It’s understandable that so many people in minority communities identify with President Obama. First African-American president. First person of color to become president. I took personal pride in another one of President Obama’s historic milestones: first mixed-race president. Around the time that Barack Obama was a half-black kid being raised by his single mom in Polynesia (Hawaii), I was a half-Polynesian kid being raised by my single mom in a black neighborhood. I identify with President Obama in many ways, and understand why he inspired so many people back in 2008.
But it’s no longer 2008. It’s 2012, and people are suffering. And as much as people may like President Obama, we have to be honest enough to admit that our communities are suffering because of his policies. How much more pain are we willing to inflict upon our communities just because we want to root for this president? We have to judge this president not by the color of his skin, but by the results of his policies.
President Obama’s policies have been devastating to minority communities and to the most vulnerable in our society. America is suffering through the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression: Unemployment has been stuck over 8 percent for almost three-and-a-half years under Obama, after averaging only 5.3 percent under President George W. Bush. Minority communities have been hit much harder: African-American unemployment is 14.4 percent, and black youth unemployment is an obscene 44.2 percent. Latino unemployment is 11 percent. I recited these figures recently to a gathering of Pacific Islanders in Nevada, which is being crushed by the highest unemployment rate and worst housing crisis in the country. They didn’t need to hear these numbers to know that their community is hurting. If you had tried to tell these folks, three-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency, that their ongoing misery was President Bush’s fault, they would rightly have considered that to be an insult to their intelligence.
Unable to defend his own record, the president has launched an avalanche of attack ads that even the liberal Washington Post has decried as dishonest. With even many of President Obama’s strongest supporters praising the high ethics and excellent track record of Bain Capital, the bottom line is this: If you have a problem with Bain, you have a problem with private equity; if you have a problem with private equity, you have a problem with capitalism; if you have a problem with capitalism, you have no clue what it takes to create jobs and help poor people escape poverty.
At a time when we need to do everything possible to make it easier to create jobs in America, President Obama has done everything possible to make it harder — and those who are struggling the most in this economy, the people who really need jobs, are the ones who are hurt the most by his policies.
Despite his best intentions, President Obama has consistently thwarted job creation. He has created a hostile regulatory environment that has made businesses afraid to expand and banks afraid to lend. Investors are afraid to make job-creating investments: the threat of higher taxes makes it harder to justify risking money in an abysmal economy. Employers are afraid to hire because they have no idea how much Obamacare will increase the cost of each additional worker.
Minority activists typically pride themselves on putting the interests of “the people” ahead of the interests of businesses, investors and banks. It is foolhardy, though, to treat businesses, investors and banks as the enemy. When they’re scared (and like it or not, President Obama is scaring the heck out of them), minority communities are devastated most of all by the resulting failure to create jobs.