Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Detroit is Barack City by Akindele Akinyemi


The scene last night looked like Prince was in town at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Ok, maybe Senator Barack Obama was not signing Purple Rain or When Doves Cry but the crowd was on fire last night.
If I was a Republican in Michigan I would begin to figure out why our message is not resonating with the urban populace. Even Al Gore weighed in on the action as he endorsed Obama. We can sit and make excuses all day long about how emotional people are towards Obama but if the favor was in McCain lap we wouldn't make excuses. Politics is based on emotional rhetoric. That's how people get elected in the first place.
Even my colleagues at the Republican for Black Empowerment have released this historic press release:
We, members of Republicans for Black Empowerment, recognize the historical context of the times we live in and take pride in Senator Barack Obama conquering this nation's most enduring racial barriers to become the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for President of the United States of America .

Senator Obama's nomination confirms how far the nation has traveled toward fulfilling its Constitutional premise that all men are created equal and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of racial equality.

Ironically, however, the greatest beneficial impact of this historic event may not be the implications of Senator Obama's vision for governing America, with which we meaningfully differ. Instead, our joy and excitement are driven by the positive impact his triumph will have on the imaginations, ambitions and personal expectations of African-Americans, in particular our youth, for generations to come.

It is within this context that we acknowledge the significance of Senator Obama vying for the Presidency, highlighting the successful accomplishments of the brave, self-sacrificing leaders who came before him. His message and charisma have also encouraged many Americans to become more aware of issues affecting our country. Dr. King would indeed be very pleased.

Yet, it is also in the spirit of Dr. King, a lifelong Republican, that RBE commends Senator Obama on achieving the Democratic nomination, but reserves endorsement of his Presidential quest. True equality is when people are critiqued, supported, and opposed based on the merit of their ideas rather than solely on the color of their skin.

We oppose several key policy positions Senator Obama offers as solutions for challenges facing this nation. As our country rests on the precipice of a recession, Americans should be particularly sensitive to the next President's economic prescription. There is little doubt Senator Obama's intention to raise income and capital gains taxes would not encourage economic growth, consumer confidence, business formation or job growth. We are also confident that less government intrusion in the lives of American citizens regarding health care reform, greater accountability from public schools, and greater choices for parents who cannot afford to relocate to superior school districts will better serve Americans than Senator Obama's plans on these issues.

Notwithstanding these differences, we commend Senator Obama for articulating i) a cogent urban economic revitalization agenda, ii) a determination to end sentencing disparities, iii) a focus on reducing crime recidivism by giving support to ex-offenders, and iv) a plan to address poverty in this country.

By contrast, that Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain has not made ANY of these concerns a material focus during his current campaign nor his long Senate career gives rise to concerns among Black GOP activists, some of whom remain unconvinced of the depth of his commitment to issues of direct importance to the African-American community.

Providing further apprehension was Senator McCain's absence at last fall's PBS-sponsored, Tavis Smiley-hosted Republican Presidential debate. In addition, his delayed recognition of his error in not originally supporting the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and tepid response in 2000 to whether the Confederate flag should be flown atop the state capitol in South Carolina, also give many black Republicans reasons for pause.

