“One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion” ― Voltaire
How could a president facing unemployment near 8 percent, and a national debt topping $16 trillion win a second term in office?
Despite widespread concern about the economy and dissatisfaction with his record in creating jobs, Barack Hussein Obama sauntered onto the stage at Chicago’s McCormick Place on Election Night to the blare of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and declared victory.
After the costliest – and arguably the nastiest – campaign in history, the government remains “status quo” and “divided.” President Obama claimed 60,034,159 popular votes or 50.3 percent, to Romney’s 57,357,522 or 48.1 percent. White voters made up 72 percent of the electorate; non-Whites made up 28 percent – Blacks made up 13 percent of voters and Hispanics 10 percent. Both groups largely backed Obama, Blacks by 93 percent and Hispanics at 71 percent. In addition, Asians gave Obama 74 percent of their vote. The president received 54 percent of votes cast by women and 59 percent of voters ages 18-29.
Romney was viewed as a White supremacist and only received 7 percent of the Black vote, 30 percent of Latinos, 44 percent of female voters and 37 percent of voters ages 18-39.
Though Blacks alleged in polls that they were “doing better” than four years ago, “the economy” was the top issue on America’s other voters’ minds. Those who felt the economy “is improving” [four out of 10 voters] tended to vote for Obama, while those who felt the economy “is worsening” [three out of 10 voters] tended to vote for Romney. Thirty-nine percent of voters said the economy is getting better, 31 percent said the economy is getting worse, and 28 percent said the economy is about the same.
Though African Americans have suffered under Obama’s tenure, these voters gave him 93 percent of their vote to “keep on keeping on.” There’s little question that Blacks voted along color lines, not based on competence, nor for a job to be done. Blacks stayed with Obama in the case of “gay marriage” and even though the economy has not been good for most – in October – the Black unemployment rate increased to 14.3 percent, compared to a Hispanic unemployment rate of 10 percent and 7 percent.
Latinos felt they aligned with Obama on many issues, including jobs and the economy. Polls showed that Hispanic voters focused on the economy; Blacks just wanted Obama “to be respected.” While Blacks have given their votes and devotion to Obama for gratis, none will be able to ignore the reality of the Hispanic agenda. Maybe they can show Blacks how to get beyond “just grinning with pride” toward actually leveraging their political power.
With Black voters’ pivotal roles in the 2012 election results, it’s time for us to display vision, new focus and broad strategies. To wit, here is a possible way: The National Business League proposes that President Obama initiate a “White House Conference on Minority Business” to address the lagging economic growth in minority communities. Malcolm Beech says “the African-American community suffers due to the lack of opportunities and growth among Black-owned businesses. These businesses could be the source of jobs and wealth-building in Black communities. If the president would focus attention on this issue, urban poverty would be eliminated.”
During his second term, it’s time Blacks, along with our “Brown Brothers,” move up a few rungs on Obama’s “priority list.” There should be no shame demanding that Obama 2: focus White House attention on building minority businesses across America’s urban centers; appoint a “urban counselor” to take the lead in building economic development centers in inner-city areas that have high minority populations; attend to Black youth employment in high crime urban areas; and attend to the War on Drugs’ sentencing disparities.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.