TheGrio Daily

Midterm Elections: The Lies and Harsh Truths With Dr. Christina Greer

Episode 59

“If you don’t vote, no one pays attention to you.” Dr. Christina Greer joins Michael Harriot to break down the result of the Midterm Elections, why there wasn’t a “Red Wave” and what to expect in future elections. TheGrio Daily is an original podcast by theGrio Black Podcast Network. #BlackCultureAmplified

[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:06] Hello and welcome to another episode of theGrio Daily. Today we’ve got a special guest. You know, we don’t really have special guests at all on this podcast, but, you know, we just had this big midterm election and we need to decipher what happened and talk about what happened. So, of course, as with the real deal, we like to get to people who actually know things. And today’s guest is a perfect example of that. We welcome Dr. Christina Greer, who is a political scientist and a professor at Fordham University, one of those schools that I couldn’t get into, but I get to talk to her anyway. Right, because she’s here today on theGrio daily. So welcome. Dr. Christina Greer. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:53] Thanks so much for having me, Michael. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:56] Thank you for coming. Thank you for coming. So let’s dove into it. So we saw what happened with these midterm elections. We were all expecting a big, huge red wave that never materialized. But, you know, we need to understand why that wave didn’t happen and why the narrative that carried us into the election wasn’t true. And so why do you think that we didn’t see that big red wave of Republican candidates and Republican victories that we expected? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:32] So in the past, Michael, the party that is out of power tends to do really well in the midterms. And that’s why we were bracing ourselves for this massive defeat. Right. And Donald Trump saw it in 2018. There was the blue wave that came. Obama famously saw the big red wave come in 2010 when he said we had a shellacking. So this is sort of following normal trends. What happened, though, is so many Republicans cast their lot with Donald Trump and Trumpism. And so Donald Trump represents the most extreme wings of the party. They’ve become in many ways, the mainstream wings. But we had almost 48 of the 50 states had an election deny are on the ballot. Right. In New York, we voting for a governor on the Republican Party ticket, who’s an election denier. And so when we think about some of the candidates that Donald Trump hand-selected and put up, they didn’t hold up, pass the muster. So when you think about someone like Mehmet Oz and we had close races, don’t forget, we’re still in a runoff. We’re going to see a runoff between Warnock and Walker in Georgia. And that was Donald Trump’s candidate. Right. We’ll see that on December 6th. But there are quite a few candidates that Donald Trump really wanted and selected that the voters said no thank you. Either they didn’t have a vision. They were too draconian when it came to a woman’s right to choose. I think when we start to look a little more deeply with the data with young people, we’re going to see that the Gen Zers actually came to the polls and they made a difference in a lot of key states and the messaging was just not there. And so we know the Democrats do know how to raise money. But I think they had pocketbook issues that were on the ballot, but democracy was also on the ballot. And I think they were able to explain to some voters that this could be our last free and fair election if we’re not careful. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:10] Yeah. And in a sense, Right. Like I’ve always said that in these kind of pivotal elections, you know, what’s interesting is that white people historically have never chosen democracy, whether it is after the Civil War, whether it is reconstruction, whether it is, you know, in the 1950s during the civil rights movement. You know, there was always this backlash. And when it comes specifically to Georgia, let’s talk about that governor’s race, Stacey Abrams loss. Now,  you know, we know it was going to be a hard pull for Stacey Abrams. 

