President Barack Obama admonished the Congressional Black Caucus – and black America— mostly friendly, supportive constituencies — to shut up and get in step with his efforts to get Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.

“I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes,” said the recognized master of rhetorical shrewdness. “Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling. Stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.”

maxine_waters_pointing-e1284755767334-300x229Those commands from the leader of the free world didn’t sit well with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a CBC member who recently accused the president of ignoring the concerns of his core constituency. Waters suggested that the president wouldn’t tell Hispanic, gay and lesbian or Jewish groups to stop complaining.

“So I don’t know who he was talking to — certainly not the Congressional Black Caucus,” she said on CBS’ “The Early Show.”

I’m not a fan of Congresswoman Waters. But she’s not altogether wrong on this point. There’s already too much silence among members of the “black community.” Browbeating them into keeping quiet about the president’s lack of performance in office will not inspire hope or change.

Waters feels the president gives blacks lip service and arm-length affection. Her reference is the unemployment rate for blacks that is close to 17 percent — the highest it’s been in almost 30 years and almost twice as high as the national average.

How we got in this situation is ripe for discussion. How we get out of it has to be part of the president’s talking points and long-term plan.

In fairness, his critics must take into consideration that the president is walking a political tightrope. He must be concerned that his support among blacks dropped in September to 58 percent, down from 83 percent less than six months ago, according to recent polls.  If rank and file criticism revs up, black voters, who overwhelmingly cast ballots for him in 2007, may not be inspired to turn out in large numbers for the 2012 election. And unless black voters buy into Obama’s jobs message, the Democratic Party faithful will be hard pressed to overcome that incredibly frustrating phenomenon of leading blacks to the Kool-Aid fountain, but not being able to make them drink.

Blacks, of course, aren’t the only one suffering or complaining. Nationwide, 14 million people are in unemployment lines and more than 25 million unable to find full-time work. Thus, the president has decided to campaign on broad themes out of fear of further alienating the substantial bloc of independents who also feel disaffected and who, more than blacks, will actually determine his victory or defeat.

The president’s conflict notwithstanding, he doesn’t deserve a free pass from condemnation.  However, a sense of racial solidarity prevents most blacks from being overly critical of Obama. In practice is a code of racial loyalty that says “we should not wash the family’s dirty laundry in public;” not unlike a political “don’t snitch” taboo.

Other than a few discordant shouts from sideline detractors, like Waters, hardly a word of outrage about his shortcomings emanates from his loyal black constituency. The fear is that vilification might undermine the nation’s first black president.

Instead of frank discussions about economic policy and job creation strategies, the debate in the “hood” turns almost exclusively on “corporate greed” and the obligations of the federal government to take from the rich and give to the less fortunate. The subject of racial accountability is so sensitive and raw that whites are hesitant to openly challenge the direction the black president is taking the country.

Why do blacks hold true to the “code of silence” about their elected officials, even at the risk of remaining politically isolated? Perhaps it is what GOP presidential contender Herman Cain has suggested: we’ve been “brainwashed.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. “Waters suggested that the president wouldn’t tell Hispanic, gay and lesbian or Jewish groups to stop complaining.” I concur. He has publicly supported most of the aforementioned groups. This is not the time to silence his most solid constituent group.

  2. Bill, the Republicans and the well to do, and that includes Democrats, have the keys to unlock the cells of economic depravity that exists in this country. I see no evidence in the near term that our job situation will change because the job creators do not wish to pay people in this country what it really takes to get by on or create employment opportunity. The jobs keep leaving the USA because it is cheaper to pay someone in India and China far less than what a person needs to exist on in the USA. Prices for goods and sevices have ascended higher than a NASA Space Shuttle with no corresponding increase in wages and purchasing power for what use to be the middle class. Yet I have numerous articles on what CEO ‘s have received in compensation and I assure you its immeasurably higher not only in real dollars but in proportion as well than what most people earn. Are African Americans better off with a Republican in Charge? All you have to do is look at what is going on in Michigan and the devistation the legislature and Governor are creating with their unsound and biased actions directed at people who happen to be in labor unions. The President is experiencing the same aggresive political obstruction that Jennifer Granholm faced when she was Govrnor. The opposition attacks the president with subtle yet blatant racially tinged comments. Talk radio provides that evidence. These despicable comments are uttered same way they were directed at Granholm when she was taunted because she was a woman. John Engler was never scrutinized the way she was and he began the destruction of vitally needed services such as those in need of mental health assistance but made sure he lined his pockets. I don’t think the Presient was out of order adressing the CBC, in fact it could be equally applicable for those folks who call themselves Democrats and vote Republican. I ask myself 1st. how did George Bush help African Americns? 2nd, how did he help the rest of the people in this country? He helped the Auto Indsustry stay in existence, and all of the companies are hiring and adding shifts so some African Americans have to be getting hired. He nailed Bin Laden only after 2yrs. in office and the millitary just knocked off a key Alkida leader the other day with a drone. His tenure hasn’t been perfect and he needs to take an aggressive stand on trade and demand fairness or get Congress to repeal those trade agreements that have economically devistated so many people in this country. But I cannot believe that African Americans feel that they would be better off with someone else as President given the current temprement of the country at this time in our Nation’s history.

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