In response to an opinion piece by Michael Jacobs in today’s News & Observer.

Dear Mr. Jacobs,

I agree with you. I have no idea why the News & Observer would ask somebody who relies on straw men and hyperbole to write a monthly column. Like you, I don’t like extremes but I don’t like lazy pseudo-intellectual arguments, either. Maybe that’s the state of conservatism in the Age of Trump.

However, I can answer a few of your questions. You ask why “black people consistently vote for liberals in overwhelming numbers while they flee the state’s most liberal towns, Chapel Hill and Asheville.” Well, that’s several stupid questions bundled into one.

First, black people vote for Democrats today because your party invited the racist wing of the Democratic Party from the one-party South into your ranks fifty years ago and have pandered to them ever since. You began by running Republicans on segregationist platforms in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, your party perfected racial dog whistles and reinforced negative stereotypes with the rhetoric and imagery embodied in George H. W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad and Jesse Helms “Hands” ad.

And they haven’t stopped since. Once your party controlled the North Carolina legislature, it passed legislation that targeted African-Americans to make voting more difficult. Extreme gerrymandering packed black voters into too few districts to deny them any real political power. And finally, your party nominated Donald Trump for President of the United States, a man who has emboldened white supremacists, led the birther conspiracy that questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship and began his real estate career discriminating against minority renters. Few of your party’s elected officials will call him out. Is that due to cowardice? Do they quietly agree with the president? Or are they just willing tolerate his racist instincts to get the tax breaks and deregulation they want?

As for your question, why are African-Americans leaving Chapel Hill and Asheville, that’s simple. It’s becoming too expensive for them to live there. People have been moving to these areas because of the high quality of life associated with good schools, walkability, open space, public transportation, support for the arts, and access to institutions of higher learning. This influx of people has driven the price of real estate up because of supply and demand. Surely, you know about that.

Unfortunately, African-American wealth and income has failed to keep pace with that of the white, Asian and people of other ethnicities moving to the area. That’s a national problem and your party blames the victims. That’s why the GOP has consistently opposed programs like affirmative action designed to help right the wrongs imposed on black citizens. People like me believe systemic racism still exists and that 50 years is not enough time to reverse 450 years of government-sanctioned oppression and discrimination that denied black people opportunities and access to capital.

Black people, like the rest of us, vote their self interest. For most of them, the Republican Party is not an option, but a threat. The GOP has doubled down on the idea that it can win elections by garnering an increasing percentage of white non-college educated voters and they’re willing to pander to the racist subset of those voters to do it. The Party of Lincoln now has the support of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon David Duke and white nationalist Richard Spencer. The silence from the GOP leadership is deafening–and defining.

You asked the wrong question. It’s not why are black people voting for liberals. It’s why do Republicans continue to promote policies and politicians that alienate black people.

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