Now that we have ushered in not only a new year, but a new decade, I want to share my New Decade’s wish list. I hope:
PRESIDENT OBAMA stops gutting his domestic programs in an effort to appease Republicans who have no intention of supporting him on anything. GOP leaders are lower than a snake’s belly and it is useless to try to satisfy them or their No.1 ally, Joe-the-Traitor Lieberman. President Obama correctly states that he is the president of all of the people. And that includes African Americans. We’re not asking him to be a Black president; just a president who realizes the needs of Blacks should be targeted just as much as the needs of Wall Street, banks and the automotive industry.
DEMOCRATS exercise the power they have accumulated. With a 60-40 edge in the United States Senate, counting two independents who regularly caucus with Democrats, a 257-178 margin in the House of Representatives, and a Democrat in the White House, it’s time for Democrats to stop acting like wimps. After pleading for power, including elevating a record number of African Americans to committee chairs and subcommittee chairs, Democrats finally have power. They need to act like it.
THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS follows through on its threat to oppose major bills that do not improve the plight of the masses. After threatening to vote against the health care bill if it did not include the public option, members of the CBC are poised to support a bill likely to emerge from conference without that key provision. If President Obama can placate a couple of conservatives in order to save the bill, he should feel heat from progressives unwilling to roll over in order to pass a watered down version of the bill. Sadly, more is done to capitulate to one or two conservatives than to dozens of African Americans serving in Congress.
REPUBLICANS revert to the big tent philosophy that characterized the party before it became captive of Right-wing zealots. At its best, the GOP embraced liberal New York City Mayor John Lindsay, progressive Senators Lowell Weicker of Connecticut and Edward Brooke of Massachusetts along with conservative GOP lawmakers. It also embraced former Assistant Secretary of Labor Art Fletcher and Transportation Secretary Bill Coleman, two ardent supporters of affirmative action. It now appears that in order for any African American to be accepted by the GOP leadership, he or she must be a vocal critic of affirmative action. Contrary to GOP assertions, Blacks are not in love with the Democratic Party. Rather, Republicans who routinely oppose programs that benefit people of color offer no viable alternative.
CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS return to being outsiders instead of insiders. Many of our leaders have become shills for the Obama administration. Instead of presenting the usual “Black Agenda,” their top agenda item these days seem to be getting an invitation to some White House event. And when they don’t get invited, they profess to be personally offended. Jesse Jackson, for example, recently whined about not getting invited to a White House conference on jobs.
HEADS OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS finally assume the leadership role in their area of expertise. We expect too much from our civil rights organizations and too little from our professional organizations. The National Bar Association should lead the way on criminal justice matters. The National Medical Association should present our collective position on health care and racial disparities. The National Association of Black Journalists should lead the charge against racism in the media. The Urban Financial Services Coalition should provide the last word in our community on financial literary. Of course, this would necessarily lead to the emergence of some fresh, new voices. And that would be a good thing for our community.
THE JOSHUA GENERATION – the young leaders-in-waiting – should find another name. I can understand their wanting to put some distance between them and the various icons who pose as the Moses of the Civil Rights Movement, but Joshua died at the age of 110. Therefore, Joshua is not synonymous with youth. Young people and not-so-young people such as Al Sharpton should stop complaining that the Jesse Jacksons and Julian Bonds of the world should step aside so that they can more effectively provide national leadership. Neither Jesse Jackson nor Julian Bond rose to leadership by waiting their turn. In fact, if you had studied history, you would have known that they fought for their place at the civil rights table.
If we do half of the things I’ve proposed, I am sure we will indeed have a happy New Year and prosperous decade.
George E. Curry is the former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service.