If you listen to recent polls, you will hear that President Obama has the overwhelming and secure support of African-Americans. Actually, you don’t need a poll to reveal this fact. In politics, however, we know full well that the only thing that counts is what happens on Election Day when the polls close at 7pm. Ask President Clinton; do the “arithmetic.”
As the Democratic National Convention climaxes with President Obama’s nomination acceptance speech and his reclamation of Hope and Change mantra, America teeters on the precipice of a divided electorate fighting for the sliver of the 10 percent or less undecideds. With this tenuous hold on their base voters, the Democrats and GOP are seeking every advantage to motivate and turn out their faithful. The big question is who will have the emotional X-factor of enthusiasm going into the last two months. Will the pro-Obama passion overwhelm the force of anti-Obama sentiments? The push and pull of the heartstrings of America is expected to defy the fundamentals of American political physics.
For the black community, 2008 opened a sea of emotions buoyed with the calls of making history. For 2012, the strain of a recovering economy is stifling the burning passions of some lit from the last presidential election cycle. Today, it is unproven whether President Obama’s unwavering support from African-Americans will translate into tsunamic electoral mobilization equal to 2008 in the streets of Philly, Chi-town, Cleveland, Virginia Beach, Denver or Miami.
It is clear that the motivating factors have changed. The push to have the president’s back is likely to emanate either from the urge to preserve history or to permit him an opportunity to finish his job in the next four years. This motivation, however, is rooted in self interest in communities and among families across America. Unlike the organic growth of the campaign in 2008, this time greater effort will be required to create a sense of ownership and urgency of the campaign in the streets.
The young man at the barber shop is looking for a sign. The congregant at the pew is waiting for prayerful urging. The diner at the local ethnic restaurant will need help with her choices on the party platform menu. The laborer will need encouragement in getting back into the job hunt. The ailing patient will need to fill more than the next prescription. Voters will need more than a knock on the door or a phone call. They will need the blast of a hurricane siren, as the damage expected from Tropical Storm Mitt and Hurricane Paul will be irreversible.
This hurricane siren was sounded in the Hall of Time Warner Cable Arena from the resounding voice of former President Bill Clinton. He spoke directly to the heart of this emotional X-factor for America. We are at this crossroads. Were the streets listening?
In the next two months, the black community will face a force greater than history. It will face itself in the mirror. I pray they like what they see, as the fate of America depends on our self affirmation of our sacred right to vote.
Marlon Hill is a partner with the Miami law firm of delancyhill, P.A. and civic commentator on WZAB 880AM, Caribbean Riddims, D’ People’s Politics, Saturdays, 4pm