For those familiar with politics and political history, there are often jokes made about how Bill Clinton was the “real first black president.”
This joke is loosely based off the support the Democratic Party and Democratic politicians garner from the black community.
The black American vote has, for years and even decades, been a key constituency in the Democratic race. That voting bloc ensured Barack Obama the presidency and Hillary Clinton’s nomination in 2016.
According to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of black voters remain solidly Democratic and a mere 8 percent identify in “some way with the Republican Party.”
The competition for the support of the black vote among the current Democratic presidential candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 will be unlike anything Americans have seen before, and there’s one word surrounding it: reparations.
If the Democratic Party wants to win back the White House from Trump, putting reparations at the forefront of their campaigns is not the path to victory for several reasons.
Recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro have all backed reparations to compensate African-Americans for slavery.
For one, it’s a strong voting bloc, but one that has a low voter turnout; the ability to get this powerful group of voters to mobilize and head to the polls will be an ardent one.
Which is why we now see Democratic candidates making a very leftward shift in the coming race and the topic of reparations being discussed publicly once again.
The black community in America has seen countless centuries of discrimination, abuse and disenfranchisement; and that is just to name a few.
The topic of reparations is touchy and one that has been contentious within the party.
Secondly, Barack Obama, the first African-American president, never endorsed the idea of reparations. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) never endorsed reparations either in the 2016 campaign.
The sad truth of the matter is that the topic of reparations will not only alienate moderate and/or independent voters, but also other minority groups.
If the percentage of the black vote was larger than the percentage of white voters, this would be a different story.
White Americans still continue to make up the largest voting bloc in this country. Older white Americans have the highest voter turnout.
If Democrats want to defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election, they need to find a way to drive up minority support without alienating America’s white majority.
It is a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.