Old habits die hard. As most folks know, that old axiom is painfully true. How many times have you tried to change a thought, a behavior, or a routine of some kind and found out that unless you really focus on it and work at it, you just keep doing the same old things over and over? I suspect everybody over the age of twenty-one knows exactly what I’m talking about. We want to change, but there are plenty of us who keep on doing things we’d rather not do, even when we realize that certain habits can be counterproductive or even destructive. The apostle Paul certainly understood this problem:
‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
For more than seventy years, the Democratic Party has been the party of choice in the African American community. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, enacted by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration, galvanized millions of black voters into an engaged and outspoken community of socially and politically active citizens, and the party was there to welcome us aboard.
Johnson’s deeper motivations, his vulgarity, and his racist attitude were generally overlooked because our people had finally achieved a measure of recognition for the abuses and indignities we had endured for so long. We now had strong legislation on our side, and we believed we were standing at the threshold of a social and political revolution.
Suddenly, our voices and our values mattered. Democratic politicians were eager to gain our trust, and they came by the dozens. White candidates knew almost nothing about our community, but they pledged undying devotion and promised us the moon. Even though African Americans made up fewer than 13 percent of the population and a much lower percentage of the voting public, our votes mattered. Our votes could determine the outcome of a close election—and they still can. So the die was cast; before long, the whole world knew that African Americans would cast their votes for anybody with a “D” after their name, without really thinking about what that person really stood for, or had ever done for the black community.
Before long, pulling the Democrat lever on Election Day was an ingrained habit. Anyone who dared to question the loyalty or truthfulness of the Democratic candidates or, heaven forbid, actually vote for a Republican, was suddenly an outcast…or worse. We had learned the importance of a unified voice in the presidential elections of the 1950s, along with the risks of betting on unpopular candidates. In 1952, 76 percent of the black vote went for the Democratic candidate, Adlai Stevenson. In the rematch four years later, Stevenson got 61 percent of the black vote. In both cases, Stevenson lost to the popular war hero and Republican rival, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Even with those large percentages, there were simply too few black votes to affect the outcome.
Today’s black voters are paying attention to what the candidates are saying—and they’re not satisfied with what they’re being offered by the party of record. This shows up most notably in the discoveries of three of America’s leading pollsters. Apparently Kanye West, Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight, Mike Tyson, Isaiah Washington, Kid Rock, Stacey Dash, Terrell Owens, Dennis Rodman, and other celebrities aren’t the only ones on the Trump bandwagon anymore. The polls show that President Trump is gaining the support of black voters above what any Republican president has ever received.
Why? In addition to a strong economy and historically low black unemployment prior to the fallout from COVID-19, Trump has supported minority small businesses, historically black colleges and universities, and passage of criminal justice reform. Additionally, troubling signs of the nation’s moral and spiritual decline have led many African Americans to reconsider their options.
As I have been saying for more than two decades, the moral values of black Christians are no longer compatible with the policies and practices of the Democratic Party, which prefers secularism over our traditional Christian faith. In August 2019, the Democratic National Committee unanimously passed a resolution that embraced religiously unaffiliated voters, proclaiming that 70 percent of such people vote for Democrats and share their values, such as supporting same-sex marriage. What a damning statement.
Rightfully, no greater issue separates black Americans from the questionable faith and values of the Democratic Party than the issue of abortion, which is a national tragedy. Of the more than 63 million infants who have been aborted since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, more than 19 million were the children of African American parents. Today, the abortion rate among blacks is more than three times higher than that of whites. To illustrate just how false the cry for reproductive freedom has been, abortion deaths today far exceed those from cancer, violent crime, heart disease, AIDS, and accidents.
All these factors, taken together, paint a very somber picture and argue for a much deeper level of thought, prayer, and dialogue than we have pursued in the past. They present a formidable challenge to the black church and an even greater challenge to the black community as a whole. What better motivation could we have to change our old allegiances and lift up the banner of a new and imminently worthy cause?
It’s time for African Americans to stand up and speak up for what we truly believe to be true. The black church today is the truest expression of what Christ called His church to be, and this is our hour to proclaim our faith in our homes, in the street, and especially at the polls.
Unfortunately, black activism alone cannot transform the nation quickly enough to avert further traumatic damage to our culture. Blacks must link hands with Hispanics, Asians, and next generation whites to redefine our destination.
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love Harry R. Jackson, Jr.’s book A Manifesto!