Students of Color Represent More Than A Turning of the Tide #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

A look back at how we got here…

 Over the years, there have been many uplifting moments for progressive whites, young people, women, and people of color. The past few elections have been filled with energetic political events, parades, and plenty of moments that did more than entertain; they inspired. Many things are different now, but some things we can count on. 

 The progressive network now has a unique opportunity to expand, deepen, and strengthen its proven game-changing system, which records students of color. As demonstrated in 2020, these young voters have the power to elect candidates — including African Americans — to the mayor’s office, state capitals, U.S. Congress, and the White House. On the horizon is the critical 2022 midterm elections, where candidates of color are poised to become U.S. Senators if this voter power is tapped.

 Senator Cory Booker represents a perfect example of what can happen in 2022. His state of New Jersey — once known as the “pathway of the revolution,” is still a symbol of patriotism. Booker’s use of Twitter to rescue a freezing dog was an example of this new pathway. It demonstrated how new media, politics, and old-fashioned values could create a new brand of social patriotism.

 New Jersey has experienced significant demographic changes, which have impacted its political environment. The state has the seventh-largest Latino population in the United States. Nearly 25% of N.J.’s registered voters are VOC, with the majority of them Democrats. Among voters who are not registered, about 33% are people of color. That means close to 32% of New Jersey’s low propensity voters are VOC.

 How does the fact that voters of color constitute a significant vote share affect New Jersey politics? One example is Senator Booker doing well against other possible candidates for his 2014 U.S. Senate race. As a result, new Jersey Democrats overwhelmingly supported Mr. Booker over Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rob Andrews, and State Senate President Steven Sweeney. As a result, new Jersey voters wanted to elect Cory Booker to the U.S. Senate by a margin of two to one.

 What’s drove his numbers? Booker’s advantages were across geography, populations, and issues. Also, his social media savvy helped to keep his brand strong and get his message out. As mentioned above, after seeing a tweet about a freezing dog, Booker took immediate action to rescue the man’s best friend. That kind of social patriotism resonates strongly with voters.

 By contrast, Pallone, Sweeney, and Andrews were not very well-known among the state’s registered voters, despite Pallone and Andrews having represented N.J. in Congress for over two decades each, and Sweeney leading the state’s legislature.

 Understanding the nature of student of color civic engagement is essential in today’s new political landscape. Authenticity may have been a second-tier concern in the past, but it has become the loadstone of demographic politics. Appealing to pockets of voters was once relegated to the campaign’s “base vote” operation. Now it has become the soul of tactical electoral strategy. Campaigns are beginning to understand that the most effective way to expand the electorate and mobilize communities of color is with conduits that intimately understand those communities.

 There are a few ways to ensure that voters of color achieve their 31% vote share from past elections. The common denominator is the candidate. Every political leader must engage communities of color with authenticity and social patriotism. For some, embracing the new realities of politics will require them to change. Over time they will find it easier to step outside of their comfort zones and themselves. Then their actions will make a difference for others and themselves because it is the responsible thing to do. #2R1WM #MoreThanAvote

Author: Kirk Clay Sr.

Kirk Clay Sr. is a Senior Advisor, Analyst and Strategist. Currently, he leads many efforts. He is responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of Capitol View Advisors. This includes publicly representing the collaborative, overseeing acquisition and guiding the overall program implementation with institutional and individual contributors. Before that, Kirk Clay served as a Senior Advisor to PowerPAC+ where he built and led management systems, structures, and measures for the “start-up” business. Recently, he led an independent expenditure to elect U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Also, he served as the national field director during the 2008 primary season where he raised $10 million and led an effort that mobilized more than 500,000 voters in ten states. Between 2008 and 2011, Mr. Clay was the National Civic Engagement Director for the NAACP where he was responsible for developing and implementing political research, advocacy and training agenda. Under his leadership, the NAACP executed three 4.0 style voter mobilization campaigns and a national census effort to increase civic participation rates in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Mr. Clay’s background includes serving as the Treasurer for the PTA, Director of Outreach for Common Cause, Deputy Director for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Deputy Field Director for People For the American Way, Vice Chair of the Census Information Center Steering Committee, Lead Trainer / Administrator for Democratic National Committee, White House Intern and Senior Advisor. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three children. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and listening to jazz. He is a popular political blogger and is active on twitter @kirkclay and Blog:

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