What "Game of Thrones" Shows Us About Political Communication & Narrative

Thoughts on the willing audience and the narrative

Contributor’s Riff

presented by Reality Check on WURD, airs Monday - Thursday, 4-7pm ET, streamed live at WURDradio.com, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

Image result for bran the broken

by Alton Drew | original AltonDrew.com | @altondrew

Social media losts its mind this past Sunday night as faithful fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones tuned in for the show’s final episode. A significant number of viewers were miffed that Bran Stark, (or “Bran the Broken”) a cripple with a gift of knowing the past and the future and who engaged in no battles as a warrior, would win the Iron Throne, not via combat or birthright, by via narrative created by a handful of elite landowners and military people.

I came away with two main takeaways including:

  • The willing audience?

  • What is the narrative?

The Willing Audience

The audience yearns for a good story. A narrative that will help them fall in line and find that comfort zone in which they can enjoy some certainty.  The person around which the narrative is spun need not be seen as someone who has done anything superhuman or fantastic.  All that is required is that the story be compelling so that the general or mass audience is assured that the person around which the story is spun deserves the pedestal they are placed on.

The most important audience is the immediate audience: the group of people closest to the decision-making. The decision-makers themselves must first be convinced by the storyteller that xyz person is deserving of a marketing push. In the case of Bran Stark, it was Tyrion Lannister who made the sale, offering a compelling tale to the heads of the remaining households that the boy who was crippled after being pushed out of a window and later gained powers of clairvoyance, maintained clarity of vision, and stayed above the fray. For those reasons, Bran should now be their leader as king.

We have seen this before in the case of Barack Obama. A slender, Black male State Senator from a Midwest state delivers a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and a compelling narrative about the son of a White Kansas woman and a Black man from East Africa is launched.  Arguably, Obama had done nothing of heroic note leading up to the moment of his speech. Why was his story any more compelling than say an Iraq war veteran or a single mother who went to school at night, got a law degree, and started an advocacy program for poor people?

What matters is that the real audience, the audience of initial decision makers determines which story can be sold to the widest audience possible.

What is the Narrative?

I mentioned before that the narrative should create a comfort zone for the mass audience so that they proceed through life with less uncertainty.  The real goal of the narrative should be to muster up support for the leader that has already been chosen by an inner circle.  The choice still has to be sold to the masses, even though in the case of Game of Thrones the notion of democracy, that the masses would choose the new king, was laughed at.

So, how should the narrative sound or look? It should be one that the masses find they can relate to.  In the case of Bran Stark, they saw a boy who was broken physically, but was able to transcend his disability.  A “rise from the ashes” story would be significant to the people of King’s Landing given the destruction of the city and the slaughter of the residents that they endured.  The goal for the ruler or potential ruler, however, is not to create a world of certainty from which his subjects can operate.  That’s merely the cost of achieving the real goal: to transfer and maintain power in the hands of a ruler or potential ruler.

This point was lost on the show’s viewers and is definitely lost on the American electorate.  Political narratives are about power.  Nothing more, nothing less. The narrative should not provide for a “happy ending” wrapped in a red bow for the masses or the electorate. There is only one end game for an effective narrative: the acquisition and maintenance of power.

The New Narrative is Always Noisy

In the final episode, we saw governance returning to normal.  The ruling council discussed filling vacancies, ensuring clean water for the people, and paying off government debts. No matter who sat at on the ruling council, the business of public administration, public policy, and power remained the same.  Only the narrative regarding who held power and why had changed.  Everything else - from the game to the battles - was and always is merely noise.

How Many Candidates Does it Take to Screw a Primary?

