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 James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA
James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA

 It is Time to Place Demands Upon  the Democratic Party

Many consider Hillary Clinton’s winning the nomination to represent the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential election to be a foregone conclusion. Apparently, the Clinton campaign feels the same way as evidenced by a recent internal memo that pinpoints the most crucial aspect of the Democratic Party keeping the White House; that crucial aspect is the voter turnout of African-Americans.

Democratic Party strategists realize that President Obama’s two Presidential victories are attributable to the unprecedented voter turnout by African-Americans; this critical part of the Democratic Party base turned out at a phenomenal 65% clip. Hillary must find someway to inspire African-Americans to repeat this feat if she plans on winning in 2016. According to analysts Amy Walter and David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, “A return to pre-2008 African-American turnout levels wouldn’t necessarily doom a Hillary Clinton candidacy, but it would leave her with a whole lot less margin for error in a host of swing states.” According to Walter and Wasserman, “…African-American voters accounted for Obama’s entire margin of victory in seven states: Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Without these states’ 112 electoral votes, Obama would have lost decisively…All of these states, except Maryland, will be crucial 2016 battlegrounds.” Put simply, Hillary Clinton will most likely not be moving into the White House without significant African-American support.

The aforementioned facts once again places the African-American community in an advantageous position of being able to demand, not request or beg for, concessions from the Democratic Party. Most people have erroneously convinced themselves that Black activism is denoted by African-American leaders issuing demands upon the White power structure. Nothing could be further from the truth! African-Americans favored mode of activism has been tapping into White power-brokers sense of morality and fairness. Such a weak posture is a great distance from the issuing of a demand. A demand is a significant threat that if you do not do this, we will do this to punish you. Rarely have African-American leaders punished those who resisted their overtures; there is no doubt that this is one of their most significant short-comings.

Considering the multiple pressing problems afflicting the African-American community, Black leaders should have a detailed list of ‘demands’ they plan to deliver to Clinton. Unlike previous inglorious moments in the African-American existence, these ‘demands’ must be accompanied with an ominous warning that if the Democratic Party does not agree to these ‘demands’, we will surely fail to appear at the polls.

The thinking that any Democratic Party President who has made no commitments to address even the most prominent problems facing the African-American community is better than any Republican must be put to rest as history has shown us that groups have to use their political wits to leverage concessions when the opportunity presents itself. Fred Hampton, the head of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s Chicago branch, once observed that “…politics is nothing but war without bloodshed; and war is nothing but politics with bloodshed.” It is this mindset that must serve as the foundation for all African-Americans as they seek political means to improve the socioeconomic status of the entire community.

The opportunity is there, however, only time will tell if we have the wisdom to recognize it and the courage to execute a plan that places significant demands upon a Democratic Party political machine that needs us to achieve even their most basic goals.