Obama’s Got Our Support But Does That Mean That We Don’t Hold Him Accountable?

You know that feeling you get inside the moment that you realize you’ve been played for a sucka? It could be the lie your daughter told you to get out of an ass whooping. It could be finding out that the number in his cell phone, the one that shows up repeatedly and at all hours of the day and night, really isn’t someone from his job, but his lover. It could be the realization that between your scale, which tells you that weigh 200 pounds, and your mirror, which tells a very different a story, something ain’t right. Or it could be finding out that the person you put your trust in, perhaps a candidate for president, is just as out of touch as his opponent.

Well the good news, if there is any, about last night’s get together between presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, is that miraculously, the word maverick didn’t come up once. There is a God.

The bad news, for me at least, is that reality final sank in as I listened to both candidates talk directly to and around the American people.

These days in some circles, it’s downright detrimental to your physical health to say anything negative regarding Obama’s candidacy, hence my decision to do it from the privacy of my home.

For the record, I, unlike others who only recently jumped aboard the Obama bandwagon after he trounced his Democratic opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries, have been supporting this man pretty much from the beginning. Sure, I’ve had my issues throughout his campaign and we haven’t agreed on everything, but I’ve been a faithful supporter of Obama’s. This is why I feel I have every right to hold him accountable.

During last night’s get together, as in the get togethers of the past, Obama made mention of his upbringing. An upbringing that included being raised by his grandparents and his mother at one point having to use Food Stamps to feed their family. Basically, Obama was painting the picture of poverty. That he managed to rise up in spite of the financial difficulties his single mother faced and attend the best universities this country had to offer, which eventually catapulted him to where he is today.

But here’s what I do know. I know that I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the fact that this country gave me opportunity. I came from very modest means. I had a single mom and my grandparents raised me and it was because of the help of scholarships and my grandmother scrimping on things that she might have wanted to purchase and my mom, at one point, getting food stamps in order for us to put food on the table.

Despite all that, I was able to go to the best schools on earth and I was able to succeed in a way that I could not have succeeded anywhere else in this country.

The same is true for Michelle and I’m sure the same is true for a lot of you.

What I am having trouble with is understanding how a man who came from such a modest background, can continue to participate in these discussions and not once mention the 37 million people living in the same poverty he came out of.

And before Obama’s hit squad of supporters launch on the attack…stand the [insert expletive here] down.

I am an Obama supporter and I have the right to question my candidate of choice on issues that I find to be relevant to me. That’s our problem now, we’re so caught up in the moment that we refuse to question anything and accept everything from the candidates.

If you think for one moment that the only people who matter in this election are middle class voters, then to take a phrase from McCain, you my friend, are sadly mistaken.

Imagine if we put McCain and Obama on the street, in the hood, face to face with those who have already lost their homes or never owned one to begin with? What if we forced the candidates to live off of the same amount of money many of our seniors contend with for a month? What would happen, if instead of some Ivy League university, the candidates debated each other in the gym of [insert your local project’s name here] in front of an audience of laid off or unemployed registered voters living on fixed incomes? What if instead of touring pre-selected suburbs, the candidates walked the streets of Skid Row and we replaced their gourmet lunches with lobbyists with lunch from one of the dozens of homeless shelters to be eaten in the company of the men and women who live there?

Would there then be mention of the 37 million (soon to be twice that at the rate the economy is going) American’s living in poverty? Would the candidates then dazzle us with their plans on how they are going to decrease the number of people in this country living in poverty and upgrade their class status to the middle?

There’s a reason why presidential debates do not take place in the hardest hit economic communities. There’s also a reason why the people who are handpicked to be in the room for these debates are chosen. Because if you take the candidates off of their scripts, you’ll find that not only don’t they have any real answers when it comes to addressing the issue of poverty, but that it’s not even on their radar.

Now I know that the candidates can’t address every single issue. But poverty isn’t just some issue, it’s the issue and it says a lot if the candidates don’t find the lives of 37 million worthy of discussion during their now weekly get togethers.

It says even more that the absence of any discussion of poverty between the candidates hasn’t been made into a national issue by the mainstream media—when these same media outlet’s pundits can debate for hours on the end the body language of the candidates, the fact that their wives didn’t shake hands, and who looked who in the eye. When all I have to say to that is who gives a [insert expletive here]?

If the candidates can’t address poverty in their stump speeches and while they are out there trying to get votes, they’re not going to address it once they are in the White House. Now is the time to hold them accountable and get them on the record.

We’ve only got a few weeks left before we make one of the most important decisions of our lives. The way I see it, as voters, we are not only responsible for our vote, but we’re also responsible for representing the interests of those we care about. For me, that would include those who cannot vote because of their age or parole status and those who won’t vote because they don’t feel like their vote matters.

It’s because of this that I will continue to bring up the issue of poverty and challenge Obama to address it. You have to do more than open up campaign headquarters in the hood, you have to also address the issues of the hood.

