The Southern Strategy is dead, Long Live the New Southern Strategy, Long Live the vision of Stacey Abrams

The Southern Strategy is dead, Long Live the New Southern Strategy, Long Live the vision of Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams’ Georgia win was historic, and I’m not going to add the traditional, “but she was not alone. “

Abrams was alone —in vision. 

There are wonderful organizations on the ground in Georgia, but they are not there to win Presidential generals.

The place of the Black Belt for the DNC has been to pick the Presidential nominee. That is their job. They get paid a woefully low amount to do that job.

The DNC tactic with the South, except for the brief period where Howard Dean ran his 50 State Strategy, was an agreed upon perspective that Georgia could not swing in a general Presidential election.

The place of Georgia, driven in part by the highest ranking African American legislature “Kingmaker” US Representative Jim Clyburn, was to be part of the loyal minions for DNC headquarters’ will and to secure the party’s Centrists’ pick. 

Centrists in the party had long accepted Black voter suppression and oppression. They sat back in 2013 and let the courts dismantle the Voting Rights Act. Who cares as long as during the primaries the Black Belt brought their faithful voters and delivered the party’s pick. The state of Black America in the South, the Midwest, was irrelevant.  

It wasn’t much work for organizers. It is a machine that is on automatic pilot. Clyburn calls all the Black churches to vote for who Clyburn tells them to vote for, and Clyburn does what the DNC tells him, and Clyburn gets a pat on the head and to be a talking head on cable news. 

He is as destructive to the DNC as Rahm Emanuel.

Clyburn said recently on CNN, “Black Lives Matter movement, and current movements across the country [is] what ‘Burn, baby, burn’ did to us back in 1960.” 

I am not going to say whether Clyburn is ignorant or insincere, but I will say this.

What hurt the Civil Rights Movement was the Southern Strategy. The Southern Strategy involved elections and policy.  It was actively white supremacist. The strategy employed dog-whistle racism and wink-wink ideas like “states’ rights” during elections. It supported implementing policies that would in theory, actively hurt Black people more than whites. It supported policies such as defunding neighborhoods and schools through redevelopment, defunding higher education once Black and Chicanos could access it, dismantling welfare and setting the groundwork from turning it from an entitlement program to a block grant, the banishment of the media’s Fairness Doctrine, and the war on drugs.

Clyburn knows this because he was there voting YES for these horrible policies. 

He was part of what dismantled the Civil Rights Movement, and he damn well knows that.  

Clyburn enthusiastically supported the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. He encouraged the Congressional Black Caucus to support it, only California’s Maxine Waters and Michigan’s John Conyers told him to go to hell. 

The current third ranking in the Democratic House Jim Clyburn, U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 6th congressional district, defended his 1994 vote in 2019 by saying, “Let’s not be too unkind to people who found common ground.”

Someone needs to come for his seat next.

Let us go into his lack of organizing skills when there is an actual contest. 

Jamie Harrison versus Lindsey Graham.

I will bet cash money he helped with the losing strategy that allowed Lindsey Graham to keep his seat. He and Emanuel’s Lincoln Project LOST THAT easy lay-up by advising Harrison to be “respectable” and not take a stance on Medicare for all.  Clydburn let white men NOT from South Carolina run him and Jamie, because the “white man knows all.”

Clearly they don’t Jim. It is 2020 Jim.

Clyburn has been in his spot for decades doing nothing, not advocating for Black organizers to get money, barely advocating for any policies that make life better for Black people. Clyburn has been sitting in South Carolina, being a puppet for the carpetbaggers and colluders of racism. 

He never even asked for money to help organize the South. He just accepted it as a racist place that disempowers Black people. 

Abrams showed that they were wrong. The DNC is wrong. Clydburn is wrong and useless. 

Abrams viewing Georgia as flippable in the general was not just a radical idea, it was radical. There was no money even allocated for trying to win Black Georgia in the general. 

To be clear, Abrams is not a progressive. She is probably herself a Centrist Democrat. Like myself, she is a Black woman I admire for her creativity and never say die spirit. We have different paths and wildly different politics, but both of our goals are to help Black people, so she is my sister in that regard.

If you are a descendent of enslaved Africans in the US and aspire to be more than background furniture, while your politics might not be radical, but your moves will be. 

I always believed the Black Belt could be more than a pawn, but I knew the DNC would never fund that kind of endeavor because it would entail getting lots of funding because to be successful, it would have to not only get out the vote, but fight against long-entrenched white supremacists policies to suppress the vote.

And this year was no exception. Though Abrams came close to winning her bid for Governor, in fact, she did win, but racism and timing stole it from her. 

Biden may have met with Stacey, but the DNC was not taking seriously Abrams in the role as strategist delivering Georgia to the general, because they didn’t give her organization Fair Fight any money.  You know who did? Mike Bloomberg.

Mike Bloomberg instituted his very own 50 State Strategy. Funding organizations all over the country were starving. He gave money to all kinds of people, including Voto Latinos, Collective Futures, and gave Abrams’ Fair Fight $5 million.

The grassroots won this election with institutional level funding via Bloomberg. The grassroots need funding to win and that should not be glossed over, that is important. Black, Latinx/Chicanx, and Native Americans cannot do this work for free and that should stop being the expectation.  

The money Bloomberg gave wasn’t about directing people. The money was about doing what you have to do to win. He did what the DNC says they do, but never actually do, because they don’t have a 50 State Strategy. 

Georgia can win the two Senate seats up for grabs, but Centrists in the DNC need to practice the radical act of trusting Black people. Trusting Black people doesn’t mean a Black face, but funding Black community organizations that believe in justice, fairness, and the power of the Black vote as more than a pawn for DNC headquarters. It also means supporting Black strategists and not relegating Black people’s role to a dogsbody with a false crown.

The Black vote are the King and Queen of the DNC, and it needs to start being treated as such. 


by Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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