Wisdom From The O’Jays

In November, all American voters can go to the polls to vote for the next POTUS and other offices.  Black Americans have our political souls at stake.  We must decide whom to support, not only with our votes (which cannot be verified in 2012 America) but with our voices between now and election day.

Some of us perceive our mission as keeping the handsome black face of President Obama in that big old white house.  Some of us say we should support Obama because he is black.  Under that line of “thinking” we should support Clarence Thomas because he is black.  We can debate the “blackness” of either man, but I don’t think that the evidence supports the blackness of either man, blackness including what Du Bois called “vividly conceived ideals of life,” philosophy.  Biological blackness should earn our brethren the benefit of the doubt on issues that might arise.  After all we share blood and history; but absent philosophy we cannot count on an individual’s reciprocation of our support.  What does the record say?

Let us save words and space and not address the philosophy as demonstrated by the record of Clarence Thomas.  His fan club in Black America is almost a null set.  Moreover, Justice Thomas is not running for office.  Bush Senior gave him a lifetime job, which should tell us something.  Justice Thomas is to be pitied for the sick, self-hating man that he is, but not supported politically.

But why don’t black Americans support Justice Thomas?  Thomas is of black ancestry.  He’s a (gasp) Republican? So was Lincoln, and black people supported him!  The name of the party is inconsequential.  The dearth of support for Justice Thomas is due to the almost universal perception that he does not act in our interest.  Does Obama?  Let’s look at the record.

What is the interest of Black America?  I think that O’Jays said it well in their song, Give the People What They Want:

 We want the truth, the truth and no more lies

We want freedom, justice and equality

I want it for you and I want it for me

For me, those lyrics sum up the political soul of Black America.  While black political leadership has advocated different methods of achieving those ends (e.g. Malcolm and King), the objectives were constant: truth, freedom, justice and equality.  Let’s look at Obama’s record toward those objectives in different areas of concern.

War and Peace

Could the record be worse?  Obama is bombing people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and previously Libya and Tunisia.  Through surrogates Syria is being attacked, and small war is being waged on Iran.  None of those countries represented a threat to the USA.  In Libya, thousands of black people were imprisoned, tortured and murdered.  Obama told the world that Gadaffi was killing his own people.  General Wesley Clark revealed that the invasion of seven countries in five years, including Libya, was planned in the 1990s.  Does Obama’s record on war and peace sync with truth, freedom, justice and equality?


The Economy

As a U.S. Senator and as President, Obama supported the Wall Street bailouts.  He told us that they saved the financial system.  Unaddressed was the question of whether the debt money system and fractional reserve banking should have been saved. The result of those bailouts is that the big Wall Street banks are larger than when Obama took office as are the executive bonuses.  Debt at all levels, personal and governmental, has grown faster than at any time in history.  There are record foreclosures with millions of people losing their homes to the bankers.  The cost of food and fuel is ever increasing, but the Obama administration, continuing the changes made during the Clinton administration, does not include those items in the calculation of inflation.

True, Obama did endorse saving General Motors; and perhaps it should have been saved.  But HOW was it saved?  The workers took a bath, the bankers got paid, and we taxpayers got no equity for our investment.

The economy is so bad that greatly indebted college graduates are having a hard time finding jobs and are moving back home with their parents in record numbers.  Does Obama’s record on the economy sync with truth, freedom, justice and equality?

Civil and Human Rights

A recently revealed government document that was published in 2010 provided plans for “political activists” to be pacified by “PSYOP officers” into developing an “appreciation of U.S. policies” while detained in prison camps inside the United States.  Obama is the first President in history to claim the legal right to imprison and kill citizens (and people throughout the world) without charge or trial.  If any other President had claimed that right, black Americans would have had a fit.  Why is it tolerated with Obama?  Does Obama’s record on civil and human rights sync with truth, freedom, justice and equality?

Other issues could be examined, but the major issues have been examined; and it’s time to look at our at-risk political soul. Why is our political soul at risk?  Black Americans never had significant money as a political asset.  Since we have had the vote, we have never been a majority; so numbers have not been an asset.  Our only political capital has been the correctness of our demands: truth, freedom, justice and equality.  How will we be antiwar and for economic justice and civil and human rights after supporting Obama?  If you don’t buy that argument, ask yourself how did you as an individual benefit from the Obama presidency?


The most frequent counterargument to opposing Obama is that, “The Republicans are worse.”  What are the Republicans going to do, lock us up twice in re-education camps?  Would it not be better to reclaim our political soul, and let the Republicans do what they do and get all the “credit” for same?  Would not a strong voice from black Americans in opposition to the policies of Obama provide a basis for forging alliances with other progressive people?

A second frequently encountered counterargument is that Obama is a good family man and role model.  I don’t know how good a family man Obama is, but neither is it important.  Al Capone was a doting father, as were many slavers.  That’s personal stuff; we’re taking about political things here.  As to being a role model, how many people did Obama have killed today?  The number is greater than one, and good role models don’t have people killed.

A third frequent counterargument is that Obama will change in his second term.  That argument is not supported by evidence.  Obama just signed a treaty to keep the U.S. in Afghanistan for ten more years.  Historically U.S. Presidents have not changed their stripes in their second terms.

In conclusion, we can listen to the O’Jays, vote for somebody whose platform is consistent with our agenda and save our political soul; or we can support Barack Obama.  We cannot do both.


  1. One of the 99% says:

    This is an interesting post. However, did you stop to consider that many people may not consider War and Peace, The Economy, and/or Civil and Human Rights as important platform items? There are other more important things to consider. For example, does the candidate make you feel good when they talk? Is he/she attractive? Are they smooth and debonair? Can you name a single successful candidate who gives you the “cold hard facts” (no matter how bad), who is also hard on the eyes, and socially awkward?

    Do the people really want Truth, Freedom, Justice and Equality?

  2. I have to agree that many voters are influenced by factors other than the issues. But the diversions are not insurmontable. Lincoln wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes. In fact he was called an ape by contemporaries. Jimmy Carter wasn’t exactly out of GQ; and Bush the Lesser could never be mistaken for smooth. If the electorate cannot overcome Rev. Deke O’Malley syndrome (being distracted by a charismatic charlatan), then the future is not bright. At some point, however, the pain and oppression will awaken folks. The issue is whether the awakening will be in time. Right now, it doesn’t look good. Clinton, who gave us NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall, is still adored by many folks who call themselves “progressives.” Many are still supporting Obama, who claims the right to kill and incarcerate anybody, as “the lesser of two evils.” I think that before black political leadership was decapitated and compromised, people did want truth, freedom, justice and equality. Now….it remains to be seen. Hope and change! 🙂

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