President Barack Obama is facing tough criticism from prominent Black leaders who said he has forgotten the poor. This onslaught makes the work of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Black vote more significant than ever for the 2012 presidential race.
During a roundtable discussion at the committee’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) said the Democrat Party should not use Blacks just for a vote in the 2012 election. Instead, she said, members should get to know the community and fight against voter suppression laws that affect not just African Americans, but everyone.
“The Black community leadership all across the country, my colleagues, just get rightfully frustrated with the fact that too often [the Democrat Party] show up at the last minute in the Black community,” she said in a roundtable discussion at the DNC headquarters. “We spend many, many months taking for granted that the Black community is going to be there, all we have to do is flip the switch.
"I think that’s disrespectful.”
Wasserman-Schultz said voter suppression laws have been mainly passed by Republicans, typically in Democrat Party’s battleground states such as Ohio and Wisconsin. She called photo ID laws “really offensive,” and said the Democrat Party will help people get the new ID they need. She also warned that Republicans will try to target those who opt for early voting.
“[Republicans] are targeting early voting because 60 percent of early voting is Democrat. What community is most likely to take advantage of early voting? The Black community,” she said. In 2008, she said minorities were more likely to register in voter registration drives, which the DNC will continue to push.
The Florida representative, originally from New York, said the party will bring in campaign poll workers who genuinely would like to know the community they working in. Most senior staff members within the campaign are African Americans, according to Michael Blake, the deputy director of Project Vote for the Obama for America Campaign.
“What I think is so frustrating … is when we bring people in who don’t know the community,” she said. “The feedback that I’ve gotten from the African-American leaders that I’ve sat down with [is], ‘It’s not that we’re saying you can’t use anyone who isn't apart of our community, you should have an organization that spends enough time getting to know our community and also utilizing the leaders.’”
Obama’s push for a $447 billion jobs bill and plans to reduce the country’s trillion-dollar debt have been tossed between Democrats and Republicans, as they try to reach an agreement. According to the latest Gallup poll, Obama received a 50 percent approval rating.
The DNC’s message this time around to persuade voters to re-elect the president will have to be clearer than before. Wasserman-Schultz said the Americans Job Act will benefit African Americans the most by directly impacting Black small business owners.
“Have we been very clear message[rs] before? No.,” the DNC Chairwoman said. “People want us to be clearer and more direct … We’re starting now.”
Blake, who co-organized three state house campaigns in 2006, said potential voters have to be reminded of what the president has accomplished to push forward with a successful re-election.
“We have the pieces we can talk through,” he said. “Now we have to educate people about what Obama has done.”