During the first Democratic debate, held two weeks ago, it was clear which candidates understood just how important the Black vote really is.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped right into the debate with a fiery denouncement of systemic inequalities in the nation, declaring “Black Lives Matter” when the political panel of five were asked how they view the Black liberation movement. Hillary Clinton continued her fight against the current criminal justice system. Both Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, who have since dropped out of the race, were slow to align themselves with the Black community, and Martin O’Malley harped on his experience as the former mayor of Baltimore (where Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of police sparked national protests this spring) to appeal to voters.
Sadly, the Democrats, even with a mention of the Black Lives Matter Network, fell short. The concerns of millions of Black Americans were all but dismissed in the first debate, indicating that even the left needs a crash course on how to gain the Black vote.
But if Clinton or Sanders’ responses to Black issues were lukewarm, the GOP responses are just downright insulting. While addressing a crowd in South Carolina in September, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush suggested that he could win the Black vote without dolling out “free stuff” to said voters. And just hours after the debate, Marco Rubio echoed those sentiments, calling the three-hour political banter “a liberal versus liberal debate about who was going to give away the most free stuff.”
Those comments join a growing list of insults hurled at potential Black voters that undermine just how much power the voting block really has. In fact, Black voter turnout exceeded White voter turnout, despite restrictive voter ID laws across the nation in 2012. And Black women alone had the highest voter turnout of any group the first year President Barack Obama was elected.
Conservative or liberal, it’s time candidates start considering Black lives if they want to get the vote. Ignoring one of the most powerful groups in America is a sure way to lose.
Check out GlobalGrind’s The Retweet and an exploration into just how important the Black vote is in the video above.
See more episodes of The Retweet, here.