Thursday, March 31, 2016

Color Change

I've heard, time and again, that being a staunchly Democratic voting block does not serve the Black community in the United States well. There are many reasons, some deeply partisan (like the idea that cynical Democratic politicians are hoodwinking naïve {or stupid} Black voters) and others less so, but the simple fact of politics is that if your votes are not considered "in play," then you'll be mostly sidelined in favor of votes that take more active, and visible, work to get.

But the fact of the matter remains that if a group of people tend to vote as a group, the political utility is commonly a function of their ability to play kingmaker. Black voters may be able to hold Democratic politicians in some areas hostage, but in areas where Republicans can already win elections, what good does it do Blacks to defect to them? Given the racial politics of the modern-day United States, Republican candidates have even less incentive to be seen as beholden to the Black electorate than Democratic ones.

In politics, as in a number of other facets of life, beggars can't be choosers. Republicans tout their general alignment with the socially conservative values of the Black population, and claim that their free market ideals will result in a sudden explosion of jobs so large that Black people won't be able to help finding well-paid work, but the fact remains that if Black voters were to turn red, en masse, they'd simply be another group in the Republican tent - and to the degree that Republicans can win elections with only small numbers of Black votes now, one they could do without. There's no way that there would be any pressure to enact specific policies that aided Black Americans any more than any other group. If Republican ideals failed to raise the living standards and status to Black voters to the degree that they wanted, what recourse would they have? Rising tides may raise all boats, but that's different than saying that it raises them all to the same level, when that requires the tide to lift some boats higher than others.

Identity politics are generally a losing game for minority groups, especially in the face of a single majority group. When authority relies on numbers, smaller numbers are always at a disadvantage. Choosing, or refusing to choose, a political faction will not change that.

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