Wednesday, July 28, 2004

U.S.: Can anybody say 'knee-jerk'?

After our chat with Cummings, we headed out into the predominantly African American neighborhood to talk with folks about their impressions of the upcoming presidential election during this big week in Boston.

We chatted with about a dozen people informally and on camera. While that does not make for a scientific study, some of the opinions offered in our interviews were revealing and underscore some of the larger points of this campaign.

A few things grabbed our attention: The extremely high level of interest across the board in this election, unanimity that Iraq was the number one issue, pure, abject anger at President Bush and ambivalence for homeboy John Kerry.

Roxbury has long been the center of black life in Boston, and it's no surprise that all of the people we talked to here today said they planned on voting for Kerry. What was perhaps surprising is that none of them said they had ever seen Kerry campaigning in their neighborhoods or heard of him doing so, and that they had no special affinity for him.

This seemed to reflect the criticism from African American leaders that Kerry has done little to appeal to black, urban voters. The fact that black voters in his own state seem ho-hum about him in any other year might be a cause of alarm. But this is not a normal year, and the issue isn't so much whether blacks will vote for the Democrat, but whether they will come out in significant numbers at all.

"Kerry is the man," barber Louis Richardson, 42, told us, after launching into a long, angry tirade against Bush. Later in the conversation, however, he complained that Kerry's personality was "weak" compared to Bush's, and chided the candidate for never coming to Roxbury.
How is the black vote ever to mean anything when it's guaranteed to go to a candidate who has done nothing to earn it?

When will black people take the time to discover the facts of the issues and vote with their heads rather than their emotions and fears?

When will blacks come off the plantation? How much do they have to be ignored and dismissed before they start thinking? But, then, I forget; that is the whole point of the union-run education system. Create a few generations of ill-educated semi-literates who don't know how to think.

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