Is Black America on the path to irrelevancy?

| March 15, 2013

By James W. Breedlove

It appears that even with the re-election of President Obama, blacks are slowly but surely becoming more irrelevant in American politics. This needs to change.

The Obama mania euphoria that shrouded Black America in 2008 was a hope-filled fantasy that had no foundation in reality. The fantasy was that President Obama, the black man, was a savior that would heal all the black pain and suffering. The reality is that President Obama, the politician, is an island surrounded by a system that demands business as usual; a system that is impervious to black inequity.

“Black leaders” in an attempt to save face with their constituencies are making overtures to the administration for a black agenda to alleviate the disparities that adversely impact blacks in just about every quality of life metric including income, wealth, poverty, unemployment and mass incarceration. They rationalize that the overwhelming black vote for Obama has earned Black America the right to demand target-specific programs that address black issues.

However, candidate Obama made no specific promises or commitments to blacks in either the 2008 or the 2012 campaigns. Black leaders assumed much but demanded nothing. As a result blacks find themselves in the unenviable and unique position of being totally aligned with President Obama with absolutely no political leverage.

The Wall Street Journal recently weighed in on the divisive political atmosphere in Washington and indicated the president’s new game plan is bringing a partisan edge and soft-voiced pugilism to the Washington drama that is guaranteed to keep agreement from happening. The Journal concludes that the Obama White House is imperious, full of overreach and full of itself.

What is really going on? Is the president simply a stooge of the rich and powerful? Is he on a personal ego trip being the “Celebrity President” as some critics have accused? A look at the facts indicates that it would be foolhardy to believe this.

President Obama is a brilliant strategist and a focused tactician. Most importantly he is an objective thinker and a visionary who can step back and see the big picture. He fully understands that playing defense does not win in chess or the game of politics. The president is his own “Seal Team 6,” striking at the right time for maximum impact. Leading his team to success in two extremely adversarial elections is evidence of his capabilities.

It is inconceivable, given the president’s mastery of the political landscape, that he would be content to have his legacy defined by the mundane political bickering currently on display. It would be folly to let the president’s cavalier demeanor or his jaunty bop step be a barometer of his substance. There is something much greater at stake.

Hypothesize on this: The president’s first term was a reality lesson on the difficulty of dealing with an obstructionist congress. Getting legislation enacted that would benefit all the people was a perpetual problem; trying to get legislation specifically for Black America was impossible. The current political system threatened to stalemate anything that portended to be a positive for the president.

To leave a lasting legacy, President Obama’s mindset goes beyond being the first black to capture the oval office or a single historic piece of legislation. He stated during his first campaign that he wanted to change the system; to bring a new tone of civility and cooperation to the Washington political process. The black/white divide that has been embedded in the American psyche since its founding stood in the way of constructive change or cooperative compromise.

The president’s master strategy now is to marginalize the Republican Party by using a modified reverse Southern Strategy. It consists of three priority components; deny Republicans the major demographics, capitalize on wedge issues that divide the radical and moderate factions within the GOP and select liberal thinkers for Supreme Court vacancies.

He tested the first component during the 2012 campaign and reaffirmed it in the recent State of the Union speech when he specifically highlighted his support of women, gays, Hispanics and young people. These are the expanding impact demographics that he is positioning the Democratic Party to embrace. The only demographic left for Republicans to court is the old white male whose numbers are declining.

If the Obama strategy is successful the GOP will be neutralized at least through 2020. And black people, contrary to what some black leaders are implying, you have not been forgotten. You are presently represented in the women, gay, Hispanic and young demographics. But, patience is needed to address the black monolith as a stand-alone entity. Recognize the truth about the importance of this timing. If Obama had campaigned in 2008 or 2012 on a black specific platform he would not have become president.

Black leaders, instead of continuing to misdirect black constituents into supporting outmoded “woe is me” reactive strategies, it would be wise to begin establishing a black power base that is self-controlled. That is, get prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will become available when the Obama strategy turns the GOP stumbling block into the GOP footstool.

Teach the people in the Nehemiah proactive concept that advocates LET US RISE UP AND BUILD. While governmental assistance should still be pursued it must not be the only avenue to parity. If you do not know how to develop power bases in your communities then seek help. Stop the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

A report entitled “Creating A Viable Urban Economic Development Model” describes a concise, structured plan for dealing with black urban development. The plan is universal, self-sustaining, and can be implemented in any community using the existing business base as a nucleus. A copy of the model can be requested using the contact e-mail below.

Without a quantified strategy blacks will continue to be bought off with under-funded politicized programs that do nothing more than maintain an inequitable status quo. With a specific plan to follow blacks can take control and responsibility for their destiny.

Only then can Henley’s powerful words become a black reality: For I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

James W. Breedlove is a former president of the Fort Wayne Branch of the NAACP Comments or opinions may be sent to him at Mr. Breedlove is available to conduct workshops or seminars on The Urban Development Model.

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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