Black Power Politics

A polemic and critique of Black American politics and movement toward sophisticated applications,

Location: New York, New York, United States

A veteran organizer in the “movement,” Gary James was a staff organizer in the borough of Queens for the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), from 1966 to 1971 under the leadership of the late Dr. George Wiley organization’s President. Gary James is a political analyst and free lance writer. He is the author of a book entitled ERACISM that will be released in the spring of 2007. The provocative "political faction" book highlights grassroots politics in New York from the late 1960s to the present. For a limited time the book can be accessed at his web site:

Thursday, November 18, 2004


The political handwriting is on the wall, now that the Presidential election of 2004 is history and the Bush / Cheney administration has won a second term in office. Although election 2004 as compared to 2000 was much less controversial in terms of the balloting process, vote counting and the ultimate outcome, arguments questioning the Bush victory are beginning to abound. Most of the information alleging that predominantly black voters were purged from the roles or their vote was not counted is coming from the so-called “swing” states particularly Florida and Ohio among others. However, this time around President Bush won the popular vote with more than 50 percent of the electorate voting, as well as winning the required electoral votes.

Following the Presidential election of 2000, Black Democratic leaders including the Congressional Black Caucus was unable to get than Presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore, or one of the Democratic US Senators to support their efforts for a recount in Florida. The apparent and alleged irregularities associated with election 2000 are earth shattering as compared with the reports and allegations associated with this year’s Presidential contest. Yet, efforts are mounting in various quarters of the fragmenting Democratic Party coalition to organize against the policies of President Bush’ final term administration. And not surprisingly, Black Democratic leaders and the community are being formulated as the spearhead of “anti-Bush” and “anti-Republican Party” next four years political protest movement.

During the Presidential campaign the Black political leadership and civil rights orthodoxy were unabashedly behind Senator John Kerry. In July, NAACP President Kwesi Mfume tore into President Bush’s Black supporters calling them “Ventriloquist’s dummies.” Mfume was particularly teed off because there were a surprising number of Black folk willing to defend the President. Following the NAACP President’s remarks, the Presidents website announced the formulation of a 76 member African American Steering Committee.

Black Journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote, “Bush’s African American team is a blatant effort to bypass mainstream civil rights leaders and cultivate a new brand of Black leadership. It is driven by political necessity, and racial opportunism. From the day he entered the White House, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the NAACP officials, and nearly all the mainstream civil rights leaders are career Democrats and Bush bashers. They have waged a relentless, and sometimes a nasty personal name calling war against Bush. At the NAACP convention that Bush snubbed, NAACP officials treated Democratic presidential contender John Kerry as a virtual conquering hero, and vowed to treat the election as a holy crusade to beat Bush.”

Mr. Hutchinson continued, “Bush has also played hard on the open hostility of many Blacks to the mainstream civil rights leaders, and Democrats. He drew thunderous applause in an address to the Urban League the week after the NAACP convention when he repeatedly pounded away that the Democrats have taken the Black vote for granted.”

Some astute Black political analyst like Alton Chase a longtime political and community activist, observed that, “the Bush campaign was politically wise to move beyond the “mainstream” civil rights leadership because they are a diminishing if not irrelevant political breed as it relates to the imperatives for 21 century Black political empowerment. These Black Democratic leaders have the unique distinction of being both “politically correct” and “politically wrong” at the same time. These bygone political leaders are afraid of saying Black or African American without including Hispanics, or Latino’s or using the word “minority.” Political correctness has played the Black community out of political position and it must be reevaluated and discredited. Democratic Party plantation politics has rendered the Black community the weakest of the political minorities in this, the 1st decade of the 21st century.”

While the Black vote for the President barely broke double digits, the Hispanic Community gave the President an unprecedented 44 percent of their vote, 10 percent higher than in 2000. Mr. Roberto Suro, the director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington said, “The bottom line to me is this result, it’s no longer sensible to think of Hispanic Voters on a national basis as a core constituency of the Democratic Party.”

Mr. F. Chris Garcia, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico said, “We are up for grabs. That is a good thing for Hispanics; we’re going to be more influential in the future and a bigger target for both campaigns.”

On the other hand Rev. Al Sharpton former candidate for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination was applauded enthusiastically during his presentation at the Democratic National Convention when he said, “The Black vote is not for sale Mr. Bush and we are going to ride this donkey until he can’t carry us any further.”

Rev. Sharpton and the “mainstream” civil rights leadership are positioning the Black community to another four-year protest period of assailing the Bush administration and the Republican Party. The Clarion Call has been issued by some Democratic Party operatives to reinvigorate the dubious coalition of Blacks, Latinos, White progressives, and the gay community to organize for 2008, in terms of protests, marches, and rallies against policies of the Bush administration, particularly the war in Iraq. Apparently the civil rights leadership has an aversion to power politics and leverage voting.

From the perspective of this writer there appears to be some great political lessons to be gleaned from the Hispanic community in terms of how they strategically deployed their vote. The Hispanic community is now positioned well to play the game of hardball politics and have become a swing vote in the mainstream American political party process. How the process will ultimately play out politically in local elections is interesting speculation. But it is likely the dawning of the new political day in terms is Black and Hispanic power relationships.

In Harlem for example the veteran Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of 30 plus years will likely retire soon, and an interesting political scenario may develop. There is an interesting political discussion underway as to the possibility that Congressman Charles Rangel may be the last Black American to hold the coveted seat in the US House of Representatives from Harlem’s 15th Congressional District. Unfortunately, the Black Republicans and their supporters have not have not engaged in competitive electoral politics.

The civil rights leadership is wedded ideologically and emotionally to the Democratic Party although some suggest that Blacks have somehow developed and organic relationship to the party. Therefore the civil rights leadership may have to be displaced by the emergence of a new kind of Black American political leadership in order to move the community to hardball politics and become a swing vote to leverage power in the American political process.


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