What if voter suppression impacts voting trends?

The second third one of my series of election post mortems. Still don’t know how long the series will be, but here’s more links:


[CW: white supremacy, prison-industrial complex, sexual assault]

I’m still wondering my way through the demographic trends among Presidential voters this year. Tonight, it’s the seeming paradox that more black men voted for Cheeto POTUS this year than in 2016—and this is after 4 years of overt white supremacy from the Oval Office.

It’s the kind of data point that I certainly found unexpected, in my bubble of Caucasian naivete. Taking the time to get myself a little more educated, I’ve found out that fewer Black men have been voting for the Democrats in every presidential election since 2008. The downward stair-steps go like this:

  • Obama 1: 95%
  • Obama 2: 87%
  • H. Clinton: 82%
  • Biden: 80%
Looking down a long concrete and cobblestone staircase between two rows of houses.
Down, down, down we go.

And that got me curious.

Let me be clear: I am not sitting here in my glass house throwing stones at these voters for doing anything wrong. As discussed on Sunday, there are so many ways that my own (white) people’s house is WAY more in disarray. Let’s look at the math again—even this “low-water mark” for support from Black men is literally twice the level of support Biden and the Democratic ticket had from white men.

Anyhow. Curiosity.

In my consultation with Professor Google, I haven’t yet found a holistic explanation for this phenomenon. One set of readings suggests that Cheeto’s braggadocio is seen as admirable by adherents of “honor culture.” Another suggests this phenomenon is a rational response to a 2-party system in which BOTH parties have “been either hostile or, more charitably stated, indifferent to [Black men’s] concerns.”

But I’ve been wondering if there’s another factor at play, too. Now, this is half-speculation, so take it with a whole shaker of salt. Still, here’s how I’m connecting the dots.

First, we all know that there are horrific racial disparities in mass incarceration and the US’s current “justice” system.* This disproportionate emphasis on watching, arresting and imprisoning Black men also means that a disproportionate percentage of Black men have been stripped of their right to vote.**

This is relatively uncontroversial reportage thus far. But here’s where I go out on the limb of speculation.

An older "grid" style prison cell block. Photographer did not cite which facility this is in.

What is the effect when this voter suppression is cross-walked against the ongoing rise of respectability politics? Remember Bill Cosby and the “Pound Cake Speech” in 2004 at an NAACP event?

In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. (clapping) In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye (laughing). And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had on and where you got it from. Parents don’t know that today.

(Remember when the main reason Bill Cosby was an asshole was because of this shite rather than his appalling career as a serial sexual assaulter?)

So given that a significant percentage of Black male voters has pulled out of the voting pool on account of mass incarceration, does that pave the way for the adherents of respectability politics to be statistically over-represented in voting numbers? And do these two increases—more mass incarceration + more respectability politics—also contribute to “more” (at least by percentage) Black men voting for Trump than did in 2016?

I know: it’s a radical concept, to wonder if voter suppression may actually have an impact on voting outcomes…..

Still something worth thinking about.


* See: The New Jim Crow; 13th.

** See: The Sentencing Project; Van Jones


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3 thoughts on “What if voter suppression impacts voting trends?

  1. Pingback: White women, do better – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

  2. Pingback: Let’s call a thing a thing – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

  3. Pingback: The unexamined majority – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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