Meet the White Columnist Who Claims to Be an Expert on Black Voters

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18:  Daily Columnist at Jonathan Chait speaks during the Coming Republican Crack-Up Panel at New York Magazine's Election Issue event at the Morgan Library & Museum on October 18, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New York Magazine)

Meet the White Columnist Who Claims to Be an Expert on Black Voters

Jonathan Chait knows you better than you know you.

Published April 7, 2016

New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait recently wrote an article trying to deconstruct the trends behind Black voting in America. Chait's main argument is that Hillary Clinton's "firm command of the Democratic primary" is a result of her popularity among Black voters. He labels Black voters as "pragmatists," and while his article does have some valid points, he makes a mistake that many white people make in assuming that all Black voters, and Black people, think the same way.

Chait spends his column defending his claim regarding the pragmatism of Black voters, going as far to say that it was "on display in 2008, when Black voters were slow to embrace Obama's candidacy, waiting until he had demonstrated the ability to win over white Iowans before committing to him." 

Chait's article becomes far more ridiculous when he begins to pose Black people as merely a tool for political gain. He says, "Black people know struggle and they support Hillary." 

Not recognizing trends among Black voters isn't the problem with Chait's article. It's that he seems to think that Black voters operate in a different way than just, well, voters. All voters are pragmatic when it comes to supporting someone who they feel represents their best interests, their belief system and who can bring those things to the government. To single out Black voters as "pragmatists," and deny that Black voters can also be emotional voters or that white voters can be just as pragmatic is misguided.

Actually, Hillary's success with Black voters thus far may be thanks to the huge efforts she's made to engage in outreach to Black communities across the country. Example: the Democratic frontrunner made a surprise appearance at this year's BLACK GIRLS ROCK! to make her appeal as a presidential candidate:

(Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New York Magazine)

Written by Evelyn Diaz


Latest in news