Al Sharpton has a point, sort of

Posted: Sep 13, 2003 12:00 AM

 The Reverend Al Sharpton was not only far and away the most entertaining participant in this week's Democratic presidential debate, he also offered the most interesting tidbit when he accused his fellow candidates, essentially, of double-crossing black voters.

 Sharpton's charge was spot-on, but for completely different reasons than he had in mind. But first, let's look at Sharpton's actual words.

 Sharpton said, "You know, the only thing I never got over in life is I took a young lady to a dance when I was in high school and she left with somebody else. And that's what the Democrats, some, have done to the black community. We helped take you to the dance, and you leave with right-wingers, you leave with people that you say are swing voters, you leave with people that are antithetical to our interests. I am saying in 2004, if we take you to the party, you (are) going home with us, or we're not taking you to the party."

 How ironic that these professional panderers could be accused of ignoring the constituency to which they grovel the most. Sharpton's charge is correct -- Democratic politicians do seem to take black voters for granted, and they do betray their interests, but not by cavorting with "right wingers" or "swing voters."

 They betray them by treating them like a subculture of disaffected people rather than like human beings. They betray them by falsely trying to make them believe that Republicans and conservatives don't care about their best interests. They betray them by treating them like numbers -- primarily in the numbers of votes they produce, but also in the sense of bean counting: always keeping score based on the color of people's skin. Their ultimate betrayal of blacks is in treating them as a commodity.

 No matter how often they invoke the name of Martin Luther King in their pathetic quest to ingratiate themselves with blacks, they just as often undermine his dream of a colorblind society where all people are judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

 I don't mean to be strident, but doesn't it sometimes turn your stomach how they suck up to black voters in the most transparently saccharin manner imaginable with the straightest faces conceivable and without the slightest trace of shame? There can't be an ounce of sincerity in their entire collective beings on this issue. Did you not witness this display during the debate? We're not just talking about over-the-top statements, but immorally out of line.

 Howard Dean, for example, accused Bush of playing "the race card when he used the word 'quota' to describe the University of Michigan affirmative action program and for that reason alone deserves a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas."

 Very cute, Howard. Let's be frank. Dean was accusing President Bush of appealing to white racism toward blacks. That is so outrageous, so destructive, so inexcusable. In the first place, Bush didn't even get exercised about the horrendously unconstitutional decision that treated blacks as numbers. But more importantly, Dean knows better than to accuse Bush of exploiting racism, and by doing so stirs racial tensions himself.

 Joseph Lieberman got even more melodramatic, saying, "The American dream has been compromised by George W. Bush so badly … No people have been more outrageously denied an equal opportunity to live out the American dream than African-Americans, from the brutal stain of slavery to racial segregation by law to the two-tier society we still live in."

 Is Joe saying that Bush has been depriving blacks of the American dream and relegating them to a second tier in our society? He ought to be ashamed. But it got worse. Lieberman went on to repeat the lie that blacks "were not allowed to vote in the state of Florida" in the 2000 presidential election. Is there no limit to what these politicians will say?

 Then Senator John Edwards had the temerity to say he was unequivocally against vouchers -- which are the most promising remedy for black children tied to inferior inner city schools -- and in the next breath castigate President Bush for refusing to do anything to address the problem "that we still have two public school systems in America, one for the 'haves' and one for the 'have-nots.'"

 I could go on, but you get the drift. Democratic politicians are desperately dependent on the black vote and, it appears, will say and do almost anything to keep it. You just have to believe that one day the worm will turn.