The Specious ‘US Voter Apathy’ Spin

Wilmer J. Leon on the decline in American voters’ interest in the two major parties and their presidential candidates.

Voting booth in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, November 2023. (Lorie Shaull, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Wilmer J. Leon, III
Black Agenda Report

One of the popular narratives that was disseminated in mainstream America media to explain Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign loss to Donald Trump was post-Obama voter apathy in the African American community.  According to The Washington Post, “In 2016, a seven-point drop in black voter turnout was perceived to have cost Clinton the election.

Political commentators often cite black voters’ “enthusiasm gap” as the primary reason for low turnout. This short-sighted perspective fails to consider that Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign.  She took the African American vote for granted and failed to craft a message that spoke to the needs and interests of the community.

Blaming the community played into a stereotype that labeled African Americans as uninformed and monolithic in thought, instead of being introspective and recognizing her own short-comings. Her campaign ignored a simple reality … African Americans are as “political” as the rest of the country and there are real and substantive political interests that motivate the community.

Two substantive pieces of legislation that impacted Hilary Clinton’s campaign came out of her husband’s administration. The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act .

The crime act, also known as “Three Strikes and are Out” contributed greatly to the mass incarceration of African Americans. So-called welfare reform, that Hilary Clinton encouraged her husband to sign, removed hundreds of thousands of poor people of color from the welfare safety-net and plunged them into the ranks of the desperately working poor.

Many African Americans never forgot nor forgave her for supporting these pieces of legislation, as well as her referring to members of the community as “superpredators” who needed to be brought “to heel.”

It was not voter apathy or an “enthusiasm gap” that turned the African American community against the Hillary Clinton campaign, it was the realpolitik of Hillary Clinton.

As America moves closer to the 2024 presidential election, the narrative of “voter apathy” and problems with the African American voter are being promoted once again.

The Guardian recently ran this headline: “Black and Hispanic voters deserting Democratic party in large numbers.”  The problem with the underlying story is its failure to focus on Democratic Party policy outcomes that have left many African American voters feeling ignored and disrespected.

Voting line in Washington, D.C., Nov. 6, 2012. (OSCE/Thomas Rymer, (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Fox reports — “Biden support from Black voters plummeting as Democrats blame ‘disinformation.”  The Democratic Party elite need to realize that African American voters are not uninformed, simple-minded or easily swayed. Nor can they be taken for granted.

President Joe Biden has not developed, acted upon, nor articulated a message that resonates with the community and reflects its reality.


There is another reality that is developing that could turn the “blame African Americans for Democratic party disappointments” narrative on its head.  It is an oppositional form of politics called “uncommitted” that is gaining traction in Michigan, Minnesota, and other states.

In the most recent Michigan presidential primary, the Listen to Michigan campaign which is a coalition of African American, Arab American, Muslim American, and other voters was expected to receive approximately 10,000 votes.  The country was shocked when more than 100,000 Michiganders took the time to vote for nobody instead of the incumbent president. Michigan is a battleground state that Biden won by fewer than 150,000 votes in 2020. The strength of that 2024 “uncommitted” protest vote sent an unambiguous message to the Democrats.

On Super Tuesday Minnesota saw nearly 19 percent of its primary voters check the “uncommitted” box — an even higher ratio of voters than in Michigan.

The focus of the voters’ ire in both Michigan and Minnesota is the Biden administrations unyielding support for genocide in Gaza.  The #AbandonBiden campaign has said that under no circumstances will it support Biden in November. “Our triumph in Michigan is more than a victory; it’s a declaration of our fury and our refusal to be silenced…”

According to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 4-in-10 U.S. adults want America to broadly take a “less active” role in solving global conflicts.

Vigil on Feb. 26 for Aaron Bushnell outside the Israeli embassy in Washington where the active-duty U.S. airman the day before killed himself for peace. (Elvert Barnes, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

In a recent poll from Data for Progress roughly 3-in-4 Democrats support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.  In the Data for Progress poll a total of 61 percent of Americans polled said they were in favor of a ceasefire.  The Democratic Party and its presumptive nominee, President Biden are ignoring their base.  This is a very dangerous tactic when a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Americans are not excited about a Trump vs. Biden rematch.

In fact, there is a growing cohort called “double-haters,” those who are dissatisfied with Biden and Trump and do not want either candidate to win in November. Recent polls from the Marquette Law School, NYT-Siena College, and Morning Consult all reported 19 percent of those polled expressed dissatisfaction with both options. That is a large percentage of voters in a race that right now is within 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent, well within the margin of error.

