In Final Push for Votes, Both Parties Court Black Men
(1) The president’s outreach to African-American men is a good step. (2) But it will not be enough.
President Obama has used his first term to try and find African Americans to vote in his first-term agenda, but as Politico’s Steven Shepard reported in early August, the numbers are not there. His outreach to African-American men is a good step, but as he told Shepard, “I don’t think it’s going to be enough.”
The outreach began in January when Obama made a speech on race and in particular to discuss the “great divide” in the U.S. and “the ways we have closed the door to half of who should be allowed to participate in our democracy.”
It was only on Feb. 10, when Obama gave a speech at a town hall meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, that he talked specifically about black men and African-Americans in general. According to Politico, “In his remarks from the stage, Obama noted at several points that a ‘new conversation’ is beginning ‘about the experiences of black men around the country.’ He didn’t elaborate on what the conversation was about,” but he said the conversation about black men that he intended to begin “is about having better relationships between black families and black men.”
In that regard, Obama’s words are important. The conversation between African-American men and black women that Obama says he wants to begin is about “having better relationships” with their families.
Of course, that doesn’t really change the fact that women of all kinds, including African Americans, are still the majority of those who are in the majority. So, as far as Obama’s words are concerned, all they do is say that women of all kinds—even African American women—have an ability to improve their relationships by seeking out people from the African-American community and having conversations with them that could lead them to more family-related interactions.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that having better relationships with black men in the community is going to do all that much to increase the number of African-American men who will vote for Obama in November. The problem, as Shepard noted, is a “deep racial divide” that he reported in August is “a stubborn imped