Blacks May Make Dean Democratic Candidate – But What Then?
order Sam Francis` new monograph, Ethnopolitics:
Immigration, Race, and the American Political Future]
It`s hardly news when the
Rev. Al Sharpton denounces a white politician as
"anti-black," but when the veteran racial demagogue
who gave the world the
Tawana Brawley hoax blasted his fellow Democratic
presidential candidate Howard Dean last week, there was
a ripple in the press. [Sharpton
Calls Dean`s Agenda `Anti-Black,` By Brian Faler,
Washington Post, October 29, 2003]
There was no reason there should have been more than
a ripple, but what was really important about Mr.
Sharpton`s accusation is not what it says about the
black clergyman from Harlem but what it might tell us
about Mr. Dean: He may be on his way to winning the
Democratic nomination next year.
The reason is that Mr. Dean seems to be extremely
popular with a great many of the black voters on whom
Mr. Sharpton was
counting to support his own candidacy.
And the larger point is that if you do win the black
vote in the Democratic primaries, you are likely to win
the party nomination.
Ever since 1988, when the
institution of "Super Tuesday" was established,
blacks who vote in the several Southern primaries held
simultaneously on that day have largely determined who
the front runner for the party nomination is.
In 1988, it was Jesse Jackson who walked off with
what Congressional Quarterly called "nearly
unanimous [black support] across the South on
Super Tuesday" with only 14 fewer delegates than
Michael Dukakis, who eventually won the nomination by
mobilizing white ethnics.
In 1992, the Super Tuesday victor was the obscure
governor of Arkansas,
Bill Clinton, later called
"America`s first black president." He won (and
catapulted himself into the front runner position) by
taking 71 percent of the black vote in the day`s
In 2000, Vice President Al Gore and his main rival,
Sen. Bill Bradley, spent most of their time in
bickering over who would do more for blacks. Blacks
went for Mr. Gore by some
85 percent on Super Tuesday. Mr.
Bradley dropped out soon afterwards.
The brute fact of the Democratic Party is that black
voters make up about 40 percent of the Democratic
electorate in Southern primaries, and because those
primaries come fairly early in the electoral season and
because blacks almost always vote as a bloc, the
contender who can win black support makes himself the
front runner. Unless one of his rivals has a secret
weapon of mass political destruction, he soon wins the
It`s not clear why, but he does seem to win a lot of
black favor. The immediate reason Mr. Sharpton denounced
the Vermonter is that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
endorsed him instead of the Harlem race-baiter. Mr.
Jackson is not a major powerhouse himself, but his
father`s name among black voters is. The father is
staying out of the primaries, much to the displeasure of
Mr. Sharpton, who wants his endorsement.
As for Mr. Dean, last summer he
purported to a black audience that a
song by a
famous hip-hop artist was his own
personal favorite. No doubt his wife and kids hear
the governor humming it in the shower every morning.
But—contrary to Mr. Sharpton`s accusations—he`s made
pretty explicit appeals to blacks in the course of
his campaign—and it seems to have worked.
The Washington Times reports that 10 of the 13
(all black) members of the District of Columbia`s City
Council, as well as several black congressmen, state
legislators and county officials, have already endorsed
Mr. Dean. He "has actively sought to improve his
appeal among black voters," and one of the endorsing
councilmen, Adrian Fenty, says the ex-governor "is
the only one [of the Democratic candidates] who
has come out to talk to us." [Blacks
show interest in Dean, By Brian DeBose,
Washington Times, October 26, 2003]
This doesn`t mean Mr. Dean will win the black vote in
the primaries or that he`ll get the party`s nomination.
It does seem to mean that he understands how to get
them, and the way to do one is the way to do the other.
The problem for the Democrats, of course, is that in
order to win the black vote to get the nomination, they
have to ignore and often alienate the white voters who
settle the actual election. I can`t tell you who the
last Democratic nominee to win a majority of the
white vote was, but it hasn`t happened since at
least 1972. In every election but two (1992 and 1996,
when the Republican and Ross Perot split the white
vote), a white majority has
If the Republicans want to win again, that`s what
need to win again.
Mr. Dean may get the party`s nomination and he may
win all the black (and Hispanic) votes there are, but
without the key constituency of
white voters, the door to the White House doesn`t
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,