Stacey Abrams [00:03:52] I know. What we hope for tonight. And I understand that you are hurting. And you are disappointed. I am to. We may not have made it to the finish line. But we ran that race. And we know this path and we know that running is what matters. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:12] But one of the things I’ve written about is that we have been led to believe that Georgia was now a blue state because it happened one time. And so talk about the fact that Stacey Abrams lost and the misconception that Georgia was just automatically a blue state. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:04:33] Yeah, absolutely not. Right. Still, the South. As Malcolm X says anything south of the Canadian border is the south. And I always argue all states are red states. Do you have enough blue cities in your red state to flip it blue? But every single state is red state. You can look at New York and see the map is entirely red with just these little blueberries in a blue cherries. So we saw a purple-ish Georgia and it is trending to be purple. And we saw some successes, obviously, in 2020 with Warnock and Ossoff on the Senate level and then obviously President Biden winning in Georgia. But that was from efforts of like decades long of activists and organizers working in Georgia. When it comes to Stacey Abrams, she had a disadvantage in this race because she’s going up against an incumbent. And any time you’re going up against an incumbent, they have a natural advantage, period. So because I will go to my grave saying that Brian Kemp stole the election in 2018 because he was secretary of state and he controlled the mechanisms to do so. So we knew that even though the race was inequitable in 2018, that was as fair as it was going to be. Because once he got into office, Stacey Abrams was never going to have an equal footing. She’d be going up against an incumbent who still had more resources. And because Brian Kemp didn’t overturn the election or choose to try and overturn the election in 2020, many Republicans and even some weak leaning Democrats looked favorably upon him because he didn’t seem like a wild extremist. So there’s that. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:56] There’s also another thing, Michael. We constantly talk about this idea of a gender gap where women vote democratically and men vote for Republicans. That is not true. Black women disproportionately vote for the Democratic Party in such great numbers. It makes it seem as though we have a gender gap where women vote for the Democratic Party and then vote for the Republican Party by and large. But that’s not the case. White women are Republicans, and we see it in the data with Georgia. We see it in presidential elections. White women have voted for the Republican Party candidate in the majority from 1952 to 2020, every single time, except for two times in 1964 when LBJ swept the country right in. This is after Kennedy’s assassination and in 1996 with like peak Clinton before before the scandals. But also don’t forget, Bill Clinton was pretty moderate to conservative, kind of slightly right of center Democratic president. So it makes sense that white women would go along with that. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:51] But white women are Republicans. And so until political scientists and pollsters and pundits get it through their head that white women vote for the Republican Party, we’re still going to be shocked when there’s a woman at the top of the ticket. And we look and we disaggregate the data and we see that Black women voted for Stacey Abrams and white women miraculously voted for Brian Kemp, by and large. And you pointed out so importantly that this narrative that Black men didn’t support Stacey Abrams, this narrative that Killer Mike was putting forward in his support of Brian Kemp, that Black men didn’t like Stacey Abrams. Black men do not vote for the Democratic Party in the same great numbers as Black women, but they are still the second most loyal Democratic voters, second only to Black women. Then a distant third are Latinos. Distant fourth are other voters and whites. So this narrative that Black women just couldn’t support Black men, couldn’t support a Black woman at the top of the ticket was totally false. They still voted for Stacey Abrams at 89, roughly 89% as follows National Trends. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:51] That point you made is one that is very important and not just the one about Black men, but the fact that incumbency is worth about, you know, 6 to 8 points in a in an election. As a matter of fact, like people, we don’t talk about this. We push the narrative about Black men but never explain that incumbent is about 80% likely to win since World War Two. And the same is true with this governor’s race and what happened in Florida and all across the South, like incumbent governors have or candidates period have so much power that we don’t even discuss it and we don’t discuss the white women voters. And so we have to create some kind of a narrative. And so they just throw Black men into the belly of the beast and say, this must be why. But I wonder if you think that Georgia and Florida, you know, have this I have this belief that Georgia and Florida have kind of flipped places and that there are times when we can get statewide elected officials in Georgia like we used to do in Florida. You know, it flipped red to blue sometimes. But Georgia is now like that. Like Georgia is Florida is seemingly gone red under DeSantis and Georgia is seemingly gone back to being a purple state. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:22] I think you’re totally right, Michael. I mean, Florida’s done. I think the Democrats should essentially treat Florida as a red state. You know, don’t abandon people fully. However, like we’ve seen now that Ron DeSantis has solidified and calcified a Republican stronghold, he won Miami Dade County, which is like, you know, for context for your viewers out there, that’s the home of Luther Campbell and like to live group so like he won that county we have seen with Latinos in Florida are Republicans period,, dot, end. So let’s focus on Georgia because we know with the reverse migration of so many professional African-Americans moving from the Northeast back down to places like Atlanta, you know, people who want to retire, the weather’s better. You can get a nice little McMansion. I mean, there are a lot of things that are going on in Atlanta that make sense for people to sort of come back and to say nothing of certain Latino and Asian populations that are moving eastward to Georgia. So it’s making it a little bit more purple. I think we do need to focus on that. Unfortunately, as you said before, with this incumbency advantage, there’s a baked in advantage that Brian Kemp had. He could control the narrative. And because he wasn’t as outwardly draconian as a DeSantis or an Abbott, it didn’t make him seem as dangerous. So he has a little bit of a Youngkin Factor. Youngkin is the governor of Virginia, where they are just as dangerous as Abbott in Texas or DeSantis in Florida, but they don’t present themselves as extremists in the same ways. And so you have a little bit of fungibility with other voters to either say, either I can abstain because they’re not that dangerous or it’s okay, you know, to possibly give a vote here or there to a Brian Kemp or, you know, Stacey Abrams is nice, but maybe let me just stick with the status quo because he’s not that bad. 

