In 2008 America elected its first African American president. That year a record number of minorities rallied to the polls and showed their support for Barack Obama. For those of you that voted for President Obama, did you vote for him because he was black, a Democrat, or both?

Recently Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain came under fire because of his controversial comments about black voters. During a CNN interview, Cain mentioned that members of the African American community “have been brainwashed into not being open-minded” to Republican candidates.

Cain continued, “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative.” He added, “So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open-minded, pure and simple.”

Cain is not the first conservative matriculating through the Republican Party without any love from the black community. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received heavy criticism from many African Americans and was accused of rejecting her own people before we even knew who she was. After President Obama’s historic 2008 election, Michael Steele also made history as the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee, but was seen as little more than a token. And the former Secretary of State Colin Powell is often overlooked by many in the Black community despite making significant political and social contributions during and after his political career.

Outside of the antics and countless debates between Republican presidential hopefuls, somehow the issues facing the black community are never mentioned. With the unemployment rate being the highest among blacks, I have yet to hear one candidate seriously address this (Michelle Bachman doesn’t count) and mention how they plan on fixing this devastating blow to our community. While Herman Cain wonders why African Americans don’t support him or his GOP counterparts, I wonder is the Republican Party even concerned about the black vote?

Increasingly, it doesn’t seem so.

During the early part of the 20th Century, many African Americans were Republicans. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary McCloud Bethune, and Carter G. Woodson were all reportedly Republicans. In the early 20th Century, many Southern States were run by “Dixiecrats,” which was a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party who supported segregation and other racist policies. Because of this, many Southern blacks supported Republican candidates. It wasn’t until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 election that a majority of African Americans (71%) began supporting Democratic presidential candidates in droves.

In 1948, a majority of blacks self-identified as Democrats for the first time, however many continued to vote Republican. Thirty-nine percent of black voters supported Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, and 32 percent voted for Richard Nixon in his 1960 loss to President John F. Kennedy. It wasn’t until President Lyndon B. Johnson fought for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and his opponent Sen. Barry Goldwater opposed it, that blacks overwhelming began to consistently support Democratic presidential candidates. President Johnson garnered 94 percent of the black vote and we’ve traditionally supported Democrats ever since.

While African American support can be traced directly to policies, some try to trace the reasons why blacks tend to vote Democrat to stereotypes. Republicans are often portrayed as helping the rich get richer and “big” businesses grow, while Democrats are often represented as the total opposite: Pro-big government and government involvement. Therefore, it appears that the Democratic Party is the party for black people. However this logic becomes problematic because it creates groupthink and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Few minority groups suffer from groupthink like African Americans. The mantra, “There is strength in numbers,” reflects the paradigm that keeps us all on the same page. I wouldn’t say we are brained washed, as Cain suggests, but often times we do vote for Democratic candidates without even knowing much about them.

We have a lot of issues affecting the black community that extend beyond political affiliation. It’s one thing to not support someone because of his or her values, but another to brush them off simply because of their political party affiliation. Instead of demoralizing Cain and questioning his Blackness, we should be excited that we have another black person vying for president. While we might not agree with his point of view, making strides in both parties is a definite plus.

When it comes to politics America is generally uninformed, but African Americans suffer tremendously because we don’t have anyone out looking for us. Many times we depend on ourselves to seek information, however, in a media full of sound bites and racial slurs, it is hard to weed through the noise to make a sound choice.

If you think about the current ideas of the Republican Party, being conservative aligns with Christian values. These ideas never go too far right or too far left. Although African Americans tend to vote Democratic, the majority of the blacks tend to be conservative socially when it comes to social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. If Republicans are serious about attracting more African Americans, they can easily focus on issues we care about. Instead of trying to make Obama a “one term president,” implementing a robust job’s plan, funding public education and enacting laws that address our current situation in the tanking economy would not only appeal to all votes, but African Americans as well.

Despite what Herman Cain may think, black people are not brainwashed. However, we tend to refuse to support platforms that do not support us. So if Republicans want our vote in 2012 they better start acting like they are the party of ALL people, because right now, they seem to only want to serve those who are at the top of the economic ladder.

Do you vote Republican? How can Republicans appeal to black voters? 


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  • I vote Democrat…nothing will change that…at least if it did it would take a lot. For as long as I’ve know repbulicans always single Black Amercians out…its seems as if they dont see us as equal and unless that changes I don’t see myself changing up.

  • I vote for the candidate that has MY best interest. It can be a Dem, Rep or Independent. During the last election here, there was the most misinformed woman standing next to me in the polling place casting her ballot. She hadn’t done any research on any of the candidates. She hadn’t researched any of the local amendments. She asked me who I was voting for and why?! I asked her if she had read the FULL PAGE write up in the prior Sunday paper? She said she had not because she has ALWAYS voted a straight Dem ticket. I shook my head at her and gave her my sample ballot. If she’s ignorant, I might as well get her to vote for my candidates and my issues.

  • Buttons

    There is nothing the Republican Party can do to get my support. I’m politcally informed and my mind is very open, and I know hatred and racism when I see it- point blank. Therefore, the Republican Party cannot ever appeal to me. Racism and equality do not mix.

    Furthermore, Herman Cain is dismissed primarily because his political views are bizarre and off base, and because he is a poor representation of a presidential candidate. Colin Powell is a model Black Republican that is dignified, polished, intelligent and rational that people can respect. I am not going to be excited simply because some random black man is running for president.

  • Bianca

    True, both democrats and republicans really don’t represent minorities, but the lesser of the two evils is the democratic party. I hate to even think that the republicans could take over the white house, that would be more government, more of their twisted christian values, and more racism. I am a christian, but if I have more than others, I share, I try to help, not “if they don’t work, they don’t eat” mentality. Nor if you can’t afford medical insurance or medical care, then you should die”, and that coming from a medical doctor.
    The reality is , if the 1% get power, and the rest of us stay poor, uneducated, kids exploited in labor, and no minimum wage or labor laws to protect us, they have achieved their goal. The goal is to have the working class so powerless , we will be so dependent on them and thankful for whatever they want or think we are worth, then they have achieved their goal. We must take our country back. One way or another, we , the working class are the ones that support this great country of ours, but, it is our country.. we should fight for it before we go back a century and have to repeat history all over again.

  • I consider the super rich in United States anyone making over $10 million. 2/3rds of those people voted for Obama in 2008. So the evil rich Republican thing really doesn’t make sense.

    As long as African-Americans equate affirmative action with equality I don’t see how they’ll ever vote for the GOP. Also, by voting 90% for one party it means that the Democrats take them for granted and the Republicans won’t waste time pandering to them.

    What has the Democratic party done for Blacks since 1980?