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GOP Pitch for Black Votes Dissected

In their article "The Campaign for Black Republicans" at TomPaine.com, Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, co-publishers of The Black Commentator, provide an insightful explanation of Bush's slight increase in his percentage of African American votes in '04. Ford and Gamble cite the so-called "faith-based intitiatives" and vouchers as the lynchpins of GOP strategy to dilute the African American voting bloc:

The Republican Party quickly adopted both strategies as tools to drive a wedge between blacks and teachers' unions and to lure opportunistic black clergy into the GOP orbit. Vouchers and faith-based bribery are the strategic battering rams the right hopes will demolish the Black Political Consensus. Gay-baiting, the "Death Tax" and longevity issues related to Social Security are tactical flourishes.

Ford and Gamble argue that the overwhelming majority of Black voters are not so easily swayed:

The received wisdom from the corporate media is identical to the line run by rightists at the Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes: African Americans are becoming more conservative as they join the middle class, especially younger blacks. However, black voting behavior proves differently. Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a flamboyant progressive, lost to right-backed Denise Majette in the 2002 open primary. But McKinney received 83 percent of the black vote in what is probably the second most affluent black majority district in the country— the very demographics that supposedly favor black conservatism.

Further, Ford and Gamble note:

As BlackCommentator.com reported on November 18: "With 11 percent of a much larger black electorate, Bush picked up about a quarter million more black votes than he should have." A huge portion of those were new voters from the Pentecostal ranks, who are in such thrall of their ministers that there is nothing political to decipher in their actions.

Clearly the Democratic Party has a huge stake in Black voter turnout outside the Pentacostal ranks targeted by the GOP, and more support for voter mobilization conducted by progressive Black clergy and secular institutions should prove to be a cost-effective investment in '06 and '08.