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Despite the best efforts of the leftists and some in the media to discount conservative African-Americans as lackeys and house slaves, their own community has begun to recognize them for their leadership. An AP/AOL poll released yesterday shows that blacks selected Bush administration officials as two of their three most important leaders, and has Condoleezza Rice in the number-two position:
Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice get the top support among blacks asked to name the nation's "most important black leader," according to an AP-AOL Black Voices poll. Next come Colin Powell and Barack Obama.
Many blacks question whether any one person can wear the leadership mantle for such a large and diverse group of people. At the same time, two-thirds in the poll said leaders in their communities were effective representatives of their interests.
When blacks were asked to come up with the person they considered "the most important black leader," 15 percent chose Jackson, a civil rights activist who ran for president in the 1980s, while 11 percent picked Secretary of State Rice, 8 percent chose former Secretary of State Powell, and 6 percent named Obama, a freshman Democratic senator from Illinois.
About one-third declined to volunteer a name.
Two of the four mentioned most often — Rice and Powell — are from a Republican administration that is unpopular with most blacks.
That last statement may be true, but it also may be too static in its thinking. After five years of people like Harry Belafonte questioning their authenticity as African-Americans, these conservatives have withstood this blatantly racist criticism -- that anyone who departs from the groupthink cannot be "authentic" -- and have emerged as influential and respected leaders.
Interestingly, the poll shows that only 5% of the respondents identified themselves as Republicans, indicating that the 19% who chose either Rice or Powell represents at least some GOP penetration into either the independent or Democratic black vote already. Only 62% identified themselves as Democrats, while a good portion stay independent. The poll does not include historical data on this dempgraphic, but it seems to point out a potential for softness in what had been a solid Democratic lock. When leaners are included, Democrats lead 76-11; the GOP number is closer to the election returns of 2004, but the lower Democratic number shows that the Republicans may have some room to erode that key base for national Democratic hopes.
The most significant block of support in the poll goes to "none of the above", indicating a growing dissatisfaction with the notion of national leaders altogether. Of the top leaders, the one with the most support (Jesse Jackson) only gets 15%, a virtual tie with Rice, while 34% have either no selection or are unsure. Barack Obama, whom the Democrats and media have heralded as the new spokesman for the black community, only garners 6% of the respondents. Al Sharpton can't even rise above a dead man in this poll, with his 2% trailing Martin Luther King's 3%, despite his run for the presidency; he can't even beat a near-lunatic like Louis Farrakhan, who doubled Sharpton's support (4%).
All of these responses would be considered fringe in any other kind of poll. The Democrats have to look at this and worry, as the leaders to whom they defer on the national stage have little real resonance, save Jackson. Obama may yet rise to the level of Jackson, but he's only in the first two years of his first national office. These people do not monopolize the political thought of black Americans, nor does any one leader or philosophy in the post-Civil Rights era. The Republicans understand this and have reached out to moderates and conservatives, offering them an opportunity to express themselves politically, while the Democratic establishment continues to insist on playing follow-the-leader with people that only they anoint in that position. It's a long-term loser of a strategy, and this poll shows the folly of that thinking.Sphere It View blog reactions
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