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Al Gore Looks For a Vice-President - Blacks Need Not Apply


In all of the recent talk regarding who may become the Democratic and Republican nominees for vice-president, it is interesting to note that it is almost a forgone conclusion that a Black man or woman will not be among those seriously considered to become the next vice-president of the United States. On the Republican side, this comes as no surprise but the deafening silence on the Democratic side is very striking, in light of the fact that for all of the years of undying loyalty to the Democratic Party, Blacks have never witnessed as much as even one of their own as a vice-presidential nominee. To consider that in nearly 70 years of party loyalty a Black has not received the Democratic Party's nomination for vice-president is even more stunning when one reflects over the fact that for almost a year, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, a Mexican-American, was rumored to be a leading candidate to become Al Gore's running mate and that just last week it was reported that Gore's top choice for vice-president is former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, a Jewish-American. But no Black has been seriously considered for the position during campaign 2000.

In October of 1998, while a guest on Meet The Press, Rev. Jesse Jackson told the show's host, Tim Russert, that a Black "should be on the ticket" in the year 2000. Yet he and other Blacks have done next-to-nothing to advance the Reverend's stated position. Earlier this year, lip service was played to the possibility that California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca.) would receive consideration for the number two spot but the Black political establishment did not advance the case for Rep. Waters.

One has to wonder if along with calling for the removal of the Confederate Flag from state office buildings, protesting police brutality and fighting for Black judicial nominations, if Blacks would not have been better served by gradually making the case and demanding that a Black be considered for vice-president.

The combined clout of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil-rights and grass roots organizations could have raised the issue to national attention and at least would have gotten the attention of the Democratic National Committee. If the DNC and the Gore campaign thought that a united front of Black Democratic leaders were serious about seeing a Black on the ticket, they would be forced to address the issue, and in the process, possibly reveal their deeply-held views regarding the Black vote.

It was interesting that during the debates between Al Gore and Bill Bradley, both candidates were asked whether they would consider a Black running mate. Bradley immediately responded that he would but Gore gave an answer emphasizing that he would be looking for the most qualified of candidates and that several people of "all backgrounds" would be considered.

Well, among those people of "all backgrounds" said to be receiving top consideration from Gore, not one of them is Black. Among those considered are U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Fl.); Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut); Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts); Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana); former Senator majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt.

While the issue may not appear to be dramatic at this stage of an election year, it is stunning to think that after the 1998 Congressional elections - where Black votes increased at a higher clip than any other ethnic group, that not one Black civil rights leader or member of Congress is even mentioned as being worthy of filling the VP slot.

One would think that Black Democrats would want to ensure that their presidential nominee would champion the issues that are most important to them. What better way to achieve this than to have a Black male or female on the ticket right alongside Vice-President Gore? Black Democrats know better than anyone that the Clinton-Gore administration has, at times, been less than responsive to their calls for attention to matters that concern them. Certainly, it would be very difficult for a Gore administration to do the same with a Black vice-president.

The strongest argument for a Black to become vice-president of the U.S., on the Democratic side, could be made for the Rev. Jesse Jackson but his name has not been raised for consideration and time is rapidly running out on such an initiative. The Democratic convention is only 3 weeks away and it is believed that vice-president Gore will pick his running mate prior to the convention.

Have Blacks and Black Democrats in particular, been caught asleep at the wheel or can it safely be said that any white person selected as a running mate for Al Gore can represent the issues of Black America as well as Rev. Jackson or any other Black political leader could while in the White House?

If the latter is the case then the White House will continue to be just that - white. And Blacks may have little ground to stand on when and if the Democratic Party takes their votes in order to win an election, but ignores their agenda and continues to take them for granted.


Cedric Muhammad

Monday, July 24, 2000

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