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Posted at 1:43 PM ET, 12/30/2010

The shifting political views of African-Americans

By Katherine Tate
Guest Blogger

About this blog: For decades – from the 1950s through the 1970s – blacks were among the most liberal Americans, far more liberal than whites on most issues. But a shift began in the 1980s as African Americans moved toward the center. In her book, “What’s Going On? Political Incorporation and the Transformation of Black Public Opinion,” recently released by Georgetown University Press, Katherine Tate delves into the trend. She discovers that African Americans have continued to moderate their views, as they have become more affluent and have elected more blacks to political office. Here, Tate, a professor of political science and African American studies at the University of California at Irvine, describes how growing political clout has prompted African Americans to take on more mainstream views.

*************************

Political surveys of Americans from the 1970s to the 2000s find that blacks are less strongly liberal than they used to be. Fewer blacks today favor increasing government spending on welfare assistance programs.

A national survey of African Americans conducted in 1996 found that about 60 percent of blacks favored welfare reform, or limiting financial assistance to poor families for a maximum of five years. Also, fewer blacks today feel that the government should enact programs to assist blacks and other minorities. Blacks’ favorable opinion of government assistance for minorities and blacks, measured on a seven-point scale, slid from 6.1 in 1970 to 4.7 in 2004, according to the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies.

Thus, there is less support in the black community for a government-sponsored, targeted approach to racial inequality. Meanwhile, support for school vouchers has increased.

These are important transformations of black opinion, even as white opinions on these key measures have remained mostly stable. Most African Americans remain liberal, however, and continue to approve of affirmative action programs.

But the steady growth of black officials elected to national office is pushing black opinion to the center. The number of blacks serving in Congress will increase to 43 (including the non-voting D.C. delegate) as a result of the 2010 elections. The 112th Congress will have two new black Republicans serving in the House.

African Americans tend to look to the Democratic Party for policy leadership rather than to civil rights groups, as was historically the norm. The Democratic Party is not as radical as civil rights groups have been on issues blacks care about such as unemployment, poverty and educational opportunities. While radical blacks still believe inequality is rooted in institutional discrimination and favor race-oriented policy solutions, the Democratic Party supports a race-neutral, issue-oriented approach.

President Obama, whom some categorize as far left of center, will help continue this trend in black public opinion. The Democratic Party’s economic agenda is fairly moderate, backing tax cuts for middle class voters, which can come at the expense of assistance programs for the poor.

Thirteen black House members, or 34 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus, voted to adopt Obama’s tax compromise which extends the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, and adds billions to the federal deficit. The Congressional Black Caucus generally opposed the Bush tax cuts. Only David Scott, a black Democratic legislator from Georgia, supported them in 2003.

President Obama also supports the War on Terror and keeping troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, albeit with targeted withdrawal dates. Martin Luther King was an early opponent of the Vietnam War, and blacks were early critics of the Iraq War. Under President Obama, blacks are less critical.

Some of the changes taking place in African American politics are also generational. The generation of those who founded the Congressional Black Caucus, such as former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) and current Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), held idealistic visions of what government could do and ought to do to assist blacks. The younger set, including President Obama, appears more deeply pragmatic.

While the traditional left remains unhappy about the conservative aspects of American public policymaking, surveys show that African Americans are relatively glad. Twice as many blacks surveyed by the Pew Research Center a year after Obama’s election said they thought their situation had improved compared with those polled in a similar survey in 2007.

So President Obama probably won’t be challenged by African Americans on the left the way President Carter was in 1980. We probably won’t see a rainbow rebellion led by a black activist like the Rev. Jesse Jackson as a rebuke to the conservative Democratic Party leadership in 2012. Minority political incorporation is a two-sided process, allowing new groups positions of influence but critically transforming their politics as well.

By Katherine Tate  | December 30, 2010; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Guest Blogger  | Tags:  black political opinoin;  
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Comments

This is not surprizing and is good news although we are not there yet.

Equality is when no-one notices a difference based on color and the multiple other differences we share as Americans... when people are judged on their character and their actions!!!

Posted by: sally62 | December 30, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse


You're not going to find many blacks who are willing to make even one vote against the First Black President, except for maybe Jesse Jackson who nearly died from envy.

Posted by: lindalovejones | December 30, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

What I see (through my narrow magic ball) is that the increasing use of technology for gaining knowledge has assisted in developing opinions that go beyond feelings and emotions. Wow! For once all opinions are not viewed (or skewed) through the lens of a Democrat just under the age of 70, who always feels that s/he speaks FOR us!

