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September 1, 2014, 10:17 pm

Rev. Johnson: The rising tide of new power

On Nov. 6, an inevitable tide landed on the shores of the United States of America.

While some will argue that Nov. 4, 2008 was the day that people of color should never forget, I believe that Nov. 6, 2012 is a more important date. In 2008, we made history. In 2012, we ushered in the rising tide of new power.

“No race, however inferior it may be,” E. J. Dillon wrote in 1908, “will consent to famish slowly in order that other people may fatten and take their ease, especially if it has a good chance to make a fight for life.”

Theodore Lothrop Stoddard, a 1914 History Ph.D. graduate of Harvard University, was influenced by World War I and surmised, “unless [the white] man erects and maintains artificial barriers the various races will increasingly mingle, and the inevitable result will be the supplanting or absorption of the higher by the lower types.” 

In 1920, Stoddard’s book, “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy,” argued that races once marginalized would eventually increase their population, recognize their power, and change the power dynamics of society — not just in America but throughout the world.

If Stoddard, a racist, was right, then the 2012 elections did signal a new day in America.  While the 2012 elections did not eliminate all barriers, it did inspire the “lower types” — African Americans, hispanics, asians, gays/lesbians, women, the young, and every minority and previously disenfranchised group in America — to galvanize their collective voting power.

In the minutes and hours following the election results, many scrambled to explain the results. Peter Wallsten of The Washington Post said that Pres. Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney reflected an “expanded power for black and hispanic voters, persistent strength among women, a dominant showing among young voters, and a rise in support among Asians.” 

This rising coalition showed up in larger numbers in swing states and was felt most profoundly in the “battleground states.”  For example, in Ohio where blacks accounted for 15 percent of the electorate, up from 11 percent four years ago; in Colorado where three-quarters of hispanic voters went for Obama, up from 61 percent in 2008; and in Iowa and New Hampshire where nearly six in 10 women voted for Obama.

In the days and weeks following this election, Republicans and the elite, like billionaire Sheldon Adelson, will keep asking: What happened? An examination of 2010 U.S. Census Data will make it clear that the demographics are changing.  And an examination of 2012 election data will make it known that these voters spoke loud and clear. 

Those who cast their ballots to re-elect the president did not vote for Barack Obama, but rather they voted to elect a leader they believed would be the champion of their values. 

They voted to keep control over their bodies and their health. They voted for more opportunities for middle class jobs.  They voted for lower student loans and more federal financial aid. They voted for the prospect of a “Dream Act” and immigration reform. They voted for receiving the Social Security and Medicare benefits in which they invested. They voted and exercised power.

The 2012 Presidential Election was not about Pres. Obama.  It was about the voter — us — standing up against the wave of suppression, ignorance, misinformation and dismissal that targeted us. 

We stood in long lines for hours, we voted early, we cast absentee ballots, we contacted family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church members and any one who would listen and made them vote. 

The tide has risen — a new power has emerged and declared that we are awake, we have arisen, and we will be heard. And for this, American Democracy prevailed and every citizen should be proud.


The Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson is the senior pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church.