VÄLJARE | Att det politiska landskapet har förändrats till demokraternas fördel visar omvalet av president Barack Obama.
Men Obama kan inte ta åt sig hela äran för valsegern enligt Ta-Nehisi Coates på tidskriften The Atlantic.
Åtminstone inte när det gäller svarta väljares benägenhet att gå och rösta.
A sober observer could have dismissed Obama’s election in 2008 as an anomaly rather than a sea change. As the first black presidential nominee, Obama naturally benefited from record turnout among African Americans—turnout that might not be sustainable in future elections. He also benefited from an opposition that was saddled with two wars, an unpopular incumbent, and an economy in free fall. In black communities, there was a distinct awareness of the situation: if white folks are willing to hand over the country to a black man, then we must really be in bad shape.
Entering the 2012 election, Obama was no longer a talented rookie; he was the captain of the football team, with a record vulnerable to interpretation, and to attack. The economy was still sluggish. American troops were still being shot in Afghanistan. His base seemed depressed. And the most-loyal members of that base, African Americans, were facing an array of “voter ID” laws that had—what a coincidence—bloomed following his election.
The black community refused to comply with expectations, and instead turned out in droves. In 2012, minority turnout across the country exceeded 2008 levels; unlike the turnout of other minorities, however, black turnout was not fueled by demographic growth but by a higher percentage of the black electorate going to the polls. For the first time in history, according to a study by Pew, black turnout may even have exceeded white turnout.
You could be forgiven for looking at African American history as a long catalog of failure. In the black community, it is a common ritual to deride individual shortcomings, and their effect on African American prospects. The men aren’t doing enough. The women are having too many babies. The babies are having babies. Their pants are falling off their backsides. But November’s electoral math is clear—African Americans didn’t just vote in 2012, they voted at a higher rate than the general population.
Martin Luther King Jr. did not create the civil-rights movement any more than Malcolm X created black pride. And the wave that brought Obama to power precedes him: the black-white voting gap narrowed substantially back in 1996, before he was even a state legislator. The narrowing gap is not the work of black messiahs, but of many black individuals.
Bild: Anhängare till Barack Obama vid Palm Beach County Convention Center den 9 september 2012, West Palm Beach, Florida. (Foto: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)