John Fetterman’s reasons for opposing voter ID insult black Americans

We’ve all repeated some form of tribal rhetoric because the underlying narrative came from people we strongly associate ourselves with. It becomes tribal rhetoric because it’s widely believed and accepted uncritically by those within the tribe.

I’d love, for example, to meet this mysterious black person I keep hearing about from politicians who is completely incapable of getting to the DMV to receive a photo ID.

When you apply critical thinking to the narrative that it’s racist to require people to provide photo ID to vote and it’s a Herculean effort for minorities to meet the request, you begin to realize how tribal thinking has perpetuated condescension of certain segments of our population.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate in the state’s high-profile Senate race, says he opposes voter-identification laws because poor people and “people of color” are, according to him, “less likely to have their ID at any one given time.”

Fetterman is far from being the only Democratic politician to repeat the line that black people, and by extension other minority groups, are incapable of gaining photo identification.

Signs greet voters at a voting location in Ruckersville, Virginia in 2020 requiring ID.
Signs greet voters at a voting location in Ruckersville, Virginia in 2020 requiring ID.
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

It’s widely repeated tribal rhetoric that uncritically spreads from one Democrat to another because it supports their foundational belief of black Americans’ inherent victimhood based upon insurmountable obstacles that are distinctive to us and no one else.

Cemented in the Democratic Party is the view that black Americans need to be paternally pitied, making it an applaudable accomplishment when one of us rises above their meager expectations.

John Fetterman has never applied critical thinking to the matter because he is a tribal creature repeating a condescending narrative about the very people he claims to care about.

To be fair, as a former Democrat, I was much like Fetterman for a brief period of time as I repeated what I heard from political pundits who were on my supposed team as they exaggerated our incapability. It was upon my own personal reflection and application of logic to this narrative that I realized I was perpetuating not only a falsehood but a demeaning belief about people who look just like me.

When I was a child, we were homeless on multiple occasions, yet my mother had a license and car the entire time. I’ve known people who were on welfare who had driver’s licenses. Matter of fact, in order to get on welfare, you need identification.

Sixty percent of black Americans live in 10 states, and you’re likely to guess those states based on the major cities within them. The majority of black Americans live in either highly populated urban centers or their surrounding suburban districts. Are we to say that in highly populated areas, they are incapable of finding a DMV to receive a photo ID?

If 61.2 percent of black Americans are middle class, how are they able to sustain this lifestyle without ever using photo identification? Even the economic poor need ID to perform basic adult tasks and gain employment. Are we to assert that most black people work “under the table” as well? The reality is that around 87 percent of black Americans already have government IDs.

Citizens vote at a polling location in Illinois on Election Day of 2020.
Citizens vote at a polling location in Illinois on Election Day of 2020.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Democrats assume there’s an access issue, but gaining photo identification is a one-time function you won’t have to do again for years, not a weekly trial, and if most black Americans live in or near highly populated cities, it’s unlikely a DMV isn’t remotely accessible.

This tribal rhetoric of black Americans being incapable of obtaining a photo ID is not only condescending but riddled with racist tropes: You’d have to believe we are too dumb, incapable or lazy to truly accept that this singular requirement would keep millions of black people from participating in the voting process.

In politics, sometimes you need something or someone to leverage to implement or prevent policies, and the Democratic establishment has decided that black Americans are their most convenient tool to fight back against the GOP’s demand for photo identification for voting to prevent fraud and illegal voting by non-citizens.

The Democratic establishment has manufactured this perverted tribal rhetoric about black people for political power. Nothing more.

Adam B. Coleman is the author of “Black Victim to Black Victor” and founder of Wrong Speak Publishing.

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