For the past few days, there has been much attention placed on comments made by Republican presidential hopefuls as concerns their thoughts and opinions about black people.
Needless to say, there has been little to nothing complimentary. New Gringrich says black kids have no work ethic; he thinks black kids ought to get part time jobs as janitors (and thereby push the union guys out who have a job to support their families). He most recently said that black people ought to demand paychecks, not food stamps.
Rick Santorum said that President Obama ought to oppose abortion because he’s black. More outrageous, he said, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.”
He has since said he didn’t say “black” people and that he stumbled on his words; he was “tongue-tied.”
Ron Paul has been linked to newsletters published under his name which have published ridiculously bigoted statements. A newsletter which referred to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles had Paul saying that “order was only restored when it was time for blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
Never mind that these statements are inaccurate and feed into a mindset that black people are lazy, that they dominate the welfare rolls, and, by suggestion, that black people and their plight are largely responsible for the vast amount of entitlement spending.
What I have noticed is that these politicians often say things like this when they are in the midst of all-white, receptive audiences. GOP presidential candidates have been famous for ignoring the conference of the NAACP, something which New Gingrich recently faulted them for and said he would go if he is invited.
But what hit me is that GOP candidates make no effort to talk to black and brown people, though they say they want more black and brown people to join their ranks. They unabashedly cater not only to white people, but to white people whose views align with theirs.
That is politically all right, and necessary, one guesses, but if a person is elected president of this nation, isn’t he or she supposed to represent, to know and understand, the needs of all of the people?
Had President Barack Obama only catered to black people, he would never have been elected, and he would have been labeled a racist. One of his weaknesses has been that he has tried hard not to be “too black,” too interested in the needs of black and brown people. He has really partnered with big business an awful lot; he has reached across the aisles and tried to practice bi-partisanship, but it hasn’t worked.
But that’s what a president is supposed to do, right?
The point is, that if a person wants to be president, he or she ought to “sit down” with some of everyone who is American: Jewish, Muslim, black, white, rich, poor, Appalachian…America is a diverse nation. White candidates ought not be allowed to get away with just catering to a sympathetic and supportive white base.
Rick Santorum felt perfectly at ease talking about how black people ought not be using other peoples’ money to his all white, Mid-West audience the other night. I doubt he would have been comfortable saying that had he been speaking to a mixed crowd in an urban environment.
It is an ideal, I know, but the president of this nation ought to be at least ostensibly trying to reach out to all of America’s people and groups. The role of president on one level is not unlike that of a pastor, who has to be connected to all of his or her congregants, no matter how different.
Too many GOP candidates don’t seem to understand this basic requirement.
A candid observation …
© 2012 Candid Observations