The worst possible outcome of
would have been that George Bush won with the help of a divided
Black electorate. Instead, African Americans reaffirmed the vitality
of the Black Political Consensus – our eyes firmly fixed on the
prize: peace, jobs and justice. Despite faith-based blandishments
to the sell-out branch of the Black clergy, massive deployment
of the GOP’s gay wedge issue and, most hurtfully, the Kerry team’s
initial determination to render African Americans invisible and
mute in the campaign, Blacks stood like a rock in defense of their
own interests. Undeterred by disinformation that insanely (or maybe
just inanely) predicted a doubling of Black support for Bush, African
Americans placed their numbers and sheer will in the path of the
Bush II juggernaut. It rolled over us, by fair means and
foul, but our Consensus – the impermeable historical glue that
makes African Americans unique in the Diaspora – remained intact.
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And, truth be known, we had more
white people on our side in this election than at any time in
modern American history – just
not enough. The Bush men brag that their figurehead won more votes
than any president, ever. Yet more people also voted against Bush
than any previous president. We who have never – and will never – win
US-wide power on our own, were on Election Day at the vortex of
the struggle against an enemy that makes the planet shiver.
This is the cross we bear – and it muscles us up. That’s why the
Republicans targeted Black precincts and voter rolls, everywhere – not
just in the battleground states – in the attempt to bowl over the
front pins in the Democratic electoral configuration. Republicans
know where the center of the party’s demographic gravity lies,
and they went for it, in full view of the world. After a “decent
interval” of cynical niceties – a charade that began on Wednesday
and will be catered by Kerry’s DLC – the GOP has every intention
to bring to bear the full power of the Bush II state against mainstream
Black America political structures.
As “provisional” citizens, we subjected ourselves to degrading
identification interrogations, lined up like suspects deep into
the night – or, as Harvard’s Dr. Michael Dawson puts it, “standing
patiently for regime change” – only to be finally assigned a “provisional” ballot
that may never be counted, or even known to exist. African Americans
didn’t perform these electoral feats for John Kerry or any combination
of white Democrats; we did it for ourselves, because we know what’s
coming down the road.
An “inside” job
“We shall not be moved,” went the civil rights song. Four years
of mercenary Black faces in high Republican places – Colin Powell,
Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige – have failed to move us from our righteous
Consensus for social justice and international peace, or to dim
our highly evolved vision of Black America’s singular mission.
These are the cards we have been dealt by history. However, African
Americans are especially vulnerable to demoralization from within.
In mid-October, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
(JCPES), the venerable Washington-based Black think tank, announced
that its 2004
survey of African American opinion showed that 18 percent of
respondents “would like to see” Bush win – dramatic “news” that
the corporate media snatched up and clutched to their bosoms like
the Holy Grail. Breaking down the figures, the JCPES claimed that
29 percent of “secular conservative” Blacks and 36 percent of “Christian
conservatives” wanted Bush to win on November 2. Eight percent
of “liberal” African Americans and 13 percent of self-identified “moderates” also
wished for a Bush victory. “I think Bush's faith-based initiative,
combined with the gay marriage issue and also Bush's sort of overtly
Southern religious personality has made him more popular among
black conservative Christians," JCPES research director David
Bositis told the New York Times.
Apparently, the self-selected Black “conservative Christians” were
actually less numerous than the JCPES assumed, or didn’t understand
the question, or said what they thought the pollsters wanted to
Within less than two weeks, the New York Times
and the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times claimed to have independently
discovered that 17
and 19 percent of Blacks, respectively, had lined up in the Republican
column. This, as headlines screamed the full extent of the Bush
administration’s planned disruptions of Black voter activities.
A disclaimer was issued by the two white papers on October
25, warning that their data could be off due to “large margins
of sampling error because of the small samples of black voters.” But
by then, Republicans and their media allies were gleefully celebrating
the giant crack in the Black Political Consensus, citing JCPES
as the authority.
Head researcher Bositis began backing off the
telling columnist Deborah
Mathis the 18 percent figure was “an outside number; something
in the 12-14 percent range may be more like it. Even so,” Mathis
wrote, “that would be almost double what W got from black voters
When Black voters finally got to speak for themselves on November
2, Bush got 10 or 11 percent of the Black vote, respectively, according
Post and CNN exit
polls. The ultra-high profile presence of Condoleezza and Colin,
the millions lavished on corrupt Rev.
