The 2014 midterm elections are only days away and most polls predict that Republicans will pick up seats in both the House and the Senate. While the general consensus is that Republicans could very well win enough seats to gain the majority in the Senate, one Fox News host thinks that it won’t be with help from many African Americans.
When President Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney to win reelection in 2012, he was able to secure 93 percent of the black vote. That advantage helped propel Obama to a second term in the White House and left Republicans scrambling back to the drawing board. Only two years later and Obama is sitting on his lowest approval rating of his presidency, a very unimpressive 39 percent, and the administration is reportedly privately worried about a dangerously low turn out among black voters and other minorities.
The issue of race in politics was discussed on the October 30 edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. Host Bill O’Reilly welcomed Tavis Smiley, African American host of “Tavis Smiley” on PBS, to discuss how Republicans and Democrats both handle the courting of African Americans and the black vote. O’Reilly insisted that Republicans care about African Americans, but just appear as if they don’t because “they’re more intimidated than uncaring.” Smiley questioned what they were intimidated by, asking “are black folks scary?” O’Reilly quickly responded, stating “no, no,” insisting that “the white Republican power structure is afraid of black Americans.”
“They don’t know how to treat them, how to speak to them, they don’t know anything about the culture, and they don’t want to be called a racist bigot, so they stay away.”
O’Reilly told Smiley that Republicans don’t care enough to put the effort in, knowing that they won’t receive many votes in return. Smiley said that Democrats take for granted the support they receive from the African American community, but that Republicans are viewed in a negative light. O’Reilly stated that “white privilege” had nothing to do with the struggles of African Americans communities, rather blaming the “disintegration” of individual black families for their own problems.
This isn’t the first time that O’ Reilly has made controversial comments dealing with race and “white privilege.” Earlier this month, O’Reilly and Jon Stewart had a heated discussion on the topic that brought the issue into the main stream. While Republicans are not expected to move the meter on the black vote, Democrats are starting to see their firm grasp loosen. Politico pointed out in an October 30 article that Democrats are using the recent shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, as highlights in multiple radio and campaign flyers in an attempt to bring out the black vote for next week’s midterm elections.