While Republicans assiduously court their base, Democrats want to hook up with black voters in the final days leading up to the Nov. 7 election.
Tellingly, Democratic operatives didn’t sound the alarm when black folks were not at the table when the pie was being sliced. They said nothing as new organizations like America Votes, Americans United and the September Fund, reportedly named after the month in which its founder Harold Ickes (sounds like icky) was born, were being bankrolled by major Democratic donors.
Parenthetically, even folks with deep pockets have their limits. Ickes, who reportedly raised only $3 million of the $10 million to $25 million he was soliciting, has been told to get out of here.
So, while the money has gone to progressive (read: white) groups that have never won an election, traditional voting rights groups that have measurable track records are expected to jump through hoops for some last-minute crumbs.
Consider: The Census Bureau reported that in the 1998 midterm election “African Americans were the only race or ethnic group to defy the trend of declining voter participation in congressional elections, increasing their presence at the polls from 37 percent in 1994 to 40 percent in 1998."
Similarly, the Census Bureau found that a record number of people were registered and voted in the 2002 midterm election. Among those registered to vote, turnout was 71 percent for whites and 68 percent for blacks.
Simply put, the racial gap in voter registration and turnout was closed by black voter empowerment groups -- not white progressives.
BTW, traditional voting rights groups could have addressed black voters’ disillusionment following the 2004 presidential election when John Kerry arguably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Ohio.
Instead, they were pushed aside in favor of America Coming Together, an instant organization headed up by Ickes and the equally icky Steve Rosenthal. Together, they burned through more than $100 million, and then packed up their PowerPoint slides and Palm Pilots and left black voters standing in the rain.