If there’s anything close to a political certainty in 2012, it’s that Barack Obama will get more than 90 percent of the African-American vote.
But that doesn’t mean every black Obama supporter will vote for him happily — nor does it guarantee that turnout will approach the stratospheric levels of 2008, even though Obama needs a huge showing from his base to offset the expected loss of swing voters in states like North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, prominent black leaders — fearing Obama is not only taking them for granted but avoiding them in public — have turned up the heat on the nation’s first African-American president, transforming all-in-the-family concerns into open criticism of the president at a time when they had hoped the completion of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. near the National Mall would bring a moment of unity.
The leaders are tired, they say, of Obama dog-whistling his support for a broad black agenda rather than explicitly embracing the kind of war on racism, poverty and economic segregation embodied by King.
“You can spend a lot of time trying to win over white independents, but if you don’t pay attention to your base, African-Americans, if you have not locked up your base yet, you’ve got a serious problem,” said CNN contributor Roland Martin.
“African-Americans will vote for him again, 88, 92, 95 percent. The question is what’s the turnout? I’ll vote for you. But will I bring ten other people along, like I did in 2008? That’s the danger here for him. He doesn’t have the historical factor to lean on as much in 2012 as he did in 2008. … And the first step is that he has to be willing to speak to this audience, black people.”
In a striking turnabout for a president who has rewritten American racial history, Obama finds himself the target of criticism from the black cultural and political elite that has, for the most part, been leery of airing its disappointment.
The president is reportedly angry that African-American leaders aren’t crediting him for his hard-bought achievements that will especially help communities of color, including health care reform, aid to cities, student aid and protecting Medicaid.
“The whole thing is bull——. … We have met with [black leaders] more than any other group, and we are increasing our outreach,” said a person close to Obama.
I fully understand why the black community supported Barack Obama. They saw him as the realization of Martin Luther King’s dream. But they should have listened to Dr. King’s words a little more closely. They should have judged him by the content of his character.
If Barack Obama was a white man named Barry Dunham with the exact same record, would the black community still have supported him? Would they have still abandoned Hillary Clinton for him?
Would they still be supporting him now?