Biden and black voters: Who speaks for whom?

There is a difference between working in a political coalition for mutual benefit and subordinating oneself or one’s community to the exigencies of party electioneering. The Democrats may have worked to represent the interests of rural whites as they understood them (that certainly was the view from New Deal, Texas, for a generation) but as the character of the party changed in the postwar years, the Democrats began to discover that the people on whose behalf they presumed to speak were no longer listening to them and no longer interested in having Democrats presume to act as their self-appointed tribunes. Republicans, for their part, watched suburb after suburb after suburb slip away from them as affluent and educated professionals turned their backs on a party that seemed to them too white, too Southern, too rural, too Evangelical, too bumptious. (As a matter of cynical and ironic political calculation, the real problem with the Republicans’ bad reputation on race is not the black votes it has cost them but the white votes it has cost them.) The Republican Party once had a home in the cities and suburbs, and thrived in such places as Southern California, now considered a lost cause for the GOP.

Today’s Democrats believe that it is impossible for them to lose the black vote. Republicans once believed precisely the same thing.

It is unlikely that there will be any realignment in the near term: Republicans would have to ask, for one thing. The fact is that Republicans are perfectly capable of winning elections with very little black support, and if African Americans have to put up with being condescended to by such a cretin as Joe Biden in order to pursue their political interests, they are not entirely alone in that experience. And Biden would not be the presumptive Democratic nominee without black support. The forecast calls for inertia.