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A Black man's critique of President Obama

President Barack H. Obama
His approval numbers have dropped.  Has
your approval of the job he's doing
in office also dropped?
You all know that I am a political junkie.  I am also a registered Independent supporter of President Obama.  My political views are somewhat unique.  Not what most would expect, but quite frankly, I always walk to the beat of my own drum.  I usually agree and disagree with the same politician.  Which, I think, is healthy. 
Blind allegiance is dangerous.  I received the below letter a couple of days ago, and asked the gentleman if I could share it. I will share my views and opinions of the letter after you read the letter, as I do not want to bias anyone (of course you will probably just skip to the end and see what I have to say...LOL (keep reading for the letter and my opinion...)

Family,


I strongly disagree with Tom Joyner's assessment and would like to explain why. First of all, President Obama's poll numbers are in the tank for a litany of reasons. He campaigned on abolishing the Bush Tax cuts and how they disproportionately favor the top 1%, yet, he raised them by the stroke of his own pen. He campaigned on ending the war in Iraq, yet, he has increased troop levels and monetary expenditures similar to the Bush administration and the surge he once decried. We have spent well over two billion dollars a month between both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wonder how those expenditures could benefit seniors, students struggling with student loan debt, homeowners who are upside down and cannot refinance because the big banks are not lending, schools, buildings, and roads that are falling apart, etc. He campaigned on strengthening consumer protection, yet, completely capitulated without a fight to the Republican House by not nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new agency. She was his top choice by his own admission. He recently agreed not to enforce a critical law under the Clean Air Act through the Environmental Protection Agency which in essence is another give away to major polluters: big oil companies, coal companies, etc. When it came to healthcare, President Obama threw in the towel regarding the public option before the fight even began. This was a major democratic initiative since the Kennedy days in the 60's. Instead, the major problem in the healthcare system was completely ignored: costs! Now, the government has mandated what will ultimately result in billions of dollars for for-profit companies by mandating that everyone purchase private health insurance. Private insurance companies are for-profit corporations that have one mission in life: make money. Often times, this purely monetary interest is counter to the public interests. Lastly, the bank bailouts with President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geitner. To be fair, the bank bailouts indeed began under the Bush administration; however, they were certainly continued by President Obama. The banks bundled perfectly good mortgages with toxic mortgages which they knew were bad investments, misled their own customers and investors, and the United States government. Their punishment for helping drag down the U.S. economy and putting the entire financial system at risk: taxpayer bailouts sanctioned by our own government and both political parties. To make matters even worse, OUR taxpayer money was given away to bail out the banks and wall street without a single mandate whatsoever.

I indeed like President Obama and have the ultimate respect for what's he's accomplished, particularly as a black man. It's time for us as black people, and more importantly as Americans, to start having an honest discussion. Dr. Cornell West and Mr. Tavis Smiley are right about judging ALL politicians not based on their color, but their merits and substance, or lack thereof. Isn't that what Dr. King advocated: To judge people not based on their color, but on the content of their character. I say it's time to stop giving away our precious votes to anyone who is not representing our interests, whatever you individually interpret that to mean. It's time for people to make their respective calls on their own. I just hope they make it on substance and not color.

P.M., Esq.
MY TAKE

I support the sender of this letter in his courage to send it. I disagree with a large portion of it, and we have discussed that fact.  I will start with the main point:

"Judge people not based on their color, but on the content of their character..."

I often find this statement used against Black people more than FOR Black people.  Here are my reasons why:

1.  In a colorblind society, we fail to recognize the pure fact that discrimination and prejudices do exist based on the color of ones skin, ones ethnicity, heritage, gender, etc.  And that is in a number of countries...Look at what is going on now that Qaddafi is no longer in control of Libya.  The darker hued Africans are being exterminated and oppressed. 
2.  Our cultural/ethnic/racial experiences make up the contents of our character.
3.  Why does this only come into play when the person we judge is a minority? All of a sudden we judge more harshly, criticize more freely, increase the measuring stick and move the finish line?
4.  Was Al Gore, John Kerry or Bill Clinton judged by the contents of their character when over 90% of the African-American community voted Democrat and for them? Or did African-Americans vote for them because 1. a large majority of people in general ALWAYS vote for the same party year in and year out.  2. they chose the lesser of two evils? 3. They assumed that because they were non-minorities they could win? (African-American candidates were in at least two of those primary races...)

On Cornell West and Tavis Smiley

I used to like Tavis Smiley because he spoke well for underserved communities.  Then I realized something...all he did was talk.  At some point, you must do.  PERIOD.  I appreciate anyone who voices his/her opinion and I believe more of us should do so.  But, I also feel we have to use more than our mouths. We need to use our hands and feet and put in some work, besides just selling books and blowing steam and criticizing everything and everybody.  (Myself included...).  Basically in the same way Tavis asks President Obama,"What have you done for us lately?"  I ask Tavis Smiley and ESPECIALLY Cornell West "What have you done for us....EVER?"  I mean how much of your book money goes to help feed a hungry child or provide for the education of the underserved?

As to President Obama's election and policies

I could have voted for Hillary Clinton or I could have voted in the Republican primary had I so chosen.  But I did not agree with Hillary Clinton's politics, demeanor, or candidacy.  Quite frankly, I was not feeling her at all.  Had nothing to do with her gender or race. 

