Robert F. Martin is the candidate for the 2nd Second Senate District and a small business owner in the city of Wilmington. He recently shared his thoughts on entering the political arena.
We all know the statistics: African-Americans have increasingly voted Democrat, particularly in recent national elections.
From my perspective as an African-American business owner making his first foray into politics, the increasingly monolithic voting patterns of my community is deeply troubling. I say this not so much out of self-interest (although I obviously have some), but mostly because putting all our eggs in one basket over the last generation has clearly not benefited our people, particularly those of us living and working in American cities.
It would be hard to argue that here in Delaware, aligning with Democrats has been to the overriding benefit of African-Americans.
Real household incomes are down for African-American families and unemployment rates are climbing for black men. Wages for African-Americans have declined 3.5% in the last six years. Crime in our neighborhoods is out of control – Wilmington is on a record pace for homicides and now Dover and other towns have become hotbeds of violence. The schools serving our children continue to struggle – Delaware ranks 51st—51st!, behind Washington DC in the nation in SAT scores. One out of 4 African-Americans will drop out of school before graduating – a quarter of all our young people not completing school! That is unacceptable.
And when it comes to political representation, despite having a population that has grown significantly, nearly doubling to 22 percent of voters in the last fifty years, black Delawareans allegiant to the Democrat party have had limited opportunity in state offices. When Herman Holloway, Sr. was elected in 1963 he was Delaware’s first African American state senator. Yet there is still just one lone African American state senator today (my opponent, and she was actually first elected as a Republican) – or just 5 percent of senators when nearly a quarter of the state’s residents are black.
Democrats have been controlling Delaware for a generation. They’ve been dominating the City of Wilmington for 58 years. Isn’t it fair to ask what has this gotten us? A city plagued with extreme violence. An economy moving at a snail’s pace through an anemic recovery. After 22 years of Democratic domination, our First State has become first in crime and first in urban violence.
To be clear: I don’t believe Democrats are bad people or that they don’t want to do the right thing. But isn’t it clear that balance is needed in Delaware? I believe in commonsense reforms that will bring back badly-needed jobs, which will get our economy moving again. There’s nothing much partisan about that. When I’m in the Senate, the bills I want to pass will focus on encouraging economic growth, putting opportunity back in hands of the citizens of our state and allowing them to spend or save their money how they see fit.
This is commonsense – even bipartisan – thinking. Many Democrats I have spoken with agree that new ideas and new approaches are needed. That we must admit the old way of doing things has not worked.
Our great state faces many clear and present problems resulting in part from decades of one party control. We have tried one way and it has not worked. The time has come for accountability. And there can and will be no accountability for African-Americans unless they consider how the power of their vote can be exponentially expanded if the career politicians who have failed them know they are not simply entitled to their lock-step support.
My own inspiration to carry the GOP banner is rooted in the party’s proud heritage — Hiram Revels, our country’s first African-American to serve in the United States Congress was a Republican. And the great abolitionist Fredrick Douglas, said “…I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.”
Today, the only African-American in the United States Senate is a Republican, and the last Republican administration produced the first and only two black Secretaries of State.
Now is the time to hold our leaders accountable for a failure to deliver. Without accountability and balance in our politics – and balance among African-American voters – we can only expect more of the same.