This election season could prove that “the resistance” is really all bullshit. On Tuesday, in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and on Dec. 12 in Alabama, there are big chances to begin striking back—and in a language that can scare people like White House chief of staff John Kelly, his boss, Bannonites, congressional Republicans and other creepy white bogeymen and put them on notice.
That window is closing fast—either because we don’t know or because the people we trust to tell us aren’t saying much about that chance—or because many of us are way too focused on largely symbolic, street-cred pony shows like how many black football players took a knee on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
Or because most of us have bought into the notion that we are a truly powerless and helpless bunch.
Or because we have simply, unbeknownst to us, internalized our frustration into a despicable hate of our own ability to navigate and overcome the ugly reality of now.
That’s ridiculously sad just several months after the hoarse voices, hashtags and spilled blood in Charlottesville, Va. The Republican guy running for governor of that state, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie—who’s openly aligned his campaign with Confederate, xenophobic and pro-police sympathies—could very well snatch the seat from Democrats Tuesday ... in the state where Charlottesville unfolded across millions of screens.
And let’s not even start on the state’s legislative races in which Democrats (if they were really serious) have an opening to flip Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy that it was, from red to blue. Pure political malfeasance now unfolds in a state where nearly a quarter of the population is black and the Latino proportion, along with the Muslim demographics, continues to grow.
It’s equally sad that, about 10 months after the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, Roy Moore—a Klan-ish former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice harboring a Donald Trump-rally-sized grudge against voting rights and pretty much any progress black folks have made in the last half century—is about to fill Sessions’ vacant Senate seat without Democrats putting up much of a fight.
A Moore win on Dec. 12 would certainly make Sessions happy as he continues to aggressively roll back voting rights and affirmative action and up every ante in his government’s war against “black identity extremists.”
Moore’s almost certain victory is happening in a state that’s about 30 percent black and where Republicans have waged robust voter-suppression warfare through voter-ID laws, reduced voter-registration access, shuttered places to vote and eliminating early voting. Alabama is also one of eight states that refuse to restore the voting rights of formerly convicted felons—in a place where 54 percent of the prison population is black.
Alabama should have been ground zero for black voter mobilization behind Democratic Senate nominee and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones.
It’s a month away, but we need to ask now, while focused on this latest cluster of elections: How do you let the Senate seat that Sessions owned slip out of your hands when you’re in a state with that many black folks to help you? Easy: You act as if they don’t exist and let Jones fall behind by an average of 10-plus points.
Head north to Philadelphia—where the majority of residents are black—and you’ll find overconfident, Hillary Clinton-acting Democrats allowing the pro-police union, pro-punishment Republican nominee Beth Grossman a competitive edge in the city’s consequential district attorney race.
Not only has the Democratic nominee Larry Krasner cockily assumed that he’ll win, but he’s also underestimating the potential turnout of quiet, white Trump voters who are clustered up with those voters who wearily watch rising violence in a town experiencing a gentrifying economic reawakening.
Black turnout in Philly is so low during DA races, it’s laughable; yet black folks are predictably—and rightfully so—the loudest when they’re targeted by police and prosecutors. Meanwhile, local Democrats, battered by nonstop party corruption tales and convictions, believe that all they need is a voter-registration edge.
Campaign 101: Registration doesn’t mean turnout.
Along with a potential upset in Philly is a potential tragedy for Pennsylvania should the state lose the chance to install the first black state Supreme Court justice in more than 20 years.
All that stands between former Pittsburgh Steeler and Allegheny County Judge Dwayne Woodruff and an open seat on the commonwealth’s most powerful court is the battleground state’s massive gun-toting, Trump-loving white voter bloc that actually pays attention to judicial races like this … and the apathetic black electorate that, usually, doesn’t.
If property taxes don’t energize white suburban voters enough in New Jersey, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy, along with his black running mate and former state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, should be able to best GOP Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and retake Trenton from the outgoing and widely unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
But who knows? Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, during a recent interview on WURD’s Reality Check while stumping through the Garden State, mentioned Donald Trump and Christie more than he promoted his own candidates.
Many of us grousing in “SMH” disbelief are not all that optimistic. One common theme that keeps popping up is how the Democratic Party hates its black voters. Yet, as wack and message-empty as the DNC is, it’s about the only operational political machine that can work for the black electorate at this moment.
In Virginia, Democrats should have easily leveraged Charlottesville into battle cries, especially when their nominee Ralph Northam’s lieutenant governor hopeful and running mate is the black, young and photogenic Justin Fairfax (who bears the name of the state’s most powerful and wealthiest county).
But you barely know that Fairfax exists. And Northam is opting to run flat-ass responses to Gillespie’s (hate to say it) really effective and constantly looping white-fearmongering commercials, along with vanilla campaign ads that exclusively court the same white women who mostly bolted for Trump last year.
The collective black political, media and advocacy class doesn’t seem to care either.
It took the Latino (emphasis mine) Victory Fund PAC to label Ed Gillespie a closeted Confederate with this creative ad (which was, strangely, pulled the other day). The National Black Caucus of State Legislators, a what-could’ve-been umbrella of more than 600 black state elected officials, is defunct.
Calling foul on every tease, gaffe or statement the racist opposition makes is the preferred method over quieter, smarter, more strategic rallying of existing resources.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told White House chief of staff John Kelly that he needed “a history lesson”—but while Kelly stirs up white voters with his ahistorical Civil War comments, where’s the black-voter game plan? There’s no mention that says: “Hey, folks, you really want to hit these folks back where it hurts? Make sure you go to battle on Tuesday in Alabama, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.”
Social media is all punch-and-run with the toothless outrage porn in reaction to white supremacists. Meanwhile, organizations plunging into irrelevance are busily pushing travel advisories about an airline that already sucked at customer service rather than an advisory on the dangerous white voters about to blast black folks on Tuesday.
We’re squandering a great 2018 congressional midterms pregame moment. To quote the late, great Redd Foxx, we’re all going to feel like “big dummies” when we wake up the day after Election Day to more rebel yells of giddy white nationalists as their anti-black candidates win in states where it counts.
The last thing we need to worry about is whether John Kelly gets schooled. What we need to worry about is how to avoid getting punked, yet again, by another “Put the blacks in their place” election and how we should (at the eleventh hour) get focused and counteract it.
In the end, election losers don’t shape or change policy—election winners do.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said that the Alabama Senate election was happening Tuesday. That election is happening Dec. 12.