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Voters Need Information
1/20/2016 5:21:51 PM

By Barney Blakeney 

I’m no political writer. In fact, when it comes to politics, I’m pretty much an average guy - I know mostly what I read or see in the media. Of course I have one advantage, I’m a newspaper reporter so I get a lot of information.

Much of it’s really not useful because every body’s got an agenda and puts their particular spin on the information they toss out. It comes down to looking at the information minus the special interest that comes along with it. The same thing every other voter must do.

And like most other voters, I viewed the presidential debates held in Charleston last week with a little bit of curiosity from afar. My press credentials gave me an opportunity to get up close to the action - that gave me an advantage over most of my neighbors. But life’s demands dictated otherwise. I watched the debates on television like everyone else.

The debates were a media event and that’s what I do for a living. My livelihood was tied to the debates, but not my decisions about who to support with my vote. As an independent voter, I have no predilections about which political party candidates to support. For me, it’s all about the information so I’ve been watching the coverage of the different candidates.

Unfortunately, as a writer for Black newspapers, I don’t get a lot of information about the Republican candidates. The Republicans discount Black voters. I’d really like to get more information about Ben Carson.

He’s been the only Republican candidate to reach out to me.

So as the January 14 Republican debate approached it barely was noticeable from a professional standpoint. Only one national news crew reached out to the local Black press. And they had no interest in the Republican debate.

They were here working on another story and was slated to leave town the night before the Republican debate. Local Republicans didn’t reach out. Not even local Black Republicans gave us a call. Politics is racial, ya’ll.

The Democratic debate was a different story. I get their candidates’ stuff all the time. One candidate even has sent their campaign staff to meet with our publisher. Local civil rights advocate William ‘Bill’ Saunders always remarks that Black people pit themselves against each other proclaiming the virtues of their chosen white man versus the other’s chosen white man. But he adds that the Democrats offer more to Blacks than the Republicans.

The Democratic debate was sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus during the observance of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration in Charleston where the June 2015 murder of nine victims of racial hatred occurred. That’s no coincidence. I think it was most opportunistic.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton made the most of the opportunity. Charleston was her oyster last week. Clinton’s made a strong showing in South Carolina. She’s spending money. And with Black people!

Because South Carolina is a Republican stronghold, Democratic candidates, perhaps with the exception of Barack Obama, don’t spend a lot of time or money here.

Clinton’s campaign flew in a dozen congressmen and congresswomen Sunday to speak on her behalf at Royal Missionary Baptist, Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist, Charity Missionary Baptist, First Baptist Church of James Island, Morris Street Baptist, St, Matthews Baptist, St. Peter’s AME, Olive Branch AME, Nichols Chapel AME, Ebenezer AME, St. Luke AME and Morris Brown AME churches.

Sen. Bernie Sanders was not to be outdone. His campaign hosted a pre-debate rally outside the Gailliard Center followed by a watch party at the Music Hall in downtown Charleston Sunday. I’ve been trying to nail down a Sanders interview the past two weeks. Guess I’m small potatoes.

Still haven’t heard from his campaign.

Well, just what does all this mean? For me it means despite my privileged position in the media, to make an informed decision about casting my vote November 1, I’m going to have to work hard to get the information I need to figure out who I should support with my vote. Media circuses and targeted messages aren’t working for me.

As an independent voter, and I think independent voters will decide the election, I’ll have to be dogged in finding out the information I need to help me identify the candidate who’s going to succeed Barack Obama is pursuing the hope and change promised in 2008. I think most voters are more interested in that pursuit than the dog and pony shows we’ve seen thus far. At the end of the day, it’s still all about the information.

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