Has President Obama Become a Dispensable Democrat?
With Democrats holding Obama at arm's length, the timing of ethics charges against two leading black House Democrats should trigger black voters' concern about being taken for granted during the crucial midterm elections.
It is understandable that leading Democrats and nervous Democratic candidates are hedging on whether President Obama should be an active and visible campaign cohort this fall. At times, it is politically expedient for a party or set of candidates to distance themselves from unpopular figures and issues.
A recent high-profile distancing was President George W. Bush's absence from the 2008 Republican National Convention. His speech was "phoned in" by way of a video to the GOP delegates in Minnesota, a move designed to avoid hanging the Bush albatross on the McCain-Palin ticket.
With Democrats controlling Capitol Hill but desperate for an uptick of passion within their base as November approaches, starting the ethics trials of California Rep. Maxine Waters and former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel at this crucial time could signal a change in the Democratic electoral strategy. Add the unease about using President Obama at a time of strained racial dynamics, and it would suggest that Democrats are confident of securing the black vote in 2010 -- even without the help of three of the biggest African-American political names.
A miscalculation by the Democrats could have a detrimental effect on the 2010 elections and beyond. If Obama, Rangel and Waters are considered disposable by Democratic leaders and strategists during this crucial midterm campaigning period, is this a signal that black voters are being taken for granted at a time when Democrats need every possible vote to maintain control in Washington in 2011?
Despite the increased level of diversity in the Republican Party under Michael Steele's chairmanship (both in candidates and in party leadership), most of black America has not re-engaged the GOP as a viable political option since the 1950s, thus creating a dearth of options for black voters. This lack of political competition creates a one-stop voting mind-set within black America. Although the number of unaffiliated black voters has grown, overwhelming numbers of blacks vote Democratic each Election Day. But should they in 2010?