… being taken for granted!
In these closing days of the 2020 presidential campaign, a remarkable and surprising measure of campaign attention is falling upon African American voters — specifically a small and typically overlooked segment: young Black men.
Consider, for example, President Trump released last month his “Platinum Plan for Black America,” which campaign officials promised to provide $500 billion in capital to create 3 million new jobs in Black communities and eliminate long-standing disparities in health care and education among Black Americans.
And, to sweeten the deal for voters to reelect the Republican president, whom polls show lagging far behind his Democratic challenger, Trump pledged to make Juneteenth a federal, national holiday.
For his part, Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, flush with campaign cash, is flooding television airways with campaign commercials that leave no doubt about its intended audience — Black men.
The final push for votes in a presidential campaign tends to be laser-focused on getting out the vote among two groups — loyal and partisan supporters and persuadable last-minute “swing” or undecided voters. Black voters tend to be overlooked as closers in the last days, viewed largely as lock-boxed Democratic voters.
But such a view overlooks the diversity among Black Americans. In our Black Swing Voter Project, a study conducted earlier this summer, a group of American University colleagues and I reveal that Black voters are not as loyal to the Democratic Party or its candidates as so many political observers and pundits imagine. Rather, they are a set of richly complex swing voters who oscillate between voting for Democrats and not voting at all. This is especially true for young and male Black voters.
For those Black Americans born between 1990 and 2002, who are relatively new to the voting booth, the choice of political participation may be a moot point. Unlike their elders, who came up with fresh memories of civil rights activism, younger Black Americans aren’t willing to tolerate voting for the lesser of two evils. They would just as soon stay home than compromise on their idealism.
To be sure, their preference is to participate in the nation’s civic life, but that can be subordinated to their lack of trust in the political system to do right by them or their community.