Monday, July 26, 2004

  Black Power(less): The Decline of Black Politics in America
Little wonder, then, that “Kerry received virtually a hero’s welcome at the convention,” as CNN put it. But exactly for what reason? Seemingly because Kerry attended the convention and Bush did not. Every president has attended an NAACP convention since the 1930s except Bush, who visited it as a candidate during his “compassionate conservative” campaign days.

Kerry’s appearance, to correct CNN, was more symbolically than politically significant, since Kerry did not offer the assembled blacks anything beyond merely appearing and spouting boilerplate pro–civil rights rhetoric.

That Kerry could get away with so little before the NAACP — essentially offering no substantial policy initiatives that would benefit African-Americans — underscores the grim reality that 50 years after Brown v. the Board of Education, effective black politics in America has utterly bottomed out. No real agenda drives politics beyond having the Democratic candidate show up.

By any evidence, established black leadership, in this case the NAACP, isn’t offering black America anything much better. The way the organization has barked and clapped like trained seals before John Kerry, a man whose campaign has essentially articulated the standby stale and dry formula of civil rights, doesn’t bode well. Blacks will play their predictable booster-rocket role in John Kerry’s presidential campaign, only to be — if he does win — jettisoned later.

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