Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Black America: How the Candidates Fare in Jobs, Health Care and Education

At the 2012 annual NAACP convention, one speech that garnered the most buzz ended up received the most boos. 

The GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, as the speaker, received a big reaction, but not because he spoke of “many barriers remain, old inequities persist.” It was not because he believes that there are many “serious, honest debates.” Of course, it was not because he wants American energy and jobs. Certainly, it was not because Romney said the condition of black America is worse in every way. His whole speech was reduced to nothing because he stayed true to his quest to rid America of "Obamacare." This fact begs for a more in-depth search for answers, but the groundbreaking questions are missing – at least the right ones.

Regarding President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, whose fitness is most in shape for helping black America? This is the question that many people think about, but never fully address because of fear. However, in order to move onto solving this inquiry, the walls of obligation and fear must be brought down.

Is it just to blame Obama for the worsening situation of blacks? Yes, even though Obama is just as a victim as we are because all of America has inherited the heap of issues. Nevertheless, to black people, who read this, let it go. Cease screaming out, “Why is everyone blaming Obama, just because he’s black? There were many white people ahead of him and now they’re trying to disrespect the first black one. They’re just bringing him down for everything!” Here is a side note: if any president is being disrespected or blamed for everything, it is former president, George W. Bush. Let go of the idea that you must blindly support Obama; you are not saying that he is a horrible human being – you are calling him like he is – a politician. 

For those who believe it is unfair to place blame or weigh the scale on which candidate is best fit for blacks, here is a rebuttal. If these candidates portray themselves as top-level activists for the black cause, they have brought themselves into rightful interrogation, but more specifically, into scrutiny by the people who they claim to help.

There are two sides (or two truths) to Obama and Romney’s contributions to black America, but this discussion will be limited to the content of the NAACP speeches. Below is a candid breakdown of the should-have-been reactions to Romney’s speech.  

Jobs: Middle-class America and jobs are Romney’s priorities – stopping the cycle of black poverty. Obama has most likely said the very same in the past. Why did Romney not receive a standing ovation about this announcement? It seems like the grim statistics were not enough for the audience.

Health Care Reform: The mistake of the GOP is that they have failed to explicitly talk about making steps in health care reform, instead of vague speeches and ads on “repealing and replacing.” The boos were nothing short of appropriate; however, they should have been louder.

Energy: Did the crowd actually have reasons to boo Romney’s words about Obama lackluster energy efforts? No, absolutely not. Even former president Bill Clinton had a few words of advice to Obama which seem to suggest that Obama has lacked in his energy policies.

Education reform: “Candidates can’t have it both ways.” Romney declared that “true reform requires much more than talk.” Who would disagree? Some teachers and others in the education field would have some problems with Romney’s ways. Also, students, especially those who have dreams bigger than grade schooling, would rebuke this statement. As students have probably been in more conflict with financial aid offices around the nation more so than the people around them, the issues become larger than what Romney mentioned. True reform mandates much more aid. Can students have it both ways? Are students able to attend college without going broke? If only a Q&A was opened up, Romney would have had to answer how he and his party are helping blacks go to college, let alone charter and public schools.

Down to the Core: Honesty and Faith. The following is from an AP article: "I believe this election will come down to character, conviction and vision. And it will not surprise you -- I don't think it's even a close call," Biden said. "So it's time, it's time for the NAACP to do what it's always done... To stand up. Make our case. Stand our ground. And make real our vision for America."

Those words from Biden reiterate that the Democrats know that they do not have to budge to get the black vote. Black people, along with the NAACP, should not have to make the case for the Democrats; the roles should be reversed. If the Democratic Party wants the NAACP and blacks to make the case, here it is: there is no need to break out anything except the poor statistics on black unemployment, black male incarceration, and black-on-black crime.

Is Romney making the case for black people, is his ability to label pertinent issues, good enough? All in all, Romney stayed true to his beliefs; he was not necessarily the same dishonest man that the liberal media always paints. He did not support the LGBT community, while trying to milk the support of conservatively religious blacks. With the quite hilarious, unsurprising sound of the organ playing in the background, it was obvious Romney took the right steps in putting emphasis on God. He was successful in hosting a little revival, but his inflated rhetoric fell flat because it should have been replaced with more substance such as his alternative politics. The bottom line is that the black vote will continue to cling to the Democratic Party. Obama and Biden do not even have to make mention of the black condition; they just want blacks to pull through for the Democrats year after year without any real reward except heart-rending speeches that many blacks have held onto since 2008. Some critics felt that Romney missed his chance to shine, but what many people miss is the fact that Obama did not rise to the occasion either – he was absent. If anyone had a chance, it was Obama; but it does not seem like he was in any rush to revive his voters (because there was no need to do so).

However, there is a surprise ending to all of this political mess. If black people vote according to statistics, Romney could be in office. If black people vote according to action to help mitigate the statistics, whether successful or unsuccessful, Obama will remain in office. In basic terms, black people do not have much to lose and rather go with their first black president. In the end, Obama and Romney are complete opposites, but somehow alike, which can be explained by (unwittingly nostalgic) black voters. Black people do not know that they are holding onto the candidate Barack Obama and desire the Governor Mitt Romney (who once supported universal health care, individual mandates and all) at the same time. Who is the better candidate (not necessarily the desired candidate)? It depends which year one is basing their analysis on. For 2012, Obama is gaining more momentum because of Obamacare, at least one revolutionary step forward from the U.S.’ past; but Romney seems to be right on about jobs. These two observations leave big spending at the core of the debate and issues. Again, to black people who read this, do not be satisfied with just Obamacare. The focus needs to be brought back to jobs. In the words of Romney, there are “serious, honest debates;” but, are there “serious, honest” candidates?

Looking at the scale, Obama has little to specifically offer black people in the next four years.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Olivia Davis

Student '15 in Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Concentration: Labor Economics/ Minors: Law and Society, Inequality Studies/ Motto: Philippians 2:3-7 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Professional profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/olivia-davis/50/548/296/

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