How Blacks Should Vote

Published November 2, 2004

I recently read a column titled “How Jews should vote?” and in this very partisan year, before my eyes could blink, the word Jews turned into the word Blacks. However, the writer began by saying, “I have always believed that Jews have had Jewish reasons to vote for candidates from both parties. [But] not this election.” There are overwhelming powerful Jewish reasons to vote for President George W. Bush and equally powerful reasons not to vote for Senator John Kerry, the writer continued.

I have always paid close attention to the economic and political actions taken by the majority of American Jews. My Alabama grandmother first told me that Jews were friendly to colored people.

I cannot make the statement that Blacks have had reasons to vote for both parties. We have been 90 percent Democrats from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Al Gore. But, I can say in 2004, there are powerful reasons for Blacks to vote for President Bush and equally powerful reasons not to vote for Senator John Kerry. Elections should not be viewed as a popularity contest. Blacks–like any other ethnic group–must examine each candidate’s record to carefully decide which one had addressed the issues that are important to the Black community.

Senator John Kerry–In securing the party nomination, Kerry was seriously criticized by Black leadership for not hiring Black Americans in senior positions in the campaign. That’s always the result politically when you are taken for granted. No special interest group within the Democratic Party carries the clout of the teachers union. Yet, the largest group of students failing in the public government system is Black students. I don’t think any other ethnic leadership group would accept such a situation. On the issue of appointing judges, which seems to be of serious interest to Black leadership, The New York Times–which endorsed Kerry–on Oct. 22, ran a story and showed the faces of eight possible candidates for judgeships if Kerry wins. Out of eight candidates, four were white females, one Asian, and three white males. If Bush wins, the story showed only six candidates, two less than Kerry. They included one Hispanic, one white female and one Black. My point here is: Kerry tells Black crowds he is for affirmative action and the president is not.

Almost every week a new Kerry emerges. One example is his newfound self as the religious man. Reporters who have covered him over the past 20 years do not describe him as a religious individual. A Time magazine poll in June found that only 7 percent of voters described Kerry as a man of strong religious faith. Yet, he stands in Black churches giving Bible quotations.

President George W. Bush–The most surprising good news he may have had in a week was news many papers didn’t even print. Two weeks before the election, on Oct. 19, a national opinion poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economical Studies, a liberal Black think tank, is projecting that Bush will receive 18 percent of the Black vote. This is up from 8 percent in the last election. This says to me that Blacks are finding reasons to vote in both parties. That’s a good change. Speaking before the National Urban League convention two months ago, Bush admitted “the Republican Party has a lot of work to do” towards gaining more Blacks.

For what he did in the area of education, he should be the choice of Black folks whose children are passing through social promotion from one grade to the next while flunking their future.

Lee H. Walker [email protected] is director of The New Coalition at The Heartland Institute in Chicago, and an editorial board member of the Chicago Defender.