Imagine if the president were a Republican, and if during the second half of his second term, after having been elected both times with record turnout by blacks, the black unemployment rate remained stagnant at 11 percent while the black poverty rate hit a record high of 27 percent. What would black politicians be saying about that Republican president?
We don’t really need to answer that question, do we? But for argument’s sake, let’s imagine that almost seven years after the Great Recession the country was basically back to work, with an official unemployment rate haven fallen from almost 10 percent at its height to around 5.5 percent (let’s save the argument about the real rate for another day). Meanwhile, the black community, which had overwhelmingly supported the Republican president (again let’s suspend disbelief for a moment) was experiencing rising poverty rates.
Let’s take this a bit further. Let’s say that black unemployment were highest in the cities with the most conservative Republican mayors, cities like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland (stay with me here). What if in Chicago, the president’s hometown, his right-hand man had carpetbagged his way to a mayoral win mostly on the backs of the black supporters of the president? And in that town, under the president’s hand-picked mayor, the black homicide rate were to spiral to almost genocidal proportions. How do you think the black leadership would respond to such a situation?
These rhetorical questions are worth asking because under a Republican administration the implications of such a dire record of addressing the needs of blacks would be unsettling to say the least. In all likelihood, there would be marching in the street, with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the like talking about how this administration was the worst for blacks since before the civil rights era. And of course they’d be right.