Wearing a strange smile, Barack Obama announced that he wanted a government the size of Dwight Eisenhower’s – the ultimate logic of having accepted the Republican premise that the nation’s greatest problem is debt. Far from “winning the future,” Obama asked the country to join him in a “return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America.” New census data show African Americans have already slid halfway to the Fifties. “Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984.”
“There can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothing.”
Who could have imagined that a Black U.S. president in the 21st century would invite the nation to “cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.” But that’s what Barack Obama offered this past Monday night, asking the public to endorse trillions of dollars in permanent cuts that will, indeed, bring us back to the Fifties. Barack Obama was smiling as he asked the nation to embrace a return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America. He was confident that his most loyal constituency, Black America, would accept being Shanghai’d into his backwards time machine. “While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts,” said Obama, “…enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.”
But of course, there can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothing. And Black people have already been in the time machine, having lost 53 percent of their meager household wealth between 2005 and 2009. According to the Pew Research Center, Black median household wealth fell from one-tenth to one-twentieth that of whites in just four short years, the largest racial disparities since the Census Bureau began tracking such data, a quarter century ago. Thirty-five percent of Black households have zero wealth, or negative net worth. How can there possibly be fairness in shrinking the government to a size that cannot possibly be of support to the one-third of Black households that own nothing, or less than nothing?
The Black middle class, which is employed disproportionately by the government, is at the edge of oblivion. Obama’s “Grand Bargain” with the Republicans, if they will only take it, would push hundreds of thousands of Black families into the abyss. The nine percent of Blacks that owned stocks in 2005 lost 71 percent of their portfolios by 2009. Whites lost only nine percent of their stock holdings. Bye-bye, Black capitalism.
Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984. And what does Obama propose? That we revert to an Eisenhower-era government.
His smug confidence that his Black base will remain loyal, is well placed. African Americans are more concerned with Obama’s fortunes than their own – or, to be more precise, confuse and conflate their own fortunes with his. Back in January of 2010, the same Pew Research Center that just detailed the scope of the economic catastrophe that has befallen African Americans, found that Blacks were under the illusion that they were better off than at any time in the last 25 years. That same month, Black unemployment hit a 25-year high. Subsequent surveys by other polling organizations confirmed that Black people, far more than any other group and despite all the evidence of their own eyes and ears, are filled with confidence in their own and the nation’s future. Call it “The Obama Delirium Effect.”
Barack Obama is counting on this delirium to neutralize Black people’s historical political senses. That’s why he uses his presidential pulpit to ask his supporters to drink the potion and to look forward to waking up back in the days of President Eisenhower. Obama has got to be one of the most cynical men on Earth.