DNC Guest Blog Post #2 From the League of Young Voters:
The tone of last night’s Democratic National Convention was quite different than Tuesday’s performances. Way more somber than the inspirational speeches that motivated progressive activists the night before, the Dems rolled out individuals like Senatorial Candidate Elizabeth Warren, Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal, and Planned Parenthood boss Cecile Richards to, remind attendees that the party is filled with high ideals and intellectual rigor.
Of course no Democrat, except for maybe Barack Obama, personifies that dual perspective better than Bill Clinton.
Remember Bill Clinton? You know, the affable former governor of Arkansas whose 1992 presidential campaign was so soulful that many people of color started calling him the first black president.
Well, last night he took the stage with the sole purpose of dismantling the economic arguments put forth by President Obama’s competitors. While his message was powerful, thought provoking and rooted in facts, its focus on middle class prosperity missed the mark.
Repeatedly reminding audiences that they were better off than they were four years ago, Clinton and his fellow speakers virtually ignored the hard to ignore reality that poor people, young people, and people of color are by all statistical measures way worse off than they were prior to Obama taking office. While the former president rightly pointed out that many of the problems impacting everyday people may have been exacerbated by Bush’s failed economic policies, the failure to acknowledge the struggles of the poor, further marginalizes populations that have been hurting since Clinton went on the Arsenio Hall Show to play his saxophone.
And that’s the struggle with Democrats. While the party is strengthened by its diversity, far too often it fails to come to grips with the fact that they have often embraced the neo-liberal policies that have weakened the public safety net. Heck, while in office, even Bill Clinton defunded AFDC, deregulated the banking industry, and sent more black men to prison than any other time in the history of the United States.
So unlike the night before, last night’s speeches unfortunately failed to connect to the masses. Although the Democrats are clearly not Republicans, their failure to address the needs of the working poor could be their downfall this election cycle. While many Americans are starting to see the light at the end of the proverbial recession tunnel, no speech, no matter how fact filled, can erase the fact that many of us are way worse off than we were four years ago.
Hopefully Barack Obama won’t make this same mistake tonight.
- Rob “Biko” Baker, Executive Director, League of Young Voters Education Fund
Here is Bill Clinton’s speech in full.
About Robert “Biko” Baker:
The Executive Director of the League of Young Voters Education Fund, Rob “Biko” Baker is a nationally recognized leader. He has organized town hall meetings and used social networking to motivate young people to get involved in the civic process. Baker has served as the deputy publicity coordinator and young voter organizer for the Brown and Black Presidential Forum. He has appeared on MSNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News and CNN and has interviewed luminaries Cornell West, Russell Simmons and Howard Dean to name a few. He has also written a number of articles for America’s biggest online publications, including HuffingtonPost.com, GlobalGrind.com, VIBE, The Source and The Nation.