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What Would African-Americans Do With a President Romney?

May 13, 2012

What Would African-Americans Do With a President Romney?

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D.


( - As the country moves into the full scale 2012 presidential election process a troubling pattern is developing within certain segments of the African American community.  There’s a concerted effort by some within the community to silence those who are offering honest, valid, and well thought through analysis and criticism of the Obama administration.

I’ve written about individuals such as Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Rev. Sharpton and others who have attempted to label honest policy debate as betrayal.  Former Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Perry referred to Professor Cornell West’s critique of the Obama administration as, “a self-aggrandizing, victimology sermon deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness…”

The 2012 election will be much different than the 2008 election.  President Obama is not running against a failed Bush administration; he’s running on his own record. He’s running against subtle and sometimes obvious bigoted rhetoric, as well as the usual voter suppression tactics. As Nobel laureate Paul Krugman recently stated, the same thieves who backed Bush are backing Romney.   President Obama is running against 8.3 percent unemployment and a shaky economy. Hope and change will not carry him to victory in 2012.

According to,  in the 2008 presidential election Senator Obama received 96 percent of the African American vote.  It is expected that in November President Obama will receive close to the same percentage, even though the turnout may be lower.

The issue for the African American community is what’s the “B-Plan”?  What will the African American community do in the event that President Obama loses and they have to deal with a President Romney?  What will happen if African Americans have to get away from the politics of personality and actually decide to deal with the politics of policy?

Mitt Romney has expressed his support for House Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan.  It is also rumored that Romney is considering Ryan to be his VP running mate.   According to Lauren Burke at Politic365, “The Ryan budget plan cuts food stamps by $134 billion over 10 years and would eliminate 280,000 children from a free school lunch and breakfast program.  It would also cut 1.5 million Americans off of food stamps…  Poverty numbers jumped 14 percent from 2009 to 2011. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the U.S.has a record 46.2 million people in poverty…At the same time, the budget maintains tax breaks for multi-million dollar estates for the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans.  The tax breaks add 11.5 billion to the debt and benefits 3,300 estates in the U. S.”

The Ryan budget and a President Romney would have a disproportionately devastating impact on the African American community. According to Bread for the World, African-Americans are 22.5 percent of the participants in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program)… One in four African-Americans lives below the federal poverty line, compared to about one in eight Americans overall… More than a third (35.7 percent) of all African-American children lives in poverty, compared to one in five children living in poverty in the country as a whole.

If a President Romney tried to implement the Ryan budget in its current form the African-American community would be outraged.  Rev.’s Sharpton and Jackson and other members of leadership would be calling for marches.  Talk show hosts Joyner, Harvey, and others would be begging their audiences to write, call, and petition their elected representatives to restore funding to social programs.

Under the Obama Administration, African Americans are worse off economically,  but where’s the outrage? Too many in the community are silent or being attacked and summarily dismissed as traitors, “haters”, crazy, and misinformed for calling for targeted solutions and policy initiatives to address the suffering in the African American community.  The African American community should not have permanent friends or permanent enemies’ only permanent interests.  It should be focused on the politics of policy, not personality. It must be clearly understood that having an African American in the Oval Office is not in-and-of itself a victory.  While I too celebrated the election of this country’s first African American president, without substantive and measurable policy outputs that benefit the African-American community, the ethnic makeup of the president is irrelevant.

The community could take a cue from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  Their sole mission is to ensure that the foreign policy outputs of the U.S. have a positive impact on the state of Israel.  It matters not to AIPAC who is in the White House.  Democrat or Republican, friend or foe, AIPAC is going to insure that its message is heard and interests are protected.

In 1857 Fredrick Douglas said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” President Obama is the one in power and the African American community has failed to demand from him the policy outputs it needs.  If Romney wins in 2012 what will the African American community do with a President Romney?  What’s the “B-Plan”?

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