Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The True Souls of Black Folks by Akindele Akinyemi
I was in Washington D.C. the other day talking to Shannon Reeves of the Republican National Committee. For those who do not know Shannon Reeves he used to run the NAACP in Oakland, CA. We had an very interesting talk about conservative strategy as it pertains to Black people. One thing he said struck a nerve with me all 8 hours coming back to Detroit.
Stop attacking Sen. Barack Obama.
Of course, I was like why. He said right now people (regardless of color, creed or sex) is loving this man and any attack (even if its the truth) will not bring Blacks any faster to the party.
Now, I know I have been posting stuff on Obama (whether you like it or not because truth is truth) but as I realized in our conversation he was right. If we are going to help people understand the issues and facts better we must approach this from a different strategy.
Like One Network's Chad Miles pointed out in his article on Obama:
You see, Obama is no longer a politician seeking the presidency, he has become a celebrity. He has transcended the political arena and entered straight into the pop culture arena. In our celebrity obsessed country that is huge. When is the last time you have seen a politician fill the size venue’s that Obama can fill night after night? I don’t believe it has ever happened in this country. When was the last time you saw women weeping and fainting at campaign rallies? It boggles the mind. He is no longer a candidate, he is now a phenomenon.
He further states:
The GOP needs to immediately gather focus groups of Obama worshipers and find out what their perception of him is all about. Throw reality out of the window and find out what they think of him. How does he make them feel? Why is he so cool? How will he change the country? This is paramount because for most people perception is reality.
Because the media is hyping Obama up like Jay-Z we should be in focus groups instead of fighting among ourselves about who is more conservative and why and figure out how we can use the same popularity to our advantage.
We, as urban conservatives, only have a finger full of people who support our cause in the inner-cities and zero participation in terms of organizing because our message is not only getting out there but we are divided ourselves. We heavily rely on the State GOP or National GOP to assist us when they themselves are afraid to come into our community in the first place. The only exception to the rule that I have seen in recent months is the Florida GOP who hosted a Statewide Black Republican conference. The Michigan GOP will never sponsor such an event. The day the Michigan GOP sponsors a Black Republican event is the day I dance naked on I-94 in rush hour traffic.
The first thing we must begin to understand is the present conservative era is over for now. What I mean by that is people are into being left-wing to moderate right now. Any other form of economic or political thought in terms of being too far to the right is considered evil. Urban conservatives have dropped the ball in winning elections (overall) and because of this whole Obamamania we are being killed off in every way possible.
I realize that the conservative era in American politics came to an end after seeing Obama sweep states that he should have never won. The ascendant right was libertarian in economics, traditional in values, and confrontational in foreign policy. It called for smaller government, lower taxes, a moral dimension to social policy, and a more aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union. Reagan succeeded as president by reversing what had been the country's decades-long liberal drift in all of these areas, much as Margaret Thatcher did in Britain.
Today, the modern-Reagan conservative movement is not just reeling and dejected and the death of this movement will continue in November. It has reached a terminal point, much as American liberalism had in 1980. The dream may never die, as Ted Kennedy said at the Democratic convention in 1980, but the patient has. That's not to say that Republican candidates can't win elections, or that some other kind of conservative movement won't emerge as a potent force in the future. But the revolution is over. Its coalition is fractured, its energy is exhausted, and most of its remaining big ideas—school vouchers, the flat tax, and privatizing Social Security—are so unpopular that they're not even part of the conversation anymore. This is not because of liberal media like some of you conservatives are screaming but because WE have failed to push a grassroots efforts in the streets. The streets. You know the hood? Sometimes you have to get up and actually do door-to-door to reach people instead of hiding behind a computer, pushing paper or calling people on the phone as if you are a telemarketer asking people to vote. Sometimes you have to put on ice cream socials or bowling nights to bring people out to discuss what you are proposing. Not one urban conservative organization has proposed this. So what's the fuss? Please do not tell me about your age or how old you are. We can sit and watch TV, play golf or whatever. Where is the fellowship?
America is moving towards a new progressive movement and with someone like Obama running the show in November (I thought Clinton would get the nomination but not anymore) we will see a major progressive moment more than anything else like passing national health-care reform. Beyond that, liberals would have to deal seriously with the negative side effects of globalization and new technology, including wage stagnation, income inequality, and the economic insecurity of the American middle class.
But there is some hope. We, as urban conservatives, must rethink our strategy to become effective in the inner cities. The term urban conservative is not a dirty word, it is a term than has not been defined correctly. We love America but we never point out any wrong doing with America. Some Black Republicans will lie and say racism is a thing of the past when it's not. And while we run for office in larger elections we forget that we need to elect precinct delegates at the grassroots level for support. In fact, we should, including myself, not run for any federal office until we have regionally met, discuss and create a machine/platform that will sell even to a staunch liberal. The key is if we cannot get the swing vote then what the hell are we running for? There is no need for me running for Congress if I do not have a critical mass of precinct delegates and grassroots organizing to even lay the seeds down for a long term effect. The problem I am running into with urban conservatives is that they want people just to run but there are no resources. We have to take baby steps before eating steak. There is a way to break a liberal grip in the inner city but it has to be done strategically, practically and intelligently without the use of emotional jargon.
