By Ronald W. Weathersby
Question: If you are a black politician, commentator, blogger or academician how can you get increased exposure on TV news shows, talk radio and in the nation’s preeminent daily newspapers?
Answer: Criticize the country’s first African American president.
In the past six-months many African Americans who covet media attention have quenched their individual thirst for notoriety by bashing Barack Obama’s economic policies and his presidency with many citing his “inattention” to the needs of the black community.
Black politicians who have marginalized themselves for a generation are now the subject of feature articles in big city dailies. Professors and pundits we’ve never heard of until recently are regularly featured on TV and radio programs. All because of their willingness and apparent zeal to bad mouth the president.
And what has this selfish group really done to assist the people they allegedly represent and speak for? Absolutely nothing.
In fact most of these individuals have a history of acting almost entirely in their self interest. They seem to be more fascinated by hearing themselves talk and watching themselves on the TV than actually doing anything substantive for the black community. They write books and reap millions of dollars. They capitalize on their fleeting fame to get roles in Hollywood movies. It seems having the media shoving microphones in their face and taking their photo does no more than to feed their insatiable egos and put money in their pockets.
Unfortunately they cannot get the media’s attention by attacking the right wing political machine that has effectively taken over the GOP and has sworn to make defeating Barack Obama their number one priority. They seem impotent in the face of the followers of the Tea Party as they rewrite history and pile the blame for nation’s recession and the national debt on the president’s back. As the president attempts to deal with his political opposition the folks who many would think should have his political back now seem to be happy stabbing Obama in the back.
To any unbiased observer it should be evident that the president has presented a hostile Congress with numerous measures he believes will stimulate a slumbering economy and increase employment rates in the country. He has been rebuked incessantly by the House of Representatives driven by a faction that refuses to cooperate with him and a Senate that needs 60-votes to move any bill.
The fact is if the president cannot get Republicans and Democrats frightened by the Tea Party to vote for policies designed to aid the entire US economy and all Americans why do some black folks think he can garner that elusive support by talking about how this policy or that policy will assist the black community specifically?
Just last week conservatives in the House of Representatives voted to cut short Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money which would be utilized to aid Missourians who were devastated by tornadoes and Virginians hit hard by hurricane winds and floods. If these short-sighted politicians will ignore the needs of citizens of states that have consistently voted for Republican candidates and generally support right wing policies what makes black politicians think they will do any different for unemployed black people languishing in our nation’s cities?
The result of the attacks Obama has endured from his political base is a softening of the support he will need in his 2012 re-election campaign.
Are black folks and their so-called leaders elected and otherwise so politically naïve to think the policies espoused by Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman will have a positive effect on our community? Moreover, have we totally forgotten the importance of the Supreme Court and the fact the next president will probably nominate at least two new Associate Justices to that court?
The fact is the individuals who are attacking the president live in a world unlike that of most African Americans. They obviously believe Republican policies did not and will not negatively affect their personal lives. They are not worried about jobs. They send their children to private schools and don’t need government grants to help pay college tuitions. They have health coverage that is not threatened. Their future is secure. In reality Republican policies that favor the wealthy have and will favor them.
Take for example California Democratic House member Maxine Waters. In 2009 she reported assets ranging as high as $7.1 million. Yet she represents one of the poorest urban Congressional Districts in the nation. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau median household income in Water’s district (CA-35) was $41,710 per year compared to the US median household income of $51,425. That same census found twenty percent of families in Waters’ district live below the nation’s poverty level. Given these number we can presume there aren’t very many multi-millionaires living in Waters’ district besides the Congresswoman herself.
The attack on Barack Obama by black politicians and others has led to what is being called the “enthusiasm gap.” The theory is that the black community’s enthusiasm for Obama is waning and will lead to fewer black people voting in 2012. This will adversely affect the president’s ability to win re-election.
President Obama cannot win such key states as Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia without a huge black turnout. That’s 86 of the 270 Electoral College votes Obama will need for reelection.
If the so-called black leadership continues its attacks on the president instead of educating our community about the realities of governing and the need for everyone to engage in the political system President Obama may not survive politically.
I remember as child hearing my elders tell me not to cut off my nose to spite my face. Unfortunately today it seems that is exactly what envious members of the black leadership elite are asking us to do.