Is it impolitic of me to suggest that Barack Obama is no longer the “first African-American president”? The illogic of such a statement aside, it is a thought that has occurred to some in the Congressional Black Caucus — if not stated outright — that Obama has lost his racial moorings.
Maxine Waters and other black leaders don’t seem to understand why it is more important for Obama to take his “I Have a Job” speech to places where there are no African-Americans — just populist Republicans gaining a foothold in key swing states. They don’t seem to get the importance of resting up with his donor base before coming up with some good lines to feed the TelePrompTer when he goes out to speak to his voter base. More to the point, the CBC and their supporters are coming to the realization that Obama indeed is not the first African-American president they envisioned.
In time, they may come to realize that the president never was one of them — neither by birth, nor by hard experience nor by ideology. Born to an immigrant father and a white mother, Obama shares no common heritage with African-Americans — at least not in the sense of a shared history and struggle. In terms of ideology, most African-Americans have more in common with Herman Cain or Allen West than with the Command Economist In-Chief. Indeed, Black America is more socially conservative than the party 90% of them vote for. If asked whether they support a program that provides a subsistence for people out of work or a program that provides opportunities to work — and to move up economically, those unemployed folks in Detroit would probably prefer job opportunities to an expansion of the Welfare State.
President Obama may be able to argue that he cannot do anything for this constituency if he can’t get re-elected, but they have two years of a Democratically controlled House and Senate during the most productive time of his presidency to reflect on: he did not achieve or even attempt anything in terms of budget or policy initiatives that could benefit the black community. The Stimulus, the bailouts, Obamacare and his campaign to raise taxes all were oriented to meeting the demands of Socialist ideologues who may have seen helping the Black community as part of the ends that justified the anti-Capitalist means, but nobody seriously believes actual people were of any concern to Obama. His actions all reflect a person seeking to expand and hold onto power. A government that lumbers over its citizens also lords over them. Pity the president who has no sense of history. Being enslaved by government is no less immoral than being enslaved by another individual.
Many of the “poverty pimps” and “race baiters” a few years ago charged that Obama was not “authentic” and that he had no sense of the shared experience that comes with being an African-American. Conservatives chafed at such charges not only because they seemed unfair on the surface but because one’s “authenticity” in matters of race should be irrelevant. We elected a president to bring change — not just change for those profiteers who will vacation with him on the Vineyard, but change for those frightened farmers and those desperate in Detroit. We wanted a president. Not a drive-by speech.
So it seems the critics who challenged his “authenticity” were right after all. As unfair and irrelevant as their claims may have been, it appears Obama has forfeited his right to be seen as the “first African-American president” and has become merely a guy of Kenyan-Anglo descent. One of the rest of us except for his moneyed connections and his disconnect from everyday America.