Showing posts with label non-white. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-white. Show all posts

Monday, November 30, 2020

2020 Election: Biden Won and the Democratic Party Lost


“A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.”

-Winston Churchill

That President Trump was going to lose this election was a foregone conclusion in my mind because he lost his one and only advantage - a strong economy. The historically unprecedented job and wage growth, especially among women and minorities, was wrecked by a global pandemic. This coupled with Trump’s inept leadership and lack of national strategy to manage the spread of the virus doomed his re-election bid. In addition to a struggling economy, Trump had a historically low approval rating, with which no incumbent, other than Harry Truman, has ever won re-election.

Going into the election, the Democrat’s also had an unprecedented fundraising advantage at every level. Biden’s campaign raised $809 million; more than any candidate in history, and entered the last month of the race with a three to one advantage over Trump. In Senate races, Democrats raised $716 million, to Republicans' $435 million, giving them an advantage of more than $280 million.

In Maine, Sara Gideon raised $69 million compared to Senator Susan Collins's paltry $26 million. In South Carolina Jaime Harrison raised $57 million in a bid to unseat Senator Lindsey Graham, achieving the highest quarterly fund-raising total for any Senate candidate in U.S. history. In Kentucky too, Amy McGrath consistently outraised and outspent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. History tells us that candidates who spend more in Senate races overwhelmingly win their races; Democrats were confident they would retake the Senate.

For four years the media and the left have painted Trump supporters as bigots. Liberal coastal elites in newsrooms across the country had convinced themselves that once the vast majority of the country saw Trump’s true colours, thanks to their efforts to unmask him, the majority of Americans, apart from a small and shrinking rural, uneducated white base, would come to their senses.

For this reason Democrats and the mainstream media assured us that we would witness a historic Blue wave that would result in Democrats winning the White House, retaking the Senate, growing their majority in the House, winning back Governorships, flipping state and local legislators. They were even confident of turning deep red states like Texas, blue, thanks to the growing number of Latino voters; even though Texas has been reliably Republican since 1980.

Along with an unprecedented campaign war chest, in 2020 Democrats also had a likeable candidate and America was facing an out of control pandemic, a struggling economy, historic unemployment and a President with a dismal approval rating – how did it go so wrong for Democrats, again?

The story on election night turned out far different from the confident narrative we heard going into the 2020 election and far from seeing a blue wave, the opposite transpired. 

Not only did Democrats fail to unseat Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, but in Kentucky, Amy McGrath lost to Mitch McConnell by 20 points, making it the worst loss in that race since 2002. Republican Senators Joni Ernst, Dan Sullivan, John Cornyn, Steve Daines and Thom Tillis are all still standing. In races where Democrats outspent their opponents, they won 13 and lost 9. In races where Republicans outspent them, they won 8 races and lost zero.

 

(Data: FEC, Edison Research for the National Election Pool. Graphic: Reuters)

The story in the House is no better. Democrats lost their 35 seat advantage, with a Republican gain of 10-15 seats, and are now left with the smallest House majority in more than two decades.

At the local level where Democrats expected to chip away at the three-fifths majority of the 98 local legislative chambers that Republicans controlled, not only did they fail to flip even one, but they lost New Hampshire. The same story was repeated in Governor’s races. Republicans not only successfully defended all seven seats but flipped a Democratic one; giving them a 27 to 23 state advantage as new terms begin.

Yes, Biden won the White House but this too happened after five nerve wracking days, with far too many races too close to call for many days after the election. His victory is less than resounding or convincing and this should concern us all. Consider that if just 44,000 more votes had gone Trump’s way in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin, we would have a tie.

The truth is that the election felt more like a red surge. The Democrats' claim that Trump’s surprise 2016 win was in large part due to Hillary Clinton being a flawed and polarising candidate herself does not hold true when we see that the President earned nearly 10 million more votes than in 2016, gaining six million more votes than Mrs. Clinton.

Latinos are the fastest growing group in the United States and this year for the first time in a presidential election, they numbered more than eligible African-American voters. Far from losing ground, the man who put immigrant children in cages actually increased his support winning a 32 percent share of Latino voters. 

Latino voters powered Trump to a convincing win in Florida. A state that Democrats had expected to win going into the election. In Miami-Dade, which is 70 percent Latino, Trump picked up 200,000 more votes and closed a 30 point gap to 9 points. While it is true that about a quarter of Miami-Dade residents are Cuban-born, this group has historically supported Republicans, so their support alone cannot explain the gains Trump made here.

