June 19, 2017

Black and voting Democratic: Not so fast

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

The New Mexico electoral landscape is taking shape to the extent that early indicators are suggesting a clear change of power. Republicans have ruled the state for the majority of the last eight years. However, in these upcoming elections the New Mexico Democratic Party can potentially end the nightmare here in the Land of Enchantment that is unfolding in earnest for the rest of the nation. The question swirling throughout the Black community is, does it remain loyal to a Democratic Party that is failing to champion their interests, concerns and placing the future of all Black Americans at risk? For example, since the confirmation of the new United States attorney general, the U.S. Department of Justice has relented on a commitment to reducing and preventing excessive use of force by law enforcement, reforming the justice system and reducing the number of incarcerated Blacks.

The immediate result has been a seemly surge in white supremacist activity coupled with a firm sense of empowerment, especially amongst all non-African Americans, to engage in racist behavior. And the Democratic Party’s response both in the House and Senate has been marked by silence that is manifested within very little to no substantive action to counter these developments.

This silence is also evident in the fact that not one Democratic gubernatorial or Albuquerque mayoral candidate has presented a plan to reform the justice system or improve racial equality in our great state.

Elder Michael Jefferson is a minister at Procession Ministries in Albuquerque.

It has been a fact for several decades that the Democratic Party both here in New Mexico and nationally expects the Black Community‘s loyalty at the ballot box. There is a strong possibly that expectation is beginning to dissipate. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Republican candidate asked Black America addressed their loyalty to the Democratic party and asked, “What has it gotten you?” It was and still is a legitimate question.

America is guilty of undervaluing Black America and has a long history of reneging on promises made to further the worth of the human family of Black people, especially those born in America.  However, the 2016 Presidential election revealed signs that the luxury of taking the Black Community for granted and still maintaining their vote for the Democratic Party ticket is closing.

One statistic rarely acknowledged is that the Black Community represents the most progressive voters in the nation. That is particularity true here in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. In last year’s New Mexico State Democratic primary, more than 60 percent of the Black vote went for progressive candidate Bernie Sanders. Black voters align more closely with candidates who hold firm positions on issues such as universal health care, pay equality, sustainable energy, tuition free college, voting rights and justice system reform. What this means for the Democratic Party is that likely hood of the Black voters remaining loyal to a base that is grounded in traditional Democratic policy that is out of touch and irrelevant to current living issues is highly unlikely.

This is clear in a majority of the Black registered voters staying clear of the colorblind New Mexico State Democratic Party, who insist in joining in parading out multiple candidates in the Albuquerque Mayor race by gravitating to progressive candidate State Auditor Tim Keller. This is also true in the governor and congressional Democratic slates as Blacks are shunning the State Democratic Party picks for the more progressive-thinking candidate. The lessons of 2016 still have not resonated with the Democratic Party as they continue to vest their future in an infrastructure still loyal to a horse that finished out of the money. This infrastructure has not only  been unsuccessful in winning lately but more importantly remains insensitive and unproductive on issues of concern to the Black Community. And tolerance for this undervaluing of the Black vote and community at large has become short, very short.