Last Sunday night, one of my parishioners emphatically made the statement that President Obama was “not just another black man with bad credit.” She felt that class warfare and ancient racial wounds had not so subtly become part of the national debate over our financial strategies and debt. Similar to unruly marital arguments, many of our political leaders have stopped attacking our problems and have begun attacking each other. Liberals are attempting to characterize conservatives as uncaring and racist. The fear mongering on the left becomes very personal to large numbers of both the elderly and minorities.
I was personally deeply offended by the fact that many well intentioned clergy met with President Obama two weeks ago and began to repeat the administration's partisan rhetoric about the debt. These men and women of the cloth were manipulated into saying, “Don’t balance the budget on the back of the poor and elderly.” In an attempt to save face for their lack of leadership, the White House is actually “attacking” the conservative messengers instead of the problem.
The fact that we cannot continue to spend the way that we currently do is obvious. Our national need to re-craft our entitlement programs is also clear. Servant leaders would feverishly look at protecting the long term interests of the entire nation. Instead, many liberal legislators continue to repeat ideological mantras like: “don't support tax breaks for the rich” or “everyone should pay their fair share of taxes.” These slogans sound good to the average person but they presuppose that an equitable national tax structure is in place.
They also assume a nationally agreed upon set of spending priorities. In reality, both liberal and conservative leaders in DC are guilty of the same poor communications practices we find in troubled marriages. Our political leaders are focusing solely on what they want while demonizing the other side.
The title of this article describes my parishioner’s (a black woman with a PHD in counseling) anger at the way the president allows himself to be pigeonholed. Many intelligent Americans of all ethnicities believe sound bites and superficial stereotypes are dominating and confusing our nation's most important discussions. As a political independent and a former Obama supporter, my PHD friend feels the president has failed her through lack of positive, assertive leadership in this national crisis.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.