COLUMN: Courting the black vote

Conservative talking heads are fond of noting the African-American voting bloc’s near uniform support of Barack Obama.

In 2008, they’ll remind you, Obama captured 95 percent of the black vote.

In constantly recalling this number, which is indeed factually accurate, conservatives invite their audience to presume Obama’s skin color is the sole reason he enjoys such ardent support from the black community.

Blacks, conservatives imply, don’t really care about policy.

Blacks, they insinuate, just want one of their own in office.

Blacks, they snicker and snort, don’t know what’s best for their own community.

And then that’s it.

After announcing some cherry-picked statistic, constructive conservative commentary on the issue comes to a halt, punctuated by a coy smirk and an advertisement for Hoveround or Goldline.

With such inherently insulting commentary about blacks coming from the right wing, it is little wonder the black community’s blood runs a deep shade of blue.

Conservatives can’t even do us the courtesy of disguising their borderline-racist rhetoric behind a few streaks of camouflage.

And yet, the insensitive blather constantly emanating from today’s right wing isn’t the root reason why Obama enjoys such staunch support from blacks.

During his 2008 presidential run, Mitt Romney stopped in Jacksonville, Fla. for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

Romney, ever a paragon of intercultural savvy, uttered clumsy banalities while posing for photos with black youths.

“Who let the dogs out?” he chuckled, tacking two barks at the end of the sentence for good measure.

At the same event, Romney said to a black infant, “Oh, I see you’ve got some bling-bling here,” evidently in reference to the baby’s attire.

Romney’s awkward banter is indicative of conservatives’ general ignorance about Black America.

The prominent conservative image of Black America, it would seem, is a haphazard collage pasted together by an aging white plutocrat who once caught a glimpse of BET at the turn of the millennium.

Conservatives like Romney treat blacks like intellectual inferiors, not a demographic whose perspective deserves to be considered for the simple fact that they, too, are American.

The right wing loathes to put any real effort into understanding the black community, so they shamelessly mock it to eke out political gains from their myopic base.

So, yes, Obama does enjoy a hefty amount of support from the black community.

For many blacks, he represents the potential for government to work in their favor, reflect their hopes, and respect their values.

He represents them as they’d like to be represented.

Is that not the truest reason to give a candidate your vote?


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