Essay about The Black Vote: African Americans as an Interest Group

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The Black Vote: African Americans as an Interest Group

The African-American community is comprised of 34 million people, and makes up approximately 12.8 percent of the American population (Barker, Jones, Tate 1999: 3). As such, it is the largest minority group in the United States. Yet, politically, the black community has never been able to sufficiently capitalize on that status in order to receive the full benefits of life in America. Today, African-Americans, hold less than 2 percent of the total number of elected positions in this country (Tate, 1994: 3) and the number of members within the community that actually partake in voting continues to drop. In spite of these statistics, as of 1984, a telephone survey found that 70
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Once… elected, the group must develop a system to hold the candidates responsible to the group. (Barker, Jones, Tate 1999: 73)

In effect, they must capitalize on their ability to come together as an interest group and to create some form of accountability for whoever they support politically. Until recently, the black community has not been able to do so often or consistently, because of their minority status (due to lack of size they must rely on strategic voting and the black community hasn't always been ideally located to capitalize on that), and intense party loyalties.

The Black Vote Historically

Ever since Lincoln's emancipation proclamation, African-Americans had been Republican. The GOP was the party of Lincoln, the party that had given them the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The Republican Party supported blacks, whereas the Democrat Party was the party of the South, and the Southern, White plantation owner. To the black community, the Republican Party represented "the high-minded, idealistic, God-fearing people," whereas Democrats "dabbled in influence-peddling and vice" (Weiss 1983: 3). All blacks knew where to lay their loyalties -- with the party
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