Friday, June 23, 2017

Politics

The Republican base continues to shrink, according to a new analysis of the 2016 election.

The analysis found non-college-educated whites declined as a share of the electorate even in the key Midwestern states that tipped the election to Trump. Specifically, the data analysis on 2016 voting, conducted for The Atlantic by Robert Griffin and Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress’s States of Change project, shows that Republican have placed their bets on a segment of the population that will continue to decline.

“This is a good example of just how hard it is to reverse an ongoing trend like this,” said Teixeira, a co-founder of the project, which studies how demographic change affects politics and policy. “It says to Republicans: ‘You have intrinsically placed your bets on a political group that under almost any conceivable circumstances will continue to decline as a share not only of eligible voters, but [of actual] voters going forward.’ If that didn’t [reverse] in this election, you have to say it’s not going to happen.”

Despite President Trump’s magnetic appeal for working-class whites, those fiercely contested voters continued their long-term decline as a share of the national electorate in 2016, a new analysis of recent Census Bureau data shows.

That continued erosion underscores the gamble Trump is taking by aligning the GOP ever more closely with the hopes and fears of a volatile constituency that, while still large, has been irreversibly shrinking for decades as a share of the total vote.

But the new census numbers on voter participation last year also contain a clear warning signal for Democrats.

While the overall U.S. population continues to grow more racially and ethnically diverse, the electorate’s demographic transformation slowed markedly in 2016 because turnout remained surprisingly weak among Hispanics and fell sharply among African-Americans without former President Barack Obama on the ballot, according to the findings.

Though minority voters preferred Hillary Clinton by a large margin, those disappointing turnout numbers underscore the difficulty she had mobilizing the Democratic coalition around a message that placed much more emphasis on values and tolerance – so-called “identity politics” – than a bread-and-butter economic message.

“The long-term challenge for Republicans remains unchanged: They still have to figure out how to appeal to the growing proportion of the electorate that is non- white and college-educated,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who worked during the Republican primaries for Trump rival Marco Rubio, the Florida senator. “Trump managed to slip the punch for one election, but that changed nothing about the long-term challenge. For the Democrats … they have to [find] a substantive message that appeals beyond identity politics, and they haven’t figured that out yet.”

Black voter turnout declined in 2016 when Obama was not on the ballot. In 2012, African-Americans holding at least a four-year college degree voted at a slightly higher rate than whites with advanced education, and African-Americans without degrees turned out at notably higher rates than blue-collar whites.

But in 2016, turnout in both categories dropped so sharply that it fell below the levels of college-educated and working-class whites, according to the States of Change analysis.
In 2016, turnout sagged to about 73 percent among college-educated African-Americans (down from nearly 80 percent in 2012) and to about 56 percent among those without degrees (down from over 63 percent in 2016).

Overall, the Census data showed turnout among eligible African-Americans dropped fully 7 percentage points from 2012 to 2016, the biggest drop over a single election for the group since at least 1980. In the battlegrounds that tipped the election to Trump, state-level Census data show African-American turnout plummeting in Wisconsin; skidding in North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio; and declining more modestly in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

A new report has called into question whether President Trump would have actually won Wisconsin during the 2016 presidential election without the state’s strict voter ID law.

The study published by the progressive advocacy group Priorities USA says the law suppressed the votes of more than 200,000 residents – the majority of whom were African-American and Democratic-leaning. President Trump won only about 23,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin.

In a recent interview in Democracy Now! Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation, where he covers voting rights, said, “I wrote about this study this week. And what they found was that, overall, turnout increased by 1.3 percent in 2016 over 2012. But states that adopted strict voter ID laws, turnout dropped by 1.7 percent.”

Berman added, “And it dropped in Wisconsin by 3.3 percent, so much greater decrease than the national turnout increase. And what they found, this study, was that 200,000 more people would have voted in Wisconsin if not for their strict voter ID law. Trump only won the state by 23,000 votes. The largest drop-off was among Black and Democratic-leaning voters.”

Berman continued, “So they not only compared Wisconsin to other states, they compared it to states like Minnesota right next door, which have similar demographics and turnout rates, and they found that there was a much larger drop-off in Wisconsin than Minnesota, which does not have a voter ID law, that counties with a large African-American population had a larger drop-off. So this is yet another study showing that voter ID laws suppress the vote.”

