If Blacks Unified, Who’d Need Either Party?

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Saturday promises to be a busy day for Hilary Shelton. That’s when the director of the NAACP’s Washington, D.C. bureau will attend the “One Nation Working Together” march.

Yeah, the folks on the left side of the political spectrum are getting their turn at bat, and it looks like they’ll have a lot to say. Shelton, who’s also the NAACP’s senior vice president for advocacy and policy, said his organization is co-sponsoring Saturday’s march with a number of other  organizations, including the National Urban League and AFSCME. The theme of the march is that America – and, more specifically, its elected officials – need to focus on “jobs, justice and education.”

We are one part of the core leadership of this important march,” Shelton said in an interview earlier this week. The goal is to get America focused again to complete the task we started in 2008.”

If the year sounds familiar, it would be the one that saw one Sen. Barack Hussein Obama elected the first black president of the United States. Democrats won majorities in both houses of Congress, and, as much as the NAACP is supposed to be non-partisan, Shelton made it clear how important it is for black Americans to turn out for this election. While not mentioning either party – the organization has to maintain some semblance of non-partisanship, after all – Shelton said the NAACP has supported legislation that “languished for years, sometimes decades,” that was finally passed by the Democratic Congress and signed by Obama.

And, Shelton emphasized, just because the legislation has passed doesn’t mean victory has been won. Shelton is worried that because this is a mid-term election in which Obama isn’t running for re-election, black folks won’t show up at the polls in the numbers they did in 2008.

We want a maximum turnout as we move toward this important election,” Shelton said. He explained why, using the health care bill that Obama signed after Congress passed it as an example. If a certain party (wink, wink) regains control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Shelton hinted, it’s possible that the healthcare bill, although the law of the land, won’t get funded.

I’ve seen it happen,” Shelton said. “The White House sends a budget request to Congress. Congress sends the president an approved budget. They could allocate no money for the health care bill.”

Before I proceed, I have to admit that when it comes to health care, I have no dog in this fight. And it’s not because, like my fellow Republicans and conservatives, that I feel the health care bill goes too far. The truth is – sorry, fellow Republicans and conservatives – it doesn’t go far enough. I’d like to see insurance companies out of the health care business completely. Their priority is to make money. The priority of doctors is to get their patients well. The priority of patients is to get well. The priorities of health insurance companies, doctors and patients clash.

I’d prefer a system that provides free health care for anyone who wants it. There, I said it. But that will never happen, no matter which party controls Congress and whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican.

But let me get back to Shelton’s point about voter turnout. What he’s saying, in essence, is that if black Americans don’t turn out in the numbers in 2010 that they did in 2008, then they may as well not have voted for Obama two years ago.

In a strictly technical sense, Shelton is right: Obama isn’t running in this election. But in another sense, Obama IS running. Whether Americans give thumbs up or down to his policies and the things he supports is very much being decided. Black Americans can’t afford to sit out this mid-term election. We shouldn’t sit out any election.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating because I still don’t think we get it: At least 95 percent of all black Americans of voting age should be registered to vote. Of that 95 percent, another 95 percent should vote in EVERY election: local, state, federal, presidential, and mid-term. With those kinds of numbers, we wouldn’t need to be loyal to any political party.

We’d BE a political party.

Written By Gregory Kane