In Texas, counties with Latino majorities favoured Trump, marking a massive swing from just four years ago when Democrats dominated all these counties. Zapata County in Texas, which is 95 percent Latino, and one Mrs. Clinton won by 33 points in 2016 - Trump flipped in 2020, winning it by 6 points. A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that Mr. Trump improved his performance in every Texas County with a Latino population over 75 percent.

Even in the neighboring state of New Mexico, which is nearly half Latino, Mr. Trump picked up many more votes from four years ago. Counties like San Juan in the Northwest and Otero County in the Southeast with heavy Latino populations all moved closer to Trump.

Mr. Trump also measurably increased his vote share among Black, gay and Asian Americans. It is pretty remarkable for a man who has been labelled a white supremacist to grow his support to 12 percent of Black people, including over 18 percent of Black men, not to mention 34 percent of Asians and 28 percent of the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Amazingly, the President’s LGBTQ vote share doubled from 2016.

If all these facts were not damning enough, in dozens of interviews with the New York Times, African-American voters who chose Biden say they voted for the Democratic Party with great trepidation and a longstanding concern of feeling underappreciated by the party they have stood by for decades. One voter summed up what many African-Americans are feeling about Democrats, saying that they have not “earned his vote — or his loyalty.” He added that “my vote is open for bid — what will you do for me and my kind now that the election is over?”

Even in California, one of the most liberal states in the country, while Biden trounced Trump as was expected, what came as a shock is that Democrats lost many down ballot races. Republicans are now expected to win back at least four of seven seats they lost in 2018. The last time Republicans managed to defeat an incumbent Democrat in California was in 1994. In this election they have already done it three times with a few races still too close to call.

Californian voters also handily rejected progressive ballot measures around raising business taxes, instituting rent controls, protecting gig workers and reinstating affirmative action. They also helped the GOP regain their status as the second largest party in the state after falling behind “no party preference” registration in 2018. With the 2020 election results, Republicans in California can claim their best year in more than a decade.

The 2020 election map also shows a more entrenched and divided electorate compared to 2016, with fewer counties flipping from one party to the other. In the last election 237 counties changed allegiances from Obama to Trump, in this election only 77 counties flipped, with Biden winning 59 of them.

The bottom line is that the election results show that Mr. Trump’s appeal is more resonant and broader than most people understood. Not only did he manage to grow his base, but he actually found new voters. This reality contradicts the Democrat’s claim about Trump’s 2016 win was a fluke and that the 2020 result would be a total rebuke of this President and his policies – Trump has expanded his appeal by bringing in new and non-white voters.

Rather than try to spin the results as a victory, the Democratic Party should view them as a warning sign that their message is not connecting with many working class voters; white and non-white.

In addition to figuring out how they will tangibly deliver on promises to Black voters, which will not be easy, they should be extremely alarmed by the fact that so many Latino voters chose Trump. This is the fastest growing demographic in the country and if the Democratic Party were to lose their support, it would cost them elections for years to come.

 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Black and White of Race in America


"Blacks have traditionally had to operate in a situation where whites have set themselves up as the custodians of the black experience.”
August Wilson

For me, the question of inequality between Blacks and Whites in America boils down to one simple question: how many Black parents tell their kids that they can achieve the American dream, one where anybody can start from humble beginnings and with honest hard work and perseverance rise to the greatest heights?

If the American Dream is achievable for Blacks, then tell me where are the Black scientists, artists, nuclear physicists, painters and playwrights? Where are the Black Nobel Laureates? Where are the Black Walter Cronkites, Charlie Roses and Tom Brokaws? Where are the Black Michael Phelps and Arnold Palmers? How many famous Black historians, economists and army generals can you quote? Where are the Black Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalkers? Can you name one Black super hero? Where is the Black David Ogilvy? For that matter in the liberal bastion of Hollywood can you find me a Black studio head?

In Silicon Valley there are numerous Indian and Asian entrepreneurs, tech moguls and billionaire venture capitalists. Currently, Microsoft, Google and Adobe all have Indian born CEO’s at their helm. Yet, I struggle to name one Black startup founder, tech mogul, hedge fund billionaire or even Wall Street tycoon.

