The choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was clear and obvious. The idea of Romney being president was frightening and unthinkable. We are all relieved that Obama won. The reelection of Barack Obama is a tremendous victory. Obama's reelection confirms that America has made some progress as a nation. We now know that his election was not an anomaly. For hundreds of years, the White House was an office reserved for white men. With the election and reelection of Barack Obama, that racist notion has been shattered into millions of pieces.
Before we start popping bottles and dancing in the streets, we must realize that our work is far from done. The reelection of Barack Obama is a significant symbol of progress. However, it is just that, a symbol. Despite all of chatter about changing demographics and the new electorate, white supremacy is alive and well. Racial disparities continue to exist in every sphere of life, including education, wealth, health, criminal justice, etc.
The backlash against Obama's reelection is evidence that racism and hatred still thrive in America. The flood of racist tweets following Obama's reelection proves the racial hatred continues to exist. After the election, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, Southern right wing fanatics signed petitions seeking to secede from the nation. Again, more proof the racial hatred continues to exist.
Despite the changing demographics, the Right will find ways to preserve white supremacy. For example, the Right is attacking the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action. Over a month ago, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.
Moreover, as reported in the Washington Post, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Shelby County v. Holder. In that case, the court will consider whether Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history of discriminating against African American voters to seek preclearance from the United States Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia before they can change their voting laws. Without such preclearance requirements, states such as Texas and South Carolina would have been able to pass strict voter ID laws. Such laws are designed to suppress the black vote.
On the day that the Supreme Court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, thousands of black people and progressives should swarm the outside of the courthouse and demand that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act be upheld. Our turnout should mirror the massive pro-immigration demonstrations. If we do not act, the gains of hundreds of years of struggle may be erased with the stroke of the pen.
Obama's reelection is not the end. It is just a means to an end. Voting is just one tool in our arsenal for reform and progress. Other vital tools are lobbying, protesting and litigation. While the Republicans do their soul searching, we must develop strategies to make the next four years better than the last four years.
Progressives cannot sit on our couches and wait for Obama to perform miracles. We cannot exchange the truth for access and notoriety. Obama is a politician, nothing more and nothing less. He is not a freedom fighter. We must never forget that. If real change is to happen, it will be because movements have put pressure on the President and the Congress.
Instead of being surrogates and apologists for Obama, progressives and African Americans must be prepared to stand up to the Republican Party and the White House. Our blogs should not be echo chambers for the White House and MSNBC. We must be bold and truly independent.
We must speak truth to the President and the Congress. We must demand that the government launch a major initiative targeted to address high employment and poverty in the black community. The "rising tide" definitely has not lifted all boats. As reported on RT, "while national unemployment decreased to 7.9 percent in Oct. 2012, the numbers are grim for African-Americans, whose unemployment rate jumped from 13.4 percent to 14.3 percent in just one month, according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics." Instead of personally attacking Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for raising these issues, we should analyze the substance of their remarks. As Tavis Smiley wrote in the Huffington Post,
We celebrate this electoral victory today, but what about tomorrow? How tragic would it be at the end of eight years to be confronted by economic data which suggests (as the data does now) that in the Obama era Black folk lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category? I shudder at the very thought. So should you.In addition to demanding economic justice, we must demand that the federal government address the problem of the mass incarceration of black people. We must demand the total and complete end of sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine. Even under the Fair Sentencing Act, there is still an 18 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. On another note, we should demand that the President use his pardon power to free all political prisoners such Mumia Abu Jamal and other victims of the Cointelpro era.
We must demand that the President resist the terrorist tactics of the GOP. The Republicans are essentially holding the American people hostage in order to preserve tax cuts for the rich. Last time, Obama surrendered and agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. We cannot allow him to surrender this time. We cannot allow him to cave to the GOP's austerity demands. We cannot let him wimp out and cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Along with domestic policy demands, we should make several demands with respect to foreign policy. According to thecable.foreignpolicy.com, U.S. may remain in Afghanistan past 2014. We must demand an immediate end to the senseless war in Afghanistan. Furthermore, during his first Presidential campaign, Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. He said that it was inconsistent with America's values. We must hold the President to that promise. We must demand that the Obama Administration stop allowing U.S. drones to bomb innocent civilians. Moreover, as bombs drop on innocent women and children in Gaza, we cannot remain silent while the President continues to defend Israel.
If the President ignores our demands, we must be prepared to make telephone calls, sign petitions and yes, march on Washington. The election is over. There are no more excuses for inaction. It is now or never. Our fight is far from over.
This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.