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Black folks’ harmful addiction to electoral politics

A. Peter Bailey

A. Peter Bailey

By A. Peter Bailey
Trice Edney Newswire

Way too many Black people in this country are addicted to electoral politics as the chief vehicle for achieving equal rights, justice and equal opportunity.

Those so afflicted would be wise to pay close attention to an observation made by educator Harold Cruse. In his book, “Plural but Equal,” Cruse wrote:

“In the game of electoral politics, (B)lack leadership has had no issues of political leverage, only numerical voting strength. However, this voting strength has never been predicated on a political power base grounded in tangible economic, administrative, cultural or social policy issues with the viability of forcefully influencing public policy. Hence, merely winning public office became the one and only tangible goal for political leaders.

“Beyond that, (B)lack office holders possessed only the pretense of being backed up by substantive political power bases representing issues that would impact on public policy. Thus, the continuing emphasis on the mobilization of (B)lack voting strength; thus, the ongoing campaign for (B)lack voter registration; thus, the empty threat that the maximization of (B)lack voting strength would somehow alter the course of American political history in race and minority group issues.

“However, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964-1965 promised no such grandiose affirmation of potential (B)lack political power. While the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did in fact speed up the mobilization of (B)lack voting strength, and opened the doors for unprecedented growth in numbers of (B)lack elected officials (BEOs), these BEOs were capitalized into office as symbols of (B)lack civil rights coming of age.

“But, with rare exceptions, they brought nothing with them into political office that bore the least resemblance to a (B)lack economic, political and cultural program that meant much to anybody, friend or foe, (B)lack or white, beyond the politically mundane business as usual stance of the liberal consensus. Following the 60s, (B)lack politicians were suggestive of military leaders whose armies were forever in training (voter registration) but were never readied for the participation in the field of battle for substantive goals worth fighting for.”

Anyone looking for practical solutions to achieving the results advocated by Professor Cruse must read and absorb chapters in books written by Claud Anderson (“Powernomics”) and Chancellor Williams (“The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race 4506 B.C TO 2000 A.D.” and the columns written by James Clingman published in numerous Black newspapers.

The chapters in Anderson’s book are ‘’The Key” to empowerment and “Practicing Group Economics.” In William’s book, the chapters are “Organizing a Race for Action” and “The shape of things to come: A master plan.” Reading and absorbing those chapters will begin the healing from the addiction to electoral politics.

A. Peter Bailey, whose most recent book is “Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher,” can be reached at

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