An Insignificant Minority?
– Robert Patillo
An Insignificant Minority?
On November 6th 2012, Barack Obama, American’s first African-American President was re-elected. In the post-election analysis, the President’s political team of David Plouffe and David Axelrod have been credited with putting together the most sophisticated political apparatus our nation has ever seen. The Obama team used demographic data and sophisticated computer models to target “decided” voters in swing districts to persuade them to vote as opposed to persuading undecided voter to vote for the President’s re-election. Political common knowledge has long dictated that the candidate that wins independent voters wins the election; however under the leadership of the Obama team the President bucked this trend, winning re-election while losing to his opponent among swing voters.
From the rubble of the2012 race what has become glaringly clear is that the balance of the Electoral College swung on the strength of only a few swing counties in battleground state. By putting together a coalition of single college educated white women and Latino/Hispanic voters, the President secured office despite horrific economic number and the loss of enthusiasm that existed in 2008. However, this coalition was far from a matter of happenstance or coincidence. The President’s team foresaw the need for this exact alliance in aftermath of the 2008 race. From his first days in office the President worked to secure the support of Latino voters and the increase his appeal to the single white female voting bloc. One of this first acts as President was the sign into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act to support equal pay for women. It was the right thing to do and it was long overdue. The President used his two opportunities to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court on Justices Sotomayor and Kagen. Both Female and one Latina. President Obama fought for the DREAM act which would allow the children of Illegal immigrants who have come to this country as children through no fault of their own to remain here and have a path to citizenship and when that failed in the Congress signed an executive order temporarily inscribing this into law. It was the right thing to do and it was long overdue.
But in the euphoria of this new coalition, while basking in the glow of electoral magic that the Obama team has pulled off one group has been forgotten. The bedrock of the President’s support both in 2008 and in 2012 has in large part been politically forgotten with regards to public policy initiatives. The singular group whom has given Democrats generally and The President specifically over 98% of their vote in the last two General Elections cycles has become all but an insignificant minority. This group of course is African- American voters. There have been no Rose Garden signing ceremonies for the President dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex. No grand speeches setting forth an agenda to renew our inner cities. Not even a press release condemning the execution of Troy Davis or asking the State to end the Practice of Felony Disenfranchisement.
African-Americans have become the fat girl at the school dance with regards to American politics. Democrats don’t have to court them because they know they can always get her anyway and Republicans don’t court her because they don’t really want her or need her. So what must African American Voters do in the second term of the Obama administration do to become politically significant? What should they do to no longer be an insignificant minority?