Senator Obama’s speech in Philadelphia is definitely the highlight of this arduous campaign season, and has been well received by many in both parties. In fact, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice weighed in on the subject recently. Many have regarded it as the “I Have A Dream” for this generation. While we have yet to see the resulting impact of the speech, it has surely caused many African-Americans to take a more critical look at the current crop of Black leaders on the local and national front.
An interesting thought came to me while watching the NCAA basketball tournament the other day. Little known Davidson upset the mighty Georgetown Hoyas and to show that it was not a fluke, they backed it up by beating Wisconsin. While these upsets were monumental, what makes it even more astonishing is the fact that Georgetown and Wisconsin were both ranked #1 at one point during the season. Analysts attributed Davidson’s success to many factors but they all agreed that their success was due to the fact that Davidson made their opponents play bad basketball. By comparison Davidson was no match for either team on paper. The players for Georgetown and Wisconsin were all highly recruited and could easily be a standout on most teams. So how is it that a highly skilled team loses to a team, that by all counts they were supposed to defeat soundly?
By the same token the current crop of elected officials is considered to be highly successful according to contemporary standards. Then why are African-Americans feeling an even bigger disconnect with those who we have chosen to represent us? Carrying the basketball analogy further, I began to ponder whether or not our Black elected officials are playing badly or are we electing the wrong “leaders”.
In 1903 W.E.B DuBois introduced the idea that Blacks needed to develop a Talented Tenth – a group of Black Americans who would acquire the skills and/or education that would enable us to succeed in the larger society; and who would eventually “come home” and use their tools and talents to build a bridge between the Black “haves” and the Black “have-nots.” However DuBois warned against making the objective of this group’s development anything other than being responsible for, and accountable to their communities. DuBois says,
“If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men.”
So in that respect I don’t have a problem with Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson or Andrew Young supporting Hillary Clinton for president. However, I do have a problem with these individuals making a choice not to speak up against the divisive racial tactics that the Clinton camp has engaged in with reckless disregard. I do have a problem with these individuals making a choice to turn a blind eye to these tactics because they hold their personal gains above those who have supported them, especially when they had been rejected by the wider community. I do have a problem with these individuals making a choice to validate the idea that their Super Delegate status gives them free will to act autonomous and without regard to their constituents.
I am reminded of a part of the Declaration of Independence which says,
“… [G]overnments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”
In other words, if the government (representative) that the people have chosen has become ineffective to the people then it is the right of the people to replace it (the individual) with one that will protect the rights of the people.
We should not and cannot abandon our duty to participate in the electoral process… that would be a bad choice. Voting for the Republican, John McCain just to spite the Democratic Party because Obama isn’t the candidate is also a bad choice.
And re-electing these individuals when their terms expire is, most definitely, a very bad choice.