I’m running to change the game in Washington. I’m not running to fit in Washington. I’m running to change Washington.
Two years later, President Obama is running to try to stop the Republican wave that would change Congress back into GOP control.
Yesterday, I attended the “Moving America Forward” rally in Germantown, a predominantly black, economically distressed neighborhood in north Philadelphia.
The crowd estimate ranges from 10,000 to 18,500 people. Whatever the size, at least 90 percent were black.
Vice President Joe Biden introduced Obama:
Well, folks, we’re getting up. And we’re getting up with the help of the man I’m about to introduce. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re starting to grow our way out of this Republican debacle of the last eight years. We’re creating jobs. We’re building a new clean energy future. We’re making college affordable to middle-class folks again.
Obama said his victory two years ago was “just the start”:
But that was just the start. Because we understood what we were going up against. The only thing that the election did was it gave us the chance to make change happen. It made each of you a shareholder in the mission of rebuilding our country and reclaiming our future. And Philly, I’m back here two years later because our job is not yet done and the success of our mission is at stake right now. On November 2nd, I need you as fired up as you were in 2008.
Davis won only two of the 11 counties in Alabama where African-American voters are a majority and lost some counties in the rural Black Belt by huge, double-digit margins. In Lowndes County, where 70 percent of the population is black, Sparks, who is white, won by 29 points. In Perry County, with a 67 percent black population, his victory margin was 44 percent.
Overall, Democratic turnout was down 32 points since the 2006 midterm elections, suggesting that the presence of an African-American candidate on the ballot did little to rev up the party’s base. In the few African-American-heavy counties where turnout increased since the 2008 presidential race – Barbour, Bullock and Lowndes Counties – Davis lost resoundingly to Sparks.
Davis had hoped to make history as Alabama’s first black governor governor who, er, happened to be black.
He arrogantly thought he could ignore African American leaders, vote against healthcare reform, but blacks would vote for him out of racial solidarity.
While Congressman Artur Davis’s stunning loss in his quest to win the Alabama Democratic Gubernatorial nomination was a sad turn for one Black man, it was a great moment for Black voters. It revealed a heightened level of political sophistication among Black primary voters who rejected Davis’s “I-don’t-need-to-spend-time-on-them-‘cause-I-know-they’ll-be-with-me” approach to campaigning. Black Alabamians did not simply genuflect before a polished Black candidate. He gave them nothing; they returned the favor. Davis has ambitiously positioned himself for higher office for some time. In so doing, he took his base for granted. That’s the best way to lose an election.
I will be hard-pressed to view a trip to the beauty shop as an opportunity to catch up on my reading -- or doze off under the dryer. Now, l have to think about the economic and political implications of my choice of hair salon.
For the last seven years, I have been going to Dominican salons because their prices are much lower than African American-owned salons. As important, I’m in and out in a fraction of the time.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on how African American stylists are facing stiff competition from Dominicans:
Armed with a blow dryer and brush, deft wrist action and shrewd promotional tactics, immigrants from the Dominican Republic are snipping away market share from African-American stylists whose mastery of black women’s hair ensured for generations that their customers wouldn’t, or couldn’t, leave them. Promises of seemingly healthier hair, swifter service and far lower prices are wooing away a growing number of black women.
Like a barber shop, a hair salon is more than a place to get one’s hair styled. They are institutions in the black community, where news, information and gossip are shared -- and politicians stump for votes.
It’s a reflection of black folks’ confusion in the Age of Obama that African American scholars, thought leaders and political influentials have to defend answering the question: Is there a need for a black agenda?
By contrast, Latino leaders and illegal immigrant advocates show no such confusion. They criticize Obama without apology. And they have the audacity to march on Washington and demand that Obama focus on their agenda ahora.
Though I oppose comprehensive
immigration reform amnesty, I agree with the open borders crowd:
Change takes courage.
Chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman, an early supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama, observed:
We have a responsibility to bring the question to the President of the United States. When you look at black people today, I’ve never seen black folks so fearful and scared. Black folks are in pain. And this is the first time since we’ve been in this country that we’ve been in pain and scared to do something about it.
When Obama says a rising tide lifts all boats, he means it. But the descendants of enslaved Africans have a different experience . . . When it comes to blacks, they tell us to shut up.
Georgetown Prof. Michael Eric Dyson refuses to shut up. Dyson reminded Obama that he’s an American, too:
You are the president of everybody. That includes me. I’m from Detroit. I don’t have to be white to be part of America.
Latinos asked for something, and they got something. Gays and lesbians said: “Don’t ask, don’t tell, change it.” Our Jewish brothers and sisters said, “Deal with Israel,” you deal with them.
Why is it when it comes to Negroes . . . when it comes to black folks, we are suddenly persona non grata? I tell you that every president before you has had to deal with the black agenda. How are you going to be any different?
The panelists’ criticism was cloaked “in love.” But what’s love got to do with it.
Never mind that candidate Obama said “the problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.”
Bottom line: Obama was against a spending freeze before he was for it.
A proposed spending freeze leaves former Labor Secretary Robert Reich cold:
The bigger news is Obama is planning a three-year budget freeze on a big chunk of discretionary spending. Wall Street is delighted. But it means Main Street is in worse trouble than ever.
A pending freeze will make it even harder to get jobs back because government is the last spender around. Consumers have pulled back, investors won't do much until they know consumers are out there, and exports are miniscule.
His three-year freeze on a large portion of discretionary spending will make it impossible for him to do much of anything for the middle class that’s important. Chalk up another win for Wall Street, another loss for Main.