This year’s presidential election race is going to be close because African-Americans will not vote in the same numbers as they did for Barack Obama four years ago when he made history by becoming the first Black president to occupy the White House, suggests CNN strategist, Roland Martin.
“2008 was totally unique because it was a historic campaign,” Martin said at a press conference while in Toronto last weekend to deliver the keynote address at the 30th annual Harry Jerome Awards. “There are many people who had high expectations for Obama who are not satisfied with what has taken place during the first term of his presidency. In 2008, folks came out in large numbers and they drove people to the polls. I don’t think you are going to see that this time around and he’s going to need close to that kind of turnout because this is going to be a much tighter election. I still believe he’s going to get 95 per cent of Black votes, but the question is, how many people will comprise that? The percentage is irrelevant. You need the numbers.”
The author of The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House, Martin gives Obama a “C” rating for his first term. The president’s approval rate is hovering close to 50 per cent.
“I am willing to acknowledge that failure exists,” he said. “For instance, 53 per cent of Black growth has been wiped out as a result of the home foreclosure crisis. Most African-American wealth is in the value of their homes. For Whites in America, they have a diversified portfolio that includes mutual funds, stocks and saving accounts. When the home foreclosure crisis hit, you had a massive meltdown that led to the wiping out of much Black wealth. That is important because most people starting a small business use their home equity. If you don’t have a home, you have no collateral to start a business. A lot of people use the home equity to send their kids to college.”
Martin said that Obama’s three housing plans to address foreclosed homes were failures and the economic team he put in place to deal with financial services reform were useless because they believed in the “business as usual” formula and they wanted to nibble at the edges.
“I believe when you have a catastrophic moment, then you are in a position to make the kind of radical change to a system that was needed,” he said. “It’s a shame in American to have commercial banks owned by investment banks. That’s part of the problem and why companies are too big to fail. Wall Street still operates the way it did before and there could still be another meltdown that’s driven by many of those crooks on Wall Street.
Martin also said the White House has not been strong enough in addressing high unemployment in the African-American community.
“The administration has done some good things, including health care and getting that passed, which was strong, he said, adding that “there have been things that should have been done much better.
“The Obama team will say he came in and it was so difficult. I totally get it…Frankly, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how difficult something is. That’s why you ran. You know things were difficult when you were running.”
Former Massachusetts governor, Milt Romney, claimed victories in five primaries two week ago and is likely to be the Republican Party’s candidate in the upcoming elections.
Martin suggested that Romney’s ascendancy to the presidency might not bode well for Blacks.
“Milt Romney has made it clear he will relax restrictions on Wall Street and he said at a fundraiser recently that he wants to get rid of the Department of Housing Urban Development and return the money to the state. He obviously is going to have a much more conservative administration compared to President Obama.
“In addition, I have not heard him speak to anything specific to a Black agenda and I look forward to trying to get an interview with him to talk to our audience about that. It’s also not like I have seen any Black folk around him in his campaign, so it will be very interesting to see what he has to say.”
By RON FANFAIR