Educate, organize and mobilize — (thethirdreconstruction.com) I continuously monitor the political polls and conversations about the results of North Carolina elections in 2014 and the electoral prospects for 2016. There are several germane topics on these issues that I believe are being ignored to the detriment of progressive candidates. Of course the topic that I believe had and will have the greatest impact on progressive aspirations in North Carolina 2014 and 2016 is voter suppression.
There have been numerous assessments of the role that voter suppression played in 2014. I believed it played a major role in two specific ways: it was not strategically used as a get-out-the-vote issue, nor was it strategically used as an organizing issue. Although I’ve not done an empirical study to substantiate my position, my overview of the generic campaign education literature explaining voter suppression tactics and my knowledge of the lack of political spending to overcome it bears me out. Being a part of the Black press put me in a unique position to evaluate the political response or lack of response to the threat posed by voter suppression.
Preparation for success in November 2016 is underway in many arenas but I fear that in the arena of Black voter participation it is not where I think it ought to be. I’m in a relatively good position to assess current preparation because I’ve been in continuous contact with political operatives that are or will be involved with efforts that are underway. To date I’ve been unable to gain any clear clarification of the plans or funding sources and levels necessary for success in 2016. However, of one thing you can be certain; voting in 2016 will be unlike anything we’ve experienced in North Carolina.
Last week I wrote about the money that needs to be spent with the Black press to enable it to mobilized Black voters as it has historically done and as only it can do. Black press expenditures were grossly inadequate in 2014. Many argue that all things considered, Black participation was about where it should have been. I strongly disagree. The objective of Black voters as a bloc should be to vote at a higher percentage than any other bloc. The reality, as I see it, is that Blacks have more to lose than any other voting bloc and are targeted for suppression far more than any other bloc.
I know that it is important to give context to political spending in general and spending targeted to Black voters particularly. In a recent article entitled Why 500 Attack Emails Couldn’t Take
Down Thom Tillis, Nathan L. Gonzales wrote that outside groups spent approximately $37 million against Republicans and that Kay Hagan out raised Thom Tillis $20 million to $9 million and outspent him 2 to 1. Her campaign was regarded as one of, if not the best in America and she was regarded as one of the best candidates. (See link below for full story).
Despite the 2014 major efforts of the NC NAACP, Democracy NC and their supporters, inadequate resources were allocated for the mobilization of Black voters and this should be added to the reasons that the architect of NC Voter Suppression won and Black voters lost.
Back in March, Emily Cahn wrote an article entitled Democrats Prep North Carolina Contingency Plan. In the article the case was made for Kay Hagan making another run for the US Senate and alternate candidates if she decides against it. (See link below for full story). Gonzales and Cahn make the point that in 2016, with Hillary Clinton, possibly Kay Hagan and an, as yet to be decided, gubernatorial candidate on the ballot, North Carolina is a battleground state and will attract vast sums of money to the campaigns.
With all of this being said, Black voters have too much at stake to be treated as an afterthought for campaign spending. The political money elite should allocate $1-2 million to the Black press and a substantial sum to other political operatives if they intend to be successful this time around. I reiterate, 2016 will be characterized with major voter suppression targeting Black voters and to mount a meaningful response we have to have adequate funds. Our Black communities need to put a massive number of boots on the ground to have any chance of overcoming Voter ID and the numerous other suppression tactics.
As I wrote last week, the Black press should be a primary tool used to educate, organize, and mobilize Black voters, ministers and communities as only the Black press can. It should be adequately funded with advertising dollars that provide the operating capital that we need to deliver for our people and the other progressives that depend on the Black vote to get elected. The way that the Black press has been utilized in past elections will not be adequate for the mobilization needed in November 2016.
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