Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Obama’s Feet to the Fire? Not Likely. Not Ever by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Freedom Rider: Obama’s Feet to the Fire? Not Likely. Not Ever.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Black politics had been on life support for quite some time but flat lined on January 3, 2008. On that date Illinois senator Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses during his presidential campaign. By doing so he proved that white people would vote for him and thereby answered a question which black people had pondered for decades. Millions became focused on one idea alone. Their sole political aspiration was seeing Barack Obama sworn in as president and the already precarious plight of African Americans has sunk further ever since.
In 2008, anyone who didn’t support Barack Obama or who even dared to ask a question was silenced with pleas for a dubious kind of racial solidarity. They were given assurances that once in office, black people would then “hold his feet to the fire.” The promise was always phony, a call from people who never really had an interest in making political demands. After his election all talk of making demands disappeared. Every act was met with the same excuses. Wait until after the mid-term elections, wait for him to re-elected, wait for the next mid-terms.
The faulty logic was always dangerous, making black people more vulnerable and Obama and company more brazen. Ironically, the 2014 mid-term elections and the resulting republican control of both houses of congress brings a new opportunity for black America to rise and make good on a long legacy of protest.
There are fewer opportunities for Obama to act out his love for the grand bargain. There should be no need to talk over black people’s heads to speak to white voters. Instead of shedding tears because of Obama’s political misfortunes, black people should celebrate. However, that scenario assumes that the pledge of holding feet to fire was ever serious in the first place.
Unfortunately there is no honesty to be had in this sorry story. The Obama idol worshipers were always content to just worship and never cared about Obama’s policies. The president doesn’t really like black people very much and rarely passes up an opportunity to deliver mockery and insult. Astute observers knew that “hope and change” was always an elaborate marketing gimmick.
Even if the people who always claimed they wanted to make demands did so, their pleas would fall on deaf ears. The lame duck president will do as he has always done. He has always acted on his conviction that the system needs more deal making and not more change.
Obama was always conservative. He said so when he spoke of his admiration for Ronald Reagan. He said so when he said that black people were “90 percent of the way” towards equality. He said so in his first appearance before the American people in 2004 when he made the astounding assertion that “there is no black America, there is no white America.”
The Obama lovers have already fallen back on familiar terrain. Instead of asking hard questions they have chosen to blame the Democratic party for the defeat. Yet they absolve the man who leads the Democratic party of any blame. His absence from the campaign trail and unfunny jokes about cousins Pookie and Ray Ray were a sorry substitute for making a political case and Republican control is the result.
The Democrats never really want to activate their base. They thrive best on Republican unpopularity and not ownership of their policies. Obama’s signature political achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is on the verge of being picked apart by a conservative Supreme Court. That wouldn’t be the case if we had a single payer system of Medicare for all but that was never on the Democratic party agenda. Now their mish mash of a plan may be diminished severely if not disappeared altogether.
The lack of a black political agenda will be all the more evident over the next two years. The plight of the undeserving Obama will be lamented even as life gets worse for the black America he says doesn’t exist.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)
Share this