It is hard to argue a case for blanket racism in America because many non-white immigrants tend to do extremely well, across many different industries and fields, from medicine to science and technology. In fact, Asian-Americans continue to have the highest household incomes in America. I want to know why the American dream continues to seem largely unattainable for Black people outside of music and a few sports.

Across every major statistic used to measure social mobility and economic progress, there is huge disparity between Whites and Blacks in education, unemployment and income. In fact, after the financial crisis things got worse for Blacks; the income inequality between Black and Whites is now the worst it has been in America’s history. According to Pew Research "the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of Black households….” “These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.” Hispanics fare badly too but are still considerably better off than Blacks.

All this data has been debated and discussed to death but nobody has really provided sufficient answers as to why this should be the case. Why does the plight of Black people in 2017 still seem dire, one hundred and fifty years after slavery was abolished?

The first place to start is to think about the images that have consistently been portrayed through Hollywood movies, mainstream television and media; Black people have long been stereotyped as thuggish hoodlums in hoodies and portrayed as drug dealers and petty criminals. Even Eddie Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop had a disdain for rules and broke the law while the White cops were disciplined and anal about upholding and following the law.

To this day we are bombarded with mugshots of Black criminals and rapists on national and local news every night. Until very recently politicians routinely talked about the Black community’s desire to live off the welfare state as a truism. They made it seem like all Blacks were lazy and that black youth were a lost cause, choosing to live off handouts, sell drugs or join gangs versus getting an education and lifting themselves out of poverty. For too long we have been told that the reason for the Black community’s lack of social mobility is that they are inherently lazy, lacking determination and self-motivation.

Before we default to this lazy argument, we should look at a few things in America’s history that can explain the inter-generational disenfranchisement and lack of mobility among the Black community.

For years, corporate and mainstream America buried its head with tokenism. I remember when ad agencies were told by clients to put one Black person in the ad to check the box for diversity. In the same way that clients added a token Black person in an ad, to prevent being sued for lack of diversity, the same false reality gave rise to the Cosby Show, Eddie Murphy and the Arsenio Hall Show. It was tokenism that allowed White Americans to feel better about the opportunities being provided to Black people; it was never real social or racial integration.

Consider that “approximately 12–13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 37% of prison inmates”  according to a 2014 US Department of Justice report. A 2013 UN Human Rights Committee report  found that “African-American males are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white males…. And went on to conclude that  “If  current trends continue, one of every three Black American males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime—compared to one of every seventeen white males.”

These two statistics alone are alarming and led to my investigating why it was that the US prison system is overwhelmingly filled with Black males, in spite of the fact that Black people are no more criminally prone than Indian, Chinese, White or any other ethnic group in the world.

To fully understand this anomaly, we need to go back to the abolition of slavery because there is a common misconception that it ended with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; this assumption masks a reality that slavery silently got institutionalized into other forms of legally sanctioned barriers against Blacks that exist even today.

I recommend watching Ava Duvernay documentary, '13th'. It chronicles the institutionalisation of slavery from 1863 to after the civil war, through the war on drugs started by Nixon, broadened by Reagan and codified by Bill Clinton into the industrial prison complex we see today. It explains the insane rates of incarceration we see among Black youth today.

As a non-white immigrant, I felt there was something dramatically wrong in America because I realised very early on that I had a much greater chance of achieving the American Dream, in virtually any profession, than a Black person born here.

It is worth noting that the majority of successful non-white immigrants from India, Middle East and Asia who came here in the 1950’s were typically middle class, well-educated and came of their own free will and volition; for this reason I believe they have never been viewed through the same lens as Blacks, who were all brought here in servitude and never considered equals by their White masters. Every Black person in American can trace their ancestral roots back to a slave. I believe this stigma still prevails among White Americans, albeit unconsciously for the vast majority.

You might ask how it is possible after so many generations that these imprints might remain in people. Interestingly, there is science that suggests that our DNA also contains within it the traumas and experiences of our ancestors. “According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors’ past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA. Jews whose great-grandparents were chased from their Russian shtetls; Chinese whose grandparents lived through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution; young immigrants from Africa whose parents survived massacres; adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents — all carry with them more than just memories.” Coupled with the images we have been repeatedly fed of the stereotyped black person through Hollywood and the media’s lens, both exclusively controlled by White people, this can help to explain our perceptions and biases today.

For our purposes here I want to share a few historical facts to illustrate why I am convinced that the Black experience in America is not only unique but explains the lack of social and upward mobility among Blacks.

