I'm not a huge sports fan, but my boyfriend is. He's a Jets loyalist and has been for the better part of a decade, but you would have a hard time believing that if you’d ever watched a game with him. He’s Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez’s harshest critic and always complains about Jets coach Rex Ryan’s play-calling.
In sports, it's often the case that a healthy dose of criticism is a good thing. Indeed, it's often the most loyal fans who have the time, energy, and knowledge to effectively criticize.
But where does criticism get you in politics?
In recent weeks, African-Americans' criticism of President Barack Obama has received significant attention. Republicans have pointed to this criticism as proof that the president has failed his own community. The RNC recently incorporated a clip of African-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) criticism of Obama into a campaign ad called Failed Promises:
Leaders like Al Sharpton have fired back at African-American dissenters calling them “hypocrites” and warning them of the detriment they are causing the president. The implication is that those who support the president don't criticize him; and that those who criticize him do not support him.
Both views are simplistic and only serve to weaken our political discourse.
Selecting our political leaders is no easy task. Our current and future leaders must be pushed, prodded, questioned and criticised by us all — opponents and loyalists alike.
So should black Democrats criticize Obama? Of course. Should non-black Democrats criticize the president? Without a doubt. We cannot be afraid to complain, nitpick or air grievances. In fact, we loyalists are likely best positioned to do so.
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