By Sikivu Hutchinson
Over the past four years President Obama has promoted Wall Street’s capitalist siege against working and middle class homeowners. He has sanctioned drone attacks on thousands of innocent Middle Eastern people. He has ignored the deepening crisis of African American unemployment, foreclosure, and mass-incarceration. He has presided over more deportations of undocumented immigrants than George W. Bush and literally excised the word “poor” out of his political vocabulary. The list of his concessions to militarist, corporatist, and faith-based public policies that undermine progressive social change is long. For much of his first term, Obama has indeed done a good job of consolidating empire. That said the defeat of Mitt Romney and smarmy Ayn Rand minion Paul Ryan should stand as a warning and “teachable moment” to the forces of bigotry, white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia and Christian fascism that hate-mongering, race- and red-baiting are not enough. In the end, the so-called 53% that Romney cynically whipped up in lynch mob solidarity was not enough. Nor was the shrill coalition of older, white “government is the Anti-Christ” voters that have tried to demonize public employee unions and wipe out decades of civil rights gains for working people. Nor was the relentless propaganda for gutting health care for children, the mentally ill and the disabled. Nor were the welfare queen-mongers who wrapped themselves in the dirty flag of God and Country on the backs of “shiftless” black people and breeder “illegals”. These forces will destroy what remains of social welfare in the U.S. But the multiracial electorate of students and workers that organized to defeat Romney represents the true face of the nation. Some of my students were motivated to vote for Barack Obama out of the belief that a Romney presidency would have virtually guaranteed a new form of slavery —one in which women of color would be imprisoned by the backlash against reproductive rights, education, and workers’ rights. Four years ago so-called “personhood initiatives” were still largely unknown. Four years ago it was still possible to transfer from a community college in two years without system delays and financial aid had not yet become a fantasy. Four years ago the percentage of black homeless and foster care youth had not yet reached crisis proportions.
These are the realities that young people of color face in a state that is in the midst of its worst fiscal crisis in generations. If President Obama squanders the energy and direction of this newly galvanized constituency with more corporate toadyism and welfare for the super-rich 2012 will be the last gasp before 2016’s full court GOP insurgency with a “reformed” Ryan in sheep’s clothing and a kinder gentler brown surrogate to placate the “hordes.”