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:

Saturday, February 24, 2007


The 2006 mid-term elections are being touted by many political analysts as a referendum of the “Presidential” war on Iraq. Respective polls are unanimous in their calculations relative to the anti-war sentiment growing among the American public and the dismal approval ratings of President Bush. Without question, the president is now a lame duck and his agenda will suffer the consequences as Senate and House Republicans keep the president at arms length as they fight to retain their seats and the GOP majority.

Democrats smell blood but are tempered from gloating, the prospect of their ascendancy to Senate and Congressional majorities following the November election. Although there is great optimism among the party leadership and the rank and file concerning the final out comes of the mid-term elections, discretion as the greater part of valor appears to be the approach to their possible elevation to congressional majority status.

While the Democratic Party has the momentum going into the mid-term elections, there is a note worthy dichotomy among the party leadership as well as in the fragile coalition that constitutes Democratic constituency. The result of the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary election in which incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman was narrowly defeated by political neophyte and anti-war candidate, Ned Lamont is snapshot of the fissure separating critical elements of the party, vis-à-vis, the war in Iraq.

The Connecticut general election promises to be a titanic battle as the defeated incumbent Senator Lieberman will be on the ballot as the Independent Party candidate. The controversy associated with this Senatorial race may invigorate the electorate to an unprecedented high voter turnout according to some party leaders. However, notwithstanding the rate of election turn out, the polarization between the vociferous “anti-war” elements of the party and centrist Democrats will likely cut both ways in the November election and in 2008.

Should Lieberman prevail and retain his seat the party centrists with the help of their friends would have defeated the anti-war elements in the Democratic Party which is comprised of a general amalgamation of “leftists,” “radicals,” “progressives,” the “black” vote and some liberals in the Democratic Party. On the other hand if anti-war candidate Ned Lamont wins the general election the respective left of center Democrats would have wrested control of the state party. In both instances there is a potential negative political fall out for the Democratic Party in November as well as during the 2008 Presidential election.

As the anti-war contingent and liberal-centrist square off in the Connecticut race, the bi-polar political rhetoric within the Democratic Party may spill over and infect other elections. Extremist rhetoric from the left will likely polarize competing party contingents and negatively impact their hopes to gain control of the House and Senate this year. But the Democratic Party coalition is showing internal tensions beyond the Lamont vs. Lieberman political juxtaposition.

Perhaps the most graphic example of the ideological split among Democrats generated by the Lamont vs. Lieberman juxtaposition can be gleaned by the results of the “black vote.” A virtual split of the black vote between both candidates speaks volumes relative to the internal dynamic of the party. The only black American political leader to line up behind Lieberman was the newly elected Mayor of Newark, New Jersey Corey Booker. On the other hand the entire black civil rights leadership including Revs. Jackson and Sharpton, and elected officials were very visible in their support for the anti-war candidate, while chiding Booker for stepping out of line.

Apparently, Mayor Corey Booker’s endorsement is competitive in Connecticut with the entire black leadership contingent, and/or the black American electorate has demonstrated an unprecedented level of political independence from the conventional civil rights and elected black leadership. In any case, the chilling of the black electorate towards the traditional black Democratic leadership coupled with the radical political antics of the party’s anti-war radicals, and leftist ideologues threatens to truncate the party’s positioning and political momentum in the November elections and prospects for 2008.

Needless to say, the November general elections will forecast the political climate for the next two years and beyond. The multiple blunders of President George Bush and his administration and the lack of congressional oversight by the Republican House and Senate majority has put the future of the GOP Congressional leadership at risk. But, poor leadership on the part of both the Democrat and Republican Parties (black & white) have alienated the electorate and has fostered apathy and isolation of would be voters.

Hence, the outcome of the mid-term elections is any body’s guess, as both parties and the Bush administration increase the level of political hyperbole. But there are a few certainties, such as the fact that the black vote is not as predictable as it once was, and the anti-war “movement” embraced by the “left,” “radical” and “progressive” elements of the Democratic coalition are destined to exacerbate an already fragmented party leadership and rank and file. Whatever political party prevails in November 2006, the results will likely mark a watershed relative to the future of the proverbial “black vote.”

Recent voting patterns among black Americans indicate an increasing disposition to vote independent of the Democratic Party machine particularly in urban municipal elections. This increasing independent voting trend was crystallized in the 2005 re-election campaign of New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg who got 30 plus percent of the black vote running as a Republican and Independence Parties ballot. Mayor Bloomberg achieved this plurality milestone, despite his lack of support from prominent black civil rights and elected leaders who endorsed his Democratic opposition.

All indications suggest a growing level of voter sophistication among black Americans, and an aversion to club house politics by both Democrat and Republican Parties. Should this increasing trend toward unpredictable voting by black folk continue in the mid-term elections, there may very well be a paradigm shift of the black vote in the 2008 Presidential election. As a practical political matter the black leadership in both major parties may have played themselves out of position as possible stewards of the paradigm shift and will likely be eclipsed politically, by new generation leadership.

The black Democratic civil rights and elected leadership have no effective lines of communication to the disillusioned, apathetic and disaffected constituent or the tons of unregistered voters. This fragmentation of the leadership coupled with the need for a coherent and lucid agenda for the future beyond civil rights has apparently confounded the leadership. Moreover, the “liberal,” “progressive,” white Democratic paternalism that co-opted if not help to politically organize black Americans for the goal of “social justice” were unable to produce measurable results beyond bequeathing to black Americans at large their inherited political leadership.

Regrettably, the black Republican Party leadership on the national as well as the local level has also failed miserably in terms of making black Americans and the party relevant to the local and national black political power process. Apart from the symbiosis between black Americans and the Republican Party at its very founding in 1854, the elective and civil rights achievements of black Americans during the 19th century remains unprecedented in comparison to the achievements of the modern civil rights movement.

Interestingly enough, the modern Republican Party and Black America had an auspicious beginning in 1972 when the National Black Republican Council (NBRC) was established by an amendment to the party rules of the Republican National Committee. NBRC was founded by people like Gerald Ford, Robert Dole, Henry Lucas, Art Fletcher and Ed. Bivens, for the purpose of providing a mechanism for black participation in the Republican National Party (RNC). Following its timely beginnings, NBRC in the early 1980’s became mired in financial controversy and scandal and lost its official credentials with RNC and its offices at party headquarters was closed in the 1990’s. Nevertheless, the titular head of the phantom NBRC from its days of infamy to the present is a former GOP district leader in the Bronx, Mr. Fred Brown.

Alton D. Chase former NBRC Vice President and Bronx district leader and longtime political activist said, “The new generation grassroots leadership can see beyond the political smoke and mirrors of the bygone leadership generation and seem to understand their responsibility associated with building leverage, black power politics.”

Ms. Keisha C. Morrisey entertainment and boxing industry entrepreneur and former GOP nominee for the New York State Assembly and the New York City Council from Harlem said, “I have started a political club with some associates directed to the “hip-hop” generation focused on teaching electoral politics and how to run for elective office. Based on my personal experience I have chosen not to link our Republican Party activism and organizing with NBRC.”

Fortunately, the increasing level of voter sophistication among the black community at large and the emerging grassroots leadership has a more practical and utilitarian understanding of politics as a tool, as opposed to a group of like minded political friends. Is there a political paradigm shift underway in the black American community? Stay tuned.


Post a Comment

<< Home