Friday, October 5, 2012

African-Americans & The Democratic Party, Conclusion

Continued from Part 1:

At one time in my life, I was as guilty as any other partisan type when it came to judging and basing my thinking on my personal beliefs rather than an objective observation of the facts, evidence, proofs, statistics, and ascertaining how my personal experiences mesh with the facts of a given situation. But, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, when I knew better, I thought better. I don’t subscribe to the belief that truth is always somehow the average of opposing ideas. Oftentimes the meeting point of liberal and conservative ideology is not where truth is…sometimes, some people are right, and some are wrong. But our reluctance to either see or accept this fact is what contributes to our perception that it’s always others who are “wrong,” and that our beliefs “represent” the position of the good guys. This is why it’s so easy for those identifying themselves as Republicans to believe that they are patriots who love America, while those “evil liberals” want nothing but handouts and want to see the destruction of “American values.” It’s why Democrats can view Republicans as narrow-minded theocrats who see no value in diversity, and care more about markets than people. And it’s why we as African-Americans tend to continually (and without questioning) ally ourselves with the Democratic Party after 50 years of only mixed results economically and politically, while ignoring other options.
And perhaps no other point speaks to the need to question African-Americans hitching unquestioningly to the Democratic Party wagon than our overall quality status as a respected demographic in America. One of the things which come to my mind is the effect that general Democratic support for some entitlement programs has on black families. Consider the 1990-era expansion of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is the government program which allows for government payouts to families—usually low income—with children diagnosed as being “disabled.” While this program helps some needy families, the problem with it is that virtually any diagnosis by a medical professional, especially those linked to behavioral disorders, results in a monthly SSI paycheck to address the “disability.” In reality, such supplemental income goes to families in order to help meet the burden of paying monthly bills and living expenses.
Additionally, such over-diagnoses and labels legally compels public schools—by federal law—to accommodate the “special needs” these children “require.” Among these accommodations is forcing schools to overlook or treat with “understanding” the disruptive behavior these children exhibit, which contributes to crippling the learning environment of both individual classrooms and as well as entire schools. In a lot of cases, the only problems these “disabled” children have are parents who are just too lazy to administer a disciplined hand at rearing them. Rather than a New-Age clinical diagnosis of a behavioral “disability” (such as “Oppositional Defiance Disorder…yeah right) and psychotropic drugs, the only thing many of these kids require are parents willing to place a boot in their backsides, and school districts not willing to tolerate or have their learning environments held hostage of irresponsible parents who threat to sue if “their rights” are not acknowledged. But instead, many low-income African-Americans are content with receiving "crazy checks" (as entitlements based on such mental/learning disabled diagnoses are known as in the black community), which reward bad parenting, and enables these children to misbehave and be disruptive in both school and society--with an "explanation."  Between this reality of the "learning impaired" disruptive element in our schools, and the general half-assed and apathetic parenting of other students, it's no wonder why teachers fail to make a dent in test scores or why they strike for better working conditions. More still, many of these children grow up with an increased propensity to physically assault just about anyone and/or anything that happens to get into their way, spurred on by their "I'm crazy" diagnosis. At the risk of using anecdotal evidence, my years as a long-term substitute teacher gave me a ringside seat to observe this reality of life in the ‘hood. The results of such Democratic-backed entitlements are parents who don’t participate in the labor market (those who are capable of), spurred on in part by receiving entitlement payments (for those whose need for them are questionable at best), schools forced to shift resources to special education programs, at the expense of other students, and an increased likelihood that families will associate the negative behaviors of their children with some form of mental impairment, in a sense justifying their behavior. Sure, entitlements have had a negative effect on contributing to the breakdown of the black family as a unit, but as a direct and singular cause, I can’t see how. Can we say that entitlements make young black men wear their pants down behind their butts? Does welfare force young black children to gravitate and celebrate the “gangsta” lifestyle portrayed in music videos and today’s rap music? Or why there are so many absent fathers? Granted, there are many sociological and social-psychological explanations for a great deal of these behaviors, but the existence of entitlement programs doesn't explain why, for example a 33-year old Tennessee man fathering some 30 children by 11 different women…
No, entitlements are not the sole (or even primary) reason that the black community's allegiance to the Democratic Party should be questioned, but it is one worthy of consideration.
Approximately 70% of black children are borne to single mothers. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in the black community. Irresponsible decisions should not be rewarded (or encouraged) by the assurance that tax dollars will be provided to support a decision whereby the consequences of which were not considered (say what you want, but economic motives have a way of altering behavior; its why there are fines for speeding, and monetary penalties for late bill payments).  The Democratic Party's rabid promotion of female reproduction as a "right," even among teenagers simply does nothing to benefit the black community. 
When I think of all of the possible reasons for why the black community is sacked with absent fathers, why there is so much unemployment in the black community, why we allow so much crime to go unchecked (for fear of being labeled a "snitch"), I cannot help but conclude that the Democratic Party is the party of excuses and justifications more than promoting self-determination and personal responsibility. I'm definitely not meaning to imply that the Republicans are a better option, but maybe the black community needs to adopt a mercenary style of voting...selling our votes to the highest "bidder" as it were. Maybe if we start putting out indications that we will vote for who we feel not only represents our interests but will actually work toward our interests, maybe we can start seeing changes.  However, this is not mean to absolve the black community of responsibility for our socioeconomic ills.  For all the years African-Americans have given electoral allegiance to the Democratic Party, we have to ask what does it owe us, and what do we owe ourselves?


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