Meanwhile, Hypotheticals in Pennsylvania Show Biden Besting Trump in 2020 Matchup

Publisher’s Composition

presented by Reality Check on WURD, airs Monday - Thursday, 4-7pm ET, streamed live at WURDradio.com, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

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A weekly B|E Note Feature | @strategybe

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio entered the race, one couldn’t help but hear the collective sighs and groans of rank and file Democrats worried that their presidential primary was becoming way too crowded. The worry? A crowded primary not only risks Democrats draining needed resources and energy from the really important General Election of 2020, but the potential that it gets more caustic could irreparably damage the eventual nominee and offer President Trump an opportunity to control more narrative about that nominee. Yet, even as de Blasio made his announcement, without barely a half-day’s fanfare, it’s not clear that’s changing anything in this primary. Biden still maintains a sizable lead over the pack while looking solid in early primary states as he pushed an American unity message in Philly over the weekend. Meanwhile, recent polling shows Biden starting off his first weeks of official campaigning with a massive lead over Trump in the key bellwether state of Pennsylvania - the most crucial Electoral College pick-up for Democrats if they are to ever realize a win in 2020 (all of this to the previous week ) …

Overall Polling

Morning Consult

RealClearPolitics

FiveThirtyEight (Top Polls)

FiveThirtyEight (Top Endorsements)

… vs. Trump (PA)

Quinnipiac University

Key Demographics

Economist/YouGov

Trump Approvals

This week’s average: 42.4% (-1.35)

Last week’s average: 43.75%

FiveThirtyEight

RealClearPolitics


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Crafting a True Reparations Plan (But, First, Don't Call it That)

It will never translate into actionable steps without a very specific vision, strategy, plan ... and payment method

Contributor’s Riff

presented by Reality Check on WURD, airs Monday - Thursday, 4-7pm ET, streamed live at WURDradio.com, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

Image result for reparations

by Mike Green | ScaleUp Partners | @amikegreen2

Reparations for African (or American) Descendants of Slaves (#ADOS) has been a longtime aspiration of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). National discourse on reparations is gaining momentum following the 2018 Blue Wave election victory and Democrats taking control of the House. These discussions, in my opinion, unfortunately miss the mark. While I am in favor of reparations and even a “Truth and Reconciliation” effort, I am well aware of the war waged against Black Americans and a multicultural society in general. 

I believe the discussion of reparations will unfortunately never translate into actionable steps without a very specific vision, strategy, plan and method of paying for the implementation of a viable plan with measurable milestones toward specified goals with equitable outcomes. This level of visioning, strategy, planning and investing will never come from within White America, including from those who are allied with Black Americans on this issue. Sustainable solutions must come from the affected class of Americans.

Principally, and generally speaking, the vast majority of White Americans lack the knowledge of their own history of hostilities against Black Americans and the severity of the generational economic impact to fully understand the social and economic carnage created by their ancestors. Moreover, the vast majority of educated White Americans still lack knowledge of the last six decades of damage that their own grandparents, parents, and now they themselves have done and continue to do to exacerbate the egregious evils of segregationist policies and practices that protect white supremacy while oppressing nonwhites.

We can measure the damage. White leaders and influencers simply refuse to calculate the carnage. They won't even discuss it. Even media ignore these data.

So, it is up to us, the affected class of Americans to design a sustainable solution of restitution and restoration. And given the rise of consistent discourse around reparations in Congress and the across America, we need to leverage the narrative now to direct discourse toward actionable and productive steps. 

Ongoing National Discourse

Problem: The Reparations argument cannot be heard by White America because most White Americans aren’t knowledgeable enough about the extent of damages caused by systemic biases inherent in institutional policies and practices to fully understand the need for repair and restoration of targeted peoples over generations. Most of White America has bought into white supremacist propaganda that dismisses the problems stemming from slavery as ancient history. Most of White America believes that widespread systemic "racism" is a myth and doesn't feel comfortable talking about race unless it is about White Americans, in which case the term "race" is omitted.

White supremacy is largely believed to be a problem only within fringe, marginalized extremists circles. And America is widely believed to be a meritocratic equitable society built on a foundation of generosity and benevolence inherent in a uniquely American democratic society that serves as a moral authority and leader for the world's nations to emulate.

