One of the great mysteries of the 2020 Presidential campaign is the massive support in public opinion polls for Joe Biden in the South Carolina primary coming up in February.
Biden has a mixed record on race, considering that he opposed school busing in the 1970s, and was a cosponsor of a tough crime bill in 1994, which led to a large number of African Americans being incarcerated, some unjustly, by a very harsh piece of legislation.
It seems Biden’s support may be due more to the fact that he served as Vice President under President Barack Obama, and yet Obama has purposely not endorsed his former Vice President.
Right now, Joe Biden is not doing well in public opinion polls in Iowa or New Hampshire, so South Carolina, with its large African American population, may be his ultimate life line.
But the debate is why are not Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey doing well in South Carolina, as one would have thought?
And also, will the other African American candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, late in entering the Presidential race, perform any better than Harris or Booker?
Maybe the Black voters of South Carolina use something besides Race to determine which politicians get their support.
The Most Electable Democrat in 2020 Will Be a Coalition Builder
Kamala Harris is the latest to drop out.
I’d think she’d be a natural fit for either VP or AG.
In relation to this topic…
What Northern Liberals Still Donâ€™t Understand About the South
During the 2016 presidential primary, one of the questions that garnered a lot of attention was why Bernie Sanders got so little support from African Americans. Data shows that while he and Clinton ran about even with white voters, he lost black voters by 50 points. The question in the 2020 primary seems to be why African Americans are so strongly supportive of Joe Biden.
In exploring those questions, it is important to remember that African Americans are not a monolith, which is why Charles Blow narrowed his comments to those who live in the so-called â€œdeep south,â€ where African Americans in majority-black towns are beginning to accumulate power.
[White working-class voters in the Rust Belt behave one way because they feel that they are losing power. Black voters in the South behave differently because they feel that they are gaining it.
These Southern black voters are in control of the power structure most intimately affecting their lives â€” local governmentâ€¦[they] may be less excited by a national revolution because they are living through a very real revolution on the ground.]
Drilling down a bit deeper, Marcus Johnson explains why liberal candidates in 2020, like Warren and Sanders, are failing to attract black voters. The first thing to understand is this history.
[Moderate and conservative whites have gradually left the Democratic Party since the mid-1960s in a party sorting process that is still ongoing. This phenomenon has its roots in the successes of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, when Democrats officially became the party of minority rights. This sorting process was especially intense early on in the southern states, but it has since spread throughout the county. The result has been that the whites who have remained in the Democratic Party are generally further to the left of the political spectrum.]
As a consequence, â€œwhite Democrats are further left ideologically than their black counterparts on a range of issues.â€
In addition, Johnson echos Blow in talking about the fact that southern black voters place a priority on trust, supporting candidates that have â€œworked hard to build a relationship with their community over time.â€ He also notes that they tend to be strongly loyal to the Democratic Party, rejecting those who describe it as corrupt and infiltrated by corporate interests. Finally, this is a big part of the disconnect between southern blacks and the left.
[One of the leftâ€™s biggest problems with black voters is their rhetorical focus on class. The leftâ€™s primary objective is to take on the billionaires and corporate elite. The class-first narrative posits that members of the working class have a common enemy â€” the wealthy.
This argument doesnâ€™t fit with the lived experience of many black Americans, who have endured racism at the hands of poor and wealthy whites alike. For instance, there is a long history of racism in unionsâ€¦
[T]he black community is more likely to be drawn to rhetoric about the betterment of all black Americans instead of rhetoric about class divisions.]
The black people Iâ€™ve known take a tremendous amount of pride in their brothers and sisters who have been successful, including financially. It makes sense that when someone tells them that those people are the villains of the story, that message doesnâ€™t resonate.
When the media incorporates the Republican talking point about how the Democratic Party has drifted too far to the left, they are ignoring the voices of these African Americans. On the other hand, the so-called â€œcentristsâ€ shouldnâ€™t assume that black voters are aligned with them either. As Ed Kilgore wrote, candidates like Stacey Abrams forged a new path for Democrats in the South.
[African-Americans in the South have struggled to construct two-way biracial coalitions within the Democratic Party, and when they could it often required conspicuously nonprogressive messages. As the parties have continued to polarize, that path has become less viable than ever. There just arenâ€™t that many white swing voters to whom to â€œreach out,â€ as the saying goesâ€¦
But the very different strategy pursued by Stacey Abrams looks like the future of biracial Democratic politics in the South: a strongly progressive (though not abrasively so) African-American who can expand turnout among a rising minority population while still appealing to increasingly liberal white Democratic and independent voters as well.]
Much as weâ€™ve seen with candidates of color in the 2020 presidential primary, those on the far left criticized Abrams for being too centrist, while moderates worried that she would fuel a racial backlash among working class white voters. But listen to the facets of her message that donâ€™t fit into the ideological boxes weâ€™ve created for politicians.
[â€œWe are writing the next chapter of Georgiaâ€™s history where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired. We are writing a history of Georgia where we prosper togetherâ€¦For the journey that lies ahead, we need every voice in our party and every independent thinker in the state of Georgia.â€â€¦
â€œI am the child of a shipyard worker and a college librarian who were called to become United Methodist ministers. I am a proud daughter of the deep South. And I grew up the second of six children in a family where we struggled to stay above the poverty line, but never struggled to know what was right or to believe in our possibilities. My parents instilled in us the core values of faith, of family, of service and responsibility. Hard work is in my bones.â€â€¦
Abrams doesnâ€™t have to be dragged into talking about race; she leads with it. â€œMy being a black woman is not a deficit,â€ she told Cosmopolitan earlier this year. â€œIt is a strength. Because I could not be where I am had I not overcome so many other barriers. Which means you know Iâ€™m relentless, you know Iâ€™m persistent, and you know Iâ€™m smart.â€]
It is way beyond time for the rest of us to discard our assumptions about black votersâ€”specifically in the southâ€”and begin to not only listen to them, but recognize that candidates like Abrams bring something powerful to the table.