Former United Nations Ambassador and Congressman Andrew Young tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama won two elections because of the Democrats’ “disciplined” grassroots efforts to register voters and get them to the polls.
Young also said African-American voters have 'permanent interests' that the GOP must tap into in order to win future elections.
He also maintains that President Obama is not engaging in class warfare by insisting on raising taxes on wealthier Americans.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
And he asserts that the Arab Spring did not grow out of a quest for democracy, but from a concern about the lack of jobs in the Muslim world.
Young served as United States ambassador to the U.N. during the Carter administration. He also served as mayor of Atlanta, a congressman from Georgia, and a supporter of Martin Luther King during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
He spoke with Newsmax TV on Wednesday in an exclusive interview at the Hope Global Financial Dignity Summit in Atlanta.
Asked which of Obama’s two presidential victories is more significant to history, Young responds: “They’re both significant — the first one was unbelievable and then in the second one he overcame really difficult odds.
“But it was the same thing that won in both of them: it was grassroots get-out-the-vote registration. They pinpointed their vote and they worked on it and they organized it and they delivered it in a very disciplined manner.
“I’ve never seen campaigns run any better, except the one I ran for mayor. But it was the same kind of campaign.”
He was also asked what Obama’s victory says about the country, considering that unemployment remains high — especially for African-Americans — and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high.
“It says that we don’t understand the state of our country at this time, nor do we understand our politics,” Young says.
“I say our problem is and our challenge is that all politics is local, all economics is local, and neither candidate tried, or could they have, to educate the population on the complexities of a global economy.
“For instance, we’re talking about a $16 trillion deficit and we say that’s because of governments spending. I don’t see it that way. I say we spent money on the Second World War but the money we spent, the profits on it, were [put] back into the local economies, the national economy through the G.I. Bill, and the highways and the suburban developments that were financed by the profits on the war. We even rebuilt our enemies, Germany and Japan, on the profits of that war. We fought the Iraq War on a credit card and the profits never came back.”
Claims that Republicans have written off African-American voters and Democrats have taken them for granted “may both be true,” according to Young. “But both are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what you think of me, it’s what I think of you that counts.
“I voted Republican when I first came to Georgia because Eisenhower was running for president and if Eisenhower was appointing the judges, they had to talk to the black representatives in the Republican Party. This was the old Lincoln Republican Party in the South. And all of the federal judges appointed across the South that delivered us in the Civil Rights Movement were appointed by Eisenhower. We’ve always said that we have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”
Young asserts that criticisms of President Obama for not targeting issues important to African-Americans, like gang violence and poverty, are “warranted and they’re necessary.”
As a former U.N. ambassador, Young comments on the performance of current Ambassador Susan Rice, President Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in dealing with the terrorist attacks on American diplomatic personnel in Benghazi.
“If you put it in the context of that whole region in turmoil, you have to say they have done very, very well considering the dangers and the possibilities.
“The thing that we missed was not seeing that this is not an Iran problem, an Iraq problem or a Libyan problem or a Syrian problem. Jim Clifton of Gallup wrote a very interesting little book, ‘The Coming Jobs War.’ All these were about jobs.
“It started with the guy who couldn’t get a business permit in Tunisia pouring gasoline on himself and lighting it. Normally that would have been just one dead peasant but in a world where everyone took out their cell phones and filmed it and then put it across the world, it sparked what we call the Arab Spring.
“We thought it was a quest for democracy. But according to Gallup’s polling of 150 countries every month, nobody ever talks about democracy anymore. They don’t talk about the environment. They only thing they talk about is jobs.”
Young was asked if President Obama is pursuing the right policies in advocating for higher taxes on the wealthy when some people consider that class-warfare and divisive.
“I don’t think you make that class-warfare argument. It’s not class warfare — its people who have a sense of community and responsibility and patriotism toward their nation,” he tells Newsmax.
“I know that my parents got an education, a college education in this country. My father was born in 1896. Everything that has happened in my life is because of good government and because the United States of America was the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
“I think my name is Andrew Jackson Young because Andrew Jackson gave land to slaves and freedmen and Indians in exchange for joining the militia to defend New Orleans. There is nobody that is rich on their own – they are all rich because of the United States government.”
Young is co-chairman of the Hope Global Financial Dignity Summit, which focuses on financial education. Asked if that compares in importance to earlier Civil Rights efforts like fighting for desegregation and voting rights, Young responds: “It’s even more important.
“We were organized to redeem the souls from the triple evils of racism, war and poverty. We couldn’t start with poverty because that would have made us Communists. We talked about racism in biblical terms and we talked about war in biblical terms. I’m talking about poverty in biblical terms too now.
“Everybody needs to understand how money works. I had been to Congress and been mayor and got more honorary degrees than I need, but I never focused on money. Dr. King thought that the only way we would stay free was to resist the temptation of wealth. He would say that you would have to conquer the love of wealth and the fear of death in order to really be the child of God. He said that you need just enough to get by on and that would keep us working and struggling and we would keep our values straight.
“Our children lost our direction because they have been compromised. They have found freedom at the ballot box and then they have taken on plastic chains around their minds and souls and mortgage their future on credit cards. They have to learn better – they have to learn the value of ideas and health as opposed to wealth.
“The two are not mutually exclusive, but we think we can have wealth without good ideas and without values and without a clear vision. Wealth without vision is insanity.”
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