Ministers like Rev. Ira Acree and Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch are correct that (both nationally and locally) the Democratic Party has taken black support and votes for granted.
But I disagree with Rev. Acree’s recent Austin Weekly op-ed analysis explaining his endorsement of Republican state lawmaker Jim Oberweis’ bid to unseat Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and other ministers’ support of Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner for Illinois governor.
The Democratic Party has never tricked black voters into believing the Republican Party is racist. The policies, politics and laws promoted by the current Republican Party such as voter suppression is what pushed and kept black voters monolithic to the Democratic Party.
Mr. Oberweis is a co-sponsor of SB 1393. SB 1393 is a proposed voter ID law cloaked as “voter integrity” but is intended to intimidate and restrict voting in poor and minority communities.
I am equally frustrated with the economic condition in all poor communities like the Austin community where I reside. Because Congress has almost eliminated “pork spending,” what can Mr. Oberweis deliver?
Remember he is a Tea Party conservative who believes in no federal money for heating assistance programs like LIHEAP for the poor and senior citizens.
Mr. Oberweis’ campaign website proudly promotes his Oberweis Asset Management, which manages over $2 billion in no-load mutual funds. Is there a history of Oberweis Asset Management providing loans or capital to small black businesses?
Is there a history of Bruce Rauner investing in the black community? What is the number of blacks in senior management within their businesses?
Rev. Acree referenced the gun violence in our community in his op-ed but not Mr. Oberweis’s pro-gun position.
Both Mr. Oberweis and Mr. Rauner have supported disinvestment in public education and school closings in Chicago. They both promote school choice, which is actually privatizing schools in poor black and brown communities benefiting businesses not indigenous to those communities while leaving well-resourced suburban public schools intact.
We all have the right to support candidates of our choice regardless of political and party affiliation.
But if the ministers present themselves as leaders within our communities, they have an obligation to have organic, factual discussions with their congregation and community stakeholders.
We all need to discuss the pros and cons of supporting any candidate for public office. That discussion must include those candidates’ records and how their positions align with the black community’s agenda.
It appears to me that without an agenda or plan, the ministers leveraged for a lot less then what the Democratic Party has actually done for the black community.