For many black Americans, President Obama was supposed to be a beacon of hope, uniting the nation and helping families out of poverty. People believed he was supposed to be honest, transparent, and idealistic. He was supposed to get the nation out of debt, create jobs, give lobbyists the boot, save the environment, give everyone free health care coverage, close Guantanamo Bay, end wars, and help those struggling in poor and violent urban communities. After almost two terms in office, it’s clear his promises were just empty words.
The disappointment from Democrats across the nation is palpable. After all of Obama’s broken promises, the question now is whether Hillary Clinton can deliver on the same promises? Or will she break Democrats’ hearts, too?
“What was the point?” asked Motley, 23, a grocery store clerk. “We made history, but I don’t see change.”
On Jacksonville’s north side and in other struggling urban neighborhoods across the country, where Barack Obama mobilized large numbers of new African American voters who were inspired partly by the emotional draw of his biography, high hopes have turned to frustration: Even a black president was unable to heal places still gripped by violence, drugs and joblessness.
The dynamic, made prominent in recent months after unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., sets up a stark challenge for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner. While supporting Obama became a cause for many here rather than a typical campaign, Clinton faces a higher bar in making a case that she, too, can be a transformative figure. Her campaign is planning to build on the multiethnic coalition that turned out to support Obama. Running to be the first female president, Clinton will also try to generate Obama-like enthusiasm among new voters — those who were too young to turn out for Obama or have not previously been engaged with politics.
Yet as her allies prepare to register voters and expand the black electorate, her candidacy presents residents here with a question: If Obama’s presidency didn’t do more to help African Americans, then how could hers?
Progressive policy and entitlement culture will always hurt the black community. We must educate individuals and families who are struggling, lighten the regulatory burdens on small businesses, lower energy costs for households, and empower citizens to reach their full potential. That can only happen if we put community first, and get government out of the way.
Cross-posted at DeneenBorelli.com