Minorities and Politics 2015/6

Minorities and Politics 2015/6

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The political push-back on the race issue within the Republican Party is palpable silence. It is remarkable that there have been few if any comments from the GOP presidential aspirants to the most recent release of the videotapes of the Chicago police officer shooting a Black 17 year old 16 times who was a holding a three inch knife.

Aside from the disturbing lack of compassion and sensitivity concerning this persistent and recurring national problem between law enforcement officers and African Americans, there appears to be a very erroneous view among these presidential candidates as to how to get elected next November. They appear to be totally unable to grasp the reality of today’s electoral politics, regardless what portion of the electoral mass they consider to be their base.

Their problem began with how they mistakenly addressed the issue of illegal Hispanic immigrants. As the Latino minority becomes the largest voting bloc in the nation, it is becoming increasingly clear that solving the problem of illegal immigrants must be done with a genuine awareness of the potential political power already of many in the Latino population.  This is true not only in historically large blue Democratic states but now in red Republican states as well. (While much of the more recent discussion of immigrants has moved on to the issue of potential Syrian terrorists being permitted into the country, the erroneous assumptions that they made a few months ago will come back to haunt them at the ballot box.)

Now, in light of the latest public revelations of racism among police officers in Chicago and the failure of the Republican aspirants to speak out aggressively against it, the GOP is once more shooting itself in its ballot box foot. While there may well have been an assumption that without an African American on the ticket in 2016 Black turnout will be much reduced, now it is a virtual guarantee that the silence of Republican leaders to step forward on the racism issue will energize African Americans to vote. It might conceivably even push them to leverage their political power to turn key congressional races particularly in the Senate.

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