For this ingrained belief to be penetrated by truth would require a complete paradigm shift. That process would require a re-education of the American people with truth of their own hidden history. Most of White America has never even heard about the “most important event in US history,” the Negro American Revolution

Solution: The nation is in desperate need of an ongoing history lesson that can only be provided through national discourse, debate and a full transparent airing of the past, present and future. This can happen through the funding of a Truth & Reconciliation Council that is created and operated through an existing network of Regional Development Organizations already funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (or “EDA”). RDOs have a national association and a footprint of economic development strategy and planning in every region across the United States. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. The wheel needs updating to include a driving governor that steers its direction. The National T&R Council can be supported by regional T&R Councils. They could exist inside of the existing RDOs but created as co-equal to RDOs with veto power over any Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) plan that fails to include equitable constructs, investments and measurable milestones for communities of color. The T&R Councils could also collaborate with local schools across all education levels. That's the beginning structure. The daily operation of T&R Councils is a deeper dive conversation.

Public Education

Problem: The first-level battleground for segregationist policies and practices protecting white supremacy is at the public schools level, where kids of color are the targets of ugly vile abusive hostility. Segregation of schools is as old as Black Americans ourselves. Prior to 1868, there were no such people as Black “Americans” because the US was established as a whites-only citizenry. “Black Americans” were born with the 14th amendment in 1868. And that triggered a war-like backlash from white Christian conservatives against black people, multiculturalism, and an Inclusive America that continues to this day.

As recent as 1960, little Ruby Bridges took the first step to integrate an all-White elementary school in New Orleans. Pupil Placement Laws that nullified the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education had ensured the Court's ruling of desegregating schools with "all deliberate speed" would be met with “all deliberate delay” indefinitely, as Dr. King eloquently wrote in his book “Why We Can't Wait" (which public schools still don’t have on their required reading list today).

Kids of color continue to suffer in low-quality public schools today that are as segregated now as they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the world’s wealthiest nation, white Americans place the needs of the nation’s most vulnerable children as the lowest level of investment priority. This low prioritization of kids of color and racist dynamic in public policies hasn’t changed since Black Americans were forced to build our own schools and our own colleges and universities (HBCUs) over a 100-year span leading up to the Negro American Revolution in 1963.

Solutions: We must prioritize investing in public schools serving high poverty communities. We must redesign segregationist policies in school funding (currently based on real estate taxes that ensure white schools remain well-funded while nonwhite schools suffer). We must establish a strategy of investment priority that ensures elevation of the quality of schools serving high poverty communities to attain and sustain equal opportunities comparable to the nation’s best public schools.  Every city should be able to point to its best public schools … all serving its most vulnerable populations. Whatever this costs, we can afford as the world’s wealthiest country.

Higher Education

Problem: In 1962, James Meredith was compelled to sue the University of Mississippi for denying him access to enrollment despite the fact he qualified in all measures. A Supreme Court ruling forced open the doors of the university, which was just one among an entire landscape of higher education institutions across the nation denying Black students access based on longstanding discriminatory practices. Meredith's entry into the school was delayed as the governor stood in the doorway and barred access. A crowd of thousands gathered and a riot broke out. The military was required to quell the violence, but not before many people were injured and some killed. Meredith's first day of school risked his life. I was born that year.

Solution: All students of color today whose families have a net worth less than $150K should be offered access to any college of their choice completely free of tuition, books and fees, with room and board included as long as they graduate high school with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Students with lower grades should be offered free access to two-year community colleges. Black American students attending four-year institutions should do so unencumbered by financial strains as long as they meet a minimum standard of 2.0 GPA each year.

Business Ownership

Problem: All 2.6 million black-owned businesses today produce less than 1 percent GDP. This data point has never changed as long as the government has gathered data. It will never change unless a priority focus is placed on changing it.

