Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Blacks Should Mobilize for Clinton

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Blacks Should Mobilize for Clinton

Article excerpt

HOW important is it that blacks vote in November? Should they sit this one out, objecting that they get very little from either major party? The evidence suggests that significant numbers of black voters are doing just that.

Blacks constitute a significant fraction of likely Democratic voters in all the large states Democrats must win to capture the presidency - California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio. It is important for Bill Clinton's campaign - and it should be significant for blacks - that Gov. Clinton and Rev. Jesse Jackson embarked in September on a three-week voter registration drive.

Black Americans should vote their positions on the issues. The issues will be with us long after questions about a rift between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Jackson have faded. Researchers at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think tank specializing in black issues, report that blacks support virtually all of Clinton's positions, including his stands on the death penalty and welfare reform.

Based on the issues, therefore, about 90 percent of blacks should vote for Clinton and other Democratic candidates. They should also join in an all-out effort to mobilize their community's vote.

Some blacks, however, reject this reasoning. In spite of gains in civil rights, politics, education, and the professions in the last 30 years, poverty among blacks remains alarmingly high - 32.7 percent in 1991 - and has not improved since the late '60s. Why should blacks bother to vote for either of the major parties since both have presided over these terrible conditions for so long?

But the reason why the federal government has not done more to increase employment and reduce poverty is that the Democratic Party has not had effective control of the government since the 1960s. Oil-driven inflation and the onrushing conservative shift that opened the way for Reagan-Bush prevented the Democratic coalition from moving forward on employment and poverty during the Carter administration in the late 1970s. …

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