This election isn’t personal for Black voters: It’s business – The Hill

For Black voters, armed with the legacy of our ancestors and the power of our vote, this election is not just a moment of choice but a pivotal juncture for negotiation. This isn’t about loyalty to a party; it’s business — the business of leveraging our collective power to forge a more equitable and just society for our communities and, by extension, for all Americans. 
The stark reality is that any increase or decrease in Black voter turnout could pivotally change the outcome of the election. And it’s increasingly looking like that could happen. A Gallup poll released yesterday revealed that 66 percent of Black adults in the U.S. identify as Democrats, down from 77 percent in 2020. 
This fact should not only be a wake-up call for both parties but also a persistent thought that accompanies them from morning until night. 
This year, our vote is not just a ballot cast — it’s a powerful statement of negotiation. This isn’t just political participation; it’s a strategic negotiation for the betterment of our communities and country. Our vote is a powerful bargaining chip, demanding tangible progress on systemic racism, economic inequality, healthcare access, education and criminal justice reform.
This year represents a critical opportunity for Black Americans to redefine our role in the political landscape, demanding more than mere participation. Our resolve is backed by the undeniable evidence of our electoral significance and the pressing need for policy changes. We’re not just participants; we’re drivers of democracy. Our communities’ needs and aspirations must be at the forefront, and our support must be earned. 
2024 is the Black voters’ contract year. It’s time to negotiate from a position of strength, using our vote to secure the commitments that will shape our communities’ future. This moment affirms our engagement in the political process as both a right and a responsibility, a means to drive change and forge a more just and equitable society.
The tireless sacrifices from previous generations obligate Black voters to utilize our political power effectively — demanding that both parties actively work to address our needs. Choosing to stay home is a terrible, dangerous and ill-advised decision, yet it remains a choice — one that, in the context of negotiation, represents leverage. If you don’t want Black voters to stay home, then you must give them a compelling reason not to. 
It’s a critical misstep to place the burden of “saving the world” on Black America. Instead, the onus is on both political parties to negotiate in good faith, recognizing the value and necessity of securing Black support. This means engaging with our communities not as a monolithic voting bloc to be appeased with hollow promises, but as a diverse group of citizens whose concerns, aspirations and lives are integral to the fabric of this nation. 
Our vote is a testament to our ancestors’ legacy, a resource to be leveraged in pursuit of justice and equity, ensuring that the political system works for us, not against us.
This isn’t about loyalty to a party; it’s about securing the best possible deal for our communities. It’s a business negotiation, where the terms are defined by the commitment to address the systemic challenges we face. Democrats may have an edge, but there’s ample work to be done to translate that edge into concrete policy victories for Black communities.
Both parties must wake up with the understanding that the Black vote is pivotal and go to bed dreaming of ways to earn it. Both parties must internalize this understanding, recognizing that the road to victory is paved with earnest efforts to earn the Black vote through actionable commitments and real change. 
The Black vote holds a powerful key to the future direction of this country, and it’s time both parties approach this reality not just with strategies to secure votes, but to serve and uplift Black communities in tangible ways.
Michael Starr Hopkins is host of the “Political Roots” podcast.
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