Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority?

Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority?
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We all know that elections — victorious or not — are about constituencies and coalitions, both of which shift constantly. 

History teaches us that the coalition that elected Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonShould deficits matter any more? Biden knows healing the US means addressing pandemic and economy first Can the media regain credibility under Biden? MORE twice was different from the coalition that elected Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate To fix social media now focus on privacy, not platforms Just 11 percent of Americans satisfied with direction of US: Gallup MORE twice. So it should be no surprise that the coalition that elected Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE is different from either of them — and surely different from the vote that gave Democrats record wins in the 2018 midterms.

However, in all of those victories, the Black vote — especially Black women — served as the political booster-cables those campaigns needed to get them off the ground and push them over the finish line.


But, while Black women deservedly have taken center stage in many post-election analyses, today I want to refocus our attention on potentially the most consequential voting bloc in a generation: Black men. 

Now, it’s no secret that I’m a 35-year-old Black man from rural South Carolina, so my perspective is based on my set of life experiences. In fact, Majority Whip Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnA better response to political violence in America Exclusive 'Lucky' excerpt: Vow of Black woman on Supreme Court was Biden turning point Clyburn: Bush told me I'm 'savior' for Biden endorsement MORE (D-S.C.) reminds me almost daily that all we ever will be is what our experiences allow us to be.

So, while those experiences may color my perspective, they also inform it. I can say without a doubt that the issues many Black men care about in South Carolina, and across the South, are the same ones they care about in the Midwest, on the West Coast, and most other places you can think of in this country.

Because we know that’s true, going forward we have to govern ourselves accordingly as Democrats because, while 13 percent of Black men reportedly voted for Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE and the Republican Party in 2016, 19 percent supported the president and his party in 2020.

Math may not be my strongest subject, but I do know what an increase looks like and, considering the candidate, his agenda and the things that have come along with his presidency, those numbers seem high to me.


That means we have some work to do — and it’s work that should start right now.

All those voices and talents we activated during the 2020 campaign cannot be set aside now that the campaign is over. We can’t let these Democratic supporters fall back to “business as usual.”

It means we must do unusual business. Keep meeting Black men where we are. We must keep going to community centers and barbershops, to gyms, to our places of worship, to college campuses, fraternity meetings and sporting events to reach out to them with our message. We have to keep talking about the broad brush strokes of health care, affordable housing, and how to close the racial wealth gap and school-to-prison pipeline.

But as we bring justice reform to the table, we also have to bring Black entrepreneurship to the forefront. Many of us want to hear plans to legalize cannabis, but we also need to know that those plans ensure that we won’t get locked out of the industry that locked up so many of us. 

We want to hear about family leave policies, but let’s talk about paternity leave as well as maternity leave. And when you talk about creating jobs, we’re waiting to hear how you’re going to close the skills gap for the long-term unemployed among us because — trust me — there are a lot among us.

We have to realize that when Washington analysts call us “low-propensity” voters, we hear “low-priority” — and that’s not nearly good enough. So, yes, we have some work to do. 

James Baldwin once said, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Well I love the Democratic Party and, exactly for this reason, I insist that we have work to do, that we must help hold our leaders accountable and, most importantly, make certain we give people a reason to believe.

I’m fired up. I’m ready to go. Let’s get to work.

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, and a CBS News political contributor. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.