Sunday, September 26, 2004

That Devilish Detail

There's a little meme going out around right now exhorting Kerry supporters to recite the reasons black people, in particular, should vote for Kerry. More to the point, they wish us to consider the reasons why black people should, in fact, vote for Bush. As with most partisan talking points, even my own -- when I am straining to be lucid -- is usually very nice indeed. I know some people, example, for whom Clinton could've even used getting an illicit blowjob as a means to get more votes! So the cliche goes, the devil is in the details. Or something like that. Anyway, the reasons for black people to vote for Bush are as follows:

1. Black child poverty hit all-time low (30%), and remains near the low.

And yet ... And yet. Even if one were to agree with the Heritage Institute, the Welfare reform came during Clinton's watch, and was one that (I think) Kerry supports / supported.

2. Small Business Administration loans to black entrepreneurs up 75%

And yet ... And yet.

3. Black homeownership rate at all-time high (49.3%)

Surely, they're getting the same loan rate, right?

4. Increased funds to historically black colleges 30%

Ah, but those devilish details strike again and again.

5. Increased AIDS funds in Africa

Maybe a lot of black folk can see through the headlines.

6. Increased funds for diabetes research (diabetes disproportionately affects blacks).

I really don't know too much about this, to be honest. I think you're giving loads of possibly unwarranted credit to the GOP when you think they're increasing funding for the sake, specifically, of diabetic black people, but I can see its appeal.

7. Faith-based initiative provides grants to community-based churches to run social services.

I know a lot of people disagree on this whole faith-based initative thing. Some think it is revolutionary, others dismiss it as simply removing a little bit of red tape so religious organizations can get access to funds they already, technically, had access. The real debate, however, comes down to whether or not it ends up privileging religious belief; and if so, how. Is this representative? -- you be the judge.

8. Expanded Africa Growth and Opportunity Act to increase African goods access to U.S. consumer market.

Really now?

9. More blacks appointed to Cabinet positions - many in non-traditional roles - than any president in U.S. history.

I actually agree with this one. Hopefully it'll go a long way to reversing a really bad historical trend.

10. School vouchers options in No Child Left Behind legislation (last Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies survey shows 57% of blacks support school vouchers).

I remain, for the most part, agnostic about school vouchers. For now, though, Kevin Drum's thinking on this remains pretty definitive for me.

11. Eliminated marriage penalty tax (which disproportionately affected married blacks because each spouse was likelier to earn similar income).

As a newly married man I can but say, Bravo!!! Although, I do remember this being a part of a stimulus plan, right? White and black unemployed alike felt greatly stimulated, I'm sure.

Now, all that said, I've obviously not accepted the challenge and addressed the reasons why black people should support Kerry. Quite honestly, I still have trouble formulating reasons myself, and my whiteness is that of old marble. (Though, really, if I were to come up with one, it would be abortion rights. But, hey.) Be that as it may, maybe Prometheus 6 is right:

From a Black partisan perspective I have no reason to vote for either candidate. Bush has had four years to actually attend to the Black constituencies in any way and hasn't even tried. Nevermind the problems in the national platform ... The national platform isn't in perfect accord with the Religious Right. But the throws them an abortion bone. It's not in accord with the NRA platform, but he throws them an assault weapon bone. It's not is accord with the Israel lobby but he throws them a spy bone. It's not in accord with fiscal conservatives, but he throws them a tax cut bone.

Bush don't throw Black folks bones. He says, "Oh yeah, if you can get there you can have some too." That's not the standard that lets you say you've done something for someone. I'll say Bush has done something for Black folks when he start throwing them bones our way.

Kerry has no record with the Black communities; I can't speak to any history to be pleased or displeased with. Bush's history I'm displeased with.

Black partisan views effectively removed from consideration I'm left with looking at what Bush has done ... and that assessment has to include a judgment of whether he gives his real reasons or acting. If he doesn't, I can't trust him, end of story.

Then I look at what must be done and the likelihood of either candidate even seeing it much less acting on it. Because Kerry is capable of examining his positions and adjusting his actions to meet changing conditions, he is the better of the two from the outlook of a generalized American.