Greedygut preachers, the endless propaganda about a growing “new
class” of Black conservatives, the disinformation from the New
York Times and, yes, from the Joint Center for Political and Economic
Studies – all this and more over four years had moved the Black
electorate a mere one percent or (maybe) two into the Republican
“The turnout should wash away any doubt about the conclusions
African Americans have come to about the legitimacy of this regime,” said
Harvard’s Dr. Dawson, a noted social demographer who, along with
colleague Dr. Lawrence Bobo, has been studying racial divisions
under the reign of George W. Bush. (See , “Blacks,
Whites Live in Different Moral Universe, October
The JCPES, which over the years has accrued great authority as
a source of data and analysis about African Americans, should take
much more seriously the harm that it inflicts through data that
is not put into proper context, or just plain bad data. This is
not the first time that the Joint Center has given aid and comfort
to the Hard Right through faulty questions and imprecise conclusions
(see , November
The Black Consensus is perhaps our greatest
resource. As distinguished from a reflexive, unthinking sense
of “unity,” the broad African
American worldview is based on generations of shared experience
with the same foe: American white supremacy. It is, in a sense,
our collective genius: the ability to sustain a humane and progressive
Black polity while under constant assault from the larger society’s
corrupting commercial, political and cultural forces – including
the coercive powers of an ever-hostile state. The Black Political
Consensus should never be artificially buttressed or exaggerated,
but to the extent that it exists, it is our sword and shield. It
takes us into battle, and prepares us for the next one. It sustained
us through November 2.
Gays, Youth, Latinos and lots of whites
Union officials deeply involved in the get-out-the-vote
effort in Detroit tell of “ferocious” debates among rank and
file Blacks over anti-same-sex marriage
initiatives on the ballot in Michigan and ten other states, on
Tuesday. While urban infrastructure and services crumbled around
them, otherwise sensible African Americans allowed themselves to
be engaged by the Republican’s wedge issue. On Election Day, Blacks
were as likely as whites to vote against same-sex marriage – yet
they did not take the bait set out for them by sell-out preachers,
to vote for George Bush. There is no Black Consensus on homosexuality.
The JCPES’s “Christian conservatives” – however many there are – knew
where to draw the line.
New lines are being drawn by white youth who,
starting in the Reagan years, polled even more conservative than
elders. Deep in the bowels of Alabama and South Carolina, where
overwhelming majorities of whites swear by Bush, white youth broke
ranks this week. “Even in the bastions of the Confederacy young
people were breaking for Kerry,” Dr. Dawson told . “That’s
the most positive sign for the future.” Indeed, it is clear proof
of the deep penetration of Hip Hop sensibilities outside of the
Black community. White rapper Eminem’s anti-Bush video-animation “Mosh” will
likely, through the perverse mechanisms of corporate racism, cause
record labels to loosen the political controls that have stifled
many Black rap artists for more than a decade. Another political/cultural
world is opening up even as the Bush men try to shut this one down.
Beyond the bling, Hip Hop activism is getting
serious, portending a radically different – but no less rooted – political
aesthetic as the Black Consensus evolves. (See , “Hip
Hop Generation Agenda,” July
1, 2004.) Maya Rockeymoore, author of The
Political Action Handbook: A How To Guide for the Hip Hop Generation,
speaks of “an unprecedented focus on the presidential campaign
among the 34 and under crowd. The challenge will be
to get them to engage in driving a transformational political agenda
beyond November 3."
Black youth are conscientiously assuming responsibility
for the ancestral legacy. For many young activists, Hip Hop is
to share African American wisdom and solidarity with the world.
Bush can bum-rush the polls, but this show goes on. Harvard’s Prof.
Dawson is cautiously optimistic, fearing that elections-programmed
youth might “go into a three-year funk” until the next campaign. “We
have to organize from the grassroots up. It’s a perilous future.
The national government is going to go after the NAACP and
African Americans are approaching that future
guided by a Consensus on core issues that has so far remained
largely impervious to outside
manipulation – although it is subject to diversions and
distractions such as the ridiculous debate on gays emanating
from a gay-saturated Black church!
The November 2 data on Latino voters is disturbing. Bush appears
to have garnered substantially more Latino votes than in 2000,
a development that some observers credit to deepening Hispanic
involvement in the military. Yet, no group includes more families
with members in the military than African Americans, who nevertheless
are the least inclined to support U.S. adventures abroad. Many
Latinos are apparently headed in a different political direction,
but we should not draw general conclusions without a nationality-by-nationality
analysis. There is a whole world of Spanish-speakers in the Americas.