Labor unions should be another area of concern for the Biden/Harris ticket.  This past January, UAW President Shawn Fein announced the UAW’s endorsement of Biden.  Fain praised Biden for standing with the union during its strike against the Detroit Three automakers.

The problem is the approximately 1 million rank and file membership may not follow the endorsement of UAW union leadership.  Following the union endorsement Fein explained that he expected most of the UAW membership would not vote for Biden in November. 

During an interview on Fox Business Network’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fain stated, “Let me be clear about this. A great majority of our members will not vote for President Biden…The majority of our members are gonna’ vote for their paychecks, they’re gonna’ vote for an economy that works for them.”

The Washington Post recently reported that The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents about 2 million health-care, property service and government workers, plans to spend $200 million to boost Biden and Democrats in electoral battlegrounds across the country this year.

If the Democratic Party historically is the bastion of union politics and support, why is the UAW’s rank-and-file “gonna vote for their paychecks” (not for Biden) and why is the SEIU planning to spend $200 million to get their vote out amongst a constituency that historically votes for Democrats?

According to The National Alliance to End Homeless, homelessness is on the rise in America. In 2022, counts of individuals (421,392 people) and chronically homeless individuals (127,768) reached record highs in the history of data collection.

Unsheltered rates are also trending upward, impacting most racial, ethnic, and gender subgroups.

As more than half of working Americans (53 percent), according to a recent Workforce Monitor study feel their paychecks are not keeping up with the pace of inflation, the Biden administration continues to find ways to send the much needed American tax dollar to war efforts in Ukraine and Gaza.

According to Stephen Semler in Jacobin, “The Biden administration has been able to maintain a low profile by spreading arms provision to Israel across more than 100 smaller munitions sales” — allowing the president to posture as a peacekeeper while U.S. weapons wipe Gaza off the map.

Voter disinterest is not at issue; voter apathy in not the new black.  The two major American political parties are listening to their corporate benefactors, talking amongst themselves in their echo chambers and are not listening to their constituents.  They maintain the current course and speed at their own peril.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is a nationally broadcast talk radio host. An adjunct professor of political science. Host of the podcast Connecting the Dots w/ Dr. Wilmer Leon. Author of Politics Another Perspective. Go to or email: [email protected]. and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at © 2024 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

This article is from Black Agenda Report.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


18 comments for “The Specious ‘US Voter Apathy’ Spin

  1. Rob
    April 5, 2024 at 14:23

    “According to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 4-in-10 U.S. adults want America to broadly take a “less active” role in solving global conflicts.”

    This quotation really made me laugh. The problem is not with America’s role in “solving” global conflicts but with its role creating and fueling global conflicts. The pollsters are guilty of misrepresenting public opinion. Possibly it’s down to how the poll’s questions were framed, i.e. to elicit a certain answer and avoid a certain other answer.

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 6, 2024 at 12:47

      Your point is well taken.

      I took a quick look at the wiki for the organization. This outfit could very easily be a front for some anonymous Government agency and given CIA’s penchant for for running very large front companies and other large government sponsored entities.

      I personally would be very leery of all large polls myself.

      I use the wiki quite often to get started looking for information on which ever entity I’m interested in. By first glance this wiki reeks of being government connected IMHO.

      Nefarious pollsters seem to abound these days, a direct result of them being funded by “Specious” entities.

      You are correct IMO about how questions are framed and one must also consider the cross section of those polled.

      Thanks CN

  2. robert e williamson jr
    April 5, 2024 at 13:11

    The politically illiterate masses of U.S. citizens whose votes are driven by emotions rather than studious thought are the problem.

    So called American liberals have accepted the liberal moniker apparently not realizing the democratic party does little to nothing to serve policies the so called disruptive, party of No, conservatives have bestowed on the democratic party. The reason being that for the, much less than creative, DNC the term conveniently serves their purpose for validating one of the two major party systems and their fund raising.

    To call democrats liberals actually serves, even more efficiently, the draconian, out dated haters of the republican dynasty policies of no change and authoritarianism. Something that is obvious to the close observer.

    I , in the past, have referred to the democrats as the paid opposition for the republicans, while very true in some respects, I have neglected far too often to cite that while the democrats are the paid opposition of the republicans, the republicans, by far are predominately the paid henchmen of the Deep State. The democrats in turn serve as an opposition that in the past negotiated the Deep State agendas, patronizing their constituents and pandering to the same big money as the republicans. Please forgive my error.

    I have to thank the author here of this piece, Mr. Wilmer J. Leon, III, for jarring the dust off my aging brain.