In coming months, Black Republicans across the nation will continuing weighing the significant costs of the policy differences that we have with Senator Obama with the benefits of the positive impact on Black America's psyche and the impact on young people who will be inspired by his successes. Irrespective of the outcome in November, we salute Senator Obama on earning the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, and rest assured that current and future generations of African-Americans will be inspired by his magnificent achievement for years to come.
While the National Black Republican Association will support John McCain for President the Republicans for Black Empowerment have a different position on the election as what you just read.
But I want to concentrate on the bold print of this press release. How can any sane Republican who want change support someone who voted against the King Holiday? And how do those who support McCain explain how his polices would benefit urban America? Not to mention that McCain skipped out on the Morgan State debates last fall (the Democrats did no better by pulling out of Detroit for the debates). Now he is trying to make up ground by going to the NAACP convention next month. While you have Blacks who will vote for McCain you are going to have many urban conservatives NOT voting at all.
One thing I will say about McCain is the fact that he is NOT a President Bush clone. But if you would have heard Obama last night he successfully morphed McCain with Bush. When you have young adults from the inner city hearing that they tend to believe it. So where is our opposition strategy to deflect this?
Speaking of young people Obama has successfully engaged young people in the voting process. We often talk about civic education in the classrooms and GOTV efforts but Obama has taken GOTV to new record heights. Can McCain do the same? You be the judge to that.
Obama targeted young people not only through phone lines, e-mail and social networking sites — such as Facebook — but also face-to-face in an unprecedented way.
Last night, Obama had Chauncey Billups from the Detroit Pistons show up on stage urging people in the crowds to vote for Obama. The crowd went wild hearing that.
Back to the young people. How can McCain engage our young people to vote for him? We know the White blue collar worker is going to vote for McCain but how does he engage people to come out for his candidacy? The 2008 campaign, especially Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy, has changed all that by re-engaging young people and young adults.
They've got an operation here in Detroit that looks like the old grass roots. If you look at who is working for Obama in Detroit you'll see 40 or 50 people under 25. Those under 34 have, for three decades, been America's least reliable and most ignored voters. Obama has captured 60 percent or more of the under-34 vote. Will McCain be able to do that in Michigan? Hell naw.
It is true that people want change in America and people want change in Michigan. But I am not convinced that Sen. Obama's prescription for change will turn our sagging economy around. We have Black Republicans that are thinking about voting for Obama such as Armstrong Williams, J.C. Watts, Gen. Colin Powell, Joseph C. Philips (from the Cosby Show), among many others. Black liberals are still trying to woo me in to support Obama.
I have been to two Obama speeches (one in Toledo and one in Detroit) and while I cannot support a candidate that I have nothing in common with (other than both of our ancestry is from Africa) I am glad someone is engaging our young people in record numbers in the civic process. The Democratic Party is charging young people in the process in the urban communities while Republicans will wait to the last minute to figure out how we can get a small percentage of Blacks to vote for McCain.
While the Joe Louis Arena was engaged in Obamamania last night I cannot simply support a candidate because he is Black. How dumb. That is the reason why Detroit is in the conditions it's in....because we pay attention to keeping Black Power and running it in the ground.
The worst thing is that all of the hoopla about Obama being Muslim, connected with Jeremiah Wright and calling his church a cult, not being patriotic and being the anti-Christ is starting to wear off on people. People are not even caring about those things anymore so Fox News has ran out of ammunition, Rush Limbaugh has ran out of ammunition and other conservative commentators have ran out of ammunition.
Strangely, not one single GOP representative have contacted urban conservatives in Detroit to develop a strategy for urban outreach in Michigan and now Homosexual billionaire Jon Stryker has raised $700,000 to defeat more State House Republican candidates in Michigan this year. We are so hellbent of delivering Michigan for McCain that we are forgetting about Congressmen Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg. They may lose because we have no strategic vision or measures to support them.
At this point, it really does not matter who is the President. What matters is all politics are local. When are we going to get our act together and build better homes for our families and better schools for our children? We know that conservative policies are better for the urban community because these are policies that are based on handouts. They are based on handups.
Obama cannot save Detroit, therefore, we must move in the direction that free market economics and education will give us the passport to freedom if we apply ourselves correctly. It is ridiculous to think that Obama can help Detroit and I will not even comment on McCain because none of his advisers would allow him to step foot in Detroit at a school or even a gas station on the corner of Mack and Cadillac. Our children need to learn financial literacy, engineering and mathematical skills to help them compete in a 21st century global reality. We have to engineer that effort not Obama or McCain.
If Black people want to create a better future for our community then look at the person in the mirror. Obama is giving out good speeches..that's all. What will we do after the speeches and the hype is gone? Will McCain come to Detroit? The strategies on both sides is messed up.
I will give Republicans a hint for success...stop talking about Obama the man and start talking about Obama the policies that may help or hurt the urban community. Furthermore, if we want to win in November we better start talking about the upcoming value war that is raging in every urban city in America. Hopefully, Republicans will not be afraid to come into the inner cities and educate voters on the policies. But hell, if you did not come in and support Dick DeVos for Governor the many times he walked the streets of Detroit talking to the inner city then I do not expect anything different from McCain.
Remember, if you want to win Michigan you must come to Detroit and Wayne County.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Coopted ExProgressive Rev. Dr. King was not a lifelong republican - that is an untrue statement by the Republicans for Black Empowerment - Rev. Dr. King supported U.S. government sponsored programs to remove U.S. poverty
FreeMan

Akindele F. Akinyemi said...

A republican like I said...