Perhaps the responses also include voters who are tired of sending blacks to public office who only look out for themselves (and whine racism) when they're led off to prison for misconduct.

Posted by: MissV | December 30, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

to: lindalovejones I know PLENTY of blacks who did not and DEFINITELY will not vote for this "first Black President" so you don't speak for all.
Also, regarding the following from this blog: "African Americans remain liberal, however, and continue to approve of affirmative action programs." - AGAIN do NOT lump all Blacks together. There are many, many Conservative Blacks who do not believe that affirmative action is a necessity. Hard work is necessary, and that message needs to be sent to all those - black, white, purple, or green, - entitlement programs are NOT the answer. They just keep people at a certain level of "mainteance" in life. (And of course keeps those people voting for those politicians who try to keep the entitlements flowing.) Very Sad.
And finally we don't need hyphenated people in this country as in "African-American" We are Americans, different shades, but Americans.

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | December 30, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I question the "why" in our shifting political views. Are we really shifting because at our core, we believe these things true. Or do we shift as a means of ascending to power.

I believe that we shift because we believe that doing do will give us more access to power, make it more acceptable to "mainstream" and as mentioned, as our income levels rise, so does our politics shift.

Many of the things we long complained about under a Bush administration are now happening under this one. Yet, it goes barely noticed. This is not a pure ideological shift but rather s matter of convenience.

Posted by: dcis1 | December 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I just hate that we're all (African-Americans) thrown into one pot. The thing that gets me going is that the media will label a person as a "Black Leader" and I'm like WTF? Do they call John McCain a White Leader or Bill Clinton? For all it's faults, I'm an American first. The same issues that I face and am concerned with, there are Asian-American or Indian-American or white families concerned about the same thing. There are experiences that I go through that people from other races don't experience and vice versa, welcome to America. When it's all said and done, whatever your social or racial background is, the word after the hyphen is American.

I'm an registered Independent although I slant on social issues democratic, financial issues republican, and on family and private/personal issues conservative. I voted for our current president, probably won't for the 2nd term. I want my children and your children to have it better than we did, I want a clean environment, I wish our soldiers got better treatment back home after putting it all on the line over there, I wish more American companies employed more Americans. I wish more American companies would stop cutting jobs from Americans and giving them to foreigners. I wish the administration cared more for its people than it does for Wall Street and the Big Banks. I also wish people wouldn't assume the way I'd vote solely on the DNA God gave me. But keep doing it, I love the shocked reactions from the pollsters and pundits on the day after an election.

Posted by: clark202 | December 30, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Really? Blacks were pretty conservative and very religious in the 50's. That is until they embraced the liberal ideology which has nothing to do with civil rights. That was started with Eisenhower. Not liberals. Though history shows LBJ blocked it the first time.
The black community was much better off socially then, than now. Please, equal rights and protections are better. When the mantra shifts back to personal responsibility we will see that community really excel. But as long as they listen to Kate they are doomed. I am Hispanic and they are trying to do the same to my community. Dumb us down. We can't function with out them liberals you know.

Posted by: joeortega4 | December 30, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I will NEVER vote with the GOP, NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: sshipman1 | December 30, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Blacks will never, ever, EVER give up the benefits of affirmative action, "disparate impact" lawsuits and the Religion of Diversity that preaches white people are intrinsically bad and non-white people are intrinsically good.

Never.

Ever.

Posted by: pmendez | December 30, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I will NEVER vote with the GOP, NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: sshipman1 | December 30, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Very good article.

As a Black Moderate, my political and social views do align with many of the points in this article.

However, I do believe that as long as structural bigotry/racism continues to exists in certain parts of the country, i.e., education system, employment, and also in certain Private industries, such as the Banking and Financial systems affirmative action or quotas are still needed.

It's one thing to want to be a better citizen and another of being stopped, before you can even open the door and walk in.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Very good article.

As a Black Moderate, my political and social views do align with many of the points in this article.

However, I do believe that as long as structural bigotry/racism continues to exists in certain parts of the country, i.e., education system, employment, and also in certain Private industries, such as the Banking and Financial systems affirmative action or quotas are still needed.

It's one thing to want to be a better citizen and another of being stopped, before you can even open the door and walk in.

Just sayin'...

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@ReneesOpinion:

If you know PLENTY of blacks who did not vote for Obama, perhaps you know ALL of them, since 95% of blacks voted for Obama in 2008.

Source: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/exit-polls.html

(Of the 5% who did vote for McCain, I wonder how many screwed up & checked the wrong box by mistake?)

