Don’t Cry For Me In Detroit: Where Is Democrats’ Loyalty In Marriage With Blacks?

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    I cannot count how many times my cell phone was incessantly buzzing the last two weeks from political operatives, Democratic loyalists and the so-called analysts who claim to have the crystal ball for next Tuesday’s election.

    From Washington to Detroit, often called the mecca of Black America, I discovered a consistent effort by those who felt they now need to come out in the eleventh hour to coax the Black press for favorable coverage about what is happening to Democrats in Washington, and how the elections in Michigan could serve as a harbinger for things to come.

    Without any sense of recourse to the fact that they hardly reach out to African American journalists until the next election cycle, these party operatives all of a sudden want to remind us how loyal they are to the African American community and the issues facing Detroit.

    Yet the paradox remains that the so-called loyalty is never practiced unless the Democrats find themselves in a battle for control of political power. That is when they come knocking and even reminding some in the African American community how good they are in singing the melodious and glorious “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in a bid to get votes.

    All of the calls that came to my desk have one common purpose — get the Black press to understand how crucial next Tuesday’s election is. We understand and we need not be reminded about the importance because we cover the issues and the people involved in the democratic process.

    The pressure the Democrats find themselves in was evident when the White House called last week asking me to join a conference call that President Obama was hosting. Yes, when it’s the chief himself calling for an editorial meeting it is serious business inside the Democratic camp.

    But all of the last minute gestures being made now makes me wonder if the attention currently being given to the African American community is sincere in the eyes of the party bosses.

    Or are they just trying to count votes since the Black vote is the soul of the Democratic Party? What happened a year ago or even seven months ago?

    Why didn’t they feel the need to reach out aggressively to the African American community at the time, and not wait until crunch time?

    Sadly, it was only recently that the Democrats deemed it necessary to set up a gubernatorial office in downtown Detroit. Detroit is Michigan’s largest city and it embodies most of the issues facing Michigan. Yet Detroit, the Democratic stronghold in the state, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it was time to set up campaign offices.

    But this kind of political bait and switch game is one that is all too familiar and that’s because Democrats have been allowed to play the game without reprimand for so long.

    There is no doubt that Democrats have delivered more crucial victories for African Americans than any other party. But those victories came with African Americans paying the price and serving up to today as the pillar upon which the party stands.

    The fact that a Democratically controlled U.S. Senate would still hold back over a billion dollar payment for Black farmers in 2010 — that emanated from years of discrimination against Black farmers — is mind-boggling. Yet the high priests of the Democratic Party want to come to cities like Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago in this election cycle to preach Black loyalty.

    Where is the loyalty in exchange for Black votes?

    Like a committed, caring, concerned, loving, loyal and faithful wife, Blacks have always lived up to their vows in this strange marriage with the Democratic Party. Blacks still proudly display the wedding ring in a public show of support and loyalty to the party.

    In exchange, the Democratic Party, like a careless, insincere, uninterested and deceptive husband who does not know what he has until he loses it, only addresses African American issues when its publicly shamed and forced to do so.

    If this election was so crucial to President Obama’s agenda, the Democratic National Committee would have started reaching to the African American community a year or so ago. They would have begun a protracted campaign to canvass as well as inform Black voters of what is really at stake.

    They would not have waited two to three weeks before the election and made a plea to Black journalists to participate in conference calls and editorial meetings.

    The Black press is not the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. But yes, the Democrats are close to the ideas and issues mostly espoused in Black media outlets across the country.

    We have a common interest that the Democrats say they have long been championing. That is the advancement of the African American community. Like an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that this complex institution called the Democratic Party will live up to its credo.

    Senior editor Bankole Thompson is the author of the new book, “Obama and Black Loyalty, Vol. 1.” It is a triology on President Obama and Black America. This Saturday, Oct. 30, at 1 p.m. Mark Brewer, head of the Michigan Democratic Party, will appear for an exclusive interview on “Center Stage With Bankole Thompson” on WADL-TV38, Comcast Channel 4. You can also listen to his weekly analyses on “The Craig Fahle Show” Thursdays, 11:15 a.m., on WDET-101.9 FM, Detroit NPR affiliate station. E-mail bthompson@michronicle.com.

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