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November 7, 2014

The Blacks Who Didn’t Vote

Blacks aren’t thriving in the Obama economy and it showed on Election Day.

In a desperate, last-ditch effort to hold onto a Democrat Senate, Barack and Michelle Obama led the charge to get black voters to turn out and do what they’ve done best: cast ballots for the Democrat Party. Whether it was the president taping interviews with several black radio hosts or Michelle allowing those who voted to have fried chicken, their focus was getting a reliable voter bloc to the polls. In the end, though, it wasn’t enough, as Republicans steamrolled would-be Senate Democrats in several states with heavy minority voting such as Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina on their way to a likely nine-seat gain in the Senate and a dozen more in the House.

The economic beat down of the last several years likely soured blacks on reflexively voting Democrat. As The Wall Street Journal points out, “At the start of the President’s first term, the unemployment rate was 12.7% for blacks and 7.1% for whites. Four years later in January 2013 the numbers were 13.8% and 7%, respectively, which means that the black-white employment gap had widened. Today black unemployment is down to 11%, but it’s still more than double the white rate of 5.1%.” Labor participation, poverty and median income are also comparatively worse for blacks under the first black president.

It’s no wonder Democrats were left spouting nothing but craven allusions to Jim Crow laws, Trayvon Martin and the Ferguson rioting. And it’s no surprise the reaction in the black community was apathy. That apathy affected not only Congress, but at least one key gubernatorial race, too. In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a black Army veteran, lost to Republican Larry Hogan. That was what many viewed as the night’s biggest upset, particularly as Maryland has an extensive minority voting population in the city of Baltimore and the Washington suburbs of Prince George’s County.

Meanwhile, Republicans are beginning efforts to reach out to the black community – something they should have been doing with far greater fervor for the last 50 years. The new efforts are timid and tentative, but they’re already bearing fruit. From South Carolina, Sen. Tim Scott won his seat at the polls (he had been appointed by the governor in 2013 to replace Jim DeMint) to became the first black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction. And Mia Love will represent a Utah district as the first black female Republican to be elected to Congress.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Democrats didn’t bother mentioning Scott or Love in its election statement. Shocking, we know.

Perhaps that’s because Scott speaks the truth: “Let’s just ask ourselves, if we look back over history when Congress was controlled by the Democrats for 40 consecutive years, if we look at the result of that control, what has happened in black America? We saw greater poverty,” the senator said. “The policies of the Left have not worked. … [G]overnment is not the answer for progress.” Rather, he said, it’s thanks to “a good education” and “a strong work ethic.” He concluded, “The key … is individual freedom and economic opportunity.” Bingo.

One elected Republican investing his time in black neighborhoods is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has hosted informal events in several cities, including Atlanta, Detroit and Ferguson. Paul candidly admits that, in the black community at least, “The Republican Party brand sucks … so people don’t want to be a Republican, and for 80 years African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans.” His “listening sessions,” however, expose interested minority voters to conservative solutions for fighting poverty, improving education and addressing the criminal justice system.

While Paul is convinced the GOP has a “huge opportunity” among minority voters, he has warned that an overemphasis on voter ID laws is a “dumb idea.” We disagree, though such laws ought to be clearly presented as preserving the sanctity of the ballot box, not as being designed to suppress minorities. And we appreciate Paul’s efforts at minority outreach. Other Republicans should take note.

If the Democrats ever do lose their monopoly on the black vote, it will become much harder for them to maintain the coalition that keeps them in power. Clearly, maintaining this coalition is paramount for Democrats, which is why they’re pushing to grant citizenship rights to millions of illegal aliens to keep the spigot open on the supply of government-dependent voters. Liberty is colorblind, however, and that’s the point Republicans need to get across.

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