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Hands that once picked cotton, just picked a President
By Roderick “Rod” Wright
Published February 4, 2021

Roderick Wright (file photo)

Every election has its firsts.  The 2020 presidential election was no different.  In 2016, we saw the first election where social media was viewed by voters’ more than traditional media.  Trump was head and shoulders better than Hilary on social media.  He continued to be a master of the medium, until he got kicked off.

Trump even more than Nixon and Reagan actually mobilized the dregs of America.  From the white nationalists and Nazis, to various cults with some of the most bizarre views.  He also practiced the old adage, “A lie is as good as the truth if you can get people to believe it.”  He lied more than any president in history, the Washington Post counted 30,000 lies or misstatements.

A big wrinkle in the 2020 election was the pandemic.  Not since the Spanish Flu of 1918 has there been such a major public health challenge.  Whether or not anything could have been done better will be debated for years.  What is not in dispute, is that the virus was the major factor in the 2020 election, particularly the Trump response or lack thereof.   Because of the pandemic, access to voting was changed to protect the voters.  Not only were there more days allowed for early voting there was a huge expansion in the use of vote-by-mail balloting.  This increased the voter turn-out to the highest levels in many years.

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This election also saw another first, this was the first presidential election that was actually decided by Black people, specifically Black women.  The majority of White people actually voted for Trump.  His popular vote, totaling over 74 million, was the second most in history.  However, urban Black voters were the deciding factor in the outcome.  This explains why White folks are so angry, they usually win.  Hell, even Obama received the majority of White votes.

Biden’s victories in three states that Hilary lost in 2016, made the difference; Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, with Georgia thrown in for good measure were the battle ground.  With the exception of Michigan, which had a margin of 3.8%, all the margins were razor thin; Wisconsin 1.3%, Pennsylvania 1.2%, and Georgia .2%.    Biden also picked up AZ and NV. However, the victory was made with those four states, and Black people.  It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, Biden received 306.  Michigan has 16 electoral votes, Wisconsin 10, Pennsylvania 20 and Georgia 16.  These four total 62 electoral votes.  Take them away and Biden only has 244, and Trump wins.   So clear was the Black vote against Trump, he tried to suppress the votes in those four states to no avail.  He even tried to undermine the post office!

Several events during the election were instrumental in the outcome.  The murders of George Floyd, Briana Taylor, and to a lesser degree Ahmaud Arbery, created a street movement, which increased Black voter turnout, in the face of voter suppression efforts.  They literally gave their lives to the political future of the country.  Trump’s racist response also created an incentive for more Black voters to show up, particularly young Black voters.  This also created a broad support base for the Black Lives Matter Movement, which up until this time, wasn’t a major political player.

In my view, the next critical event in the Biden victory was the endorsement of Congressman Jim Clyburn, (SC) in the South Carolina primary.  Before the Clyburn endorsement, the Biden campaign was stumbling badly.  It was Clyburn who said, Biden was the only democrat who could have beaten Trump;, he was absolutely right.  Biden won the rest of the primaries after that, closing it out on March 3, “Super Tuesday.”  Had the democrats nominated anyone else, Trump wins.

The next major event in the Biden victory came from LeBron James.  He initiated an effort in Los Angeles to make the Staples Center a polling place.  But he didn’t stop there, he prevailed on the NBA to make polling places out of stadiums in other NBA cities; particularly, Detroit, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta.   He went even further getting the NBA to support the Black Lives Matter movement.  By pushing to make arenas polling places and moving to make the NBA get involved with Black Lives Matter, he elevated Black voter participation by making it more convenient for people to vote.  Unlike Colin Kaepernick, LeBron first organized his Laker teammates and then the entire NBA Players Association before he stepped out front making him bulletproof. So I bet Fox News won’t say, “Shut up and dribble,” again!”  Reduce the turnout in those four cities, Trump wins.

The organizing efforts of Stacey Abrams in Georgia moved that state into the blue column.  While Hilary received a higher percentage of Black votes than Biden, he received more total votes.  The victory margin in GA was .2%.  Then to prove that November was no fluke, they won both of the January 5th US senate run-off elections, giving Biden control of both houses of congress, and taking the role of majority leader away from Mitch McConnell.  Without Abrams, Trump and McConnell win.

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Trump actually won 29 of the 51 states and districts that have electoral votes. If you take into account the pluralities of California and New York votes, the popular vote was almost a dead heat.

While the polls were predicting a blue wave, democrats actually lost seats in the house, four in California.  Thanks to Stacey Abrams and two independent senators, democrats achieved a tie in the senate.  The problem is that polls are guesses, not facts.  Elections are not horse races, no candidate is ahead or behind until the election is over and the votes are counted.  The reality is that there is no instrument or system that can accurately predict the outcome of an election.  Unfortunately, the media folks have become lazy in their coverage of elections.  Rather than discussing issues, they look at fundraising and polling data and make predictions which are often wrong.

Biden had to pull together various elements of the electorate. There were folks who hated Trump in both major parties and independents.  There were, progressives who really didn’t like Biden, but couldn’t stand Trump.  Most voters are moderates, neither progressive nor conservative.  Within the Democratic Party there are constant struggles between the various factions.  The left, “progressives” would have lost the election to Trump.  Without them, Biden would have lost to Trump.  We need each other to win.

Some pundits have looked at the results of some of the propositions as evidence that the country is more progressive.  I agree with Congressman Clyburn, “Defund the Police” actually cost congressional seats in some of the down ballot elections.  There’s an old saying in political circles, “Any Slogan that Requires an Explanation, is a Bad Slogan.”  In some cases the democratic candidates simply ran poor campaigns.  It was former speaker Tip O’Neill who coined the phrase “All Politics is Local.”  If a candidate fails to connect with the district, they usually lose.  While support for being tough-on-crime is waning, as it should, the murder rate in Los Angeles saw a twelve year high in 2020, stay tuned.

So from the first slave ships that brought Africans to this country in 1619, in 2020 their descendants picked the President.

Categories: Op-Ed | Opinion
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