In Charlotte, Stakes are High For Blacks

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    President Obama_at_las_opt

    Democrats will notminate President Obama fro a second term in North Carolina this week. 

    In 2008, we witnessed a new era of political reality never before imagined in the history of presidential politics and the world at large.

    Never before thought of since the first slaves were brought from Africa to America that one day a man name Barack Obama with a Black father from Kenya would become president of the United States, sending a powerful lesson for centuries to come.

    Although there were significant attempts by major Black leaders like Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York’s 12th Congressional District and civil rights leader Rev Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who both ran for prersident and made strong showings in primary results and delegate counts.

    Chisholm in her 1972 presidential bid won 152 delegates after competing in 12 states, winning Louisiana, Mississippi and New Jersey primaries.

    Jackson in his second presidential bid in 1988 won 11 states capturing 6.8 million votes to the surprise of the media and skeptics.

    Though they did not win, the candidacies of Chisholm and Jackson were pillars for any Black candidate to set their sights higher on the presidency with the audacity of hope as did Obama.

    But beyond the color line, the 2008 victory changed the way the world viewed America under President Obama because it was a seismic shift.

    What did not change in America is how some in the Republican Party viewed Obama during the last four years and how his presidency has come under unbelievably serious attack and scrutiny from the opposition.

    This week in Charlotte, North Carolina, the majority of Black voters are joining in the chorus “four more years” as the Democratic Party nominates Obama for a second term.

    To be clear, this year’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte is not just any kind of political gathering. It has an added significance, more than the Republican National Convention because of the special candidacy of Obama and how that has been informed by the force of history that has led African-Americans in this long pilgrimage for political and socioeconomic empowerment.

    It is a pilgrimage that is shared by other minority groups, including Latinos who also, like African-Americans, are still seeking affirmation in the words of the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal.”

    We cannot dismiss the importance the Black vote will play in November because it has been the most potent force for Democratic politics, sending Democrats to the White House.

    Because of President Obama’s significant policy achievements, such as the Affordable Care Act which will have tremendous impact on improving the health of Blacks, the saving of the auto industry in Detroit, an industry that helped built the Black middle class, coupled with the campaign to de-legitimize his presidency, Black voters are expected to show up at the polls to prove the skeptics wrong.

    The stakes are high for Black voters this year because for the first time they will be expected to cast a referendum on a man who not only inherited a bad economy and tried to salvage it, but also a man who has been forced to re-confirm that he was American even as he sat as president in the White House.

    Black voters will be required to make a statement with their vote that they did not approve of the attacks that have been unleashed on this presidency while calling out the double standard in how other previous presidents received more respectable receptions even at their lowest points.

    This election is also about pricking the nation’s conscience in terms of how the first Black president has been racially scourged, rebuked, repudiated and called a liar in the halls of Congress while Republican leaders allowed the extreme views of race-mongers like Donald Trump to be representative of their party.

    It is not just about the vision of two men, President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, it is also about how honest men and women and those who are students of history are willing to judge the competence of Obama and Romney on their merits.

    Romney has not opened up to Black voters, nor has he attempted to engage them in a dialogue. His appearance before the NAACP was a slap on the face and did not portray him as a serious thinker or someone who understands the essence of a multicultural society.

    When he told the NAACP audience he was going to end Obama’s signature health care law without offering his own health prescriptions to address the health care crisis in the Black community as well as other communities, it was like someone showing up to your house and ask to cut the lights off.

    Because Romney has failed to dialogue with Black voters on the most important issues that affect them, the Obama campaign is their only option.

    Because Romney played to the birther stereotype when he said in Commerce Township last week that no one’s asked to see his birth certificate, a backdoor mockery of President Obama whose birth certificate has been the focus of some extreme right wing politics, he has left Black voters with no choice.

    If the Romney campaign were serious about the Black vote it would have been the focus of serious outreach just as they do with other communities.

    Thus in November, voters will be asked to either affirm that “all men are created equal” or confirm that in fact a minority in this country — that has been so upset with the election of the first African-American president, and the Republican leaders who vowed in a meeting on Obama’s inauguration to make him fail — can sway the opinion of those with goodwill and conscience.

    This is more than just someone seeking to govern the country. It is also a test for the true character of those who have been keeping silent while the ugly politics of Barry Goldwater reignite themselves today.

    It is time for Black voters and those who believe that the country is more than the sum total of the extreme views that have no place in serious political discourse take a stand for posterity. The world is watching.

    Bankole Thompson is editor of the Michigan Chronicle. An authority on the Obama presidency he is the author of a six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published in 2010, follows his recent book, “Obama and Christian Loyalty” with a foreward by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. Thompson is a political news analyst at WDET-101.9FM (NPR affiliate) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. E-mail bthompson@michronicle.com

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