President Trump received only eight percent of the African American vote in 2016. Since the 1930s, black voters have cast about 90 percent of their votes for Democrats. Yet the Republican party was founded on anti-slavery and racial equality. Let’s look at what has caused black America to identify as Democrats and why a shift may be on the horizon.
After the Civil War, almost all blacks considered themselves Republicans. The first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was followed by 72 years of Republican presidents interrupted by only Cleveland and Wilson. Throughout this period, almost all people of color supported Republicans in national, state, an local elections. Even though blacks won the right to vote shortly after the Civil War with the passing of the 14th and 15th Amendments, most predominantly Democratic southern states continued to prevent black votes through poll taxes, literacy test, and other unfair practices.
It took over 50 years for the voting right of black Americans to be fully realized. During this time, it was Republican presidents and the Republicans in Congress who fought hard against the Democrat party to force all states to comply with all rights of black voters.
Seventy years of mutual loyalty between black citizens and the Republican party began to break down during the “Great Depression” of the 1930s. Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” helped minority communities find work. This sector of society hurt worst by the failed economy was persuaded to vote 71% for Roosevelt’s reelection.
When Democratic Vice President Harry Truman finished out Roosevelt’s term after his death, he ordered the military desegregated and ended racial discrimination in federal employment. Black voters overwhelmingly supported Truman’s election to a full term. By then, 56% of African Americans were registered Democrats.
The Kennedy and Johnson years in the White House saw the signing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act solidifying 94% of black voter support for Johnson. By 2016, only 8% of African Americans considered themselves Republicans.
So, although the Republican party was the defender of African Americans against Democratic racism for seven decades after the Civil War, the Democrats held the presidency and congressional power during significant political advances for black America over the next half-century. The Republican platform generally supported these advances but didn’t get the credit for them.
The current generation African Americans have lived with the understanding that it’s the Democrats who have their backs. But what has resulted from this affinity? After these latter years of predominant Democratic leadership, median income of black families is $39,715, compared to $65,107 for white families. Family net worth comparison is staggering. Black family net worth is $17,150 compared to white family net worth of $171,000. Because of these disparities, black Americans receive far more government entitlements and assistance than white Americans. Democrats tend to favor these supplementals more than Republicans further enamoring African Americans with the Democrats.
What we have just experienced in the rioting and other chaos from the tragic death of George Floyd is evidence aplenty of the vitriolic state of race relations in America. The pent-up outrage of the under served minority has reached the breaking point. Why wouldn’t this be a catalyst for a shift back to the roots of Republican affiliation for the nation’s black citizens?
If further evidence is needed that African Americans are taken for granted and being paid lip service from Democratic leadership, they need to look no further than Joe Biden’s gaffs that I believe reveal his heart and that of most Democratic politicians. Biden’s “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black” remark should be grounds for every black voter to reconsider supporting him and his party.
What have years of government sustenance and insincerity from the Democrats gained African Americans? The answer is status quo if not decline in economic freedom and social justice. The solution to racial equality is economic, educational, and political opportunity flowing out of a national change of heart. Advances in these areas have been primarily from the heart of Republican leadership.
With this long-standing tradition of black voters feeling more secure in the Democratic camp, it has been difficult for Republicans to convince them that they would benefit long-range and long-term by economic growth, business expansion, and a better job market. President Trump proved that in short order during his first three year in office. The economic boom he led brought record employment and higher wages as well as other increased opportunities for African Americans. After recovery from the pandemic, there is every reason to think that economic boom will continue.
The Democrats realize what this president has accomplished for black America will likely start to swing them back to the Republican party. They are desperately attempting to paint him as a racist who is only concerned about the wealthy. I am hoping that my American friends of color will discern the truth about where their advantage lies for future advancement and opportunity. Over three centuries of racial injustice will not be resolved solely by politics. But resolution will not happen without political involvement. All Republicans should be urging their African American friends to come back to the Grand Old Party of Lincoln.