By Roger Caldwell
In the 2012 election cycle, black voter turnout surpassed the white vote for the first time since 1996. This was a phenomenal achievement, and it was due to the massive turnout of black women. Basically, this confirmed the fact that black women were the most motivated and organized category in the country, when it came to voting in 2012.
But in 2014, the Republican Party was more organized and motivated, and now there are 31 governorships, many of the state legislatures are Republican, and the Republicans control the majority in both Houses in the federal government. There are many excuses that the Democrats can give, but there is no excitement and outreach in the leadership of the party. Many in the party think that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz is the wrong person to lead the Democratic Party, but no group has challenged her authority.
As the 2016 election draws near, the leadership in the black community appears to be disorganized with no clear cut plan to rally the black vote. The Black Lives Matter movement initiated civic engagement and communication with the two Democratic presidential candidates, but nothing substantial came out of the talks. Both Democratic presidential candidates together have over 30 key black executive staffers, but there is still a major disconnect with the black community.
With nine months until the election, black leadership has not developed a comprehensive black agenda to get grassroots blacks to vote in the primary. “People don’t think black folks are going to turn out because President Obama is no longer on the ticket, but we were voting long before that. In order to make change happen, we have to get out the vote,” says Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
How to get black Americans out to vote in 2016 is a question that is very hard to answer. There is a generational divide between the young black political organizations and the older established civil rights organizations. The younger black organizations have made a real impact in driving the national conversation around race, but what are the next steps with the black community?
The Democrats know they cannot win the presidential office without blacks showing up at the polls and voting. In 2012, blacks voted and registered in record numbers, but in 2016 there appears to be a lack of enthusiasm and excitement with both of the Democratic candidates. Neither one of the Democratic candidates at this point has spent any significant money in the black community to get the vote out.
In order for blacks to not be left out of the Democratic presidential primary, key Hillary and Bernie black staffers must reach out to the black community. It is extremely important that the black media and black organizations receive funding early in the process, and not be one of the last groups to share in the primary pie.
The Democratic Party and campaigns have a history of waiting toward the end of the election cycle, before they spend money in the black community, with the black media, and black organizations. Key black political staffers are at the table with both Democratic presidential campaigns, but the black community appears to be left out.
Hillary and Bernie have been able to raise millions of dollars, but what is their plan to get the black community engaged. Getting blacks out to vote is essential for either one of the Democratic presidential candidates to win and now is the time for the candidates to spend money in the black community across the country. It is great that there are more blacks working on the presidential campaigns in key positions, but to win, the black community must be engaged and excited about its position in the campaign.