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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Appealing to Voters of Color Earnestly

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Are politicians really saying to black voters, “I want your votes, but I don’t want your racial taint”?

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Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

What would it look like if presidential candidates made earnest appeals to voters of color? When Donald Trump recently told black voters they had nothing to lose by voting for him because their quality of life was already pretty terrible, he was also conceding that the vast majority of black voters are expected to vote Democrat no matter what policies are proposed to benefit communities of color.

Farai Chideya of FiveThirtyEight recently wrote

Leave aside Trump and Clinton for a moment. Their battle is really about a question long raised by candidates, citizens and political scientists: In today’s two-party system, are the political interests of black Americans represented well? Or are black voters “captured” — ignored by one major party and taken for granted by the other?”

Chideya says black voters get a mixed message from politicians on the campaign trail.

[It’s] ‘come close, but stay away,’” says Chideya. “‘I want your votes, but I don’t want your racial taint.’”

An appeal to black voters must take into consideration the ways in which people of color have been marginalized over decades, says Lester Spence, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.

African Americans, on every single economic indicator, suffer more,” than other groups, says Spence. And he says black people also suffer disproportionately with law enforcement, in the justice system, and in the education system. He says those subjects present a good starting place for Republicans and Democrats looking to make substantive pitches to black voters.

To hear the rest of the conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

 


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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