By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
Back in 1994, when Jesse Jackson was running for President of the United States as a Democrat there was one thing that he kept saying that I think we need to revisit today. He kept pointing out that there was no need for black people to be Republicans or Democrats, that we should be something different that both Republicans and Democrats have to approach for support. The something else at the time was his Rainbow Coalition. I think one of the great strategical mistakes we have made as a community is that we did not establish our own separate group and make both parties come to us for support.
In modern times, the black community has gradually become taken for granted as belonging to the Democratic party for voting purposes. Early on this was a good thing because it meant that at least one political party paid attention to our needs. Over time the Democratic Party began to take the Black vote for granted and to increasingly tell us that our needs needed to take a back seat to greater national priorities, but that our needs would eventually be addressed.
On the Republican side, for the most part, they don’t even pretend to be interested in our needs anymore. Since it is clearly understood that the overwhelming majority of our votes will be for Democratic candidates, then the mainstream Republican Party just ignores our priorities and defers them to a Democratic Party that has become progressively powerless, especially in the deep south.
I think at this point in history that as a community we would be better served to disassociate from both parties and to recreate an organization like the Rainbow Coalition that would ask both parties to compete for our affections.
With the dominance of the Republican Party in our local, state and national political spectrum, black people that are elected as Democrats in State Houses across the South, have as close to zero influence as you can get. In Alabama, Republican Legislators enjoy a super-voting majority, which means that they can pass any piece of legislation, without so much as a single Democratic vote. Since to my knowledge we have no Black Republican Legislators, the people we elect to represent us in Alabama have essentially no voice, so we have essentially no voice.
If we can create an alternative organization that is organized along something other than political party lines, it is probable that in the short term we can increase our influence in national and state politics and that in the long run we might be able to create coalitions that might realistically address the real needs in our community.
Right now, there is zero chance meaningful welfare reform is going to be addressed in Montgomery. That is not to say that support or so-called entitlement programs will not see their budgets cut, it is simply to say that the ones doing the cutting will have no allegiance to the ones who will feel the cuts the most.
In its current state the Democratic Party does not seem able to garner the votes to deliver on behalf of the black community and the Republican Party has more than shown they are unwilling. Based on this there is zero reason for black allegiance to any party, and a 100 percent need for the creation of some other vehicle of expression of political power in the Black community. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 28 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can go to Facebook.com/holliswormsby or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)