Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maxine Waters Speaks Truth to Power

Unless something changes drastically the Obama years will not be remembered as good times for the African-American community.

After turning out in record numbers and giving Barack Obama nearly all of its votes, African-Americans are feeling overlooked, ignored, and taken for granted.

Obama seems to be so confident that the group will vote for him, that he has felt no need to offer them more than food stamps and Medicaid.

Exception given for those members of the community who work for government.

Since the Obama re-election scenario depends on a large turnout by African-American voters, signs of discontent in his most diehard supporters are worth noticing.

On Tuesday something truly remarkable happened in Detroit. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus were holding a town hall meeting about jobs.

Someone asked Maxine Waters why she and the other members of the CBC were not confronting the president over his dismal jobs record. Why were they not pressuring him about jobs in their communities?

After all, minority communities were suffering the most under the Obama regime.

Waters began by saying: “We don't put pressure on the president….Let me tell you why. We don't put pressure on the president because ya'll love the president. You love the president. You're very proud to have a black man -- first time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you're going after us."

Waters is a seasoned politician. She knows the pulse of her constituents. She knows that they do not want to hear their representatives criticize their president. They consider it to be off limits, out of bounds, and disloyal.

American blacks are proud of Obama for getting elected president, and they desperately want him to succeed.

So desperately that they refuse to hear any suggestion that he might be failing.

Pride involves achievement. You gain pride when you succeed, and lose it when you fail.

But pride is not merely a function of individual accomplishment. If your team wins the World Series or if your nation wins a war or if your community prospers you feel pride in the successes. You support the team; you love your country; you belong to the community. When pride is there, you share in it.

Which is good for you.

Getting electing president was a significant political achievement. Black Americans were justly proud of Obama’s success and had every right to share it.

But, it’s not enough to get elected. You also have to do the job. You need to be a competent and successful president. Otherwise, you will lose your pride.

If Obama does not succeed, members of the black community might start thinking that their pride was misplaced, that it was really false pride.

If Barack Obama continues to look as though he is unequal to the office, fewer black Americans will continue to invest their pride in his presidency.

That is the issue that Maxine Waters faced in Detroit. To her credit, she got straight to the point.

In her words: "The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president too….We're supportive of the president, but we're getting tired, y'all.  We're getting tired. And so, what we want to do is, we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he's prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is. We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any black community.  We don't know that."

Waters continued: "When you tell us it's alright and you unleash us and you tell us you're ready for us to have this conversation, we're ready to have the conversation."

Byron York reported that: “Some members of the crowd immediately voiced their approval.”

Note what Waters did not say. She did not say that Obama needed to become more liberal. She did not say that he needed to confront the Tea Party. She did not say that her constituents wanted more handouts.

Waters said that she did not know what the Obama “strategy” was. In this she joined with those who have been saying that Obama has no plan, has not presented a plan, and has no real policy to create jobs.

She was speaking the truth, plainly and starkly. In her community and in Detroit, where she was speaking: “the unemployment is unconscionable.”

Black America has been fiercely loyal to Barack Obama. In return, Obama has been fiercely loyal to the labor union bosses who financed his campaign. And to the trial lawyers and to the environmental lobby.

Andy Stern and Richard Trumka do not have the same agenda or the same interest as Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus.

As I and many others have noted, if you want to increase employment in the minority communities in New York, one way is to bring in a few WalMarts.

A company that can hire large numbers of people and provide goods and services at a low price would seem to be a natural for minority communities.

It doesn’t happen in New York City because the labor unions do not want it to happen.

Another way to increase minority employment is to lower or eliminate the minimum wage.

When the new minimum wage law was passed a number of people warned that it would produce more youth unemployment. Now that youth unemployment in minority communities is over 40%, isn’t it time to get rid of that law?

Why doesn’t this happen? Because the labor unions do not want it to happen.

Obama is also pushing a strong environmental agenda, the kind of agenda that is dear to the hearts of white liberals, but that is filled with job killing regulations.

Poignantly, Waters concludes that Obama has ignored black communities on his recent bus tour.

Is he taking them for granted? Does he believe that they have nowhere else to go?

Or, is Waters expressing something more profound: that Barack Obama is acting as though he is ashamed of being part of the American black community?

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