What Joe Biden said is what they all believe.
About black Americans being a monolith, all the same, without the cultural variety of American’s Latinos.
That’s what all the politicians believe, at least the ones in charge. And you can tell that by the way the parties act. It is clear that, from an electoral standpoint, both political parties see black Americans as a bloc.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re the cowboys of the Mississippi Delta or the rappers of Compton, the people of the Motor City or the people of Gullah. Whether a black person’s cultural background is New York City or Atlanta, urban or rural, churched or unchurched, impoverished or wealthy, educated or uneducated, both political parties treat them all the same.
Democrats take their vote for granted, and Republicans write them off.
And those unfortunate and mistaken choices are sadly reinforced by black voting patterns.
Overwhelmingly, American blacks vote for Democrats. At least they have since the onset of a trend that began with the administration of Franklin Roosevelt and ripened in the election of John F. Kennedy. Before that, they voted for Republicans.
But they have always voted as a bloc.
And that sameness on Election Day has mislead political thinkers into believing that there is a sameness every other day. Perhaps that is a reflection of the two-dimensional way the political industry looks at all voters: You’re either for us or against us.
This erroneous assumption – that black people are fundamentally and culturally all the same – is born of ignorance, and maybe prejudice. What’s disappointing in regard to Joe Biden is that he is almost 80, and has spent almost all of his adult life in elected office, making laws and policies for the whole nation, and his life experience never taught him that his stereotype was wrong.
How has he truly lived a life and not noticed that black Americans – like all Americans – have tremendous cultural variety? Worse, how has he helped lead the nation without realizing and serving the very different needs and priorities within black America?
In his assessment of diversity within the black and Latino communities, how is he so ignorant and naïve? Is that because he’s forgetting, or because he never learned?
But Biden’s just one guy. Where the real loss of opportunity occurs is in the assumptions of the political parties.
The Democrats presume that black people can be served – or mollified – by talking about racism, the police, diminished criminal penalties, welfare, daycare, and more welfare and more racism. Those campaign priorities presume certain things about black America – namely, that its totality is defined by the experiences and desires of progressive poor people who live in cities.
And while, no doubt, the issues of progressive poor people who live in cities are important, they sure aren’t representative of the entirety of black America.
As a consequence of its ignorance, the Democratic Party perennially campaigns as the savior of black people, promising to pass out goodies and preferences and to champion its stereotypical list of “black issues”.
It’s been that way for decades. Year after year after year. Lots of promising, very little delivering.
For their part, the Republicans presume that black people hate them and won’t vote for them, so they ignore them. The Republican stereotype of black people is that none of them would be interested in the conservative, patriotic, self-reliant or freedom-oriented principles of the party. That bespeaks an ignorance of the values of many black people and black communities.
This is one of those things that ought to make people think.
Not just about Joe Biden and whether or not he should be president, but about the way the political parties look at the country and its people.
We have all been cut up into demographic pieces by pollsters and politickers, and assumptions have been made about each of our categories. We’ve been assigned a label and a presumed set of motivations and beliefs, and political campaigns and presidential administrations are run according to those assumptions.
Even though they ignore an important principle, that happens to be the founding premise of our Republic – namely, that people are individuals. And individuals have opinions, experiences and priorities that are tremendously and wonderfully varied.
And when you put people in a box, you ignore that variety and miss out on the truth.
So, yes, Joe Biden was wrong.
But he said what they all think.