Today, Whites still own 80 percent of all employer firms. Asians own 52 percent of the minority employer firms. Given the reality that ownership of assets builds wealth, and Black Americans have long been denied access to wealth-building opportunities through economic deprivation policies and practices, it is time to redesign an equitable economic infrastructure that prioritizes the growth of minority entrepreneurship and employer firms.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described three triggers of the Negro American Revolution in his 1964 book, “Why We Can’t Wait” (discrimination in education, housing and banking). Today, those three triggers remain. And the banking industry has internalized discriminatory practices to such a degree that in the decade following the Great Recession, the top banks paid fines of more than $243 billion for discriminatory practices that they were caught continuing to engage in. It’s been more than 50 years since we lost King to an assassin’s bullet. Yet, the segregationist policies and practices he fought against persist. It is time to hold the financial industry accountable for its role in systemic biases and widespread historic discrimination that continues today. 

Solution: Every public school should incorporate entrepreneurship education, from elementary schools through high schools and colleges. Entrepreneurship Centers should be funded on all college campuses, including community colleges. A National Seed Fund should be established that can invest in market-testing ideas submitted by Black American innovators that meet a minimum standard.

A National Innovation Competition Tournament (think NCAA bracket) should be established to tap into the hidden talent and innovative genius of Americans of all races. Every state should run the tourney with entry levels for elementary, high school, college students, adults 25-55 and seasoned citizens 55+. All winning ideas at each level will receive cash prize investments along with a package of resources to assist the entrepreneurs in developing their ideas in the market.

Additionally, every region should be equipped with an Economic Gardening Center with free and low-cost resources to help existing minority small businesses sustain themselves and reach growth potential (i.e. job-creation level) with an emphasis on sustainability and growth of Black and Hispanic businesses in areas of industry growth in today’s global innovation economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Question of Costs …

Obviously, when solutions are offered there will be questions of how to pay for them. America is the wealthiest nation on earth with a GDP of more than $21 trillion and annual business revenues that top $34 trillion. Our annual military budget of $700B is greater than the next seven largest military budgets in the world combined! The vast majority of America’s wealth is concentrated within the top 10 percent. The presumed lack of capacity to fund an economic overhaul of a capitalist system built by white supremacists to benefit white power and control in perpetuity is preposterous. America has the funds. We just need to have very specific targets where adequate funds can be invested and accessed. I have a number of ideas how this can occur even before the next election is held. 

Final Point

As long as we continue to speak in generalities and aspirations, we will risk undermining the energy and political will to take actionable steps. The term "reparations" is a trigger. It has all the same triggers as the term "racism."

Few folks in White America want to discuss either reparations or racism. And the term slavery shuts most White Americans completely down. They don't connect the dots and don't see the correlation between slavery and the circumstances of today among Black Americans because they don’t know their own history of constant unrelenting wars waged against Native Americans, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and all immigrants of color. This historical void leaves nothing to link each of the 15 decades from today’s political environment back to the end of the Civil War in 1865 when White Americans had to revisit the original question they asked when forming the United States: What will we do with Black people? Since 1868 and the 14th amendment to this very day, White Americans have continued to battle relentlessly over that same question. The idea of establishing a multicultural Inclusive America with equal standing among all citizens of all races is still not a settled matter among White Christian conservatives.

This is why I propose a different approach to moving the ball forward. “Reparations” by any other name would still be better than closeted groups of Black Americans complaining to each other about how bad things are with no ability to affect a change in systemic policies that maintain the status quo.

I prefer to drop the “reparations” moniker and focus specifically on a clear vision, strategy and plan. That (reparations) plan can be introduced under a more favorable title and branding that attracts more support. But that plan will still address the basic elements of economic deprivation and disenfranchisement suffered by generations of Black Americans dating back to the 14th amendment in 1868. 

This approach leaves the slavery issue out of the national discourse. The birth of an Inclusive America was 1868. The 14th amendment was supposed to address the question of what should the United States government do with four million newly freed slaves after the Civil War? The answer introduced by White Congressional Radicals: Make Black people equal US citizens with Whites with equal protections under the law. This solution, established as the core driving force of progressive politics in America, triggered a severe backlash from White Christian conservatives, across both the political and social landscapes, who sought then to “… maintain the status quo” as Dr. King wrote. 