Michael Harriot [00:11:08] Keep bringing up the good stuff. Right. So, you know, going back to a couple of the points that you made with white women, with white voters, the shifts that we see from red to purple oftentimes are not like I think the media narrative is that people are changing, their minds are coming over to the Democratic Party when in reality, what we’re seeing is demographic shifts. Right. The people who are traditional Democratic voters are moving to places like Georgia and Florida. And I want you to talk about the idea that that we’re seeing in the last couple of elections that Hispanic voters are becoming white voters. And it’s a it’s a hypothesis that I’ve put forward of many times is that, oh, when we start running out of white people that just make Hispanic people white, just like they did with Irish, just like they did with Italians. Talk about the idea that these demographic shifts are changing the electorate and how we view politics nationwide. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:18] So, Michael, that question so I wrote a book called Black Ethnics, right? Because it’s like, I don’t understand why the Republican Party doesn’t try and grab these, you know, Africans and Caribbeans who come from more traditionally a conservative countries and they are ripe for the picking. Right. They don’t have a party that they’re necessarily aligned with. But because Republicans have by and large chosen white supremacy, they’re leaving a lot of votes on the table. Number two, before we get to the Latinos, we’ve also always, always talked about, you know, demographics is is destiny. And young people will save us. Not all young people. Right. I always remind people in Charlottesville there weren’t many people over the age of 30 or 40 marching in Charlottesville, Virginia. So we we know that college campuses, even though we always talk about college campuses as the liberal bastions, Republicans are doing very well with recruiting young people to the Republican ranks. 

Charlottesville [00:13:06] You will not replace us. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:07] So you’ve got yes, your more liberal college students in certain areas who care about the climate change. They care about gun control because they grew up in high schools where they had to hide under their desks. They care about a woman’s right to choose. There are large number of college age students who are either in college or not that are ripe for the picking with Republicans because of this kind of white nationalist message. And I have to get mine. If not, it goes to the others. Now, when it comes to Latinos, I think you are spot on. You know, there’s this phrase called money whitens. And lots of Democrats are still obsessed with the fact that Latinos care about immigration. They don’t care about immigration any more than anyone else cares about immigration. And what we’re seeing in Florida especially, but Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, when you poll Latinos, whether they’re first generation, second generation, even third generation, they’re already in the country. They believe in closing the door, locking the gate, pulling up the ladder. They are not saying, oh, we need to sort of, you know, think about how DeSantis is treating these migrants and shipping them off to Massachusetts. They’re saying, get them out of here. Right. I don’t want them in my state. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:09] And to be fair, we saw this with Blacks in Harlem when you had the Great Migration and Black migrants coming from the south, and yet, you know, Caribbean immigrants coming in and you had well-established Black folks who were like, I don’t like this kind of Black person. Right. We saw this with Jewish New Yorkers, with post-Holocaust. We had kind of a different type of Jewish person coming in. They’re, like, oh, like these people don’t remind me of myself. So you have Latinos who don’t like these new immigrants because it sort of makes them feel like, you know, they’re attached to a group that they don’t want to be attached to. They want to be with whites. They want to be with who they see as the winning party. And so what I argue in Black ethnics was it used to be whites versus non-whites, and whites had this protected category and they kept a lot of people out. Now, our view is Blacks and non Blacks and people are just fighting to not be in a Black category. So they will sometimes vote against their own interests, but they want to be in this kind of non-Black category. So it’s not just Latinos. We’re seeing this with Asian voters, all different types of Asian voters. Right. And we’re even seeing with some Black immigrants because they don’t want this prefix of Black American on their American status. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:16] So the Republican Party is doing very well with Latinos, especially from countries like Cuba and Argentina and Venezuela in southern Florida especially, essentially selling them this on this ideal that if you’re not with us, that means you’re with within. And people are coming from countries where it’s like, well, I don’t want to be with them. And they’re in America now and they want to be with who they think is the powerful structure. So even if they vote against their own interests, it doesn’t matter. Even if they’re with a party that has a white nationalist, anti-immigrant sentiment, doesn’t matter. They’re with them. And we saw it. The data bears it out time and time again, election after election. So I think the Democrats have to recognize, especially in a place like Florida, when we see a district in Texas, Uvalde. They voted for Governor Abbott. This is the district where babies, 20 some odd babies were gunned down in their own school and that district still voted for a governor that doesn’t believe in gun legislation and essentially business as usual after, you know, horrific mass shooting of small schoolchildren with with no repercussions. I think, you know, the devil is in the details. And I think we need to just look at the data and show and see the Democrats need to figure out a strategy to actually dance with the person who brought you to the dance. Black people keep bring you to the dance. Like stop ignoring the fact that Black women and Black men are the foundation of this party and really make sure that besides the institutional barriers, but we have motivation to really turn out, which we do time and time again. Don’t forget that we’re only 12% of the nation, so we can only do so much, right? We’re the third largest racial and ethnic group, not even the second. Latinos are now the second. Whites are the first. 

