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Obama’s appeal to black voters was too little, too late

Obama’s appeal to black voters was too little, too late

The Democrats’ last-ditch effort to inspire black voters couldn’t overcome the demoralizing economy

According to exit polling, black voters who came out in unprecedented numbers in 2008 to help put President Barack Obama in the White House, decided to stay home this time around. An estimated 10 percent of blacks voted in the 2010 midterm elections, compared to 13 percent in 2008. 

Just looking at eligible voters, an impressive 60 percent of black eligible voters came to the polls during the 2008 presidential election, making that electorate the most diverse in U.S. history. In fact, black women had the highest voter turnout rate among all the demographics. Period.

This time is different. But despite the dismal turnout, black, young and Latino voters have not turned their backs on the President or even the Democrats necessarily. We will likely continue to have your back in 2012. But as evidenced in the 2010 midterms, Obama and the Democrats will have to deliver if they want us to do it with any enthusiasm. If he continues to be as engaged with these communities as he has been in the last month, he can depend upon good solid turnout in 2012.

The caveat is that Obama, until very recently, has been too overly concerned with appearing to “pander” to these constituencies. Just think about George W. Bush and the religious right, if you want to know what pandering is really about. The reality is the Democratic constituencies are an even more fragile alliance than Republican constituencies. Keeping this nearly ungovernable bunch on the same page ain’t pandering, it’s just good leadership.

The 11th-hour appeal to black voters

It started back October 11th with a commercial airing on national radio shows with a largely black audience. It was part of a $3 million outreach effort by the Democratic National Committee to urge African-Americans to show up and vote.

“On November 2nd, I need you to stand with ME…and VOTE,” Obama said in the 60 second ad titled “Vote” that began running on Tuesday. The emphasis on “ME” and “VOTE” was added by the DNC in a copy of the script provided to CNN. The ad ran on the Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden, Yolanda Adams, Russ Parr, Bev Smith, Doug Banks, Coco Brother, Al Sharpton and Warren Ballentine radio shows. Then, the President did several interviews on black radio shows. He followed up by inviting members of the ethnic media to the White House for a policy discussion — we, TheLoop21.com, got invited. Just last week, there was a push by black celebrities like Russell Simmons to get out the vote.

Are blacks turning their backs on Obama?

Despite these efforts many  pundits will be pontificating on why blacks did not turn out in high numbers at the polls. I imagine the right will call the 2008 presidential election an aberration. They will say blacks simply are not reliable as a voting bloc

The progressives will try to slap Obama in the face, saying he has not done enough for Black Americans. They will probably run back to some rallying cry about the “public option.”

Demoralized

The truth, I think is, many voters — not just black folks — are demoralized. I know I am. 

Demoralized by the constant beating he takes from the right. Demoralized by expecting to see some significant improvements in the foreclosure and joblessness rates, having spent so much money to battle both. And frankly a bit demoralized by a president who ran such a personal and engaging campaign, but who once in office forgot how to keep us engaged or even bother engaging with us, until the 11th hour leading into the midterm elections.

A lot of the shortcomings of President Obama, I think are less about bad intentions than just political experience. He is clearly a brilliant guy but he also seems to lack the street smarts of a Bill Clinton. He has been a day late and a dollar short on messaging ever since Fox News turned the “end of life counseling” measure in health care reform into “death panels” — a total and complete fabrication by the way — but Obama was unable to regain leverage in the messaging wars.

Serious issues

But this demoralization really goes deeper. Unemployment in the black community is close to 20 percent, twice that of the overall population. The foreclosure rate among black families is 2.9 times the national average. The amount of wealth that has been lost in the black community due to the foreclosure crisis has ripped more wealth from the black community than any event in U.S. history. These are stark facts. Facts the Obama has not tried seriously to abate. Facts that cannot easily be swept under the rug simply because the he appears on the Tom Joyner Radio show.

If there is one lesson I hope that Obama and the Democrats take from this election, it’s that platitudes are not enough. Broad sweeping policies like health care reform, much of which we won’t really feel any benefits of until 2011 or 2014, when we, our families and our friends are literally struggling from paycheck to paycheck to hold onto our jobs and/or houses are not enough. 

It’s also not about big speeches but big ideas, not necessarily progressive or conservative, that are more effective. To be specific, the mortgage loan modification program Obama initiated last year was a total failure. It was yet another occasion for the banks to take federal money then extend the middle finger to struggling home owners. But even if it were effective, it was not aggressive or substantial enough to put a dent in the foreclosure crisis. That’s why Obama never got any credit for it, because it was not effective. It appeared as if the administration was simply trying to appear as if they were solving a problem.

Even the tax breaks were handled in a counter-intuitive way.