Posted by: pmendez | December 30, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

As a young demcorat independent black woman, i believe my view are much different than my parents and grandparents point of view. But i know that all three generatons can agree that we want a better America for everyone and not for just one race. Not all balck people have the same views, but we share the same struggles that both whites, hispanics asia and any other ethic groups strruggle with. everyone wants to have a better economy equal rights better healthcare schools and other social issues that people have debate. The only way we are ever going to get that is if we work together and tried to make our country better place for future generations who comes after us because that the only way we can get our country moving in the right direction.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | December 30, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@lcarter0311:

"However, I do believe that as long as structural bigotry/racism continues to exists in certain parts of the country, i.e., education system..."

*********************

Ah, yes! That mysterious, invisible, evil force known as "structural racism" in education that keeps black students underperforming compared to white students, asian students, latino students and Jewish students!

Never mind that for 40 years we've thrown billions of dollars at the problem. Never mind that for 40 years educators have been incentivized to close the gap. Never mind that it doesn't matter whether the school is rich or poor, urban or suburban or rural, Northern or Southern, majority white students or majority black students, majority white teachers or majority black teachers. Never mind that today's students are at least 3 generations removed from segregation. Never mind that Asian students are minorities too, yet perform BETTER than white students.

The performance gap is STILL the same as it was when the government first started measuring achievement by race in 1973.

Maybe that's why it's called "structural racism" -- because some evil force has seeped into the school buildings themselves to make black students consistently perform poorly.

Posted by: pmendez | December 30, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Finally, some good news. The black population is finally realizing that the Democratic party doesn't try to earn their vote, but merely expects it. Glad to see a hope of change here.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 30, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

@lcarter0311:

"However, I do believe that as long as structural bigotry/racism continues to exists in certain parts of the country, i.e., education system..."

*********************

Ah, yes! That mysterious, invisible, evil force known as "structural racism" in education that keeps black students underperforming compared to white students, asian students, latino students and Jewish students!

Never mind that for 40 years we've thrown billions of dollars at the problem. Never mind that for 40 years educators have been incentivized to close the gap. Never mind that it doesn't matter whether the school is rich or poor, urban or suburban or rural, Northern or Southern, majority white students or majority black students, majority white teachers or majority black teachers. Never mind that today's students are at least 3 generations removed from segregation. Never mind that Asian students are minorities too, yet perform BETTER than white students.

The performance gap is STILL the same as it was when the government first started measuring achievement by race in 1973.

Maybe that's why it's called "structural racism" -- because some evil force has seeped into the school buildings themselves to make black students consistently perform poorly.

