When Florida’s black voters fill out their absentee ballots or go to the polls and vote on or before election day, Nov. 2, will they primarily vote in the predictable manner learned since civil rights marches and demonstrations of the 1960s?
Back then, the dominant strategy utilized to get illiterate and semi-literate mostly first-time voters to the polls after grueling struggles to get blacks registered to vote, mainly in the Deep South, was to make sure they understood to vote only for the Democratic candidates on the ballot.
Of course, the results of that strategy helped to keep the same ruthless white nationalist Dixiecrats in total power throughout the South and liberal white supremacists in key positions throughout the North as that voting trend went national. Blacks began running for office as Democrats and winning all over the country, swaying even more blacks to the Democratic Party. Times are changing, though. American politics in the 21st century is becoming increasingly diverse, even variegated. As a bellwether state, Florida politics exemplifies that change.
Kendrick Meek, the African American Democratic congressman from Miami, is running for the U. S. Senate, as is white Republican-Independent Charlie Crist, current governor of Florida, and Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American far-right conservative Republican and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
Rubio’s camp is apparently proceeding with certitude that blacks will mainly vote Democratic all the way, which will eliminate Crist as a formidable contender because Meek will carry the black vote even though he cannot win. Crist needs the black vote in order to overtake Rubio, who has marshaled the Republican right wing, the Tea Party and Reagan/Blue Dog Democratic voters.
Crist has moderates of both major parties and Independents and Meek has liberal and some moderate Democratic voters. However, Meek’s poll numbers lag at a distant third behind Rubio and Crist. If black voters fail to analyze where there is a quid pro quo or return on the investment of their vote or, God forbid, choose not to vote at all, they will have no juice with the newly elected U. S. Senator from Florida.
Meek is sitting in the proverbial catbird seat and stands to win even if he loses the Senate race. Obviously, Meek’s aides are positioned to negotiate with both Rubio’s and Crist’s key strategists because if, or when, either wins the Senate seat (if not the long shot Meek) he will want to work with Meek, who is an effective Washington insider.
In short order Meek, will be laughing all the way to the bank as a wealthy Washington, D. C., insider/lobbyist on K Street, where the powerful stake out. Smartly, Meek has paved the way with eight years in the U. S. House of Representatives and membership on the powerful Ways and Means committee. He has access to President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the congressional leadership and he knows Washington.
Add to that the fact that Meek has seven years’ experience in the Legislature: three years in the House and four years in the Senate.
Florida state government, industries, corporations and local governments, trade associations, unions and other special interests are probably already at Meek’s door because they understand his value. So Meek has taken care of Meek. All right? Now, how will the black communities of Florida benefit if Rubio is elected to the U.S. Senate? Is anybody over there black negotiating for black people?
As an independent centrist in the U. S. Senate, Crist would bring a needed leveling to that body, which could be a boon to our troubled and deeply divided nation. As such, he could not help but be a valuable aid to President Obama.
Irrespective of Obama’s assistance to Meek’s campaign, which is no more than party politics, if significant numbers of Florida voters of African descent cast their votes for Crist, everybody wins; America wins.
Al Calloway may be reached at Al_Calloway@Verizon.net.