In what was formally a confidential memo that has since been exposed by the New York Times, a former pollster for President Obama offered a very blunt assessment of what Democrats can expect on Election Day. Cornell Belcher warned of “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do secure more Black votes.
Belcher went on to explain why such a feat may be unattainable given when “over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.” So now, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pouring tens of millions into an initiative that directly targets the kind of voters needed to maintain control of the Senate – particularly for races in states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia. Meanwhile, prominent Back elected officials and surrogates (good day, pastors) are being deployed to encourage us Negroes to get to the polls.
These efforts would be more impressive if they didn’t reek of desperation. If Black votes matter so much to the Democratic Party, where was the attention to our needs 18 months ago? It seems as if the Democrats’ original plans to maintain control of the Senate still appeared within reach, there would not be this sudden rush to boost Black voter turnout.
If there’s any one Democrat who could prompt more Blacks to turnout in a traditionally low voting year overall, it would be President Obama. Unfortunately, many Democratic candidates have placed distance between themselves and Obama. To the point that he has only been booked to appear in less than 10 campaign events. Some call this independence, but I consider it an act of cowardice.
Ken Salazar, a former senator from Colorado who served as Interior secretary during Obama’s first term, argued that in order for, Senator Mark Udall (D-Co) to win, Udall must show that he stands for “the Colorado way, not the Obama way or the Democratic way.” Yes, vote for the Democrat who doesn’t stand for the Democratic platform or the Democratic president who helped Udall get elected in the first place.
Then there is Kentucky Democratic candidate for Senate, who not only initially refused to acknowledge whether or not she voted for Obama, but also ran an attack ad leveled against Obama this summer. Never mind the reality that while many Kentuckians have never liked Obama, they despise Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for opposing the health care reform that is Obama’s creation. The same can be said of doing everything in his power to make sure nothing gets done in Washington.
Although Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) was brave enough to admit that he voted for his party’s nominee in an interview with the Washington Examiner, he added, “The president’s not relevant. He’s gone in two years.” Vote for Mark Begich: So Democrats can keep the Senate and do absolutely nothing because the president is irrelevant. Are you fired up and ready to go, y’all?
And while it’s less harmful to bash the nation’s first Black president in states like Kentucky and Alaska, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Georgia, did admit voting for Obama, but also complained about an attack ad by her Republican opponent, David Perdue, for featuring a “misleading photo of her” with the president. Surprise, surprise: The only way Nunn wins this race is if she boosts Black voter turnout in key areas like ATL, shawty.
Georgia Democrats recently released a flyer with two Black children holding up “Don’t Shoot” signs coupled with the caption, “If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future — vote. It’s up to you to make change happen.”
It is as patronizing as it is misleading. After all, much of the blame in the mishandling of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson goes to Missouri Democrats presently wasting space in office. Just ask some of the St. Louis County residents now asking Black voters to consider voting GOP next month in order to punish those very Democrats.
Ultimately, Democrats realize that Obama is unpopular among White voters, but so much of that is their own fault. They do not defend their president or his record in spite of Republican obstructionism. And to be fair, part of that is Obama’s fault, too. Former Obama Senior Advisor, David Axelrod, highlighted that Obama “can be negligent in the symbolism” of the presidency.
Even so, Democrats should be supportive of their Democratic president especially if they want a core constituency to be excited about supporting them in an election. So if they fail this November, it is their own fault. And if they want more Black support in future midterm elections, they ought to start the work early as opposed to when they’re left with no other option.