Josh Barro: Dems' Silence on Ferguson Ignores Black Voters

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 10:33 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The "very strange" lack of a national Democratic response to the racially charged police shooting of an unarmed Missouri teenager ignores the black voters who are "a hugely important Democratic Party constituency," Josh Barro writes in The New York Times.

"[N]o national Democratic politician, nobody of the sort who is likely to mount a presidential run anytime soon, has risen to give voice to the anger we're seeing in Ferguson," Barro writes for TheUpshot. "Nobody seems eager to make police abuses or racial injustice a key issue in a national campaign, even though an awful lot of Democratic voters could be activated on those issues."

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had been vacationing in New York's Hamptons, has not publicly addressed the Ferguson case, nor has Vice President Joe Biden, who also was vacationing when the shooting occurred.

"There is something very strange about the national political reaction to the protests," Barro writes, adding that a Gallup poll shows 22 percent of self-identified Democrats are black.

Barro notes that Republican politicians "would be lining up to associate themselves with the protesters" if there was an equally important issue involving a big part of its base.
Part of the reason may be that Democrats have used "tough on crime" positions to build coalitions of white voters, and that Democrats haven't worried about black voters' unity on the issues, he says.

"Up until the last few months, there really hasn't been any serious competition for the black vote on a policy level," former Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith told Barro.

At a rally earlier this month about the killing, activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton said, "Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, don't get laryngitis on this issue."

"Nobody can go to the White House unless they stop by our house and talk about policing," Sharpton added.

But asked about the silence from prominent Democrats on Ferguson, Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis speculated that "maybe they felt that the nation should speak with maybe one voice, and that should be the president."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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