Michael Harriot [00:16:58] So. So when you see, you know, candidates like, for instance, Wes Moore, when and juxtapose that with people like, you know, Herschel Walker. Right. And you see the two went for a Black candidate to win. You have to be like a Rhodes scholar who is also a veteran and a like you got to be Raphael Warnock, who’s still on the precipice, which he has a Ph.D. and he’s a minister. He’s like, you know, one of my contentions is that they, look, Republicans really want to vote for for Democratic candidates because it’s like what the candidate, the perfect candidate is in republicans mind is really the candidates who Democrats are running. Somebody smart, somebody who’s a Christian, somebody who, you know, who worked hard and pulled themselves up and made something out of their lives. And so when you see the national political landscape, you know, we keep hearing that, well, the Democratic Party needs to do this. Are there things that really the Democratic Party can do that they aren’t doing? Like, sometimes I think we just say the Democrats should have, you know, put more money here. Like it’s like they have an endless supply of money. Like they can automatically change the minds of white people. Like advertising even matters anymore. So what are the specific things that the Democratic Party needs to do that they aren’t doing? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:18:31] I mean, Michael, I don’t know if my pay grade is there to figure out all these things for the Democrats. I mean, here’s the thing, and I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again. When it comes to white people, white Democrats especially. White people fundamentally do not understand the capacity of white people. And so when they go to the polls or choose not to go to the polls or play around with their vote and, you know, split tickets and whatever, they don’t understand the existential threat that the Republican Party faces. So what I think the Democrats need to do is think like Republicans. Republicans are thinking ten, 20 years, 50 years down the line. So Democrats get a victory and they take a victory lap for far too long. So they had Barack Obama. They took a victory lap for eight years, not thinking of the white lash that was going to happen. Right. Caught Democrats flat footed. Black people could have told them that there was going to be some sort of repercussion for having a two term Black president with no scandals. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:25] So I think white people don’t understand the capacity of white people. And so in 1973, when the court codifies Roe v Wade and Democrats like, what do we want? It’s like Republicans have worked every single day since that day of the passage of Roe v Wade so they could get a victory. 50 years later, they’re patient. They’re very, very patient. And so they start people off in the statehouse. We don’t take our statehouses seriously. When Barack Obama became president, we just ceded statehouses and governorships and judgeships as if that’s we’ve got one. We’ve got a Black president. This man will be out of office like that. Right. We’ve got judges in place for life. We’ve got people in state houses who are going there. They’re literally being groomed for Congress. But it doesn’t even matter if they don’t go to Congress because only so many people can go to Congress. Congress is only 435 members of the House, 100 members of the Senate. But in statehouses all across the country where Republicans are in charge, do you know how many billions of dollars they’re in charge of? Do you know the policy positions they’re in charge of in states? So we talk about CRT that came out of nowhere and then disappeared. But like the Virginia statehouse, you know, is debating CRT, Jersey is debating CRT, New York is debating CRT. They’re putting bills up that are anti-climate, that are, you know, pro-gun, that are anti-women. So the fact that, lets, for example, say California, Michigan, Vermont had some victories to codify a woman’s right to choose. It’s like, thank you, Democrats, wake up. But we’ve got to actually start thinking about states rights strategies, because ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 64, Voting Rights Act, 65 Immigration Act of 65, with LBJ as president signing that into law, Republicans are like, okay, so yes, we get that the supremacy clause is real. We get that the federal government is in charge, but we’re still going to have states rights. And states rights means that we’re going to do things on a local level. Right. It’s no coincidence that Ronald Reagan goes to Philadelphia, Mississippi, to announce his presidency, signaling a little states rights there. Right. This is famously where the three civil rights workers were were murdered brutally. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:29] And so Republicans have a forest and a trees vision and a dedication to their their ideology. And they’ll get in bed and create dragons and monsters. But it’s like they are singularly focused. So you have, you know, Christian evangelicals who will look at Reverend Senator Raphael Warnock, who is the epitome of what you would just like you said you would think they would want. This man of the cloth by the cloth, leads in policy, but also in faith. And it’s like, no, we want that one. The one that’s just sort of like, okay, whatever you say, I’ll go. Like, that’s what they want. Because they know that with a Herschel Walker, they can get everything they want with no question, no dialog, no real, you know, intellectual back and forth about what are the real values when you say you’re a Christian evangelical? That’s what Warnock is interested in. He’s interested in ideas. Walker is just, you know, give me the ball and go left. Give me the pen. I’ll sign it. Right. That’s what we know, the Republican Party, they are dedicated to a singular mission of what they want, and it’s a smash and grab. It was under the Trump administration. And we see it’s being carried on with statehouses and governorships across the country. Because sorry, really quickly, Michael, Republicans didn’t have the red wave, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a good night. 

