Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and senior officials of the DNC met on September 21 with a group of prominent and influential African American bloggers to engage in conversation about the 2012 election and what’s at stake for the African American community. She says 2012 is personal. Our lives are at stake and our children’s future are on the line.
Despite what other opinion pollsters may say, the President’s approval rating is still high among African Americans despite high unemployment and foreclosure rates. According to several Gallup polls by the same pollster given in August, 2008, 2009 and 2010, support for the President among African Americans hovers around 86%-88%. But, the DNC and Wasserman Schultz are taking nothing for granted. That’s why the meeting was called 14 months in advance of the election to get people on board.
Wasserman Schultz mapped out the plan for registering voters, getting out the vote and messaging to African Americans. Many things have changed since 2008. President Obama took over the country at the worst possible time in history other than during depression and following the civil war.
Yet, President Obama has made many accomplishments for African Americans despite the bleak statistics on unemployment. In the area of health care, more than 45% of African Americans have pre-existing illnesses and are often precluded from health insurance as a result. Due to the Affordable Care Act, African Americans will no longer be denied health insurance due to pre-existing diabetes, heart, high cholesterol or other illnesses. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz fought hard for the Act as she knows all too well the significance of any having a pre-existing illness as a breast cancer survivor herself.
In the area of crime, President Obama signed into law the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the high difference in punishment for those convicted of cocaine possession or use versus those caught with crack cocaine. The law gets rid of the mandatory minimum sentences of those convicted with crack cocaine which disparity was directed at African Americans.
In education, the President has provided nearly $1 billion more in funding to historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) over the next ten years. Further recognizing education as the key to our future, President Obama also provided $2 billion more funding over the next 4 years to community colleges. On the lower school level, President Obama has challenged states to turn around many low performing schools that serve African Americans by investing more than $4 billion to help turn those schools around.
In the area of small business, 3.6 billion out of a total of 7.2 billion has been secured in grants and financing for black businesses as a result of the President’s Minority Business Development Agency.
Getting the word out about the accomplishments of the President will be crucial. Many people are suffering from the economy and have not felt relief. And as Debbie Wasserman Schultz said about 2012, it’s personal for many people that the effect of the economy has had on their lives. But African Americans must stay focused and engaged on our future. And the DNC and President Obama must continue to get the word out of the accomplishments in a heartfelt way for many African Americans.
The DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s helm plans to leave no stone unturned and no story untold. And time will tell the tale.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer and political/legal commentator who is seen on national and local media including NBC, ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post and Politic 365.