2008 marked a turning point in American history: Voters elected the first African-American president. There was hope this would bring about a post-racial society. As we stand four years later, has our nation really accomplished this? In a word: no.
From a purely political perspective, one indicator arises via a comparison of the Democratic and Republican national conventions and the racial makeup of the two major political parties. The DNC and RNC both featured numerous minority speakers. However, the invited speakers belie the statistics available about the delegates themselves.
On one hand, the DNC is proud to inform the press that approximately 40 percent of the delegates were minorities. When asked the same question, the RNC Press Secretary Kristen Kukowski said, “I’ve asked for those numbers, and my understanding is we don’t have them.” Did the RNC really fail to determine these statistics, or did they consciously decide they would not admit how few minority delegates their party attracted? The nation’s minority population was 37 percent, as of May. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, just 2 percent of the RNC delegates were African-American. The Joint Center does not track other minority delegates.
There is more statistical data that indicates a racial divide amongst the two major parties: A recent NBC and Wall Street Journal poll found that 0 percent of African-American voters would support Romney. Critics of the poll are quick to point out a 3.1 percent margin of error and the small sample size of 120 African-American voters. Other polls have indicated as high as 4 percent of African-American voters supporting Romney.
Coinciding with poor performance amongst minorities, the GOP has introduced legislation and ballot initiatives that would disproportionately affect minorities. The GOP argues that such legislation is meant to combat voter fraud, but there have only been an estimated 2,000 cases since 2000: less than 0.001 percent of all ballots cast. Of those 2,000 cases, the more common instances of voter fraud include improper registration and absentee balloting fraud, which voter ID requirements fail to prevent. Requiring a photo ID is a solution that fails to fix a nonexistent problem. In practice, the measure will more effectively suppress voting blocs in which the GOP performs poorly.