How soon we forget. Less than three years ago, America was facing economic disaster—a mortgage crisis, the collapse of our financial markets, the crippling of our auto industry—that could easily have resulted in a new Great Depression. A hopeful nation chose President Barack Obama to lead us through the peril and restore confidence in our ability to not only survive, but restore economic security and return America to greatness as a global leader among nations.
Now, only two years later, many of us are angry, frustrated because economic relief has been too slow in coming for too many people. The target of much of our dissatisfaction today is the same person who we invested our hopes only a short while ago: President Barack Obama. If we’re not careful, that frustration will be turned to our own destruction and suffering for our nation with the upcoming mid-term elections.
The distress is real and legitimate. First, people of all races and economic backgrounds are continuing to suffer as a result of an economy that continues to struggle. Too many people can’t find jobs, hold on to their homes, or even maintain a secure standard of living.
Second, people, again regardless of their race, economic background or even their political leanings, are extremely disappointed with our legislative leaders. With the Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate and the Republicans doing their best to block their agenda, nothing is getting done.
And finally, there’s the truth that everyone knows, but nearly everyone pretends not to: Despite what the election of Barack Obama to the presidency says about how far America had progressed as a nation, there are still people who just cannot get past the issue of race. They still can’t bring themselves to respect a black man, even if he is the President of the United States, regardless of his policies and actions. For example, prior to the election of President Obama, who could have imagined parents literally keeping their kids home from school to prevent them from listening to a back-to-school address from a sitting U.S. President encouraging them to study hard and make the most of their educations?
President Obama has become the target of frustration from people who are truly suffering and disappointed with how long it is taking to bring about the recovery and restore a sense of economic security. He is being blamed despite the fact that he inherited this mess; he didn’t create it. As much as we hate to hear it, no president can undo in two years the negative consequences of a decade of destructive economic decisions and bad policies.
Despite how displeased we are with the slow pace of economic recovery, we cannot allow that dissatisfaction to be used to derail President Obama’s agenda after only two years of his administration. No matter how much we are suffering now, it can only get worse, not better, if we allow our frustrations to cripple President Obama’s effectiveness after only two years in office, destroying the promise of his policies before they have a chance to bear fruit.
It is critical that we continue to support President Obama through next week’s mid-term elections and beyond. As much as Americans are suffering with the slowness of economic recovery, if progress is stalled, or worse, undone, it could return us to the brink of economic disaster—the brink that the President deserves credit for pulling us back from during the first two years of his administration.
Earl G. Graves Sr. is the Founder, Chairman and Publisher of Black Enterprise