President Obama was propelled into office three years ago in part by a record turnout among African-Americans.
But a new Washington Post-ABC news poll found that support may be wavering. Five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama. Now, that number is 58 percent.
The black unemployment rate is also at 16 percent - the highest since 1984- and a series of black leaders have come out and publicly chastised him for not doing enough to economically help the community, the rhetoric in some circles has heated up.
On the same day the numbers were released, Howard University students marched on the White House- protesting Obama’s lack of action on the Troy Davis death penalty case. Several students got arrested.
So, with the Congressional Black Caucus week in full swing here in our backyard, we talked with some folks who are attending the event to get their take on the president as he gears up for reelection.
Jason Murray, 42, an education lobbyist from Atlanta said he was an avid Obama supporter in 2008 and organized for him in Georgia. He still plans to vote him but is disappointed that Obama gives in to Republicans too often. The last straw for him was when he changed the time of his speech on the economy earlier this month to cater to the GOP’s “antics.”
“He’s not standing up for whatever it is he believes in. My concern is that when there’s something that really impacts the black community, when it’s obvious that many black democrats have invested in an issue, where will he be? Will he be worried that he’ll seem too black just because the issue might play that way on Fox News? I keep telling myself he’s just trying to get reelected but there’s got to be a point where he’s down for something that he isn’t worried about not being safe. That’s the word that keeps popping in my head. Safe. And all I want to do is say, come on brother, come on.”
Joi Franklin, 33, a jobs counselor for a non-profit in St. Louis said that she’s worried that Obama won't be able to generate the same enthusiasm he did three years ago because of the poor job numbers in the black community. The unemployed, she said, may not be as forgiving.
Some she said might generally like Obama but no longer believe there’s anything he can do to improve the economy.
“I’m still going to support him, vote for him and probably even help organize for him. But I can’t really fault people who are not happy with him and not enthusiastic about next year. Many of us, I know I do, understand politics and understand the irony that he is this person who has all the power in the world, but has to negotiate with people who want to see him fail. I get that. I know my circle of people get that.
But we voted for him and we do expect him to fight for things that we wanted him to. I can’t lie, I got frustrated with him as early as the health care debate. I wanted more, but I understood that he couldn’t get it all. But I guess I’m tired of the “It’s the Republicans fault.” We expect you to fight them and win. I know it’s hard, but it’s exasperating. But will I stay home next year? No way.”
Louis Turner, 50, a community activist from Jackson, Miss. said he’s worried that Obama could be a one term president.
“I support Obama wholeheartedly. He’s in a battle where the opposition, from day one, said they weren’t going to support him. Everybody knows that there’s nothing that that man could do that Republicans in Congress would support. Nothing. So he has to play it safe because there’s no room for negotiation anywhere. No where.
You look at any presidents before Obama and you can see the opposition party always worked with the president on something. With Obama, these guys didn’t work with him on anything. So when people look around and say, ‘Well why can’t he do this or do that? Why does he have to stay silent on this or that?’ These people want blood out of him.
But I am worried that our people are starting to challenge him publicly. I worry about that because we need each other to get this brother re-elected. And no one can tell me that any of the Republicans would be better. We have to think smarter, we have to be smarter. And give him a chance to do more with a second term. We’re like the first line of defense.”
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