    His description here of the “Black Agenda” and the Black segment of the multi-faceted democratic party “matrix” seems to have hit me in the face same as an ice cold bucket of water. In my view much of what he describes here very accurately about the Black segment of this matrix rings true of many of the other segments of the democratic party as we know it. The significant difference of course being the white and other non-black segments of the democratic party are populated by far too many “exceptional Americans”! Exceptional spoiled Americans who are unwilling to risk anything they have to improve the political landscape for everyone.

    I have to believe that is changing. We all, each and everyone of us are in very deep shit currently. Observe a democratic party that is far too accepting of an increasingly authoritarian form of government. A democratic party that ignores this reality not at the risk of it’s own existence but as usual the peril of it’s constituents.

    A significance being shown in great clarity here by Mr. Leon, intended or otherwise, I find quite remarkable.

    In my case he has revealed why the Bill Clinton impacted American politics in such a forceful manner. Bill Clinton always seemed to have more in common with the republican mindset than democrats when it came down to big money and his courting by the Deep State. Something in my opinion facilitated by his good fortune to ride on the “Tech Bubble” on wall street and his less than pristine activities while Governor of Arkansas.

    My how things have changed since the days of “Slick Willy” and his washing his hands of the very troublesome INSLAW (PROMIS) affair. A very significant incident in fairly recent history that in my opinion dramatically changed the political landscape of the entire planet. I’m of the opinion the Deep State representatives who are the actual power brokers in D.C. made damned sure Clinton got elected. This is another story for some other time, however the intelligence community owns Slick Willy, something, if pursued could be revealed. Like I said this is a story for some other time.

    This country is dying on the vine and needs desperately a third party. A party, unlike the democratic party that will use the diversity of the electorate to it’s advantage rather than the “very uncreative” democratic parties practice of trying to strong-arm it’s various segments or simply locking them out of the process.

    The democrats should have learned from Abraham Lincoln that a divided house cannot stand. Something the current republican party is proving very true.

    We all are in deep trouble as long as the status quo prevails in D.C..

    The prudent thinker might consider the events occurring after, say, a complete collapse of the republican party.

    The Democrats embracing of more and more authoritarian rule is a warning they are more that willing to follow the Deep State money and willingly acquisce, in an act of self preservation for very selfish reasons.

    The result might very well serve the “new conservative party” politicly by forcing any new party into an “opposition” party to be stifled at all costs.

    I am in no way calling for such a series of events but warning these events many times take on a life of their own.

    My gosh do I miss my “Poochie”! Ya’ ll have a nice day.

    Thanks CN.

  3. Robby
    April 5, 2024 at 10:54

    Looking back at times when the White House and both houses of congress were controlled by democrats, why was legislation never introduced that would legalize abortion protections? I ponder if the Catholic makeup of the party leadership motivated the party to say they stand for reproductive rights and do nothing material to protect them.
    Sort of like current leadership talking tough about Israel needing to tone down their genocidal land grab while simultaneously providing the material support for its success.
    If we live in a democracy, if, then we get the leadership we deserve.

  4. hetro
    April 4, 2024 at 15:05

    I wouldn’t call it “double-hating.” Double-disgust, perhaps, or double-loathing (hatred suggests more irrationality). It’s also not “double-disinterest,” since disinterest is actually a keen interest, but impartial as favoring which (a commonly misused word today for “uninterest.” No, there’s interest all right as to which is the worst, and perhaps we need analysis on that so that voting could become an act of deliberate power of some sort, instead of the currently meaningless status it holds (at least for a lot of us). Who is worse–Biden or Trump. Currently there seems some romantic view of Trump but I’m dubious on this. Should I vote for Trump to get rid of Biden? or vice-versa? There may be some political action possible here versus the usual vote fruitlessly for third party.

    April 4, 2024 at 14:51

    The problem is that there is no one to vote for who is not a clone of his or her opponent. The Uniparty has two wings, but both advocate austerity at home and violence abroad. Like good cop / bad cop, one faithfully promises to start less wars or take away less jobs or social programs than his crazy pretend adversary, but they both lie. George Carlin said it best: you can’t blame this mess on me, I didn’t vote for either one of the m***fers.

  6. Jeff Harrison
    April 4, 2024 at 11:24

    It’s good to see that CN readers can see through the BS. We do not have a choice this November with the two wings of the corporate party offering up two geriatric losers. I’ll be voting because there will be things of local importance but for the national elections, all the corporate party offerings will be AIPAC bots. I’ll be voting third party or my favorite write in candidate – None ofthe Above.

