Several years ago, I sat on the stage of the Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union set. I will never forget how it felt to be verbally attacked by Minister Louis Farrakhan and to seemingly be in disagreement with Michael Eric Dyson, Cornell West, and Harry Belafonte. The Lord knows I was not trying to be a contrarian or to simply make a name for myself. In reality, my statements resonated with an auditorium of African Americans who felt the political process has passed them over. Let me paraphrase what I said in 2005 and 2006, “I feel like we (blacks) are in an adulterous relationship with the Democratic Party. They (the Democrats) show up on the Sunday before the Tuesday—expecting our vote. They show up at midnight. They want what they want, the way they want it. But later on I don’t get flowers; I don’t get taken to dinner. The whole relationship is about their needs (the Democratic Party)—not mine.”
For at least two generations, blacks have been taken for granted by Democrats and ignored by Republicans. Most blacks ignore their convictions about life and family and vote for candidates committed to views they opposed. Blacks seemingly have nowhere to go politically to solve their issues—even though our unemployment numbers are twice the national average (18 percent vs 9.1 percent). A black Democratic president has not solved very many black problems, despite breaking the historic “glass ceiling.”
At times, the administration and black community leaders simply demand our personal allegiance to bad policies simply because we are black. The optimum 2012 presidential race would be to have 2 black men on the ballot. While Cain and Obama share common skin color, their stark differences in political philosophy would present Americans with the most clearly delineated political choice in decades. The election could no longer be cast as a de-facto referendum on a black man’s qualification to hold the highest office. Instead the choice would be between two black men who view everything—from the role of government in a free society, to the very definitions of life and family—almost completely differently.
The issues I have shared demonstrate the need to form a coalition to call both parties to accountability and a specific legislative agenda. To that end, a multi-ethnic leadership team held a press conference November 8th detailing a new organization, E Pluribus Unum or “Out of Many One.” In short, it is an umbrella organization, giving a political voice to all minority groups in the 2012 local, regional, and presidential campaigns. It will operate as a platform to focus on recruiting, organizing and mobilizing ethnic voters.
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.