Jim Clyburn’s Secret Weapon

Republicans are poised for massive gains in the House, a potential takeover of the Senate, control of as many as 35 governorships and over 500 seats in state legislatures in less than three weeks. It appears a massive repudiation of Democrat governance by the American people is in the offing, and it shows up in virtually every polling model.

The Democrats need something unforeseen. But according to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), they’ve got it. Clyburn says the black vote is a “secret weapon” that will save his party.

“I really believe that that is what is going to be the secret weapon here,” said the South Carolina Democrat, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, on MSNBC. “That is the unknown to a lot of people.”

Democrats are planning millions of dollars in advertisements in key races in an attempt to drum up enthusiasm in black voters. Much of the material centers around Obama, who enjoys his highest approval ratings from the black community.

Clyburn brushed aside concerns about the polling data showing that black voters are discouraged, instead offering his view of an “engaged” electorate based off his experience in the field.

“I don’t believe that for a single moment, and when they tell me they’re only going to be 50 percent of what they were two years ago, I don’t believe that either,” he said. “The black vote is, in fact, significantly engaged.”

African-Americans still support President Obama with approval ratings hovering around 90 percent. The rest of the country has little use for him. But will that high approval, based as it is off identity politics and the pride in the first black president, translate into votes for, say, a Charlie Melancon, Steve Driehaus or Jim Moran? Will it help Obama’s party defeat the 38 black Republicans who are on ballots for high office across the country?

Will the black vote come out at 2008 levels in support of a Democrat Party which has produced a 16.1 percent unemployment rate in the black community? Will it turn out to re-elect Democrats who have produced a foreclosure rate among black homeowners putting some 11 percent of them in jeopardy of losing their homes, a number nearly double that of whites?

And what of the mentality Clyburn indicates by declaring the black vote a “secret weapon?” Does it not show the Democrats are guilty of taking African-Americans for granted?

If a white politician had treated black voters with such assumptions he would have a public-relations firestorm on his hands. Of course, Obama himself seems to be dismissive enough of the black community; apparently most of them don’t have the intellectual wherewithal to watch Meet The Press in his eyes.

Is this satisfactory to Black America, so be it. The old saying goes, you get what you tolerate. If slights like those put forth by Clyburn and Obama are acceptable treatment to continue getting large majorities of black votes, if virtually nothing Democrats do is too insulting or damaging to shake that community out of its blind adherence to that ticket, if they won’t hold their own leaders accountable for their actions and statements, what then?

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