by Jeffrey Boney, NNPA Newswire
…It is fascinating the way some political candidates scurry around during election season trying to solicit the black vote so that they can get elected to a certain office or retain their current seat. It’s an art. Many of these campaign operatives and elected officials have it down to a science.
However, when it comes to developing key, solid policies that will help the black community, many of these same candidates disappear – never to be heard from again –until the next election cycle rolls around. Interestingly, many of these elected officials get a pass for doing nothing.
Now, if members of the black community would be completely honest, they would admit that a lot of these elected officials are often treated like high-profile celebrities, rather than public servants who have the power to advocate for substantive policies that can literally change the economic landscape and quality of life of their communities.
One act of familiarity that has been a go-to-approach to reach the black community has been the tactic of political candidates using certain gimmicks to solicit votes.
You know what I’m talking about; offering the black community chicken dinners, BBQ cookouts, fish plates, steak days, gift cards, air conditioners for senior citizens, etc. Many of these politically-motivated gimmicks have and continue to be used to get black people to vote for a particular candidate.
You know the routine. black voters get out to vote, then there is very little reciprocity from many of the candidates towards the black community, if they are elected.
Think about it for a moment and ask yourself some questions.
What evidence do you have to prove that any of your elected officials have actually advocated for you? Ask yourself, when it comes to developing sound policies and legislation for the black community, when was the last time your elected officials drafted any policy or advocated for any legislation at the local, state and/or federal level that has positively impact you?
Now, you may have been invited to a fish fry, steak dinner or community social event, but ask yourself when was the first or last time any of your elected officials educated, equipped and informed your community about any key issues that is impacting them or will affect them?
Truth be told, the black community has been short-changed when it comes to advocacy by many of their elected officials, regardless of the elected official’s race or ethnicity. blacks have also been deprived of having progressive and substantive policies drafted by many of their elected officials. In many cases, instead of talking to elected officials about substantive policies and key legislation, elected officials are often sought after to attend an event or take a picture with someone as if they are a Hollywood star, versus a public servant who was elected to serve the people. Again, it’s about familiarity.
The black community deserves to be treated more like a partner in a serious relationship versus some fling on the side where politicians whisper sweet nothings in our ears in order to get the only thing they really, truly want – the black vote.
The black community must stop allowing disengaged elected officials to continue making empty promises in order to get their vote, and then turn around, close the deal (get their vote), and never hear anything from these individuals anymore until they need their black vote again. The same thing goes for political candidates who don’t win when they run for office as well.
Elected officials are not highly-paid Hollywood entertainers. Elected officials are public servants. The black community must stop treating elected officials as if they are the hottest celebrity and start demanding sound policy offerings from them. The black community must embrace accountability and adopt a realistic expectation of having their elected officials be the advocates they need to get things done and fight for them by any means necessary.
This year, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade group representing over 200 black-owned media companies across the U.S., is focused on encouraging 5 million blacks to register to vote before the midterm elections.
We need to elect politicians who care about creating sound legislation and being advocates for the black community year-round….
(Jeffrey L. Boney is Associate Editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.)