Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Black Independent: A new political category (and a cultural revolution)

One of the more positive things that's been going on in the past 20 years in America is the development of a new constituency: the Black Independent.

Six percent of black voters in 2008 were independent. Even the MSM noticed (they invented the category). Why is this significant? Because black voters traditionally, at least since somewhat after the New Deal, are Democrats. In fact, that's been a complaint of some black leftists for the 80 years since the Great Depression.

For those of us on the left--white and black, including the progressive independent activists of the CUIP networks, who have been slogging and blogging for the past 20 years plus, this is a special moment where the independent movement and black voters have come together. We have just witnessed a cultural revolution in the country. (And for the MSM pundits who think that Joe Lieberman is a spokesman for independent voters, pay attention!)

Let's take a look at some factoids:
  • Barack Obama polled the majority of the independent vote: 52% (compared to about 44% for John McCain). That's an 8 point margin.
  • Four years earlier, in 2004, independents split evenly between John Kerry and George Bush
  • 29% of voters on November 4th were independents, that's up 3 points since 2004, while the Dems took 2% more of the total, and the Repubs lost 5 points
  • The 2008 election was the first time since 1972 that a majority of independent voters cast ballots for a Democrat
  • Third-party candidates polled about 1% of the total vote nationally, Nader (independent) and McKinney (Green) garnering about 200,000 more votes than Barr (Libertarian) and Baldwin (Constitution) -- again, a shift left
More details will be unveiled over the next period, of course. Keep an eye out for Jackie Salit's election analysis in the upcoming Neo Independent magazine.

In the meantime, keep slogging and blogging.


J said...

I have pondered this for myself for quite a while, given the following:
1. Republicans have tarnished the values that many blacks hold by both "overbranding" them as their own and subsequently tarnishing those values on a regular basis. However...
2. One big part of the tarnishing is selling all of those "values" with tacit acceptance of clear anti-black sentiment and vibe if not outright denigration. The fact that they only reluctantly quell the supposed outliers makes us suspect them as much more than outliers.
3. We don't particularly jibe with the emblematic left democrat and that left democrat proves not to have moved much past the Mike and Gloria Stivik model, lots of compassion, which without thought and courage is only patronizing.

So, I've thought myself a new black republican at times, i.e. not one who can be defined by saying those words too closely together, but rather as one who rejects the blackrepublicans who seem not to have principled stances as much as scripts in hands from their own leaders. but maybe republican is still too strong a brand to reform, not to mention black republican.

All I know is that there's not much of a defined/labeled place for a black christian who believes in Jesus but is grossly troubled by the religious right, megachurches, and us black folk preaching social gospel vs. just the gospel; who believes in affirmative action as a mathematical remedy; who doesn't believe in abortion; who believes in paying taxes but also in fiercely prosecuting those who betray that fiduciary trust - get your own fire trucks and army if you don't want to pay taxes; who believes in capitalism but without government handouts to the most able of corporations; who doesn't believe in blanket immunity for immigrants but who gives a break until we prosecute the ones providing jobs w/o healthcare and fair wages.

In short, left-leaning pragmatic not tricked by the reagandemocrat but open to be challenged, recognizing that all of us see ourselves as pragmatic.

anyway. nuf ramble. i may well be an independent. or not.


Nancy Hanks said...

J - thanks for your comment. You may well be an independent -- whether or not you choose to call yourself independent... And, in my experience, independents are all over the place politically and socially, however agree that the parties are corrupt to the core and are hurting us. The cutting edge issue for independents is political reform. The "CUIP wing" of the independent movement tends to be more left, but we are dedicated to inclusion and a nonideological approach to base building. Hope you'll stick around a while and consider that option!