There are two groups in this country that account for about 25 percent of the populace caught between the arrogance of the Democrat party and the ignorance of Republicans. They will, however, for the foreseeable future be the battleground over which our two political parties will fight.
Many of you would say, "the war is over, and the Democrats have won." In the last presidential election, President Barack Obama captured 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 93 percent of African-American votes. Also, minority turnout increased by 20 percent in 2008, and in 2012 black American turnout outperformed whites. But there is a profound disconnect between the aspirations and beliefs of these constituencies and their partisan voting record. Let's look at the Hispanic community first.
The president promised comprehensive immigration reform back in 2008. Then he promptly turned his back on this group for the next six years. Even today he has only cobbled together a short-term, temporary reprieve because he was unable to work with Congress to deliver anything more meaningful.
The Democrat party also has major conflicts with Latino beliefs on social issues. Fifty-three percent of this highly Catholic group is pro-life vs. only 32 percent of Democrats. The Democrat platform actually calls for abortion on demand and has all but eliminated God from its content.
Unemployment is another top concern amongst Latinos, and here again, the Democrats and Obama have disappointed. In the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic unemployment continues to stubbornly stay more than two points higher than white unemployment.
And, the top issue in the Hispanic community is education. In this area, the Democratic party offers public schools or nothing. They seem to want "choice" in only one area but coercion in education, health care and even energy. Whether it is charter schools or vouchers, what Latinos need in education is "choice."
Obama and the Democratic party have also disappointed the black community. The African-American unemployment rate is still in the double digits, and more than twice that of whites. For young Blacks, ages 20 to 24, unemployment is absolutely demoralizing at just under 20 percent.
Blacks also understand the connection between education and success. They are similar to the Hispanics in this area. Many feel their young people are trapped in subpar schools and thus don't have the same opportunity as whites and Asians. Deep down, they want the "choice" to send their children to good schools that will allow them to compete in the job markets of the future.
African-Americans also have a very different take on the issue of same-sex marriage than the Democratic party. A Pew Research Study done in 2013 showed only 40 percent of blacks support gay marriage while 73 percent of liberals do.
Finally, one of the biggest hopes of black America was that Obama would heal the racial divide in this country. In 2014 we have a black president and attorney general and 45 members of Congress (8.3 percent of membership) vs. just six black congressmen in 1965. We have made great progress, but it seems in the wake of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York, our racial divide has never been greater. Why is that?
Despite his statement "there is not a black America and a white America," Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have systematically approached every racial incident from Professor Henry Louis Gates to Trayvon Martin with a built-in bias of their own. They clearly prefer to use these moments to divide and inflame rather than to heal and unite.
Both parties need to pay attention to these two constituencies. The Democrats should take this column as a warning. Change your platform to start delivering actual results or lose your absolute hold over them.
Republicans clearly line up better with these two constituencies on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, but they need to improve their message to convince them of this harmony. Conservatives could also market themselves as the party of private sector jobs and school choice, but they need to reach out to these groups and make these positions clear. If they don't, they will continue to lose their support and pay for it at the ballot box.
If this battle is going to deliver anything positive for the country, these two groups will play a key role. They cannot blindly support either party. They must demand results on jobs and education and sanity on social issues. They must become the "informed voters" that our Founders so desperately wanted for our country. Accountability, not blind allegiance is the way to change this country for the good. If you are Hispanic or black, demand it before you cast your vote. Actually, we all need to do this.
KEVIN CANFIELD OF SPRINGDALE IS AUTHOR OF "MASTERING SALES." HE ALSO BLOGS AT KEVINCANFIELD.BLOGSPOT.COM.Commentary on 01/04/2015
Print Headline: The U.S. Needs Informed Minority Voters