Roland Martin on Black Voters’ New Path to Power

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The Republican primary in Mississippi was won by the candidate with black support because African-American voters were smart enough to intervene. They should do every time.

Conventional wisdom says black voters are the most reliable Democratic voting blocs in American politics. But Tuesday’s election results in the U.S. Senate race in Mississippi prove to many what I’ve always understood about African Americans: They are some of the smartest voters when it comes to their interests.

Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran is being hailed as a smart, albeit desperate politician, for reaching across the aisle to pursue traditionally black Democratic voters to hold off a furious campaign by Tea Partier state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

McDaniel, who blasted Cochran as not being conservative enough, had to endure flak early in the campaign for racially insensitive remarks made years ago. His far right-wing vision for America—and Mississippi—scared to death the Republican establishment. And black folks!

Maybe it’s fitting that the Cochran-McDaniel runoff took place during the week of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the massive effort during the Civil Rights Movement to pry apart Jim Crow from the clutches of Mississippi’s virulent racists.

In that effort black voters stood up to bigotry and discrimination, but not without a price, such as the brutal murders of three civil rights workers: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Voting rights was at the heart of Freedom Summer, and 50 years later, the state with the highest percentage of black residents made clear they wouldn’t go down without a fight.

There is no denying that Cochran’s political career would be over today had black voters not voted in the open Republican runoff. He beat McDaniel by 6,300 votes after garnering fewer votes than him in the primary. The margins he rolled up in places like Hinds County, a major black stronghold, tells the story: Cochran bested McDaniel by nearly 11,000 votes.

Black voters made it clear: They may not like the conservative politics of Cochran on most issues, but having McDaniel represent them in the U.S. Senate was not going to happen.

I was more than pleased to see this strategy because it has long been my belief that with so many African Americans living in the South, and solely voting Democratic, they were diluting their power and influence.

Despite efforts by Democrats, it’s a losing proposition in statewide races in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. In presidential and U.S. Senate races, and nearly all statewide positions, the GOP can pencil in a win before the first ballot is even cast, and all Democrats have left is to say, “Better luck next time.”

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Source: The Daily Beast | Roland S. Martin

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