Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Argument For Choosing Barack Obama

Hat tip: Prometheus 6

This from the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Barack Obama is the Superior Choice for African-American Voters

For the first time in the history of our country, a black man has a credible chance of becoming president of the United States. After the long nightmare years of slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, and enduring race discrimination, one would expect that, in the upcoming presidential primary contest, Illinois Senator Barack Obama would be the overwhelming choice of black American voters.

Not so! National polls show that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are drawing about equal shares of the black vote.

The standard explanation is that Hillary Clinton is the inherited winner of solid numbers of black voters because of the tremendous popularity of her husband among African Americans. We all remember how President Bill Clinton campaigned in black neighborhoods and churches, showed compassion and deep concerns for poor blacks, and sought out the opinions, advice, and even the forgiveness of black leaders. His remarkable ability to relate to African Americans, a quality missing among almost all white politicians, earned President Clinton both loyalty and affection among many millions of African Americans. In fact, he was so admired in the African-American community that in 1998 Princeton professor and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison called him “our first black president.” ..................................

In her campaign to lock up black support, there are no qualms about playing the race card. Senator Clinton scored with black voters when she declared in a June debate at Howard University that the country would be more worried about HIV/AIDS if the disease were disproportionately affecting whites instead of blacks. The powerful political impact of her statement was not diminished by the circumstance that her facts were incorrect. The annual federal budget for HIV research is $3 billion. This is more than the nation’s entire appropriation for research on either heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or breast cancer. But Clinton’s assertion that racism drives white-controlled government decisions on the allocations of disease research stoked anti-white anger and won her acclaim among black voters.

Probably no one at the Howard University event, black or white, was aware of the fact that in August 2006 Hillary Clinton was the only one of 20 senators of the Republican-controlled Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee to vote to gut a plan that would have redirected more AIDS funds to heavily black communities in the South. Her vote prompted the National Black Chamber of Commerce to publish full-page newspaper advertisements denouncing Clinton as being “two-faced” on the issue.....................

Let’s now compare the platforms of Senators Clinton and Obama on a political and social issue of commanding importance to most black voters. This is the huge and persisting racial gap in the United States in unemployment, poverty, healthcare, and education. To be sure, black voters in the United States no longer automatically vote skin color in any particular election contest. Nor do they always ask which candidate is best for black people. Yet among the majority of African Americans, the issue of race and racial inequality persists as a concern of paramount importance. The famed commentator on presidential elections, Theodore White, once said there are three great and enduring issues in the United States. They are “war and peace,” “bread and butter,” and “black and white.” In black America today, as always, “bread and butter” and “black and white” rise to the very top where they sometimes challenge even the issue of “war and peace.”

What do the campaign platforms of the two main contenders have to offer on the subject of racial inequality? Senator Clinton’s
presidential campaign Web site lists 10 issues that lead her agenda in a Clinton
presidency. At the very top of her list is “Strengthen the Middle Class.” There
then follow nine other Clinton concerns. They are providing affordable healthcare, ending the war in Iraq, energy independence, fulfilling our promise to veterans, supporting parents and children, restoring America’s standing in the world, being a champion for women, comprehensive government reform, and strengthening our democracy.

These admirable goals, aimed as they are at the white American heartland, offer little specific appeal to the aspirations of most African-American voters who, in their choice of a presidential candidate, hope for a strong and explicit executive program to defend and advance the life chances of African Americans. Ever since the 1960s when blacks won the legally protected right to vote, they have always counted on a Democratic platform that addressed some of their most serious problems. But Hillary Clinton’s platform offers nothing.

It is true that Senator Clinton’s campaign speeches include expressions of support for the plight of poor blacks. But it is her formal political platform that tells the story. The words “black” or “minority” never enter the text of her official program for America. Given Hillary Clinton’s well-known progressive views on social and racial issues, one would have expected to find key words in her platform such as “inner-city schools,” “reduction of poverty,” “revitalizing America’s cities,” “increased access to job training,” and “support of Head Start programs for youngsters from low-income families.” One would have expected too that Senator Clinton’s platform would address such issues as community development programs for inner cities, increased support for minority college students, support for black farmers, programs to create capital and encourage entrepreneurship in black communities, and tougher penalties for hate crimes. Yet all of the standard campaign promises that a liberal Democrat typically offers to blacks are completely absent from her announced program.

Here in more detail are the Obama proposals as outlined in his campaign position paper:

• Increased funding for the Community Development Block Grant program which provides housing, job training, and other services to impoverished urban areas.
• A $1 billion, five-year expansion in job and career training programs for
low-income Americans.
• The creation of a series of “Promise Neighborhoods” across America patterned after the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. Low-income families in these promise neighborhoods will be offered parent counseling, childcare, job training, healthcare, financial advice, afterschool programs, technology training and other services to help them escape the cycle of poverty.
• An expansion of the Head Start program for preschool children in high-poverty areas.
• An increase in the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income college students.
• Expansion of the Nurse-Family Partnership where nurses visit low-income expectant mothers at home to ensure that they receive proper prenatal care.
• An increase in the earned income tax credit which will allow low-income working families to keep more of the money they earn.
• A proposal to increase funding for the Jobs Access and Reverse Commute program so that low-income workers can get to their jobs at a reduced cost and the children of these workers can receive free public transportation to childcare facilities.
• The establishment of an affordable housing trust fund that will produce 14,000 new units of affordable housing for low-income families each year.
• Increased access to capital for blacks and other minorities through Small Business Administration programs.
• Job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and employment opportunities for people who have been incarcerated. Since blacks are five times as likely as whites to have been in prison, these programs will disproportionately benefit African Americans.
• To further raise the minimum wage rate and the child tax credit.

Obama has put a lot on the table, maybe too much. Nevertheless, announced here on the Obama Web site is an elaborate and unqualified proposal to use presidential power to deal with some of the most severe problems of African Americans and other minorities. There are no politically expedient bows to the hardships of America’s white middle class. In his declaration of a concrete program for blacks and others who have had a difficult time, there is no doublespeak or ambiguous language. Senator Obama deals with racial issues head on. He enters the arena of race with his six-shooters blazing.

The rest of the comparison can be read at the link above. I got into blogging because I want present to the audience information that might help you choose which way to go. Information is power.

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