No matter what happens between now and the 2012 presidential election, poor and middle-class Blacks have a great deal to be concerned about.
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The current political battle against teachers in Wisconsin is a Reaganesque assault on unionized government workers. The private sector is watching closely and licking its chops.
The political stalemate in Wisconsin is merely the tip of the iceberg. What we are witnessing is the continuing trend of the “Walmartization” of American workers. In short, the current economic crisis is about the fundamental redefinition of the role of American workers (including those with college degrees) in the U.S. economy.
Obama, responding to the mid-term elections, has gone ”Clintonesque.” For liberals and progressives, this is the political equivalent of “going rogue” in conservative parlance. His current budget sacrifices the poor and middle-class in order to appease the right-wing and deficit hawks. Obama, like Bill Clinton, knows there is no better political red meat than sacrificing the poor and middle-class and the programs that benefit them.
The folks from Chicago in the West Wing are preparing for 2012 presidential election.
But this time, Obama cannot run on hope. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the Republicans are not selling hope at all. They are selling hardball. With the have-nots in the cross hairs of both conservatives and liberals, the term “neo-poor” needs to be added to the America’s political lexicon.
What does this portend for Black folks?
Well, which ones? LeBron, Beyonce’, Earl Graves, Magic, Oprah, Ken Chenault, and other well-to-do Black folks will be just fine. Oh, I forgot to add Steve “how to be a man” Harvey.
Poor and working-class Blacks, on the other hand, are caught between a rock and NO place—the “hard place” option no longer exists.
Simply put, the current economic crisis is much deeper than job and business creation. Both can be undertaken and still feature exploited workers with no health benefits or a living wage.
So what options exist for the Black poor and working class?
First, at the very least, poor and working-class Blacks need to organize. They should not be seduced by political slogans of hope.
Black youth, whose unemployment numbers are approaching a staggering 50 percent, for example, have to be aware of Arab young people using the “white man’s magic” (cell phones, Internet, FaceBook, and Twitter) to revolt against oppressive regimes. In doing so, some Arabs have made references to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Yet, Black youth have failed to capitalize on the growing trend of using technology for political mobilization to address staggering unemployment and other issues that impact their lives.
According to a recent Target Market News Report, Black-Americans spent $9.4 billion dollars on cell phones and connectivity services in 2009. This is regarded as a growing market. Even so, cutting-edge smart phones do not constitute Black political or economic power, especially for millions of Black youth for who technology is used primarily in the hot pursuit of foolishness.
Second, the disproportionate number of Blacks employed by municipal, state, and federal government need to wake up to the budget deficit game being played in Washington. It is not far-fetched to imagine the possibility that they may be sacrificed en masse. Beyond these workers themselves, budget cuts also translate into an assault on working and middle-class Blacks.
And finally, for Black folks who did not have jobs in the first place, surviving in the underground and barter economy—as they have always done—is the most viable option. They, like many of their counterparts across race trapped in jobless urban centers and rural areas, are caught in the middle of history.
What does all of this mean for Black voters and the 2012 presidential election?
Black voters, especially the poor and middle-class, need to eschew “the auto-vote” paradigm as it relates to the Democratic Party. They need to make the Democrats earn their vote in 2012 and thereafter. It is just that simple.
The 2012 presidential election cannot be about hope redux. It has to be about how Black voters, as a crucial voting bloc, understand political power. It has to be about Blacks forcing Democrats and Republicans alike to create policies that result in tangible social and economic gains.
Hakim Hasan is a contributor to NewsOne. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org