Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis should know I can be pretty critical of President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama has been very careful to keep the black community at arm’s length so as not to give his political opponents any reason to bring race into the picture. Mr. Obama will deny that his race is a factor for any of the criticism and outright hatred that many of his constituents have for him. It’s understandable. In politics, it would be easy to say that a black man that embraces black people will be anti white.
When asked for his opinion on the Trayvon Martin case, Mr. Obama said that if he had a son he’d look like the slain teenager. Some conservatives were quick to use that comment as evidence that Mr. Obama doesn’t care for white teenagers. The same thing happened when Mr. Obama tried to put accusations of racism against white people aside when he addressed his relationship with his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In his speech, he talked about the racism he witnessed from his grandmother who he described as a typical white person. Many of his critics were quick to say that Mr. Obama threw his grandmother under his bus. This man can’t say anything about race without somebody calling him racist.
In order to give Mr. Obama some slack from the race factor, many people in the black community were willing to give Mr. Obama a pass from addressing the needs of the black community. Most black people were confident that Mr. Obama would do what’s best for the black community without being asked for assurances or for an understanding what his plan would be. He was a shoe in to win the black vote after all. Wasn’t he one of us? Didn’t he have black skin? So did Clarence Thomas and you see where that got us.
Nevertheless, the black community voted for Mr. Obama in droves and we kept our questions and concerns to ourselves. But that only helped to lead Mr. Obama astray. Instead of keeping his focus on our communities, his attention was elsewhere as he did his best to keep the assurances he gave to others around the nation and throughout the world. Mr. Obama bent over backwards to try and win favor from his conservative opponents. When the conservatives were making their pact to deny Mr. Obama anything that could be construed as a success, Mr. Obama was trying his best to gain the favor of conservative constituents by compromising time and time again with people who refused to compromise.
But by letting Mr. Obama off the hook and free to pursue the favor of conservatives who demanded concession after concession before saying no to everything, we left Mr. Obama to wander away from his political base in a fruitless appeal for bipartisanship with people who would rather drive the country to ruin in order to make Mr. Obama look like a failure than agree with him on anything that would improve the national welfare.
Mr. Obama seems to have awakened from his delusion that conservative politicians can be reasoned with. He now recognizes the fact that his political future and the future of the country depends on him taking a harder line on the people trying their best to sabotage his leadership. Mr. Obama now understands that it is naïve to think that he can negotiate with people who want him to fail at any and all cost.
Just like Mr. Obama has awakened from his slumber, the black community needs to awake from its slumber as well. If people had made sure that Mr. Obama focused his attention on the things that were important to the black community like jobs and the protection of educational opportunities and unemployment benefits while the country works through its malaise. It’s unfortunate that healthcare reform was done without a single payer option. But now that conservatives have challenged the reform in its current iteration, if it gets rejected maybe Mr. Obama would push for it on a second round. All of those things would help people in the black community as well as people who need help throughout the country.
If the black community wants to help Mr. Obama have a successful presidency, the black community needs to be willing to criticize Mr. Obama when he goes off course from his base. Staying mum as he goes down what we feel is the wrong path isn’t helping. The people who may care most about him having a successful shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and give him some feedback on what we see going down in the political arena. If we showed something that resembled a political backbone, maybe he wouldn’t be so quick to turn a back on his base to win the political favor of others.
Criticizing Mr. Obama when he fails to protect our interest is not necessarily an automatic condemnation. It ranks right up there when a parent criticizes a child or a supervisor criticizes an employee. Feedback should be welcomed in a relationship that remains respectful for everyone concerned. When Mr. Obama fails to represent us, when he fails to respect us along with the rest of his constituencies and we fail to bring that fact to his attention, we have no one but ourselves to blame for his lack of concern for us.
Mr. Obama is up for reelection and the black community, along with the Hispanic community, along with the female community, along with the Jewish community, along with the gay and lesbian community, along with the white community, along with the business community, and every other community, has interests that should be voiced and protected.