Monday, May 14, 2012

Will Black Churches Turn On President Obama In The Fall?!?

[Editor's Note: I realize this topic was likely covered in the comments section last week. I figured it still made sense for me to blog about it anyway. If you find this repetitive, pass.]

Not long after President Obama's hesitant embrace of same sex marriage last week, politicians and pundits alike immediately started analyzing how this might effect his re-election prospects in the Fall. Sure, it will likely energize the liberal base, and help solidify support of Mitt Romney from Conservatives, but reality is very few voters are likely going to switch sides based on this single issue. Most peoples' minds have already long since been made up.

Except for, of course, black folks.
The pulpits of the nation's black churches took measure Sunday of President Obama's decision to support gay marriage, and the result was conflicted.

Some churches were silent on the issue. At others, pastors spoke against the president's decision Wednesday — but kindly of the man himself. A few blasted the president and his decision. A minority spoke in favor of the decision and expressed understanding of the president's change of heart.

The conflicted sentiments within African-American churches reflect a broader struggle in the American public. A USA TODAY Poll showed that slightly more than half of Americans agreed with the president's decision. A scientifically valid breakdown of African Americans was not available, but past polls have shown blacks generally opposed to gay marriage.

African Americans are a key voting bloc for the president this November. In 2008, exit polls showed Obama lost to John McCain among white voters but won more than 95% of the African-American vote.
I really, really hate stories like this, and for lots of reasons. First and foremost, taking the word of a handful of pastors as somehow representative of the entire black electorate is just silly, silly, silly. It assumes that black folks can't think for themselves, and that so many of us are so dependent on the opinion of a (wo)man we only see for about 30 minutes each week, that it overrides all common sense and individual critical thought. Poppycock.

Stories like this also paint black folks as somehow more bigoted than the rest of society at large.[1] Who else can forget the subtext of the 2008 elections in California when black people were essentially blamed for same sex marriage ban? Never mind that a majority of white and Hispanics, who are a far larger percentage of the electorate in Cali than black folks, also overwhelmingly voted yes on Prop 8. Nope, blame the supposedly enlightened, anti-discriminatory black folks.

Seriously, that is some bullsh*t.

I should be very clear here: I'm not saying black folks aren't, nor should'nt be allowed to be single issue voters. If you feel that seriously about something, you by all means should be allowed to vote your conscience. Whatever. It's a free country, and each man's vote is his own. There are single issue white voters who plant stakes in the ground on everything from abortion to gun rights. So, whatever. Vote for what you believe, even if it might not even be something an elected official can even influence. Still, I really just don't like the silly notion that this one issue, exposed a full 6 months before the election, is going to sway black voters any more than it sways the rest of the electorate.[2] The economy is, and has been the biggest issue of note. It still will be come November.

While I'm sure a bunch of folks will point to President Bush's 2004 gains with black voters on this very issue that helped him win re-election, we're in a very different time right now. The economy wasn't in nearly the same shambles then, and most black people are smart enough to know that Romney's economic policy is virtually identical to that which got us screwed up in the first place. Black voters didn't have a fraction of the affinity for John Kerry that they have for President Obama. And oh yeah, I'm thinking most black people with a brain have been paying attention to the constant barrage of covert and downright blatant racism that's been levied by the GOP in recent years.[3] Finally, support for the issue aside, Obama can't do anything to "fix" the gay marriage dilemma. It is, after all, still as states' issue.

That said, if you're a black Obama supporter who is still dumb enough to vote for Romney over this single issue, be my guest.

Whatever you do, just don't stay your black a$$ home come November 6th.

Question: Is this whole issue being overblown? Are black voters going to turn on the President over this single issue? Do you personally know any black people who say they're switching sides?

[1] News Flash! Yes, black folks can be just as ignorant, close-minded, and yes, discriminatory as any other race. Welcome to Amurrica.

[2] Which is to say, not at all.

[3] Though I should note, by comparison, Romney's been a relative grown-up when it comes to issues of race.

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