Black America Is Living Through a Great Economic Depression -- What's Obama Going to Do About It?
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Turnout rebounded strongly in 2012, perhaps as much in reaction against the Republican Party and Republican-backed voter suppression efforts as it was a desire to keep President Obama in the White House and increase Democratic Party power in Congress.
What could energize African-American turnout in 2014 that was absent in 2010? The answer is clear: Candidates speaking directly to the economic depression in African-American communities with a plan to rebuild the rungs on the ladder of upward mobility, including putting people back to work at good jobs; quality, affordable education; accessible health care and retirement security.
To be fair, President Obama has frequently touted a jobs program that would put additional money into infrastructure spending and schools, and he has in the past championed the kind of green energy investments that can provide a broad range of new job opportunities in high-unemployment communities. He has promised more of the same in the upcoming budget proposal. But President Obama’s proposals have never been proportional to the need, trimmed by the political constraints imposed by an obstructionist Republican opposition and timid Democratic allies.
That opposition in the immediate term certainly renders out of reach anything on the scale of the Congressional Progressive Caucus infrastructure plan, which would not only add 7 million jobs in the first year but would produce a sizable share of those jobs in communities and job categories where African Americans are strongly represented. But President Obama and Democratic party elected officials should want to be seen as leading the fight for economic justice and equality for African Americans, hastening the day when economic disparities rooted in America’s legacy of racism are eradicated once and for all. Accepting the limits imposed by the inheritors of the Confederate legacy may appear politically expedient, but it is the way of moral and electoral bankruptcy.