In Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, a young protester told a reporterthat she just didn’t think voting is “how change happens.”
“They’ve been telling us to do that for so long,” she added, “and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s still going on.”
Fury over the cruel death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody, combined with fear of a deadly virus and its painful economic impact, make this a dark, dizzying moment in our national life. But African-Americans shouldn’t feel hopeless, because the black vote does matter — it has never mattered more. It is at the heart of the fight to take back America.
The biggest story of 2020 politics is hard to ignore. But somehow it is being ignored.
The black vote now defines American politics.
Joe Biden would be retired if not for the black vote. Black voters made him the Democrats’ presidential nominee. In November, the number of black voters who turn out in the crucial swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin is likely to be the deciding factor in the election. That means black voters, 12 percent of the national electorate, are set to pick our next president.
Black women, the most reliable activist base of the party, are this year’s version of the stars of past campaigns — Soccer Moms and Blue Collar Moms. The best illustration of this power is a black woman asking Jim Clyburn, her South Carolina congressman, who he planned to vote for in the primary. He said Joe Biden and followed up with a public endorsement: “We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.”
Mr. Biden went on to blow out the competition in South Carolina and easily win the rest of the South. Two top competitors with no traction among black voters, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, dropped out and endorsed him.
The party’s sudden consolidation around Mr. Biden abruptly ended a confusing race that many feared was hurtling toward an open convention. Few had seen it coming. Mr. Biden looked boring in comparison with the impassioned Bernie Sanders and the furious Donald Trump. Yet polls consistently showed that in a general election matchup, it was Mr. Biden who held the highest margin of victory over Mr. Trump.
There are many reasons for black voters to like Mr. Biden — his record on judicial appointments and voting rights during his long tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee; his work on federal stimulus spending after the recession and on Obamacare; and of course his service as vice president to the nation’s first black president.
But beating Mr. Trump tops the list. For black voters, the prospect of four more years of this administration is about more than politics.
It is a reaction born of real fear — of the racism that led a white man to shoot Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and a white police officer to press his knee into the neck of George Floyd in Minnesota, of the racism that every day results in more black people dying of the coronavirus. African-Americans see this, and they see a president who does nothing to stop it