That does not mean I will not run for anything or place my name on a ballot to discuss issues. What this means is we have to stop thinking individually about our progress and begin working together as one or else we will be the laughing stock of politics. In fact, are we even paying attention to what Newt Gingrich has proposed through American Solutions? How do we use that platform in the inner city? Furthermore, how do we create a plan to execute information through focus groups and summit strategy sessions? Again, if we are not touching our community then why are we upset when we vote year after year the same voting pattern? If we are intelligent and conscious enough to help break the mode then what is going on?
It goes back to my strategic analysis on urban regional power. Urban conservatives should run for school boards, city councils and state representatives to help develop grassroots tactics to put us in a position for higher office. We cannot allow any other groups of people to persuade us to run for an office that we cannot win.
A bigger piece to the puzzle is creating networks that will help people in our community understand the benefits of free market economics and how we can move towards transforming urban areas into financial markets. What civic education platform have we discussed to help urban students understand public policy?
Speaking of public policy and school I visited the César Chávez Charter Middle and High School Prep in Washington D.C. This school was founded by Irasema Salcido who is now the CEO of the program. Their emphasis is teaching children public policy at the K-12 age. Conservatives and moderates in any urban community should take this model and apply it to help change the way our children view the world. We cry about liberalism entering the classroom but what are we doing to solve the problem? Nothing. Why? Because we are guilty of catching the crumbs that fall from our masters tables just like the liberals are doing with government. Black people on both sides are being played like a fiddle and as long as we do not understand the game this ridiculous system will continue to pit us against each other until we are all dead.
Modern day conservatism is dead because we have moved away from our core principles. It does not matter what you think of the War in Iraq or the War in Afghanistan urban conservatives never talk about the war that is going on in the inner cities of America. We do not need national security to help us with this issue we need CCWs to protect ourselves by any means necessary. Some of us should get involved in taking back the streets programs. Who has joined their local parent network recently? Everything a liberal does is not evil. Everything a conservative does is not Godly. In fact, there are many things to help bring our community together, regardless of what you call yourself.
Crack affects all families. Fiend, there is one in every family. How many people do you know that are alcoholics? Failing schools is the responsibility of everyone who lives in the area. If urban conservatives are not running for school boards then we should be lobbying for more options like charter schools. There are many things that can help us work together. I did not say you had to go home with a liberal I said there are many things we can work together on that are affecting our families and community. If you are that closed minded then you should not be in this game at all.
To tell you the truth I am impressed with Obama's ability to get young people of all demographics to vote for him. It does not matter if people are following him because of emotion or chasing history. Has anyone in the GOP discussed this with any grassroots people? Mc Cain is not appealing to young people and if you think McCain is going to get the same popularity as Obama then you must be joking. Obama is going to carry 99% of the Black vote on his chest and back and there is nothing we can do about it for the time being.
If we want to begin winning the souls of Black folk then we better analyze what Obama is doing instead of bashing him and figure out how we can use this to our advantage. Who is our Obama this year? Alan Keyes? Didn't Keyes grandstand the last time he went up against Obama? God. Who can we craft to run for anything at this point that is credible? Who will not be afraid to speak out? It's a damn shame that I am the only urban conservative blogger in the State of Michigan...that alone is senseless. We have urban conservatives with money and businesses that will not sponsor a 30 minute radio show to present a different viewpoint. I can see why we are getting dogged out at every turn. Now it has gotten so out of control that if we mention Obama's middle name as a joke we are apologizing like McCain did the other night.
We have one radio program (Joshua's Trail with Rev. Dr. Levon Yuille), and two conservative TV shows (The Oakland Right in Waterford, MI and American Conservative Values Network in Jackson, MI). We have no newspaper, no magazines, and not even a consistent columnist in a major newspaper in any urban areas in Detroit or Grand Rapids. No podcasting, no broadcasting, not even a consistent webcast on YouTube. Nothing. The last person who was getting the conservative word out on an one million watt TV station in Detroit was Tara J. Wall. Since then liberal thought has ran rampant on all networks, local and even PBS with America's Black Journal. I will not even talk about the college campuses.
Urban conservatives do not have any presence in urban areas in Michigan and we are making excuses for not developing and training people into leadership roles. We are divided and not united and until that happens I can see why other Black folks will not take us seriously. I cannot possibly understand why we cannot force the issue of educational options for our families in our community? It is a win-win situation because even the most liberal Black person want their child educated other than waiting for Detroit Public Schools to be fixed (which will never happen).
A word to the wise. Every Black Democrat in Detroit is not a democrat. You have some Democrats who are conservative in Detroit. Because so many Republican clubs and congressional organizations are caught up on partisan politics they often miss the boat with those conservative Democrats who are seeking help from the other side. It is absolutely insane to ask that person to switch their party affiliation to Republican when they are running in a 100% Democratic area. Just help them. This goes for Young Republicans as well. I live in Detroit and you would be totally shocked to learn how many young people sound conservative but need the history lesson. Urban conservatives should already be on top of this.
If we are that afraid to present ourselves on any level then we will continue to see the same thing over and over again. And we should not complain about Obama because we did nothing to prevent him from getting this big.