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Post Reconstruction: The Sequel

It’s Me!



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I have watched politics play out differently, but familiarly since President Obama first came into office, finding myself fascinated at the strength and courage that has guided him to this magnificent feat in his life of less than 50 years. In addition, I remain awestruck at the courage of Black men in the United States beating the odds to become more than they’ve ever expected and more than what the law ever designed. As a Political Science major, I feel indebted to the Black men that opened my eyes to understanding politics better (my beloved professors of the Political Science Department at Virginia State University). Finally, the privilege I hold just knowing I’ve walked the same campus of the esteemed John Mercer Langston, Virginia State University’s first President and the first Black American who was elected town clerk of Brownhelm, Ohio, in 1855, is quite humbling (http://avery.cofc.edu/spring09_edited.pdf).  Through my observations, I wonder the direction our political battles take us today—I question the essence of politics—whether it is an arena in which the people will truly have their needs met, beyond measure and by an honoring of the Constitution, without condition, manipulation, and beyond race.  One look at the debt ceiling dilemma facing our nation at this moment reveals obviously not quite. Even still, I remain a consummate observant and participant similar to the Black voters of during Reconstruction.  I’m living in Post Reconstruction: The Sequel.

My most favorite period of study is Reconstruction. It was such a period of ingenuity, strategy, integrity and self-inclusion; Black people, and men in particular, saw an opening in politics and courageously threw themselves into the ring. They were not certain of the outcomes, but they were sure that not participating gave them no options at all.  Today, President Obama carries a similar probity as he concludes a very difficult presidential term.  In this Post Reconstruction era, the outcomes cannot be the same the second time around…not on my watch!

For approximately 11 years, Reconstruction served African American men as a political vehicle that aligned with the Republican Party. There were some 1500 Black elected officials holding posts as high as US Senators and governors! Unfortunately, when it was time for reelection, many were not voted back into their positions—thus, America’s transition from Reconstruction to Post Reconstruction.

Special circumstances such as the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the use of black codes, voter disenfranchisement through intimidation, etc. kept Black elected officials out of office. In addition, some were victimized by the political system; erroneous charges of fraud and jail time destroyed reputations (Isaac Cardozo of South Carolina had this experience in 1877) and tarnished political integrity (http://avery.cofc.edu/spring09_edited.pdf). In 2011 there is not even one Black US Senator.

Today, President Obama performs his duties under the threat of impeachment for leading our nation on the road of default. The blame however is on Congress.  If our debt is too high, Congress has allowed it—the budget is their responsibility. Like what many Black men faced during Reconstruction / Post Reconstruction, there are carefully crafted attempts for President Obama to be a one-term president. Washington’s love of spending was a foundation that existed long before President Obama.

The Los Angeles Times reported on July 26th, 2011 the following from former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin:  “A lot of this has to do with his background…His background and those he’s appointing don’t understand what America was built upon. His ideas are the antithesis of those things that created the prosperity in America.”   In that little space, there is innuendo that President Obama is a stranger in a foreign land.  President Obama is brandished a traitor to American ideals and his integrity challenged.  America needs to pay its bills and President Obama’s job is to see to it that we do.  If insistence upon American accountability is “the antithesis of those things that created the prosperity in America,” we are finally entering a new day—instilling the value of honesty.

We cannot afford to be a nation in which our elected officials can manipulate the Constitution to suit their own needs and devalue the trust the American people. They should do their jobs! As we continually rebuild America we must add the values of respect and honesty. Let’s attempt honesty by paying the debt created and we’ve agreed to pay.  If our government can renege on paying its debt, it is easy to understand how the culture of non-payment has infiltrated throngs of Americans’ lives.  The only difference with the masses of Americans is that often times it is not by choice, whereas our elected officials are deliberately choosing to default America. In this third round of Reconstruction, let’s finally get it right.

Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov to learn more about the powers of government and the latest on the debt ceiling debates.

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