About a week ago, someone commented on my blog that Barack Obama’s experience as a minority has shaped his priorities as president.
It’s a claim which seems intuitive enough. We are all shaped by our experiences, our perspectives, priorities and decision-making, are predicated on the knowledge we’ve gained through experience.
Obama is, after all, the first minority president in American history.
But is there any real evidence to support the claim that his perspective on governing is shaped by his experience as a minority?
As the commenter points out, it would make sense for Obama to advocate for minority groups and therefore focus his policies more on social issues.
The question, though, is whether or not Obama has actually advocated for minorities any more than any other president?
Like most political questions of this ilk, the answer is somewhat complicated, but let’s look at Obama’s background first.
The president was born to a Kenyan father, but was raised by a white mother in America.
He studied at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard, coastal, liberal white institutions.
Over his life, he’s worked in academia (and predominantly white institutions) and politics, neither of which are teaming with diversity.
He panders to college students and coastal liberal elites, again dominated by white faces.
How many minorities do you think were at Sarah Jessica Parker’s 40,000 a plate fundraiser for the president? Morgan Freeman maybe?
But beyond his background, look at his record.
Unemployment has grown under President Obama with black and Hispanic workers facing the worst economic outlook by a 2:1 ratio over their white counterparts.
Unemployment nationwide is around 8%, while it’s upwards of 16% for black Americans.
This is why separating social issues from fiscal ones proves to be a potentially dangerous fallacy.
The single most empowering tool one has to pull him or herself out of oppression is financial independence.
Most people don’t want to be on unemployment or Medicaid or Social Security.
Most people would rather be working.
The proliferation and encouragement of the welfare state by President Obama has actually damaged the minority communities in this country.
His insistence that government has to spend its way to prosperity for the underprivileged removes any chance for independence and personal freedoms.
It precludes the success of the individual.
Yet food stamp usage has grown 50% under Barack Obama and more people than at any time in American history are now living in poverty.
Minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of both groups.
Before Obama’s latest immigration power grab, he’d deported more illegal immigrants in three years than George W. Bush did in eight.
His administration’s incompetence put automatic weapons into the hands of Mexican drug lords, putting the families of hundreds if not thousands of Americans at risk in Mexico, not to mention the American border.
When it comes to gay rights, Congress did repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a victory for a few hundred soldiers, but little else.
Obama’s continual refusal to address the rights of gay couples until an election year, when he thought it to be beneficial to his fundraising campaign speaks to his lack of backbone in defending minority rights.
Barack Obama was the first black president, but it’s hard to imagine any president who has done less to protect the rights of those most oppressed than him.
George W. Bush, the liberals favorite punching bag, created No Child Left Behind specifically to target low-performing schools in black and Latino communities.
His support of choice schools was also aimed at offering more options for poor, minority families.
Even the totality of Obama’s policies in three years don’t come close to having the effect No Child Left Behind has had, despite the program’s obvious flaws and shortcomings to this point.
Kanye West once famously said that George W. Bush hates black people because the administration was slow to respond to Katrina, taking several days before major support arrived.
It’s been three years and President Obama has done little to address the needs of the millions of minorities in this country.
If Bush hates black people after a couple days of reticence, then what word ought we use to describe three years of such behavior?