I like cerebral people.  She's intelligent to be sure.  She's a go getter.  She's tough and demanding.  Those are not necessarily ALL the qualities I look for in a candidate.  When I analyzed, researched, and watched, then Senator Obama, I found exactly what I personally was looking for in a candidate.

Someone even handed.  Someone who was measured and deep thinking.  Someone who looked at an overall picture, and took time to see the long way through a problem.  I've watched politics since I was a little kid. No lie. I used to watch MacNeil Lehrer on PBS when I was in elementary school.  So I've always known what type of politicians I would like to see hold office.  But until President Obama ran, I always had to choose the lesser of two evils.

That drastically changed with him.  I mean DRASTICALLY!  I not only voted for President Obama, I also campaigned for him, registered voters, and raised money.  For the first time ever.  He was a candidate who finally met my political needs.

And guess what? I still disagree with him on some things. I do not agree with his intervention in Libya.  I do not agree with his continuing the Bush tax cuts.  I do not agree with us still being in the war in Afghanistan.  He in fact cut the troops from Iraq.  BUT I respect his decisions to continue those things for the reasons he chose too, and still don't like it.  I don't believe in pep rally politics.  I think you make decisions on the best information you have provided.  What I respect about him most is...he actually takes the time to collect the best information possible. 

On his health care bill? I agree with the measures taken to get it passed, even sans the public option.  Why? Because there was more to it than that.  There is more to it than mandating people get health care.  Some states, like my home of North Carolina, actually have funds from the federal government to make health care  less expensive by having a statewide risk pool.  Other states like Florida and South Carolina rejected those funds.  Remember, all politics are local?  They really are.  If you focus solely on federal government politics without ever looking at statewide and local politics, you will find yourself lost and suffering for sure.

In closing:  If you elect people who are totally against an agenda you support, or your state does...how is it that you lay the blame at the feet of someone who still has the same agenda as you?  I say critique away.  But let that judgment and critique be fair and just.  I don't see too many people railing against President Clinton's policies that allowed hundreds of thousands of jobs to go overseas, that created laws that disproportionately incarcerated as opposed to educated Black males, that assisted in the creation of "too big to fail" banks, and helped to initiate the ability of Banks to participate in predatory lending... I'm just saying...let's be fair. (I won't even go into President Bush's messiness...I wanted to compare two candidates that African-American's overwhelmingly supported...)


I know this was an extremely LONG blog...but please share your opinion on it!

Comments

P.M., Esq. said…
Ironically, we seem to agree about most of the policy objections regarding the President. Specifically, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the outlandish costs to our nation, both in dollars spent and in lives, among other things. My only point is, at the end of the day, President Obama is not above reproach and is deserving of legitimate criticism based upon his record. If you objected to the wars under former President Bush, then be consistent and continue that substantive objection under President Obama. That does not mean that I don't respect him or show appropriate deference, it simply means that I disagree with the policy. That policy, among others, in one I pay for first hand as a taxpayer. It pains my heart to drive down the street and see the condition of our inner city schools, homeless veterans, roads and bridges that are falling aparrt, to read about millions of people losing their homes, etc. I could go on for days. I'm not suggesting the government is the solution to all of those issues; however, government could do many things to help remedy those situations. Consider the billions of dollars we spend overseas. What about our people, Americans? I am a registered Independent voter and feel free to critique either party freely. I, along with millions of others (see your latest gallup poll) am simply running low on broken promises and tired rhetoric. There are millions of Democrats, Independents, and young voters that are demoralized at what they see is certainly not the change they voted for. Admittedly all of these problems don't lie at the feet of teh President alone, but the buck ultimately stops with him: period.

I personally would like to see the President develop a bit more gall and start standing up for what he once claimed he believed in. It's okay to fight and lose, but understand there is a time to indeed fight (public option, debt ceiling debate, consumer protection, epa environemental rule, etc.) I simply don't see that in this President as of today. It's time for action and I'm heading that call starting with myself.

Remember, it's often times the ones we love, care for, and respect the most that we push the hardest.
CM Writer said…
I think there is one glaring difference in our opinions. You feel he has not kept promises. I disagree.
Healthcare bill passed: Yes
Bank bailout giving us gains on the investment: Yes
Troop withdrawal: Done in Iraq, working on Afghanistan
School rebuilding: That has been introduced in the current Jobs Bill

The way he has orchestrated his approach to handling the issues: I have no problem with. People yell all the time about how he needs to "get a backbone" and he needs to fight. Why? Because that is how one person would handle the situation? Doesn't mean it will work. History shows that it has rarely worked. That healthcare bill they have been FIGHTING over for years never got passed. Hillary Clinton worked on it in the 90s with an overwhelming majority Dem Congress and her "fighting" means it never got passed. A healthcare bill brought up in first two years of President Obama's presidencey: PASSED.
As far as people being upside down in their mortgages. The buck cannot stop with a President whose administration did not exist when the contracts were signed. AND whose administration NOW has a program that allows homeowners to modify those loans. People suffer for lack of knowledge. That's just the beginning.

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