equality thrive.
If the left-wing of the American political ecosystem is serious about achieving sizable gains for Black voters, however, it needs to kick it into overdrive when it comes to recruiting them into a big-tent coalition of likeminded voters.
Black voters hold the keys to the future
There are plenty of reasons to believe that Black voters hold the keys to the political future of the United States, and it’s growing increasingly obvious that politicians who ignore voters of color do so at their own peril. The DNC recently apologized to African American voters for letting them down precisely because it understands it must do a better job of reaching out to communities of color if it doesn’t want to get swamped by the Republicans come election season. The evidence of the power of the Black vote is right before our eyes, but we still lament how Black Americans aren’t “engaged enough,” as if they’re not fighting a constant uphill battle just to exercise their basic rights.
As the demographic tides shift and America becomes a more diverse country, the role of Black voters in the political process will become even more important. If left-leaning politicians want to succeed in the era of Donald Trump, they need to understand that his bigoted racism is an electoral anathema. The future belongs to those who recognize and champion the power of the Black vote. Expect to see more support for urban initiatives, fair voting policies and racial equality as time goes on — the ever-growing importance of the Black vote demands it.
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.