Berman said, “And my feeling is, these laws are bad regardless of if they impact an election, because we’re making it harder to vote for no reason. But in Wisconsin, we have a very clear case study that this law impacted the final results of the presidential election.”

You can read the new report at: https://www.scribd.com/document/347821649/Priorities-USA-Voter-Suppression-Memo.

In a rare display of bipartisanship in Congress, the United States House of Representatives voted to establish a commission to examine 400 years of African-American history.

House bill H.R. 1242 is designed “to develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) sponsored the bill in the House and Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) sponsored the bill in the Senate, where it’s waiting to be passed.
According to Washington insiders, the bill will most likely pass by unanimous consent in the Senate.

Once the bill known as the “400 Years of African-American History Commission Act,” or H.R. 1242 in the House, passes Congress, it will land on President Donald Trump’s desk.

If H.R. 1242 becomes law, the resulting commission would consist of 15 members, who would serve without pay. The legislation would authorize the commission to create grants to communities, non-profits and other groups to hold events that would commemorate the anniversary of slaves arriving in the U.S. The commission could hire staff and also accept volunteers to perform its mission. The commission would be required to submit a report to Congress and terminate in July of 2020.

In a statement about the bill last year, Kaine said that he’s been lucky to be a part of federal commissions that have been formed to study and celebrate English and Hispanic history.

“Well, if English lives matter, if Latino lives matter, then African-American lives matter and they’ve mattered every day since the landing of those ‘20 and odd’ African-Americans at Point Comfort, Virginia,” said Kaine.

In late March, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, “that implementing the bill would cost about $2 million a year – a total of $6 million over the 2018-2021 period.”
In a floor statement about the bill last summer, Rep. Bobby Scott said that African-Americans have contributed greatly to the United States and their achievements deserve to be celebrated.

“The history of Virginia and our nation cannot be fully understood without recognizing the role played by the slave trade,” said Scott. “Slavery was an abhorrent institution; but for hundreds of years, it was the foundation of the colonial and early American agricultural system and was essential to its economic sustainability.”

Scott continued: “The 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act will be instrumental in recognizing and highlighting the resilience and contributions of African-Americans since 1619. From slavery, to fighting in the Civil War, to working against the oppression of Jim Crow segregation, to the civil rights movement, the rich history of African-Americans and their contributions to our Nation began hundreds of years ago but obviously does not end there.”

Lauren Victoria Burke is a speaker, writer and political analyst. She appears on “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin every Monday. Connect with Lauren at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.

JACKSONVILLE, FL
Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was recently found guilty in Jacksonville of taking money from a charity that allegedly gave scholarships to poor students.

Brown, 70, was convicted of 18 of the 22 charges against her, including lying on her taxes and her congressional financial disclosure forms. Brown, a Democrat who represented the Florida district that included Jacksonville since 1993, had pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, including fraud. She lost re-election last fall after her indictment.

According to news reports, when the judge read each verdict she showed no visible reaction.

Brown’s former chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, and the charity’s president pleaded guilty after their federal indictments for misusing the charity’s funds, and testified against Brown.

Federal prosecutors said Brown and her associates used a charity called One Door for Education to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016. Brown’s indictment said the Virginia-based One Door only gave out one scholarship for $1,200 to an unidentified person in Florida.

Simmons said Brown ordered him to take cash and checks from One Door’s account. On dozens of occasions, Simmons said he was told to take out of One Door’s account the maximum $800 from an ATM near his house and deposit hundreds of it in Brown’s personal account. Sometimes he kept some for himself.

Brown testified in her own defense, saying she was left in the dark about the goings-on with One Door’s money, and blamed the theft on Simmons.

Brown said she left those details to Simmons and other hired staffers, and said she should have paid more attention to her personal and professional finances.

WASHINGTON
President Donald Trump’s recent proposed budget reduction for Historically Black Colleges and Universities was met with this statement from Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04).

“When during the campaign, the president repeatedly asked the African-American community what do we have to lose, clearly one answer was funding for the historically supportive and important institutions and colleges in our community. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have provided low-income and first generation college students and their families with a high-quality education for almost 200 years. Once again, the president has reneged on a promise and is not providing these historical institutions with the fiscal resources that they need to continue serving our communities.

“Recently, when the president invited HBCU presidents to the White House for a meeting many hoped –including me –  that would result in increased funding for our HBCU institutions.
We now know that it resulted in a decrease masked as maintaining the level of spending.