Michael Harriot [00:22:48] Right. I think we’re missing the state house elections. And one of the things that you didn’t mention that is really important about state and state house elections is they get to draw the maps. Right. Like they get to determine, first of all, who can vote, how you vote and what district you live in and how it’s composed racially and politically. And that is determining the outcome for elections for basically a generation or so. Do you think do you think that the Democratic strategy of, you know, focusing on like the Senate and the House will can unseat or remove these Republican strategies of that that looks at the trees and the forest. It looks and long term positioning because like what we see with Warnock and versus Walker is like the white people were saying that, oh, we don’t care about like this specific person who represents us. We want control of the Senate, we want control of the Supreme Court, we want control of the laws. And even, you know, would we like to attribute it to people like Mitch McConnell in that long term thinking, but rank and file Republicans are believing in practicing these kind of expert level political strategies. How do we get Democratic voters, Black voters and the voters who are progressive to see long term strategies and not just with like you’ve got to get out the vote, but between term political activism and how to influence the politicians who are in office. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:39] Well, I mean, Michael, you know, Democratic voters don’t fall in line as quickly as Republican voters. And that’s, you know, for better or for worse, you know. And so the thing is, our our tent is quite big and there are many, many shades of blue. I think we’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time. We can have a national and a federal strategy while also having a state House strategy. You know, when Jesse Jackson ran for the presidency, he had a 50 state strategy. He was one of the first people to ever say, like, we can go after all 50 states because we can think about the different needs and wants and build coalitions. Right now, the Republican Party, you know, is obviously done a really effective job of sort of campaigning on fear and sort of scaring people into voting against their interests. But look, if you think about LBJ and how he’s able to get poor whites to sort of come around, it’s like, you know, the Republicans convinced poor whites that they didn’t want the ACA to pass. They didn’t want Obamacare. Make that make sense, right? The Republicans are so mad that someone like you or me will get health care, that they’re going to vote against their own interests. I have a job. I have health care. Right. And so the thing is, Democrats haven’t been able to sort of pull an LBJ and explain to people like, now you might want this. Right. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:41] But leaving those people aside, let’s just say they’re never going to come over. We need to think about if the census is coming up. And we know that Democrats, you know, tend to have lots of immigrants in their families, documented or otherwise. So they may not want to fill out the census. Right. New York lost a seat. That’s absolutely absurd that we lost a seat. But I understand why families wouldn’t fill out the census because they don’t want to invite the government into their homes because of the fear. Right. Donald Trump did make it clear as to whether or not, you know, he would use the census against people even though it’s in the Constitution. There are very few things in the Constitution. The census just says we’re just taking a head count. But the Republican Party was able to politicize the census, which made it such that we undercounted certain people, especially in our communities. I went to gerrymandering camp. Like, I know that how we draw a line, whether we pack all the Black people in a district, so it’s just one district, we crack up a Black district, so we diffused them out in several districts. It makes no sense that Clyburn’s the only Democrat in South Carolina with all those Black people in South Carolina. We should have at least two Black representatives in Congress. Right. But this is packing and cracking and the ways that Republicans are really good about thinking about these long term conversations. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:51] So instead of appointing people to be the head of the DNC as just a gift, because you’ve been a good soldier and you ran a race that we knew you were going to lose, why don’t we appoint people that actually have a vision, a 50 state vision, who understands the intricacies and the diversity of the Democratic Party across several states? So they can have a city strategy, they can have a northeast strategy, they can have a Southern strategy. They have a suburban strategy for all the different types of Democratic, big D Democratic voters, for all the different types of Black voters, and what motivates them. But instead, we’re giving people these patronage jobs and what are they doing? And as I’ve said before, and I know he gets upset when I say it, but it’s like, Jaime Harrison, what have you done for the Democratic Party? I think the gains the Democrats have made aren’t necessarily because Jaime Harrison had a strategy. It’s like kind of sheer luck that Donald Trump is a disaster and the Republicans are currently in disarray and they’re going to be in disarray as they try and figure out who they want at the top of their ticket in 2024. So we’ve already seen some shots across the bow between a DeSantis, like a Ron/Don matchup. So we get that. But I think Democrats need to sort of like get your head in the game like Republicans are playing for keeps. We’re sort of, you know, we’re bringing emails to a knife fight. Like let’s actually recognize that the future of the country is at stake and we we need to play ball not just in cities where the Black people are. We need to play ball on 50 states in statehouses and a federal strategy, walk and chew gum. As my grandma would say, if you could put a man on the moon, you could do this. Like focus up. 

