Across the nation, African Americans have exhibited continued displeasure and outrage against the tea party movement in America. From the Congressional Black Caucus to Jesse Jackson, and from talk radio to the average citizen, the tone is increasingly becoming more vitriolic. This rage is understandable, but the blame should be directed toward the African American community as a whole, since we are the main ones who gave the Congress to the tea party.
Although African Americans voted at record levels during the 2008 presidential race, we fell off dramatically during the midterm elections of 2010 and this inaction gave us our own NWA — the group America loves to hate, the tea party members of Congress. In 2010, preliminary national exit polling, the youth vote — 18-to-29-year-olds — that helped catapult President Obama into office comprised just 9 percent of voters this year, compared to 18 percent in 2008.
Specifically, African American voter turnout was significantly lower during the midterm election, as an estimated 10 percent of blacks are voting, compared to 13 percent in 2008.
When Obama became the first Democrat to win a majority since Jimmy Carter, he did so with the near-unanimous support of African Americans. Although he gathered 43 percent of white voters, approximately 96 percent of black voters supported Obama, which constituted 13 percent of the electorate, a 2-percentage point rise in their national turnout. It is possible that one factor was a reduction of African American women abstaining from the 2010 November midterm elections since historically they turn out at a higher rate than African American men.
To be fair, it was not only African Americans. Census data for the 2008 election show that African Americans, Hispanics and Asians recorded unprecedented shares of the presidential vote in 2008. Is it possible that minorities, in particular African Americans don’t feel enthusiastic when there is not an African American running for political office?
True, there are many factors that contributed to the rise of tea party activists getting elected to Congress, but certainly our failure to vote during the November midterm elections of 2010 is one of those factors. Our inaction may have resulted in the rise of nativism as proffered by the tea party currently. Yet we complain about the outcome and vilify the tea party and blame them more than we blame ourselves.