“As the alumnus of an HBCU (Virginia Union University) and the representative of a congressional district that is home to two HBCUs and neighbors another district home to two more HBCUs, I am alarmed by the message that was sent to these treasured institutions. These institutions have an important impact for many young people in my district and in Virginia.

“I call on this Administration to allocate more funding for HBCUs instead of providing taxpayer dollars for a racially charged border wall. The budget states that it protects support for HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), while suggesting a decrease in spending, cancelling $3.9 billion for Pell Grants funding, and reducing Federal Work-Study funding.

“I look forward to my upcoming conversations with HBCUs during the Congressional Black Caucus College Tour. I will ask them directly about their needs at the federal level to best serve our students. I believe that these nationwide conversations between CBC Members and HBCU leaders will be an important information source so that funding can be appropriately allocated.

“Our HBCUs should be empowered to meet the needs of this underserved population. Once again, this budget does not make America great again.”

If the Republican-backed Affordable Health Care Act  (AHCA) is passed, millions of Americans currently enrolled in Obamacare would lose their  insurance and see fewer benefits and higher costs, especially if you are poor and working class.

Research by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (CIFA) says thousands of Virginia’s  poorest and vulnerable residents  currently covered by the ACA or  Obamacare, will be harmed by the proposed new health plan which is designed  to replace the current ACA.

Last week the Congressional Budget Office released a report stating that 24 million fewer people would have coverage within a decade and the level of the uninsured would jump 14 million next year,  if the GOP’s health care  blueprint is put in place by then.

In Virginia  according to CIFA policy analyst Michael Cassidy, 31 percent  or more  of the 327,000 people covered by the ACA in Virginia would lose their coverage under the Republican plan.

“The impact will be significant,” said Cassidy. “It is to safe to characterize it that way because thousands of Virginians  are at risk … it will be like a tidal wave.”

The proposed AHCA removes the individual  and employer mandates and reduces the tax credits and subsidies that poor and working class people use to buy insurance under the current ACA in the Virginia.

One of the most hated part of the ACA was the  individual mandate to force people to buy insurance or pay a penalty via the tax system. Using  slight-of-hand,  the GOP’s AHCA will impose a penalty of a 30 percent surcharge  if you  drop insurance and  seek to reacquire it.

Healthcare advocates call it a “bait and switch” tactic the Republicans have not fully explained to supporters of their efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare with Trumpcare.

Now 319,000 people use a tax credit in Virginia under the ACA, based on their income, to acquire healthcare insurance.

The ACHA would use age. The older you, are the higher it will be.

The ACA restricts charging older people more for coverage. The plan the Republicans will be voting in the House this week, would allow healthcare insurance companies to charge older adults up to five times what they charge younger people.  The ACA  barred the companies from charging more than three times.

Under the ACA,  insurance companies had to use profits to directly cover  their clients instead of using it for operating cost, notably high salaries. That rule would die under the AHCA.

Gaylene Kanoyton has  organized educational forums on the ACA over the past four years and Celebrate Healthcare  program to  enroll people in  Hampton Roads.

To date, Celebrate Healthcare has enrolled over 15,000 and educated over 25,000-plus citizens.

Kanoyton said that despite the quickness in which the ACHA has been pushed through the current U.S. House of Representatives it is not sure if it will be  passed as it stands now,
She said there will be an open  enrollment period for the ACA starting November 1, despite the current push to pass the AHCA.

“Even if it does passes, nothing will change  immediately,” said Kanoyton. “It took them three years to get the Affordable Care Act up and running. There would be at least that length of time for the Republicans to set up administration enrollment process and policies.

Plus we are not sure how many of the GOP plan will become reality. Now is too early.”

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

TriceEdneyWire.com/Global Information Network
A revised travel ban by the Trump administration is already in trouble with a leading aid agency, with the travel industry, and with the Nigerian government which has urged its citizens to postpone making trips to the U.S. without “compelling or essential reasons.”

The new travel ban, which still targets majority-Muslim countries, slightly modifies an earlier order that sparked chaos at airports across the country as travelers – even those with green cards – were denied entry by local officers.

One of the harsher critics of the new ban, the head of the NY-based International Rescue Committee, labeled it an “historic assault on refugee resettlement to the United States, and a really catastrophic cut at a time there are more refugees around the world than ever before.”