Michael Harriot [00:28:20] One of the things I wanted to ask you about specifically is about Black power, right? So I have this theory that, you know, there are theories that Black people should move back to the south. And I have a theory that if we can convince Black people to treat midterm elections like like national elections, we would just like it if we just voted in the percentage that we vote in national elections, we could have so much power. How can we coalesce? Because, like, if we’re being honest, we ain’t gonna change white people. What are some specific things or a how can we coalesce the Black power that we do have to make, you know, our voice heard in national politics and in state and local politics? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:05] Right. So I think we need to be honest about a few things that are happening. So we know that Black people over-perform compared to others. Right. But in a presidential election, the voting eligible population, those are people who can legally vote over age of 18, their citizens. No convicted record, you know, depending on state. Only sixty, in a great year, 60% of voting eligible Americans turnout. African-Americans are slightly higher than that, but not much. So we’re still leaving a lot of votes, eligible votes on the table. I think the problem with a lot of Democrats in particular, I don’t worry about the Republicans, is that we come around eight weeks we start talking to Black folks. Four weeks, we really start talking to Black folks. And then those last two weeks. And, you know, you get to save democracy. And it’s just like it’s insulting that a lot of these folks disappear. And so we let our foot off the gas. And then election time, it’s like, come on, Michael, you’ve got to save the country, Black man. And if you don’t, then all of a sudden, you know, we lost because Michael and his ilk didn’t vote. And it’s like, that’s a lot. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:05] So I think we need to have a more steady conversation to convince people that government actually is working on their behalf. And when it isn’t, then what should they be doing? Because I’ve done focus groups before, and what I hear, you know, with Black voters is really disheartening because what they say is it’s like, well, because their financial circumstances are so dire for them. It’s like it doesn’t matter if a Democrat or Republican is in charge. Like, my my money’s not going to change. Because when you’re below a certain threshold all these other things, some of these conversations don’t even trickle down to poor voters. Right. We talk a lot about the middle class, which is important. But we also have never really defined what the middle class is, depending on where you live. That could be anybody from like $35000 to $350000 or to $3 million depending on, like in New York, you make $350,000, you might be living check to check. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:00] So I think a lot of Black voters need a sustained relationship with elected officials. They also need people to tell them, like, how is government? Because we understand how government works and doesn’t work like we are in governmental systems, whether it’s in the criminal justice system, whether it’s because we need sort of government assistance in the social safety net. So we understand the government is around, but when it comes to elected officials, what do you do? Right. Demystifying the process. Don’t pull out, Uncle Barry, the last week of an election and come through my state and say, you’ve got to vote. It’s up to you, Michael. It’s like, no. What exactly does government do on a day to day basis? Because my schools are still dilapidated. I’ve seen nicer schools. Like is not like we don’t know things exist, right? We see potholes in our communities. We’ve been on the nice side of town and it’s like everything’s different over here. So clearly something in their electeds is working and something of mine isn’t. So we also need a more like a longer, more sustained relationship. And that goes on electeds to do the hard work. Because you’re assuming that people will turn out or you’re just assuming, well, they don’t turn out, so I don’t owe them anything. And so this is kind of that chicken egg that I explain to a lot of Black people. It’s like, well, if you don’t vote, nobody pays attention to you. And that’s, unfortunately, elected officials have limited time, limited resources. If you vote, they do pay a little bit more attention to you because there’s an incentive for them to pay attention to you. And so it’s a self-fulfilling process, prophecy. If you sort of abstain from the voting process because you’re discouraged or you’re disappointed, then elected officials have no incentive to even bother to pay attention to you. And so I think that, the relationship has to work on two levels where the elected official has to pay attention, but also we have to be in the game. So they actually even know that we’re in the game because if we’re not voting, then they have no incentive at all to pay attention to us. 

Michael Harriot [00:32:52] Right. And that’s why I think part of that sustained relationship is people like you who can demystify the process, as you said, and who can explain to rank and file Black people what the government is doing for them, what the government is defending them from, and what the government is capable of doing for them if they participate in democracy. And that’s why we had to here. That’s why we want to thank you for coming and visiting theGrio daily. And we always leave with the Black saying, But since you are our guest today, we’re going to give you the opportunity to give us your favorite Black saying. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:34] Well, I’m sorry I said it before, but I must say it again. And to quote my grandmother, you know, if we can put a man on the moon, we can figure this out. 

Michael Harriot [00:33:42] And there you have it, folks. Thank you for coming, Dr. Christina Greer, and thank you for listening to theGrio Daily. We’ll see you next time.