Does it really matter who wins the presidency? How can it matter to Black folks, considering the way we “play” politics? We have no power, no leverage, and little or no influence in the political arena. Even worse, it seems we are reluctant to do what it takes to gain any political clout. So why do we care so much about the upcoming election?
Having “played” this political game for more than 50 years, getting thousands of Black folks elected to public office, and even a Black POTUS, we are still far behind and even nonexistent in serious public policy discourse and legislative initiatives. As we face yet another “most important election” of our lifetime, what are you willing to do to improve our political situation in this country? Hint: Handwringing won’t help.
Is our political strategy, “I got plenty of nothing, and nothing is plenty for me?” Or, “You got to give the people what they want?” Do we even have a strategy other than listening to flowery words from politicians and watching them give speeches and participate in debates?
We, the bi-polar electorate, have empowered an aristocratic class of pompous, self-righteous, lying, condescending, affluent, aloof, money-grubbing, narcissistic, insincere, unconcerned, yet powerful individuals that many of us hold in high esteem for reasons unbeknownst to me. They play with our emotions and draw on our sympathies, the result of which is a never-ending roller coaster ride. Even sadder is the fact that many of us believe they will save us.
All the incumbents and candidates need are a few nice sounding phrases to make us think we are in high cotton. To make matters worse, Black “leaders” once again are telling us to vote, but they are not in specific discussions about who to vote for and why. Oh yeah, I forgot; the NAACP is “nonpartisan” (yeah, right) and cannot endorse or support any candidate. How convenient; and what a joke that is.
The vast majority of Black folks are already in the tank for Hillary; anyone can see that. Black organizations will feature her at their conventions, and preachers will invite her to their pulpits. On the other hand, Bernie is courting Blacks via his Black Lives Matter rhetoric, and Trump is saying how much Black people love him, while the other Republican candidates – including Uncle Ben – are reluctant to seriously lobby the Black vote. We are merely props for a circus act.
The day after the State of the Union speech, many of our people were more interested in what Michelle Obama wore than what her husband said – or did not say. She wore a dress originally priced at $2,095, made byNarciso Rodriguez, a non-Black gay designer, and we went bonkers. Preceded by Michael Kors, Azzedine Alaïa, Jason Wu, Barbara Tfank, Rachel Roy, and Isaac Mizrahi, I must ask if there are any Black designers’ dresses good enough for the SOTU soiree?
Where does all of this political high drama leave us? Our unemployment rate is still double that of Whites, and we are not creating jobs. \ Our health is the poorest in the nation, especially with illnesses such as diabetes, and we don’t own a dialysis center. Our education is substandard, and we are not establishing our own schools. We are disproportionately incarcerated, but we are not selling anything to the prisons. Many economic solutions are in our hands.
And here’s a political solution proposed years ago by then-Missouri Congressman William “Bill” Clay: “If you want equity, justice, and equality, you must…become irritants, become abrasive. Your political philosophy must be selfish and pragmatic. You must start with the premise that you have no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests.”
We have set politicians up as kings and queens, the price for which can be found in 1st Samuel, Chapter Eight: “This is the way the kind of king [you want] operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them… regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer [The Message Bible].”
Unnerving, isn’t it?
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com. He is the author of Black Dollars Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense, which is available through his website; professionalpublishinghouse.com and Amazon Kindle eBooks