“There is no national security justification for this ‘catastrophic’ cut in refugee admissions,” declared David Miliband, adding that the ban singles out „the most vulnerable, most vetted population that is entering the United States.“

The IRC provides humanitarian aid in five African countries, six Middle Eastern countries, six Asian countries, three European countries, and 22 cities in the U.S.

Trump’s latest order suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, though refugees already formally scheduled for travel by the State Department will be allowed entry. When the suspension is lifted, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. will be capped at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.

But the new and higher bars to entry to the U.S. have the tourism industry biting its nails. Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys tallied the fall-off in major tourism-dependent U.S. cities as 6.5 percent in the eight days after President Donald Trump’s initial travel ban was announced on Jan. 27th.

In New York City, analysts foresee some 300,000 fewer visitors from abroad this year than in 2016, a 2.1 percent dip. It’s the first time for such a fall-off since 2008, says NYC & Company, New York’s tourism arm.

Even some African countries are sounding the alarm. In Nigeria, for example, special presidential adviser Abike Dabiri-Erewa, urged Nigerians to consider postponing visits to the U.S.

“In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria,” she said. “In such cases, affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.”

Planned trips should be delayed, she advised, barring compelling or essential reasons, until there is clarity on the new immigration policy from Washington.

The latest action by the Trump administration could spell trouble for the 2.1 million African immigrants living in the U.S., 327,000 of whom were born in Nigeria, according to the Pew Research Center, published in February.

By Jesse Jackson
(TriceEdneyWire.com)

President Donald Trump’s most recent provocation – suddenly issuing an order banning the admission into the United States of refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries – created chaos and fury that had to be expected.

Airports across the world were engulfed with demonstrators. Judges issued emergency orders staying enforcement of parts of the order. Families found their children studying abroad unable to return home, or their loved ones attending a funeral stranded in an airport. Translators who had risked their lives for American soldiers in Iraq suddenly found their green cards useless and their lives at great risk. Both intelligence professionals and State Department diplomats have protested the order.

Trump clearly revels in this chaos. He proves to his voters that he’ll fulfill his campaign promises, despite opposition. He shows them that he’s getting things done. He postures strong on securing Americans against foreign terrorists. He defines his opponents as bleeding heart liberals, more concerned about rights than security, more internationalist than nationalist. He views this all as a win.

Trump’s act is based on a lie: that America is not careful in vetting those refugees from battle zones that seek refuge in our country from violence or persecution. In fact, our vetting is already among the most stringent in the world. Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians would be given preference over other religious groups, asserting falsely that under Obama, “If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.”

In fact, last year we admitted virtually as many Christian refugees as Muslims, despite the fact that far more Muslims are at risk and seeking refuge. But this president has shown that he’s prepared to act on the basis of “alternative facts” when he so chooses.

The real problem is that the unintended consequences are likely to be far more dangerous than doing nothing. For ISIS and al-Qaida, the order is gift. It feeds their argument that the Muslim world is facing a war on Islam led by the Great Satan (the U.S.) intent on persecuting Muslims.

The anger and hatred generated will make it more difficult for moderate Muslim leaders to cooperate with the U.S. At home, a Muslim community under siege – and faced with rising hate crimes – is likely to become more closed, not less, and less cooperative, not more. If we will not respect their rights and security, they will be less likely to be concerned for ours.

Across the world, the order reveals an America that is frightened, not strong, and insular, not expansive. Trump has just mocked his own argument that our allies should bear a fair share of the defense burden, for he’s made it clear the U.S. will not do its part in offering refuge to the displaced – many of them driven from their homes by wars that we started or continue. And America’s claim to be a champion of human rights has just been weakened by our own actions once more.

The irony here is that Trump gets the threat wrong. Seven countries were singled out for special prohibition – a ban on all travelers, not just refugees for 90 days, visa or no visa. Not one person from those countries has killed any Americans in a terrorist attack inside the U.S. The perpetrators of American terrorist attacks in Boston, San Bernardino, Calif., Fort Hood in Texas, and Orlando, Fla. – did not come from the countries banned, and all were radicalized homegrown individuals.

Similarly, the hijackers of 9/11 did not come from the countries that are banned. They came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon, none of which are on the list.

There must be some other reason than terrorist threat for the selection. It may not simply be coincidental that the countries listed for bans are those where Trump’s company does no business, while the nations from which the 9/11 attackers came – and yet are exempted – are places where Trump has done or tried to do business.

