Whether conservative or progressive, what is the proper role of Black politicos, personalities, and media professionals in today’s America?
Ok, folks. I have to ask directly: where’s the sweet spot?
Where is the proper intersection of race, culture, and gender issues concerning political matters in today’s America? Perhaps, more particularly, I ask: where is the proper space for modern-day politicos to stand and speak on this intersection – that is, if that interaction does (or should) exist?
Yes, plenty of social politicos exist. You have the folks that fight for gay marriage on the progressive side and, in contrast, we have the influence of Christian conservatives that has impacted presidential primaries and elections for years. So, in that regard, people can argue that the connection between society and politics has never left us.
Yet, there is an unwritten rule as to what can be discussed by those individuals (e.g., pro-life/pro-choice debates) and what must remain taboo (e.g., race disparities in America, the decay of urban America, etc.). It’s the mad cow disease of American discourse.
Breaking this unwritten rule brings a wrath akin to political blasphemy, particularly in the blogosphere.
In breaking this rule, pundits and politicians are treated alike. President Obama gets accused by conservatives of race-baiting for speaking out on one of the most controversial and talked-about issues, so far, in 2012. Of course, this occurs after the sounds of silence regarding former presidential candidates Rick Santorum’s infamous “…(I don’t want to) make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money…” comment and Newt Gingrich’s “poor Black youths’” lack of work ethic over-generalization.
Progressives find themselves accused of overstepping boundaries as well, from the contrived “War on Women” after the Obamacare-contraception controversy to the “War on Women” dust-up that left a Democratic strategist alienated from the Obama campaign camp.
From the look of things from different sides, and the assortment of reactions recently, it is any wonder that there was ever a tie between politics and the people it serves in a very real sense. Through partisan fighting, lobbyists, and sound bite politics, Washington is more detached than it has ever been from everyday Americans. Pundits and political professionals seem more inclined to argue over their prescribed talking points – and have their bases follow suit – than react to thought leadership from the masses within this diverse republic.
That modern political behavior – at times – is rather ironic, considering the two major sides pushing the political banter today. On one side are conservatives that want smaller, more responsive government that actively reflects the will of the people. On the other side are progressives that believe bigger, more powerful centralized government can best address the challenges that American society currently faces after its disappointments with trickle-down economics and regressions with equality in America.
Of course, there are a select few afforded the leeway to talk about social justice, political leadership, and civic failures. However, it appears as if there is an unwritten set of rules applied to which folks are “authorized” to cross-pollinate the issues, while others run the risk of race-baiting, Bible-thumping, or overstepping their bounds.
Rev. Al Sharpton’s involvement in the Trayvon Martin case is race-baiting for November votes, but having a Mormon Catholic oppose Obamacare is not a stretch for the sake of politics.
Not that Black conservatives often find political and social kindred with Rev. Sharpton and those on the progressive left. Frustratingly, though, there seems to be limits as to what Black players in the game – particularly Black conservatives – are expected (and perhaps “allowed”) to say. Blacks taking to the streets for the sake of liberty is akin to “playing the race card,” while the same actions performed by others are noble?
If Black “players in the game” – from politicians to pundits to media personalities – buy into this, it would be a shame for our children and a disappointment to our ancestors. With both a nasty presidential election season and multiple high-profile court cases to stoke the social uneasiness in America – all while Black children suffer and Black adults remain a step behind in America society – now is not the time to be silent.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic365 that can be found every Saturday with Democratic pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 Pacific.) He is regularly featured on CNN’s “Early Start” weekdays 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM Eastern and CNN Newsroom at 12:30 PM Eastern. Hear “The McAllister Minute” on the American Urban Radio Network each week and catch the radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” live on LMGILIVE.com at 11 AM Eastern weekdays and re-broadcast on Politic365.