For decades, African Americans have voted more reliably Democratic than any other ethnic or special interest group. President Obama himself received over 95% of the black vote in 2008 and 2012. But rather than appreciate this almost unshakable loyalty, Democrats have taken the black vote for granted. I have often declared to black audiences that we have been in an “adulterous relationship with the Democratic Party. They knock on our door at midnight! Sometimes as late as the Sunday before the Tuesday. They want what they want, the way they want it; but later on, we don't get flowers, romance, or respect. Not even the occasional dinner!”
Audiences typically roar with laughter at this analogy. But it has grown worse than I have projected in the past. Blacks are the only “kept women” in the political landscape that have to pay their own rent. We actually pay for the opportunity to be apart of an emotionally abusive relationship. We don't act as though we deserve a genuine relationship - so we settle for leftovers and empty promises.
Fear-mongering and demagoguery serve only to muddy the waters and to prevent voters from holding their elected officials accountable. Sadly for African Americans, the politics of grievance have been good enough for them. By politics of grievance I mean that when a demagogue speaks out against policies he feels are harmful to his people, he wins a reputation as a champion among that ethnic group. Unfortunately when such political rants are not connected with problem-solving or follow-though, it reduces the politicians to a mere con men status.
Even worse, if the political diatribes brought forth by a politician are laced with the arsenic of non-provable social theories or untruths; then you have a recipe for leaders retarding the progress of the people they serve. This very scenario has been the legacy of blacks and other minorities connecting their destiny with only one party.
Any leader who is genuinely invested in improving the standard of living of blacks and other minorities would urge them to evaluate each candidate and policy issue critically. The most manipulative and insulting strategy to win minority votes is to dismiss all Republicans as racist. This does not signal efforts to improve opportunities; it is an attempt to secure another fifty years of blind party loyalty regardless of the human cost.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.