It's rare to see a politican do something actually novel and courageous. US small-government Repulican Rand Paul went to the predominantly black Howard University in Washington D.C. to spread an unusual message for a Republican:
Paul reminded the crowd the GOP has always been the party of civil rights and voting rights, but also the party of limited government. "When some people hear that, they tune us out and say: he's just using code words for the state's right to discriminate, for the state's right to segregate and abuse. But that's simply not true."Bear in mind that the article is written by a self-proclaimed conservative black chick and so can't be regarded as a neutral point of view, but the basic facts are undeniable. Paul went to an environment that anyone would regard as explicitly hostile to Republicans in general, and white privileged Republicans in particular; he didn't apologise for who he was, but rather made a case to the audience that it was in their interests to vote Republican.
The last time Obama spoke at Howard University (a short drive from the White House) was in 2007, before he was president. Why should he speak there now? He knows that the black vote leans massively to the Democrats. Why waste time with solid voters when there are many marginal voters to chase? This is the calculus of politics, and it's what is guaranteeing that issues of real and particular concern to African Americans are of little concern to both Democrat and Republican politicians. Republicans know that the black population won't vote for them anyway, and Democrats know that the black population will vote for them regardless.
I hope that the Howard University students want their concerns to be taken seriously by politicians. To make this happen, they have to make it clear that their vote is up for grabs to whoever can deliver on those concerns. This same phenomenon, I am sure, relates to why inner-city areas in the UK languish in poverty; Labour can rely on those votes, so will spend the minimum possible in money and political capital to keep the inhabitants from outright revolt. The Conservatives and Lib Dems know they will never gain those votes no matter what they do, so why try?
If you want something from a politician, you have to have something to negotiate with. This "something" is your vote. Go cavort with your politician's opponents, let him know you're doing it, and you'll be amazed how quickly he appears to gain concern for your well-being.