While more than 90 percent of African-Americans look ready to vote for President Barack Obama Tuesday, they haven’t fared well under his presidency, according to Wall Street Journal
editorial board member Jason Riley.
He notes that when Obama took office unemployment was 12.7 percent for blacks and 7.1 percent for whites. Now it’s 14.3 percent for blacks and 7 percent for whites. “The black-white employment gap has not merely persisted under Mr. Obama but widened,” Riley writes.
Part of the economic problem for African-Americans is the “belief among civil-rights leaders that political activity is essential for black upward mobility,” he says. They “continue to focus on integrating political institutions to redress social and economic problems.”
Black leaders would do better to focus on the private sector, Riley maintains. “The historical reality for other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. is that political success has not been necessary for economic advancement.”
Asian-Americans now represent the nation's best-educated and highest-earning racial group.
“But Asians have tended to avoid politics compared with other groups,” Riley writes. “Between 1990 and 2000, for example, the number of elected officials grew by 23 percent for blacks but only by 4 percent for Asians.”
The main concerns for blacks are lagging progress in education, weak labor-force participation, and high incarceration rates, Riley says.
“A civil-rights leadership that encourages blacks to look to politicians to solve these problems is doing a disservice to the people they claim to represent. . . . Political scientists tell us that Mr. Obama will almost certainly need every black vote he can muster. Less certain is whether blacks need him.”
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