I was disgusted when I watched the video clip of the last Republican presidential debate and heard some people from the audience cheering at Ron Paul’s suggestion that we should change our social priorities so that we let people who are without adequate medical insurance and who are injured and in need of help die. Mr. Paul says that we are a free country and that freedom means we have the freedom to take risk. The supposition is totally false because it’s not like we have the same choices, the same options to say yea or nay to health insurance.
Whether or not you have coverage is largely a matter of luck. It’s possible that you did everything you could to be responsible. You went to school, studied hard, got a degree at the top of your class, and went to work for a company like Enron, only to watch your career, your savings, and everything you worked for evaporate in thin air. Or you could have worked faithfully on the Pontiac assembly line at General Motors. You could have watched helplessly as the management approved crappy cars for production year after year until the company becomes a mere shadow of its former self. Then the day comes when your job is axed and you find yourself out on the street and your only skill is attaching steering columns to dashboards or whatever. The following year you suffer an accident and in Ron Paul’s vision of the world, you should’ve made better choices. Too bad, so sad, maybe a church or a charity will help you out. You should’ve been more responsible.
It is a fact of American life, that we all have the same chances for opportunities of success. The way things are going, the only way we the people will pursue life, liberty, and happiness is if we have the deep pockets to have all the resources necessary to weather any financial setback that comes our way. Instead of living at the mercy of fickle employers who’d be more than happy to lay off employees by the tens of thousands we need to be responsible and learn to do for ourselves. But then again, if we take the risk of trying to be more responsible and do something for ourselves and it doesn’t work, we should’ve been more responsible. It’s almost a no-win scenario.
It was sad to see Mr. Paul’s solution to our social problems was for all of us to do more to become less socially oriented and more individually oriented. But it is nothing we haven’t heard before. Mr. Paul isn’t the first person to say that people looking for some kind of help should take more responsibility for themselves. It’s the same message Barack Obama has given the black community way before he became President of the United States.
Many moons ago, Mr. Obama gave the black community the same message about responsibility. Despite the fact that unemployment in the black community is higher, despite the fact that on average wages for black people lag behind our white counterparts, despite the fact that the average black families only has a fraction of the wealth of the average white family, despite the fact that black families don’t have the resources to help their kids get a higher education, despite the fact that many black people live in communities without the infrastructure and investment of our nearby white counterparts, Mr. Obama said that black people need to take more responsibility for what’s happening in our lives. For black people, what’s the difference between this and what Mr. Paul said?
Today, Mr. Obama is fighting hard to keep his job even though it looks like the writing’s on the wall. The stubbornly high unemployment rates are casting a long, hard, dark shadow over Mr. Obama’s future. The enthusiasm is gone out of his political support and he’s doing everything he can to get it back. He has even gone so far as to make steps to woo black people like his recent appearances on Tom Joyner’s radio program. Indeed, that was the same Mr. Obama who has been stiff arming the black community with his callous rhetoric like black people need to be more responsible or he isn’t trying to be the President of the black community. Now Mr. Obama sings a different tune. But are black people willing to listen?
In his bid to become President, Mr. Obama managed to win the hearts of the black community without making a single solitary commitment to the issues impacting the black community. His appearances in venues geared towards black people were extremely rare. And when he did show up, he used language of contempt that all but directly said that we could not and should not count on him to do anything for us.
Three years ago Mr. Obama didn’t give black people much hope. The black community never got the assurances he gave to other communities. Mr. Obama went to Joe the plumber’s neighborhood and talked about spreading the wealth around. We were told to quit belly aching and show some responsibility. I hope everyone in the black community remembers those words.
If Ron Paul changes his tune and comes back to say he’s ready to support whatever programs it takes to help people in need, I’d have to take his change of heart with a ton of salt. We’ve seen his behavior and we’ve heard his rhetoric. He doesn’t want to help those who can’t help themselves. That’s at his core and I appreciate him giving us a glimpse into what he thinks and who he truly is. If he desperately wanted the White House and thought if he said something different he could win our support. And if that happens, I could believe he had a change of heart, but why? To me, the office of the President is too important to take a chance like that.
Mr. Obama has shown us what he thinks as well. He was given the job of President and it looks like he squandered it. Three years ago he all but told the black community he wasn’t going to help. Today we see that he was a man of his word. And now he says that he’s going to do things differently in the future. His given speeches saying there’s more work to do and he’s ready to fight on behalf of the people. He’ll even tell black people he’s ready to work for us as well. He must be desperate. And when people are desperate they will say things they may not really mean. And that’s a problem that developed by his own doing. He spent the better part of three years ignoring the black community. What makes me believe he’s ready to do something different now? The office of the President is too important to take that chance.