There is a myth perpetually being circulated that economic issues are what white democrats care about, whereas Black voters care only about a form of racial politics abstracted from economic concern. This myth is often wielded as a club by an economically centrist Democratic party leadership, who portray economically left wing policies as out of step with the political beliefs of Black democrats. At the fever-pitch, it is used to claim that class politics is racist.
There are many problems here, but the simplest is that the factual premise is incorrect. Generally speaking, Black Democrats are to the left of White Democrats on all economic issues. Making claims about what people believe without checking the readily available statistics on this very topic is a pet peeve of mine. Across every single case I’ve looked at, Black Democrats hold views either more progressive than their white counterparts, or no less progressive than their white counterparts.
- Using the 2012–2016 GSS, Black Democrats are slightly more likely to support income redistribution (as measured by the eqlwlth question) than White Democrats, although the difference is not statistically significant (66 v 65%).
- Using the GSS 2012–2016 data, 86% of Black Democrats say there is too little national funding for education, compared to 82% of White Democrats.
- Using 2012–2016 data, 68% of White Democrats and Democrat leaners believe that it is the government’s responsibility to care for the sick, compared to 80% of Black Democrats and Democrat leaners.
- In the 1994 GSS (the most recent year for which these stats are available), 53% of White Democrats and Democrat leaners said that communism was the worst possible economic system, compared to 45% of Black Democrats and Democrat leaners.