Every presidential election cycle in the modern era has featured a unique all-call for Black voters. Black voter turnout is known to make or break a presidential election and a growing number of midterms as well. This vote has long been held by the Democratic Party, largely due to the party’s strategic policy goals and achievements in civil rights and equity, while Republicans, the party of Lincoln, can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. While they make haphazard attempts at courting Black voters, as the results show again and again, they are on an entirely different track.
Of course, Black Republicans exist. Black voters for Trump exist, too. And yet, the numbers aren’t changing in any significant way. Black Americans are steadfast Democrats, granting their support to the Democratic Party with a consistent 90 percent. And there is good reason for that. The GOP seems committed to policy and legislation that looks eerily similar to the kinds of things you’d see pre-Civil Rights Movement. It sure seems like Republicans are going out of their way to convey how little they want Black voters or policies that support Black people.
Take Florida’s hyper vigilant push to re-envision slavery as having a skills development program. In a new, extensive set of academic standards for middle schools, a single line drew the ire of Blacks, civil rights advocates, Vice President Kamala Harris, and even the Black Conservative Federation: Florida now mandates teachers to inform students that slaves “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Even rising conservative star Congressman Byron Donalds objected, writing on Twitter that “The new African-American standards in FL are good, robust, & accurate. That being said, the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted. That obviously wasn’t the goal & I have faith that FLDOE will correct this.”
Yet instead of heeding these cries, officials representing Florida Governor and Republican presidential contender Ron DeSantis slammed Donalds. “We will not back down from teaching our nation’s true history at the behest of a woke White House nor the behest of a conservative Congressman,” Florida’s Commissioner of Education wrote on Twitter.
That conservative congressman happens to be Black and has a long history of supporting conservative and even extremist policies. Donalds, like most people with a brain, just recognizes there is no way to remix slavery into a net positive for Blacks. And for this, he has to take shots from his own side.
It’s just the latest example that Republicans don’t actually want us in their party. Contrary to their recent rhetoric, the GOP base isn’t a broad coalition; it’s predominately white, male, and older. And especially in the past decade, the base has leaned in on white grievance, culture wars, fighting the woke, and attacking everything from voting rights and police accountability to Black Lives Matter and books detailing the harsh realities of slavery and Jim Crow.
This is who they are. And therein lies the truth: Black voters like Black lives do not matter to the GOP.
It’s not just Florida. Across the board, Republicans are implementing a new Southern Strategy, replicating the one initiated by Richard Nixon in his 1968 campaign for President which began as an appeal to racists after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. President Donald Trump took the politics of racial division and the amplification of white rage to the next level, running on “Make America Great Again” as a throwback to a yesteryear where diversity and equity didn’t exist, where Black voters were quelled at the polls, and systemic racism went unchecked.
But it wasn’t just Nixon and Trump who pushed forward in amplifying the Southern Strategy. Republican north star Ronald Reagan did as well. He fashioned Black mothers as “welfare queens” and the children of Black women as “crack babies.”
Meanwhile, Republicans today have decided that their primary election pledge is to undermine DEI efforts in hiring, contracting, scholarships, and even college admissions, all areas of historic underrepresentation for Blacks, not due to a lack of talent or skill but simply because America wasn’t built on Black progress but on Black bodies working to build white progress and wealth. Blacks were property in this country longer than they were able to own property.
And we are watching these strikes against Blacks continue without abatement in the GOP. Former President Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are currently under fire for not only the election fraud scams and big lie of 2020, but also for placing a target on the backs of two Black female election workers in Georgia—women who were doing what they’ve done for years in support of our democracy.
And the GOP is pushing full speed ahead in dismantling voting rights; just last year, 27 states introduced or enacted legislation designed to restrict voting, with a spotlight on areas with the highest numbers of Black and young American voters.
If you want to know why Black voters stick with the Democratic Party, this is why: We can read past the rhetoric and see the truth in their policy. The Republican Party doesn’t want our vote. They don’t want us to have the right to vote.
It’s why we’ll never see a home for ourselves in the party of Lincoln. Even if we wanted to, they make it impossible.
Ameshia Cross is a democratic strategist for national, state and local campaigns, a regular political commentator and contributor on MSN, NBC, BBC, SiriusXM, iHeart Radio and more. She is also a former campaign and communications advisor for President Obama.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.