Be a leader

Sure, maybe it makes sense in some “Economics 101” kind of way to give people gradual tax breaks, a few dollars back in each paycheck. But guess what?  Those few dollars easily go unnoticed. But I certainly didn’t forget about the $600 check I received from the IRS during the Bush administration. The fact is, voters don’t want an economics lesson or a professor, but a leader. We know there are limitations as to what the federal government can do when it comes to creating jobs, but leadership is about vision — and Obama failed at delivering voters a clear vision as to how we will get out of this recession.

This post first appeared on TheLoop21.com where Devona Walker is senior financial/political reporter and blogger. 

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by Peaco Todd
by Devona Walker 

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23 comments

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11:22PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Noted. Thanx

5:21PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

It seems to be forgotten that Obama didn't get us into the wars. It also seems to be forgotten that after 9/11 almost everyone was behind George W. Bush declaring war on Iraq instead of taking some time to investigate and thinking out options.

In any case we are now stuck with persuing
the terrorists and trying to prevent attacks here in the United States.

As to the Healthcare Reform, Obama is not a dictator; he has to work with the Republicans
in order to get anything passed. While it isn't all that we wanted, we do have Healthcare Reform and Amendments can be made in the future. Repeal is not an option!

Obama also got passed the Financial Reform bill which really raised the hackles for all those super rich ones on Wall Street, the investment bankers, etc. and are the ones that
poured money into the Republican's campaigns.

Obama has not sold out the middle class and the poor, though it seems that some Democrats didn't have the nerve to stress what he has done, what he is trying to do, and to stand behind him.

Instead the Republicans have sold out all but the top 10% of the wealthy. So keep on voting for your petty predjudices and let the corporations pay you less, outsource your jobs, while they get even richer.

And let it not be forgotten that almost half of our citizens didn't vote Republican.

8:38PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

Michael Kayutak, you are right, Obama is planning to sell-us-out! He is not a man of courage, He is not a man of conviction, and He cannot lead us out of the economic despair. He is fearful and afraid, and He will become the utmost disgust that has ever lived. I say this because I want Him to prove me wrong,... However, one thing is becoming very clear, his Christian Brain-Washing is of no use to him, his Christian turn-the-other-cheek false beliefs are so predictable that his ENEMIES are setting him up for a death sacrifice to their evil superior. If Obama begins to follow their lead, everything will work against him, because they intend to make an example of the First Black President, by ridicule, by defeat, by demoralization, before they kill him... I saw that so that he can’t say that we all can try to warn him, because he simply won’t listen to reason…

8:19PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

DEMORALIZED is the WRONG WORD. Betrayed would be the proper word; Disrespected would be the proper word; and Sold-Out would be the proper explanation. When you say we are "demoralized" you are saying that Our-Mind has been reduced to that of slaves; you are saying that our morals, ethics, and values have been perverted and destroyed into that of a walking zombie; and you are saying that we are nothing more than brain-dead fools who follow any fool to our own demise. This is NOT true for Myself. However, it is true for drug-addicts, alcoholics, and those who have sold their own soul to the corrupt status-quo, so that career success will be GIVEN to them. Demoralization is reducing an unlimited Human-Being into a brain-dead slave who follows the lead of his master. So, don't be deceptive about it, all of you white people have joined us in being demoralized, and so have the Mexicans, and the Asians, the Vietnamese, and all immigrants. Our civil rights are being eroded away, our constitutional rights have been deceptively given to corporations, and the declaration of We-The-People will soon become a declaration of the USA Corportacracy. The plan is population reduction, Marshall Law, and slave prison camps; and the only way to accomplish that objective is to "DEMORALIZE' the people who are the Genuine-Power in society.... Try to educate and wake-them-up rather than perpetuating this demoralization scheme....

6:33PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

How about 'WE"RE ALL JUST AMERICANS'. I thought this America is called the melting pot, well when is it going to start?
If there's constantly a line being drawn between-Blacks & Whites-things aren't going to "melt".

3:44PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

I'm glad I didn't vote President Obama (though I am not a republican, nor a democrat.) after what President Obama's speech he made after the elections. People voted for him to change and now this comment about negotiating with the Republicans (after they've sold out this Country)? It is embarrassing and I think President Obama (in my opinion) has lost his mind.

3:21PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

I am so tired of stupidity.

2:14PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

Dems and supporters shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. watch and wait.

2:07PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

I THINK OBAMA SOMETIMES IS TOO POLITE!
REAL SHAME THE REST OF THE PEOPLE AREN'T TO!
SEEMS PEOPLE ONLY LIKE FORCE NOT BRAINS!!

2:04PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

MIXIE B., CERTAINLY YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED IN EUROPE, WHERE THERE IS REALY DEMOCRACY....
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT - IT'S THAT KIND OF MENTALITY THAT PUT AMERICA IN THE "MESS" YOU ARE - DON'T YOU REMEMBER WHEN THIS CRISIS START WHO WAS YOUR PRESIDENT? IT WAS NOT OBAMA!!

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