Seth Cagin and Phillip Dray say that Dukakis must show blacks that the system works for them (Op-Ed Page, July 13). How? By continuing to ignore black demands for jobs, increased social services, tougher civil rights laws, and a total boycott of South Africa? Dukakis has given no signal that he is prepared to make these Democratic Party campaign issues in the fall. And now, he chooses Bentsen, a millionaire, conservative Texas Democrat, as his running mate.
Dukakis arrogantly disregards black needs because he thinks that blacks have no choice but to loyally punch the Democratic ticket in November. They've done it faithfully ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Why expect them to do anything else this election?
Here's why. Blacks don't have to vote for him. They can vote Republican. Bush is not Ronald Reagan. They can stay home. Or they can organize independently. This is hardly a new idea. Several times during the past century blacks broke with the established parties and formed separate political associations to lobby for black issues. They may do it again.
If Dukakis had done his homework he would also know that black voters, not conservative Southern whites, are the biggest most unified cog in the Democratic Party machine. In the primaries, they gave Jackson victory in seven Southern states. Nationally, blacks accounted for one-quarter of the Democratic vote in the past two elections. In a close race, and this one will be close, they can make or break the Democratic nominee.
Cagin and Dray correctly point out that many blacks abandoned the Democrats in 1964 over the sellout of the Mississippi Democratic Party. If Dukakis continues to blithely ignore black aspirations they will do it again.