New York's Village
Voice ran an article advising Rev. Al Sharpton how to run
his campaign. We're not going to do that. Sharpton will show
who he is in the course of the race. Even those of us who think
we know him cannot predict what the National Action Network
leader will become as he is tested by the experience.
we will briefly lay out what
believes is the historic mission that a Black candidate
should strive to fulfill in the Democratic primaries. We believe
Al Sharpton is up to the task, if he maintains a clear vision
and personal discipline.
not been a national election cycle since passage of the 1965
Voting Rights Act in which a demonstration of concentrated,
effective Black voting strength has been more critical. First
and last, the Black candidate's job in 2004 is to energize the
Black vote. The largest possible number of African Americans
must coalesce behind one candidate in order to prove that there
still remains a formidable Black bloc vote. If you are the unabashedly
Black candidate, that should be you.
media is out to destroy Black candidacies, not necessarily you
as a person, but the very idea of an independent, conscious,
shared Black electoral mission. Corporate media today act in
lockstep with Republicans and corporate Democrats to encourage
and even invent centrifugal forces within the Black body
November 4, "The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bogus Election "Study"
- Black Majette vote grossly inflated.") Their common goal
is to fracture the Black vote and, thereby, eliminate from American
political debate the essential elements of the broad Black political
agenda. If the Black bloc vote is fractured, or can be made
to appear unfocused, the media will declare that the African
American vote is no longer strategically important. From that
point on in national contests, the Black electorate will be
treated as less than the sum of its purportedly scattered parts.
have so many freelance and salaried Black vote splitters been
fielded within the community, itself. One of them is among your
opponents, Carolyn Moseley-Braun. Others work on behalf of candidates
and forces within the Democratic National Committee whose sole
interest in Black voters is that they not interfere with white
candidates' abilities to address white voters. You are the only
hope for African Americans as a group to have a strong voice
in the Democratic Presidential process, and Black voters are
your only hope of wielding clout as a leader of an effective
Do not allow
yourself to trade in a single Black vote for any number of hoped
for white votes. Your mission is to fire up Black people so
that they might speak with a louder, more coherent voice, not
to water down the cultural or political content of the message.
In this sense, your candidacy is largely an internal Black affair,
although certainly not exclusionist in spirit or intention.
The fact of the matter is, you do not stand to gain many white
votes anyway, and the good white people who will vote for you
do not need to be pandered to. Your message is progressive,
in line with the historical Black social vision. Let white people
envision it with you, if they are willing. But you will do progressive
politics no service by unnecessarily diverting your energies
from your Black base. Progressive politics cannot exist in America
without an energetic Black electorate and movement. That's your
critical function, in this election cycle.
be encouraged to "broaden" your message early in the
cycle, so that you will have a larger potential pool to draw
from later on, when the field narrows. If you follow this nonsense,
you will never get through the primaries. Your message is already
broad, and you have made no mistakes of "narrowness."
Those who suggest that you go "beyond your base" almost
certainly represent smaller, single-issue groupings. In the
end, they will most likely still not vote for you. You are not
the scavenger candidate - you are the Black candidate. Your
potential base is bigger than anyone else can offer. More importantly,
you are in this race to demonstrate their power, not
your wider appeal.
Voice writer said you "absolutely must get invited to the
big debates in January." Ta-Nehisi Coates is correct. But
you will get there by virtue of your Black voter support.
Let someone dare to bar from the debate a Black candidate with
the polled support of more than half the Black Democratic public.
That is a fight you will surely win, or bring into utter disrepute
those Democrats that collaborate in your rejection. Trust us,
none of your opponents wants to go there.
January debates part of your campaign appeal. "If you don't
want to see a monochrome debate in January, tell the pollsters
you support me!" This message touches the "race
person" in most African Americans, and should move even
those Blacks who don't particularly like you. And some non-Blacks,
on the Tawana Brawley matter. We've tried to avoid offering
specific advice, so we'll make this short. Those who ask that
you "apologize" in order to "come clean"
are your enemies. They are calling you dirty, and are full of
the stuff that preachers cannot name. You are a minister who
believed a young Black woman over the words of white men in
rural, upstate New York. On Black terms, that's righteous, honorable,
and quite enough.
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