When the question was asked, “Is America ready for a Black President,” the answers ranged from a pessimistic no to an optimistic yes. Now that Obama is on the verge of leaving office the question becomes, “Was America ready for a Black President?” The answer has become simple. About 53 percent of the country was ready. About 47 percent of the country was not ready. This article, aside from being Part II in a series about the Obama legacy, seeks to address that 47 percent of Americans who were not ready and still find it difficult to accept the fact that Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States of America. This 47 percent resides primarily within the Republican Party and is emblematic of the severe contradiction that is currently threatening to tear the Republican Party asunder.
Bob Marley once stated in a song, “Every time I plant a seed, they say kill it before it grows.” It is a documented fact that the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky stated that his main purpose in life became making sure that Obama would be a one term President. What followed has been an unprecedented shirking of responsibility on the part of Republican members of Congress. They were joined by their Republican counterparts in Republican controlled states. Even as I write this article the legacy of Republican absenteeism hangs over the Senate like smog over Los Angeles on a sweltering summer day. Some have forgotten that earlier this year Obama nominated an individual to sit on the Supreme Court. The Republican controlled Senate has refused not only to vote on his nominee, but to hold any hearings. Instead of carrying out their constitutional duty of “advice and consent,” Republicans scattered like roaches at night when the kitchen light is turned on. Also, it must be remembered that a popular conservative talk show host stated that he hoped Obama would fail. Keep in mind that these pledges to see Obama fail came about simply because Obama was elected President. These machinating dreams came about long before any policy differences emerged. It is rather sad, but President Obama’s legislative legacy was formed during his first two years in office. After Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011 no major legislation has been accomplished. As great of a President as we may think Obama has been, one can only imagine what greater things could have been done if only we had had a functioning Congress.
The popular rap group, Public Enemy, spoke of the “Fear of a Black Planet.” Republican fear of Obama is simpler than a Black planet fear. Republicans fear an Obama legacy. They do not relish the idea of seeing the President’s African face as the 44th President of the United States forever etched in history and social science texts. From now on they will no longer simply be able to talk about “slaves.” They will also have to acknowledge a Black President. In 2016 one wonders why a majority of Republicans will not abandoned their extremely flawed presidential candidate. A major reason is because their candidate is a reflection of an extremely flawed Republican Party. There is no difference between Mitch McConnell saying that he wants to see Obama be a one term President and the current Republican Presidential candidate saying that if he is elected he will nullify all of President Obama’s Executive Orders and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Not only would the current Republican presidential candidate attempt to incarcerate Hillary Clinton, but I can see an executive order banning all images of President Obama from government buildings and school textbooks.
The Obama legacy is not only about the imprint of his image and signature policies on America, but it is about the Obama Coalition as well. The Obama Coalition is composed of a majority of African Americans, people of color, Latinos, Asians, youth, women, and a small plurality of white males. If the Republicans cannot crack this coalition, it will be a long time before another Republican is elected to the White House. If America becomes a one party state at the presidential level, Republicans will only have themselves to blame. You cannot alienate every facet of the Obama legacy and expect to win. For example, the Republican candidate may get 13,000 people to show up for a rally just outside of a Philadelphia or a Chicago. But surrounding that rally are hundreds of thousands who do not intend to support that candidate. The problem with such a myopic stance is that a packed arena reflects and inverted reality at the polling booth. Republicans fear Obama because they cannot defeat Obama. Hillary Clinton’s first term in office as President will not be the third term of the Obama Presidency; however, she will have secured her victory by keeping the Obama Coalition intact and adding to that coalition. No, Hillary’s first term will not be Obama’s third term. However, her first term will be a part of the Obama legacy.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”
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