  7. April 4, 2024 at 09:32

    The Democrats, despite their posturing and some crumbs thrown to stave off revolution, have never been the party of the working class. The working class has no party in American politics, and the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can dispense with this bs system and actually gain our freedom. Nothing to lose but our chains, chains that the Democrats do not want to see broken.

  8. Tony
    April 4, 2024 at 09:13

    The Clintons’ callous disregard for African-Americans is covered very well in Nathan J. Robinson’s book “Super Predator: Bill Clinton’s Use and Abuse of Black America.” It truly is a gruesome story.

    A big effort to stop the CIA from importing drugs into America is missing from Hillary Clinton’s 1996 campaign message.

  9. michael888
    April 4, 2024 at 08:38

    As the woman watching the play in Hamlet noted, “the lady protests too much!” The author refuses to frame Black discontent with the Democrat Establishment, instead singling out the mendacious chameleon Hillary for his slings and arrows (we also know that “Independent” Bernie Sanders will also be stumping for Genocide Joe and his unwavering commitment for Israel– not that there’s any choice there, Biden, Trump and particularly RFK Jr are all trying to outdo each other as Israel Firsters. The US fell irredeemably with its embrace of torture, now unimaginably our politicians support genocide. The Uniparty also lies incessantly– they knew nothing of course of the NordStream II bombing, the terrorist attack in Moscow and the recent attack on the Iranian diplomats.)

    In the last dozen plus Presidential elections, the Black community has voted 58 to 95% Democrat (according to Pew Research). As Biden noted last Election, “If you don’t vote for me you ain’t Black!” The Black bloc voted 92% for Biden, 7% for Trump, 1% for “other”.

    The author must know that the single most important individual in the passing of the ’80s and ’90s War on Crime and War on Drugs bills was Senator Joe Biden (D) from Delaware (not Figurehead Hillary), who made the sentence for crack cocaine (drug of choice for the Black community) 100-fold greater than the sentence for powder cocaine (white party drug for Wall Street). Genocide Joe, not Hillary, was largely responsible for doubling the number of Americans incarcerated from one million to two million, by far the highest number of any country. Biden bragged that he was so tough on crime he did everything but hang jaywalkers. Black male Americans, went from 1 in 10 or 12 (depending on source) becoming felons in their lifetimes, to 1 in 3 today.

    When 85 to 95% of Blacks vote Democrat in November, they should at least embrace their power and demand change. Frederick Douglass made his famous speech on the Emancipation of the West Indies aimed at the Black Community about 170 years ago. It is true today:
    “The struggle may be a moral one or it may be a physical one, or it may both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

  10. mgr
    April 4, 2024 at 07:41

    The apathy is because there is nothing worth voting for which might possibly be the intention.

  11. Stephen Phillips
    April 4, 2024 at 05:10

    Let’s not be forgetting gerrymandering, redistricting and all the other forms of voter disenfranchisement that are at play here. Or the alleged fact that most voters claim to be independent.

    • Richard J Bluhm
      April 4, 2024 at 09:31

      Indeed, and money in politics is probably the most corrupting factor to render U.S. voting corrupt. The candidate with the most money wins about 90% of the time. It is nothing but legalized bribery. Also voter suppression cancels millions of votes. Add the factor of voting machine impropieties and the system works as the mafia-esque system requires.

  12. Share
    April 3, 2024 at 21:01

    “Get over yourself.”

    I just want to say, “We came. We saw. And we’re turning our backs – bye.”

    • Tim N
      April 4, 2024 at 08:02

      Is Hilary clueless or what?

      • Sick and tired
        April 4, 2024 at 10:40

        Of course she is. She successfully turned the narrative that boils down to “the Russians ate my votes” , a lie that endures despite no credible evidence of same.
        I hate Trump and his minions but despise HRC -Libya being a very visible achievement of her SOS reign- and despise Biden- remember his friendship with Strom Thurmond and his treatment of Anita Hill? Neither of them have found an armed conflict they didn’t like.

        They both participated in the mess that is current Ukraine.

  13. Fastball
    April 3, 2024 at 19:50

    It’s simple. When state and national officials are traitorous Israel-firsters, I have no duty to vote. I wouldn’t even be voting for Americans, I’d be voting for Israelis.

  14. Clam Hopper
    April 3, 2024 at 19:40

    “The problem is the approximately 1 million rank and file membership may not follow the endorsement of UAW union leadership.”

    I hope you only mean a problem from partisan Democrats’ perspective, or anyone else wanting Biden to win. I think it’s the complete opposite of a “problem” if people refuse to vote for a lifelong violent racist currently committing genocide.

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