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Are African Americans “Strategic Voters” Or Are We A Captive Constituency?

Are African Americans “Strategic Voters” Or Are We A Captive Constituency?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Strategy is an overall plan or policy designed to achieve some objective. So what is this thing that Democrats and nominal non-Democrats call “strategic voting”?

Will this “strategic voting” thing help us roll back the vicious police and prison states? Will it make the economy work for the 99% instead of the 1%? Will it help us stop gentrification or the privatization of schools, roads, post offices and public services? Will strategic voting get the thirty million people, many of them black whom Obamacare missed real health care? Will strategic voting stop our drone bombings in Somalia and Pakistan, or US support of apartheid Israel?

The proponents of strategic voting readily admit that it will do none of these things. For them, “strategy” is simply electing a Democrat, any Democrat because Republicans are the White Man's Party. This calculus of fear, as Glen Ford has explained is the entirety of black presidential politics. It's a politics of fear, a fantasy world in which overwhelming dread of the White Man's Party is the first, the last and only thing that matters.

The problem of course is that throwing away our hopes, for a just and peaceful society, for getting off fossil fuels and creating millions of new green jobs especially in the inner cities where we need them most, shelving our demands for economic justice and radically shrinking the prison population, putting aside our struggles for higher wages and the right to unionize, for affordable day care, housing and health care, for free quality education from kindergarten through universities --- putting all these things on the back burner for fear that the White Man's Party might gain the White House, the state house or whatever house is not a strategy at all. It's just fear, and fear is not a strategy.

Fear is running away from strategy. Fear is fleeing from any meaningful struggle. “Strategic voting” means jumping back into the trunk of the Democratic party's car. If that's a strategy it ain't a good one. Democrats in office have often proved themselves the “more effective evil” executing policies like school privatization, mass survellance, whistleblower crackdowns and bankster pardons that Republicans could only dream of.

As passengers in the Democratic party's trunk we don't get consulted about what the Democrats do once they're in office. Barack Obama didn't ask black America if we wanted public schools defunded, broken and privatized or if we wanted the banksters lightly slapped on the wrist instead of broken and imprisoned. African American voters are what political scientists call a “captive constituency”. The last strategic thing we did was to let our fear of the White Man's Party induce them to climb into the Democratic party's trunk.

The Democratic party is owned by its contributors, by Wall Street and the hedge fund guys, by Monsanto and Big Ag, by military contractors, privatizers and gentrifiers. Once we're in the Democratic party's trunk, and we've been there for a generation now, the only strategic options are to remain a captive constituency or to pull the latch and escape from Hillary's and Debbie Wasserman Schulz's, from Cuomo's and Rahm Emanuel's trunk to leave the Democratic party and vote our hopes instead of our fears.

I'll be voting for the Green Party this year because it's the only party that opposes school privatization, and drone wars, and gentrification. It's the only party that thinks voting ought to be a constitutional right and that aid to Saudi Arabia and apartheid Israel ought to end yesterday, and more. Unlike a vote cast in fear, a vote from Rahm's trunk, my vote will be a strategic one. Unlike Democrats, I will be voting my hopes and demands, not my fears.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at, and be sure to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georiga Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via email at

Direct download: 20160406_bd_strategic-voters-or-captive-constituents.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm EDT