Summing Up on African-American Leadership

Tom Grayman is a pollster, publisher of the Intelligence Squad website, and author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks.

I want to thank Matt Stoller for inviting me to write on African-American politics here at MYDD over the past week. If had to sum up the ideas I tried to lay out during this time it would go like this:

1) The natural enthusiasm black voters have for Democrats softens when those Democrats appear to ignore the needs or concerns of those voters, even when doing so may theoretically be in the interests of the greater good.

For example, Democrats (even black Democrats) who vote to allow a war that drains the US treasury while providing nothing in the way of tangible benefits to the US -- or even moral benefits -- and who don't make any moves to end the US's involvement in said war lose significant cool points with black voters, dampening excitement and election day turnout for that Democrat. The possibility of winning enough seats in Congress to lead investigations -- and even an impeachment -- against a horror like George W. Bush is NOT enough of an incentive to overcome that loss of excitement. The possibility of winning enough seats in Congress to set the legislative agenda is NOT enough of an incentive to overcome that loss of excitement if it means that agenda would then be set by people who showed such questionable judgement in the first place.

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Vouchers and the "New" Black Leadership

Tom Grayman is a pollster, publisher of The Intelligence Squad website, and author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks.

An article in yesterday's New York Times tells of how school vouchers are a hot-button issue in the Newark, NJ mayoral race. Cory Booker, part of so-called "new" wave of black leadership is for them, while his chief opponent, Deputy Mayor and "old guard" candidate Ronald Rice, is against them.

Vouchers may be the policy issue generating the greatest schism within the black community today. Polls show something like 60% of blacks support private school vouchers in theory, though that support drops to a minority when respondents are forced to consider the ramifications (typically a decrease in public school funding)of a private school voucher program. Blacks living in districts in which the public schools underperform see such vouchers as a chance at an escape for their children. Others, particularly those without school-age children see them as an attack on public schools.

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Thoughts on Barack Obama

Tom Grayman is a pollster, publisher of The Intelligence Squad website, and author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks

I don't think Barack Obama is great.

Neither do I consider him a disappointment.

But I do think that much too much attention has been paid to, and too many expectations have been placed on the shoulders of, Senator Obama.

Before he set foot in the the Senate chamber, he was celebrated as the next political superstar, based entirely on the strength of his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

That was a mistake.

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"New" African-American Leadership, Part 2

Tom Grayman is a pollster, publisher of The Intelligence Squad website, and author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks.

Harold Ford (D-TN) is a source of endless frustration for me.

The man rated one of the least loyal Democrats by Chris Bowers, and given a grade of "D" by the producers of the Congressional Black Caucus Monitor is now looking to raise his profile with a run for the US Senate.

I attended the University of Pennsylvania at the same time as Mr. Ford (I was a couple of years ahead of him). From his column on the op-ed pages of the student newspaper to his election to Congress at age 26, to his upstart run for the Democratic Minority Leadership position, he's been positioning himself to be power player from jump.

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"New" African-American Leadership

Tom Grayman is a pollster, the publisher of the political website The Intelligence Squad, and is author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks.

It seems that every couple of years there are a spate of articles in the world of political journalism -- particularly mainstream political journalism -- declaring a wave of "new" black leaders, or a "next generation" of black leaders.

These stories typically go on to profile a collection of recently-elected or aspiring would-be elected officials who are either Republicans or relatively centrist Democrats -- hence the "new"-ness.

Current icons of the moment include Barack Obama and Harold Ford (both of whom I'll get to in later posts), state-wide candidates like Michael Steele and Lynn Swann, and Newark mayoral candidate Corey Booker.

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An African-American View on the Immigration Debate

Over the next few months we're going to try and bring in guest-bloggers that talk about areas of politics we know little about. Tom will be guest-posting at MyDD for a week or so on African-American politics. Here's his bio: Tom Grayman is a pollster, the publisher of the political website The Intelligence Squad, and is author of the book Ghosts of Florida: Making Elections Fair for Blacks.

So the GOP has decided to drop the felonization of undocumented immigrants from its immigration reform idea stew. I take that as a sign of two things:

1. The GOP is in disarray.
2. Taking to the streets can still make a difference.

If only African-Americans still believed in the power of protest to the same extent (I'll address that matter in another post).

What I'd like to do here and now is not so much discuss the GOP's retreat, as to bring an African-American perspective into the broader immigration debate.

Research has strongly suggested that African-Americans - specifically the too-large class of under-skilled African-Americans - suffer from illegal immigration to a highly disproportionate degree. If one of the biggest problems with illegal immigration is that it lowers wages for unskilled work - and even skilled labor - to a level below what the American standard of living requires, it should be blacks (as well as Puerto Ricans and Latino permanent US residents) who are crying out the loudest against illegal immigrants.

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Diaries

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