The loss of the U.S. Senate to the Republican right and their gains in the Congress during the midterm 2014 elections can be largely attributed to a low voter turnout among key Democratic constituencies.
African Americans, who have traditionally voted Democratic since the Franklin D. Roosevelt era of the 1930s and 1940s, failed to be motivated by last-minute appeals for them to vote in large numbers.
A New York Times front page article Oct. 19, entitled “In Black Vote, Democrats See Lifeline for Midterms,” reveals the existence of an internal memorandum addressing what the Democratic Party would not say publicly — that their fate was largely dependent upon the turnout of African-American voters. This memo predicted crushing Democratic Party losses if there was not a rekindling of enthusiasm for voting in candidates to keep the party’s slight majority in the Senate.
“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” wrote pollster Cornell Belcher in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.’” (New York Times, Oct. 18)
“Anybody who looks at the data realizes that if the black vote, and the brown vote, doesn’t turn out, we can’t win. It’s just that simple,” predicted Rep. Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, the current chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, in reference to African-American and Latino/a voters. “If we don’t turn out, we cannot hold the Senate.”
African Americans bear brunt of crisis
The Barack Obama administration has failed to address the concerns of African Americans and Latinos/as in relationship to jobs, income, political brutality, imperialist war drives, the decline of cities, attacks on democratic rights, immigration rights and other issues. Nonetheless, the onus of failing to address the declining living standards and democratic rights of African Americans cannot solely be placed on the administration, but on the lack of a Democratic Party program that encompasses these vital issues.
What can only be described as a hostile or tepid-at-best response from the Obama administration and the Democratic leaders in Congress easily translates into a lack of participation by the masses in a process that does not speak directly to the concerns of the most exploited and repressed.
Since the 2010 midterm elections, which also saw a low turnout among African Americans, there have been several developments that represent clearly the current character of national oppression in the United States.
In February 2012, people witnessed the murder of African-American youth Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal the following year of his killer, George Zimmerman, sparking outrage throughout the country. It was the mass demonstrations of thousands that caused the authorities in Sanford, Fla., to arrest Zimmerman and put him on trial.
When Zimmerman was acquitted, demonstrations broke out from New York to California. Some of these protests turned into rebellions, reflecting the degree of anger among African-American youth.
On Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., when 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down by a white police officer and youth rose up in rebellion for days, people within the African-American communities and others were in solidarity with the people of St. Louis County. Many traveled to Ferguson to demonstrate alongside the people, who expressed the best of traditions of African resistance within U.S. history.
The fundamental question is: What do African Americans really have to vote for? There are depression-era conditions prevailing in cities such as Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Jackson, Miss., and Ferguson, where the people have been politically vocal about the degree of oppressive conditions. African Americans are being systematically denied economic opportunities and basic civil and human rights, and are being channeled into the prison-industrial-complex, which utilizes racist police forces, unjust courts and dysfunctional educational systems.
Oppressed people need alternative party
These developments demonstrate that another party is needed to rally oppressed nations to an alternative socialist program to fight capitalism and imperialism. The decline of African-American electoral participation in midterm elections since 2010 is a clear reflection of the failure of both the Democratic and Republican parties to appeal to these voters. (See “The Black Turnout and the 2014 Midterms” by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, jointcenter.org)
Such a set of political dynamics provides opportunities for initiatives that rely on massive outreach to African-American, Latino/a, Middle Eastern, Asian and Native American communities; and to women, LGBTQ communities, people living with disabilities, seniors, youth and other oppressed and exploited populations within the overall working class. This party would declare openly that it was in favor of meeting the aspirations of the most oppressed, who are becoming the majority of the people residing within the U.S.
An electoral strategy that begins from the premise that the capitalist and imperialist systems no longer have anything to offer the working class and oppressed would be in a position to openly advocate for full employment, free universal health care, raising of the minimum wage to living-wage levels, a guaranteed annual income, the abolition of the Pentagon budget and the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex, racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and inequality, and guaranteeing the right to self-determination and full equality for all.
The party would rely on the mass mobilization and organization of the people. This organization would, of course, reach out to form alliances with other progressive and revolutionary parties rooted in the working class and oppressed throughout the world.
In every capitalist state internationally, the ideologues of the ruling class have no alternative to the austerity, super-exploitation and imperialist militarism now in operation. A party of the working class and the oppressed would provide a platform to reverse the economic decline in its efforts aimed at building a socialist future