Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Open letter to African-American voters

This is the first time you’ve ever faced such a crucial decision. The election of a black man, Barack Obama, to the office of the Presidency was a milestone despite the fact that his father did not share the same history as most of your families do — to be blunt, direct descent from men and women enslaved by white Americans. While the election did not cure all the ills besetting the African-American community, certainly it was grounds for hope for the future … at least, at the time.

However, election is only half the loaf; the other half is re-election. As the Associated Press reported Sunday, “There’s no question which candidate is expected to win the black vote. In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again.” A second term for Obama would demonstrate once and for all that the first election wasn’t a fluke, that racism no longer has the power to deny the person of color any elective office.

But there’s some question among you whether you can conscientiously vote for a president who supports gay marriage. As the Rev. A. R. Bernard of the African-American Christian Cultural Center put it, “When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in [black Christian leaders’] minds as to what direction he’s taking the nation.”

At the same time, many of you are reluctant to support a Mormon, Mitt Romney, in Obama’s place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And so many of your church leaders are asking you to stay home rather than vote this November 6th. I disagree: it’s not enough to just not vote for Obama.

In fact, there are many reasons why a second Obama term is not desirable.  The administration’s support for gay marriage, contraception and abortion shows that Obama and the Democrats are stuck in the 1960s, pushing the same tired policies long after they’ve shown that they don’t work, that they can’t work the way the Democrats think they ought to.  With his illegal military intervention in Libya, the targeting and execution-by-missile of an American citizen overseas and the anti-Catholic HHS mandate, he’s shown (in the words of the great Speaker of the House Thomas Cannon vis-à-vis Theodore Roosevelt) that he has “as little use for the Constitution as a tomcat has for a marriage license.”  And the Obama plan to bail out the banks wasn’t “corporate welfare” by any means; rather, as the COO of my company put it, it was tantamount to hostile takeovers.

The Democrats’ platform gimmick of endorsing the end of DOMA and hooking Planned Barrenhood permanently to the federal feed trough ought to be sources of great concern to the black community: it shows that the Democrats haven’t got a real-world grasp of the upcoming disaster about to eliminate all the economic and social gains of the last half-century.  Almost three out of four black children (72.5%) are born to single mothers;[1] this number has been on the increase for over fifty years despite near-universal access to contraceptives and abortion for almost forty of those years.  According to researcher Kay S. Hymowitz, “We are becoming a nation of separate and unequal families that threatens to last into the foreseeable future. … [We] have low-income women raising children alone who are more likely to be low-income, to drop out of school or, if they do make it to college, go to a less elite col­lege, and to become single parents themselves.”[2]

The Administration’s answer? Throw more pills and condoms at the problem; maybe it’ll go away. Nor is this answer really directed to the problem of single-mother births; it’s really a sop to the child-hating second-wave feminists in the Democrat base like Sandra Fluke, who have paranoid fantasies of misogynists waiting to drag liberated women back into the kitchen. Oh, and backing the oxymoron known as same-sex marriage. Neither of these policies address the dissolution of the black traditional family; they’re gimmicks to enthrall the progressive base while the black values voter gets thrown under the bus … which is no better than being shoved to the back of it.

No, if for no other reason than this, confirming the end of racism as an electoral force is not worth a second Obama term. Besides, as someone else has pointed out, if Obama were elected a second time, as of November 7th he would no longer be answerable to the American people save by impeachment.

So why won’t sitting out suffice? Because in the mathematics of voting, a switch of vote counts double.

Here’s what I mean: In 2008, out of over 131 million votes cast, Obama won 52.92%, or 69.45 million votes, of which about 15 million were cast by 95% of all black voters; John McCain won 59.93 million votes, or about 45.66%, a difference of 9.52 million votes (or 7.26%).[*] Now, if 5 million black people had sat on their hands rather than vote in that election, Obama would still have won … but it would have been with 51.05% of the popular vote, while McCain would have had 47.47%, a difference of only 3.58%. On the other hand, had they voted for McCain, the Republican stalwart would have had a paper-thin plurality (49.47% versus Obama’s 49.11%).

Of course, the distribution of those votes might have meant that Obama would still have won the electoral college handily (it was 365-173) … but then again, he might not have. (This is the main reason I object to the continuance of the electoral college: it means that the vote of an Alaskan or Nebraskan has less weight than the vote of a Californian or New Yorker. Why should we have “swing states”?) Five million votes given to one side rather than the other can create or erase a 10-million-vote gap.  Take away those votes, and the remaining voters become more influential — which is to say, others’ voices sound louder when yours is silent.

Speaking of silence, qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit: “He who is silent, when he was able to speak and ought to have spoken, is taken to consent.” To refuse to cast a vote is to consent to whichever candidate wins. If you think Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction, then you owe it to yourself and to the rest of us not to consent by silence.

As a Catholic, I can appreciate the hesitation over Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. But also as a Catholic, I know what it’s like to be distrusted for holding a religion that few non-members — even many self-identified members — really know anything about.

And I tell you this: Mitt Romney, a member of a syncretic religion that overlays Christian symbols on a non-Christian cosmology, shares more values with us Christians than does the UCC-raised Barack Obama. By endorsing policies that contradict the earliest of Christian teachings, by seeking to reduce “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship”, Obama has shown that he is not a friend to Christians at all. In fact, I’d almost vote for a moderate Moslem before I’d vote for Obama.

So please, exercise the right your parents fought for and your grandparents suffered without. If you don’t approve of Obama’s policies, don’t vote for Obama’s skin color. If you can’t vote for Romney because of his religion, vote for him because of his values. You make more of a difference by voting than by abstaining.

[*] Please bear with me, as there are bound to be rounding errors.

[1] Child Trends Data Bank. (2012, March). Births to Unmarried Women: Indicators on Children and Youth. Retrieved September 16, 2012 from Child Trends Data Bank: http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/sites/default/files/75_Births_to_Unmarried_Women.pdf.
[2] Hymowitz, K. S. (2007, March 23). “Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age”. Retrieved September 16, 2012 from The Heritage Foundation: http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/marriage-and-caste-in-america-separate-and-unequal-families-in-a-post-marital-age.