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Hope and Independence

Hope and Independence: Blacks' Response to Electoral and Party Politics

Patricia Gurin
Shirley Hatchett
James S. Jackson
Copyright Date: 1989
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610442626
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  • Book Info
    Hope and Independence
    Book Description:

    Over the past fifteen years, a New Black Politics has swept black candidates into office and registered black voters in numbers unimaginable since the days of Reconstruction. Based on interviews with a representative sample of nearly 1,000 voting-age black Americans,Hope and Independenceexplores blacks' attitudes toward electoral and party politics and toward Jesse Jackson's first presidential bid. Viewed in the light of black political history, the survey reveals enduring themes of hope (for eventual inclusion in traditional politics, despite repeated disappointments) and independence (a strategy of operating outside conventional political institutions in order to achieve incorporation).

    The authors describe a black electorate that is less alienated than many have suggested. Blacks are more politically engaged than whites with comparable levels of education. And despite growing economic inequality in the black community, the authors find no serious class-based political cleavage. Underlying the widespread support for Jackson among blacks, a distinction emerges between "common fate" solidarity, which is pro-black, committed to internal criticism of the Democratic party, and conscious of commonality with other disadvantaged groups, and "exclusivist" solidarity, which is pro-black but also hostile to whites and less empathetic to other minorities. This second, more divisive type of solidarity expresses itself in the desire for a separate black party or a vote black strategy-but its proponents constitute a small minority of the black electorate and show surprisingly hopeful attitudes toward the Democratic party.

    Hope and Independencewill be welcomed by readers concerned with opinion research, the sociology of race, and the psychology of group consciousness. By probing the attitudes of individual blacks in the context of a watershed campaign, this book also makes a vital contribution to our grasp of current electoral politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-262-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    It is ironic that although originally brought to the American colonies by force and in servitude, Americans of African descent—much like members of other groups, who emigrated more or less voluntarily and in search of freedom, equality, and opportunity—came to view the United States as a land of promise. Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who educated himself and later became one of the first great leaders of American blacks, wrote in his autobiography:

    After a time, a careful reconsideration of the subject convinced me that there was no necessity for dissolving the union between the northern and southern...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Blacks and Electoral and Party Politics: A Historical Overview
    (pp. 17-62)

    The problematic relationship between blacks and the major national political parties has long been a critical facet of black politics. A brief historical overview of the treatment accorded blacks by these parties and their responses to them during five periods from the early 1800s up to the 1980s will help place in a broad context the 1984 reactions of the black electorate to two-party politics. This overview is limited to the role of parties in state making, the relationship between blacks and major and third parties, and the formation of separate and satellite black parties, with occasional observations on developments...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Political Motivation and Resources of the Black Electorate
    (pp. 63-124)

    Black politics are influenced by numerous factors outside the black community: the nation’s economy, the mass media, national legislation and judicial decisions, the organization and rules of the two parties and the competition between the parties in various regions and states, and state variations in registration and voting procedures. They are also affected by features within the black community: political, social, and religious organizations; political leadership; and the political motivation and resources of individuals.

    A national survey is uniquely suited for giving a broad perspective on the black electorate and for examining the political motivation and resources of the individuals...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Separate Themes: Support for Jesse Jackson and Advocacy of a Black Political Voice
    (pp. 125-144)

    In light of the history of rejection and disfranchisement of blacks by the major parties, Jesse Jackson’s 1984 candidacy may be considered a watershed in black electoral politics. In some ways, it was such a watershed. In 1984, blacks participated in the presidential election by taking part in Democratic party politics at the local, state, and national levels in higher positions in the party hierarchy than ever before.

    The closeness of most elected black officials and party regulars to the Democratic party can be seen most dramatically in their initial rejection of the outsider, Jesse Jackson. Nonetheless, the dilemma blacks...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Supporters of Jesse Jackson: Their Solidarity and Their Political Outlooks
    (pp. 145-178)

    Jesse Jackson appealed to a large majority of the black electorate In 1984. Exit-poll figures for the primaries showed that after the first Super Tuesday, March 6, 1984, when 50 percent of voting blacks in Alabama, 61 percent in Georgia, and 30 percent in Massachusetts voted for him, Jackson consistently won at least 70 percent and usually more of the black vote.¹ There was less support for him, however, among blacks who did not vote and those residing in states without primaries. To understand the political meaning of the black electorate’s evaluation of Jackson, we must therefore examine the entire...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Advocates of a Black Political Voice: The Powerless Seeking to Be Heard
    (pp. 179-210)

    Separate black parties have come into existence historically when politically involved blacks have concluded, nearly always reluctantly, that the major parties were not allowing them to participate, exercise leadership, or have influence commensurate with the votes they delivered or were not representing the interests of blacks as they once had. In these circumstances, some leaders have reasoned that forming a black party and mobilizing the black vote behind its candidate is better than voting for the lesser of two evils. In general, however, black voters have not heeded the counsel of the leaders who support independence. Even in 1972, when...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Social Class, Black Solidarity, and Politics
    (pp. 211-242)

    Having presented data concerning the role played by social class in the formation of group solidarity and the influence that both social class and group solidarity had on support for Jesse Jackson and the advocacy of an independent black political voice, we turn now to an interpretation of our findings. We shall consider here the meaning of our survey results from the perspectives of both history and social psychology.

    To understand the impact of social class in black politics, it is necessary to view the distinctive history of class formation in the black community and the way in which internal...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Basic Themes in Black Politics
    (pp. 243-264)

    As we have seen by now, hope, always a prominent theme in black politics, was kindled first by the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, which demonstrated to blacks, as it did to all the world, that freedom was a realistic aspiration. It was nurtured by the Abolitionist movement, by the amendments to the Constitution and the legislation enacted after Emancipation, and, most recently, by the dramatic political achievements won by the Civil Rights movement.

    Betrayal has been the shadow of hope. In the new American democracy, blacks were excluded from the basic rights conferred on “all men”; they...

  13. APPENDIX A Methodological Issues in Telephone Surveys of Black Americans: The 1984 National Black Election Study
    (pp. 265-278)
  14. APPENDIX B Supplementary Tables
    (pp. 279-322)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 323-338)
  16. Index
    (pp. 339-356)