Democrats have said they would try to get the order rescinded for its trampling of human rights, its lack of preparation and confused definitions. The real question is whether Republicans embrace this action or make their opposition known. Trump is happy to mock Democrats. His aides know that he has to learn to work with Republicans who control majorities in both houses of Congress.

Thus far, Republicans such as Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake have risked Trump’s wrath by objecting to the order. It is revealing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to duck – saying the courts would decide whether the order is constitutional –while House Speaker Paul Ryan chose to embrace the order rather than criticize it. These are not profiles in courage.

By Freddie Allen
(Managing Editor, NNPA Newswire)

Rev. William Barber, the president of the North Carolina state chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement, delivered a rousing keynote address to open the 2017 Mid-Winter Conference of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

The theme of the conference was “Strengthening Black-owned Newspapers through Training, Innovation and Technology.” The NNPA partnered with General Motors, Chevrolet, Ford Motor Company, Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to host the conference; Volkswagen, Ascension, Coca-Cola, and the American Association for Cancer Research supported the event as sponsors.

During his speech titled, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” Barber tackled voter suppression in the aftermath of Shelby v. Holder, White evangelicalism and the current political environment in the age of “alternative facts.”

Noting that President Woodrow Wilson played the White supremacist propaganda film “Birth of a Nation” in the Oval office in 1911, Barber said that Trump’s ascension and election is not an anomaly in American history.

“This is not the first time that White supremacy has occupied The White House. This is not the first time that America has elected a racist egomaniac,” said Barber, reminding the audience that President Wilson, a former college president, played “Birth” to signal that Reconstruction was over. “Education doesn’t necessarily get racism out of you.”

To a chorus of “Amens,” Barber said that the one thing that we have to first decide to do in this moment is that bowing down is not an option.

Recognizing that he was addressing a room full of journalists and publishers, Barber pitched ideas for a number of articles and commentaries.

“Somebody has to unpack ‘so-called’ White evangelicalism that is illogical malpractice and heresy,” said Barber. “We’ve got to have some papers that write and do some investigative work to connect the money to White evangelicalism to the policies of extremism and racism, because some of our own folk are sending money to some of these TV White evangelicals.”

Barber said that the loss of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and voter suppression were two of the most underreported stories during the last election cycle.

“Long before any Russian hack, the American electoral process was hacked by systemic racism and fear,” said Barber. “The Southern Strategy is alive and well.”

Barber acknowledged that civil rights leaders and Democrats could have voiced louder criticism about the lack of work done in the U.S. Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act.

“Democrats talked more about David Dukes than they did about voter suppression and the Voting Rights Act being dismantled,” said Barber.

Barber said that there were 868 fewer voting places across the nation; those closures disproportionately affected Black voters.

“Voter suppression has been proven, voter fraud has been disproven. The lie about voter fraud is a distraction from the truth about voter suppression, because voter suppression is about thievery. You scratch a liar, you’ll find a thief,” said Barber. “Trump won because of the voter suppression that went on in the Black community.”

After delivering a brief history of fusion politics, a time when poor Whites and Blacks worked together to achieve political power in the South following the Civil War, Barber questioned why so many poor, White people today cast votes for lawmakers that oppose establishing living wage standards, better healthcare and more educational opportunities for low-income families.

The North Carolina pastor noted that there are 18.9 poor White people in the United States, about eight million more than the number of poor Black people, though Black people experience poverty at higher rates than Whites.

Barber said that exploring the real reasons why so many poor Whites vote against their own self-interest, would make for a great investigative report.

Returning to the theme that today’s political environment in America is nothing new, Barber told the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who he described as “three millennials from the Bible days,” that liked to write and Nebuchadnezzar, “a maniacal egomaniac who loved to tweet out his own news,” loved to build towers and invited people to come to his towers to bow down.

When Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone bow down to his image and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused, the king threatened to throw them into the furnace.

“He didn’t know they already had a fire. They came from people who had been through the fire,” said Barber. “They remembered how the Lord had dealt with pharaoh. They remembered how David dealt with Goliath.”

Barber said that the three young leaders had a fire in them, because they sang the songs of their ancestors.

“Can we just make a decision, Black folks? Can we just make a decision, publishers? Can we just make a decision, civil rights…that bowing down is not an option?” Barber implored.

“I gotta suspicion that it’s going be some fiery times. I gotta suspicion that it’s gonna get hot. I gotta suspicion that Nebuchadnezzar is gonna do some rough stuff.”

