Well, during this week’s referendum election that is not supposed to be a referendum election on President Obama’s performance as America’s CEO, there will be several surprises, survivals, and abrupt comeuppance lessons. The script as promoted and advocated by not only the embedded, paid-for media, but also by the “objective” sucked-in media, will be re-written by people who actually show up to the polls rather than determined by too frequent opinion polls. Once again, we will be shown why the election games are actually held and not decided by pundits. Polls don’t vote, people do.
But what’s in it for Black folk, besides not being interested in letting the “Manifest Destiny” crowd substantially undermine our first and so far only Black president (with apologies to J.A. Rogers)?
Clearly, none of us is even the slightest bit interested in watching others make the president fail, although some of us certainly have our own issues with him.
We are interested in the fact that too many of us are unemployed and underemployed all over the country, including 18.5 percent in California, and a figure of more than 25 percent for Black youth. Additionally, too many of us are landless, underhoused, poorly educated, and getting worse.
So who gets to stay or gets to come in as congresspersons really does not concern us much, since it will not be Congress that gets us jobs. It’s the banks and financial institutions that control that issue, and too many of them are just hoarding their funds rather than using the money available to help medium and small businesses so they, in turn, can hire people.
We know there really may be a conspiracy operating here, a collusion of bankers to influence the elections, given the banking community’s near universal resentment of the new Financial Reform Act and other Obama initiatives to regulate and restrain financial greed in the system.
If that is the case, Nov. 2 would have told the tale by now and the banks can let go of some of that huge trove of cash to move this economy forward and reduce unemployment. Trying to hold onto all that money until 2012, to get another crack at President Obama, is economically illogical and unprofitable, so, if a conspiracy was operational, after election day, the ranks of banks will surely break to get back to business as usual.
So, besides the being-sick-and-tired of-Whitey’s foolishness angle, why should we have paid attention to all of the exhortations to vote, vote, vote.
Let’s look at some numbers. In 1998, according to the Joint Center for Political Research, California had 240 Black elected officials, compared to 849 in Mississippi, 733 in Alabama, 597 in Georgia, 554 in South Carolina and 333 in Virginia. By 2010 (before the general election), California only had 215 Black elected officials statewide, including 22 mayors, four U.S. congresspersons, and eight state legislators. This decline is palpable, and although simply having Black representatives is no guarantee that the Black community will get decent representation, it is a clearly better option than the alternative.
Only organized, focused voting can reverse that trend.
In California, not taking on Propositions 20, 23, 24, and 27 would mean that the four congressional districts Blacks now enjoy substantial protection in would be lost to the new Redistricting Commission; our re-training for green jobs would be wasted; and small Black businesses would be financially harmed even more. The Redistricting Commission is already poised to re-draw and decimate state senate districts 25 and 26, along with the six assembly districts Black officials regularly win. So, without having voted, Black folks would have acquiesced to letting others decide their political fate.
The Tea Party/Republican Party’s advocacy of killing or substantially re-writing the recently-passed National Healthcare Reform Act means the Black community should have said “no” by voting down any such candidates. A substantial number of African Americans are part of that pool of 32 million uninsured, underinsured citizens the law was designed to help, and a great many of us have long recognized great disparities in available Health care treatment and counseling.
Allowing any substantial number of new legislators to gain office with that ideology and plan would simply not be in the best interests of the Black community.
Tea Party/Republicans have also vowed to launch relentless investigations of Democratic lawmakers. There is already a tangible belief within Black political circles that Black elected officials are being specifically targeted in current and past audits, thus allowing more hungry foxes in the hen house cannot help the situation.
Presently, at the federal level, House Ways and Means Chair, Charlie Rangel, who was until earlier this year head of the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives, and one of only five Blacks to ever head such a congressional body, had to resign because of an ethics inquiry.
California’s very popular Congresswoman Maxine Waters, chair of a banking subcommittee, is also under a serious ethics investigation, and inside the state Senator Rod Wright (25) is being threatened with expulsion and possible jail time by another ethics inquiry, as are other Black officials in California.
Clearly, non-participation in the Nov. 2 elections was not a self-interested thing for the Black community to do. Hopefully, when this column is published, it will not be the hindsight analysis of a very bad political mistake on our part. Voting remains one of the most powerful weapons in our repertoire of tools to change our situation for the better. Not using it is not using our political common sense. Politically, no one will save us but us.
Professor David L. Horne, is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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