Hard Truths for Hispanic and African-American Voters

"The largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States last year remained Hispanics at 52 million, or nearly 17 percent of the nation's population. The Black population was 43.9 million."

As the current largest minority voting bloc in America, it would behoove Hispanics to examine the facts of how African-Americans, the former largest minority voting bloc, are currently doing economically and socially after such a long history of support for the Democratic Party.

African-Americans have been major supporters of the Democratic Party since 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed under Democrat President Lyndon Johnson.  For almost six decades, the Democratic Party has averaged receiving an astounding 88 percent of the African-American vote.  That's an enormous investment by African-Americans in the Democratic Party.  

The information needed to assess the return on that investment can be easily found on the internet in research reports and economic data published by both independent sources and the federal government.  Because of the importance of this information, this article cites all of its sources and also provides web-links to verify other pertinent data (see link to fact sheet below).

Here is a list of current economic and social data for African-Americans.

  • African-Americans aged 18-34 have the lowest employment rate (54%) since the government started tracking in 1948.
  • Total African-American unemployment is 14.1%, while overall national unemployment now stands at 8.1%.
  • Two point five million African-Americans are currently looking for work but can't find a job.
  • "African-Americans make up a disproportionately large share of the unemployed and long-term unemployed. They account for roughly 19 percent of the total unemployed population, 23 percent of those unemployed for more than six months, and 26 percent of those unemployed for 99 or more weeks."
  • "The typical unemployment spell lasts roughly seven months (28.4 weeks) for an African-American worker, compared to less than five months (19.2 weeks) for all workers."
  • "African-Americans are more likely to be unemployed than the overall population across all levels of educational attainment. While the unemployment rate for African-Americans without a high school diploma was 21.7 percent last month, the overall unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma was 15.0 percent. Likewise, 6.6 percent of African-Americans with at least a bachelor's degree were unemployed, 50 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate for those with a 4-year college degree."
  • "The median income of African-American households was $32,068, a decline of 3.2 percent from 2009. The last decade has seen a significant erosion of income for African-American households; from 2000 to 2010, real median household income declined by 14.6 percent. Since 2007, African-American median household income has declined by 10.1 percent-the largest decline of all major racial and ethnic groups."
  • "In 2010, the poverty rate among African-Americans was 27.4 percent, up from 25.8 percent in 2009 and up from 24.5 percent at the start of the 2007-2009 recessions."
  • "10.7 million African-Americans lived in poverty in 2010, including 4.4 million children. Many of those in poverty were living in female-headed households. The poverty rate among African-Americans living in families headed by women was 41.0 percent in 2010."
  • In 2011, the poverty rate among African-Americans was 27.5 percent, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which uses a wider range of factors than the official federal measure to determine poverty status.

Despite these discouraging economic facts and trends regarding the African-American population in America, they continue to support the Democratic Party almost exclusively as a minority voting bloc -- voting 95% for Barack Obama in 2008 and supporting Democrat candidates by almost 90% in the 2010 elections.

Today, the Hispanic voting bloc's support for the Democratic Party continues to rise, with 67% of Hispanics voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and 60% supporting Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.  Recent polling data indicates that Hispanic support for President Obama and other Democratic Party candidates could be well above 60% this November.  

Understanding these facts, here are some important government statistics indicating where the Hispanic population currently stands economically and socially in America today:

  • Hispanic unemployment is 10.3%, based on last month's Bureau of Labor Statistics economic report.
  • Hispanic youth unemployment is an astounding 46.5%, well above the black youth rate of 38.9%.
  • Hispanic poverty rate is now 26.7%, closely catching up to the rate of 27.5% among blacks.

Unfortunately, this economic data indicates that Hispanic-Americans are on virtually the same social and economic path as African-Americans today.  And given the above dismal economic and social data for both African- and Hispanic-Americans, the question remains: why would the two largest minority voting blocs in America continue to overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party today, especially when research and studies show that personal and familial economic status is the single largest contributing factor to personal and familial quality of life?

The answer to this question is somewhat complicated, but it can best be summed up in one word: diversion.

Diversion is a highly successful political strategy used by the Democratic Party to continue to receive the majority of African-American support -- and it's the exact same strategy Democrats are using to attract and grow the support of Hispanics.

The Democratic Party uses civil rights issues and racism as a diversion to keep African-Americans from looking objectively at the truth of their poor and declining social and economic conditions.  Most recently this diversion was on full display when Democrat Vice President Joe Biden referenced the Romney/Ryan Republican presidential ticket at a mostly African-American political rally in South Carolina, saying, "They gawn' put y'all back in chains."  Such comments by Democrat leaders and their political surrogates, while not always that blatant, are certainly more frequent during an election cycle.  The comments are specifically intended to divert the African-American voters' attention away from the hard facts regarding their current personal economic conditions by implying that Republicans cannot be trusted when it comes to civil rights issues -- that Republicans basically constitute a racist political party.  

With Hispanics, the Democratic Party uses immigration rights, under the guise of civil rights and racism, as a diversion to keep Hispanics from objectively assessing the truth of their poor social and economic status.  That diversion was clearly on display during the Democratic National Convention in a speech by Democrat U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, when he said, "The obstruction of the Republican Party and Mitt Romney is not new," and "[e]very time we've expanded civil rights in America, someone tried to stop us."  By continuing to highlight immigration as a civil rights and racism issue, Democrats are successfully diverting Hispanic voters' attention away from the hard facts regarding their true economic conditions as a minority group by implying that Republican immigration policies are anti-civil rights and predominantly racist.

With regard to the Democratic Party continuing to use civil rights and race issues as a diversion for their political benefit, it's important for all minorities to understand the following facts: civil rights legislation was passed into law almost fifty years ago, and there are federal laws and numerous well-meaning organizations working today to help monitor and protect minorities from discrimination.  There are also federal immigration laws and millions of immigrants living in America who have fully complied with those laws to become naturalized United States citizens.  However, there are no laws preventing any legal United States citizen, naturalized or born here, from attending public school or college; utilizing all available public infrastructure and services; working hard to improve his economic status; taking risks to build his own business; speaking out to have his voice heard; belonging to any faith or attending the church of his choice; volunteering and donating funds to help his fellow citizens; getting involved as a public servant to better his community; enlisting in the armed forces to defend his freedom; pursuing life, liberty, and happiness; or even becoming president of the United States.  

The Democratic Party has successfully used the diversion strategy for its political benefit for many decades, but the facts suggest that this success has been at the expense of Democrats' most ardent supporters -- minorities.  So before Hispanics or African-Americans (or any minority group, for that matter) decide to continue to put the majority of their political eggs into the Democratic Party's basket, they need to ask themselves one very serious question: do the hard truths prove that the Democratic Party has been committed over the years to honestly leading minorities down the path of freedom in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness?

*Fact Sheet: Black History Month, Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, February 2012 & BLS News Release 9/7/2012

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