Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Democrats Ignore African Americans

Jesse Jackson complains the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards are ignoring African Americans:

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they're not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign.

[. . .]

Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority.

[. . .]

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage -- to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact -- he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.
Jesse Jackson's lament may help explain why Black evangelicals find themselves torn between parties.

Another Jackson, Pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr., has stood with Republicans to help serve as the "moral compass of America:"
In his rhetoric and his political agenda, Jackson has much in common with other evangelical Christians who are part of the conservative wing of the Republican party, except that Jackson is African American and so is his congregation at Hope Christian Church in Prince George's County.

Jackson, head of a group of socially conservative black pastors called the High Impact Leadership Coalition, in many ways personifies the possibilities that Republican strategists such as Karl Rove have seen in appealing to the social conservatism of many African American churchgoers. Blacks overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats and typically support Democratic candidates, but optimists in the GOP think one way to become a majority party is to peel off a sizable segment of black voters by finding common ground on social issues.

As a group, blacks attend religious services more frequently than whites and are less supportive of gay rights. In a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll this summer, 43 percent of white Democrats supported same-sex marriage, about double the percentage of black Democrats who said they do. More than half of blacks said they oppose both same-sex marriage and legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.
In the 2004 election, President Bush appealed to those differences and increased his share of the black vote. He did so by questioning black voters support for Democrats at Democratic strongholds such as the Urban League's annual convention, where the President quoted Charlie Gaines:
Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.
During this campaign, Pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. is pushing an issues agenda rather than "carrying the water for the Republican party," he said. "They are not reliable enough."

The Republican candidates need to follow President Bush's example and reach out to conservative African Americans.

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