CNN took to calling it the “Presidential Playoffs,” but in football, the playoffs only last for a few exciting weeks (Go Cowboys!). This presidential race has been going since before January ’07. I’d say it’s even been going on as long as the Democrats congressional win in ’06. And I, like a lot of people who aren’t television pundits, am sick of it.
At least there is some form of voting involved now, which is a marked improvement over the idle speculation Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” has been doing. Alas, I miss Jon Stewart’s always relevant coverage of “Clusterf@#k to the White House.” Stewart’s supposed to come back this month, sans writers. I have no idea how one would produce the Daily Show without writers. I don’t know WHY the networks won’t just give the writers their cut of the internet revenue. They wrote it. They should get a check. If NBC is getting a dollar, give the writers their 15 cents. Geez-a-lou.
As I predicted my sudden case of Obamamania did fade. I’m still happy he won Iowa. I still like his wife and think their girls are adorable. But reality reminded me that A) Barack is still a black man trying to go where no black man has gone before; and B) Barack’s resume is … err … lacking.
I’m not saying he has to be like Bill Richardson, who literally has “I talked Kim Jong Il off the ledge myself while simultaneous freeing hostages around the world” tattooed on his forehead. But, dude, some specifics would help. Shilling optimism worked for Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43. But their actual presidencies left some to be desired for the American Negro. Ronnie’s especially and Bush 43 most definitely didn’t give blacks much to work with, and in some case, straight up obstructed black progress.
For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, a Republican foster idea of opening up our free markets to Mexico.
For years, blacks fought to get those so sought after unionized labor jobs . The kind of factory jobs that came with good money and benefits and created the American middle class after the post-WWII boom. During and more so after the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s, 60s and 70s, more black received a shot at these jobs, vaulting some fortunate blacks into the middle class and into colleges. Things were going great until … the 1980s when factories started closing and moving under President Reagan. Things only got worse as time progressed. Then President Bill Clinton pushed NAFTA through under the protest of the labor unions that put him in office.
Sure, he scored a political coup against the Republicans, but after NAFTA scores of manufacturing plants ran to Mexico where they could build their cars and appliances on the cheap, without paying into entitlement programs than the American unions required. Rust belt cities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan start to deteriorate. The rest of America’s manufacturing bread basket states follow suit. And now those lucrative manufacturing jobs blacks worked so hard to obtain no longer existed. And while poor whites had those jobs since the 1930s to pull themselves out of the depression. Blacks had, at a maximum, a twenty year window to take advantage. At a minimum, ten years — 1970 to 1980. Hence the wealth disparity between middle class whites and blacks. The whites simply have been part of the middle class longer, their parents benefited from the boom in jobs during and after the 1940s, leaving them with more wealth to work with. Black folks are just now getting some stability, only to watch the good jobs dry up.
Hence, why things that often aren’t billed as having any affect on black people actually have a profound effect. Hence why who you elect is important.
Personally, I don’t think Barack Obama would support renewing NAFTA as it currently is. He’s alluded to as much in the eleventy-billion debates the Democrats have had this year. But he’s still too gauzy and fuzzy on other issues. I like hope. Who doesn’t? But I also want to know exactly how you’d get your bills through Congress. Because all roads to universal health care go through Congress. So far, all I’ve gathered from the debates is that Barack would hug it out. Hilary would pontificate. And John Edwards would whip out a machine gun on the drug company lobbyists why shouting, “Say hello to my little friend!”
When it gets right down to it, fundamentally, there’s no difference between the Democratic contenders. I don’t fear that black American would experience a significant backslide one any of their potential administrations. I fear that the Democrats will take the advantage that the Republicans gave to them and blow. So I basically want what the Democratic race to turn into a battle royale to figure out who is the strongest, shrewdest, most skilled politician who can do more than pull a John Kerry-ish deer in the headlights reaction when the Swift Boaters come along.
God. I shudder when I think of whatever mock outrage conservative interlopers will create for the Democratic nominee. And as feisty as John Edwards is, he often comes off more bratty and petulant than presidential. Hillary is also cantankerous and frumpy. Barack and his Phil Jackson-esque zen politics might be able to kick his game above the fray, but the power hungry and the racists alike will do their best to not be “out niggered.” Willy Horton, be damned.
So, Democrats need to be prepared, not shocked, when Republicans go to battle and don’t go there in any sort of ethical manner. Democrats are the proverbial Charlie Brown believing that Tom Delay is really going to let them kick that football this time. How many times do you have to get punched in the mouth before you finally get it … they’re rules are no rules.
As much as I dislike Republican tactics, you have to admire their effort to destroy everything in their quest for power. They want to win. BAD. They need to be in charge. After all, their party inherited all the cage fighters that used to only exist in the Democratic party. Of course, a certain percentage of those ruthless cage fighters defected to the Republican party after the Democrats decided that maintaining “apartheid” in America via Jim Crow was unacceptable.
All the complaints Democrats have of Republicans now are the historical complaints of the Republican party towards the Dems. The obtuse Republicans were viewed as stodgy and academic, more interested in isolationism and cultural conservatism, and the plight of the wealthy. The Democrats were those annoying insurgents from south and rust belt who had dead men voting in Texas (Lyndon Johnson) and making sure the vote count came up for John F. Kennedy in Chicago (Mayor Richard Daley). Shades of these film-flam shams could be seen in the White Collar Riot that intimidated workers and other protesters as Republicans attempted to stop the vote count in Florida’s mess of an election in 2000.
As I said before, I don’t like these things. But academic, Black Snobs like me wouldn’t. And right now the Democratic party is teeming with academic white snobs who think its unseemly to take the low road. The closest we’ve got so far was Hillary attacking Obama’s record in kindergarten. Which, seriously, reeked of desperation. See, if you’re ruthless and unethical you’d do what certain Republicans threated to do to Colin Powell when he was considering a run — out his wife as a nut case (she’d sought help for depression, but no matter). Or just lie. Lying works great. If the Democrats had been more unethical and ruthless in 2000 they would have openly said if you elect George you’re electing a religious zealot who also happens to be an alcoholic who lied about his record with the National Guard.
Oh, that he’s failed at everything he’s ever done, save become governor of Texas, even though in Texas the governor is actually very weak and the real power lies in the legislature and with the Lt. governor.
That said. I miss my Obamamania already. It was nice to not be cynical and get caught up in the hype. I’m still supporting Obama. My heart is still with him. But I’m going to suggest that he co-op a little of Edward’s rage-a-hol, take a couple swigs and be prepared to throw down if necessary.