Black Agenda Report: The Color of Economic Anxiety

“Is it time for us to create our own serious credible party and force these two political parties to concede to our demands?”

There are signs that some prominent Democrats are indeed shifting gears and embracing leftist economic initiatives that could satisfy its multi-racial voters, including a federal jobs guarantee. This, and the abject failures of Trump and his administration, may be enough to regain a critical mass of the Democratic base who defected from the party in 2016 as midterms continue. But—as progressive victories in Florida and the Bronx indicate—addressing working class anxiety across race is plausibly the most effective path forward. For some of the Democratic base, the time is ticking to rebuild their confidence, particularly as some liberals are poised to cling to the Clintons’ triangulation playbook and abandon meaningful economic appeals to black constituents.

Alderman Rainey, who steers clear of the Democratic Party machine, hypothesized on the viability of an independent third party: “Is it time for us to create our own serious credible party and force these two political parties to concede to our demands?” he asked. “The way things are currently set up, the Democratic Party just takes us for granted that we’re going to vote for them. The Republicans attempt to just peel us off and disenfranchise us. In order for us to be taken seriously as constituents, I think we have to start a ticket and articulate our demands ourselves. Unless you speak to these solutions, don’t count on our vote.”

The past few decades of conservative economic policy from both parties, and its effects on wealth and income in black industrial cities, may continue to cause disaffection in black voters where Democrats need their support most. Yet, liberal pundits and policy makers assume that it’s white working class voters, not black ones, whom they should lure back. If the Party fixates on whites with economic anxieties, instead of how economic policies have harmed households across races, they are at real risk of losing again.

The Color of Economic Anxiety

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