President Obama campaigned on the notion of "change" and "partisan cooperation". This is no doubt what caused him to be elected. Advocating for such change was so potent that it etched itself within the pillars of history, as it swept across racial and even partisan lines to elect the first African American president. For that moment in time, there was hope and a sense of a new direction for America, along with a belief that he would be the one to bring about that change. Now in 2010, a little over one year of the President being elected, we see very little change and an even more partisan Washington.
Some may say that it is because Republicans are not willing to work with the President. As an organization, for the first year, we reserved our opinion, with a willingness to give President Obama the opportunity and time to bring about that change and to involve both parties. But now, we feel that it is time to speak out.
We are deeply saddened that we have seen very little change. Instead, we have seen a continuation of the same political mockery which has caused many to believe that our national government is broken and in need of serious repair. Not all of the blame is on the President. However, because he campaigned on a platform to go to Washington and to take us (all Americans) with him to bring about change, he took on a task which now we expect for him to fulfill or at least show signs that he is making an effort.
The Healthcare Reform Bill lent itself as the perfect opportunity for the President to bring together Congress and the Executive Branch to produce a meaningful bill that deals with reforms in healthcare. But this has not happened. The first mistake the President made was that he did not begin with his own creation of the bill. A strong executive branch is one that carefully crafts its own proposed legislation, and then offers it up to Congress with a strong and compelling reason for the legislative branch of government to get it passed. This was not done. Instead, the President adopted the version of the bill crafted by Democrats. That was the beginning of a breach in both his promises for change and for partisan cooperation.
Had the President allowed input from both parties in the beginning, budget reconciliation would not have to be a last resort to getting a Healthcare Bill passed. Republicans in Congress have every right to be disappointed. It also is understandable why they have felt left out and that this is a Democratic bill that has been stuffed down their throats. Many of the points of disagreement could have been resolved had both parties been at the table from the beginning. Had they not agreed on what the people felt should have been in the bill, then the blame would have fallen equally upon both parties.
To add insult to injury, were the Democrats Only - closed door meetings. Granted this is something in which both parties are guilty of doing, but this President said once elected, he would urge things be done differently. No he does not control how Congress conducts its legislative business. Our system of checks and balances is supposed to prevent one branch of government from controlling and dipping into the affairs of another. However to have spoken up and at least chided his own party for such practices would have given the President an edge on credibility that would have moved him further along on his campaign of change and partisan cooperation.
Then to have taken to task openly, the Supreme Court during a State of the Union Address, again was a misstep in keeping his promise, which widened even further the partisan divide. It not only widened, but it added an unnecessary layer of embarrassment to the highest court of the land. This is a no, no. While millions heard his chide, and watched it being cheered on by Democrats, this made working the partisan isles of not only Congress, but now the Supreme Court almost impossible.
It is apparent that there have been some very serious missteps by President Obama during the first year of his leadership. Hopefully, he will learn from those mistakes and go back to the fork in the road where he left the path of "change" and "partisan cooperation". If not, he not only loses his way, but he also loses the support of even some Republicans who at first thought it right to give him time and the benefit of the doubt to make good on reforming Washington.
President Obama must first birth change that stems from how he conducts the business of the presidency. When he leads by example, then others will either fall in line, or fall out of office. He has a little less than three years to go. Hopefully, his message of change and partisan cooperation will revive itself and take him back to the fork in the road where he took the wrong turn.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
To reach the NRAAC national chair:
[Dr. Jean Howard-Hill is the author of Black Eyes Shut, White Lips Sealed. She has serves as the national chair for the National Black Republican Women with her late husband, Attorney Bobby Lee Hill serving as the head of the Black Republican Men for Change from 1987 to his death in 1991. After his death up until 1993, she remained head of the organization, and in 1999 combined the two groups to form the National Republican African American Caucus.
She has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and was voted 2006 Outstanding Professor of the year. Additionally, from 1976 to 1979, she designed and directed the "Democracy In Action" Program, which was a civics program taught in the local school systems. Howard-Hill also is a local political commentator and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law. She also is ordained clergy and heads The Healing Place Ministries International, overseeing 47 ministries throughout Africa.]
The National Republican African-American Caucus is an organization that is comprised of Spirit filled people of faith within the African American community, that works in conjunction with local, state and national party efforts to embrace, and offer African-American Republicans opportunities for inclusion and involvement in the Republican Party, and builds bridges between the African-American community and the Republican Party. In doing so, it seeks to carry out the philosophy and mission set before President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party, where those guiding principles are more important than politics.
More information on the NRAAC can be found at:
http://www.nraacaucus.org; http://nraacaucus.ning.com [NRAAC] National Republican African American Caucus Social Issue Network (members only); http://nraac.blogspot.com [NRAAC Blog]; http://youthonthehorizons.blogspot.com [NRAAC Youth on the Horizons Blog]; http://the-twig.blogspot.com [NRAAC New Generation-New Direction Blog]; and
http://theblackolivebranch.blogspot.com [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at http://www.nraacaucus.org/index_files/Page816.htm. Also can be found on the RNC group page at http://our.gop.com/Groups/National_Republican_African-American_Caucus_NRAAC.