That statistic was used, once again, to vilify the Republicans as pseudo-racists. Unfortunately, the Republicans apologized for the poor national showing. The press was quick to point this out rather than the increasing numbers of black voters who are helping install more and more Republicans in state, local and Congressional seats. Also unfortunate is the silence of those 9% who fear castigation by Democrats, both black and white, for their uninformed and traitorous choice.
For them I offer my support group.
9 PERCENTERS ANONYMOUS
Hi, my name is Calvin. I'm black and I voted for George W. Bush... (Hi, Calvin). I have been clean and Democrat free for several years now. Having been born and raised a Democrat it has been a difficult struggle, but I'm managing to survive one election at a time. And thanks to a quality public school education on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I have the ability to read, write, decipher and define what I think and feel with a distinct clarity, strength and confidence.
For starters, George W. Bush struck me as a strong, confident and capable leader in ways that Al Gore and Bill Clinton never did. As a black man in America I was expected to forego such thoughts and feelings. As a free man, I could not. As a black man I was expected to go along with the 91% of American blacks who cast their ballots for Al Gore. As a free man, I could not. And as a black man in America I am expected to believe that Republicans are nothing more than Klansmen in Brooks Brothers suits. As a free man, I will not.
I will not believe that Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Colin Powell are house slaves just because Harry Belafonte says so. I will not believe that cutting taxes is the Republican's way of saying "spic" and "nigger" just because Charles Rangel says so. And I do not believe that President Bush wants to take America back to the days of Jim Crow just because Kweisi Mfume says so. Becoming a recovering Democrat is not easy. And for all of you 9 percenters willing to come out of the closet, I have to tell you, the interventions can be a bitch. The constant pointing out of where you went wrong; always changing the subject; their irrelevant arguments; their never ending whining about Florida, the disenfranchised voters, Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and the US Supreme Court are enough to cause you to relapse just to shut them up. You'll need a good sponsor. Even when you tell them that those 36 days in the fall of 2000 would have been a President Gore honeymoon had they simply fired Bill Clinton, they won't shut up about Florida. However, ousting one of their white guys for running afoul of ethics and law is something that Democrats just never want to do. Not to Ted Kennedy after Chappaquddick, not Bob Torricelli after illegally taking gifts, not Barney Frank after his lover was caught running a whorehouse out of the Congressman's home, not Tom Daschle after 60 MINUTES exposed his connection to a shady aircraft scandal, not Robert Byrd, allegedly a former Klansman, after uttering the dreaded "N" word on national television in a brazen, deliberate and racially offensive context, not Kennedy and Chris Dodd after allegations of sexual assault at La Brasserie restaurant, and not to Bill Clinton after lying under oath before a federal judge.
We 9 percenters should not have to accept public officials who engage in criminal and unethical behavior. That seemed to be the Democrat's policy when they ousted Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Mike Espy, Marion Barry, Mel Reynolds and Henry Cisneros. Their racially discriminatory practice sounds a lot like the Jim Crow practice that Mr. Mfume is accusing President Bush of returning to.
But, you say, Toni Morrison wrote that Bill Clinton was really our first black president. To which I say, Toni Morrison is an award winning writer of fiction. Had Bill Clinton really been black he probably would have been sporting orange jumpsuits and pressing Arkansas license plates long ago.
As a black man in America I am supposed to be angry that George W. Bush is President of the United States because he should never have been a serious contender for my vote. I was expected to vote for John Kerry based mostly on a 4 month period of his life in Vietnam when he was in his twenties. I should not have been concerned about his questionable judgment over the subsequent 35 years. I should not be concerned that, in defending Bill Clinton 12 years prior, Senator Kerry said that who did or did not serve in Vietnam was unimportant. And I should not have been concerned that Senator Kerry's 1998 position on removing Saddam Hussein from power was the same position for which he now claims President Bush misled America.
For a black man in America it is considered tantamount to treason to opt for the Republican over the Democrat. However, as a free man, I cannot respect a party that repeatedly uses a Jim Crow standard to determine which criminally and ethically challenged officials are fit to serve. I cannot take seriously, a party that does not have the guts to tell one of its presidential candidates that he harms the youth he purports to represent when he repeatedly mispronounces the simple three letter word for "make a request." Don't ask!!! And I will not take seriously a party that believes 4 months in Vietnam makes John Kerry presidential but two tours in Vietnam makes Colin Powell a house slave.
And for all of my fellow members in 9 PERCENTERS ANONYMOUS, the first step toward recovery is to admit that you are not the one with the problem.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot - God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
(Initially written August 9, 2004)