If there’s one thing Grandma Moore always beat into my head, it’s that I would be stupid if I voted for anyone outside of the Democratic party. Ever since I reached the legal voting age my grandma has insisted that I choose the Democrat, whoever it was, no matter what. And this was way before there were viable black candidates. She respects my prerogative to think for myself, of course, but with a stern warning that I would be making a great big fool of myself if I voted for any other party. Like I would be committing cultural and ethnic treason by voting for people in the other party.
“Even if you don’t know the issues, just vote for the Democrat,” she told me.
On the other hand, if you are a black Republican you might as well just keep that info to yourself. When a girlfriend of mine found out that Stacey Dash is a Republican, she freaked out and vowed to never watch another Stacey Dash thing again…which isn’t really all that much stuff, let’s be real! Even among my circle of friends, many of whom are also “blackademics,” if someone is a black Republican they are going to get nothing but eye rolls to eternity. To be black and to vote Republican don’t seem to go together. But where does this distrust of black Republicanism come from? Are black people really slaves to the Democratic party?
Bishop E.W. Jackson is a black conservative minister cum politician who was recently nominated by the Republican Party of Virginia for Lieutenant Governor. In a viral video that shocked the whole Internet, Bishop Jackson talks powerfully and passionately about putting an end to the black community’s “slavish devotion to the Democratic party,” once and for all. Anchored visually by black and white photographs of iconic black leaders, Jackson delivers a potent message to black Christians specifically, and to black American much more specifically:
It is time to end the slavish devotion to the Democrat party. They have insulted us, used us, and manipulated us. They have saturated the black community with ridiculous lies. ‘Unless we support the Democrat Party, we will be returned to slavery. We will be robbed of voting rights. The Martin Luther King Holiday will be repealed.’ They think we’re stupid, and that these lies will hold us captive while they insult us.
Sensationalism aside, the most interesting thing about his remarks is how tightly he draws a color line in voting patterns. He says that the voting patterns, causes and concerns of the black Democratic party are not black political causes. Even more ridiculously, later on the Bishop says that Planned Parenthood has been a bigger threat to the black community than the KKK ever was. Oh Lord!!! As if I needed ANOTHER reason to get out of the state of Virginia. What’s really interesting about the video, though, is that it’s a bold move to rush more black conservative voters to the Republican party by way of fear. Propaganda is about instilling fear, and as a piece of propaganda, the Bishop’s video is expertly crafted. The basic message is that black people have for too long been slaves to the Democratic party and now it’s time to wake up and smell the elephant. Liberal Democrats, with their progressive causes like gay rights and abortion are ruining America and destroying the fabric of the black community.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, Jackson uses a long-tried Plantation Theology to compare the black community’s dependence on the Democratic party (at a rate of about 90%) to slavery. The story goes: democrats use free governmental social services to attract black audiences which keeps them from voting for the other party.
The logic is insulting. While it is interesting to think about why black communities support the Democratic party in such large numbers, we need to strive for a politics that is blind of race baiting rooted in simple fear of the other. Vote for who you want, not the person who knows how to scare you the most. We are never going to get anywhere if our political rhetoric is constantly focused on this narrative of “us” versus “them.” If the only way to win votes, on both sides, is to conjure up people’s worst racial fears (black people just want free stuff; the Democratic party is enslaving the black community, etc), what does that mean for democracy?