The lazy, stupid analysis of the ‘Black vote’ obscures the most important political issue of our time
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Will Black people turn out for the Democratic Party? Why is Biden losing the support of Black men? Are Black voters really embracing the GOP? Who will stop Candace Owens’ Blexit movement now that Diddy, Charlamagne and the Shade Room are no longer on the proverbial “Democratic Plantation?”
These are the questions that need answering.
But, as the 2024 election cycle gradually shifts into high gear, your favorite pundits, political analysts and professional commentators are finding new ways to discuss and dissect the upcoming presidential sweepstakes. As usual, these pseudo-soothsayers have settled on one segment of the electorate as the most important factor in what could be the season finale of American-style democracy.
The “Black vote.”
According to Newsweek, Donald Trump is poised to win more Black votes than any Republican in history, and Pew Research notes that “Black voters could play an important role in determining the outcome of key 2024 elections, including for U.S. president.” Even though an October poll found that nearly four out of five Black voters wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump, the New York Times chose to characterize less than 100 Black Trump supporters scattered across six stats as a national negro “drift to Trump.” To be fair, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., may have just been repeating something he heard at a high school dance when he recently bragged: “There’s a Julio and Jamaal ready to sign up for the MAGA movement.”
Let’s get this out of the way: Black people are not going to vote for a Republican. It ain’t gonna happen.
Nearly a century has passed since a Republican presidential nominee even came close to winning a majority of the Black vote (Herbert Hoover in 1928 was the last). It is asinine, bordering on malpractice, for a journalist to publicly suggest that one of the most vociferously anti-Black candidates could achieve what no Republican has done in the last 96 years. Setting aside the media’s lazy, inexplicably stupid exercise in speculative fiction, one wonders why the mainstream media narrative seems to intentionally avoid the one topic that — when it comes to presidential elections — is more important and more mathematically relevant.
What about the white voters?
I haven’t seen the insurrection polling data or the turnout from Trump rallies but judging from the hyperbolic handwringing on cable news, you’d almost think that Black people make up the majority of voters in this country. The same organization (Pew Research) that said that thing about the “important role” of Black voters in 2024 knows that 55% of non-Hispanic whites voted for Trump in 2020, while 92% of Black voters, 59% of Hispanics and 7% of Asians voted for his opponent. Political scientists concede that white voters of both parties are more likely to switch parties when the candidate is Black. The New York Times article about Black voters drifting to the GOP didn’t even mention white people!
Why the erasure?
This is the white vote. In 2020, the white vote made up 67% of the electorate, yet pundits are willing to hopscotch over the “white vote” because they already know what white people will do at the ballot box. Whether it is Democrat or Republican, white voters have not been as concerned with party politics as much as they have been obsessed with whiteness.
Historically, the majority of white people in America always, always always vote for the opposite of what Black people want. Poor whites will vote for a party that opposes raising the minimum wage, taxing the rich and providing health care because, in white identity politics, policy does not matter. White women will support politicians who want to control their reproductive rights because whiteness matters more. Suburban moms want good schools and safe neighborhoods but vote for candidates who oppose police reform and accurate history.
This is the white vote.
I struggle to think of a single other issue that is discussed in such an intentionally obtuse manner. Imagine if ESPN only talked about special teams during their football coverage or if your child’s first-grade English teachers refused to discuss vowels. What if the Weather Channel only covered places where the sun is shining? Even when someone dares approach the issue, the “white vote” must be euphemized as “soccer moms” or “NASCAR dads” — as if we don’t know who the “rural voters” wearing “blue collars” in “red districts” are referring to.
It’s almost like they’re trying to build a narrative.
White voters are the reason why democracy is in peril. It was white insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. White people put those dimwitted election deniers in Congress. It was white voters who helped install Supreme Court justices who stripped away reproductive rights. It’s white people who are banning affirmative action, abortions and American history. While the Black vote is important, the only reason the subject is even worthy of discussion is because of what white voters keep doing.
Someone should really talk about it.
White voters matter.
Michael Harriot is an economist, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His New York Times bestseller Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America is available everywhere books are sold.
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