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Republicans Remind Black Americans They Don't Want Us
Black Voters Punish Republicans For Embracing Hate
On paper, the Republican Party should have a fighting chance among Black voters. In aggregate, Black voters are relatively pro-business, not radical when it comes to social policy, and are quite religious. If the Republican Party had anything resembling a rational grip on reality it would be a contender for the Black vote in America.
But the Republican Party absolutely hates Black people, so that’s a bit of a stumbling block.
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We are seeing this reality pop up again in the controversy over flailing and failing presidential candidate Ron DeSantis’ backwards education standards in Florida. Not happy with purging liberal academics, the geniuses installed by DeSantis and his fellow travelers have chosen to argue that slavery has upsides.
Yes, the darkest mark on American history — a mark that has extended for hundreds of years until today — is also seen by DeSantis and his ilk as some sort of trades education program, where Black people, who were the property of others, could learn to be blacksmiths. How nice and wonderful.
This thing is so bad that people like Rep. Byron Donalds and Sen. Tim Scott, who are more than happy to work as the Republican Party’s Black Friend, have even spoken up about it. Of course, it isn’t that I believe that either of those two characters have integrity. They are, after all, more than happy to shill for Donald Trump, a klansman with a business suit and a long red tie. It’s just that even they know that this looks bad for Republicans, even by their subterranean standards.
Odious ideas like this are mainstreamed within the world of the right because the party has been oriented for years around attacking, belittling, and dehumanizing Black people. This isn’t something that just popped up with Trump. Barry Goldwater, who ignited the modern conservative movement, was opposed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and represented such a threat to Black lives that Dr. Martin Luther King took a rare venture into partisan politics by openly opposing his candidacy.
Since then, Republicans from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Donald Trump have gotten significant mileage and political capital out of attacking Black people. It is such a part of conservative politics that they inhale the venom like oxygen. Hours and hours of conservative media programming, like on Fox News and on talk radio, the idea that Black people are devolved monsters that need to be killed or at a minimum, locked away from good white people, is bandied about. This was a constant refrain of leading conservative intellectual, Rush Limbaugh, who has been dead for several years I should remind you.
Understandably, Black people don’t like this. We don’t like being on the receiving end of right wing smears and attacks. This mindset is literally killing Black people, either through police departments gone wild, disparities in medical care by race, income disparities that have persisted for decades, and just a social contagion brought about by a society that insists on othering you for no reason but the color of your skin.
Even in an era where we have now had eight years of a Black president and are in the third year of having a Black vice president, the weight of racism still ways heavily on Black people. And the Republican Party loves it.
The Republican Party loves racism because it whips up their core voters who are bigots, and I believe, because this is what so much of the party’s leadership truly believes in. It isn’t all cynical politics, with Republicans in their hearts knowing this is wrong but stoking the fires for votes. You can’t have hate be this pervasive without embracing it yourself.
So Black people don’t vote for Republicans. Among the most lopsided demographics in American politics are the percentages of Black voters, especially Black women, who vote for Democrats. Yes, most of the Black candidates who run for office do so as Democrats, but that’s not it. And it isn’t that the Democratic Party is a model of perfection on racial matters, even in 2023.
But in a two party system, Black voters are logical and rational actors. Moreso than other demographics, because of our shared unique history in America, Black voters are very skeptical of being wrapped up in emotions and the moment. Think back to the early days of the 2008 election, when most Black voters were with Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, because she seemed like the more practical choice when Obama was the sentimental one. It wasn’t until Obama showed strength with white voters in the Iowa caucus that Black voters took the plunge.
This logic and rationality showed up again in 2020, when Black Democrats picked Biden over the other candidates — including Kamala Harris — because Biden seemed to them the one best positioned to take on the racism and incompetence of Trump.
Democrats are the beneficiaries of Black voter logic because the party has smartly not embraced the right’s bigotry. Even if the party is being insincere in this, it is the smart thing to do from a practical point of view. It’s just dumb at any point in history to be the racist party, but in the current year it is also electorally inept.
Republicans complain that Democrats are fooling Black voters, that Black voters should know that the Democratic Party had a long history of racism (everyone knows this and also understands the party of Bull Connor isn’t the same party of Barack Obama), and argue that Black voters are “on the Democratic plantation.”
It is this last one that is the tell. Because in invoking the plantation, it shows that the right doesn’t truly believe Blacks are smart enough to make their own choices. They believe that we are dummies who are still in intellectual bondage, doing the bidding of our Democratic Party masters.
They simply cannot conceive of a scenario in their minds that Black people are making an intelligent and informed decision in their politics, that Black voters on their own are perfectly capable of choosing the party where civil rights activists like the late John Lewis made their home for decades over the party of George W. Bush’s Katrina, Donald Trump’s “shithole” nations, and Ron DeSantis’ trade school slavery.
They can’t understand the idea of the smart Black voter, which is why they will never get their votes.
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