The September 11th Coalition and the Black Vote
Gov Howard Dean a few weeks ago made news with his thoughtful comments about America's racial problems:
“You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room?,” Dean asked to laughter. “Only if they had the hotel staff in here.”
Of course, if either Gen Powell or Condi Rice had entered the room that would have been one more black cabinet member than Gov Dean appointed to his cabinet in his entire tenure in Vermont.
The contrast between W and Dean points out the shift that is going on as part of the realignment of 2004: the current generation of Democratic leaders--such as Dean and Kerry--don't really care about African American problems and it shows: their emotions are invested in the war, the environment, abortion and gay rights...the problems of urban America don't make the top ten items on their list. This is not to say that they're anti-black; it's simply to say that their priorities and passions are elsewhere.
And herein lies the GOP opportunity. Numerous black pastors are deeply worried about the future of the African-American family. With illegitimacy rates in the black community running around 66%, the crisis of the black family and the Democratic party rhetoric about alternate lifestyles are diametrically opposed. The key here is whether the GOP can shed its generation-long failure to establish ties to the black community. The current evidence is that it can: The New York Times, often the last to pick up on these things, covers the story.