Why the 2010 election was disastrous for black America

OPINION - That 2010 midterm election. It is the gift that just keeps on giving. And it is proof that elections do matter...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

That 2010 midterm election. It is the gift that just keeps on giving. And it is proof that elections do matter.

2010 was the year of a massive Republican power grab. The GOP took advantage of low voter turnout and disenchantment over President Obama—at a time when progressives thought he wasn’t doing enough on issues of importance to them, and conservatives thought he was destroying the nation, and in any case did not like the idea of a black president.

For the GOP, the 2010 takeover of Congress was payback for the trouncing John McCain received at the hands of Obama two years earlier. The Tea Party had its day, and the Obama presidency has been held hostage ever since.  While the Republicans are jamming up Obama’s agenda and his nominees, everyday Americans—including African-Americans— are paying the ultimate price with sequester madness.

Meanwhile, redistricting in the form of severe racial gerrymandering has resegregated the South.  This has allowed House Republicans to represent overwhelmingly white, conservative districts, and ignore the prevailing national sentiment on a wide variety of issues.


Despite broad-based, bipartisan support for immigration reform, Republican lawmakers have doubled down on anti-immigrant rhetoric and have made raw appeals to racism among their base.  The most outspoken critics of immigration reform come from overwhelmingly white districts.  For example, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who wants to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, has a district which is over 94 percent white.  Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), who is known for a long list of controversial and outrageous statements, represents a district that is nearly exclusively white.

On Monday, Tea Party Republicans were expected to appear at an anti-immigration rally organized by a front group called the Black American Leadership Association, which has ties to white nationalist John Tanton.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tanton is “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.”

Meanwhile, despite widespread calls for gun control to stem the tide of armed violence in urban centers, rural and suburban areas alike, a radicalized National Rifle Association has called for armed rebellion against the U.S. government.  The NRA has hijacked the GOP in the process, making it impossible to pass even the most milquetoast, common-sense gun control laws in Washington.  The powerful lobbying group has also stalled efforts by the Senate to confirm B. Todd Jones as director of the ATF.  Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has threatened to invoke the “nuclear option” and reform the filibuster, confirming executive branch nominees with a simple majority rather than the current 60 votes Republicans have used to block the president’s appointments.

In addition to blocking Obama’s cabinet picks, Republicans in Congress are responsible for the sequester, painful mandatory cuts which are implemented when lawmakers cannot agree on budget cuts.  The implications of the sequester are most disastrous for poor and working people, with cuts to programs such as Head Start, Meals on Wheels and federal unemployment compensation.   And the effects on the legal system—including furloughs in the federal defender system, cuts to the judiciary, and dwindling resources to pay jurors—could cause a constitutional crisis.

And just recently, Tea Party members of Congress ripped the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program, out of the federal farm bill.  And now one of the most effective anti-poverty programs is in danger of cuts.

Doing damage on the state level

On the state level, the Tea Party wing of the GOP seized state legislatures and governor’s mansions across the country in 2010.  And they ran with it, passing through some of the most horrendous and draconian legislation of all time, from voter ID and forced ultrasounds to bans on Sharia law.  The result is nothing less than a political freak show playing out.

Ushered into office with the 2010 Republican landslide, Florida Governor Rick Scott transitioned from his prior job as a hospital executive, where the corporation he led was involved in the largest Medicare fraud scheme in history.  As governor, Scott has banned paid sick leave for local governments, initiated a voter purge, and denied voting rights to ex-felons.  And weeks ago, Gov. Scott signed into law the Timely Justice Act, which will speed up the pace of executions and increase the likelihood of putting innocent people to death, in the state with the highest number of wrongfully convicted death row survivors.