Beset by scandals on both the national and statewide level, Democrats find themselves in danger of historic losses in the 2014 midterms, as in addition to the “angry white males” they find themselves facing a new threat, that of the “angry young black male.” A growing trend of young black males defecting to the GOP has caused fears among Democratic Party officials who have largely ignored the concerns of a constituency that has been loyal for decades.
It is ironic that with the election of the first African-American President, the party that garners roughly 90% of the black vote finds itself in danger of losing the young men of this community, not just for one election cycle, but for generations to come. Despite its rhetoric and numerous ties to the African-American community, young black black males have become increasingly frustrated with a party they feel promotes policies which emasculate them and offer few opportunities for them to achieve the American dream. Much of the elation that came from Obama’s historic political achievement turned into an eye-opening experience for many black men, who noticed the gulf between the feel-good rhetoric of Democrats as hollow as inner-city unemployment has grown during the tenure of the first black President.
“I’ll be honest, when Obama announced his candidacy, I was ecstatic.” notes consultant Shermichael Singleton, who as a high-school senior lobbied the local school superintendent to attend an Obama campaign rally in Dallas, TX when first denied by his principal. “It was a great experience. I applauded his speech and him for running,” although this early enthusiasm has since changed, “but I’ve been extremely disappointed.”
Following high school, Singleton attended Morehouse College, where he was instrumental in organizing the first College Republican group at the traditionally black college. He noted that this caused some raised eyebrows, but overall found support for this stance. “Singleton, we think you’re crazy as hell,” he laughed, “but brother, we support you and glad you’re standing up for what you believe.” Six years into Obama’s presidency, he may be finding more support than he ever thought he might.
While there is no dispute that the Republican Party has much work to do in order to gain support from of the African-American community, key data from the 2012 elections results do shed light on hopes that they can be more competitive in the future. President Obama won an astonishing 93% of the overall black vote against his opponent, Mitt Romney, but a closer analysis of the support the GOP standard-bearer received from young black males is enough to warrant the fears of Democratic Party leaders that their vote cannot be taken for granted. According to Pew Research exit polling, a full 19% of young black males between the ages of 18-29 cast their votes for Romney, while only 2% of black females in this age group went with the Republican.
This startling anomaly was one of the primary drivers in the White House’s unveiling of its “My Brothers Keeper” initiative, designed to help improve the opportunities of young black males in the national cities. Like many Democrat policies of the past few decades, however, it has largely been met with skepticism and yet another example of empty rhetoric designed to keep a long-time loyal constituency “in its place.”
Many young black men see themselves as the expendable causalities of “Great Society” social-welfare programs which have been both the key to Democrat electoral success among the African-American community, and the cause for many of the problems associated with the inner cities. 50 years of the liberal-progressives signature policy has resulted in an alarming increase in single-parent household rates among the black community, as well as a disproportionate rate of welfare dependence, abortion and crime.
“They keep feeding us the same line about hope, help and power to the people,” grumbled Terrance Ramsey of Long Beach, CA, “but its nothing more than hype. Welfare checks and excuses about racism. I’m tired of it, man.” This is a sentiment that is quietly growing among young men who feel they have been taken for granted by the Democratic Party that assumes they will receive the votes of African-Americans simply because they are considered the party “standing up for blacks.” Although the anger is brewing, Ramsey says Republicans need to do a better job of engaging the community, “Many of us vote Democrat because they are the one’s that show up. They may be full of (expletive) but they show up at the churches and events, so that’s who people listen to.”
“Our communities need a new direction, a new plan,” he states, “and if more Republicans would get out into the community and tell folks what they are all about, I believe they would be surprised at how much support they would get. We are tired of what’s going on out here and getting the same old promises from the same old crooks, but don’t have many Republicans we can look up to as role-models. I saw Allen West speak once in 2013 and he really woke me up to the fact that there are brothers who are Republicans. I swear Ill never vote for another Democrat as long as I live.”
School Choice is a potential issue where the Republicans can find common cause within the black community in its efforts to both gain more support and show how conservative policies can benefit the lives of its residents. Despite strong resistance from a Democratic Party who are beholden to Public Employee and Teachers Unions, these programs have found increasing popularity among African-American parents of school aged children. The program, in essence, provides parents with a “voucher” equivalent to the public school per-year spending on a pupil, giving them the opportunity to use this at a private or public school of their choice.
“School choice helps children rise from poverty by allowing students to attend quality schools when others are failing,” states 19 year-old Lee Jackson, Maine State GOP Committeeman, “when schools compete, students win. Funding should go where students want to learn, not to schools they are forced to attend.”
“There’s a clear choice that’s been placed in front of us,” the rising Republican star continued, “Either we allow the federal government to enact laws that force students through unsuccessful programs, or we celebrate the variety of successful schools and empower parents and local governments in making the right choices for their children’s future.”
If Republicans are able to combine a growing dissatisfaction with liberal policies and combine that with an effective program of economic and educational opportunity, they can harness the resentments of young black males against the Democratic Party and overcome the fears instilled against the GOP.
By Paul M Winters