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Can Black Politics Mean Power And Not Just Problems? And More Such Questions…

Recently, a regular viewer sent me an e-mail complimenting's attention to a wide spectrum of issues and not just what she referred to as traditional Black causes like civil rights and the most common today - criminal justice issues. She felt that it was a breath of fresh air to see a Black-centered website take on a variety of issues like fiscal and monetary policy, healthcare and non-partisan issues.

I thought that it was one of the highest compliments that we have received since we started this website six months ago.

For nearly the entire 135 years that Blacks have had the right to vote, there has really only been one relationship between the Black electorate and the American political system and that relationship has revolved around a survival and security paradigm rather than one of prosperity and opportunity.

The two-party system has benefited the most from this "partnership" as it has only saw fit to respond to the needs of the Black community when Blacks are disrupting civil society. Then a few crumbs are thrown from the table in order to appease the restless masses. Both political parties have done this - the Democrats do it today and the Republicans did it in the 19th century.

Even today there appears to be an unspoken "one-issue" rule for Black voters where Blacks are only allowed to push one issue onto the national agenda. This year, without a doubt, that issue is racial profiling.

It is irritating to see Black people feel so honored just because a political candidate can muster the strength to mention one of Black America's issues in front of an all-white audience, as if Blacks as a people advance from such public utterances.

Even though everyone in Black America knows that there are countless other issues that warrant the immediate attention of the community and this country's political establishment, almost every Black leader and organization of national stature gets into the act and "agrees" that we "have" to get the attention of this government in order to get them to respond to our top issue.

To me, it is the sickest part of the covenant that has existed between Black political and civic leaders who make deals with the American political establishment on behalf of the masses. These so-called Black leaders sit at the table with the establishment (government officials and the representatives of the political party of choice) and privately represent a one or two issue agenda. While they scream at the top of their lungs to the Black community that we can't take mistreatment any longer and that we must push a Black agenda, they go behind the close door and sell out the people by offering the American political and party leaders the option of choosing what issue they will be willing to respond to that year.

When the deal has been made, the Black leader(s) come back into the community with modifications and a lower voice and eventually the result is that the discourse inside of the community soon narrows to one or two issues that everyone can buy into and support.

That is why we are so hard on partisan politics in this space. It is not that political parties don't have great value for Blacks. Rather, it is that political parties have been the chief vehicles by which Black voters and the masses have been sold out. The chief means by which this has occurred is through Black leaders who have been more loyal to the party oligarchy than they have been to Black people.

They value access to party leaders and the fame and money that comes with it more than they value representing an agenda that reflects the reality and aspirations for peace and prosperity that all Blacks want. And because of this they have sold the power to define the pressing issues of the Black community to the party oligarchy and political establishment in exchange for access to power and financial support is trying to provide a forum whereby issues that reflect the reality of the Black community are allowed into the room, regardless to whether a party boss likes it or not and regardless to what politician may or may not be offended by whatever opinion may float through.

Anything else is modern-day slavery where Blacks have to check with somebody or get permission to challenge themselves and authority.

That is why we think that Blacks have a right to any issue that they choose and not just those issues that are approved by those outside of our community. Why should Blacks be relegated to discussing only those issues that represent the most urgent problems in the community? Can we afford to ignore everything else?

Can't we walk and chew bubble gum at the same time?

Can't Blacks handle both the urgent and the important? Are our brains going to explode if we ask for spending increases in certain areas while asking for tax cuts?

Can't we lobby for an end to racial profiling and police brutality while we admit that our community has a problem with crime and needs to do more to police itself?

Can't we criticize the Christian Coalition, Gay Bauer, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell without destroying the argument that religion, Church and God have a role in our mode of politics?

Can't we be pro-life and pro-choice without worrying about what our political party thinks on the issue of abortion?

Can't Black people be environmentalists?

Can't Black people be supply-siders?

Can't Blacks work with Native Americans as quickly as they work with Jews and unions in political coalitions?

Can't Blacks find legitimate reasons to back John Hagelin, Harry Browne, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and Howard Phillips for president as quickly as they can find reasons to back George W. Bush and Al Gore?

Can't Blacks demand reparations and accept responsibility for the miserable condition of the community at the same time?

Can't Blacks ask Democratic administrations to address issues that are not in the Party platform as quickly as they ask for political appointments?

Can't Blacks support the Republican Party without reading from the latest GOP talking points memo?

Can't Blacks be critical of alternative lifestyles, feminists groups and religious communities without being labeled as homo-phobic, sexist and anti-Catholic or anti-Semitic?

Can't Blacks support the cause of Palestinians without being accused of trying to eliminate the state of Israel?

Can't Blacks understand how Jews feel when Muslim and Arab nations refuse to admit that the state of Israel exists?

Can't Blacks on the left admit that Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are not saints and have done things wrong?

Can't Blacks admit that African people have been hurt by the IMF, WTO and World Bank as well as robbed by African leaders?

Can't Blacks admit that Karl Marx was a brilliant man whose insights deserve to be studied without fear of what they will be called?

Can't Blacks tell the US government that Canada and Cuba have successfully addressed problems that America still can't.

Can't Blacks formulate a coherent agenda of what US foreign policy should look like and make both parties respond accordingly?

Can't Blacks admit that in many cases the marketplace can solve problems that government can't?

Can't Blacks be for fixing the public school system and promoting school vouchers at the same time?

Can't Blacks be critical of Alan Greenspan and US monetary policy?

Can't Blacks on the right admit that the Founding Fathers were slave-owners, slaughtered Native Americans and mistreated Blacks, and that such facts are relevant?

Can't Blacks be feminists, liberals and progressives without taking their lead and instructions from an elite group of whites that live on the upper-west side of Manhattan or in Hollywood?

Can't Blacks admit that rap and R&B lyrics are often disrespectful of women, promote crimes and influence the behavior of our young people without trying to put Black musicians out of business?

Can't these same Blacks devote the same amount of time toward censoring movies financed, directed and produced by non-Blacks?

Can't Black Democrats that invest in the stock market tell their political party that they would like the capital gains tax reduced or eliminated?

Can't Black Republicans tell their political party that they have done nothing to address the problems that Blacks have had with this country's criminal justice system?

Can't Blacks tell both political parties that they will not tolerate disrespect and mistreatment of the Black Farmer?

Can't Blacks demand that at least one presidential debate be held in the Black community?

Can't Blacks provide more campaign finance for the candidates that they support or expect to be responsive to their concerns?

Can't Blacks be critical of the history and injustice of this country without being asked to go back to Africa?

Can't Blacks come up with a better reason for voting for Al Gore than who George W. Bush will appoint to the Supreme Court?

Can't Blacks come up with a better reason to vote Republican other than the fact that Democrats take the Black vote for granted?

Can't Blacks make all candidates for president respond "Yes" or "No" to an agenda?

Can't Black media outlets take their own polls during a campaign?

Can't the Congressional Black Caucus vote consistently different from how the Democratic Party tells it to?

Can't Black politicians tell white reporters and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) how they really feel about Minister Farrakhan?

Hopefully, one day soon , we can answer such questions honestly...

Cedric Muhammad

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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