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E-Letter To The New York Times Re: The Black Bloc

Your opinion editorial, "The Black Bloc" featured in the December 18, 2000 edition of The New York Times is excellent. And while I think its author, Mr. William Safire is a bit too dismissive of Black concerns about voting fraud and irregularities that may have occurred during the recent presidential election, he is 100% correct when he speaks of the manner in which Black leaders have compromised the Black electorate through their attachment to one of America's two major political parties.

Mr. Safire is correct to lobby for an all-out two-party competition for the Black vote - something that has not occurred since Blacks were granted the right to vote nation-wide.

While there are a great many reasons for Blacks to become and stay members of the Democratic Party, it is difficult to justify the 90% plus support currently being offered the Democratic Party by the Black Community. One could reasonably argue that anywhere from 40% to 70% support may be deserved, in proportion to the responsiveness the Democratic Party demonstrates toward the Black vote - in terms of the issues that they champion.

Perhaps the most brilliant part of Mr. Safire's comments are his articulation of how emotional appeals are used to persuade Blacks to pledge allegiance to the Democratic Party. This aspect of the relationship between Blacks and the Democratic Party has never been more clear than in the aftermath of the presidential election where Rev. Jesse Jackson and other Black leaders, instead of organizing Black people and challenging the Bush administration on a multi-issue agenda that deals with the critical issues like criminal justice reform; electoral reform and ballot access; poverty; health crises; education; the role of faith-based institutions in community development; reparations; and US foreign policy toward Africa; have decided to deny an outcome of an election that may not have occurred if electoral reform had been on the forefront of Black leadership's thinking this past year.

Ironically, while Black Democrats are masters at Get-Out-The Vote (GOTV) efforts, they are generally dismissive of electoral reform issues, largely because these issues are not championed by their political party, but instead by Independents and third political parties.

Now, Blacks are left with a civil rights movement that has been totally absorbed by a political party that keeps it in line through appointments, patronage and access to key power centers inside of America's political establishment. A careful examination of the rewards offered to Black leaders for their steadfast loyalty to the Democratic Party reveals that the suffering masses of Black people do not benefit from the crumbs and handouts offered at the negotiating table.

In light of the all-or-nothing gamble that Black leadership made juxtaposed to this presidential election, a realignment of loyalties is in order.

Black leadership, if it is responsible, will not rally Black bodies in an effort to "overthrow" an American President but rather will take this time to perform self-examination; self-analysis and self-correction.

Unjustified hopes in the Democratic Party must be unwound as well as unjustified fears in the Republican Party.

And Independent political parties and the agendas they represent must receive careful consideration.

Hopefully Black leaders will heed Mr. Safire's advice and bring the Black vote back into the political marketplace where it is available to all political parties - especially the Republican Party.


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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