Yesterday, I spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson about the death penalty case of Troy Davis. Rev. Jackson offered to partner with us at Your Black World to fight Davis’ execution (you can join our campaign by clicking here), which is scheduled for September 21. Toward the end of our conversation, Rev. Jackson mentioned that he was about to watch the highly-anticipated jobs speech by President Barack Obama. That’s when our friendly discussion switched over to the black unemployment crisis and the state of the economy.
In spite of the widely-held belief that Rev. Jackson does not support President Obama, the opposite is actually true. Rev. Jackson appears willing to do all that he can to help President Obama do an effective job, with the joint interest of supporting the working poor and urban communities. In the 20-plus times I’ve appeared on Rev. Jackson’s show since Obama was elected, I’ve only heard him defend President Obama in the presence of those who wish to criticize him unfairly.
Today on the Huffington Post, Rev. Jackson went out of his way to encourage all Americans to support the jobs proposal put forth by President Obama. Rev. Jackson referred to the package as a significant down payment on America’s future.
The time to act is now. Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – must swiftly move from debate to passing the President’s positive, job creating, legislative proposals. Republic before Republican. Democracy before Democrat.
Unfortunately, some members of Congress demonstrated their utter contempt of the President and refused to even show up – and they’ve not shown up for 242 days of the Obama administration, saying no, rejecting plans even before they receive and review them, and refusing to support or enact any job creation bills. No wonder this Congress is suffering from all time low poll ratings from the public that is disgusted by their dysfunction.
Rev. Jackson goes on to explain that he supports President Obama’s efforts to see the act passed in Congress. Each American must become politically-educated and active in some mechanism designed to make their voice heard in Washington. At this point in time, American politics has been hijacked by corporate money, which serves to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The president must himself become stronger when negotiating with Republicans, and one expects that strong support from the rest of us can give him the leverage that he needs.
One fact that holds true is that good old fashioned American racism has led to Republicans becoming the ultimate traitors to the future of America. Their disdain for a black president has led them to push for his failure, which is synonymous with hoping for the failure of our nation. It has also led the party to demand that spending be cut at a time when government spending is critical to saving the economy. Only time will reveal the depth of the damage that is being done.
While unfair Republican opposition is certainly noteworthy, we must also push the president to more deeply commit his administration to doing what is right. In the black community, unconditional love for any politician must be replaced with conscious analysis of policy choices being made by our elected officials. One cannot blame the Republicans alone for the fact that black unemployment is the worst that it’s been in 27 years. The old notion of the “rising tide lifting all boats” (as Obama communicated three years ago) does not apply in America, where millions of Americans are not even in the economic water. President Obama must show a commitment to the poor, the working class and those in urban communities, and as Maxine Waters said this week, he should “treat us like we are Iowans.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Your Black World on Faceboo