Barber implored the publishers, journalists and activists in the room to go into the proverbial fire standing up, because help won’t come, if you go in the fire bowing down.

“If you go in the fire standing up, God can transform the fire and the same fire that was meant to destroy you, can become a fire of deliverance!” Barber shouted.

The crowd roared, delivering Barber a standing ovation. The Moral Mondays leader continued:

“Bowing down is not an option! Standing down is not an option! Looking down is not an option! Breaking down is not an option! We’ve been through worse before.” Barber exclaimed. “We’ve been through slavery. We’ve been through Jim Crow. We’ve been through the Trail of Tears and we’re gonna stand up in this moment!”

The next day at the conference, Barber committed to writing a regular guest column for the NNPA Newswire that will be distributed throughout the NNPA’s network of 211 Black-owned media properties and will reach an estimated 20 million readers in print and online.

“Somebody has to write from the perspective of crisis, even if the crisis doesn’t end immediately,” Barber explained. “Somebody has to make sure that there is a witness that [the Black Press] didn’t go along with it. So we have to do that.”

By Jim Clingman

Editor’s Note:
After a meeting between Bob Johnson and Donald Trump before he was sworn into office, Johnson wrote a press release and did several interviews to disclose the particulars of that meeting. Part one of his interview with Jim Clingman appeared in last week’s New Journal and Guide.

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Bob: Let’s form the Permanent Interest Party and that party will represent Black voters and that’s the way we engage this divided nation because White America is divided.  On one side you have people who call themselves Republicans and on the other side you have the Democrats.  But they are predominately the White ruling class in America. And they are divided.

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Bob: The only thing that we aren’t divided against is our ability to vote.  So we have to take the one asset we have that we know that we can manipulate and control with our own interests is that to vote.  But a vote without a direct ideology or philosophy is not going to be magnified at its highest level of impact.
Jim: Let me ask you this, based upon everything you said, can I assume you believe Black people should register as “no party affiliated” as we move forward to develop an independent party.
Bob: Yes.  I believe for Black Americans to remain in one or the other party group is not in our long term best interests … I believe, whether it happens in my lifetime or whether it happens after that, at some point Black Americans will come to the realization that at 45 million people and growing, in a divided country, and rising populations in other minority groups greater than us in voter power and probably economics, we must form our own political power base for the sole purpose of promoting our permanent interest … That’s  a very important move I believe Black people should make.
Jim: Ok, let’s shift a little bit to economics. You are a business man. I know that’s high on your agenda and do you believe that  when it’s all said and done, economics really controls politics?
Bob: We are and have been founded as a free market democratic society.  Ownership is a paramount right in the United States.  And from ownership comes the right to use your wealth in any way you wish.  And from that comes economic power. And economic power manifests itself in political power because campaigns run on money. They run on ideas but they run on money to get those ideas conveyed.

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Bob:  Black Americans have tremendous aggregate income, around $1.2 trillion now, and in that power, in that wealth there’s more than enough money to fund a political party, particularly a political party that’s already united in its interest and therefore already more than likely to vote as a bloc. You don’t have to convince us to vote as a bloc, we do it anyway.

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Bob: So when you look at that and how this nation works, if ownership and access to wealth and the right to do with it as you please, then that also translates into your right to use it for your own political interests and your own political well being and your own socioeconomic wellbeing. So, yes, those things would follow. Black Economic power strengthens our political power, and political power would help enhance Black economic power.

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Bob: I mean we could take some ideas from the Democratic Party and some from the Republican Party. But they would be our issues and we would be voting for our interests and our candidates to espouse those issues and promote those issues.  We don’t have a monopoly on the best ideas; neither does either party.  So clearly we could argue things that are in our best interest and vote accordingly and use our vote as a balance of power in a divided nation to focus on our interests.  It’s as simple as that.
Jim: I’m constantly amazed that all of the, like you said, dollars we have as well as the organizations we have with so many members. Yet we’re not adopting and we have not adopted the principles that you have espoused.  But that speaks to me something Harold Cruse called “Non-economic liberalism.”
We’re so stuck in this non-economic piece.  We don’t get our economics right in order to make a meaningful foray into the political arena, and that’s the direction our people really need to go.
Bob:  Yeah, that’s the thing.
Robert Louis “Bob” Johnson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor. He is best known as founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), which was sold to Viacom in 2001.