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.
I, however, specifically disagree with Rev. Acree’s Sept. 24 Austin Weekly News op-ed analysis for endorsing Jim Oberweis’s bid to unseat Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, as well as other ministers’ support of Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner for 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, who’s a state senator of the 25th Legislative District, is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1393, a proposed voter ID law cloaked as “voter integrity.” But it’s really 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 (Low Income Home Energy Assistant Program) for the poor and senior citizens.
Mr. Oberweis’s campaign website proudly promotes his “Oberweis Asset Management,” which manages more than $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 (See Mr. Oberweis’s website: senatoroberweis.com).
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 and not those indigenous 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 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.
Without such a process, it is the fault of the ministers when I or others rightfully criticize them for their unilateral support of candidates whose votes impact our communities.
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.