Barack Obama and the Betrayal of Black AmericaBy Chidike Okeem
When Barack Obama was elected as the president of the United States, black liberals dreamily believed that the numerous maladies in the black community would cease to exist. They believed that his election was indicative of a vigorous wind of political and social change that was blowing across the country. Barack Obama himself vowed that his election would demarcate the conclusion of grisly "politics as usual" from the commencement of political and democratic freshness. However, as this administration continues on, it is abundantly clear that Obama has not only failed to deliver in a general sense, but he has also completely betrayed his most loyal constituency -- the black community.
After passing a gargantuan stimulus plan that was supposed to fix the economy, the unemployment rate continued to rise -- until it only recently began falling. Although we are currently at an 8.7 percent unemployment rate, the rate in the black community is at an unpardonably enormous 16.1 percent -- the highest of any ethnic group in the country. It is also important to note that black unemployment was lower under Bush than it has been at any point during Obama's administration. In point of fact, black unemployment was even lower under Bush than it was under Clinton.
More egregious than the high rate of black unemployment is the fact that Obama has been completely disconnected with the black community. He has failed to articulate any policy that would deal with the crisis that is evident in urban America. Rather, Obama is much more focused on articulating and enacting policies about issues that are close to his heart, such as allowing gays to serve openly in the military, as well as becoming a potent mouthpiece for the immoral Arab scam to steal Israeli land and annihilate the Jewish people.
Any intellectually honest person in America must look at Obama's demonstrable disregard for black issues and come to the unavoidable conclusion that black America is the very least of Obama's concerns. So obvious is this fact that even some of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters in the black intelligentsia have begun voicing strident denunciations of the president. The latest assault on Obama from his left-wing compatriot Cornel West is evidence of this phenomenon.
Although West's critique of Obama was partly personal and laden with his characteristically asinine divisive racial rhetoric, there was some substance to his criticism to which left-wing Obama cheerleaders in the black community remain willfully blind. West accused Obama of being "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats."
While West foolishly assumes that support for black issues and being in favor of business are mutually exclusive, the unstated and basic premise in West's critique is that Obama does not care enough about, and expresses no interest in, black people and black issues. As absurd as the rest of his intellectually messy ramblings are, West is right about that fundamental point.
Obama's sycophants are used to writing off all criticism of the president coming from whites as racist, and they are equally used to describing all criticism from black conservatives as being the puerile rants of Uncle Toms obsequiously looking for approval from "the white man"; however, although Cornel West is one of the black left's most revered academics, they would much rather write him off as entirely crazy than to admit that any criticism he has of Barack Obama contains even a scintilla of merit.
Big Government is the Problem, Not the Solution
By arguing that Obama has betrayed the black community, I am not arguing that Obama needs to spend his time carving out black-specific governmental policies. Manifestly, the black-specific liberal policies that have been attempted in the past have done nothing more than stimulate a metastasizing of the very social cancers that they were designed to treat. My argument is, however, that Obama has failed to enact the economic policies that would provide the necessary environment for blacks to fend for themselves independent of government -- despite the fact that he presented himself during his campaign as someone who was inimitably skilled and uniquely well-positioned to do so.
Without attempting to cater to blacks specifically, President Reagan managed to create economic prosperity throughout the entire country which, in point of fact, benefited blacks more than it did whites. The facts cannot be disputed: Reaganomics had a salubrious effect on the black community, whereas Obamanomics is having an unequivocally deleterious effect on black economics and the black community at large.
Obama Is Not The President of African Americans?
One of the talking points formulated by Obama's apologists in the media is the notion that Obama is not the president of black America. They argue he is the president of the United States of America. This pathetically feeble argument exists for the sole purpose of deflecting legitimate criticism of Obama's failure to meet the needs of the black community.
The fact of the matter is that Obama is the president of African Americans, just as he is the president of white Americans. It takes a shocking display of intellectual dishonesty to suddenly release Obama of any responsibility for black America, especially when previous presidents have always been held responsible for their treatment of the black community.
In 1998, the Nobel-Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison gave Bill Clinton the honorary moniker of "America's first black president" because, according to her, he "display[ed] almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."
Leaving aside the recognizably insulting view of what constitutes blackness in Morrison's perverse mind, had white, southern Clinton possessed all these qualities while presiding over 16.1 percent unemployment, I am positive that this endearing nickname would never have been created -- much less believed by black liberals for many years until the emergence of Obama.
By contrast, the left, with unutterable alacrity, vociferously argued that George W. Bush's less-than-stellar handling of Hurricane Katrina was indicative of his incurable allergy toward black skin. Even largely apolitical rapper Kanye West took the time out to accuse Bush of not caring about blacks. The fact that Bush packed his administration with exceptionally well-qualified minorities was completely disregarded when the black left gave Bush his failing report card. One can only imagine the panic-stricken cries of racism that would have been heard for years if Bush had overseen 16.1 percent black unemployment.
It is nothing more than liberal hypocrisy to see the crisis evident in the black community under Obama's watch and simply respond with the contemptible shibboleth stating, "Obama is not the president of black America; he's the president of the United States of America" -- especially when every other president in recent history has been critically judged on their treatment of the black community.
Can Republicans Argue Back?
If the Republican Party cannot effectively communicate to blacks the obvious fact that Obama has been working diligently on all the trivial left-wing issues close to his heart, yet has completely neglected to address the glaring emergency occurring in his "own" community, then the Republicans are destined to -- and deserve to -- lose the black vote in 2012.
The black community is looking for political change. Yes, Obama is black, but he has proven that his liberalism takes preeminence over his blackness. Liberalism cannot save black America. If Republicans cannot capitalize on this crisis in leadership that Obama has provided and offer a concrete alternative message to the black community as to why conservatism is the answer, it's safe to say Republicans will never capture the black vote.
The opportunity to make powerful racial public policy arguments is now. Republicans pass up this pristine opportunity at their own political peril.
FOLLOW US ON