Monday, January 5, 2009

Nate Silver Of FiveThirtyEight.Com Takes On The Question - Why Are There No Black Senators?

Nate Silver makes an interesting argument here , but in typical nerd boy fashion is a bit light on the socio-cultural analysis. Silver seems to assume that all black candidates for office are running as Democrats and that is a limitation to his argument. He raises an excellent point that maybe black politicians have not developed a message that will sell to whites in order for them to vote for a black candidate, but what about black Republicans that run for office? Their first audience is clearly white folks, why can't they get elected either?

And I'm not buying the excuse that white folks voted for a black president, so racism isn't really that big of deal when considering the lack of black senators. That bull. Obama got elected in one of the most unique moments in American history. If the economy was not tanking and if McCain had not ran such a lousy campaign, Obama easily could be sitting in his senate seat right now. Also, I don't think its a great idea to mix the presidential race with senate races, these are two different things, requiring different things to get elected.

Senators represent their state and a lot of folks consider that when voting. White folks clearly like their senators to look like them regardless of their politics. When you take a look at some of the white folks that have become Senators or House Represenatives, I have to wonder why a black candidate would not have been more appealing. Al Franken can get elected senator, but a black person can't? Remember Michele Bachman got re-elected and she's crazy as hell. So, I respect Silver's number crunching, but I think the issue is more complex that the argument he presented.

4 comments:

Divalocity January 5, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

That's a question that I've been pondering myself. Why are there no Black Senators???
On another note, have you noticed that there has not been one whimper about Jesse Junior??? The medias campaign to discredit him and also his own bit of desperation proved politically fatal for him. He took the medias bait and fell for it. Can he redeem himself? That remains to be seen.

In many southern voting districts we've had quite a few running for the senate and who were both Republican and Democratic candidates, who even had the message their voters wanted to hear. The sad part is that they just didn't get any support from their states political party's nor from from the black or white voters.

Most voting districts are carved up where they actually can dilute the vote to elect a Black person to the senate.

On another note, William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson lost to one of the first Americans elected to congress of Vietnamese descent, Anh "Joseph" Cao(R). Cao has been sworn in as a member of the 111th Congress.

There could be another clash in the offing about who should be able to join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Cao has even expressed a desire to join the CBC, his reasoning being that is he represents a minority district, which to me shows that he may actually have the well being of his constituents in mind.

I want to hear about their opinion of this. He might be able to do great things to help NOLA.

Thought January 5, 2009 at 10:05 PM  

I think its a little simpler than that. I remember when Obama won Iowa, I heard Jessie Jackson Jr. speaking about an argument he had with his dad about how Obama was campaigning. Jessie Sr. wanted Obama to give a civil rigts speech in Iowa - reminding them of the importance of civil rights. Jessie Jr disagreed, saying that people in Iowa don't want to hear about civil rights; people in Iowa want to hear that you care about farming and things that are going on in Iowa.

This has been a problem I've seen with a few of the Black politicians I've studied. Many of them are based in large cities like DC, NY, Chicago, LA, etc and so they can run for and win citywide offices or seats as a rep, but when it comes to running for statewide offices, their messages do not seem to contain enough substance that relates to people outside of the big cities.

I think that keeps it in a position where they get to these plateau's like mayor or representative and stop seeking higher levels, and only leave office when they are beat out by another candidate who appeals to that same base.

What surprised me about Obama is that he was a state senator before he was a senator. I don't know how many Blacks hold those offices across the nation, but I wonder if that made the leap easier for him than what Jesse Jr is trying to do in jumping from the house to the senate?

Tabatha Atwood January 5, 2009 at 10:08 PM  

"The sad part is that they just didn't get any support from their states political party's "

that's it- the state and national parties are not open to anyone that is not already part of their group-
that is why the old system of local political clubs - with real neighborhood people that got a say in what issues to run and who to run them with was more democratic than this top down mess that we have had after the -get rid of patronage and cronynism campaigns of the seventies-

Christopher Chambers January 5, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

Ed Brooke was OK. Was cool. Quiet. Got things done. He's not a great model, but not a bad one.
Carol Moseley Braun was a diva and a crook. Hal Ford, Jr. is a clown.

Accordingly, there just are any good candidates coming forward. White candidates--this being America--can be as ignorant as doorknobs, of course. But that doesn't let our poor showings off the hook. So what's up? Too many ex preachers & community hucksters and other assorted wankers in looney state legislatures for one. So the training ground is a little whack, especially--sorry Auntie--in the south, the midwest. The best chance is in the east, mid-atlantic, or cali.

maybe the model should shift to an Obama or Derval Patrick type. Or a Donna Edwards here in Maryland. A shiny penny of a candidate as a start. Sad but true.

Other than that, I really can't explain it. Someone please help me out here...

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