African Americans for Dean
Steven Gilliard has some interesting things to say about the issue of black voter support for Democrats. Specifically, he addresses the notion that Howard Dean might actually further the split between blacks and Democrats because of his comment about "confederate flag decals on pickup trucks". I'd like to talk specifically about this issue.
Republicans are fools if they think the "confederate flag decals on pickup trucks" comment is going to divide blacks about Dean. I've yet to meet a single African American who was upset by that comment and have heard from several who understood
and approved of Dean's intent behind that comment.
Al Sharpton tried to make some hay from that comment during the primaries, but it was really John Edward's criticism of Dean's stereotyping of white southerners that hurt Dean more. Sharpton's criticism felt like opportunism. Edward's criticism appeared heartfelt. I believe it was the latter that ultimately prompted Dean to drop that talking point.
There is a potential problem with the disconnect between black churches and the Democratic party. One of our local Deaners spent a few months before the election going around to local black churches and discovered that a lot of them were pushing many of the same talking points that you find at the more right-wing, predominantly white evangelical churches. Whether that message was getting through is not clear yet, but the Democrats should not take the black vote for granted.
I don't think there is going to be a black exodus to the Republican party anytime in the near future. But the disconnect mentioned above could lead to increased apathy among black supporters.
African Americans have been one of the most reliable segments of the Democratic vote. We can't assume that that will always be the case.
UPDATE:Ari Berman has more on the fraud that is the faith-based initiative