Now Is Not the Time To Lose Love For CBC and the President
1 year ago
Stand up and be counted like it's 1984
This week begins the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. As many of America’s most influential black leaders meet to network and strategize, a difficult question confronts all attendees: At this moment when African-American political and business leaders have made more gains than ever before, why are large numbers of black Americans still failing in nearly every quality of life category?
Providing an answer is no easy task. However, some CBC members have sought to lay the blame squarely on President Obama’s shoulders. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Ca.), suggested voters “unleash” the Democrats on President Obama. Congressman and CBC Chairman, Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), addressed the issue commenting that if things were this bad under another president, then "we probably would be marching on the White House.”
But the truth is just the opposite. Things have been this bad before. And black voters did not march on the White House lawn, instead they worked on behalf of the Democratic Party to claim the White House. Precedent suggests that when there is a black candidate and high unemployment, black Americans are most likely to exercise the most important tool allotted to any citizen in a democracy: the vote.
The current black unemployment rate, 16.7%, is the highest it has been since 1984. That year, President Ronald Reagan, running for re-election, was petitioning voters for a chance to impose four more years of Reaganomics. Reagan wanted to further policies that had contributed to record black unemployment.
On the Democratic side, despite challenges from Jesse Jackson, Gary Hart, John Glenn, George McGovern and even a young Joe Biden; Walter Mondale emerged as the nominee. And when general election time came, black Americans did not march on the White House lawn. Instead, they stood up to be counted. Reversing an almost 20-year steady decline in turnout, black election participation peaked at 55.8%. Black Americans had been energized by Jesse Jackson’s gallant bid to become President.