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Let’s Grace This Place

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Dodson and our classroom was called Dodsonville. Like any good, functioning society, we had leadership positions that needed to be filled so that we could maintain order. Being the ambitious third grader that I was, I ran for mayor. I was up for the spot against two boys so I knew I had to strategize. In addition to my clever campaign slogan, ‘Let’s Grace This Place,’ I had to see which votes I needed to win. There was one friend group in the class that was the biggest, consisting of more than half the class, so I knew that if I could get that group’s vote I would be a shoe-in. That being said, I didn’t even try to appeal to the couple of outsiders in my class because I couldn’t risk the chance of loosing the cool kid vote, the vote that would make me mayor.

Unbeknownst to me, I was doing exactly what Paul Frymer sates in Uneasy Alliances. Frymer tries to figure out why leaders focus on swing votes so much while completely ignoring captured groups such as, African Americans and why issues key to African Americans are rarely addressed in politics. While it is clear that “party leaders have an incentive not to appeal to a group if they believe that such appeals will lead larger numbers of voters to defect tot the opposition,” Frymer concludes that the ultimate reason this happens stems from a fear that appealing to black voters may change the make up of both parties’ coalitions (Frymer 8). Because the Democratic party does not aim campaign efforts to African Americans, then they are less likely to vote and subsequently policies are less likely to reflect their interests. Ultimately this will lead to demobilization and loss of representation of minority groups in American politics. Our two party system encourages this demobilization.

Though what I did in third grade was simply instinctive, Frymer reveals that there are more fears that motivate demobilization than meet the eye when it comes to campaigning. Just as I avoided mobilization efforts for those few odd ball kids in my class, the Democratic party has also avoided these efforts for black voters which has caused key issues for African Americans to go unaddressed in American politics.

Colan Grace • September 27, 2016

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