There is no consensus on Latinos among African Americans, or among
Latinos, themselves. November 2 has presented us with troubling
Christians from Hell
The swelling white Republican base that triumphed
on Election Day, is a nightmare. Although their actual numbers
may well have
been augmented by electronic means in counties with computerized
voting (including the whole state of Georgia, for example), there
can be no doubt that the Bush victory was propelled by something
very much like a mass social movement, with its own vocabulary
and leadership structures. This is Bush’s army, says Dr. Dawson. “The
Bush administration has achieved absolute mastery of white Protestants,
particularly those with less education. This is damning for the
country and its future.”
It is actually a familiar enemy, drawn from
the same “stock” that
have cut off their economic noses to spite Black faces since the
end of the Civil War. They were once the Dixiecrat base, who then
became the southern Republican base, and are now tied together
with similar white elements throughout the country by interlocking
networks of churches and the Republican Party. The corporate media
feign surprise and fascination at the emergence of this huge group
of whites – a posture that strikes many Blacks as disingenuous,
since those of us with southern roots know that crowd all too well.
According to the Washington Post’s David
Broder, “the exit poll indicated that about 22 percent of [Tuesday's]
voters were white evangelical or born-again Christians, three-quarters
of whom went for Bush.” That amounts to about one-third of Bush’s
total national vote.
This indispensable core, which now acts as a mass citizen militia
for Karl Rove and other Bush commandants, scares the hell
out of many of the 44 percent of white folks who didn’t vote for
Bush. Black Americans do not need European models of fascism to
understand the grave threat these people represent to life and
liberty. They are the folks standing under the tree, while we swing
from the limbs.
These whites – or rather, their leaders – are masters of euphemism.
They swamped the polls (with some technical and political assistance)
on Tuesday with the words “moral values” on their lips – white
evangelical code for the “good people” versus the “bad” people.
The ancient but still fiercely operative Black-white paradigm has
been overlaid with “Arabs,” “clash of civilizations” and “homosexuals,” but
it’s still the same onion. The new texture of the old paradigm
of oppression simply allows more whites to act/vote on what NAACP
Bond calls their “racist impulses.” These are the impulses
that fueled the Republican electoral machine.
On the other hand, we at believe
that there is a far deeper and wider white opposition to the current
regime than existed at any point in the supposedly “turbulent” Sixties
and early Seventies. Many anti-Bush whites are aware that when
Black folks were disenfranchised by a criminal conspiracy of George
W. Bush’s national government, they were also disenfranchised.
Even larger proportions of white youth know the deal. Black people’s
only obligation to them is the same one we have to ourselves: to
Kerry’s separate peace
As usual, the corporate media pretend that
the Republican’s bullying
and official criminality in the weeks preceding Election Day – events
they covered – never happened. John Kerry collaborates in
the farce, proclaiming in his public concession speech that America
is in "desperate need for unity, for finding common ground
and coming together. Today, I hope we can begin the healing."
troops who carried him, the Black men and women targeted for
harassment and humiliation at the polls, are bleeding on the
field, many of their votes never to be counted or even acknowledged.
The vaunted legions of Democratic lawyers that were supposed
to descend on Ohio and Florida to tear apart the rigged systems
of electoral apartheid were told to stand down on Tuesday night.
PBS News Hour’s Margaret Warner told viewers that Kerry’s legal
team advocated a “scorched earth” policy to challenge the crooked
system until it screamed – a result Democratic troops would
have cheered. Kerry overruled his lawyers, to make a false
peace with the Pirates.
At Harvard, Dr. Dawson reports that “students don’t
understand how Kerry could concede before all the votes, particularly
votes, were counted. He owes those people, who stood for hours
in line and were asked for multiple identifications. We have another
And what of the provisional ballots in Ohio,
which Democrats at one time numbered at 250,000? What about all
provisional ballots in each of the 50 states. Are these all to
be swept under the rug to avoid what Kerry calls “a protracted
legal process?” Once again, reconciliation between the rich and
white trumps justice for Blacks every time.
In Florida, the computer-generated Bush-heavy
election returns that so dramatically clashed with earlier Kerry-heavy
polls are now explained away as the result of the stealth invasion
of Karl Rove’s church-based mass voter movement – a half-million
strong evangelical invasion force that most hard-wired Republican
pundits did not even know existed. As “Ghosts of Florida” author Tom
Grayman III writes, “by no method has it been determined that the [exit]
polling was incorrect and the voting equipment was not.”
On Washington-based XM-Radio, talk show host
Mark Thompson remarked that the “third eye” of every Black person
in America was wide open, blinking in disbelief as Kerry Democrats
and Bush Republicans
rearrange the facts about November 2, 2004.
The last thing America needs is unity with
thieves, Pirates and punks. The nation and the world need peace,
jobs and justice. Let’s
get back to work.