Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can Obama hold on to African American voters in 2012?

So it appears the White House is seeking to solidify support from within the Black Community. Will this translate into getting more Blacks to the polls?
For several months, radio host Tom Joyner has pleaded with his 8 million listeners to get in line behind the first black president.

“Stick together, black people,” says Joyner, whose R&B morning show reaches one in four African American adults.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, an ally of President Obama who has a daily radio show and hosts a nightly cable television program, recently told the president’s black critics, “I’m not telling you to shut up. I’m telling you: Don’t make some of us have to speak up.”

Even as Obama and his campaign play down the suggestion that support among African Americans is flagging, a cadre of powerful allies is snapping back at critics in the black community and making explicit appeals for racial loyalty.

“Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride — and loyalty,” Joyner wrote on his BlackAmericaWeb.com blog. “We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”

That message is pointed at racial unity much more than it was in 2008, when just the prospect of electing the nation’s first black president brought out record numbers of African American voters. This time, high-profile Obama supporters are tailoring their appeal in hopes of reigniting enthusiasm among blacks, a critical part of the president’s base that has been disproportionately hurt by the lagging economy and high unemployment rates.
Aren't we supposed to be in post-racial America where race doesn't matter? I'm not going to dispute that Obama is getting flack from some quarters because he's Black. It's probably true though my optimism would like to believe that this is a small number. Although it's just as easily that they never liked him in the first black and it's because he's either Black or they insist he's a Muslim.

I'm going to jump ahead to the end. Why the push by many prominent Blacks for Obama and the calls for racial solidarity:
Warren Ballentine, a black talk radio host based in North Carolina who has interviewed Obama about a dozen times, speaks about the president’s accessibility. “It’s not like he is not hearing black America,” he said.

Ballentine specifically reminds his listeners of the racial undertones he saw in the 2008 campaign.

“It’s almost like we’ve forgotten what this man had to go through to get into the office. We need to remember the hatred and vitriol that came out.”

Sharpton said he learned an important lesson about supporting black politicians in the early 1990s, when David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, was running for reelection. Sharpton criticized Dinkins’s “deliberative” style and thought his policies were not progressive enough. Dinkins was hurt by the diminished enthusiasm and turnout among black voters.

“We beat up on him. He went down and we ended up with eight years of Rudy Giuliani,” said Sharpton, who has been among Obama’s most aggressive supporters. “I said I’ll never make that mistake again.”
Like I said, I can't dispute that the President hadn't gone through anything during the course of his historic run. I don't recall anything during the 2008 elections that might have been race related. Although to be sure he was beat up good by Hillary's camp and not because of his race necessarily. Some saw his race as a negative but many saw his lack of executive experience as an issue. I most certainly did!

Also the call for racial solidarity, well it almost strikes me as a call for supporting mediocre politicians who don't deserve a second chance. Has Obama exactly proven that Black voters should give him a second chance? Let's hope that many won't just vote for him because he's Black.

This quote was a breath of fresh air in this article:
Jack Jackson, who works for the city’s water treatment plant, said he is tired of the appeals to black identity politics.

“Leave the race game alone,” said Jackson, 53, who said he supports Obama. “Let’s not keep holding on to that. It’s been done. . . . We should put our faith in God, not Obama.”
Yes, Obama should! I know he wants to remain in office another four years. It's OK to shore up support amongst a very significant constituency, but at what point do you begin to focus on the rest of the nation. Only time will tell if Obama's current strategy is a winning one!

Via Newsalert!

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