Posted by: pmendez |

~~~

@pmendez

Unless you're Black, or have been black all of your life, you would NOT know structural racism, if it jumped up and slapped you in the face a couple of times, my dear.

Until you have walked in a few black people's shoes, then just maybe, and only then will I be able to take your snide little comments a little bit more serious. Until then, keep them to yourself, at least when communicating to me.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | December 30, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

As a young black woman, i think this country still have a long way to go and it not just about anymo0re, it's about all races and ethics groups because every social issues evolve everyone and their point of view and how we going to move this country.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | December 30, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: tshoes38 | December 30, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

As a 50+ Black-American male, the article is very well written. Actually, Blacks have never been monolithic. Like every group, we vote "our interests; it that simple. For you who state tht prejudices and racism doesn't exist, you're in denial! As a 4th generational Southerner, who have graduate degrees, believe me...there is "systemic racism"; however, this should never become an excuse for minorities to try to improve our lot.
To pmendez, I'm truly amazed with your statement. If I surmise, during my teen years (1970's), hispanics (assuming you are) were considered "white"; as a matter of fact, and more often than not, many Hispanics often reminded Blacks of that fact! Yes, things have changed with the onsent of affirmative action..but rest assure, America has not jet achieved equality!

Posted by: poder8952 | December 30, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

when obama legalizes the status of the illegal alien, latinos will double in number and once their children come to America and become citizens, they will be the majority, followed by whites, then by blacks...
many of the cbc will be replaced by the congressional latino caucas because larinos vote their own once they have the numbers...
will obama still have the support of the blacks then...
we shall see...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 31, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

KTate: Political surveys of Americans from the 1970s to the 2000s find that blacks are less strongly liberal than they used to be.

JL: That's because the democratic party has largely been in favor of legislation to fight "racial" exclusion from opportunities, i.e. higher education, employment, etc.


KTate: Most African Americans remain liberal, however, and continue to approve of affirmative action programs.

JL: Did you know that "White women are the largest beneficiaries of affirmative action programs?!"

And who else benefits from White women's access to better employment?!
Their White husbands, sons, grandsons, etc.
So White men benefit more than Blacks, too.
Yet, when AA is discussed in the media...this information is concealed.

READ the legislation.
It clearly conveys that "AA was implemented to address problems encountered by women and minorities. And the women are "White women."

KTate: While radical blacks still believe inequality is rooted in institutional discrimination and favor race-oriented policy solutions,

JL: Most Blacks, Asians, Latinos, do too.
Two, the term "radical" as applied to Blacks and anyone else (including Whites, and Asian-/Latino-/ & "Native"-American liberals fighting against the ISMS) is a misnomer.

The so-called "radicals" have always fought for the extension of constitutional rights to EVERYONE.

Hence, the true "radicals"...are the racists, the sexists, and anyone else who endeavors to EXCLUDE certain groups from being able to access and utilize the full rights of citizenship.

They are "radicals"...because their actions and beliefs...are contradictory to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, for example, the Black Panthers were true patriots...while White supremacist organizations and other discriminators....are radicals.

KTate: the Democratic Party supports a race-neutral, issue-oriented approach.

JL: "Race-neutral" policies....maintain and perpetuate the results of historical discrimination.

For example, if Whites have $1 million and Blacks have $1, the implementation of "race"-neutral policies mean....that Whites get $1 and Blacks get $1.

So.....Whites now have $1,000,000,001 and Blacks have $2.
Where's the equality?!
Past injustices are maintained with "race"-neutral policies.

As a group, we'd NEVER catch up with the implementation of "race"-neutral policies.

There's nothing "radical" about that.
Just common sense...and an out-of-the-box way of thinking about the problem.

Some of the ways to address the problem, might be 1) free higher education for a specified number of decades, 2) no or "significantly reduced" taxes for a specified number of decades, etc.

If anyone squanders these opportunities, then that's her/his own fault.
However, some type of program that educates "people on how to take advantage of such legislation" should be mandated.

And by the way, according to the APA manual (the Bible of publishing), the term "Black" should be capitalized, as with "White," too.

Posted by: JohnLindsay1 | December 31, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Racism is inculcated in the article.
For instance at time where African American unemployment exceeds 20%, there is no mention of jobs,employment, African American Business development, or contracting opportunities.

Instead we get the WELFARE line right up front. As if that has been the African American holy grail.

"Political surveys of Americans from the 1970s to the 2000s find that blacks are less strongly liberal than they used to be. Fewer blacks today favor increasing government spending on welfare assistance programs."

Oh golly gee.

Well this strongly liberal Black person favors programs that create jobs for American citizens. One of the programs helped 250,000 people leave public assistance and obtain jobs last year.
Republicans blocked renewing the program.
Republicans also opposed SB 3816 the Create Americans Jobs stop offshoring Act.
This would have an elimated the tax incentives corporations receieve when they export jobs. American corporations created more jobs overseas last year than they did in their own country.

FDR created 4 million jobs in one month when he signed Federal Emergency Relief Act, into law by executive order. President Obama needs to do the same.
Support this and you will see far fewer Americans on welfare or unemployment.


Then we get the silliness of capitalizing
when referring to African Americans but not blacks. Same group of people. Imagine reading article about Mexican Americans
and latinos, Native Americans and indians.

I like this line.

While radical blacks still believe inequality is rooted in institutional discrimination and favor race-oriented policy solutions, the Democratic Party supports a race-neutral, issue-oriented approach.

"Radical blacks", is that like the so called "Radical Republican" Congressmen of the 1800's that started a party opposed to slavery?

See if you are against injustice toward women, gays, whites, Hispanics, Jews, etc. It's o.k. but against injustice toward Black people then you're radical.

"still believe inequality is rooted in institutional discrimination"

When did institutional discrimination from hiring practices, to contracting, to racial disparities in prison sentencing end?

"the Democratic Party supports a race-neutral, issue-oriented approach."

That's code for get to the back of the bus,
behind the concerns of women, gays, Whites, Hispanics,Jews, Wall streeters, etc.

Just be happy you have an African American President.

"the Democratic Party supports a race-neutral, issue-oriented approach."

Meanwhile,
What about the Republican party, right
wing talk show host, and bloggers, are they race neutral?

See if Democrats remain silent while right wing commentators provoke racial hatred, then Democrats will lose more seats in the next election. Recommended reading Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN by John Atlas.

Posted by: uniteusnow | January 4, 2011 5:50 AM | Report abuse

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