Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ninety-four to Nothing

It's been mentioned, but not with the jaw dropping surprise I thought would accompany it. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 94-0 with black Americans in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. 

At the threshold of the GOP convention, no candidate in the modern era has polled at ZERO. There appears to be no angst at all among the Republicans. It's possible they think they can at least get 3-5 percent of the presidential vote as a matter of course. Or, perhaps they have decided that they will just cede the black vote and focus on the votes of white males. But if he runs, let alone win, by almost totally ignoring a fairly significant part of the country's population (black people represent 13% of the America), what does that say about our country. 

The mistaken notion that as a demographic, blacks are so in love with the first African-American president that they won't vote for anyone else is a false predicate and an unfortunate one. 

The problem with the lack of appeal of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. In the mind of many people I've talked with, throughout the for years, black and white, there has been an appalling lack of respect shown the President and it's being attributed almost solely to his race. 

Therein lay another reason why Romney finds himself losing in the poll with black Americans by 94 points...

The Republican Dominated House of Representatives

There are blacks who neither understand nor appreciate the stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) or ‘Obamacare’ (the Affordable Care Act), but they do understand that Barack Obama has had to play under a different set of rules than virtually any other President.
An example: those unfamiliar with the process of government or only tangentially familiar with the way government works, do understand, for instance that votes taken in the 100 member United States Senate, under President George Bush, were one with a simple majority (51 votes). Under the first black President, there needs to be a ‘super majority’ (60 votes) making it much harder to get anything done. Blacks are familiar with having the game changed once we get in places of authority traditionally ‘reserved’ for whites.

The confirmed story that while the President was being inaugurated;  while nearly 2 million people stood freezing in the cold to watch a penultimate moment in our country’s history, leaders in the Republican Party met and conspired to make him unsuccessful, is a story rings true with what most black Americans have experienced at one time or another, and what many expected would happen when Obama became President. 

Black people actually heard Mitch McConnell say that the number one priority of the Republicans in Congress was to make Barack Obama a one term president. Now, to be honest, that is usually the priority of the opposition period. But, again, this is the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT. The publicly stated goal of making him a failure does not sit well, with most black Americans.

Blacks are also familiar with what it means to get a job held by a white predecessor has failed royally and been expected to work miracles in order to be considered successful. Nearly every black child is familiar with the admonition: ‘you must be twice as good to get half as much respect’. And in this, blacks find a great deal of resonance with the President.

To hear the President called ‘a failure’; ‘a disappointment’; ‘ a catastrophe’ by the same people who have publicly stated that they would obstruct his agenda in order to make him a failure is, again, something with which blacks can identify. To have, for instance, House Majority Leader John Boehner, refuse to take his calls; or to have Representative Eric Cantor, storm out of meetings with the President are all signs of disrespect that one cannot imagine being countenanced by say a Nixon or a Johnson.

Early on in the Obama presidency, black people barely shook their heads in disbelief when almost everything that he proposed was either met with opposition, or, when won took massive effort. They also watched the budget battles which almost brought the country to the brink of insolvency, with Republican leaders refusing to budge on tax cuts for the wealthy over against cuts which disproportionately impact black and poor communities. So that the calls for cuts for ‘entitlements’: cuts for food stamps, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, cuts in education are all couched in terms 'coded' for cuts in benefits for black people. While black people may be disproportionately impacted by the issues these programs are designed to address, the largest demographic of the poor are whites. Yet, these issues are spoken of in ways in which conjure up images of blacks who seek dependency on government. And Obama is spoken of as the one who is responsible for the growth of these programs. He is seen by Republican Party, as Newt Gingrich promulgated, ‘the food stamp President’.

This condescension, which ignores the depth of the Great Recession (some say ‘depression’) which he inherited, and which suggests that ‘normal’ means of recovery were ignored for some ‘exotic’ form of ‘foreign’ financial policy efforts, belies the fact that Republicans and Democrats embraced stimulus as a means of economic recovery before the age of Obama.

One other thing, even in the realm of foreign policy, the efforts to diminish are equally astounding to the black community. And may be the one with which average black Americans are familiar.

In killing Osama Bin Ladin, there was a bending over backwards to make he has been denied credit. He is criticized for ending the Iraq War – a war in which we should never have been engaged, and in which the leader had been deposed and executed, leading to an occupation which the current leaders were telling the U.S. it was time for us to leave. We credit Nixon for ending the Viet Nam War; FDR for ending WWII; Lincoln for ending the Civil War and yet, the GOP has found ways to criticize the President for ending the wrongheaded misadventure in Iraq and authorizing the mission in which the author of the most traumatic attack on American shore was killed. 

The Congressional Republicans have helped confirm the worst suspicions, if not fears, of a great number of black Americans. If Republican elected representatives can't show the most basic modicums of respect for a President whose election symbolizes the aspirations of at least 13% of the population, how can that same demographic be 'for' their nominee to challenge that President?

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