Party Loyal for What?
“May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either the Republican or the Democratic Parties.”
— W.E.B. DuBois 1922
If you look at US History as it pertains to the Black vote, you will find it tied to the power struggle of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Black vote has been used to shift the balance of power between the two parties. Both parties have historically made promises to the Black community for favor but never fully delivered. The Democratic Party was founded in the late 1820s by supporters of Andrew Jackson and became the political party of many mega-rich plantation owners with large slave populations. They supported limited government and state sovereignty. On the other hand, the Republican Party, often referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP), was founded in the mid-1850s by opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Many were Northeasterners against the expansion of slavery, wanted economic reform, and supported liberalism. The 3/5 Compromise passed in 1787 had a significant impact on shaping the political landscape of the United States until Reconstruction in 1867. It allowed for increased taxation and House of Representatives representation in pro-slavery states, giving a disproportionate influence on the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and other positions of power. So to gain power, the Republican party attacked the institution of slavery to give themselves more power, eliminating the economic engine of slavery tips the balance of power in their favor, which was the primary motivation in the Emancipation Proclamation. There was no real plan for Black people after emancipation. Lincoln hoped to create a relocation program that died when he was assassinated. However, many Black people sought inclusion with their newly found freedom and sought political offices. Following emancipation, most Black Congressional elected officials were realized during the Reconstruction Era, only to be terrorized out of office by white Democrats with no repercussions. Republican officials grew tired of fighting for Black people and began to see it as a burden but promised the Black community because they needed the votes. As a result, the Black community was rewarded with political appointments that diminished in number by the early 1900s. Then in 1906, Teddy Roosevelt caused a rift between the Black community and the Republican party with his handling of the 25th Infantry Regiment of the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Brown near Brownsville, Texas when he dishonorably discharged 167 Black troops without pension or trial for a racially charged incident. As a result of the broken promises of the Republican party to the Black community, in 1913, many Black leaders supported Democrat Woodrow Wilson for President. This started a shift in party loyalty and party ideologies. This shift was furthered with the social liberal policies of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, causing the conservatives within the party to move towards the Republican party. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, the core bases of the two parties shifted, with the Southern states becoming more reliably Republican in presidential politics and the Northeastern states becoming more reliably Democratic. It has been that way ever since. This election felt historically familiar as Democratic officials grew tired of fighting for Black people and began to treat it like a burden. Failed promises to the Black community are evident, and they stood on the Black vote because it was needed for victory. We need to realize our position in this power struggle and leverage our vote to whichever party can deliver on the needs of the collective Black community. Party loyalty is not an option. Black liberation is—and as long as we are loyal, they can postpone liberation. As long as our vote isn’t taken for granted and is the deliverable that shifts their power, we shall see noticeable changes quickly.