If the Democrats are going to wrist control of the Oval Office from incumbent President Donald Trump in November 2020, they must sit down and seriously listen to—and act on—the demands of its most loyal, steadfast, and ardent constituency: African American voters.
Because, as a number of Milwaukee stakeholders told producers of NBC’s political affairs show, “Meet the Press” (MTP) recently, the Black vote nationally—especially in Wisconsin and Milwaukee—will be the determining factor for a Democratic victory.
The stakeholders, including representatives from Your Milwaukee Community Journal, were interviewed by the venerable news show as part of its year-long project focusing on five different counties around the nation.
The project, called “County to County,” will spend time in the counties in order to better understand the “fault lines” that will define the next presidential race, according to a press release from the network.
The show and its host, Chuck Todd, believe these five locales—Milwaukee County, Kent County in Michigan, Beaver County in Pennsylvania, Miami-Dade County in Florida, and Maricopa County in Arizona—will help “fill in the picture of what the election polls are saying and why.”
The Milwaukee County participants told the producers, the “Dems” have their work cut out for them here and will have to work doubly hard to reverse the persistent voter apathy if they hope to reverse its 2016 loss of the state by its nominee Hillary Clinton to Trump.
Once a dependable bastion of votes for the national Democratic Party, Wisconsin has been on a slow, painful political descent, going from Blue to Red, which likely started with a questionable redistricting process in 2010, enabling state Republicans to control the Assembly and Senate in the 2012 and 2016 elections.
Add the neo-conservative policies of two-term Republican Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin went from a progressive to a repressive state, with policies that stripped unions of their influence and power and shut off much of the shared revenue once enjoyed by the state’s largest and staunchly democratic city, Milwaukee.
The Milwaukeeans interviewed by MTP noted the significant drop-off in Black voter participation in the city in 2012 even with Barack Obama again on the ballot, and again in 2016 when it dropped by an astonishing 19%. That decline three year ago more than covered the margin won by Trump.
Aside from the fact Clinton took Wisconsin for granted in 2016, those interviewed believe Black voter apathy was the biggest reason for the former Secretary of State’s loss.
Many Black voters and potential voters feel the Democratic Party takes their vote for granted, believing they will (and rightly so) stay “in-the-fold” and not dare venture to the conservative Republican side, which has long been viewed as anti-Black going back to former President Richard Nixon.
While it is widely believed 95% of the Black vote will go to the Democratic nominee in 2020, the question is, will the election be a repeat of 2016 and again favor Trump, giving him a second state victory?
A recent Marquette University poll revealed Trump is ahead of all the Democratic hopefuls. And if that’s not bad enough, support for the president’s impeachment is dropping.
The only way the Dems can energize the Black vote in our city—and the nation—and take back the presidency next year is to provide more than political rhetoric and merely acknowledge Black problems! What the party and its candidates must do is offer doable solutions—a new “Marshall Plan” if you will—that will empower Black America.
There should be cause for concern as many potential Black voters have watched our community deteriorate, our education system fail our children and Black unemployment remain the highest in the country for the last decade.
In fact, we lead the United States in seven negative social indicators. And yet there has been not a single word from Democratic Party leadership, other than to sweep the problems under the rug so they don’t taint next years’ Democratic Party convention to be held in our city.
As one prospective Black voter told us recently, what’s the sense in voting; “nothing’s going change. They (the DNC) will make millions from the convention, and Milwaukee will still be home to the highest Black poverty rate in the country!”
We agree, but with a caveat: The Black community must leverage its political power (the vote) if we believe the political party can and should solve our myriad problems.
We must demand a commitment and plan that will focus on the issues and challenges Black Milwaukee and Black America face as it relates to economics, education, healthcare and public safety (justice reform).
It is long past time for us to wake up. Political parties only respond when it is in their vested interest to. And to be honest, they don’t feel our frustration because we have not impressed upon them the stakes or our resolve to do more than complain.
There’s only two ways we see to energize the Black vote. We offered the first. The second is if the party takes the bold step of placing an African American on the ballot, as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate.
But even then, that is not a panacea. Research showed that the vote for Obama’s reelection dropped in 2012 because few people of color saw any significant change in their status as second-class citizens.
The Democratic Party should take heed. Otherwise, the chance of getting a tsunami-like Black turnout next year will again be slim to none! “Anyone but Trump” will be “trumped” by White votes statewide…and nationally!