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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

It’s time for President Obama and Democrats to take a stand

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Those of us who support President Barack Obama have held our fire for months while we watched the president be attacked by his zealous, bigoted rightwing enemies.

We fretted as the racist talkshow hosts and the unbalanced (mentally and journalistically) Fox News Channel savaged President Obama at every turn.

We winced as the president’s health care fight got bogged as he and his administration were seemingly unable to overcome the onslaught of negative, misleading ads from health care reform opponents.

While the president was distracted, unemployment remained stubbornly high, especially in African-American communities; the billions in stimulus money not having an impact.

Banks are making billions in profits; millions in bonuses, but not helping folks refinance their homes, or lending credit to our businesses or consumers.

Then the defeat in Massachusetts has put President Obama and Democrats on the defensive – fighting against a resurgent right, fueled by those racist tea party zealots egged on by the talk show and internet blogger bigots and their allies in mainstream media.

Instinctively our Black community’s known what our president and Democrats needed to do for months. Fight back!

The Republican rightwing plays for keeps. They know what they want and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Ethics, honor and morality aren’t concerns. Money is no object, as the ludicrous Supreme Court decision demonstrated.

Democrats, including the president, seem to think politics is a noble profession. That the peoples’ best interest will take precedence over Republican venality.

Well, Mr. President, Democrats, if our Indianapolis Colts played politics the way you’ve been playing it, we’d be home preparing for the first round draft choice instead of playing in the Super Bowl.

Starting at the White House, Democrats must explain, in clear language that people can understand, what they’re doing to help put people back to work, move the economy forward, keep America safe and help reform health care in ways we can understand.

But, the mess for Democrats isn’t just in Washington. It’s here in Indiana and Indianapolis.

Republican Congressman Mike Pence, a rising conservative superstar, is thinking about challenging Senator Evan Bayh’s re-election. Four lackluster Republicans are challenging Bayh, but if Pence gets into the race it’ll give Bayh something he’s never had in his 24 years in politics – a tough, credible opponent.

(Republicans last weekend leaked a poll showing Bayh’s popularity slipping. How come Democrats never leak polls showing their candidates winning stuff?)

A tough GOP opponent would put Bayh in a box. His support among Blacks and progressives has always been a mile wide and a foot deep. A Pence run forces Bayh to shore up his Democratic base, which while they like him, they aren’t willing to go all out for him.

If Pence gets in, Bayh’s standoffish stance in our Black community ends, cause he’d need our 250,000 votes more than ever.

Democrats locally need to stop their fraidy cat attitude of communicating with voters and show aggressiveness they’ve heretofore not shown.

In statewide politics, House Speaker Pat Bauer and Senator Democratic leader Vi Simpson and other legislators regularly stand up for Democrats issues and values. But Marion County Democrats are quiet as church mice.

After IBJ broke the story of Carl Brizzi’s ethnical lapses, the three Democrats running for prosecutor missed opportunities to state where Democrats stood on corruption and cronyism.

Seemingly daily there’s stories in the IBJ and the Star about Mayor Greg Ballard’s Administration talking radical privatization – selling the water company, parking meters and lots, parks maintenance, other city assets, even selling sponsorships of fire hydrants. But the Democrats have been silent sphinxes. The hordes raising money for mayor have been quiet as church mice.

Even when the mayor proposed that the Health and Hospital Corporation handle poor relief, not a peep of protest from local Democrats; not even Black ones.

Democrats on Capitol Hill, the State House and the City-County Building need to get in the game, define the issues and speak out, clearly, concisely and take their case to the people.

If not, Democrats will get swept out of Washington like Noah’s Flood, and lose power and influence in state and local government.

The stakes are critical. It’s time for Democrats to stand for something and stand up for our people!

What I’m Hearing

in the Streets

It’s illegal for realtors to discriminate against African-Americans in their real estate transactions. So, why did the Indiana Association of Realtors discriminate against African-American Hoosiers? The Realtors Association hired Public Opinion Strategies to poll 600 Hoosiers statewide about the property tax cap constitutional amendment and other issues. But the realtors and their pollster violated the ethics and tenants of polling and research by not surveying African-Americans.

Poll respondents were asked their age and gender, but not their race, a violation of polling ethics. The realtors’ poll wasn’t weighted or balanced, nor did it even try to fairly survey the 9 percent of Hoosier adults who’re African-American.

To make matters worse, the poll’s results were distributed to Indiana media that covers Indiana politics, but excluded Black media, including this column and newspaper.

African-American realtors, who probably pay dues to the statewide association, should express their outrage to their statewide association, demanding to know why an industry that’s not supposed to discriminate discriminated in this instance!

Unlike the Democrats I spoke of at this column’s beginning, no one can say that Willie Frank Middlebrook, who died last week at age 65, wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. For nine years, Middlebrook hosted “The Bottom Line” talk show, first on Saturdays and then weekdays on WTLC-AM (1310).

Middlebrook was a Jeremiah, speaking truth to power, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. His program came at a time when the long running Operation Breadbasket Saturday morning program was ebbing. That program weekly expressed the thoughts and feelings of our Black community. Middlebrook continued that tradition.

There are very few African-American radio talkshow hosts who express the Black experience. Less than 50, compared to the hundreds of white, conservative talk hosts. Willie Frank Middlebrook was one of that small fraternity who left an indelible impact on Indianapolis and Indiana.

My deepest condolences to his family. Our community’s thanks for sharing him with us.

See ‘ya next week!

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