Say what you will about the NAACP; I know they bring about various feelings within the African American community. But, for better or for worse, they still remain the leading civil rights organization in the nation. The NAACP is an organization with enough clout to have presidents and presidential candidates answer their requests to speak at their national conference. I’d say that the NAACP is a good barometer - not perfect, but good – on how folks feel within the Black community and politics. This year is no different. Mitt Romney spoke to the majority African American group, with his own posse of twenty conservative African Americans in tow.
Today, Joe Biden – instead of President Obama – will speak to the same group. But today… today was Romney’s turn to chisel away at Obama’s most loyal base. In 2008, President Obama received nearly 98% of the African American vote. Today, President Obama still polls in the mid 90s, even with his support slipping (slightly) in the African American community. Knowing this, Romney still accepted the invitation, which was either extremely honorable or opportunity to show the extreme wing of his base how he can stand in the face of “the enemy.”
There were plenty of clouds hanging over Romney’s head: Speaking to the oldest civil rights organization while his party tries to turn back the clock and suppress the votes of many African Americans, he eliminated Massachusetts’ Affirmative Action office, and Romney has moved even further right on his positions of gay marriage and immigration. Needless to say, Romney’s record on civil rights is extremely suspect; yet, here he is, speaking to the NAACP and asking for support.
Of course Romney didn’t mention ANY of these issues. It appeared as if he had no real interest in having a conversation; he had ZERO interest in finding common ground using the now familiar republican negotiating tactic of “my way or the highway.” Romney didn’t mention any real policy positions – other than repealing “Obamacare”, which unleashed a cascade of boos from the crowd – but he did ask that we look into his heart. If we look, we will see that he is the best President for African Americans.
However, a couple of his statements conflicted with his positions:
“Republican Party doesn’t count anybody out?”
Um… yes, that is EXACTLY what the Republican Party does. Even Mr. Romney’s openly gay foreign policy advisor, Richard Grenell, was forced out. Of the two parties, the Republican Party is the most exclusive.
“If someone had told us in the 1950s or 60s that a black citizen would serve as the forty-fourth president, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised.”
Which 1950s/60s are you referring too? Because the 1950s/60s that I familiar with tells a different story. It tells a story of segregation and Jim Crow; sit-ins and military escorts to school; the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King; church bombings, Emmett Till, and lynchings. The outcry from the white community over school integration suggests that an African American’s advancement to the highest office in the land wouldn’t have been met with as much pride as Romney believes – perhaps even something much more violent. In addition, I find it interesting that Romney would mention a time during which segregation was a common practice within his own religion. But maybe that was the point…
“If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way. The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.
Americans of every background are asking when this economy will finally recover – and you, in particular, are entitled to an answer.”
Again I find myself disappointed. Mr. Romney wants to attribute the high unemployment rate to President Obama, but again fails to mention how Republican policies are doing more damage. For example, in the same speech, Romney mentioned he wanted to reduce the size of government. This ignores the fact that the African Americans where 30% more likely to be employed in the public sector before the economic down turn, and now the makeup over 20%. Even at 20%, the public sector has lifted many African Americans into the middle class. Cutting back on government jobs increases the unemployment rate within the African American community. And, no mention of the institutional racism that still exists today and contributes to the unemployment factor and disparity in pay – interesting.
Romney did very little today to move Black voters to his side, but he may have solidified many white southerners. If you do a Google search on “Romney and NAACP” almost every post on the first couple of pages references the audience booing Romney. I’m quite sure this will play very well in the far right corners. If Romney had a plan to prove his mettle standing in front of a booing NAACP may have done the trick. Anything that the NAACP is against MUST be good for the Dixie south. In the end, that may be all he wanted to do.
In addition to what Fed_UP has pointed out, I would like to take a moment to point out a few things.
"With 90 percent of African-Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African American community, and to address the NAACP. Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.
"I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender and I don't favor civil unions if they're identical to marriage other than by name."
"Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country, and that must be our goal. As President, I will promote strong families – and I will defend traditional marriage."
"This nation’s economy runs on freedom, on opportunity, on entrepreneurs, on dreamers who innovate and build businesses. These entrepreneurs are being crushed by high taxation, burdensome regulation, hostile regulators, excessive health care costs, and destructive labor policies."
He finally admits that health care costs are excessively high, yet he vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which cuts costs and saves money on the deficit.
"If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, black families could send their sons and daughters to public schools that truly offer the hope of a better life."
"The role that ought to remain in the President's agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions."
This is the speech that I anticipated that Mitt Romney would make, and I am pretty sure that the Obama campaign anticipated this speech as well. I am glad that President Obama decided to sit out on this convention and send Vice President Biden instead. This was an opportunity for people to see what President Obama is up against. I hope this speech rattles African-Americans to get out and vote. There is too much at stake!
What did you think of the speech?
Is Obama wrong for sending Biden instead of coming himself?