Democrats have no constituency more loyal than black Americans. Much
of that loyalty is delivered by black elected officials, civil-rights
organizations and church leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
During the last election, these people did a yeoman’s job of getting
out the black vote for Democrats. In doing so, there was no strategy,
even if disgusting, that wasn’t employed toward that end.
For example, the NAACP produced a political ad that portrayed the
Jasper, Texas, lynching of James Byrd Jr. The ad’s voice-over featured
the voice of Byrd’s daughter, saying: “My father was killed. He was
beaten, chained and dragged three miles to his death, all because he was
black. So when Gov. George W. Bush refused to support hate-crimes
legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.”
The ad all but accused George W. Bush of being a party to the
lynching. It made no mention that two of Byrd’s murderers have been
sentenced to death and the third to life imprisonment.
Al Gore did his part in this racial rope-a-dope, telling a black
audience, “When my opponent, Gov. Bush, says he’ll appoint strict
constructionists to the Supreme Court, I often think of the strictly
constructionist meaning that was applied when the Constitution was
written — how some people were considered three-fifths of a human
being.” Gore knows that strict constructionism has nothing to do with
counting slaves as three-fifths of a vote; he was simply exploiting the
audience’s ignorance and emotion.
Gore didn’t stop there. Pro-Gore leaflets distributed in New Jersey
showed Bush’s face superimposed on a Confederate flag. Early signs that
the race card would be part and parcel of the Gore campaign came when
his manager, Donna Brazile, explained to the Washington Post that she
would never let the “white boys win.”
Then there was Jesse Jackson. He told black audiences that a Bush win
would turn the civil-rights clock back to the days of Jim Crow. Shortly
after the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its final election decision,
making a Gore win all but hopeless, Jesse Jackson likened the Court’s
actions as equivalent to Dred Scott vs. Sanford. That’s the 1857 Supreme
Court decision that held a black slave could not become a citizen under
the U.S. Constitution. By the way Brother Jesse, Dred Scott had nothing
to do with voting.
Jackson and Al Sharpton are now peddling the claim that blacks were
“disenfranchised” in Florida. That would be a violation of the 1965
Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, but has anyone taken these
charges to the court where they belong? No — Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton
and other race hustlers have taken the charges to an uninformed media,
where they have a chance for a warmer reception. On Inauguration Day,
Jesse Jackson threatens to use “black disenfranchisement” as a rallying
point for demonstrations.
Some elements of Florida’s voting problems bring out the dope in
rope-a-dope. Gore might be right that he won Florida — that’s if we
counted voter intention. In Florida’s Duval County, many black voters
voted for two presidential candidates after being instructed by
Democratic election workers to punch every page. This led to the
invalidation of some 27,000 votes in black precincts in Duval County
alone. According to a story by Village Voice, a 1993 study puts the
black adult functional illiteracy rate in Duval County at 47 percent.
While such an illiteracy rate is tragic, in a sense it’s poetic justice
for civil-rights leaders and the Democratic Party: Their staunch support
for public schools and the rotten education they produce just might have
helped deliver a constituency that can’t manage simple voting