As Jon noted on the front page, leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) stirred up a crowd in Detroit, Mich., and criticized President Obama for neglecting the black community. I find their public discontent very… interesting.
On the one hand, unemployment among African-Americans is among the highest in the country and Obama’s economic policies have done nothing to help the situation — and in many cases may have even made it worse. Rep. Maxine Waters (Socialist-Calif.) voices her frustration over this issue and Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D) insists that “[t]he Congressional Black Caucus must meet immediately with the President of the United States of America…no ifs, ands or buts…and I mean soon.”
Despite the apparent dissatisfaction, the black community still overwhelmingly supports Obama. Recent polling data shows that Obama enjoys an 80%+ approval rating among African-Americans. Granted that’s down from the astounding 95% approval rating Obama enjoyed shortly after his election, but nevertheless still overwhelming. This easily explains why Obama isn’t visiting black communities, much to the apparent chagrin of Waters & co.
Simply put, Obama doesn’t feel like he needs to visit predominantly African-American communities because he already has their votes in the bag. And until the black community signals that their vote will depend more on results than party affiliation or skin color, this fact won’t change.
But judging from the CBC tour video, many black constituents don’t feel like Obama’s brand of hope and change is doing them much good. Unemployment among blacks continues to hover around 17% — significantly higher than any other group. With such depressive levels of unemployment, there’s reason to be concerned about how the Obama administration has or has not addressed the problems. But Waters points out that she and her CBC colleagues can’t criticize Obama until the black community signals it’s unhappy with the president’s performance.
“If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us,” Waters exclaimed, fully aware that alienating her black constituents would threaten her own re-election. So in voicing their frustration with the president, these CBC members can successfully distance themselves from an unpopular president. But in excusing their own silence over Obama’s failed policies, members of the Congressional Black Caucus can save face with their own black constituents.
In the end, it’s all about politics — money, votes and elections — not helping people. Waters and Conyers can feign outrage all they like, but until African-American voters realize that the Democratic Party is playing them for fools, I wouldn’t expect much of anything to get better in the black community.