Suppressing the Black Male Vote: Ronald Reagan and the War on Drugs
The purpose of this study is to examine the ways in which the War on Drugs was wielded as a tool for political suppression, more specifically, how Ronald Reagan used the War on Drugs to suppress the African American male vote during his presidency, and thereafter. The study will consist of examining primary sources such as Ronald Reagan’s speeches and writings, bills passed during his presidency, demographics and statistics of those incarcerated for drug use, as well as demographics of those who voted for Ronald Reagan. The study seeks to draw a correlation between the drastic incarceration of Black men and the fact that this demographic was not representative of Reagan's voter base to prove that incarceration was used as a tool for voter suppression. Reagan first mentioned the drug issue in a speech in 1982. Thereafter he frequently addressed it and pushed to create more drug policy. The War on Drugs in the United States eventually led to the US having the largest incarceration rate in the world, surpassing even Russia. This means that an incredibly large group of Americans were disenfranchised and a disproportionate number of these individuals were Black men.