The resulting battle with President Andrew Johnson, who defunded the Freedmen's Bureau and opposed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, has had lasting legacy implications beyond the failed impeachment and removal process that Congress executed against him. Johnson's survival and the loss of the Freedmen's Bureau has continued to plague Black Americans, who were targeted by a war waged against them for more than 100 years (1868 – 1968).

More than fifty years after we lost Dr. King to that war, we still see ongoing segregationist policies and practices that undermine success of the descendants of those families who became the first Black Americans in history in 1868.

I believe it is the responsibility of all Americans to redesign these inherited segregationist policies and build new equitable infrastructure with pathways to prosperity for future generations in an inclusive American society that invests in cultivating all of the talent inherent across all of America's multicultural landscape. This redesign starts with a national Truth and Reconciliation process that leads to actionable steps toward repairing areas of our American body that have been deeply wounded for generations and need priority attention to restore to good health. #ados

To reach B|E Note Contributors for media inquiries and other public engagements, contact charles@strategybe.com 

Do Black Folks Overestimate the Power of Their Vote?

Yes. And no. But, well ... yes.

Contributor’s Riff

presented by Reality Check on WURD, airs Monday - Thursday, 4-7pm ET, streamed live at WURDradio.com, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

Image result for black vote

by Dr. G.S. Potter | WURD #RealityCheck | @doc_strategy

Before we go into why, let me start by saying that I am all for the Black vote. Not just philosophically, but I actually work to counter disenfranchisement and mobilize Black voters. I’m a contributor for a Black media station, and I work for a Black strategy firm. There are few things that I believe in more than the Black vote.

But I also recognize that the power of the black vote has its limits.

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Take, for example, Vermont. With a Caucasian population of 95 percent, Vermont is the whitest state in the United States. Just 1 percent of the population is Black. There is no statewide or federal election where the Black population will hold the majority vote. There aren’t enough voters in the Black electorate to leverage the power necessary to advance a Black agenda in the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, or as a third party.

Another example is Montana. Montana isn’t the Whitest state in the nation, but it is the least Black. With a population that is 89 percent white and .4 percent black, there is very little the Black community can do to advance their agenda as a lone voting bloc. They would have little success using their votes to leverage authority through either party or by forming a third party.

Black folks in Vermont, Montana, and other states where they are dramatically outnumbered by White voters will have to operate strategically if they want to participate in the advancement of the Black agenda.

To increase their leverage, they can strategically align with other non-White communities on common issues. For example, in Montana the Black community could create ties with the 7 percent of the population that is indigenous and the 3 percent that is two or more races to increase the leveraging power of non-White voting blocs seeking to protect themselves from White agendas and advance the agendas of their own communities. This leveraging power can also be used to run and elect more indigenous and Black candidates. These candidates can then adjust policy for the betterment of their communities from the inside.

For Black folks in overwhelmingly White states, though, true protection and advancement will only come through the passage of legislation at the federal level. This will take the mobilization of Black voters in states with dominant Black populations and states with largely White populations, but large pockets of Black voters. (For a more detailed description of these states, click here.)

Take Pennsylvania, for example. Black folks are outnumbered by White folks 81 percent to 11 percent.

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So, on the surface it would seem like the Black community has very little chance to advance electorally. Being outnumbered doesn’t stop the White nationalists from winning, though, so there’s no reason it should stop the Black community. Black voters in Pennsylvania comprise large communities in key cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In fact, their populations are sizeable enough to completely dominate local politics should they strategically harness the power of the Black vote and strategically direct it.

At the state and federal levels, Democrats and Republicans are running tight enough races that the mobilization of the black vote could be used to topple GOP candidates, and leverage power over a Democratic party that has not historically been responsive to the needs of Black Pennsylvanians.

Unfortunately, the Black community in Pennsylvania has failed to mobilize their voting bloc effectively as evidenced by their abysmally low voter turnout rates.