When Southern Democrats took power after Reconstruction they passed a series of local and state laws and social rules to oppress Blacks and disenfranchise them. These became known as the Jim Crow laws and etiquette and were in effect from around 1877 until the 1960’s. They legalised segregation in transport, education, restaurants and bathrooms. Below are just a few examples of the types of things that Jim Crow etiquette mandated:

1.     “A Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a White male because it implied being socially equal.

2.     Obviously, a Black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a White woman, because he risked being accused of rape.

3.     Under no circumstance was a Black male to offer to light the cigarette of a White female -- that gesture implied intimacy.

4.     Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended Whites.” (Source: Ferris State University site). 

The effect was to relegate Blacks to inferior status and make them second class citizens in their own country. The laws also ensured voting restrictions such as poll taxes, literacy tests and residency requirements that prevented the majority Blacks (and the poorest Whites) from voting; leaving Southern Blacks politically crippled and economically disadvantaged.

While the laws in the southern states were overtly segregationist, discriminatory practices were prevalent even nationally and began to get institutionalised. One of the most heinous was a policy known as redlining, which was designed to prevent Black neighbourhoods from receiving housing loans. 

It was introduced by the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934, and lasted until 1968.” “Otherwise celebrated for making home ownership accessible to White people by guaranteeing their loans, the FHA explicitly refused to back loans to Black people or even other people who lived near Black people.” Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever Black people lived." We know that to thrive and grow every community requires investment in jobs, housing, infrastructure, etc.; such investments were discouraged in majority Black communities across America.

With the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965, people believed, like with the Emancipation Proclamation, that they would magically bring equality for all Black Americans. 
In 1963, A Gallup poll found that "78% of White people would leave their neighborhood if many Black families moved in. “When it comes to MLK’s march on Washington, 60% had an unfavorable view of the march, stating that they felt it would cause violence and would not accomplish anything.

These laws were necessary to end 
segregation, ban employment discrimination and give Blacks the right to vote, but once again what American society failed to realise was that to change deeply-ingrained beliefs and multi-generational prejudice would require much more than the passage of a law; especially when there were still White people in power determined to maintain the status quo and the inequality between Blacks and Whites.

If you find this hard to believe, consider that as recently as 2006, a city government report found that "affluent, non-white Milwaukeeans were 2.7 times likelier to be denied home loans than White people with similar incomes.” A more recently a 2009 study by the National Institute of Health that looked into how much people consider race when choosing a neighborhood to live in, concluded that “that White people prefer to live in communities where there are fewer Black people, regardless of their income.”

A field study conducted by CNN in 2008 found that “Among those with no criminal record, White applicants were more than twice as likely to receive a call back relative to equally qualified Black applicants. Even more troubling, Whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a Black applicant with a clean background.”
The US Department of Justice settled a lawsuit with J.P. Morgan Chase in January 2017, for charging “African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher rates than white borrowers from 2006 to 2009, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”


Based on this historical evidence it becomes clear that numerous policies purposefully put in place to institutionalise racism; these policies were designed to silently prevent Black people from gaining mobility and integrating with White America. The impact can be felt to this day.

Upward social mobility requires each generation to move one step up the social ladder, which then allows the following generation to gain access to better housing and higher quality education which leads to better jobs, better pay and a higher standard of living – more than any other non-white group, Black people have been denied the ability to gain social mobility.


Think back to the fact that currently 1 in 3 Black American men face jail in their lifetime and then consider that a criminal record pretty much disqualifies you from participating in US society; even for low-level, non-violent offenses, for which the majority of Black people are jailed. “Even your lower-paying fast-food jobs are now doing background checks,” he said. “How can I pay child support if I can’t get a job?”

Without question we have come a very long way, but the fact is that many of these biases are still prevalent today and we must be aware of them in order to move forward. I believe that to heal these long simmering racial divisions (that have come to light more starkly under the first Black President) and mend this broken narrative, Americans need to start by acknowledging and owning the sins of slavery (much like Germany does about the Holocaust) and gain a deeper understanding of how the subsequent years of institutionalised racism have ravaged the Black community.

This is not about retribution or pity; it is about understanding the starkly different reality Black and White people in America face.

Until Americans fully appreciate this reality, we cannot begin to do the necessary work to ensure that the American Dream becomes real for future generations of Black children.