African-Americans stay home on Election Day at own peril
by Kevin Foley
August 28, 2014 10:34 PM | 2326 views | 13 13 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The sad spectacle in Ferguson, Mo. reminds us bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.

Ferguson is 67 percent African-American. The mayor is a white Republican. Of the 50 officers on the town’s police force, only three are black.

Ferguson conducts its elections in off years so local balloting avoids the hubbub of national elections. It’s probably a good idea since, as the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to say, all politics are local.

Unfortunately, off-year elections usually feature poor voter turnout.

Ferguson’s last municipal election drew just 17 percent of its white citizens and only 6 percent of its blacks, explaining the disparity in the mayor’s office, police force, the City Council and other positions.

It’s safe to say if African-Americans had voted in bigger numbers, policies might have been different in Ferguson and perhaps Michael Brown would be alive today.

Ferguson presents a lesson to Georgia’s African-American community. If blacks stay home on Election Day 2014, they can expect more of the same from Georgia’s Republican elected officials, which is to say nothing.

With a black population of 31 percent, of which 30 percent are registered voters, Georgia’s African-Americans can propel Democrats into the Governor’s office and U.S. Senate, but only if they show up at the polls in force this November.

If they stay home believing their vote doesn’t matter, black folks will surely realize the proverbial self-fulfilling prophesy, assuring the re-election of Gov. Nathan Deal and election of GOP Senate candidate David Perdue.

Deal’s attitude toward black Georgians borders on hostile. Last March, for example, when Moral Monday activists protested the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Georgia, in a shameful scene reminiscent of the 1960s, African-American community and religious leaders were hauled off to jail.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss has been, at best, indifferent on issues affecting his African-Americans constituents. Thankfully, he’s leaving the Senate, but Mitt Romney wannabe Perdue won’t be much different.

Let’s not be dismissive about race in this election. President Obama has brought out the absolute worst in some conservative politicians and pundits who continue to exploit the racially charged code words the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater advised them to use.

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘n-----, n-----, n-----,’” said Atwater in a 1981 interview. “By 1968, you can’t say “n-----’ that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites … ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘n-----, n-----.’”

Among conservatives today “cut this …” means social programs that help low income people, the elderly, children, unemployed veterans and the disabled, and those “economic things” are jobs.

Atwater was right: Blacks do get hurt worse than whites, especially in Georgia.

We learned last week that under Deal, Georgia sank to 50th in unemployment. That’s bad enough, but 13 percent of the state’s African-Americans are jobless.

“Don’t worry about that unemployment number,” crowed Perdue to a crowd in Dawsonville recently.

“We are a growing state and people continue to come here,” Deal equivocated. “I would much rather be ranked 50 than be ranked higher up the scale and see my labor force shrinking and have no new jobs to show for it.”

Deal thinks a race to the bottom is acceptable … and he’s wrong to boot. The Georgia Department of Labor reported the state’s labor force lost 5,000 workers and 13,000 jobs in July.

Deal can call chicken feathers chicken salad and say it tastes delicious, but his failure as Georgia’s chief executive is no less profound. And we haven’t even begun to talk about his ethics mess and what that’s costing taxpayers.

As for Perdue, he promised fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill he’d be a “team player” if he’s elected to the Senate.

Based on the disrespectful, racially-tinged treatment President Obama has received from Senate and House Republicans, Georgia’s African-American leaders understand exactly what those code words signify.

Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.

Comments
(13)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
anonymous
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August 30, 2014
Lindsey Graham and John McCain are pushing for bombing strikes on Ferguson!
Bob Johnson
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August 30, 2014
Its funny you want to blame Deal for the very things you say Obama is not responsible for. If Obama was doing his job Georgia would not be having these problems.
anonymous
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September 01, 2014
Last time I looked, Deal is Georgia's chief executive, not Obama.
why not
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August 30, 2014
Kevin, in the right wing world of Jabberwhocky, you are a racist for calling a racist racist!!
anonymous
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August 29, 2014
Ferguson needs Foley. Please send him there.
PeeWeesBrother
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September 01, 2014
Before the McCain/Graham ordered bombing strike I assume?

Why waste taxpayer's money though? The rioters and looters have done a pretty fair job of the destruction of Ferguson, Missouri on their own. See Detroit for another example of desolation by looters and rioters. No need for wasteful bombing raids.

anonymous
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August 29, 2014
It the African American population has to coerced into voting, there lies the issue. If there is not some internal drive to vote and change things, then they do not want change.
Bob Johnson
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August 29, 2014
So you believe that if Ferguson had more black police officers or elected officials they would have made different policies and this would not have happened? This may be the most racist editorial I have ever read. Kevin you time in this paper has got to be coming to an end soon.
Bob Johnson
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August 29, 2014
So now you want to blame Deal for the poor economy and unemployment but you also don't think Obama has anything to do with it. The numbers apply to a Republican but not the democrats? Its so funny to watch you try to put a spin on things.
Papermill gal
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August 29, 2014
Blacks have been hurt much more than whites during the Obama administration. The congressional black caucus even talked about it...until they were told to shut up.

Foley, you are such a racist for even writing about all this. How many minorities work for you? Hmmmm?
jobs, folks
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August 29, 2014
What Kevin the Race-Baiter needs to tell his democrat friends is that if they want to have jobs, then vote Republican. And that is the long and short of it.
Luek
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August 29, 2014
FYI: Lee Atwater died at 40 of a brain tumor. The cancerous brain tumor probably affected his logic and reasoning ability so I wouldn't quote him as an impeccable empirical source Kev. He was a very sick man indeed.

Also, you wrote, "We learned last week that under Deal, Georgia sank to 50th in unemployment"

SAY WHAT??????

If you are 50th out of 50 states wouldn't you have the lowest rate of unemployment in the nation? The state with the highest rate of unemployment in the nation would be number 1....right?

So, shouldn't we be thanking Governor Deal for doing such an outstanding job?

Please explain.

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