Black Lives Matter movement: Bad for Democrats, good for Republicans

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Recently Hillary Clinton had a fairly contentious  conversation  with Black Lives Matter activists in New Hampshire. At times she seemed to lecture and at others she was obviously down right annoyed.

“You can keep the movement going,” Clinton urged, “and through it, you may change actually some hearts, but if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back in 10 years having the same conversation because we will not have all of the changes that you deserve to have because of your willingness to talk about this.”

{mosads}At one point during the 15-minute discussion, Clinton pointed: “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

It was obvious Clinton strongly disagreed with the methodology of the Black Lives Matter activists. With her dismissive nods and disgruntled looks, the divide between the activists and Clinton was evident, and should be a cause of concern for the Democratic Party and its presidential hopefuls.

Blacks vote heavily Democratic and are a stronghold for the Democratic Party.  However, with the recent deaths of unarmed African-Americans, Black Lives Matter has grown into a national movement. The movement has increased awareness and political activism among young African-Americans with chapters sprouting up across the country.

Black Lives Matter activists are aggressively challenging Democratic presidential candidates, interrupting their events and challenging them on policies that can be, at times, uncomfortable to discuss: Policies, they argue, that do more harm than good for black people—forcing Democrats to discuss the uncomfortable issues of racial inequalities and their impact on black Americans.

While its unlikely Democrats will lose their stronghold with black voters in 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a hurdle for the Democratic Party. As such, Democratic presidential hopefuls have been careful not to alignment too closely with the group.

The risk of turning off white progressive voters because of their alignment with the group could become a problem for Democrats. Forcing presidential hopefuls like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Clinton to strike a careful balance between their relationship with the group and white progressives.

On the other hand, this may be the break Republicans have been looking for as they continue to struggle with minority outreach, particularly to the African-American community.

Despite the unemployment rate decreasing, unemployment for blacks remains high. According to the  Department of Labor,  unemployment for blacks was 9.5 percent as of June 2015. For black youth, it was double, at  20.7 percent  as of July 2015.

However, the most alarming numbers are black poverty rates. While the number of children living in poverty declined to 20 percent, or 14.7 million in 2013, for black children, the number remained a staggering 38 percent. Making them four times as likely as white children to be living in poverty according to a  Pew Research Center  analysis of  Census Bureau data.

With such alarming statistics, this could open the window of opportunity for the GOP and its presidential hopefuls. For Republicans, focusing on job creation, education and poverty alleviation—while acknowledging the necessity for police reform — may be strong selling points as the party seeks to court African-American voters.

As Black Lives Matter co-founder, Patrisse Cullors said in a piece she penned for  The Washington Post,  Democrats have, “milked the Black vote while creating policies that completely decimate Black communities.”

This could be that moment the GOP has been looking for to make their case to Black voters.  However, the question remains whether or not the party will take advantage of it.

Singleton is a Republican political consultant. He’s worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Follow him on twitter @Shermichael_

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