Obama and GOP Share Urban Agendas

Image: Obama and GOP Share Urban Agendas Hadiya Pendleton is remembered at a candlelight vigil in her hometown of Chicago, which has a mounting death toll from gun violence despite some of the toughest restrictions in the U.S. (AP Photo)

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 03:57 PM

By Clarence V. McKee

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President Obama and the GOP have at least one thing in common — neither has an urban agenda.

As the first black president, Obama is praised and protected by most blacks — he can do no wrong!

Criticize him and his policies and you are a racist or sell-out even though he has shown no interest in doing anything specifically aimed at the issues facing blacks in general and urban America in particular.

Top advisor David Axelrod calls him “Black Jesus” and comedian Jamie Fox refers to him as “our Lord and Savior.”

So what has Black Jesus and Our Lord and Savior done for his most loyal constituency? Very little.

Yet, he responds to every other group’s concerns — same-sex marriage, children of illegal immigrants, abortion, immigration reform, and gun control.

With respect to the latter, he was quick to act after the tragedies in Arizona, Colorado and Newtown.

In his home town of Chicago, the murder rate is worse now than at the height of the Al Capone era —26 in January 1929 as compared to 42 already this January—including the shooting of 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton, who had recently returned from performing at the president’s inauguration. She was gunned down a mile from Obama’s Chicago home.

There were no presidential press conferences condemning Hadiya’s death or those of the other 500 mostly black gang-related killings last year in Chicago; no Executive Orders creating special federal-state-local “strike forces” to fight gang violence there and elsewhere. Nor did the president speak at a memorial service for Hadiya or any of the other victims in his home town.

The Lord and Savior’s gloss is wearing thin.

Some noteworthy blacks are speaking out against the president’s “benign neglect” of black people.
  • Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Member Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., told the publishers of the nation’s black newspapers that Obama consistently “disrespects the CBC, black press, and graduates of historically black colleges . . . groups . . . critical to his re-election . . .”
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young told Newsmax TV that criticisms of Obama for not dealing with issues facing black Americans were “warranted and necessary . . .”
  • Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. said Obama had “assiduously ignored” race and described him as being “mute” on the subject . . .
  • Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and former president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C. said of his 2nd Inaugural remarks:
“. . . there is a reckless disregard of his strongest supporters . . . it spoke to none of us in the African-American community . . . African-Americans deserve the same focus that other communities do . . .”

Malveaux usually saves her venom for black conservatives. During a 1994 PBS program she unashamedly wished Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would die early.

So, when she joins the chorus criticizing Black Jesus, something is up.

Even Reverend Jesse Jackson is urging the president to go to Chicago to speak out about the killings. Don't' hold your breath Jesse!

Maybe, Obama will throw these and other black critics a bone or two in his State of the Union Address.

In any event, he should remember that his legacy of being the first black president won’t mean much if he is remembered for doing nothing to help his own people —for that he will neither be respected nor appreciated.

And then there is the Republican Party.

Former New York Mayor and fellow Newsmax contributor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, used to ask: “How’m I doin?”

The GOP’s answer to how the party is doing with respect to minorities came in November — horrible!

GOP leaders were shell-shocked when Hispanics and Asians joined blacks in flocking to Obama.

There’s really not much more than can be said about the relationship — or lack thereof — between the Republican Party and minorities.

One could get laryngitis talking about its lack of an agenda and message to address the needs of urban America and the failure of GOP strategists to include minorities in developing bottom-up local grassroots’ strategies around issues of concern to them and their communities.

Bruce Bartlett got it right in the Financial Times just a few days after Obama’s re-election:

“…is the GOP capable of embracing nonwhites when they have no experience or strategy for doing so? . . . Republicans seldom encounter many minorities as peers in their communities from whom they can learn.”

GOP leaders could also take some pointers from Kevin Williams, a white New Jersey GOP committee person. He and his wife were so upset at the lack of black inclusion in the GOP that they produced a landmark documentary, “Fear of a Black Republican,” which examines why there are so few black Republicans and its impact on our political system.

In a recent article in The Washington Post he states that the “the GOP is losing a major constituency of modern America . . . (and) “has not done anything to publicly acknowledge that it fundamentally understands the basics of its failures to win in minority-dominated locales or in districts with non-rural population density . . .”

He makes several recommendations to the party for rectifying the problem, including building its own talented farm team in urban America, utilizing black and Hispanic media and investing millions in support of GOP candidates in “urban/African American-majority districts.”

As Bartlett said:

Making the GOP racially inclusive will take hard work, but it is essential to the party’s future. It will be impossible for it to ever win the White House again unless it does so . . .”

Obama won’t be on the ticket in 2016. Unless the GOP’s big donors listen to Bartlett and Williams, they will continue to throw good money after bad — and lose!

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