by Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
The narrowing of black public discourse to only supporting President Barack Obama will undermine his presidency and ultimately the democracy. Without a critical engagement with his policies, he will continue to serve the interest of Wall Street (bailouts), a retrograde immigration policy (500,000 folks deported on his watch), and an accelerated erosion of civil liberties (National Defense Authorization Act). While Tavis Smiley
is not a socialist as I am, I think his experience speaks to a startling new phenomenon inside the African-American community-a systematic repression of prophetic voices against a president’s polices. Given the two party system, for the American left, Obama is our impoverished option. Until there is a viable third party option and the social movement to create the context for a left of center President and legislative body to, progressively, govern, many of us will hold our noses and vote for Obama. As I have argued elsewhere, President Obama’s benefits from trafficking the rythmns and rhetoric of the prophetic tradition and a protectionist logic
The prophetic tradition has served to create a public discourse and will courageous enough to enact sweeping public policy that tilts toward the least of these and the expansion of democratic opportunity. By reducing the public discourse to cheering on the president without critique only serves the interest of the most powerful. What we have at work during this electoral season— a right of center governing and public discourse that caused the economic depression. The President has trafficked in progressive discourse while legislating to the right—this has been the policy strategy of the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton. Obama has to be challenged on that. I am less interested in the individuals in this drama but rather I am pointing to a neo-liberal administration, and cowardly Democratic Party, and recalcitrant Republican Party that continues to serve the interest of the most powerful while they all trafficked in the language of populism at the expensive of substantial public policy to lift the burden of poor .
Osagyefo (oh-sah-GEE-fo) Uhuru (ooh-WHO-roo) Sekou (SAY-koo)
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is an author, documentary filmmaker, public intellectual, organizer, pastor and theologian. Considered one of the foremost religious leaders of his generation, Rev. Sekou is the former Senior Minister of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church (UCC) in New York City. He has forthcoming collection of writings, “Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Race, Religion, and the Future of Democracy”. He blogs at www.revsekou.org .