Opinion: Playing the race card

Matt Yurkanin

Matt Yurkanin

By Elie Dvorin

It’s no secret that black Americans have a deep love affair with the Democratic Party – constantly providing them with votes, support and campaign contributions. Every year, the Democratic Party takes black votes for granted by playing the “race card” near election time to ensure blacks don’t jump parties. This year is no exception:

n A Democratic-aligned group has distributed a flier in black neighborhoods showing a firefighter hosing a black man with the words “This is what they used to do to keep us from voting. This is how Republicans keep African-Americans from voting now. They break the rules like they did in Florida and St. Louis.”

n A Democratic-sponsored billboard in Kansas City, Mo., shows a black man next to the words “Missouri Republicans Have a Plan. You Are Not Part of It.”

n Last week, the Colorado Democratic Party was caught with its pants down when a page of its “playbook” was leaked and published. The page urged Democrats to launch a “pre-emptive strike” against Republicans by accusing them of voter intimidation. The Colorado governor and secretary of state (who are both Republicans) issued a statement explaining that anyone defrauding the voting process would be prosecuted. However, the Democrats dismissed that warning as “voter intimidation” as well.

So what does the Democratic Party have to say about these morally reprehensible actions? Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said, “We make no apologies for fighting these tactics by exposing the dirty tricks when they happen.”

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Ninety-three percent of blacks voted for former Vice President Al Gore over President Bush in 2000, and a similar outcome is predicted in the upcoming election in spite of the Democratic strategy to use blacks as political pawns. The polls indicate that, once again, blacks will overwhelmingly vote against President Bush.

This blind and unequivocal support for the Democratic Party, in spite of its race-baiting, only hurts the cause of black Americans. The Democrats have no incentive to change policies affecting black Americans when they know that no matter what they do or say, they have black voters in the palms of their hands. If black voters want to send a strong message to both political parties, they need to question their blind support for Democrats. In fact, a 15 percent shift in votes to the Republican Party in this election would open some eyes in Washington and generate some serious policy questions. After all, it was Congressional Republicans who overwhelmingly supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguably the most important piece of civil-rights legislation in modern history.

In July 2000, while addressing the NAACP, Bush said, “For my party, there is no denying the reality that the party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln.” He continued, “I am here, because I believe there is so much that we can do together.”

Yet, despite the NAACP’s repeated attacks on him and the unprecedented lack of support from black voters, Bush immediately put together a cabinet and staff of advisers featuring more blacks than any other president in history. Furthermore, the tax cuts have helped out many black families; school accountability has helped many black students; and faith-based initiatives have been strongly supported by a majority of blacks.

The Democratic Party knows it has the black vote every year, and as a result, it does nothing but throw out racially toned sound bites to scare blacks away from the Republican Party. Black voters need to send a message to Washington that the times of blind support are over. Simply playing the race card won’t work anymore. Much like the Jews are starting to do, blacks need to end the stranglehold of the Democratic Party by loosening its grip this November. For the advancement of their cause, blacks need to let the Democrats know they will not be taken advantage of anymore … by giving the GOP a chance.

Elie Dvorin is a junior in LAS. His column runs Thursdays. He can be reached at [email protected].