The same can be said for a number of other states where Black communities could change the outcomes of elections by strategically mobilizing in key localities. They include Pennsylvania (20 Electoral college votes), Michigan (16 Electoral College votes), and North Carolina (15 Electoral College Votes). If these states alone were mobilized, though, the Black community would hold 51 electoral college votes that could be used to create the pressure needed to advance the Black agenda at the federal level. And these states, which comprise just under 20 percent of the Electoral College votes needed to put a candidate in the White House, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Even more power can be leveraged if Black communities collaborate with indigenous, Brown, and intersected poor, queer and disabled communities. Take Florida, for example. About 54 percent of the population of Florida is White. White folks are dangerously close to losing their majority in the state, and they have already lost their majority in the Democratic Party.

At 26 percent of the population, Latinos can position themselves to carry significant weight within the Democratic party and throughout the state. Plagued by failures of Democratic outreach, voter suppression and low voter turnout, though, Florida Latinos have yet to capitalize off of the power of their electorate. Similarly, while they comprise 17 percent of the population, Black communities in Florida have failed to leverage the power of their votes within the Democratic party or throughout the state of Florida.

If Black and Latino populations come together on key issues and for key elections, though, they can dominate the field within the Democratic Party and take control of power away from the Republican Party. They are already close.

In 2016, Trump walked away with Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes after securing less than 1.5 percent more votes than Clinton. And in 2018, Black Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum lost his bid for governor to Ron DeSantis by only .4 percent of the vote. If Black and Brown voters strategically worked together in states like Florida, they could successfully defend their communities from white nationalists in the GOP while finding ways to support each other in the prioritization and advancement of their own individual Black and Latino agendas within the Democratic Party.

Unfortunately, anti-immigrant groups like #ADOS are working to place a wedge between Black and Latino voters and there is little being done by the Democratic party to ensure that strategy fails. There is also little to no work being done by the Democrats to effectively unite these blocs.

That brings us to states where the Black population is large enough to dominate both politics within the Democratic Party and against the white nationalist controlled GOP on their own. For the most part these states are still under the control of the Southern Confederacy. Take Mississippi, for example. The black population of Mississippi is rapidly approaching 40 percent.


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With the White vote split between Democrats and Republicans, black folks in Mississippi should be in complete control of the Democratic party and dominating the Republicans in local, state and federal elections. This electoral potential has yet to be tapped, though.

As a result, Mississippi and its 6 electoral college votes are still under the control of the neo-Confederates and white nationalists of the Republican Party. The same can be said about Georgia (16 Electoral College Votes), Alabama (9 Electoral College Votes), South Carolina (9 Electoral College Votes), and Louisiana (8 Electoral College Votes).

So, while they Black Community is trying to leverage authority through voting power, or withdrawal of voting power, they haven’t organized enough voting power to liberate states with Black dominant populations from the grip of white nationalists. And in doing so, they not only fail to push their agendas forward at the state and federal levels, they leave another 48 college votes undefended in the Presidential elections in these four states alone.

If the Black community harnessed the power of the vote, they could potentially take control of 128 Electoral College votes from just the cluster of states mentioned above. This would leave the Black community with almost half of the Electoral College votes needed to elect a President. And with that, they could apply some significant leverage in the efforts to advance a Black agenda.

But that’s not happening. In fact, the power of the black voting bloc is diminishing. As political strategist and analyst Charles Ellison describes in his article entitled Black Political Movements Should Not = Reduced Political Power:

Black voter participation, or the Black share of the total voting population, has diminished since 2012, where it was the last time it peaked at a high of 13 percent, matching its official U.S. population count. That was also the last election of President Barack Obama. But, by the 2014 midterms, Black voter share dropped 1 full percentage point to 12 percent …. in the 2016 presidential election cycle, Black voter share of the electorate stayed flat at 12 percent — one percentage point lower than its performance in the last presidential election and at a time when it was needed the most …

Black voters aren’t gathering electoral momentum to leverage. Black voters aren’t turning out. They are choosing to not vote. They aren’t fighting voter suppression. They aren’t putting up candidates to compete with White candidates. And that has to change. All of it.