If we can find time to address how to make life better for those living in Russia and the Middle East, then we can damn sure address how to improve life for those living in poverty right here in America’s backyard.

Stay human.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • Could it be that the poor is understood to always be struggling and the middle class who is newly dying in these economic times are now being affected too?

  • Nyah Molineaux

    Jasmyne, I think it is the right thing to make sure Obama is accountable. I love Barack, he is my baby, but if he does something wrong or is not focusing on the right things then people need to call him out on it.

    For example, I hated the fact he voted for that FISA bill. I hated the fact he keeps on voting Bush’s outrageous demands of money for this Iraq war.

    Keep him accountable, Jasmyne.

  • David M.G Vandi

    yes we could hold him accountable if he does not match up to the American pleople’s call of hope and change as this his theme of his presidential race.But i firmly trust and beleive that he will do his utmost to restore the diginity of America,and once again America will be love by the entire world.Let gets behind him and make sure we elect him,as history is in the making.I wish him well and the people of the great United States of America.



  • Nyada

    Obama is just that (snaps fingers) much more tolerable than McCain, and even that could be wishful thinking. The sickening, late in the midnight hour fear is that putting this handsome, brown face at the head of the empire could possibly be even more disastrous for the poor than ever, i.e. Wilson Goode, 1985. Excellent, on point essay, as always, Jasmyne.

  • Cherish

    Damn Jas– you took the words out of my mouth. I just responded to a comment on MSNBC regarding last night debates.. and neither candidate cares to even mention the high % of poor americans in this country!! It’s been ticking me off alll along. It’s all about accountability, and someone needs to hold an account!!!

  • KucinichSupporter

    Give the man a break. The fact that Senator Obama hasn’t uttered the word “poverty” in a debate since receiving the endorsement from John Edwards doesn’t mean he isn’t talking about it on the stump or he isn’t prepared to work on our poverty issues. Whenever I hear him say the words “bottom up” I automatically think of poor and working class folks. Why don’t you guys take a minute to read his plan on how he will address poverty: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/poverty/

  • As a ex homeless sister of three I have never thought that he has forgotten about the Poor. I feel that he is doing what he has to do to win. Lets be real; poverty is an overwelming trusma and there are days when you just have enough energy to stay alive. if I were him with my background I would do the same thing. The ones who are not affected by poverty in this way are the ones who have the energy to get to the polls, send money and galvenize what is needed. This is not to say that the poor dont back him or are not working for this movement;but with this historical event and the racism; he is saying exactly what needs to be heard..

    Hitaji Aziz from Houston.ex welfare mother
    so please chill and when he gets in we can siton his ass

  • Kamora

    Just an FYI for your readers,
    There is another Black person running, a Black woman with a Latino woman as a VP. The two party system is easy and requires little thinking, as long as you can get to us versus them, you’re set. But check out the other candidates, their positions and wonder why you aren’t hearing more about them.
    BTW, I can’t stop the Department of Peace fantasies that Cynthia Mckinney keeps filling my head with!

  • I simply understood it as a man who is simply telling America as best as he knows how that it just has not been working out with these spoiled, rotten, upper class republicans who have nothing on their mind but using the poor to get richer, for they have no understanding or compassion about what it takes to struggle. They just don’t have any scrupples nor any compassion about what the average American’s struggles are, and they really don’t care.

    I think Barack Obama is simply stating that he understands for he’s been there. He isn’t perfect by no means, but it seems as if he has our best interests at heart more than any of those political figures. I also admire Barack’s communication skills. It doesn’t take a lot of big words to sit down with our allies and negotiate to bring about solutions to the problemmatic situations in this world. He seems to be bringing answers to certain issues across the table where a baby can understand it, and that’s good. Some people do not understand politics, and there are millions of new voters now because of Obama’s simplicity.

  • Fingersnaps to Kamora.
    It’s all about the Green Party.
    Cynthia is a sister with a record to prove that she stands for her word.
    It’s time for a change, indeed. We need more than a two party good cop/bad cop system.

  • I understand that it would be great to support more than a two party system. BUT why have those who aer activist or memebrs of other parties been able to organize and galvenized the energy that Obama has been able to do. In realty soem of us have been here way longer than Obama before he was born.

    Why haven;t the so called more progressive parites outdone obama. Sureley those of us who have been organizing longer than he would some how have the experence to out walk him on all levels. Where is our noney and why has the Green candidates or any other progressive made the same impact.

    When you dis what he is doing then please have the courage to at least fo better than he has done and dont forget to raise that money so we can be free of asking poverty insritutions and fundig programs to help us buy our stamps for the next rally. I am so tireded of how we attack each other but do nothng to set a better exsample. we know he aint perfect but give me a BIG BREAK

    hitaji aziz

  • leave Barack the fuck alone cause I am a nappyheaded Barack MAMA

    from the 60s so you know that I am insane


    Hitaji aiz

  • chris

    Just think ahead this Man knows exactly what he is doing. And if you just support the cause you will see what he is doing if you havent already.