By Jay Thomas Willis,
Senior Columnist and Political Analyst
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
A friend of mine, who was what I call a gentleman and a scholar, once said years ago that when the powers-that-be let Black politicians win elections, it’s because the system was already in a state of severe disrepair. He was noted for his intelligence, predictive ability, and being able to call it like it was. He held great promise. Unfortunately, this individual died of congestive-heart failure several years ago. He had the charisma to be an excellent politician, and was working on developing himself in this area.
I have a slightly different take on this subject. I say usually when Blacks win, either they win because they’re in a Black majority situation—where most of the Blacks are favorable toward that particular candidate, or the system is about to break down anyway, and those in power are ready to turn it over to anyone willing to try and revive it. Sometimes those in power feel they have occupied the seat of power long enough.
In 1971, a British journalist, Michael Parkinson, noted that Muhammad Ali was seemingly the second most popular American after Richard Nixon. The journalist asked Ali whether he would like to be president since he was as popular as the president. Ali gave a long-winded diatribe, but went on to say: “If anyone offered him such a position, he would think, why should anyone offer me such a position, the country must be falling apart.” He would feel America is in too much trouble for him to take on such a position. Ali’s resistance to the idea of taking on such a position is understandable, in light of the problems he would have likely encountered. If he ever would have subjected himself to such a situation, he would have found himself in an unenviable position.
This is precisely the position Obama was in when he was elected. President Obama inherited “a mess” from George W. Bush. The country was in trouble: recessionary economy, economic downturns, war in Afghanistan and Iraq which was driving the deficit, housing collapse, an initiated $821 billion stimulus bill, high unemployment, problems in the educational system, financial organizations in trouble, and Bush’s tax cuts were partially responsible for record deficit.
When Obama became president the system was in disrepair without a doubt. We simply added a Black face to poor economic, social, educational, and political conditions. All that he could do is go with the flow and say he is the president of all the people. Though, Obama is truly the president of all the people. It’s the only way to serve as president of the United States.
When Jesse Jackson, Sr. (1984 and 1988) and Shirley Chisholm (1972) ran for president they didn’t have a favorable majority, and the system was running fairly well at the time. Carol Moseley Braun (2004) made a quick stab at running for president, but quickly bowed out of the race because of campaign irregularities and funding problems. Herman Cain (2012) also quickly bowed out of the presidential race because he said it was too hard on his family. This was about it in reference to Blacks bid for the presidency.
There have been many Blacks to win offices in various states, as well as national offices. Most Black mayors win because of a Black majority in big cities. There have been a number of Black mayors to win elections around the country. Many of the Black mayors got the job after cities were already in trouble. Cities around the country have been falling apart for quite some time, and the country has also been falling apart for quite sometimes. And most Black Senators and Representatives win because of a majority of Blacks in their district. Some of the Black national and state Representatives and Senators got the job after the country was also already in trouble, along with a majority of favorable Blacks in their districts.
Douglas Wilder, governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994, didn’t have a large Black political base, but had a fairly stable social, economic, and political economy. His situation was quite unusual for a Black politician.
We have a Black president but Congressmen aren’t trying to cooperate in doing anything about the social and economic problems in the country. They fight Obama tooth and nail on every possible issue. The opposition party alienates even their own constituents because they so vehemently oppose anything the other party proposes. Usually when Black politicians get elected to office they have a hard time getting their policies through, it was the same with Harold Washington in Chicago, and the current president. Those out of power want their representative to occupy the highest seat of power, and they will do anything to get him or her in that position.
In order for a Black to win any election he or she must be able to go toe-to-toe with his or her opponents: this means having the financial backing, keeping in a favorable light, staying away from blatant personal attacks which don’t address the issues, and being willing to fight harder to win.
Politicians must quit playing political games and do what is best for the country regardless of what party or group is in power.