Black voters have the power to completely revolutionize politics in the United States, but only if they gather that power and direct it into an electoral ass kicking. Right now, the Black voting block is hedging its bets on potential. It needs to start competing with electoral power.

Despite voter suppression, GOP efforts to convince Black folks to self-disenfranchise, and lack of enthusiasm for a candidate at hand , the only way for Black communities in the United States to harness enough power to leverage against White Democrats and Republicans is to out-vote them. Every time. No matter what.

Destroying the power of the Black voting bloc won’t get us there. Isolating ourselves into our most tactically comfortable and racially homogenous circles won’t get us there. Turning on other communities of color isn’t going to get us there. And complaining about it on Twitter every minute won’t get us there.

Completely dominating White voters at the polls will get us there. Mobilizing, incentivizing, and supporting Black voters will get us there. Consistently and repeatedly shaming White voters at the polls is what will push forward the Black agenda. The power of the Black vote, once mobilized, cannot be overestimated. Until it is strategically mobilized, however, it cannot be used to leverage power.

To reach B|E Note Contributors for media inquiries and other public engagements, contact charles@strategybe.com

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The Black Community Needs a New Political Law Game

Maybe the answer is to stay outside the box

Contributor’s Riff

presented by Reality Check on WURD, airs Monday - Thursday, 4-7pm ET, streamed live at WURDradio.com, in Philly on 96.1 FM / 900 AM | #RealityCheck @ellisonreport

Image result for congressional black caucus, impeachment

by Alton Drew | originally altondrew.com | @altondrew

The political battle between the Executive branch and the Congress has been intense, to say the least, over the last twenty-seven months since Donald Trump took office.  With post-Mueller report hearings ramping up next week, the saga only promises to continue way into campaign season.

My friends and family have expressed varying degrees of interest, with a significant number of opinions fueled more by emotion and less by critical thinking.  For example, the constant reference to “collusion”, a term that has no legal meaning, is disconcerting because it provides an example of how people are ignoring the particulars (even when readily available for examination) and rolling with the globs of misinformation thrown onto the plate most times by the mainstream media.

Black Congressional Leadership is Wasting Political Power

What should also be disturbing is how two of the highest ranking Black members in the Congress, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), are spearheading the charge in the impeachment debate.  Their distaste for the sitting president is evident, but what is less evident is how the use of a potent political law instrument as impeachment is supposed to translate into any increase in political power, wealth, or capital for Black people.

If anything, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed caution about pursuing impeachment, appreciating the argument from some inside her party that pursuing impeachment could have a negative impact on the Democrats’ ability to oust Donald Trump from the Oval Office in November 2020.  Mrs. Pelosi’s hesitancy on impeachment should have provided Ms. Waters and Mr. Cummings an opening to show leadership and go against the impeachment grain, not because it would be in line with Speaker Pelosi’s sentiment, but as a signal that the energy expenditure behind impeachment does nothing for their prime constituency: Black people.

When You Are Marginalized, You Agitate

With at least 51 voting members in the U.S. House, Blacks in the Congress are in a position to be the pivotal swing vote on a number of issues including impeachment. Numerically, Nlack members of the House, where articles of impeachment would originate, could clog the wheel by holding back approximately 20% of the Democratic vote.  With this leverage, Black congressmembers could attempt concessions from either the House leadership or from President Trump, though it is less likely that the Black caucus would try to negotiate with the President for fear of becoming a pariah in the Democratic Party.

Therein lies a telling dilemma. If the premier block of Black Members of Congress cannot leverage numerical strength without fear of reprisal, what good is their strength?  Another irony is that for a group of Congressional members that represent a marginalized group, their fear of marginalization within Congress does not put them in a position to do more for their Black constituents.

Staying Outside the Box

On the other hand, maybe Black Americans, particularly those who embrace their status as marginalized, need an approach to political law that allows them to carve out their own independent niche - one that unapologetically finds the seams or openings in the political economy in order to access capital or create substantive platforms for constructing true communities. Current Black leadership is too afraid to do that.

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